About two hours later, they finally arrived at Liu Yun Village. From afar, under the moonlight, the shadow of the mountain was like a splash of ink on a canvas. Shen Ziqiao was exhausted right now so she wasn’t in the mood to admire the nightscape. She just wanted to lay down and sleep.
The people from the village didn’t expect someone from the capital to come over that late. The servants weren’t prepared for this at all and it was chaos.
Shen Ziqiao stood in the yard and watched as Hong Yu ordered the servant girls and old women around. They changed the blankets for new ones. Hong Ying ordered a servant girl to boil some water.
The busy servants worked on their respective tasks, but they glanced at Shen Ziqiao from the corner of their eyes from time to time as well as the impressive-looking man.
Qi Zheng had a calm and steady personality. When he saw the chaotic scene in front of him, he was shocked. He turned around to look at the young lady who didn’t even reach his shoulders. She had a childish face that was not yet matured. Under the lights, she appeared to have smooth, snow-white, and delicate skin. However, the girl couldn’t even keep her eyes open anymore. If she wasn't leaning against the tree, she probably wouldn't even be able to stand up still.
Just what type of girl is she?
He hadn’t heard of her in the past. If someone hadn't misunderstood their encounter at the Thousand Buddha Temple, he wouldn’t have asked about her.
People said that she was an arrogant and despotic daughter of an affluent family, and she was infatuated with the Ninth Prince. She treated people craftily and was extremely hard to get along with. But, through the two times they had interacted, he noticed that she wasn’t similar to the rumors. Although she didn’t talk or act like an actual young lady from a wealthy family, she wasn’t arrogant and crafty. More like… A playful girl like a child.
“Why did you leave the capital in the middle of the night to come here?” He couldn’t help but ask her. When he hid in her horse carriage and discovered it was hers, he was genuinely shocked.
Shen Ziqiao really thought that she would fall asleep while standing. Hearing Qi Zheng’s question, she mocked, “I already said that I was kicked out.”
Seeing her swaying body, Qi Zheng almost wanted to reach and hold her. “Even if you were kicked here, you should leave the city in the morning. The mountain road at night isn’t that easy to travel. What if you got into an accident…”
“Just like the accident you encountered?” Shen Ziqiao smiled and asked.
“I didn’t mean to disturb you.” Qi Zheng said.
“Mhm. You only stole something from someone and was forced to hide in my carriage.” Shen Ziqiao mocked.
Qi Zheng raised his eyebrows slightly, but didn’t say anything.
Shen Ziqiao looked up to see an outline of his handsome face, realizing that he was much more handsome than that Ninth Prince. The Ninth Prince acted like a woman. She liked men who were full of imposing manners. “Why did you pretend to be stupid?”
However, since they were just strangers, Qi Zheng naturally didn’t tell her his secret.
“It’s fine if you don’t want to tell me. Everyone has an untouchable secret.” Shen Ziqiao said as if she didn’t care whether he confided in her or not. “I never force people.”
Qi Zheng looked down at her and listened to her continue.
“However, you just finished using me and now you plan to live, eat, and sleep in my place. Shouldn’t I ask the questions to be clear? Who knows whether you’re a bad guy or not? What if you suddenly steal something for me in the middle of the night? Who am I going to complain to?” Shen Ziqiao said in a serious expression, haggling over small details.
“What do you have that is worthy enough to be stolen?” Qi Zheng retorted and his deep voice was like the mellow and rich taste of wine, full of charm.
Shen Ziqiao unconsciously pouted and said, “Who knows what you’re interested in?”
Qi Zheng laughed lowly and, seeing that she shook her head, he said, “Someone will naturally come and pick me up tomorrow.”
“Tomorrow? Haven’t you seen their gazes? The remains of my reputation will be ruined in your hands.” Shen Ziqiao pursed her lips and said, “A single man and woman came to this isolated place in the middle of the night. Those that don’t know the backstory will think that I eloped with you!”
“Not just a single man or woman. You still have two maids here.” Qi Zheng said in a low voice, “Plus, even if we were to elope, we wouldn’t come to a village belonging to the family.”
Shen Ziqiao glanced at him unhappily. He had no sense of humor!
They finally cleaned up the rooms and Hong Yu came over to tell Shen Ziqiao to rest, then hesitated as she looked at Qi Zheng.
It seemed like the Third Miss still didn’t talk about what to do with Young Master Qi.
Hearing that she was able to rest, Shen Ziqiao almost burst into tears of gratitude. “That’s great. I’m so tired.”
Hong Yu looked at Qi Zheng in fear.
“Oh, find a random room for Young Master Qi. If there aren’t enough rooms, he can make do in the woodshed." Shen Ziqiao waved her hands and walked lightly into the room.
Qi Zheng raised his eyebrows and glanced at Shen Ziqiao’s figure silently.
Hong Yu awkwardly laughed. Letting Young Master Qi live in the woodshed? Only their Third Miss could think of something like that.
Hong Ying had prepared the warm water already. Shen Ziqiao took a nice and comfortable shower, and then casually ate some noodles. Staring at her servant girls who looked like they wanted to say something, she said, “If you guys have anything to say, tell me tomorrow. I just want to sleep right now.”
Not only did Hong Yu and the sister have a lot of questions, but also the servants who were woken up from their dreams in the middle of the night. They were guessing why the Third Miss suddenly came here and even brought along a strange man.
In front of others, Qi Zheng was still a fool.
Hong Yu brought him to the neighboring yard’s west wing. She simply cleaned up the room which had a shady and gloomy feeling as it hadn’t been occupied for many years, but it was much better than the woodshed.
Behind the yard Shen Ziqiao was living in, there was a row of rooms for the servants in the village to live in. The candle lit up a room nearing the north and there was a faint light coming from the window. One could hear the faint discussion happening inside.
“Why did Third Miss suddenly appear here? Could it be…” A woman held a bamboo utensil on her knees and there was a nervous expression on her slightly tanned face. She glanced at the other woman who was already laying down in bed. “What happened in the capital?”
“She probably got kicked out.” The woman said in a calm and indifferent tone, “What does this have to do with us? Let’s go to sleep. Who knows how she’s going to torture us tomorrow.”
“Someone bullied the Third Miss in the capital? How can that be? Third Miss is delicate. How can she live in the countryside? That old woman must’ve found her displeasing to the eyes and kicked her here.” The woman continued talking, not in the mood to sleep at all.
The woman who went to sleep said indifferently, “But that’s a matter between them. What does this have to do with us servants? We’re just dogs who they raise and play with.”
That woman suddenly stood up and bit her lips, saying, “You still mind what Third Miss said back then? She was still a child, so who knows if she was coerced into saying that…”
“Her childhood determines her life. That’s just the Third Miss’s nature. Don’t expect too much from her."
“But what? Even the Old Madam was disappointed with her, so what can we do? Go to sleep!”
The Old Madam that the woman was referring to was obviously Pan Family’s Old Madam.