Wen Xichi flashed Qin Wanru a raised eyebrow without a word.
“Please give it to this gentleman then.” Qin Wanru pointed to Young Master Xu, who was seated beside Wen Xichi.
“Young Master Xu, please come with me!” The shopkeeper stood up with a bright smile.
He must take his leave now that the transaction was over.
With the Prime Ministers son acting as the guarantor, they could bypass quite a few bureaucratic processes, even the textual research.
Young Master Xu was reluctant as his interest was piqued, but he had no choice but to leave.
So, he told Wen Xichi, “Please excuse me.”
Wen Xichi waved a hand with a nod.
“Thank you, Young Master Wen.
Allow me to toast you a cup of tea in place of wine.” Qin Wanru stood up and poured herself a cup of tea with a smile.
Then, she bowed deeply to him.
Qin Wanru, already a baby-face in the first place, looked adorably childish as she made a toast in earnestness like an adult.
Her bright and large eyes made her appear quick-witted.
She was very likable indeed.
“Spare me the courtesy,” Wen Xichi said, reaching out to receive the cup and take a sip.
Qin Wanru returned to her seat.
“Do you have any brothers, Young Master Wen” She sounded as if she was making small talk.
Her fan-like long lashes swept her cheeks as she blinked twice.
There was a fleeting amusement on her expression.
“I have two older brothers,” Wen Xichi said softly.
He didnt underestimate or looked down on her because of her young age.
“Are your older brothers about your age” Qin Wanru asked curiously.
Her tone carried a hint of childlike innocence, contrasting sharply with her composed manner during the transaction.
With her bright smile and lack of wariness, she seemed truly like a child now.
It was to the extent where she would ask questions out of her ignorance of other people.
“Theyre a few years older,” Wen Xichi answered ambiguously.
“Then, are your brothers married” Qin Wanru was beginning to ask questions that suited her current appearance.
“My eldest brother is, but not the second.” Wen Xichi had the feeling he shouldnt answer her, but he couldnt help himself when he looked into her emotive eyes.
His gaze turned gentle as he looked at her tender, delicate face.
The girl before him seemed to overlap with his memories of his little sister.
Back then, his sister had also questioned with such burning curiosity.
A sliver of pain crossed his pupils, and he lowered his gaze.
If his little sister was still alive, wouldnt she be as smart and sensible as Qin Wanru
“Why isnt your second brother married Dont people in the capital favor early marriages” It seemed Qin Wanru didnt realize her questions were becoming increasingly intrusive.
“They couldnt find him a good match.” Wen Xichi didnt know how to answer.
“Why couldnt they find someone Is it because too many families want to be in-laws with your family Or does he not like the ladies introduced to him” These questions, in all honesty, didnt at all suit Qin Wanrus current age.
She was now eleven years old; some girls her age were already being matchmade.
Fortunately for her, she was petite, and people tended to assume she was below ten.
They would turn a blind eye to some of her misspoken words, blaming it on her being young and ignorant.
“My second brother has always been haughty.
He considers ordinary ladies beneath him,” Wen Xichi said nonchalantly, not wanting to continue this conversation.
Qin Wanru tilted her head to look at him and changed the topic out of the blue.
“Third Young Master Wen, do you have close female cousins that you grew up with”
This question stunned Wen Xichi into silence.
He indeed had a younger female cousin that he grew up with, but that wasnt entirely the truth either.
His cousin was simply raised in his household.
She was his paternal aunts daughter, Gu Xishu.
When his uncle was dispatched outstation, his aunt sent Gu Xishu to his home out of worry that her daughter would suffer.
“Cousin Shu grew up in our household,” Wen Xichi answered amicably after some thought.
This same-age cousin of his seemed gentle, but for some reason, he didnt quite like her.
“Third Young Master Wen, arent cousins a popular pairing in the capital Could it be that your second brother is refusing to marry because he has fallen for your cousin” Qin Wanru steered the conversation to Gu Xishu, whom she seemed to have taken an interest in.
Speechless, Wen Xichi looked at her.
He had no idea how she came up with that conclusion.
“I must have guessed correctly, yes” Qin Wanru patted the table.
Her limpid eyes appeared even livelier.
“Youre wrong.” Wen Xichi didnt want to answer, but he couldnt help bursting her bubble after seeing how overjoyed she was, as if her speculation was spot-on.
“Impossible! Im sure thats what happened.
Third Young Master Wen, youre not your second brother.
How would you know his mind Maybe thats really what he thinks, and thats why he has been postponing his marriage,” a red-faced, pouty Qin Wanru retorted stubbornly.
