Chapter 38 – A Cup of Tea Before Parting (1)
Gong Jue nodded.
How could everything not be going smoothly? Sister Gong left the last twenty vehicles of the one hundred fifty carriages that he led completely empty. That way, she could fool the enemy.
For these last twenty cars, a row of willow branches, which would serve to brush off the tracks on the ground, were tied to the front wheels. If one did not look carefully, they would not notice the willow branches hidden underneath these carriages.
So while the numerous carriages at the front of the entourage carried the heavy load, the last twenty carriages in the group–which were completely empty–served to mask the tracks with the willow branches. Thus, if a careless spy merely observed where the carriages had passed, they would only find empty carriages with light tracks.
It sounded like a simple plan, but carrying it out was actually very difficult. The willow branches could be raised and lowered using a small switch. When pressed down, the branches would lower to the ground. Otherwise, they would be hidden by the device. That was why they were not discovered when the carriages were being inspected.
Gong Yi Mo had all of these things planned out long before. While those corrupted officials only took a few months to prepare for their sabotaging, the princess had taken more than a year to set up her intricate plan, from convincing the emperor and asking help from the Crown Prince to bribing various departments of the Ministry of Revenue.
Gong Jue sat across from her and drank the tea she had prepared for him in one gulp.
Sister Gong always treated him like a child, so he wasn’t allowed to drink alcohol; she would scold him whenever he would try to steal a sip.
Regardless of how she saw him, he would be considered an adult once he came back from his mission in Xi Zhou whether she acknowledged it or not.
He believed that when he returned, he would, without fail, make her unable to see him as a child!
Gong Jue personally poured a cup of tea for Gong Yi Mo. He looked at her with solemnity.
“Since I cannot drink wine yet, I’ll use tea to drink instead. I offer this first cup as a toast to Sister Gong.”
Gong Jue beamed as he looked at his beloved sister. His originally solemn expression now shined with a dazzling smile.
He looked deeply at Gong Yi Mo. No other person in this world or in the heavens could possibly be as wonderful as she was–there was only her.
“Sister Gong has been planning for my future for all these past years. Every drop of mercy was not what God gave, but what you had given me. So I offer this cup as respect to Sister Gong for her kindness to me.”
Gong Jue drank the tea in one gulp as if it were wine. Gong Yi Mo did the same then listened to the boy’s following words.
“This second cup… once again is for Sister Gong!”
Gong Jue stared deeply at Gong Yi Mo, but this time with a hint of passion. It was as if he wanted to embed her current appearance deep into his memory, never to forget.
“Over the years, I have burdened Sister Gong too much.”
He smiled in self-deprecation. “I had nothing to offer for you, yet Elder Sister has done everything for me, so this second cup is to thank Sister Gong for never abandoning me for all those years!”
His words moved Gong Yi Mo, memories emerging in her eyes. She sighed lightly. “Time had gone by so quickly, and now you will soar to greater heights.” Unexpectedly, a feeling of incomparable loneliness weighed down in her heart.
Gong Jue poured a third cup of tea.
The joy in his eyes gradually dissipated and left behind the sadness buried deep in his heart, but he could not give up. Only by facing his duty without retreat could he become worthy of standing alongside her.
“This third cup…” He hesitated. His white, jade-like fingers brushed against the rim of the cup as he sighed deeply.
Having been a place for many partings, the pavilion was quiet and desolate, but Gong Jue hated the word parting and refused to say such a word.
He smiled wanly with a touch of sadness on his young face.
Gong Jue once again raised his cup and said to Gong Yi Mo,
“This third cup is still in honor of Sister Gong.” His face showed loneliness, while his eyes flickered with emotion. “I have imagined myself countless times. If you weren’t there in the Cold Palace, what would I be? I would have become someone cruel and violent. My life would have been utterly lonely and hopeless.
“So, I offer this cup to you. Thank you for being in my life…”