In the small living room, the dishes were taken out from the two large meal boxes. There was a total of eight dishes and a soup, and all of them looked just as amazing and appetizing.
“Old Master, Old Mistress!” Nanny Gui sighed softly and said, “These dishes are cold now, eating them may spoil your stomach. Why don’t this old servant bring these to the kitchen and ask for them to be heated up!”
Shi Third Old Mistress creased her eyebrows and said, “Was hot water not placed inside the meal boxes to keep the food warm?”
Nanny Gui quickly replied and said, “They did add hot water in there, but maybe it was because the food was sent to us quite some time ago; this old servant touched a little of the water just now, and it isn’t hot anymore.”
Third Old Mistress Shi went forward and took a look, there was no steam from the dishes at all. When she touched the edge of the plate, it was cool.
“Forget it! Split these among yourself! It won’t taste as good when reheated on a stove as well! Have the kitchen make us a bowl of noodles!” Third Old Mistress Shi sighed.
Having lived in the warm lands of Sichuan for many years, the weather back in Qingzhou felt unbearable. Even though their stomachs growled hungrily as they looked at the cold dishes again, none of them had the appetite to eat at all. Everyone looked at each other and agreed with Third Old Mistress Shi’s proposal.
Nanny Gui quickly accepted and thanked the masters. She ordered the servants to pack the food up and split it among themselves in their room, while Nanny Gui smiled and said, “Old Master, Old Mistress, and the two missies, please wait a moment while this old servant goes to the kitchen to pass on the word!”
Third Old Mistress Shi smiled and said, “Why don’t you have a small maidservant to do it instead? There’s no need to go there personally!”
“What do they know? If their instructions are unclear, they might end up complicating matters! It’d be better if I go, this is after all within my responsibility!” Nanny Gui smiled and said. She wanted to be presented an opportunity to give the servants in this household a show of her power. Now that an opportunity was right in front of her, there was no way she’d let it slip by her.
Third Old Mistress Shi smiled tacitly and sighed in her heart: In the end, only she, who had followed us all these years, would put her masters above all else!
“Nanny Gui, hurry up, I’m hungry!” Shi Yulin pouted and said.
Hearing Shi Yulin, Nanny Gui was even more happy and she patted her chest while promising, “Don’t worry, Fourth Missy, this old servant will be back very soon! How about noodles in chicken soup, what do Old Master and Old Mistress think?”
“Just make it quick, we’ll have whatever there is! Don’t have to make it too troublesome!” Third Old Master Shi said indifferently.
Third Old Mistress Shi glanced at him once but merely instructed Nanny Gui, “Hurry and go!”
Nanny Gui nodded. After putting on a cloak, she held onto her lantern before stepping out of Ji Cui Tower’s courtyard.
Once she was out, a sudden realization hit her head. Her memory was no longer what it used to be due to age, and after many years had passed, the layout of the household had changed slightly. On top of all that, it was already night; she could no longer tell where the kitchen was!
As an experienced and senior old servant, she would definitely not do something as foolish as turning back to ask her masters —— wouldn’t that just be bringing a scolding upon herself!
After giving some thought, she decided to follow her memory and venture about slowly. If she were to meet someone, then she would just have to ask for directions and be on her way.
Nanny Gui pulled her cloak tighter around herself and affirmed the plan to herself as she headed north, following a pavement.
Nanny Gui had to admit that she was indeed old now! Either that, or the layout of the household had changed a lot. After going around in circles, the scenery on both sides seemed somewhat similar but not the same. Even after thirty minutes of walking, not only had she not caught a glimpse of the kitchen but also had no idea where it was!
The masters were all hungry and waiting to eat! Nanny Gui began to panic and became more frantic. When a person’s luck was bad, even drinking cold water would make her ill. While on the way, Nanny Gui slipped and fell heavily onto the ground. It was so painful that tears almost escaped from her eyes.
“This crazy weather! This is so different from Sichuan!” Nanny Gui complained as she pulled herself up and patted away the dirt before rubbing her sore bottom. But what use was complaining? She still had to find the kitchen.
“This ghastly household! How can there not be a single servant around in such a huge household!” Nanny Gui panicked. However, it did not hit her that in such a cold weather, the servants would would be warming themselves indoors! Who would leave the comfort of their house just to freeze outside?
Lifting her head, there was a light moving behind the bushes in front of her. Without any care for her leg, she frantically hurried across almost as if she had found her saving grace.
“Girl, is there a quicker path to the kitchen from here? The sky is getting dark and this old servant cannot see clearly!” Nanny Gui finally caught up to the two maidservants and asked with a small smile.
One of them pointed towards a direction and smiled, “Just walk over to that corner from here and make a turn. Follow that corridor and turn to your left at the two big melon trees. Walk a little more ahead and you will be able to spot the kitchen!”
“Ah! Many thanks to you two! Are you on an errand even on such a late hour?” Nanny Gui asked.
“Yes, we are bringing some things to Eldest Missy! Please go ahead of us!” The two answered and left after a short while.
Nanny Gui let out a sigh of relief as she followed the directions given by the maidservant. Sure enough, Nanny Gui saw that the path was soon familiar to her and she became elated. She had finally found the kitchen!
