Edited by Kiskaiya
Updated on 8 Aug 2019
Chapter 2: Rebirth
In the large black and white courtyard, the floors were slabs of limestone, the pillars were vermilion red and there were complicated Begonia patterns engraved on the railings. After an entire night of rain, the rain drops slipped down the leaves and onto the ground.
The purple gold incense burner was made exquisitely like small animal and was currently emitting costus root scent which smelt exceptionally fresh in the early autumn.
In each corner of the bed, small, brightly coloured tassel sachets of fragrance were hung. By the side of the couch, two tall maids were carefully fanning the person on the bed.
“The fever should be serious as one fell into the water in such a cold weather. Young Lady had been sleeping for a day and night and the physician said that she should be awake by now. Why is there still no movement?” The green clad maid’s face could hardly conceal her anxiety.
“Gu Yu, it’s almost been half a shichen (1 shichen = 2 hours). Why has the doctor not arrived yet?” The other maid clad in purple asked.
“The Second Mistress was looking on closely and this is considered a shameful matter so the residence is concealing the matter.” Gu Yu looked at the person on the bed, “Furen and Master are not in the capital and Eldest Young Master is likewise not in. Old Furen is also biased towards the East courtyard. Seeing that Bai Lu and Shuang Jiang have yet to return after looking for a physician, it must be that they were stopped. Isn’t this as good as pushing Young Lady onto the road towards her death! This cannot be done. I have to go out and see.”
As the words were spoken, the person on the bed who was listening moaned in a weak voice.
“Young Lady is awake!” The purple clad maid called out in surprise, quickly running to the bedside to see the young female rubbing her forehead as she slowly sat up.
“Jing Zhe…” Shen Miao mumbled.
“This servant is here.” The maid in purple smiled as she held Shen Miao’s hand, “Is Lady feeling better? After sleeping for a day and night, it seemed that the fever had subsided but one still did not wake. This servant was thinking of calling a physician over again.”
“Does Young Lady want some water?” Gu Yu handed a cup of tea over.
Shen Miao looked somewhat puzzled at the two before her.
She had four first rank maids: Jing Zhe, Gu Yu, Bai Lu and Shuang Jiang. They were all very intelligent and quick-witted girls. Unfortunately, not one was left in the end..
When she was a hostage in Qin, in order to protect her from being humiliated by the Crown Prince, Gu Yu died at the hands of the Crown Prince of Qin. With Bai Lu and Shuang Jiang, one died along with Wan Yu on the marriage journey, another died in the fight for favour with Mei Furen in the Inner Palace.
As for Jing Zhe, she was the prettiest of them. In the beginning, in order to help Fu Xiu Yi ascend to the throne and win over the officials, Jing Zhe volunteered to be a concubine, using her beauty to lure the official’s support. In the end, she was killed by the official’s wife with a random reason.
After learning of the death of Jing Zhe, Shen Miao cried so much she almost had a miscarriage.
Now, seeing Jing Zhe standing in front of her with her usual beautiful self and Gu Yu smiling at her, both maids at the tender age of fourteen or fifteen, put Shen Miao in a momentary trance.
After a moment, she bitterly smiled and closed her eyes, “The illusion one saw before death was just so real.”
“What is Young Lady saying?” Gu Yu put the cup aside and touched Shen Miao’s forehead, “Has the fever confused you?”
Feeling the ice cold hand that touched her forehead was both comfortable and real, Shen Miao suddenly opened her eyes and her gaze sharpened. She slowly lowered her head and looked at her own hands.
They were fair and delicate, with neatly trimmed nails. One could see that it was a pair of pampered hands as they were smooth and adorable.
These were not her hands.
Her hands were already becoming rough when dealing with the matters of the court with Fu Xiu Yi.. She copied every account book, was like a servant who was bossed around in Qin country, battled in the Inner Palace for the sake of Fu Ming and Wan Yu and washed clothes in the Cold Palace until her hands were filled with calluses and her joints were swelling. How could they have such a delicate appearance?
“Bring me a mirror,” Shen Miao said. While her voice was still very weak, her tone was firm.
Gu Yu and Jing Zhe looked at one another in dismay. In the end Jing Zhe brought a mirror out and handed it over to Shen Miao.
