Edited by Larkspur
Chapter 7: Life in Danger
The courtyard that Chu Jin Yao resided in also had five rooms at the front. There were two wing rooms, at the east and west, and one at the south. Chu Jin Yao stayed in the main room, the eastern room was the study and the western the bedroom. She slept in the westernmost room and the western wing was usually where she spent most of her day. Instead, the main hall was not used and wasted. She would often do needlework and meet the servants here.
Now Ding Xiang and Qiu Ju brought the sewing basket over and stood at the eastern room to wait for Chu Jin Yao. Qiu Ju caressed the brocade nostalgically as she asked, “Young Lady, this bolt of brocade is ten Zhang (1 Zhang = 1 feet) and since the clothes are used for meeting guests, then the pleats must be made tighter together. That would need at least two Zhang and the jacket would also require one Zhang. This is only for the outer layer and the inner lining will need to be cut separately. Will we be doing it ourselves or handing over to the embroidery house?
A bolt of brocade was about ten zhang (1 Zhang = 1 feet), one third had already been used up. Although Chu Jin Yao felt sorry about, she understood that the skirts of noble females were made extremely large. She was going to meet GuNaiNai thus her dress had to be made into seven layers and each pleat delicately folded. Based on this calculation, it would require three zhang to be fully pleated and if there were any mistakes in cutting, only more would be used.
“Let’s do it ourselves. It will be more refined when we do it personally.”
“All right.” Ding Xiang and Shan Cha took out the scissors as they spoke but Chu Jin Yao stopped them, “Wait. If one cuts from the middle, then the last two sides would be wasted but pouches can only be made from those small pieces. Pass me the ruler.” Chu Jin Yao took the ruler and directed, “Try it like this.”
Shan Cha hesitated, “Will it work? It is a good material and it would be bad to cut incorrectly.”
“It won’t. I have tried it before.” As Chu Jin Yao’s previous family condition was not good, there were many uses for once piece of cloth. All the clothes were modified and mended by her, so slowly, she was able to get a good grasp of it. She had confidence in how to save material and make it look good.
Shan Cha still refused to do it and it was Ding Xiang that went according to Chu Jin Yao’s instruction to draw and cut. Chu Jin Yao coordinated with her while a few second-ranked maids worked on supporting them. In a short while, a jacket was formed.
The second-ranked maid, Jie Geng, praised, “Really saved a lot. The most important thing is that the remaining materials are still intact and it is more convenient to make into other things in the future. If it was cut up, only small things like handkerchiefs and pouches can be made.”
Chu Jin Yao continued, “This is only the outer layer. The inner lining needs to be cut separately. Ding Xing bring the plain muslin over, I remember there is some left.”
After Ding Xiang brought it over, several maids gathered around and weighed it with their hands, “Young Lady, is this enough?”
Chu Jin Yao touched it and said affirmatively, “Enough.”
Ding Xiang, Jie Geng and the rest of them did not know what to do anymore. They just followed Chu Jin Yao’s instructions and in the end, it was indeed just enough.
Jie Geng sighed sincerely, “Young Lady, you are good with your hands.”
Next, it was cutting the pleated skirt. Shan Cha asked, “This material has a white base and violet flowers. It is all right to be made as a jacket, but for a pleated skirt, isn’t the colour too light?”
Chu Jin Yao was also worried about this. She took a closer look at the pattern on the fabric, “Cut it out first. When it is pleated, will then think about a solution.”
After the cloth was cut, Chu Jin Yao took a piece and sat at the side sewing one side of the seams. She used her hand to press it down and tried making a few folds before pulling out a strip of satin and marking it.
Ding Xiang, Jie Geng and the rest were sewing the edges when suddenly Jie Geng shouted, “Young Lady!”
The maids looked up as Jie Geng went over and picked up the pleats that Chu Jin Yao had fixed to take a look. Chu Jin Yao had sewn purple satin on the folds till the knees before cutting it with a pointed end, and then lined it with a stiffer material. The ends were adorned with tassels. Jie Geng liked it so much that she could not put it down, “This looks so good. Just like the feathers of a peacock. When all the pleats are completed and with all these stiffer pieces, it must look like a peacock spreading its tail. It will be beautiful!”
The maids all gathered around to watch as Chu Jin Yao demonstrated how to sew in front of them and closed the open ends. Skilled maids would learn upon seeing once but those who were slightly stupid could not remember and had to gather around Chu Jin Yao to watch another time. From time to time, a maid would bring a skirt over to ask, “Young Lady, is it done like this?”
Chu Jin Yao would guide them individually and for a while, the room was very lively. She was fast with her hands and in a short while, a skirt was finished. She was worried that Qin Yi would be bored watching all this. As such, she picked up a piece of cloud brocade, made the excuse of requiring things in the inner rooms and said, “I am a little tired after sitting outside. I will take a rest inside.”
“I will serve Young Lady.” Jie Geng stood up. “Young Lady, since you are tired, don’t take the basket. Leave it to us.”
“It is all right, I will just sew a few stitches in passing.” Jie Geng took the basket from Chu Jin Yao’s hands, followed her to the western room and placed it on the ledge of the window seat. Chu Jin Yao spoke, “I will rest here by myself. You can withdraw and do the needlework with the rest.”
Jie Geng hesitated but in the end was sent away by Chu Jin Yao. When there was finally no one in the room, Chu Jin Yao then said quietly, “Are you still here?”
Where else could he go… Qin Yi said helplessly, “Here. What happened?”
“There were a lot of people just now so it was not ideal for me to talk to you. Are you bored from watching this?”
