Xiao Heng instructed Gu Suier to memorize the three poetry collections.
Gu Suier didnt dare to disobey him.
Since she had to take care of little Ah Chen, she could only take time out of her busy schedule to look at the poetry collections.
And because she did not know many of the characters written in the books, she marked them out and put them together, intending to ask Lu QingYi about them all at once.
Unexpectedly, the latter had something to do at home, so she went back after two days.
Gu Suier also did not think it was a good option to bother anyone else.
She never dared to ask Xiao Jin.
The two Young Madams were busy, so she was even more embarrassed to bother them.
Due to all this, she could only wait until Xiao Heng returned to ask him.
As he had been very busy recently, it was relatively late by the time he came back.
Gu Suier accompanied him to dine and served him while he washed his face and rinsed his mouth.
Then, she put little Ah Chen on the bed to play with Xiao Heng.
Little Ah Chen was over four months old now, so he could freely turn over by himself.
It was nice and warm inside the room.
He was wearing a pale red soft cotton-padded jacket, making him look even more delicate and fair as he rolled around on the bed with his chubby little body.
Occasionally, he would lie on his stomach and use his lotus root-like little arms and legs as a support to prop up his chubby buttocks, arching his tiny body.
Maybe he felt that raising his little butt was not enough, so he would use all his strength to make his body arch forward.
He didnt just arch back and forth; he would also twist around in his place, resembling a little spinning top.
Observing his sons strange posture, Xiao Heng couldnt help raising his eyebrows: “What is he doing”
Gu Suier pursed her lips and smiled: “Perhaps he is trying his best to move forward by crawling.”
Its just that because he didnt know how to crawl and his soft and tender little arms and legs didnt have much strength, his tiny body only spun in its place.
Interest flashed in Xiao Hengs eyes as he watched the soft little person on the bed struggling to move forward.
After a long time, he finally could not help but pick up the little one.
Soft and tender.
“He has gained a lot of weight recently.”
“Yes.” Gu Suier had always had a lot to say when it came to little Ah Chen: “He has begun eating rice porridge little by little so I asked GuiZhi to chop up some leafy vegetable to put it into his rice porridge.
He seemed to like it.”
“These days, he smacks his lips and looks at everyone eating with shining eyes.”
It was unknown whether little Ah Chen understood her words or not.
However, he smacked his mouth and clear saliva dripped from his moist pink lips.
It dripped on Xiao Hengs lapel.
“This little guy.” Xiao Heng raised his hand and wiped his saliva, examining the inside of his little mouth too.
With this, he discovered two small white teeth already growing from his pale pink gums.
He touched it with his fingers; they were pretty sharp.
“I think that he has grown two teeth.
He is teething faster compared to ordinary children.” Gu Suier couldnt help but report all aspects of little Ah Chens progress with a somewhat proud tone.
Xiao Heng hugged his soft and delicate son.
The sweet fragrance of milk came to his nose; he touched his sons little cheek, and couldnt help but peck it lightly.
“After we move into the princes residence, you should appoint a few more maids and nannies to serve by your side.” Xiao Heng said to Gu Suier.
“I have enough people.
Theres no need to add more.”
“By enough people, you mean only GuiZhi and Nanny An.
When I entered the Palace a few days ago, His Majesty mentioned this matter and sent a few people to take care of Ah Chen and help you manage the affairs of the residence.”
“En, thats good.”
Xiao Heng looked carefully at Gu Suier; from her soft cheeks to her waist before finally withdrawing his gaze and hugging his son.
He announced faintly, “You have lost some weight recently.
If you feel tired, have the subordinates help you more.
You dont necessarily have to do something by yourself just because its related to Ah Chen.”
Although her face turned a little thinner and somehow became more lovely and charming, the key point was that the pair of soft peaches below were no longer as eye-catching as before.
He savored it every night, but it was only today that he had suddenly discovered it.
“Really I dont feel tired at all.
Ive been eating well recently.” Gu Suier touched her face; she really didnt think she had lost weight.
Seeing this, Xiao Heng called GuiZhi and handed little Ah Chen.
Once she went out, he made Gu Suier stand in front of him and stretched her hands inside her clothes, and weighed the peaks.
They were soft, smooth, heavy, and shaped like the most beautiful pair of peaches.
Gu Suier flushed, her breath hitching instantly: “Third Master”
Xiao Heng withdrew his hands and inquired faintly, “Are you learning the poems by heart How is it going”
He seemed refreshed but Gu Suier was perplexed.
When he touched her suddenly, she thought he would now embrace her and go to bed, but unexpectedly, he brought up… learning poems by heart
Gu Suier stared blankly at his expressionless side profile.
