By the time Xue Mu come back to the mansion, the sun is just about to finish setting. He then asked Nian Tang Liu Qinghuan’s location, before heading towards the inner court’s loft to look for her.
As always, Liu Qinghuan is sitting on the soft padded bench, drowning down yogurt to keep herself cool. Seeing Xue Mu walking in, she hurriedly stands up to welcome him.
” Marquise. ”
Xue Mu guides her back onto the bench before opening his mouth.
” A new Mongolian merchant group just entered the the west market a few days back, bringing many unique and interesting items with them. If Qing Qing is interested, shall we go take a look tomorrow? ”
Liu Qinghuan considers his proposal for a while.
” It’s okay. The Marquise often have to handle many matters so I’ll just have the maids accompany me. ”
She wants to be considerate towards Xue Mu, but is afraid he would get angry, thus paying very careful attention towards his expression.
Xue Mu stares at her, staying silent until she finally nods her head. He smiles.
” I’ll come over to fetch you the first thing in the morning tomorrow. ”
After he walks away, Liu Qinghuan is left alone, thinking about the reason why he is so adamant about this.
Tonight, Xue Mu is still staying over at the Lotus Chamber. He looks out to the lotus pond in full bloom, and a tiny figure appears in front of him, tears and snot all over her little face as she runs over, complaining.
” Ah Mu, Big Sis and Second Sis went to the west market without bringing me along again! They said that there are a lot of Mongolian dancers there, and their dances are all very beautiful! They even went to the textile and cosmetics shop, and Big Sis even stole some brow powder and lip paper! “
She then paused, before saying smugly.
” But I went and told mum so she took all their stuff away, and is currently scolding them right now. “
Xue Mu laughed, helping her to wipe away the tears at the corner of her eyes.
” Qing Qing wants to go to West Market? “
” Un! But mum don’t like me going out. “
Xue Mu thought about it.
” Then I’ll sneak you out, okay? “
Liu Qinghuan looked at him with her big shiny eyes.
” Really? But if mum finds out, she will definitely scold me. “
” Then we will just pop in and out, and don’t let her find out. Don’t tell your Big and Second Sister too. “
” Okay! Then I’ll meet you at the back door tomorrow! “
Liu Qinghuan stretched out her pinky towards Xue Mu, hooking it up a little.
” Promise! “
Xue Mu hooked his pinky around hers.
” I’ll come over to fetch you first thing in the morning. “
What he haven’t expected is that he has waited seven years for that day to arrive.
The breezy summer wind blow across the pond, and Xue Mu’s hair sway in the breeze. He gives a look in the direction of the main chamber, before shutting his windows.
On the second day, after Liu Qinghuan get dressed and walks out the door, Xue Mu has already been waiting for her quite some time.
The horse she is riding on is of course, the same horse she rode on that hunting event. The reason for choosing this particular horse is because it has the same colored fur as Xue Mu’s Lighting, both pure white and handsome.
And she gave it a name, Whitey.
Liu Qinghuan’s naming sense has always been the same since young so Xue Mu only laughs and stop himself from commenting.
The West Market is quite crowded, the horse carriages running through never ceases. Even if it is the hottest summer in Chang-An City at the moment, it did not burn the shopping spirit within everyone.
There are plenty of interesting stuff on display at the Mongolian merchant shop, and they even have their specially-made silk pouches. It is said that only one get made every 3 years so it’s value is sky-high. The many varieties of brow powders and lip papers is making Liu Qinghuan dizzy and so she randomly picks one, only for the seller to tell her smilingly about how good her taste is. The one she just picked out is a unique solid brow powder from persian, worth about 10 gold.
Liu Qinghuan’s mouth twitchs a bit. It has always been her who is out scamming others so don’t he even dares to think about scamming any money from her. But Xue Mu still goes and brought that 10 gold worth of persian solid brow powder for her.
