Bei Dou’s heart began to act strange.
Bei Dou thought it started since the day Yan Shi Ning was injured and he asked the ‘calm’ maid to clean and bandage Yan Shi Ning’s chest wound. That day the ‘calm’ maid collapsed onto him after helping Yan Shi Ning, blood made her queasy. He had lived for more than twenty years but he didn’t like being close to women. But the ‘calm’ maid’s accidently collapsing onto him felt like he was struck by lightning.
From that day Bei Dou didn’t know why he was aware of the ‘calm’ maid’s presence. In the morning when he was practicing Kung Fu, he noticed she was carrying a tray of food somewhere nearby. In the afternoon when he walked outside to buy medicine, he noticed she was embroidering flowers. In the evening when he stood under a tree, he noticed she was climbing another tree to help retrieve a kite for another maid… he didn’t know why but he was scared she would fall off the tree.
Bei Dou’s fear came true, the ‘calm’ maid broke a branch and fell off the tree… he didn’t know when he braced her fall until a group of maids surrounded him and he realised he was carrying her in his arms.
Bei Dou didn’t know why he ran to brace the ‘calm’ maid’s fall. He was someone who prioritized himself so after she stood steady on her feet, he wanted to walk away but she stopped him.
‘Gentleman Bei, can you help me retrieve that kite?’ Xiao Tu asked.
Bei Dou thought why he needed to help the ‘calm’ maid, he didn’t have enough free time to help. But his body didn’t cooperate with his thoughts, he blinked and the kite was in his hands. His muddled head and body left the group of maids.
‘Big sister Xiao Tu, I didn’t think you would dare to talk to Gentleman Bei,’ the first maid said.
‘Big sister Xiao Tu, you even dared to ask Gentleman Bei to retrieve the kite,’ the second maid said. ‘Big sister, did you know that each time I see Gentleman Bei, I want to run away?’
‘Big sister Xiao Tu, Gentleman Bei is no different from a demon,’ the third maid said. ‘I shiver each time I see him. It’s alright if he doesn’t say anything but it’s scary to death if he speaks.’
‘That’s right,’ the fourth maid said. ‘What’s scarier is why he helped big sister Xiao Tu retrieve the kite.’
‘Gentleman Bei’s strange behaviour is scarier than his usual scary self,’ the fifth maid said. ‘In the past he never glanced at a maid so it’s strange he would help big sister Xiao Tu.’
While the group of maids were gossiping, Bei Dou stood nearby to eavesdrop. He finally found out the ‘calm’ maid’s name was Xiao Tu. He waited half a day to hear what Xiao Tu said about him.
‘Perhaps today Gentleman Bei ingested the wrong medicine,’ Xiao Tu said.
Bei Dou took a step back and fell on the ground. What wrong medicine? He stood, returned to his chamber and thought deeply about Xiao Tu’s words. He finally agreed he must haven ingested the wrong medicine otherwise he wouldn’t do something strange like brace her fall and help her retrieve a kite.
A few days later, Bei Dou’s old personal maid returned to her country home to take care of her sick mother.
Pei Jin visited Bei Dou’s chamber and asked him who he wanted to be his new personal maid. He didn’t know what demon possessed him but he pointed at Xiao Tu who was passing by his chamber.
‘I choose her,’ Bei Dou said.
‘I was only passing by,’ Xiao Tu said.
‘Bei Dou, did you point to the wrong maid?’ Pei Jin asked.
‘She has steady hands,’ Bei Dou said. ‘She’ll be able to help me with many things.’
As a result of Bei Dou’s words, Xiao Tu’s belongings was moved to the chamber closest to Bei Dou’s chamber. He was used to having his courtyard to himself, it was a strange feeling to live close to another person. He wanted to chase her away but he also didn’t want her to leave. Besides, she was pleasant to look at.
Bei Dou put the bottles of remedies down on a table and he watched Xiao Tu familiarising herself with the medicine in the drawers.
Xiao Tu was wearing a blue dress. She tiptoed on a ladder step to open the higher drawers.
Bei Dou didn’t know why his eyes were focusing on her exposed arms and why his heart was pounding.
‘Gentleman Bei, where is the Xue Lian herbs?’ Xiao Tu asked.
