Gu Fang Bu Zi Shang Vol01 Ch05
Outside the window, a cat meowed and Pingting stirred. She opened her shining, energetic black eyes and faced the window, chuckling softly. “You’re an annoying cat, tomorrow I’ll definitely find a way to get back at you.” Suddenly she remembered that the House of Jing-An was still in danger, and her dimples disappeared.
“What should I do?” It was still dark and most of the inhabitants are still asleep, when she got up and fumbled for the table. She drank a cup of cold tea and continued to worry.
If I hadn’t been caught by human traffickers, I would still be by Master’s side and I wouldn’t have to worry about him. Dongzhuo is too cheeky and energetic, I hope he doesn’t annoy Master too much.
If I leave tomorrow, where should I go to find Master?
Though she was extremely clever, she was still quite young and couldn’t help feeling weak without the support of others. Suddenly, Chu Beijie’s face popped into her thoughts, his eyes seemingly able to see into one’s soul.
“Should I invite that fake Mister Dong here and demand the latest news?” But she knew that deep down, ‘Dong Dingnan’ was highly likely to be Chu Beijie, and therefore being around him makes her feel uneasy inside. “If I mess up…”
She thought of when she first received the Phoenix Paulownia-Guqin – it was the same uneasy feeling. But whenever she thought of ‘Dong Dingnan’ and the way he spoke of his experiences, his proud attitude… her face suddenly began to feel very hot.
The vivid image of him in mind and her memory of receiving the Phoenix Paulownia-Guqin caused her heart to speed up. She thought of her conversations with Dong Dingnan, Dong Dingnan’s experiences, Dong Dingnan’s bold and extravagant actions…and her face for some reason, began to feel very hot.
Pingting kicked herself, stroking her cheeks she said, “Pingting, what are you thinking about? Finding Master is the most important thing at the moment.”
As she tend to her random thoughts or daydreams, the sun is already up.
After washing, she went inside to serve her Lady. When Lady Hua saw her, she clapped her hands, giggling. “You fell asleep before you could even eat dinner, so why are there dark circles under your eyes? I’m sure you were thinking about your lover all night, am I right?”
Pingting turned and looked at the mirror. As expected, there were dark violet smudges under her eyes. She blushed slightly, “What is My Lady joking about? Say that again and I won’t serve My Lady anymore.”
She had always talked to her Master like that back in the Jing-An Ducal Residence, and didn’t think she was being rude. Fortunately Lady Hua had been flattered throughout her life and liked her temper. Trying to hold back her laughter, she said, “Don’t be angry, I totally understand. When I first saw the guy of my dream, I couldn’t sleep for the first couple of nights too.”
Pingting wasn’t originally thinking that, but Lady Hua’s words made her heart thump and she lowered her eyes. “Let me help wash My Lady, the water is getting cold.”
“I don’t need you, clumsy girl, I can wash myself.” She grabbed the dry towel off Pingting, “You were never suited to serve others in the first place.”
“I’m not suited to serve others?” Pingting eyes widened. She had always been serving others, especially her mischievous master and no one had ever said she was doing a bad job. She could play qin and chess equally well, she was talented in both literature and art, while also being known for her entertaining wit and conversations, and she wasconsidered to be extremely gentle. How is she not suited to serve others? Pingting had to protest back, “But in the previous days when I washed you, I only broke a few strands of your hair.”
“Of course, because you have never helped people wash their hair before.”
Lady Hua was right. Back in the Jing-An Ducal Residence, she had her own maid to help wash herself. She had hardly washed her own hair, never mind helping others wash theirs. Once or twice, she had tried to wash her Master’s hair, but He Xia had shrieked in pain after a few seconds and she gave up on that idea.
After Lady Hua had washed, she continued to work on her sewing. Unfortunately, she had jabbed herself several times and was crying in pain after a while.
Pingting tried to hide her boredom. “I said it would take hard work, so why does My Lady still want to learn it? Everyday My Lady gets me to help and then gets hurt… What’s the point in doing this?”
Lady Hua sighed and stared blankly at her sewing. “What can I do? I miss him, so I sew for him, but then I get jabbed and so I hate him because it’s his fault I’m doing this. Then I remember he can’t see me, he doesn’t know what I’m doing. Oh God, I’m so annoyed!”
