Yuzhu was old.
He was eight years old this year, so he could be regarded as the old man of a dog.
He was breathing loudly, panting and wheezing, as if his lungs were a bellows in a smithy.
But he still remembered Xia Xun and recognized him as soon as he saw him.
Xia Xun held him in his arms, petting his long fur.
Yuzhu shook his whole body excitedly, licking Xia Xun’s face constantly.
Xia Xun, who lost and regained his loss, murmured subconsciously:
“…how did you find him…?”
Qi Hui said:
“You… after you were gone, suddenly one day, Yuzhu appeared in the mansion. I took people to look at the wall and found that there was a dog hole between the two houses. It should have crawled through it.”
Qi Yan took two steps forward but did not approach, as if he was hiding from Yuzhu.
Xia Xun remembered that he was not afraid of dogs. At that time, he often came to Qi Yan with Yuzhu in his arms. Qi Yan liked to tease him very much, would play with him, and often fed him meat.
Qi Hui explained:
“After your incident, Yuzhu wasn’t close to the lord. If the lord gets within ten steps of it, it will bark wildly and sometimes it will rush up and bite the lord’s clothes.”
Xia Xun looked at the old dog in his arms.
Yuzhu’s black eyes were round and bright, shining with affection.
Yuzhu was not a grumpy puppy. Even if he was bullied, he would only run to Xia Xun’s arms and bark, aggrieved.
He had never seen Yuzhu bare his teeth, not even once, let alone bite someone.
Xia Xun put his hand on the dog’s belly, feeling the chaotic fluttering heartbeat under his palm.
The sound of Yuzhu’s breathing was too rough, also different from the way a dog should breathe.
Xia Xun asked Qi Hui what was going on.
Qi Hui told him:
“The doctor comes to see it. It is getting older and its heart and lungs are very weak. It can’t be cured, it can only be made as comfortable as possible. Fortunately, it is in good spirits and eats and sleeps every day. You don’t have to worry too much.”
Xia Xun stroked Yuzhu’s forehead. With his mixed feelings and thousands of emotions, for a while he didn’t know where to start.
He stood speechlessly in the corridor, and Qi Yan looked at him from a short distance away.
At some point, Qi Hui retreated, leaving only the two of them standing silently in the evening breeze.
After a long time, Xia Xun put down Yuzhu, got up and said to Qi Yan:
“…thank you very much.”
Qi Yan couldn’t see his expression:
“You can take it to your place. It was originally your dog and it should be returned to its rightful owner – returned to you.”
Xia Xun looked down at Yuzhu who raised his muzzle to look at him. He was still very excited and let out a low bark, as if urging him to take him home quickly.
After a long time, Xia Xun said softly:
“But this is not my home.”
After that, Xia Xun spent a few days resting; the most he did every day was to sit by the pond in a daze with Yuzhu in his arms.
Yuzhu used to be very naughty when he was young and always loved to run around.
At this age, most of the time he spent sleeping.
Xia Xun sat in a chair, looking at the pond, Yuzhu in his arms, drowsy from morning to night.
Except for eating, Yuzhu was hardly awake.
Xia Xun gradually realized that the dog probably didn’t have much time left.
He didn’t feel sad.
When he learned that Yuzhu was alive and well all these years, he was freed from his guilt.
He didn’t have to fantasize about his death, he didn’t have to chew on the pain of losing him, he didn’t have to wake up in the middle of the night and regret not treating him better.
Yuzhu lived in Qi Yan’s house, and after seven years of worry-free life with food and shelter, he was better off than his master.
With Yuzhu by his side, Xia Xun’s tightly wound nerves gradually relaxed.
He didn’t bother to wonder anymore what Qi Yan brought him back for.
He didn’t want to spend his energy thinking about who wrote the note hidden in the pastry.
Qi Yan wanted to bring him back, so he stayed.
If Qi Yan wanted to kill him, he would close his eyes; after all, it was a single cut.
On the second day of reuniting with Yuzhu, Zhi Gui also returned.
She knelt for a day and a night and her knees were damaged, so she walked with a limp.
When she saw Xia Xun, she knelt down and kowtowed to him.
Xia Xun told her not to do unnecessary things:
“Don’t thank me, I didn’t mean to help you.”
