Don’t Be a Kept Man
Chapter 126: Heh Heh Heh
The Xiao family was a well known family of high standing in Yan Cheng.
Their home was built on gold and silver bricks, with a booming business that earned from the entire region of Qu Jiang Dao.
They were contendable for the wealthiest family around.
In his youth, the head of the Xiao family had been quite fickle in love and he married more than seven mistresses.
He had quite the number of offspring from this, but unfortunately, he was not born with a life of longevity and passed away quite early, leaving only Xiao Lao-tai-ye1 to manage over this enormous family business.
There were quite a few young masters and young misses, and they all looked very different from each other.
But to say who was the worst one of them all, it was no doubt the one numbered as the last, the Sixteenth Master, Xiao Feng Wu.
He was born with a naturally obedient looking face and yet his mouth was even sweeter, making all the elders in the family turn up a smile until you could not see their eyes.
In the midst of all his brothers and sisters, he was the one being pampered and indulged the most, and with Xiao Lao-tai-ye at his back, he did quite a few terrible things.
Xiao Feng Wu had copied other families in keeping toyboys and took in an actor2 to accompany him, day in and day out, not leaving his side for a single moment.
He even took down his most prized section of the house3 to create a glimmering, shimmering, lavishly decorated stage made out of gold and jade to make him happy.
But this only made Xiao Lao-tai-ye mad enough to blow steam out of his beard, and he punished Xiao Feng Wu to kneel in front of the ancestors’ hall and beat him with the family punishment4.
In Yan Cheng, in this kind of place that’s not quite big nor quite small, it was like the emperor creating a delicate and elegant house of treasure to hide his beloved concubine.
It was so extravagant that people almost couldn’t believe it.
Those who were normal, average commoners wouldn’t even be able to imagine the grand scale of this, but they did think in their hearts, how could Xiao Lao-tai-ye not beat this bastard to death.
Just a theatre actor, he couldn’t be more expensive to raise, couldn’t be more beautiful than an actual concubine; it was extremely unworthy.
But unfortunately, the Sixteenth Master had been born with a rebellious bone.
The more others didn’t want him to do something, he would absolutely keep doing it.
As others kept stopping him from overindulging and pampering that little actor, he was going to put him in his hands and raise him up higher and higher; even if he suffered under multiple family punishments, he still would not change.
At the same time, Xu family’s oldest main daughter, Xu Cheng Bi, had been infatuated with Xiao Feng Wu for many a year, pronouncing directly that she would not marry anyone else but him.
And with that declaration, she waited and waited until she was an “old maiden”5 .To see him like this, she was almost maddened to the point where she was going to shave off her hair and become a monk.
Everyday, she would use her tears to wash her face, but thankfully, later on, she married someone around the same family level that was not bad to her.
Thankfully, the Sixteenth Master also let go of that actor, and Yan Cheng never heard of such a person ever again……
The Xiao family was deep in the medicinal business.
Since the time of their ancestors from long ago, they had been involved in the medical field as physicians, supposedly even as imperial physicians.
But to this generation, they have already kept on the down low, moving their family from the capital to Yan Cheng and settling down to sell medicine and acting as physicians for their livelihood.
A few days ago, the son of the Tai Shou family6 had contracted a terrible illness and Xiao Da-Ye7 was ordered to go take a look.
But who could have thought that he would make an error on the prescription and the son almost died.
Thankfully he was saved by an ancient ginseng, but out of anger, the Tai Shou immediately sent him to prison.
Fortune never comes in pairs, and misfortune never only comes to one.
At this time, someone exposed some secret letters detailing how the Xiao family sold a lot of unprocessed opium8 for their own private funds, so the Tai Shou brought along soldiers to seal up their home.
And without a doubt, they found more than a hundred boxes of unprocessed opium, more than what the imperial court set anyone could have.
Xiao Da-Ye immediately went under as he was the Zhang-gui9 of their medicine hall.
There was no way he was getting out of this.
Seeing this huge misfortune drop onto them, Xiao Lao-tai-ye was shocked, and there was nothing he could do but limp on his cane to take up and confess their crimes.
He used their family’s secret fortune, Bao Xin Dan10, to save the young son of Tai Shou, which gave the entire family a chance to live.
Later on, when Xiao Da-Ye was pushed out into the market place to be executed and the entire family fortune was to be presented as the public treasury, Xiao Lao-tai-ye had finally suffered too great of a shock then and he couldn’t breathe, sending himself off into the heavens.
Immediately, the Xiao family came crashing down.
Those who were sent to die, died, and those who were banished were banished.
Within each house, the servants grabbed everything they could and ran away, afraid of getting caught in the storm.
In the third month of the first spring, when the entire city was swept up by the breeze, Xiao Feng Wu was resting against a railing on the first floor of a teahouse11.
He was still dressed in his delicate and expensive clothing, his face still as handsome as ever, but everyone with eyes knew that he was so poor he couldn’t even order anything, not to mention having a place to rest.
“Sixteenth Lang!12 Why are you sitting outside the teahouse? Your life is so pitiful.
How about this brother buy a cup of wine for you?”
What good intentions could he have, purposefully coming here to ridicule him.
Before he would call him Sixteenth Master, but now he was Sixteenth Lang.
Like a sharp knife sealed in icy cold, just that pair of lips could shave off half his flesh.
Xiao Feng Wu did not get mad.
Instead, he smiled.
Having the interest to lift up his eyes, he crossed his arms as he stood up and leaned back against a pillar.
