Edited by Larkspur
Chapter 17: Praying Mantis Stalks The Cicada
The chapter title is only the first part of the Chinese phrase- the praying mantis stalks the cicada oblivious to the oriole lurking behind. The phrase serves as a warning to being so focused on a narrow goal that one neglects the greater danger in the bigger picture.
Zhang Momo did not notice the emotion in Chu Jin Miao’s gaze as she was sighing. The fortune of the world was truly difficult to decipher. Not only Madam Zhao was favoured, she even encountered such an event of switching babies making Old Chu Furen hold a slight reproval towards herself. Even though Chu Jin Yao grew up outside and was not close with Old Chu Furen, she was after all a direct bloodline of the Chu family. How could one wrong one’s bloodline for an inexplicable outsider like Chu Jin Miao?
Ever since that day when Chu Jin Yao lost her way outside Rong Ning Tang, Old Furen knew that the second-ranked maids by Chu Jin Yao’s side were young maids that had just entered the residence. Thus, Old Furen was very dissatisfied with Madam Zhao’s method of handling the situation. To let the second-ranked maids be at such a level, one could only think about how Madam Zhao would be careless and disregard the people by Chu Jin Yao’s side. However the more Old Furen reminded Madam Zhao to value Chu Jin Yao, the more Madam Zhao felt that Chu Jin Miao was pitiful. Everyone feared that Chu Jin Yao would be suffering grievance, then no one would bother about Chu Jin Miao? So, Madam Zhao would dote on Chu Jin Miao even more.
Zhang Momo was an outsider and could see things clearly. She also felt that Madam Zhao was being totally muddle-headed. Chu Jin Miao was after all a farmer’s daughter and her parents could be considered as sinister as they had switched the noble bloodline for wealth and they actually treated the daughter of the Chu family that harshly for the past thirteen years. Marquis Chang Xin and Old Chu Furen did not teach them a lesson because of Chu Jin Miao. Zhang Momo was able to distinguish right from wrong but Madam Zhao was in the situation and with so many years of relations, thus she was unable to let Chu Jin Miao go and was not willing to let her suffer grievances.
Zhang Momo sighed to herself. If Madam Zhao continued like this, sooner or later her loved ones would be at odds with her. Just look at how Eldest Young Lady was siding with Fifth Young Lady, even Eldest Young Lady would feel bitterly disappointed at her mother’s action. However, Zhang Momo was unable to remind Madam Zhao. Even though she was Madam Zhao’s nanny and had raised her since young, she dared not compare herself with Chu Jin Miao. If she were to vaguely remind Madam Zhao, she would tell Chu Jin Miao in a blink of an eye and at that time Zhang Momo would have to suffer the consequences. This Fourth Young Lady was a powerful character.
When Chu Jin Miao heard Zhang Momo’s change of words, she sneered in her heart but still smiled kindly on the surface, “Momo, can you go to the small kitchen to make some golden fruit pastry? I suddenly want to eat your handmade snacks.”
When Zhang Momo heard it, she had a startled expression on her face as she hurriedly looked at Madam Zhao. Madam Zhao smiled, “Since Miao-er wants to eat, then go and make it. It doesn’t take too much effort anyway.”
Zhang Momo sighed repeatedly in her heart. Madam Zhao was still confused! Chu Jing Miao was getting rid of her and might even say some things, but Madam Zhao agreed to it. Zhang Momo could not help but feel resentful that she had failed to meet expectations.
She was already old enough so why did she not have any ability to discern?
After Madam Zhang left, Chu Jing Miao’s lips curved up and she sat down in front of Madam Zhao, “Mother, I am not your biological daughter but still occupied the legitimate daughter title and even let Chu Jin Yao live outside for thirteen years. Do you hate me very much?”
“No!” Madam Zhao was taken aback, “Why do you speak of such a thing?”
Chu Jin Miao lowered her eyes and wept, “I also want to be filial to Mother but others keep on saying that I am a turtle dove occupying the magpie’s nest, covet glory and splendour and let the real daughter suffer hardships outside. It is all my fault. Mother, this daughter is unable to be filial to you in this lifetime. In a few days, send me back to the village. In my next lifetime when I am reborn with a better fortune, I would be filial to you properly so that others would not scold me.”
Madam Zhao had never expected to hear such words. She was stunned before becoming furious, “Who said these things to you?”
Chu Jin Miao wiped her eyes and did not speak, making Madam Zhao angry as she looked, “Is it the servants? Old Furen’s people? Or is it Chu Jin Yao?”
When Chu Jin Yao was mentioned, Chu Jin Miao shouted, “No. It is not. Stop asking.”
“Preposterous!” Madam Zhao was so furious that she slammed the table. “I thought that she was a good one and did not create any commotions these few days. One did not think that she would dare to say such things to you in secret! Miao-er, don’t worry. Mother will seek justice for you. As long as Mother is around, you will be a Young Lady of a Marquis Residence with a peace of mind. There is no need to worry about these things.”
“Mother.” Chu Jin Miao tugged on Madam Zhao’s sleeves. “ZhuMu has specifically mentioned that you have to be more meticulous with Chu Jin Yao. If you scold her because of me and when it reaches ZhuMu’s ears, she will be dissatisfied with you again.”
Madam Zhao had relied on a surge of anger to say those words, but upon Chu Jin Miao’s reminder, she realised that Old Furen was still around. Her mother-in-law was still so powerful that Madam Zhao had always served her with a suspended heart. If Old Chu Furen really intervened, she would not be able to deal with Chu Jin Yao at will. Madam Zhao was angry and frustrated. She had unknowingly placed all her anger towards her Mother-in-law onto Chu Jin Yao as she spoke with gritted teeth, “I need to have permission from others to even discipline my own daughter?”
