Let Me Pursue You – Chapter 8
Chapter 8 Declaration
The Lu Mansion in Yongxing Lane welcomed a distinguished guest today.
Early in the morning, the Sixth Prince Zheng Zhuo came to visit, saying that he come to visit Assistant Minister Lu, who was frightened and bedridden after falling into the water in Furong Garden yesterday.
Lu Shi Qing was in the room, leaning on the square couch without taking his clothes off, reading a volume of chess records, and when he saw him, he was annoyed: “What are you doing here?
Zheng Zhuo laughed loudly: “Isn’t it because our Assistant Minister Lu didn’t go to the court, so come to take a look? I see that you look good, maybe you just hid because yesterday’s stubble is too humiliating!” Seeing that he wanted to get up, he hurriedly made a gesture to stop him, “There is no need to be polite between you and me, sit down. I have to compensate you for this matter.”
Lu Shi Qing then wouldn’t be polite, and glanced at him lightly: “Next time you have something related to that Lancang County Princess, don’t drag me again.”
Early yesterday morning, when he came out of Xuanzheng Hall, he originally wanted to go back to the mansion, but was dragged by Zheng Zhuo to Furong Garden, in the end he ran into some bad luck.
Zheng Zhuo clenched his fist and coughed: “I’m afraid it won’t work. Today I really came here for this girl.”
“Why, you two didn’t talk about it yesterday?
“This girl is really clever, a princess who can’t be fooled at will.”
He sneered: “Perhaps your skin is not enough for others to see.”
“If you’re capable, you do it?”
Lu Shi Qing stabbed him with his eyes.
Zheng Zhuo stopped joking and asked, “Do you think Yuan Shichen told her the whole thing? Otherwise, why would she ask me if I really wanted to marry her?”
“Shichen” was Yuan Yu’s courtesy name.
Lu Shi Qing shook his head: “It’s unlikely.” He was silent for a long time, then the corners of his mouth twitched, “When she went the capital this time, she was accompanied by Diannan Prince’s confidants, but these people were sent back halfway, do you know why?”
Zheng Zhuo thought deeply and roughly understood what he meant.
“The reason why she did this was because she knew that once the confidant of Diannan Prince step into the imperial city, they would definitely give the court officials a handle until it reached His Majesty. From this it seems this woman’s mind is not simple, and she entered the capital when you’re about to win Yuan Shichen’s support, so she must be plotting something.”
Zheng Zhuo nodded frequently at first, but when he heard the end, he couldn’t help laughing: “What can a little girl plot?” After asking, he frowned again. “Or, is it Diannan Prince’s idea?”
Lu Shi Qing shook his head, indicating that it was difficult to say for now.
“No matter what, you have to listen to Yuan family’s meaning again. In three days, I have an appointment with her. At that time, you will be my lobbyist again as you did last time.”
Lu Shi Qing didn’t respond for a while, raised his eyes and said: “His Majesty ordered you to marry this family, it’s a plan to kill two birds with one stone. If you want to beat somebody at their own game, I won’t stop you, but you must be clear that this road is very dangerous. It’s very dangerous for both you and the Yuan family.”
He smiled unconcernedly: “What are you afraid of, didn’t I have you to control everything?”
Lu Shi Qing glanced at him, in the end didn’t say anything else, and agreed.
The morning of the next day, the Lu Mansion received a stack of generous gifts: a pair of jade pendants of excellent color, a pair of exquisite sachets, a pair of delicately woven true love knots… it looked as if a certain young lady wanted to give tokens with loads of meaning, and for some reason, they were all in pairs.
Old Lady Lu, Xuan, and young lady Lu, Lu Shuang Yu looked at this pile of tokens and fell into contemplation.
Xuan shi‘s phoenix eyes narrowed slightly, quietly examining them.
She had only one son, and it goes without saying who these things were for. But Lu Mansion, who used to receive gifts until their hand sore, had not seen such a scene for more than a year.
The reason was that in the early spring of last year, her good son very mercilessly refused to accept the show of affection from di State Princess, which caused a big scandal in the city. After that, the young ladies in Chang’an all had the hearts but not the guts, for fear coming on to her son, they would make that noble one unhappy, and their small lives could not be guaranteed.
She looked at it for a long time, and the more she thought about it, the more curious she became, then asked the servant, “Which young lady is so bold?”
The servant replied: “In answer to the old lady, these are all sent by the Yuan family…”
“Huh?” Lu Shuang Yu opened her mouth wide.
“The Yuan family said that a while ago, the family dog of Lancang County Princess bit a pair of Master’s jade pendant, so this is to compensate that.”
Lu Shuang Yu died of depression for several days, not thinking about food or drink, and with great difficulty slowly recovered. Hearing this, it brought back the sad past again, she bit her lips and said: “If she wants to make amends to brother, then just send the jade pendant, what’s with this sachet and true love knot?” After saying that, she pulled Xuan shi‘s sleeve, “Mother, this Lancang County Princess must have taken a fancy to elder brother!”
