Published at 30th of January 2019 04:23:25 AM

Chapter 34

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A Guideline on Improving Living Conditions (1)

As things went uncontrollable, Cuiwei just gave up and led Danju and Xiaotao to safely guard Minglan’s main room, turning a blind eye to other situations. At a time, the House of Clear Dusk was in a complete mess without any binding rules. Lower level girl servants imitated adult servants, either hanging out or visiting other courtyards to chitchat. Only Yancao and a few others performed their duties and earnestly did their work, which could be attributed to Fang Mama’s effective training for these years.

The competition between women in the Mansion lied in patience, which Minglan had while others didn’t. The first impatient one coming over was Liu Kun’s wife who suggested and indicated that Minglan should discipline the girl servants in her House.

Minglan responded naively, “They are nice. Did they do anything wrong?”

Liu Mama swallowed a great deal of anger and struggled to answer, “Mei’er showed a cold-face to first young lord and you never educated her. This is tolerable, but there are other girls that dress up gaudily and wander about to gossip!”

Every day, the way Changbai went to school was just a few steps away from the House of Clear Dusk. Cuiwei, Danju and a few others seamlessly guarded Minglan from nuisance, so Yinxing, with her zeal unable to release, waited at the door every day with her neck stretched long, stepping forward to greet Changbai whenever she saw him and vigorously invited him into the House of Clear Dusk. Changbai was so annoyed by her, so he complained a little. Hearing this, Liu Kun’s wife, who assisted Madam with domestic affairs, was startled at once and hurriedly reprimanded Yinxing, who recently turned very grumpy and even talked back, “Mind your own business, Mama. I’m now sixth young lady’s hand. She never criticized me. Why should you be so officious?”

Liu Kun’s wife was blown up but Minglan embarrassedly mumbled, “Yinxing was just being hospitable. On the other hand, she was sent here by Madam. How can I not save her face?”

Liu Kun’s wife walked away resentfully. Danju was eager, “My lady, we can deal with the bitches now!”

Minglan smiled and shook her head, “Not yet.”

Two days later, Wang shi detained Minglan after morning greetings and scolded her, “Your servants are behaving increasingly outrageous. The girl called Ke’er should pull and touch your third elder brother on his way. You should discipline her!” In fact, what Wang shi had in mind was Yinxing who appeared in front of Changbai more frequently.

Minglan continued to play the stupid, “Ke’er originally came from third elder brother’s house. He gave up the girl he favored and sent her to my place. I’m afraid he will be angry at me if I punish her.” Wang shi, hating Minglan for being so timid, tried hard to encourage Minglan in disciplining servants but the latter made no respond except for bobbing her head in hesitation and suspicion.

Propping Minglan’s arm and walking out from the main yard, Xiaotao said in excitement, “My lady, now that Madam has ordered, we can punish the uneducated maids  now!”

Minglan still smiled and answered, “Just be patient and wait.”

Counting the days one by one, Minglan finally saw the day coming when Sheng Hong had a day off. The whole family went to greet Old Madam and Minglan deliberately dressed herself up carelessly. After curtseyed to Old Madam, everyone sat down in order based on age. Old Madam Sheng pulled a sullen face and sat up in silence. Seeing Old Madam Sheng’s unhappy face, Sheng Hong asked the reason for her bad mood.

Old Madam Sheng pointed to Minglan and fumed, “Ask your sixth girl. Her House of Clear Dusk is almost overturned by a batch of uncourteous servants. Rectify it!”

Sheng Hong was stunned, “What do you mean by this, mother? Minglan, what happened?”

Minglan who looked like a useless girl stood up cautiously. Wang shi got alert because she knew recently the House of Clear Dusk had been chaotic, which many of the old servants had reported to her. Old Madam Sheng would know the situation sooner or later, but Minglan never asked Old Madam Sheng to prop her up, a thing made Wang shi feel satisfied with Minglan.

Others remained calm when, seeing Minglan muttering for quite a while and constantly peeping at Changfeng and Molan but just couldn’t make herself understood, Rulan couldn’t wait but shout out loud, “Daddy, let me tell you. Sixth younger sister is such a mild person that she let her girl servants run wild. Now, they even dare to put aside their work and hang out in the garden all day long. Gardens are left untrimmed and rooms untidied. They won’t listen to orders and keep gossiping about seniors. When my first-level servant rebuked them, they even talked back!”

Sheng Hong slapped his thigh in anger, “Minglan! Why didn’t you discipline your maids!”

