Beloved at the door - 2
Chapter 2 – Xinlan Cosmetics Shop
“Hey, get out of the way!”
Suddenly, a fierce shout made her turned her head around and she saw a carriage speeding rapidly towards her. The people on the street ran helter-skelter in fear and the hawker stalls that could not avoid the carriage were all knocked over.
She knotted her eyebrows. The Daxing Dynasty had ordered that unless there is a military emergency warrant, no one is allowed to ride a horse on the street and run into the people. But occasionally, there would be some arrogant youngsters who paid no heed to the rules and arrogantly rode through the market.
Although the people on the street were running all over the place, she remained standing where she was without showing panic or fear. It was until the carriage was almost running into her that she decided to dodge but before she could do so, someone suddenly pulled her arm and dragged her to the side of the street.
It happened so suddenly that she staggered on her feet, nearly falling to the ground. To keep her balance, she subconsciously grabbed the other person’s arm.
“Is Miss alright?” A male voice floated over, cold and clear.
A feeling of anger rose in her heart.
Which part of her is not alright? Initially, she had planned to dodge but who is the busybody who suddenly dragged her and caused her to stand unsteadily?
After steadying herself, she raised her eyes to look at the person who was holding her and could not help but be taken aback.
A cold and handsome young man with slanted eyebrows and sharp eyes stood in front of her. Although he had the bearing of a scholar, he also exuded prestige and courage.
However, what made her startled was not his handsome looks but the fact that she recognized this face. After a glance, she lowered her head.
“I’m fine, thank you for Gongzi’s help.” After speaking, she turned around to leave.
She kept on walking and pretended not to hear.
“Miss, you’ve dropped your money bag!”
She stopped and touched her waist subconsciously, then felt something did not seem right………
She doesn’t carry a money bag!……… Aiya!…..Damn!
Just because of this moment of hesitation, he had already caught up with her.
“Miss……..” The voice sounded very clear behind her and if she continues to pretend not to hear him, it would be too fake.
She turned around and asked blankly. “Is Gongzi calling me?”
“Miss looks a bit familiar. Have we met somewhere before?” The cold and handsome Gongzi stared at her and his gaze became sharper.
“I never venture out the main door nor cross over the threshold of the side door*. Gongzi must be mistaken.” She replied shyly.
(Never venture out the main door nor cross over the threshold of the side door – In ancient times, women especially unmarried girls were forbidden to venture out of the house. Even if they did, they had to be accompanied by someone.)
“Really?” The cold and handsome Gongzi stared at her with a gaze that was extremely bright and focused.
“Gongzi, it is improper to stare at others like this. Please respect yourself.” While gripping the front of her dress tightly, she had a look that said – ‘what do you intend to do?’.
Di Jing came back to his senses and realized that it was indeed wrong of him to stare at a lady like this.
“I was mistaken and had recognized the wrong person. It was impolite of me.” He withdrew his gaze and felt disappointed. He had noticed a familiar back view and thought it was her and at the same time, a carriage was rushing towards her. In a moment of anxiety, he rushed over without thinking and pulled her aside.
After seeing her face clearly, he was startled again…….it is not her, but it did give him a déjà vu feeling. When he saw the other person’s fearful appearance, the déjà vu feeling disappeared again.
He turned around to leave but this time, she called out to him.
He stopped and looked back at her.
“My money bag…….” She stretched out her hand towards him.
His face stiffened and stared at her again. Just now when he called out to her that she had dropped her money bag…….it was just a lie.
Now she is actually asking him for it? Is she doing this on purpose?
Looking at her serious look, it did not seem as though she was pretending and the two people were locked in a stalemate for a while. In the end, without saying a word, he took off his money bag and put it into her hand. Then he left without looking back.
Shangguan Yan was stupefied. He really gave her a money bag? It was only in a moment of mischief that she asked him for the money bag since he said she had dropped it. She was just curious and wanted to see how he could produce it but did not expect he would really give her one!
She tossed the money bag in her hand to judge the weight…….weird, there seems to be a lot of silver taels inside.
She has seen people who are petty as well as generous ones but has never seen anyone like him who insisted on giving away his money bag to stay true to his lies.
“Ha…….” She chuckled lightly and watched as the man disappeared into the crowd.
She had recognized him. Di Jing…….she did not expect to see him again but fortunately, he did not recognize her.
To work as a constable, it was inevitable for enemies to take revenge, so Shangguan Yan never gave others the opportunity to seek revenge.
Now, suddenly meeting him, she reminisced the past.
It was two years ago that they first met and at that time, she had pockmarks on her face. It was vastly different from her current appearance and moreover, she had used a fake name and a fake identity at that time. At best, he would only feel she looks familiar but it was impossible to recognize her.
As for how she met him, of course, it was an unpleasant experience. She did not need to have anything to do with this person anymore. To her, today’s encounter was only just a coincidence and nothing more.
She walked past her Xinlan Cosmetics Shop and entered through a small door at the side. When the employees saw her coming in, they immediately greeted her.
“Where is Xi Lang?”
“Shopkeeper, wait for a while. I’ll go and inform Xi Lang.”
Xi Lang is her employee holding the highest position in the shop and he is responsible for managing the cosmetics shop.
