After Princess ZhaoYang apologized to Gu Sui’er and returned to the Palace, she was put under strict supervision. She was prohibited from going out and was punished with copying the Palace rules. Once this matter spread and the big shots of the capital City knew it, some sighed and some found it laughable. The Empress doted on this Princess ZhaoYang. She had always been domineering, but now she had angered the Emperor, she had finally learned a bitter lesson.
Some people also heard that His Majesty was now looking for a marriage partner for Princess ZhaoYang. Learning that he planned to marry her far away from the YanJing City, they sighed even more. As the Son of Heaven, the Emperor’s daughter and a Princess of the dignified and powerful imperial family, her days would be happier if she married inside the capital. But since she was to be married to a place where the sky was high and the Emperor was far away1The sky was high and the Emperor was far away [天高皇帝远] – This is an idiom which refers to the remote places that are beyond the reach of the central authorities., her life would naturally be difficult from every side.
After punishing Princess ZhaoYang, the Emperor also specially rewarded Gu Sui’er with many different kinds of precious gold and silver jewelry. He even arranged for the Imperial Doctor to examine her all the time. All this could be considered as a means of reassuring her.
The matter was over just like this.
Gu Sui’er didn’t care about this at all. She was relieved since she knew that Xiao Heng would absolutely not marry Princess ZhaoYang ever. Although that woman was terrible, as long as she didn’t marry Xiao Heng, Gu Sui’er could simply just avoid her.
As for the matter of Xiao Heng’s future wife, she merely hoped that he would marry a virtuous and magnanimous woman so that when the moment comes, her little tadpole can respectfully attend to her. If she had a good personality, she might be able to tolerate them, this pair of mother and son.
Thinking like this, her tensed nerves loosened. She was no longer as worried about this matter.
As for Xiao Heng, these days, he only took time to visit the Palace occasionally. At other times, he stayed in TingZhu Courtyard, practicing calligraphy, reading books, and so on.
Every time he read a book, he would call Gu Sui’er over so that she could learn and practice writing the characters. When Gu Sui’er felt tired from practicing, he would take her on a walk around the courtyard.
In the beginning, Gu Sui’er thought back to the scenes of that day whenever she saw him and her ears reddened with shame. However, she didn’t expect him to never bring up that again or even touch her again in the slightest.
It could be said that although the two people shared the same bed, they slept separately.
Only, occasionally when she had difficulty turning over at night, if he woke up, he would come over and help her.
Of course, he would also bow his head, listen to the little tadpole inside, and stroke it through her belly.
Although everything seemed normal, Gu Sui’er always had an impression that something was wrong.
Sometimes, she recalled the day when he put the pointed tip of the peach into his mouth and tasted it.
Whenever she thought about it, her face would redden with shame, and her ears would heat up. All her strength would disappear and she would lay on the bed soft and paralyzed as if she had become a puddle of water.
But at other times, he was still the same as usual. Seeing his cold and cheerless expression, she sometimes felt that he had completely forgotten about it.
Forgotten? How is it possible? Gu Sui’er refused to believe it.
She pondered over it for quite a while wondering if it was because he was not satisfied with it after that time and thus became indifferent.
Whatever the case be, she was embarrassed to open her mouth and ask him about this. Nevertheless, these thoughts revolved in her mind and she would sit on the bed and inevitably sigh.
Seeing her miserable expression, Nanny An was actually a little bewildered.
One must know that ordinarily, her Young Mistress would never do this. If she really was worried about something, she would ask her ah.
After two days passed like this, Nanny A eventually didn’t have the heart to see her unhappy. So she raised a question about it indirectly.
“Young Mistress, you’ve been acting a little strange recently. You don’t like your favorite foods and pastries anymore and you seem preoccupied with something when you practice writing. What’s wrong with you?”
Gu Sui’er shook her head promptly.
Inspite of being worried, she believed that it was not good to talk about this kind of matter with others.
After all, that day Xiao Heng undid her clothes and sucked the peach. She was too embarrassed to mention this, even if it was to a person who was close to her.
“Young Mistress, if you are always worrying about something before giving birth, then your child will also like to frown.”
“Ah? Is that so?”
Gu Sui’er was shocked when she heard this. She had never heard of this before. Would her worries really affect her little tadpole?