With a delicately patterned pair of silk shoes13, he lightly kicked the rock by his feet, about the size of a chicken egg, and flung it over, creating a shrill sound.
Right on target, it hit that person’s mouth and he was immediately seen to cover his mouth, grunting.
When he put down his hand, his row of teeth had been shattered right in the middle and his mouth was watering from saliva and blood being all mixed together.
Xiao Feng Wu laughed out loud, and he swept out his hands like a bandit while one of his feet stamped down on the railing, arrogance projecting from him without a damper,
“How’s that? Are you still going to pay for my alcohol now, for your grandpa?”
That person who wanted to ridicule him wanted nothing more than to beat him up, but considering the immense pain from his teeth, he treasured his remaining ones more.
So he only pointed at Xiao Feng Wu and very unclearly yelled out some words before quickly going to find a physician.
At this time, a young man dressed in a light colored robe walked out from the crowd, looking at Xiao Feng Wu with a scowling face.
With great hostility in his eyes, he said,
“Xiao Feng Wu, I thought since Xiao Lao-tai-ye had passed away, your personality would have some sort of a change, but who knew that you would turn out to be even worse.
Do you think that there is no law around here? Do you think you are still the Xiao Feng Wu from before?”
That last part said with an interrogative tone had hidden within it quite a few layers of mockery.
Hearing this, Xiao Feng Wu patted the corner of his robe and let his leg down.
He took a detailed look at the other man and then smiled,
“What kind of a good day is it today that one, two of you came to find me.
So it was Tang Gong-Zi14.
After gaining your newly wedded status, your terrible habit of being too nosy still has not changed huh!”
Xiao Feng Wu added,
“Not to say that my grandpa, he passed away.
Even if there is one day where your highness Tang Gong-Zi died, this man right here would still be the same.
Can’t change in this life.”
The hearts of the crowd looking at this spectacle immediately cursed together, dogs really can’t change their behaviour of eating shit!
To speak of this Tang She Jiang, he had a pretty deep relationship with Xiao Feng Wu.
When Xiao Feng Wu had followed his family’s troops to see the world, they had bumped into a group of bandits trying to ruin a good woman in their trip through the mountains.
He had helped out as a good gesture since they were passing by, but he did not expect that he would have a “peach blossom debt”, a troublesome situation where she became infatuated with him15.
The lady he saved was the Xu’s family daughter, Xu Cheng Bi.
She had gone up the mountains to pray to the gods, but she had been unfortunately kidnapped by mountain bandits.
After her rescue, she had developed a crush on Xiao Feng Wu, but even though the falling flower had the will, the flowing water was emotionless16.
After waiting without a single sign for a few years, she still could not get into that rock hardened heart.
So she turned her heart into ashes and was finally wed to Tang She Jiang, and they could be said to be a loving couple.
There is a saying that when rivals of love meet, they will not get along.
Tang She Jiang had been infatuated with Xu Cheng Bi for so long that even though he finally got his wish and married her into his family, his heart would not stay calm.
So in their exchange of words, he said that Xiao Feng Wu was not even comparable to the stones paved under a toilet.
At least when others go through this immense change, they would cry, but he was even better, going around searching for leisure and fun everyday and not showing a single point of regret or change.
Seeing that there was nothing else to see, the crowd began to disperse.
A lady with a married hairstyle came walking out of a makeup shop with her servants, her long robe brushing the ground as she walked.
A delicate figure to behold, she walked over to Tang She Jiang’s side and said,
“Fu-jun17, I have already picked out my makeup.
Let us head home.”
Only after Xu Cheng Bi said that did she notice Xiao Feng Wu beside them.
She had thought that he must be, at this time, haggard and pallid, downtrodden and depressed, but there was no difference to him – still the image of that untouchable, heart snatching wealthy son of a respectable family.
Xiao Feng Wu smiled and said,
“Tong Fu-ren18, have you been well recently?”
Xu Cheng Bi almost broke her teeth from discretely grinding them too hard.
She coldly looked at him,
“As terrible as it could have been, I am better now.
Thinking about it, this must have been the heavens lighting the way for me, for me to have avoided waiting for a lifetime for a useless man! Sixteenth Master should worry more about himself!”
Tang She Jiang was extremely afraid that they still had some sort of contact, and without caring about their quarrel filled with passive aggressive mockery with Xiao Feng Wu, he quickly left with Xu Cheng Bi.
Xiao Feng Wu sat back down again, continuing to lean against the pillar to enjoy the sun.
An elderly peddler who was selling sesame buns19 gave him a look and smiled as he said,
“Sixteenth Lang, you have not eaten anything for two days.
Are you not hungry? Your Xiao family should have at least some wealth, so no matter what, at least one good friend would come help out a bit.”
These days, those who came had always been people relishing in his misery and misfortune.
Hearing this, Xiao Feng Wu covered his stomach and faintly sighed.
Whether that was to lament the hunger in his stomach or to lament what a failure of a human being he was, that was unknown.
Under the wide opening of the sky, the willow trees swayed, a sign of the third month’s “snowfall” of Yan Cheng.
Xiao Feng Wu took out the paper fan hanging by his waist and fanned himself without a thought, when he suddenly saw a lot of pedestrians run towards somewhere, for whatever interesting event.
The sesame bun peddler also began to pack up his wares20 and prepared to leave and follow the crowd.
He said to Xiao Feng Wu before he left,
“There is a show today with Qin Lao-ban at the Sheng De Lou21.
Hoh, what a rare scene for him to be acting in a show.
You can’t miss it! Although this old man here doesn’t have any money, standing outside to hear him would be perfectly fine.”
