Published at 5th of December 2019 05:59:35 AM

Chapter 180

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It was already three o’clock in the afternoon when Fifth Old Madam and her two daughters-in-laws left. Minglan didn’t want to sleep anymore. So she came back to the room to get changed. After that, Xiaotao served a bowl of three delicacies warm soup with orecchiette. As Minglan drank the soup, she started to browse the personal files of each servant which had just been presented to her at the same time.

“I see our madam really love eating liquid food.” Caihuan followed Xiaotao to clean up things in the Shao room (T/N: The room next to the main room). While they were working together, Caihuan said smilingly, “Luckily, you are good at cooking that.”

Xiaotao bent over to gather all the clothes which had been dried in the noon. While she was folding the clothes one after another, she answered, “Speaking of this, Mama Qiu from our previous mansion is the best in this. The orecchiette she rolled out is so chewy. I only have a smattering of her skills.” 

“There are so many things for me to learn.” Caihuan took the iron which had already fulfilled with charcoal and asked, “Should we iron the clothes here?”

“No, let’s go outside to do it.” Xiaotao, with her voice lowered, carried a pile of clothes and went out gently. Then she stopped at the front door of the side room.

Only until then did Caihuan remind of something and say, “Is it inappropriate for us to leave madam alone in the room?”

Xiaotao picked up a piece of snow satin underwear and spread it on the board slowly, “This is our lady’s rule. Unless there are guests in the room, she prefers to stay alone. Because she doesn’t like others walking around in her room.”

Caihuan kept that in mind and then asked, “What if she needs tea or something else?”

“Xiaotao took over the iron and began to iron the clothes while saying, “So normally one of us would stay in the room next door. If our lady needs anything, she would call us. Let’s finish the ironing quickly and go to the Shao room.”

After Caihuan had hesitated for a while, she still found that rule a bit strange. Then she asked, “Then... what if Master needs anything?”

Xiaotao, feeling that question rather strange, raised her head and asked, “Why should we care about what Master needs?”

Being contradicted by Xiaotao, Caihuan gave out an awkward smile and said, “You are right. As our madam’s maids, we should always put her needs in the first place.”

In the late afternoon, the dark clouds suddenly gathered overhead, which covered half of the sky. Then a sudden clap of thunder sounded from the distance, following which were a heavy downpour. The giant raindrops fell so rapidly as if they were poured onto the ground.

Seeing the rain becoming like a torrent now, Minglan turned around and patted on Xiaotao’s shoulder while praising, “Luckily you have already picked up the clothes this afternoon. You do have a prophetic eye.” Xiaotao who knew nothing about being modest nodded and said, “Madam, I think you are right.”

Then Minglan taught Xiaotao patiently, “No, you should say, ‘You have taught me well, madam.”

Xiaotao learned very quickly and even added her own words, “You have taught me well, madam. You are the one who has a prophetic eye!”

Minglan nodded smilingly as her commendation to Xiaotao.

“And did your prophetic eye tell you that your husband would be exposed to the rain?”

A scornful voice of a man sounded at the door. Minglan and Xiaotao both turned around. Then they found Gu Tingye standing at the door like a drowned rat with water dropping from his red silk court suit with Qilin patterns. The ground where he was standing were full of water right away.

Minglan, as startled as she was, looked at this wet man from top to the bottom and then said surprisedly, “I, I did have predicted the rain. When I took a nap in the afternoon, I felt today was quite stuffy. So I have already told Gu Shun to bring the umbrella to you.” Minglan felt herself so virtuous when saying that.

With darkness covered half of Gu Tingye’s face, he goggled at her for a while and then uttered, “... I went to the imperial court on horse.”

Minglan blinked her eyes. After she had thought of his words for a while, she finally realized that riding a horse was not like riding a bike. He was not able to hold the umbrella and the bridle rein at the same time. Then she blushed due to embarrassment and answered a ‘oh’ softly. Also, she didn’t forget to remind him, “Why don’t... you take the coach to work next time. Then we won’t need to worry about the winds or the rains.”

After Gu Tingye had heard of that, the other half of his face also turned dark.

