Announcement: Real Life has come a-knocking so starting in July, I’ll have to go back to updates on Wednesdays. Wherever possible, I’ll try to post on Sundays but for the foreseeable future, please think of Sunday’s updates as a bonus, rather than a regular post. If it’s an exciting chapter like Ch. 13, then I’ll definitely try to post twice a week. I understand there’ll be disappointment but Sunday postings were after all a new addition to the original schedule. I hope for your understanding! 💙
This instalment turned out to be a bit longer than I had expected. Finally! We get a look at her… I rather like how they made Min Hongyu quite a glamour puss in the drama.
© 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.
After telling Zhu Ma to keep Qin Sang company, he made his way downstairs. Directly opposite the staircase was a hall. Originally used to conduct the official business of the city defence headquarters, it had been temporarily converted into living quarters. Although lavishly¹ decorated, it still had an empty feeling to it because it was too big a place. After they had moved in, a large Persian rug had been placed in the middle of the hall with sofas encircling the rug. In the corner stood an antique grandfather clock. At this moment, its pendulum swung ponderously from one side to another, emphasising the quietness of the hall.
¹ 富麗堂皇 fùlì tánghuáng: beautiful and imposing; in majestic splendour; sumptuous. If you’re not reading this chapter at MerakiTranslations, it has been stolen and reproduced by bootleg websites.
Yi Liankai sat down for a smoke. In the silence of the hall, the striking of a match could be heard, a scratching sound like that of rain… one strike then another but the match wouldn’t light so he simply tossed it into the ashtray and tried a new one. This time he was finally able to light up a cigarette but he only took two pulls before stubbing it out. Somewhere in one of the rooms a telephone was ringing — brrring-brrring-brrring — damn annoying sound. He listened for a bit and concluded that it probably came from one of the rooms down the corridor. The ringing ceased abruptly² and he guessed that someone had answered it. Sure enough, he heard approaching footsteps soon after and a voice from outside called out, ‘Report.’
² 戛然而止 jiárán ér zhǐ: (of a sound, etc.) cease abruptly; come to an abrupt end. Please consider reading from MerakiTranslations rather than at bootleg websites.
It was Pan Jianchi who entered the room. As Yi Liankai did not stand on ceremony³ with whom he was familiar and since he was presently in civilian dress, Pan Jianchi did not salute but merely bowed slightly before saying, ‘Miss Min just called and said she feels very ill. Will Master go and see how she is?’
³ 熟不拘禮 shúbùjūlǐ: know each other too well to stand on ceremony; familiar and easy with each other. Translation originally published at tranzgeek(DOT)wordpress(DOT)com.
Yi Liankai’s brow puckered slightly. Pan Jianchi lowered his voice and whispered: ‘Miss Min has never been one to be difficult on purpose⁴. I think something urgent has happened.’
⁴ 無理取鬧 wúlǐ qǔnào: to make trouble without reason (idiom); to be deliberately provocative. If you’re not reading this chapter at MerakiTranslations, it has been stolen and reproduced by bootleg websites.
Yi Liankai thought for a moment then said, ‘Tell them to get the car ready. I’ll just look in on her for a bit. Stay home and if the Mistress should ask where I am, tell her I went to see Commander Yao.’
Pan Jianchi thus went to give orders to the driver and to arrange for an escort of bodyguards before personally seeing Yi Liankai out to the main gate and then returning to the house.
The car sped along and soon turned off into a side street, racing through several big streets before pulling into a quiet alley. Although not far from the heart of the city, it was an oasis of peace and quiet5: an inclined street with trees planted outside the residences on both sides. However, it was midwinter presently and the bare branches quivered in the wind. They resembled pressed leaf bookmarks, flat and stark, sticking out against the grey sky. They also looked like the floatinghearts in a pond, reflected in the clouds yet shimmering in the water, giving off a slightly chilly atmosphere.
5 鬧中取靜 nào zhōng qǔ jìng: seek peace and quiet in noisy surroundings. Please consider reading from MerakiTranslations rather than at bootleg websites.
Min Hongyu’s residence was a small but exquisite two-storey house with a front garden which, being screened off by trees, was particularly quiet. As Yi Liankai was a frequent visitor, a few blasts of his car horn had the gate attendant running out to open the gate to let his car in.
Min Hongyu’s servant girl was also quick to react and had quietly come out from the hall. Upon seeing that the car had stopped outside the front steps, she went up to open the car door.
Yi Liankai did not say anything but merely strode into the house. Steam pipes had also been installed in the house and it was warm enough to make him remove his overcoat and hat as soon as he entered and hand them to the servant girl to hang up. At that moment though, a laughing voice drifted over from the staircase: ‘Oh dear, now don’t remove your coat because we have to go out again in a while.’
