Chapter 45: Boundaries

The second time a man she wasn’t very familiar with called her using her boudoir name naturally, it sounded really awkward, Tao Xinhe felt that she could no longer tolerate it.

She let it slide the first time because she saw Gu Ningxi outside the gate of the manor, and she was eager to send the guests away to deal with her own affairs.

That’s why she pretended that she hadn’t heard Ji Changbo acting so familiar with her before.

Right now, regardless of whether he claims to be asexual or if it’s because he’s a military general, and military generals are loose when it comes to rules, she had to talk to him about it.

Whether they meet again once Gu Runing’s marriage is settled, she needs to make her attitude clear.

Therefore, Tao Xinhe’s face became serious, and she said in a crisp voice,

“Mister, I know you have no other intentions, but please call me Tao Jushi from now on.”

Cheng Shicheng waved his hand and said with a smile,

“He Niang, what Tao Jushi, how could you think of that address? It’s so rigid and constrained. You are young, if I remember correctly, you are twenty-four, right? You are still young, why would you prefer to be addressed as a lifeless half-monk?”

Tao Xinhe’s heartstrings moved slightly, she’s been using this title in the past few days, and she has told a lot of people to use it. However, it’s still the first time that someone has commented about it, and calling it ‘Lifeless‘.

Could it be that the address really secretly reflected her physical and mental exhaustion?

The rare and eloquent pretty lady choked for a moment without retorting. Cheng Shicheng had a subtle sense of accomplishment, and said while the iron was hot,

“If you really don’t want to be called using your boudoir name, how about I call you by your surname? A’Tao?”

Tao Xinhe thought that “A’Tao” is still a bit too intimate but I guess it’s better than “He Niang“.

However, this way of addressing people is rarely seen in the capital.

I guess he’s probably like the wife of Shangshu Wang, who was born in the north, and seems to like calling people by their surnames.

She guessed that maybe it was just how Ji Changbo learned to address others when he was marching and fighting in the front lines.

So she decided to acquiesce.

Cheng Shicheng pretended to sigh, and said,

“A’Tao, to tell you the truth, I like talking to you a lot, and I wanted to talk more with you. It’s just a pity that you don’t plan to get involved in Jiaer’s marriage anymore… I was thinking that since the day after tomorrow is the Lantern Festival, how about I invite you to go to the market to watch the lanterns together?”

The heart started beating violently and then it contracted, which was a sign that the owner was greatly frightened.

Tao Xinhe’s cheeks flushed red quickly, and her thin eyebrows were tightly furrowed.

She didn’t expect to hear words that most lovers talk about inside a boudoir.

If it was someone else, she would definitely get up immediately, throw her sleeves and angrily reprimand them, then turn around and leave…

Then, she would order the servants to beat the person who offended her out of the manor.

However, the other party is Ji Chang Bo, a man who is said to be inhumane and has no woman around him. Tao Xinhe had regarded him as a kind big sister-like figure who came to comfort her for a moment, so she was conflicted about it for a while.

She took a few deep breaths, gritted her teeth calmly, and said earnestly and seriously,

“Mister, I’ve only known you recently, and I feel that you are gentle and enthusiastic. However, I wonder if it is because you have little contact with women, Or maybe it’s been a while since you’ve been in touch with one, so please forgive me for being so presumptuous, I think your words and actions are quite questionable. Especially when you try to get along with women.”

After hearing her words, Cheng Shicheng raised his brows, and said in a joking way,

“But please enlighten me?”

Tao Xinhe just wanted to hold her forehead, she almost made it clear, but the other party still did not understand? How can she say this?

‘Although you are no longer a man, from the perspective of the world, you are still a worthy husband for some women. You should pay more attention to propriety, so as not to make the oblivious women have any wrong ideas?’

It’s strange to say that Tao Xinhe wasn’t able to think about Gu Ningxi for a day or two because she was preoccupied by various life details, such as a new dish on the table, rare allusions on a newly read book, and the changes in the red makeup and wedding dresses that his younger siblings talked about over the past few years, etc.

She is also working hard to correct this problem, but at this moment, she thought of Gu Ningxi inappropriately again.

She wondered if Gu Ningxi acted inappropriately like this to Mo Qiqi. If he also provoked the little girl because he didn’t know how to properly distinguish between men and women, or did the girl want to push herself into his arms?

Tao Xinhe found that when she thought about this, her heart still felt a little rippling and stuffy, as if she had returned to the cloudy and rainy day on the seventh day of the first lunar month in an instant, and she couldn’t breathe freely.

Tao Xinhe came back to her senses for a while, and saw Ji Changbo staring at her without blinking, and said quickly,

“For example, it is inappropriate for you to look directly at a woman like this.”