Pingting wanted to laugh but seeing her Ladybeing so depressed, she couldn’t bring herself to do it. The image of ‘Dong Dingnan’ once again came back into her thoughts, her vision blurred and her needle began to twist dangerously.
Lady Hua clapped, eyes sparkling. “You finally got jabbed. I say this needle is biased, it only likes to jab my thumb.”
The two people continued to talk on, though Pingting appeared to be fully engaged in the conversation, she felt anxious. She had secretly hoped that ‘Dong Dingnan’ would come so she could learn more of her master. Her eyes flicked from East to West and the day was rapidly ending, but no one came to visit them.
Lady Hua saw Pingting’s tight lips and she broke into a sweet smile. “Don’t worry, he said he will come in three days. If he doesn’t, we will just ignore him.”
Towards evening, the two girls were sitting inside and eating dinner when the Housekeeper hurried in. “My Lady, someone wants to see you.”
Pingting abruptly lifted her head, eager. Lady Hua turned and said, “Let him in.”
The blinds came down and Pingting’s heart began to beat faster. She stared at the door with anticipation.
Soon, they heard footsteps approaching the door and a huge moving silhouette appeared. He entered the room and bowed respectfully towards the Lady on the other side of the blinds. “Good evening My Lady, my name is Chu Morang, and I am here to pass on a gift.”
Oh, so it wasn’t ‘Dong Dingnan’, but the person who had passed the qin to her previously. She thought in disdain. It felt as if someone just coldly splashed a bucket of icy water onto her fiery energy. She was utterly disappointed.
Chu Morang politely laughed, “This is one of GuiLe’s many bronze ornaments. It’s not that expensive, but the detail is rather impressive.”
Pingting looked out through the blinds, and she could tell at one glance that the ornament which Chu Moranghas presented was in no way at all lacking. Not only was it expensive but it was carved by the famous Gui Le bronze master, Lu Bing. Lu Bing was a legendary craftsman who died thirty years ago.
The ornament was of a girl playing qin on the mountains, her expression realistic and serene. It was so lovely that many people wouldn’t mind having a painting of it. This ‘Dong Dingnan’ had probably given her this gift to compare its magnificence to her qin skills.
Pingting decided that ‘Dong Dignan’ spent money extravagantly and admired his tactics. “Such an expensive gift is hard to accept. Please take it back.” Her voice was notably cold.
Chu Morang protested, “Lady Hua, this is the Master’s gift, especially for you.”
“Last time it was a guqin, this time around it’s a bronze ornament, so what will it be tomorrow?” Pingting paused a moment before saying, “If his business meant for a barter of objects, I have nothing to give in return as I am a woman. However, if your Master wants something else, it probably won’t be as easy to get it.”
Lady Hua was clever and added another sentence from aside, “And he even gets someone else to give a gift on his behalf? How insincere, no wonder My Lady is angry.” She was smiling though. “Mrs Hua, send him off.”
“My Lady, please listen to Morang, actually…”
But Lady Hua wouldn’t have any of it, “Not listening, not listening, not listening! You men only know how to hurt girls’ hearts.” Maybe it was because she was thinking of her lover as well, and thus she vented all her resentment on Chu Morang, and decided to call for the housekeeper.
The housekeeper arrived before Chu Morang could even explain. She grabbed his hand, “Mister, please do not be angry, My Lady is tired, that’s all. She needs to rest, as it is already dark.” Without saying another word she took him and the bronze statue out of the Hua Residence.
Chu Morang had never been so humiliated by his Master’s orders, the Duke of Zhen-Bei Residence. In the Hua Residence, he had tried to be as courteous as possible because he was aware that it was the residence of the Lady his Master cherished. He went back to the Zhen-Bei Ducal Residence and dutifully told his Master, Chu Beijie, about all the series of events that happened.
After he finished speaking, he placed the returned bronze ornament on the table.
Chu Beijie had been reading an official document when Morang had walked in. When Morang finally finished speaking, he laid the document down, raised his head and laughed heartily. “I never imagined she would have such a temper! If she was a man I would definitely put him in charge of my army. That’s the quality of one of those capable of commanding thousands of soldiers possesses.”
After laughing a while he suddenly narrowed his eyes. “She’s clever, I cannot afford to underestimate her.”
