Chapter 18: Lovely Brows Like Crescent Moons, Limpid Eyes Like the Heat of Spring (1)
Penglai Inn is a decade-old shop in Chengdong.
Thanks to the reasonable prices and the clean environment, the place is well-loved by merchants traveling to and from Qiongcheng.
Early this morning, a farmer with a sallow complexion rode his flatbed trike to the shop with a young woman at the back, body heavy with child. The woman’s face was pale and her head was wrapped in a thick headscarf while a blanket covered her body. Clearly, she was sick.
The waiter of the shop came forward to greet him.
The farmer said, “We are from Niujia Village a hundred li away from the city. My wife is pregnant and we came because her body is unwell. We came to seek the doctor at Xingren Temple to buy medicine and planned to return this very morning, but I just found out that the city gates have been sealed under the magistrate’s orders. All the gates are blocked and I heard it’s because they’re catching a criminal so people are only allowed in, not out. We have no choice but to stay at your wonderful establishment for a few days.”
The waiter said, “You’ve come at a good time. We have a warm room upstairs that will be good for your wife to recover. It’ll be only twenty cash a day.”
The farmer took out a string of a thousand cash and passed it to the waiter, smiling, “I will have to bother this brother to find me a neat and quiet room.”
The waiter responded diligently, “Come with me, you and your wife can just worry about relaxing, this one will go to the city gates and find out why the gates are sealed, and when the ban will be lifted for your peace of mind.”
And so, the man picked up his wife and followed the waiter into the shop.
The waiter caught a glimpse of that hibiscus face that was half-revealed and found her extremely gorgeous. He couldn’t help his heartbeat from speeding up as he secretly thought to himself, “To think such a rough guy like him can marry such a beautiful woman. No wonder he watched over her like his treasure. If I married a wife as beautiful as this one day, I’d also be willing to stay in a room that costs twenty cash a day.”
After entering the room, the waiter excused himself and shut the door. Then, the sallow-faced farmer turned back and smiled at the young woman on the bed, saying, “See? I said nobody will find out, right? That waiter was almost tripping over himself when he saw you!”
The woman’s face was faintly red as she turned her cheek to him. As soon as she opened her mouth, the deep voice of a man spilled out. “Do not make fun of me.”
It turns out that the farmer was actually Zhou Xiaoxiao dressed up, and the pregnant woman was Yu Xingzhi in disguise.
This was a life or death situation. Much thought had been put into this situation by Zhou Xiaoxiao before he made these careful preparations.
She picked up Yu Xingzhi from Chenghuang and dressed him up as a woman, so the story goes. Zhou Xiaoxiao had been a woman fond of studying the art of makeup since her previous life, and Yu Xingzhi had a handsome face to compliment that. After her skillful grooming and with the thick cover of bedding and clothes to hide his man’s stature, he was able to dress him up rather beautifully.
Nobody was in the room at the moment. So, Zhou Xiaoxiao opened up her bag and out came a clutter of makeup products, a great variety she had prepared prior to this. There were some limits to makeup in the ancient days, so she spent a lot of effort trying to find substitutes.
“Let us settle down here for now and clean up our appearance just a little bit more. Just to make sure that our plan is foolproof.”
Zhou Xiaoxiao took out a cotton thread and threaded off the fine hairs of Yu Xingzhi’s face and beard. Securing one end of the thread with her teeth, she leaned forward to him.
Yu Xingzhi could faintly feel her hot breath on his face every so often, and his face gradually turned red as a result. After threading his face, Zhou Xiaoxiao could not help herself from feeling amused when she saw Yu Xingzhi’s peach blossom cheeks.
“I know it is embarrassing for you that I asked you to dress as a woman, but are we not doing this for the sake of escaping? Is your dignity more important to you or your life? Am I wrong?”