Gu Fang Bu Zi Shang Vol01 Ch07
Hong, her name was Hong. This name wasn’t as interesting as the person herself. Chu Beijie had just gained another common maid but he felt much more excited than usual for some reason. It was like he’d come across a ‘once-in-a-lifetime’ preciousness, or a deliciously exotic cuisine and couldn’t wait to taste it, but at the same time, couldn’t bear to ruin it.
The new maid, Hong, had lied to the Duke of Zhen-Bei, had been caught by him and was now locked in a small room of his Ducal Residence, away from everyone else.
Chu Beijie wanted to see her, but for some reason he kept on stopping himself.
He wasn’t a god, so of course he was angry. Several times he had woken up in the middle of the night, grinding his teeth and fists clenched, thinking that he, a Duke, got all messed up by a maid and ended up standing in front of another woman’s door. His pride as a man was absolutely torn into shreds. He wanted to torture that damned girl, throw her into jail, leave her in the forest to the wolves and then throw her off a cliff.
“Here! What does Duke need?”
Chu Moran appeared at the doorway but Chu Beijie had suddenly calmed down again.
No, he couldn’t let her die so easily. That girl should stay in his residence for her whole lifetime, to repent for her crimes. He’d sometimes go to tease her, and make her cry.
The next day, Pingting got sick, just when Chu Beijie had planned to taunt her.
“Sick?” Chu Beijie’s eyes flickered towards Chu Moran and he coldly laughed, “Is this another one of her deceptions, ‘soldiers know fraud’?”
“The doctor has already seen her. She is seriously sick.” Chu Moran replied, his voice grave.
Chu Beijie’s eyes flashed, “What does she have?”
“Long-term symptoms, continuous coughing and drowsiness.”
Chu Beijie thought of that night when Pingting had also been sick, and he had personally carried her into her room. He remembered those energetic eyes slowly close and how under the moonlight, he had truly thought she was a real beauty.
“Duke…are you going to see her?”
A sharp gaze turned to Chu Moran, forcing him to take a step back. He lowered his head and hurriedly said, “I-I-I just thought…maybe…”
Chu Beijie looked away and sat back at the desk, grabbed an official document and carefully read it. Then in a hesitant voice, he asked “Which doctor did you hire?”
“She’s just a maid, no need to provide her a famous doctor.”
Chu Moran had hardly ever been criticised by his Master and he paled, “Okay, I’ll change it immediately…”
“No need,” Chu Beijie picked up a pen, flamboyantly wrote two lines of approval on the document. He seemed to have calmed down a little, “He’s already been hired, so don’t bother anymore.”
“Is she taking her medicine?”
“We’ve already bought the items on Chen Guanzhi’s prescription and it’s currently being boiled.”
Chu Beijie scowled, “She rebelled against me and yet she still gets a famous doctor and boiled medicine. Nice timing to get sick. Unfortunately for her, I’m a warrior from the blood-stained deserts, not a naive boy from flowery plains. When she gets better, tell her to stop playing her games in my residence.”
Chu Moran could sense his master’s wrath and he remained as quiet as possible, nodding, “Yes.”
He was about to leave when Chu Beijie looked up from his documents again, as if he had another thought. “The King gave me two boxes of Yumei Tianxiang pills. Since we don’t have any high-ranking females in this residence, I thought they’d go to waste. Now that we have an ailed woman here, we can give those to her.”
Pingting really was sick. Although she was naturally healthy, she had never quite recovered from the cold she had from the last outing, which had been followed by a series of numerous incidents. Her strength was steadily leaving her body. During the last short conversation she had with Chu Beijie, her clothes were almost soaked in sweat and she could barely stand anymore.
Chu Moran was in charge of looking after Pingting. Unable to guess his Master’s true intentions, he didn’t dare to act too nice or too mean to her. After a long while of considering, he finally put her in a small building in a secluded part of the Ducal Residence.
Every day, Chu Moran would report Pingting’s health. “Miss Hong was rather drowsy today.”
“Miss Hong had some porridge.”
“Miss Hong coughed a little less last night, but she had a high fever this morning.”
Chu Beijie didn’t say anything and pretended not to hear.
