First Arc ー Chapter 2 (Part 3): Missing Fate
Who knew that when Ji Ying heard it, he laughed and relaxed his eyebrows as he said, “Brother Pan has misunderstood Ying’s meaning.”
Ji Ying took out a small box from within his sleeves and passed it over. “Life is fleeting and full of hardships and time is more precious than money. Brother Pan, you have already been gazing in front of the teahouse for three years, but how many more three years can you afford to waste? You should seek to be a blissfully married couple. Don’t miss your good fate of an opportune match for marriage. Go on.” As he said, he pushed Pan Fang and Pan Fang stumbled as he crossed the doorstep. He had finally managed to stabilize himself when he instead saw that the people in the teahouse were all turning their heads in his direction. There was a strange silence that hung in the air.
As he clutched the small box in his hand tightly, his countenance turned from red to white, then from white to red and it alternated many more times while the people in the teahouse seemed to intentionally want to watch this drama unfold until the end. They had all held their breaths and kept silent.
Under those stares from the crowd, Pan Fang walked unusually slowly yet firmly step by step until he reached the front of the storytelling stage. He opened the small box and knelt down on one knee, “This Pan Fang of a humble status, requests to marry Young Lady Qin as wife.”
The teahouse sank into silence for a moment before it suddenly erupted into thunderous applause.
Zhao Luan stretched her neck to see and leapt in joy as she said, “So what the small box contained was actually an engagement letter! He’s not Damn Fox for nothing, he already has everything prepared!”
As the drooping bamboo curtains swayed, the person behind the curtains sighed faintly. “This has originally been my wish, it’s just that I did not dare to ask.*”
*T/n: This was originally in Classical Chinese and is adapted from a saying by Mencius. If someone has an idea of how I can convert this to Classical English, please inform me.
The applause sounded again and everyone in the teahouse stood up to congratulate and were delighted for this pair of lovers who are finally getting married. On the other hand, outside the teahouse, Ji Ying was leaning against his horse carriage and gazing at them smiling. The sunlight was sprinkled on his white clothes and the White Marsh on his shaft, which made them radiate with a snow-white light.
Zhao Luan sighed. “I didn’t think that Young Lady Qin also had feelings for that Silly Pan……I heard that they were childhood playmates but afterwards when Silly Pan enlisted in the army and went to war, Young Lady Qin also married someone else. When Silly Pan had returned, Young Lady Qin’s husband had also died. After going around in circles, the two of them can still be together. This really complied with the word ‘fate’.”
As Jiang Chenyu looked at everything that was happening in front of her eyes and reflected on ‘You should seek to be a blissfully married couple. Don’t miss your good fate of an opportune match for marriage’, which Ji Ying had said just now, gentle feelings pervaded her heart.
On the other side, Pan Fang’s proposal had been a success. He passed the small box to behind the curtains and looked at the silhouette on the curtains a few times before he turned around and ran out jubilantly. He bowed and paid a grant greeting to Ji Ying. “If not for Gentleman’s timely advice to wake up from my error, this lowly one would still have led a befuddled life and all the more wouldn’t have the courage to propose to Young Lady Qin……Many thanks to Gentleman tremendous favor!”
Ji Ying accepted this bow of this.
Pan Fang said again, “From now onwards, I will only follow Gentleman’s lead and be at Gentleman’s disposal!”
Ji Ying said, “No need to be anxious. You should first manage your wedding and properly be a groom. Some other day when a battle begins, there will definitely be times when you will be needed.”
Pan Fang repeatedly gave an affirmative response.
Ji Ying turned around and was about to enter the carriage when he suddenly stopped to say, “Oh, by the way, I happen to have something I need to trouble you for help.”
Pan Fang hurriedly said, “Please go ahead to instruct, Gentleman!”
Ji Ying smiled again. Just as Jiang Chenyu felt that his smile this time was not very similar to his smiles in the past and that it was less serious and more shrewd, she saw his line of vision shifted to their hiding location. “The excitement has ended, the two of you are still not returning home?”
Zhao Luan turned around and wanted to run but Pan Fang’s figure flashed and instantly appeared before her. His robust body stood there and was like an enormous mountain which blocked the whole path.
Only now did Jiang Chenyu know that Ji Ying had already seen them long ago.
Zhao Luan dashed to the front of Ji Ying and said resentfully, “Only this eye of you Damn Fox is the sharpest! Can’t you walk your own path and treat it as you didn’t see?”