After a long while, she mumbled with difficulty, “Third Master, are you talking about the three books you gave me some days ago”
Xiao Heng leaned on the headboard, narrowed his eyes and gave a languid reply, “En.”
Without any better option, Gu Suier had to tell the truth: “Ive read some, but there are some characters which I dont know.
I thought of asking Lu girl as I usually do, but she went back home a few days ago.
So, I dont really have anyone else to ask for guidance.”
Xiao Heng opened his eyes: “What do you not understand”
Gu Suier hurriedly went over to fetch a book and pointed out the characters which she did not know.
Xiao Heng held Gu Suiers waist and lifted her lightly onto his lap before wrapping his arms around her from behind.
While doing this, his fingertips accidentally touched her red fruit.
“Wu…” Gu Suier cried out in a low voice, subconsciously raising her face till it touched his chin.
Xiao Heng bowed his head and pressed his hard chin against her ear.
“Which character do you not know” He asked in a low voice.
As soon as he spoke, she felt a heat linger in her ear, making her cheeks burn red.
“Its here, this character.”
Xiao Heng looked over.
She was pointing to a qilu1Qilu [七律] – This is a verse form comprising 8 lines of 7 syllables each, with a rhyme on alternate lines.
called «Looking Toward the Gate of Ji».
“This is read as ji2T/N: The original title of the verse by Zu Yong is «望薊門» and Suier is asking about the character in the middle-薊., and Jicheng3Jicheng [薊城] – Ji City or Jicheng was an ancient city in northern China, which has become the longest continuously inhabited section of modern Beijing.
is the full name of the place.
Look, this sentence,with the fire beacons on our battlefields throwing their beams in answer to the barbarian moonlight.
I remember how Mount Yun embraces Jicheng like the waves of the sea that stretches along the walls of the city; indicates that there is a war going on with constant fire beacons being alighted that conceal the gates from the bright moonlight.
Then there is the Bohai Sea in the south and Mount Yun in the north which are guarding and protecting the gates to Jicheng.”
“En… what about this sentence” Gu Suier asked in a low voice.
He didnt talk much so it was really very rare to hear him speak so eloquently.
The voice in her ear was clear and pleasant; she couldnt help but want to hear more.
“The last sentence of this verse says:Though, when young, I didnt give up pen for sword as Ban Chao did; Yet to serve our country, I now beg to go to the frontiers to achieve deeds of merit. This quote is an allusion referring to a Han Chinese person called Ban Chao, who hailed from an impoverished family and had to often copy books for the officials to make a living.
Later, when war broke out, he tossed away his pen, saying that a man of character is one who makes worthy contributions in a foreign land and obtains the title of a Marquis; not someone who keeps himself in the safety offered by the writing brush and the inkstone.
Afterward, he fought on the battlefield and was finally awarded the title of Marquis DingYuan.
This poet means that even though he is not as good as Ban Chao, he still wants to go into battle.”
Gu Suier thought about it and felt that she had understood.
However, she still had some doubts, so she raised her face and asked, “Whenever fire beacons are mentioned in many poems, it is to signify war.
Why is it so ah”
Looking at the way she raised her fluffy head and asked this question, Xiao Heng couldnt help but gently stroke it.
Her smooth black hair exuded the faint aroma of milk, which he liked the most.
“During war, once the watchtower discovers the enemys position, it will burn wolf dung.
The smoke signal will go straight up into the sky and it can be seen from a long distance.
So once the smoke signal rises or the fire beacon goes off, it signals that a war is going to happen.”
“Its like this ah…” Gu Suier suddenly seemed to have realized something.
She could not help but ask again, “Then what about this I dont know this either.”
Xiao Heng put one of his arms around her and held the volume with the other, patiently explaining everything to her.
Gu Suier half leaned on his shoulder, listening to his slightly cold voice and envisioning the bitter cold of the distant frontier and tales about those smoke signals and fire beacons.
In the warm room full of the fragrance of incense, Gu Suier slowly closed her eyes.
Xiao Heng only stopped talking after a long time had passed since she shut her eyes.
He took her into his arms and lowered his head to press his lips against her smooth forehead.
Ever since she lost to Gu Suier in that round of feihualing, Zuo XiuYan had been feeling somewhat embarrassed.
She spent several days shut in the room and reading with Xiao Jin, not coming out very often.
It wasnt until the Old Madam asked her to come to her yard to accompany her and play cards that she was willing to step out.
It was a clear day outside.