Without saying a word, he walked to the inner room. Then Minglan ordered instantly, “Xiaotao, call Xiahe over...” Gu Tingye, with sullenness still on his face, turned around and pulled Minglan over, “Why can’t you serve your own husband? Don’t call her. Get in there with me!” As saying this, he dragged Minglan into the inner room.

Minglan was completely stumped by his words. Then she could only turn around and say, “Xiaotao, prepare the hot bath water. Also, bring us the ginger soup!”

After they had got into the inner room, Gu Tingye opened his arms behind the folding screen and waited there. Minglan, having touched her nose, lowered her head and unbuttoned his clothes. After the drenched clothes had been taken off, his strong body was exposed. Then he put on the long robe which had been passed over by Minglan and got into the Jing room (T/N: bathroom in ancient times.) to take a bath. Minglan only heard the sound of the gurgling water. After a short while, Gu Tingye went out in a clean snow silk nightclothes. As he sat upright on the edge of the bed like a mountain with his long fingers put on his knees, he stared at Minglan coldly in silence.

Minglan looked at him as well, not knowing what had happened. After being in a daze for a while, her nature of drawing on advantages and avoid disadvantages was finally awaken. She took a handkerchief and came over to him. Then she scrubbed his wet and thick black hair. While she was doing that, Gu Tingye smelt the musk-like fresh fragrance from her, which made him feel very pleasant. Then he held his little wife’s waist and attached his half-wet face to her, feeling extremely warm and comfortable. 

“Stop being angry.” Minglan said that while rubbing his hair through the dry handkerchief.

Gu Tingye let Minglan sit on his knees with his arms around her waist. After she had sat tight in his arms, Gu Tingye looked at her with his two dark eyes and asked, “Do you know why I was angry?”

Minglan asked tentatively, “I should have sent someone to pick you up in a coach, right?”

Seeing the confused look in Minglan’s eyes, Gu Tingye sighed secretly and said, “Forget about it. I won’t die of getting wet. How are you today? Everything alright in the mansion?”

Minglan breathed a sigh of relief after Gu Tingye had changed the subject. Then she took a stack of papers from the desk at once and handed them to Gu Tingye, saying, “See, what do you think of this? I’m a clever girl, aren’t I?”

Having browsed a few pages, Gu Tingye burst into laughter, “Good for you to think of this.” He raised up his head to look at Minglan, finding her method quite funny.

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Minglan knew that he must be laughing at her inwardly. Then she argued with her mouth twitched, “I don’t want to use the people with unknown backgrounds.”

Gu Tingye glanced over the papers on the top while saying with a smile, “Ha ha, our mansion is full of hidden talents. We even have the purchaser and craftsmen from Duke Ling’s mansion. Well, the cooks are not so good. They are all second-class chef... Mama Lai’s sons have all got rid of their indenture? But Mama Hua hasn’t made any progress over these years. How generous is Fourth Aunt, she even sent Mama Tian’s whole family to us...”

However, the smile on Gu Tingye’s face gradually faded away after he had finished reading a few papers. He had to admit that Minglan’s method was right to the point. The simple personal resumes of those servants could reflect many things. The place where they had come from, the rewards or punishments they had received, the whereabouts of their families as well as their previous jobs were all stated neatly on the paper. A few words could imply so many things about that person. As a result, lots of things in the dark were also exposed.

“This is a great way!” He commented briefly with fierce expression in his eyes, “We have to make our mansion a clean place. Anyone who dares to act stealthily, just punish or sold them! And if someone gossips about that, send them to me! I’ll see who’s so bold to plot in my mansion!”

Hearing the weird words from him, Minglan knew that something must have happened on the imperial court today. But she couldn’t ask too much about that. So she only nodded and asked softly, “Someone... is plotting against you?” She should at least be prepared.

Gu Tingye frowned, being a bit unsatisfied with the last phrase Minglan had said. Then he replied with a gloomy face, “If we are not careful enough, the words we talk at night will be spread out the next day. At the moment, things are very complicated outside our mansion. I can’t tolerate any conflicts inside of my own family.”

