Long Er calmly listened as mómo Yu shared with him all the rumours she had heard of, then replied, “I am aware of this.”
His reaction was quite nonchalant, oddly this made mómo Yu feel a bit out-of-place and a bit unsure of how to continue the discussion. It was a known fact that the Second Master was a shrewd character, and it was unlikely that he would actually fall for the wiles of any woman, but with the extent of the rumours circulating outside...
Long Er saw how flustered mómo Yu seemed about this, and tried to assuage her worries saying, “Mómo don’t worry, as for what they say outside, just let it in one ear and out the other. Some of the rumours were my doing, but for some reason, once the information reached the shops, everyone started greatly exaggerating things.”
Mómo Yu’s mouth fell open in disbelief, “Second Master, i-it was your doing?” The Second Master she knew absolutely loathed loose-tongued people, so how could he have been the one to start circulating those rumours?
Thinking about it did make Long Er feel a little uneasy with embarrassment, he awkwardly coughed before saying, “Anyway, about the rumours going around in town, Mómo must be careful not to believe everything you hear.”
Mómo Yu was still not completely convinced by his words and asked, “Then, have you asked Young Miss Mu’er about those things Second Master? The things of her past I mean, what explanation did she give for them?”
“I didn’t ask.” Long Er felt that there was nothing wrong with that, because based on his understanding of Ju Mu’er, any issue that warranted explanation, Ju Mu’er would definitely have already told him about it. And in this case, since she did not say anything, then it must, of course, be because there was no need to explain anything. If there was no need for an explanation, then there basically was no issue at all! If he were to randomly begin questioning her, then it might cause her to look down on him. Considering the fact that he desired to maintain a dignified image in front of her, then how on earth could he show any signs of being a garrulous person?
“So, Second Master you didn’t ask her?” Mómo Yu was still far from pacified about this, “So why do you wish to marry her, Second Master?” Mómo Yu could still remember Long Er’s comment about being “special”, but if he tried to use the same excuse this time, she would have to ask for a clearer explanation, in what way was that young lady special?
Long Er paused for a moment’s thought, and instantly recalled the expression and tone Ju Mu’er had used when she asked him to marry her. He broke into a smile, and imitating her manner of speech, said, “I merely thought, I want to marry her.”
Mómo Yu was left utterly speechless by this explanation, and after nearly an age of silence, she managed to squeeze out a weak defense, “T-then, then, if the rumours about her acting promiscuous turn out to be true…”
The second Mómo Yu said those words, Long Er’s eyes lit up, “That’s right! Mómo, you’re right, I know how I can admonish her.”
Before Mómo Yu could react, Long Er had already summoned Li Ke, telling him, “Go find a copy of Admonitions for Women, and have it sent to Mu’er.”
Nüjie: "Admonitions for Women"A work by the Han dynasty female intellectual Ban Zhao. One of the Four Books for Women, it was widely circulated in the late Ming and Qing dynasties. Ban Zhao made the "Admonitions for Women" for her daughters. The book outlines the four virtues a woman must abide by, proper virtue, proper speech, proper countenance, and proper conduct. The book itself describes the status and position of women in society. [女诫 - Nǚjiè ]
No way! It couldn’t be… He didn’t mishear right?
Li Ke rapidly looked towards Mómo Yu by the side, to which she returned a look equally part-innocent and part-confused.
“Ey, Second Master, did you just say, Admonitions for Women?” Li Ke asked cautiously.
Li Ke took a sharp intake of breath, looked at Mómo Yu again before carefully continuing, “Do you mean you want this servant to escort Mómo Yu to Young Lady Ju Mu’er so Mómo Yu can give her a copy of Admonitions for Women?”
“No, you go and send her a copy. Mómo Yu still has to settle matters for the wedding preparations.”
At this moment, Li Ke could almost see the smoke rising above his head. Why did it have to be him ah~ It was obvious that he was an extremely loyal and upright bodyguard, why did he have to be the one who was ordered to carry out such odd tasks?! Sending a copy of Admonitions for Women to his master’s bride-to-be… Not to mention the fact that she was blind, he might as well offer to recite it for her ah~ This was obviously a task for a female!
Li Ke felt so aggrieved by this that he almost felt like ruffling his clothes and jumping up and down in protest. However, he did not dare to do that, after all, he was indeed extremely loyal and upright.
Luckily, he still had Mómo Yu by his side at present, and her old bones succeeded in vocalising his internal questions, “Second Master, why do you want to send a copy of Admonitions for Women to that Young Lady? Does Second Master think that her womanly virtues are lacking? If that’s the case then the wedding…”
Long Er waved his hand dismissively, “The wedding must go on, and a copy of that book must be sent to her. The nerve of that rascal girl is growing too big, she even dared to stop me from seeing her! She had me wait until that head injury of hers had healed, and only when she could wash her hair did she grant me an audience. Have you ever heard of such nerve from a bride-to-be?! She even had the audacity to play the qin at me… Anyway, your reminder was timely Mómo Yu, Li Ke you go and send her a copy of the Admonitions for Women, so she can spend some time and learn from it. Mómo, on your side, the preparations for the wedding must be finished quickly, once all the necessary parts of the ceremony have been fulfilled, we’ll see if she still dares to ignore me?!”