On the fifth day however, Chu Beijie felt rather edgy. When he heard Chu Moran say “Miss Hong coughed again today…” he suddenly turned furious. “Cough!Cough! Cough! Why is she still coughing? Haven’t you already given her the Yumei Tianxiang Pills? That Chen Guanzhi is also to blame…he can’t even cure a girl.”
Chu Moran left and the next day, he was keen not to make the same mistake as yesterday, “Her coughing has gotten a lot better. She should be able to get up soon.”
“And when is that?”
Chu Moran hadn’t expected his Master to answer, nevertheless to even ask a question. “Maybe… around ten days,” he said uncertainly, as how was he supposed to know?
Chu Beijie harrumphed once, not acknowledging or denying his statement.
By the tenth day, before Chu Moran could begin his daily report, Chu Beijie stood up and declared, “Let’s go and visit her to see whether her ‘desperate measure’ has come to an end.” He briskly strolled out of the office, and headed to the room Pingting was living in.
The building had a little courtyard outside it and small, unknown red flowers were planted there.
Chu Beijie briskly walked right up to the door but suddenly paused and moved towards the window. He heard a conversation, one of the voices very familiar.
“Way more.” A soft, gentle voice, with a hint of humour. “For example, when making bone soup, cut the bone in parallel, horizontally, revealing a line of marrow. Don’t break it and bind it with chestnut, or you’ll lose its unique flavour. Mix rhodiola, cynomorium, powdered lemongrass roots, fry the mixture and put it into the soup. Add the bones and wait for it to be half-cooked before adding fresh lotus roots and carrot. After that, close the lid and boil lightly until fully cooked.”
“Strange, I’ve been working in the kitchens for many years, but I’ve never heard of such a recipe. Wow, I’m hungry just by listening to that.”
Chu Beijie continued listening for a while. They were all top cooking techniques, despite most of them hadn’t been heard of.
Pingting felt a little better and somehow she had started a discussion about cuisine with Mother Zhang, who had been bringing her medicine ever since she was sick. Her passion was back and she gave away some of her food preparation techniques. Neither of them had heard Chu Beijie outside, so when Mother Zhang looked up and saw him, she broke into a cold sweat.
“Ah! Duke…” Mother Zhang jumped up and managed a wobbly bow.
Chu Beijie didn’t even look at Mother Zhang, his eyes were fixed on Pingting’s cheek, which still hadn’t returned to its usual pinkish radiance.
Mother Zhang nervously excused herself, “I…should be getting back to the kitchen.” She hurriedly picked up the medicine bowls and backed away, nearly tripping over.
The room was even quieter, now that one had left, and it seemed an empty sort of coldness. Chu Beijie’s handsome chiselled features were expressionless and he had the same temperature as a winter day.
Pingting met his eyes, but she quickly lowered them when she felt her heart thump madly.
“Duke is here?” she slowly began to get herself out of bed, managing a slight bow, “I wish Duke good health.”
Chu Beijie narrowed his eyes, clasped his hands at his chest and used a posh voice, which most royalties used. “I heard you were sick?”
Pingting had originally thought that when she was sick, Chu Beijie would visit her because he’d remember their previous times with each other and be nice to her. Then she’d ask about her master and escape. But she’d been sick for ten days, and there’d been no news of Chu Beijie. She told herself it was only natural, but deep down in her heart, it ached bitterly.
He continued in a mocking kind of question,“You’re not beautiful and without the blinds, you can’t play this seduction game, so you’ve swapped to the desperate measure game?”
Seeing Chu Beijie had made her feel happier, but hearing his cold words made her feel completely upset. She mumbled to herself, “I AM sick”.
At that moment, all the pain in her heart from the events that had happened since the separation from her Master, seemed to overwhelm her. Two shiny, transparent tears trickled down her cheek.
Chu Beijie didn’t hear the reply to his question and was about to yell at her when he saw her shoulders quivered. Bending down, he saw two reddish eyes and a tear-stained face. The person in question had become a crying mess, ever so quietly.
“What are you crying for?” He frowned, “Shut up.”
She didn’t want to cry in front of the Duke of Zhen-Bei or infuriate him, so she bit her lip hard.
Chu Beijie watched her. He then grabbed her shoulders, helped her up and said “Don’t bite your lips. You may cry now.”
Pingting’s wet eyes flickered towards Chu Beijie, her head not moving, refusing to let go of her lip.
