The Noble Woman’s Guide On How to Tease One’s Husband – Chapter 69
Translated by: Oinkoink
Proofread by: SilkScreen
Chapter 69 – Encounter
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With lanterns hung on trees while snow-covered willows suspended above the bright bridge, the few main streets in the central Wangdu were brightly lit on Lantern Festival merely due to the annual lantern carnival that was held today.
[T/N: 元宵节 (Yuánxiāo jié) – 15th day of the 1st lunar month]
In the past, Ye Huaiyang was not fond of going out to join this kind of excitement but seeing Ye Huailing go out happily with Pei Yuanshu this year, there was an indescribable restless desire in her heart. After careful reckoning, the number of times she went out to play with Chu Jinglan was simply miserably not many. Except for watching the shadow play in Liuyue City once, she couldn’t find any others and she unavoidably felt a little upset at the moment.
While staring blankly with her chin propped up, an arm reached over and swept her into a strong embrace.
“Want to go view and admire the lanterns?”
Lifting her eyes abruptly, Ye Huaiyang noticed Chu Jinglan looking at her with his eyebrows slightly raised while his eyes carried a faint enchanting warmth, like the spring breeze brushing over her heart. She hesitated without response for a long while.
Chu Jinglan teased her again, “Just go if you want to. Why hesitate? This isn’t your style at all.”
“Knowing why and you still ask!” Ye Huaiyang could not help uttering her annoyance. Her black jade-like pupils stared widely at him, “If we are to go out together, wouldn’t the rumor of husband and wife being at odds be broken?”
Chu Jinglan smiled and wrapped her soft tender hand in his palms. The tactile impression of his sturdy warm touch embodied an inexhaustible strength seemingly settling all her restlessness and made her feel extremely relieved.
“What’s the problem with that? It’s not like you haven’t done this before. Just do it again.”
“How?” Ye Huaiyang’s face was full of doubts. Chu Jinglan uttered a few more words in her ears yet she was still not quite reassured after hearing that, “Will it work?”
Hooking his lips up, Chu Jinglan smiled faintly, “Whether it works or not, it will eventually depends on the superb skill of Yue’ya.”
At the end of youshi (5pm-7pm), the two of them went out the door side by side.
This time, Ye Huaiyang did not bring Yue’ya along merely because her clothing was very different from her usual style — a plain auspicious-cloud patterned gown with a cream-white cashmere cloak and a gray rolled-edge small felt hat, strikingly resembling a handsome young gentleman just like the last time she went to Jingzhou.
It turned out Chu Jinglan’s idea was having her disguised as a man.
Ye Huaiyang, at first, felt very much inappropriate. It was for the sake of hastening their journey that she toyed around casually at that time and it was fine, as long as superficially she looked passable but it’s different here in Wangdu where acquaintances were everywhere. No matter how carefully she wears a disguise, there’s still the possibility of being recognized by someone, hence, she does not want to take the risk.
However, after Yue’ya made the necessary arrangement for her and insisted on pushing her out, she was forced to wander around the courtyard but who knew not a single servant recognized her, so much so that none associated her with Ye Huaixin who shared her identical look. Only then was she confident and happily left the mansion with Chu Jinglan.
The two of them did not go far. They went straight to Ye family’s Tianque restaurant. Not to mention safety, its location is in the most extensive and longest Xuanwu street in Wangdu where its roof rises to the sky while overlooking the lantern carnival below. The view was simply splendid and there was no better choice than this.
Undoubtedly, there would unlikely be less people under these circumstances. Ye Huaiyang led Chu Jinglan through the internal passageway, avoiding the surging stream of people but when the shopkeeper saw them, he seemed somewhat wary.
What has King Lan unexpectedly come here for?
He murmured this in his heart and did not dare lose his deference. Respectfully, he bowed and said, “This subject pays respect to Wangye.”
“Forego the formality.”
Chu Jinglan faintly spoke out and incidentally glanced at Ye Huaiyang whose face was full of complacency, apparently feeling pleased because the shopkeeper did not recognize her. However, the shopkeeper was suffering miserably. Knowing perfectly well that Ye Huaili does not have a good relationship with Chu Jinglan, this venerated big Buddha still insisted on coming here. His job might not be preserved if the reception is good but if not, he will lose his humble life. It’s wrong no matter what he does. Thinking about this only caused him an incomparable headache.
