Chapter 6: Housekeeper Suffers
丫头 yatou – usually referring to a servant girl; can also mean girl, latter usually used as a form of endearment
姨娘 yiniang – concubine, not the legitimate wife; added to the end of the maternal name to show their (lower) status compared to the wife
夫人 furen – legitimate wife; would be added to the surname of the household as a form of address; usage is similar to the English “Missus”
通房 tongfang – literally, passing through the room; the master of the house lets a 丫头 yatou serve him for a night; lower status than a 姨娘 yiniang
奴婢 nubi – slave servant, another term for a servant girl; usually translated as “this slave”. The male version would be 奴才 nucai
园 yuan – literally garden; here, it means courtyard, which is where noble women will be spending most of their time, since they can’t go out freely
儿 ’er – literally child; added to names as a form of affection, closeness or endearment
女儿 nü’er – daughter; often used by themselves in third person, because speaking in third person is respectful (and cute)
(Edit: I made a huge mistake! Housekeeper Zhang’s name was actually housekeeper Zhao! Even if he doesn’t deserve to have his name remembered correctly, all instances of Zhang have been replaced with the correct reading of Zhao. My apologies!)
(Edit: I was advised that Zhao’s position 管家 guanjia was more equivalent to the role of a butler in feudal China. It certainly makes sense, since he seems to hold a rather high position amongst the servants. Might take a bit to get used to it.) 😅
Even in his wildest dreams, butler Zhao never expected Yun Qian Meng would go so far as to catch even a slight slip of the tongue. He couldn’t help but feel inwardly vexed at his own carelessness.
But seeing her gentle, smiling expression, he thought in his heart that if not for the Empress Dowager’s backing, this young lady would not have spoken in such a way!
He reckoned that she was only putting up a brave front at the moment, thinking that she didn’t dare to really offend himself as the butler!
Therefore, butler Zhao, while drawing back the corners of his mouth, looked disdainfully at her as he explained, “Young miss should not get angry! This Su yiniang’s position might not be official, but everyone has addressed her as such for many years, even xiangye allows it! Young miss should not damage the relationship between father and daughter over such small matters.”
Yun Qian Meng had anticipated long ago that he would use this excuse. She didn’t show any anger. Instead, the smile on her face widened……
“Butler, I really dislike what you’re saying! My relationship with father, how can other matters generate animosity between us?!” Even though her voice was soft, Yun Qian Meng’s gaze carried fierceness that caused others’ hearts to tremble!
Butler Zhao was momentarily scared, but he still could not grasp if she was really angry or only putting on airs. He could only hurriedly smile while apologizing, “Yes, of course, young miss is correct! Only, after so many years it has become a habit. Even more so, the fu is currently governed by Su yiniang. If she wasn’t given any status, I’m afraid that the more talkative servants won’t accept her authority!”
He observed Yun Qian Meng’s expression as he spoke, properly reminding her that the xiangfu as a matter of fact governed by Su yiniang, hoping that she would succumb to the circumstances!
“I don’t simply understand this reasoning! I clearly remember when Su yiniang married in, father did not give her any status. If father had not personally called her ‘Su yiniang’ at the gate earlier today, I’m afraid that she would only have been a tongfang yatou or a nubi! Butler Zhao, giving me such a reason, the things that father said, how can you servants actually dare to oppose behind his back?” Following her questioning, Yun Qian Meng’s smile gradually vanished, replaced with an expression full of nobility that made others revere her. Especially, her clear and penetrating gaze caused Butler Zhao’s heart to tighten, his disdainful look immediately vanished!
“Butler Zhao, why have you stopped speaking so suddenly? Unless you mean to say that, my status is beneath that of a yiniang?” When she saw Butler Zhao lower his head in silence, Yun Qian Meng unhurriedly stood up, slowly stepped in front of him and swept a biting cold gaze across the house guards behind him. She coldly snorted in her heart as her body gave off an extremely chilling aura!
