Chapter 42: Teaching Her How to Write, Getting Closer
How could she possibly realize that the corners of their mouths kept twitching while she ate? The mother and son pair had identical thoughts as they watched her inhale her rice. Exactly how timid was this lady, that she didn’t even dare touch the side dishes and just ate the rice. Wasn’t she afraid of choking on her panic?
Unfortunately, to preserve their dignity, the two of them didn’t speak much. However, looking at her somehow made them feel rather relaxed.
Bai Xiangxiu didn’t know that her appearance was greatly amusing the mother and son before her, but she didn’t feel as troubled after eating. She pleaded and forced Feng-mama and Xiao-mama to accompany her back to Winter Garden. Resigned to her fate, she began reading the account books. Her task was pretty simple. Tally up the accounts and pick out any suspicious expenses.
As someone from the modern era, Bai Xiangxiu’s speed at reading the account books, and tallying everything up made the two old servants feel extremely surprised. Most importantly, she was doing mental calculations and wasn’t even touching the abacus.
Furthermore, not only were her calculations all correct, she was quick to point out any suspicious items. She finished going through all three account books in one night without missing out a single line. This kind of speed wouldn’t lose out to even professional accountants. Most importantly, although she had done very well, she wasn’t arrogant at all. She asked the two old servants questions with a humble attitude as if she didn’t understand anything.
She even had supper prepared for all three of them instead of having the two of them prepare food for her. Although it was a simple gesture, she didn’t lord it over them like a master, and made it very easy to feel close to her. Of course, this was thanks to Ye-mama. They were all servants under the old madame, so the two old servants paid attention to her praise for Mistress Xiu.
The three old servants started drinking in the midst of supper and started to reminisce about the past. Bai Xiangxiu loved hearing these old stories, since they had to do with Prince Li’s estate and the old madame.
She hadn’t expected that the old madame would be a close friend of the current Empress Dowager, and that they got along extremely well. The Long family didn’t just consist of this branch of the family, but also another branch in the capital. This made the Long family one of the great families.
However, it wasn’t clear why this branch had separated from the main family, and it seemed like it had occurred without the consent of this branch. While the three old servants were chatting happily, she just sat by one side and listened. She would even pour wine for them at times.
This continued until Xiao-mama suddenly slapped the table and said, “If it hadn’t been for that favor owed to the Lin family back when the Long family separated, Old Madame wouldn’t have had to set this engagement for the Prince. Aii, that Miss Lin has the reputation of being a talented woman for no reason at all…”
“Alright, don’t speak anymore, you’re drunk.” Feng-mama prodded her. It was only then that the three of them realized they were drinking and acting so freely under their master’s roof, and had even troubled her for so long. They all turned as one, and met a pair of sparkling eyes watching them while blinking exaggeratedly. There was even a smile tugging at the corner of her mouth. The lantern light had thrown her beauty into sharp relief. Adding her appearance onto how she had treated them, they really couldn’t scrounge up any hate for her in their hearts.
Seeing that her eavesdropping had been discovered, Bai Xiangxiu said embarrassedly, “This concubine was just watching the three of you getting along so well, and was a little envious in my heart.”
It was Xiao-mama’s turn to be embarrassed, saying, “This is just how we’ve been living together; there’s nothing to envy.”
“No, you’re all people living in happiness. Isn’t it your fortune to meet a master as magnanimous as Old Madame?” Who didn’t know how to give praise? Especially since these three people were all serving by the old madame’s side. Her words would definitely travel back to the old madame.
She was trying to pave an escape route for herself. In case the supporting male lead didn’t live up to her hopes, she had to strive for the favor of those two above. Although she had never changed jobs in modern times, she had never needed to. She had made great connections with her peers, and her leaders did not want to let her go.
Upon meeting a master as approachable as this girl, the three old servants and the girl had a rowdy night. The three old servants finally left for their beds after a while. Come the next day, they had no shortage of praise for Bai Xiangxiu when handing over the books.
