Chapter 94: Apology Gift
The next day, Su Shuilian hadn’t had time to check if there was a vague relationship between Chun Lan and Chief Guard Xiao, when Jiang Ying Yun arrived. And, as per her big sister Jiang Ying Yue’s order, she came to pay the salary of the last six months of the year. And, she had even brought with her a horse carriage full of items prepared for the labor, including the loose, white cotton gowns that Shu Shuilian would need after her deliver, and the babies’ little shirts, pants, doudou, and socks.
“Confess honestly, how do you do maintenance?” Jiang Ying Yun meticulously observed Shu Shuilian for a while. She couldn’t help but enviously ask. In this moment, Su Shuilian was leaning on the opposite soft couch, picking a big apple that had just been harvested, eating elegantly.
It was so unfair. As they both were pregnant, the wife of the tea house’s owner, her neighbor, and Su Shuilian had their due days not much different. However, she wasn’t as lucky as Su Shuilian: She got brown freckles and swelling hands and feet. She was so different from the eight-month pregnant woman in front of her: She got snow-white skin, which was soft and elastic… Sigh, it was really indignant when you compare people!
Su Shuilian smiled when she saw Jiang Ying Yun’s exaggerated reaction. What could she say? That Lin Si Yao protected her too well? Or the Jade Essence’s effects were beyond excellent?
“Then again, I can’t believe you’re the Fourth Young Lady of Prince Jing’s mansion from the Imperial City…” Seeing Chun Lan deliver tea and fruits and leave quietly, Jiang Ying Yun sighed. Her big sister’s plan was ruined. They had expected that after Su Shuilian was done with her puerperium, she would accept more embroidery projects. Moreover, her Chief Embroiderer contract could be renewed timely next year. They didn’t expect that…
Now that they know she is the Fourth Young Lady of the Prince’s mansion, they didn’t dare to sign more contracts with her.
“I didn’t want to conceal…” Su Shuilian listened to Jiang Ying Yun with an aggrieved expression. She actually didn’t know that this body of her had such a complicated identity.
“It’s fine, I don’t blame you…” Jiang Ying Yun wielded her hand, talking open heartedly. “As long as Prince Jing’s Mansion doesn’t trouble Yue Yun (Embroidery Floor), it would be alright.”
“Ying Yun!” Su Shuilian called Jiang Ying Yun, feeling sorry. Pondering for a while, she continued, “Ying Yun, I’m afraid I won’t have a chance for a long-term cooperation with Yue Yun. You know, with twins… I’m afraid I don’t even have free time to embroider…”
“I know…” Jiang Ying Yun nodded. Having twins all of a sudden, anybody would have a headache.
Let alone Su Shuilian didn’t have in-laws to support her. Fortunately, Jiang Ying Yun swept her eyes over Chun Lan, who was waiting to serve several steps away from Shu Suilian, as well as the many maids, servants, and nannies Prince Jing’s mansion had prepared for her. Otherwise, with only her cold-faced, loving but over-protecting husband, they would be overwhelmed by the responsibilities.
“Chun Lan, help me bring that brocade bag in the big closet in the bedroom, please…” Shu Shuilian called Chun Lan.
A moment later, Chun Lan returned with a brocade bag. “My Lady, this one?”
“Yes, that’s it…” Su Shuilian received the bag then nodded at Chun Lan. “Chun Lan, go to the kitchen to check if the mung bean and lily sweet soup is done. If it is, take a bowl for Lady Jiang to taste.”
“Yes, Chun Lan will go now. My Lady, you should drink jujube and honey sweet soup. The mung bean and lily soup has cool properties. It’s not suitable for you to drink that soup now…” Chun Lan said then gave the others a tender smile. Then, she walked to the kitchen.
“Did you want to send her away?” Jiang Ying Yun smiled as if she didn’t smile, glancing at Shu Shuilian. She had managed to find a good excuse to shoo her maid away. Worth being the noble lady from the Prince’s mansion.
“I also want you to try their cooking talent…” Shu Shuilian added with a smile.
She had sent Chun Lan away because she didn’t want her to see her almost-perfect embroideries.
Although she didn’t know if the former Fourth Young Lady could embroider or not, or what her level was, with the two sets of clothes – one on her body and the other in her bag to change at that time, she could say that her level was just ordinary, or just a little flashy. The fabric materials were precious and luxurious, but the seams and stitches were really ordinary.
Thus, Su Shuilian didn’t want to let the momos and maids from Prince Jing’s mansion know how excellent her embroidery talent was. Even though they could guess something from the clothes she and Lin Si Yao wore, she did not want to openly say it.
“Ying Yun, what do you think about this embroidered picture?” Su Shuilian took out an embroidered picture around one meter wide and half a meter long. It was a smaller version of the <Along the River during Qingming Festival> picture she had prepared for an international competition. Although she had resized it smaller, it was extremely exquisite. After framing, it would fit any living room or study room.
“Heavens!” Jiang Ying Yun was leisurely leaned against her backrest. After first glance, she jolted up, eyes shining. Her hands cover her lips, her voice trembling. “Shuilian… This…”
“It’s what I wanted to do after signing the Chief Embroiderer contract. I was reluctant because I was pregnant. A Yao was really strict. So, I’d finished it by early August. However, he’s been busy with the new house, and he didn’t have a plan to go to the city. I didn’t want to bother him. I thought that you would come at the baby’s three-day ceremony. I didn’t expect to see you this early. What perfect timing.”
