Published at 1st of June 2019 09:12:42 AM

Chapter 97

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Cold Night, River, Leakage and Expose (3)

Gu Tingye sat down in a chair near the door, which was ten paces from Minglan. And then he commanded toughly, “Sit down.” Minglan sat down at once and quietly waited for his instructions.

Gu Tingye said slowly in a gentle voice, “I have two things to tell you. First, I will deal with the people who saw you and block the passage of information so that no one outside will know that you fell into the water tonight. As for your servants, you should make a proper management.”

Minglan suddenly raised her head, her eyes filled with joy. She gave him a big smile, revealing two beautiful dimples on her white and smooth cheeks, sweet as sugar. Gu Tingye curled his lips into a faint smile, which was unknown to Minglan because his heavy moustache covered his expression. Then he continued, “Second, don’t tell anyone that I’m involved in this matter. Suffice it to say that the members of Cao Bang saved you, understand?”

Minglan nodded repeatedly. No matter what a great achievement Gu Tingye had made in the circle of martial arts practitioners, he would be despised by the noblemen if they knew his deeds. In the eyes of high officials and noble lords, warriors and swordsmen were humble professionals, who were ordered about by the nobles and dignitaries to guard houses or were used as pawns to fight by the organizations behind them.

It was ignoble for the young master of Marquis Household to be a leader of warriors and swordsmen. For example, Chen Jialuo, the leader of Red Flower Gang, was an illustrious personage in the circle of swordsmen. However, to the Chen family that was noble and illustrious for generations in Haining City, he was just a good-for-nothing who didn’t make progress in the official career. They even felt ashamed of him because he rebelled against the imperial family. What a stupid thing!

“Uncle, trust me.” Minglan immediately made a firm and solemn promise, “I only called you uncle once on the boat. Afterwards I never mentioned you in front of the servants, so they won’t know you are here.”

Gu Tingye nodded with satisfaction.

Then, they looked at each other in silence. Minglan threw a glance at Gu Tingye who sat still, and could not think of exactly the right thing to say. So she turned to gawk at the oil lamp beside her. The flame was as small as a bean, giving off a dim light. Its inner cone was light blue, curved slightly in the breeze, just as the young lady’s arched eyebrow. Gu Tingye abruptly asked, “Why is it excusable?”

Strangely enough, Minglan had expected that he would ask this question. Although he changed his identity from the high-profile descendant of the nobility to the swordsman who socialized with the lower orders, in his bone he was a stubborn man who liked to get to the root of a matter, just as what he had done to Minglan in Marquis Xiangyang Household before.

Minglan had prepared scripted answers in her mind that would surely induce a feeling of satisfaction to him. But before she uttered them, Gu Tingye added, “If you treat me as a friend, just tell me the truth. For the past twenty years, I have heard too many perfunctory remarks.”

His handsome face was covered by the bushy beard so that no one could read his expression, but his dark eyes were clear and gloomy.

Minglan was choked by his words. She swallowed all the prepared words and fiddled with her embroidered sleeves, feeling awkward. Gu Tingye fixed his eyes upon Minglan and was attracted by her alabaster neck. In the dim light, a few blue blood-vessels were clear under her translucent skin.

She suddenly said in a calm voice, “Uncle, there are so many other ladies in the capital. Why did you try several times to win the marriage with Sister Yanran?”

Gu Tingye was stunned for a second as he didn’t expect Minglan to ask him this question all of a sudden. Minglan didn’t wait for his answer but went on speaking, “It’s because Sister Yanran is meek, virtuous, courteous and magnanimous. And she always puts the family interest above her own feelings. If you marry her, she will surely allow Manniang to stay by your side and treat your illegal son and daughter well.”

‘Besides, Madam Yu is Lord Yu’s second wife and Sister Yanran’s stepmother. And possibly she won’t protect Sister Yanran whole-heartedly,’ Minglan thought to herself.

Listening to Minglan pointing out his original intention, Gu Tingye lapsed into silence. Minglan raised her head slightly and continued, “Women in inner mansion always chew such things over in their mind. Since I can understand your inward thoughts, other people can also see through your intention.” Minglan laughed softly, “In this situation, parents who really love their daughter certainly can’t bear to marry their daughter to you. If they didn’t make some inquiries about your personal affairs, instead, they enthusiastically marry their daughter to you, you should wonder whether they have other aims or not.”