“Oh? Even if you are already free and divorced? Is it still improper?”

Cheng Shicheng found that Tao Xinhe was far more vivid and livelier than when he first met her. She seemed happier than before.

It seemed that her divorce made her break out of the shell of a dignified woman, making her glow with new brilliance, and even more charming than before. This Tao Xinhe is enchanting him even more.

Tao Xinhe found that she seemed to be unable to understand the matter concerning Ji Changbo.

Cheng Shicheng is also someone who’s been into a couple of relationships before, he’s not new to this. Is he so broken now?

She secretly told herself that the other party was not as harmless as she thought, and he was not a stranger, so she would try her best to keep less contact with him in the future.

After staring pointedly at the sky outside the window, she realized that the sun was already high up. She had probably chatted with the guest for a while now, so Tao Xinhe lightly picked up the tea cup and put it in her hand, but didn’t drink it, which was a secret signal to see off the guest.

She smiled politely with a little hint of alienation again, the corners of her lips curled into a three-point arc, but her eyes were calm and cold. She then said in a gentle but firm tone,

“Naturally it’s inappropriate, after all, men and women are different. Mister, is there anything else that our Tao Manor can help you with?”

The hidden meaning was that if there is nothing else, please go on your way.

Cheng Shicheng’s Adam’s apple rolled around twice, and his brows immediately furrowed. He realized that he had acted too hastily just now, and how much he had annoyed the beautiful lady.

Maybe, if it weren’t for his hidden disease that both of them knew that hadn’t been resolved, he wouldn’t be able to sit in the reception flower hall of the Tao Manor right now..

He still wanted to try again,

“A’Tao, why don’t you come to watch the Lantern Festival with me the day after tomorrow?”


Tao Xinhe laughed out loud, this person kept mentioning it again and again, does he not know that in the social circle, if someone didn’t reply to your question, that means they’re unwilling?

It seems that the self-evident rules she learned from getting along with civil servants and their family members are not applicable to Ji Changbo. For some reason, it arouses Tao Xinhe’s feeling of novelty.

After laughing, Tao Xinhe still declined,

“I won’t go, thank you mister for your kind invitation, I wish you a happy time while viewing the lanterns.”

Cheng Shicheng reluctantly left, and said before leaving,

“I will send lanterns over at that time, please don’t return it, I wish you’d accept it.”

Tao Xinhe refused his gesture with a sigh. She felt that she was a nasty and indifferent host. But what can she do?

She doesn’t know how to deal with the other party’s unreasonable enthusiasm.

The Lantern Festival is gradually approaching, and tonight, the emperor and his family will have fun with the people. Fireworks will be set off outside the palace gate, and giant lanterns will be set off.

As for other places, there is an annual scene of brightly lit and colorful lanterns. Many businesses try to set up lantern displays, and Lantern guessing riddles. While large families will set up lantern stalls, for large oil lanterns.

The custom of the kneeling moon goddess was even displayed, and everyone has their own way of celebrating, and their own plays to watch.

Most people did not plan to sleep, and would rather stay up all night long to celebrate.

After all, most people in the capital will often go out with their families to watch the lanterns and admire the moon. They would bring the old and the young together, call their wives and children, and accompany their neighbors and companions. This loud and noisy atmosphere could be heard everywhere under the night sky.

However, this is not the case for those who were having a funeral.

In the small courtyard of the Mo family, the voices of the monks chanting scriptures seemed to be a little quieter and messy, maybe it was because of their absent-mindedness.

After finally arriving at the eleventh hour, the leading monk chanted “Amitabha“, and after saluting Gu Ningxi, who was dressed in an indigo uniform, he said,

“Almsgiver, the seven days of the deceased life is finally full. The bad luck of mourning on the body of you and Miss Mo, has finally lost a layer.”

Gu Ningxi, who looked haggard, could finally breathed a sigh of relief, he then returned a salute, thanked the monk, and asked,

“When I came over on the tenth day of the lunar new year, the master said that since the deceased passed away at a later hour, so he died in a very resentful way. He was like a real brother to me, so you told me that it was best to keep my head here and see no outsiders to resolve the resentment. I don’t know if I can go to see my relatives now?”

The fat, Buddha-faced monk was feeling embarrassed in his heart. He squeezed his sleeves secretly. Miss Mo asked him to make up an excuse to keep this official surnamed Gu here. She even gave him five taels of silver, which was a lot of money.

(T/N: Where is she getting all these money from?)

He was actually unsure about what his words meant, but he still remembered that the senior official’s expression changed at that time, and he murmured,

‘Is there really a god in the sky? Could it be that my brother is blaming me for breaking my promise? But I haven’t told anyone about it yet, not even Qiniang.’

