General Yu had indeed trouble to wait patiently. Madam Yan had actually made her aides write the invitations for the other men the same evening they had them prepare the ones for Luan Chang Fu and Feng Gui Ying, making Xiao Xi and Xiao Jia grumble incessantly. The invitations were then all delivered right the next morning, much to the delight of the eight gentlemen’s mothers. General Yu was just as delighted when he heard that he could see Zhang Shi Lan again in three days already. Or at the very least, he was delighted at first. After that, he realized just how long three days could be.
The first half a day was spent in eager anticipation. He sifted through the robes he had at home to see if anything was fit to be worn in the presence of the person he loved. Unfortunately, he turned up empty-handed. Thus he readied his horse and rode through the capital in search of a shop that would tailor one for him that fit the occasion.
Another half a day later, he returned in a mood that already wasn’t as great. It hadn’t been easy at all to find a store that could fulfill his requirements. Three days were just too short of a time. He almost believed that this Madam Yan had chosen the date on purpose to make sure he wouldn’t look presentable. Could it be she had only agreed outwardly but was inwardly trying to sabotage him?
He pondered this question for the whole night, turning from one side to the other until the first rays of light fell through the window. Unfortunately, he hadn’t found an answer despite all his pondering. He had figured out in just how much of a dilemma he was though.
Madam Yan had been right when she said that his family would be against him marrying Zhang Shi Lan. It was also true that he would need to work hard to make Zhang Shi Lan admit his feelings. After all, the scholar didn’t even dare to talk with him face-to-face. It was a wonder if he got a few words out.
If it was only one of these things, then he wouldn’t doubt that he’d be able to solve the matter on his own. But with both of them and only a few months left until the end of the year, he had to admit that he couldn’t do this without help. He needed advice on how to win Zhang Shi Lan over and a plan on how to deal with his parents.
If Madam Yan was truly against him and dragged things out, maybe even until Zhang Shi Lan had decided on one of the women, then his chance would be over. Or what if she went and told his family about his plan? That would be even worse! In that case …
Yu Huang Rong gritted his teeth and paced up and down in his room like a caged beast. He didn’t want to give up. No, Zhang Shi Lan would be his. In the worst case, he’d just kidnap the beauty!
Yu Huang Rong stopped in his tracks and coughed. Uh … As tempting as that sounded, he also knew he couldn’t do it. He would frighten the poor man and make matters between them even more impossible.
Ah, but what else could he do? He considered to run back to the palace and make sure that Luan Xin would really help him. Not only could he be at ease then, but he would also be safe from his mother. After all, she was still waiting for his report on the event at the matchmakers.
On that day, he managed to return from the palace so late that he didn’t need to speak to her and then the following day, he had gone to find a tailor so early that she hadn’t managed to catch him. But now, it was only a question of time until she would appear in front of his door and demand answers. What was he supposed to say then?
Yu Huang Rong resumed his pacing, this time pondering how to deal with his mother. In the end, he stormed out of his chamber but had to stop with a groan. As soon as he opened the door, he was greeted by Madam Yu’s expectant face. He held back from uttering a curse at the last minute. This was still his mother, even though he didn’t want to talk to her about this, he couldn’t be too shameless.
Yu Huang Rong forced himself to smile. “Mother, what a surprise! Unfortunately, I have something very important to do. Let’s talk later.” He breezed past her and ran out of the house, grabbing his horse as fast as he could, and rode away.
“You –” Madam Yu raised her hands to hold her son back but it was already too late. She sighed and shook her head. Why couldn’t the child wait and answer some simple questions? She only wanted to know which girl he was interested in so that she could make preparations! Wouldn’t it be better if he had her help? For Heaven’s sake! Why was this child making things so difficult?
Unfortunately, there was nothing she could do regardless of how much she resented her son for behaving like this. Once again, she could only return to her own rooms and sent out some servants to inquire about more news.
Meanwhile, Yu Huang Rong had returned to the matchmaking pavilion. Madam Yan’s aide Xiao Xi had led him into a waiting room and poured him a cup of tea. He impatiently gulped down the tea and stared at the girl. “Where is your Madam now? What’s taking her so long? I’m here to discuss important matters!”
Xiao Xi shivered. Why hadn’t she noticed how scary General Yu was yesterday? Was her Madam sure that Scholar Zhang was in love with him and not just afraid? “That … Madam Yan is busy right now. She’ll come and tend to you as soon as she’s finished. Do you want another cup of tea, General Yu?”
Yu Huang Rong groaned. Who wanted another cup of tea?! Would anyone come to the matchmaker to drink tea?! If he wanted to drink tea, he could stay at home or go to the palace! “You go and tell her that I’m in a hurry!”
Xiao Xi winced and rushed out of the room, running to the study where Xiao Jia was writing the invitations for the women while Madam Yan sat at the side, snacking on pastries. She rushed to Madam Yan and threw herself on the ground next to her, clinging to the skirt of her dress. “Madam! Haven’t you had enough pastries already? Why don’t you go and meet General Yu immediately? He’s really scary!”