Minglan watched at him with interest. As a matter of fact, her biggest gain today was not the personal details of those servants but the behavior pattern of this man. Hmm, so interesting.

From days ago, Minglan had already found that everything in their mansion seemed very disorganized. The personnel management was in a chaos. The servants were sluggish. The regulations were sloppy. After she had inquired lots of people, she found that those problems were all because of Gu Tingye instead of the servants.

It had been a year since he had established his own mansion. But it seemed that he had never cared about the matters in the mansion. There were only a few stewards who were in charge of the daily affairs. He had also dispatched a group of solders to help him guard the front gate, which made all the servants in the mansion living like prisoners. As far as the servants didn’t made any mistakes, caused any trouble or behaved suspiciously, he wouldn’t care about anything about their livings.

There were several heavy locks on the door of the storeroom, inside which were tons of rewards and boxes of precious things. But he had never taken any of the rewards out. As a result, the decoration in the mansion was so simple as if this was an impoverished family. What’s more, the yard where Sir Gongsun lived had always been heavily guarded day and night. Gu Tingye almost created some secret code to get in and out. As for the outer study, it was even harder to get in there than getting in the prison to visit the prisoners. Everyone who entered and came out would be searched twice.

Minglan pondered for a while. Suddenly, she reminded of her brother, Changbai.

The cautious character was in Changbai’s blood. Without anyone’s instruction, Changbai always acted in a discreet way spontaneously. For example, although Changbai knew Yanghao who had served him for dozens of years very well, he could still scent out Yanghao’s movement as long as his papers had been flipped slightly. Perhaps being prudent was a required quality of a civil official. Sheng Hong was also capable of doing that after he had experienced lots of things when he had been young.

However, Gu Tingye wasn’t born to be a discreet man. There were so many things that he couldn’t prevent. Thus he had to open a new path.

His style might seem a bit rough but was actually very clever. His methods were straight and tough but very effective. Gu Tingye knew that his mansion was never a peaceful place and there might be someone who spied him for someone else. He was even aware that the people who had been sent by the people from Marquis Ningyuan’s mansion might not have good intentions. But since he didn’t have the time or the spirit to deal with them, he had decided to do those things in his own way.

After all, this honorable task of handling the family matters would eventually be taken over by someone else-- Thinking of that, Minglan couldn’t help clenching her teeth.

“Don’t worry. I understand your means.” Minglan touched the man’s chest while trying her best to act like a tactful woman, saying, “I’ll see how many people we have first and then assign tasks to them. If there is anything I don’t understand, I’ll just ask you.”

Gu Tingye nodded lightly. After he had seen how Minglan had handled matters over the few days, he found her quite reliable. He had always considered Sheng mansion a well-governed place with a good reputation. Also, the eldest lady of Sheng family who had married into the Yuan family was also good at home management. So Gu Tingye was quite optimistic about Minglan’s managing ability. And even if she wasn’t that good, he would be there to help her. 

At this time, Xiaotao entered into the room with a tea tray. Then Minglan stood up right away and served the ginger soup to Gu Tingye while saying, “Drink it now. It’ll help dispel the cold air!”

Gu Tingye held the tea cup and took a sip. The brown sugar ginger in the well-made soup tasted quite mellow in his mouth. After he had drunk the soup, he felt his belly very warm as if his body was gently heated by the slow fire, which made him very comfortable. Then he couldn’t help but praise, “What a nice soup!”

Minglan said smilingly, “Of course! I picked the materials by myself and have braised the soup for two hours! You should drink two large bowls of the soup! I hope you can sweat, that would be the best for your body. I also ordered someone to send the soup to the guards and servants who have accompanied you today. You can rest assured.”

Seeing Minglan being so tender and even a bit garrulous like a busy little hen, Gu Tingye only felt warmness inside of the room. Then he held up the bowl and drank off the soup. As he used his left wrist to wipe his lips, he suddenly wanted to ask, “Do you care about me because you want to, or because you think you should.’ Then he felt himself so silly today being longing for love like young boys and girls. That was so funny.

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