Edited by Larkspur
Chapter 2: Dove Occupying a Magpie’s Nest (Part 2)
As Chu Jin Miao walked nearer, all the maids and servants gave way to Chu Jin Miao and greeted her while speaking auspicious words. When Madam Zhao saw Chu Jin Miao walking over, she smiled at her from the bronze mirror, “You are here again to create trouble.”
“How is Daughter creating trouble? I am obviously being filial to Mother.” As Chu Jin Miao spoke, she took out the hairpin from a box on Madam Zhao’s dressing table with familiarity and gestured, “Mother should wear this today as it matches with the bright red dress.”
The woman that was combing the hair teased, “Fourth Young Lady is the best at dressing up. With Fourth Young Lady’s gems of wisdom, we, who are styling Furen’s hair can no longer show our skills.”
Chu Jin Miao smiled and chatted with Madam Zhao amid laughter. Chu Jin Yao was standing not far away and suddenly felt that she was particularly redundant.
Watching Chu Jin Miao’s familiarity with arranging the jewelry, it was obvious she was accustomed to it since young but Chu Jin Yao did not even recognise the bottles and boxes on the dressing table.
Chu Jin Yao lowered her head and looked at her hands. Ever since she could remember, she was already helping her family with housework and the other girls in the village were all like this. Chu Jin Yao had never thought before that there would be a group of people in this world that would live a life that she could never even think about. However, could this be blamed on her? If it were possible, she hoped that she was not wrongly carried away those years ago and grew up in the Marquis Residence safely, becoming a qualified Young Lady of the Marquis Residence.
Actually, Chu Jin Yao was not living well these few days. Even though her living environment had turned upside down, allowing her to see things that she could never even think about, she was not happy. She could feel that everyone in the Residence of Marquis Chang Xing, from Madam Zhao, Chu Jing Miao, the aunties, and sisters, all the way down to the maids and servants, actually discriminated against her. She was really incompatible with the wealthy and glorious Residence of Marquis Chang Xing.
Every day when Chu Jin Yao went to bed, she would wait till the maid on night vigil fell asleep and cry secretly under her blanket. There were even people serving young ladies of big households when they were sleeping and Chu Jin Yao did not want to cry in front of others as it was not good. So, she could only secretly hide and feel aggrieved. When she left, Older Sister Su Hui had caught up and given her a bag of clothes. Chu Jin Yao knew that Older Sister feared that she would suffer in the other family and tried her best to give the best things to her. However, upon arriving at the Residence of Marquis Chang Xing, Chu Jin Yao discovered that even the servants that swept the floors of the residence would not wear such grey cotton dresses. But in the village, it was only during festivals did they bear to wear these types of dresses.
When Chu Jin Yao arrived, someone changed her clothes and naturally Older Sister’s cotton dress could not be taken out. What’s more, when Shan Cha saw it, she almost threw it away. Chu Jin Yao quickly snatched it back and hid it by her side on the bed. When it was dead at night, she would secretly take it out and cry while holding the clothes.
Chu Jin Yao now finally knew why Father Su and Mother Su treated her like that. They always did not have a good expression and looking at Elder Sister Su Hui’s behaviour, she obviously knew about it too. However, her heart couldn’t help but soften and often helped her secretly behind Father Su’s and Mother Su’s backs.
After Chu Jin Yao finished crying at night, she woke up the next day in high spirits again. Even though everyone did not like her now if a relative suddenly appeared in the Su family and stayed, the sisters would often talk secretly about it. This was human nature. Chu Jin Yao told herself along the way that as long as she looked and learnt well, treated Madam Zhao sincerely and got along with Chu Jin Miao, they would see the good in her.
However, when Chu Jin Yao now saw Madam Zhao and Chu Jin Miao choosing jewelry affectionately, while she stood at the side being incomparably unnecessary, Chu Jin Yao suddenly doubted her self-confidence.
Could she really assimilate with this mother and daughter?
Just as Chu Jin Yao was feeling awkward, the young maid by the door greeted the approaching person like a silver bell, “Eldest Young Lady has arrived. Greetings to Eldest Young Lady.”
A soft and pleasant voice spoke, like a gently flowing water, “Is Mother inside?”
“Yes. Fourth Young Lady and Fifth Young Lady are also inside.”
There was a pause outside the room before gentle sounds of footsteps approached. The maid in the Western room opened the curtain up. The light shone as a gentle-looking female with a dignified temperament appeared in front of everyone.
“Eldest Young Lady.”
Eldest Young Lady, Chu Jin Xian, nodded and greeted Madam Zhao before standing at the side to wait for Madam Zhao to dress up. Chu Jin Yao followed everyone and greeted Chu Jin Xian, “Greetings to Eldest Sister.”
