Chapter 11: Plans From the Heart

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As it turned out, Bai’s Xi’s guess was correct. The person who had come wasn’t Bai Jin Hang. Rather, it was Madam Bai, Zhang Shu Yi, accompanied by Xia Xue, who was still pissed off at the rumours currently floating around.

Contrary to her expectations, when Bai Xi entered the hall, Zhang Shu Yi, who had always kept her mouth shut, spoke, “Xi’r, you have returned.”

Bai Xi sighed faintly and sat down on a chair. She started to nibble at the refreshments that Mu Qiu had prepared for the guests.

In the time it took to drink a small cup of tea1, neither Zhang Shu Yi nor Xia Xue took the initiative to say anything. Instead, they sat in silence as if waiting for Bai Xi to start the conversation. It was a pity then, that Bai Xi was not at all interested in humouring them, and continued to eat the light refreshments. After a while, someone would break.

“Xi’r, mother would like to discuss a matter with you,” Zhang Shu Yi bit out. If not for Jie’r’s sake, she would never lower her status by begging this little slut.

Bai Xi wiped her slender hands with a handkerchief and then took a sip of tea. Smiling, she said, “Mother has something to say? As they say, there shouldn’t be such formalities between mother and daughter.”

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Zhang Shu Yi’s loathing for Bai Xi increased a little, but she didn’t show it. Her expression remained kind and friendly. “Xi’r, ah, it is like this… Is it possible for Xi’r to tell your oldest brother that you would really like Xue’r to be your sister-in-law2?”

“I can.” Bai Xi didn’t hesitate to nod.

Zhang Shu Yi was very satisfied by this answer and also nodded. Xia Xue relaxed and smiled. The two of them looked at each other, and just as their smiles widened, Bai Xi spoke again.

“But hasn’t the emperor annulled the marriage between older brother and Xue older sister? Since it is so, Xue older sister cannot become Xi’r’s sister-in-law, so it doesn’t matter whether or not Xi’r likes this.” Bai Xi’s smile was sincere. If this was what her mother wanted, it was no wonder that she would talk to her so kindly after waiting for half a day. Hehe, it seemed her mother thought rather highly of her.

Xia Xue’s smile dropped. She bit her red lips and grasped at her sleeves. She didn’t understand why Jie would suddenly go to the emperor to request that their marriage be annulled, and further, why the emperor would agree. Her reputation had hit rock bottom, to have the day of her wedding just around the corner, only for it to then be called off. All of a sudden, she had become the biggest laughingstock of the capital. Her dad was not much better off, getting ridiculed and excluded by fellow officials in court. As such, he wanted her to get the support from her maternal aunt, no matter the cost.

Zhang Shu Yi’s brow creased in anger3 at Bai Xi’s words. Jie’r had decided not to listen to her, and had even gone so far as to not report it to the old master. He went straight to the emperor to request that the marriage be called off. She didn’t understand. Before, Jie’r was fine with the marriage, so why did he want to break it off? He should know that Xue’r was not only a high official’s4 daughter, she was also her niece. How can he humiliate Xue’r, his cousin5, like this?

“Nonsense! Those are all rumours.”

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“Oh, so they were originally rumours, huh?” Bai Xi smiled in realisation.

“Yes, it was just someone who was jealous of Xue’r, and so they spread those rumours everywhere.” It would be fine if she could get this little slut to believe that they were all rumours.

“Younger sister Xi’r, this older sister chose a gift for younger sister. I don’t know if younger sister will like it?” After Xia Xue received Zhang Shu Yi’s signal, she spoke and a servant held out a wooden box to Bai Xi, opening it in front of her.

Bai Xi looked inside the wooden box and saw a pearl hairpin. She didn’t say whether she liked it. Instead, she said, “Older sister Xue is not short of money.”

“If younger sister Xi’r likes it, then it is good.” As a woman, who didn’t love beauty? That pearl hairpin was her favourite. But even if she was not willing to part with it, she would for the sake of her future.

In actuality, she didn’t understand this situation at all. Why did her aunt want to come and beg this woman? Aren’t the words of her aunt as good as this woman’s? This woman was just Jie’s younger sister. Would he not agree to marrying her again because he liked this woman? But since her aunt said so, she would follow her aunt’s lead.

“It’s a pity this is not suitable for me.” Bai Xi was not a fool. It was easy to see in the depths of their eyes that they abhorred her. However, she was very curious. They didn’t go to find dad or ask the old master to persuade her older brother. Instead, they came to find her. It didn’t make sense. Is it possible that her older brother claimed that Bai Xi wanted Xia Xue as her sister-in-law and wanted her older brother to marry her? Did they really think that highly of her?

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Xia Xue was tongue-tied and did not know if she should continue.

“Mother saw that this pearl hairpin really suited Xi’r.”

“Since mother likes it, then older sister Xue should give it to mother as a present.” Bai Xi didn’t want them to continue with their plan since she couldn’t be bothered. It was time to kick them out. “Mother, Xi’r is somewhat tired.”

Zhang Shu Yi dropped her kind façade. Her tone was no longer the meek and subservient tone she had used previously, returning to her usual air of loathing and indifference. “Bai Xi, as long as you play along with this, this madam will let bygones be bygones.”

“Oh? I don’t remember this family rule whereby the madam punishes this second young miss for such things.” The corners of Bai Xi’s mouth twitched. The madam’s expression could change so quickly. “However, I shall remind madam… Grandfather, dad, and also older brother are all on this second young miss’ side. Furthermore, if madam really wants to follow through with that threat, then I cannot guarantee that, when facing older brother, I won’t say something I shouldn’t.”

“What do you mean?” Zhang Shu Yi took a deep breath, doing her best to endure. She was on the verge of erupting in anger.

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“For example, telling older brother that breaking off the engagement was a good thing, or perhaps saying I do not really like the idea of having older sister Xue as my sister-in-law.”

“You…” Xia Xue’s face paled and she shot to her feet. Perhaps because she was too agitated, the chair hit the floor with a loud bang.

“Cheap little thing, don’t you think that you are really the Bai residence’s second young miss. I don’t know where you came from, cheap thing! Don’t think that I will give you even a little bit of face. I will not tolerate such insolence from you!6” Zhang Shu Yi snarled, enraged.

Bai Xi’s lips curled, and she pondered Zhang Shu Yi’s appearance, reflecting on her words. Was she really not from the Bai family?

“If not because of you cheap little thing, my unborn daughter would not have died! If it weren’t for you, Jie’r would not have refused to acknowledge me as his mother! If not for you, Jie’r would not have gone to ask the emperor about the marriage decree and Xue’r would not have people looking down on her with derision! And why was the one who died that year not you cheap little thing? Instead, it was my unborn child. Why didn’t you go die? Why?” Zhang Shu Yi’s eyes filled with fury, as if she had lost her sensibilities. As wildly incensed as she was, all she wanted to do was throttle Bai Xi, but she was blocked by Mu Qiu. Zhang Shu Yi grabbed Mu Qiu’s neck.

Zhang Shu Yi had great physical strength, and Mu Qiu’s small face quickly lost colour. Xia Xue watched the entire ordeal, stupefied. Bai Xi narrowed her eyes. She kicked Zhang Shu Yi to the door. Mu Qiu regained her breath, and her face slowly recovered to normal.

“You cheap…” Zhang Shu Yi had yet not finished her words when, from the corner of her eye, she spotted master, along with Jie’r, walking outside. An idea came to mind. She must use this as an opportunity to get rid of this cheap little thing and drive her away from the Bai residence.

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