Poor Qin Sang! Yi Lian Kai is really very cruel. At the same time…what kind of a ploy does he have under his belt this time?
Also, a little question from our translator: 12. Please let us know, in the comments!
Hmm, can I get some input from those who can’t read Chinese? As readers, do you prefer to read the story without any translator’s notes or you don’t mind them? I’m thinking of keeping the terms of address for each character but that will mean a footnote for each term e.g. ‘Third Younger Brother’. Do you think having a footnote after each paragraph disturbs the flow of the story or it’s okay? TIA!!
We could also provide a Glossary of different titles rather than a footnote for each separate title every post, etc. Let us know your ideas and your thoughts as having a footnote after each paragraph sounds rather cumbersome.
Finally, what do you think of the length of this chapter? Is it substantial, or more than enough for one update?
Thanks for all of your support and all of your feedback! We’ll let you know what we’ll change to make the translations better next time~~ 😀
Qin Sang said stormily: “What do you mean by bringing this kind of a nondescript woman home? Since you have so little regard for our marriage, we might as well get a divorce.”
Yi Liankai sneered: “Let’s divorce then. Fine, do you think I’m scared? If my old man hadn’t insisted on it, do you think I would have married you? Did you think that you could tempt me just with that face of yours?”
Qin Sang did not want to speak more with him, so she turned around and went upstairs, trailed by his derisive laughter all the way.
From that point on, Yi Liankai seemed to have thrown off all restraint, blatantly bringing Min Hongyu home to stay where they drank and amused themselves daily. Qin Sang kept to her own room for days on end with an air of ‘what the eye doesn’t see, the heart doesn’t grieve over’. Han Ma’s attempts at persuading her were of little use. But these state of affairs could only drag on for a few days because the Mid-Autumn Festival was coming up.
Without consulting Yi Liankai, Qin Sang had the servants pack up for the journey down the mountain. But when the luggage was ready, Yi Liankai left for Changye first in a car which he had readied in advance, taking Min Hongyu with him. Qin Sang was left to follow in a different car but was disinclined to care.
At the Yi residence in Changye, Zhu Ma had been anxiously counting the days to the couple’s return and was expecting their arrival any day now. Today, as she was doing needlework in one of the passages, she heard the sound of a car horn then a hubbub in the front hall and thought that must surely be Missy and her husband come home. So she hastily put down her sewing and went out to greet them. Sure enough, several cars were stopped under the arched gateway. Han Ma got out of one, then helped Qin Sang out. Zhu Ma, with all smiles, went up to welcome her and had just called: “Missy…” when she suddenly noticed Yi Liankai emerging from the car behind… now why were they in separate cars… his outstretched hand was grasped by another pair of hands with sharp, aggressive scarlet nails set off by the pale rose sleeves of a qipao. This was followed by the rest of its owner – a young, seductive female.
Zhu Ma stared, then looked at Qin Sang who was as cool as a cucumber – oblivious even – going straight up to her room. Zhu Ma hurried after her, bustling about, getting water for Qin Sang to wash her face with, helping her out of her clothes, making tea and asking: “Are you hungry, Missy? Shall I have the kitchen make you some dainties?”
Qin Sang shook her head and Zhu Ma swallowed her curiosity, asking no questions and waiting until Qin Sang had changed her clothes before she quietly withdrew from the room. Han Ma was just coming up the stairs with Qin Sang’s jewelry box so Zhu Ma pulled her aside to question her. Han Ma, of course, could hardly wait to unburden herself and related in detail the entire episode up in the mountains, adding: “Such a crying shame, for Mistress was so angry that she didn’t sleep a wink… if you ask me, that vixen really has her claws into Master – he’s even brought her home…”
Zhu Ma was naturally incensed and indignant but was unable to do more than to console her mistress with words. Qin Sang understood her intentions and said with a faint wry smile, “Don’t worry so much. Since he’s giving me the cold shoulder, I’ll just go back to Fuyuan by myself.”
Zhu Ma mistook this to mean that having been deeply wronged, Qin Sang was going home with the intention of asking the family elders to step in. This was why she said, “Missy is too good-natured by half. As the saying goes ‘A man too mild gets bullied, a horse too meek gets ridden’. Master has gone too far this time and needs to be taught a lesson by the Marshal.”
Qin Sang just smiled but did not reply.
Going back to the ancestral home was a major affair. As Qin Sang was in charge of the household, she had to decide what types of presents to buy, what to pack, which manservants and servant girls to take along. All of this kept her busy for two to three days until the preparations were almost done. Yi Liankai had ordered that the first-class coaches on the Fuchang Express be reserved for their train journey back to Fuyuan. He was also taking Min Hongyu back to Fuyuan – a decision which caught Qin Sang and Zhu Ma off guard. Qin Sang shrugged it off, thinking that since he was done with pretenses it was best to ignore him. Zhu Ma secretly kept cursing that ‘vixen’ and ‘wh**e’ but still failed to effect any change in the situation.
