Chapter 25: Who is the Puppet
3 days later, Erfang’s xiaojie, Li Chang Ru, could no longer wait and immediately put on her new attire. The dress was made of Jinqiao silk. The yellow/green dress was radiant and blinding. A phoenix was embroidered on the dress and when walking, the changing of colours and patterns was unreal. Compared to other days, Chang Ru appeared even more elegant. When she appeared at He Xiang Yuan, she caught everyone’s attention.
Right then Li Zhang Le appeared holding her fortune cat. The moment she noticed the radiant and elegant dress on Li Chang Ru, her expression instantly turned for the worse.
Li Wei Yang was already present long before Chang Ru and Zhang Le. From affair, she witnessed this scene and grinned. This Da jie of hers most prized possession was her beauty, believing herself to be the most beautiful person in the world. As a result, Zhang Le also believes all the best things should belong to her. For this reason, when Zhang Le saw the beautiful dress on Li Chang Ru—which was made of the silk that should’ve been hers—her face turned green. She didn’t look anything like the compassionate and kind-hearted person she was renowned for.
Li Wei Yang walked down the hall. Lao furen’s hobby was to keep birds as pets. Her favorite was the red parrot kept at the entrance. There had once been thieves in the Prime Minister’s estate and it was due to this talking parrot that had saved Lao furen’s life, which was why this parrot was especially important to Lao furen.
The parrot lived inside a cage made out of boxwood. When it saw Li Wei Yang appearing close to it, the parrot cocked its head and made a rowdy noise.
Li Wei Yang smiled at the servant, Lu Zhi, who was in charge of taking care of the parrot. Wei Yang held up a bowl of food and a bowl of water, placed it into the cage and instructed, “Er xiaojie is so pretty! Er xiaojie is so pretty!”
Lu Zhi took a look at Er xiaojire from afar and nodded in agreement. “Er xiaojie’s new dress is indeed very beautiful.”
The parrot flapped its wings. “So pretty! Er xiaojie! So pretty!”
Li Wei Yang grinned, pulled back the curtains and entered.
Li Zhang Le and Li Chang Ru—one following the other—made their way over. The servant was about to pull back the curtains for the two but Li Zhang Le suddenly heard a voice over her head.
“Er xiaojie is so pretty! Er xiaojie is so pretty!” The voice was high-pitched and childish. In a quiet place, the voice was even clearer. The parrot’s voice was like a knife slicing through the calm that Li Zhang Le was fighting hard to keep.
The parrot was merely a pet. It didn’t understand things as it repeated the phrase several times. Paired with the sound of wings flapping, the fortune cat in Li Zhang Le’s arms abruptly cried out and dove for the parrot.
Lu Zhi cried out loud. She hurriedly used the wooden stick to take down the parrot’s cage and protected the bird in her arms. The fortune cat jumped at Lu Zhi’s legs, snarled and growled threateningly with no intentions of leaving as the cat glared at the parrot.
The parrot continued to talk, “Er xiaojie is so pretty!”
Lu Zhi was quick to protect to the parrot. “If you continue to be noisy, the cat might just bite off your tongue!”
The parrot was quite smart. Upon hearing Lu Zhi’s threat, it was scared and did not dare to speak any further, instead shivering in Lu Zhi’s arms.
Li Zhang Le suppressed her anger and held her fortune cat. “Good cat, stop fooling around.” As she said so, her face turned brighter with a smile and walked inside as if nothing had happened.
When greetings were being given, even though Lao furen’s face remained as usual, Li Wei Yang knew that Lao furen had already known about what happened with the pets.
After visiting Lao furen and returning to her living chambers, Li Wei Yang looked at Zi Yang. “Did anything happen?”
Zi Yan lowered her eyes and replied, “Except for Hua Mei who left to pick up some tea, nobody else left the courtyard.” Then, as if she realized something, she added, “Hua Mei left for about half an hour before returning.”
Li Wei Yang gently chuckled. “Call her in for me.”
Zi Yan hesitated. “Xiaojie, if you need something, just let me do it.”
“You can’t. Today I want to put on a play. How can I not make it a good show?” Li Wei Yang grinned. “Go summon her for me.”
Zi Yan obeyed and went out to summon Hua Mei.
Meanwhile Li Wei Yang enjoyed her tea and patiently waited.
Shortly after, Zi Yan returned with Hua Mei following. Li Wei Yang didn’t even care to raise an eyelid.
Hua Mei had always been guarded by Zi Yan, therefore, she rarely has the opportunity to enter Wei Yang’s bedchamber. But today she was summoned by xiaojie, she couldn’t help feel restless. Even though Hua Mei was a lowly maidservant, she had never feared Li Wei Yang, mainly because she had Da furen as her powerful backup. Even if San xiaojie disliked her, there was nothing San xiaojie could do to her. Yet after the last incident, Hua Mei truly thought San xiaojie was . . . a little unpredictable. It was hard to know what she would do next.
Li Wei Yang lifted her head. “Hua Mei, from today onwards, you will help me look after the wardrobe and accessories.”
This was an important task, which was why Zi Yan was shocked. Her lips twitched as she looked at Bai Zhi who was actually quite calm and composed. Noticing Bai Zhi’s expression, Zi Yan swallowed her words and didn’t say anything.
Startled, Hua Mei stared at Li Wei Yang.
Li Wei Yang continued, “Bai Zhi, hand over all those important coffers to Hua Mei. Let her look after them.”
“Yes.” Bai Zhi immediately turned around and left.
Hua Mei beamed happily. San xiaojie was probably afraid of Da furen, which was why she decided to give me this important task! Hmph! Then again, she’s still just the concubine’s daughter, still need to live according to the matron’s mood!
Bai Zhi heaved out three coffers and said to Hua Mei, “These three coffers will be looked after by you. You cannot be careless.”
Hua Mei cheerfully laughed and grabbed the keys from Bai Zhi. “That’s obvious! Xiaojie need not worry!”
Early the next morning, Hua Mei didn’t have time to give the coffers a thorough check-up before she was interrupted by Lao furen’s people, who was sent over to tailor new clothes for San xiaojie.
Hua Mei brought out the coffers, opened it up, then immediately heard Bai Zhi’s angry voice.
“Hua Mei! What is the meaning of this?!”
Hua Mei stiffened and looked down. The silk brocades were all tangled up in a messy pile and had cat scratch marks all over. Worse, it was all destroyed!
Hua Mei turned pale white and abruptly kneeled on the floor. “San xiaojie. . . Nubi . . . Nubi don’t know why it’s like this!”
Li Wei Yang furrowed her brows and stood up. “Tie her down!”
Hua Mei suddenly wanted to grab a hold of Wei Yang’s dress but was shoved away by Bai Zhi. “Do you not hear xiaojie’s words?!”
Hua Mei viciously shoved Bai Zhi as she screamed and pushed herself towards Li Wei Yang. “San xiaojie, you can’t punish me!”
Li Wei Yang didn’t look back. “Then we’ll wait until I’ve seen Lao furen and Mother!”
On the way to He Xiang Yuan, Li Wei Yang didn’t stop but walked right into the courtyard.
Tears welled up in her eyes. “Lao furen, Wei Yang’s silks have all been ruined by a cat. . .”
Lao furen was sitting and sipping on her tea but the moment she heard Wei Yang’s voice, her eyebrows furrowed. She was about to say something but right then, Lu Zhi stumbled into the hall.
“Something bad has happened, Lao furen! The parrot. . .”
Lao furen shot up on her feet. The tea cup in her hand fell and shattered into pieces.