Chapter 1: My Husband has face-blindness

During the Autumn season, On the first day of September and the second year of Yongsheng, the strong aroma of golden osmanthus in the capital spread all over the streets and alleys, the aroma reached into the backyard of Gu Ningxi, the Deputy Head, of the tribute division of the Ministry of Rites.

In the main room, the Madam of the Gu family, Tao Xinhe, was having a conversation with her cousin Gu Runing about the family affairs.

The maids watched the sky slowly dim and the sun set, then slowly closed the windows.

Gu Runing was 17 years old, she’s at the age where she loved to laugh and make trouble, she then said with a smile:

“Sister-in-law, then it’s settled, you should take me to play with the third miss Tao someday.”

Tao Xinhe is twenty-three years old this year and has been in charge of housework for many years. She looks mature and prudent.

Today she is still dressed in a ginger-yellow and white floral tapestry silk brocade jacket and skirt, her hair is combed in a bun with simple butterfly hairpins as its decorations.

With a smile on her lips, she nodded to Gu Runing and said, “Okay, your brother will go to the Gongyuan1 tomorrow. I have plenty of free time here. If you don’t mind, you can follow sister-in-law to live in the Tao Manor for a few days.”

Tao Xinhe’s voice is very nice, elegant, crisp, and as crunchy as freshly fried soybeans. Gu Runing nodded again and again, her brows brimming with joy. Seeing that it was getting late, she took her maid to leave.

When Gu Runing walked through the garden of the Gu’s mansion, she met a young man head-on. He was dressed in a crimson robe and official’s uniform, with a handsome face and elegant temperament.

He nodded to Gu Runing, then passed by, and continued to stride towards the main room at the back. The corners of his robe rose and fell with his steps, and Gu Runing tried to say “cousin” in her mouth, but she couldn’t make it in time to call out.

The little maid behind Gu Runing asked in confusion, “Girl, why didn’t Second Master Xi say hello to you?”

It’s rare for Gu Runing to have the interest to explain to the little maid: “You don’t come out with me very often, You don’t know. My second cousin can’t distinguish other people’s faces. The doctor said it’s called face blindness. So every time I see him If I didn’t declare my family name, he wouldn’t even know me. Because of this, when he was a child, no one wanted to play with him, so he was isolated. When my aunt was alive he used to reprimand him for this, saying that he kept putting on airs of the young master of the main family and treated others arrogantly. It turns out, after the illness was diagnosed, everyone finally understood the situation and they started taking care of him.”

The little girl was a little surprised.

“I’ve never heard of such a disease. Second Master Xi is still the number one scholar. This slave heard from the other sisters that Second Master Xi wrote a lot of books within just seven years of him being part of the Ministry of Rites, and the stack is as tall as Second Master Xi. He is a well-known talent. And girl, this slave just took a sneak peek at Second Master Xi, he looks so handsome, just like the immortals in the paintings.”

Gu Runing sighed and said: “Because the second cousin is not good at dealing with people, so I had to study hard. He is smart, and he was always praised by his master in the family school. My brother was often depressed because of this. When second cousin was 18 years old he became the top scholar, and the whole family felt honored. It’s a pity that my aunt passed away four days after My cousin’s wedding so they had to practice filial piety2, and He doesn’t even have a child yet. You see, the children of my big brother’s family are already at school. They even call me aunt. It’s just my cousin, he still doesn’t have any.”

Seeing that the girl was very enthusiastic, the little servant girl became more worried, and commented on her master: “This slave sees Madam Xi, although she is dignified and elegant, but in terms of appearance alone, she is a bit ordinary, and she is not a good match for Master Xi. Listening to the two of you chatting, Mrs. Xi Er’s natal family is not considered prominent, and she is barely a good match with our Gu family. But it is not an exaggeration to say that she is high-ranking. After all, she lost her mother when she was young and lacks education. People in the market say that she lost her mother and the eldest daughter hasn’t married yet. How did she become Madam Xi’Er?”

Sure enough, Gu Runing talked about some gossip about his cousin’s marriage with great interest.

“Cousin Gu Ningxi is very reluctant to talk about marriage because of face blindness, and concentrates on the imperial examination. At the age of eighteen, he was the number one scholar. At the age of nineteen, he lost his mother and kept his filial piety for three years.

He and cousin Tao Xinhe’s father, Tao Yuanwailang of the Ministry of Industry, were officials in the same dynasty. He heard that Miss Tao was pretty good at handling the inner courtyard.

So one day after leaving the court, he followed Master Tao, whom he was completely unfamiliar with, back to Tao’s mansion for half a day. It is said that Gu Ningxi was very satisfied with the orderliness of Tao’s house, and asked a matchmaker to propose marriage without ever seeing Tao Xinhe.

The little maid was taken aback when she heard this: “Are you looking for your wife or a housekeeper?”


Gu Runing curled her lips and said, “As for my second cousin who can’t even recognize faces, it’s not very interesting to marry him. But it’s good, don’t worry about this trivial matter, because second cousin sees everyone the same, No matter whether it is a fairy or a beggar. On the day of his wedding three years ago, he promised cousin-in-law under the red veil, They’d become a couple for a lifetime in front of the guests. I don’t believe what others say, but since it’s the second cousin, I believe it.”