When travelling, Yi Liankai would always book a separate compartment for Qin Sang as she was a light sleeper and found it hard to sleep on trains. This time around, he shared a sleeping car with Min Hongyu while Pan Jianchi occupied another with some of the other manservants. Zhu Ma nearly burst a blood vessel over these proceedings; Qin Sang was indifferent. She had been reluctant to bring Zhu Ma with her for the latter was getting on in years and all the travelling would be taxing. However, Zhu Ma was the wet nurse who had accompanied Qin Sang when she got married and the Yi family was a stickler for proprieties; moreover, she didn’t want her to feel snubbed. So she took Zhu Ma and four other servant girls with her and left Han Ma behind to supervise the household at the Changye residence. The train’s speed gave Qin Sang mild motion sickness and she had to lie down almost immediately after boarding. After a short rest, Zhu Ma made some tea for her to gargle and as she was laying out some dainty pastries said venomously, “That new Adjutant Pan is another piece of work: look how he’s throwing his weight around and doesn’t respect you one bit.”
Qin Sang, feeling lethargic, lifted her tea cup and did not reply.
Zhu Ma went on: “Missy, don’t blame me for nagging you. That Adjutant Song wasn’t a good man and only knew how to encourage Master to fool around outside. Now this Adjutant Pan looks like he’s cut from the same cloth. Missy is too honest; in my view though, you should do something. With this kind of man, either buy his loyalty so you can keep tabs on Master’s comings and goings, or make sure he will never dare go against you…”
Qin Sang said impatiently: “That’s enough. If anyone should hear you, what will they think?”
Zhu Ma was thus silenced. Qin Sang sat at the table, chin in hand, listening to the wheels of the train rumble along – ka dang ka dang, ka dang ka dang – a monotonous sound as the train headed south; the view from the window was of farmland that receded into the distance like a talking picture, but somehow left one dispirited.
(TLN: kadangkadang is onomatopoeia for the sound of the train)
At Fangjiadian, the train made a water stop for half a day. Fangjiadian was an important garrison town and when its commander (Yao) heard that Yi Liankai was aboard, he tried to curry favour by having some fruits sent over. As luck would have it, the adjutant who had been dispatched did not know what Qin Sang looked like. Upon entering Yi Liankai’s compartment, he saw a bejeweled and fashionable young woman and assumed she was the wife of Third Master. He addressed Min Hongyu as “Third Madam” and was polite to the point of obsequiousness. Yi Liankai, from native arrogance and some present petulance, didn’t bother to correct the adjutant. By chance, a servant girl was there to fetch something and reported the whole to Zhu Ma who almost began spitting blood when Qin Sang said tonelessly, “What is there to get worked up about? He just didn’t bother to correct the man.”
After Commander Yao’s adjutant had left, Min Hongyu actually dispatched her own servant girl to bring the fruit basket to Qin Sang’s compartment. To Zhu Ma, this gesture added insult to injury and she promptly hurled the whole basket out the window. The servant girl,extremely put out, snorted and left. Not long after that, Yi Liankai himself came over. He stood in the doorway, saying contemptuously: “So now you want to make trouble?”
Qin Sang was still feeling lethargic so she merely picked up her tea cup and did not answer.
Zhu Ma usually stayed within her bounds but this time she could not control herself and burst out saying: “Master, I accompanied Missy when she got married so I’ll tell you now – if you continue bullying her like this, I won’t just sit by and watch!”
Given Yi Liankai’s temper, being addressed like this by a lowly servant was bound to arouse a demon of fury in his heart and he said coldly, “Well? Do I need to teach her a lesson myself?”
His manservant, caught between a rock and a hard place, could only brace himself and walked forward but Qin Sang stood up, stared hard at him and said stonily, “Don’t you dare!”
The manservant was usually subservient to Yi Liankai but seeing Qin Sang standing there – ordinarily so frail and timid, she seemed a completely different person right then – her mien forbiddingly icy which strangely enough, impelled him to say haltingly, “Madam…”
Yi Liankai pushed the manservant aside, strode up and dealt Qin Sang a resounding slap on her face.
Qin Sang was stunned. He had slapped her so hard she had stumbled; she had to grasp the tea table for support and was only conscious of the unbearably fiery pain that prevented her from speaking. Pan Jianchi had been close behind Yi Liankai and having witnessed the slapping, hurriedly grabbed hold of the latter and said urgently: “Master! Master, you can always talk things out!”
