“Wife, I want to eat meat” 《娘子，我要吃肉》Chapter 1
The tenth year of Emperor Xuanzong of Tang, early summer.
Swallows appeared from the eaves when the sun shone on it, many white pigeons had already assembled on the west side of Gu’s pavilion, noisily cooing from morning to night.
“I don’t know where these birds came from, every day and every night disturbing like a mother restless about her son’s negligence. Why else would I get someone to use heavy smoke?” Gu Lang said, conveniently taking the spoon inside an agate fragrance box a young maid was carrying scooping a spoonful of fragrant powder, carefully putting it inside the incense burner. In a moment, someone had already grabbed it, the young maid had tenderly taken the place of the family’s own young master, covering the lid of the incense burner, afterwards, she even smiled at the Gu Lang.
Old Lady Gu appeared not to have seen this flash of fluid movement, intently pushing around the Buddhist sandalwood beads around her in her hand, uttering first, `Amitabha Buddha`, saying: “Heaven is very kind. If you just smoke these pigeons away, where can they once again go and settle? It would be better for them to settle there.” Pausing, she thought of what was going on: “We are even capable of sheltering an unknown woman in our ancient home, let alone these birds.”
Gu Lang awkwardly smiled, giving a meaningful glance, the clever maid from just now hurriedly steeped a new cup of tea presenting it to him, he then personally offered it to the old Lady Gu’s hand, trying to win her favour: “Young Lady Xia has kindly saved your son’s life, didn’t mother teach son from a young age to repay kindness, therefore…”
Old Lady Gu interrupted him with a humph: “But still you didn’t have to marry her as the proper wife!”
Gu Lang couldn’t put the tea down, nor could he carry on holding it, he could only be filial and stand still not moving, like he was listening to a teaching.
The anger old Lady Gu had suppressed in her mind over many days came bursting out, holding the prayer beads pointing it at Gu Lang’s forehead. Gu Lang was born with fair and pale skin, old Lady Gu poked him once, his head swayed once, a red mark appeared between his eyebrows like a woman’s head ornament.
“You’re a fifth ranked official of the Ministry of Revenue, can you marry a girl of no background as your wife?”
Gu Lang did not dare to stir up his mother’s anger, shaking his head he replied: “No.”
The old lady nodded again: “What was the reason the Hua family spent so much effort to recommend you into that department? So you could marry their family’s granddaughter, to make you an appropriate match for their family’s young daughter, and could be considered as repaying the support your father had offered them when he was alive again and again. In the end, without a word you found a girl with no background, no family saying you want to marry her, you have thrown away the Gu family reputation, this is you slapping the Hua family’s face. Can the Hua family forgive you?”
Gu Lang shivered: “No.”
“Then you feel the young lady of the Hua family isn’t suitable for you?”
Gu Lang shook his head.
“Then do you not like the young lady of the Hua family’s appearance?”
Gu Lang shook his head again.
“Then why do you want to break the marriage promise? You want to anger your mother to death!” Finished speaking, she forcibly seized the cup of tea in her son’s hands, drinking it in two mouthfuls, before suddenly setting it on the table with a slam, saliva splattering she continued to scold, not only has he betrayed the support of the Hua family, he has also failed to live up to the many years of guidance by his mother, betrayed the emotions of the young lady of the Hua family.
Gu Lang hung his head as she chattered on, the red mark on his forehead was already comparable to a plum blossom adornment, causing the young maid to laugh lightly.
Old Lady Gu hearing the sound, spun the prayer beads and continued to scold, for some time `Don’t think my eyesight is getting old, I can’t see these lowly things you do like an unrestrained hussy`, also `don’t think just because you serve the young master well you can instantly succeed in becoming a phoenix, in this place without this old woman’s permission, each one of you don’t even think of climbing into my son’s bed`, just scolding them the maids flushed with shame unable to speak.
With each scolding, the white pigeons on the roof outside cooed, this and that together caused a bustle of noise and excitement.
Like this an hour passed, old Lady Gu was already worn out from head to toe, reclining on the couch she sighed in despair. Gu Lang immediately rushed over, while giving the old lady a leg massage, he also carefully spoke: “That young lady Xia all is said and done kindly saved my life, if she didn’t step forward bravely that day and forced the bandits to retreat, most likely your son would also be buried together along with the family’s servants in the mountains, no one to collect my corpse. Because of this kindness, your son also needs to use all his strength to pay it back.”
The old lady angrily slapped the pillow she was leaning against: “In that case go and devote your life to it!”
Gu Lang with a red face, replied: “It ought to be her throwing herself into my arms. Mother, think about it, if I married her, from then on wherever son goes she would be there by my side to protect me, then there will not be any more mishaps in the slightest, we would be considered to have gained a bodyguard without having to pay monthly to protect our family, we should do this.”
The old lady slapped him in the face, five fingerprints clearly marked on Gu Lang’s face: “You fool! The dowry the Hua family provides with their granddaughter would be enough for you to buy you a house full of bodyguards, where would we still need that Xia woman. Go and think about the Hua family’s background, think of your future, and think again of the high position and great wealth to come…” There were many plans in the old woman’s mind, momentarily it ignited Gu Lang’s pettiness. The mother and son appeared to be able to see the future where they would have power over the imperial court and ordinary people supported by gold and silver, even the two young maids couldn’t help look up and down Gu Lang’s slender physique, becoming more happy as they looked even more.
“That, your son has already promised Lady Xia to marry her…”
The old lady slapped her hand with force: “One without parents’ approval, two without a matchmaker’s word, three also without a betrothal gift, it does not count.”
