In the Clear Autumn Courtyard, the Fourth Miss, Yu Qingning, was also losing her temper. Sheplained that the Old Madam was biased, and she was jealous that Yu Youyao was favored. Her personal servant, Jin Ju, simply wasn’t able to calm her down.
At this moment, a young maidservant lifted the curtain and entered the room. She poured a cup of tea for Yu Qingning. “Young Mistress, don’t be angry. As long as you join, you can learn from the nanny too. As the eldest sister, if there’s anything good, it’s only right that she counts her sisters in.”
Jin Ju was a little stunned. Yu Qingning’s brain started turning and she couldn’t help but praise, “You’re pretty smart. What’s your name?”
The maidservant was delighted. She quickly replied, “I’m Gui Zi.”
“I happen to be lacking a second-in-charge maidservant. You’ll do,” Yu Qingning said with a smile.
Gui Zi was overjoyed. She fell to her knees with a loud thud and thanked her profusely.
In the capital, noble families liked to draw water into the garden. The Yu Residence was no exception, having had a lotus lake installed long ago. The lake was filled with lotus flowers and occupied a third of the space in the residence.
The Jade Courtyard was connected to the lotus lake, which was surrounded by a white stone bridge. The scenery was especially picturesque. Who in the residence wouldn’t be envious?
However, regardless of whether it was due to seniority or the Old Madam’s love for Eldest Miss, this courtyard now rightfully belonged to Yu Youyao, not to mention that the Jade Courtyard had been built with Madam Xie’s money.
After spending an entire day packing yesterday, most of Yu Youyao’s belongings had already been carried into the courtyard one after another, and she could slowly move some of the remaining less important items in the future.
Early in the morning, Nanny Xu gathered all the servants and old maids into the Jade Courtyard to arrange everything.
After Yu Youyao finished breakfast with Old Madam Yu, she helped her to the Jade Courtyard.
They walked along the corridor for a while and after a couple more turns, they arrived at the garden, where there was a stretch of light green bamboo. Although it was not an expensive plant, the green bamboo was thick and strong, and this was a beautiful area.
The Yu family was a scholarly family, so naturally, they had to plant some bamboo in order to showcase their literary taste and flair.
When she passed by a thick bamboo shoot, Yu Youyao saw a small hole in it. “Grandmother, in May, I’lle to this place every day to collect bamboo sap and use it to brew tea for you.”
Bamboo was also known as the dew of the heavens and the earth, with spiritual energy absorbed from the sun and moon, and contained the elixir of wind, clouds, lightning, and thunder. It nourished the mind and soul. Furthermore, the sap of the bamboo held the essence of it all. It was called “Heavenly Water” by the people, meaning that it was nurtured by nature.
Every May, Old Madam Yu would order some servants to drill holes and extract the sap from these bamboo.
The rouge-red bamboo sap was drained and poured into a white porcelain bowl. It was crystal and clear, with a touch of bamboo fragrance that was refreshing and mellow, while having a hint of sweetness.
Old Madam Yu smiled so widely that her wrinkles showed. “I’m more afraid that you’ll devour it yourself when I see how you’re staring at the bamboo.”
Yu Youyao blushed and pouted. “Grandmother, you’re teasing me again when I’m just being filial to you. I just want you to consume more bamboo sap and live a long, long life.”
At her old age, Old Madam Yu loved to hear such filial and auspicious words. Old Madam Yu beamed.
The Jade Courtyard was just beside this garden and through the Moon Gate.
When they got on the white stone arch bridge, the water under the bridge rippled lightly. There were scattered green duckweed and some withered lotus leaves. An exquisite two-story courtyard building was hidden among a stretch of unusually tall Chinese parasol trees. At this time of the year, its leaves had fallen and new leaves had yet to grow out, but the thousands of branches still exuded elegance and beauty.
Back then, Madam Xie had spent a large sum of money to repair the Water Pavilion, and had even expanded the Lotus Lake to get a stream of water into the courtyard. Last year, Old Madam Yu changed the Water Pavilion to be called the Jade Courtyard. She had also spent a lot of money to tidy and clean up the place. There was not a single place in the courtyard that wasn’t immaculate and beautiful.
After walking one round around the courtyard, Yu Youyao helped her grandmother into the building.
The small building was divided into separate areas for the mistress and the servants. There were two side courtyards each in the east and west areas. There was a small kitchen in the east and a storeroom in the west. The small two-story building to the south was Yu Youyao’s personal area. There were two sections on both sides, which had small rooms each. On the right was where the maidservants would be on duty, while on the left was the area that specialized in tea and soup.
The house was a little messy as Nanny Xu was still leading the maidservants in arranging the items around the place.
Nanny Liu and Dong Mei had also brought more people to help.
Yu Youyao was afraid that the servants busying about would crash into her grandmother, so she brought her grandmother out of the house. They sat down in an octagonal pavilion not far from the Bamboo garden, where it was windy but not too cold.
Just yesterday, this little girl had been sobbing and saying that she didn’t want to move. But today, she was all smiles and looked excited.
Old Madam Yu was both relieved and sad. She sighed. “Yao Yao, you’ve really grown up.”
Yu Youyao burrowed into her grandmother’s arms and said cutely, “Even if I’m all grown up, I’ll always be your granddaughter. You can’t stop doting on me just because I’ve grown up.”
These words made Old Madam Yu’s heart sink. “After moving into this courtyard, there won’t be as many helpers in your house. Let Nanny Xu choose a few capable ones from the residence later. In addition, you still lack a more experienced head maidservant, so Dong Mei will take over. She’s slightly older than Chun Xiao and is a capable person.”
Dong Mei was the maidservant she had prepared for Yao Yao in the first place, but hadn’t passed her over yet because she had wanted Nanny Liu to provide more training for her first, so that she would be of more help to Yu Youyao in the future.
“Thank you, Grandmother.” In the past few years, Dong Mei had been running to and fro between her and her grandmother’s houses, so Yu Youyao was not surprised at all.
Yu Youyao had all sorts of items in her house, and they were expensive too. Even though Nanny Xu had seen much in her lifetime, she still couldn’t help but click her tongue at it all. When she was cleaning up the house, she did an inventory check one by one and checked the list. Anything that was missing or damaged was checked one by one. Finally, she moved it into the courtyard and double-checked it with the list.
In the afternoon, the move was finally finished.
At night, Yu Youyao had a small celebration.
Using her own savings, she asked the main kitchen to prepare a few tables of sumptuous food, then sent them to the main courtyard and the second house. Even the concubines were sent a few exquisite dishes. The servants in her courtyard were also each paid two yuan, and were treated with a large table of dishes, so that they could bask in their Young Mistress’s joy too.
Yu Youyao had even sent official invitations, asking her siblings to join her for a banquet.
Yu Jianjia, Yu Shansi, Yu Qingning, and Zhou Linghuai from the main house, along with Yu Shanyan, Yu Shanxin, and Yu Shuangbai from the second house, all came over bearing gifts.
A total of eleven of them were gathered together.
Without the presence of the elders, the young masters and young mistresses who had always followed the rules, now did not need to hold back. Yu Shanxin, who had an outgoing personality, suggested that they play the guessing game and the loser would be punished with a glass of wine. The fruit wine brewed with plums was weak and not intoxicating, so they could afford to drink a few more glasses. On a joyous day like this, the elders in the family wouldn’t have restricted them either.
Unexpectedly, as soon as this suggestion was made, Yu Youyao clenched her fists and chased him around the house like a monkey. The house was filled with laughter and the atmosphere was very lively.
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