Chapter 387: A Variety of Speculations & Ling Zhang’s Trousseaus
After two hours, Yuwen Tong opened his eyes. It was still dark outside, but soon dawn would break. Ling Zhang in his arms was still sleeping.
Yuwen Tong carefully withdrew his arms, gingerly moved Ling Zhang’s forelock aside, gave him a peck on the brow, quietly got out of bed and then tucked him in. The hot days had got cool, and it was a little cold shortly before dawn.
Seeing Ling Zhang was still fast asleep, Yuwen Tong came to realize that the night before he should’ve shown some self-restraint. It had been just the night before last that he had Ling Zhang make out with him for several hours, but the night before he’d done the same thing again. Feeling somewhat guilty, he said in an undertone, “Sorry. I’ll restrain myself in the next few days.”
After saying this, he kissed Ling Zhang again and then reluctantly went to put on his robes. Before leaving, he walked around the house and also checked the perimeter to see if there was anything suspicious. It was after confirming that everything was okay that he left.
“Shiba, stay here. Report to me immediately if anything happens,” Yuwen Tong instructed Miao Shiba.
“Yes, Sire,” Miao Shiba answered and then went to the doorway of Ling Zhang’s bedroom to stand guard. Wang Dashan at the front gates of the courtyard house poked his head around the corner, flicked Miao Shiba a glance, waved him a greeting and then drew his head in. Miao Shiba gave a little giggle, recalling that the night before, these guys anxiously tried to enter the courtyard house but were stopped by him and Yao Yi. Wang Dashan had incredulously asked them why they were here. After being informed that Yuwen Tong had come here to see Ling Zhang, they’d all had inexplicable expressions on their faces.Read latest chapters at Listnovel.com
At that time Wang Dashan had observed in a disapproving tone, “It’s barely been a day since they parted!”
“‘A one-day separation from the loved one feels like three years.’ You’ve never heard of this?”
Wang Dashan had been rendered speechless by this remark, holding his cheek, presumably having a toothache.
At this time, Miao Shiba looked around him, walked out of the house and to the front gates where Wang Dashan and Zhao Shen were on guard duty. “Hey, do you think I should wake Childe Ling up in a while?”
Wang Dashan and Zhao Shen exchanged glances, uncertainty in their eyes. “Young Master seems to have stayed up pretty late last night. Maybe we should let him sleep a little while longer.”
“But Master and the others are unaware that Sire came here last night. If Young Master sleeps late, they’ll be worried and might come here to check on him.”
“Let’s wait until Chen Hour (7:00 a.m.) to awake him. If Master sends anyone here, we could just stop them and say that Young Master stayed up late reading last night and could use some more sleep.”
A decision made, Miao Shiba returned to the doorway of the bedroom.
Inside the bedroom, Ling Zhang was still sound asleep. When he opened his eyes, it was full daylight already. Miao Shiba called outside, “Childe Ling, it’s Chen Hour.”
Ling Zhang lay there dreamily for a few moments before abruptly sitting up and with that he let out an involuntary gasp of pain, raised his hand to knead the small of his back, his face twisting.
He gave a cough and said, “Get me some water. I need to wash.” His voice was still faintly hoarse and he was unable to speak loudly, but Miao Shiba standing outside distinguished his words.
“Yes, Childe Ling,” he answered and then left to tell Wang Dashan and Zhao Shen to get water.
Ling Zhang sat there for a while, waiting for the pain to ease. Soon warm water was delivered to the room. Ling Zhang washed and changed before going out.
At the sight of Miao Shiba, he guessed that it had been Yuwen Tong who instructed him to stay. He asked Miao Shiba, “When did your master go back?”
“At Yin Hour, before daybreak,” answered Miao Shiba.
“Young Master, you may have breakfast in your room. I’ve brought it here for you,” said Zhao Shen, walking in.
Ling Zhang could tell from the daylight he’d overslept. “Did my paternal grandfather or my father send anyone here to ask about me?”