However, they knew how to phrase their words properly. They only said that the old madame or the prince had great insight, and that this Mistress Xiu didn’t just look good, but was also a smart child, and the like. Of course, they also brought out the praise that Mistress Xiu had mentioned. Although not so much as a flicker crossed the old madame’s face, she was still quite happy on the inside.
Long Heng had been worried, so he made his way over to the old madame’s place. He couldn’t simply waltz into Bai Xiangxiu’s courtyard as he wished since that would only cause tongues to wag, but no one would think it odd if he visited his mother.
After entering the room, all he heard was a shower of compliments. The old madame took one of the account books and said, “She calculated them quickly, but her handwriting is…” a little poor.
Long Heng knew about her handwriting, of course. It could only be called graceful at best. He smiled and said, “If this handwriting was shown to others, they would only laugh. Let’s add on another class for her tomorrow!”
“However, there aren’t any old servants who can write very well in this estate.” Xiao-mama said honestly.
“This prince will do it personally.” Long Heng had long since wanted to find an excuse to get close to her, but he hadn’t found an appropriate reason. Wasn’t this the excuse he had been waiting for? Although they couldn’t do anything while her injuries still bothered her, just chatting seemed to be good enough. It was the first time he’d been so anxious to get acquainted with a lady since he was a young boy.
The old madame couldn’t wait for them to get close to each other and said, “That’s good, your handwriting is extremely good. However, she hasn’t recovered from her injuries yet, so take some care.”
Young people were prone to excitement. If she were to get injured again, that would be bad. The old madame was still counting on her helper!
“I know.” Long Heng felt like he’d turned over a new leaf. For the first time in his life, he could be described as impatient. Not more than four hours later, he had arrived at Winter Garden. As he walked in, he saw Bai Xiangxiu resting inside. She had been learning how to manage a household in the afternoon, and how to handle the affairs of each of the madames.
She had actually already known that a calligraphy teacher would be coming over, she just didn’t know who it would be. The old servants were acting all mysterious and hadn’t mentioned the identity of her teacher to her. As she was waiting, Xiao Shi announced the arrival of the prince. She hurriedly stood up to perform a greeting, “Good afternoon, Your Highness. Is anything the matter?”
For some reason, she no longer felt the fear she originally had towards this prince, perhaps due to interacting with him so much recently. However, she still didn’t want to interact too much with him, as he had a feeling that he would be doomed if she provoked him by accident.
Long Heng reached his hand out to help her up and said, “There is a matter. Go sit over there and learn how to write.”
“Ah? Ah…” The calligraphy teacher would actually turn out to be the prince? No wonder the eyes of the three old servants had been so strange. They were waiting for him!
She walked up to the writing desk and sat down obediently. However, there wasn’t much joy in her expression. She could only lower her head and wring her handkerchief so that the mighty prince wouldn’t see right through her thoughts.
However, from Long Heng’s point of view, she was clearly acting shy. Delight sprang unbidden from his heart and he walked over to sit close to her. The chairs at this writing desk were the kind that could easily seat two. Today, it just so happened that there were two people sitting on its surface.
However, Bai Xiangxiu was scared, so she quietly tried to shift to the side. Long Heng was actually nervous, especially since he could smell her body’s fragrance at such a close distance. He felt like he was heating up. As he hurriedly stood to take off his coat, he suddenly heard a groan.
Turning to look, Bai Xiangxiu had already shifted to the edge of the chair at some point, and when he had moved, she had been so frightened that she had fallen off.
“…” The corner of Long Heng’s mouth twitched unconsciously. Was he that scary? Or was she too nervous?
Xiao Shi saw that her mistress had fallen and quickly went up to support her, but after being glared at by Long Heng, she froze in place. Long Heng then reached out to Bai Xiangxiu with kind intentions and said, “Get up, what kind of manners do you have in sitting on the floor?” He had wanted to be gentle, but unfortunately, he didn’t know how.