The Noble Woman’s Guide On How to Tease One’s Husband – Chapter 40
Translated by: Oinkoink
Chapter 40 – Good Night
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Afterwards, they stayed until after dinner, which Ye Huaiyang did not expect. Although the atmosphere was inevitably a little serious with Chu Jinglan’s presence, she was already very content.
It was already late when they returned to the mansion, so they went to bed after washing up. He slept on the outer part of the bed while she slept inside with half a person’s width in between them. Ye Huaiyang would normally snuggle against Chu Jinglan for a while before falling asleep. Surprisingly today, she was unusually well-behaved. She remained within her boundary and fell asleep as soon as her head touched the pillow, probably exhausted from a full day of moving about.
It was quiet in the inner courtyard. The midnight moon was exposed by the sheer curtain of clouds, which superficially covered the newlywed couple.
There was still a trace of dry heat in the early autumn night. Without the complement of cool breeze, one would feel restless and would forcibly be woken up by the stuffiness. Ye Huaiyang was exactly woken this way, but she still couldn’t open her eyes until her mind gradually became sober from the profuse sweating. Her head nestled on the cold beddings for a long time, until it was warmed by her body temperature and she had no choice but to prop herself up.
Traces of sweat completely mottled the silky tea-white clothes under the shadow of the light.
While calming her restlessness, she raised her eyes and looked at Chu Jinglan. Laying flat on his back beside her, he was sleeping soundly. The contours of his facial features appeared extremely profound in the shadowy flickered candlelight. She wanted to reach out and touch him but was afraid of waking him up, so she sat on the side and watched him quietly. When her line of vision came upon his exposed chest, her mouth felt even more parched.
Not good, she really has to get a drink.
Ye Huaiyang crawled to the end of the bed and cautiously flipped over Chu Jinglan’s feet, ready to get out of bed. Who knew the brocade laid underneath was too slippery. When she wasn’t paying attention, she instantly lost her balance and rolled onto the ground. In the nick of time, a steady arm dragged her back from outside the bed where she stumbled and onto his chest that once again, fine sweat covered her back.
“Why are you foolishly tossing about and not sleeping in the middle of the night?”
Chu Jinglan opened his eyes slowly. His voice was still a little hoarse, he was obviously just woken up but his sudden reflex of grabbing Ye Huaiyang was incomparably accurate, which he unknowingly did. Her heart was beating rapidly. When she managed to curb it, her eyes gazed into a pair of bottomless black eyes as soon as she raised her head. In an instant, she was unable to move, as though her soul had been seduced and she could only silently swallow her saliva with a besotted face.
“What’s with that expression?”
Listening to her swallow, Chu Jinglan’s face turned green and couldn’t help chiding her. With a blushing face, she slowly slid off his body. Her soft chest inadvertently rubbed against his arm. The sensation from the sharp protrusions to a certain smoothness immediately turned his entire body stiff.
Damn it! She didn’t even wear any undergarments.
Ye Huaiyang seemed to notice his stiffness. Her eyes spun and the intention to tease sprung within her. So, she propped her arms up and tried to clamber over him again, but he noticed her intent and raised his big palm to hold her down his chest before scolding angrily, “Are you done yet?”
“I’m thirsty…” she pouted her pink lips with a pitiable look.
Chu Jinglan could feel her sweaty clothes, thus he lifted the gauze canopy to let her get down from the side of his body and said, “If you feel too hot, go sleep in Liu Shuang courtyard.”
Liu Shuang courtyard is well-ventilated from north to south and also situated close to Lake Qing, which was the coolest place in the mansion but Ye Huaiyang flatly rejected, “I don’t wanna.”
She then poured herself a cup of water. After drinking it, she went to the wardrobe to get another set of clean sleepwear and changed into it. After rustling for a long time, she finally returned to bed where she pushed Chu Jinglan and said, “How about letting me sleep on the outer side.”
According to the rule, a wife should sleep on the outer part of the bed for the convenience of attending to their husband having a drink or getting up at night. But after she accidentally tumbled off the bed on their first night sharing a bed, Chu Jinglan automatically slept on the outer side and they have never changed their position since. However, the spell of hot weather has yet to pass while she is the one who also dreaded heat, so what’s to be done if she wakes him up again like tonight? It would be better to switch their sleeping position so that he could at least have a peaceful sleep.