Li Ke and Mómo Yu were silent, they two exchanged a knowing glance and heaved a great big sigh deep inside.
Mómo Yu knew she had nothing left to say to Long Er, judging from his countenance, she could feel that his entire being was filled with a yearning to complete this marriage. For as long as she had been a servant at the Long Residence, Mómo Yu had long since mastered the skill of reading her lord master’s expressions. She knew that if she continued to speak negatively, it would only incite a realiatory reaction. Her only bet now, was to pay more attention to this matter, meet the young lady again and keep an eye on her.
Li Ke on the other hand, still felt like he could put up a struggle, he tried to reason, “Second Master, even if you send a copy of the Admonitions for Women, Young Lady Ju will be unable to read them! How about I go and invite her over, and have her accompany you Second Master until your boredom disappears?”
“There’s no need to bring her here, did I say I wanted to see her? I’m not bored in the slightest. If she can’t read it, then you have to recite it for her.”
Li Ke felt like giving himself two slaps, why did he have to be so mouthy ah~ If he had just accepted the order and walked away just now, then he would have no obligation to recite it for her.
To think that a valiant, courageous and loyal male bodyguard would have to recite parts of Admonitions for Women, Lord Master, do you really think this is suitable?!
Long Er shot a glare at Li Ke’s now-crumpled face before adding, “Let her father recite it for her!”
Instantly, Li Ke’s spirit was revived, and as if a great weight had been lifted off his shoulders, he hurriedly ran outside. Mómo Yu’s sympathetic gaze followed his silhouette before noticing that Long Er was currently looking at her. She quickly said, “I’ll be off to monitor the preparations now.”
After everyone had left, Long Er sat down on the chair and began to mope. Those gossip mongers! Why were they all only talking about how bad his Mu’er was? Why was no one talking about how clever she was, or about how intriguing her personality was, or even about how melodious her qin-playing was… Oh, alright, Long Er had to admit that even he himself could barely discern whether her playing was good or not, but everyone had such high praise for her adept qin-playing, so it must be skills of a certain calibre.
Long Er’s stance on the matter was simple, even though she had not uttered a word, he was still willing to believe her.
Ultimately, Li Ke was forced to make a trip to the Ju Winery, and just as he returned to the Residence, before he could step across the entrance of the residence, the courtyard servants had told him that Second Master had asked to see him as soon as he returned.
Li Ke let out a pent-up sigh, and briskly strode into the study to see Long Er. Before he was questioned, he took the initiative to report, “As Second Master had ordered, Old Father Ju recited it for Young Lady Ju.”
“What was her reaction?”
“She did not have much of a reaction.”
“Do you mean she started to play the qin again?”
“That’s right Second Master.” Li Ke cautiously answered, watching silently as Long Er energetically wielded his brush over the reports. He could not tell what was being written, but it did seem like Second Master was no longer mad, so he let out a breath of relief.
Li Ke hovered around silently for a moment, and Long Er passed him a folded piece of paper. He had just finished writing on it, and he added, “As soon as dawn breaks tomorrow, send this to the Ju Family, make sure that Old Father Ju wakes up Mu’er and recites it to her.”
Li Ke was a little dumbfounded and asked, “Second Master, what is this?”
“The Long Family’s Household Rules.”
All of a sudden Li Ke felt like the thin piece of paper in his hand was burning-hot, “Household Rules? I’ve never heard of them before though?”
“I just set those rules. Tomorrow morning you must leave early, don’t let Old Father Ju allow her to sleep in, and make sure he recites these household rules to her.”
Li Ke had no words for this and respectfully took the “Household Rules” before leaving to fulfill his task.
The morning of the next day, as commanded, Li Ke arrived at the Ju Winery. Old Father Ju gave him a warm welcome, served him breakfast as well as some sake. The duo amicably ate and drank, both heaving heavy-hearted sighs at the sight of the “Long Family’s Household Rules”.
Old Father Ju asked, “Bodyguard Li, can you tell me the truth? Does Second Master not wish to marry my daughter anymore?”
“No, no, of course not.” Li Ke’s hands betrayed his shock at Old Father Ju’s question and he hastily tried to explain, “Yesterday, Second Master even nagged at Mómo Yu to quickly finish the wedding preparations, he has no intention of not wanting Young Lady Ju.”
Old Father Ju sighed after he heard this, “This daughter of mine, of all the things she could do, why does she have to go head-to-head with Second Master ne~ Yesterday I asked her about this, about why she always tried to get on Second Master’s nerves, was it because she felt very strongly about not getting married? Her reply was one of denial! She said she very much wanted to be married.”
Old Father Ju began to pour himself another cup of sake, saying, “What do you think? Look at the two of them, one wants to marry, the other wants to be married… Why do the two of them have to squabble with each other?”
