Qin Sang tries to help while Yi Liankai tries to be helpful 😁.
I’m taking a leaf out of Master Yi’s book and making people wait… runs away from irate readers
© 2017 Meraki
tranzgeek.wordpress.com ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this translation, except linking and excerpts with due credit to the translators and tranzgeek.wordpress.com, is strictly prohibited.
Upon hearing this, Yao Yuping impulsively reached out, clasped her hand and patted it earnestly, saying: ‘Jiejie*, you mustn’t say that. If my parents were willing to cast aside such prejudice, that would be ideal. However, I know very well what they are like. My eldest sister wanted to remarry after being widowed young. Her in-laws did not object but it was my father who gave her a dressing-down, saying she had disgraced our ancestors, before he disowned her. Whenever I think of that, I get cold feet and feel my case is hopeless. Jiejie, I understand your kind intentions but I don’t want to make things difficult for you.’
*Elder Sister. If you’re not reading this chapter at MerakiTranslations, it has been stolen and reproduced by bootleg websites.
Qin Sang smiled slightly and said comfortingly: ‘I know that just my words alone may not be enough to persuade Commander Yao but he may give more face¹ to someone else instead.’
¹ 給面子 gěi miànzi: show due respect for; give sb. face. Please consider reading from MerakiTranslations rather than at bootleg websites.
Having heard this, Yao Yuping had already guessed the true import of her words: she was going to ask Yi Liankai to put in a good word with² Commander Yao. It was very likely that the commander would agree in order to give Yi Liankai face³. However, when it came to such matters, a girl could not help feeling shy so she said with a blush, ‘I confided in you because I think of you as my own family. I don’t agree with your speaking to any outsider about this.’
² 說項 shuōxiàng: (Literary) put in a good word for sb; intercede for sb.
³ 賣面子 màimiànzi: 2. to give face to sb by doing favors on their behalf. Translation originally published at tranzgeek(DOT)wordpress(DOT)com
Qin Sang laughed: ‘You needn’t worry, I definitely won’t tell any outsider about it.’
Yao Yuping had been about to say something else when she heard footsteps outside the window followed by someone saying, ‘Fourth Missy, Madam invites Madam Yi to take her seat since Feng Xiaoshan is going to perform next.’
After acknowledging the summons, Yao Yuping walked back with Qin Sang to see the show. Feng Xiaoshan was a famous opera performer from Qianping whose singing had found fans north and south of the Yangtze. He had been specially invited to perform the closing act but well before his appearance, the seats were already crammed⁴ with people. Private opera performances put on for birthday celebrations usually lasted until one or two in the morning. Then too, all the guests knew that Feng Xiaoshan would be performing so none of them had been willing to leave before the end.
⁴ 乌压压 wūyāyā: forming a dense mass. If you’re not reading this chapter at MerakiTranslations, it has been stolen and reproduced by bootleg websites.
Qin Sang herself did not care if she saw the show but since her host was so solicitous, she had to go through the motions for a while. She sat together with Yao Yuping again but suddenly heard some whispering behind her: ‘So you mean she has no idea at all?’
‘How could she not know? She’s just playing dumb.’
Such were the baffling snippets that drifted over to her ears which she paid no mind to at first. Gan Lu Monastery° was being performed. Before the last note of ‘I would recommend, Your Excellency, not to use the word “kill”’° had fallen from Feng Xiaoshan’s lips, there were thunderous shouts of ‘bravo!’, ‘well done!’, and warm applause. So boisterous was the reaction that the entire stage was almost overturned. That Feng Xiaoshan was truly something too: his powerful voice fluid as he sang the Xipi° piece, every word so wonderfully expressed that it left the audience intoxicated5. For this type of laosheng° role played by a famous actor, the whole point was to appreciate his singing skill but Qin Sang was the only one who did not know how to appreciate opera. Not only that, she knew nothing about Peking Opera’s vocal music and spoken parts°. Seeing only delighted6 reactions around her, she had no choice but to contain her impatience and sit there.
5 如癡如醉 rúchīrúzuì: lit. as if drunk and stupefied (idiom). fig. intoxicated by sth.
6 興高采烈 xìnggāo-cǎiliè: happy and excited (idiom); in great delight. Please consider reading from MerakiTranslations rather than at bootleg websites.