Yan Cheng recently had seen a surge in popularity of a character, born from a piece called << Peony Pavilion >>22, which was full of romance and resounding beautiful words that the songs perpetuated in the audience’s minds for at least three days.
The piece was popular and the talk of the city, with the lead actor as Qin Ming Yue, Qin Lao-ban.
Although he only occasionally came out to act, every time he did was a sight to take in, and even more wealthy and powerful people were willing to throw money at him.
Seeing that the street was almost emptied out, Xiao Feng Wu took in the rare silence and enjoyed it.
Right at this time, a covered carriage carried by people came by.
The curtain was lifted up halfway by a slender hand, perfectly lining up to see the person sitting right outside the teahouse.
“Sixteenth Master, it has been a while……”
The voice of the person inside the covered carriage was like a jade pearl dropping onto a bowl, so crisp and clean of a sound.
Even with the aura of an ice cold, freezing tone, the voice sounded elegant and upper class.
Sincerely, what a beauty of a voice.
Hearing that sound, Xiao Feng Wu immediately opened his eyes, but that person had already dropped the curtain back down and no face was to be seen.
A Chinese tallow was growing right by the teahouse, with a branch thick with flowers dangling just above his head.
Xiao Feng Wu lifted his hand and broke the branch off before throwing it right at the curtain of the covered carriage.
A light gust of wind flipped through his body and the petals of the flower flew like it was rain.
That branch was thrown with a bit of force, and it brushed aside the little curtain by the window of the covered carriage before falling straight in.
The curtain was momentarily flipped open, and from the crack, the indescribable beauty of a pair of phoenix eyes23 could be glimpsed upon.
The person in the carriage seemed to laugh,
“There are many things I still have to do, so may we see each other in the future to reminisce about our past.”
With those words, that person’s palm tightened and turned the flowers on the branch into a pile of mush.
Xiao Feng Wu felt that the person was so familiar, but he could not think of who.
After a moment of surprise, he slowly sat back up.
When he lifted his eyes, the covered carriage was already quite a distance away from him.
He flipped over the railing to follow it, following it all the way until Sheng De Lou, where he could not get past the crowd of humans, forcing him to stop.
There were many flower stands24 displayed outside, all gifted to one person – Qin Ming Yue.
Qin Ming Yue,
Qin Ming Yue……
Xiao Feng Wu pondered over those three characters before he finally realized something.
He lightly knocked the bottom of his fan on the palm of his hand and his expression shifted a few times before settling back to a calmness, with a bit of playfulness lighting up in his eyes.
The equipment and sets were all set up backstage, and once the show started, the noise of the crowd immediately quieted.
Xiao Feng Wu had not liked these kinds of shows, all these “ye ye ah ah” sounds, which he thought were just too grating on his ears.
Listening for a while, he still could not tell what he was listening to, and he was much more willing to ask an oral storyteller to tell him a story instead.
But since he had nothing to do, he kept listening half-heartedly.
After a few verses or so, he realized that they were singing << Peony Pavilion>>, and it was at the point of “Silk Robe”25.
“See how deepest purple, brightest scarlet
open their beauty only to dry well crumbing.
“Bright the morn.
lovely the scene”,
listless and lost the heart
— where is the garden “gay with joyous cries”?”
“Streaking the dawn, close-curled at dusk,
rosy clouds frame emerald pavilion;
fine threads of rain, petals borne on breeze,
gilded pleasure boat in waves of mist:
glories of spring but litter treasured
by screen-secluded maid” 26
This resounding singing was perfect in its emotions, not breaking a single moment for even a breath of air and perfectly matching the part of the scene in << Eyebrows Idly Pencilled>>’s phrase of “How bewitching”27.
It was an unforgettable sound, and the voice paired with the words could hook in a mind and never let go, making it impossible to pull your thoughts away.
When Xiao Feng Wu heard those lyrics, his eyebrows that were so tightly wrinkled up loosened, and who knows how much he took in for his pleasure.
Looking around the crowd, he saw quite a few ladies, which only made Xiao Feng Wu feel like he had too much perfume passed onto him.
When he turned to the side, a young lady who looked to be quite the beauty greeted his sight.
Before he even spoke however, the other had already shyly asked him,
“Is this Xiao Feng Wu, Xiao Gong-Zi?”
The Sixteenth Master had a good face on him.
When the Xiao family was still up on the pedestal, those who wanted to marry him could line up from one end of a harbour to the other.
Even if the Xiao family had crumbled to the ground, there were probably still some of his admirers and pursuers out there.
Unfortunately, he was a cut sleeve28, not at all interested in women.
Xiao Feng Wu smiled and let out a laugh,
“I do not deserve this lady’s call for me as a “Gong-Zi”.
This me here has already descended from the place that I had been before, not the same person as I had been.”
The fan in his hand shook a bit, making a “hua hua” sound.
It was a well known and expensive “Su Fan”29 where its structure was made out of red sandalwood and carved to become a branch of plum blossoms.
Inside the frames were decorated with golden threads, and on the actual panes were a hundred different characters of “fu”.
Its display was not of mountains or water, but of a beauty, drawn out by a famous artist, Zhang Dao Qian.
This was probably the only thing of worth on Xiao Feng Wu.
The lady almost went cross-eyed before using her handkerchief to cover her smile,
“I will not deceive Gong-Zi.
I am also of a poor and ill fated life.
When I was young, my parents passed away early together, and I stumbled through many obstacles and challenges to be of this age, unable to live as wholeheartedly and freely as I could.”
