Chapter 7 – Endless worry and provocation
Although the various packages of medicines were discreetly presented, they were like needles piercing Long Er’s eyes. He was really enduring a belly full of anger, left wanting to vent but unsure where to vent.
The black faced Second Lord had already suffocated for two days and felt uncomfortable all over.
On the other hand, these past few days since Long Er had returned, not only did these households send over medicine, they also sent over quite a lot of gold and silver. It was probably due to the renovations on the main street causing them to want to express their goodwill.
Long Er was very clear regarding this matter. Those households which were important and vital, he would accept their gold and silver, those which he could not take advantage of he would assist, those to whom he should display his power, he was all too clear about how to deal with them.
In accordance with his previous plan, Long Er accepted money from two households. After arranging the things regarding the street repairs, allowing each of the two households to receive benefits, he returned satisfied.
Because the end of the year was close, all of the stores were extremely prosperous. Due to this, he decided to schedule the street renovations during the New Year, so as to not negatively impact the store sales, while also clearly calculating the renovation bills with the two households. All of the required materials and manpower that the two families needed would be provided at the beginning of the new year. Those two families earnestly agreed with his plan.
After arranging the building of the street awnings, Long Er thought about Ju Mu Er again.
He decided to once again go and steal her bamboo cane. He thought that the vulgar rumors about him on the streets were caused by her.
This type of thought wasn’t righteous and good, Long Er knew. To go and steal a blind lady’s bamboo cane isn’t honourable, so he decided to not inform anyone about it.
Long Er didn’t bring any bodyguards and rode his horse out via the south city gate, towards the bamboo forest. When he arrived at the bamboo pavilion, he saw a peasant couple resting there and there was no silhouette of Ju Mu Er.
(TLN: Bamboo booth will become pavilion. When I thought it over, pavilion was more accurate because it’s like a viewing/resting place in the forest and pavilion is better than booth.)
Long Er spurred his horse forward and rode straight to the Ju family’s wine shop.
The Ju family’s wine shop was five miles south of the city. From the city’s main road if you went down a fork to an adjacent boulevard, you could see their little wine shop.
The Ju family’s wine shop wasn’t especially large, with only four tables and two workers, excluding her father, comprising their work force. The shop mainly focused on selling wine, along with some appetisers to go along with it, these included; roast meat, steamed buns, noodles, etc.
The Ju family’s wine shop was quite well-known in the surrounding cities and many of the restaurant owners ordered their wine from it. The wine shop owner made a living from these orders, as the actual visitors to the wine shop were not many.
At the rear of the wine shop were the living quarters of the family. In the main courtyard, there were three sections. The first courtyard section was connected to the wine shop, it housed the two workers, guarded the shop and was also used to store random necessities etc. The second courtyard section was the residence of the Ju old man and also served as the winery storehouse. Whilst the third courtyard section was the residence of Ju Mu Er.
Long Er had long since learnt this via Li Ke’s inquires, so he hurried onwards with his horse to find a hidden area to tie his horse down before sneaking to the back courtyard of the Ju family residence.
Ju Mu Er’s courtyard was very peaceful, with tall wooden railings surrounding it. In the surrounding area, there were no other houses, only after you travelled some distance off the boulevard would you start to see neighbours.
Looking in all directions, Long Er watched Ju Mu Er’s courtyard like a thief. This small courtyard had three rooms, with one being the bedroom; the decorations were simple with one bed, one table and one cabinet. There was no other furniture.
The other room was the study, with bookshelves covering three of the walls. Books dominated the room, and a writing desk was placed infront of the window with the essentials of calligraphyon it; calligraphy brush, inkwell, ink and paper. No excess or gaudy decorative items were placed in the room.
When he saw the room’s books, Long Er looked on blankly and suddenly thought of this blind girl, before she was blind. She should have been someone who loved to read books, and for no apparent reason his heart felt a bit stifled.
There was still one more room. The window was open, so as Long Er peered into the window he saw there was a guqin case placed there and on top of the case the instrument itself. On one wall, hung three paintings of guqins, one of a pipa and one of a guzheng. On the opposite wall there was a small bookcase, filled with books. Whether it was this guqin room or the study, they were spotless without a speck of dust to be seen.
