251 The Artist Becomes a Literal Maid

    Yujia figured out what idea Yu Zixu was talking about soon enough. He brought her to the Yu Villa, put her in a private room, gave her a set of the maid robes for the Yu Villa, and stepped out, leaving her alone. A few moments later, Yujia emerged, looking like a maid in the Yu Villa.

    Zixu glanced at her and nodded. "From far away, now, you look the part."

    Yujia stared at the robes she was wearing, made of a dark blue fabric. It was the kind of material that would not stain easily, due to its dark shade, and like the other maid robes she wore, the fabric wasn't the finest. It was just comfortable and practical, which Yujia supposed was the point of it.

    She had a faint idea of what he meant, but she was still mostly confused. "Your idea of having me pay you back is by... dressing me up as a maid of your villa?"

    He inclined his head, as if signaling for her to continue with her train of thought.

    Surely, Yu Zixu couldn't just bring her here to put her in some maid robes. If she thought a little further about what he was trying to do...

    "You're turning me into your maid?" Yujia exclaimed, her nose wrinkling up while she shrunk her head back.

    He began to walk to the other side of the courtyard they were in- his courtyard- beckoning for her to follow along. "Don't you think," he said as he walked, "that the best way to perfect your disguise is to have experience playing the role?"

    She nodded, her face still making an expression. "Right. That's why I dressed up to trick people around Lingxin in the first place... for experience."

    "Exactly. So, if you act like my maid, you can get more experience. And," he spun around, gesturing his hand, "I can teach you, since I do have a few observations recorded in my brain. In the meantime, you're paying me back by doing some manual labor."

    Yujia tucked a strand of hair behind her ear. "I get that. I just don't get how I'm repaying the favor if it's mutually beneficial."

    Zixu raised a brow. "Wouldn't you say that manual labor is harder than me giving advice?"

    "I guess?" Thinking back to her manual labor experience with Chef Hong in the kitchens, she couldn't help but shudder a bit. She prayed that Zixu wouldn't force her to lift sacks of flour.

    "If you're still not convinced, then let's just say that I'm bored," he drawled, observing her expression. "You're entertaining, and I need someone to take my mind off things."

    "It's hard to imagine you bored," Yujia muttered.

    At this, Zixu stepped forward, tilting his head. "Well, I suppose that's the first lesson: servants don't use the word 'you' to address their masters. You'll have to call me 'Young Master' from now on."

    Yujia blinked, taken aback by how fast Zixu jumped into the teachings. "Alright, Young Master...?" she said, her words trailing off to sound more like a question.

    "You don't sound quite certain." He folded his arms.

    "Young... Master."

    Now, he was tapping a finger against his arm. "There's still that hesitation."

    "Young Master!" Yujia exclaimed, hoping that this time, she finally got it right.

    "There we go." Zixu grinned. "That's better. But next time, tone it down a bit, will you? Too much enthusiasm is hard on the ears."

    She looked at his smile, seeing that it was the smile Zixu usually wore when teasing her.

    Manual labor? More like he was doing this to take amusement from getting to lecture her like this. She could see what he meant by "entertainment" now.

    But, if that was what made Yu Zixu happy, Yujia figured that she would oblige. She ended up relenting, except not before saying, "It's just hard to get used to calling... Young Master in the tone that a maid would refer to their young master, you know- I mean, Young Master knows? I'm used to saying Senior Brother or Young Master Yu."

    "Then, to make it fair, I should think of something different to call Junior Sister too, shouldn't I? If I can get used to it, surely you can too," Zixu contemplated.

    "What is Young Master thinking?" Yujia pursed her lips, deciding to crack a joke. "How about... 'that irrelevant maid over there'?"

    "No, no." Zixu shook his head, his lips spreading into a smile. "I was thinking more of a normal maid name. Little Yu? A'Yu? Yu'er? Or Jia'er?" he suggested, the potential nicknames rolling off his tongue.

    Yujia's eyes lit up. "Actually, Young Master has a point. I- this maid does need a name when going undercover."

    "Then, it's settled. Your name is now Shen Yuling, and your maid name is Yu'er," he told her.

    Yujia creased her brows. "That was sudden. Where did 'Shen Yuling' come from?"

    "You have to be decisive about these things," Zixu advised, "And Shen Yuling sounds quite generic, so you'll blend in with the crowd. Plus, out of all those nicknames, Yu'er suits you best. Do you have any better ideas?"

    "Not in particular."

    And thus, that was how Yujia changed her identity from Yang Yujia to Shen Yuling.

    Seeing that she agreed, Zixu smiled again. He turned to walk into his room. "Follow along then, Yu'er."

    Yujia was about to listen, but then, someone walked into the courtyard. His footsteps caught her attention, and she spun around, facing the personal servant of Yu Zixu. She recognized his face instantly, since she had interacted with him a bit a few days ago when she was in the Yu Villa, taking care of an ill Yu Zixu. The servant's name was Shen Li, if she remembered correctly.

    Shen Li, who was holding a tray, fixed his stare on her. His eyes scanned over her, as if trying to remember when a maid like this existed in the villa, and why she was in his young master's courtyard when Young Master Yu was always quite peculiar about the people he interacted with. Furthermore, he thought about why she was so familiar looking.

    Then, it hit him.

    "Weren't you- that- that Noble Zhuang from the other day?" he declared, the words falling out his mouth immediately. "But you- you became a girl? And you're wearing... the clothes..."

    Yujia wanted to facepalm. Right. She had been cross-dressing when she had first met Shen Li. What was she supposed to say now? It would be difficult to explain.

    Zixu noticed Shen Li's presence too. Yujia turned to look at him, seeing exactly what Zixu would do next.

    Contrary to Yujia's loss of words when being caught in this kind of awkward situation, Zixu's expression was light and carefree as if he could not care about the scenario all too much. He spoke his next words in a nonchalant manner, similar to how one would treat an everyday occurrence.

    "Shen Li, meet your new cousin, Shen Yuling."
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