Madam Yan picked up the teacup and took a sip to get rid of the last crumbs stuck in her throat. “So he’s once again showing his famous temper? Then we should definitely let him wait a while longer. He should get rid of that kind of bad habit before he gets married. Otherwise, wouldn’t the poor Scholar Zhang have to suffer every day? You can’t want that to happen!”
Xiao Xi whined and let go off Madam Yan’s dress, hurrying over to Xiao Jia’s side instead. “Xiao Jia, why don’t you go and see what he wants the next time? You’re much better at coming up with excuses too.”
Xiao Jia snorted. “I’m also better at calligraphy which is why I’m the one who’s writing most of the invitations. You can’t expect me to do everything, can you?”
Xiao Xi harrumphed. Mean! These two were too mean! She wouldn’t speak to them anymore.
Madam Yan treated herself to another two pastries and a second cup of tea before she dusted off her hands and got up. “Alright, I guess I’d better go and see that General Yu before he explodes. The two of you just continue with the invitations. Remember that it would be best if the next batch could be delivered this evening.” She didn’t wait for her aides’ reactions and left the study, strolling to the room where General Yu was waiting at a leisurely pace.
Yu Huang Rong’s brows twitched when he heard the unhurried footsteps approaching the room. This woman! She was deliberately letting him wait!
Madam Yan stopped in front of the door and smoothed out her sleeves, taking her sweet time before entering the room with a bright smile. “General Yu, what a nice surprise to see you back this fast! If I hadn’t seen how you looked at Scholar Zhang, I might have thought you were in love with me or one of my aides.”
General Yu leaped to his feet and clenched his hands into fists. “Shameless! First, You’re letting me wait and then you even have the gall to spout such nonsense!” If she wasn’t a woman, he would have drawn his weapon and challenged her to a duel!
Madam Yan walked over to the table and sat down, taking a minute to appreciate his livid face. Ah, she never would have thought she’d get the chance to see him like this. She shook her head and crossed her legs, before motioning at the chair. “Why don’t you sit down again and tell me why you’ve come? You do have to admit that it is strange to see you here again today. Haven’t you received the invitation telling you that you’re supposed to come back in three days’ time?”
Yu Huang Rong harrumphed. “Why three days?”
“Why?” Madam Yan’s brows arched in surprise. “You wouldn’t be considering opening a matchmaking pavilion yourself, General Yu, would you?”
Yu Huang Rong frowned. Why was it so difficult to talk normally with this woman? “Madam Yan, I’m being serious here. I told you what I want yesterday. This is an urgent matter. So why do I have to wait three days?”
Madam Yan sighed and eyed the pastries on the table. Ah, if she hadn’t eaten in the study already … She shook her head and pushed the plate with the pastries aside, making General Yu look at the table with confusion. Was she going to demonstrate something? Draw a strategic map to explain her plan?
Madam Yan did nothing of the like but she did tap the table with her fingers. “General Yu, you shouldn’t have forgotten that you aren’t the only one taking part in this event. There are another six men and some of them are harder to ignore than others. Naturally, the Emperor’s cousin had to be given preference. So he was scheduled the day before you and Scholar Zhang. As for the two days before that … You can imagine that there are things we have to prepare. Starting the next part after just three days is already the fastest I can go.”
Yu Huang Rong pursed his lips in dissatisfaction but at least, he had calmed down a bit.
Madam Yan sighed when she saw him like this. “Did you forget what I said yesterday? It will take time to make Scholar Zhang admit to his feelings. It won’t go faster just because you see him every day. On the contrary, that might have the opposite effect. He needs to be given some time to think things through on his own. You’ll see.”
This time it was on General Yu to tap the table with his fingers. “Will I really? You wouldn’t be trying to hoodwink me, would you? If you’re trying to set Zhang Shi Lan up with a woman behind my back …”
Madam Yan’s lips twitched. Did this guy need to sound so jealous? They weren’t even together yet. How would this end if those two really married? It seemed she could only hope that Scholar Zhang would be able to deal with this. Well, with his personality, it might be possible.
Madam Yan got up and pushed the chair back to the table. She held onto the backrest and smiled. “I’m happy that you’re serious about this, General Yu. But please don’t forget to use your head just because you’re overcome with emotion.
“I’m a matchmaker. It is my job to set people up with each other and make sure that they can marry and have a marital life that is as happy as possible. There have been many couples whose future was determined in my pavilion. I have a reputation to uphold and I would be quite happy if that reputation would grow a little bigger.
“Do you really think that there is any woman among the forty you’ve seen yesterday that I could set up with Scholar Zhang and create as much talk about it as there would be if he marries you?” Her smile got even more pronounced but she didn’t wait for his answer and just turned around, motioning at the door. “If that was everything you want to know, then don’t stay too long, General Yu. There’s still a lot of things we need to do and I’m sure you also want to prepare.” With that, she left the room and went back to the study, leaving a dumbfounded General Yu behind.