After a time, a group of Imperial Palace maids accompanied the princess out. The huadan° playing Sun Shangxiang wore a phoenix coronet and a ‘cloud shawl’ and had just struck a pose which garnered shouts of ‘well done!’. At this point though, two or three idle people in front couldn’t seem to resist turning around to look behind them, happened to catch Qin Sang’s eye but then turned their heads away hurriedly. Qin Sang was perplexed by their turning around to observe her. Red lips slightly parted, Sun Shangxiang onstage had just begun to sing, ‘In days of yore, Liang Hong married Meng Guang… ’ This huadan was heavily rouged but that did not detract from a pair of limpid eyes which looked rather familiar. To Qin Sang however, all these theatrical actors looked the same after make-up. Logically speaking, there should have been applause and shouts of approval from the whole audience at the end of this line. Yet only a few people in the back rows shouted ‘bravo!’ and there was but a smattering of applause. Qin Sang found it very strange because a play like The Dragon and Phoenix Present Auspiciousness° would always be performed by famous actors. Besides which, today’s Qiao Xuan was being played by Feng Xiaoshan while the role of Sun Shangxiang was also surely being played by another of the Pear Garden’s° leading lights. There were bound to be many fans in the audience so it was odd not to hear more than a few shouts of approval. She saw that Sun Shangxiang was looking very calm and still singing as if nothing had happened7. Impulsively she whispered to Yao Yuping who was sitting next to her: ‘Did this princess get the words wrong?’
7 Direct translation of 若無其事 ruò wú qí shì: as if nothing had happened (idiom) – calm; indifferent.
Yao Yuping also knew nothing about opera. Upon hearing Qin Sang’s question, she was about to turn around to ask someone when she saw that in the northwest corner, people were beginning to stand up in twos and threes and the officers among them were saluting. Yao Yuping glanced at the scene before turning back to say to Qin Sang with a smile, ‘Look who’s here!’
Qin Sang looked and saw Yi Liankai. He was wearing a changshan, had only two aides accompanying him and seemed very pleased. It was just that with his appearance, everyone was standing up one after another to greet him and for a while, no one was paying any attention to the opera. The host and his wife had already gone up to welcome him but since they were some distance away, Qin Sang could not hear what they were saying although she guessed that it was some pleasantry. Madam Yao then personally led Yi Liankai to where the female guests were seated. Qin Sang was already standing up and she asked smilingly, ‘What brings you here?’
‘Shouldn’t I come today to offer my felicitations to Aunty?’ Yi Liankai was also smiling slightly. He had always been especially polite to Commander Yao and as usual, spoke with great courtesy. He then nodded to a few female acquaintances and greeted them. After a round of such pleasantries, everyone sat down again whilst Yao Yuping was about to let Yi Liankai have her seat. He said: ‘No need to stand on ceremony. I was actually on my way home just now and I seem to have caught a chill; my head has been aching ever since. But it would have been remiss of me not to come today so I made a point of dropping in. I’ll have to give the opera a miss. In any case, we can enjoy a good show tomorrow as well when we come again.’
Upon hearing that he had a headache, Qin Sang took her leave of Madam Yao. Yi Liankai was very particular about chivalrous behaviour in front of others and so he personally took her overcoat and helped her into it. Madam Yao was particularly courteous and together with Yao Yuping, walked the two of them to the main gate and waited until they got into the car before returning to the house.
In the car, Qin Sang saw that Yi Liankai was still frowning so she asked, ‘Is your headache very bad? Shall we get a physician to look at you?’
Yi Liankai however smiled delightedly and whispered: ‘My head doesn’t ache any more. But I know you don’t care for Peking Opera or having to sit there half the night and keep a gaggle of women company so I had a headache for your sake.’
Qin Sang couldn’t refrain from laughing when she heard this and said, ‘Trust you to think of something like that.’
Yi Liankai said: ‘I did it for your sake. You mean you don’t appreciate it?’
Qin Sang replied: ‘Very well, you have my thanks.’
Yi Liankai argued instead: ‘It wasn’t easy for me to rush down to pick you up so late at night. What’s more, I told a lie for you. How can a mere ‘thank you’ be enough?’
