Not only Madam Yu and Madam Zhang went to inquire about news from the matchmaker’s event, but the mothers of the other gentlemen that had been invited also did the same. Soon enough, the whole capital was abuzz with gossip about who had been there and what had been done and what would follow. Some daring people had even started to bet who would end up with whom, delighting the mothers of some of the women to no end. Ah, if only those bets came true and their daughter really ended up with the respective gentleman!
Madam Yan didn’t care about the talk at all. She was sitting in the main house of the matchmaking pavilion with her two aides, a cup of cooling tea standing on a smaller table to the side and a large scroll of paper on the large table in front of her.
Xiao Xi and Xiao Jia stared at the squiggly lines their Madam had drawn and exchanged a glance. They didn’t need to understand this, did they?
Madam Yan didn’t bother to explain to them either. She placed the wooden slips that the men had chosen between those lines and looked from one column to another. There was no question that she’d let General Yu and Scholar Zhang meet the women they had chosen together but if it was only them, it would seem too deliberate when she brought up the marriage to the families later on. They might say that she had set them up and oppose the marriage on that ground. She couldn’t let that happen.
The easiest method to prevent that argument was to group the eight gentlemen into four pairs. This way, even if the matter of General Yu and Scholar Zhang spending a lot of time together at her pavilion was brought up, she could point at another man and ask why he hadn’t suddenly fallen in love with the person that joined him in the event if this was all part of her plan. She’d like to see what the Yus and Zhangs could come up with in response to that.
Now, the only question was how to group the men. Yu Huang Rong and Zhang Shi Lan were easy since they had chosen the same women. The others though … That Ming Ru Shui had quite similar taste to Zhang Shi Lan but there was no way that she could put him into their group.
She pursed her lips and looked over the numbers the other men had chosen. The most ridiculous was Luan Chang Fu. That guy had really gone ahead and put all of the wooden slips into the chest. Meeting all those women at once would be a headache. She couldn’t put any decent man through that, could she?
Madam Yan’s brows raised and she chuckled, picking up the brush again. She added two names to the list at the side, her lips curling in an evil grin. Hmph. That Feng Gui Ying would see what he got for disrespecting her! She had already known that he was no good when he arrived at the main house today and her first impression had proven to be true when he left. If anyone deserved to be tortured alongside Luan Chang Fu, then it was him.
She snickered when she imagined how these two would look when they arrived on that day and were suddenly faced with forty women. Ah, it would certainly make for a nice spectacle!
She gathered the wooden slips that Luan Chang Fu and Feng Gui Ying had chosen and put them to the side. Now, only four men were left.
Qian Mu Qing had gotten along with Zhang Shi Lan rather well. Since Ming Ru Shui was similar to him those two should also hit it off. She picked up the brush and noted down their names, picking up their wooden slips and discarding them as well. The last two men were both the sons of ministers so they at least had something in common. Nobody should be able to fault her if she paired the men up like this. Now, the only question was the order in which to ask them over.
Madam Yan played around with the brush, making her two aides watch the tip in panic. Wouldn’t their Madam make the ink fly through the whole room this way? They didn’t dare to disturb her while she was thinking though. Who knew what kind of thing she was coming up with right now? With who their customers were this time, they couldn’t make any blunder.
Madam Yan finally stopped waving the brush and circled the second pair of names on the list. Considering the identities of the eight men and that two of them were already out of the game before it had begun, she needed to let these women realize how high their chances were. So it was best to disillusion them a bit first.
If they saw that Luan Chang Fu and Feng Gui Ying weren’t interested in any of them specifically but had instead invited all forty of them to come back, they’d put more attention on the other four men, giving them a real chance despite their lower status. That way it would be strange if these men couldn’t win at least one woman over. At the very least, it would be a waste of their good looks if they couldn’t.
Happy with her idea, Madam Yan put her brush down and turned to her two aides. “Write an invitation to Luan Chang Fu and Feng Gui Ying, telling them to come back here in three days’ time. Also, prepare invitations for all forty ladies. Tell them the date and the names of the two men they are going to see. Please also remind them that either of them or maybe even both want to see them again as I’ve explained today.”
The two girls nodded but couldn’t help and grimaced when they turned away. Forty-two invitations? And if everyone should gather here again in three days’ time, then it certainly wasn’t enough to finish the invitations in three days. No, they’d need to finish today or at the very least tomorrow morning so that they could deliver the invitations and then give the people enough time to respond. Did their Madam think that they were monks who did nothing but writing all day so that their hands wouldn’t hurt even if they copied a thousand scriptures?!
They quietly closed the door behind them and went to the study. Even if they didn’t like it, there was nothing they could do. The invitations would still need to be finished and the earlier they started to write them the better. With two of them writing, they might not need that long anyway. Well, at the very least they wouldn’t if their Madam didn’t come up with the brilliant idea to have them write invitations for all the other men today too. They should make sure they finished this first batch and then hurried home before she could think of that. With that thought in mind, Xiao Xi and Xiao Jia started on their task, writing one invitation after the other.
Meanwhile, Madam Yan pondered the order of the other three meetings. Since she had always put two people together it shouldn’t be too important. After all, the position each of them had in the capital was very different.
For example, Qian Mu Qing ranked the lowest among the men but Ming Ru Shui’s uncle had a very high position so his own position was regarded highly because of that. He definitely ranked above Zhang Shi Lan and the two sons of the ministers. So it couldn’t be decided just by their positions which pair should get first.
In that case, she might as well tell Yu Huang Rong and Zhang Shi Lan to come on the day right after Luan Chang Fu and Feng Gui Ying. Right now, it was important that they saw each other as often as possible to cultivate good feelings.
She paused. Well, not that there weren’t already good feelings between them. Maybe it would be more appropriate to say that they should get more familiar with each other? Well, however she called it, it was still important that they could get to it soon. She didn’t worry too much about Zhang Shi Lan but who knew if that hotheaded General Yu would be able to wait for even these four days? Asking him to wait even longer … She didn’t have a deathwish.