Her words were so dogmatic that Wen Xichi was left speechless.
How did this child end up with such an extraordinary conclusion His second brother wasnt at all interested in Cousin Shu.
He had told him that a proper man did not need to rush into a marriage and even gave an example of a pair of newlyweds cousins.
He remembered his second brother saying there was no need for a couple, even one that grew up together, to get married so soon.
This reminded him of something that made him frown.
“Third Young Master Wen, you look like you have a lot on your mind.
Could it be that you and your second brother are interested in the same person” Qin Wanru asked, alarmed.
Her bright eyes widened as she looked at Wen Xichi in surprise.
It took Wen Xichi a moment to slowly say, “You overthink things, Second Miss Qin.”
“Am I wrong But thats impossible! Thats what the folk stories say!” Qin Wanru muttered in bewilderment.
She tilted her head to look at Wen Xichi.
“Third Young Master Wen, brothers in the folk stories always fall for their cousin and end up fighting over her.
The cousin would sow discord between them and eventually cause the death of one of them.
Isnt that what the stories say”
Wen Xichi was truly stumped for words this time.
Was the education for noble young ladies in Jiangzhou so lax that girls hidden away in manors were able to amuse themselves with these sloppily-written folk stories
“Third Young Master Wen, the stories are all true.
Ive heard of one such incident in Jiangzhou.
The gentle and frail-looking female cousin had apparently flirted with both the older and younger brother while putting on a great show of innocence.
For her sake, the older brother eventually caused the younger brother to drown in a river!”
Qin Wanru banked on her young age to say whatever she wanted and make up stories.
“Jiangzhou… is sure lively!” Wen Xichi felt that Qin Huaiyong was a very poor father.
How could a girl from a proper family read such nonsense instead of sensible books To be frank, he didnt have a problem with her reading folk stories.
However, was it appropriate for her to say such things to a man
Wen Xichi stood up with a gentle smile.
“Second Miss Qin, since were done with the transaction, allow me to excuse myself and attend to my business.”
“What about your cousin Arent you going to tell me about her” Qin Wanru stood up, looking rather upset.
The corners of Wen Xichis eyes twitched.
He was truly well-raised, he thought, to act as a guarantor for this nonsense-spewing little girl.
“Go home and read more books.
Dont fill your head with nonsense!” A gentle admonishment escaped his mouth.
“Then what books should I read then” Qin Wanru looked confused.
Wen Xichi felt his temper rising, not directed at Qin Wanru, but at her father.
How could the Ningyuan Army General from Jiangzhou neglect his daughter to this extent To think that such an adorable girl didnt even know what books she should read.
“If youd like to read, I have a few books at home that are more appropriate for you,” Wen Xichi said.
He then frowned.
He wanted to stay away from this girl whose naivety was in the excess, so how did he end up offering to give her a few books
“Then thank you kindly, Third Young Master Wen!” Qin Wanru was overjoyed.
In the first place, her goal was to get closer to Wen Xichi and remind him to be wary of his second brother and cousin Gu Xishu.
She could tell he didnt quite believe her, so she must remind him now and then.
Wen Xichi was incredibly clever.
Were it not for his second brother Wen Shian and cousin Gu Xishu, he wouldnt have become riddled with illness and meet an early death in his past life.
In her previous life, she only learned about this from his young manservant.
The servant told her that Wen Xichis second brother Wen Shian was the one who pushed him into a river and nearly killed him.
Then, his medicine was found to be tampered with.
Wen Xichi escaped death but was left hanging on for dear life.
The reason was their seemingly frail and gentle cousin.
She and Wen Shian could be considered as “mutual lovers” but Wen Xichi was beginning to appeal more to her.
She told Wen Shian to marry someone else, all while insisting that it was Wen Xichi who liked her and put her in a dilemma.
In a fit of anger, Wen Shian ambushed Wen Xichi.
Brilliant and politically-savvy as Wen Xichi was, he would never imagine his biological brother trying to harm him.
The young manservant also shared his speculation that the tampering of the medicine was related to Second Young Master and their cousin.
However, no matter how he tried telling Wen Xichi, the latter refused to let him investigate this.
Qin Wanru inhaled deeply as she watched Wen Xichi gradually disappear in the horizon.
The innocence in her eyes slowly dissipated, leaving behind a trace of solemnness.
Suddenly, an equally gentle voice rang beside her ears.
“Enough of that staring.
Hes so far away that you cant even see him.
Why dont we pay a visit to the Prime Ministers Mansion instead” There was even a hint of elegant amusement in the voice, and yet Qin Wanru spun around in a panic…