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Inner Residence arc ー Chapter 6 (Part 2): Dream of Mandarin Ducks and Butterflies
Xie Zhaoying smiled, "What do you think happened? Spend an unfettered night with a beauty in a red tent from then onwards? Actually, that Miss Liu is someone a friend of mine likes. That friend of mine comes from an ordinary background and can't buy the beauty's freedom. I simply helped him out."
I smiled, "When using the money from the house to perform acts of justice, how can it be possible that you're not generous?"
Xie Zhaoying stared at me curiously, "What exactly did you transform from? How come you're so crafty and bizzare?"
His casual sentence frightened me until I broke into ten thousand years of cold sweat. This was a feudalistic society. Being a person who reincarnated in someone else's body, I would be treated as an evil monster and nailed onto a wooden stake to be roasted until I sizzled in the fire.
Fortunately, the waiter came to serve the dishes at this moment.
I looked and saw that all the small plates and bowls containing the dishes were only as big as half my palm. I didn't know whether they were being stingy or it was a tradition. Anyway, an assortment of dishes filled the whole big table and gave me a illusion that I was eating Korean cuisine. No wonder when Xie Zhaoying spoke, he instantly read out the menu.
Nevertheless, the dishes appeared appetizing with a wonderful fragrance and was also to my taste. I ate an enormous portion.
Xie Zhaoying gracefully picked up some green vegetables with his chopsticks and ate leisurely. He saw me wolfing down everything and urged me, "Eat slowly, be careful of choking."
Suddenly, I heard a hearty voice from outside. "When did Second Young Master Xie start waiting upon others."
As the voice spoke, the door opened. A tall man in brocade self-invited himself. He possessed an elegant demeanour and was beaming from ear to ear. However, he was still waving a flowery fan despite it being a cold frosty day. A fragrance wafted into my nose along with the breeze generated by the fan. Behind him was a man in a scholarly attire who was tall and handsome with a gentle aura around him. The two people were similar in age to Xie Zhaoying. Their clothes were exquisite and conducted themselves appropriately. Clearly, they had received a fine upbringing.
Xie Zhaoying stood up while smiling, "Yanyu(Yányǔ), Zhengxun(Zhèngxūn), haven't seen you guys in quite a while."
These two people's name felt considerably Korean and extremely interesting. The splendidly dressed man walking at the front had a pair of phoenix eyes which made him look like a fox when he smiled. The man walking at the back had a sedate mien like a well of water with no ripples.
When the fox man saw me, he curiously spoke, "This young lady is……"
Xie Zhaoying introduced, "This is Han Wangsun(Hán Wángsūn) and this is the General of Chariots and Calvary, Yu Zhengyun(Yù Zhèngxūn). This is my Fourth Younger Sister, Xiaohua."
As soon as the fox man Han Wangsun heard my name, he blurted out, "You're deranged and mentally impaired, aren't you an idiot?"
I was extremely furious that I smiled instead. "You casually insulted someone, aren't you an idiot?"
Yu Zhengxun momentarily couldn't control his laughter and Xie Zhaoying kicked my leg under the table fiercely.
Han Wangsun did know that he had said something wrong. He quickly adopted a stern countenance and apologized to me. "This humble one was careless in his words just now and insulted Fourth Miss. I have simply been too used to shooting my mouth off but I have no ill intentions. I hope that Fourth Miss can forgive me."
I was a young lady who have yet to come of age. It was indeed not easy for him to apologize this sincerely to me. Hence, I picked up a chicken drumstick which I had spurted on and placed it in Han Wangsun's bowl. I said intimately, "You don't have to blame yourself, Big Brother Han. This little sister also uttered something impertinent just now. Please don't take offense."
Xie Zhaoying's face twitched a little. I used my eyes to warn him and he tactfully shut his mouth tightly. Therefore, I delightedly watched as Han Wangsun finished eating that piece of chicken.
At this moment, Yu Zhengxun suddenly spoke, "Ah Ying*, you haven't come back for a very long time. I remember that you liked listening to Tian Xiang Building's Miss Buting(Bùtíng) sing some tunes in the past. Why don't we also ask her to come and sing a few pieces for us today?"
*T/n: Referring to Xie Zhaoying. Sometimes when people call someone by combining "Ah" and the last character of the person's name, it can signifiy closeness.
Xie Zhaoying said while smiling, "I have indeed not heard Miss Buting's singing for very long. We'll invite her then."
The waiter ran to call for the person. Shortly after, fragments of pearls and jade sounded from outside the door and an elegant sweet fragrance drifted in. The person who came had light footsteps and sat at the outer room behind the sheer curtain. Only an indistinct graceful silhouette could be seen.
