Published at 15th of December 2019 11:23:20 AM

Chapter 187

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Only until midday did Minglan return to her mansion. Danju helped her take off all the jewelries and her embroidered vest and then prepared to put them back in the cabinet one by one carefully. Minglan, with a straight face, said in a half serious and half joking tone, “The imperial mandate paper and the crown shall never be lost. Otherwise, my title wouldn’t count at that time.”

However, Danju took Minglan’s words very seriously. As Danju turned over the stuff, she said sternly, “This pearl crown and the embroidered vest are not so rare. As long as I could get the right material, it’s not hard to make the copies. But the paper is rather important. I should go find a huge lock for it.” After saying that, Danju went out with a solemn look on her face.

After the lunch, Minglan slipped into her bed right away to take a nap. Danju massaged Minglan’s sour and swollen legs softly. Then Minglan fell asleep in a muddleheaded state. After she didn’t know how long, she felt herself being pressed by something very heavy. When she opened her eyes, she found Gu Tingye sleeping beside her.

He was asleep right now in bluish white underwear while holding Minglan in his arms. His arms were like two iron hoops, which made Minglan unable to climb out from his body. Then she just decided to close her eyes and continued to sleep.

As the sun set, the two of them finally got up blankly while looking at each other. The couple’s eyes were still fogged with sleep. Gu Tingye’s hair hanged down loosely on his shoulders, making his handsome face look a bit adorable. Minglan’s jade-like little face still had some red marks on it. With a blank expression on her face, she still used her chubby fists to rub her eyes.

Gu Tingye enjoyed watching at her so much. Then he couldn’t help pulling her over and kissed on her cheek and neck vigorously. Minglan whispered something like a little cat and gradually came to her sense.

“Sleeping for the whole afternoon is already inappropriate, let alone that we were sleeping together. Alas...” Minglan held the quilt in her arms and criticized like an old scholar-- what she had tried to say was they better slept separately in the afternoon. Otherwise others might gossip about them.

“The real scholars all do thing in unconventional ways and never care about what others say.” Gu Tingye was still rubbing Minglan’s soft body while kissing on her white neck. Minglan squinted at him and asked, “Are there any connections between doing things in unconventional ways and taking a nap in the afternoon?”

“No. So the entrance guard should be extremely strict.” Gu Tingye held her in his arms while putting a cushion behind his back to let him lean on the head of the bed. After that, he said with a stern look, “As long as no one knows about what we did, there would be no gossip.”

Minglan glared at him while he also stared at Minglan. After a while, Minglan could only look away, thinking-- What a shameless guy.

She felt thirsty after the afternoon nap. So she rolled her body and tried to climb over Gu Tingye, in order to get some water from the bedside table. Gu Tingye pressed her back on the bed and brought the whole tea pot to Minglan. The latter took it over and gulped the tea right from the pot. Gu Tingye watched Minglan smilingly, finding her look quite like a plump mouse stealing the lamp-oil.

Gu Tingye still needed to discuss something with Sir Gongsun in the outer study after dinner. Since they had already slept for the whole afternoon, they decided to complete their resting journey. After they had ordered the maids to prepare for the dinner, they went back to the bed. With the man’s arms around Minglan’s slender waist, he rested in her arms and let Minglan massage his temples and head with her flexible and gentle fingers.

Minglan had learned that skill from Mama Fang and already practiced on Old Madam Sheng for many times. Gu Tingye rested there with his eye squinted, feeling super cozy.

As Minglan told what she had seen and heard in Palace of Benevolent Peace off and on, Gu Tingye also responded her with his eyes slightly closed, “... I have met Madam Zou who was Brother Shen’s first wife before. She really was a brave and kind woman. The border of State Shu is remote and deserted, but considering that Brother Shen might miss Empress Shen, Madam Zou supported him to leave their hometown and settle down in the border of State Shu. After Brother Shen found a job in the border troops, Madam Zou then accompanied Empress Shen every day to ease the latter’s anxiety. In the meantime, Madam Zou also offered help to the citizens there and gave assistance to the poor. Her virtuous reputation is widespread in local area. I have heard that First Prince was a premature infant, at that time, the people of the mansion couldn’t even find a wet nurse for him. Madam Zou also gave birth to a baby at the same time. She left her own child and chose to feed and take care of First Prince at first. As a woman who had just given birth to a baby, she didn’t rest her body well. And because of that, she suffered from the lingering effect of the chronic disease ever since.”

Hearing that, Minglan couldn’t help but sigh. So, one should always know how much he or she could devote to others. Sacrificing one’s own life was just not worthy.