Not long after, Xi Lang arrived.
Unlike Cui Lang’s handsome appearance, Xi Lang has a more delicate look which is typical of a southern man. He has peach-blossom eyes and dimples will appear whenever he smiles and is very popular with the ladies.
“This subordinate greets Young Miss.”
“Are there any new arrivals?”
Xi Lang immediately ordered for the new products to be presented. Although this rouge and powder shop sells cosmetics, in private, this shop is used exclusively to deliver news for Shangguan Yan.
The new products were delivered this morning. Shangguan Yan opened the hidden compartment under a finely carved powder box to reveal a bottom layer with a letter hidden inside.
After reading the letter, Shangguan Yan raised her eyebrows and said. “Lord Tian’s heart disease relapsed and died?”
Xi Lang took the letter from Shangguan Yan and after reading it quickly, he said. “The Lord Magistrate does not have a heart disease, so how is it possible for him to die suddenly?”
The Lord Tian they were discussing was the County Magistrate of Jinhe County.
Jinhe County is located in the southeast of the imperial capital and although the position of a County Magistrate is not considered high, the county is a good place. This place is located far from the imperial capital and beyond the surveillance of the imperial court. As the County Magistrate in such a small place, one can act like a tyrant and dominate the locals. Many people offered bribes and fought tooth and nail just to get this position as the County Magistrate.
The reason Shangguan Yan had focused her attention on this Lord Tian was based on her instinct as a constable for many years. This Lord Tian was originally a low-ranking military officer who was over the age of forty years. He had a few beautiful wives in the family and with a glance, it could be seen he was a greedy man. The reason Shangguan Yan focused on him was mainly to get hold of evidence.
“Go and ask the beggars in Jinhe County……after Lord Tian died, did anyone disappear or leave on a long journey?”
After opening another powder box, Shangguan Yan read another hidden letter and her eyes brightened up.
“A prisoner of the imperial court had escaped? The reward is ten thousand taels. Not to mention the normal constables and secret constables in the various provinces and cities, I’m afraid that even the people of Jianghu will want to get a share of the reward.”
“Young Miss intends to do this?”
Shangguan Yan shook her head. “It’s such a big case, how will we get the chance to do it? There are also the Four Great Constables and this case is too eye-catching. Let’s go for those cases which are not eye-catching to avoid fighting with others.”
“Alright.” Xi Lang responded with a smile.
He is one of Shangguan Yan’s capable subordinates who is responsible for managing the cosmetics shop. From the imperial concubines and nobles ladies to the precious daughters of the wealthy families, every one of them was their customer.
Xi Lang is liked by the ladies and he often acted as their interpreter. He would listen to the ladies’ thoughts and after listening, he would always manage to find out some secrets regarding the rear courtyards that were not known to outsiders. He would then sort out the useful news and report to Young Miss.
After Shangguan Yan had read the other news, she ordered Xi Lang. “Help me to send these new rouge products to the three sisters.” Sending the new products over meant sending news over as well.
“Yes.” Xi Lang smiled slightly and left as ordered.
When Shangguan Yan left the cosmetics shop, she had already changed out of her female clothing. After putting on a set of water-blue colored robe and waving a folding fan in her hand, she had transformed into a handsome Gongzi.
She was a little taller than an average woman and her figure was well-proportioned. Once she is disguised as a man, her movements and habits will also change and her mannerism exudes elegance.
As she walked on the street, the ladies secretly sneaked glances at her and when she smiled back at them, the ladies immediately blushed.
She opened the folding fan unhurriedly and waved it gently. Along the way, it was unknown how many hearts she fluttered, and when she reached the next street, she looked at the door of Fumen Inn.
Is she going to stay in the inn? Of course not! She is just here to visit the inn that she runs.
As soon as she went near, she saw a group of people crowded at the entrance of her inn.
Did something happen?
She knitted her eyebrows and hastened her footsteps. When she reached the rear of the crowd, she randomly asked a middle-aged woman.
“This Auntie, what is happening?”
“There’s a quarrel.”
Just quarreling? Not fighting? Why are the people so excited?
What is so good about watching a quarrel?
The woman said. “No, it’s not nice to watch a quarrel but when there are two handsome Gongzi quarreling with each other then it’s good.”
Shangguan Yan lifted her eyebrows and nodded. “Auntie is right.”
When the auntie was talking to Shangguan Yan, the auntie’s eyes were still staring in front but when she turned around to look at Shangguan Yan, her eyes instantly shone.
“Yo, this little brother is so handsome!”
When the auntie stared at her and teased her, she was not bothered and even smiled.
“Auntie, dare I ask…….are the two Gongzi inside more handsome than this little brother?”
It is not that Shangguan Yan is being boastful but she does think she is very good-looking as a man. Although she cannot be considered as the number one male beauty, she is at least above average.
The auntie chuckled, looked at her without any courtesy, and made a very pertinent remark.
“Little brother is very handsome but the two Gongzi inside are more charming.”
Shangguan Yan was unconvinced. Are they better looking than her? She wanted to see how they looked like and so she squeezed her way forward.
“I’m sorry, please let me through…….please let me through………”