Even though the jade pendant rested on Chu Jin Yao’s chest, she could not stay in the room all day without seeing anyone. Thus, when she went out and talked to others, Qin Yi would stay by himself. Other than waiting, there was nothing he could do.
Qin Yi also felt bored. Since when had he cared about trivial and boring things like women making clothes? Much less watch them doing needlework. But now he could not return and had to stay by Chu Jin Yao’s side. What else could he say?
Chu Jin Yao said, “I felt that the days of an unmarried daughter of a noble house are just too idle. It is fortunate that there are clothes to be made today and there are things to do. It is really too idle if one had to follow the days before to just sit as I did before.”
Qin Yi agreed. During the journey back, he was thinking of how to return to his body as he still had a lot of things to do in DaTong but he could only stay here to accompany a group of Inner Courtyard females to kill time. Qin Yi felt impatience in his heart, but now he watched as Chu Jin Yao’s slender wrists flew back and forth, weaving past the gorgeous brocade. Her hands were dexterous and light and thus quickly settling the measurement of the fabric. He was able to see the special delicate beauty and the irritation in his heart subsided.
Chu Jin Yao flipped the skirt to the side and in a short moment, she had fixed the pleats at one side. Qin Yi looked for a while before speaking, “You are indeed better than them at their skills. The stitches are neat and faster in terms of speed.”
“This is nothing.” Chu Jin Yao continued, “I am used to sewing and mending clothes. On the contrary, it is embroidering that I feel that I will make a fool of myself. One will not be able to see anything if I sew clothes but when GuNaiNai comes and she instructs us to sew handkerchiefs, I will be found out. Eldest Young Lady and the rest all learned embroidery since childhood. What can I do?”
Chu Jin Yao suddenly asked Qin Yi, “Do you know how to embroider?”
Qin Yi was caught off guard by the question. He smiled and slowly retorted, “What do you think?”
Chu Jin Yao was not scared off by Qin Yi’s whistling cool tone and instead smiled, “I see that you know everything I asked and really thought that nothing could stump you.”
Qin Yi rolled his eyes secretly and did not want to be bothered by her. However, Qin Yi’s mood was much better after Chu Jin Yao had interrupted him like this.
Chu Jin Yao placed all the scissors and needles back into the basket before taking the jade pendant off and placing it upright on the table. Her identity now was a Young Lady of a Marquis family and making clothes for herself was a way to kill time. If she was bored, she could throw it to the maids anytime. She looked at the jade pendant and asked, “Have you been in a bad mood these days?”
Qin Yi did not expect that even Chu Jin Yao could sense it. His ability to hide his vital energy was really going backwards.
Since Chu Jin Yao could sense it, Chu Jin Yao did not want to deliberately lie to her. He sighed softly, “Yes.”
Chu Jin Yao felt very complicated in her heart. These days it had been Qin Yi that taught her how to speak and what to do. She had never thought that when he was helping her, he had something on his mind.
Chu Jin Yao was very touched. She took the jade pendant out and was about to ask about it when she suddenly said in surprise, “Why is there only half of the red flakes in the jade?”
“This is what I am worrying about.” Qin Yi said, “I have a hunch that once all the red flakes disappear and if I still do not recover, I fear that I will not be able to survive.”
When Chu Jin Yao heard it, she lost her voice, “How can it be?”
Qin Yi sighed exhaustedly and was no longer as confident as before. “How could I not think about it? But I have a hunch and it is most likely so.”
Chu Jin Yao was speechless. She lifted the jade pendant in a hurry to take a closer look. Indeed, the red flakes were indeed sparse. This was just a conjecture. It could be that nothing would happen when all the red flakes disappear. But, what if?
Chu Jin Yao could not say anything. Although she had only met Qin Yi for a short period, in her heart she had already treated him as a close family. When she was in her most difficult times, it was only Qin Yi that was willing to reach out to pull her and it was only Qin Yi that accompanied her to talk when she had nowhere to go in the residence. Even though he had no form and was not a person, in Chu Jin Yao’s heart, he was more important than any of her blood relatives. She felt that it was good to talk, laugh and interact with him like this and did not even think that he would leave her one day.
The air suddenly became so heavy that it made it difficult to breathe. After a while of silence, Chu Jin Yao said softly, “Can I help you?”
When Qin Yi heard it, he was surprised. After a while, he laughed, “It is not relevant to you?”
“How can it not be relevant?” Chu Jin Yao continued. “Since you are born from my jade pendant then we are a family. We have been interacting for so long already, so how can one say it is not relevant at all? It is fine that I have nothing to help you but now you obviously need it. If I still don’t do anything then what sort of person am I?”
When Qin Yi heard her words, he frowned darkly, “Do you know who I am? You dare to talk such nonsense?” To say a family together, no one under Heavens would dare to say such things.
“I know. You are an earth spirit that is born from the jade. Since you woke up in my jade pendant, then that is a fate between us.”
The first words shocked Qin Yi but the last ones almost angered him to death. He somewhat gritted his teeth as he spoke, “I have said that I am not a spirit.” Which spirit dares to possess him?
“Then what are you?”
At the end, Qin Yi was finally defeated, “Fine. It is as you say.”
Chu Jin Yao still felt that this person was an unfathomable mystery. She muttered softly, “I said you are a spirit but you don’t admit to it. When I ask you, you are not willing to say. What is so shameful about being a spirit? You see I even grew up in a poor family and I have never felt embarrassed about it.”
Qin Yi behaved as if he were deaf, unable to hear or speak. Lately, he had truly changed a lot. If it were the past, who would dare to say that he was not human in front of him and even dare to grumble a Crown Prince like him?
That’s right. Qin Yi was the foundation of the current dynasty and the Crown Prince that became famous due to the shooting incident recently.