时辰 | sichen | time system comprising of 12 two-hour periods of the day; one sichen is the equivalent of two modern hours
尺 | chi | a Chinese foot, about one-third of a meter
Ruan Zhu carefully looked at those fur pelts. They were all real fur, not imitations. The ancient era did not have the technology to imitate things. In her previous world’s large malls, those large fur overcoats had been sold with the cheapest being seven to eight thousand RMB while the good ones were worth several ten thousand RMB, maybe even hundreds of thousands RMB. Don’t talk of her buying one of these, even looking twice at those coats would make her heart start palpitating.[a]
“Do you like it?” Yun Shi Yi saw that his wife was happy and his mood subsequently rose as well. He finally hadn’t been this busy in vain.
Ruan Zhu nodded in satisfaction and let Nuan Qing store the pelts in the chests for safekeeping.
Nuan Qing smiled: “Miss, why put them away? How about letting us two brothers make some winter clothes with them for you? It will be perfect for you to wear them in winter as protection against the cold. It is currently the sixth month. When the weather turns cold, it will be around the time when Miss’s pregnancy is at the most critical and your former winter clothes would not be able to be worn at all. Later when your measurements are taken, the size has to be increased so that the clothing is not too small. In any case, we must not let the child in your belly become frozen, isn’t that correct?”
These words were very pleasant to hear! The corners of Yun Shi Yi’s mouth exposed a smile. In the beginning, he did not have a good impression of these two bedwarmers[b] and he couldn’t help now but to change his attitude: “Wife, you must not be so stingy. Rather than being placed in a chest to be damaged by moths, these pelts are better off being worn to fend off the cold. Let me tell you, if by case you freeze my son to death, we’ll have to settle things between us.”
“Three of these red fox furs are best to be made into a long cape and the remaining two arctic fox pelts can be made into a long skirt. There are some bolts of cloud brocade that we brought from Lan Zhou in the chests over there. Collect some simple colors for the material.” Ruan Zhu knew that Nuan Chun’s and Nuan Qing’s needlework was pretty good and had no worries handing over this work for them to do. Towards her own hubby: “Only your son exists in your eyes–hey, put your hand away......”
He had placed his hand who knows when on top of her small belly, groping about, not caring at all whether there were others in the room, this pervert.
“What, I’m chatting with my son.” Yun Shi Yi unhappily responded.
Nuan Qing saw his Master flirting with his wife by pretending to be displeased and was unconcerned. Only Yun Shi Wei was envious as he fixed his eyes on his wife’s still dainty figure, never blinking. The atmosphere in the room was warm but Ruan Zhu still hadn’t realized his unnaturalness.
After a while, Nuan Chun returned and reported that the iced pineapple juice had been sent to Sky Room #3. After that Mister had heard that this was Miss’s way of saying thanks, he had been very happy and said that if Miss ever wanted to hear the guqin again, he was always respectfully waiting.
“You can all withdraw!”
Yun Shi Yi sent out the two bedwarmers and knitted his brows in silence as he pondered while looking at his wife. After a long time, he finally asked: “Does Wife like the one that plays the guqin?”
Should it be said that Ruan Zhu was foolish? For she absolutely was not aware that her husband was jealous and casually said: “He is very talented with the guqin, who wouldn’t like that?”
She was not referring to the like between males and females–she liked his skill. It was purely in an appreciative manner, just like how one could be fond of beautiful things. But her husband misunderstood her. “What is his name and what does he do?”
“He’s called Lu Piao Xiang and he is a courtesan in Lan Zhou’s red district. Because he is very skilled with the guqin, he is adored by many high-ranking Madams and Misses. That day, you had sent me to the pleasure boat for a tour around the river, but you left because you had some matters to take care of, leaving just me behind......”
Ruan Zhu spoke about what happened that day but she glossed over the matter about her poem recitation with a few sentences. After all, plagiarism was dishonorable and even though no one knew about it, she was too embarrassed to make her feat well-known.
From the red district? Yun Shi Yi knit his brows as he hesitated. Bring a courtesan into his household, was it a blessing or a curse?
Lu Piao Xiang. He carefully thought about this name. He had heard others bring it up before. His guqin skills were very good and he has actually been requested by all the Madams and Misses who were offsprings of famous families[c]. One song of his was worth several thousand coins, and he also looked to see whether the one that requested him was one that understood the guqin. If it was a philistine patron, he would refuse and abruptly walk away.