Long Er spun around but couldn’t see Ju Mu Er, causing him to become very disappointed. His original goal for coming here was to specially bully her a bit, have some fun and vent his anger. But she was unexpectedly not here?
Long Er fumed with rage, he wanted to leave before he suddenly discovered that on one of the courtyard walls, a coarse rope was pinned. Long Er didn’t know what this rope was used for. Following the rope behind the rooms, he discovered another coarse rope tied there.
Long Er was very curious, and as he followed the coarse rope, he found that the rope was tied around the railings and went around the entire building. One tree was anchoring, the other tree leading; he didn’t know what it was used for.
As Long Er followed the rope, he found it strange. This coarse rope wasn’t just encircling the building, it was acting as a guidepost for a blind person.
Long Er confirmed this, when he followed the coarse rope into the forest and to a small brook. Next to this small brook sat Ju Mu Er on a pile of wood.
She sat there with a book in her hand. She wasn’t reading the book, because she was blind and wasn’t able to. She was only holding the book, feeling the pages, and tilting her ear to the side, listening intently.
Long Er subconsciously listened too. He heard the flowing river, he heard the sound of the leaves rustling in the wind and the sound of Ju Mu Er turning the pages of the book.
Long Er pursed his lips and thought that she could no longer see so why did she continue to turn the pages. It was a futile attempt to comfort herself.
He saw Ju Mu Er’s expression, it appeared very joyful. He wrinkled his brows; she was joyful, he was unhappy. Thinking about how others were talking so negatively about him, thinking about how those golden spoon young ladies were flying around him and thinking about Elder Grandmother’s look of expectation, he thought how all of this was caused by Ju Mu Er.
(TLN: Just marry her already. End your troubles.)
In the past, people only knew him as a greedy and stingy type of person, and he thought how this wasn’t so bad. Few were not afraid of him, and not many dared to take advantage of him. But now, the rumors were that he was homosexual or had an unmentionable illness, not to mention the god forsaken constipation rumor. Not only did it make him unhappy, didn’t it allow others to make a joke out of him?
In short, all of this harm was caused by Ju Mu Er.
Long Er watched as Ju Mu Er felt for a stone at her side and threw it into the water with a “pu tong” sound. She then smiled and threw another stone into the water, with another ”pu tong” sound.
Ju Mu Er was very happy playing with herself, while Long thought she was a bit silly and “hmph-ed” in his heart.
He just didn’t want her to be happy, only making her afraid would satisfy him.
Long Er saw that Ju Mu Er’s new bamboo cane was resting by her side on the wooden pile. Tiptoeing over, focusing all his might in order to make no sound, Long Er then lightly jumped over and used his foot to hook the cane over to him. Once it was in his grasp, he quietly jumped into a tree.
As he went past Ju Mu Er, he brought with him a light gust of wind. Just as Ju Mu Er was preparing to throw another stone, she felt this change in the air beside her, she was startled. This caused her smile to become rigid before she swiftly recovered and went to feel for her bamboo cane and found nothing there.
Ju Mu Er was so scared that she jumped a little bit and cried out in fear: “Who is it?”
Long Er smiled from the tree he was in, his heart quite satisfied, like a child that had succeeded in their rampant prank. Her confused and helpless reaction caused the past few days of pent up frustration to wash away and clear up. He wanted to say: “I won’t tell you. Why don’t you be scared to death.”
Ju Mu Er bit her lip and listened with great focus, but couldn’t hear any movements signifying a person was nearby. Her face was deathly pale and it looked like she was scared quite badly. Unconsciously, she hugged the book to her chest, protecting it.
Teasing made Long Er quite joyful. Floating down from the tree, he went to pick up a couple of stones and threw them in all directions towards the water. Some sounds were loud, some were soft, causing them to be indiscernible.
As Ju Mu Er heard the sounds of the stones falling into the water, she was frightened and curled up. Not saying a word, Ju Mu Er sprung up towards the nearest tree and felt around for the coarse rope. Once she found it, using the rope as a guide, she madly ran away and back home.
Though her running speed wasn’t really that fast, staggering along, she was in quite a dilemma.
Long Er soundlessly laughed greatly as he wondered if he should disconnect the rope too, to make her even more panicked? Thinking for awhile, he decided not to, he should leave that for next time’s fun.
His heart happy, Long Er spun the bamboo cane in his hands a couple of times before going to find his horse to return back home in a great mood.