The servant girls finally roused from their stupefaction and Zhu Ma came to support Qin Sang but Yi Liankai was still raging: “Damn you! Don’t think you can act like a rich man’s wife just because you’re married to me! Let me tell you, if you know what’s good for you, you’ll behave yourself; I don’t depend on you for anything! Just because I give you some leeway, you start getting too big for your boots – are you tired of living?!” And he kicked her. Pan Jianchi turned pale with fright and strained to hold him back but since the compartment was cramped and Qin Sang had not tried to evade the blow, that kick ended up on the hem of her dress. Although the kick had lost some of its force due to his having being bodily restrained by Pan Jianchi, it was still vicious enough to make Qin Sang stagger and leave a footprint on the delicate gauze of her pearl grey qipao.
The manservants, alarmed by how far things had gone, had surged forward – some to plead, some to pull him back. At last, by dint of coaxing and entreating, they persuaded Yi Liankai to leave the compartment. All the servant girls also rushed forward and clustered round Qin Sang to help her sit down on the soft bed.
Qin Sang didn’t cry, nor did she feel any pain. It only felt like a vise was tightening around her chest. It felt just like that time when Mother had died and she had received word at school, as she rushed home, that same feeling of someone squeezing her heart, making her chest feel taut. Her throat seemed to be closed off and she felt faintly sick with disgust – not with other people, but with herself – how could she have been reduced to this state – how?
Zhu Ma, wiping away her own tears, said coaxingly: “Missy, if you want to cry, go ahead. Don’t hold it in and make yourself ill… What on earth possessed Master… How could he do that to you…”
But she had no tears, only a certain impatience – what was there to cry about; so what if he had hit her? He had never done so before although he had certainly belittled and abused her verbally. Not that he was far off the mark – she had indeed married him for his status. So what if in marrying her off, her father had also married off half his family? In the eyes of outsiders, the Qin family were social climbers who had eagerly thrown their vines around the rich and powerful Yi family.
Zhu Ma sent one of the girls to the restaurant car for an ice pack to place on her face. As her face was still burning from the slap, Qin Sang could not help but flinch. Zhu Ma said coaxingly, “Do let me put this on your face, Mistress, otherwise it’ll swell.”
With the ice pack on, the stinging pain subsided slowly under the cooling sensation. She was still rather dazed and when Zhu Ma helped her to change her clothes, she let herself be helped out of them, she was not actually thinking of anything which had the unexpected effect of calming her down. After she had changed into a new outfit, Zhu Ma helped her to sit down again. She still held the ice pack with one hand. The ice was slowly melting and the beads of water on the outside of the pack ran down her wrist and into her sleeve. It felt like a tiny icy snake gliding silently down to her elbow. That tiny icy snake seemed to glide along the veins on her arms, all the way in until it reached her heart, causing it to grow cold and ache. She thought: I won’t put up with it anymore. She hated herself at that moment – hated how she hadn’t steeled herself to end it all at Changye days earlier. Because in the house at Changye, down in the smoking room, there was a glass-fronted cabinet of cedar wood in which was hung an elaborately carved ivory rifle. It was said to have belonged to a prince regent of the Qing Dynasty and was still in excellent condition – she had seen Yi Liankai use it before and she also knew in which drawer the gunpowder bullets were kept… The terrifying notion reared itself just for an instant, like a wild beast slinking towards her, its breath moist and dank, as damp as a bleak winter with fog and mist… She shook herself as the whistle blew, signalling that the train would be departing shortly.
At this juncture, someone knocked softly on the door. Zhu Ma opened the door and seeing it was Pan Jianchi, barred the entrance and snapped: “What do you want? Can’t you see Madam is unwell?”
Pan Jianchi replied: “Master says he’s finding the train journey tedious so we’re getting off here at Fangjiadian and will continue the journey by road or sea instead. Madam will please go back to Fuyuan first. There’s no need to wait for us.”
Zhu Ma was left quivering with rage at this news but Qin Sang was unfazed. Pan Jianchi sent some attendants over, ostensibly to wait on them but really more to keep an eye on them. Zhu Ma watched helplessly as Yi Liankai led Min Hongyu off the train with Pan Jianchi following behind carrying a few of their bags. They stood on the platform; Min Hongyu looking triumphant and even blowing a kiss at their compartment window. Zhu Ma longed to throw open the window and berate her but Qin Sang was still firmly of the belief that ‘what the eye doesn’t see, the heart doesn’t grieve over’ and remained oblivious to the scene.
Translated by William and 12
Edited by 12 and tranzgeek