The two men started to talk about everything from the situation at the border and the most important trading routes f their Chen country to the upcoming wedding and even got a wei qi board from the restaurant in the end, playing one round to compete in their ability to strategize.
Needless to say, Yu Huang Rong won but he still felt quite a bit better about this person. Alright, maybe had he had been overreacting in regard to Qian Mu Qing. That person was obviously a decent guy and didn’t have any designs on Zhang Shi Lan. In fact, he wasn’t interested in men at all and just saw him as a good friend. Well, he couldn’t resent him for that. Obviously, Qian Mu Qing had merely been able to see Zhang Shi Lan’s good qualities. That was just proof of his own good character.
In that way, the three of them finally parted ways in a much better mood. The two lovebirds were happy to have been able to spend almost the whole day with each other again and Qian Mu Qing was happy that he had managed to dispel the General’s doubts about him. Now, he would not need to worry about seeing Zhang Shi Lan in the future and this relationship might also come in handy one day. So just one afternoon had brought him two good news. That really was something to be happy about.
Zhang Shi Lan and Yu Huang Rong exchanged a last glance before they got onto the carriages the servants of their families had brought over. Each of them had their own thoughts while they went home although Zhang Shi Lan and Yu Huang Rong were thinking of each other.
Ah, today had been lucky for them but they wouldn’t be able to do this all the time. Qian Mu Qing already knew about them so it wasn’t a risky move. But even if they managed to see each other under the guise of meeting other people, they wouldn’t be able to be affectionate with each other again in public. After all, they couldn’t let anybody else find out. It was just too dangerous. Thus they could only hope that Madam Yan would soon have good news for them.
When Zhang Shi Lan got down from the carriage, he couldn’t help but feel self-conscious. He was still wearing that silver hairpin that Yu Huang Rong had given him. Even though he didn’t mind how it looked, he was afraid that his mother or father might notice. In fact, even if just one of the servants noticed, it might also bring them trouble. After all, he would certainly be asked just where this hairpin had come from and he didn’t feel good about lying to his parents. Even keeping his relationship with Yu Huang Rong secret from them … it wasn’t a filial thing to do, was it?
He nodded at the servant that had brought him home and then wanted to secretly go back to his room and put in another hairpin before he went to see anybody else but just then, a maid came running toward him.
“Young Master! Young Master, come quickly!”
Zhang Shi Lan froze on the spot and then rushed over. “What is it? What happened? Is something with my mother?” This girl was his mother’s handmaiden. If she came running over like this, then it had to be about a matter that concerned his mother. He couldn’t help but fear. Had she suddenly fallen ill? Had there been some accident? What if it was serious?
He rushed after the girl only to find himself in the room where his mother liked to sit and drink tea. Even now, she was doing exactly that: She sat at the table, a steaming cup in front of her and a letter clasped in her hand. A bright smiled adorned her face while she was excitedly talking to his father.
Zhang Shi Lan stopped in his tracks, unable to make heads or tails of this. Just what was happening? Why had the girl been that agitated if nothing was wrong with his mother? Zhang Shi Lan slightly furrowed his brows and stepped in. “Father, mother. What happened?”
When she heard his voice, his mother got to her feet and walked over, grabbing his arm and pulling him to the table. “Ah, Shi Lan, you’re finally back! Come, come, sit down first. There’s good news!”
Zhang Shi Lan uneasily let her lead him to the table and sat down next to the two of them. “Mother seems happy. So nothing is wrong with you?”
His mother laughed and waved his concerns away. “Silly! What should be wrong with me? On the contrary, I’m feeling much better than I have in the last few years. Look at this!” She put the letter in front of him and patted it with a bright smile. “That Madam Yan from the matchmaking pavilion finally wrote a letter to us. Now, she’s willing to see me to talk about your marriage. Well, it was about time.”
Zhang Shi Lan nodded in a daze. This letter was from Madam Yan? Did this mean … things were slowly moving forward? Would he and Yu Huang Rong get news soon as well? Would they finally find out what the next step was? Then their own wedding … He couldn’t help but lower his gaze and give a slight smile. Ah, if it really was true … It really was worth getting excited about.
Seeing his expression, Madam Zhang was even happier. Ah, it seemed her son had finally decided that marrying wasn’t so bad after all. It was such a relief seeing him like this. The last few years, she always had to worry whether he would still be able to find a suitable wife after he got older. Sure, if he managed to get a good position at the Emperor’s court, then that would raise his chances of getting a good wife as well. But at the same time, he wouldn’t get younger. Who knew if that wouldn’t bring any troubles? No, it was better he got married early. A wife that stuck with him even in the bad times was the best anyway.
