Chapter 137: Ninth World (2)
Translated by Shiya of Exiled Rebels Scanlations
Edited by Sulo
Bai Duan got back home feeling gloomy, he went straight into his own room. For the first time, he couldn’t wait to get papers and ink, then began drawing out the person in his memories.
However, reality is always cruel. For once, Bai Duan was being serious, yet his drawing skills were truly horrendous. After drawing on the paper for half a day, he could barely make out the figure of a person, so he could only give up on drawing. He put down his paintbrush, then picked up the sculpting knife and wood he had been carefully hiding.
Things like talents were truly of utmost importance. Even with Imperial Counsellor Bai’s efforts in teaching Bai Duan to draw, play instruments, and play Chinese chess, the yield for almost all of them were lower than expectations, with the exceptions of chess. However, the one thing that Bai Duan picked up randomly, sculpting, had already developed to the point where he could be called a master.
His slender fingers held the sculpting knife and the simple piece of wood. His hands moved smoothly, going in a circle and sculpting the piece of wood. Bai Duan was immersed in reminiscing the figure of the woman he fell for, remembering her smile, her voice, and her face. He couldn’t pull himself out of his memories, and very soon after, he finished making a sculpture of the lady in his memories——Although her facial features were not all that special, just from a glance, one could see that she had a very special aura.
With that, Bai Duan continued to refine the sculpture. At the same time, he stubbornly went searching for the woman in his heart.
Very unlike his usual self, he didn’t shut himself in his own home. He didn’t refuse almost every banquet he was invited to, instead he quite enthusiastically took part in the parties and events held by large households. He even secretly asked those who he deemed to be trustworthy and noble about the woman’s identity.
Bai Duan’s efforts made no yields, but as he was searching, he accidentally inserted his presence in a lot of the noblemen in the capital——in truth, with Bai Duan’s looks and personality, those who actually talked with him found it difficult to keep hating him.
Bai Duan used every method at his disposal, but still failed to get any information of the lady who had captured his heart. Bai Duan’s spirit was low, his mood was bad as well. He was the perfect description of ‘getting exhausted for a lady’.
Regarding his son’s sudden change, Imperial Counsellor Bai obviously noticed. He originally thought that his son being so concerned with finding a spouse and so eagerly joining social events was a good thing, so he let him be. Yet, he couldn’t just sit by idly anymore.
He called Bai Duan to his study. Imperial Counsellor Bai looked at his dear son who was in low spirits, his eyes filled with concern as he asked, “My dear son Duan, did something happen to you lately?”
Bai Duan always abided by the rules of filial piety, so he never hides anything from his father. His face had a brush of redness to it, his long eyelashes batted slightly as he said, “Father, your son… found a lady he likes.”
Hearing the news, Imperial Counsellor Bai was both surprised and glad, he immediately asked, “Which household’s lady did you fall for?”
“I… I don’t know.” Bai Duan looked a bit down, “If I knew who it was, I would have asked you to help me arrange marriage already.”
As they say, “a father knows his son the best”, Imperial Counsellor Bai understood how stubborn his son was. Hearing his son talk about marriage, he knew how serious his son had fallen for this girl.
Even though he still didn’t know which family the lady was from, he was very interested in this matter, “Where did you see that lady?”
Bai Duan told his father about how he fell in love at first sight during the First Princess’ flower-viewing party. Then he also told him how he didn’t even get to speak to the lady due to someone passing by. After that, he wasn’t able to find that lady again. He described everything that had happened in detail without holding anything back. At the end, he added one last sentence, “I’m almost suspecting that what I saw that day was a lotus spirit…”
Imperial Counsellor Bai never believed in ghosts, but seeing his dear son’s enchanted expression, he found it both angering and amusing. After hearing his son’s efforts over the past few days, he also found this to be a difficult problem, “You guessed that she is a concubine’s daughter from a noble household, I also agree with your speculations. Not just anyone can get invited to the First Princess’ party, and her clothes didn’t look flashy at all, that means, the chance of her being the treasured only-daughter of a noble household is quite unlikely.”
After saying that, Imperial Counsellor Bai sighed. Obviously, he was having quite a headache about the lady’s whereabouts as well.
To be honest, Imperial Counsellor Bai didn’t want Bai Duan to marry a concubine’s daughter. It was not that he had a thing against them, but he purely thought with his own family’s circumstances, and Bai Duan’s personality, a concubine’s daughter would not suit Bai Duan at all.
No matter how great a nobleman’s family seemed, there was never a lack of power-struggle within them. If it was a concubine’s son, then it would be fine, because he would still get educated and get to see the outside world. However, it was different for a concubine’s daughter. It was highly possible that she would be locked away in the depths of the household, brought up only by the maids. She would have been bullied by the nobleman’s wife and her daughters, giving her a weird temperament. In order to survive better, she would need to get a good husband, so she would lead her life very carefully, she would learn to manipulate people, to trick people or to be completely obedient to her husband… In short, none of those were suitable for his family.
Imperial Counsellor Bai didn’t want that because he didn’t want those power-struggles to get to his family, and ruin the modest reputation his family had. However, with how much his son had fallen, Imperial Counsellor Bai really had no choice.
Except for being strict with matters about studying, Imperial Counsellor Bai would basically reply to all of Bai Duan’s wishes. Looking at his dear son’s helpless gaze, Imperial Counsellor Bai sighed again, “Nevermind. You don’t have to think further about this matter. Having a man go around asking about a girl is not polite. No matter for you or for her, this is not a good thing, so as your senior, I will go!”
Bai Duan’s eyes glittered.
