“I want you to learn how to read so that you can read all of your family’s letters by yourself.”
His voice was not warm at all. Neither did it sound like he was admitting his fault. But after Gu Sui’er heard it, her heart softened.
She intended to do her best to continue pouting her mouth in dissatisfaction, so she couldn’t help but purse her lips when an uncontrollable smile bloomed on her face. Her lips trembled and after struggling for a long time, she finally gave up.
She raised her eyes and glanced at him, complaining in a low voice: “You were quite a while late in your reply.”
Xiao Heng looked at her. At this moment, his eyes, which always appeared as clear and cold as a deep pool were gentle and peaceful. His thin lips were slightly pursed.
Although he was still that noble and serious Young Master, Gu Sui’er felt that he seemed a little naive.
For no reason, she felt so.
Suddenly recalling that all the poems he had taught her were poems about fighting and killing, she couldn’t help but smile again.
“Hm?” The man looked down at her smile. When she smiled, her willowy eyebrows raised and her eyes seemed to flash with the glow of thousands of stars. So he unconsciously uttered a sound of inquiry.
His tone of inquiry was different from others. This man cherished his words like gold so his unconscious ‘hm’ made her feel like he was just talking in his sleep.
The low and hoarse voice seemed to have brushed across the softest part of her heart, making it tremble.
Gu Sui’er’s face was burning hot. She felt as if someone had stuck a pair of heated hands to her cheeks.
“Thank you, third Master.” She whispered: “In the letter, my parents have explained to me that the third Master had sent someone to take good care of them. I also got to know that my mother’s old waist and leg pain has gotten much better and that my family has a donkey now. They also said that my brother is learning martial arts at the county division and getting paid.”
She raised her head and looked at him with eyes full of gratitude: “Third Master had never said anything about this. If it wasn’t for my parents’ letter, I wouldn’t even have known it.”
When she thought of her parents sometimes, she actually felt very anxious. And this was precisely because the situation under which she bid farewell to her family was dismal and helpless. She was satisfied to have such a good life now. How would she even dare to make unreasonable requests?
In this noble mansion comprising many courtyards and high walls1Basically used to refer to wealthy people., she was a humble and lowly existence. Even though she was pregnant, she did not dare to be presumptuous to the slightest degree. She had always acted cautiously, not daring to bother the other people.
Only, she didn’t expect him to do so much for her family without her knowledge.
“It’s good that you’re at ease now. As for the issues regarding your parents, it was just a matter of lifting my hand.”2A matter of lifting my hand[举手之劳] – It means that it was not a big deal for him.
He had always been a man of very few words. Him saying these two sentences to comfort her could also be considered as his explanation.
“Yes. After knowing my family’s situation, I can finally set my mind at rest and sleep peacefully.”
The next day would be the 15th day of the eighth month which meant that it would be the Mid-Autumn Festival tomorrow. When the whole family was reunited, she would be able to feel better if she kept this letter close to her.
“I will bring them over after a few days.”
Xiao Heng suddenly stated.
His light and indifferent words seemed to be a huge boulder that was thrown into a calm lake. With surging heartbeats, she raised her head and looked at him in disbelief.
“Just wait for the farming season to pass.”
“Thank you, third Master.”
Hearing his confirmation, her heart jumped with joy and her eyes simultaneously filled with tears of joy. Even her voice seemed cheerful as she tried to get up and thank him.
He reached out and pressed her shoulders: “Lie down. You don’t have to get up.”
Today, Gu Sui’er felt really happy. It was as if all the best things happened to her one after the other. She immediately nodded her head vigorously: “En. Thank you, third Master! Third Master is really kind!”
Xiao Heng stared at her smiling face intensely.
When she laughed, a sense of contagious happiness filled her limpid and pure eyes, making her appear a bit childish.
Now thinking about it, she was only fifteen years old. A fifteen-year-old girl from the countryside who knows nothing about the ways of the world. Perhaps she only knew how to beg her parents to buy her a new dress or take another look at some good-looking boys.
Raising his hand, he gently caressed the risen corner of her mouth: “Tomorrow is the Mid-Autumn Festival. Eat dinner early and go to bed.”
Gu Sui’er nodded: “Mhm.”
To her now, whatever Xiao Heng said was right. Even if he was to say that the sun was black, she would feel that it was certainly the case.
Nanny An stuck her head in to see the situation of the two inside the room. Seeing that they were not busy, she asked if she should let the maids bring in the dinner or they should serve it elsewhere.
Xiao Heng replied: “Yes. In this room.”
After receiving his instructions, Nanny An entered the room with the maids. They set up a dining table very quickly and placed many different types of food on it.