Bei Dou was flustered after being caught staring at Xiao Tu. ‘It’s the third drawer on the same level as the seventh rung.’
‘Thank you Gentleman Bei,’ Xiao Tu said. ‘Also, Gentleman Bei did you buy new clothes?’
Bei Dou looked at his new brown clothes and nodded his head.
‘Gentleman Bei, you’re too young to suit wearing brown,’ Xiao Tu said. ‘You’re young white skin suits wearing blue clothes like the same colour as my dress.’
Bei Dou wondered how soon Gentleman Su could make him ten new blue clothes.
Suddenly Bei Dou heard Xiao Tu cried out, he blinked and he didn’t know when he braced her fall. His neck to his forehead turned red after he realised he was carrying her in his arms.
In that moment Pei Jin and Yan Shi Ning walked into Bei Dou’s chamber.
‘I didn’t see anything,’ Pei Jin provoked.
Bei Dou glared at Pei Jin. Then Bei Dou heard Yan Shi Ning’s demoness laugh so he put Xiao Tu onto the floor.
‘Wife, someone is experiencing spring,’ Pei Jin said.
‘Husband, you’re right,’ Yan Shi Ning said. ‘Gentleman Bei is at the right age to marry and have children.’
‘That’s right,’ Pei Jin said. ‘It’s my carelessness to forget. Wife, let’s go outside for a stroll so we won’t delay Gentleman Bei’s progress.’
‘Let’s go,’ Yan Shi Ning said.
Bei Dou’s head spun at the sounds of the beautiful compatible pair mocking him. But Xiao Tu wasn’t flustered because she didn’t understand Pei Jin and Yan Shi Ning’s words.
‘You can leave,’ Bei Dou said to Xiao Tu.
Xiao Tu obediently carried the bottle of Xue Lian and walked outside.
‘Bei Dou, you have good vision,’ Pei Jin praised. ‘What’s her name?’
‘Xiao Tu!’ Bei Dou said in a frustrated tone.
‘Bei Dou, you certainly remember her name clearly,’ Pei Jin provoked.
Bei Dou was also confused why he remembered Xiao Tu’s name.
‘She’s Duan Ba Hou’s granddaughter,’ Pei Jin said. ‘Duan Ba Hou met misfortune and sent her to my teacher. My teacher sent her to his acquaintance whom he saved their life. After my teacher’s acquaintance died, she was sent to my manor. Although she’s a maid, she’s still a young lady from a prominent household so I arranged for her not to serve anyone. I intended to wait for her to age a little more before marrying her off to a good household. But now it appears I don’t need to anymore.’
‘I’m not marrying her!’ Bei Dou said.
‘I didn’t ask you to marry her,’ Pei Jin said. ‘Why are you protesting?’
Bei Dou was speechless and his face flushed red.
‘But if you’re this resolute then I’ll need to continue finding a good household for her,’ Pei Jin provoked.
‘You can’t do that… I’m teaching her about medicine,’ Bei Dou said. ‘She’s intelligent… it’ll be a pity if she starts a family too soon… I want her to be my pupil.’
Pei Jin and Yan Shi Ning looked at each other then they laughed loudly.
‘Why did you come here to look for me?’ Bei Dou said.
‘Tomorrow the crown prince is leaving the imperial city,’ Pei Jin said.
Bei Dou’s body stiffened. After Pei Jin and Yan Shi Ning left, Bei Dou opened a drawer, pulled out a sword and sunlight reflected off the sword in four directions.
It was the sword the empress used to bribe the Thinh Household to support the crown prince. It was the most deadly sword in the world. Bei Dou wanted to use the sword to kill the empress in the palace.
Xiao Tu returned to Bei Dou’s chamber and she stood still after she saw Bei Dou’s deadly aura while holding the sword.
Bei Dou put away the sword because he thought it scared Xiao Tu.
‘Gentleman Bei, do you want to go kill someone?’ Xiao Tu asked calmly.
Bei Dou nodded his head.
Xiao Tu put down a bottle on a table. ‘This is the bottle of poison I brewed as Gentleman Bei instructed. Gentleman Bei, do you want me to cover the sword with this poison?’
Bei Dou was speechless, he didn’t know why Xiao Tu wasn’t scared.
