儿 | er | (lit. child) diminutive marker used as a form of endearment
时辰 | sichen | time system comprising of 12 two-hour periods of the day; one sichen is the equivalent of two modern hours
The servants standing by the side were all stunned silly. If anything occurred to the Eldest Miss, and Master was infuriated and started investigating, even they did not need to think about surviving this ordeal.
Ruan Ju finally knew to be scared: “It has nothing to do with me. It was her that insisted on provoking me. She fought with me for my bedwarmer; she fell by herself; I didn’t push her......”
Yun Shi Wei was terrified and shouted towards the servants: “What are you all foolishly standing there for? Not going to quickly invite a physician?” Seeing the deathly pale face of the wife in his arms, his long-fearless heart started pounding violently. He lifted her up horizontally and ran towards Furong Garden as if he was flying.
Midway there, they just so happened to meet Ruan Ju, who was on the veranda, instructing a few of the residence’s servants in sweeping the snow-covered courtyard. Seeing Yun Shi Wei running over with Ruan Zhu in his arms, she knew something had happened.
She hastily rushed towards them to inquire: “Second Cousin, what happened to my Eldest Sister?”
Yun Shi Wei did not stop and sprinted past her while yelling: “She was pushed by your family’s third daughter. Seeing her like this, she’s probably about to give birth. Hurry and go find my brother, and then find those midwives in the residence and send them over.”
Ruan Ju dazedly stared at the figures growing further away and turned to point at the servants that were still working: “Xiao San Zi, go tell my Eldest Sister’s matter to my Pa. Xiao Si and Xiao Wu, follow me in finding that slut. I must peel off her skin!”
Right at that time Yun Shi Yi was in Ruan Zi Xu’s study, speaking of Xuanyuan Min Zhi’s origin, how he currently was in the residence as a slave, and the matter of him being whipped by Ruan Ju.
Ruan Zi Xu was so angry he directly slapped the table. He had bore it all for his wife and kindly bestowed food for the Wei family to eat. But this evil creature has unexpectedly gone in the opposite direction and ruined the Ruan clan. This time, he absolutely could not tolerate this.
“Master, not good, something has happened.” A servant pushed the door open in a rush.
“Outrageous! Who allowed you to be like this without manners? If there is something, do you not know to announce yourself?” Ruan Zi Xi was in a fit of anger and opened his mouth to berate him.
The servant continued to pant for air. With one glance, it was clear he had just very anxiously sprinted over: “Master......Eldest Son-in-Law......it’s not good, Eldest Miss, she......”
Yun Shi Yi’s face rapidly changed and he suddenly grabbed the servant: “Say it again!?”
The servant’s two shoulders were captured in Yun Shi Yi’s grip, and he saw a pair of glaring eyes that seemed as if flame were about to erupt. He couldn’t help but become tongue-tied from panic and trembled: “Eldest Miss......Eldest Miss had an accident......it looks like she can’t......”
Yun Shi Yi couldn’t spare the time to ask him for a reason. Pushing the other aside, he flew out of the study.
Ruan Zi Xu had walked forward a few steps and aimed a kick towards the servant, roaring: “Tell me everything in order. If you dare to stutter one time, I’ll sell off your entire family, old and young, to the mountains to dig iron ore.”
Upon hearing those words, the servant immediately calmed down and said everything clearly: “Eldest Miss had been pushed to the ground by Third Miss and couldn’t take it. Second Son-in-Law met Second Miss in the courtyard while carrying Eldest Miss. After Second Miss heard the situation, she let this small one report the situation and also said to find the midwives without delay.”
Ruan Zi Xu’s heart was frantic. He exited the study, asking as he walked: “Have you gone to find the midwives yet?”
The servant followed behind him: “Replying to Master, the several midwives that Master had invited previously reside in the connecting courtyard and us little ones all know. Second Miss has already instructed Xiao San Zi to find them.”
“What about Second Miss?”
“Second Miss was full of anger and she took Xiao Si and Xiao Wu to collect her debt from Third Miss.”
Hatred appeared on Ruan Zi Xu’s face: “Bring a group of servants with you to tie up that animal and throw her in the woodshed. When I have time, I will go handle it. Then call people to keep a tight watch on Wei Rong.”
“This small one understands.”
“Oh right, hurry and go inform the Madam and tell her I will wait for her in Furong Garden.”