“No. Old Master and Master probably both want to let you have some more sleep, but they might send someone here if you still don’t show up in a while,” replied Zhao Shen.
Ling Zhang inclined his head. “I’ll go there right after breakfast.”
Every night of the next few days, Yuwen Tong descended from mid-air, landed sweetly in Ling Zhang’s courtyard house like a burglar with consummate lightness skills, had a good night’s sleep with the owner of the house in his embrace, and then went back to the imperial palace shortly before the daily court meeting.
Yuwen Tong indeed curbed his needs. Even when he failed to restrain himself, he’d make it quick instead of doing it for hours.
Ling Zhang was not sure whether or not anybody else living in the residence knew what he’d been doing at night. At least his maternal grandfather and Ji Yanlai and the couple of others who had powerful internal energy were definitely aware that someone had been sneaking into his courtyard house by night, but none of them said anything about it, so Ling Zhang wouldn’t be so stupid as to let the cat out of the bag.
Apart from the things they usually did by night, recently people of the Ling family had been busy with packing Ling Zhang’s trousseaus during the day. They had specially emptied the Splendor Pavilion as well as the Proud Plum Pavilion next to it to store the chests containing trousseaus. The two officials of the Ministry of Rites had been assisting them with the preparations.
At first, when they saw those gold, silver, jewelries and jadeware, they just felt that the Ling family was fairly wealthy, but afterward, when ten large chests had been filled with those things, the two of them were somewhat amazed. More importantly, the ten chests of gold, silver and jadeware were only the most common part of the trousseaus. Following them were rare treasure worth a couple of towns together, precious medicinal herbs and priceless dress materials et cetera, which filled one chest after another. Watching this scene, the two officials swallowed hard again and again. However, these were only the visible and tangible part of the trousseaus. The intangible part was the estates and businesses listed in the pamphlet, which were coupled with a group of storekeepers, innkeepers and supervisors all of whom had returned from out of town not long ago and would go into the palace with Ling Zhang as part of the trousseaus just like those chests of valuables. Those estates and businesses were nationwide in distribution, and there were even some located in the Wan Kingdom and the Luohai Kingdom, though they’d be off the record. Apart from these, it was said that there were also some long-lost manuscripts about kung fu skills, which Ling Zhang’s maternal grandfather would personally hand over to Ling Zhang who would take them to the palace.
The two officials of the Ministry of Rites gaped at those trousseaus which were being boxed one after another, deeply shocked.
“Your Lordships,” someone called in a polite, level voice. Seeing that the two men still seemed to be in a trance, the speaker raised his voice and called again, “Your Lordships!”
It was only then that the two officials abruptly jerked out of their trance and looked at the one who’d just called them. “Oh, Childe Jiang, what’s up?”
“These chests were made according to the standards set by the Ministry of Rites. You didn’t find any of them problematic, I suppose?” said Jiang Yu.
As Ling Zhang’s subordinate, Jiang Yu was in charge of almost all the miscellaneous matters involving dealings with the Ministry of Rites. Ling Zhang had returned to the Ling Mansion, so he naturally had also left the Infinite Fortune Palace and come to this residence to help with the wedding preparations.
“No, of course not,” the two officials hurriedly replied in unison.
Jiang Yu nodded. “Since they’re all up to standard, I’ll have the servants start sealing them according to the numbers in the pamphlet. Aside from this, we’ll tighten the security of this couple of pavilions, and nobody would be allowed to get in until the day of Childe Ling’s wedding.”
The two officials of the Ministry of Rites raised no objections.
“This way please, Your Lordships. This area is about to be sealed off.” Jiang Yu politely asked them to leave.
The two official took the hint and left. They had been working flat out for several consecutive days and now this matter was finally settled, and they could finally return home. After leaving the Ling Mansion, the two of them got into their carriages and headed for the street.
