As soon as Madam Yan was sure that they were out of earshot, she started to grumble. “General Yu! Just what do you think you’re doing? Do you want to give everything away to your mother? Didn’t I say that this was a problem we would have trouble to deal with? I did say that I had a plan on how to take care of this but that is under the assumption that you don’t make things even more difficult for me.”
Yu Huang Rong gave her a confused look. “I don’t know what you’re talking about. Didn’t I just accompany my mother and then followed you shortly to give you my thanks for arranging everything so well? You can hardly call that making trouble.”
Madam Yan put a hand to her forehead but didn’t continue to speak. Alright, people in love sometimes were like that. They wouldn’t just lose their heart to the other person, no, they would also lose their brains somewhere and wouldn’t be able to consider things from all perspectives afterward. She’d forgive him this once.
Anyway, if she wanted to scold him, she had to wait until they were behind closed doors. It wouldn’t do for people to hear rumors that she was yelling at her customers. Then what would happen to her splendid reputation?
She shook her head and then motioned at the door to her study. “Get in there.”
Yu Huang Rong happily obliged and went over to her table, sitting down with a smile. “I came to tell you that I already finished my part. I confessed my feelings to Zhang Shi Lan and he reciprocated so we’re a couple now. So what’s the next step?”
Madam Yan who had just wanted to scold him went over to the table as well and sat down, giving him a deep look.
“I was just thinking that you’re quite fast. I didn’t expect that. Well, it’s still good. That way, we have enough time to prepare everything else.”
Yu Huang Rong almost heaved a sigh of relief. Finally, they would get to the point! “Then can you tell me what we’re going to prepare? You have no idea how hard it was to wait the last few days.”
Madam Yan raised her brows and crossed her legs, leaning back on her chair. “Now? While your mother is waiting in one of the rooms of my matchmaking pavilion? Have you completely lost your mind?”
Yu Huang Rong furrowed his brows. “What are you even saying? I just want to know what the next step is. Nothing more than that.” Honestly, how long could it take to tell him?
“It is one that will take more than ten words to explain so it is not something that we can do while your mother is waiting here. You should go home now and then come back later when your mother has left.”
“I don’t think that’s a good idea at all. I had a hard enough time coming up with an excuse to follow her today so I could come and share the news. Do you really think I’m able to come here without anybody noticing? If someone sees me coming to the matchmaking pavilion twice a day and my mother somehow finds out about that, then she will definitely know that something is up.”
Madam Yan rubbed her forehead and sighed. “Couldn’t you have thought about that earlier? You could’ve just come at a time when she isn’t here.”
Yu Huang Rong shook his head. “You’re making it sound too easy. Anyway, I’ve already come with her. So … Why don’t you give me a quick rundown? Or at least try to come up with some way to contact me and tell me more. I mean there will be other times when I need to tell you what is happening, won’t there? We should have some way to get in touch.”
Madam Yan sighed again. Even though she still felt that he had made more trouble than he had helped with the way he had gone about this, General Yu was also right that he was already here and that it would be difficult to come to the matchmaking pavilion again if she didn’t at least give him an excuse. Unfortunately, coming up with one this fast also wasn’t easy. In that case, she could really only tell him her plan as concise as possible.
“Alright, since you’ve managed to win him over, then what is left is convincing both of your families that the other one is the right partner for you. You also have to make sure that they won’t try to come up with some compromise like you just taking Zhang Shi Lan as a concubine while you marry somebody else as your first wife. If you want to agree to something like that, then I’m out of this. I think I don’t need to tell you that.”
Yu Huang Rong shook his head. “There’s no need to worry about that. I would never agree even if they brought it up. It is Zhang Shi Lan or nobody. My family will have to deal with that even if they don’t like it.”
Madam Yan nodded. “Well, at least in that regard, you’re a decent person.”
Yu Huang Rong’s lips twitched but once again he kept quiet and didn’t retort. Just like before with his mother, he felt that it would be more troublesome if he actually spoke his mind.
“Anyway, there are two things, no, three things we have to do for that. First of all, we have to make sure that your families accept the other person. Your family needs to have a good impression of Zhang Shi Lan while his family will need to have a good impression of you.”
Yu Huang Rong nodded. That made sense. It wouldn’t be easy to accomplish though. “I guess his father won’t be too happy with me. I’m from a military family while he’s a scholar. That might be troublesome.”
“That’s true. But I’m sure that it will be possible. You’re more than just a General. Just like Zhang Shi Lan is more than just a scholar. I’d suggest you find him and talk things through. There has to be something both of you can use to impress the other’s family.
“Anyway, other than this, we also have to convince them that a marriage between the two of you is acceptable and even an advantage. This will be easier if they have a good impression of the other person. So these two things go hand-in-hand.
“I do have some plans on how to make sure they’ll accept the marriage in the end but even just giving them some opportunities to find out more about the other person would already be good. Rather than forcing them when they’re unwilling, it is much better if they are already wavering whether they should accept or not.
“In regards to that, it also can’t hurt to have your families meet up. If your mother and his mother get along well or your father’s meet and find that they have something in common, then that will make things much easier. A marriage between two people is always a marriage between two families as well. You have to keep that in mind.”
Yu Huang Rong nodded again. “I don’t think I can do much about our mothers but I should be able to have our father’s meet up. I’ll also talk about this with Shi Lan when I see him. Maybe he had an idea about how we can get our mothers to meet.”
