Gu Sui’er looked up in surprise, only to see a woman wearing a red skirt that was torn apart and tied around her waist, revealing the indigo trousers underneath. She was also wearing riding boots.
Her face had turned red with resentment. She gnashed her teeth as she approached them with a long whip in her hand.
“Have a taste of my whip!” When the woman saw Gu Sui’er, she swung it towards her without any further words.
The tail of the whip produced an ear-piercing sound as it slashed high in the air.
All the blood in Gu Sui’er’s body shot up to her head in an instant.
In her heart, she had long realized that the whip was going to strike her face. Despite already feeling herself to be reeking of blood, she could only watch on helplessly as the scene played out.
When it came to this matter of life or death, her hands and feet seemed to have lost their consciousness.
At this exact moment, Xiao Heng stretched out his hand and caught the whip firmly.
When the whip was obstructed, Gu Sui’er only saw the woman gritting her teeth while staring at Xiao Heng angrily.
She tugged at the whip, trying to pull it out of Xiao Heng’s grasp.
However, even when she exerted all her strength, she still couldn’t draw an inch of it.
“Xiao Heng, how could you treat me like this!” Suddenly, tears burst out from her eyes as she stared at Xiao Heng with bitterness: “Let go of my whip!”
When Xiao Heng heard this, not only did he not let go of the whip, but he also yanked the whip into his hands directly.
His strength was too great as it caused the woman’s body to be also pulled forward along with the whip. Although she let go of the whip on time, she still fell forward, cutting a sorry figure as she ended up kneeling at the edge of the pavilion with a ‘plop’.
If had taken another step, she would have fallen into the lake beside the pavilion.
All of this happened in an instant. It could be said that when the woman fell to the ground, Gu Sui’er still didn’t understand why the terrible pain she was expecting did not come.
After that, she just sat there weakly, her mind replaying the scenes that had just happened in front of her eyes. Slowly, it dawned upon her.
After she luckily evaded this great catastrophe, she was struck by lingering fear. She felt cold all over as her hands and feet trembled. The little tadpole in her belly also seemed to have sensed her fear. He had begun jumping continuously in a certain part of her belly. She clutched the corner of the lower hem of Xiao Heng’s clothes tightly with one hand and gently stroked her belly with the other, murmuring something indistinct in a low voice to soothe the little tadpole.
Although she was very scared in her heart, she was even more worried about her little tadpole.
Her little tadpole was still a tiny unborn child. He must have perceived something and become intimidated.
Xiao Heng lowered his head and watched her white fingertips trembling as they stroked her belly. Even though he could only hear bits and pieces of her mumbling words, he could still understand that she was terrified. So he held her hand and said, “It’s alright.”
She seemed to be used to muttering to herself in a low voice whenever she was shocked or scared.
He didn’t hear what she said last time, but this time he heard it clearly.
She said, “Daddy is here”.
‘Daddy’ was him.
Xiao Heng had always known that the child in her womb was his own and that he was going to be a father. However, this feeling was still very ambiguous. Till now, it had been nothing but a mere incident because he didn’t know what it was like to be a father.
But now, Gu Sui’er said, Daddy is here.
Hearing these words made him clearly realize the frailty of this girl from the countryside and what kind of a delicate creature the child in her womb would be.
That tiny little unborn child needed his protection.
He held her trembling hands and looked at her with pursed lips, his inky black dark eyes bursting with an unprecedented emotion.
At this time, a group of people rushed towards the kneeling woman. They were her guards and her maidservants, or more precisely, her Imperial bodyguards and her palace maids. 1Maidservants are called ‘丫鬟'(yā huan) while palace maids are called ‘宫女'(gōng nǚ), so they’re a bit different.
The maids and the bodyguards rushed over to help the woman get up on her feet.
This woman was the current Emperor’s daughter, Princess ZhaoYang. Her mother, the current Empress, doted on her.
After being helped up by the palace maids, Princess ZhaoYang raised her hand and wiped her tears. She gritted her teeth while she fixedly stared at Xiao Heng and the big-bellied pregnant woman beside him.
“Xiao Heng, you’ve gone too far!” She exclaimed loudly: “You have yet to marry a main wife but you have unexpectedly let a lowly servant girl conceive your child!”
No one knew what Xiao Heng, who was holding Gu Sui’er’s hand, felt in his heart at this time. He just glanced at her apathetically and said in a displeased tone, “What does it have to do with you?”
“What does it have to do with me? Are you really asking what it has to do with me?”
Princess ZhaoYang smiled instead of getting angry: “Could it be that you truly don’t know that my Mother Empress intends to wed me to you?!”
