☆ Chapter 39
The sound of the guqin was a silk thread melodiously floating in the air, just like how an early morning breeze drifts inside from an open crack in the door. After hearing it, her originally throbbing head felt relaxed and calm.
She supported herself against the bed, just about to sit up, when the one by her side extended their arms and set them around waist, helping her sit up. He then added a pillow behind her back and let her lean on it.
“Second Cousin, why are you the only one here? Where’s Eldest Cousin?”
“Today is the largest market day of Mao Er Town that only happens once a month. Merchants and other commoners from the countries of Nan Ling and Tu Bo will all be present. Eldest Brother has taken Yun Shan to stroll around the markets, saying they’d buy some local specialties for you.”
“More reckless spending. Really, what am I possibly lacking?” The things she ate and used–which one of them was not the most refined and of the highest quality? Thinking of how Yun Shi Yi spent money as freely as flowing water, this man really needed to be corrected. The day before yesterday, the innkeeper’s wife had visited, and taking advantage of the room being empty of others, had secretly said to her–one must not become accustomed to or indulge in a man not obediently listening; ones that ought to be caned should be caned, ones that ought to kneel by the doorway should kneel by the doorway, and the wife must absolutely not overindulge in their behavior.
At that time, she had still silently criticized–that is the men of your family that are not obedient and you could do as you pleased in having them caned, kneeling, or submerged in a pool of water, but my family’s men are outstanding. But now she had the suspicions that her husband was one that did not listen. Not only do he shout at her, he also criticized her when eating–eat some fruits, hmm?–and restricted the amount she could eat.
The sound of the guqin continued to flow in an undulating manner, like running water, so refreshing and clear that enriched one’s sentiments. It was extremely beautiful and it was evident that the skill of the one playing was out of the ordinary. In her past society, no matter how one called it, this individual would still be regarded as a great master.
“Who is playing the guqin?” Ruan Zhu asked. Mao Er Town was situated at the southern border and could be considered a little backwards. The people were not distinguished and the land was not great. This area unexpectedly had such an extraordinarily talented person and it aroused her curiosity.
“It’s the lunatic that lives next door to me that always hides in his room, never exiting. And even if he does leave, he ignores everyone. His face may have been infected by facial paralysis as no matter who it is, he is cold as ice. When others talk to him, he doesn’t pay them much attention. Maybe he was born deaf!” Yun Shi Wei rather meanly said some mocking words.
At times, he was quite an honest person, but at other times, that mouth of his was unable to stop chattering. The Yun clan all shared some similarities with each other and Yun Shi Yi was the same. Her ears have become callused from merely hearing all of his grumbling over these past few days.
“The way the guqin is played is very nice.” She understood that all artists had their own quirks. She had heard a lot about this in her past life and had seen quite a few as well.
“Zhu Zhu likes listening to it?” Yun Shi Wei was not one that understood music and only thought that bastard played the guqin loud enough to be a disturbance. He might as well go to the courtyard and practice a few rounds with his staff to be happy, but since Zhu Zhu liked it: “I’ll call him over for you so that he can play it in your presence.”
Ruan Zhu teased him: “Since they have such good skill, they must be inordinately proud of their ability. How would you be able to call them over?”
“Could it be that they won’t accept money? Unless he is a fool, that is.” Yun Shi Wei didn’t believe her. “I’ll go invite him over. If he dares to not come, I’ll beat him up.”
Yun Shi Wei didn’t wait for Ruan Zhu to agree and pushed open the door, and left.
This dolt. How could he even consider beating someone up?
The other was an artist and their eyes were bound to not have sand[a], so how could he care about your few copper coins? She wanted to stop Yun Shi Wei but that guy was one who was true to his words, and his movements were faster than a rabbit.
Ruan Zhu had thought Yun Shi Wei would certainly be met with a refusal, but he actually succeeded in inviting the guqin player over. This male was a little familiar, and she seemed to have met him somewhere before? She looked at him in bewilderment and recounted that since her transmigration, the number of people, especially men, she had met had been limited. Who could it be then?
Author: Mister Lu fell in love with you at first sight and regarded you as a kindred soul, someone rare to come by in a lifetime. But you silly girl has actually forgotten him, you really have no conscience.
Lu Piao Xiang’s faint smile was like a vast clear spring as he cupped his hands towards her.
Ruan Zhu was not allowed off the bed, so she twisted her body sideways from her position on top of the bed, and it could be counted as returning respects. She silently cursed, Yun Shi Wei, you have such a wicked heart and poisonous mouth. How was this Mister considered ‘as cold as ice’? He’s clearly much more amicable than your own unsophisticated face by many-fold.