Zhi Gui closed her mouth, got up, took the tea set, put a pot of water on the fire and made tea for him.
While waiting for the water to boil, she turned away several times and rubbed her knees quietly.
Xia Xun didn’t say a word.
After a while, the water boiled, and he said to Zhi Gui:
“There is something for you to do.”
She immediately stood up and waited respectfully.
Xia Xun said lightly:
“Sit by the pond and count for me how many red carp there are in the pond.”
Zhi Gui didn’t know what to do, so she did what she was told.
In the pond, schools of fish swam back and forth, all of them were red, almost no different from each other.
At first, Zhi Gui counted diligently but after a while everything started getting blurry in front of her eyes.
Swimming fish disrupted her counting.
She blinked her sore eyelids and was about to count them from the beginning, when she was startled.
——She suddenly realized what Xia Xun meant.
He didn’t really want her to count the fish. He saw that her knees hurt and found a reason to let her rest without having to work.
Zhi Gui’s nose was sour and she couldn’t help but glance back.
Xia Xun was hugging Yuzhu, sitting in a rocking chair, already asleep.
A few more days later, it was Qi Yan’s rest day.
After lunch, he suddenly offered to take Xia Xun to Wuyuan.
Wuyuan was a garden in the west of the city. Built on a mountain, in addition to the usual flowers and plants, the garden was also decorated with many delicate wooden craftworks.
The owner of Wuyuan was related to the imperial family, so he held himself in a very high regard. He enclosed the land that did not belong to him and turned it into his own private property. He did not allow others to enter at will and only opened Wuyuan to the nobles of the capital.
Xia Xun didn’t like reading since he was a child. He liked wood carving and making wooden figurines. He was often scolded by his parents, who said that those who spent their time playing at a young age would never achieve anything in the future.
In order not to make them angry, Xia Xun hid his hobbies. Only when he returned home from the academy and closed the doors and windows, did he dare to secretly take out his set of tools.
The other people in the academy knew that Xia Xun was not valued by Xia Hongxi, so they hardly ever talked to him and Xia Xun didn’t bother to pay attention to them either.
Only He Cong didn’t dislike him and often chatted with him.
It was from him that Xia Xun heard about Wuyuan.
He didn’t dare to beg his parents or brothers to introduce him. Once while the academy was on a break, Xia Xun took Shaobo and ran off on his own.
The owner of Wuyuan did not let him in.
He said that he had heard the name of his father Xia Hongxi and the names of his two elder brothers, but he had never heard of him.
He also said that Xia Xun must be a liar. Knowing that Xia Hongxi was well-known, he pretended to be his son and came to Wuyuan to trick him.
He scolded Xia Xun:
“Don’t try to fool me! Hurry up and get out of here!”
Xia Xun was speechless; together with Shaobo he went back, covered in dust, without seeing anything.
He felt so wronged that he climbed over the wall that night and went to Qi Yan.
Qi Yan rubbed his head and found a long list of words to comfort him. Xia Xun felt much better by the time he went back over the wall.
In a few days, Xia Xun went to visit him again, and Qi Yan took out a wooden duck from the cabinet, as if a conjuring trick.
Qi Hui brought a basin and filled it with water.
Qi Yan put the duck on the water, and it actually swam by itself.
Xia Xun was surprised and delighted, and asked him where he found such an exquisite toy.
He said: “Qi Hui and I made it together.”
He showed Xia Xun his hands.
There were fine scars on the tips of his fingers, and Xia Xun could see that they were marks left by wood splinters and a knife.
Qi Yan also said:
“Right now, my status is low and I can’t take you to Wuyuan. When I have the opportunity in the future, I will definitely make the owner of Wuyuan personally invite you.”
Xia Xun was very touched:
“Who cares about that crappy Wuyuan? I don’t want it! If you ask me, this wooden duck is better than his garden full of treasures!”
Qi Yan looked at him and smiled.
Nowadays, there was no place in the entire capital that Lord Zhongshu could not go to, and Wuyuan was no exception.
Qi Yan took very few attendants to accompany them; except for Qi Hui and Zhi Gui, there was only one groom.