In the main room, After Tao Xinhe sent away her sister-in-law Gu Runing, she her neck slightly, pressed the back of it with both hands, Qingfang her maid then walked behind Tao Xinhe to massage her shoulders and back.

Tao Xinhe let out a long and comfortable breath, but reached back and patted Qingfang’s hand, motioning her to stop.

Tao Xinhe stood up, walked straight to the desk at the eastern side of the room, spread some paper and grinded ink by herself, she then wrote quickly at the desk. Qingfang knew she couldn’t persuade her mistress, so she shook her head distressedly, and set up another lit floor lantern beside the desk.

At this moment, the door curtain of the room was lifted, the lights in the room flickered slightly, the light and shadow on the wall changed shape, and it was Gu Ningxi who came in.

Qingfang and the other three little maids in the room bowed down their heads to pay their respects, Gu Ningxi waved his hand, only staring at that yellow silhouette.

He walked a few steps behind Tao Xinhe, smelled the familiar fragrance of aloe water, raised his hand and put it lightly on the lady’s round shoulder, and asked softly, “What is Madam writing?”

Tao Xinhe finished the last stroke, placed the brush properly on the Yamagata pen stand3, then blew lightly on the thin bamboo rice paper that she had written on the table for a long time. She then leaned back into Gu Ningxi’s arms, and then pushed the paper backwards towards him and said carefully:

“My husband is back. Take a look at this page. Based on my memory, I tried to write down the characteristics of every colleague you will meet with in the Gongyuan for a month. I hope it will help you identify them. “

Gu Ningxi put his arms around his wife, and took the writing paper with the other hand. What caught his eyes was Tao Xinhe’s neatly written small regular script with hairpin flowers. He looked at it line by line:

“Master Zhang, the chief examiner of the Ministry of Rites, has a gray beard under his chin and a long beard reaching his neck. He is about seven feet six inches tall;

The deputy examiner, Mr. Wang Wailang, a member of the Ministry of Personnel, has a high-pitched voice with a Dongbeihua accent4, and is about seven feet tall;

Master Li, part of the inspector and supervision department, has a waist circumference of more than three feet, a short black beard under his chin, and a height of more than eight feet…”

Gu Ningxi understood Madam’s kindness, then carefully folded the half-foot-square writing paper, put it in the sleeve pocket of his official uniform, then lowered his head to Tao Xinhe’s white and delicate ear, and said in a low voice,

“Thank you Madam for taking care of me.”

Tao Xinhe tilted her head slightly to avoid it, her ears were reddish, and said coquettishly, “All the servants are here.”

Gu Ningxi lifted Tao Xinhe’s chin and looked into the room. It turned out that the servants had already retreated out of the house. With this gesture, he stroked the soft flesh of his wife’s chin, and hinted at the moment of emotion: “Madam, let’s take a rest.”

Tao Xinhe raised her tender left hand high, as if to slap away her husband’s mischievous hand, but when he got closer, she grew a bit weak. She then softly pushed away the slender fingers on her chin, then looked away, with a face full of embarrassment.

Gu Ningxi and Tao Xinhe had been married for three years, so He naturally knew her shy personality. He didn’t take her slight rejection to heart and picked up the lady from under her knees. He then held her firmly towards the sandalwood canopy bed where a curtain of wishing for hundreds of sons and grandsons were embroidered5.

It was a combination or red and golden accents, the scenery looks so breath taking.


After a long time, Qingfang, who was waiting outside the courtyard, heard the master calling out for water and food, and so she hurriedly brought the little maids into the house to serve.

Tao Xinhe thought since her husband would be leaving for Gongyuan to approve papers for the Jinshi imperial examination6 tomorrow, and that he would be away for a whole month, she decided to let him mess around for a while.

But now, the hairpins on her hair are in total disarray, and the bed are in a total mess. The servants also felt embarrassed when they saw the scene, and then glance at Gu Ningxi a few times.

Gu Ningxi looked as if he got what he wanted, and he was gazing at Tao Xinhe’s plump and fit figure with scorching eyes, especially at her waist and abdomen.

Tao Xinhe couldn’t help but remember what happened just now, the sweat on her husband’s face dripped into her ears together with a hoarse words, “Wife, give me a baby.”, and she couldn’t help but blushed.


Before dawn on next day, Tao Xinhe opened her eyes, turned slightly sideways, and looked affectionately at her husband who was sleeping beside her.

Gu Ningxi is only twenty-five years old this year. He has a fair complexion, a pretty defined face, full forehead, straight eyebrows, foxy eyes, straight nose, and thick lips, with a little black stubble on his upper lip. He is known by his fellow courtiers as handsome and refined.

Tao Xinhe stretched out her index finger, and with a faint movement, she traced the slightly knitted eyebrows, eyes, mouth and nose of the person next to her, but when she reached the corner of Gu Ningxi’s straight lips, he raised his head and grabbed it, and she then saw his Adam’s apple rolling slightly.