“Since you saw her at the First Princess’ party, then I will put aside my pride and go ask the First Princess. Perhaps I might be able to get some information.” After a short pause, Imperial Counsellor Bai stroked his beard and asked, “Do you remember what that lady looked like?”
“Of course I remember!” Bai Duan nodded his head.
Imperial Counsellor Bai was going to ask him, but he saw his son running straight out, giving him quite a shock.
After a short while, Bai Duan who was still short of breath came running back with the wooden sculpture he had made before. He was slightly embarrassed as he handed his father the sculpture.
Holding the detailed and life-like sculpture in his hands, Imperial Counsellor Bai was speechless, “……”
After some time, his beard moved, and his tone was weird, “This… did you make this yourself?”
“Hmn, I made this myself,” This was the first time Bai Duan showed his work to someone, he scratched the tip of his nose and was slightly embarrassed.
“I never knew you had such interests before,” Imperial Counsellor Bai said as the corner of his mouth twitched. “If you can make something like this, then you must have been secretly practising for a long time?”
Hearing what Imperial Counsellor Bai said, Bai Duan immediately knew what he was insinuating, so he shook his head and said, “No, no. I definitely did not ignore studying to practise sculpting!”
Imperial Counsellor Bai glared at Bai Duan for a second, but he didn’t continue on the topic of ‘laziness’ with his dear son—after all, his son’s marriage was way more important.
Imperial Counsellor Bai was always a prompt person, no matter if it was with matters of the court or personal affairs, he would never put things aside.
The next day, he immediately applied to meet with the First Princess, after getting the permission, he immediately paid her a visit—of course, he did not forget to take the wooden statue Bai Duan sculpted of the lady.
The First Princess never had any relationship with Imperial Counsellor Bai, so she was quite surprised getting his application to meet with her. After hearing what he was here for though, she immediately smiled.
Admiring the statue Bai Duan made, the First Princess couldn’t stop herself from praising his skills, “Your son put so much heart into making this, it is quite obvious that he is very in love with this lady—how heart-warming. Even this princess, who has seen her share of lovers, is moved by his strong affection!” After a short pause, the princess hid her mouth and smiled, “Mr. Bai Junior is usually so calm and quiet, he seemed indifferent to everything, I never thought he was such an affectionate person!”
Imperial Counsellor Bai also blushed a little, obviously, he was also not used to his usually cold son’s affectionate side.
Having finished teasing Bai Duan, the first princess raised her hand to stroke the statue. Then she gave Imperial Counsellor Bai the reply he was longing for, “The person this statue is depicting, this princess does indeed know.”
Imperial Counsellor Bai felt his spirits rising, “May I ask Your Majesty who this lady is?”
“She is not some concubine’s daughter. Bai Junior must be tired trying to find her all over with no yield.” The First Princess sighed, her expression had a hint of pity in it, “She is a princess living in the palace. She lives modestly, this princess was only able to invite her out to the party with a change of mood as the excuse.”
“A princess?!” This truth was quite shocking to Imperial Counsellor Bai, so he wasn’t able to keep his normal calm attitude.
“Yes, she is the Second Princess.” The First Princess nodded her head, “Honorable Bai should know of the inner workings of the palace as well. The Emperor is extremely caring of one of the concubines, and her temperament is… As the queen’s seat is still empty, she is basically the queen right now. Though she does not deliberately abuse the children of other concubines, she does not care much for them. Plus, the Emperor is always lenient on her, so the palace harem is always shrouded with clouds; the ones with talents are stripped of their power in the court, and those with none are promoted. In short, the lives of the princesses in the palace is not great. Especially for this princess whose mother died very early on, her family was also not a big household. So, it’s quite understandable that you thought she was a concubine’s daughter……”
Hearing the First Princess’ words, Imperial Counsellor Bai thought about the situation in the palace, he sighed along with her and shook his head.
“The Second Princess is also at the age of marriage, but no one is putting much attention to the matter, so this princess might need to help put some emphasis on it. If your son likes her, then this is quite a good relationship I believe. No one in the palace would be too caring about which household she is married to anyways.” The First Princess gave Imperial Counsellor Bai a meaningful gaze, “This princess trusts Honorable Bai’s conduct very much. Bai Duan is also a good child. This princess believes that even after their marriage and his feelings for her have diluted, they will still treat each other with respect. But…” The First Princess’ tone changed, “You also know this, if he gets the princess’ hand in marriage……”
Imperial Counsellor Bai nodded slightly… This was also a point he was dwelling on.
Getting the princess’ hand was obviously a glorious thing for the family, but that also meant that his son’s path as an official in the court would end there. He would have to live under the ‘radiance’ of the princess for the rest of his life. Even though Imperial Counsellor Bai had stopped hoping for his son to take the Imperial Exam and become a high ranking official, he still imagined his son would use his status as a JuRen to be a small official in a remote city somewhere. Hoping that he would work up from the bottom and serve the country to his fullest.
The First Princess knew what he was worrying about, so she also did not hurry him to make a decision, “This is a very important matter about honorable Bai’s dear son after all, you should go home and think about this carefully. After you have come to a decision, come tell me. If honorable Bai wishes to have her as your daughter-in-law, this princess will make a visit to the Second Princess to get her take on this. Then I can find a chance for the two to meet and get to know each other. We don’t want to push this on anyone, turning love into hate, right?”
The First Princess remembered her lingering emotions for her dead husband. Her face had a brush of melancholic hue. She had already been through a lot of hardships herself, so she did not wish for her niece to experience the same sadness.
Imperial Counsellor Bai was also feeling very complicated, but he noticed that the First Princess was feeling down all of a sudden, so he stopped talking, and took his leave.
——His son’s marriage was really something that could make all his hair go white….