Using the generous amount of sleevage she had, she used it to hide her two fingers discretely tugging at the sleeves of Xiao Feng Wu’s robe.
She lowered her head and said,
“Last year, during the Shangyuan Festival, Gong-Zi had passed by Qu Jiang Lake on a leisure ship.
Standing right at the head of the boat, with a posture of confidence and an unlimited future before him, this lady here holds the utmost admiration…..”30
The other half of her sentence was left unfinished as there was a sudden thunderous roar of applause and screams for an encore.
It turns out that Qin Lao-Ban had finished singing and those who had paid to get in were throwing money, flowers, wallets, jade pendants, anything they had, up onto the stage, filling the entire building with applause and joy.
Seeing this, Xiao Feng Wu also clapped along and shouted “good”.
He tossed that fan up through the crowd, onto the stage, landing right beside the person’s feet.
Seeing this, the lady’s face immediately shifted slightly.
She backed up a step, and when Xiao Feng Wu returned to his senses, he pulled at her hand,
“Milady, where are you heading off to? I have heard of the words you had spoken just now, and I cannot believe that such a wasted man that I am could snatch the heart of a maiden so high up.
In the future, I will……”
That lady immediately flung her sleeve, brushing him off.
Her attitude, for no reason at all, had shifted coldly,
“Gong-Zi, you must be joking.
This lady here belongs to an entertainment house, and I do not dare try and go above my place.”
So it was a lady from an entertainment house.
No wonder why she was willing to speak so closely with a man underneath the bright shining sky.
Xiao Feng Wu frowned and didn’t let go,
“You and I are about the same.
I do not mind.”
“You do not mind?”
The lady’s eyebrows slanted down, bringing on a fiery attitude about her,
“It is a tale as old as time that people will laugh at those who are poor, and not at those who prostitute themselves.
Although I am of a lower background, I can still earn for myself.
Unlike you, who cannot even lift up his arms nor use his hands.
I am afraid you will only starve to death on a random street.
With what will you not mind me for?”
After that, she took a detailed look at his face, and smiled without the actual intentions of what a smile means,
“Perhaps, we may even see each other later at Cui Yun Guan!”
Cui Yun Guan was Yan Cheng’s largest place for the worst kind of activities.
Women, men, any type would be there.
She was subtly mocking Xiao Feng Wu, that he would need to sell his face to live on, slandering him without even a single curse.
Xiao Feng Wu clapped his hands,
“Ack, ah ah, what a great idea.
I am afraid I will only steal milady’s business.”
The lady spat at him before leaving.
Backstage at Sheng De Lou, Qin Ming Yue was sitting in front of a mirror and taking off the paint on his face.
A young servant boy was currently trying to pack and count all the gifts the audience had tossed up on stage.
He delicately and warmly said,
“Qin Lao-Ban, these are today’s prize earnings.”
There was gold and silver and jade, even an entire pearl necklace.
The latter was probably from some high ranking official’s wife who tossed it up, but in the midst of all these gifts, there was a fan that seemed to be so out of place.
Its corners were rounded and shiny, looking like a beloved item that had been greatly taken care of.
Its craftsmanship was detailed and incomparable, not looking like a regular item to be given away.
These actors were mostly all from poor backgrounds or children from the lower caste.
Since they were young, they would learn the arts of the masters they were in the care of.
From life to death, they listened to their caretakers.
They would start from little duties, to wait upon their teacher and master, serving them food and drinks and cleaning up after them.
Then they would start practicing and getting used to using their throat.
Singing, reciting, acting, fighting, they learned everything.
But most of the time, before they would even make a name for themselves, they would be sold to higher ranking officials and be their “pet”.
In the eyes of others, they were only a plaything.
Even if they were “played” to death, no one would care.
The young servant boy gazed upon Qin Ming Yue with unspeakable envy, when he suddenly saw that pair of unspeakably beautiful phoenix eyes suddenly widened upon gazing at the fan.
Qin Ming Yue’s sleeves immediately brushed out in anger, sending all the gold and money onto the floor, only holding onto that fan in a deathly tight grip, almost breaking it in half.
The fan was opened up with a “hua”, and immediately a stamp31 from Zhang Dao Qian could be spotted, and even a message of when it was gifted to Xiao Feng Wu.
Xiao Feng Wu!
After so many years, he thought everything had dissipated into smoke.
Who could have known that just a paper fan could so easily scatter his mind.
Qin Ming Yue’s eyes held a vicious gleam, and with a deathly grip he held onto his shaking hands.
Cold began to seep into his bones and joints, drenching that beauty of a face with a pale pallor, memories filling him as if he had returned to those cold, cold years, to the very beginning.
“Sixteenth Master has already said, leave the estate.
Wherever you like to go, then go.
Just do not appear in front of him again.”
“No! I don’t believe it, let me see him! Let me see Sixteenth Master!”
The other spat at him,
“Believe or not, it does not matter.
A despicable lower caste of an opera singer, did you really think that you have gained some kind of high status?”
The deep red side door was closed up by the servants, and he threw himself forward to block it, but his palm was squeezed until there was a waterfall of blood.
He was then kicked heavily into the snow, and blood welled up in the back of his throat, causing him to cough up spurts of it out.
He held onto his hand that had its bones shattered from the slam and climbed back up.
He couldn’t believe it, he couldn’t believe it.
The most anticipated disciple under Kou Yu Jun was Qin Ming Yue and he had the heart to pass him the mantle.
When Qin Ming Yue was first brought over to Xiao Feng Wu’s side, Kou Yu Jun had been really helpless, and when the Xiao family sent people over to grab Qin Ming Yue’s body deed32, Kou Yu Jun had asked Qin Ming Yue.
