Gou Jian is playing a cautious game. Stone here, stone there, no progress. Fu Chai puts his stones where Gou Jian can take them, but Gou Jian holds back. Fu Chai gives him an annoyed look.
"Do you intend to give Us a game or not?"
"We are giving your Majesty a game. We regret that it's not the game your Majesty wishes."
Fu Chai hisses annoyance and presses the attack. Gou Jian responds finally. Responds with such ferocity that Fu Chai finds himself on the defensive. He sacrifices six stones- seven- eight; is clearly losing; and only in the last three moves is able to block the stones Gou Jian has strung out across the board in order to win.
"Mh," is all the King of Yue says.
Fu Chai waves a dismissive hand. The hovering servants approach. Gou Jian stands up.
"Good night, your Majesty."
"Good night, Gou Jian."
Fu Chai stalks to his bedchamber. The waiting women take off his robes and replace them with a chamber gown. He sits down and one of them looses his hair from its circlet and combs it out.
Gou Jian's generals and advisers are still in their far-off barracks. Fu Chai had a word with Bo Pi, and Bo Pi has placed a picked band of soldiers to guard Gou Jian's little house night and day. Half of them are masters of the martial arts, to defend the king of Yue from less open attacks. So with luck Gou Jian should be safe from anything Fu Chai's chief minister can think up.
Gou Jian must realize why the guards are there but he shows no sign of it at all. He's all unruffled certainty, all rock steady assurance. Isolated from his men, with no friendly ear to talk to or consult, Gou Jian remains impregnable. Does he trust Fu Chai so far? Fu Chai snorts, in disbelief and more than a little frustration.
How does one subdue a man who's completely sufficient to himself? In Fu Chai's experience only his father and Wu Zi Xu have had a similar self-sufficiency, and even then- Helu had Wu Zi Xu, Wu Zi Xu has a host of courtiers and servants and spies. Had they been cast alone into captivity, would they have remained as unaffected as Gou Jian?
And then he remembers that Gou Jian isn't alone. He sits up suddenly, making the servant woman halt in her motions. "Your Majesty?"
Fu Chai waves her to silence. The Queen of Yue. He's met the Queen of Yue: a sensible woman, a determined woman: a woman who knew exactly what to say and do to make Fu Chai abandon the settled practice of generations. The women of Yue... his mind flicks briefly to the memory of his sister-in-law and painfully away. The women of Yue are beautiful and intelligent and determined. The royal women of Yue are beautiful and intelligent and determined. Ji Wan was Gou Jian's sister. Ya Yu is his cousin. No wonder.
Fu Chai can see how it is. Gou Jian goes home each night and recounts the day's activities to Ya Yu. They discuss their situation, sitting close together, speaking in low voices, no more than a murmur of sound to the guards' ears. Gou Jian sees his thoughts mirrored in Ya Yu's responses; Ya Yu sees all the facets that Gou Jian misses.
Gou Jian needs no counsellor. He has his wife, a faithful steady reflection of his ideas and hopes. A counsellor with no ambition for place or advancement, for the Queen of Yue has advanced as far as a woman can. One with no driving need to best her rivals, for there are no other women here to be rivals to the Queen. The Queen is able to devote herself entirely to the welfare of her King and her country. No wonder Gou Jian is so secure.
Fu Chai sits back and sighs in thought. Shall he send Ya Yu back to Yue? God, no. Send that intelligent mind back to take part in the running of her country? Wen Zhong at least is cautious. Ya Yu, he knows, doesn't hesitate to take risks.
He claps his hands. His secretary comes in from the outer hallway."Make arrangements. From tomorrow Gou Jian is to serve in our chambers and attend on our nightly rest."