Chapter 10: Visit
It's the second day and like yesterday, Liu Jizhen did woodwork for the entire day.
Lu Mingshu ran to and fro for him.
"Master, drink water."
"Master, do you want to wipe off your sweat?"
Finally, Liu Jizhen furrowed his brows and snapped, "I already said don't bother me – what part of don't bother me do you not understand?"
Lu Mingshu lowered her head, "Oh…."
1Lu Mingshu pulled herself together. Her master did not like being bothered by others, so she would not bother him. She wanted to work hard on improving her ability at doing chores such as cooking the rice, washing the laundry, as well as cleaning. As her master had specially asked her if she could take care of herself, he must not favour a disciple who lacked in that department. He would definitely be satisfied if she did well in all of them!
Seven to eight days passed in this fashion. There were finally visitors at Green Jade Valley.
"Aunt Hui! Uncle Ah Sheng!" Seeing the figures that appeared on the trail, Lu Mingshu set her chores aside and ran over to welcome them happily.
Hui Niang and Ah Sheng, tailing behind a teenager, both revealed a smile when they saw Lu Mingshu run over.
Seeing Lu Mingshu's appearance, Hui Niang's eyes reddened. Her hair was tied into two uneven braids, her collar untidy, and her belt sash tied messily. Although the Lu Household was not large, Old Master and Madam had always doted on her, so that little Miss never need to suffer such hardship in the past!
"You are Lu Mingshu?" That young man's examining gaze fell on her.
He looked to be about thirteen to fourteen years old. He wore the uniform of a Nine Jade Palace disciple, with a sword slung on his back, while his waist and back were erect in a straight posture and proud demeanour.
Lu Mingshu bowed in respect. "Senior Brother."
The youth reluctantly nodded. "Yes. My name is Shao Zhengyang. You should have met my master, Elder Yu Wen, before."
Puzzled, Lu Mingshu only came to a realisation when Hui Niang reminded her with a whisper.
"So that kind uncle was Elder Yu-Wen; I haven't had the opportunity to thank him for speaking up for mother…"
The veins on Shao Zhengyang's forehead popped up. "No need, my Master's not lacking a thank you from you as he does a lot of kind deeds." He looked around once he finished speaking. "Where is Senior Uncle Liu?"
Right when he asked, he saw Liu Jizhen coming out from Heavenly Ascension Pavilion.
Shao Zhengyang walked over, giving Liu Jizhen a bow of respect after tidying up his sleeves. "Junior Nephew Shao Zhengyang greets Senior Uncle Liu."
Liu Jizhen gave him a brief glance.
Shao Zhengyang added another line, "My Master is Elder Yu Wen."
Finally, Liu Jizhen spoke, "Why are you here?"
Shao Zhengyang smiled. "Master sent me here to send his regards to Senior Uncle Liu as well as to check on Senior Uncle's new disciple since my Master had met her once through fate."
Hearing these words, Liu Jizhen furrowed his brows and pondered for a moment before turning around. "You, come here."
As Liu Jizhen brought Shao Zhengyang into Heavenly Ascension Pavilion, Hui Niang took this chance to tidy up Lu Mingshu's clothes and re-comb her hair.
Hui Niang's nimble hands rounded around her head, and a small bun appeared.
Lu Mingshu called out, "Aunt Hui, slow down, let me see how you tied it."
Hui Niang's heart ached at this statement. She slowed down her movements and slowly tied up the other half of her hair. "Look, just twist it around like this, stuff it in, and it's done."
Lu Mingshu told her to undo it, to attempt the hairdo herself, till she could successfully tie up her hair. She smiled. "It's done! I have learnt it!"
Hui Niang revealed a smile. "Miss is really smart!"
On the other hand, Ah Sheng placed the basket on his shoulders down and showed her item after item from the basket. "Miss, these are bought by us at the foot of the mountain, though we weren't sure what you lack here…."
A kit of needles, oil, salt, wine and vinegar, a teapot set, as well as rice, noodles, and fruits… They basically bought everything they could think of – as well as a basket of eggs.
1Hui Niang nagged, "When you are alone, you must remember to eat well and dress warmly. Don't worry about Ah Sheng and I. We have asked the Steward for a position to do chores on the mountains. The job is not difficult and we are paid wages every month…"
Lu Mingshu's eyes reddened when she saw Hui Niang's blistered hands and Ah Sheng's worn-out shoes.
She took out a banknote from the embroidered pouch. "Aunt Hui, take this…"
Hui Niang hastily waved her hands. "I can't! This was left to you by Madam for protection, so you can't use it so easily."
They had almost spent the money from selling the fields on the way to Xichuan from Dongyue, so these two baskets of things were definitely bought with all the money the two of them had in person. These banknotes were given by Zhou Yinru to get them to sign the divorce papers, but Lu Qingyi had been unwilling to use them as she wanted Lu Mingshu to keep it as insurance.
"There are still a lot of it here!" Lu Mingshu stubbornly stuffed the banknote into her hand. "Besides, it's inconvenient for me to leave, so how could you not have money when you still have to bring things to me?"
Hui Niang looked at Ah Sheng, hesitating to accept it. "Then we will keep it to buy things for miss…"
"You two shouldn't be so thrifty – Hui Niang, you should buy some ointment for your blistered hand, and Ah Sheng should also buy a new pair of shoes…"
Hearing her words, Hui Niang felt gratitude.
She turned her head to avoid Lu Mingshu's gaze yet spotted the half-washed laundry. Busily, she rolled up her sleeves. " I'll first wash the laundry; Ah Sheng, carry the things in."
"You can't!" Lu Mingshu hastily stopped her. "Taking care of Master is not something to be done by others."
"Just once. Courtyard Leader Liu won't mind."
Lu Mingshu still shook her head.
Since she could not convince her, Hui Niang could only stop and help Ah Sheng carry the things in.
Upon seeing the state of the kitchen, Hui Niang was on the verge of tears, "Why is it like this? This rice and these noodles are so rough, and the vegetables are already withered. Is it even edible?"
Hui Niang had heard some rumor when she was doing chores and had been worried all along, but seeing the reality of the situation now made her heart ache.
They said Courtyard Leader Liu, the one assigned to Green Jade Valley, was inferior to even a steward despite his title as a courtyard leader. Hui Niang originally passed it off as mere gossip, but to think the situation was worse than her imagination.
"It's fine, it's fine, haven't you guys just brought some new ones here?" Lu Mingshu laughed to comfort her.
Hui Niang opened her mouth but did not manage to speak what was on her mind.
"Lu Mingshu!" A voice traveled in from outside. Shao Zhengyang walked in.
"Senior Brother Shao."
Shao Zhengyang nodded his head and proceeded to ask Ah Sheng, "Where is my stuff?"
"Here, here!" Ah Sheng hastily took out a package from the basket.
Shao Zhengyang began opening the package. "My master knows the Courtyard of Affairs is not very thorough in handling their duties, hence he got me to send your disciple package personally. Look, this seal tablet is your proof of identification. Don't lose it. This is your disciple handbook as well as a foundation technique, and some miscellaneous stuff..."
By right, every disciple was given the package when they entered the sect. As for why Lu Mingshu's package had to be personally sent was naturally self-explanatory.
With Hui Niang repeatedly thanking Shao Zhengyang, how could he be patient? He waved his hand. "I'll be leaving first. You two should come with me too, as I am afraid Senior Uncle Liu doesn't like it when others disturb him."