In the bronze mirror, the young lady’s face was round with a full forehead, a pair of large almond eyes that were slightly red, a rounded nose and a small mouth. It was still a child-like face and was not very beautiful, but it was lovely and refreshing and had a well behaved, shy appearance.
This was the face that the Royal family praised for being one that could ‘bring fortune to one’s husband’.
A clear and sharp sound rang out as the mirror suddenly landed on the floor. The sound of the shards resonated in her heart, setting off large stormy waves.
She pinched herself ferociously and two tears fell.
The Heavens did not turn its back on people. The Heavens did not turn its back on her!
She had returned!
Gu Yu and Jing Zhe jumped in fright. Gu Yu quickly went to pick up the pieces on the floor and anxiously said, “Young Lady must be careful not to hurt one’s legs.”
“Why is Young Lady crying?” Jing Zhe wiped Shen Miao with a handkerchief but saw that Shen Miao had a strange look as she mumbled, “I have returned back…”
She grabbed Jing Zhe asking, “What year is it?”
Jing Zhe was somewhat afraid but replied honestly, “Sixty-eighth year of Ming Qi. What is wrong with Young Lady? Is any part of the body unwell?”
“Sixty-eighth year of Ming Qi, sixty-eighth year of Ming Qi…” Shen Miao eyes widened. She was fourteen in the sixty-eighth year of Ming Qi. It was then that she came upon Fu Xiu Yi and fell so foolishly in love that she forced her Father to marry her off. It’s the year when she forced Fu Xiu Yi to marry her!
And now… She heard Gu Yu’s words by her ear, “Young Lady shouldn’t scare us servants. The fever has just subsided a little, it could be that one’s mind is still unclear. Eldest Young Lady is really too vicious, this is practically calling for Young Lady’s life…”
In the past lifetime, Shen Miao was usually by Fu Xiu Yi’s side, running tasks for him, and the days in Shen residence were completely bland. But, she could remember this event distinctly.
She could remember everything related to Fu Xiu Yi clearly.
Shen Qing told her that Fu Xiu Yi wanted to come to Shen residence to visit Second and Third Shu, so she pulled her over to secretly look. However, upon reaching the garden, Shen Qing pushed her down from the rock garden.
Due to other officials being around when she was fished out from the pond, Shen Miao was seen as a joke. Her obsession with Prince Ding for the past half of the year had been spread throughout the capital and, with this incident, she became a laughing stock.
In her previous life, after she woke up, she accused Shen Qing of pushing her into the pond, but no one believed her. Shen Miao suffered grievances and was punished by Old Furen to be confined in the temple and was only allowed out after the Mid-Autumn Festival. Shen Yue had secretly let her out and brought her to the Yan Bei Hall’s chrysanthemum appreciation feast where she committed many blunders.
Shen Miao closed her eyes.
There were three households in the Shen family where Shen Xin headed the First household. He was Shen Miao’s father and was the son of old General Shen and his Yuanpei Furen (aka the original official wife). The Yuanpei died during her middle age so old General Shen married a second wife and she gave birth to Shen Gui from the Second household and Shen Wan from the Third household. After old General Shen died, the second wife became the current Old Furen. The Shen family were not separated and all three brothers supported one another mutually with such good relationships that this became an anecdote.
The Shen family had a military lineage but upon reaching Shen Xin’s generation, other than the First household who held some military power, the Second and Third household took the route of civil officials. Shen Xin was often away for military expeditions while Shen Furen followed with her husband’s army. Shen Miao was left in Shen residence under the care and teachings of Old Furen and the two ShenShens.
After teaching this and instructing that, she did not get anywhere and was still an ignorant and incompetent straw bag that would stick to the man she met shamelessly.
In the last life, she only felt that her aunts and Old Furen treated her particularly well and it was only Shen Yue and Shen Qing who needed to learn rules and etiquette, not her. Now, it seemed that it was a plan to cause her to fail badly due to their excessive praise.
Bullying her because her parents and older brother were not at her side and showing one side in front while showing another side when backs were turned, this let Shen Xin and Shen Furen feel that this daughter was even more like a straw bag each time they returned to the residence.
This time, she would like to see how these people would shamelessly repeat the same old tricks!
Just as she was thinking this, she heard the girl who was outside sweeping the yard run in saying, “Young Lady, Second Young Lady is here to see you.”