Even from a distance, Lady Dai felt a skip in her chest as she saw him. He removed his helmet and shook out his long, black hair. He was indeed sweaty and dusty from his long ride, but he smiled nonetheless as his children ran up to greet him. In his powerful arms he picked up both of his sons with ease and happily hugged them. He put the boys down and gave his little daughter a gentle pat on the head. One of the concubines was waiting with a glass of wine to quench his thirst, which he drank down in one gulp.
Lady Dai hoped he would then turn to the kitchen to seek refreshment from his hard ride, but her heart sank as he caught eyes with her across the courtyard. She kneeled low as he approached. He reached down and grasped her chin with one hand, forcing her to look up at him.
“Lady Dai,” he said.
“Husband,” she replied as she stood. She turned and entered their bedroom and waited for him to follow. He watched the slow sway of her hips as she took each gentle step on her tiny, lotus feet. He entered the room and began to remove his armor as she closed the door and bolted it.