Chapter 52 - Friend?

After walking with a slow pace, they finally arrived at the Grand Canal Manor. Two guards, armed with longswords, stood on each side of the entrance with a dignified aura. 

Ji Yunshu had passed by the manor before, and each time, the doors were closed shut. This time, the doors were wide open to welcome Jing Rong. 

Wei Yi raised his head and pulled on one of Ji Yunshu’s large sleeves, “Big Brother, where are we?” 

Ji Yunshu replied by pointing at the wooden panel which hung on top of the entrance, “Do you know how to read that?” 

“Yes it’s ‘Guang’… [1]”  Wei Yi scratched his chin as he looked at the second character. He stared at the panel, but couldn’t come up with an answer. 

Ji Yunshu squinted at him and explained patiently, “Guang-Qu-Yuan, Grand Canal Manor, just remember that the character is pronounced Qu, alright?”

“Yes, I’ll remember that it’s called ‘Qu’,” repeated Wei Yi. The excitement from learning something new was obvious in Wei Yi’s voice. Ji Yunshu looked at him with a radiant smile, which let through some tenderness for Wei Yi and his childish behavior. 

As they climbed the stairs leading to the entrance of the manor, the guards stopped them with a gesture. “Who are you?” The guard asked. 

“I am here to pay a visit to Prince Rong,” Ji Yunshu answered. 

The guards exchanged a look and asked, “Are you Teacher Ji?” 

Looks like that fellow had planned for my arrival! Ji Yunshu thought as she answered the two guards with a slight nod. 

The two guards backed off and one of them said, “Please follow us, His Higness has been waiting for a long time already.” 

A long time? Didn’t he say the hour of the dragon? I’m right on time!

Ji Yunshu and Wei Yi followed the guard into the manor. Grand Canal Manor was once occupied by an affluent family who later migrated to the capital. Despite being deserted for so long, it was reputed for its luxury and grandeur, as much in terms of the size of the building as for the objects which furnished it. It definitely lives up to its reputation.

It took quite a bit of walking just to get through the reception hall to the backyard. Wei Yi stretched his neck to look around and seemed very curious about the surroundings. From time to time, he would pull on Ji Yunshu’s sleeve.

He pointed at a lotus flower which emerged from a pond nearby and said, “Hey, I have that in my house.” 

A moment later, he pointed at a large cedar tree, exclaiming in surprise. “I have that too!” 

Again, an instant later, pointing at a stone statue of a mythical animal, “That too!”

Yes, yes, yes, I get it, you have everything in your house. Well, I don’t even have any of these in mine! 

For anyone who was not acquainted with their relationship, it seemed that she was being importuned by such a deadweight. At least, this was what Jing Rong thought upon seeing the duo. The instant the guard brought the two into the backyard, Jing Rong, who was seated under a pavilion, noticed Wei Yi, who followed Ji Yunshu closely and clung onto her sleeves. 

A deadweight? And a male one? Jing Rong thought, with some irritation on his face. He poured a cup of tea from the teapot and its pleasant aroma soon inundated the air around him. 

Ji Yunshu saluted him with a hand gesture. “This humble one greets Prince Rong.”

Wei Yi, who held onto Ji Yunshu’s sleeves, was dragged into her salutation as when the latter rose her arms, he stumbled forward and interposed himself between Jing Rong and Ji Yunshu. 

Jing Rong sipped his tea, examined Wei Yi and threw a cold look full of dissatisfaction at Ji Yunshu, “Is that your lover?”

Wei Yi answered before Ji Yunshu could speak, “A lover? What’s that? Is it some kind of food?”

Pfft~! The tea that barely entered Jing Rong’s mouth almost got spit back out. A frown on his face indicated that he was perplexed at the comical answer. Where did this weirdo come from?

Ji Yunshu stepped forward, dragged Wei Yi and explained, “Your Highness, this is my friend. He’s not very smart and will tend to say weird things sometimes, so please forgive his transgression.”

“Your friend? Not very smart?” Jing Rong repeated her words, thinking about her words for a short while before coming to an understanding. He nodded and asked, “What’s his name?”

Wei Yi jumped to answer again, “I’m called Wei Yi, Wei as in a seat, and Yi as in one [2].”

Why did you have to speak now? Ji Yunshu’s expression was one frozen in awkwardness, and she resisted the urge to let out a sigh. Right now, it was really kind of embarrassing to be with this ‘friend’ of hers. 