This type of agony exceeded any other kind of pain in the world; even the pain of a knife being stabbed into one’s legs or arms and then forcefully wrenched out could not compare. In the beginning, the pain came once every four to five minutes, then changed to once every two minutes, then finally became once every minute.
If it was only pain that lasted for a while, it would be fine, but this sort of agony did not have an end and continuously tormented her body, her energy, and her will.
She was on the bed, her body curled up. The pain that had just passed was immediately followed by another wave of pain that could topple the mountains and overturn the seas[a].
She wanted to alleviate her suffering and hastily hit her own leg; doing this seemed to be of some help.
Yun Shi Wei did not know what was best to do and was completely panic-stricken. He pulled her into his embrace to comfort her and continuously looked outside the window to see if the midwives had arrived yet.
“Second Cousin, it hurts so much.”
“I know, I know. Spouse, hit me, don’t hit yourself. Hit me, I’m resistant to beatings.”
Nuan Chun and Nuan Qing had never experienced this before and had long run out ideas.
Yun Shi Yi burst inside the room. Seeing his wife so feeble, he took her out from Yun Shi Wei’s arms, continuously asking: “Wife, what happened, are you injured? Quickly tell this husband where it hurts; did something happen to our child?”
Ruan Zhu saw him and it was like she had saw hope. She pulled on his arm: “Eldest Cousin, help me pound my legs. Do it strongly......”
Yun Shi Yi’s heart was in unspeakable pain and he gently pat the one in his arms: “Be good and listen, later when the midwives come, all will be fine. Endure it, okay?”
“I can’t......I can’t......AH!......”
Another wave of acute pain attacked her and her entire body shook. She grabbed onto his lapel as if she was clutching at life-saving straws.
After the three midwives had arrived, they saw that the amniotic fluid had basically all flowed out and they all became nervous.
Under the circumstances of an expecting mother not having any amniotic fluid, she could only have a dry birth, which was extremely difficult and also extraordinarily dangerous. The child was also in danger as without the amniotic fluid, they were without an environment to live in, causing breathing to become difficult. After a long time, the fetus could even suffocate to death.
The midwives inspected Ruan Zhu’s cervix and discovered that it had not fully opened. It simply was not yet time to give birth.
Yun Shi Yi saw that their expressions were not right and inquired. They honestly answered and even added that under the condition of having no amniotic fluid, childbirth would be very difficult, and preparations must be made.
What sort of preparation was this? Preparing their hearts or preparing for what comes after? The midwives did not clarify.
But Ruan Zhu felt despair. If it was her past world, then it would be fine as a cesarean birth was possible if a natural one was not. But this surgical procedure did not exist in Tian Chu. Her thoughts were pessimistic and tears flowed from the corners of her eyes into the hair at her temples.
The midwives wanted Yun Shi Yi to leave, but how could he be willing to do so? He continued to hold onto Ruan Zhu’s hand to reassure her.
“Wife, everything is all right. Listen to me and pull yourself together, okay? In a little while, the child can be born.”
Ruan Zhu was tormented by contractions to no end. Thinking of something, she suddenly grabbed him: “Eldest Cousin, listen to me. In the case that I can no longer give birth and am no longer breathing, you should quickly have someone slice open my stomach and take out the child. This way, the child can live.”
Yun Shi Yi’s emotions stirred: “What words are you saying? What is this ‘if I can no longer give birth’? Ruan Zhu, you listen to me, even if it is just one breath, you must continue living for me. Clench your teeth and give birth to the child for me.”
“I know.” Ruan Zhu sobbed out: “Even if I only have one breath left, I’ll still give birth to the child. Can’t......can’t let the child be without a mother right after they’ve been born, can’t let you live alone with the pain.”
Yun Shi Yi shouted in a loud voice: “As long as you know, then that’s good. You have to understand, if you are no longer here, I will immediately follow you. If you don’t believe me, you can try me.”
Tears suddenly came out of Yun Shi Wei’s eyes and he hugged one of Ruan Zhu’s arms. He was choked with sobs: “Spouse you must survive. Listen, if......if you are no longer here, I will also follow you.”
“I will, I will definitely survive.” For them, she also had to live. Again, another wave of painful contractions hit her. Her entire body spasmed from the pain and she sucked in air between her teeth to scream: “Both of you should leave! I don’t want either of you to see me like this.”
She wanted to give the most beautiful side of herself to her Lord Husbands, not this battered and exhausted state.
Yet the two Yun brothers tightly hugged her.