“If you are willing, I will give them the deed for your body.
If you are unwilling, I have some sort of thin respect with them that they would not try to force us.
I can say that I lost it.”
At that time, Qin Ming Yue was still a young boy and he definitely looked extremely young, but there was some sort of wicked beauty in him.
With such a face on him, he knelt on the ground and bowed his head heavily onto the ground three times before saying,
“Your disciple is unworthy, to be betraying your hopes.
Please give my deed to Sixteenth Master.”
Kou Yu Jun asked,
“Is it for wealth or prestige?”
Qin Ming Yue straightened up his back,
“It is not for money, but for my own heart.”
“I know that my background is cheap and unworthy, and I do not hope for anything when I am sent over to the Xiao family.
But life is like this, whether I am alive or dead, I will have to carry on.
I just could have never expected that Sixteenth Master would be so sincerely good to me from the bottom of his heart, never treating me like the unworthy person that I am with such a background……”
“When I was sick, he would take care of me without even changing his clothes.
He was punished by Lao-tai-ye, kneeling in the rain for the entire night, but he said not a single word to me, nor did he ever get angry at me.
I had lived a harsh and poor life, without any goodness nor virtue, so I cannot ask for anything in this life.
I only want to spend the rest of my life with him.”
Kou Yu Jun looked at him, without getting angry or frustrated.
He only sighed in the end and covered his face before saying,
“This is life……”
Thinking about it now, those words had been wrapped with too many emotions.
Normal commoners, with no reputation or money at their side, falling into an illness in the middle of the snowy ground would have already frozen to death.
Burning with such a high fever, Qin Ming Yue’s entire self felt cloudy and hazy, almost burning to the point where his throat was damaged.
But inside his heart was burning an even greater fire, burning and burning until all his organs were in pain, which never stopped and gave him the strength to overcome that wintery day.
Washing everything away, revealing that cold and icy face, Qin Ming Yue hid the fan in his sleeves.
Stepping out of Sheng De Lou, the night was just descending, and underneath the cobblestone steps glowed a faint, icy light.
Right beside a Chinese tallow tree was a man dressed in white, lazily hanging about, as if he was napping.
Qin Ming Yue cleared the expression off his face, and rested the hand holding onto the fan behind his back.
His eyes were ice cold as he walked over.
With his body in great grace and form, the movements of his robes were extremely beautiful, as like an angel from the heavens.
“Sixteen Master, why did you toss your fan over? If I did not remember incorrectly, this is a beloved item of yours.”
A flower petal dropped onto the tip of his nose, making Xiao Feng Wu sneeze.
He opened his eyes and, seeing that cold smile on the other’s face, he paused in shock.
Then his eyebrows raised dramatically and he climbed back up from the floor.
Without any hesitation, he grabbed onto the other’s hands and exclaimed with great shock,
“Ming Yue?! Is it really you, Ming Yue?! How long and arduous has it been since I tried to find you, I can’t really believe it is you!”
He tugged onto Qin Ming Yue’s hands, taking the time to cry like a river in a few moment’s time.
Those who heard him would almost cry with him from the pain he was emitting.
Thankfully it was around dinner time and there were not a lot of pedestrians on the streets, as otherwise there would be a crowd around them to see the spectacle.
Hearing this, Qin Ming Yue’s face slightly changed and he tugged his hand back.
The smile on his face could not be held up anymore and he coldly said,
“Sixteenth Master, what is the meaning of this?”
Xiao Feng Wu was still crying, crying so much and so pitifully in a way that wasn’t even present when his own grandfather died.
He held tightly onto Qin Ming Yue’s hands, saying words that could not be discerned as truth or lies.
He pressed on,
“Ming Yue, it was me who has harmed you.
It was me who was too useless.
When I fell into a heavy illness, I had been locked away by my grandfather, and I had no knowledge that he ordered servants to kick you away.
I tried finding you over and over again, but I never could.
I even thought you had died wu wu wu……”
The droplets from his tears were softly falling onto Qin Ming Yue’s torn and scarred hand, feeling so boiling hot that it could burn the hearts of those who could feel it.
Qin Ming Yue pushed him away, shaking from the anger rising in him and he yelled out,
“A ton of useless lies!”
His feet, however, would not take a step away, and his eyes were beginning to redden.
Xiao Feng Wu covered his face with his sleeves, hiding his expression.
After a short while, Xiao Feng Wu seemed to have calmed down, stopping his cries, and he wiped the tears off of his face.
He picked his fan back up from the ground to pass it over to Qin Ming Yue and said to him,
“I know that you still harbour hatred for me in your heart, but I still have a heart of sincerity towards you.
At this time, my grandfather has passed away, and the Xiao family is no more.
The only thing I have on me that is of some worth is this fan.
It is something I held beloved for many years, and I only ask that you take it away now.”
That fan was pushed into his hands, and it felt like it weighed a thousand pounds.
Qin Ming Yue pursed his lips, his wrist trembling, as if he wanted to ask something, but he could not utter a single word.
He stared at Xiao Feng Wu, not moving an inch, as if his eyes were trying to look all the way into his heart, as if wanting to see if he was lying.
Xiao Feng Wu was a man with a body who easily succumbed to illnesses.
Since he was a very young child, he would get sick every couple of days.
Only because he had practiced martial arts since his youth could he stand not eating for two days.
After his bout of crying, he felt a weakness settle over him, and with a face so pale that his body swayed, he fell onto the ground.