Ye Huaiyang reckoned that in her heart but Chu Jinglan didn’t say a word. His eyes were closed. Not knowing if he has fallen asleep as there was no movement at all. Having no choice, she clambered back into bed again and lied down against his arm out of habit. He woke up with a start and she immediately snuggled closer.
Thin lips opened lightly and a few low pitch words sounded from the top of her head, “What are you doing?”
“Husband’s body is cooler.” She buried her head and rubbed against him, feeling refreshed from inside out that her small face was completely content.
Chu Jinglan didn’t raise his hand to lift her away, allowing her to entangle him this way but the two softish mounds pushed against him actually pushed the last trace of his sleepiness away. He opened his eyes. With a slight inclination of his head, he met a pair of sparkling eyes that seemed to be looking at him for a long time.
“Just say what you have to say.” He faintly condensed his voice. His deep black pupils were still sharp and arresting in the dark night.
Ye Huaiyang didn’t beat around the bush and asked directly, “Did you already know Bai Zhixuan is dead?”
Chu Jinglan was silent for a moment, then simply spat out a word, “Yes.”
“Although Bai Xizhi can’t do anything about me, there will be no guarantee that a cornered dog won’t jump over a wall* once he learns of Bai Zhixuan’s death. In order to avoid trouble if this is prolonged, I want to create another juncture for Chu Sanghuai to quickly eradicate the Bai family.” Ye Huaiyang paused and raised her head to look at him, “It’s just that there is no good scheme for the time being.”
[T/N: a cornered dog will jump over a wall 狗急跳墙 ( Gǒujítiàoqiáng) – a desperate man would risk anything]
“If there is a good scheme, you would have acted already?”
Ye Huaiyang heard the mockery in his words. Instead of anger, she smiled and gently held his hand then interlocked his fingers with hers as she tenderly said, “How can that be? I would have to discuss it with my husband.”
Chu Jinglan remained aloof and indifferent.
“Is there any way?” Ye Huaiyang shook his hand in pursuit.
“There’s no need.” He lightly pulled the corner of his lips, revealing a gleam of stern arc, like the coldest days of winter where ice traverses through the long field. “Chu Sanghuai will not drag his feet since he has murderous intent. Bai Zhixuan is dead, so within a month the Bai family will surely perish. Just wait and see.”
“Really? Then I can sleep soundly.”
She giggled then picked up the thin quilt and placed it on her belly. Closing her eyes, she actually fell asleep just like what she said. Chu Jinglan didn’t say a word but stared at the intricately patterned bed ceiling in a trance. The thousand thoughts in his mind were like rising waves on a calm sea that almost poured over.
After Chu Sanghuai dealt with the Bai family, he would be next.
When he returned to Wangdu last year, the Bai family had chased and intercepted him along the journey. Although they seemed ferocious, they were eventually a typical example of having valor but lacking in strategy, which was not worthy to be feared. Chu Sanghuai now couldn’t constrain himself anymore and would personally take matters into his own hands. It would definitely be more than just sending assassins. There would be many perilous obstacles ahead that his life and death would be unpredictable. Yet she insisted on marrying him and could still sleep soundly. From now on, he would have to be on guard and be prepared.
Thinking of this, he was suddenly startled.
Why did he think this way? Did he unconsciously consider her a part of his life? With the forewarning from six years, he shouldn’t have trusted anyone.
Chu Jinglan turned his head and found that Ye Huaiyang had fallen asleep on his shoulder. Fine sweats were still on her smooth forehead yet she was soundly asleep, as if just by snuggling against him, all her discomfort would turn into sweet dreams that allowed her to sleep well through the night.
He pursed his lips, but in the end he didn’t pull out the hand that tightly clasped hers.
Time flew by and it was half a month later. At the royal court assembly on a certain day, someone from the Imperial Censor reported the corruption and bribe-taking of Bai Xizhi when he was the province governor, which caused harm to the local province. After hearing that, the Emperor had Bai Xizhi imprisoned on the spot and ordered a thorough investigation by the Board of Punishments. A sentence of beheading was meted out with the conclusive evidence of these crimes in less than ten days and ‘at the same time’ Bai Zhixuan was also sentenced to commit suicide by imperial order. All the men in the family were exiled for penal servitude and the women were demoted to become official slaves. The once flourishing Bai family dissipated like smoke under the Chu’s dominance.
This judgement, however, was divided into two endings. Once the Bai family’s power collapsed, the common people of Lingnan were cheering with firecrackers being set off for a long while but the one who benefitted the most was not them but King Qiyang who was from the neighboring region. Once Bai Xizhi was dead, he immediately surrounded several strategically important towns in silence, with the hidden stance of seizing land and the desire to become an emperor.