She imagined a newly born baby knitting its tiny brows and her determination to surmise the situation collapsed.
“Then I don’t won’t think about it anymore.” She muttered with a lowered head.
Nanny An smiled when she heard her.
“Young Mistress, what is it ah? If you tell me, perhaps I will be able to explain it. If you conceal and speculate about it blindly, your mind and heart will never be at ease.”
What Nanny An said was indeed what Gu Sui’er thought in her heart.
She thought for a while and hesitated. Finally, after a lot of humming and hawing, she explained the matter and her suspicions.
“Young Mistress, do you mean that the third Master sucked the tip on the bed that day?”
“En…” Gu Sui’er lowered her head even more and hummed softly.
She didn’t expect Nanny An to speak so bluntly and as a result, increase her anxiety.
“Aiyou, I didn’t expect the third Master to be like this to my Young Mistress!”
Nanny An looked at the woman in front of her. She was born with an exquisite and tender appearance. But now she was nourished by the supplements and decoctions, she had gradually lost her former simplicity and become more and more attractive.
When she looked closely now, she see that the skin had become snow-white and translucent as if it was some delicate jade. Her gently pursed little mouth seemed to be made of red silk; it was plump, tender, and beautiful. As for the black hair loosely tied into a bun, it added a bit of languid charm to her slender and delicate figure, making her seem a bit like a wealthy family’s madam.
Her limbs were well-proportioned. A narrow-sleeved jacket was wrapped around her thin but firm shoulders and gathered together around her fine collarbone. Although she had a big bulging belly, it only highlighted her frailty and made others want to pamper her more.
As for what she mentioned about the third Master doing to her, her eyes went over her whole body carefully. She suddenly found that this slender woman’s body was particularly impressive because of her pregnancy. Her chest was bulging, but its outline was soft and plump.
When it came to such a woman, let alone a man, even she couldn’t help but want to take another look. No wonder the ever-indifferent third Master was unable to stand it!
“However, since that day, he hasn’t spoken to me not had he mentioned anything about it.”
Gu Sui’er sighed, feeling apprehensive just by thinking about it.
Did he dislike it?
But she liked it ah… During her leisure, she often recalled those moments and her face flushed, making her unable to sit or stand still.
It was only then that realization dawned upon Gu Sui’er. So, it turned out that she was uncomfortable because she wanted to get close to him but he didn’t want to.
Nanny An smiled even more when she heard this.
Although she was not married, she had little experience in love affairs when she was young. Hence, she had come across some men and gained first-hand knowledge about the worries of a girl.
She smiled and said: “Actually, it is a good thing that the third Master does not touch you now. Young Mistress is due to give birth in about a month. Originally, you should have been forbidden to share the same room with him at this time. Now the third Master still keeps you company and sleep in the same room, it is in fact, already the greatest pampering.”
However, Gu Sui’er was keen on bashing her head against the brick wall2Bashing her head against the brick wall [钻牛角尖] – It means to waste time on an insoluble or insignificant problem. Also written/known as ‘penetrating a bull’s horn’.: “But he touched me that day. All of a sudden, why can’t he touch me now? If we aren’t permitted to share the same room, we shouldn’t have done that.”
“Pfft-” Nanny An laughed loudly: “Perhaps he is restraining himself or perhaps he really has lost interest, you won’t know it till you test it.”
In fact, what Nanny An really thought was: How could he not be tempted!
He had barely tasted the meat once when he had to put a stop to it. She didn’t know how many times he thought about it the past few days.
“How can I test it?” Gu Sui’er asked, pulling Nanny An’s arm as her heart filled with expectation.
Nanny An smiled as she noticed Gu Sui’er’s desperate appearance. This girl was really innocent, wanting to depend entirely on a man like this.
It was a pity that she put the third Master in her heart and did not leave any leeway for herself.
“This is not difficult. Just listen to me and you will know it soon!”
Later, after Xiao Heng returned to TingZhu Courtyard, his footsteps halted as he looked around but did not see Gu Sui’er coming out to greet him.
His brows raised slightly in surprise.
Generally, whenever he returned to TingZhu Courtyard, she would walk out gracefully as soon as she heard any sound. She would come over to greet him with bright eyes and a docile smile on her face.