“Very well. You see if you can come up with something first. I’ll also create some opportunities where they can run into each other in the future. It would be more effective if they had already met before and established a connection. That would allow them to have another conversation which would secure their relationship.”
“Alright, I’ll see what I can do. What is the third point you mentioned?” So far, this sounded difficult but doable. At the very least, he was sure that he could figure something out with Zhang Shi Lan’s help.
“The third thing you have to do … is discrediting all the women you could marry.”
Yu Huang Rong raised his brows. “Come again? You want me to …” His gaze darted around. He didn’t even dare to think about what he had heard just now.
Madam Yan smiled. “You have to discredit your opponents. Is that so hard to imagine? If you want Zhang Shi Lan to be the good guy, then the others have to be the bad guy.”
Yu Huang Rong gave a wry smile. Wasn’t she putting it too simply? “It’s not that it’s hard to imagine. It’s just that … They’re women. What do you want me to do to them? Ruin their reputation?
“I can’t do that. I mean, yes, I do want to marry Zhang Shi Lan. But not at all costs. He wouldn’t like it if I did something like that either and, honestly, I wouldn’t be able to like myself either if I was the type of person that would be able to do something like that.”
Madam Yan laughed. “How did you even come up with that idea? You’re thinking too much. Nobody is asking you to have some innocent woman’s reputation ruined. You just have to make sure that your mother feels that none of them is an acceptable wife for you. It doesn’t have anything to do with these women’s marriages. Just with your own. We have to make her believe that they aren’t suitable for you, that’s at all. I’ll still make sure that they can get happily married to another man.”
Yu Huang Rong heaved a sigh of relief. This time she had really worried him. “Then what about Zhang Shi Lan’s family?”
Madam Yan sighed. “Well, it would naturally be good if we could do something similar but … I’m afraid that if we do too much, they will get behind it and try to come up with a plan to counter ours. That isn’t what we want. It has to look as if all of this doesn’t have anything to do with us. At the end of all this, both your families have to look at the two of you and feel that it is fate and that you found the best spouse that you could. Otherwise, Zhang Shi Lan will suffer every day in your household.”
Yu Huang Rong nodded gravely. Right, he had to make sure that his mother never got behind all this. Even if she somehow thought that there might have been some hidden machinations, he had to make her believe that Zhang Shi Lan had been calculated as much as her. “Do you have an idea?”
“Well, I’d suggest we try this with only one of you and go another way with the other. I actually have an idea about what we could do about Zhang Shi Lan’s family. It is slightly … risky though.”
“Then what would that be?”
Madam Yan shook her head and got up from her chair. “I’ll tell you about that. But on another day. For now, just make sure that you find out as much as you can about the women that you and Zhang Shi Lan met here the last time. I will try to deal with some of them myself but I will need your help for the rest. Otherwise, it would be too obvious.”
Yu Huang Rong also got up. “Alright, I guess I can do that. Then after I found out … How am I supposed to reach you?”
Madam Yan pursed her lips and then finally went back to the table, picked up a scroll of paper and a brush and scribbled something down. “This is the address of Xiao Xi. You go there and provide her with a list of everything you were able to find out. If there’s some other important message, then you can do the same. Don’t overdo it though. If it’s not absolutely necessary, you should keep as much distance between yourself and that house as you can.”
Yu Huang Rong took the paper scroll and looked at it with mixed feelings. He understood very well what she was trying to imply and he didn’t like it at all. “Well, I guess it is better than going to the matchmaking pavilion all the time. If somebody sees me though …”
Madam Yan motioned at the door. “At the very least, your family will believe you fell in love with one of my cute aides. That is much better than them thinking you’re love with a man or a married woman. Wouldn’t you say so?”
Yu Huang Rong furrowed his brows. “Nobody in their right mind would think that I could fall in love with you if that was what you were insinuating.”
Madam Yan just smiled. “Let’s better hope so or my husband might beat you up when he sees you.”
Yu Huang Rong’s lips twitched. “That ghost husband of yours … I’d really like to see him once.”
Madam Yan just gave another noncommittal smile and then waved at him. “Sure, sure. I’ll introduce you if the opportunity arises. Now you better leave. I still have to take care of your mother.”
Yu Huang Rong grumbled but still left. Now, he at least had a task that he could work on. That was much better than sitting at home and twiddling his thumbs. Ah, come to think of it … “What about Zhang Shi Lan? If my family is supposed to get a good impression of him, then I’ll have to meet him more often and maybe even invite him, don’t I?”
“Are you asking me for an excuse to meet with your sweetheart? I’m sure you can come up with something on your own. But yes, it’s alright to meet with him. In fact, I encourage you to do so as often as you can in the future. Well, maybe not as often right now but you should at least meet every few days for now and then it should become more often. In the end, your families can at least tell themselves that this wasn’t something that happened because they chose the wrong matchmaker and was instead something that just happened over time.”
Yu Huang Rong laughed. “You just don’t want to get into trouble because of this.”
“Should I get into trouble because of this? I thought I was doing you a favor. Now go. Don’t you have anything to do?” She ignored him and walked over to the room where Madam Yu was waiting instead.
Yu Huang Rong snorted but indeed left the matchmaking pavilion’s main house. Never mind, she was right that he had a task now. There was no need for him to continue to linger here. He should just trust that Madam Yan would be able to deal with his mother.
Thus Yu Huang Rong also left and started to inquire about the women he had seen at the matchmaking pavilion before. As for how he did that … Well, it did have its perks to be best friends with the emperor.