He seemed to believes that what he thought was true, he then gave off a distressed expression.

The official also asked the monk if the resentment of the dead was only aimed at him? Or will it affect his relatives?

The great monk thought about it for a while, after all, Miss Mo only wanted to keep the person here, and so he quickly quoted the “Dharma Sutra”, “Tibetan Secret Sutra” and so on.

Gu Ningxi pondered for a while. He is a traditional Confucian disciple who grew up under the guidance of his grandfather and father. He is most familiar with the four books and five classics.

Although he has dabbled in other miscellaneous studies, he has always disliked the difficult to pronounce and pretentious words of the Buddhist scriptures. So his knowledge in this area is only superficial.

He couldn’t judge whether the great monk’s words were true or false for a while, and with the attitude of “Preferring to believe it rather than doubt it”. He decided to wait until the fifteenth day of the first lunar month, and sincerely focused on sending Mo Qi back to the underworld and reincarnation in the past few days.

When Mo Qiqi heard this, she was definitely overjoyed, and her words were clear and crisp, which didn’t really suit well with her plain white mourning clothes.

However, she didn’t seem to realize that there were only two courtyards in the Mo family house, one was her boudoir, the other room was used for her brother’s wake. So where should Gu Ningxi live with his servants?

All she wanted was for Gu Ningxi to be around her, so she didn’t think about any of these. She only asked him,

“Brother Xi, you haven’t been able to return home for awhile now, will you be held accountable by the Madam?”

“Brother Xi, I saw my brother in a dream last night. He said that it was my blessing to know you in this life, did you dream of my brother too?”

Gu Ningxi could only respond with a wry smile.

Mo Qiqi’s face could still attract his gaze. He can see how the shape of her lips changes when she speaks, and how tears will fall from her eyelashes when she’s sad.

He could finally understand what a book would describe as the wrinkling of the nose, the beating of the edge of the mouth, the frowning with resentment, and what the lips and teeth would look like when someone smiles.

However, so what?

The feeling of novelty when he first found a clearly identifiable human face has faded, as if it was no longer something as precious as He once thought. Not to mention the girl herself.

He had never dreamed of Mo Qi, let alone Mo Qiqi. He only dreamed of his lady, the lady with a familiar figure and a vague face.

He could finally identify the beautiful lady in his dream, without worrying about not being able to recognize her and causing her to get angry.

It’s a pity that the dream disappeared as soon as he woke up, and he didn’t remember what exactly he dreamed about, which left him only a feeling of emptiness.

Gu Ningxi never took the initiative to tell others that he had already separated and divorced, as if this fact didn’t exist if he didn’t mention it.

He arranged for his servants to go to the Ministry of Rites to ask for leave, and he received a humane reply from Zhang Shangshu and the director of the department,

『A righteous brother is like one’s own blood related brother, so it is only natural for one to arrange a funeral for them and be there on their first seven days of mourning.』

He assigned the housekeeper to talk with the other neighbors, and ask if he can rent their courtyard for a couple of days.

They agreed so he had them live in an inn for a while. Gu Ningxi then lived there with Shishu and Shihua.

So ever since the 11th day of the first lunar month until the Lantern Festival, Gu Ningxi would stay at the small courtyard of the Mo family to listen to scriptures and worship during the daytime.

As soon as it got dark, He would use the excuse of having to strictly follow “The division between men and women.”, ignoring Mo Qiqi’s muttering about concubines and whatnot.

He would then go back to the neighbor’s courtyard and continue to listen to the scriptures through the wall.

Seriously speaking, Mo Qiqi wanted him to keep her company, and share three meals a day together.

However, he’s always accompanied by a group of people every time, and Gu Ningxi will always prefer to eat at the same table with the people in his mansion regardless of their rank, if not, he would rather eat alone while lost in his thoughts.

Hence, the image that Mo Qiqi had imagined of the two of them eating and living together, in perfect Harmony with each other, did not happen at all.

Now, when the great monk himself personally told him that he’s finally free. She doesn’t know what to do…

Gu Ningxi went towards Mo Qi’s coffin and meditated for a while. He then told Liu Guang and Zhuiyun to accompany Mo Qiqi, told them to be careful, and that he’d come back on the second seven days of mourning.

He looked like a liberated bird, ready to flap his wings and fly away freely.

He went back to the mansion to take a bath and change his clothes, after smelling the smell of incense and candles on his body.

He hesitated a little, after thinking that this is an auspicious day, although it was later than usual, he thought that maybe his lady hadn’t slept yet. So if he goes to the Tao Manor to find her now, will she be willing to see him?