Minglan didn’t speak thoroughly, but Gu Tingye was so clever that he understood what she meant at once. In the eyes of outsiders, he was initially known as a dissolute playboy. Afterwards, he did some unfilial and immoral behaviors. What a ridiculous idea that he wanted to find a good wife who could treat his mistress and illegal children kindly! Any parents who were sincerely considerate of their daughters wouldn’t make him as their son-in-law. Even if they accepted him, it must be because they were satisfied with his identity and wanted to attach themselves to Marquis Ningyuan Household. But in reality, he was not a man of great influence and prominence.

Minglan looked at his gloomy face and hesitated for a few seconds before she said slightly, “Excuse me for my abrupt question. Why don’t you directly marry Manniang? You two have been together for many years. And you have two children with her.” Gu Tingye gave a snort of contempt and said with a sneer, “Lord Sheng has done a good job in family education. His daughter is such a tender, tolerant and kind-hearted lady.”

Minglan heard the irony in his voice, but she said with a serious expression on her face, “Let’s put aside what Manniang did before. She stays with you not because of your money or lordship but because she loves you truly. For this reason, she is much better than other women.”

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Gu Tingye laughed, “Your attitude changes so fast.” Minglan said frankly, “Uncle, you used to rely on Marquis Ningyuan Household. At that time, you owed Marquis Ningyuan Household favors, so you should obey its rules. But now everything you own is won over by yourself. Surely, you can marry your beloved. Why take into account your family’s opinions?”

With a severe and forbidding face, Gu Tingye shook his head slowly. Minglan stared at him with contemplative interest, feeling his behavior ironic – On the surface, he was a man of rebellious character. But he was by nature a traditional aristocrat who was born with the arrogance and self-righteousness. Manniang was a lowly actress. Gu Tingye allowed himself to spoil her and keep her as his mistress, but he refused to take her as his wife because he hoped to marry a lady who was also from the noble family. In his mind, his future wife must be an elegant and demure woman who was equal with him in social status, and could discern the cardinal principles, assist him and educate their children.

Feeling his inconsistent thoughts ridiculous, Minglan said coldly, “Uncle, superficially you are a rebel against feudal ethics and secular rules. But in actuality, you are very traditional.” He had a clear head and wasn’t like other noble youths who were easily enchanted by their mistresses and madly did something absurd.

Gu Tingye raised his eyelids and saw the sarcasm in Minglan’s eyes. He narrowed his eyes slightly. Minglan was just about to say something more but he directly lifted his hand to stop her and said bluntly, “Say no more of it. Manniang is a person with sinister designs.”

Minglan had a brainwave and blurted out, “Did she have something to do with the death of Sister Yanhong?”

She regretted asking that as soon as she finished speaking, and immediately covered her mouth with her hand. As a previous worker of the court of law, she was accustomed to finding doubtful points and logical gaps in other people’s words and pointing out at once. But it was improper to talk about other people’s privacies in this dynasty.

Gu Tingye looked at Minglan magisterially and said in a cold voice, emphasizing every word, “If you keep acting recklessly and blindly like this, sooner or later you will lose your life.” Minglan’s blood froze under his warning gaze. She bowed her head and apologized in a muffled voice, “I’m sorry.”

Gu Tingye stood up and turned around to leave. Then he stopped at the door and looked back at Minglan.

“I have some advice for you.” Gu Tingye sneered and said in a mocking tone, “Although you usually behave like a traditional lady, in effect you are contemptuous of old customs. You can mask your nature with an obedient appearance in peacetime, but as soon as something quite unforeseen happens to you, you betray yourself. I just hope you can mask your real character for a lifetime and nobody will expose it.” With that, he turned around and left with vigorous strides.

The door was half-open and a cold wind went through the room. Outside the door, the sky slowly brightened. At the end of the river, there was a faint red light, shining on gray clouds and showing a variegated red.

Minglan stood still, speechless for a long time.

In fact, she knew her shortcoming long time ago. She had been born with a yellow-bellied character and always lived a simple and uneventful life. But she had the chivalrous spirit and dreamed of performing outstanding acts of bravery or taking up the cudgels against an injustice. It was for this reason that she had gone to support the border areas in previous life and this today, she dared stay on the ship to pack the treasures. She knew it was stupid but she couldn’t help doing it.

Father Yao once had comforted her with partiality, “Life without any mistakes is non-existent. Memories without any regrets are insipid. In your long life, it’s meaningful to follow your nature to do some harmless silly things.”

Minglan lowered her head, feeling down in the dumps. ‘Dad, I died in the line of duty because of my impulsion. It’s not harmless anymore. Instead, it is closely related to my life safety. If I make such a mistake again, maybe it will endanger my life again. So it is best for me to overcome my impulsive temperament,’ she quietly made up her mind.

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