Chapter 58 Test the waters
Shu Huan and Gu Xiran got the same amount of ten silver liang every month. Concubine Yun got half of that. Huiyun got one liang. Liangchen and Meijing got a string of coins. Those who did rough and crude work will get according to the distribution of their work. Every month, they would get three to five hundred coins.
- A coin is a tenth of a liang.
When they got their salary, everyone’s face was full of smiles and their mood was very good. The atmosphere of the whole resort was also much better. Only Shu Huan still had a bitter face. She repeatedly looked at the silver in hand and thought about whether she should exchange it for copper plates.
Here, ten silver liang was a lot of money. If she only used it to reward servants, it was impossible to spend all. Her past experience of spending money told her that she would be able to save if she gathered parts into a whole. If she gathered whole into parts, she would spend all the money without knowing.
After having thought for a long time, she still put the money away. While she let Meijing go call Ranmo, she turned to flip the box with agarwood. She intended to find two pieces to carve things and let Ranmo see whether she could sell them outside.
The scraps could only be carved into a small fan or play directly with them in the hands.
She took out two pieces of agarwood carvings. One was a carp made from redwood that was red in it. Anyway, she had a lot of time and carved very diligently. The scales in the red carp were well-defined and extremely elaborate, but it was only the size of a thumb. The material of the other one was a bit shabbier. It was a blooming lotus flower with the fragrance of bamboo. It wasn’t much bigger than the previous one. Even she felt that it was too exquisite. Hence, she made a hole in core of the lotus flower, she tore open a cornelian bracelet. She took five stones, used a silk thread to put them together as the detachable part.
Ranmo was someone clever and well-behaved. When he heard that Shu Huan wanted to sell agarwood carvings, he didn’t make a fuss and also didn’t ask much. He only carefully took over the carvings and asked, “For how much does second young mistress want to sell these two pieces?”
At the present, it seemed that the only servant she could trust was Ranmo. Shu Huan didn’t bother to pretend to understand something she didn’t. She shook her head, “Agarwood is similar to jade. There is no pricing, right? Moreover, it’s still a question whether someone would but these things. Just help me sell them. Naturally, the higher the price, the better.”
Ranmo complied and suddenly asked, “Didn’t second young mistress paint some stones a few days ago for fourth young master? Fourth young master likes them very much and stored the well. If second young mistress has more, second young mistress can also sell them.”
Shu Huan was stunned, “Those stones are just pebbles in the hot spring. I just carelessly painted something on them. It isn’t worth a lot of money.”
Ranmo laughed, “Second young mistress doesn’t know, but some people don’t like jade. They like to collect strange stones. If you don’t sell, how would you know if anyone would buy them?”
He was right. Anyway, she painted those stones when she was soaking in the hot spring and remembered the book The recordings of Stones written by San Mao. Carried away on a whim, she took a bunch of stones and painted on them. Aside from wasting some paint, she didn’t have a single fee. Even if they were sold at a very cheap price, she would still earn.
Thinking till here, she eagerly rummaged through the trunk. After searching for a long time, she found a dozen painted stones in a small drawer in the corner of the trunk. It couldn’t be helped, after she got over the excitement of painting, she would just carelessly throw them at a side. Even the few pieces she gave Gu Xihe was because Gu Xihe saw her paint them in secret when Gu Xiran wasn’t around.
After Ranmo left, she felt restless in fear that those things couldn’t be sold and her hope for making money would break. Just as she was sitting blankly in front of the window, she saw mother Du bypass the rose fence and walked in with a bamboo basket.
Shu Huan quickly rushed out to welcome her. She hadn’t arrived at the front door yet, when she smelled a delicious fragrance. It made her hungry. She smiled, “Did mama Du make something delicious again? You shouldn’t trouble yourself. It’s better for you to rest more.”
“Ever since, we arrived here, I just ate and slept. I’ve rested enough,” mother Du uncovered the bamboo basket that was covered with a fresh lotus lead and revealed the roasted bamboo partridge inside. She smiled lovingly, “This is the bamboo partridge that little Qiu brought back from the mountain. It is quite big and full of fat. I roasted it with pine wood. Come quickly and have a taste while it’s still warm. See how it taste.”
Shu Huan felt embarrassed to eat it, “Mama Du, Du Qiu brought this back for you to nourish your body. Why did you…”
Mother interrupted her smilingly, “I’m already so old. No matter how I nourish, I wouldn’t be rejuvenated. Besides, doctor Ji took care of me these days. I already got better and my bones are tougher than before. What more is there to nourish about? But you, you are so skinny that there isn’t much meat on your body. You should eat more.”
Shu Huan declined a few times, but she wasn’t a match for mother Du’s enthusiasm. She could only take over the basket and lead her into the building.
Unlike Du Qiu, mother Du was very extroverted. She wouldn’t hide her gratitude in her heart, but would express it as much as possible in actions and words. Not long after she got better, she began to make a variety of food and would find any excuse to bring it over to them. Moreover, in the first few days, she could say the words thanks more than ten times in a day. Until when Shu Huan pretended to be angry when she heard the word thanks and said that she (D) was too polite, did she (D) stop saying thanks.
It was just, although she didn’t say thanks anymore, but she sent food more frequently. It happened that she had good cooking skills. Even when she sent some ordinary food, it was extremely delicious. It made Shu Huan gradually become pickier about food. She even found the food made by the cook normal. There was no other reason for it. The dishes made by the cook were exquisite and there was also the unique taste of a restaurant. The food mother Du made had a strong home-like feeling. Sometimes, she could even shed tears while eating the food. It was not the food. It was the memories.
Bamboo partridges often grew up eating seeds of grass. Plus, the fact that it was roasted with pine wood, there was an out of the ordinary fragrance to it. Originally, Shu Huan wanted to wait for Gu Xiran and eat it together, but mother Du insisted that it was the best to eat it while it’s warm. After hesitating for a moment, she tore off the two chicken wings and covered the rest with the lotus leave. She shouted for Meijing, “Bring this to second young master. Let master Du and fourth young master eat together with him.”
As for Ji Danqing, he didn’t seem to like greasy food. Every day, he let the cook make light vegetables. Shu Huan took the fresh fruits send by the housekeeper of the resort. She put them in a plate with a lotus leaf engraved on it and let Huiyun send it to Bamboo Pavilion.
Mother Du looked with a face full of smiles at how Shu Huan busied herself, “Second young mistress is thoughtful.”
Shu Huan smiled bitterly. This was forced by the environment. In the past, she only knew to only have to open her mouth to be fed and hold out her hands to be dressed. Even the fruits had been handed to her hand by her virtuous and capable mother. Now, she had no choice but to be the substitute in this role of second young mistress. While she took care of herself, she also had to take care of others. Thinking of these, she secretly sighed and said, “Mama Du should call me little Huan.”
- Have only to open one’s mouth to be fed and hold out one’s hands to be dressed: lead and easy life where everything is provided.