Sitting in the carriage, Gu Sui’er recalled Xiao Heng’s appearance as he rode a horse. She couldn’t help but wonder whether he noticed her peeking at him just now.
Lu QingYi, who was sitting beside her, seemed to have noticed her unease as she intentionally started talking with Gu Sui’er about her daily life and family affairs.
Gu Sui’er naturally answered all her questions one by one.
“After you give birth to the child, you can accompany the Madam to go out of the residence to see more of the diverse outside world.” Lu QingYi suggested.
“En, I know.” Actually, Gu Sui’er’s belly was not feeling very comfortable. However, she managed to barely endure it and said gratefully: “After I give birth, I will talk to the Old Madam about this.”
“Things such as riding a horse, taking walks in the garden, playing a qin, composing poems are all what we should know ah. The Old Madam is a woman of blue blood; a member of the Imperial family. She likes to see us girls doing all these things.”
However, these were things that Gu Sui’er didn’t know.
“Then I’m afraid I am incapable of joining you. Third Master has just begun teaching me how to write characters and recite some poems. I am satisfied even if I can recognize a character.”
Now, she could read and practice writing characters on fine writing papers every day. This was something she did not dare to imagine a little while back. As for playing a qin, composing poetry, or even riding horses, those were out of her limit.
“Recite poems? Can you recite poems? Which one is it?” Unexpectedly, Lu QingYi was quite interested in this when she heard her.
“Let me think about it ah… This poetry is from a collection of poems was put together during the previous dynasty. It’s called «Jiu Zhou’s Glorious Sword».”
The poems in that collection were truly difficult to understand but Gu Sui’er worked hard to learn this poem. She wanted to improve herself and make Xiao Heng happy.
“«Jiu Zhou’s Glorious Sword»?” Hearing her words, Lu QingYi was startled: “Why on earth did you learn it?”
“… Third Master asked me to learn it ah.”
“How dull would it be for us women to learn that poem ah!”
Lu QingYi was dumbfounded.
“The poems of that collection are the ones that soldiers and martial arts practitioners are fond of. Maybe some officials too, but it’s basically popular among those who dream of rendering service to their nation and repay its kindness. All these people want to throw themselves into the barracks with the aim of ‘guard home, defend the country’ or something like that!”
To put it bluntly, it was a collection of poems for those in the army camps at the frontier.
Gu Sui’er was a bit frightened. She didn’t even think of joining the army or practicing martial arts, let alone hope for ‘guard home, defend the country’. Then, why did she have to learn this kind of a poem?
No wonder the poem mentioned knives, swords, blood, bones and loyal souls ah. It really sounded scary.
“Third Brother is really…” Lu QingYi covered her face and smiled: “Maybe because he prefers those type of poems, he taught it to you and asked you to learn it… You should follow his footsteps blindly!”
“Then what should I learn ah?”
Lu QingYi thought for a while: “I think «The Collection of Songs Among the Flowers» and «The Supplementary Collection» should be fine. The former is a collection of boudoir poems and the latter is a collection of poems which talk about the elegant discussions among scholars. Both of these collections are comparatively more suitable for female beginners. I will send those books to you later so that you can learn them slowly.”
Gu Sui’er suddenly understood. “So it’s like this. Thank you, Cousin.”
Lu QingYi smiled: “What is there to be so polite about this? If you come across something you don’t know, don’t hesitate to come and ask me. I usually have nothing to do so teaching you could be considered me having found something to do.”
Gu Sui’er felt so grateful that she thanked her repeatedly.
At this time, the carriage had already reached the centre of the capital city. They could hear the outside bustling with the people’s voices, the hawkers yelling and so on from both sides of the carriage.
Lu QingYi lightly raised her hand to lift the corner of the curtain with her hand and whispered: “It is reasonable to say that we should not look outside so as to avoid letting the outsiders see us but I think it’s alright to take a peek once in a while.”
Saying this, she furtively glanced outside through the little space.
Initially, Gu Sui’er did not dare to follow her, but she gradually got curious while listening to the commotion outside. She had yet to see what the flourishing ranking City looked like.
She was unable to bear peeping through the narrow gap between the curtain and the window. But what she witnessed outside really widened her horizon.
There was a great number of buildings, several banners floating in the wind and shops situated right next to each other. She noticed that there was no empty space on the street. It was filled with customers and merchants dressed in various kinds of outfits. This scene could seldom be seen in the town near her village.
After the carriage crossed the busy street, the noises faded away. It finally stopped at a place after some time worth drinking a small cup of tea.
When they alighted the carriage, they saw the high gate and a wall made of blue tiles. The sweet fragrance of the osmanthus flowers carried by the wind hit their noses as they noticed the various kinds of carriages halted in front of the gate. Exquisitely dressed women descended from those carriages and walked inside through the gate with the support of their maidservants. Some nobles, who came on horseback were also seen dismounting their horses.
Xiao Heng and Xiao Jin also dismounted their horses and came over to accompany Gu Sui’er, Lu QingYi and others inside.
Stepping inside the gate, Xiao Jin was evidently excited. She dragged Lu QingYi, and said to Xiao Heng: “Third Brother, we’ll go to the bookstore over there by ourselves!”
It turned out that apart from the wide expanse of osmanthus trees bearing those sweet-scented flowers, there were also teahouses and bookstores inside this GuiYuan. It was like a reduced version of an entire commercial district packed with everything that was needed for passing the time. However, the atmosphere here was many times more refined than that of the outside.
Seeing her acting like this, Xiao Heng knew that he would not be able to stop her. So, he immediately said, “Don’t be impulsive.”
Xiao Jin’s nodded her head repeatedly like a chicken pecking rice.
Xiao Heng instructed Jiang Zheng: “Follow thee eldest Miss and protect her.”
Jiang Zheng stepped forward and said respectfully, “Yes.”
However, it was not appropriate only one guard to follow them. He looked at Jing Yue who was standing next to Gu Sui’er: “Let her go with you.”
Xiao Jin was rather unwilling after hearing this: “So many people are following us ah!”
Jiang Zheng and Jing Yue followed Xiao Jin and Lu QingYi to the bookshop while Xiao Heng led Gu Sui’er to take a rest in the nearest teahouse.
“What does Xu’er want to see?” Xiao Heng asked Xiao Xu after sitting down and ordering some tea.
Hearing this unexpected question, Xiao Xu was somewhat overwhelmed.
She was not very familiar with this third brother of hers. She did not dare to act cute with him. Moreover, she also knew that Xiao Jin and Xiao Heng had a good relationship. For instance, he agreed to take them to this GuiYuan to give face to Xiao Jin.
However, she didn’t expect Xiao Jin to run away and Xiao Heng, to surprisingly take care of herself.
She hurriedly smiled and said, “I came out to relieve my boredom. I can go anywhere.”
Xiao Heng replied: “Then, we will go to the eastern side to see the osmanthus flowers after we finish drinking tea.”
Xiao Xu nodded: “Alright!”
But who would have thought that before this small cup of tea was finished, Xiao Xu met someone familiar, her aunt’s daughter.
That aunt was the Concubine of an official from the Ministry of Rites. She gave birth to a daughter, which was exactly this Cousin Sister in front of her.
When Xiao Xu and her Cousin met, they pulled each other’s hands and spoke in a friendly way.
Seeing this scene, Xiao Heng accompanied Gu Sui’er to see the sweet-scented osmanthus flowers first.
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