Before leaving the house, he put a hat on Xia Xun’s head. A layer of gauze hung from the hat, just a few inches shorter than the drapery worn by women.
Qi Yan instructed:
“You didn’t go out of the house much in the past and not many people in the capital have seen you, but your identity is special, so be careful not to be exposed.”
Xia Xun looked outside. The carriage was only a few steps away from the gate of the mansion. How could anyone see his face at such a distance?
He didn’t want to argue with Qi Yan, so he walked to the carriage and as soon as he got in, he took off the hat and threw it aside.
Qi Yan sighed and closed the carriage window tightly.
The carriage moved forward slowly. Xia Xun kept looking out the window, showing Qi Yan the back of his head.
On the road, Qi Yan suddenly spoke:
“Do you remember? I said before that I would make the owner of Wuyuan invite you in person, but I’m afraid I can’t do it now.”
Xia Xun responded coldly:
“Did you? I have forgotten, forget too.”
Qi Yan’s expression gradually dimmed. He looked away from Xia Xun, stared at his knees and remained silent for a long time.
The carriage moved forward unhurriedly.
The scenery outside the carriage window changed from the bustling streets and alleys to the cottages in the fields.
A few miles away from Wuyuan, Qi Yan suddenly leaned to the carriage window and glanced outside.
After a while, he asked the groom to stop.
When the carriage stopped, he got out, stood by the carriage, turned to Xia Xun and said:
“The flowers in the mountains are blooming beautifully. Let’s walk the rest of the way.”
Xia Xun remained motionless.
“I don’t want to look at the flowers, please help yourself.”
Qi Yan waited for a while; then, seeing that he still didn’t move, he walked up and carried him down.
As soon as Xia Xun was about to get angry, Qi Yan already put him on the ground. The hat was placed on his head and the veil covered his face.
Qi Yan said, “Let’s go.”
The groom shook the reins and took Qi Hui and Zhi Gui in the carriage to continue the trip.
Qi Yan stopped waiting, turned around and walked into the woods.
Xia Xun looked around, surrounded by fields, hills and forest, unable to tell the direction. Even if he wanted to walk back to Qi Mansion by himself, he didn’t know where to go.
He felt unhappy and helpless, forced to follow Qi Yan and march into the dense forest.
Qi Yan said as he walked:
“I haven’t finished what I just said. A few years ago, Wuyuan changed its owner. The original owner committed a crime and was gone. The wooden ornaments in the garden were also burned. At present, it is open to everyone and has become an ordinary outing place.”
Xia Xun felt sorry for those craftworks and couldn’t help asking:
“It was just the owner who committed a crime. Those ornaments were made by the craftsmen. Why did they need to be burned?”
Qi Yan kept walking:
“It was me who investigated the case of the owner of Wuyuan and it was me who burned the things.”
Xia Xun said in surprise: “Why?”
Qi Yan said lightly:
“At that time, I thought you were dead. I remembered that you liked those things very much. I thought since you didn’t get to see them during your lifetime, let them go to accompany you in the underworld. After the case was closed, I set a fire and burned them cleanly, leaving nothing behind.”
Xia Xun was stunned.
Qi Yan continued:
“If I knew you were still alive, I would save them all and wait for you to come back to see them.”
Xia Xun said nothing.
Qi Yan didn’t seem to need a reply, as if he was talking to himself:
“Now I want to make up for you, but it’s too late.”
Xia Xun lowered his head, avoiding the roots of the trees protruding from the ground, and walked forward in silence.
The veil hung in front of his eyes and everything he could see was shadowy and indistinct.
After walking some more, Qi Yan suddenly stopped.
Xia Xun was in a daze and almost ran into his back.
He stopped and asked in confusion:
“Why did you stop suddenly?”
Qi Yan looked at the sky and said, “…I’m lost.”
4 thoughts on “Guanshan Muyu Chapter 8”
My heart hurts a little tiny bit (much)… Qi Yan’s regret is so much it can almost gain form and solidify
Thank you so much for reading!! 🙂 Ah, Qi Yan is going to suffer for many more chapters, the author is quite merciless 🙂
Yuzhuuuuuu. I’m already crying and it’s only chapter 8.
All my tears over this story were for Yuzhu!!! 🙂 🙂