Chu Moran sighed, “She is very beautiful and her qin skills are extraordinarily. Since Master likes her, why don’t you officially propose marriage to her tomorrow, alongside the Duke of Zhen-Bei’s flag?”
“No.” Chu Beijie contemplated before saying, “It’s a nice change from the usual drama here. She is a phoenix and I am simply the worshipper.” He stood up, his cloak fluttering, “Well, I’m going to show my adoration now.”
Pingting couldn’t sleep that evening either. She wondered if ‘Dong Dingnan’ would come the next day as she had sent his messenger away in disgrace.
If he did come, she’d first calm his anger, then… naturally ask about the House of Jing-An obviously….she sighed.Her eyes flickered from side to side, feeling anxious. Thinking about the possible but very likely conversation tomorrow with a man whose origins were unknown, yet was actively pursuing her, and she couldn’t help but worry.
Active pursuing was fineas she, Bai Pingting, despite wasn’t considered pretty, in the Jing-An Ducal Residence, she had had quite a lot of admirers. But this man was so domineering and good at psychological scheming, yet didn’t seem cunning at all. Everything about him just felt natural, not in an unpleasant way.
“Pingting, what are you thinking?” she asked herself, facing the window.
Outside, the moonlight was scattered all over the ground. She put on some clothes and went outside to admire the full moon.
Hua Residence’s replica of fountain in the daylight usually looked old fashioned but at night, it was rather soothing to look at. The residence was completely silent, even the insects were quiet. Looking up, Pingting could not help but stare at the moon. Out of the corner of her eye she saw a flash.
A tall figure was perched on the wall, causing Pingting to jump back.
Pingting was just about to yell for help when the figure flew, like it had grown wings, at her. She couldn’t even manage to open her mouth before a big hand clamped around her mouth and nose. The smell of an ordinary man flooded into her nostrils.
“Don’t speak,” the man commanded.
Pingting’s eyes twitched in surprise. It’s him?
Chu Beijie loosened his grip and quietly whispered in her ear, “Are you Lady Hua’s maid? I, Dong Dingnan, mean no harm. When I let you go, don’t you dare call for help, alright?” He patted the sword at his waist, his words were polite, while his tone was friendly.
Pingting nodded and Chu Beijie could see an intelligent spark in her eyes, and he completely let go of her while chuckling quietly.
His eyebrows were dark, his eyes were bright, his nose was high and there was always a trace of a smile on his lips. It was the first time she had ever seen him up close, and as she remembered her previous memories of him, and she smiled back.
Chu Beijie had always been cherished and praised by the maids in his residence, so he took no notice of Pingting’s observations. Instead he asked, “Is the Lady asleep?”
Pingting was worried he would recognised her voice so she simply nodded.
Chu Beijie thought, before heading to war, one must explore his enemy. This maid must always be around the Lady, so she must know what she likes. Having this in mind, he asked, “Your Lady likes to play the qin, but do you know where she learned how to play like that?”
Pingting pointed at the throat and open her mouth twice.
Chu Beijie instantly understood, “You can’t speak.” He got up and walked right up to Lady Hua’s door, paused and listened. Then he just stood there.
What is this person doing? Pingting was fairly worried and refused to leave Chu Beijie side.
She wanted to ask about her Master, but now she was a maid and a mute, so she couldn’t afford to be anxious and ask questions.
Chu Beijie saw the worry in her eyes and thought that she had misunderstood his real intentions. “Don’t worry, I won’t disturb your Lady. I am merely sitting a vigil for my beloved phoenix.”
Pingting was stunned as she recalled the Dong Lin tradition. A man would stand outside his lover’s door and sit vigil for three nights. They were supposed to protect the person they liked and this usually took place three days before marriage. This ‘Dong Dingnan’ was brave in a way, to sit vigil for a girl who was not yet engaged to him.
Her heart felt hollow because she was still lying to him. Pingting’s eyes dropped, I don’t have any choice. If he finds out who I am or that I’m part of the Jing-An Ducal Residence, he will put me into jail, immediately.
“You can go back to sleep.”
Pingting looked at him, remaining there wasn’t right but leaving him was rather awkward. If he finds out that the ‘Lady Hua’ he has been talking to was not the real one, then….