Chu Beijie didn’t like being disobeyed. He grabbed her chin, forcing her to look at him. “If you cry, I’ll kill the people of Hua Residence.”
Pingting looked at Chu Beijie’s eyes, they were serious. What is Hua Residence to him anyway?
When she finally let go of her lips, there was a slight dent on them. She quickly dried her tears and made anunyielding face as she raised her eyes towards Chu Beijie, not wavering even one bit.
What she didn’t know was that expression made Chu Beijie’s heart skip a beat.
“I’ve seen a lot of women cry. It’s utterly useless.” His words were very close to Pingting’s ear and her hammering heart threatened to jump out of her chest.
“Sit here,” he said breezily, pulling her into his arms.
“Don’t move, or else you’ll fall” An unusual powdered scent filled his nostrils. Letting his hand brush across Pingting’s face intimately, he asked, “Hey, what powdered scent are you using?”
Pingting was both nervous and embarrassed, for Chu Beijie’s smell and heat were clouding her thoughts. She thrashed about weakly, trying to push the mountain-like body away, half wanting it, but half rejecting it. After a while, she gave in and started to relax but stillwith a roll of her eyes; accepting herself to suffer in Chu Beijie’s arms.
“Does it smell nice?” She deliberately softened her voice, her tone like the women at brothels.
She was good at it, for Chu Beijie felt himself stiffen.
She smiled even more sweetly and looked right into his eyes, “You are a well-educated man so I’m sure you’ve heard of Sifang grass right?”
Chu Beijie’s eyes were like lasers, wanting to pierce through Pingting’s cheek.
“Sifang grass is an extreme poison, the leaves appear in four colours and its scent is rather sweet.” Pingting replied, “I rebelled against the Duke, meaning my life will be a living hell, so I might as well just end it all by dying.”
She’s just a maid, where could she get such a poisonous plant? Chu Beijie didn’t believe her at all, but seeing her cute eyes made him hesitate slightly. “Since it’s such a rare poison, I must try it.” He squeezed Pingting’s shoulder, locking her in his arms more tightly and slowly raised her lips towards him.
She could feel his breath against her cheek.
Pingting, although pampered at her residences, had never experienced this kind of situation before. As the man approached her, she was suddenly at a loss. Despite her confusion, she managed to shout, “Moran! Hurry up and tell the King that the Duke of Zhen-Bei kissed me!”
Chu Beijie was confused.
They heard a crash outside. Chu Moran had really been outside and had heard everything. He had knocked over a flowerpot in surprise when Pingting started to yell for him.
“Go tell the King, that His Majesty and the Queen won the bet! The Duke of Zhen-Bei really kissed me!”
It was all too sudden and Chu Beijie thought he had fallen into a trap of some sort. Pingting took this opportunity to kick free with all her remaining strength, roll away and now she was sitting at the opposite end of the bed, hugging her knees protectively while glaring at him.
As she rolled away, Chu Beijie narrowed his eyes, realising that he’d fallen for her trap. “You tricked me,” he said in a dangerous voice.
“Beautiful women come flocking to Duke at the wave of your hand, why does Duke want a lowly maid like me?”
“I can choose any woman I want, so why can’t I choose a maid from my very own residence?” Chu Beijie smiled angelically and pointed beside him, “Come here.”
Pingting was really scared, and even now she refused to budge. However amidsther pale stricken self, she managed to stifle a laugh, “It’s easy to have Hong, but Duke will have to bet with me first. If Duke wins, Hong is willing to do anything Duke wants.” She had often made bets with her Master and she already knew what she would bet on in a split second.
“Bet?” Chu Beijie pretended to think deeply for a moment, then laughed heartily, “We don’t need to bet on anything as you’re mine already, aren’t you?” Pingting fell silent, clearly unimpressed. Surprisingly, Chu Beijie added, “But I don’t want you now. Get better first.” He gave her a meaningful look and quickly left the little room.
This time, Pingting was the one who was confused.
After a while, when his back view had disappeared, she came back to her senses. “Geez, such a difficult person to deal with. He uses his retreats to advance further, playing hard to get. Girls’ feelings just dance in the palm of his hand.” Despite her dark thoughts, she suddenly blushed a bright red as she gazed upon the setting sun outside her window.
- Desperate measure: When there’s nothing you can do but hurt yourself, to earn other people’s sympathy, in order to get what you want.