Seeing him like this made Qin Ming Yue panic and he subconsciously reached out to hold Xiao Feng Wu up.
His palms felt ice cold as Xiao Feng Wu lay on the ground pitifully.
When he spoke, he sounded very weak, calling out only Qin Ming Yue’s name over and over,
“Ming Yue……Ming Yue……”
His voice slowly began to trail off, as if he had fainted.
Qin Ming Yue silently gritted his teeth with his mouth closed.
His eyes were lit up with something, but whether that be hatred or something else, it was unknown.
After a moment of hesitation, he finally took Xiao Feng Wu home and invited a physician over to take a look at him.
“There is nothing to be worried about.
He only has a deficiency in blood and in strength, and he will recover by drinking a lot more water and eating some food.”
Lying on the bed and separated by a curtain, Xiao Feng Wu lifted his eyes up to take a look outside when he found a ball of blue light jumping above him.
His pupils dilated from the sight and his face slightly changed.
That ball of blue light began to speak.
[ Ding! My host, your body has been healed.
Please remember to repay your healing fees in three days, or otherwise……]
It never completed its words.
[ Heh heh heh, the galaxy’s strongest self-sufficient system, is happy to be at your service ]
We made it!!!! It was very close to not being able to be released today (as some of you may have seen from the status page), but Plum and I powered through and just kind of called it because we needed to stop somewhere.
Hopefully, it reads with some sort of a flow (we were proofreading between footnotes, which as you may have seen have been quite a bit).
And actually in that regards, as you might have seen on the status page or by the wall of footnotes below, this chapter was a pain to translate.
Purely speaking of the translation process, this first chapter took me a little over 2 weeks (albeit with me not being the greatest upkeeper to my schedule).
I did not anticipate the sheer amount of historical references, in particular the opera piece, and a lot of idioms which are toss out like they’re money lol (you wouldn’t believe it, but we’ve already taken out some footnotes we had so this is a shrunken list…).
To research all these historical references (which AHHHHHHHHHHH please excuse me as I let a helpless scream for one second), the amount of work that is needed to be put in is way over my head.
I, and Plum, thought I was (or we were) prepared like with volume 2, but even with the amount of liberty I gave myself to try and summarize as much as I could instead of blasting history note after history note (and not comprehensive ones at that, so I don’t go on an endless research spree), this is pretty much unfeasible for the schedule I had before.
So what I’m going to try and do to the schedule is make this a chapter every 2 weeks, on probably Saturday, and kind of see where this takes me, if it is doable to keep this schedule.
I’m (and Plum too) hoping that I won’t need to extend that to something like once a month (which Plum and I are dreading if true as right now, we just want this historical genre to be done and over with haha… (how do all the amazing historical genres translators do this???) and hopefully with future chapters, it will lighten up the historical references (I’m giving this chapter a pass as it was trying to set up the scene, but still… T____T) which may mean that I could up the release schedule (hopefully…)
So for now, I will say tentatively, our hope is that the next chapter will be released on Oct 16, but if it looks very unpromising, I will probably have to change the schedule later to be something a lot more feasible in what I can work with and with the time that I can do this with (and also for Plum (who I know has gotten very tired of seeing the wall of footnotes haha, thank you so much Plum <3)).
If there are any other changes to the schedule or the next chapter release, I will update the status page, and hopefully I’ll also have a better answer in the upcoming weeks for a set schedule.
And away from these walls of text, thank you, as always, for all your kind and warm support, and I hope to see you all Galactic Judges in two weeks! : )
*1 Lao-tai-ye: this is a term to address a man who is basically a grandpa in more ancient/respectable terms and is also a term reserved usually for the oldest/previous head of the family (most of the time they also still have the highest say in things).
*2 an “actor” back then is what we would probably consider as Chinese opera singers now (of course, like all terms, also mostly depends on the dynasty but in this particular case, it mostly refers to something like kunqu).
In most references to “actor”, it’s a pretty derogatory term as the profession back then was not seen to be “great”.
In fact, it was part of the lowest tier of “class”, similar to prostitutes (actually sometimes considered to be even lesser, because they don’t have the freedom/the chance to “get out” of this class (in some periods of time, they were not allowed to even marry anyone outside of their class (even “normal commoners” as those would be higher in class than them)). They were also forbidden to take part in exams, were at the beck and call of “higher ups”, and had restrictions on how they could dress (even more limitations than a regular citizen or even beggars).
*3 a “family house” is technically like a mansion separated into different sections with each son of the head of the family in their own “house” – recall the footnote/pictures from volume 2 : )
*4 family punishment: briefly this really means being punished according to how the family rules are set (so different actions have different kinds of punishments; here it most probably means flogging with an instrument like a heavy stick.
Family rules are what sets what you can do (like laws that must be abided if you belong in the family – this is different from the “laws” set up by the royal court/what lawful people have to follow, and the set of rules are different according the family you are born in, so naturally, the more higher up you are/the more “rigid” your family is and the more “rigid” the rules are of what you need to do “for the family”.
*5 Old maiden: you may have already guessed by the name, but it means when a girl has not married by a certain age (i believe the western equivalent is like a spinster).
Depending on the period, the age varies, but for most that I’ve read, it’s usually between 13-14, sometimes going as low as about 10 or up to about 15/16 (references debatable so I’ll just leave that as a consideration here) – so after that “perfect” age for marriage, usually about 20 or so, a girl would be considered an “old maiden” if they have not married yet.
As time passed, and as it got closer to the modern age, the “perfect” age for marriage (mostly aided by laws) moved up a bit to around 14-16, then about 18ish.