For the next few days, Long Er sent people to inquire around about Ju Mu Er’s actions since the incident. Ju Mu Er had shut herself in her room, and was refusing to leave these days, it caused him to laugh out loud. Meanwhile the two bamboo canes that he had stolen from her, he played with them to his heart’s content.
This day, the people returned with information that Ju Mu Er had fallen ill and that Yun Qing Xian had gone to visit her. Long Er disapproved, for Yun Qing Xian’s wife wasn’t easily provoked. He didn’t know what Ding Yan Shan and her elder sister would do to Ju Mu Er.
But after waiting many days, there was no response and the spy said that Ding Yan Shan had visited the Yun Mansion, probably to ask where her sister Ding Yang Xiang has been. When she had left, she had a face full of unhappiness and when she returned to the Ding Mansion, she had locked herself in, not leaving since. While over at Ju Mu Er’s place, she had recovered from her illness and resumed her leisure outings.
When Long Er heard this, he was a bit disappointed. Ju Mu Er had recovered from her illness in such a short amount of time? How was this good!
He went to refine a plan, and called for Li Ke. When he arrived, he took out the two bamboo canes and told him to deliver them to Ju Mu Er. “You just need to say that I heard she became ill so this is my humble gift and I wish for her to recover soon!”
What Long Er really wanted to say was: ‘It was I how bullied you. Let you pour tea on me, forcing me to build awnings on all the street shops, causing me to be hounded by all those golden spoon ladies. Humph, make ample mental preparations for the future.’
Looking at those two bamboo canes, Li Ke’s face became green; about the same shade as the canes themselves.
Did such an embarrassing gift necessarily needed to be delivered by himself, a high grade bodyguard, because he also wanted to retain his face. Furthermore, with one glance you could tell that this gift was not one born of good intentions but instead one that clearly mocked the fact that the opposite party was blind.
Li Ke was unwilling, but his master had ordered him so he must comply. Summoning up the courage, he started to walk.
When he finished gifting the gifts, Li Ke was immediately called by Long Er into the library and was asked: “Did that blind woman accept them?”
“What did she say?”
Li Ke scratched his head: “Lady Ju did not say anything.”
“Didn’t say anything?” Long Er creased his brows: “She should have some reaction, what was her reaction?”
Li Ke replied: “Lady Ju felt the bamboo canes and looked a bit distracted, then let out a long sigh. Then she turned around, entered her courtyard and even closed the door.”
“Sighed?” Long Er stroked his chin. He guessed that she would become angry and full of rage, but didn’t foresee that she would sigh. Why did she sigh?
Two days later, a servant brought in news that a flower girl wanted to give him a gift and said that it was from Lady Ju Mu Er for the Second Lord. As soon as the little girl presented the gift she left, so the door guard gave it to Li Ke, in turn Li Ke passed the thing to Long Er.
There was a cloth covering a long looking item. Under Long Er’s hints, Li Ke took off the cloth and underneath was in fact a guqin.
Long Er quickly became unhappy and everyone knew that Long Er didn’t have a good temper to begin with. He only valued money and no one would come and discuss the guqin or guzheng with him, they wouldn’t even send a gift that would purposely infuriate him.
Ju Mu Er’s purpose of sending over this toy is to mock him?
Li Ke cautiously and prudently said: “Second Lord, there is also a small letter included.”
Long Er snatched it over, read it and his face became black. On the small letter were a few words: “Practice the guqin to calm the mind and rid oneself of worries.”
The brushstrokes were graceful, but the words were a bit connected like they were written with one’s eyes closed. Long Er knew that this wasn’t written with one’s eyes closed, but by someone that was blind.
To talk about the guqin was to mock him. What about calming the mind; his temper was very good. Didn’t she see all those young ladies who wanted to marry him.
To say keep from being idle, how is he idle, because he is very busy and people were lining up for him with work. Mountains of files and documents lay on his desk, a never ending load, so how is he idle?
Not to mention worry, he doesn’t have any worries and won’t have worries for her at all!
“Ah, that’s right. The guard also said that he asked what the gift was for and the flower selling girl said that Lady Ju said it is best for naughty children to learn the guqin.”
Naughty? Who is she talking about!
Long Er smacked the table, for he is not finished with this annoying blind girl!