Seeing that the shopkeeper wiped his sweat several times merely just a few steps up the stairs, Ye Huaiyang eventually couldn’t bear to torment him any longer. Taking off the felt hat, she spoke with a smile, “Why, don’t you recognize me?”
Stunned, the shopkeeper looked her up and down carefully for a long time before letting out a startled cry, “Mar~Matriarch?”
Ye Huaiyang hummed lightly. Taking Chu Jinglan’s hand in passing, she instructed as she walked away, “Get two people to serve on the top floor and no need to worry about the rest.”
“Yes!” The shopkeeper nodded repeatedly then gestured to the side. A quick-witted page boy immediately rushed downstairs to prepare the food while he continued to lead the way but who knew Ye Huaiyang suddenly stopped in her tracks.
“Why are there so few people on the fourth floor? Was it reserved?”
The shopkeeper bowed and said, “Responding to the Matriarch’s question, it’s Xie Miao, Huo Yulin and Xin Congjue, the young masters of the prominent families who were here to drink and enjoy the lanterns.”
Xie Miao? (Elder Brother of Xie Yun)
Ye Huaiyang raised her eyebrows suddenly. As a sharp light flashed through her eyes, she immediately spoke to the shopkeeper, “Go open the private room next to them and no need to send anyone to serve us. Come back up later when I call you.”
The shopkeeper did not know what she meant by this but he did not dare to ask more questions and immediately went to do it quietly.
This is, after all, her own family’s restaurant where all the subordinates are well-trained and very efficient. It did not take long after Chu Jinglan and Ye Huaiyang had entered the room that a series of duties like lighting the room, pouring tea and lighting up a fire were accomplished without making any sound or alerting the people in the next room. Ye Huaiyang was very satisfied, waving her hand and letting them retreat.
The two of them were the only ones left in the spacious room and it was somewhat strangely quiet.
All along Chu Jinglan did not ask what Ye Huaiyang was going to do and merely saw her sit down by the table then pick up a piece of warm shredded coconut milk cake and raise it to his mouth. He swallowed it slowly before reaching out to grab her into his arms and asked, “How did you know I like this?”
“Qu Gugu told me.” Ye Huaiyang licked the side of his mouth and smiled frivolously, “I like eating this too, especially those in King Uncle’s mouth.”
“Acting mysteriously for half a day just to loot for food here?” Chu Jinglan glanced askance at her with eyes clear as the lake, faintly reflecting her delicate face.
“Naturally not, when have I ever done anything pointless? Just wait …”
Halfway through her speech, a muffled voice came from next door. Pursing up her supple lips, Ye Huaiyang immediately walked over and removed the concave ebony shelf and a potted plant then reached out to rotate the round peg in the corner of the wall where a small hole appeared in front of them and the voice of someone talking over on the other side immediately became distinct.
“Hey, tonight’s lantern carnival was indeed not bad, particularly the procession of lanterns along the long street which were done so remarkably!”
“You only know to admire the lanterns!” The sound of heavy objects being stuck together reverberated, as if someone was punched twice, “I’m going to Jiangnan in two days. I asked you here to give me a send-off but you came to see the lanterns instead!”
Two more heavy punches and the person still seemed unhappy.
Hearing that, Ye Huaiyang laughed. These two persons were Huo Yulin and Xin Congjue, both of whom are officials in the royal court and their families are also eminent in Wangdu. They are substantially bound to the Xie family, as such they become close friends with Xie Miao. Among them, Huo Yulin is the one going to Jiangnan with the Di eldest brother of the Empress, Wang Feng while Xin Congjue is the one who often seems unconcerned, which made him so angry.
Chu Jinglan was quite acquainted with their relationships and there appeared to have doubts in those gorgeous eyes of his. Seeing that, Ye Huaiyang turned back to walk to his side and whispered, “Just listen some more.”
Not knowing what was up her sleeves, the dashing eyebrows of Chu Jinglan twitched as he dragged her to sit on his lap and said, “If you delay any longer, there will be no more lanterns to view later.”
“Critical business matters more.” Winking her eyes at him, Ye Huaiyang placed another half piece of coconut milk cake in her mouth then leaned closer to him, motioning for him to bite off the other half. Looking at her mischievous look, he had no choice but to comply. The few people in the next room spoke again once he bit the cake in his mouth.
“It’s useless to punch me, ah; I can’t take your place and go, really…”
Huo Yulin was rendered speechless with anger. Turning to face Xie Miao, he said, “Brother Miao, just look at him. There’s not the least bit of brotherhood and completely uncaring whether I will be crippled working under that brutally vile Wang Feng.”
