Tidying Up the Courtyard
Ling Long Pavilion
“Miss, you’ve managed to return. You scared this servant girl to death.”
The rims of Hong Xiu’s eyes were bright red and her eyelids had been twitching without stop. Seeing Xiao Yuan safe and sound, she could finally calm down.
Xiao Wan cast a sideways glance at Hong Xiu. “Seeing as how little courage you have, how could I run into any problems?”
“We don’t know whose tongue wagged. In just a moment, the miss’ secret has been divulged. You better not ask this servant girl to go catch them!”
Hong Xiu furiously shook her fists.
Xiao Yuan sneered, “Who else could it be? If nothing else, there’s always people who can’t bear to see good things happen to us. Yesterday there was a person who was following behind us.”
At Xiao Yuan’s reminder, Hong Xiu immediately realized the truth, “It was the eldest miss!”
At this moment, Cai Ju coincidentally walked in, the rims of her eyes were faintly red.
Xiao Yuan raised an eyebrow, “What’s the matter?”
Hong Xiu followed her line of sight. Cai Ju paused for a moment. “It was this useless servant girl. This servant girl saw Hong Luan sneaking off somewhere so I followed her. I didn’t think that when I returned, my bed would be soaked with water and that many of my clothes would be cut apart and ruined. I also lost a jade pendant. Even though it wasn’t worth much, my mother had gifted it to me before her death.”
Xiao Yuan’s brows knitted into a frown. She had returned for quite a few days but she hadn’t had the time to deal with the courtyard’s maidservants. Xiao Yuan certainly need to take advantage of this opportunity and put things in order.
“Do you remember who it was?” Xiao Yuan sternly asked.
Cai Ju shook her head, “This servant girl doesn’t know. This servant girl only managed to find this under the head of my bed.”
Cai Ju unclenched her hand and, in the center of it, laid an exquisite pearl earring.
This belonged to a maidservant as they were all given the same set of earrings.
“Go call all the courtyard’s maidservants to come out. If in a quarter of hour, they don’t come out, they’ll be immediately sold off!”
Xiao Yuan raised her chin and directed her orders to Hong Xiu. Hong Xiu yelped but quickly ran out.
Cia Ju was somewhat taken aback. The tears in her eyes were still falling, “Miss…”
“Cai Ju, seeing as how you’ve already become a senior maid servant serving at my side. The kind of person I want is someone who can take the helm, someone who can teach the lower ranked maidservants, a senior maid servant who can share some of my responsibilities.”
Xiao Yuan took a pause after each word. Cai Ju was slightly surprised, feeling somewhat uneasy as she bit her lip.
“This servant girl has disappointed you, miss.”
“In a short while, I will give you your final opportunity that will decide if you leave or if you stay. It will all be up to you.”
As Xiao Yuan spoke, she had already stepped out. Hong Xiu had already gathered everyone together and they were all standing in the courtyard.
Hong Xiu counted the number of people. “Miss, there is a total of 25 people, two are missing.”
Xiao Yuan’s eyebrow raised, “Who are they?”
“Grandmother Wang and Grandmother Li.”
Xiao Yuan smirked, these two people had always been up to no good and tried to evade work. They were opportunists through and through. Normally, they would tell many of the lower ranked maidservants to slack off and were most fond of asking around about the latest rumors on inner manor affairs.
“Close all the courtyard doors. Do not let anyone come inside.” Xiao Yuan coldly commanded, arching an eyebrow.
Only people working at Ling Long Pavilion knew how good working at Ling Long Pavilion was. The money was good and work was quite easy. Because of this, many people racked their brains and tried to find ways to squeeze in. Today was the first time they had seen Little Ninth this angry. For the moment, they couldn’t quite figure out her intentions. They shared looks of dismay with each other.
“Yes!” Hong Xiu rushed to close the doors.
Xiao Yuan stood on the porch and with a grim face said, “I will give all of you the time it takes for half a stick of incense to burn to bring out the earrings that were distributed to you. Not even one earring must be unaccounted for.”
“What do you need those for?”
“She’s asking you to go do it, so go do it. Why are you just standing around talking?” Hong Xiu, with a stoic face, stood on the porch criticizing them. She had placed both of her hands on her waist and gave off a very imposing aura.
The many maidservants scattered like a flock of birds. They rushed into their rooms and flipped over things in search of their earrings. There were some that were missing or lost. The maidservants anxiously ran around in circles and searched high and low for them. When they finally found the earrings, they immediately let out a sigh of relief.
“Sister Hong Luan, why is the miss suddenly gathering everyone? Could she be helping Cai Ju let out some anger?”
One low ranked maid servant worriedly asked and another low ranked maid servant also walked over, her face somewhat pale.
“That’s right. Hong Luan, could it be that the miss is angry? You’ve served by the miss’s side for the longest so you should understand the miss’s temper. Come on, out with it. Are we all doomed?”
Hong Luan bit her lip and waved her hand. “That’s unlikely. The miss was temporarily angry at me. She blamed me at that time for trampling the lord’s most favorite flowers. Cai Ju, that coarse maid servant, what could she understand? When the miss becomes angry at her, she’ll have me back by her side. Once she has a comparison point, then she’ll know who’s more attentive. As for that Cai Ju, she can go back to where ever she came from.”
Hong Luan’s face looked indifferent, but internally, she couldn’t figure out what was happening. Ever since Xiao Yuan came back from the Da Zhao temple, she changed. Little by little, Xiao Wan had been pushing her aside until finally, demoting her to a third rank maid servant. This matter had been plaguing Hong Luan for awhile.
Hong Luan pondered. It was definitely Hong Xiu going behind her back and saying bad things about her to Xiao Yuan, driving a wedge between her and the miss. Once she had the chance, Hong Luan would definitely explain things clearly to Xiao Yuan.
“That’s good. That’s good.” The two low ranked maid servants patted their chest. If it wasn’t for Hong Luan managing to sweet talk her way back to the miss’s side and taking the position of senior maidservant, they also wouldn’t dare to bully Cai Ju.
“All right, quickly, come out. Don’t make the miss wait too long.”
The two low ranked maid servants spoke, Hong Luan’s expression slightly changed. In her hands, she was missing one earring. Where had the other one gone?
Hong Luan lowered her head and started searching for it. She searched for awhile but saw no trace of it and she was starting to become anxious.
Damn, she had definitely left it behind at Cai Ju’s place. Hong Luan’s heart abruptly sank to her stomach when she came to this realization.