*6 Tai Shou: depending on the dynasty, it had different names like Governor, General, Grand Protector/Administrator and they basically kind of do more administrative duties (with both military and civil responsibilities).
They are considered to be on one of the highest ranks to have the ability to use/order soldiers, issuing military commands, etc.
– you can think of them as super super high officials.
*7 The “Da” in this title means big as you may have seen already from previous volumes, but in ancient eras, it also usually references the oldest main son or the one who inherited the position of the head of the family.
*8 unprocessed opium: back then, opium was allowed, but the imperial court would have set regulations and the maximum amount of what people could have.
*9 Zhang-gui: Mentioned in volume 2, this is a term to call a shopkeeper of a store.
It encompasses many meanings however beyond just a shopkeeper.
It can be referenced as the manager, the accountant, a physician/doctor, the front of the house, and so forth.
They are basically a caretaker of the shop for everything and can be either an owner of the shop or reporting to a higher boss.
Sometimes referenced as just for one store or also a district/an area of places/shops.
Here, it is referenced as the “head” or the manager of the entire family business as they would be the ones to take care of the books.
*10 Bao Xin Dan: this should be something like a pill that is like a family treasure, one that would have been passed down by their ancestors as a life saving medicine.
In a more literal translation, it means to “save the heart” kind of medicine/keep the heart alive.
*11 Teahouse: Kind of like the one mentioned at the end of volume 4, where it is basically a place for rest and conversations.
There are different categories of teahouses such as one that teaches the art of theatre, or one that functions as a tea shop/restaurant on the bottom floor and up top for more private matters like prostitution.
It can also be referencing a restaurant (although I believe that’s normally referenced as alcohol-tea-building, but depends on the dynasty), or something like a buffet where there would be jars of tea on display and the customer could bring their own tea, or use the shop’s, and basically buy water to enjoy their own cup of tea.
Most commonly however is the kind that is like a resting place for guests and they would have oral storytellers, kind of like library read out louds.
*12 “Lang”: a reference call (dependent on the dynasty) for a young man.
Take this call as something less than a higher ranked reference call, especially considered with “-ye” which is like Sixteenth Master.
*13 Elaborate pattern: this is actually supposed to reference a specific pattern that’s basically saying “mountain”, “teeth”, “ocean”, “water” which looks something like this:
It supposedly means using the beauty of the ocean to convey a good blessing such as the country will always be here, never ending goodness, unite the entire country as one, etc.
Silk shoes: technically, the description is something closer to “cloud” shoes which references that the silk material is like clouds that are never ending and never breaking.
*14 Gong-Zi: Like as mentioned on volume 2, this is a respectable reference call for men, usually of “higher” stature
*15 “peach blossom debt”: (not the novel if you’re searching this – 桃花債), is basically to say a love (or I guess to be more accurate, a crush/infatuation) born from a situation, usually referenced in historical genres as a guy saving a girl from a terrible situation like being kidnapped or being raped, and the girl falls in love with the guy who saved her.
I can’t really find an official reference, but it’s usually not a good thing for the guy (sometimes also used in reverse as well but a lot less), as it’s kind of like a burden (as most of the times it’s usually when the guy already has a wife/fiancee and he gets into this situation, and the girl saved is now a plotline, but I digress.
Just know that it’s meant for a girl to have fallen in love with the guy after being saved, usually, or multiple girls even.
*16 Falling flower has the will, but flowing water is emotionless: a poetry line that symbolizes an one-sided love – where one person has the thought and the other doesn’t (sometimes has the variation that the water is coldhearted as well).
*17 Fu-jun: a name for husband, respectfully in a way? Just putting “Husband, I have …” felt a bit weird and awkward and searching up names on google for husband just made me laugh in anger (in all honesty, so many issues there… but anyway).
Perhaps something like “Honey”, but less intimate, and more in line with like Gong-Zi or Gong-Ye kind of call.
*18 Fu-ren: a name for wife.
Adding the surname of the husband she married is the way others called married women in these times.
It is something like Lady or Mrs., but the first I’ve kind of used for just young ladies/unmarried women, and the latter’s a bit out of the suspension of belief, so pinyin it is!
Depending on the dynasty, the call for wife and man is different, but in most cases, the wife reference call is kind of like hello wife of so and so family/man while the husband call is just for the wife or his mistresses to call him but as there are also different tiers of mistresses, their calls can differ too.
*19 Sesame bun (芝麻餅): usually has a black sesame filling inside.
I call them buns, but they’re kind of like a hybrid cracker, bun, cake kind of thing and depending on the dynasty/area, they are a bit different but here’s something to give a reference: (here I picked a nicer looking/more modern picture)
*20 Wares: It’s technically referring to two baskets hanging on a stick but they can have like actual cooking things (like below):
*21 Lao-ban: Boss, but also like the head of something (also Sheng De Lou = a building called Sheng De).
*22 Peony Pavilion: basically about a scholar and a woman from a respectable family(?) falling in love and their ups and downs.
There’s quite a few videos on youtube if you are interested (search for 牡丹亭 which, uh most opera pieces are like more than a few hours, so they’re usually separated into different acts or more commonly by their songs so you may see drastically different times for videos.)
Very brief summary, a lady hears a poem, wants to fall in love, dreams about meeting a scholar and then dies from her depression from dreaming about the scholar she fell in love with (like waking up and too sad that she can’t be with her loved one in her dream).
Her dad buries her under a plum blossom tree and creates a monastery to guard her grave before leaving for his appointment to oversee a place.
