Let Me Pursue You – Chapter 22
Chapter 22 Games
Yuan Ci Xian turned her head when she heard the movement, and smiled when she saw him: “Sir is here!”
Lu Shi Qing avoided looking at her, nodded and lowered his eyes as usual: “Xu has seen County Princess.”
She waved her hand to signal that he didn’t have to be polite, showed him a red sandalwood birdcage inlaid with gold wire in front of the window: “Do you think it looks good, sir?”
He took a look and asked: “Are you asking about the bird, or the birdcage?”
Yuan Ci Xian smiled charmingly: “It seems that Sir thinks that the bird and the birdcage are just as beautiful, or just as ugly.”
“Yes. Xu thinks the birdcage is beautiful, but the bird is not.”
“Because the bird is in the cage.”
“Sir really is a man of temperament. The bird in the cage loses its vitality and naturally inferior to the one outside.” Yuan Ci Xian opened the door of the cage, glanced at the Hwamei bird that was still obediently stayed inside, and said, “Look, after staying in the cage for a long time, even if I’m willing to let it go, it would not go away.”
Lu Shi Qing said “yes”.
She handed the birdcage to the maids, told them to take it down, and gestured for him to sit across the chess table, then said: “I don’t like raising birds, I only asked my brother to buy one just to see if the common Hwamei bird is easy to feed.”
Lu Shi Qing seemed to have understanding something: “County Princess is wondering why the Hwamei bird that Sixth Highness gave to your esteemed brother died within a few days.”
She smiled: “Nothing can be hidden from Sir.”
He explained: “That Hwamei bird has been specially domesticated, and it can send messages by chirping. His Highness didn’t fully trust your brother in the past. Even though it delivered the news, but the bird had also been fed poison, so as not become a handle for other.”
Yuan Ci Xian seemed very satisfied with his frankness, nodded and said: “It’s much safer to make a Hwamei bird send messages by chirping than a parrot send a message by talking. Later, Sir asked my brother to mention this bird in a letter sent to Diannan, deliberately showing it to His Majesty’s spies, so as to dispel his doubts. It’s very clever.”
Lu Shi Qing was silent for a while, imitating what she said earlier: “Nothing can be hidden from County Princess.”
She smiled lightly, and beckoned two chess boys: “Don’t talk about it anymore, I invited Sir here because I want to observe a chess game.”
“What kind of chess game do you want to observe?”
She pondered for a while, and said: “Sir, do you still remember the chess game that defeated Old Teacher Xǔ in Xunyang? My father was obsessed with chess, and spent a lot of money asking for the chess record of that battle, but only met some swindlers.”
Lu Shi Qing said with a smile: “It’s an old thing from twelve years ago. On that day, Xu and Old Teacher Xǔ ran into each other at the head of the Xunyang River. On a whim, we wanted to play against each other. However, we had no chess boy at hand, so we decided the outcome by dictation. Naturally, there is no chess record.”
Yuan Ci Xian suddenly realized: “No wonder.”
“Since County Princess wants to see it, Xu will dictate it again, if your esteemed father wants it, you can draw a chess record for him.”
“Will it not break Sir’s rules?”
He smiled lightly: “Xu has no rules.”
Two chess boys came forward, each holding a chess pot in their hand, then according to Lu Shi Qing’s description, one moved the black stones and one moved the white stones.
“From east five to south nine, from east five to south twelve, from west eight to south ten, west nine to south ten…”
The surroundings were quiet, the voice of the people was deep and gentle, and the sounds of chess game were crisp and bright. Listening to it, Yuan Ci Xian felt her heart was a little itchy, like being brushed by fine grass. She lowered her eyes and rest her cheeks, seemed to be watching the chess game, but her mind wandered somewhere.
The Xunyang River must be beautiful, she suddenly thought.
There were spring breezes along the willow tree banks, there were a high-spirited young man and an old man with white beard and long eyebrows, there were peerless chess records that had not been sung in the world, and there was no intrigue of the imperial city. Just like Diannan that she was very fond of.
Just at this moment when she was wandering, she suddenly heard someone calling her: “County Princess?”
She came to her senses in an instant, saw that the chess board was densely packed, and hurriedly said: “I’m here.”
Lu Shi Qing didn’t seem to understand the look of longing that flashed in her eyes, and asked: “Xu has already reached the step of the deciding outcome, do you want to try to solve this chess game?”
She didn’t answer for a while, told the chess boys and the servants on the sides to retreat, and then asked: “Sir, is the landscape in Xunyang beautiful?”
Lu Shi Qing was slightly taken aback, and said: “It’s beautiful.”
“You used to live there, what did you do in your free time?”
Yuan Ci Xian smiled: “Then why did you come to Chang’an? Even the fish and shrimp here are more cunning than other places, they’re difficult to catch.”
Lu Shi Qing was silent for a long time before saying: “When the world is turbid, the body is difficult to clear. County Princess thinks, if one day the mountains in Chang’an collapse and the water dries up, what about Xunyang?”