Chu Jin Xian nodded lightly and retracted her gaze before standing by Chu Jin Yao’s side. It was only upon seeing Chu Jin Xian that Chu Jin Yao realized how a young lady of a high-born household was like in stories. No matter what Chu Jin Xian did, it was all soft and gentle. She was soft-spoken, like a talent among beauties. Even though Chu Jin Xian treated Chu Jin Yao indifferently, Chu Jin Yao did not care as she treated everyone the same. Moreover, Chu Jin Xian stood by her when she came in, and thus Chu Jin Yao was very relieved that she did not need to stand alone anymore. In Chu Jin Yao’s heart, she was not surprised by the praises that everyone showered Eldest Young Lady with. Her mannerism was that of an Eldest Sister and just the way she casually helped Chu Jin Yao out of a fix, Chu Jin Yao felt touched as she had never been on the receiving end of any kindness before.
However, Chu Jin Yao discovered that Chu Jin Xian was not that close to Madam Zhao. At least, she would not act in a spoilt manner like Chu Jin Miao. Of course, Chu Jin Xian was unable to act spoiled but the reason was more related to her being raised by Old Furen’s side since young.
With Chu Jin Xian’s company, Chu Jin Yao did not feel that time was difficult to pass. Slowly, the few Shu daughters arrived and everyone stood silently at the side. When Madam Zhao was preparing, one could only hear the laughter from Chu Jin Miao and Madam Zhao. After Madam Zhao had dressed up, the servants had set up breakfast. Marquis Chang Xing would not come over to Madam Zhao’s to eat and due to Second Young Master’s weak health, he ate by himself all these years. Thus, only the female members of the family ate together. Marquis Chang Xing’s concubines assumed their positions to serve Madam Zhao dishes and Madam Zhao let them pick a few dishes before speaking, “All right, you are all people with sons and daughters. There is no need to wait on me, withdraw to eat your meal.”
The concubines withdrew after that. Even though the concubines gave birth to sons and daughters, they were not qualified to eat at the table. These concubines were actually considered treated well. Only with children at their side, would Madam Zhao give them dignity. Those TongFangs (lower ranked concubines) without children, had to stand behind the legal wife as the established rule and serve Madam Zhao and the young ladies till they were done before leaving.
Chu Jin Yao’s eyes spun as she saw the beautiful concubines, each of whom was attractive in their own way, and sighed in her heart. It was indeed that big households were indeed different.
After eating, Madam Zhao brought the daughters over to Old Chu Furen for greetings. Old Chu Furen was an awe-inspiring person, with a slightly square jaw and deep wrinkles. At first glance, she looked like a very powerful person. This was very different from those old women that Chu Jin Yao saw in the villages. She dared not be negligent and followed the rest of the young ladies to greet Old Furen respectfully.
Old Furen wore a forehead protector and looked low-spirited. She did not want to deal with these granddaughters, thus she said, “A few days ago, the weaving house in the South sent another batch of brocades. They are of bright colours which are suitable for young ladies. Each one of you can pick one and make clothes. When GuNaiNai (married daughter) returns, you all will be able to meet the guests presentably.”
The GuNaiNai that Old Chu Furen spoke of was Chu Zhu. She was Old Furen’s only Di-born daughter and was married to the Residence of Prince Huai Ling of Second Rank’s Second Household as the official wife. Her SaoSao (Sister-in-law) was Prince Huai Ling’s Consort. To be married to the Prince Residence from a Marquis lineage, it was considered to have married up. So, when Chu Zhu returned to her parental family, it would be done grandly. A married daughter was like spilled water, thus when GuNaiNai returned, they would be guests. Chu Zhu married well so the nieces, like Chu Jin Yao, would need to specially make new clothes when meeting GuGu (Father’s Sister).
Which young girl does not like new clothes? Moreover, these were the brocades from the South. They were all tributes and rarely seen outside. Even though the Residence of Marquis Chang Xing was a Marquis Residence, they were only able to gain a few bolts a year. In the past, these would end up in Eldest Household’s hands, to make clothes for Eldest Young Lady and Fourth Young Lady. The rest of the Young Ladies only had those corners. Now ZhuMu mentioned that everyone would have a bolt each, these young ladies were very happy.
A group of delicate females went to the partitioned room to pick fabrics. Although Chu Jin Yao did not know what brocade was, based on the expression of others, she knew it must be a good item that was hard to come by and thus followed along.
Chu Jin Yao felt that it was inconceivable. Previously at home, it was difficult to buy a bolt of cloth in a year and their clothes were all worn by Su Hui before it was her turn. At this moment it was not the New Year or any festival but they could just make clothes with a word and they even had a bolt of brocade each.
Chu Jin Yao had no personal wealth since young, thus she had calculated what she could do with the rest of the cloth.
Chu Jin Yao was after all a girl and was incessantly excited to be able to choose her clothes according to her preferences. Chu Jin Yao, who was immersed in joy, did not notice that a few red flakes had disappeared from the jade pendant that had never left her side.