Yu Huang Rong wasn’t quite sure if it was the right decision to drop the topic and move on. He had done something wrong. He understood that. And considering that he wanted to marry Zhang Shi Lan and have a happy relationship with him in the future, that wasn’t something they could just overlook. No, they had to work on this type of thing if they wanted to have a future together. Otherwise, this relationship might be fulfilling for him but it wouldn’t be for Zhang Shi Lan. At the very least, it might be more troublesome for him.
He wanted to speak up but finally kept quiet. Yes, they should talk about this. But this was neither the right time not the right place to do so. No, he should wait until they were alone and could sit down to talk things through. Only that way would he be able to make sure that he didn’t cause trouble for Zhang Shi Lan in the future again.
He sighed and then shrugged his shoulders. “Nothing specifically. Although I’d be interested to see what kind of topic Luan Xi—” His eyes widened and he gulped at Zhang Shi Lan’s gaze. “Uh … I’d be interested to hear what topic His Majesty chose for that essay competition.”
Zhang Shi Lan stared at him for a moment longer before he gave a begrudging nod. “Very well, let’s go there.” He turned away and then walked ahead, seemingly not caring if Yu Huang Rong followed him or not.
Yu Huang Rong cursed himself and then rushed after Zhang Shi Lan. Somehow, everything seemed to go wrong today. He could only hope that his father and Minister Zhang would get along better.
Yu Huang Rong probably didn’t have to worry about that. Even though the two men were rather different regarding their personalities, they were still both working at court and thus had something in common. Furthermore, the older General Yu was still trying to extract some information from Minister Zhang. So far, he hadn’t had much luck though. He couldn’t be too obvious but he knew that he didn’t have much time either considering that he normally didn’t see Minister Zhang around much.
Thus he couldn’t help but throw in a few questions about their children and their marriages. “So … How has it been going for your son? He is taking part in the events of the matchmaking pavilion together with Huang Rong if I remember correctly. He is a few years younger so his chances should be quite good, shouldn’t they?”
Minister Zhang couldn’t help but give an awkward smile. “Well, he might be younger but your son has been on the battlefield so it is understandable that he hasn’t gotten married yet. As for Shi Lan …” He shook his head. “I also don’t know what it is. I thought he might have fallen in love with somebody without any chance of his feelings being requited. It came as a surprise that he suddenly decided to go to the matchmaker that day. I almost asked him whether he was sure about the decision and didn’t want to reconsider. But then I remembered that that had actually been what my wife and I wanted.” Mister Zhang shook his head at himself. Truly, what had he been thinking that day? He actually almost stopped his son when he finally came to his senses!
General Yu nodded slowly, continuing to walk with Minister Zhang to the poetry competition. “It’s good that your son made the decision on his own. My son …” He sighed. “My wife and I almost had to beg him before he went to the matchmaking pavilion and even then he only did so begrudgingly. I sometimes wonder if it was a good idea to have him go to the military. Since he’s become a General, I feel that he doesn’t listen to us anymore.”
Minister Zhang showed the General a sympathetic look. “Well, your son seems to be very invested in fighting for our Chen country. He might be thinking that marrying and having a family would hold him back.”
General Yu gave a huff. “What holding him back? I also wasn’t held back when I married my wife!”
“Well, who knows what is going through young people’s heads?”
The General nodded. “Yes, ah, I really don’t understand. He was so against it but then he seemed to be doing better in the last few weeks. He doesn’t talk about it much but I have the feeling that he actually found somebody.” Well, he had had that feeling. Right now, he wasn’t sure anymore. Huang Rong might have just been plotting something to make sure he would never have to marry. “What about your son? Since he decided that he wanted to do this, has he found a girl he likes?”
Minister Zhang hesitated, a complicated gaze flitting through his eyes.
General Yu’s eyes narrowed. Was that a guilty conscience? “I’m sorry. Was that too inquisitive?”