Yun Shi Wei also thought it was strange but brushed it off. This man must have looked kindly at the amount of money he had offered. In this world, there was no one that did not love money, and his way of thinking would be forever correct.
This dolt did not know that he had accidentally become a pimp, with the customer being his own wife. If he had known, he would have vomited up a great deal of blood without question. Not only would he be angered half to death, his elder brother Yun Shi Yi would also no longer trust him. And who knows, perhaps his family jewels would actually be cut off.
Nuan Chun and Nuan Qing saw that there was a guest. When they entered, Nuan Chun went to pour tea while Nuan Qing stood beside his Miss’s side.
“Madam Yun, I trust you have been well since we last met and that you have recovered from your illness?” A smile hung at the corners of Lu Piao Xiang’s mouth, his pure and bright eyes gazing at the beautiful woman on the bed. The woman was a bit pallid from her illness, but it added to her quiet and exquisite appearance, making one sympathize with her.
“En, much better, many thanks for your concern. Second Cousin, quickly give this Mister a seat.” Ruan Zhu awkwardly smiled. The other knew who she was but she couldn’t recall who he was.
Lu Piao Xiang sat in front of the bed and took out his guqin from its case. This was the first time he had been so close to her and he was a little nervous. Even when he had previously played in front of the picky Emperor, he had been able to do so indifferently. But in front of her, his heart that had always been calm unexpectedly started palpitating.
“What tunes would Madam like to hear?” Although Lu Piao Xiang’s tone was mild and rather matched his appearance, only he knew that underneath that tranquil exterior, he was cautious and reserved.
“What is Mister fond of playing?”
“Then, ‘Flowing Water’!”[b] A sublime composition where kindred souls meet that has become the most perfect song throughout the ages. She was also his kindred soul. Though he hadn’t even been able to speak a single word to her as she had hurriedly left the pleasure boat, he had eternally remembered her.
‘Flowing Water’ was a famous song and she had heard it many times before so didn’t want to hear it at this moment. She thought for a bit: “How about ‘Clouds Over the Xiao and Xiang Rivers’? It is very pleasing on the ears, so how about playing this one.”[c]
Lu Pixo Xiang was confused: “‘Clouds Over the Xiao and Xiang Rivers’? What is that?” This world still had songs that he actually didn’t know?
Puzzled, Ruan Zhu looked at him and then suddenly hit her own head. How could she have been so muddled again? ‘Clouds Over the Xiao and Xiang Rivers’ was created in the final years of the Southern Song dynasty, so based off of this current era, it was evident that she had a mental lapse.[d]
If Yun Shi Yi was here, he would mock her. Her brain had not short-circuited only this one time. He was used to it and no longer cared about it as he was numb.
“That um, you can choose as you wish. Anything you want to play is fine.” In any case, he was at a master level of skill and anything he played would be much better than anything she, a novice, could play.
Lu Piao Xiang slightly hesitated and muttered to himself irresolutely before bringing both hands to rest on top of the guqin. His eyes closed as he pondered for a short moment, and when they reopened, his ten fingers lightly danced among the strings as a sparkling melody flew from his fingertips. The melodious sound of the guqin rippled gently throughout the room, resembling flowing water and a young male and female confessing their affections for each other: Young Lady, ah, can you hear the ospreys cooing as they reside in the river’s sandbank? Such a kindhearted and beautiful maiden that will make a good spouse for a good man. She gathers the uneven stems of the yellow floating heart along the shore. Such a kindhearted and beautiful maiden that causes all thoughts after waking to be of her......
荇菜 | Yellow floating heart
This Mister was playing “The Cooing Ospreys” from the Book of Songs and the most famous lines were precisely: Coo coo–ospreys are singing, / on the islet of the river. / A fair maiden so charming / makes fine men’s heart quiver. These four lines were printed in literature textbooks and remained fresh in Ruan Zhu’s memory. (Translation by Cheng Jiahui, Cheng Sheng, and Wei Xianggang.)[e]
Although she was quite bad at playing the violin from her past life, she had the gift of singing. On top of that, the voice of this body that she had transmigrated into was rather original, and she softly sang along with the beat of the guqin’s melody. Her clear and spirited voice was soft and very pleasing on the ears, like the sound of a black-naped oriole. Accompanied by the magical guqin tone, her voice had the effect of reverberating around the rafters for three days[f]. This sort of song could only be found in the Heavens.
