Maomao carefully started to write characters on the paper. This was paper she received from Consort Gyokuyou. Honestly speaking, it was too high quality.
(The back of some scrap paper would have been fine.)
Thinking of such things, only Maomao was destined for poverty here.
Everyone crowded around Maomao who was sitting at the desk. They looked at the things she listed down.
“Rose, benzoin, phoenix tree(青桐, Aogiri, Firmiana platanifolia. Also known as Parasol tree. This incense seems to only be used in the East, so have some info. The tree the oil is derived from is called the phoenix tree because legends say that this is the only tree that phoenixes like to perch on. Apparently, leaves are used as an incense. The oil is extracted from the seeds. There’s caffeine in the seeds.), frankincense and cinnamon? Um, are these all perfume oils or something?”
Maomao nodded at Consort Gyokuyou’s response. “These are only the names of the spices and oils I know the palace ladies are wearing today.”
“What about them?” Jinshi, his hands tucked in his sleeves, tilted his head.
Maomao stopped writing and placed the brush on the ink stone. “Yes, though they were in minuscule amounts, all of them cause harm to pregnant women.”
Everyone was silenced at Maomao’s words.
Also, Maomao continued. “Aside from perfume oil, they also sold spices and tea leaves.”
Maomao took out the tea and spices she bought. The tea was jasmine, and the spices were mustard that was like Maomao who was fond of drinking, slightly expensive pepper, rock salt, and cinnamon that was also used as a spice.
“Jasmine contracts the womb. I think it’s fine in small doses, but it’s better you don’t drink it to avoid the possibility of miscarriage.”
Maomao placed the flower shaped craft tea on the table.
“And then, spices. Mustard is an ingredient that is often used by streetwalkers as an abortion drug.”
Maomao glanced at Consort Gyokuyou. The consort nodded, “Continue,” with a serious expression as if she was thinking that this isn’t the time to joke. Beside her was Honnyan who didn’t want Consort Gyokuyou to hear such an ominous conversation, but she seemed to respect Consort Gyokuyou’s opinion and kept silent.
“In other words, you mean that using these will increase the chances of miscarriage?” Jinshi asked.
Maomao made a vague expression at Jinshi’s question. That was a hit, and a miss.
“All just increase the possibility. They’re not certainly effective. As long as you don’t make a mistake, and do things like drink the perfumed oil, or intake a large volume of it,” she answered
All these goods usually have no problems if you use them normally. That’s why they were brought into the inner palace. And also, you can change how you use the products however it suits you.
In that case, it might be that someone could make some kind of mistake and end up drinking it. And, if it happens that it was unexpectantly a pregnant consort.
Even if the design where the sash won’t be tied tightly was recommended as fashion, it would have better if it was noticed earlier, Maomao thought.
“Shall we investigate the visiting merchants?” she asked.
“We can investigate them, but I doubt they would have recorded the goods in detail.”
It seemed they differentiated incense as incense, spices as spices, and tea leaves as tea leaves. They wouldn’t go as far as to record the varieties of each of those. Even so, since she thought the position of management on inspecting all the goods were assigned thoroughly, she had a feeling that they won’t be able to say anything.
Maomao was caught up in yet another thing. “Doesn’t this remind you of that?”
“What do you mean, that?” Jinshi responded to Maomao’s vague words.
The thing that was brazenly given out as a product in the inner palace, but had an unknown side effect.
“The poisonous face powder,” Maomao said, and everyone started.
It was the summer of last year. When Princess Rinrii got sick from an illness of an unknown cause. At the same time, Rifa’s child who was the crown prince also fell sick and then passed away.
The face powder currently being used isn’t made with lead, and that cannot come into the inner palace.
To say it conversely, they might think that something else would be fine.
“So you’re saying, your opinion is that there are people who especially tried to get poison into the inner palace,” Jinshi said to make sure.
Maomao neither shook her head nor did she nod.
This was an assumption, she wasn’t positive. Although it was fairly close, she couldn’t completely brush off the possibility that it wasn’t so.
“While I was here, I only knew that there are a lot of things sold that can be poisonous. A single product isn’t handled as poisonous goods.”
It was an unfair way of speaking. She didn’t like implicating the visiting merchants with her words. That’s why she only stated her opinion, and then entrusted the higher-ups for the judgement.