But today, no one appeared.
When he walked to the door, he saw Nanny An and asked, “Where is the Young Mistress?”
Nanny An respectfully said: “Replying to third Master, the Young Mistress was feeling a bit tired today, so she is resting on the bed. She should be waking up soon. Should I go over and will awaken her?”
Upon hearing this, Xiao Heng announced indifferently: “No need.”
After speaking, he pushed open the door and went in.
As soon as he walked into the room, he saw Gu Sui’er lying on her side inside the layer of the embroidered light muslin mosquito net. With her beautiful hair spread across the pillow, Gu Sui’er lay there quietly. Her exquisite face was filled with a sense of soft contentment and her eyes were shut tightly, making her appear cute and obedient. It was as if she was dreaming about something happy.
He had just come back from outside, so his body still had some cold air. Due to this, he was unwilling to get inside the canopy hastily. Through the layer of the mosquito net, he gazed at her sleeping figure on the bed.
In the dim light, he only felt that her delicate lips were extraordinarily rosy; like those small ripe cherries hanging on the branches.
As he thought about this, his eyes lowered and swept across her tender and beautiful white neck, only to see that she was only wearing a dudou today.
This dudou was pink in color. Even though it wasn’t embroidered, it was beautiful and was fastened tightly.
This situation was a bit difficult to tolerate. His eyes darkened like a moonless night.
He had tasted that peach before.
After watching her silently for a while, he suddenly felt that it might be better to sleep in separate rooms.
As soon as this thought sprang up, he turned around and took a step towards the door.
At this moment, the figure lying on the bed woke up suddenly.
She mumbled something in a low voice, like a person who had just awakened after a deep sleep. Her voice was soft. Then, she seemed to have seen him as she spoke with surprise: “You are back, third Master. I unexpectedly fell asleep. Why didn’t third Masted wake me up?”
After speaking, she tried to get up.
Xiao Heng could only pause and come back again. However, he stopped just in front of the bed.
“I just came back for a moment. I still have something to do so I need to go out again.”
Gu Sui’er and Nanny An had discussed a lot before coming up with this plan. It was really hard to lie on the bed and pretend to have fallen asleep.
But she never thought that he would just turn around and walk away. She felt a little uneasy.
Now that she heard his cold, indifferent tone and witnessed his strict business-like manner without even the slightest hint of reluctance to leave, she became more and more disappointed. A chill gradually spread in her heart; she didn’t know what to say.
With her small mouth opened slightly, she lay there and looked at him in a daze. Sure enough, he despises…despises me.
After Xiao Heng said that sentence, he was indeed planning to turn around and leave.
But for some reason, he couldn’t move his foot.
At this time, her clear eyes were filled with most as she lay under the quilt, staring at him blankly. From her gaze, he felt as if he was unattainable even though he was in her sight.
Xiao Heng suddenly remembered the day she thought she had annoyed him. That time, she anxiously said that she liked him feeding her; it was as if she was afraid that he would misunderstand her.
Because she was worried he would get upset, she spared no effort to explain it to him.
Was she afraid of bothering him? How much did she care about him?
Waves of sourness erupted in his chest. He stared at the person on the bed and suddenly, he recalled something.
Some childhood memories were so unforgettable that no matter when they happened, people would remember them till the present day.
He recalled the time when his mom went out to work but she did not come back. It was dark and it was raining outside. He had draped a shabby cotton-padded mattress over him and lay on his stomach beside the window, watching the endless rain outside and ignoring the loud groans of his belly. He was waiting for his mom to come back.
Yet, even after he waited for a long time, his mom didn’t come back.
It was too long ago. He forgot how long he managed to wait until his mother returned, but he could always remember the rain at the dusk of that day, it was cool and astringent, wetting his dry lips.
“Third Master, you…”
The woman on the bed pursed her lips and looked at him cautiously. She stopped talking but her eyes were shining brightly with hope.
He didn’t want to leave anymore.
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- 1The sky was high and the Emperor was far away [天高皇帝远] – This is an idiom which refers to the remote places that are beyond the reach of the central authorities.
- 2Bashing her head against the brick wall [钻牛角尖] – It means to waste time on an insoluble or insignificant problem. Also written/known as ‘penetrating a bull’s horn’.