The master and the servant picked up their pace and finally returned to Ci-Yu Nunnery just as the sun was turning west.
On the way back, Xizhi searched for the pink scented sachet, but could not find it. She was so frightened that her face turned white. It was Feng Rong who reassured her and told her carefully to keep the matter to herself before she went to see Nanny Hu.
Nanny Hu was in her fifties, she was not too young. So she did not go with Feng Rong during the daytime. She was in the west wing of her own room at this time.
When Feng Rong entered the room, Nanny Hu was sitting by the window with a sheet of white juan. She was sketching with her back to the Qionghua tree outside the window. Despite her age, she looked very spirited. Her hands did not move at all when she put pen to paper. She was so calm that one could tell at first glance that she was not as ordinary as she appeared to be.
[T/N: white juan: a white sheet of cloth]
“Nanny, are you painting a flower?”
“Young lady, you are back. Did you come straight here? Why don’t you go and have a rest first?” When she saw the sweat on her forehead, she knew she had just returned and frowned a little.
“It’s okay, I thought I’d have a word with Nanny, so I came over.” Feng Rong sat down next to Nanny Hu and looked closely at the painting she had just drawn. It was a very impressive painting of Qionghua fruits, one cluster pressed against the other. Obviously a very beautiful painting, but when Nanny Hu painted it, the strokes were well-defined, one thin and the other sparse, but they did not seem stingy.
When she saw her looking at the painting, Nanny Hu said with a kind face. “Young lady, what do you see when you stare at my painting?”
Feng Rong took a handkerchief and wiped the beads of sweat from her forehead, while saying, “Rong’er’s knowledge is shallow, I only saw that it looked good. Nanny has painted well.”
Nanny Hu looked up and stared into Feng Rong’s eyes, which were soft with smiles. Outside, the sun was setting and the orange light spread like a colored tapestry on her hair, enveloping her whole body. When she looked through the warm colors, Nanny Hu saw that her eyes were surprisingly bright, as if they held a thousand words. In the end, it was just a hint of playfulness that left Nanny Hu stunned for a moment. But then she reacted quickly and let out a snort. This young lady in front of her had clearly seen it all but she was still pretending to be confused, coaxing this old woman.
“But I don’t think it’s very good, why don’t you help me change it?” With that, Nanny Hu had already handed over the brush. It was not to invite her but to make sure she would take it.
Feng Rong couldn’t help laughing. Indeed she was an experienced person from the palace in front of Nanny Hu, she would always be a bit silly. She thought so carefully in front of Nanny Hu, it was like teaching hewing to the God of Carpenters.
Feng Rong took the brush and dipped it into the ink, and after a couple of strokes she put it down again.
Nanny Hu looked over at the white juan where she had drawn the Qionghua tree. In just a few strokes, Feng Rong had filled in a sparrow. The sparrow was hidden among the treetops. It did not stand out but had clearly brought the branches to life.
After staring for half a second, Nanny Hu finally exclaimed, “What a clever idea, my lady has impressed me today.”
Feng Rong was still a bit apprehensive, but after hearing her praise, her heart finally stopped hanging.
“I can’t compete with Old Lady Hu. It’s Nanny Hu who is good at painting. I can’t surpass your skill. Eh~”
With that she changed her tone and became a little more thoughtful: “Although I now live in the Prime Minister’s residence, I have a servant to serve me and a small building to live in. There is no shortage of food or clothing, but after all, it is just a case of being a parasite. Since my father and mother died and my grandmother left me, no one in the world has praised me with sincerity as much as Nanny has.”
“What are you talking about? Your aunt truly loves you as her own daughter.” Nanny Hu said with her eyes averted, looking at the embroidery on the lapels of her dress.
“I know that my aunt treats me well. It’s just the eyes of others that always make me feel indifferent and even if they compliment me, they don’t mean it as much as Nanny’s does.”
Feng Rong stirred her sleeve and looked at the green tinge on her wrist, hesitated for a moment, but said: “I would like to ask Nanny to come back to the Right Minister’s house with me. I am sorry, but I remember when my grandmother was alive she said that if she had a mouthful of rice she would have a mouthful of rice for Nanny too. Now that my grandmother has passed away and the Feng House has fallen into ruin, I can’t bear the thought of leaving Nanny alone in this nunnery, without a child by her side. Why don’t you come back with me to the Prime Minister’s residence and help me? Now I’m 13 years old, and the future is uncertain. The prime minister’s house is deep in the courtyard, and the spring is cold.”
The old woman’s heart stirred, and she raised her eyes to see her bright eyes. She picked up the flowers on the small table, and took only a small embroidery, and said: “This old servant thinks this is a good pattern, why don’t I use it to embroider a shawl for Young lady?”
This was a promise.
Feng Rong didn’t think it would be this easy. Nanny Hu was from the palace. Feng Rong was not much of insightful or open-minded as the average person. Whatever Nanny Hu’s considerations were, it was not a bad thing for her. Thinking of this, Feng Rong finally smiled again and nodded her head in response: “I think it would go well with the autumnal undertones, what does the Nanny think?”
“Coincidentally, this old servant thought so too.”
The two of them glanced at each other and both burst out laughing.
[T/N: The name of the chapter was Hu Momo, which means Grandma Hu. It’s a new word to me as well. And I think Nanny Hu is a very important character. Even I wanna know how she will bring changes in the novel.]