Once she left the Yu Villa and returned to Lingxin, Yujia decided to change out her Yu Villa's servant robes for the ones worn by servants in the Yang Villa. After all, she did agree to return to get a list of suspects and stolen items from Madam Zhang in the evening. She was already a little late, with the sun dropping low behind the horizon, so she rushed to change robes. Thankfully, servants wore simple robes, so Yujia was capable of changing rather quickly.
However, before she could go run off to the Yang Villa, her master called her over. As a disciple, Yujia couldn't possibly reject, so she hurried to see what he wanted, all the while keeping an eye on the dimming sky. She tried to sit through his speech as patiently as she could, all the while grabbing a few bites which would suffice as her dinner for that evening.
By the time that she escaped out of Lingxin, it was all getting rather dark. Especially because of the distance between the villa and the school, Yujia had to rush. People were already beginning to light up a few lanterns within their homes and on the streets.
She made it into the Yang Villa right at the last rays of sunlight, slipping through the back doors easily as usual.
As she passed through, Yujia took note of how weak the security was in this servant's area of the villa. Even outsider thieves could easily sneak into the villa if they wanted to. There was supposed to be a servant posted here, looking for the people who entered and exited, but he seemed to slack off most of the time and run off elsewhere.
Because of all her practice, Yujia found this brief visit to the villa rather stress-free. She easily walked out of the courtyard, heading to Madam Zhang's without any nerve-wracking feelings. After everything she went over with Zixu, Yujia was sure that her maid disguise was on point, so she didn't really see a need to keep the fear of getting caught placed too high on her thoughts. Maybe this confidence was a good thing, allowing her to think critically without any fear bordering her mind. Maybe this confidence was actually bad, making her careless.
At these thoughts, Yujia made sure to keep herself alert. Confident but attentive would surely lead to the best results.
Making it into Madam Zhang's chambers, Yujia noticed the candles were lit, but the madam was nowhere to be seen. The paper slips were still scattered on the floor. She closed the door behind her, sat down at a table, and waited for the Madam to arrive. It should be near the end of dinner now, for the Yang Family.
Sure enough, a few minutes of wait later, Madam Zhang entered the room. There were no servants following her— it seemed like she told her personal servants to wait outside, or gave them some sort of other assignment.
She didn't show any sign of shock upon seeing Yujia. Walking herself over and having a seat across the table, Madam Zhang poured a cup of tea and pushed it in Yujia's direction.
Small details like these were what made Yujia pleasantly surprised. Even to her ex-unsatisfactory-daughter, Madam Zhang was still always courteous.
"You're here a bit late," the madam began speaking first, her voice controlled and volume low, "In case you haven't noticed, the back doors are locked shortly after the end of dinner. You won't be able to enter or exit then."
"Is that so?" Yujia mused, keeping her voice barely more than a whisper as well. She surely couldn't enter from the front either. Nor did she think that she had the capabilities of flipping over the tall outer walls of the villa. "Thank you for the reminder, then, Madam," she ended up saying, after sipping from the tea, "I will surely keep that in mind."
"Good." Madam Zhang reached into her sleeve, pulling out a folded piece of paper. She slid it across the table. "Here is the list I promised you. Perhaps you can tell something from it."
"I'll do my best," Yujia admitted, "But I doubt I'll be able to notice anything more than what Madam has."
As a response, Madam Zhang pointed out, "You never know. A new pair of fresh eyes might just see things differently."
She had a point.
Yujia thought about if this was the right time to rise and leave. But Madam Zhang scanned Yujia over, from top to bottom. She tapped her fingers on the table. "Your maid robes are a bit worn out for the role of a new maid."
Thinking about how she stole these robes from Hui'er, Yujia figured that they would be a bit worn. "Does Madam happen to have another set?"
"Not in the room with me right now." Madam Zhang's thin lips pursed. "Tomorrow, do not come to the Yang Villa wearing these robes. Put on more simple, plain clothes. I have arranged for it that there will be three new servants introduced into the villa, including you. Around the corner of this villa, if you turn right, then left, and walk a decent distance, you should come across a place where servants are bought and sold. I already told the owner of that place for you to blend in with the batch of servants that I will be buying. Arrive there at the hour of Chen and talk to the owner. She will naturally 'sell you off' to our household."
"That's quite meticulous," Yujia noted.
She repeated those directions in her head, knowing that though they were simple, someone as bad at finding her way around as her would need to carve those directions in her head. Around the corner, right, then left.
Madam Zhang gave a brief nod, informing, "This entire plan needs to be meticulous. It needs to look as natural as possible, and this way, your existence is explained."
She went over what she had in mind for the rest of the plan, keeping it brief and concise. Then, once she was done, she didn't hesitate to shoo Yujia out of the room, saying that Yujia should probably leave before they lock the back door.
But this time around, instead of exiting through the room doors, Yujia had to climb a window out of Madam Zhang's chamber. There was apparently one of her personal servants waiting outside, and Yujia had to sneak out through the window to avoid detection.
It seemed like Madam Zhang truly trusted no one but herself. And maybe Yujia, but only in some matters.
Thus, in the next few moments, Yujia went through a process of fumbling out of windows in a very awkward, ungraceful manner. She didn't know how people in the movies did it by just flipping themselves out so easily. Even though Yujia exited through windows before, she really did need more practice.
She added window-exiting to her list of things to master.
Once Yujia tumbled out of the window, landing on the wooden porch around the room with a soft— but uncomfortable— thud, she looked back in the windows one last time at Madam Zhang.
The two met glances.
And then, Madam Zhang closed the windows. Yujia fell back into the shadows, silently turning to leave the courtyard and the villa.
 7 A.M.
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