“It’s a pity we don’t get to see the princess compete.” Lan Xiang sighed.
After watching 3 continuous matches, Lan Xiang’s energy has subsided and was feeling somewhat bored. Sitting there leisurely drinking tea with Qiu He, Gu Lian squinted with a smile: “If you like it, you can make your own ball and play with Mei Xiang and the others.”
Gu Lian’s original world does not have polo but there was CuJu. It was just that this enjoyable activity was too tiring. Hence, people who like elegance do not enjoyed it and thus was not popular.
In an ancient era like this, whatever the higher class likes, the people of lower-class would follow suit. And if it were not for the previous emperors of Xi dynasty who liked polo, it might not have become popular.
“How to play without a horse?” Lan Xiang asked curiously.
“Polo is similar to CuJu, if you can’t play polo, you can just play CuJu.” It would be good for the girls to practice some movement. They probably were bored from practising basic skills and it was ideal to change their taste occasionally.
Qiu He did not interrupt. She simply listened to them quietly and reduces her existence to the minimum.
As expected, Lan Xiang had completely forgotten that there were outsiders here. She thanked Gu Lian meekly.
The outcome of the competition has been decided upon reaching noon. It was frustrating when the women’s team lost to the third prince’s team. Fortunately, the princess not only did not blame them, she even praised them.
After dismissing her subordinates, Qiao MingYu opened the curtain and came in.
“Ah Lian, I have ordered some dishes at HuiXiang restaurant, so let’s head over there at noon.”
Naturally, Gu Lian did not disagree. She has heard that HuiXiang(1) restaurant was expensive but the food tastes very good. What was more interesting was how the restaurant was built. A smaller building enwrapped in the bigger building and they were connected together by a suspended wooden bridge, making the structure looks peculiar. There would be a zither player playing the instrument in the inner courtyard. The music reverberates in the inner building forming a stunning sound effect, hence the name HuiXiang restaurant.
(1)回响 HuiXiang: Echo
The price in the outer building was much lower. when compared to the inner building, the sound effect outside had been greatly reduced and could not be heard clearly. Yet it was still quite interesting as it was not an affordable place for ordinary people.
Lan Xiang tread closely behind Gu Lian. The layout of the building was quite complicated as the cloister and the private rooms were the exact same. If one does not pay attention, they would enter the room. Hence, people who have a bad sense of direction would get lost easily.
Qiu He led the group into the princess’s exclusive room.
In addition to Gu Lian, princess and Qiu He, there was also left guard’s commander who was an unattractive man. As men and women do not sit together, he sat alone in the corner.
Gu Lian’s gaze swept the room. The other guards did not come in, leaving Lan Xiang alone. She felt extremely embarrassed as she does not know how to behave around the nobles.
“This Mei Zi(!)” Qiu He quickly pulled her out of the room: “The deputy commander and the rest is eating in the room next door; you can have a chat with them.”
(!)妹子 Mei Zi: Younger Sister/Sister.
As she said, she pushed her into the room next door and returned to the table.
The moment those strong women saw such a charming girl came in, they burst with excitement. They quickly pulled Lan Xiang to sit among them and began to inquire all about Lan Xiang’s personal details. They were not embarrassed to ask about her name, age, and number of people in her family.
Lan Xiang had always been clumsy. When suddenly she was surrounded by a group of people, she became nervous. Answering 1 question for every 3 questions asked. A few conscientious guards felt distressed when she was stammering.
“You guys have scared her!” The Deputy commander squeezed through the group of women and sat down beside Lan Xiang. “Hey, Mei Zi, come come, drink…. uh, drink tea, drink tea!”
“Drink what tea. There is sour plum soup.” She was elbowed by the people beside her.
Lan Xiang looked at the sour plum soup that was placed in front of her politely, not understanding what this situation was about.
In the other room, Gu Lian and the princess ate quietly. Other than the faint sound from using bowls and chopsticks, Qiu He would giggle from time to time.
