Chapter 27 The carved rabbit
When Shu Huan got the tools for carvings that Ranmo secretly sent over, the sky was already faintly dark.
The gift was a birthday present and naturally, the recipient couldn’t know about it beforehand so that there would be a surprise later. Thus, Shu Huan hid those tools and that Wonderful Redwood of Yingge very well. As if nothing had happened, she went to eat with Gu Xiran. After that, she found an excuse saying that she ate too much and need to go out for a walk. Then, she dragged Liangchen and Meijing to the yard.
Concubine Yun chased after her and handed her a small white jade box that was roughly the size of a thumb. She smiled slightly, “Second young master asked me to send this over; it’s mint cream. If you are bitten by mosquitoes, it wouldn’t itch anymore if you rub some on the bitten area.”
While talking, she gave her a small porcelain bottle, “If second young mistress doesn’t like mint flavor, there is also camphor grass that can be used to avoid mosquitoes.”
After Shu Huan said thank you, she took them. When she turned and wanted to leave, concubine Yun said, “Second young master said that second young mistress shouldn’t go too far and should come back soon.”
“I got it,” After Shu Huan promised, she let Liangchen walk in the front with the lantern to lead the way. She then walked out of the yard.
Without the moon shining brightly during the night, then when evening fell in the ancient era, it would be really pitch dark.
Tonight, the sky happened to undergo a change of weather. The moon was covered by clouds. Liangchen didn’t walk too far with the lantern. Besides, it was windy, and the tree shadows were swaying as the leaves rustle back and forth. Under such circumstances, there was no one in the garden. It was a good time for chatter.
Meijing was a bit less courageous. She couldn’t bear it anymore, “Second young mistress, it’s so scary outside here. Why don’t we go back? Can’t we just take a walk in the yard?”
Shu Huan laughed, “If you are afraid, you can go back first.”
Meijing also had a lantern. She could go back alone, but when she turned and looked, the way where they came from was already hidden in the boundless darkness. She immediately felt frightened. How would she dare to go back alone? She only stuttered, “It…it’s better if I follow you…”
Shu Huan came out to find a place to carve that Wonderful Redwood of Yingge. There was no need to go far. She went to the gazebo she visited last time and sat there. She then let the two maids rest the lantern on the stone table and took out Wonderful Redwood of Yingge, studying it carefully from all sides.
From the outside, this redwood didn’t seem any different from other dry wood. However, when the carving knife went into it, she could see that there was a layer of dark green inside it which felt softer.
It was difficult to use such material to carve fine things. If she made a fragrance string, she would need a lot of work to polish it! Shu Huan looked at it for a long time. Suddenly, a thought popped up in her mind…
She didn’t have to make it finely. It would be fine if she carved the general outline. This would make it easy to carve and would not waste too much material.
While she was thinking, Meijing couldn’t hold it in anymore and asked, “Second young mistress, what is this? It just looked like a rotten wood, but the fragrance coming from it is very pleasing.”
Shu Huan couldn’t help but laugh. In this house of fragrances, there was finally someone as ignorant as her!
She didn’t answer yet when Liangchen said, “This is fragrance of redwood, right? I’ve seen bracelets made from this at madam’s. However, they weren’t so fragrant.”
Shu Huan nodded. She thought for a while and asked, “Do you know which of the twelve animals of the twelve-year cycle second young master belongs to?”
- The animals of the twelve-year cycle (Chinese zodiac) are rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, goat, monkey, rooster, dog and pig.
Meijing shook her head. Liangchen thought for a while and then said, “Second young master’s zodiac seems to be the rabbit.”
That was really unexpected. She felt that Gu Xiran’s zodiac should be a fox!
Well, at least a rabbit was easy to carve.
Shu Huan smiled slyly. Then, she picked up the knife and began to carve.
Meijing looked from the sidelines and asked curiously, “Is this the birthday gift for second young master?”
It had been a long time since Shu Huan carved something. It felt a bit unfamiliar to her. At this time, she didn’t dare to distract herself and was focused wholeheartedly. When she heard the question, she only let out a “hmm” sound.
The two maids had been taught from the moment they entered the residence. They knew that if the owner didn’t want to say something, they shouldn’t ask much. So, they stayed at her side and quietly watched her carve.