Such a simple and crude thing, isn’t it very obvious?
Xuan shi glanced at her: “Of course. If people don’t look at your elder brother, is it looking at you?”
Lu Shuang Yu pursed her lips: “Mother—!” Is she really her own’s mother?
Xuan shi had no time to deal with to her right now. She thought for a while and asked the maid: “You told me earlier that when Zishu came back from Furong Garden, he had a brocade handkerchief on his body, which seemed to belong to a woman. Where is this brocade handkerchief now?”
“Back to the old lady, Master threw it away on the spot.”
Xuan shi frowned: “What words embroidered on the handkerchief?”
“This maid is not clear. But this maid heard that the ladies at Furong Garden that day, beside Lady Yuan, who’s a married woman, was Lancang County Princess.”
Xuan shi‘s eyebrows stretched out. Wonderful, truly wonderful, she tilted her head while whispering: “You go and check, whether this handkerchief is indeed from Young Lady Yuan.”
As soon as she finished speaking, she heard a man voice: “There’s no need to check, it’s hers.” It was Lu Shi Qing who heard the news about the gift and came to the main hall.
He frowned deeply, and when he entered the room, he said, “Mother, you want to mess up with some mandarin ducks tune for no reason?”
Xuan shi looked at him: “What do you mean no reason? Look at these things, they were all sent by Young Lady Yuan. If it wasn’t what Mother thought, what innocent reason will you give me?”
Lu Shi Qing froze and looked down at the box on the table. Wenge wood, good quality, complete grain, no patchwork, with symmetrical lotus petal pattern, looking at it… not uncomfortable.
But when he saw the objects inside, he frowned even more: “You guys hurry, take it down and test for poison.”
Xuan shi looked shocked.
He stepped forward and explained: “Mother, if something unusual happened, there must be a demon inside. General Yuan and I have never get along. Maybe he borrowed the name of Lancang County Princess and used it to tease me. I still have important things to do, so I won’t accompany you.” After saying that, he retreated, and added to the maid, “Wait, don’t test it, just throw it away.”
Xuan shi couldn’t stop him, so she had to let him go, saying pity in her heart.
Lu Shi Qing hurried back to his room, pacing back and forth a few times, remembering Zheng Zhuo’s explanation the day before, and finally took out a silver mask from the cabinet, picked up a brush jade rest on the table, inserted it into the notch in the wall, and waited. The secret door slowly opened, and he bent down through the secret passage.
In Yuan Mansion, Yuan Ci Xian waited for the little servants to return, and when she heard that the gift had been delivered, she gave them a reward, and sat in front of the makeup mirror with her cheeks propped up, not knowing what she was thinking.
Seeing her gloomy expression, Shi Cui and Jian Zhi were both afraid. One said, “Young lady, what else do you want to do? It’s better to tell this maid as soon as possible. After all, the work is not delicate enough.”
She tilted her head and saw that the two of them had a big blue bag under their eyes, and smiled: “This time, the sachet and the true love knot are well done. For the time being, I don’t need anything else. You two have a good rest, you don’t have to serve me at night.”
Shi Cui nodded: “But is this method feasible? This maid heard that Assistant Minister Lu is not close to women at all, maybe he has a cut sleeve style!”
“Where did the rumor come from? Why didn’t I hear it.”
Jian Zhi anwered: “The rumors are mostly exaggerated, but there’s no waves without the winds. Look at this Assistant Minister Lu, twenty-two, the main house is vacant, concubine also not have. Over the years, how many young ladies in Chang’an advancing wave after wave, rushing like flocks of ducks, but none of them have succeeded. This maid went out to inquire for you yesterday, and heard an amazing thing.”
Yuan Ci Xian became interested: “Let’s hear it.”
“Young Lady, do you know Shaohe State Princess? She’s the only daughter of the empress, and she’s famous for her beauty. But unfortunately, she married a marquis mansion at sixteen, and became widow within a few days. At nineteen, that is last year, Shaohe State Princess fell in love with Assistant Minister Lu and intended to remarry. But how do you think Assistant Minister Lu rejected her?”
She tilted her head and thought for a while: “I heard that he lost his father at nineteen, so he should use filial piety as an excuse.”
Jian Zhi shook her head: “If so, it still a bit merciful. Young Lady doesn’t know that Shaohe State Princess has a beauty mole under her left eye, but not under her right eye. Assistant Minister Lu said he feels uncomfortable seeing it, he can’t look at it too many times, so he really can’t spend the rest of his life with the princess.”
Later, rumors that Lu Shi Qing was not good with women gradually spread in the capital. After all, he even disliked the goddess like Shaohe State Princess, so he probably wouldn’t look at any woman in this life.
Yuan Ci Xian didn’t know whether to laugh or cry.
Shi Cui’s face was full of sorrow: “Assistant Minister Lu doesn’t even put such a noble person in his eyes, Young Lady really wants to face such difficult thing?”