The streets were quite uproarious. A new emperor had ascended the throne, and the political situation had gradually stabilized, with no unrest of any sort in any part of the country. The newly promulgated policies aimed at improving people’s livelihood had greatly inspired the whole country. All residents in the capital city appeared in good spirits. Besides, there was an upcoming imperial wedding ceremony, which would be the second grand occasion since the start of this new imperial dynasty, and the incumbent emperor was crowning a man the empress. All these were topics that people relished talking about on a frequent basis. Professional storytellers were even telling all kinds of stories about the deep love between the emperor and his future consort, which were so popular that all teahouses were filled to capacity every day.
The two officials of the Ministry of Rites, who had been working off their feet over the past few days, could use some relaxation, so they went into a tavern together.
Although there weren’t any storytellers in this tavern, customers coming here for wine were also in lively conversations, and the tone of every one of them seemed to brook no argument, making this place no less tumultuous than a teahouse. The two of them went to the second floor of the tavern where most customers were members of rich families who were sumptuously clothed. Their voices were not as loud as those of the customers downstairs, but they were even more enthusiastic about gossip.
“… Speaking of which, the Ling family only has some fame in Tanyang. It couldn’t hold a candle to any of the big families in the capital city. Given that it is the eldest grandson of their patriarch who’s going to marry His Majesty, they would no doubt go to any lengths to prepare a decent trousseau in order not to become a laughing stock.”
“Come on. They are who they are, no matter how hard they try to pretend otherwise. After all, they’re from a backwater. How impressive could you expect the trousseau to be?”
“But wouldn’t that be quite humiliating?”
“I wouldn’t say that. Nobody knows how the economic situation of the Ling family actually is. Besides, His Majesty holds Childe Ling in deep affection and probably wouldn’t care about this kind of stuff.”
“Well, that might be the case, but so many people in this city will be watching. Although many noble families declined as the previous imperial household fell, those who still draw breath have quite sharp eyes. Some of them will definitely laugh at the Ling family behind their backs.”
“That can’t be true.”
“Alas, there’re a lot of things you don’t know, buddy. Even when His Majesty was still a marshal, his fame spread far and wide and a lot of people dreamed about marrying him, not to mention that he’s now the emperor. Can you imagine how many more people are waiting for an opportunity to become an imperial concubine?”
After hearing this, the two officials of the Ministry of Rites exchanged a glance, their eyes gleaming with contempt for those people.
They might not know much about the other matters, but they were quite sure that nobody would see the Ling family as a laughing stock because of the trousseaus! Even the princess’ trousseaus stood no comparison with Childe Ling’s, and if they disclosed the truth to these people, most of them would probably be shocked to death.
“Hey, hey. Calm down. We can’t breathe a word of it to anybody.”
“I know. I just don’t like that snobbish look on their faces. On the day of Childe Ling’s and His Majesty’s wedding, these people’s jaws would probably drop.”
Privately the two of them were pretty indignant, both forgetting that in the beginning they themselves hadn’t expected much of the Ling family either and had been terribly embarrassed when they saw the trousseaus afterward.
“Still, come to think of it, a lot of people know how many businesses and properties the Ling family own, but those trousseaus…”
“I overheard something about it that day. It seems that most of the trousseaus are from Childe Ling’s maternal grandfather, and there are also some from his father.”
“You mean that mysterious middle-aged man? To be honest, don’t you think it’s rather strange? I mean, that man’s way too young to be Childe Ling’s maternal grandfather. Actually, he looks even younger than Childe Ling’s father!”
“It’s said that he possesses internal energy so powerful that it made him young again.”
“My goodness! Such people do exist?!”
“Tell me about it. I was startled as well when I came to know it. The maternal part of Childe Ling’s parentage has always been a mystery. So far nobody has heard anything about his maternal grandfather, but I think he’s by no means a common person, seeing as he has offered so many trousseaus as though they were nothing to him. Maybe he’s a member of some prestigious sect in Jianghu.”
“A member of a Jianghu sect? Now you mention it, that does strike me as possible.”