Ji Ying smiled as he shook his head. He opened the carriage door and made a ‘this way please’ gesture.
Zhao Luan was not scared of the Empress Dowager, not scared of the Emperor but was scared of only him, because she well understood that although Gentleman Qi Ao was refined and elegant, the decisions he makes were even harder to change than the imperial edict. Since she was caught by him this this trip, her sightseeing journey could only end here. She immediately reluctantly pouted and entered the carriage. Just as Jiang Chenyu was thinking whether she should also follow, Ji Ying instructed a few words to the cart driver and the cart driver struck the whip to drive the horse carriage and simply left.
Zhao Luan popped her head out from inside the window and shouted, “Elder Sister, I’m going back first! I’ll find you to play again next time and also to return your money……”
She saw the horse carriage turned at a corner and disappeared from her line of sight while Pan Fang also had some matters and took his leave first. In this way, she and Ji Ying were the only ones left in front of the teahouse entrance.
Her heart thumped rapidly and she lowered her head as she did not dare to look at it. As things would have it, her nose caught a whiff of the faint bergamot scent emanating from his body. For a moment, she became even more at a loss.
“The Jiang Family’s Miss?” The gentle tone carried a very courteous inquiry. When it entered her ears, it caused her heart to beat wildly again.
So he actually recognized her……Jiang Chenyu hastily paid her greetings, “Chenyu pays respects to Marquis.”
She shifted her gaze upwards and what she saw was still his faint smile which resemble water. Compared to her who was flustered, Ji Ying appeared to be more composed and was unperturbed. “It’s no longer early, Ying shall send Miss back to your residence.”
Her heart was nervous at one moment and ecstatic at another moment and she nodded her head bashfully.
The only horse carriage had already left, so the two people could only walk back. Jiang Chenyu looked at his and her shadows on the ground. Everything in the surroundings dissolved into nothingness in the color of dusk, leaving only their two shadows which were stretched very long and long by the setting sun.
It felt as if they were in a dreamland.
No, even if it were in the most luxurious dream, she had never imagined that one day, she would be able to walk with Ji Ying shoulder to shoulder.
He recognized her.
He sent her back home.
Without questions, without reproach, and also without superfluous words. He simply silently accompanied her back home like that.
“You……,” she finally could not refrain from asking, “How did you know that the Princess and I were there? And how did you know my……my identity?”
“I saw your residence’s covert guards.”
So it was like that. The rumours had been that not only was Marquis Qi Ao outstanding in literary talents, his martial arts skills were also extremely high. No wonder it was still seen through by him despite those covert guards evidently concealing themselves in some obscure places.
“I……I dressed up like this and fooled around with the Princess. That was very……impolite right?” She looked at him uneasily, afraid that he would think of her as a frivolous woman. However, Ji Ying still continued to smile and his voice carried a mellow and gentle tone. “It wasn’t. Miss’ male dressup is very pretty.”
He was praising that she is pretty? Jiang Chenyu bit on her lower lip as her heart almost leapt to her throat.
“Moreoever,” Ji Ying said again, “Teahouses and wine shops were originally used for people’s recreation and entertainment. Men can come, so there is also no reason why women can’t.”
When Jiang Chenyu heard that, she was even more delighted. Ji Ying was indeed not an ordinary man. Not only was he not narrow-minded and hung up on outdated customs, he was also very adept at resolving others’ embarrassing predicament. Spending time with him was like immersing oneself in the spring breeze. No wonder he had that kind of Elder Sister.
She was waiting to say even more words, but the Prime Minister’s Residence was just within sight. Ji Ying stopped 100 Chinese feet* from the entrance and cupped his hands. “Allow Ying to send you until here.”
*T/n: zhang: 3.3m
“Many thanks to……Gentleman.” She originally wanted to call him as Marquis, but when the words reached her mouth, it became ‘Gentleman’ in the end. That was because his existence to her never had anything to do with his identity and his rank of nobility……
Jiang Chenyu bit her lips and tried as much as possible to not reveal too much on her countenance that she was unwilling to part and brisk walked to enter the entrance. However, after she passed the entrance, she still could not hold herself back from turning her head back for a glimpse. She saw Ji Ying standing at his former spot. His line of sight did not trail after her but looked at the ground in front of him with a solemn mien as if he was ruminating over something.
What was he thinking about?
Why is it that when no other people was looking at him, that person had never smiled?
