Shen Ziqiao went to the Luo Family with the invitation in her hand in the end still.
Luo Zhaohua didn’t just neglect the banquet because she had other motives. By the time Shen Ziqiao arrived, there were a few ladies in the garden brewing wine.
“First Madam Qi is here.” It was unclear who said something but their gazes shifted to Shen Ziqiao. She wore a silver embroidered patterned red outfit with a silver white cloak draped over her. Underneath that was a swan-yellow white jade long skirt. It made her look quite refreshing and beautiful. Her skin was smooth like jade, and she looked like a blooming flower, elegant and gorgeous. One’s eyes brightened at the sight of her.
Shen Ziqiao looked really good.
In the past, they only heard of the bizarre things Shen Ziqiao had done and didn’t pay much attention to her appearance. But after seeing her today, they were shocked.
“Jiao Jiao, you’re finally here.” Luo Zhaohua got up from the master seat and held onto Shen Ziqiao’s arms intimately. “I’m just waiting for you.”
Shen Ziqiao wanted to laugh bitterly. She thought that today’s plum banquet was just a diversion. She didn’t expect for there to actually be a plum banquet.
“First Madam Qi’s status is different from before so naturally you’re different from us.” A young lady wearing a sapphire blue brocade dress sitting left of Luo Zhaohua exclaimed faintly.
“How can I compare to you unmarried ladies? I’ve become an old woman. Please be understanding. I didn’t purposely come here late.” Shen Ziqiao didn’t recognize the person but she had no intentions of incurring hatred. She smiled and sat by Luo Zhaohua’s side.
“Tao Shuilian, why are you saying this for no reason?” Luo Zhaohua rolled her eyes unhappily.
Shen Ziqiao had never heard of the woman before. Don’t mention meeting them. Yet, she saw hostility through Tao Shuilian’s eyes.
Did she offend her without knowing?
Luo Zhaohua saw Shen Ziqiao’s confusion. She said in a low voice, “Tao Shuilian is a close relative of yours. Her mother is Xiao Gu’s cousin.”
Oh, no wonder. But...she didn’t offend Tao Shuilian.
“Everyone knows that First Madam Qi lives a comfortable life and doesn’t need to serve her mother-in-law either. Instead, her mother-in-law might even have to serve upon her.” Tao Shuilian exclaimed indignantly, not even giving Shen Ziqiao a look.
“Young Miss Tao, you can’t say some things.” Shen Ziqiao said faintly. She finally understood why Tao Shuilian was so hostile towards her.
It seems like she wanted to stand up for Xiao Gu.
Tao Shuilian hmphed. “Why can’t I? Am I not telling the truth? Or when First Madam Qi was still unmarried, no one taught you how to wait upon your mother-in-law when you’re married?”
“Enough, Tao Shuilian. You really can’t say this. Ever since Madam Qi married into the Qi Family, she never paid respects to Old Madam Qi. Everyone in the capital knows. If you want to teach someone else a lesson, you should consider your elders first.” A lady across from Tao Shuilian exclaimed in a spicy tone.
Tao Shuilian recalled how Old Madam Qi didn’t like Xiao Gu and never paid respects to her either.
Shen Ziqiao glanced at the young lady wearing a sky-blue brocade outfit.
“Okay, okay. We’re here to appreciate the plum flowers. Let’s not talk about this.” As the host, Luo Zhaohua didn’t want people to have an unhappy experience leaving here.
Tao Shuilian smiled. “My apologies for losing control and saying this disregarding the setting. Let’s make poems, okay?”
Others immediately agreed to the suggestion. Besides Shen Ziqiao. Make poems? As if. It’s more than good enough that she knew the line “the moon shines on my bed brightly.” How could she compare to the other talented ladies that memorized poems as a child?
“Then start from First Madam Qi. You’re the oldest of us here.” Tao Shuilin looked provokingly at Shen Ziqiao.
Everyone knew that Shen Ziqiao was illiterate. They heard that she specially went to buy calligraphy in the hopes of acting like she was a refined young miss, yet she was deceived and bought something worthless instead.
Shen Ziqiao curled her lips up. She knew that she wouldn’t let her go.
“What’s the topic?” Shen Ziqiao smiled. “There are many lines in poems describing the beauty of plum flowers. Let’s not use the cliche lines. Why don’t we pick an item on the table as the topic. How does that sound?”
Luo Zhaohua obviously knew that Shen Ziqiao didn’t know how to make poems. But she naturally had her own method if she said this. “That’s interesting. We can do it your way.”
Seeing that Luo Zhaohua, the host, already agreed, they naturally didn’t disagree.
“Goose, goose, goose, melody sung to the sky, white feathers float atop the crystal-clear water, red paddles stir clear ripples.” Shen Ziqiao smiled as she recited a Classical Chinese poem that her teacher in elementary school forced her to memorize.
Everyone was silent.
Tao Shuilian stiffened before she finally squeezed out, “What the heck is this nonsense?”
Nonsense? The child prodigy, Luo Binwang’s work, was actually said to be nonsense?
“How is it nonsense?” Shen Ziqiao laughed. She was angrier at the fact that Luo Binwang was looked down upon than if she was looked down on.
What’s wrong with gooses? She could recite this poem with use and memorized it when she was six!
“Great! I think this poem is great.” The lady wearing a sky-blue brocade outfit praised.
Tao Shuilian spat in her heart. “Zuo Qingxin, how is this a great poem?”
“Not only did this poem describe the goose’s appearance, portraying its beautiful figure and graceful actions, it also talked about the realisticness and vividness of the goose too. Isn’t this great?” Zuo Qingxin ignored Tao Shuilian being fussy. She thought that Shen Ziqiao was just an idiot but after today, she believed that people were just spreading rumors.
“First Madam Qi is talented. I admire you.” The other ladies all praised her following Zuo Qingxin.
Shen Ziqiao’s face flushed. But that wasn’t her literary talent. “Thank you for the praise, thank you. I actually only know this poem.”
“It’s just a goose, no? What’s great about that?” Tao Shuilian hmphed.
She shouldn’t let this continue. When would she get to the official matter at this point? Shen Ziqiao peered at Luo Zhaohua. She accidentally spilled wine on her.
“Ah, what do we do? This...it’s my fault that I was thinking about your goose too much. A-Xing, quickly bring First Madam Qi to my room to change her clothes. It’s freezing right now. It’d be bad if she ends up getting a cold.” Luo Zhaohua quickly ordered.
What was this move? Shen Ziqiao glared at her in disdain.
Luo Zhaohua smiled embarrassedly. “Let’s continue while waiting for First Madam Qi.”
Zuo Qingxin exclaimed, “Zhaohua, you’re still careless as ever.”
“Ah, my fault. It’s my fault.” Luo Zhaohua hurriedly apologized.
Shen Ziqiao followed behind A-Xing as she led her to Luo Zhaohua’s yard while Hong Yu quickly followed.