This dining table that was used in Xiao Heng’s room was a bit bigger than the one used in Gu Sui’er’s room. Moreover, since Xiao Heng’s room was also large and empty, it was sufficient enough for two people to sit and eat comfortably.
This food was prepared by the cook in the yard. Hence, every dish was prepared according to Gu Sui’er’s tastes. The ingredients were fresh and all the food was cooked with utmost care. Naturally, it far exceeded the taste of the dishes cooked in the big wok of the main kitchen of the residence.
Gu Sui’er was heavily pregnant now. So she needed extra nourishment for both herself and the growing baby inside her belly. Consequently, she developed a bigger appetite.
Tasting the food cooked according to her preferences, she finished the first small bowl of rice in no time. Nanny An, who was standing beside her, noticed it and approached, intending to scoop another bowl of rice for her.
At this time, Gu Sui’er raised her head to look at Xiao Heng, only to find him staring at her.
She immediately lowered his head and saw that he still had not finished eating the rice in his bowl.
Her face turned slightly red with shame. When Nanny An handed her the newly-filled small bowl of rice, she just held it in her hand without any words.
This time she ate slowly, glancing at Xiao Heng as she ate.
After he finished eating, Xiao Heng picked up the handkerchief and wiped his mouth gracefully. It didn’t look like he wanted another bowl of rice.
She felt a little disappointed and sad.
Did she actually eat more than him?
At this time, Xiao Heng happened to look over at her while wiping his hands.
She was caught off-guard, so the slight sense of disappointment and sorrow in her eyes was clearly noticed by him.
He seemed to be taken aback, and then said in a low voice: “The doctor said that you, as a pregnant woman, should eat more than ordinary people.”
Gu Sui’er nodded her head vigorously: “En, yes. That’s what the doctor said. I just had one bowl of rice before.”
Xiao Heng: “This bowl’s capacity is too small. Moreover, your appetite is not good. You should eat more to support your young and frail body.”
Gu Sui’er felt much better in her heart: “Back at home, I ate even less. I eat a lot now. The rice here is really delicious.”
Xiao Heng raised his eyebrows and asked, “It tastes better than what you ate at home?”
What he didn’t say was that this rice was actually a tribute from the XiangShui County of the JiangNing district of NanJing City, a distant place in the northeast. Naturally, it could not be comparable to ordinary white rice.3If you want to learn more about this rice, click here.
Gu Sui’er bit her lip in hesitation and finally said, “It’s much better than the rice at home.”
After saying this, her face flushed.
When did she ever eat this kind of white rice at home ah? She had only eaten it once in her life before she came to the Marquis’ Mansion. It was still at the inn after a festival. The innkeeper’s wife noticed the leftover rice in the pot and gave each of them a little out of kindness.
However, Xiao Heng did not know the truth: “Eat more if you like it.”
Gu Sui’er panicked out of a guilty conscience. She bowed her head and continued eating to evade further questions.
Xiao Heng grabbed a plate and reached out to take a shrimp and peel it gently.
After peeling the shell, he put the white and tender shrimp in her bowl.
When a hand with slender fingers put a shrimp in her bowl, she looked at him with surprise.
He didn’t say anything. He picked up another one and continued peeling it silently.
With nimble fingers.
His face was the usual cold and taciturn all along.
However, she suddenly felt that he was a very gentle and warm person.
She lowered his head and tasted a bite of shrimp meat.
She has actually eaten shrimps before. Although one could catch shrimps in the mountain stream, they weren’t as big as these ones.
Nevertheless, this was the first time when someone had peeled it for her.
After dinner, Xiao Heng supported Gu Sui’er and accompanied her for a walk around the yard.
Her belly was getting bigger by the day. So, Doctor ZhuGe had specifically advised her to move around as much as she could to avoid difficulty at the time of giving birth. Xiao Heng also heard him so whenever he recalled those words, he would help her to take a walk.
He was used to walking in big strides. But now, in order to match her steps, he could only take a step, halt for a moment and then take another step again.
At this time Jiang Zheng came over. From his face, Xiao Heng immediately surmised that he had something to report. Jiang Zheng opened his mouth to say something but he hesitated.
When Xiao Heng saw it, he asked Gu Sui’er to go back to the room first: “Go to bed early.”
Gu Sui’er respectfully said: “Yes, third Master. Then I will leave first.”
When she said this, her behaviour was a bit different. He looked at her and said: “Alright.”
Nanny An came over and helped the big-bellied Gu Sui’er, to go back to her room. Xiao Heng turned his head to look at Jiang Zheng, only to see Jiang Zheng’s gaze go beyond him.