“I think it’s better to just warn the other consorts.”
She could only say that.
After the talk was over, Maomao was suddenly tired.
She recalled her dad’s words.
You cannot speak of things with speculation, the old man who was like an old woman’s voice replayed.
How much of what Maomao said was speculation, and how much was conviction?
She felt slightly unwell from thinking that.
Maomao entered the kitchen and boiled some water. Even though the water was boiled, she got it to cool down a bit. She added water to the glass cup with jasmine. It was an expensive glass cup, but she’ll clean it properly afterwards so she’ll use it for a little bit.
The flowers came apart in the hot water, the buds opening up. She watched from the side while sitting on a chair in a daze. The aroma rose about her.
“Wasn’t that poison?”
She heard a beautiful voice from above.
When she looked up, there was yet a beautiful face. It was already pitch black outside, only a single lantern lit up the kitchen.
“Poisons in small quantities are also medicine. Above all, it’s not like one cup of tea will result in something. This is the kitchen. It’s not a place for Jinshi-sama to enter,” she said.
“Don’t speak about the minor details.”
“How is Gaoshun-sama?”
“He went to send a message.”
Maomao gave a small pout at the haughty eunuch.
Maomao carried the completely unfurled tea to look at it under the lantern. While enjoying the flowers drifting back and forth in the water, she took a sip of tea. “Besides, it’s not like I’m pregnant.”
Jinshi turned away for some reason. Before she realised, he was sitting diagonally across Maomao.
“Can I have some tea as well?” Jinshi said as he looked at the drifting flowers in the glass cup.
“What tea would you like?”
Maomao stood up from the chair, while thinking, This rascal is such a pain. Teas for the guests were lined up on the shelf. To be on the safe side, would a white tea be fine?
Jinshi stared at the glass cup. “The same thing as this would be good.”
Maomao lowered her brows at Jinshi’s words. “That’s the last of that tea.”
Maomao looked at the pot that was left close to the kitchen. The tea leaves were thrown away as rubbish in the pot, so what she was drinking now was all that was left, and the rest were all thrown away.
(Even though I took the trouble to buy something nice.)
And yet, as long as she was in the place known as the inner palace, as long as she was serving Consort Gyokuyou, she thought she had to draw a line.
And so, she had wanted to enjoy this once.
“What other effects does this tea have?” Jinshi asked.
“It’s calming. Effective for insomnia as well as keeping you awake. Other than that, while it’s not good when you’re pregnant, I’ve heard that it’s good in the case of childbirth.”
“There are more positive effects.”
“Yes, that’s exactly why I missed the side effects.”
I got something really good, Maomao thought.
Did a lot come in exclusively for this time, or did they come in as a product like before? Maomao had no idea.
When the previous caravans came, Maomao was working at Jinshi’s room, nursing Consort Rifa at the Crystal Palace, and before she became Consort Gyokuyou’s attendant maid, she had no money so she had absolutely no interest in things she couldn’t buy.
This time, if the perfume oil didn’t become a fad, it was highly possible that even Maomao wouldn’t have noticed it.
However she looked at it, it was truly only a good product.
“White tea should be fine.”
“…” Jinshi looked unhappy, but it couldn’t be helped with what she didn’t have.
Maomao relit the kettle and added tea leaves into the teapot. Lukewarm water should be fine, she took off the kettle just before it boiled and let the tea leaves steep slowly in the pot.
She poured it into a teacup, and set it in front of Jinshi.
Jinshi picked up the teacup unhappily.
Maomao showed him the flower tea that was rocking in the glass cup like she was showing off. “Besides that, there is also a better effect.”
“Infertility. Mainly for men.”
“….” A teary gaze pierced through Maomao.
(This is bad.)
I overdid the sarcasm, Maomao thought. As a bit of cold sweat erupted down her spine, Maomao went to look for sweets to humour him.
When she thought she heard the sound of tea being daringly slurped,
“I’m leaving.” After saying that, Jinshi quickly left.
As Maomao pursed her lips,
(I’ve done it–)
When she was helplessly going to put away his teacup, the white tea she brewed for Jinshi remained untouched.
The jasmine tea that should still have about half remaining was completely drained.
Maomao sighed with an amazed expression.
T/N: Jinshi lol. So salty.