“This one doesn’t dare, doesn’t dare! Young miss is naturally much more honorable than that yiniang, it is this one’s mistake, pleading young miss not to take offense! Only, today young miss called this one here, is it not for Mu Chun’s matter?” Realizing that using Su Qing’s authority was inconvenient, butler Zhao urgently changed the topic, then raised his hand, signalling the house guards behind him to bring Mu Chun away forcefully……
“Hold it!” he didn’t expect Yun Qian Meng to suddenly shout at them to stop their movements……
Everyone was shocked in their hearts. One after another, they looked towards Yun Qian Meng; her expression grave and stern. Her icy-cold eyes looked straight at butler Zhao and the others, a few of the house guards actually felt growing fear in their hearts one by one……
“I only let Shui’er inform butler of my decision, not let butler muster up a large group to come over and grab someone! Don’t tell me, I even need butler’s permission to request for just one yatou?” Yun Qian Meng’s gaze was as sharp as a knife, stabbing directly at the butler……
“Young miss, this is but Su yiniang’s……” Butler Zhao was just about to explain, when he saw that Yun Qian Meng’s eyeshad suddenly turned red. She turned and walked towards the direction behind his back……
“Nü’er greets father!” Her voice trembling, with tears spinning in her eyes, Yun Qian Meng feigned a strong appearance and bowed towards Yun Xuan Zhi that had just walked in Qi Luo Yuan……
“What is the matter?” When he saw many house guards standing inside Qi Luo Yuan, Yun Xuan Zhi’s eyes showed some anger, even if he was not particularly affectionate towards Yun Qian Meng, she was still a lady of the household, how could he allow lowly servants to see a lady’s real face!?
When he noticed that her expression was as if she was being treated unfairly, Yun Xuan Zhi’s anger intensified. He directly stepped in front of butler Zhao, his sharp gaze made the butler’s heart shiver in fear……
Butler Zhao had never anticipated that Yun Xian Zhi would appear in Qi Luo Yuan at this moment. After so many years, Yun Xuan Zhi had never once stepped into Yun Qian Meng’s courtyard, moreover, he was usually uncaring towards her, these were things that everyone in the xiangfu knew! This change was so sudden that he creased his eyebrows momentarily as he did not know how to react.
Still, he had experienced big scenes before, after all. He quickly began to respond and opened his mouth to explain, “Xiangye, this……”
But he was once again interrupted……
“Father, nü’er is useless, wanted a yatou to serve herself, but didn’t know that xiangfu had many rules and regulations, actually needed to get Su yiniang, butler and others’ permission!” Waving for Mu Chun to stand in front of Yun Xuan Zhi, Yun Qian Meng lightly wiped her tears, gently and cautiously stated. Her previously cold eyes, were now unexpectedly flickering with fear!
“Xiangye, it’s not like this! Nucai even if borrowing courage from the heavens, still doesn’t dare to order young miss around ah!” Butler Zhao saw that Yun Xuan Zhi’s expression was poor and immediately changed his story.
But the guards he brought over to Qi Luo Yuan were not things that could be erased with just words, Yun Xuan Zhi’s eyes showed an ominous glint as he looked at butler fiercely.
“Father!” Yun Qian Meng, once again quietly opened her mouth, lowered her head and softly spoke, “Father, Shui’er and Bing’er are in the end Empress Dowager’s people. Nü’er even if wronged, to keep peace within the family, cannot complain to them! But Mu Chun is a nubi of this house, even if nü’er lets anything slip, it will not fall into Empress Dowager’s ears!”
Yun Xuan Zhi had never expected that she make such a statement, his anger immediately dissipated by half. His eyes were now smiling at her as he couldn’t help but praise, “Good, Meng’er is sensible!”
Quickly exuding a prestigious aura, he looked at the butler and the guards before commanding, “Quickly scram! Listen clearly, this is the eldest young miss’s courtyard, how can you enter or leave as you please? In the future, if the eldest young miss needs anything, no need to go through Su yiniang!”
“Yes, of course! Servants understand!” Butler Zhao knew that he barely avoided a calamity. He immediately answered with fear and trepidation. In no time at all, everyone of them disappeared from Yun Xuan Zhi’s sight!
After they had left, Yun Xuan Zhi turned to leave as well, only just noticing that Qi Luo Yuan was shabby and in disrepair; then saw that Yun Qian Meng pitifully only had three people to serve at her side. After a short deliberation, he said, “Someday, have butler Zhao bring some people to fix up this courtyard. Chen Wang might have cancelled the engagement, but there is still Empress Dowager’s support, don’t be too concerned about it!”
Seeing how he worriedly reminded her, Yun Qian Meng smiled coldly in her heart. Her face maintained a meek expression as personally sent off Yun Xian Zhi at the gate to the courtyard. She then bowed and deferentially said, “Nü’er understands, father please be at ease!”
Only, while Yun Qian Meng turned the winds in her favor, on the other side Su Qing was swallowing her anger!
When Su Qing heard butler Zhao’s report, her apparent gentle expression instantly showed a hint of maliciousness!
Pinching a handkerchief tightly, “Listen well, from now on, delay the monthly allowance to Qi Luo Yuan by ten days!”
She wanted to see, without the monthly allowance, how would Yun Qian Meng even survive!