Afterwards, Jinshi decided to leave after eating dinner.
Of course, as the pharmacy was cramped, she prepared a guest room that wasn’t being used.
It goes without saying that Maomao served him the leftover simmered grasshopper. Of course, she wasn’t planning to force him to eat it. She wasn’t taking it seriously, just as a slight prank.
She was meaning to immediately take it down when Jinshi shows even a little displeasure. The madam was also glaring at her like she wanted to say something too.
Though he faltered for an instant, Jinshi put the grasshopper that Maomao had presented jokingly into his mouth.
Maomao’s own face reflexively contorted.
She watched Jinshi chew the grasshopper with furrowed brows, and felt like she was looking at something she shouldn’t be seeing.
Everyone around her seemed to be the same. All in all, they had expressions like lightning had crashed down behind their backs.
Gaoshun’s hands were trembling.
The kamuro, who carried in the dinner, was on the verge of tears, looking as though her favourite doll had been besmirched with mud.
Chou’u, who came to pick at the dinner, became stiff faced. “This is no good,” he said, shaking his head.
Even the madam’s face had stiffened.
Jinshi ignored all those faces. He chewed and swallowed. His expression was still ghastly but he looked at Maomao as if he wanted to say something.
She presented him the bowl of congee, but Jinshi made no movements of taking it. He alternated his gaze between the congee and Maomao.
(You want me to cool it down?)
What does he want to say? Maomao picked up the soupspoon. Was he not pleased with the ingredients? She scooped the congee and studied it.
When she did so, Jinshi came forward to chomp on it.
You’re not a baby.
She scooped the congee with the soupspoon once again, and he closed in again. Since it was going to spill, she brought it to his mouth.
He snapped up the congee.
Maomao narrowed her eyes as she picked up the grasshopper with a pair of chopsticks this time.
Though Jinshi scrunched up his face again, he ate it.
Eek, she heard Gaoshun’s scream.
When she thought there was a thud, the kamuro was cowering on the floor with tears rolling down her cheeks. Chou’u was soothing her.
Was it really that much of shocking scene? Maomao thought. It might be a strong stimulus for children.
“Freckles, I’m taking her out for a bit. Also, niichan, hold responsibility for what you did.”
Jinshi chewed and swallowed the grasshopper with all his might. It didn’t look delicious no matter what. However, he ate it.
Chou’u left with the crying kamuro.
(I did something bad huh.)
As Jinshi had his looks, they tried not to display his face for as much as possible even in the Rokushoukan. As the courtesans won’t do their work, the madam wouldn’t want them to see him.
And so, the kamuro who carried in the meals was a girl whose mouth doesn’t work. She seemed to be a girl who got sold off after getting abused by her parents; her throat was crushed so she cannot speak. She had a considerably timid personality, but she worked steadily to return home.
Chou’u, who had the character of the boss of the children, often protected this timid kamuro someway or other. “Because she’s a follower,” he insisted, but how about that?
Jinshi who finished swallowing the grasshopper looked at Maomao again.
Maomao brought the spoon to Jinshi’s mouth again.
Chou’u, who finished looking after the kamuro after Jinshi left, showed up. For some reason, he was holding onto a brush and paper.
“What is with that paper?”
“Yeah, the gran gave it to me.”
“The stingy hag gave it to you?”
It’s the madam that is always called thrifty. She wouldn’t think that the crone would readily give out high-class items like paper.
“But she gave it to me, so it should be fine. That aside, sit there.”
As for Maomao, as it was late from dinner, she wanted to quickly go back to clean up the pharmacy. And yet the brat was here speaking of wilfulness.
Just as she was going to chase him out for being a bother, she heard a hoarse voice from behind him.
“Come on, listen to Chou’u. Sleep here today. Wouldn’t it be rough to build a fire after going back? I’ll also prepare sleepwear.”
“Gran, what is it? Did you become strange after seeing something weird?”
In response to the kind crone, her tongue unintentionally slipped. The crone dropped a fist with a speed that was unthinkable for the crone. This sh*tty hag, though older, was taller than Maomao, so her thrown off power was to the point of making her want to squirm in reflex.
“It’s fine. I laid out the futon in the previous room. Take a bath before you sleep. It should still be warm.”
While thinking that, since she was at it, she entered the room. As Chou’u spread out the paper, the madam also diligently prepared the ink.