“You still dare to laugh after throwing the girl into the wolves’ den?” Qiao MingYu raised her eyebrows as she tapped her finger on the table.
Qiu He looked back innocently: “Your Highness misunderstood. This subordinate had good-intention.”
Qiao MingYu sneered. ‘Good-intention big-headed ghost’. The group of ladies next door were often bored like crazy and would like to tease girls who were like a little white rabbit. Once, they formed a group to tease the daughter of the left prime minister and later the daughters of Shang Shu(1), Shi Lang(2), Yu Shi Da Fu(3), etc. Causing problems and more complaints arose. Since then, the daughters of civil servants would stay away from Qiao MingYu’s right guards.
(1)尚书 Shang Shu: A high official in ancient china
(2)侍郎 Shi Lang: Assistant Minister
(3)御史大夫 Yu Shi Da Fu: An official that is second only to prime minister
“Your Highness need not worry. They will only bully the ladies and not the servants.” Qiu He chuckled. Provided that the servants were not as arrogant and domineering as the ladies.
Speaking of which, they have not had new toys for a long time. Now they finally got Lan Xiang, they probably would not let it go easily.
“Don’t break my Lan Xiang. “Gu Lian half-jokingly said it after listening for a while.
After saying that, she looked at Qiao MingYu’s reaction. Seeing that she has shown no sign of unhappiness, she suddenly has a stratagem.
She had been testing the bottom line of Qiao MingYu’s tolerance for her. It seems like the bottom line was pretty low. Although she does not know why Qiao Mingyu’s attitude towards her was rather good. The only explanation was that she took a liking to her the moment she met her(!). Since she could not figure it out, she decided to let it go for now. Instead, she planned to focus on profiteering from within Qiao MingYu’s tolerance limit.
(!) 眼缘 yen Yuan: when a person met another person for the first, they were attracted by their appearance and temperament, feeling familiarity towards someone they have just met.
She does not mind returning 5 times, 10 times later. But for now, she can only request it unilaterally.
Qiao MingYu was too lazy to talk to Qiu He, so she kept eating the food.
Seems like Qiu He was in a good mood as she was feeling happy by herself and not bored at all
“Your Highness.” Suddenly, someone knocked on the door: “His royal highness, Jian Wang has heard that your highness is here and had sent someone to send his courtesy.”
Jian Wang seems to be the Second prince who has long been sealed as the crown prince, but he was not favoured. His consort mother status was not high, and his grandfather’s family position was not prominent. He was a firm royalist whose persona in the court was low-key and not overbearing. Hearing that Qiao MingYu was here, he sent someone to greet her. This behaviour is completely his style as it was courteous and not appearing to be intimate.
Qiu He stood up and walked over to open the door and let the man in.
The eunuch that was often by Jian Wang’s side first saluted to Qiao MingYu before greeting Qiu He. Even when he had looked at Gu Lian suspiciously as he does not know who she is, he still greeted her. Not offending anyone.
“Your Highness, my master has something to tell you.” The eunuch glanced at Gu Lian with a hint of difficulty.
Gu Lian stood up with comprehension: “your highness, I need to pee, may I take my leave?”
Surprisingly……it was a simple and crude question. Stupefied, Qiu He stared at the somewhat inelegant Gu Lian when she said those words. Her impression of Gu Lian’s lordly character has collapsed. From the beginning to the end, Gu Lian had been very elegant and decent. Seemingly like a noble lady who has received the highest etiquette education, but now that image had diminished.
Gu Lian who had gotten Qiao MingYu’s permission ignored her and left the room.
As the people inside were talking about serious matters, she decided to stroll around. It just happened that she was quite interested in the building and wondered if she was able to meet the zither player.
There were many rumours with regards to the zither player. Some said they were men, some said women, and a few said they were beautiful, and others said they were disfigured and covered their faces with a veil. No one knows which is true.
As Gu Lian slowly walked, the door closed and none of the conversations could be heard.