“Xunyang will also have no more fish and shrimp.”
He nodded: “That’s why I came.”
“You want to save the fish and shrimp in Xunyang, but why did you choose Sixth Highness?”
“When His Highness came to find Xu, Xu asked three questions. The first asked him why he came. He answered for the world. The second asked him that the world is in the hands of His Majesty, what does it matter for an unfavored shu prince like him. He said—”Father likes the power play, and power play can cure Father’s heart disease, but it can’t cure Father’s world. I want to make the rotten trees all over the world rejuvenate, the withered grass regenerate, capable people with lofty ideals to be used, the common people are blessed and able to enjoy life, and all countries in the eight directions congratulate me on the prosperity of the Great Zhou, and dare not go one step further.'”
Yuan Ci Xian’s eyes flickered, and she blinked very slowly: “What’s the third question?”
“Xu asked him, if one day he conquers the world, how will he cure it? Since it can’t be with power play, so is it horses with bent bow, or gold and silver, money and food.”
“What’s His Highness’ answer?”
“Moralize the people, treat scholars with righteousness, protect the country with courtesy, rule the nation with law, guard the four regions with military power, and cultivate the world with benevolence.”
Yuan Ci Xian was silent for a while, and then laughed: “Sir, how do you know that what His Highness said is not empty words?”
Lu Shi Qing also seemed to smile a little: “The words are empty. Xu listens to the empty words with his ears and sees the truth with his eyes.”
She pulled the corners of her mouth, lowered her head and stopped talking.
Seeing this, Lu Shi Qing lowered his eyes slightly, and changed the subject: “Is County Princess still observing the chess?”
“Of course.” She scanned the chessboard with her eyes, “You just asked me if I wanted to try to solve this decisive move… If I solve it, will there be a reward?”
Lu Shi Qing suddenly had a sense of foreboding in his heart. But he knew that she would not be able to solve this difficult game, so he said with confidence: “What reward do you want?
“I’m joking, I’m the one who should thank you for showing this chess game. In a few days, brother and I will have a small banquet, will you do the honors to come?”
He shook his head and declined politely: “It’s only a game of chess, why bother to trouble everyone.”
“Then I will make a bet with you. If I solve the next move, you will have to go to the banquet.”
Lu Shi Qing paused, still not believing that she had such extraordinary abilities, and stretched out his hand to signal, “Please.”
Yuan Ci Xian however didn’t study the chess game anymore, got up and picked up a brush, dipped it in the ink, and returned to the table. Her eyes then wandered around, painted a white piece into a black piece with the brush, and then looked at Lu Shi Qing with a smile: “Sir, I have solved it.”
Lu Shi Qing looked at the chess board and suffocated in place for a moment. This rascal is really…!
Yuan Ci Xian successfully made another appointment with “Xu Shan”, and after sending him away, she called Jian Zhi, picked up the chess record that had been drawn in her hand, and said: “There is something important, you go south for me and lie down in Xunyang, take this chess record to visit Old Teacher Xǔ, and explore his tone. Remember, don’t let anyone catch you.”
Jian Zhi complied, then asked: “Young lady, you want to verify Mr. Xu’s identity?”
She nodded, sighed: “I heard that Xu Congxian lost his father and mother when he was young, and has no close relatives. Now he is thirty, but he never had a wife. Those who know him better are probably the Xǔ family.”
Seeing her expression looked wanned, Jian Zhi asked with concern: “Young lady, are you in a bad mood?”
She shook her head.
She was just thinking about what Xu Shan said just now. Since Zheng Zhuo had such bright ambitions and innocent ideals, how could he do such cruel and dirty things as kill the donkey when the grinding is done and destroy the bridge after crossing the river? Why did he have a grudge with her Yuan family, was it really as simple as the breaking of an engagement?
Seeing that she didn’t answer, Jian Zhi explained: “This maid doesn’t know what Mr. Xu said to you, but in the final analysis, he used to be an idler in the mountains and rivers, but now he’s a politician. Every word of a politician is psychological attack, intended to persuade the other party for their own benefit. You should not be influenced by common feelings and easily trust him.”
Yuan Ci Xian was silent and noncommittal, and after a while changed the subject, asked: “Jian Zhi, how many days have I not gone out?”
“It’s about ten days ”
She smiled: “I’ve been staying at home recently and not bothering Assistant Minister Lu, firstly, I really have to act for His Majesty, and secondly, it’s also because my brother taught me the method of. Do you think these days is enough to make him miss me?”
“As the saying goes, one day not see, it’s like three autumns. This maid feels that if Assistant Minister Lu’s heart is not made of stone, he will miss you to some extent. But if you don’t bother him anymore, he will misunderstand you for backing out after knowing the difficult road.”
“That’s right.” She knocked on the table and asked, “Is there a court meeting tomorrow?”
“Tomorrow is not the day of court meeting, but Assistant Minister Lu may go teach Thirteenth Prince to study.”
Yuan Ci Xian pursed his lips and smiled: “Okay.”