Chapter 28: A Cunning, Idiot Young Miss (4)

Halting her steps and turning around, Xiao Wen curiously walked towards the desk. There, she could see a sheet of paper marred by trails of ink.

The pristine snow paper appeared defiled to the eye, with trails of grainy ink powder scattered over its surface.

Holding it closer to view, the maidservant could somewhat visualize and comprehend the written mess.

“Xia over Heaven…Divine Palace crest of Jing…” Xiao Wen read, squinting her eyes.

The script was far too faint to be legible due to the lack of sufficient ink, and she could only manage due to her enhanced eyesight.

Unable to comprehend the meaning behind the words, Xiao Wen shrugged before placing the paper back onto the drawing table. Blowing out all of the lamps and covering herself with the blanket, the maidservant entered a light, fitful sleep just as she had predicted.

…She seemed to have not realized something critical.

“Xia over Heaven. Divine Palace breaks the crest of Jing, the Forefather laments…” Wei Xuan read out loud, an eyebrow raised in disbelief.

Looking at the kneeling maidservant with her head lowered, the minister hesitated before continuing to ask.

“Are you certain that it was truly Fei’er who wrote this script? Not that it was someone else’s calligraphy practice that she was looking over?”

“This maidservant saw with her eyes!” Xiao Wen asserted, her hands clasped before her chest.

“It was half a sichen before the Hour of the Tiger’s coming. The Fourth Young Miss was indeed holding a brush in her hand, drawing on the sheet of paper in Master’s hand.”

“But…” The minister paused, his brows furrowed in thought. Holding the marred sheet of paper before his eyes, Wei Xuan stared at the ink stains as if to bore holes through them.

If he were to give an honest expression of his opinion, it would be bewilderment. The characters, however difficult to interpret due to An Fei having utilized powdered vestiges of ink instead of enacting the proper procedures in grinding and mixing ink, were delicate and rather easy to comprehend the denoted symbol.

The script was roughly the same size as the Small Hairpin Script, yet the strokes were restrained mid-stroke, making the entire string of characters appear dull and worthless.

Even the most reserved scholar, one who forsook all deviants of the mind and the relationship between heaven and earth, would possess some dignified attribute in his or her calligraphy.

There simply wasn’t a person in either Great Yong or in Wei Xuan’s memories, no matter how collected their conscious were, that was capable of writing in such mechanical style devoid of all emotions. Hence, he couldn’t readily acknowledge the content of Xiao Wen’s report.

“This… What did you do with Fei’er afterwards?” Wei Xuan finally asked the kneeling maidservant.

“This servant was rather coarse and…” Xiao Wen iterated, her voice trailing off as she thought over her next words.

“This servant just put the Fourth Young Miss to sleep without investigating anything in detail…”

As she spoke, the maidservant lowered her head until it touched the cool, sandalwood floor. Nearing the end of her words, she mulled over how angry the minister would become at her negligence toward her duty, her body shivering as her thoughts naturally exacerbated and compounded upon each other.

However, the expected punishment nor words of condemnation did not arrive, and Xiao Wen raised her head in curiosity, only to meet Wei Xuan’s confused gaze.

“Master,” she tepidly asked, the same confusion mirrored in the maidservant’s pretty eyes. “Did this servant…do something wrong?”

“…Hm?” The minister soon reacted, blinking his eyes towards the maidservant.

“I thought I just told you to leave, do you have something else to report?”

“…no!” Xiao Wen uttered after a moment of surprise.

“This servant has nothing else to report!”

“Then what are you still doing here?” Wei Xuan rolled his eyes before speaking in a playful tone.

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“Go take care of your Young Miss! Lest those maidservants of Shuyan start gossiping about how I don’t discipline my servants, save me that trouble, ah!”

“Thanking Master! This servant shall go take care of the Fourth Young Miss!”

Xiao Wen stood before dipping into a full bow, a relieved smile stretching across her face. As if having been granted a full pardon for a cardinal sin, the maidservant dashed out of the room with great haste, startling the other servants attending to their duty in the courtyard.

Watching the fleeting back of the maidservant, Wei Xuan smiled before picking up the piece of paper with An Fei’s handwriting.

“Now I think I understand why the emperor is always gleeful during the Hour of the Monkey.”

“Xia over Heaven…Divine Palace crest of Jing…” he numbly repeated, scratching his head. “Did I ever…write those words in the past?”

Suddenly, a muted growl filled the room, causing the minister’s face to stiffen. Rubbing his stomach, Wei Xuan pondered for a brief instant before deciding to call out towards the servants nearby.

“Call the Second Madam to come, let’s have some breakfast! This minister needs to depart for court soon, ah!”

After all, questions could only be answered following a hearty and fulfilling meal. Attempting to do so otherwise would mere constitute a complete waste of precious time and resources.

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Only, when did An Fei ever know how to read or write?

“Fourth Young Miss, can you tell this maidservant what this character means?”

Xiao Wen energetically held a sheet of paper before An Fei’s eyes. Gazing at the oversized character scrawled all over the once clean paper, now dotted and splattered with ink spots, the girl resisted the temptation of rolling her eyes at the maidservant.

Staring at the messily written ‘Life’ on the paper, the girl deeply wished to blurt out the word to pacify the bouncing maidservant, and yet she couldn’t due to her current identity as a budding, infantile girl.

…And yet, she was locked in a dilemma because in Xiao Wen’s hands, was a wooden tray with bamboo shoots, a slice of ginseng sweetened with honey, and a bowl of steaming porridge flavored with decadent herbs placed on top.

Hence, the young girl couldn’t help but drool at the fragrant food within an arm’s reach and yet a hundred li away. Swallowing a painful gulp of saliva, An Fei did her utmost to ignore Xiao Wen’s teasing as she attempted to grab at the tray resting on the maidservant’s lap.

“Fourth Young Miss, you should answer this servant’s question, ah!” Xiao Wen exclaimed as she gently swatted An Fei’s extended arms away from the food. “Otherwise, this servant shall enjoy a scrupulous meal this morning!”

Answer your sister!

An Fei grumbled in her heart after glancing at the maidservant’s teasing expression. Narrowing her eyes as she quickly pondered how to snatch the food from Xiao Wen’s steel grasp, the girl displayed a blank stare, her small mouth lightly parted to represent her hunger.

“…”

Both the maidservant and young miss stared at each other for several minutes, until a quiet but audible growl could be heard within the study.

“Alright, alright,” Xiao Wen conceded, placing the paper onto the drawing table with resignation.

Picking up the spoon, the maidservant unreservedly began depositing the slightly cooled food into An Fei’s already opened mouth.

Chewing on the odd but still delicious mix of porridge, bamboo shoots, and a piece of ginseng, the girl couldn’t help but close her eyes in bliss. Once she had swallowed the mouthful down, An Fei immediately opened her mouth for another bite, of which the maidservant faithfully complied.

For the next few moments, the only sounds in the study were the clinking of a spoon, rustling of clothes, and a young maiden’s chewing.

“My Fourth Sister actually learned how to write!? When did that happen, and how wasn’t I informed!?”

Just as soon as An Fei had bit down on the last piece of ginseng coated with a viscous layer of honey, a loud exclamation could be heard from the courtyard.

Resisting the urge to choke, the girl leaned into the maidservant’s embrace with hints of a pleading expression on her face.

Just why was that girl back?

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