She reached over and patted his arm. “She already wants to see me tomorrow if I’m free. Even though it is a little sudden, I’ve naturally sent a servant to tell her that it’s alright with me. Since this is about your wedding, we shouldn’t lose any time. Who knows? Maybe I’ll come back tomorrow and can already tell you just who your wife will be.”
Zhang Shi Lan nodded even though he was sure that nothing of the like would happen. Maybe Madam Yan would just use this meeting to stall for some more time. After all, she didn’t know about Yu Huang Rong’s and his relationship yet. Yes, she was probably trying to give Yu Huang Rong some more time to make matters work out.
They probably should send her a note. But he couldn’t do that. Never mind that his family might find out, Madam Yan also didn’t know yet that he had already been told. No, it was better to leave that type of thing to Huang Rong. It was just that … He had no idea how to reach him so he could only hope that Yu Huang Rong would think of it himself.
The person in question was indeed thinking about the same thing. Just like Zhang Shi Lan, he had been called over as soon as the servant bringing him home had pulled the carriage’s curtain aside. He had the honor of being gripped by his own mother though.
Madam Yu very excitedly dragged her son back into the house and thrust the letter at him, asking this and that about the women that he had seen at the matchmaker’s so far and if he had a clear favorite.
Since he had finally acquiesced to get married, she would accommodate him a bit and take his own preferences into consideration. If there was a girl he liked very much, then she would definitely choose that one if everything else fit. If not… Well, her son shouldn’t know any of them too well yet, should he?
She couldn’t help but get a little anxious at the thought. The servant had reported that her son had gone to buy a hairpin today so it was likely that there was a girl that he liked indeed. If the family wasn’t good enough or their dates of birth didn’t match … Then what was she supposed to do? Ignore fate and just let her son be willful? She didn’t really want to risk that.
But what else could she do? It wasn’t that easy to get Yu Huang Rong to do anything. It was already very good that he had gotten this far and realized that he should get married before it was too late. If she tried to force him to marry a girl he didn’t like while the one he preferred remained unmarried …
Ah, this was too troublesome! Her son would refuse to get married in such a case, she was sure of that. There would be no way to convince him otherwise. Or maybe … Would he accept to marry another woman as his first wife if the other one could at least become his second wife or concubine? That should be a good compromise … Ah, she should keep the thought at the back of her head and bring it up if things got troublesome.
Yu Huang Rong didn’t bother trying to figure out what his mother was up to and just looked at the letter instead. Unfortunately, it didn’t say much, just that Madam Yan wanted to see his mother to have a chat about the upcoming steps she had planned.
Well, that at least told him that Madam Yan still had some things planned. What that involved though … He didn’t know. He didn’t even have an inkling what she could be up to. Figuring out women seemed to be harder than figuring out your enemy in war.
Whatever. He should just go and have a chat with her. That would be more fruitful than trying to guess her mind. He had to tell her that he had already made progress with Zhang Shi Lan anyway so that she could tell him what the next steps in that regard would be.
They shouldn’t wait any longer than necessary. Unfortunately, it was already too late to go and talk to her today. He’d have to wait until tomorrow to go over and ask. Come to think of it …
Yu Huang Rong gave a smile and patted his mother’s arm. “Well, didn’t I say you didn’t have to worry? Even though her way of doing things is a little strange, she’s a good matchmaker so everything will go well in the end. How about I bring you over tomorrow and thank her again? If we leave her with a good impression, she’ll certainly put in even more effort to find a good match for me. She seems to be the type of person that would like that. What do you think?”
Madam Yu was elated. Ah, who would have thought that her son would one day be this interested in his marriage? He was putting in so much effort! She clasped his arm with tears in her eyes and nodded fervently. “That’s a great idea! Let’s do it that way then. Ah, make sure you dress nicely tomorrow. Even though you have a good reputation, a woman always wants a good-looking husband. It’s better to make sure you’re presentable.”
Yu Huang Rong gave a wry smile and stood up. “What are you saying, mother? Isn’t your son always handsome?” He smiled and turned around, leaving happily. Never mind that his mother was still going on about him finding a wife. Since this was getting closer to marrying the person he loved, it was very good. He just wanted things to proceed so that he could see Zhang Shi Lan every day from now on. He really didn’t want to be apart from him for even a single minute.