I heard the zither* in her hands sounded melodiously and a soft graceful voice sang. "Cicadas on Keteleeri flowers1 in cold weather, the light hazy mountain mist underneath the willow trees2. A northern goose's feather, the whole river dried up3. Speak of farewell and meet in dreams. Plant a willow every year and the joyful spring comes year after year, peach blossoms fall and wither to the end of the continent in sorrow……"
*T/n: guqin: a seven-stringed plucked Chinese instrument that is part of the zither family. An image below for your reference
I have no idea what I am doing actually. I guess I just have to totally mess it up. Apologizing in advance for my horrible translation of the poem…
1. Scientific name: Viburnum macrocephalum f. keteleeri
It is supposed to be a rare flower and there doesn't seem to be a common name for it in English. The flower signifies charisma as well as a natural and poised bearing.
It looks something like this:
(Image from Wikipedia)
2. This sentence was originally made up of two sets of four-characters phrases. That would be quite unnatural in English so I only tried to keep the syllables the same for each part.
3. This time I kept to four words for each part even for the English translation.
This tune was beautiful and mournful. I listened with keen pleasure.
After the song ended, silence descended behind me instead. I turned my head back. Only then did I see Xie Zhaoying's complicated expression which was surprised, joyful with his eyes twinkling. I have been accustomed to seeing his frivolous behavior that I was extremely surprised when I suddenly saw such a serious expression.
Only now did I realized that there was already no trace of that Han Wangsun and General Yu. These two people were really too unkind, they didn't even call me to join them when slipping away. Right now, I was stuck between remaining and leaving.
The beauty behind the sheer curtain sighed quietly and said, "Sixth Young Gentleman, do you still remember this song?"
Xie Zhaoying had a gentle expression and smilingly said, "How could I forget."
Sure enough, it was a pair of old lovers meeting. I have become a big third wheel*.
*T/n: In Chinese, a lantern or light bulb is used to signify a third wheel so in the original text, she said that she had become a big lantern.
The beauty said in a tone laden with grief, "I remember that time when I dressed up as a boy and viewed the festive lanterns with you on the streets together. I accidentally wandered away from you and was weeping all the way. After that, the family servant found me and brought me back. I didn't expect that you would actually search outside for the whole night to search for me, causing you to catch a cold and fall very ill when you got back."
Xie Zhaoying smiled. "I thought that I had lost you that time which frightened me out of my soul."
The beauty's speech carried a slight weeping tone while she said, "I also remember the vow I made in front of your sickbed. Do you still remember?"
Xie Zhaoying said very tenderly, "Of course I still remember……"
I curiously pricked my ears. He was about to say something when he suddenly saw me and abruptly halted the vehicle. He couldn't remove that extremely gentle and corny expression in time which caused it to be stiffened on his face, making it immensely comical. I giggled lightly.
Xie Zhaoying said with a blackened face, "You haven't left?"
I shrugged my shoulders innocently and said, "They didn't bring me along."
The beauty spoke suprisedly and bashfully, "Who's there?"
Xie Zhaoying quickly reassured her, "It's alright, it's my Fourth Younger Sister. I brought her out to have fun."
I then obediently called in the direction of the curtain, "Nice to meet you, Elder Sister."
The beauty behind the curtain laughed softly. A slender hand which seemed to have been carved from white jade lifted the curtains, revealing a visage which was as bright as the clear moon.
That young lady had a lithe figure, dense black hair and didn't put on any jewelleries but only pinned a full blooming Chinese peony. The green silk dress she donned was beautiful and exquisite. Her skin was fair and smooth and she possessed a gentle demeanour. She had a rectangular face, limpid almond-shaped eyes, beautiful nose and cinnabar lips. She was so beautiful that she could walk out from a modern oil painting.
At that moment when I was gasping in admiration, Xie Zhaoying had already walked over and supported her intimately. The two people's eyes met and they gaze at each other lovingly. The sound fireworks of love crackled in the atmosphere.
I softly stood up and headed outside.
I didn't expect the beauty to suddenly to call out, "Please hold on, Fourth Younger Sister."
I had no other choice but to stand still.
Beauty Elder Sister smiled at me in a friendly manner, "I haven't seen Younger Sister for many years already. I didn't expect that Younger Sister has already recovered, this is really worthy of celebration."
So it turned out that the beauty is also an old acquaintance. I politely said, "Many thanks for Elder Sister's concern."
Xie Zhaoying said, "Fourth Younger Sister doesn't remember the things in the past anymore. This is your Elder Sister* Feihua(Fěihuá)." *T/n: It doesn't mean that they have blood relations. "Elder Sister" and "Younger Sister" can be used to signify closeness with the female but it may not necessarily be so all the time. One example would be the imperial harem drama ahaha
Eh? Wasn't it some singer girl Buting?
Translator Corner: Oops, I realized that the previous part was rather short ><