Chapter 12: These Two Are A Perfect Match.
Aunt Liang was in the kitchen, taking inventory of the food brought in for the day, as she pondered over what kind of soup to make for the evening.
Her son, Wen Zhongcheng, and her daughter-in-law were helping her.
Even though the General’s Residence was big, there were only two masters and three servants.
General Gu treated that family of three very well, to the point where it didn’t even feel like they were master and servant.
Aunt Liang’s family repaid these drops of kindness with a spring fountain1, with their loyalty and dutifulness.
Although the General’s Residence was deserted, it was always clean and tidy.
The three meals were delicious, never perfunctory.
As the years went by, everything was quiet and peaceful in the Residence.
Unfortunately, the General’s wife left early and the Residence became less lively afterward.
Aunt Liang was just asking her son, Wen Zhongcheng, to bring a basket of green cabbage to the stove, when all of a sudden, she saw Gu Heyan coming over in a hurry: “Aunt Liang, distinguished guests will visit us today.”
“Distinguished guests?” Aunt Liang looked up and wiped her temples with the back of her hand.
‘The General’s Residence hasn’t received any guests for many years, so why were distinguished guests arriving all of a sudden?’
Fortunately, Aunt Liang was wise and immediately said to her daughter-in-law: “Dear Juan’er, go to the wooden shelf on the left side of the storehouse and search for a plain celadon tea set.
Take them out and wash them with hot water.”
“Aye, I understand!” The young girl immediately got up and walked away.
Aunt Liang, on the other hand, wanted to ask Gu Heyan who was coming.
However, as soon as she turned her head to look at Gu Heyan, she saw that he had already disappeared from the kitchen.
“Yeesh this kid, where is he rushing off to?” Aunt Liang wondered.
However, she soon got the answer to that question.
Half an hour later, Gu Heyan returned to the kitchen covered in a thin layer of sweat and panting slightly.
He hurried to hand Aunt Lian a hexagonal rosewood box with clasps.
Aunt Liang stood frozen for a moment, but then she took it and asked: “What’s this?”
“Pastries, to entertain the guests later.” Gu Heyan straightforwardly said this sentence and then turned around to leave again.
Aunt Liang opened the lid of the box carefully.
She saw that there was a wooden strip across the middle of the box, dividing the soft osmanthus poria cake and the crispy chestnut candied pancake.
These pastries looked delicate, tasty, and tantalizing
Wen Zhongcheng came over to take a look and wondered: “Young Master Yuyi has never liked sweets, so how does he know where to buy these complicated pastries?”
Aunt Liang shook her head, put away the food box, and sent Wen Zhongcheng to clean the main hall.
Meanwhile, she went to prepare the tea.
As soon as she had finished her work, she saw Gu Heyan walking towards her, looking somewhat nervous: “Aunt Liang, I need your help.
Can you come with me?”
Aunt Liang had never seen Gu Heyan looking this helpless and overwhelmed before.
Thinking that something big had happened, she hurried to go with him.
When they reached the outer room of the East wing, Aunt Liang was surprised to see that Wen Zhongcheng and Miss Juan, her daughter-in-law, were also there.
She was shocked.
‘What the hell is going on?!’
Gu Heyan brought Aunt Liang a wooden stool to sit on.
The three of them sat in a row, watching nervously at Gu Heyan, who was pacing back and forth in front of them, thinking about what to say.
After a long time, Gu Heyan, who had always been indifferent and quiet since childhood, slowly opened his mouth: “Do you know….”
The three servants: “Know?!”
Gu Heyan: “I….”
The three servants: “You?!”
Gu Heyan: “….Which clothes do you guys think would look good on me?”
The three servants: “….”
Wen Zhongcheng almost fell off the wooden stool.
With a trembling hand, he held the stool firmly and said: “Young Master Yuyi, you summoned the three of us here for thi—? Ow!” Before Wen Zhongcheng could finish his words, he let out a miserable scream.
Aunt Liang and Miss Juan pinched the insensitive Wen Zhongcheng without mercy.
After stopping him from saying anything stupid, both women looked at each other and quickly came to an understanding.
‘The guest visiting today! Is! Extremely! Important!’
“Wen’er, have you finished cleaning the main hall?” Aunt Liang asked.
“Not yet.” Wen Zhongcheng inhaled and exhaled as he rubbed his pinched waist.
“Only half of it was cleaned, but the Young Master told me to hurry, so I thought something bad had happened….”
Miss Juan patted Wen Zhongcheng on the shoulder and told him to stop talking.
“Go and finish cleaning the main hall.
Juan’er and I will stay here with the Young Master.” Aunt Liang waved her hand, shooing away this dull fool who didn’t understand what was going on.
Then, Aunt Liang and Miss Juan opened the simple and unpatterned wooden cabinet in the inner room, sorting through Gu Heyan’s clothes.