For some reason, Pairin-neechan and Joga-neechan were also around as curious onlookers. It seemed they were grinding tea today. The other courtesans had customers.
“Gran, is it alright to not watch the incense stick?”
“I left it to Ukyou. He’ll do it adequately.”
Despite having work, why is she gathered here, when she wondered that, Chou’u who finished preparing the brush looked at Maomao.
“Freckles, tell me what man is your type.”
What was he on about? It’s stupid, so she picked up the sleepwear in the basket and prepared for her bath. However, the madam tugged her sleeves and stopped her.
“Come on, be serious.”
“Maomao, it’s no good to disobey gran-“
Even Pairin told her.
Joga was smoking a pipe with an aloof expression. It’s the time the guests come and go, but since this room was a private room for people that don’t want others to know, hardly anyone comes here. And so, even if she was somewhat bad mannered, the crone won’t voice her complaints.
“For now, what is your preference? Height? Has muscles?”
(What a pain.)
“Rather than tall, it’s better to not be too big.”
It’s best to reply dutifully – Maomao sat on the cushion reluctantly. Since it’s cold, she slipped her feet into the futon.
“Rather than skinny, it’s better to be plump.”
For the small Maomao, tall is painful for her neck.
If he’s skinny, it’ll look like he isn’t being fed, so it’ll be troubling.
“It’s fine if he has some, but no thanks for the thick ones.”
It was said to be manly, but speaking of which side, the filthiness was stronger. Generally, when she sees those guys who shirk on grooming, she gets mad when rice get stuck to it.
“Rather than sharp, soft is better.”
Fox eyes were no good. It would really be the worst.
“Should his brows hang down?”
“Yeah, I’ll leave that to you.”
“Hmmm, then is he something like this?”
Chou’u fluttered the paper he drew on.
“Oh myyy, he’s somewhat plain huh.”
Pairin, who preferred muscular handsome men, said.
“It’s a face that seems naive huh.”
The madam also didn’t have a really good assessment.
“The heck is this? Rejected.”
It was Joga who cut him off completely. This courtesan, one of the Three Princesses, despite being a courtesan, had a difficult personality that was a big manhater. Most males were rejected.
And then Maomao also laid her eyes on him.
The madam asked the wordless Maomao.
“No, it’s because he looks so much like someone.”
“Eeehh, Maomao, don’t tell me, you have a gentleman you like—“
In response to Pairin who was in high spirits, the madam’s expression wasn’t merry.
She certainly didn’t hate him.
“What kind of man is he?”
“No, he used to be a man.”
Since he’s a eunuch….
A man that looked exactly like the quack doctor was drawn there.
Following the anticlimactic reply, everyone quickly left the room.
“Whattt, how boring.”
Pairin, who bloomed with love stories, lost interest and was the first to leave. She glanced at Maomao, but let’s not notice that.
The madam also left with a bored expression and Chou’u headed off to bath.
Last remaining was Joga who was smoking a pipe.
Joga gently opened the window. The cold wind blew in from the opened gap. The half moon and the sparse stars in the sky that looked like it’s dissolved in ink, from that, you can see the windows that cast the shadows of men and women.
Tonight as well, in this brothel, a great number of love is born and will disappear along with daybreak.
As she puffed out tobacco smoke, Joga looked at Maomao.
“I’m in favour. People like men, we don’t know when they will change their minds. It is all the more with men that possess power.”
Joga set down the pipe. Her actions were languid yet beautiful. The youngest of the Three Princess was valued by guests with her culture of a talented woman. If you abide by Joga’s words, it was even said that you can pass the civil examinations.
“I won’t bother stopping you if you have a personality like Pairin-nee. Pairin-nee is also impatient, but I want you to understand that your personalities are different. Maomao, you know better than me which of the two you are.”
She understood what she was saying.
Most likely, it was about that.
“There is no personage whose heart doesn’t change. If you are here, you’ll even know as far as hate. What is the point of believing?”
Joga picked up the pipe again and quietly discarded the ashes inside. Then she stuffed it with tobacco leaves and lit it with the brazier.
The white smoke engulfed her.
“After all, I am a harlot, and you are the child of one.”
Maomao looked at the ashes that fell onto the brazier and knitted her brows slightly.
“Neechan, aren’t you smoking a little too much?”
“It’s fine once in a while. Civil officials with honest faces hate women smoking.”
Let me do what I want when there are no guests around at least – Joga blew smoke into the sky.