Having brought the brow powder, the seller then urges, or recommends to Xue Mu about a brow plate to put the solid brow powder on, as well as a brow brush. Then goes on about about silk, bangles and golden hair pins…. Towards his spendthrift ways, Liu Qinghuan feels like they would need to have a nice talk when they get back to their mansion.
The two then browse all the way to Tangning Square, where they they witness priests wearing long robes going in and out of a temple, where three big fires are burning.
” It’s the ‘Beseeching Fire Cult’. ”
Xue Mu said, looking at the few mask-wearing priests, his gaze changing. The power behind the Beseeching Fire Cult is complicated, most likely having a connection with the Duke of Lingnan. The Emperor has been suspecting their temple is their place of contact.
He withdraw his gaze and turns to Liu Qinghuan.
” Let’s go. ”
” Un. ”
Liu Qinghuan glances inside the temple, the three burning flames reflecting in her eyes, flickering.
Returning back to Chongren Square, Xue Mu turns to Liu Qinghuan riding besides him.
” Qing Qing, let’s walk back together? ”
” Sure. ”
After being on horseback for the entire day, she wishes to feel some ground underneath her.
Xue Mu let the servants move most of the things they brought back to the Yong Ning Mansion, unsaddled, and starts walking along with Liu Qinghuan.
But just after taking a few steps ahead, it starts raining all of a sudden. Passerby’s starts dashing as Liu Qinghuan twitches her eyebrows. This rain sure falls without a slightest hint of it coming. Luckily she has an umbrella in hand. She is planning on using it for the sun but now, it would work just as well for this rain.
Opening up the umbrella, she walks closer to Xue Mu, sharing it with him. Looking at effort she is making, trying to cover the both of them, he laughs and takes it away from her.
” Let me do it. ”
Liu Qinghuan let go and seeing how half of Xue Mu’s body is outside the umbrella, she puckers up her lips.
” The Marquise is going to get wet like this. ”
Xue Mu laughs.
” It’s okay, I have a big head. ”
Liu Qinghuan ” ……. ”
Is the Marquise joking just now? His head…. isn’t that big either! Looking at her puzzling eyes looking at him, he smiles.
” And who was the troublemaker who gave me that name? ”
That year, when he told Liu Qinghuan his name was Xue Mu, she crunched up her face in thought for a long long time.
” …As in wood? ” [TN: Wood 木 in chinese is Mu tou 木頭. Xue Mu]
” No, as in admire. ” [TN: Admire is Yang Mu 仰慕]
Admire, to the three years old Liu Qinghuan, is not as easy to comprehend as wood, so she insisted on her reading of Xue Mu’s name.
” No! It’s wood! “
Saying that, she bend down and wrote a huge character of ‘wood’ in the snow with her fingers. The corners of Xue Mu’s eyes twitched before he wrote another ‘Mu’ character, the one for admire, next to the crookedly written ‘wood’, on the snow, his writing neat and precise.
Perhaps it was because of the way Xue Mu’s handwriting was much much nicer than hers, Liu Qinghuan pouted her lips and started insisting shamelessly.
” I don’t care! It’s wood, wood! “
” It’s admire! “
” Wood! “
” Admire! “
She puffed up her cheeks and stared at Xue Mu, before finally shouting angrily.
” If you don’t want to be wood, then you’ll be big head! Big head, big head! Never fearing the rain! Others have the umbrella, you have your big head! “
Liu Qinghuan sang, and even clapped for herself after finishing.
Xue Mu : ” ……. “
He totally cannot get the logic of this little dumpling. But what he didn’t knew was, after he was gone, that same little dumpling was hunched over the table, practicing her writing. And all over that piece of paper, was the same word over and over again.
” Big head, big head! Never fearing the rain! Others have the umbrella, you have your big head! ”
Liu Qinghuan sings happily. And when she sees Xue Mu looking at her, she even dares to answer with a huge smile. She really wonders who is the one who dares to give this amusing nickname to the Marquise!
Seeing the teasing look in her eyes, Xue Mu’s own lips curls up, and simply let her be.
