Chapter 20: Old servant, Mi mama
嬷嬷 mama – an older female servant
奴婢 nubi – slave servant girl; often used by servants speaking to their masters
夫人 furen – legitimate wife, missus;
小姐 xiaojie – young miss; usually from a good family, but can be used to refer to any young girl
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
“nubi greets da xiaojie!” After dinner, Mi mama was brought before Yun Qian Meng by Mu Chun.
At the moment, the room was very well-lit with candles in all four corners. Yet Yun Qian Meng was still studying the register, wearing the same pale-yellow garment from daytime and a yellow skirt that was embroidered with golden orchids. Her full head of fine black hair was lightly drawn in half, only adorned by a single orchid openwork jade hairpin. Her face was elegant like the moon; her eyes calm like water, as if able to see through everything. Mi mama who had encountered countless people actually momentarily forgot her etiquette and followed Yun Qian Meng‘s silhouette closely with her eyes, almost thinking that she was looking at the shadow of the previous furen……
Only, when furen had lived in this room, it didn’t look so crude and shabby!
If furen was watching in heaven and saw her living environment now, how broken-hearted would she feel?!
“Mi mama, have you already arranged everything for the servants?” Yun Qian Meng had noticed Mi mama‘s measuring gaze, but didn’t interrupt her. Instead, maintaining a natural expression as she looked through the register in her hands, she didn’t speak until she had reached the last page.
Hearing Yun Qian Meng‘s sudden question, Mi mama immediately retreated her melancholy and then lowered her eyes. She softly but respectfully replied, “Answering da xiaojie, everything has been properly arranged, da xiaojie has no need to worry!”
Appropriate response, proper posture and movements, all of these showed that Mi mama had once received very good training, allowing Yun Qian Meng to make an assured nod. She lightly placed the register on the table, but didn’t let it go from her long slender fingers. Tapping on the cover with a fine finger, Yun Qian Meng looked at Mi mama; her eyes that were like a smile yet not a smile hid an intelligence that was difficult to overlook!
“mama is an elderly from the fu, with you arranging these matters, I’m naturally reassured!” She maintained her severe gaze on Mi mama‘s half-lowered face, but found that she didn’t flinch, instead kept up an an ordinary expression. Yun Qian Meng couldn’t help but faintly show some praise in her eyes and continued, “Only, why did mama reenter the xiangfu? At mama‘s age, you should have returned to your village to retire and live in comfort!”
Hearing Yun Qian Meng ask her this, Mi mama slightly lowered her posture, somewhat frightened, and said, “Answering da xiaojie, nubi is from a poor family. What with living in comfort, as long as there is enough rice to eat, I will be more than satisfied! By chance, Liu yiniang said that the fu was in need of people, so nubi came here!”
Her words were half true and half lies, showing that Mi mama‘s attitude and manner of speech could be very convincing to others!
“Is that so? Liu yiniang is truly considerate!” However, at this kind of answer, Yun Qian Meng kept her indifferent expression!
She paused to take a sip of tea to moisten her throat, before she started speaking again, “It’s just that, now that you’ve entered my Qi Luo Yuan, I won’t permit any disloyalty! It doesn’t matter who recruited you, the one who lives in this Qi Luo Yuan is me, Yun Qian Meng! mama, can you remember this well?”
Her voice suddenly turned cold, causing Mi mama to shiver in her heart as she immediately responded, “This is of course! xiaojie can be reassured! nubi is not a person that will bite the hand that feeds!”
Seeing that her heart had some conscience, Yun Qian Meng nodded with satisfaction and finally got to the main point, “There’s one thing I don’t understand. Why did mama leave the fu in the past? Which zhuzi did you serve before this?”
When she heard Yun Qian Meng finally ask her this, Mi mama couldn’t bear it any longer. With a plop, she knelt on the floor, slightly lifting her aged face that was stricken with tears. Before she spoke, the sound of her shivering could be heard……
“xiaojie… xiaojie… nubi… nubi has sinned… xiaojie……” Her intermittent cries caused Yun Qian Meng to furrow her eyebrows. Signaling Mu Chun to shut the door, she motioned for Mi mama to rise.
But Mi mama heavily shook her head, and pushed away Mu Chun‘s supporting arm with one hand before she said, “xiaojie, nubi used to serve furen, and also received her grace! But… But at the time I was muddle-headed, and abandoned furen instead! xiaojie, please punish!”
Mi mama‘s wails didn’t evoke any pity from Yun Qian Meng. Instead, she retracted the little warmth that had appeared on her face and, looking directly at Mi mama with ice-cold eyes, said, “If that’s the case, Mi mama had better start explaining from the beginning!”
Mi mama lifted a hand to wipe her tears. She took a deep breath, steadied her emotions, then sadly said, “nubi was once a pozi that waited upon furen in the outer rooms. Two months before furen went into labor, nubi‘s son was crippled in a fight. That Su yiniang came to me and said that as long as nubi left the xiangfu, nubi‘s useless son would be saved! nubi for my child, ignored furen urging me to stay and left the xiangfu. Didn’t imagine, three moths later, furen passed away!”
As she spoke, Mi mama started to kowtow again and mumbled, “That year after nubi‘s husband passed away, if not for furen taking in nubi‘s family, how could we have lived for so long? But nubi, for my children, abandoned furen without care, didn’t even see furen one last time before she was gone!”
Hearing this, Yun Qian Meng recalled the records on the register, other than a Xia mama, the people by Yun furen‘s side all met with mishaps two or three months before she passed away. She suddenly realized that this chain of events, was most likely planned by Su Qing!
First, she got rid of all the people loyal to Yun furen, that way, she could easily act against her!
“Mi mama, do you know a Xia mama?” Recalling the person in the register, Yun Qian Meng asked.
“She was furen‘s wet nurse! I heard that after furen passed away, Xia mama went insane with grief!” Right now Mi mama regretted being unable to prove her loyalty to Yun Qian Meng. As long as she knew anything, she would not hide the slightest bit of information!
Yun Qian Meng saw that her forehead was already bleeding, then spoke, “Rise! What you said today, and your identity, must not be be known to others!”
“Yes, nubi understands! nubi came here this time, only to atone for my sins. nubi only wishes to be able give xiaojie a helping hand and absolutely won’t cause trouble for xiaojie!” Seeing that Yun Qian Meng was keeping her calm, Mi mama felt comforted and immediately restrained her sealed in heart many years of sadness. She tidied up her clothes and stood to the side.
Yun Qian Meng rised and walked to the window. Slightly lifting her head to look at the shining moon, she sorted out the information she had just learned.
Su Qing was able to control the life and death of the servants when Yun furen was still alive. This, if not with Yun Xuan Zhi‘s instigation, she wouldn’t have had the power to do so!
In that case, whether Yun furen‘s death was natural or intentional, the answer was already obvious!
But still, since Yun furen passed away prematurely, why did Su Qing allow Yun Qian Meng to stay alive until now?
It seems that Su Qing still had some fear towards the Empress Dowager and Fu Guo Gong Fu’s influence. After all, if Fu Guo Gong Fu’s di daughter and di grandchild met with accidents one after the other, they wouldn’t be willing to take things lying down. After a thorough investigation, there was no guarantee that they won’t find any traces or clues!
She can’t help but admit that Su Qing had both courage and cunning. She really did have a grasp on other people’s mindset!
“mama, come over, I have something to ask of you!” Retrieving her gaze, Yun Qian Meng calmly said.