“Oh, there’s still the two of you here! Quickly, help my Old Master, Mistress and Missies to cook a bowl of noodles!” Nanny Gui pushed open the door and saw two servants still inside the kitchen. She smiled as she entered and said out loud.
At this moment, the kitchen was already closed. Those who went home would already be home by now. Only two servants stayed behind today to tidy up the kitchen. They were just about finished cleaning up when an uninvited guest pushed open the doors!
The two servants looked at each other once. They were slightly displeased. One of them, who wore claret-red clothes, forced a smile and asked, “This nanny looks unfamiliar. Which master sent you out on an errand?”
Nanny Gui was already feeling anxious while on the way to the kitchen. With the slip she had on her way, as well as the fear of receiving a scolding for making her masters wait, her heart was not at ease. Hearing those words now made her even more upset. She smiled and said, “This auntie here looks very smart, so why are you speaking so foolishly! Don’t you know the Shi family’s Third Old Master and Third Old Mistress have returned to the household? Did that not come to you if you knew I was an unfamiliar face?”
“Hehe! We are dumb people, of course we wouldn’t think of that! We aren’t as smart as you!” That person replied plainly with her lips pursed, “There are still some charcoal near the stove. The noodles, vegetables, ham and meat are all in the cabinet; make it yourself!”
Nanny Gui’s expression changed, “What do you mean?”
“Nanny, please don’t be angry!” The other servant wearing a deep green clothes said with a smile, “We’re already generous enough to let you have the entire kitchen for yourself, yet you’re still unhappy! The kitchen is a sacred place! If it were someone else, we would’ve chased that person out! Nanny, if you want to use the kitchen, hurry and use it. We still have to return home! In this cold weather, you can’t have us stay here for too long, right? We’re already tired enough after a long day of work!”
“That’s right!” The servant in claret-red clothes grunted and said, “Didn’t we already send someone to deliver the dishes to Third Old Master and Third Old Mistress? Is the food not to their liking? Oh, and why didn’t they send the plates and meal boxes back to us? This is just great, they didn’t send those back but want more to eat!”
“We are also very busy ourselves; we don’t only have your family’s masters to serve!” The servant in deep green clothes said again, “Other families send their servants to take their food, only your family had to have our people deliver the dishes personally. And here you are, not showing any appreciation!”
“Right, aren’t you just looking for a bone in an egg? You only followed Third Old Master outside for a few years and you’re acting all complacent now!”
“Hmph! If the outside really was that good, then why come back!”
“Quiet!” Nanny Gui was extremely furious and gave a cold smile, “Can a servant talk like that about what the masters do? I think the two of you are sick of living!”
The two of them were not going down without a fight, and asked Nanny Gui together, “Which ear of yours heard us criticising the masters? You were the one who was picking on things and now you are putting the blame on us! Oh, I think we’ve already done everything we had to, what else do you want? You are the one being unreasonable for picking on us! Even if Young Mistress knew about this, the fact won’t change!”
“Fine! Then let’s go to Young Mistress now! I want to hear what she will say!”, Nanny Gui was so infuriated that she felt a wave of dizziness
“You are so insensitive!” the servant in the claret-red clothes said again, “Do you think our Young Mistress is very free, and has to revolve around your Third family? Why don’t you look at what time it is now? How dare you still want to trouble Young Mistress at such an hour!”
“That’s right, Nanny, your temper is very bad! For just a few sentences, you want to complain about us? We aren’t like the servants who sweep the courtyard. The kitchen can’t do without us in the year end!”
“Exactly, it’s about to be a new year soon, yet there’s still someone with such a bad temper, shouting so loudly and making a big fuss! Do you want all of us servants to be chased out of the household in order to satisfy yourselves?”
“Eh, enough, enough, let’s not talk about this anymore! Who are we, how can we compare ourselves with her! Be careful, if a certain someone were to complain about us, we’ll only be the ones out of luck!”
Nanny Gui trembled with anger, but she was at a loss of words. After restraining and getting ahold of herself, she grunted, “I won’t speak anymore nonsense that mustn’t be heard by the masters with the both of you anymore. Quickly get to cooking so that I can bring it back for my masters! The dishes you sent were cold and were not fit for my masters to eat. They’re still waiting on an empty stomach for me to return! So hurry and get it done! Hmph, if you don’t do it, that’s fine too, but don’t blame me for finding Young Mistress! I don’t believe that the masters can’t have their noodles if they don’t want to have rice!”
The two looked at each other incredulously, and glared at Nanny Gui resentfully. One grumbled as she started the fire, while the other went to prepare the pot.
“Make a bowl of noodles in chicken soup, hurry up! If Third Old Master and Third Old Mistress becomes unhappy, dealing with two servants shouldn’t be a big deal! Your Young Mistress can’t say anything too!” Seeing that they were finally getting to work, Nanny Gui felt very happy and wanted to deal a fatal blow onto their arrogance which made her say so purposefully.
The servant in claret-red clothes immediately put aside the firewood in her hands, and said unhappily, “How will there be any chicken soup left? At this hour, how do you expect us to make a bowl of noodles in chicken soup for you!”
Nanny Gui snorted, “I don’t care, that’s your business!”
The servant in claret-red clothes was so angry that she smiled coldly, “Fine then! You’ll have to wait here! We still have to boil the water and kill a chicken to make your soup!”
“You!” Nanny Gui was red with anger.