Xiao Heng didn’t even bother to watch it this time; he supported Gu Sui’er to go to the greenhouse.
Princess ZhaoYang stomped her foot: “Hey, you are not allowed to go!”
As soon as she said this, the guards behind her all revealed their weapons, barring their way.
Poor Gu Sui’er. She came from a small countryside family and had lived in the Marquis’ Mansion ever since she had arrived in YanJing City after leaving her home. Each and every person of the residence was kind; all of them treated her well. The greatest unkindness she had ever experienced was at the time when Xiao Xu yelled at her. However, that incident was also quickly suppressed due to Xiao Jin’s intervention.
She had never witnessed or been a part of such a scene before ah!
The little tadpole in her belly kicked and turned over as if it had to overturn the seas and rivers with every move. As a burst of nausea struck her, she leaned into Xiao Heng’s embrace with a pale face and increasingly trembly hands.
Originally, there was not the slightest fluctuation in his profound black eyes, which were as cold as the expression on his face.
He had always known that Princess ZhaoYang was an unruly person who liked to whip others when she was in a bad mood. As he was with Gu Sui’er when this happened and was able to make sure that she wasn’t hurt, he didn’t want to even pay attention to that woman’s actions.
But now, hearing Princess ZhaoYang’s arrogant words, his face gradually darkened.
He raised his head and swept a glance at her coldly before opening his mouth: “Your Mother Empress hopes to let you marry me?”
Princess ZhaoYang looked at his icy cold eyes that were comparable to the snow that falls during winter. They were full of disdain for her, clearly deeming her to be beneath contempt and not worth paying attention to. But, she liked him being like this. [T/N: Huh? Who am I? Where am I? What am I even translating? (ಠヮಠ) ]
His blemish-free flawless face was extremely handsome but this type of beauty was well suited to the coldness of winter. That detached and icy expression made him appear separated from this mortal world; the colder and more indifferent he looked, the more it made her become enchanted with him.
Therefore, seeing his expression now, her heart was about to turn into mush.
She blushed, saying in a coquettish voice: “Xiao Heng, it’s not like you don’t know that… my Mother Empress said this before ah…”
However, who knew that at this time, Xiao Heng would raise his eyebrows and say indifferently, “But, I have never promised to marry you.”
After saying this, he supported Gu Sui’er to go straight down the stairs, brushing off the swords of the Imperial guards.
The bodyguards, who had their swords raised and pointed at them, were all like soft mud. None of them dared to stop him.
Which one of them dared to?
Who didn’t know that this man, the third Young Master Xiao of Marquis RuiDing’s Mansion, was the person on whom the Emperor relied the most? He was the most favored subject of His Imperial Majesty.
At this moment, the third Young Master Xiao even uttered coolly.
“And it will never happen.”
Princess ZhaoYang, who was standing on the stairs, nearly passed out from anger.
She was the daughter of Emperor JingKang, so she was heavily pampered since birth.
Although he did not have a great number of children, the Emperor still had three sons. However, he only had this one daughter.
How could he not pamper her?
Princess ZhaoYang had lived to be sixteen but she had never encountered anything that was not to her liking. As long as she opened her mouth, all the surrounding nannies and eunuchs would try their best to obtain it.
Nevertheless, if they were unable to achieve that task, Her Imperial Majesty, the Empress, would accomplish it for her.
It could be said that she had everything she wanted as there was nothing she couldn’t get.
This continued till she was thirteen years old, after which she finally encountered the most difficult problem in her life. That problem was named Xiao Heng.
At the age of thirteen, with the first awakening of love, she became enamored with Xiao Heng.
At a time, she used to hang several portraits of Xiao Heng in the bedchamber of her palace hall and write his name over and over again while she practiced calligraphy. She would eat without tasting the food and lie worriedly on the couch, feeling that no other man in this world was as good as Xiao Heng.
She felt that if she could not marry Xiao Heng, she would definitely die.
That was what Princess ZhaoYang told her Father Emperor and Mother Empress.
When Emperor JingKang heard her words, he was displeased. Asking whether his daughter had become crazy, he instructed the Empress to strictly handle her. The Empress used up all of her means but she still couldn’t make her daughter give up on Xiao Heng and fall in love with someone else.
Having no other alternatives, she promised Princess ZhaoYang that she would go and request Emperor JingKang to bestow her a marriage with Xiao Heng.
Princess ZhaoYang was overjoyed when she heard that her Mother Empress had agreed. She believed that it was just a formality to ask the Emperor to grant a marriage. Since her Mother Empress had agreed, it was unlikely for her Father Emperor to insist on opposing the marriage.