“Even though it is said like this, Chu Jin Yao still has Old Furen’s protection. Even Eldest Sister is speaking out for her everywhere. We both are weak, so how can we compare with the favourite of Old Furen’s?”
“That said, she is so precious that no one can manage her?”
Chu Jin Miao continued, “Mother, you must not be angry. Methods are taught by people. She has Old Furen protecting her so although you are unable to manage her, it is still workable. She has not received much education and is used to being poor before coming to a wealthy, noble area. If one were not educated well, one would definitely be blinded by riches and develop bad characteristics. Thus, you have to find her a Momo that would manage her in all aspects. Even though she would resent you, this is for her own good! Even ZhuMu would understand it.”
“A Discipline Momo?” Madam Zhao frowned and repeated half-believingly.
“That’s right. You should assign her a stricter Momo to educate her in money management and supervising the servants. She can also advise her in the rules and regulations. This is then truly good for her! If one were to indulge her because one is unable to bear it and give her whatever she wants, it would nurture a bad character. Once the root is rotten, no matter how much effort is used in the future, it would be useless.”
Madam Zhao nodded, “What you said makes sense. She is after all my daughter and even though I cannot look after her all the time, I have to send someone over to teach her well. Even though she will definitely resent me, as long as I know that it is for her own good, I would not care about those false names.” Madam Zhao spoke before looking towards Chu Jin Miao, “She treated you badly, but you requited evil with good and thought for her. You are really kind. She, after all, grew up in a poor family and does not have an open-minded personality. To suddenly see so much money, it would be inevitable to be blinded and ostracise you. You must not be calculative with her.”
“I understand.” Chu Jin Miao pursed her lips as she smiled.
The skies were dark and Chu Jin Miao had to return to the courtyard to rest. Just as she went out, she happened to meet Zhao Momo as she came back with a plate of golden fruit pastries. Upon seeing Chu Jin Miao, Zhao Momo stopped, “Fourth Young Lady is leaving? The fruit pastries have just been fried. Do you still want it?”
“I suddenly do not want to eat it anymore. Momo can take care of it yourself.” Chu Jin Miao placed her hands into her sleeves and spoke lightly.
It was Chu Jin Miao who wanted to eat golden fruit pastry at night and even asked Zhang Momo to personally make it. But when it was done, she then said that she did not want to eat it anymore.
Zhang Momo did not speak and stood at the side with the plate of pastries as she sent Chu Jin Miao out. She lowered her head, and felt in the swift moment when Chu Jin Miao went by her, she raised her eyes and glanced very quickly and lightly. Even though it was a light and fleeting glance, it seemed to be immersed in ice water, piercing one’s skin till one hurt.
In Huang YiNiang’s courtyard, Third Young Lady was complaining to Marquis Chang Xin.
“Father, I know I am dull-minded. When Momo was teaching, Fourth Young Lady and the rest were able to learn it at once, but I could only get it when I returned to study and had to practice till the lamps needed to be lit. Father, is there no way else other than me being this stupid?”
“How can it be?” Marquis Chang Xin often came to Huang YiNiang’s courtyard and would often see Third Young Lady. With the increased encounters, Marquis Chang Xin turned more sympathetic towards this Shu daughter. When Marquis Chang Xin saw his daughter’s drooping face and downcast expression, he felt more tenderness towards her and softened his voice, “The clumsy bird flies early. Diligence would be able to make up for it and you are willing to work hard. This is far better than your sisters. If you continue to be like this, many little drops make an ocean, and it will always pay off.”
“It will really happen?” Third Young Lady revealed a surprised smile. She then frowned and bit her lips in distress, “Fourth Younger Sister and the rest would understand after hearing it once in class and do not need to study upon returning. However, I would need to study until lamps are lit before I could be of equal to them. Does Father really not blame me for being stupid?”
Huang YiNiang heard it and also added in due course, “Not only till the lamps need to be lit. Every time I go to see Third Young Lady, the skies are already dark and she is still in the room practicing calligraphy properly.”
“Still studying when it is dark?” Marquis Chang Xin was surprised. The young ladies of the Chu family were all pampered. The elders would supervise the young masters’ homework very strictly but would be quite easy-going with the young ladies. It was considered extremely diligent when one continued studying after lessons and to even practice till the skies were dark and lamps needed to be lit, it was something that Marquis Chang Xin dared not think of. After the surprise, Marquis Chang Xin felt very satisfied with Third Young Lady, “That’s not bad. With you being so diligent, you will become successful in the future.”
Upon seeing the appreciation in Marquis Chang Xin’s eyes, Third Young Lady was very happy and she revealed some bashful joy on her face as if she was overjoyed but slightly embarrassed after being praised by her father. She knew that Marquis Chang Xin liked this kind of bashful, innocent and frank character. Third Young Lady continued, “It is good that Father does not dislike me. Even if I am not chosen to be a study companion, with Father’s praise, it is worth the reward.”
Marquis Chang Xin smiled. “Your ZhuMu will be able to see your diligence. As for being the County Princess’s study companion, being smart is secondary. The most important thing is to be diligent. The County Princess is smart enough. She just does not have the patience to study and if there is a diligent person like you at her side, it is a good thing.”
Upon hearing these words, Third Young Lady and Huang YiNiang traded a glance and saw the joy in the other’s eyes. Did this mean Marquis Chang Xin was choosing Third Young Lady?