54 Young, Tender Grass

    The order she was working was from the Hundred flower, they had ordered fifty handkerchiefs to be made, and each to be embroidered with a different flower. There wasn't question that these would be used by the women of the brothel, so Huo momo wasn't all too eager to do it herself.

    Thus, Xue'er ended up being the one to make most of the orders. To be fair, her embroidery had improved a lot, so anyone without a sharp eye for embroidered goods would not really be able to distinguish the works of Xue'er and Huo momo.

    When Xue'er had completed the order, she folded and placed each handkerchief neatly into a large box and set it on the workbench that Huo momo frequently sits at to do her work.

    "Huo momo, the order is ready." Xue'er called to her.

    "Ah, Xue'er, can you deliver it to them, my leg is hurt." Huo momo asked the favor.

    "Sure." She nodded.

    "When you go to the Hundred Flower Hall, make sure you don't catch anyone's attention." The voice sternly warned.

    "Yes." Xue'er said as she took the box, heading out the door.

    Once she was outside, she felt the brisk wind blow upon her cheek. It was getting colder day by day, she saw the people outside wearing slightly thicker coats than normal.

    [The weather is truly colder up here in the north.]

    Xue'er looked at her own clothes, which was more suitable for fall. With the impending winter, she should probably make clothes that were suitable for this season.

    She silently made her way down the road that was bustling with countless people from all different walks of life.

    The brothel was in the center of the town, she had caught a glimpse of it when she was laying on the rooftops and Gan Tianchi had pointed it out to her. Though she could have done without that knowledge, she was really glad she knew.

    How embarrassing it would have been for a little girl to ask a stranger for the directions to the brothel, it would be something she would never be able to live down.

    Perhaps people would think she was trying to sell herself.

    After pondering with her head looking at the ground, she came across what looked to be a piece of cabbage that was firmly implanted into the ground, after being stepped upon by too many people.

    She lifted her head up to see a bustling place with some people bartering with each other, there were people holding home woven baskets to look around. There were giant baskets of vegetable that were being unloaded by wooden carts pulled by donkeys.

    [So this is the marketplace?]

    Xue'er thought to herself, before walking amongst them without the slightest bit of hesitation. The people mostly kept to themselves, without noticing her. There was the sound of a butcher's giant blade cutting into the flesh of a freshly slaughtered pig as she walked past, nearly splattering her with the stench of pig's blood, but she dodged it in a timely manner.

    Just when she thought that she was safe from the loud noises and being splattered with pork's blood, or produce somehow making it to her body, she felt a slight tug on her shoulder.

    Confused, Xue'er turned around to see a familiar face, Xiao Ya. The girl was a little taller than Xue'er, and when they stood straight and tall, the girl's patched up clothing made her body seem thin.

    "What are you doing here?" Xiao Ya asked.

    "I'm delivering an order to the Hundred flower hall." Xue'er said as she mentioned the box she was holding.

    "It couldn't be that you really want to go there alone, do you?" Xiao Ya was surprised, her eyes widened to the point of nearly popping.

    Xue'er nodded, "Is there something wrong?" She asked.

    "Of course, why would a little girl like you want to go there by yourself? The men are very lecherous, and they want to chew on young and tender grass like you." Xiao Ya said it seemed that she was trying her best to scare the living daylights out of Xue'er.

    But that unfortunately did not happen. Xue'er's countenance was unchanged as she listened on to what Xiao Ya was saying.

    "I am not young, besides you are not that much older than me. Besides, it's the morning, I doubt that there would be customers right now. I heard that those establishments are best to be avoided when night falls." Xue'er said with all reason.

    "True." Xiao Ya nodded, thinking what was said would be considered reasonable. To think of it, what she had never seen a brothel busy in the morning. It would always be nighttime when the candles would glimmer the brightest in front of those establishments.

    "I'll be going then."

    Xiao Ya had given up on persuading Xue'er to not go there, she added on "You can ask around for me." Before she turned to leave, disappearing into the sea of people.

    Xue'er watched Xiao Ya disappear amongst the crowd and did her best to distinguish those footsteps from that of many people before Xiao Ya's figure disappeared. Turning around, she made her way to the Hundred Flower Hall.

    It was not surprising that a brothel early in the morning was as deserted as an ice storage in winter. There was not a single person here, exept for the two people who were seen upon entering.

    One seemed to be the accountant, who was a stout and fat man with small and greedy eyes as his nimble fingers swished across the wooden frame of the abacus, busily counting the profit made from the previous night.

    The other was the head madam Lu, who was in charge with all the girls, Xue'er had caught a glimpse of her a few days ago. She was as vulgar as Xue'er remembered. Though it was the morning, she was still dressed extravagantly, the strong smell of perfume nearly made Xue'er want to gag, but she kept herself perfectly composed. Silently wishing she had placed a slice of ginger into her mouth before entering.

    Madam Lu was sitting at a table conversing with a person who was hidden by the curtain.
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