Her soul goes for judgement after death and the judge finds that she shouldn’t have died as she was fated to have a marriage and so let her go back up to the human plane.
Then comes a scholar rushing for the imperial examinations, and he stays at the monastery and meets her wandering soul.
They fall in love.
Then she gets revived by the scholar digging her up and opening her coffin and the two marry and then the scholar goes to the examinations.
On behalf of the lady, the scholar goes to find her dad but her dad doesn’t believe him and tortures (to make him tell the “truth”) and kind of almost kills/executes him.
And then right at the most tense moment, someone who knows the entire situation tells her dad it’s real and he’s actually the top ranking examinee so you can’t kill him.
Her dad suspects that he’s something like a monster and tells the Emperor who then investigates the truth and finally the scholar reunites with the lady and the dad also gets along with his son-in-law and they end up living happily ever after.
(maybe not brief after all haha)
*23 Phoenix eyes: they have the characteristics where the inner corner of the eyes are pointed downward while the outer corner is pointed upward, kind of like a hook, and usually characteristic of characters that are seductive and mesmerizing.
*24 Flower Stands: I’m calling them flower stands, as I don’t really have a better word for them haha, but it’s like well wishes for a celebration.
It’s similar to, if you have been around Chinese business shops and their grand openings, where they have these flower display stands gifted by a friend/important guest to celebrate their grand opening and to give them well wishes (also kind of like the flower wreaths for funerals, but in a much more positive way of course).
*25 Silk robe here is like the footnote below which references a part of a scene of the act, as well as the song part.
*26 These two verses were taken from “The Peony Pavilion: Mudan ting, Second Edition by Tang Xianzu; translated with a new preface by Cyril Birch; introduction to the second edition by Catherine Swatek.” It’s a long title, but in regards to the Peony Pavilion (more info about the play itself in the previous footnote) translations, I used this version because firstly Cyril Birch as far as I saw was the first person to translate it in English (although note that what I quoted was from the second edition), and it was pretty hard to find the source on this (had to find the actual physical copies to quote because online sources were so varied and so hard to find for the particular verses I was looking for, because idfiasjdpajdpoajpkjgokjwrf it was almost impossible to correlate which verse it was speaking of especially as literary poetry is really not my forte).
The original raws of this novel didn’t actually complete the verses (chopping off a part and adding a “……” at the end to say that they are singing the verses in Chinese opera style, but given the way it was translated to English, to have the stop point was pretty much impossible on my part so you get the whole verse with the indents and everything as exact! : ) ).
The other reason was that between the two physical copies of the translations I had, Cyril Birch’s version just matched a lot more in terms of what I “read” as a more literal translation (not exactly as I’m no literary scholar here lol), and it overall just felt like it was better in a reading “singing” format (although that’s only my personal preference here).
In any case, if you are interested, here is another version from “Dream in Peony Pavilion by Tang Xianzu; translated by Xu Yuanchong & Frank M.
A riot of deep purple and bright red,
What pity on the ruins they overspread!
Why does Heaven give us brilliant day and dazzling sight?
Whose house could boast of a sweeter delight?
At dawn on high
Rainbow clouds fly;
At dusk the green
Pavillion is seen.
In misty waves mingle the threads of rain,
The wind swells sails of painted boats in vain.
For those behind the screen
Make light of vernal scene.
I also must give credit to this version as their book was so much easier to look back and forth as they included the reference of which scene was from which part, which made it substantially easier to find the specific parts I needed.
*27 This is a call to a specific part of the scene, I believe as the song names the eyebrows part, and the first line is “how bewitching is spring this year!”, although spring is more than likely a symbolism for love (but again not a literary scholar here, and I did not read the entire << Peony Pavilion >> translations (either of them), although some scenes of her reminiscing about her beloved scholar was uh, imaginations, I guess uh, which were definitely… symbolic for a lot of love and skinship haha : ) ).
In either case, I took this part from “Dream in peony pavilion by Tang Xianzu; translated by Xu Yuanchong & Frank M.
Xu”, instead of Cyril Blake’s version as I could not for the life of me find the same part (although I didn’t really look that long as the other version was just so much more organized to find the sections).
*28 Cut-Sleeve: (mentioned in volume 2 ) a cut-sleeve is a phrase that means a man likes to partake in/has an inclination of homosexual activities/is a homosexual.
*29 Su Fan: A specific type of fan known for their folds.
Something like this:
Fu is also the character “福” which is basically good blessings/fortune.
*30 The Shangyuan Festival (title from Wikipedia) or perhaps more commonly known as lantern festival (different from the late autumn festival that is also apparently called lantern festival as well) is basically now the celebration of a new year.
It has a lot of roots with the common people lighting up lamps and praying for good blessings and then it transformed into a more general celebration for the first lunar month (the fifteenth day to be exact) with a lot more festivities added like lantern riddle guessing, sweet dumplings, lion dances, etc.
Leisure Ship: IDK what to translate this to, so I guess we’ll go with leisure ship… Basically this is a really well/lavishly decorated boat specifically for leisure activities such as playing near water, looking at the scenery, or for gatherings, etc.
*31 Stamps: they are basically carved seals used to stamp on things as an official approval/reference that it was from the person of the stamp – like a signature.
*32 Body deed: It’s like a deed to the body, to the person, that someone signs to give the “owner” of the deed absolute authority over them.
It’s usually one of the more common contracts you’ll see for servants and it encompasses beyond just servants.
As you can see here the troupe that Qin Ming Yue is in as well as other professions like a server/waiter at a restaurant, etc.
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