“Okay, you guys stop fooling around.” Xie Miao looked at them with a solemn face while his voice was a little sullen, “Yulin, do everything according to the rules and regulations once you are there. Don’t let Wang Feng catch any of your mistakes then he won’t be able to do anything to you.”
Huo Yulin nodded slightly.
Xie Miao added, “As a matter of fact, I’m most worried about the common people of Jiangnan now. This decree is bound to cause the price of salt and iron to soar. By then, not sure how much chaos will be stirred up. Fortunately, there are a few shops left to me by my father. You bring my personal seal with you and help as much as you can…”
“There are also several hamlets under my name which actually can be used to purchase some salt and iron. Just buy some first then sell it to the common people at a low price when the time comes.” Xin Congjue no longer smiled instead sighed deeply, “I’m afraid these meager things won’t help them for too long. We can only do our best and go along with Heaven’s will.”
Huo Yulin snorted coldly, “What Heaven’s will, this is clearly man-made! Everything is alright now but they will only feel content after insisting in making the common people’s lives destitute! Those old fogeys are truly old and dare not even fart out. If I was there that night, I would certainly remonstrate with His Majesty at the risk of death just like King Lan, in hope of him retracting his order!”
“What place is this? Pay attention to what you say!” Xin Congjue’s expression changed slightly.
“What Yulin said is right but we are all merely marginal people who can’t meddle in the state affairs and could only assist those common people with our meager efforts.” Xie Miao echoed in a low voice then stood up again after a while, “It’s late now. I should go back. Yulin, I will send someone to deliver those things to you tomorrow and will have to trouble you to pass it to Steward Xie in Jiangnan.”
Cupping both his hands, Huo Yulin said, “Rest assured, Brother Miao. I’ll deliver it myself.”
There was the friction sound of clothes from the other side, which were likely made as those few people left one after another. Chu Jinglan and Ye Huaiyang sat there listening for a long time before resuming their normal volume of speech.
“This Xie Miao .. is still a righteous person.”
Raising the corners of his eyes slightly, Chu Jinglan voiced out, “You stayed here just to see what kind of person he is?”
“Sort of.” Tugging up the corners of her mouth before Ye Huaiyang threw out a huge explosive soon, “Xie Yun came to collaborate with me and I have to probe out her details. Both siblings have always been invisible in the Xie family and Tianqi restaurant couldn’t find out much details. Having the opportunity to eavesdrop now, I must seize it.”
“Xie Yun asked you to collaborate?” Chu Jinglan narrowed his eyes which brimmed with dangerous glints, “You are withholding from me again?”
Ye Huaiyang hurriedly waved her hands while revealing a flattering smile, “No, no. Lord Husband is so wise and insightful that I wouldn’t dare even if given ten thousand guts, ah. Aren’t I … hmm.. proactively confessing with leniency?
“Get to the point.” Chu Jinglan glared at her coldly and remained unmoved.
“Oh, she came to me that day and voluntarily revealed some information to me. She even said she will pay back Lu Heng’s debt and stand by him but I did not relent. When I dispatched someone to investigate her later, I vaguely felt something was amiss, which is why I wanted to start with her elder brother.” Ye Huaiyang paused and asked earnestly, “Jinglan, do you know Great Teacher Lu had once asked Xie Yuan to let Xie Yun go when he died?”
Chu Jinglan shook his head before realizing soon the profound meaning of Ye Huaiyang’s words and his eyes could not help darkening, “I will ask Lu Heng when we get back, he might know something.”
Nodding her head lightly, Ye Huaiyang dragged him up to the side of the window. There was still a stream of bright flickering lights and a queue of dragon-dance prancing up and down the long Xuanwu street. Towering pillars of flames jetted above and lanterns from the distant bridge soared into the sky while young men and young maidens met up with joined hands. At the end was an oval stage where the festival’s lantern’s riddles were hung up, which attracted successions of visitors to stop by and vie to guess.
“Great, the lantern carnival is not over yet!”
Ye Huaiyang actually did not feel disheartened for not being able to hold Chu Jinglan’s hand and strolled down the street openly with him nor did she need to touch those lanterns of various shapes to feel extremely happy, since she could just stand here with him and watch it from afar. Chu Jinglan looked at her beautiful smile as unceasing tides surged up in his heart when he reached his hands out and encircled her body.
There will inevitably be a day when he would give her the most beautiful lantern carnival.