Coincidentally, the kitchen happened to make taihe pastries this day, so the second Young Madam brought over the erdong paste4Erdong paste [二冬膏] – It is a brownish-yellow, viscous, semifluid, concentrated herbal decoction used in Traditional Chinese Medicine tonourish yin of the lung when there is dry cough with scanty expectoration, bloody sputum, dry nose and sore throat due to deficiency of lung-yin.
she made herself to share with everyone.
Despite the addition of yam, lotus seeds, largehead atractylodes rhizomes, and several other herbs, its medicinal taste was somewhat covered by the aroma of the rice and honey of the little taihe pastries.
Therefore, everyone ate it well.
The Old Madam also used to like it the most in the past.
In the warm room filled with the fragrance of incense, the two Young Madams, Xiao Jin, Xiao Xu, and Zuo XiuYan were all sitting around the Old Madam and playing cards.
Little Ah Chen was playing and crawling by himself on the low couch while Gu Suier kept a watch on him from the side.
After a few rounds of playing, the Old Madam lost interest.
She had won all the rounds, “Suier, come.
Play on my behalf, Ill keep a watch on our little Ah Chen.”
Gu Suier smiled and said, “Old Madam, you know my card skills.
I will lose everything you collected.”
They were playing with a bargaining chip dedicated to the game today at stake: gold leaves.
At the start of the game, each person would be given ten gold leaves.
“What are you afraid of Just play.”
“No, no!” Xiao Jin cried out, “That was earned by the Old Madam.
We cannot let Suier take advantage of it.
We will divide the gold leaves and start the game again.”
Nobody denied her proposal so they began again.
Gu Suiers skills were indeed not good.
After playing a few rounds, she lost more than she won, and soon there were only two gold leaves left with her.
She was playing with Xiao Jin, the eldest Young Madam, and Zuo XiuYan.
The eldest Young Madam chuckled: “Suier, you only have two pieces left.
You really are not good at playing cards.”
Xiao Jin smiled and raised her eyebrows: “I have twelve gold leaves.”
Saying this, she looked at Zuo XiuYans chips and counted: “Sister XiuYan, you have the most leaves; you have seventeen pieces! You really play well.”
When she heard this, Zuo XiuYan pursed her lips and replied softly in a calm and graceful manner, “I am just playing casually.
Never thought I would win so much.
Its just good luck.”
As she was talking, the cotton curtain outside moved.
A little maid held the curtain aside to let someone come in.
Everyone turned to look over, it was actually Xiao Heng.
Since it was either Xiao Hengs sisters-in-law or younger sisters in the room, he didnt need to avoid them as taboo.
He simply went forward and paid his respect to the Old Madam.
The old lady took the lovable Ah Chen into her arms, and asked with a smile, “How come you are back at this time today”
Xiao Heng: “The palace made a new type of eight treasure pastry today so when I heard that it tasted good, I thought of the Old Madams love for food and brought some back.”
After speaking, he took out the still warm eight treasure pastries.
The Old Madam liked to eat these types of sweet and unctuous food so she was very happy to see it: “You bothered to remember me and my preferences while working in the Palace, very filial.”
Saying this, she took the right treasure pastries and handed some to the married and unmarried women present in the room.
Everyone ate cheerfully and inevitably laughed: “Our family just made taihe pastries.
After eating those with erdong paste, now there are eight treasure pastries.
We should be considered to have eaten so many things today!”
Even little Ah Chen, who was on the couch, rolled and kicked his legs in the air happily.
“What is this” Xiao Heng didnt seem to be in a hurry to leave.
After playing with little Ah Chen for some time, he looked over at the cards.
“This is just to let them pass the time.
You guys can continue playing, dont worry about him, hes not an outsider.” The Old Madam smiled at them.
Xiao Jin had just drawn a good card so hearing this, she called out to everyone to continue playing.
When Xiao Heng saw this, he walked over and sat beside Gu Suier before taking a look at her cards.
As soon as he sat down, everyone present felt something was wrong.
As for Zuo XiuYan, who was opposite Gu Suier, her face instantly flushed a deep red.
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1Qilu [七律] – This is a verse form comprising 8 lines of 7 syllables each, with a rhyme on alternate lines.2T/N: The original title of the verse by Zu Yong is «望薊門» and Suier is asking about the character in the middle-薊.3Jicheng [薊城] – Ji City or Jicheng was an ancient city in northern China, which has become the longest continuously inhabited section of modern Beijing.4Erdong paste [二冬膏] – It is a brownish-yellow, viscous, semifluid, concentrated herbal decoction used in Traditional Chinese Medicine tonourish yin of the lung when there is dry cough with scanty expectoration, bloody sputum, dry nose and sore throat due to deficiency of lung-yin.-