But she did not expect Emperor JingKang to never agree to this marriage.
As for Xiao Heng, he could still be ‘friendly’ to other women, such as Xiao Jin, and ‘cold but polite’ to Xiao Xu. Nevertheless, to Princess ZhaoYang, he was indifferent, always ignoring her.
Hence, when Princess ZhaoYang rashly decided to make things difficult for Gu Sui’er today, he did not hesitate for a moment to directly embarrass her.
As the dignified daughter of the Emperor, it was really humiliating for her to kneel at the pavilion.
The news regarding Princess ZhaoYang quickly spread throughout the GuiYuan.
It made everyone enthusiastically discuss what had caused her to lose face. 2to lose face [丢人] – It means that she was humiliated/embarrassed.
Although the noble ladies from the aristocratic families of the YanJing City were different from the long-tongued women of the countryside, all were women. No matter which families or social class they belonged to, they had a common interest: gossip.
As a result, everyone soon learned that the big-bellied woman accompanying Young Master Xiao was his little concubine.
This little concubine was pregnant with his child.
They also heard that third Young Master Xiao was very fond of this concubine. This time, he had specially brought her to GuiYuan to relieve her boredom and personally helped her to look around at the sweet-scented osmanthus flowers that had bloomed. They also heard that he had already booked a greenhouse early for that little concubine to rest.
This rumor soon spread throughout the entire GuiYuan.
On the other side, Xiao Heng led Gu Sui’er to the greenhouse. All the furnishings and furniture seemed new, i.e., they did not look old at all. Ordinary people wouldn’t be able to tell, but the experienced people knew that all of these things were old.
Nanny An came over and made the bed for Gu Sui’er before helping her Gu Sui’er to lie down and tucking the quilt for her.
Lifting her head, she saw that Xiao Heng had not left but was standing by the side.
Nanny An was a little surprised. She hurriedly bowed and said: “The Young Mistress might have been a bit startled so it’s better for her to rest for a while.”
Nanny An’s implication was for Xiao Heng to leave first. She understood Gu Sui’er well. So, she knew that if Xiao Heng was there, it’d be difficult for Gu Sui’er to feel at ease.
However, Xiao Heng didn’t seem to understand the meaning behind her words at all. He said: “En, you can withdraw first.”
She could withdraw?
Nanny An reluctantly looked down at her Young Mistress, who was lying on the couch. She was unwilling but she was forced to withdraw since the third Master instructed her to do so.
After Nanny An went out, Xiao Heng carried a chair over to the side of the couch and sat on it, guarding Gu Sui’er.
Although she lay there closing her eyes, Gu Sui’er didn’t actually fall asleep.
How could she possibly sleep when the sound of the whip slicing through the air was still ringing in her ears?
At that time, if Xiao Heng’s actions were a little slow, the whip would have hit her directly in the face.
She lay there in a daze. It was only after quite a while had passed that she slowly became aware of her surroundings.
After responding, she blinked her eyes and turned to look at Xiao Heng.
“What do you want to ask?” Xiao Heng asked in a low voice.
Her eyes were moist and clear, making him feel as if they could speak to him.
Seeing them, he immediately knew that she had doubts about which she wanted to ask but didn’t dare to.
“Are you going to get into trouble now?”
Although she was horrified, she had keenly heard the people around them addressing the woman as the ‘Princess’.
She knew that only the Emperor’s daughter could be called a Princess.
“Hm?” Xiao Heng raised his eyebrows as if he didn’t quite understand what she meant by that question.
“Today, you seem to have offended the… Princess?” Gu Sui’er’s chin was hidden under the quilt. Only a part of her palm-sized small white face and her big eyes were exposed.
When Xiao Heng saw her delicate and weak appearance, he suddenly remembered the rabbit he had raised when he was a child.
It was a weak little rabbit with red eyes and soft white fur.
“Go to sleep.”
He raised his hand and covered her eyes, making her close involuntarily.
She was still worried, worried about him.
She was afraid he would get into big trouble because of this.
“You don’t need to worry about it.”
His tone was light as if he didn’t take the matter that had happened a few moments ago, seriously.
Lifting the brocade quilt to cover her properly, he ordered strictly: “Close your eyes and sleep.”
She responded in a soft, shallow voice and closed her eyes.
Thanks for reading٩(๑❛ᴗ❛๑)۶! If you like my translations, please consider supporting me on:
- 1Maidservants are called ‘丫鬟'(yā huan) while palace maids are called ‘宫女'(gōng nǚ), so they’re a bit different.
- 2to lose face [丢人] – It means that she was humiliated/embarrassed.