Chapter 33: Embarrassment, Cooking
There weren’t many twists and turns for the trip, and there weren’t many opportunities to interact with Song Jiaoyue either. Song Jiaoyue did ride alongside Long Heng a couple of times, but he only exchanged a few words each time before leaving. Ai, the path to seducing the supporting male character is really getting farther and farther away. She felt a little depressed and leaned her head against the carriage window just as it went over a stone, jabbing her chin.
“Yah…” Why were the carriage wheels made of wood? She really missed modern day buses.
“What happened?” a low voice asked.
“Nothing, I just hit something by accident.” How could he hear a noise as soft as that? It really was something.
“……” She got hurt so easily that giving her the Red Pearl was completely the right choice. Long Heng was riding on his horse, but his thoughts were on the things that would happen after they returned back home. He was determined to have this woman, and the thought of Miss Lin made him laugh coldly. A woman who colluded with a male outsider to run away wasn’t someone he was interested in, especially since that same outsider had injured his woman all over.
Speaking of which, Ji Zhangshu seemed to be going back with the Lin family. They were probably straight ahead! Those who dared to touch his people had to pay the price. He spoke a few words to a person below him, who gave a start before immediately setting off. Meanwhile, he returned to the old madame and said, “Mother, there’s an extremely beautiful pond nearby. We can take a rest there for a bit. Your son can catch some wild game for you; it’ll taste better than travel rations.”
“Why go to the trouble? Though the wild animals of the mountains are certainly flavorful, there’s no need to risk your safety,” The old madame naturally worried about her son.
“Your son has been away for many years but has never accompanied mother on a stroll outside. This is a rare chance,” Long Heng was very good at reading his mother’s moods, so his words struck right at her heart. The old madame was touched, how could she refuse her son’s kind intentions, so she nodded in agreement. Who knew that they’d find someone else there first, and none other than the Song family? Song Jiaoyue was exceedingly fond of these limpid, clear pond waters and had recommended them to Long Heng as well.
At their arrival, the two families paired off and mingled. Since they were both on outside excursions, there weren’t many formalities.
As a stickler for the rules, Bai Xiangxiu didn’t stay by the old madame’s side. They found a level patch of ground to set down their folding stools and arranged a wooden table, a good place for drinking tea. Water was fetched from the pond and boiled to make sweet, fragrant tea.
Madame Song glanced at the prim and proper Bai Xiangxiu going about with her hat and veil, and said, “This madame has no need to be overcautious, there are no outsiders here. You can remove your head covering.”
“That’s alright. This concubine incurred a minor injury beforehand. After applying medicine, there are some parts that are rather unsightly,” She smiled slightly after she spoke. Though the cover could hide her bright red nose, it didn’t obstruct her smile or her beautiful features.
Madame Song very much admired her. In her experience, the thing that rear courts lacked the most were girls who could give her peace of mind. She’d seen the other three at the prince’s estate before, but they left far less favorable impressions than the one before her eyes. When the females found their seats, laughter broke out from the men’s side. In Song Jiaoyue’s group was a younger, concubine-born brother who hero-worshipped Long Heng. He insisted on following along when he heard that Long Heng was leaving to hunt.
Song Jiaoyue teased, “It’s already good enough if you can keep up with that little bit of horsemanship. Be careful not to get injured and scare mother when you return.”
The young brother smiled bashfully and said, “I’ll just look from a distance. Your Highness, you mustn’t give me me the cold shoulder. Actually, this little brother has practiced a few years worth of archery. I’ve often heard that you can split a willow leaf with an arrow at 100 paces and shoot three arrows evenly at the same time. I’ve always wanted to have my older brother arrange for a viewing to broaden my vision, but there’s never been a chance. That opportunity has finally presented itself to me today, so even if I fall to my death, I’ll fall a happy man.”
Madame Song was rather tolerant and generous to her family members. Moreover, this younger brother had grown up by her side ever since his mother passed away. She smiled at his words and said, “How did I raise a son with such a demon king’s personality?”