Qin Sang said: ‘I shan’t argue with you any more, you’re so tiresome.’ She was wearing a thin layer of powder and her cheeks were delicately flushed at the moment, like a lotus in summer. Like the blushing tip of a pure white petal, it was stirringly beautiful. Yi Liankai couldn’t resist and brushed his fingers across her cheek, remarking, ‘It’s rare to see you wearing powder.’
Qin Sang replied: ‘As a guest at their house, of course I had to dress up a little so as not to embarrass you.’
Yi Liankai observed: ‘There’s a saying that goes, “Women beautify themselves to delight their beloved”8. Going by that logic, you should be dressing up for me most of all. Why is it you never do so at home normally?’
The two of them chatted in this manner and arrived home after some time. The guard opened the car door for them and after getting out, Yi Liankai turned back to take Qin Sang’s purse from her. Qin Sang though, felt embarrassed and used her hands to pat her messy hair back into place before she got out. She went into the room to remove her overcoat while Yi Liankai, carrying her purse, followed her into the changing room. Qin Sang saw him reflected in the big mirror and couldn’t help pulling a face: ‘Honestly, I’m changing and you follow me in! I told you to keep your hands to yourself in the car just now. It was so embarrassing to be seen by others!’
Yi Liankai saw that she was cross but in a touchingly lovely and innocent way. He couldn’t resist hugging her about the waist and saying, ‘So what if they saw us? We didn’t do anything wrong9 so why should you feel guilty9?’
9 做賊心虛 zuòzéi-xīnxū: to feel guilty as a thief (idiom); to have sth on one’s conscience. Translation originally published at tranzgeek(DOT)wordpress(DOT)com.
Qin Sang replied: ‘Who’s feeling guilty? It’s just that you’re so annoying.’ Yi Liankai only laughed slightly. After changing her clothes, she saw that he was still in a good mood so she took the opportunity to say, ‘By the way, I have a favour to ask of you.’
Yi Liankai saw that she was in earnest10 so he asked, ‘What favour?’
10 郑重其事 zhèngzhòng-qíshì: Idiom seriously; in earnest. Please consider reading from MerakiTranslations rather than at bootleg websites.
Qin Sang then briefly told him about Yao Yuping’s matter and added, ‘When it comes to these things, I doubt even Madam Yao can make the final decision. I was thinking that if you were to mention it to Commander Yao instead, it might actually be more useful.’
Yi Liankai said with a laugh: ‘Having a word with Commander Yao is quite easy. I want to know though how you intend to thank me if I do help you?’
Qin Sang said: ‘How can this be considered helping me? This is a matter concerning Miss Yao so if anything, you’d be helping her.’
Yi Liankai countered: ‘Since it’s Miss Yao’s affair, then why are you the one to ask me for help?’
Qin Sang pouted: ‘You’re so annoying. Such a small matter yet you’re so unwilling to do it for me.’
For some reason, Yi Liankai seemed very happy when he heard this but he purposely said: ‘This evening alone, you’ve already complained about me more than twice. I for one want to see just what you find so annoying!’ As he spoke, he advanced towards her. Qin Sang gave him a push and twisted away, making instead for the bathroom as she said, ‘Enough of your nonsense. I’m going to have my bath.’
°Gan Lu Monastery: 甘露寺 Gan Lu Si: A famous, humorous act in a longer opera.
°西皮 xīpí: one of the two chief types of music in traditional Chinese operas
°老生 lǎoshēng: one of the main divisions of the male role in traditional opera
°‘vocal music and spoken parts’: Direct translation of 唱腔念白chàngqiāngniànbái
°花旦 huādàn: role of vivacious young female in Chinese opera
°The Dragon and Phoenix Present Auspiciousness: 龙凤呈祥 Lóng Fèng Chéng Xiáng: A performance of two acts that tells of a political marriage being negotiated during the Three Kingdoms period. The two acts are Gan Lu Monastery (Gan Lu Si) and Return to Jingzhou (Hui Jingzhou). I translated the opening line ‘“I would recommend, Your Excellency, not to use the word “kill”’ based on information provided here: http://www.cnpoc.cn/EN/contents/193/10595.html
°梨园 Líyuán: OLD the Pear Garden-the theatre; the theatre world (originally the name of a college of dramatics founded by imperial decree in the Tang Dynasty)
8 “Women beautify themselves to delight their beloved” is my translation of 女为悦己者容 nǚ wèi yuèjǐ zhě róng.
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