There were only a few pieces of clothing to choose from, and they settled on a sky-cyan brocade garment with a hidden bamboo pattern.
After helping Gu Heyan change his clothes, Aunt Liang found a jade crown2 as green as the bamboo itself from the cabinet and tied up his hair.
After that was done, she said encouragingly: “Young Master Yuyi is so handsome and elegant, he looks good in anything.”
“True, true!” Miss Juan agreed with a smile.
“In my opinion, Young Master Yuyi can match with any girl, no matter if she’s an ordinary beauty, or if she’s splendidly dressed like an immortal beauty.”
Gu Heyan remained silent as he looked down to fix his sleeves and bind his wrists.
“Madam’s jade pendant doesn’t fit with this set of clothes.” Miss Juan held the red agate jade pendant and hesitated to give it to Gu Heyan to wear on his waist.
“Wrap it in a clean silk cloth and put it in the Young Master’s bosom.
He will still wear it with him, it’s just that it will not be seen.” Aunt Liang said.
“Alright!” Miss Juan nodded and did as she was told.
Little by little, the time for the appointment finally arrived, and the carriage belonging to the Duke of Yan slowly approached the front of the General’s Residence.
Wen Zhongcheng came forward to receive the guests and bowed with a smile as a salute.
Then, he led Mu Boren and Mu Zhiming towards the main hall.
When they walked past the screen wall3, they arrived at the courtyard, which wasn’t decorated with any pavilions or plants.
The Residence was so simple and solemn that both Mu Boren and Mu Zhiming couldn’t help but sigh in their hearts.
“Master, your distinguished guests have arrived.” Wen Zhongcheng called out at the entrance of the main hall, as he leaned down to perform an inviting hand gesture.
Mu Boren led Mu Zhiming into the main hall, where they saw both Gu Miao and Gu Heyan waiting for them, then hurried to salute: “Greetings, General Gu.
I came to thank the Gu family for the great kindness of saving my son’s life.
I’m sorry for the delay in expressing my gratitude, and I hope General Gu can forgive me.
I came to pay General Gu a visit and I apologize if I’m troubling you, but I hope General Gu won’t be offended!”
Mu Zhiming followed his father with a long bow as he gave his gratitude, without being able to stand straight for a long time.
“Greetings, Duke of Yan!” Gu Miao returned the salute as soon as Mu Boren stopped talking and went forward to help Mu Boren stand.
“The Duke of Yan is being too polite.
When kindness comes from the heart, nothing is expected in return.
Please take a seat.”
The Duke and the General sat down at the front seats, while Gu Heayan and Mu Zhiming sat at the side seats.
At that moment, Miss Juan came into the main hall, bringing tea and snacks.
When Mu Zhiming’s eyes fell on the small celadon plates containing the pastries, he was a little surprised to see three pieces of osmanthus poria cakes lined up together with some crispy candied chestnut pancakes.
Those were actually Mu Zhiming’s favorite snacks from the Jiyue Restaurant.
‘I didn’t think the Jiyue Restaurant’s pastries would be regular snacks in the General’s Residence, since it’s a long-distance away from here.
It seems that the Jiyue Restaurant has a good reputation.’
Although Mu Zhiming’s mouth was salivating, he knew that as a visitor, he should be reserved.
Otherwise, while the others talk, he will just eat and drink? He’ll be called disrespectful! Therefore, Mu Zhiming held back his greedy desire and didn’t come close to the plate filled with snacks.
Instead, he picked up the tea cup and sipped it slowly.
The fragrant tea reverberated sweetly in Mu Zhiming’s mouth, and as he carefully swallowed the tea, he heard Gu Miao call out to Gu Heyan: “Yuyi.”
“Father, at your command.” Gu Heyan stood up and cupped his fist.
Gu Miao stroked the beard on his chin and said: “I’ll be chatting with the Duke of Yan about things you children would find boring and tedious.
Thus, take Young Master Mu with you to play in the courtyard.
You two don’t need to stay here to accompany us.
“Understood.” Gu Heyan nodded his head and looked at Mu Zhiming.
At that moment, Mu Zhiming raised his head to ask Mu Boren with his eyes.
Mu Boren nodded: “Go.”
“Then Father, General, us juniors will retire first.” Mu Zhiming bowed and followed Gu Heyan out of the main hall.
Once Gu Miao saw that the figures of both youths were getting farther and farther away, he turned his head to ask Mu Boren with a smile: “Duke of Yan, may I take the liberty to ask a question?”
“General Gu is being too polite.
He can ask and I will reply with what I know.” Mu Boren hurried to reply.
“Then, I’ll dare to ask….” Gu Miao smiled and slowly opened his mouth.
“Does Duke of Yan have a….
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