Because she didn’t have to carve finely and this Wonderful Redwood of Yingge was also very soft and easy to carve, not long after, the outline of a fat-bellied rabbit was carved out.
The more Shu Huan carved, the funnier she felt it was. Her knife moved like it was flying.
She didn’t know how much time had passed. When her senses returned, a short-tailed rogue rabbit with eyes of a bee and a rounded nose was in her palm.
When she looked up, she saw that Liangchen and Meijing had a weird expression. So, she picked up the rogue rabbit and waved it in front of them. “Is it not beautiful?”
Liangchen bit her lips, “It’s beautiful, but the appearance of this rabbit seemed to be too obscene…”
Meijing’s childish innocence hadn’t faded yet. She came closer and looked. Then, she smiled and said, “I think that this chubby rabbit is quite interesting. It’s just that we don’t know whether second young master would like it or not.”
She already finished carving it. Even if it was not good, there was no other way! However, if the future generations got to know that she used such a valuable Wonderful Redwood of Yingge to carve a rogue rabbit, presumably they would scold her for wasting natural resources recklessly!
Shu Huan felt half rueful and half excited after a mischief. She held the rogue rabbit and looked at it from every sides. Then, she made a small hole in the back of its head. She thought that she would wipe it when she goes back and then put a silk string through the hole. After that, it could be considered that she finished the job.
When she thought about it, she felt funny. Originally, she wanted to carve a seal and a fragrance string. She didn’t expect that she would carve a waist pendant in the end. It was just, she didn’t know whether Gu Xiran would be willing to wear such a unique pendant. Speaking of it, this kind of thing was really easy to carve. It seemed that if she was idle in the future, she could find a few pieces of wood or radishes to play with!
Liangchen pointed at the pieces that had been carved off on the table and said with some regret, “You don’t want these anymore?”
“These…,” Shu Huan put all those pieces together and use her hand to force them into a ball. She didn’t expect that they really could stick together like soap. She put it in her purse, “Keep it. It may be of some use in the future.”
Speaking till here, a cool breeze blew over. She sneezed and felt that it was a bit cold. She asked, “How long have we been out?”
Liangchen thought for a moment, “At least two shichen.”
- Shichen: one of the 12-hour periods of the day
That is four hours!
Now, it was deep in the night!
After Shu Huan said “oh no”, she hurriedly packed up the things. With the rogue rabbit in her hand, she grabbed a lantern and ran back. Liangchen and Meijing chased anxiously behind her. “Second young mistress, take it slower. Don’t fall while running too fast!”
She rushed back to Plum Flower Pavilion. When she saw that the lights in Gu Xiran’s room was still lit, she felt more reassured in her heart. She quickly sent the two maids away to sleep. She sneaked quietly into the study to find a place to hide the tools of carving and that redwood rogue rabbit. Then, she patted her clothes, tidied her hair, did as if nothing had happened and raised the curtain of the room…
The moment she lifted the curtain, she smelled a delicate and sweet scent. Then, she saw that concubine Yun had her long black hair unbound. She sat on the edge of the bed with semi-transparent satin clothes. She was doing needlework with the help of the candle on the bedside. Gu Xiran had a book in his hand and was lying on the bed with closed eyes. Seeing that his breathing was steady, it was apparent that he was asleep.
The scene in front of her was very heart-warming. It was obviously beyond her expectation. She originally thought that since she came back later, she would probably face that stinky face of Gu Xiran…
While she was shocked and she didn’t know whether she should walk in or walk out, concubine Yun heard the movement behind her. She hurriedly stood up, smiled and whispered, “Second young mistress has returned? Second young master couldn’t wait anymore and slept first. The stove in the small tea room is still keeping the nourishing soup warm for you. If you want to drink, I will go pour a bowl for you.”
Shu Huan shook her head, “It’s already very late so I won’t drink it anymore. You can go rest.”
Concubine picked up her needlework and retired quietly.
Under the candlelight, Shu Huan looked at the swaying bamboo curtain in front of her. Then, she turned and looked at the sleeping Gu Xiran. She sighed in her heart. It seems that she really had to think of a way to vacate the East Chamber. Otherwise, if she encounters such awkward situations again, she wouldn’t even have a place to retreat to!