“Shuilian…” Jiang Ying Yun couldn’t believe it. She gazed at Shu Shuilian bewilderedly for a while before she could get Su Shuilian’s idea. She pointed at the embroidered picture that would be graded top quality, confirming disbelievingly, “You mean this embroidered picture…”
“Yeah, I want to give it to Yue Yun Embroidery Floor. As the Chief Embroiderer, I should submit my work. Would it be worth the salary of two silvers per month that you guys pay me?” Shu Shuilian mischievously winked, implicating that this work of her would be worth twenty-four silvers.
“Worth, worth, of course, it’s worthy. Ah… I didn’t mean that. I mean… Oh, Shuilian, this embroidered of yours made me so flustered. I mean, we have to pay the salary of two silvers per month for your Chief Embroiderer job, and you don’t need to submit the other works. Me and my sister do have that credit. About this picture, Shuilian, I can only say it’s the masterpiece of an Embroidery God. Don’t worry, when I get back, I will give it to an appraiser to determine the price. We will pay you what we should pay. We definitely won’t short change you.” Jiang Ying Yun was elated, she had thought that Yue Yun Embroidery House couldn’t have any top-quality product this year. She didn’t expect to receive one during this visit.
“Ying Yun, this embroidered picture is this Chief Embroiderer’s apology gift. I’m so sorry that I signed the contract and received the salary but I couldn’t handle the work. I’ve caused you trouble and expenses. If you want to give me money for this work, I will take it back and won’t give it to you anymore…” Shu Shuilian pretended to be upset as she spoke.
It was because she was sorry that she had recalled and drew the <Along the River> piece and embroidered it on a brocade sheet. This piece was similar to the culture, customs, and daily life of the common people in Da Hui Empire.
“Shuilian…” Jiang Ying Yun stammered, she couldn’t gather her words. Her big sister had acted generously to sign the Chief Embroiderer contract with Su Shuilian because they didn’t want her to work for other embroidery houses. They wanted to use money to reduce competitors. They didn’t expect that this tender, graceful woman here had created an embroidered picture that could be deemed peerless product because she felt sorry and wanted to give the embroidery house an apology gift. Heavens, didn’t she know that this exquisite, flawless embroidered picture with lifelike, static characters could be sold at fifty silvers in the market. It wasn’t a joke. In the auction house, perhaps they could sell it at hundreds of silvers.
However, she gifted it to them as an apology gift without any reluctance what-so-ever.
Jiang Ying Yun wanted to talk her out of it, but she didn’t know where to begin. She could only look at Su Shuilian with complicated eyes.
“Alright, take it. Chun Lan is about to return…” Shu Shuilian threw a glance at the door, implying that Jiang Ying Yun should roll the <Along the River during Qingming Festival> picture that had cost her five months to make and put it back to the brocade bag.
“Alright, anyway, after I get it appraised, I will come and pay you the extra amount if there is any. Although I believe that the Fourth Young Lady of Prince Jing’s mansion doesn’t lack money, I insist…” Jiang Ying Yun sighed. Eventually, she had to accept Su Shuilian’s goodwill. She carefully rolled the embroidered picture and put it back into the brocade bag, keeping it by her side.
“Ying Yun, you don’t need to do that…” Su Shuilian smiled, shaking her head. However, seeing Jiang Ying Yun’s “I-insist-face” and Chun Lan bringing two bowls of sweet soups from the kitchen and walking from the cherry tree, the two of them stopped this topic tacitly.
At night, Lin Si Yao opened the big closet to take his clothes to go and take a shower. Just as he guessed, the brocade bag had gone.
He curled his lips, concealing his smile in his eyes. Although he said nothing about his beloved woman spending more than four months on that embroidered picture, he wasn’t really pleased. Anyway, today, the second owner of Yue Yun Embroidery House had come and taken it, it meant from now on, Shuilian didn’t have the burden in her heart of signing the contract and doing nothing.
Taking off the clothes that had dust and splinters of wood, he showered with a big barrel of water in the yard. He changed into a thin, cotton nightgown and slipped into the bed.
“How was your day?” He hugged the petite woman who had already lay under the warm blanket made of bearskin, stooping his head and quietly asked.
“It was good. And yours? You must be exhausted….” Shu Shuilian tenderly stroked his face that had been a tone darker, as she guilty asked.
Lin Si Yao wanted to move into the new house before her due date. And in order to do that, they sped the work with the construction workers and carpenters. Situ Yun and Da Bao were even dragged along with him. And at twilight, when the two adolescents returned, they would come to her and complain for a long time. It was only until Chun Lan agreed to make them dessert the day after would they contentedly leave her.
From the day Prince Jing’s Mansion’s maids and servants moved in the four-acre house, Situ Yun picked a small room in Si Chong’s courtyard to stay. He said it was to make sure that his teacher’s and uncle’s homes were safe.
“Not tired…” Lin Si Yao sucked her lips, gently rubbing and intertwining.
“A Yao… .” Su Shuilian couldn’t help but moan. Her hands wrapped around his neck, closing the gap between her and him.
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