Li Ke began to think about this too, and tentatively commented, “Perhaps this way, the two of them are happy?”
After Li Ke returned to the Long Residence, he instantly felt that the words he just uttered were completely wrong. Master Long Er was obviously unhappy, there was not that slightest hint of happiness about him.
“Did Old Father Ju recite it?”
“What was Mu’er’s reaction?”
“This servant has no idea.”
Thus, this servant was given a piercing glare.
The servant hurriedly explained, “Old Father Ju made me wait inside the Winery, while he went to recite it to Young Lady Ju on his own.” This was the excuse that he and Old Father Ju had agreed upon.
Long Er was very dissatisfied with this explanation, “Since you were stuck waiting in the Winery, how on earth do you know if Old Father Ju recited them or not?”
“Old Father Ju told me himself.”
“Then, why didn’t you ask him, what Mu’er’s reaction was when she heard the Household Rules?”
Li Ke’s tongue froze, and all he could do was lower his head as if he had made a mistake, “This servant failed to fulfill his duty, will Second Master please punish me.” Please let him be punished and sent to capture some mountain thieves, or to clear a bandit’s nest, anything but be sent to the Ju Winery again!
“Hmph.” Long Er shot him a glare, “Tomorrow, I order you to go there again. Make sure that Mu’er memorises the Household Rules, until she can memorise them all.”
Li Ke was overcome with despair, inside he could not help but complain begrudgingly, Second Master, you’re always trying to make life difficult for her, aren’t you worried that she might end up not wanting to marry you?!
The next day, Li Ke was close to tears.
Not only was Ju Mu’er unable to memorise the Household Rules, but before he could even go to the Ju Winery, Ju Mu’er herself arrived at the doorstep of the Long Residence.
Her arrival was like the coming of the saviour for Li Ke.
With his own two eyes, Li Ke saw the delighted expression that spread across Long Er’s face when one of the manservants announced that Young Lady Ju Mu’er was seeking an audience. He also saw every second of how rapidly Second Master stumbled out of the study, dashing towards the main entrance in order to receive her. Li Ke felt so moved by this that he almost shed a tear, the days of hardship must finally be over!
Ju Mu’er was still in her garb of green cotton-quilted robes, with her bamboo staff in hand. The only thing that was different from her past appearance, was that there was a large hat perched on top of her head. The hat was big in size, and she had bunched up all her hair atop her head, and both hair and head were enclosed in this hat. The entire picture was quite funny to see.
“Why are you dressed in such a manner?” Long Er asked.
Ju Mu’er instinctively reached out a hand to touch her hat and answered, “ Qing’er helped me make this hat, and this way I can wrap my head up and no one can smell anything.”
Long Er harrumphed again before commenting snidely, “It might not smell anymore but it sure does look ugly!”
T/N:There is a pun on the pronunciation of smelly (chòu) and the word ugly(chǒu) in Mandarin.
Ju Mu’er was unfazed by this, “It doesn’t matter, I can’t see that anyway.”
Long Er lightly squeezed the lobe of her ear, after donning the hat, the entirety of Mu’er’s ears were exposed and the sight of this made his hands itch unbearably. “So do you mean to say you purposely came here to let me look at you in such an ugly state?”
“Of course not! It’s because the hat has been completed, and there isn’t any smell anymore. Plus, now that I’m here, you won’t have to trouble yourself with drafting up Household Rules anymore. Since you have so much time on your hands to do those kinds of things, why don’t you go inspect your business premises more frequently, and spend your time on ‘proper things’.” Ju Mu’er had her head slightly tilted to one side, with a very innocent expression on her face. Her mouth however, was busy teasing Master Long Er, implying that he must have been so bored as to even come up with the creation of those Household Rules.
Long Er understood what she meant, but could not help the feeling of happiness inside. Every time he conversed with her, he never experienced feelings of boredom. He lead her to his study, explaining that he did indeed need to check through a lot of report scrolls. In just a few days, shopkeepers from across the lands would be coming into the Capital, their aim—to report to him the ledgers of each business, and discuss the plans for the coming year. He would also have to give them remuneration for their hard work.
Ju Mu’er nodded without saying anything. Long Er found a soft ottoman chair, placed it in his study, and asked Ju Mu’er if there was anything she wanted to play with. Ju Mu’er shook her head, and languidly perched herself on the ottoman, her attention focused on the sound of Long Er as he turned pages and wrote things.
The study was enveloped in silence, and Long Er seemed to be finishing his work with gusto. He would occasionally glance at her, taking note of even the tiniest changes in her blank expression, finding it all quite amusing. His plan was to finish a little more work, then he wanted to accompany her for a while, and just have some light conversation. He had even informed the kitchens to prepare her share of a meal.
His mind began to wander as he thumbed through the reports, but he suddenly remembered something! He had yet to ask her to serve tea to him and massage his back! He turned his head to call out to her, but his eyes were met with the sight of her sprawled across the bed, as if she were already fast asleep.
End of Chapter