Ruan Zhu had invited him to come over and play the guqin. It was reasonable to say that requesting him wasn’t that easy, but he had actually came over and his mood was also not bad. There was only one thing that could explain this phenomenon–Lu Piao Xiang had been thinking of and been concerned with his wife.
It was still Yun Shi Wei whose thoughts were straightforward: “Spouse, since you like the guqin player, do you want to take him as a secondary husband?”
Ruan Zhu was perplexed: “Your brain has a problem. Which eye of yours saw that I liked him? Take him as a concubine? How did you even think of this?” Was she like him, unable to control her □?
“But Eldest Brother just asked you and you said you liked him.”
Yun Shi Wei definitely did not want another secondary husband to suddenly appear after having just been married for how long. Even regarding the matter of accepting secondary husbands, it had to wait until two or three years later when his wife had finished giving birth to his children.
Yun Shi Yi also stared at his wife. He too wanted to know the answer to brother’s question.
Ruan Zhu was perplexed–she had said she liked him? She tilted her head as she tried to remember: “What I like is his music. I never said I liked him as a person. You must not let your thoughts stray.”[d]
“That’s great, Spouse.” Yun Shi Wei cheered and pounced on the bed, wrapping her in his arms, “What’s the point of listening to him play the guqin, it’s all just ding ding dong dong noises and my rod exercises are much better. Another day when your body has fully recovered, go to the courtyard and I’ll show you with my own two hands.”
“Hurry up and scram. Don’t touch my son.” Yun Shi Yi quickly blocked his wife’s stomach with his hand.
But Yun Shi Wei continued to hug Ruan Zhu and refused to let go. The fragrant and soft body in his arms couldn’t help but cause stirrings of love in him to ripple. He lustfully said: “Spouse, don’t make me leave tonight and just let me sleep by your side. I swear I won’t touch you.”
Ruan Zhu looked at his two begging eyes and her heart felt somewhat soft: “Sleeping here tonight is fine, but you must not take off the chastity belt.”
Yun Shi Wei hurriedly responded: “That’s fine, that’s fine. I won’t take it off.”
Thus, the three of them slept in the same room that night. Yun Shi Wei actually kept his promise and didn’t touch her. But every time Yun Shi Yi carried the just-bathed her to the bed, she could feel his burning gaze full of desire fixed on her, causing her to feel as if she had committed some gargantuan wrong.
Another half of a month passed just like that. Ruan Zhu’s body had pretty much recovered and she could now go outside for some air but had to be accompanied by someone and had been banned from the privilege of moving alone.
Yet Ruan Zhu’s experience with pregnancy was bitter beyond words. Not mentioning how she was perpetually dizzy and nauseous, she was also always sleepy. A day had twelve sichens and she usually slept for around nine of them. Yun Shi Yi worried that her always sleeping would affect her health and would take her out for a stroll every day.
“Actually, I think you shouldn’t always keep watch over me. All men aspire to travel and make one’s mark. You should go take care of that batch of gold-threaded Phoebe zhennan in Nan Ling. It is not convenient for me to undergo such a long and difficult trek so I’ll just wait for your return in Mao Er Town. In any case, I’ll have Second Cousin, Nuan Chun and Nuan Qing by my side so nothing will happen.”
“Your Second Cousin is a fool and those two bedwarmers, after all, are servants. How could I be at ease?” Yun Shi Yi wrapped his arm around his wife’s waist and they slowly walked throughout town. Behind them were precisely the two aforementioned bedwarmers. Yun Shan was looking over things in the inn and they didn’t know where Yun Shi Wei had gone off to.
“The most important part of doing business is enjoying the process. Furthermore, I am already well-off and that batch of wood does not mean much to me. If I renounce happiness in pursuit of money, what would be the point in living?” Yun Shi Yi lowered his head to look at her, “These words are ones you’ve said to me before. And now, you are encouraging me to leave. I’m afraid that when I leave, you will feel depressed and regretful as you search for this husband.”
“Ai, why are you like this? I originally wanted to leave with you so that’s why I had said those things. I won’t say anything else, but that batch of wood is the priceless gold-threaded Phoebe zhennan. Unless your brain has become addled to want to throw them away like a pair of worn-out shoes.”
To obtain gold-threaded Phoebe zhennan, the emperor of the Ming dynasty did not hesitate to send a fleet of ships across the ocean to Southeast Asia to cut them down. Hubby, could you also do this? Ruan Zhu’s heart was sorely distressed.