Ruan Zi Xu stood outside and had someone call the midwives inside to come out. He gave them an order under death–if something happened to his eldest daughter and grandchild, he would have their entire families buried with them.
These words of his were not a bluff as with the Ruan clan’s power and influence, it was nothing to execute a few ordinary commoners.
The few midwives all became shaken. Returning to the delivery room, they took out 120,000 of their energy to handle the most difficult situation of their lives.
“How is it, how is it, nothing happened to Zhu’er, right?” Madam Ruan had heard the report and rushed towards Furong Garden.
Hearing a voice, Ruan Zi Xu turned around and resolutely stared at her, enunciating each word clearly: “If something happens to my daughter and grandchild, hear this, I will unilaterally divorce you and you can take your concubines and those concubine-born children with you and leave my family.”
The laws of Tian Chu did not allow a unilateral divorce and men that had gone through this process were not qualified to remarry. But if there was a man who had power and was determined to divorce, the law was still just a worthless piece of paper.
Madam Ruan resigned herself to being in the wrong: “I will go look at Zhu’er.”
Madam Ruan had given birth to over ten children. Though seven of those were twins, when all was considered, she was still experienced. The first thing she did when she entered was to kick both the Yun brothers and the two bedwarmers out.
This custom of Tian Chu’s closely followed history–when females gave birth, it was best for me to not be too close.
“How is my Eldest Sister; has the child been born yet?” Ruan Ju came over, but her hairpins were crooked and her hair was a mess. She was covered all over in mud; there were a few scratches on her neck and her lip had also split. It was exactly as if she had just been in a fight.
“What in the world happened to you?” Ruan Zi Xu asked. His second daughter had a wild temper but had never physically come to blows with someone before.
“I beat up that little slut. Pa, don’t look at these few scratches, that slut is even worse than me. I guarantee she won’t be able to get up from her bed for half a month.”
Ruan Zi Xu’s face was cold. How could ‘not being able to get out of bed for a mere half month’ possibly be enough?
An entire night went past and the child still had not been born yet. Ruan Zhu had been so tormented that she didn’t have the tiniest bit of strength and even her screams were low and weak, like whimpers issued from the depths of her soul.
The midwifes and Madam Ruan discussed for a while and decided to give Ruan Zhu medicine that could induce labor. Holding the prepared soup, two people supported her while one person was responsible for the medicine.
The current Ruan Zhu was like a puppet as they manipulated her about.
As soon as the medicine entered her body, it stimulated her so much that it could have taken one’s life.
Ruan Zhu gave a plaintive shriek and was in so much pain, she rolled around in bed. Her throat had become hoarse from all of the screaming and in a flash her long hair had become soaked with sweat, as if she had just been fished out of water.
Yun Shi Yi and Yun Shi Wei couldn’t bear it any longer and simultaneously charged inside. Seeing that they wouldn’t budge, Madam Ruan decided to let them be.
Right at this time, Lu Piao Xiang walked inside Furong Garden with two people.
They were covered head-to-toe in dust as if they had come a very long way. Entering the outer room, they saw Ruan Zi Xu with a worried look on his face.
Lu Piao Xiang greeted him: “Master need not worry. I have brought a physician and midwife from the capital. Imperial Physician Zhang has come to visit the patient on behalf of the imperial family and his skill is excellent. Wet Nurse Li has delivered over a thousand children and has gone through various situations and is very experienced.”
“An imperial physician? Someone who takes care of the imperial family and one who delivers newborns?” Ruan Zi Xu looked in astonishment at the man and woman that came behind. They were both no longer young with the man around fifty some years while the woman looked over sixty.
He bowed in greeting: “Troubling these two honored guests to save my humble daughter’s life.”
“We do not dare, do not dare. We will strive to our utmost.”
“Master Ruan, you should be at ease. Nothing will happen to your precious daughter. This old one will certainly spare no effort.”
The two people that Lu Piao Xiang had brought were originally rather arrogant, but they saw that he had actually saluted Ruan Zi Xu and immediately became respectful.
“Imperial Physician Zhang, Wet Nurse Li, quickly follow me inside!” Lu Piao Xiang said towards the two people: “If the mother and child are safe and sound, it will benefit the two of you. If there is the slightest mishap, you can just go to Da Jue Mountain to dig iron ore!”