The old madame smiled and said, “Heng’er, take the younger brother and go. Be careful not to injure him.”
“Yes.” Long Heng mounted his horse. Because he loved his battle steed and didn’t want to tire it out with small things, he’d randomly selected one from the household this time. The rider atop his horse sat upright beneath the sunlight, truly resembling a dashing and unrestrained hero that inspired awe and veneration.
Song Jiaoyue was dressed in white whilst riding a white horse, looking just like a prince from the legends, exceedingly dazzling to the eyes. The two of them galloped into the forest as Bai Xiangxiu heaved a silent sigh. Female lead, you’re really living in fortune without knowing fortune. These two men are so great and yet you still fled, are you mental?
When she read the novel, she hadn’t known that the female lead had taken advantage of her cousin’s help to run away. If she did, she definitely wouldn’t have supported the so-called female lead. Although the cousin hadn’t run away with her, the news would still ruin her name if it was spread. Forget it, it’d be fine as long as she didn’t tell. She’d already done everything humanly possible to help.
“It’s a shame. The prince personally went to hunt, but today’s your meat abstinence day.” Xiao Shi brought over some water for Bai Xiangxiu to clean her hands. Because she had to wait upon the old madame, she needed to make a show and personally cook a few small dishes.
Such things weren’t difficult for her. When she was in college, she’d secretly brought back her own groceries to cook at the dorms because the dining hall food had been so terrible. Back then, all her friends had loved her to death. Her vegetable dishes were famous throughout all of the college dormitories.
“It’s nothing, I just won’t eat them,” Bai Xiangxiu didn’t mind. Madame Song and Song Jiaoyue were both present today, so she should show off her skills. But they hadn’t brought many ingredients, so she took a small basket and brought along Xiao Shi to pick a few edible wild herbs. As someone who often worked with such plants, she was very clear on which ones were safe to eat.
When they returned with their harvest, the others had already set up the pot. Bai Xiangxiu used her own hands to pick, pluck, and cook the vegetables, very thoughtful and detailed in her preparations. However, it was too much trouble cooking with her face covered, so she temporarily set hers aside.
Making an enormous pot of vegetables was no easy task. Fortunately, she only needed to prepare it for the various masters and mistresses. Even with both families combined, their numbers didn’t exceed 10 people, so it was very easy. By using the ingredients provided, she made two hot and two cold vegetable dishes, along with one that used wildflowers as a garnish. They were not only edible, but also quite flavorful.
When Long Heng and Song Jiaoyue’s group returned with their hares and wild pheasants, they saw the vision of a fairy-like beauty wearing a long apron, using one sleeve to wipe away her sweat while the other hand prepared the meal. There was even a happy smile on her face. The expression on her face shone with a gentle warmth.
Such a scene mesmerized 9 out the 10 men watching, and three of them had already been dazzled by the sight. But when she looked up, that bright red nose was so offensively conspicuous that the Song family’s younger brother couldn’t hold back a guffaw. When he laughed, so did Song Jiaoyue. He felt that it had been a long time since he’d laughed to his heart’s content.
The girl who raised their head to see them laughing was obviously a little confused. She didn’t understand what they were chuckling over at all, but her expression only made their hearts tremble. Using modern terms, she was moe with cuteness. Using ancient terms, she was cute to the point of being silly.
Long Heng was a man as well. The corners of his lips couldn’t help but tug upwards before he tossing down a dripping, bloody object and said, “Take care of that.” When he dismounted from his horse, the woman finally realized why they were laughing. With a red face, she hurried helter skelter to put on her face covering, her flustered form causing Long Heng’s lips to curve even further.
He was a handsome man to begin with, but many overlooked this fact since his expression was always so wooden. Yet this smile was like a frozen mountain melting to reveal the wonders of spring. The womenfolk of the Lin and Song families ended up all gaping at him.