Minister Zhang kept quiet for a moment longer before he shook his head. “That’s not it. It’s just … I was always sure that it was the right thing to let him marry and have a few kids. But he was so vehemently against it that my wife and I finally gave up urging him.
“Shi Lan has always been a very filial child. He is sometimes quite sentimental though so I wouldn’t have been surprised if he told me that there had been a girl he liked but couldn’t marry. Him being hung up over something like that … I could imagine that very well.” He sighed, his gaze becoming even more complicated. “I don’t know what made him go to the matchmaking pavilion. I don’t understand either what happened in the last few weeks. One moment, he is happy. The next moment, he’ll seem so …” Minister Zhang shook his head, not knowing how to put the feeling into words.
Minister Zhang once again shook his head, this time with some more conviction. “That’s not it. He isn’t really sad. I’m not even sure if I would call it a negative feeling. It’s more that he … Maybe I’d call it nostalgic. As if he is thinking back to something. And I’m wondering if maybe he’s forcing himself to give up on whoever he has been in love for all those years to make me and my wife happy. I always thought that that would be for the best but now that I’ve seen him like this I’m not even sure anymore. Maybe it would have been better if he didn’t. If he only marries so that we’ll be happy, then would it really be good for him?”
General Yu clasped his hands behind his back and looked up at the sky, furrowing his brows in deep thought. Was this talk supposed to make him reconsider his thoughts about his own son’s marriage? “But what would be the alternative? You can’t want him to stay alone forever, can you? Us old people won’t be there forever. Having a daughter-in-law that can take care of the estate is certainly important. Well, it might be even more so for our family considering that Huang Rong will be out for a lot of time. And if something happened to me …”
Minister Zhang glanced over, hurriedly shaking his head. “General Yu shouldn’t think like that. You’re a valiant man. I’m sure nothing will happen.”
“It’s worth considering though. I just think that it would be best for Huang Rong to get married.”
Minister Zhang nodded, making the General do a double-take.
What? He agreed just like that? So was this not part of the plan? Or could it be he didn’t even know about it? “You … think that way as well? Then your son …”
Minister Zhang sighed. “I do think that you are right insofar that it wouldn’t be good to have our sons stay alone. In regards to Shi Lan, I’m just not sure what to do. If he could open up about who that girl is, then that would be very good. Maybe my wife and I would be able to make it possible somehow. If I … I mean my status isn’t high but I’ve also been at court for a long time. It might not be impossible. If it could make my son happy, I might even try harder to advance the ranks. Whatever it is I need to do to give him a chance marrying the woman he likes, you know?”
General Yu nodded. “Mn. Yes, that is … that sounds like a good idea.” He couldn’t help but furrow his brows though. This didn’t sound like part of any plan. It just sounded like a worried father who didn’t know what to do about his only child. Had he thought wrong? Was there no plan after all? Or was all this just on his own son’s head and he had roped in that poor lovesick boy?
General Yu narrowed his eyes before his expression lit up again and he glanced over at Minister Zhang. “I’m sure your son will open up sooner or later. Maybe all you need to do is talk to him about it. He seemed like a good child.”
“Mn, he is.” Minister Zhang couldn’t help but straighten up a little, feeling proud of his son. Although his Shi Lan wasn’t a hero that had secured peace at the border, he was still a filial child that took his studies seriously. That was more than a lot of other fathers could say about their sons!
“Maybe we should go and take a look where the two of them went after we’ve seen a bit of the poetry competition. Today seems to be a good day to get closer.”
Minister Zhang seemed a little hesitant but finally nodded. “Yes, General Yu is right. Maybe such an occasion is indeed the right opportunity to talk about this. Thank you for listening to all these things and giving your insight.”
“Ah, don’t mention it. It’s a problem I only know too well.” He sighed. “Well, maybe my son will also open up a bit when he sees your son being filial.” He laughed and after a moment, Minister Zhang couldn’t help but join him.
Yes, it would be very good if they could get their sons to open up a bit and spill the beans. At least that was what they thought.