“Then how did you get to know Eighth Prince?”

Gu Tingye reached his hand into Minglan’s clothes and began to touch her tender skin while saying smilingly with his eyes lightly opened, “That year, I needed to go to State Shu to do some business. When I passed through the territory which was governed by Eighth Prince, I happened to encounter the steward of Eighth Prince’s mansion. The steward had tried to invite the doctor of Lord Shu’s mansion. But he didn’t realize that the mean doctor would find an excuse to reject him. For all my life, I hate the snobbish guys the most. Then I covered my face with a cloth at that night and led a bunch of my buddies to break the door of that doctor’s house. After that, we robbed the doctor’s medical kit and kidnapped that doctor to Eighth Prince’s mansion!”

“You...?! Lord Shu was very influential at that time. Wouldn’t you get Eight Prince in trouble by doing that?” Minglan was stunned by his story, “So what happened next?”

Gu Tingye showed no sign of fear on her face and said with a smile, “Our gangsters do things in our own way. I know how to deal with those guys who only bully the weak and fear the strong. At that time, I put a knife on the doctor’s neck and threatened that if he dared to tell me off to Lord Shu, I would burn all his real estates and kill his concubines and children. He might be able to get away for the moment, but not for his whole life. Also, even if he could escape from me, he still couldn’t protect all of his families! At that time, I was just a wanderer who liked to right wrongs. I approached those bastards secretly and left without leaving a trace! No one would be able to catch me!”

Minglan put on a joyful look while listening to this. She laughed with her hands covering her mouth and fell on the man’s body, saying, “You dark-minded evil!”

Gu Tingye who also felt his past delightful and ridiculous then said, “After I have done that, I just wanted to walk away. However, when Eighth Prince hadn’t been sent to State Shu, he had met me several times. I never realized that he would recognize my face!... After that, I gradually became a frequent visitor to Eighth Prince’s mansion. Sometimes I would bring them some delicacies of every kind, sometimes I would present them some paintings and calligraphy, sometimes I would run some errands for Eighth Prince, who’s also His Majesty now. When I got sick, injured or tired, I never hesitated to go straight to Eighth Prince’s mansion and live there for a few days-- The servants who always served me there included Eunuch Xia whom you have seen today. During that time, His Majesty always felt lonely. So I told him the anecdotes that I have seen of all the places. Once Brother Shen was free, he would have a drink with us. It felt so good to curse after drinking.”

“His Majesty do have a good eye sight. He could even recognize you through the facecloth!” Minglan applauded and said smilingly, “You were doing so great. Every time you did some little favors to them, you would go there and scrounge food afterwards. That would actually made them feel closer to you.”

Gu Tingye dragged Minglan’s hands toward his lips to kiss on them. Then he looked at her with appreciation in his eyes and said, “I have learned some codes of conduct after I struggled in the outside world. Too much favor would eventually turn to grudges. After all, Eighth Prince is from the royal family, I didn’t want him to feel uncomfortable. And I didn’t ask for their help on purpose all the time. A few times I was infected with seasonal diseases and I wouldn’t recover without the care from the people of Eighth Prince’s mansion.”

Minglan recalled that he had been taken good care of by all the servants in Marquis Ningyuan’s mansion since his childhood. However, afterwards he had had to lead a wandering life alone. She wondered how he had managed to live without the care of others. But he must have gone through lots of ordeals before he finally survived. Thinking of this, Minglan couldn’t help putting a pitiful but also admiring expression in her eyes. Gu Tingye read the look on her face and felt touched deep down. Then he said in a low voice, “I have never expected that I could be in a position like this at that time. The only thing I wanted was earning more money. I thought at least I should make some achievement so my families wouldn’t look down upon me...”

He was not the only one who hadn’t expected today’s situation. There were too many officials who had lost their lives or careers in the political battles during these years. Minglan sighed gently, “I just felt sorry for Madam Zou.”

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“I feel the same as you. But Brother Shen didn’t do right about this thing.” Gu Tingye commented firmly.

Minglan was confused. After a while she said, “... Lord Shen didn’t have any other option anyway.”

However, Gu Tingye only shook his head without remarking. Right now he curled up the corner of his mouth with dissatisfaction in his eyes. Suddenly he asked, “You have seen Little Zou shi today, what do you think of her?”

Minglan hesitated. She was not willing to define a person whom she had only met for once. Then she replied, “She seems to be in a good relationship with Empress Shen.”