“Go, go back to sleep. This is a Dong Lin man’s problem.” Chu Beijie had decided to do this to earn the Lady’s trust.
Pingting couldn’t say anything against that, and went back to her room, head drooping.
Can I even fall asleep? She turned four or five times on her bed, telling herself, I didn’t ask him to sit vigil, so it’s not my problem right? But after a while, she felt really mean again.
She couldn’t help quietly getting up again. She peeked out of the window.
Chu Beijie was still standing where Pingting had last seen him and he was staring off into the sky. He was tall and imposing. The dusky moonlight was evenly scattered on him, like a soldier of heaven had descended.
Pingting studied his aquiline noise, like a carver paying attention to the finest details. Chu Beijie suddenly moved and she ducked down, like a frightened rabbit. She was blushing.
She pressed her hand on her chest. It felt like her heart wasn’t there anymore.
Why aren’t you sitting down and having a rest?
Are you stupid, why do you have to be so serious about a vigil? It is not like there is anyone coming to check on whether you’re standing or not, right?
Pingting hoped that the morning would come soon, then he would be able to get some rest too and she wouldn’t have to worry about him anymore.
The sky finally became a grey-white, and Pingting hurried to the door.
But before she had actually gone outside her legs felt like jelly and she collapsed.
He hadn’t slept for the whole night and she had watched him for the entire night too.
“Aren’t we crazy?” Pingting laughed awkwardly at herself. She steadied herself before opening the door to greet Chu Beijie.
Chu Beijie had stood for several hours, yet he did not appear to be tired. He had heard her footsteps and he saw yesterday’s mute maid approach him.
“You woke up early today, is that because you have to help wash your lady?”
Chu Beijie wasn’t planning to talk to her, but when he saw her, he had a pleasantly warm feeling. He had seen many girls before, but none of them had the same golden aura, not to mention a maid having one. Their eyes accidentally met.
Her pupils shone like black crystals.
Her pupils could talk. At first glance, the light looked like a stream running into the blackness of her eyes, but the more he looked at them, the deeper they felt. Her eyes were hiding a thousand words.
Chu Beijie couldn’t help saying, “Your Lady must like you as you have extraordinary eyes.”
Pingting smiled slightly in reply and Chu Beijie added, “To have such a maid, one can imagine what the Lady is like.”
Pingting felt like she had been slapped. Her expression didn’t change even when she went into Lady Hua’s room.
Lady Hua only just woke at the sound of Pingting’s footsteps.
Pingting was quiet throughout the usual routines of washing.
“What’s wrong with you today?” queried Lady Hua.
“Nothing much.” Pingting debated whether to tell Lady Hua about ‘Dong Dingnan’ but she chose not to as Lady Hua was bound to mock her.
She was still very worried about her Master, but she was more afraid of people uncovering her identity if she were to ask too much. This pressure in her chest was unbearable enough, so of course she didn’t want Lady Hua to laugh at her.
Let that guy stand. He can stand all he wants.
Lady Hua and Pingting finally managed to get out of the bedroom when Pingting came out. Chu Beijie was nowhere in sight.
“What are you looking at? Has the courtyard suddenly become prettier?”
Pingting looked again but Chu Beijie really wasn’t there. She thought that the next day he would personally tell the Lady that he sat vigil for her all night. She hadn’t thought that he would quietly leave when Lady Hua woke up.
Lady Hua pushed her from behind, “Let’s go. The florist agreed to give me two bundles of purple peonies, let’s go to the front courtyard to see if they have arrived or not.”
Pingting was still thinking deeply, about halfway there she suddenly exclaimed, “Ai-yaa!”
Lady Hua jumped back, “What?”
If Chu Beijie happened to stay in the morning, if the Lady and I happen to run into him, wouldn’t our covers be blown? It’s fine to let him know that I’m just a maid, but how do I explain my interest in Master’s news? Pingting broke into a cold sweat, what was wrong with me last night? These things didn’t even occur to me, I just stupidly watched that guy stand all night!
But whenever she thought of Chu Beijie and that night, she felt unexpectedly happy.
- Fake mountain (05): Large decorative objects often found in large residences. They usually aren’t safe to climb…
- Glowing pearl (05): This is a legendary pearl that glows. There other names, such as “luminous pearl” and “pearl that glows in the night.” It’s often depicted to be green though probably not in this case