Chapter 4: Staring Stunned at a Certain Supporting Male Character
The Lord’s Escaped Concubine had quite a few supporting male characters, simply because the female lead’s escape attempts had her meeting all sorts of men on the road. The only one she hadn’t met during her travels was the primary male supporting character, the epitome of soulfulness, Song Jiaoyue. His personage was like his name, a desolate, noble bright moon. And yet, he’d ended up utterly isolated in the end.
He was born to high status in the reigning dynasty as the first son of a high-ranking Song Country scholar, also the eldest princess’ only son. In the fifty-third year of the sexagenary cycle, he obtained the rank of Number One Scholar 1. As a result, everyone hailed him as Sir Jiaoyue! This Sir Jiaoyue was the only man whose status was on par with the male lead. Unfortunately, he never brought a beauty home.
Bai Xiangxiu’s heart trailed off into ellipses at the sight of him, because this man had once threatened the original Bai Xiangxiu from the novel once he found out she was persecuting the female lead! Of course, that hadn’t happened yet. Right now she seemed to be staring at the supporting male character in a daze when in reality, her thoughts had just wandered off.
“I’m sorry, cough... I was thinking about something.” How awkward! When would she break her habit of getting sidetracked? What if the other mistook her for a lovestruck fool?
Song Jiaoyue didn’t mind. On the contrary, he thought that her reaction just then was perfectly normal. But Bai Xiangxu wasn’t exactly interested in interacting with the supporting male character right now. It was more important to find out who was crying for help. Suddenly, she noticed a piece of cloth behind the supporting male’s shoes. A strange, black spiky object was sticking out from inside.
She felt her heartbeat quicken as she lightly pushed the supporting male aside. “Make way, make way.” Had she seen wrongly? Could this be...
Song Jiaoyue was expecting this young maiden to act shy, but to his great surprise, he was actually shoved aside. The next thing he knew, she was squatting on the ground, reverent and cautious as she stared at a pile of rags. The corners of his mouth couldn’t help but twitch. Since when was he less important than a heap of discarded cloth? He’d planned on leaving, but this girl’s strange antics had a magnetic pull, drawing him in. He didn’t know why, but he wanted to stay and see what she was doing.
Sure enough, she carefully picked up the rag before crying out in pleasant surprise. “Found it! I didn’t expect to actually find it.” She reached out her hand to grab the bundle, but quickly leapt up with a cry.
Song Jiaoyue couldn’t help but knit his brows together. It was clear that the object had thorns, but she had tried to pick it up with her hand anyway. This girl really is too careless.See how her hand’s been pricked... hmm? Bai Xiangxu herself seemed startled as well as she stared, unmoving, at the blood flowing out of her hand. She made no move to treat herself. “Miss, Miss... was your hand seriously injured?”
He was only helpfully reminding her, but it only frightened the girl into backing up a few steps. She possessed none of her earlier joy, but shook her head distractedly. “It’s nothing.”
“That thing is full of painful spikes, you might as well leave it,” he warned as he saw her reach for it again.
This time, the girl picked up the rags along with the item. Though she was still in a poor mood, she thanked him and raised the bundle of tattered rags, asking, “May I ask who this item belongs to? I want to buy it.”
Song Jiaoyue wanted to laugh. It was obvious that someone had thrown this thing away, but this girl was still being so honest. Yet somehow, he couldn’t bring himself to chuckle after seeing the blood on her hands. This girl really didn’t treasure herself. Sure enough, someone had thrown the thing away. It was from a merchant caravan that had returned from a distant desert. Because they were afraid of sunburn, they had broken off a piece of this local plant, which was said to alleviate the pain of sunburns. There was no need for such a spiky thing anymore when they’d reached their destination, so it’d been tossed aside until this girl had found it.
Song Jiaoyue quickly found out about all this after discreetly asking around. The girl who had actually taken away the plant didn’t say a word. As soon as she heard that they didn’t want it, she had taken the item and left without giving him a second glance. Song Jiaoyue couldn’t help but rub his face. He had always thought he was a welcome presence, but today he couldn’t even compare to an ugly, scary plant. He couldn’t resist a soft chuckle. It looked like there were indeed women in the world who weren’t attracted to one’s looks or power and influence. Then, what did those types of women want?
The girl who’d inadvertently earned the judgement that she loved nothing was actually very common. She adored tales of the prince and his Cinderella. Sadly, she knew they were just stories. Compared to stories, she’d rather just go back to reality. It was only after being pricked, no matter how much blood she shed, that she realized that she wasn’t going back. That realization left her shaken, and she didn’t have the heart to think of anything else.
With considerable care, she brought the cactus to where Sun Si’er had stopped his cart and waited until he appeared. The two of them didn’t say much as she climbed into the basket atop the cart and was brought back inside the estate. His assistance ensured everything had gone smoothly. She was safely ensconced inside her Winter Garden by the time the old female servants came to inspect the back courtyards.
Xiao Shi was almost weeping from anxiety, but immediately helped her change clothes and comb her hair. Still, she was alarmed when she saw the odd prickly plant her mistress had brought back home. “Find a flowerpot for me, I’m going to plant it properly.” It had taken so much effort to find this cactus. Even if getting pricked couldn’t send her back home, she still wanted it to live!
Xiao Shi could only go hunt for a pot. She watched as her mistress used chopsticks to place the plant into the dirt, then watering it before setting it by the window. When she finished, she just stared at it, lost in thought.
“Ah, Mistress Xiu, your hand!” Why are there so many wounds? Xiao Shi hastily found some ointment and smeared it on the cuts, adding reproachfully, “Mistress, you really aren’t taking care of yourself!” This little hand was so tender and delicate, but her mistress didn’t care that it was pricked all over at all.
“It’s not important. You don’t need to fuss, it doesn’t hurt.” She was used to getting pricked after tending plants and flowers back home.
Xiao Shi mistook her nonchalance for unhappiness. She then recalled that the lord had been busy ever since he returned and hadn’t taken notice of any of his wives in the back courtyards. Her own mistress possessed such looks, but was forced to remain forsaken on the fringes. Even the thought was enough to make her complain grievously. Meanwhile, Bai Xiangxu was thinking of what she’d do in the future. She’d finally found a cactus, but it hadn’t taken her back. What to do?
“You’re welcome,” Bai Xiangxu said reflexively.“What ‘you’re welcome?’ Mistress Xiu, what are you talking about?” After applying salve to her mistress’ hands, Xiao Shi was preparing to pour tea when she heard her mistress suddenly speak.
Bai Xiangxiu gave a start. “...You didn’t say thank you to me?” She truly had heard someone thank her just then. But after thinking it over, she realized Xiao Shi had no reason to thank her. Was she hearing things again?
Xiao Shi shook her head. “Mistress Xiu, you must be tired after strolling about all day. Why not rest a bit?”
“All right!” Maybe she was too exhausted? She decided to lie down for a bit.
Not long afterwards, the old female servants wandered over in groups of three and five. The old madame didn’t require these concubines to run over and pay respects or please her in any way, but she still paid close attention to the movements of these various mistresses. Thus, patrols were sent to each of the courtyards.
These old female servants had followed the old madame since youth. Every one of them was shrewd, capable, and experienced. Whenever they came, they simply sat down and exchanged a few pleasantries before taking their leave, asking about their comfort.
They were polite, but in actuality they were only there to ascertain the state of affairs before reporting back to the old madame. It was useless to tell them if one was short of clothing or food. Chances were, they’d backstab the complainant instead.
1. A rank bestowed to one who came first in the highest imperial examinations
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