The Alluring Physician-Chapter 3 Looking Through River Lethe (I)
Chapter 3 Looking Through River Lethe (I)
In the backyard of Gu residence.
A narrow and serene pathway meandered its way into a bamboo grove. At the end of the winding pathway was a compound.
The compound was extremely small with no signs of life.
The curtains were drawn up and a cold breeze entered into the house.
Yue Niang brought in a food box and placed it onto the table.
Now was the coldest period in winter, where the outside air was both moist and bitter cold. Yue Niang briskly blew warm air into her hands before she rubbed them together as she grumbled softly, “This Gu family is really heartless…they can’t even bear to spare us with some coals…”
But with a sudden realization that her lady was no longer the same one whom she used to serve, she hurriedly forced a smile on her face and said, “Hurry and have your meal, my lady. The food will turn cold soon in this freezing weather.”
Gu Qingwan was staring at herself in the copper mirror and seemed to be in a daze. Although it had already been half a month, she was still feeling unfamiliar with her new face.
She recovered and smiled gently, “Where’s Uncle Fu, Yue Niang?”
Yue Niang smiled and said, “I seldom see him around ever since you acknowledged him as your Teacher. I guess he’s in the backyard collecting some herbs right now.”
Gu Qingwan flipped shut her copper mirror, stood up and said, “I’ll go and get him.”
Yue Niang immediately pulled her back while pointing towards the front door, “The two servants are not our people. You need to be careful.”
Gu Qingwan frowned slightly as she repeated after her and said, “Our people…”
Yue Niang felt a sense of desperation within. True enough, whoever that could be considered as”our people” right now were only the three of them, namely her lady, Uncle Fu and herself.
Qingwan assuringly patted the back of Yue Niang’s hand before she drew the curtain apart swiftly and disappeared out from the room.
In the backyard, several unknown plants were growing in disperse patterns.
Qian Fu was standing and hunching over his back at the corner of the backyard, looking exceptionally lonely on its own.
Startled by the scene she saw, Gu Qingwan’s vision gradually became cloudy.
The Qian family members had been physicians for generations. Their grandfather, Qian Zongfang, was the Physician Head in the Imperial Physician Department. His son, Qian Fu, was exceptionally intelligent and had started learning medicine from his father and grandfather since young. Hence, his skill was said to be even better than his father.
However, Uncle Fu’s entire family of 32 members were killed in a tragic accident and their bodies were buried in the fire. This incident had caused Qian Fu’s hair to turn grey overnight.
Qingwan’s presence came to Qian Fu’s notice and he waved at her.
“Chrysanthemum. Its taste is bitter-sweet. It helps to disperse heat from the body and is able to remove toxins. It’s usually used to cure flu caused by internal heat in the body and also for combating early stages of fever. It can also be used to treat eye diseases and poisonous boils. Can you remember all of what I’ve said?”
Gu Qingwan kneeled to stroke the petals of the chrysanthemum flower as she softly recited after what he had said.
Qian Fu felt pleased. Not only was the lady born talented, but she had also clearly picked up quite a bit while being raised in a medical environment. If only the Old Master had not stopped her from learning, she would have been a rare gem in the medicinal field.
It was only a short while before Gu Qingwan stood up and said, “I have remembered them, Uncle Fu!”
Qian Fu felt touched as he sighed and said, “You’re born intelligent. I believe that you will be successful one day. If only Old Master could see how well you’re doing now from Heaven, he would be delighted.”
Gu Qingwan was surprised by what she heard and a thought struck her mind. She said calmly, “Uncle Fu, why did grandfather ask you to come to the Gu family to pass the message?”
Uncle Fu looked dejected as he choked on his words and said, “The Old Master himself said that the Qian family’s medical skills must not be lost even if the Qian family could not longer be protected. Since our second lady was far away with the Gu family located in Suzhou and the Gu family members are all educated, he believed that the second lady should be responsible for taking over the skills. Thus, the Old Master left me to help the second lady, but who knows…”
Tears began to roll down Uncle Fu’s cheeks as he fought hard to hold back his emotions. By the time he managed to sell himself into the Gu family by breaking his own legs, he had received the bad news on the second lady’s death.
Feeling depressed beyond words, Gu Qingwan could only break into a desperate laugh.
In the thirty-second year of Baoqing reign, winter. There was a sudden major change in the capital city.
The Crown Prince had suddenly been deposed. On the other hand, the Crown Prince’s tutor, Shi Gelao, was admonished and killed in the imperial court. The Qian family, which had a good relation with the Crown Prince, was unfortunately implicated in this case.
The Gu family was known to have educated and noble members who held on to important ranks in the Palace. In order to protect one’s power and position in such an unpredictable environment, one must learn how to avoid unnecessary troubles and even be ruthless at times. Hence, who would be willing to protect her aunt in times like this? If not for the soul-crushing poison that had allowed the aunt to die in peace, she would probably have been murdered by assassins under the secret order of the Gu family.
“My lady, the forecourt has given us two additional dishes. The servants said that these were granted by the princess.” Yue Niang said as she hurried into the backyard.
Gu Qingwan gave a cold smirk before turning her smile into a silly one and said, “I want my vegetables, Yue Niang!”
Yue Niang felt dumbstruck for a moment. Her lady seemed to have turned back into the Gu Qingwan who had been born mentally retarded.
The person that have been sent to pass the dishes on behalf of Princess Huayang was her personal servant, Granny Tan.
Covered in a jade green cotton-padded coat, she signaled to the servant behind her with her eyes and said, “My sixth lady, these are specially made by our kitchen under our princess’ behest. Please try.”
The table was filled with two additional dishes, which were a plate of Chinese white shrimps and a plate of vension.
However, the shrimps were only slightly soaked in the wine as they were still wriggling their bodies. Although the vension was crispy on the outside and tender on the inside, there was still blood oozing out of the meat.
Gu Qingwan was beaming as she clapped her hands foolishly while saying, “Try…try!”
Yue Niang stared at the two dishes and was taken aback. She mustered up the courage to voice out, “Granny, how do you expect our lady to eat such food?”
Granny Tan smirkingly replied, “You should not reject whatever the elder offers you, regardless of whether they are shrimps, vension or poison…hng.”