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230 The Artist Has a Matchmaker Master

    Today, Yujia settled on the idea of paying a visit to her birthmother, Madam Liu. She didn't know how else she was going to get answers.

    Besides, there was also the possibility that the culprit who poisoned her was none other than Madam Liu herself. Yujia wasn't sure what the reasoning would be for this. After all, which mother would have the heart to poison her own child? But considering that she had been poisoned since childhood, and that the Fourth Miss enjoyed visiting her birthmother, Madam Liu was a likely culprit that couldn't be ruled out.

    She knew that Hui'er talked to Madam Liu about Yujia's strange personality change. By the way that Hui'er later told her, with fear, that Liu Yuxi would treat Yujia negatively, due to superstition that Yujia was possessed or something of that sort, Yujia knew that she couldn't just act like a normal Fourth Miss. She had to think of an excuse, and she had one in mind, she supposed.

    Yujia also wanted to learn more about or discover some clues about the letters she found in the box. She knew that she couldn't directly ask, but maybe by talking with her birthmother, she could get a better idea at what exactly the meaning behind the letters was.

    Yet before Yujia could make any plans to leave Lingxin, her master called her over.

    Yujia already thanked her master for the oil paints yesterday. Plus, considering that it was still fairly early in the morning, she was surprised to hear that her master was awake.

    It felt like yesterday, he had been awake earlier than usual too.

    Yujia thought about it a bit. Perhaps he was establishing better sleeping habits. That was always a good thing. Granted, it wasn't like it was too early in the morning- the first half of the morning had already passed, but in Yujia's master's book, this was likely early. And so, Yujia considered it as early.

    Regardless, as a disciple, and especially considering that she was being clothed, fed, and housed by her master, Yujia obviously went over without a delay. Since the kitchens were also on her way, Yujia dropped by to say hello to Chef Hong and Lili. She also picked up the breakfast, simple congee, that the kitchens had prepared, to bring along with her.

    When she arrived, her master gestured for her to come sit down next to him. She set up the bowls of congee and the dishes, some pickled vegetables, and began to eat as she listened to her master talk.

    He seemingly just wanted to have a normal conversation with her as well, since he didn't speak about any important announcements or things he needed to tell her. He simply said, tasting a bit of the pickled radishes, "Chef Hong truly makes the best pickled vegetables."

    "Oh, yeah," Yujia agreed, "She's so good at cooking everything; it's kind of ridiculous."

    "She's always been skilled at cooking," her master took a bite of congee, then pointed out.

    "Really? How long have you known her? And how did you find a kind of chef like Chef Hong for Lingxin? And the rest of the kitchen staff... Lili, Mr. Wu... " Yujia asked, leaning forward with curiosity.

    "They came in a group," he explained, "and actually, Chef Hong hadn't been a chef all her life, even though she was always talented in this area."

    "What did she do before?"

    He scraped his spoon lightly against the surface of the steaming congee, just to get the part that had cooled down a bit. "The three of them, Hong Zhengmei, Wu Tianlei, and Wu Lili, were a group of criminals."

    Yujia dropped her chopsticks.

    She stared at her master, in disbelief at what he just said. "Criminals?"

    "Yep. They were young and bright then, in their late twenties- though of course, Lili was just a kid. She's Wu Tianlei's daughter. I came across them during one trip I took in my fifties or so."

    "How did you all meet?"

    Her master let out a laugh, stroking the wisps of his white beard. "Well, it makes for a funny story. I met Chef Hong when she held a knife to my throat, since I recognized her face as one from a wanted poster I saw. She wanted me to give up all the wealth I had on me. On the other hand, instead of giving her all my money and possibly even my life, I offered for her to return back to the capital city with me. I was capable of giving all of them a life without living in the shadows of their crime- I also just so happened to have the need for a chef- so she went along with me."

    Yujia thought back to how menacing Chef Hong looked at times with her kitchen knife. She wondered what crimes they exactly committed to be on a wanted poster, likely from the government.

