Chapter 2: A Cactus? What’s That?
Liu Yangyang thought it over for a few days and decided to play the part of Bai Xiangxiu from now on. She absolutely couldn’t slip up and reveal the truth. Wasn’t that how the novels went? If the transmigrated woman wanted to be safe, she had to act like her original host. Henceforth, she would be Bai Xiangxiu. She had to make sure she responded when people called her name. It would be disastrous if she didn’t.
Liu Yangyang sat in front of the mirror, memorizing her new face and silently chanting her name. But aren’t my looks just a little too good to be a supporting character? She’d seen countless beauties before; those who’d gone under the knife and those who remained natural, beauties on the Internet, beauties in art, and celebrities on TV. However, not a single one of them could compare to her new looks!
The book had previously mentioned that Bai Xiangxiu was the most beautiful out of all the concubines, so she hadn’t been willing to lose out to the female lead. This was why she’d been the most antagonistic. Liu Yangyang immediately understood why as she mulled over the situation. Someone born with such beauty was often naturally conceited. Even if such a woman didn’t think that she could charm all the men in the world, looking down on women with looks inferior to her own was rather normal.
Ah, what a pity. She had been born with such beauty, but she wasn’t the female lead. Liu Yangyang sighed, then stood up to stare at her reflection with delight. After transmigrating, what she was happiest about was her new appearance. She moved onto scrutinizing her figure after admiring her face. She was only fifteen years old, but already had an alluring air about her. A beautiful bust, a slender waist and long legs… Oh dear, she was blushing from simply looking at her own body!
Xiaoshi picked this moment to shift the dressing screen aside. Upon seeing Mistress Xiu in just her underclothes, shamelessly turning this way and that to stare at her own reflection, the maid was so shocked that she dropped the copper basin in hand onto the floor and gaped with astonishment.
“…” Well this is rather awkward. Liu—Bai Xiangxiu rubbed her nose, coughing lightly and smiled. “Ah, quick, help me take a look. I keep getting the feeling that there’s a bug crawling down my back.”
Xiaoshi finally regained her senses and hurriedly examined her mistress’ back. She came up empty-handed. Bafflement was clear in her voice. “There’s nothing here, mistress.”
“Ah, it must be the clothes then. Why don’t I change into another outfit?” She heaved a sigh of relief when Xiaoshi left to fetch new clothes. She shouldn’t act like that anymore. The people around here were very conservative.
Bai Xiangxiu’s courtyard was named Winter Garden. It was the most isolated courtyard amongst the four Noble Concubines’ residences. The old madame had placed her here for a reason. Although she had a rather good reputation and came from a family with an illustrious literary background, she was too beautiful. Afraid that her son would become mesmerized by her beauty after returning from the battlefield, the old madame had arranged for her to live in the most remote courtyard. Her intention was to push Bai Xiangxiu further away from her son, so that her turn to receive his favor would be last. By then, her son would’ve had enough experience to be impervious to her charms.
It was necessary to take a moment and explain a few things. In the novel, while the male lead had a reputation of a violent streak and a playboy who’d had his share of countless women, he was actually a virgin. The old madame had purposefully arranged things this way. Bai Xiangxiu hadn’t felt anything particular about this when she’d read the story. Now however, she felt rather thankful towards the old madame. It would be for the best if she didn’t need to meet the male lead. What if he killed her earlier than expected? That was a most frightening proposition. However, there were some things in the book that weren’t lies.
As expected, the female lead possessed that special protagonist aura that couldn’t be defended against. Even Bai Xianxiu’s exquisite appearance was ignored and deemed as common as dirt. The men in this book are truly all blind. It looked like they preferred women that were innocent flowers. Who would be willing to keep a malicious woman by their side? They probably wouldn’t be able to sleep soundly at night! Bai Xiangxiu forced herself to stop thinking. No matter how impressive her looks were, she had to find a way back. She really wasn’t cut out to be either a female lead or a supporting female character. She’d played with mud while growing up; being a hardworking little gardener was much better.
But how could she go back?
She raised her finger. Where she’d been pricked by the cactus had already healed. It hurt occasionally, but it didn’t affect her movements. Bai Xiangxiu’s eyes lit up suddenly. She had come here after being pricked by a cactus. Did that mean she could go back if she found a cactus and pricked herself again? Once that thought struck, she cared not whether it was a flight of fantasy or not. She called for Xiaoshi. In the middle of embroidering, Xiaoshi immediately trotted in when she heard her mistress’ cal.
Her mistress had been rather strange these past two days. She used to speak in soft tones and act like a well-bred young lady, but now her actions were as rough as mud. Even her voice had gotten much louder. “Mistress Xiu, did you have any orders for me?” Xiaoshi asked apprehensively.
“It’s like this. Do we have any cacti in our residence?” Bai Xiangxiu asked excitedly, her eyes shining brightly. However, she forgot about the killing power she had with her current appearance. To Xiaoshi, it was like the face of her mistress had blossomed like a hundred flowers. Unprepared, she was instantly dazed.
“C-C-Cacti? What’s that?” All she could think about was how her mistress was simply too beautiful right now, just too radiant. She didn’t dare to keep looking at her. What should she do?
What’s that? Bai Xiangxiu remembered that cacti had arrived in China around the Ming Dynasty. Although she was currently in a novel, it was still set in the olden times. Were there really no cacti around?
“Then, what about firepalms?” Bai Xiangxiu didn’t bother with Xiaoshi’s awkwardness and tried using a different name for cacti with some doubt. In the olden times, a few people had called cacti, ‘firepalms’.
“I’ve never heard of them either.” After Xiaoshi finished speaking, she noted that her mistress had collapsed in defeat. Her mistress’ expression had changed from its previous high spirits to dejection. It made her heart ache. She hurriedly tried to console her by saying, “Mistress Xiu, this servant… if this servant has the time, I’ll ask around about it. Perhaps someone else knows of it.”
Her mistress instantly turned from a discarded puppy into a lively girl again. Bai Xiangxiu’s smile was a dazzling thing as she nodded. “Thank you for your troubles then.”
Xiaoshi’s heart almost couldn’t take the successive blows and she nearly collapsed in a heap on the floor. After listening with great difficulty to a description of a cactus, she hurriedly walked out, patting her thumping heart. Although mistress was a beauty before, she seemed lifeless like a painting. She was a beautiful vase, to put it nicely. However, the current mistress was wildly different. Her expressions were so vivid that her stiff face lit up with life. As a girl, even Xiaoshi was moved just by looking at her mistress. Wouldn’t men go crazy if they saw Mistress Xiu now? This was bad. She had to protect her mistress. I can’t let mistress be defiled by other men!
As soon as Xiaoshi strengthened her resolution, she went off to inquire about cacti for Bai Xiangxiu. It felt like a severe blow to the heart every time she returned empty-handed to her mistress’ disappointed expression. She could see that Bai Xiangxiu’s spirits slowly falling, as if she were an abandoned little animal. Her mistress looked at Xiaoshi with eyes so teary it made the latter’s heart ache. The maid couldn’t help but grit her teeth and suggest, “Mistress Xiu, why don’t we go out to the pier and take a look? However, we need the old madame’s permission before we can leave the residence.”