“That’s the problem!” Gu Tingye said that with coldness in his eyes, “I have met Little Zou shi for a few times. That woman looks like a delicate person but is actually very competitive. Empress Shen always keeps her old relationship with the former Madam Zou in mind. So she treats Little Zou shi very nicely. Never have I heard Empress Shen scold Little Zou shi fiercely. And now as a concubine, Little Zou shi was even ennobled. After all, the current madam of Brother Shen’s family is the legal daughter of the prestigious Duke Ying’s family. But what Brother Shen has done really humiliated Duke Ying’s family!”

“You... don’t think Lord Shen should marry Little Zou shi?” Minglan flashed a suspicious expression in her eyes. She felt that Gu Tingye seemed to have vented his anger to Lord Shen. Maybe he was reminded of his own mother, Bai shi.

“No.” However, Gu Tingye denied her assumption, “Brother Shen could marry whichever woman he wants. But he did have mishandled his family matters.”

Gu Tingye sat up with his broad shoulders leaning on the bedside and sighed in a low voice, “It’s a good thing that Brother Shen could value the relationship between Zou family and Shen family. But sometimes one cannot get all the things he wants. He could either marry the lady of Zhang’s family (Duke Ying’s family) or marry Little Zou shi. Since Madam Zou had such a virtuous reputation, His Majesty wouldn’t force Brother Shen to marry the lady of Zhang’s family considering the relationship between Shen family and Zou family. Then Brother Shen could let his younger sister marry into Duke Ying’s mansion. Why not betroth Brother Duan’s daughter to Zheng’s family? Brother Shen has been too irresolute. He wants to keep the relationship with Zou family and have a promising career with the help from Zhang family at the same time. There’s no such thing like that.”

That was the first time Minglan had heard that story. Right now she was full of excitement. Then she heard Gu Tingye saying, “Well, if Brother Shen really wants to marry the lady from Duke Ying’s mansion-- I can still understand that-- but why couldn’t he make his marriage look good! Fine, he could say that he only wants to marry his dead wife’s sister because he’s afraid that Lady Zhang wouldn’t treat Zou’s children nicely. But he should handle that appropriately. As a legal daughter of Duke Ying’s mansion, Lady Zhang actually married to a widower who already had a legal son and a legal daughter. That could show the sincerity of Duke Ying’s mansion. But Shen family still keeps showing favor toward Little Zou shi, alas... Just wait and see, there will be troubles in his family sooner or later. If Duke Ying’s family feels their limit has been challenged, even His Majesty wouldn’t be able to help Brother Shen! And even Empress Shen might be implicated.”

The family matters of Empress Shen’s brother might only be a topic to chat about for others. But for Gu Tingye, those matters were connected to his friend’s political career. It was not like Empress Shen was the only option of Duke Ying’s family. If things got ugly with Shen family, Duke Ying’s family might support other imperial concubines. Gu Tingye didn’t want to see the career of Shen Congxing, who was also his good friend, being damaged due to the conflicts inside of Shen’s family.

Minglan looked at Gu Tingye with her head tilted. Actually, she didn’t care about Shen’s family. The thing that intrigued her was the way Gu Tingye thought and handed matters. She approached him carefully and put her hands on the man’s shoulder, saying in a sweet and soft voice, “Gosh... Let me ask you this. If you are Empress Shen’s brother, which woman will you marry?” One woman would bring him a promising future, the other one was from the family of his first wife and could take good care of his little child. What would he do?

Gu Tingye burst into laughter, saying, “How would I know?” Even since he had saved Minglan from the river, the only thing in his mind was how to marry her.

“Think about it. What if I die, will you marry a woman from a noble family? Or will you marry my sister to take care of our children?” With light flashing in Minglan’s eyes, she insisted on asking that. Gu Tingye squinted his eyes slowly with a dangerous look on his face. Then Minglan swallowed her saliva and stepped back. Gu Tingye stared at her for a long time and then replied slowly, “Of course I’ll marry a lady from a noble family. I don’t care if that woman will be imperious or not. She can give birth to other children for me anyway.”

Minglan was stupefied and almost fainted out. After she had adjusted her breath, she lifted her white and plump foot and kick on Gu Tingye’s shoulder while cursing him bitterly, “You you you... you bastard!”

Gu Tingye grabbed her foot right away and held her smooth and tender leg without taking extra trouble. Then with his white teeth exposed, he bit her leg gently. Minglan still cried out due to the pain and thumped him with her fists. However, this man only laughed loudly, “So, my dear wife, you'd better stay alive and live a healthy life. At least, you should live longer than your husband!”


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