I finally got it right!’ Wei Yi thought, who was visibly satisfied from being able to answer Jing Rong’s question. He clearly did not share any of Ji Yunshu’s worries. 

Ji Yunshu then hurriedly spoke to help him out, “Prince Rong, 'Wei' means protection, and 'Yi' means being in high spirits.”

She expected disdain from Jing Rong, but, instead, she saw curiosuity shining in his eyes as he scrutinized Wei Yi with a playful smile on his face, “Teacher Ji, that’s an unusual mistake for a bright person like you to make, I think that it is Wei as in a seat and Yi as in one.”

“Yes, yes, of course!” Wei Yi seemed to agree with the statement and nodded energetically. 

Jing Rong stood up, walked to Wei Yi and asked with a broad smile, “Wei Yi, do you know then, the meaning of true comity for a gentleman [3]?

“What’s that?” Wei Yi asked. 

“Guess!” Jing Rong said. 

“My teacher hasn’t taught me any of that, and neither did my mom nor my dad,” Wei Yi said to himself, he seemed pensive and turned around to ask Ji Yunshu, “Big Brother, do you know what it means?” 

Of course she knew. ‘A gentleman does not rob another of his cherishment.’ I wonder what he means by that.

Ji Yunshu felt the frustration mount up in her mind and chose to stop thinking about it. She threw a stern look at Jing Rong and said, “Prince Rong, your humble servant would like to remind you that the five burnt corpses constitute our current priority, and there are a few things I would like to inform you about.” 

“Oh, so you do remember that there’s case waiting for us to solve? And here I am, thinking that you came here with your friend to have tea with me,” said Jing Rong with a particular emphasis on the word 'friend'. 

“Please forgive me, Prince Rong. If you find his behaviour to be disagreeable, I shall ask him to vacate the premises,” answered Ji Yunshu. 

“There’s no need for that. Anyone who enters my door is a guest, and I’m not so indecent as to deny anyone of my hospitality,” Jing Rong answered as he raised his hand. 

Jing Rong’s gesture served as a signal to Lang Po, who entered the backyard and approached him. “What orders do you have for me, Your Highness?” asked Lang Po. 

Woah! You were here the whole time? You could have greeted us at least!

“Please bring Teacher Ji’s friend to a side yard. Give him anything that’ll please his heart, and every delicacy that’ll satisfy his stomach. Treat his wishes as my orders,” Jing Rong instructed. 

“Understood.” Lang Po replied. Lang Po stepped forward, lowered his head as he approached Wei Yi, and said, “Sir, please follow me.”

Wei Yi clearly thought otherwise. He hid behind Ji Yunshu and shook his head. “No! I want to stay with Big Brother! I’ll go wherever he goes!” 

“Sir…” Lang Po did not really know how to respond to Wei Yi. 

Ji Yunshu’s turned around to look at Wei Yi, and said in a tender voice, “Wei Yi, if you want to stay with me, then please be nice and go wait for me, okay? I’ll come for you when I’m done here.” 

“Big Brother.” 

“Come on, go,” said Ji Yunshu in a firm tone. 

Wei Yi seemed very upset. His hands, which were still holding onto Ji Yunshu’s sleeves, only relaxed their grip after a long while, “Big Brother, you will remember to pick me up, okay? I don’t know the way home.” 

“Don’t worry, I’ll come look for you,” Ji Yunshu assured him. 

Only after receiving a guarantee from Ji Yunshu did Wei Yi move. Even then, he departed reluctantly, and kept turning around at nearly every step he took. It seemed like a farewell of life and death to him. 

Both Ji Yunshu and Wei Yi did not notice Jing Rong’s face getting darker!

Not only was it getting darker, there was also a burning jealousy! 

Grenn's Rants Corner

The new trend these days is to drink vinegar.


[1] Grand Canal Manor comes from the Chinese Guangquyuan, with the second character, Qu, being the most rarely encountered character amongst the three. Therefore, it is assumed that Wei Yi would not know how to pronounce such a character.

[2] This is a wordplay on the fact that Wei is a homophone for “seat” (位) which could also be a classifier for person, while Yi is a homophone for “one”, which are obviously not used for proper names. It's like Wei Yi is saying his name meant something like "The one and only one" since the literal meaning is "one person".

[3] The meaning of true comity for a gentlemen: the original word in Chinese used here is 君子, a concept made famous by Confucius’ Analects, representing an ideal that all men ought to seek to achieve. It roughly translates to gentleman, but is more than that.

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