    Her master seemed to read her mind. "Oh, they were wanted for intercepting an important government shipment of goods, if you were wondering. They were the leaders of a fairly infamous group of thieves, almost like bandits, I suppose. But Wu Tianlei's daughter was growing up. Both him and Hong Zhengmei wanted to go back to a normal, steady life."

    Yujia tapped her fingers on the table. "So are Chef Hong and Mr. Wu married? I thought I heard Lili call Chef Hong 'Auntie'."

    He waved his hand dismissively. "No, Zhengmei is the sister of Tianlei's wife, who passed earlier, if my memory is not failing me."

    "Ah. So Chef Hong really is Lili's aunt." She nodded.

    "Indeed," glancing in the distance, he continued, "so, I'm glad that in the end, I gave them a better life, and I got a great kitchen staff, plus delicious foods. It's a win-win situation." He then paused and exhaled deeply. "I've been thinking about the past too much lately. Let's talk about the present."

    "Sure. What about the present?"

    "Hmm..."

    Her master was about to say something, but then Ye Yunhe walked into the courtyard.

    "You all are eating here without me?" he feigned a look of betrayal, then took a seat, laughing.

    Yujia nodded enthusiastically. "Yes. Master and I have decided to purposely exclude you from everything we do from now on, Senior Brother."

    "Aw, Junior Sister, I'm heartbroken." Yunhe clutched his heart.

    He then helped himself to a bowl of congee, ladling the porridge into an extra porcelain bowl Yujia bought along.

    "You haven't eaten yet?" Yujia noted.

    Yunhe usually ate breakfast fairly early, so this surprised her.

    "No, not yet." He ate a spoonful, then continued explaining, "I accidentally left something important in Half Moon Pavilion yesterday. I had to go grab it, so I didn't have time to eat breakfast." He set his chopsticks across his bowl, turning to Yujia and saying, "Oh, guess who I saw there."

    "Who?"

    "Noble Yu Zixu. And," Yunhe raised his eyebrows suggestively, "he said that he was looking for you."

    Yujia thought about last night, when the two of them were drinking together. Her face warmed up a bit.

    What was Zixu here for? To deliver the jade pendant she left at the Yu Villa? But even then, he could've sent a servant. He didn't need to personally come here.

    She forced out a quiet "is that so..." then looked at her bowl, deep in thought.

    Her master noticed this, a gleeful smile appearing across his face. "Yu Zixu? That kid wants to see my disciple?"

    "Yes. He said that he was looking for my junior sister. I didn't hear wrong." Yunhe smiled too, though his smile was close-lipped.

    "Wonderful, wonderful." Her master tapped the table in front of Yujia. "Kid, how do you feel about this Yu Zixu?"

    Yujia thought about it. She had many things that she could say about Yu Zixu. But what exactly would be right to say in this situation?

    And besides, what was her master doing, being so interested in a Yu Zixu? As far as Yujia knew, her master didn't particularly care about these things. His unexplained enthusiasm when it came to Yu Zixu was a bit startling.

    "Senior Brother Zixu is... thoughtful," Yujia allowed herself to say.

    "Did you know that this kid is unmarried?" her master brought up. "And he doesn't have any concubines either... he's a good kid, from what I've seen. Good at painting, talented in many things."

    Yujia stared blankly at her master. Yunhe stared blankly at both of them.

    Neither of them expected to hear these words from their master.

    Yunhe just talked about Yu Zixu to let Yujia know that Zixu was looking for her. He didn't expect for his master to suddenly start complimenting Yu Zixu so fervently like this. This wasn't fair! Yu Zixu wasn't even the direct disciple of his master- how come Yunhe was never complimented like this?

    Yujia, on the other hand, was less concerned about the compliments, and more about the entire "Yu Zixu is very, very, very single" attitude that her master was taking.

    What exactly did he mean by "this kid is unmarried" and "he doesn't have any concubines"? What was her master trying to get at?

    Don't tell her that... her master was trying to play a matchmaker here?

    Yujia quickly glanced over at Yunhe. Senior Brother Yunhe liked men, and it seemed like her master knew this fact as well. So hold on- if her master was playing matchmaker, was he trying to match her with Zixu, or Ye Yunhe with Yu Zixu?
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