Volume 8: Jinshi 2
“Mmmm, so tired—” Yao stretched widely. She had a dust cloth clenched in her hand.
“Is this everything?” En’en also washed and wrung the dust cloth.
“Isn’t it good enough?” Maomao closed the drawer. They had been cleaning the medical office for the past couple of days. With the spring cleaning over, their work came to an end.
At the end of year, court ladies get a holiday. The court physicians will be taking shifts at the imperial court, but it appears Maomao’s group wasn’t needed.
According to what she’d heard, the parents will kick up a fuss if the court ladies weren’t given a proper break.
(Since they’re here for housekeeping training in the first place.)
Or groom searching.
However, both Yao and En’en were here for the sake of work, so they probably won’t be spending the holiday at home. It seems the uncle had taken over the household with the passing of Yao’s father; the same uncle who was trying to marry Yao off.
For En’en who lived for her young lady, Yao’s uncle could only be an enemy.
“Hey, Maomao, what are you doing over the break?” Yao asked as she dried the dust cloth and washed her hands.
“On the contrary, it’ll be peak season for me,” Maomao answered.
“Not all gentlemen with fat wallets end up going home, you know.”
Yao tilted her head, but En’en scowled at Maomao, seemingly in realisation. This well-informed woman knew about Maomao’s family business.
“Maomao, please don’t talk about vulgar things in front of milady.”
(You say it’s vulgar, but it’s the truth.)
Simply put, men with high wages will go out to buy night butterflies. Doctors are also on break during this time, so the madam ordered her to keep the pharmacy open. So long as Dad doesn’t come home, Maomao had to watch over it. Moreover, she was worried about whether Sazen, who is still more of a novice than a pharmacist, could do a good job.
(I want to believe everything’s fine since I left it to Kokuyou.)
She recalled the cheerful man with pox scars on his face. His skills as a doctor was assured, but she was still uneasy, considering his careless attitude.
“There’s no leisure for the poor, so I don’t get a break.”
Not only the pharmacy, Maomao had to look after the fields too. There was also the madam, who was surely going to pin some work on her.
After packing away the cleaning tools, Yao looked up, mumbling. She looked like she had something to say.
“What is it?” Maomao asked.
“…Umm, Maomao’s home is a pharmacy, right?”
“I guess so.”
Yao was now fidgeting.
As Maomao tilted her head, Yao opened her mouth at last, as if finally finding her resolve.
“D-during the break, can I come to Maomao’s home, for studying purposes?”
“M-milady.” En’en was shocked. It seems she was displeased with Yao’s words.
(With the place being what it is, huh.)
En’en looked at Maomao and appealed her to turn Yao down with an excuse.
“The public order is bad so please don’t. On top of that, there’s a crowd of gentlemen who are stinkier than military officials. It’s a dangerous place for Yao-san,” Maomao said.
“…but, doesn’t Maomao live in such a place?” Yao retorted instead of flinching.
“I’ve lived there since I was born. It’s strange to put yourself in the same boat as me, since I’m already used to it.”
She intentionally pointed out the obvious, but it seemed to ignite something in Yao’s unyielding heart.
“Then, I just have to get used to it!”
“M-milady. It’s dangerous, please spend your time at home during the holidays.”
“If I’m at home, that man is going to come.”
Even without mentioning who “that man” is, Maomao could already tell. It was the aforementioned uncle.
(So she wants to use it as a place of refuge, huh.)
It would be unbearable if he were to bring a marriage interview partner to their home.
“I don’t mind if you come in the afternoon, but what do you plan to do at night?” Maomao asked.
Customers come in and out during nighttime, and more importantly, Maomao’s abode is a dilapidated shack. With Sazen and Chou’u living there at the moment, she couldn’t allow them to stay overnight.
“To be frank, Maomao’s home is not suitable for living in, so I don’t think it’s possible for Milday to stay there,” En’en said.
“How does En’en know this?” Yao said.
(But I live there.)
She also investigated the state of her home. What a prudent servant.
“Don’t you have any other acquaintances? Like a friend who’ll let you stay over or something.”
It seems Maomao’s question was a no-go.
Yao paled. She also looked a little tearful.
En’en held onto Yao’s shoulders and appealed to Maomao to apologise.
She figured it out. Yao probably didn’t have friends.
Maomao was the one at fault for not realising. She has to be astute with her response. “Many homes will be filled with relatives, so there’s nothing you can do about being turned down.”
“That’s true. I thought Maomao’s place would be fine. Milady?”
En’en gave her a thumbs up. However, is it really okay? At this rate, she would have no choice but to invite Yao to the pleasure district.
(Shall we rent a room at the Rokushoukan?)
Not possible. There are a lot of customers coming and going so there are no vacancies. Even if there were, the madam would hike up the price. And even if they paid, it was a room where you hear heavy breathing in the middle of the night, she had no idea if Yao could remain conscious. En’en could be tempted to attack the owners of the voices midway.
The other stores were similar. She wondered if there were any good lodgings somewhere in the capital.
“…wouldn’t a normal inn be better?” Maomao asked.
“I guess so,” En’en answered on behalf of Yao. “We were a little noisy last time, so when we moved to another house, we were caught the next day.”
(Just who is this uncle?)
Could En’en’s proficiency in espionage be trained by him?
“Wouldn’t he find you quickly at my home too?”
“No, it’s probably fine if it’s in the vicinity of Maomao.”
What could that mean?
She got it.
Incidentally, the ideal lodgings Yao and En’en were currently looking for came to mind.
A place with good public order, can’t be found by relatives, and even if found, can’t be meddled with.
She does, but it was hard for her to say aloud.
“Maomao, you seem to have an idea?” En’en’s face closed in. “If there is, you can tell us?”
There was a one cun distance between their nose. At this distance, she can’t even avert her eyes.
“En’en, you’re too close.” Yao stopped her. Maomao breathed a sigh of relief.
“So, where?” Yao also pressed.
Maomao raised her hands in resignation. “It’s the house of someone you know. I’ll never be the middleman, so if you want, you two can ask, please.”
They were originally a distinguished family, so they should have free rooms.
“How about you ask that bushy-haired glasses?”
It was Rahan.