As soon as she finished speaking, she heard someone knock on the door. The servant came to report that Master invited the young lady to the study.
Yuan Ci Xian remembered the agreement with Zheng Zhuo. She thought that the gentleman from last time had arrived, so she hurried over and said to Yuan Yu, “I will hide behind the screen. Brother, remember to said as we discussed last night.”
Hearing the sound of footsteps approaching outside, Yuan Yu nodded to signal her rest assured, and pushed her to hide inside.
The person who came was Lu Shi Qing.
Yuan Yu had a guilty conscience, and he saw the other person seemed to be looking at the other side of the screen after sitting down, tried to draw his attention back first: “Troubling Sir for running around two times because of Yuan’s sister.”
Lu Shi Qing thought it’s more than two time, this was the fourth. He then said with disguised voice: “General is polite.”
Seeing that he did not attempt to tilt his head any more, Yuan Yu heaved a sigh of relief: “His Highness’s intentions, in fact, Yuan has been very clear, so there is no need for you to repeat it. You and I have crossed path several times, but I still don’t know your last name, and I have always called you ‘Sir’…”
He only spoke half of the words, expecting the other person to understand.
Previously, first out of courtesy, and second because he knew that the identities of these advisors were always kept secret, he never inquired about this person. Today’s question was Yuan Ci Xian’s instruction.
Lu Shi Qing replied neither humble nor overbearing: “My surname is Xu, the name is Shan, you can call me whatever you want.”
Yuan Yu was stunned when he heard the name, and asked in surprise: “Aren’t you… Aren’t you Xu Congxian, the Xunyang“, Mr. Xu?”
“Fortunately General recognize, Xu is ashamed.”
Yuan Ci Xian behind the screen was also very surprised.
She had heard about Xu Shan’s name even in Yaozhou. She heard that this person was good at chess. More than ten years ago, he defeated Old Teacher Xǔ, the most skilled player at that time, in Xunyang, Jiangzhou, and became famous since then. Because he acted low-key afterwards, seldom showed his face, devoted himself to the mountains and rivers, and lived in seclusion all the year round, he then was called “Xunyang Jushi” by the world.
Although she entrusted her brother to inquire about the identity of this person, she didn’t have much hope for the other person to be honest with him at first. But obviously, if the other person intends to lie, he should choose an unknown one, not a character like Xunyang Jushi. After all, if people wanted to prove the authenticity, it was likely that a game of chess was enough.
It seemed that this time, Zheng Zhuo came here with sincerity.
Then again, how did an innocent hermit like Xu Shan be invited out of the mountain?
Yuan Yu’s little heart trembled for a while before he calmed down, and his original momentum weakened a bit: “Mr. Xu took the time to come, Yuan will answer you straight to the point.”
He cleared his throat, and poured out the speech he had memorized beforehand: “Looking at today’s Great Zhou, the position of the crown prince has been vacant for a long time. However, because of the lessons of the previous prince, His Majesty has not made plan to establish a new one for a long time, and only blindly used the check and balance method. Suspicion and impermanence further aggravated the turmoil in the court and ordinary people, so that there are many parties and the people’s heart are uneven.
“Under such a situation, privately, His Highness wants to show a grand plan, publicly, His Highness wants to address the current disadvantages. For Yuan, although self-preservation is good, but seeing His Majesty’s defenses against the Yuan family over the years, it seems impossible. In order to prevent the Yuan family completely becoming the object of the emperor’s suspicion and a chess piece to check and balance, Yuan should choose a bright master as soon as possible. This is the original intention of Yuan’s cooperation with His Highness.”
Lu Shi Qing listened quietly, out of the corner of his eye, he paid attention to the flower-and-bird screen in the room.
Yuan Yu continued to recite: “If Yuan’s sister marries His Highness, it will be a reassurance pill given by His Highness to the Yuan family, and it’s also a reassurance pill given to His Highness by the Yuan family, which is undoubtedly the icing on the cake. But Yuan thought that since the original intention is already there, and I and His Highness have already in agreement, so what’s the harm in not adding this flower?”
This kind of answer was watertight, really amazing.
As soon as Lu Shi Qing heard it, he knew that the other person had already decide. No matter how much persuasion, afraid it would only backfire, so he said, “Xu has understood General’s meaning, and will convey it to His Highness as it is.”
Yuan Yu memorized all the words explained by Yuan Ci Xian, and he was so nervous that that he almost forgot that there was another batch, so quickly added: “It’s good to have your understanding. This marriage is not because Yuan is unwilling to facilitate, it’s just that Yuan’s sister has already set her heart on someone. You may also know this person…”
Lu Shi Qing blinked his eyes twice and all ears.
Yuan Yu frowned, slapped his thigh angrily, gritted his teeth, and said reluctantly, “It’s our court’s Assistant Minister Lu!”
Lu Shi Qing’s face behind the mask suddenly became very wonderful.