This was the first time that Sheng Hong responded to the complaint from Rulan who felt greatly encouraged and made her speech before Minglan could answer, “The most brash two in sixth younger sister’s house were sent over by third elder brother. How might she discipline them!”  

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Sheng Hong hesitated when he heard Concubine Lin was involved. He took a glance at Changfeng who was bowing the head and then at Wang shi suspiciously, who, getting his meaningful glance, knew immediately that Sheng Hong suspected her of framing up Concubine Lin. Therefore, though she got pissed off immediately, she choked down her anger and forced a smile, “My dear daughter, stop talking nonsense. Your third elder brother must have chosen the best hands for your younger sister.”

Rulan retorted at once, “I’m not. Of the two girls, one is so patronizing that she even turned a cold shoulder to big brother; the other pretends to be a lady that falls ill every day and waits for others to take care of her. Her manner is more exaggerated than her lady! Minglan, you tell others if I’m lying or not!” While speaking, she pulled Minglan to testify for her.

Minglan put on a grieving face, saying, “Maybe my place is not good enough for them, which have both upset big brother and troubled Liu Mama to repeatedly send for a physician to our courtyard. Staying here only for a dozen of days, Ke’er has fallen ill five times. Luckily, third elder brother often comes to visit her, which makes her recover faster.”

“What?” Sheng Hong was shocked.

Old Madam Sheng said in a cold tone, “… It’s seen that at the door of the House of Clear Dusk, a girl servant dragged Changbai in broad daylight. What a scene!” Wang shi was so irritated that she squeezed the cushion on the chair with her fingers.

No one knew the son better than his father. Sheng Hong looked up at Changbai who was wearing an indifferent face and then at Changfeng who looked guilty, immediately figuring out what Rulan said was real. He cursed Concubine Lin secretly for being troublesome and that even if in an attempt to get rid of the girl servants she didn’t like, it was not necessary to drag Minglan in it. On the other hand, Molan turned really anxious, winking at Changfeng constantly, but said with a smile, “Calm down father. Don’t be upset by these trifles. The ignorant servants will be lectured. Sixth younger sister, it’s partly your fault. No matter who sent you the servants, once they enter the House of Clear Dusk, they are your servants for you to scold or beat as you wish. Maybe you have a soft heart, but you’ll be bullied by them.”

Hinted by Molan’s wink, Changfeng made his attitude clear at once and said to Minglan apologetically, “I’m sorry for making you troubles sixth younger sister, but back when they were at my place, they were well-behaved. They might not be used to your place. Just teach them more; they are clever to learn!”

By just a few words, he tried to cover the seriousness of the situation. Rulan sneered with the corners of her mouth tilted up. Old Madam Sheng hit the ceiling, thumped hard on the table and said in a louder voice, “What? Trifles? She has a soft heart? You’re her elder sisters and brothers. It’s only a dozen of days after Minglan moved out of my place, look what position she is in right now! Should a young lady stoop to compromise before servants? How is it sixth girl’s fault for being bullied by servants?!”

Noticing Old Madam Sheng was infuriated, Changfeng and Molan stood up from chair in a hurry to display their respect.

Sheng Hong turned to gaze at Minglan, finding that she was much thinner with pointed chins and pale complexion, not a bit like the chubby girl in rosy complexion when she lived in the Hall of Peaceful Ages. He instantly frowned and asked Wang shi in a scolding voice, “How did you take care of her? You didn’t even ask when Minglan’s house is in such a mess?”

Wang shi was suddenly hauled in, so she grumbled, “… I thought sixth young lady was old enough to manage on her own…” She had planned to let Minglan clear away Ke’er and Mei’er. Before she could finish her explanation, Sheng Hong cut in, “Old enough? She’s been with Old Madam and just moved out to live alone. Why didn’t you teach her in disciplining servants but only be an onlooker?”  

Though the words were a bit harsh, it hit right to the point. Wang shi now looked sullen with resentment boiling in her heart. Minglan realized that this was the time, so she stood up slowly and said in a low voice, “Father, do not blame Madam. She is very nice to me and sent over two girl servants. It’s me being too incompetent to discipline servants.” Her voice got weaker and weaker, mixed with crying.

Wang shi’s face looked less icy but she still pretended to be wronged, “The two girl servants were sent to Minglan by Changbai, I have to save his face, but other servant girls did follow their improper manners.” While talking, she bowed her head to peep at Sheng Hong.

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