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Published at 11th of November 2019 05:35:34 AM


Chapter 170

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Commander’s mansion used to be an award which had been given to Marquis Zhongjing by Taizu Emperor Gao. Its location was near Marquis Ningyuan’s mansion. Therefore, the avenue in front of the gate also called Avenue Zhong Ning. However, when Tai Zong Emperor had been on the throne, Marquis Zhongjing had been involved in the major mutiny case. After he had failed in the rebellion, his title had been deprived, his Tiequan had been destroyed (T/N: Tiequan is a credence for absolution which is given by the Emperor), his property had been confiscated and his family had been exterminated. After that, the mansion had been presented to the famous official of the Wu Dynasty, Officer Xiong Linshan and renamed as ‘Cheng Manor’. After Officer Xiong had resigned, he had submitted a petition to the Emperor to return the mansion. The Emperor at that time, Ren Emperor, then had taken the mansion back and granted lots of manors and farmlands to Officer Xiong in his hometown.




Except for the mountain forests on the front and the back, Cheng Manor covered an area about ninety acres and could be divided into two sections.

The front yard was also called the outer manor, which was the place where men dealt with their businesses. The front gate consisted of three red paint doors while each of them had forty-nine copper nails on the surface. There were also two corner gates on the east and the west. The ground of the yard was paved with bright and clean huge slabstone. Along the pavement were four outer studies situated symmetrically in two rows. The stable, the garage and a few rows of the reversely-set houses with narrow yards in which lived all the maids and servants were outside of the study area. Through the Outer Rite Door, there were five spacious and huge council rooms being seated in the center with the warm houses, the side houses and the tea rooms by both sides.

Then, through three Inner Rite Doors, the inner yard appeared.

Due to lots of scruples and restrictions, Minglan was now sitting in a jampan which had light gauze curtains all around to glance over the front yard quickly. Gu Tingye pointed at some places to acquaint her with the mansion. As they entered into the inner yard, Gu Tingye asked Minglan to get off the jampan and walk with him. However, Minglan suggested politely that she was too weak to walk for a long time and preferred to stay in the jampan. Then, the expression in Gu Tingye’s eyes turned strange right away. He approached to her ears while suggesting even more politely, “Is it because you want to save your strength to...?”

After thinking for a while, Minglan said, “I’d better just walk.”

This man who had sharply cut eyes, straight nose and thin lips was now putting on a meaningful look in his eyes as if he was laughing at her quietly.

There were five spacious halls with wing-rooms in the middle of the front. On the horizontal inscribed tablet was written three words ‘Morning Sunlight Hall’, which were lively and vigorous in calligraphy. Minglan gasped in admiration inwardly and turned around, saying, “As an official who had stayed in power under two different emperors, Officer Xiong really was an respectable man who remained righteous and honest all the time. Since he was from a family of scholars, he didn’t need to use any jubilant words. The two words, ‘Morning Sunlight’, are already enough!”

Gu Tingye looked at those three words and also nodded.




On the left of the Morning Sunlight Hall was a yard where Gu Tingye’s inner study situated. On the right was a side hall with vegetation. Across a white stone paved path and a festoon door was a main yard with seven Jians and seven Jias. There were three wing rooms and three side rooms by the two sides. With three rows of Baoshas on the front and the back, the whole building contained more than twenty rooms, which looked splendid and gorgeous. At last, when looking up, three huge words on the horizontal tablet would come into view---- House of Auspiciousness. (T/N: Jian and Jia were the units of the ancient Chinese architect. Baosha was the house which surrounded the main house.)

Minglan felt this place quite familiar to her. After she had watched the house a bit longer, she finally found that she had actually set out from here this morning.

The three reversely-set Baoshas on the back of the House of Auspiciousness had two corner doors, one of which led to the back porch in which set up a council room which was used specially by the female members of the family for dealing with the family affairs and receiving guests. The other corner door was connected to the corridor which led to a huge drawing room.

Minglan felt giddy with her two legs getting limp while she was touring around the whole place. Gu Tingye only found that dazed look quite funny. Then he decided to take her to have lunch first. After they had taken a nap, the couple went for a stroll again.

With the House of Auspiciousness in the center, there were five yards and rows of houses in the north, east and west. Those houses should be the residences of Old Master, Old Madam and the other boys and girls of the family. Unfortunately, now those places were all empty.

The yards near them were connected to the main yard by the verandas. Across the passageway from the north to the south were those yards which were a bit further from them. After passing through all those yards, they arrived at a garden and a mountain forest with luxuriant flowers and plants. Minglan’s favorite area of this place was a lotus pool where the water was glistening and clear. The water lily above the pool sent out delicate fragrance and the lotus roots under the water surface was seen indistinctly. One side of the pool was connected to the Lotus Fragrance Pavilion while the other side was connected to that huge drawing room.

Minglan was tired due to the walk. Then she stepped into the Lotus Fragrance Pavilion to rest herself.

“There are only two of us in such a huge mansion?” As Minglan stared at the doors and windows on eight sides of the pavilion while leaning on the pearl-like stone handrail, asking that feebly.


“You think this one is big enough?” Gu Tingye stood in the corridor while facing a small wooded mountain which was also in the direction of Marquis Ningyuan’s mansion, saying calmly, “You have been to Marquis Xiangyang’s mansion. That place is twice as big as this one.”

Minglan gazed at the same direction while pondered secretly with her head lowered, ‘He wants to combine the two mansions! I can only hope he wouldn’t break any laws to expand the place.’