Black-naped oriole | YouTube of their sound (here)
When Yun Shi Yi returned, he felt that the voice was somewhat familiar, but he never thought it would be his wife. Even after he ascended the stairs and pushed open the doors, he still didn’t realize the one singing was her.
Gradually, the sound of the guqin stopped and the song came to an end. The sonorous voice lingered in the air, comparable to the sound of the Heavens.
“Husband Lord, you’ve returned.”
Just as Ruan Zhu wanted to climb off the bed, Yun Shi Yi walked over and held onto her waist: “Don’t recklessly move. If something happens to the child in your belly, you’ll have to drink bitter medicine for a long while.”
Yun Shi Yi hugged her and kissed her. Ruan Zhu was stupefied–the man had become foolish. How could he do such intimate acts in front of others? But she didn’t know that Yun Shi Yi had done this on purpose.
She pushed him away: “It’s already been how many days now? I’ve long recovered, it’s you that’s making a fuss about nothing. You went out for over half the day, what did you buy back? Let me see~ Nuan Chun, come over and pour some tea for your Eldest Master. Nuan Qing, go to the chest and get......aiya, I’ve remembered it......” She pointed at Lu Piao Xiang and exclaimed: “You’re the person that played the guqin that time on the pleasure boat! At that time, the prefectural magistrate’s Madam had pressured me so I recited a poem capturing the essence of your playing. See, my memory is this good!”
The same line, heard by different people, had different meanings.
Lu Piao Xiang was at a loss for words. His kindred soul had actually forgotten him and it turned out he had been in a one-sided love from the beginning. He had thought this maiden was exactly the one he had been looking for and had thought about her all day and night. But the lady had essentially not remembered him at all. His ego had been slightly bruised and he felt even more disappointed.
Yun Shi Yi’s lips hooked upwards. It turned out his little wife’s heart did not hold that man. He was secretly delighted and his heart was full of affection.
He did not object to arranging secondary husbands for his wife, but the prerequisite was that he had to forever remain her number one.
Lu Piao Xiang was not good at social niceties. Thinking there was no need for him to stay any longer, he cupped his hands in obeisance and took his leave.
“Ai, why did he leave? I haven’t expressed my thanks yet!”
Just a moment ago, she had wanted to instruct Nuan Qing to bring over ten taels of silver as thanks, but she now recognized him and the ten taels of silver was not presentable. Lu Piao Xiang was celebrated and exceedingly well-known among the nobility and other prestigious clans. How could he covet a few pieces of silver?
Ruan Zhu saw that Lu Piao Xiang had already left, and after thinking for a bit, said towards Nuan Chun: “That man does not appear to be one that prefers silver. Go to the kitchen and make a bowl of iced pineapple juice and send it over. Just say it is my way of saying thanks.”
“Understood, Miss. This servant will immediately go.”
“Eldest Brother, what did you buy for Zhu Zhu?” Yun Shi Wei one by one opened up the several packages that Yun Shan had carried back. “Eh? So many fur pelts. Right now the summer days are sweltering. What did you buy these fur pelts for?”
“Saw someone selling them so I bought it. The quality of these pelts is very good and not something that you can buy in the markets of Lan Zhou.”
Ruan Zhu pulled some over and touched them all, exposing an astonished expression. It was fine if it was just some fox fur but there unexpectedly was the precious tiger pelt. She wanted to ask, why was it that the tigers had almost gone extinct in the later generations? It turns out that the tigers had been stripped of their fur to make clothing by these worry-free ancient people.
In this era, cotton had yet to become widespread. Therefore, to resist the cold of winter, the people would use fur and leather for their clothing. The average common household would not be able to afford tiger; fox; or leopard pelts and fur, but they could afford sheepskin and dog pelts. Ones that were even more destitute simply used chicken and duck down.
Yun Shi Yi smugly looked at his wife: “These few fox pelts will be used to make you a winter cape and the tiger fur will be used as a bed spread. There is nothing better than being warm in winter.”
[a] 眼里揉不进沙子, a twist on the idiom 眼不着砂, which means not having someone (or something) in their eyes
[b] 流水, YouTube performance here
[c] 潇湘水云, YouTube performance here
[d] Southern Song dynasty was from 1127-1279. Reminder that Tang dynasty is 618-906 CE.
[e] 关雎 “The Cooing Ospreys” from 诗经, the Book of Songs, which is the oldest collection of Chinese poetry. English translation from English Translation for 100 Selected Chinese Ancient Classic Poems by Cheng Jiahui, Cheng Sheng, and Wei Xianggang. (Google Books, poem found on page 1)
[f] 绕梁三日, idiom meaning a voice is sonorous and resounding
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