Chapter 40: Like a spring breeze blowing across the lake of my heart (2)
Zhou Xiaoxiao had a look around the place. No issues had cropped up thus far. So, she turned around and went back to the residence.
The newly purchased servant girl, Juanzi, came out to greet her.
Juanzi was a rather stoutly servant girl with strong arms that could handle several dozen jin of dough. While browsing, Zhou Xiaoxiao decided to take her because of her strength.
Her mind was as broad as her stature. With just one glance, she was able to tell that Zhou Xiaoxiao was mulling over something. Happily, she took Zhou Xiaoxiao’s arm with her flour-covered hands.
“Lady, you’re back. Aunt Ji brought us some freshly steamed dim sum and is waiting for my lady to go take a look.”
Zhou Xiaoxiao looked at the letter in her hand she had yet to read, and with a bitter smile, followed her into the workshop.
The newly-built workshop was covered in steam. Several girls dressed in smocks were all busying themselves within the misty room.
The person in the lead was a woman in her thirties called Aunt Ji. When she saw Zhou Xiaoxiao enter, she wiped her flour-covered hands on her smock and lifted a freshly steamed basket of treats to her. “These are our new goods from today. What do you think of them, my lady?”
Aunt Ji’s family had originally been in the bakery business. They were able to make a decent living in the past, but unexpectedly, her husband ended up with tuberculosis just last year. In order to save him, she had to sell off much of her family possessions to seek a doctor, but she still lost him. The widow who was left behind with her child could not bear the crippling debts, and being unable to live on, she had no choice but to sell herself.
Fortunately, she met Zhou Xiaoxiao who did not mind her identity as a newly-widowed woman, caring only about her skills.
Not only did she pay her a decent amount in silver, she even passed on her workshop for her to handle. Salary was given to her every month, and she even allowed her seven-year-old child to stay with her. That was why Aunt Ji was especially grateful to Zhou Xiaoxiao and was also extra diligent in work.
Zhou Xiaoxiao accepted the bamboo steaming basket, and, without saying anything more, picked out a seat near the window and sat down. She put the basket down on the window and slowly let her mind wander. The newly-steamed goods in the basket were still steaming. Through it, a hint of sadness could be seen on Zhou Xiaoxiao’s face that was always filled with smiles.
Juanzi was just about to come over to her, but she was stopped by Aunt Ji. “Go and do your work. The lady has her problems, it’s best we don’t bother her.”
Zhou Xiaoxiao was staring off into space for a moment. Then, she looked down at the letter in her hand that was slightly creased from her holding it and unfolded the thin piece of paper inside.
Yu Xingzhi’s familiar writing could be seen on the paper, but the tone was very unfamiliar. It contained a few words of thanks, and some kind but distant greetings. Between those words were his farewells that they would never meet again. Zhou Xiaoxiao read through the letter a few times, going through the words back and forth, but no lingering feelings could be found on them.
She shut her eyes, and Yu Xingzhi’s face appeared in her head.
A jade-like prince atop that cold, snowy mountain, just like a spring breeze blowing across the lake of my heart.
Forget it. Zhou Xiaoxiao opened her eyes. If this was not his true meaning, then he would naturally appear in front of me and explain himself.
If he really wishes to break off this relationship, then so be it.
She slowly folded up the letter and kept it her sleeve. Then, she took a bite of the snack with her chopsticks and nodded. “Good. That’s the taste. Xiaomei, show me the records.”
A skinny young servant girl came over with the record book for Zhou Xiaoxiao to see. This young servant girl named Xiaomei was one of the helpers purchased by Zhou Xiaoxiao and was the only literate one. She had been working in a big family prior to this, and due to the family head having provoked a government official, all their possessions and maids were sold off because of that, and she was then bought over by Zhou Xiaoxiao.
Zhou Xiaoxiao looked at the notes and pointed to them, saying, “With this as a base, copy down the last recipe, Xiaomei. The materials used in the subsequent batches must be done strictly according to this one. The taste must be kept the same, no difference in taste is allowed in any of the other batches.”