...

In Yao Yiyi’s age, every time when the winter and summer vacations were about to end, all the students who had had fun for the whole vacation would stay at home quietly to catch up on their homework. After all those years, Yao Yiyi witnessed that scene again magically.

At night, after they had finished eating dinner, Gu Tingye took a large pile of official documents from the study into their room. The desk in the western side room which was connected to the main bedroom was covered with papers as well as the brushes and ink. He read the documents carefully while writing notations on them.

Minglan was stunned to see that. Was he making up his unfinished work now because he would meet the emperor tomorrow?

Seeing Gu Tingye being buried in thought while staring at the documents, Minglan intended to say, ‘Since you have so many things to work on, I’ll go to sleep first.’ However, Gu Tingye put a thick stack of accounts and lists of the servants’ names in front of Minglan’s face while stating that they should work together and make progress together.

Minglan, trying her best to hold back her yawn, could only sit on the small chair beside him and begin to read the accounts. Under candlelight, Gu Tingye felt very grateful that Minglan could accompany him. Then he turned around and saw Danju who was standing there blankly, saying, “Juzi, go make some tea.” He vaguely remembered that the names of Minglan’s maids all sounded like fruits. (T/N: Juzi means Orange in Chinese)


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Perfect name, easy to remember.

Danju who worried about Minglan’s condition had already prepared the sleeping suit and the hot water to let Minglan have a rest early. However, now Danju had to turned around to prepare the tea and snacks. Qinsang who was watching stove fire in the Baosha saw the gloomy look on Danju’s face and asked, “What happened?”

Although Danju was very displeased inwardly, she didn’t complain anything, “Fetch me the fresh grape which has been sent to us this morning. Also, cut that juicy peach into several pieces.” After saying that, she went to get the tea and the tea pot from the cabinet.

Hearing that, Qinsang stood up and left right away. Lvzhi who was beside her said surprisingly, “Didn’t our lady say that she wanted to sleep early?”

“It’s ‘madam’!” Danju corrected Lvzhi with a straight face while taking out a brand-new set of magpie on the branch patterned porcelain tea set of pink, “Master and Madam still have something to discuss. There are so many things Master needs to explain to Madam.”

Bisi giggled while covering her mouth, “Master is so funny. Yesterday he called Sister Qinsang ‘Zaozi’, called Xiaotao ‘Taozi’ and called me ‘Li zi’. Sister Danju, what have Master called you?”Having carried the large kettle on the stove by the door over to make tea, Danju said in a serious voice, “It has only been a few days no one has restricted you. Did you hear what you have said? You think you can make fun of Master now? If other servants in the mansion hear you talking like this, they will assume that the maids from the Sheng family know nothing about the rules!”

As Danju was saying that, Qinsang carried a tray of fresh fruit inside of the room. Then Lvzhi took out a lotus shape crystal bowl which was around six inches long. Having washed their hands, they started to place the fruit in the bowl. As they were doing that, Lvzhi said, “What an arrogant girl. Mama Cui really should punish you violently.”

Seeing the skillful movements and cooperation of Danju and Lvzhi, Caihuan found herself unable to render any assistance. Then she smiled and said, “Sister Bisi is still too young. It’s an understandable mistake to make. We are all from the same family. Let’s not tell Mama Cui about that.”


Hearing her words, Lvzhi paused her movements all of a sudden. Danju showed hesitation in her eyes. Only Qinsang raised her head while saying smilingly, “Bizhi, I need to remind you that we have served Madam since her childhood. Don’t you know about her temper? We have just arrived here and this is exactly the time we should build a positive image for our master. Don’t be so confused.” Qinsang’s words sounded very meaningful.

Bisi shut her mouth immediately with the expression on her face suddenly going frozen. Caihuan found that quite strange. However, she didn’t know how to make a detailed inquiry. So she said deliberately, “When I was in Sheng’s mansion, I heard that Sixth Lady is the most good-tempered and generous lady among the three ladies. Even if we do anything wrong, she won’t punish us fiercely, right?”

Danju had a strong bond of sisterhood with other maids who had grown up together with her. So she never really criticized or punished strictly to them. However, Danju was still on guard against Caihuan. Hearing Caihuan’s words, Danju stared at her while saying slowly, “Our Madam has said that everyone would make mistakes. Those things like breaking the cups or bowls or messing up with one or two errands could still be punished lightly as long as we could state the causes. There is only one thing that couldn’t be forgiven.”

“Which one?” Caihuan asked that nervously. After that she changed to a smiling face and said, “Sister, just tell me that. I’ll remember that in my heart.”

“Scheming.” Danju looked right into Caihuan’s eyes while stressing each syllable slowly, “As long as one has wicked idea inwardly, our Madam will definitely send him or her away no matter how outstanding that person is.”

With Caihuan’s heart trembling a bit, she put on a respectful look on her face while saying with a beaming smile, “Madam is so right about that. The most important thing for us is loyalty. Other things should all be put aside!” On these words, she finally recalled something and asked gently, “... By the way, I remember that there is a maid called Yancao. Why didn’t she come with us?”

Danju glanced at her and said in a clear voice, “She is old enough to get married. So her parents have asked Old Madam Sheng to betroth her to some guy.”

Caihuan still wanted to ask about Mama You. However, Lvzhi already said ahead of her, “Didn’t Xiaotao and Cuixiu go to pack up a few suitcases? What took them so long?”

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