As fast as this rain comes, it goes away just as quick. Before the two even get back to their mansion, the rain has already cleared up. Liu Qinghuan checks Xue Mu’s clothing, and as expected, it is soaked.
” Marquise, don’t forget to enter the bath when you get home, or else you will catch a cold. ”
Xue Mu smiles.
” I have been through all weathers at the battlefield, I’m not that weak. ”
That’s true, Liu Qinghuan though and leave it at that.
In Tang Zhibo’s mansion, one man is laying on his bed, with an expression like he’s smiling, yet not smiling at the same time, looking at him.
” I heard that Xue Mu brought Liu Qinghuan to the West Market today and seems to have spend quite a bit on her. ”
Tang Zhibo takes a sip of his wine, staying silent. That man speaks up again.
” It isn’t the best feeling to see a chess moving out of your control, isn’t it? Ai, you can’t blame it all on her actually. If I am a woman, I would fall for a guy like Xue Mu too. ”
Tang Zhibo’s eyebrows finally bunch together as he glances at the man.
” I have already reported Liu Qinghuan’s actions to Father. He will know what to do. ”
The other man smiles and never speaks again.
In Yong Ning Mansion, Liu Qinghuan orders Qing Zhi to brew a bowl of hot ginger soup to bring over to Xue Mu. Although he did say that he isn’t that weak but no one can be sure about these sort of things.
Passing through the lotus pong, Peng Peng was sitting alone in the Lotus Pavilion, sighing. Liu Qinghuan blinks, before going forward.
” What’s wrong, Peng Peng? ”
” Wu la la? ”
Peng Peng said, when he lifts his head to see who’s speaking to him, before lowering his head to sigh again.
” Nothing. ”
Liu Qinghuan’s brains starts turning as she sits down opposite of him.
” Let me guess…. Hmm, must be one of the ladies in Ping Kang Courts that you liked is being brought by another person. ”
” No! ”
Peng Peng is so stirred up that he jumps right up.
” It’s Anaye! Anaye! ”
Anaye? This fellow goes after everyone.
” Sigh…….. ”
Peng Peng let up another deep deep sigh as he sits cross-legged down.
” A new Mongolian merchant group just came into town lately, bringing about many interesting stuff with them. ”
” Hm hm. ”
She even brought some things from them.
” And with the group, there a dancer called Anaye. Her dance is the best among all of them. ”
Peng Peng looks out at the pond, his eyes full of sadness.
” It is love at first sight for me. And so, I goes to the market everyday to see her dance. But… but… she is soon to be brought by another merchant. ”
” But being brought is better than serving others forever, isn’t it? ”
Peng Peng immediately rebutted Liu Qinghuan when he heard what she just said.
” But that guy already have 13 concubines! Yet he is still aiming for Anaye! ”
Liu Qinghuan ” ……. ”
This merchant sure have great stamina.
Peng Peng continues his grumbling.
” Not to mention, his looks is a tragic sight for everyone’s eyes! ”
Liu Qinghuan then ask curiously.
” How did he get his sights on Anaye? ”
” 3 days later, he is going to have a banquet at his mansion and Anaye is hired to dance there. ”
Liu Qinghuan frowns.
” Huh? ”
” Think about it, Anaye is such a good dancer, she will definitely catch his eyes! ”
Liu Qinghuan ” ……. ”
Sire, are you kidding me?
TN : Why wood = big head.
Wood in chinese is 木頭, literal translation word by word is wood head.
Big head is 大頭, as you can see, the last character is the same, head.
So… if Xue Mu refuses to be wooden head, then he’s big head.
The big head song exists. And yes, they think that big heads can block the rain from the rest of the body.
Another thing is the sale of dancers / prostitutes. People do buy them, or ‘redeem’ them from their workplace, usually costing quite a bit of money. Surely you should have seen it before in ‘Tales of a Geisha’. Basically, it works the same way.
They would be brought home to be concubines and in very very rare cases, the main wife.
So now you know, big heads.