He turned around and took another look. The only person behind him was Gu Sui’er.
He raised his eyebrows and looked at Jiang Zheng lightly.
When Jiang Zheng discovered Xiao Heng looking at him, he blushed and hurriedly withdrew his gaze: “Third Master, there is news from Feng Jiu.”
Previously, when Xiao Heng went to DanDong to handle a corruption case, it was considered an overwhelming victory. However, there was a key figure who could not be captured. At present, Xiao Heng’s subordinates were still searching for this key figure.
Hearing this, Xiao Heng said, “Come inside and talk.”
Jiang Zheng lowered his head and hurriedly followed Xiao Heng into the study. He couldn’t help but raise his hand to wipe the sweat on his forehead.
As the commander of LongQi Guards, Xiao Heng did not need to attend the morning court every day like his elder Brother. He only entered the Imperial Palace when he needed to seek an audience with the Emperor to discuss or inform him about some important matters. Other than that, his time was relatively free, so he usually stayed at home and did whatever he wanted to do.
After all, no one had the authority to order the commander of LongQi Guards other than the Emperor himself.
Xiao Heng sat inside his study and listened to Jiang Zheng’s detailed report. After hearing it all, he didn’t speak for a long time.
Jiang Zheng stood aside cautiously, feeling that the third Master’s complexion was not good today.
It seemed darker than usual.
Xiao Heng sat there with a black face for the time taken to drink a full cup of tea before he finally asked: “Jiang Zheng, at that time, you went to bring her over. Tell me about it again.”
Her… Who was this ‘her’? Naturally, Xiao Heng was referring to their Young Mistress.
Jiang Zheng had been working for Xiao Heng for many years but he had never seen Xiao Heng mentioning a person so implicitly yet so bluntly.
A chill ran down Jiang Zheng’s back as he stood there in a daze. However, he still narrated the ins and outs of the whole journey of bringing Gu Sui’er to the Mansion stiffly, including the details about the inn they had stayed at to take a rest for the night and what the Young Mistress ate. He missed nothing in his long and thorough speech.
After he stopped speaking, Xiao Heng didn’t say a word. He just sat there silently.
He neither knew what his master was thinking nor was he able to guess it.
Moreover, he wasn’t brave enough to dare ask this person what he was thinking.
Just when Jiang Zheng’s back was starting to get drenched with cold sweat, Xiao Heng finally said, “You can withdraw.”
Jiang Zheng: “Yes!”
Xiao Heng suddenly thought of something and spoke again: “I will let Hu Tie bring two more people to stand guard outside the yard. You should now do your best to investigate the DanDong case.”
Jiang Zheng was taken aback. He nodded with determination: “Yes!”
Watching him leave, Xiao Heng also got up to freshen himself before bed, and then went back to his room to sleep.
But after entering the room, he saw that it seemed especially dark and cold inside.
He looked towards the bed. It was empty, without any hint of warmth. There wasn’t a trace of the soft and fragrant delicate figure.
He stood there for a long time without moving. Then, he slowly walked to his bed and turned around before lying down.
The cold and cheerless bedding seemed to still hold her fragrance on it; it had a somewhat woody smell with a whiff of sweetness.
He wasn’t particularly fond of this sort of sweet fragrance before, but he was starting to like it now.
Xiao Heng also recalled the pastry crumbs that licked away from the corner of her mouth.
After that, he closed his eyes, trying to go to sleep.
At this moment, an autumn wind blew, making the bamboo leaves rustle softly.
The room was filled with a sense of desolation. In this long and dark night, the man stared at the top of the roof and quietly listened to the sound of the rustling leaves.
He suddenly turned over and sat up. After a moment, he dressed himself and opened the door to step out.
In the dim light of the cold night, he glanced around for a moment and directly took a step toward Gu Sui’er’s room.
At this moment, Nanny An walked out of the room with an empty salver in her hand. When she suddenly saw Xiao Heng approaching, she was so scared that she almost screamed.
“Sleeping?” He furrowed his brows, looking a little impatient.
“S-sleeping…” Nanny An has never seen their family’s Young Master being so restless. She was so afraid that she trembled while replying with a pale face. After speaking, she remembered: “S-she just went to bed, so might not be asleep till now. Are you a-alright, third Master?”
However, Xiao Heng didn’t bother to answer her question. He pushed the door and immediately entered the room.
Thanks for reading٩(๑❛ᴗ❛๑)۶! If you like my translations, please consider rating it on NU and supporting me on:
- 1Basically used to refer to wealthy people.
- 2A matter of lifting my hand[举手之劳] – It means that it was not a big deal for him.
- 3If you want to learn more about this rice, click here.