Why is it that when he clearly treated her with courtesy and grace, he instead gave her a feeling that she has all along been very distantly apart from him?
Gentleman……Jiang Chenyu gazed at that tall standing figure under the setting sun and thought faintly, ‘Do you actually know, or should I say, are you actually willing to let me become your……wife?’
As she had informed Madam Jiang beforehand, after Jiang Chenyu returned to the residence, Right Prime Minister Jiang Zhong(Jiāng Zhòng) only admonished her a little and did not blame her any further. However, Princess Zhao Luan was much more unlucky. She had been brought to stand in the Imperial Study for two hours* but Zhao Yin continued to mind his own business of writing on the memorial reports and did not even glimpsed at her.
*T/n: 1 shichen: 2 hours
Zhao Luan used her left foot to step on her right foot, then used her right foot to step on her left foot. After changing over like this for a dozen times, she finally could not hold back from calling out in a miserable voice, “Imperial Elder Brother……”
Before the imperial desk, Zhao Yin continued to busy himself with the memorial booklets as if he did not hear.
Zhao Luan bit her teeth and called again, “Imperial Elder Brother……”
“Do you know your wrongs already?” Zhao Yin’s indifferent voice sounded from the imperial desk.
Zhao Luan hurriedly nodded her head and said in an aggrieved manner, “A Luan knows her wrongs already. I have already stood so long that both my legs have gone stiff. Imperial Elder Brother, just spare me!”
Zhao Yin’s raised his phoenix eyes slightly and glimpsed at her. He said unhurriedly, “Then why don’t you try saying where you were wrong?”
Zhao Luan lowered her head and answered honestly, “This Younger Sister should not have been overly playful and secretly left the palace on my own.”
“There’s still more?” Zhao Luan thought for half a day again. “I shouldn’t have not informed Imperial Elder Brother beforehand.”
Zhao Yin snorted softly. “This Emperor has to attend to a myriad of affairs everyday, how would I have the time to bother about whether you leave the palace.”
Zhao Luan saw that his eyes were obviously smiling and knew that she had been teased. She immediately let out a huge breath of relief and smiled. “Yes yes yes, Imperial Elder Brother is diligent with the state and loved by the citizens and should not have wasted his energy on This Younger Sister’s trivial matters so just forgive me!”
“You ah……” Zhao Yin placed his brush down and looked at his only younger sister as he shook his head continuously. “The Empress Dowager is not feeling well but you didn’t stay beside her bed and attend to her and instead only wanted to play. This is known as not being filial. This is the first point; As an Imperial Princess, your status is extremely important. When you go out, you should bring along bodyguards to follow you, how could you go alone? This is the second point; It’s fine if it’s just you fooling around by yourself, yet you still dragged others down the water and ruined the maiden’s reputation. This is the third point……”
Zhao Luan cried out, “Wait! Imperial Elder Brother, when did I ruin another’s reputation? I only brought the Jiang Family’s Elder Sister to eat noodles and also listen to storytelling. How did this become ruining the reputation?”
“The treasured daughter of the Prime Minister dressing up as a male and traversing the marketplace and you still say that this is not ruining her reputation?”
Zhao Luan was aware that she lacked in reason so she could only lower her head. But she was after all, not resigned, and muttered softly, “What’s with the marketplace, why don’t you think of a particular consort of yours who was born from the marketplace? Why don’t you say that she has no reputation?”
Zhao Yin raised his eyebrows. “What did you say?”
“Nothing. What can I say?”
“Alright, you can withdraw. We’ll leave it as it is for today’s matters. Don’t let the same thing happen next time.”
Zhao Luan was overjoyed and promptly bowed to express her thanks. “I knew that Imperial Elder Brother dotes on me the most. Long live Imperial Elder Brother!” Just as she was bouncing about and wanted to leave, Zhao Yin suddenly asked, “What kind of person is Jiang Chenyu?”
Hmm, is it okay if I get some opinions from you all?
I feel like the types of novels I have been choosing doesn’t seem to appeal to the majority so I was wondering if there are some particular genres which more people like.
As for me, I usually try to pick novels roughly based on these three criteria:
– Well-received/A classic in the Chinese community
– Good ratings and good reviews
– I find the plot memorable/The plot is unique
If it kind of fulfills these criteria, I will try to ignore the level of language difficulty the novel has and go ahead to translate it, but I’m recently doubting my own sense of taste and choice. 😦