The young couple slowly strolled and passed a restaurant where their attention was attracted by a crowd of people surrounding the restaurant’s entrance. Conspicuously among them was Lu Piao Xiang. He was the unique sort of person that no matter where he went, others would take note of, with a height of eight chi, a graceful style and beautiful appearance, a guqin case tucked under one arm, and an arrogant face. But his arrogance was not one that was assumed, it was rather innate. Although it would be wrong to call him a noble son, he possessed a bearing that actual noble sons could not compare to.
“Lu Piao Xiang, your arrogance is quite large. This prince’s imperial concubine mother invited you to perform at her fiftieth birthday but you unexpectedly actually dare to not give face. Your guqin skills are extraordinary and you have fame, but what of it? Aren’t you just a courtesan? What do you have to be proud of?”
The one that spoke was a very elegant and tall man, his body covered with an expensive and noble air. His hair was bound by a gold-threaded laurel inlaid with precious gems; he wore a sapphire blue silk chang pao embroidered with the character ‘ten thousand’; and a bright and dazzling jade belt hung across his waist as the precious stones on it blinded the eyes of the crowd.
Yun Shi Yi had been to many places as a result of his work and the things he knew were not few. He said in a small voice to her: “That man is Xuanyuan Min Zhi, the current Emperor’s youngest son, but because the vassal duke of the country of Nan Ling does not have a son, the Emperor had given him up as a child to be adopted by the Duke of Nan Ling.”
The country of Nan Ling was a vassal state of Tian Chu and their duke had received the tributary title of being under the Celestial Empire. Their country had also been founded for several hundred years now.
It’s said that during the time when the Great Ancestor founded the country, he had a full younger brother that had rode a laboring horse to great deeds[e] in helping to establish the country by attacking the enemy. But the Great Ancestor did not bestow many things upon this brother and rather threatened him with dismissal. Angered, the younger brother had led his men and horses to Nan Ling and became a self-reliant duke.
But his actions may have displeased the Heavens. Beginning from that time, successive generations of the Duke of Nan Ling have only had one successor. The numbers of secondary husbands and bedwarmers that the Duchess had were not few and she birthed quite a few sons, but eternally, there was only ever one son that was classified as his.
But several decades ago, the Duke of Nan Ling, who was the same age as the Emperor, faced a crisis. The almost-forty years old Duke had never been able to have a son and wrote a petition to the imperial court. As an answer, the Emperor gave one of his small sons up for adoption. That son was precisely this Xuanyuan Min Zhi.
A relative of the emperor, dragon pellet and phoenix essence[f], such a priceless moment. In her past world, the highest official Ruan Zhu had ever seen was the mayor of her city and it was when she had seen the other’s silhouette when they were sitting in their BMW limousine.
This level was no different from Hu Ge, whose name alone was enough to scare people to death![g] Pitiable Lu Piao Xiang. Ruan Zhu sincerely offered up sympathetic tears. Looking at the involved persons, she unexpectedly saw Xuanyuan Min Zhi, his face quiet and bleak.
“If his Royal Highness has finished, does not this express I am free to leave?”
“Lu Piao Xiang, your nerve is not small.” Xuanyuan Min Zhi exposed a faint but cold sneer, his eyes disdainful: “Don’t depend on you being familiar with quite a few influential officials, I nevertheless can still let you meet death with one stroke and not bear any blame or responsibility whatsoever.”
“All right, I will wait.” Lu Piao Xiang indifferently responded as if this matter had nothing to do with him.
Lu Piao Xiang seems to have borrowed courage from the Heavens, daring to use this tone to speak to a Prince with overflowing powers from the Heavens! Ruan Zhu felt that this was unimaginable.
[a] 7-8,000 RMB = ~$979 to 1119 / 10,000 RMB = ~$1,400 / 100,000 RMB = ~$14,000
[b] He calls them 通房 (tongfang), which I’ve been translating as ‘bedwarmer’. Nuan Chun and Nuan Qing have special status (explained in Chapter 2) and they technically could be a bedwarmer, so I’m keeping the appellation. But just know that RZ has not slept with either of them.
[c] 名门望族, idiom meaning good breeding; blue blood
[d] The ‘misunderstanding’ part was a little hard to translate. In Chinese, objects are not required after verbs and that’s not the case with English so hopefully what I did made sense.
[e] 汗马功劳, idiom meaning heroic contribution
[f] 龙丹凤髓, idiom (?) meaning something is very difficult to obtain and is also very precious. I translated it literally.
[g] Hu Ge is a very famous Chinese actor. Idk why people would be scared on hearing his name though.
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