At the bank of the Fen Hua river, stood a wooden pavilion with a curved black roof and a shining plaque above the entrance facing the street. The plaque read 'Madam Yan’s Matchmaking Pavilion' and from the other bank of the river, people could often see Madam Yan sitting there drinking tea with a popular bachelor that wanted to get married or a desperate mother that had trouble finding a decent daughter-in-law for her son. Madam Yan would listen to their worries and her guests would always leave with a smile. A few months later, a wedding procession would pass through the streets of the capital and an influential family would usher in a new era.
Today, people gathered on the other side of the Fen Hua river and craned their necks to get a closer look at the gentleman sitting across Madam Yan.
A woman in the back tried to shove her way through the crowd but the whole bank was already packed with people and there was no way to get through. She could only tap the shoulder of the woman in front of her. "Is it true that the person over there is General Yu?"
"How would I know?" The other woman snapped at her, turned back around and tiptoed in the hope of getting a glimpse of this legendary figure.
In the pavilion, General Yu glanced to the side. "Wouldn’t it be better to relocate this conversation to the house?"
Madam Yan smiled. "But doing it here is better for my business." She vaguely motioned to the other side of the Fen Hua river. "All these women also have sons and daughters. Why would I pass up on this opportunity?"
"Are you sure you should admit to that?" General Yu furrowed his brows.
It was said that the husband of this Madam Yan was a high-ranking General but he had served in the military of their Chen country for more than ten years now and had never even heard of any 'General Yan'. So either he had long passed away or her story was as fake as his interest in marriage. Considering her attitude, the latter seemed more likely.
Madam Yan put down the teacup and folded her hands in her lap. "So, General Yu, why don’t you tell me about your plans?"
"My family wants me to get married. I’ll likely return to the battlefield soon so it should happen within this year."
Madam Yan glanced at the sky. It was already late June by now. In other words, this person wanted her to find a fitting match in less than six months and right after the wedding, he might leave the capital and go back to the borders. The only things he had going for him were his high status and the prestige of his family. Well, that and his appearance.
She examined him and her lips curved up. The General had exchanged his usual armor for a plain black robe, highlighting his broad shoulders and muscular arms. This way, he looked more like a martial artist than a member of an influential family. It was a good look for him though. Among the young masters and the scholars that normally frequented the capital and came to the matchmaking pavilion, he stood out. This was a man that people would inevitably look at and most women wouldn’t be able to find anything to nitpick about. As for other men … It probably depended on which way they swung.
Ahem. Anyway. Madam Yan broke away from his sight and instead glanced at the women on the other side of the river. Some of them tried to look as if they weren’t here to watch the General and had just coincidentally met and struck up a conversation. It seemed finding some interested parties for marriage wouldn’t be hard after all. The real problem was something else.
Madam Yan turned back to face the General. "You’ve been away from the capital for a long time but you should have heard by now: Madam Yan’s Matchmaking Pavilion will only take care of the marriage of true couples that will join together for a happy future."
General Yu gave a mocking smile. "So Madam Yan can see into the future and determine whether a couple will be happy?"
"No, but I can see whether somebody wants to marry. General Yu obviously doesn’t want to so whoever marries him will end up an abandoned wife. Or could it be there is more to this and General Yu has a special person in his heart?"
Her customer didn’t answer but she didn’t need him to say it anyway. The way he had looked at those Madams on the other side of the river had told her everything she needed to know. Obviously, he hated their nosy behavior and was disgusted just at the thought of having to take one of their daughters back home. Now, the only question was: What kind of person would he like to take home? If she managed to find that out, then there was still hope to join yet another couple for a fulfilling marriage.
Madam Yan motioned back to the street. "I know General Yu’s wishes now. I will look for some suitable candidates and arrange a meeting afterward."
"Mn." General Yu nodded and got up, leaving the matchmaking pavilion behind. He didn’t have high hopes but he forced himself to raise the corners of his mouth a little. After all, the servant that his family had sent with him was still waiting and that guy would certainly report every single thing he had seen. Even though he didn’t want this marriage, he still couldn’t show it too openly in front of his family. After all, there was no way he could get around this regardless of how much he hated the thought.
Madam Yan continued to sit in the pavilion for a moment before she also got up and went into the main house. From the window, she watched the General leave. This kind of customer was the hardest to please but also the most interesting to work with. Now, how to go about finding a fitting match for him?
She hurried through the main house and arrived at the entrance just in time to see him reach the street where his family’s carriage was waiting. The General walked toward it without glancing left or right. All those women who had prettied themselves up and hung around the street for the entire morning in the hope of meeting his eye were ignored. This guy … Did he care about women at all?
At the very least, he didn’t seem to care about this type of beauty. Could it be he preferred the plain type? Or maybe appearance wasn’t what he cared about and he was instead looking at the person’s character? Could it be he wanted the type of wife that would wait for him at home and comfort him after a long day at work? Ah, no, there was no long day at work for him. Only a long time on the battlefield.
Madam Yan pursed her lips. Maybe this man just had some self-awareness and knew that marrying him might make a woman unhappy in a short amount of time. Marrying a handsome General from a prestigious family seemed to be a dream come true for most women but … when he returned to the battlefield, when he someday failed to return from the battlefield, then what would be left for them? Only a quiet life as a widow. How many women would be able to take that?
Madam Yan sighed and shook her head. It seemed she’d have to consider well which women she picked for him to meet.
Just then, General Yu reached his carriage while another one pulled over onto the small square in front of the main house. Madam Yan raised her brows. Oh? It seemed there was yet another customer coming by? And this one hadn’t announced himself before.
A servant got down from the carriage and opened the door, reaching out to take the fair hand of the person inside. The one that alighted … was one of the top scholars of the capital. Clad in a muted green robe, he drew gazes onto him despite the General’s presence.
Madam Yan glanced over but then continued to watch the General. If she could get just one more hint out of his behavior … Just when the General wanted to step into his carriage, his movement stilled for an instant. Who knew if his gaze slipped over there and his attention was diverted? In the end, he got onto his carriage and the servant closed the door. The carriage didn’t leave though and the curtain was pushed aside slightly as if the person inside was watching something outside. When that scholar had passed half the square and approached the main house, the curtain was pulled to the other side.
Madam Yan hid her smile behind her sleeve. Ah, that General Yu … It seemed she had been right with her initial guess. He wasn’t interested in women and with the way his gaze stayed glued to this one person, she had probably been right about him having a special person in his heart too. It seemed she’d have to see whether this scholar requited those feelings or at least would be open to doing so in the future. As for their families … she’d think about that after she was sure about these men’s feelings.
But she had the feeling that another pair of happy people would leave her matchmaking pavilion soon to get married and enjoy their life as a married couple.