Short Side Story Three
Bei Dou: I fell in love at first sight.
Xiao Tu: I fell in love over a long period.
Bei Dou: But I was naive.
Xiao Tu: He was naive so I had to take the first step toward him.
End of Chapter Forty-Nine
Chapter Eighteen (Part 2 of 2)
A rumor spread faster than the guests drank wine at harvest festival banquet.
The gentle ninth prince spent three years of earnings to buy his wife a heavenly dress.
Yan Jing’s heart felt a happy pain.
Jealousy covered Yan Shi Ting’s heart.
Seventh prince laughed coldly. His ninth brother was entrapped by beauty and became wasteful.
The emperor thought Pei Jin was more unpredictable by the day.
Pei Jin was happy he could finally give Yan Shi Ning a heavenly dress. He didn’t care about the disapproving stares from other people in the palace.
Pei Jin and Yan Shi Ning stood dignified in the palace banquet hall and everyone thought they were smiling lovingly at each other.
The light blue dress highlighted Yan Shi Ning’s snow white skin. Moonlight reflected off the tiny gold flower jewels embroidered on her dress… everyone thought she changed into a heavenly beauty.
It was the first time Yan Shi Ning received attention from other people since living in the imperial city. The heavens knew she wanted to be an invisible wall to past the banquet by eating and drinking. She didn’t expect Pei Jin would give her a heavenly dress and have everyone’s eyes focused on her. Although she was uncomfortable to death by the stares, she maintained her gentle lady image.
‘Ninth brother, I haven’t seen you for a few days but your face is glowing,’ Pei Zhang praised. ‘Indeed a newly wedded man is a happy man.’
Pei Zhang praised Pei Jin, but Pei Zhang’s eyes were looking regretfully at the heavenly Yan Shi Ning he conceded to Pei Jin.
‘Seventh brother is right,’ Pei Jin said.
Yan Shi Ning wasn’t amused by the two brothers’ exchange. She turned around to walk to the banquet table, but someone pulled her dress. She looked down and saw a loveable little boy dressed in light gold clothes. The little boy looked about three years old, he had a chubby body and his big round eyes were looking at her.
‘Nin, Nin,’ the little boy said.
Yan Shi Ning was about to ask who the little boy was but a little girl ran to him and fiercely pulled him away from her dress.
‘Fat kitten!’ the little girl said. ‘You dare run away!’
The little boy fell on his bottom. He didn’t hurt his bottom but the little girl’s loud scold scared him and he cried.
Pei Jin picked up the little boy and consoled the little boy.
‘Thirteenth brother, what are you doing here?’ Pei Jin asked.
Heavens! Yan Shi Ning didn’t expect the little boy was Pei Jin’s youngest brother, Pei Khan.
The last time Yan Shi Ning visited the palace, Consort La was pregnant so she didn’t see Consort La and Pei Khan.
‘Wen Cai!’ Pei Zhang called coldly.
‘Father… seventh father,’ the little girl said.
Suddenly Consort La and Pei Zhang’s wife Jing Thi ran toward their children.
Consort La was relieved Pei Khan wasn’t hurt. ‘Pei Khan, why did you run here? Before weren’t you playing with little Wen Cai?’
Consort La and Pei Khan were walking in the palace gardens when they bumped into Jing Thi and Pei Wen Cai. So Consort La let Pei Khan play with Pei Wen Cai while she gossiped with Jing Thi. After a while she and Jing Thi couldn’t see Pei Khan and Pei Wen Cai in the gardens and panicked.
‘Hit, Hit!’ Pei Khan said and looked at Pei Wen Cai.
Pei Khan wanted to say he ran away because Pei Wen Cai hit him in the gardens. But he couldn’t speak clearly and could only look accusingly at Pei Wen Cai. He silently cursed the rotten egg Pei Wen Cai who always bullied him.
Pei Wen Cai could speak clearer and denied she hit Pei Khan. ‘Nonsense, I didn’t hit you!’
Pei Khan buried his head in Pei Jin’s chest because Pei Wen Cai’s tone was too scary.
Yan Shi Ning wondered why two three-year-old children were the same age but were treated differently by their family members. Pei Khan was a prince yet he was fearful of seventh prince’s daughter.
End of Chapter Eighteen (Part 2 of 2)