Da Jue Mountain was located in the northwest and was rich in iron ore. However, the weather in winter was extremely harsh and conditions were difficult so the people sent there usually only lasted four to five months. Normally, only criminals given the death penalty and captives from enemy countries were shipped here and practically no one returned alive.
Panic appeared in the eyes of the two people as they followed Lu Piao Xiang inside the room.
“Pa, I heard wrong when Mister Lu called that man ‘imperial physician,’ right?” Ruan Ju blankly stared after them before turning towards Ruan Zi Xu. Because she was an unmarried female, she could not enter the delivery room and stood in the outer room with her father.
Ruan Zi Xu shook his head. Yesterday, Lu Piao Xiang was still in Yu Zhou. In only one day, he had managed to invite an imperial physician and midwife from the capital. It was true that Yu Zhou was not far from the capital, but this speed was too fast, right!
Imperial Physician Zhang felt Ruan Zhu’s pulse. Taking out a pill, he had someone crush it before pouring it down her throat. Perhaps it was something like a stimulant for the previous her that was at her last breath rapidly regained her vitality.
“Wife, wife, do you feel better now?”
“Spouse, you must live well.”
“Zhu’er, you must remember, I still want to hear you sing that ‘Plum Blossoms Blooming Thrice’ song. ‘What is love?’ I ask the world. How it renders death trivial, when life relinquishes in your will?”[b] (Translation by bluecrowx @ wordpress)
Ruan Zhu slightly turned sideways and her eyes flit across the three men by her side, one by one: “Eldest Cousin, Second Cousin, Big Brother Lu, I am fine, you all should leave. I will definitely give birth to the child and survive.”
Imperial Physician Zhang felt these men were vexing. Despite being naturally timid, he was quite obstinate when practicing medicine and had them all leave, saying they disturbed his state of mind.
The three men entered the outer room and waited, neither of them able to sit or stand still.
The ones outside heard pain-filled screams and saw servants coming to and fro–bringing out basins of blood and exchanging them for steaming hot water that they then carried inside.
One sichen later, the anxiously waiting men finally heard the cries of a newborn inside and Madam Ruan loudly shouted: “It’s a boy; both mother and child are well.”
In a split second, Yun Shi Yi’s cheeks streamed with tears and he burst into the delivery room with a heart full of joy; Yun Shi Wei and Lu Piao Xiang also closely following him behind.
“I have a grandson.” Ruan Zhi Xu elatedly said.
“It’s your daughter’s son.”[c] Ruan Yu poured cold water over his enthusiasm. However, she couldn’t prevent a smile from appearing on her face and had said that while skipping over to the other room. She hadn’t yet gone halfway when her arm was tightly grasped by Ruan Zi Xu.
“What are you doing, Pa?”
“Accompany Pa in drinking two cups. I have to carefully give my grandson a name.”
“Picking a name is a father’s right. This is the first time in his life Eldest Cousin became a father so you oldie shouldn’t try to add more pressure. Be magnanimous, okay?”
“Is being a father for the first time that wonderful? This father has become a grandfather for the first time in my life.”
“It is maternal grandfather, maternal.....Pa, you really have become senile.”
“Have I become old? Where am I old? Your mother has never disliked me for being old, hmph!”
The father and daughter pair stood in the outer room firing at each other with their mouths as weapons, while inside the delivery room was a Yun Shi Yi who had malfunctioned from happiness.
With joy from the bottom of her heard, Madam Ruan handed over the already bundled child for him to see. He hurriedly took a glance and stopped in front of his wife, grabbing her hand and unable to speak from being so emotionally moved.
Ruan Zhu gave an exhausted smile. After finally giving birth to the child, her body felt unspeakably light as if she had just expelled a large stone weighing over ten catties. But she was also severely weak from being tormented for over a dozen hours, and she soon fell fast asleep.
[a] 排山倒海, idiom meaning earth-shattering; etc
[b] This is the opening line to the famous poem 雁邱词 Tune of the Wild Geese’s Tomb by 元好问 Yuan Hao Wen. The story is that he met a hunter who said he had killed a wild geese. Its partner had soared in the sky before plunging into the ground and killing itself. Yuan had been so moved by this love that he composed this poem. Translation from here.
[c] Important distinction that I hope got across. RZX says 孙子 lit. grandson while RY says 外孙子 lit. outside grandson and means daughter’s son. A daughter’s child (whether M or F) is considered ‘outside’ the family line because their child would take on their father’s surname etc, whereas a son’s child would be ‘inside’ the family and is simply called 孙子.
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