Volume 1, Chapter 20: Garden Party (2)

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Her first impression of Riishu(里樹, Li Shu), the Virtuous Consort, was a child who couldn’t read the atmosphere(Bad at social cues).

Maomao and Guien went to where the imperial princess was during the intermission at the end of the first part of the banquet. When Guien went to replace her cooled hand warmer, Maomao went to check on the baby’s condition.

(It doesn’t look like anything physically wrong with her in particular.)

The shrieking Imperial Princess Rinrii with her face like an apple, was much more expressive compared to the first time she met her. She must be even doted by her father the emperor and her grandmother the empress dowager.

(But, are they really going to leave her outside like this?)

If the imperial princess caught a cold from this, it wouldn’t be unreasonable that Maomao’s head might fly.
Because of that, she fashioned a baby bed that was like a bird’s nest in the basket, specifically using the lid that was crafted by a craftsman.

(Well, it’s cute so it should be fine.)

For Maomao, who didn’t like children, to think that she was cute, babies are terrifying beings.

She gently lifted the imperial princess, who started to crawl, wanting to go outside, back into basket to pass her over to Honnyan, when she heard someone breathing roughly behind her.

Maomao saw a young girl wearing a luxurious and gorgeous deep peach coloured large sleeves there. She was followed by several maids behind her.

Though her face was charming, her lips were puckered in displeasure.

(This is the young mother in law?)

Seeing Honnyan and Guien deeply bowing their heads, she followed suit.

Consort Riishu, who looked truly displeased, was leading her maids off to somewhere.

“Was that the Virtuous Consort?” Maomao asked.

“Yes, that’s right. Well, you should pretty much know when you see her.” Honnyan said.

“I wonder if there are various things she can’t read?” Guien mused.

The various things, would be the cues of this place.

When one becomes part of The Four Madames, they are bestowed their own personal signature.

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Consort Gyokuyou was given the signature of deep crimson and jade, Consort Rifa would be ultramarine and crystal, and the Pure Consort, seeing as that was what she was wearing, should probably be black. She resides in the Garnet Palace, so her jewel should be garnet.

(If we go with the Five Elements(Five elements of traditional Chinese philosophy: wood, fire, earth, metal and water), white should be appropriate though.)

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Consort Riishu’s outfit was deep peach; the colour was like Consort Gyokuyou’s red outfit. With the banquet seating arrangement where Consort Gyokuyou and Consort Riishu sat beside each other, people would see at a glance that the colours clash.

(Which reminds me.)

She had a feeling that the maids’ quarrel she can hear in the distance was about that issue.

“How should I say this, she’s still young, isn’t she?” Honnyan, who sighed deeply, surmised everything with a single remark.




The lukewarm hand warmers were put into the previously prepared brazier.
Maomao also decided to pass some over to the other maids she saw surrounding them at a distance, with permission from Consort Gyokuyou.

It was somewhat strange seeing maids, who were used to silks and jewellery, get greatly delighted over the warmed stones.

It was unfortunate that Maomao was unable to pass any to the maids from the Crystal Palace, seeing as when Maomao approached them, they maintained a fixed distance as if they were repelled by magnets.

“In the end, you’re just soft-hearted?” Though Infa said that in amazement.

“That might be as you say,” Maomao frankly told her what she felt.

(Speaking of that.)

As it was the intermission, it couldn’t be helped that a lot of people were walking through the back of the curtains.
It wasn’t just maids. There were military officials and civil officials too.
Everyone was holding onto an accessory in one hand.

If there were those who faced with palace ladies one-to-one, then there were those who surrounded the palace ladies in a several-to-one group.

It seemed that Guien and Airan were also talking to an unknown military official.

“That way, they can invite excellent capable people who were hidden in the flower garden,” Infa said.

“Okay,” Maomao said.

“They give the accessory that holds a symbol.”

“Is that so?”

“Well, there’s also another meaning to it.”

“I see.”

Infa crossed her arms and pouted at her unusually uninterested reply. “I said there’s also another meaning to it—”

“Is that so?” Maomao wasn’t going to hear that meaning.

“In that case, hand over that kanzashi please.”

“Okay. But you’ll have to match it out with the other two with rock, paper, scissors please,” Maomao said as she turned over the pocket warmers in the brazier.

This talk didn’t concern Maomao who had planned to quickly return to the pleasure district after her two years of service was up.

That aside,

(If I’m going to work that hard, it would be better if I apprenticed at the Crystal Palace instead huh)

Saying that, she made a face as though she was looking at a locust that had stopped breathing,

“Young lady, please have this.”

A kanzashi was presented to her before her eyes.

When she looked up, she saw a fearless looking large man smiling sweetly at her. He didn’t have a matching beard yet. Though he had a face that fell under the category of handsome, Maomao, who had strong resistance to unnecessarily sweet smiles, only looked back at him without any strong feelings.

Though the military official seemed to notice that her reaction was not what he expected, he did not stop offering his presented hand. His legs shook as he stood on his tiptoes with his body bent.

Maomao noticed that the she seemed to be the cause of the man’s dilemma.

“Thanks.” Maomao took it, looking like a pet owner who praised her puppy. She thought that someway or other, he was like a mongrel.

“Mm, see ya then. Nice meeting ya. I go by Rihaku(李白, Li Bai),” the military official said.

(I probably won’t be seeing him again though.)

He waved his hand. There were still ten or so kanzashi slipped in the large-breed dog’s belt.
So the maids won’t be embarrassed, he probably planned to distribute those to everyone.

(If that’s the case, I did something bad.)

She gazed at the peach coloured coral kanzashi,

“Did you receive that?” Guien and the other came by saying that. Each of them had their spoils of war slipped to their sashes.

“It is a participation prize though.” Maomao replied without feeling.

And then, from behind,

“Aren’t you sad with only that much?”

It was a noble voice she was familiar with.

She turned around, and there stood Consort Rifa with her voluptuous breasts.

(Did she gain a bit of weight?)

Even so, it wasn’t like her previous body. However, there was still a shadow of the consort’s beauty. She was wearing a dark blue skirt, a sky-coloured tunic, and a blue shawl.

(Isn’t she a bit cold?)

As long as Maomao was with Consort Gyokuyou, she was unable to back Consort Rifa.

Even after she left the Crystal Palace, with only Jinshi as the intermediary, she heard nothing about her condition.
Although she understood that even if she went to visit the palace the maids would stand at the front gates and tell her to get lost.

“It’s been a while,” Maomao said.

“A while.” Consort Rifa, looking up, touched Maomao’s hair. Again, just like the time with Jinshi, she stuck something there.

This time it didn’t hurt.

“Well then, pleasure meeting you.” She walked away gracefully, chiding her attendant maids who couldn’t completely hide their shock.

The ones amazed were the Jade Palace’s maids.

“Ahh, with this, Gyokuyou-sama would be really peeved.” Infa flipped the decoration of the kanzashi with an amazed face.

The three red crystal balls on the kanzashi swayed.

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