Tao Xinhe hurriedly pulled her hand but couldn’t do it, so she used her other hand to push her husband’s chest away slightly.

“Get up. Second young master must wake up early, you have to go to Gongyuan today.”

Gu Ningxi finally opened those pair of fox-like eyes, then stared at the person in front of him with a smile. She didn’t apply any makeup but she had such a sweet fragrance. He then gently bit Tao Xinhe’s index finger twice with his before letting go.

“For a husband? Seeing you like this. I’m definitely waking up.” He smiled mischievously.

Tao Xinhe withdrew her finger: “You are still the Inspector of the Jinshi Examination, are you not embarrassed? If the students knew what you’re really like inside the boudoir, would they still call you a gentleman?”

She turned her back, leaving Gu Ningxi with the view of her silky black satin-like hair.

Gu Ningxi sighed, leaned his head against Tao Xinhe’s neck. He closed his eyes and took a deep breath of the fragrance of his wife, and said vaguely against the throbbing blood vessels of her neck: “A gentleman is for outsiders. But towards your wife, being a gentleman is being fool. Just thinking about not seeing my wife for a month, makes my heart hurts.”

Tao Xinhe’s face was flushed, she turned her head around and punched Gu Ningxi lightly on the chest, and spat, “Be serious. Didn’t you say you can only see me having a tile face, so there’s really nothing to worry about.”

Gu Ningxi repeatedly begged for mercy and coaxed his wife, and the pair of husband and wife messed around for a while.

The funny name tile face was used by Gu Ningxi himself. Right after they got married, Tao Xinhe curiously asked him what it was like to look at others based on his perspective.

Gu Ningxi pondered for a long time, and said: “Everyone has a tiled face in my eyes, and there is no difference on the appearance. I can only recognize the facial features, and these combination seems to be smoothen into tiles.”


The rising sun jumped out of the horizon, bringing the bright autumn light, to every part of the Gu mansion. The servants were also moving around, they were busy but not chaotic, and they waited for the second master and his wife to get up, help them wash and eat in an orderly manner, according to their duties.

Tao Xinhe’s clothes and hairstyle were the same as yesterday, and she accompanied Gu Ningxi from the main room to the gate of Gu’s mansion. She watched him and the servants leave, and after they turned around an alley. She then returned back and entered the mansion, and began to deal with the daily affairs of the house.


The servant followed Gu Ningxi into the tribute hall, and went to the examiner’s residence to help the master make up the bed, he laid out the bed curtains and bedding prepared by his wife one by one. Gu Ningxi sat at the table and drank the fragrant tea brought from home.

The servant boy said while he was working: “The young Madam is really meticulous, she has thought about everything for the second master, and has prepared several large bags of clothes, shoes and socks, pills, food, books, paper and pens, etc., So that the second master can live comfortably in this house for a month.”

Gu Ningxi liked to hear people say good things about his wife, so he nodded his head in agreement, and then his thoughts drifted back to more than three years ago.

When he proposed marriage back then, Tao Xinhe sent a message through the matchmaker, asking him why he wanted to marry a twenty-year-old girl. He sent back a sentence, “I respect Miss Tao, for her sensible personality.”

He promised to marry happily for convenience, and had no requirements for betrothal gifts.

After the two families got engaged, Gu Ningxi’s mother became seriously ill, and he proposed to marry as soon as possible to follow his mother’s wishes. It was Tao Xinhe who ignored his father’s objection and readily agreed. Four days into their marriage, the mother folded their hands together on the hospital bed and passed away with a smile on her face.

In front of her mother’s wake, Gu Ningxi buried his head deeply in Tao Xinhe’s arms, thanking her incoherently for her willingness to marry early and becoming a part of the Gu’s family, fulfilling her mother’s wish.

Tao Xinhe slowly stroke Gu Ningxi’s back, and said lightly: “Since I have acknowledged you, these are what I should do.” At that time, Gu Ningxi secretly vowed in his heart that he would live forever with her and that he’d be good to Tao Xinhe.

Gu Ningxi recalled the wedding, and recalled the magnificent time with his wife last night, feeling a little restless in his stomach.

Gu Ningxi thought, he had not dared to get close to his wife because of his filial piety, and it was only when her mother’s mourning period ended 20 days ago that he became clingy towards her.

After I’m done with Gongyuan, I’ll cherish my wife well, maybe I’ll be able to have a child soon.

He fantasized about the appearance of his future baby, but found out that he couldn’t picture the baby’s face at all, alas… Gu Ningxi sighed slightly, no one is perfect, and nothing is perfect.

Two days later, Gu Ningxi stood at the entrance of the Gongyuan, watching the soldiers register and search the students for the entrance examination one by one. He glanced at the students casually, their clothes were different, and their faces were all tiles…


Gu Ningxi quickly turned his head back, and stared blankly at a person. This was a short and thin student, who was grabbing her clothes to prevent soldiers from touching him.

Gu Ningxi can see this person’s face clearly!


Additional Notes:

1. This is a picture of Yamagata Pen Stand.

2) An image sample of the hundred sons and thousand grandsons embroidery design.