Thinking about it, Gu Lang also felt what his mother said was right, but his heart still struggled. He was no longer just a sixth rank official, but now he was a fifth ranked official of the Ministry of Revenue of Chenzhou Lang, reputation can be sold for more silver, you can definitely not lose face because of such a small matter. Besides, that Lady Xia has such extraordinary martial arts, she could even beat the bandits until their skin and flesh torn, if he broke the marriage promise, maybe she would flay him and pull his tendons apart herself, before putting them into a deep fryer and cook until it becomes a soup stock.
Before people, Gu Lang was known as a filial son, but behind people’s backs, Gu Lang had the arrogance of the head of the family, impressively two-faced.
Gu Lang knew inside his heart, old Lady Gu was born from a family of little background, she handled affairs in the interest of others with little consideration for the son’s situation. For example this time, after saying a few words he suffered a slap on the face, he couldn’t dodge it and had no choice but to stone heartedly accept it, otherwise if the fact of his unfilial reputation was to spread outside it would hinder his path of government official. The only reason that Hua family was wailing to marry off their granddaughter, was also because they were certain of Gu Lang knew how to repay kindness, in the future he could do not do without the Hua family’s support.
Only, there is no knowing what is in a man’s heart. Old Lady Gu had plans for Gu Lang, Gu Lang had plans for the Hua family, Hua family also had plans for the Gu family, kindness and grudges really were linked in countless ways, the outlines could not be sorted.
When Gu Lang, suffering from a slap to the face, stepped out of the Western courtyard, unknowingly the sun was blocked by some sort of bird, unfolding its wings its shadow shrouded the top of the man’s head, a patch of shade. Unexpectedly, a cooing noise sounded from his back, a young maid with flushed cheeks carrying a piece of cloth bundle pressed it onto his cheek, icy and silky, as it turns out wrapped inside the towel was ice cubes: “Young master, this is ice this servant deliberately bought over, to help you reduce the summer heat.”
Gu Lang tenderly took the thing, rubbing his fingertips together he smiled: “Thank you for your trouble.” The young maid became even more bashful, tender-heartedly she gazed at the attractive and intelligent young master as he went out of the courtyard doorway, after he left without turning back his head, holding that towel he walked down the corridor making a detour and entering, that big bird left the top of his head and went around in a circle twice, apparently it also thought it was dull, spreading its wings it flew towards the courtyard to the side, not long after inside the Gu residence a whistle could be heard again.
This bird like human nature, hearing the call, swooped down inside the verdant courtyard, flying pass the three courtyards from west to east, directly heading to the forest in the south, inside someone smiled: “Young lady, Fei Dao has returned.” Fei Dao flapped its black brown wings twice, landing on an arm with a cloth around its elbow.
“Ah, Lady quickly look, he caught a bug again.” Speaking, the person which the arm belonged to immediately bought the Eurasian hobby in front of another woman. Fei Dao held its head high, as if it was taking the credit for its achievement placing the bug still twisting in its beak onto the window ledge, hopping twice. Xia Ling Mei who was leaning against the window eating iced mulberry fruit raised her eyebrow: “How many times have I said, I don’t eat bugs. Next time bring two small birds back, maybe then I’ll consider it.”
Fei Dao stared at Xia Ling Mei for a while, determining that bugs were not to the liking of the beauty, in a flash of anger it waved its large wings, the fat bug flew in a beautiful arc through the air, falling into a pond that was just dug two days ago, feeding a fish’s stomach.
Xia Ling Mei watched happily: “The fishes in that pond are truly blessed, no matter if it’s swallow’s nest, ginseng or `the rare game of this mountain`, all their stomachs are fed with them, maybe after two weeks, we could have simmer-fried carp together.”
Xiu Yu carrying Fei Dao twitched her mouth: “The Gu family also does not need to bully people. That swallow nest and ginseng had a mouldy taste, can it be eaten by the young lady? And what did they say `the old lady saw the young lady is too skinny, so she especially sent someone to deliver tonic` , acting like such a snob. Feeding it to the fish it even poisoned two to death, if I had known earlier I would have fed that small fish to Fei Dao.”
Fei Dao hearing its own name, cried `ka` out twice, shaking out its wings, and intimately moved under Xia Ling Mei’s palm wanting its feathers to be stroked.
Xia Ling Mei glanced at her own family’s maid: “Do as the natives do. This is a family of a functionary, I am a woman of the Jianghu with no one to rely on, being slighted by people is common.” Putting the porcelain small bowl down, rather than sighing with sorrow she said: “As a woman, a woman should follow whatever her husband orders, as long as the husband treats oneself well it is enough.”
Emotions flashed through Xiu Yu’s eyes, and glanced at the other maid in the house, laughing she said: “Exactly, young lady just said the summer was stiflingly hot, Master Gu Lang immediately ordered someone to deliver things to relieve summer heat. Maybe one day if young lady want the moon in the sky, he would even jump to the Palace in the Moon personally bring it back to you as a present. If you were truly predestined by fate to marry, of course he must see, hear and obey young lady with a lifetime of loving affection.”
Xia Ling Mei crooked her head thinking about it, exclaiming: “ Let’s hope this time it really is true.”
Xiu Yu smiled: “If Master Gu wants to bully young lady, not talking about others, Fei Dao would be the first to peck him blind.” As she spoke, she shook her arm, Fei Dao hissed shrewdly, already spreading its wings to fly high.
Unknowingly, under the same sky, a person pointed at the familiar large bird speaking to the man beside them: “Master, look, isn’t that the mistress’ beloved pet?”