The Imperial Study room.
As soon as Yue Ting entered, he saw scattered mess everywhere. The desk was full of torn rice paper while ink splattered everywhere, porcelain and chalcedony were shattered in pieces that there was practically no place for one to set a foot in. The person who caused this was still in a state of shock and rage.
“That Deng Tianguan, really has the guts to train troops and seize land right under Our nose. He truly thought that We don’t dare to wield troops in Jingzhou!”
“Your Majesty, please calm down.”
Yue Ting held a jade tablet and bowed from afar. He then walked steadily through the pile of debris before he finally stood in front of the Emperor. He was slender, dressed in a dark blue court robe with an inconspicuous hollow ink jade embedded in his crown band. Despite being over fifty years old, he is still graceful and elegant. His every move has remarkable bearing.
[T/N: Jade tablet (玉笏 – Yù hù) – a tablet held before the chest by the officials when they are having an audience with the Emperor]
The Emperor turned to look at him, restraining his stern countenance, “Minister Yue came just in time. We wish to send troops to suppress King Qiyang. What’s your opinion?”
Yue Ting bowed deeply and said, “Your Majesty, there are no more than 30,000 men and horses in all the thirteen cities of Jingzhou. It will not do any good and they’re not worth fearing.”
“But he’s like a thorn in my heart! There’s no satisfaction if We don’t purge him out!”
Compared to the Emperor’s agitation, Yue Ting appears extremely calm and slowly advised him, “The treasury is currently empty and most of the defending troops of various regions have been sent to build canals and dragon boats, coupled with the impending winter thus, it’s not the best time to send troops to crush the rebels.”
His outspokenness filled the Emperor with anger that he raised his voice abruptly, “We still have 300,000 troops and horses guarding Wangdu!”
“You have forgotten that King Lan is in Wangdu at the moment. If he knew you were at war with King Qiyang, he would immediately have 100,000 strong cavalry from the northern border tread ice to head south. When that time comes that our troops are attacked from both front and rear, what should we do then?”
The Emperor’s complexion sank abruptly and indignation flitted in, seemingly unwilling to admit that he was being suppressed by Chu Jinglan but he had no choice to be realistic. There was a suffocating silence in the imperial study room, just then Yue Ting’s calm voice resounded again.
“Your Majesty, this official has a plan that may relieve Your Majesty’s immediate worries.”
Yue Ting straightened up slightly. His elegant and sophisticated face was full of schemes. “The Bai family has been annihilated and matters are still unsettled over in Lingnan. Why don’t you appoint King Lan there and use his name to appease the common people, but in reality it is to enter Jingzhou to quell the rebellion. Let him face the life-and-death battle with King Qiyang. No matter which side wins, it will effortlessly resolve a serious problem for Your Majesty. What does Your Majesty think?”
“This is a wonderful plan!” The Emperor readily agreed, and then narrowed his eyes again, “but what if those two collude with each other?”
Yue Ting has already considered this, a faint touch of certainty hanging between his eyebrows, as if he already had a well thought out plan.
“Your Majesty might as well send someone along to monitor King Lan. And if there is such a suspicion, immediately have him send the evidence back and wait to reveal it to the public. Wouldn’t this be a better way in dealing with King Lan’s treason?”
Hearing this, the Emperor’s gloomy expression finally cleared, but it turned even more terrifying with a grim smile that implied ruthlessness.
“Does Minister Yue have someone to recommend?”
Yue Ting pondered for a moment, “Reporting to Your Majesty, there are not many capable people around this official. Only two students might manage to do it. Ye Huaixin is still young thus, unable to bear this major task while Pei Yuanshu has great wisdom but often seems slow-witted but he can be used.”
Since he had brought it up, the Emperor also compared these two people in his heart. Based on their abilities, both were equally-matched. However, there was already a Ye Huaiyang who was inserted by the Queen Mother to be by Chu Jinglan’s side from the Ye family. Sending Ye Huaixin over would mean throwing all the chips into Ye family’s basket. This was not his style. Thinking of this, the Emperor made a drastic decision.
“Pei Yuanshu then.”
“This minister receives the command and will go back to warn him. This minister will withdraw for the time being.”
Yue Ting bowed. Then he immediately left the imperial study room. The hem of the dark blue robe swung along with his pace, like a strong sharp edge streaking across the long white jade steps heading towards the outer part of the Imperial City.