Yi Liankai did not have to turn around to know who the owner of such a charming voice was. He merely made straight for the sofa where a servant brought him some tea: his favourite Longjing. He lifted the tea cup and savoured the steaming fragrance of the freshly brewed tea: it was so hot that steam wreathed upwards like puffs of cigarette smoke, obscuring his features. Min Hongyu sat down on the sofa opposite and observed with a smile, ‘And here I thought you wouldn’t come today.’
‘If I hadn’t come out, how would that Pan fellow feel easy?’
Min Hongyu gave a scoffing laugh and said, ‘I’ve never seen someone act like you do, deliberately leaving your wife alone with your adjutant.’
Yi Liankai’s face darkened. Knowing that one of his displays of temper was imminent, she pressed a slender white hand on his shoulder and pouted, ‘Look how petty you are. I know that when it comes to your heart’s darling, a lowly6 woman like me isn’t fit to make jokes about her, but when I think about my own ill-starred7 life…’ At the mention of ‘ill-starred’, her eyes reddened and she bit her dark red lip with two little pearly teeth, as if about to cry.
6 低三下四 dīsān-xiàsì: lowly; humble; degrading.
7 命苦 mìngkǔ: to be born under an ill star. Translation originally published at tranzgeek(DOT)wordpress(DOT)com.
However, Yi Liankai laughed a little and said, ‘Who says she’s my heart’s darling? My darling is here!’ So saying, he stretched out an arm and pulled her to him. Min Hongyu was already soft and light as a feather and a gentle tug from him had her sitting on his lap. However, she seemed displeased and pushed lightly at his shoulders, complaining, ‘You only like to humour me with such talk. When you go back and see that wife of yours later, who knows with what words you’ll demean me then?’
Yi Liankai’s mood seemed to have improved slightly as he hugged her around the waist and said, ‘Why, haven’t you heard the saying: “A wife can’t compare with a concubine…”
But Min Hongyu spat disgustedly: ‘Bah! Who says I’m your concubine? Shouldn’t a grand Chief Commander like yourself be holding a tea ceremony8 at the very least if you really are taking a second wife? You should be sending a matchmaker over with tea gifts8 first to ask if I’m even willing to be your concubine.’
Yi Liankai went ‘Hahaha!’ then added, ‘But I haven’t finished my sentence. As the saying goes: “A wife can’t compare with a concubine, a concubine can’t compare with a lover.”9 Aren’t we doing nicely like this now? Why bother ourselves with such vulgar conventions?’
Min Hongyu pushed away his hand and stood up with a cold smile: ‘You’re getting more insulting with every word. Don’t think I don’t know about your cunning10 little plot. Shall I reveal the juicy details? Remember what you promised at the start? Yet the moment we returned to Fuyuan, the first thing you did was to try and silence those in the know.11 You still find me slightly useful now but the day you don’t, I’m afraid your Lordship won’t deem me worthy even of a single bullet and will instantly give an order for me to be tied to some slabs and tossed into Lake Fu.’
10 花花腸子 huāhua chángzi: cunning; trickery; deceit. (slang) a cunning plot.
11 殺人滅口 shārénmièkǒu: kill a witness to silence them; kill sb. to prevent secrets from being disclosed.
Yi Liankai merely took out his cigarette case in a leisurely12 way, carefully extracted one, lit it and took a pull before observing indifferently13, ‘Since you’re aware of it, why not behave more sensibly?’
12 慢騰騰 màntēngtēng: at a leisurely pace; unhurriedly; sluggishly.
13 輕描淡寫 qīngmiáo-dànxiě: touch on lightly; mention casually. Please consider reading from MerakiTranslations rather than at bootleg websites.
Min Hongyu gritted her teeth, only feeling waves of hatred wash over her. This man just had to be born with good looks: a classically handsome face and distinctive bearing, especially a pair of piercing eyes that could be so domineering when looking straight at one. To think that the look described in books — ‘slanted dark brows, a masterful mien’14 — was true. Right at that moment though, there was no evidence of that heroic air as he reclined on the sofa, his legs idly propped on a footstool embroidered with flowers. No matter from what angle, he looked the epitome of honour15 but that heart of his, one feared, was made of stone. At this thought, her throat became dry and she said, ‘I know it’s only a matter of time before you deem that I’ve outlived my usefulness. But I’ve been keeping a record of all your doings and come the day you grow tired of me, don’t blame me for exposing all you’ve done and either you die or I do.16
16 魚死網破 yúsǐ-wǎngpò: either the fish dies or the net gets torn. a life and death struggle (idiom). If you’re not reading this chapter at MerakiTranslations, it has been stolen and reproduced by bootleg websites.
Yi Liankai chuckled derisively before taking the cigarette from between his lips and flicking it into the crystal ashtray, saying, ‘You were the one who offered to work for me in the first place; I never forced you. You blame me for being ruthless and forcing Yi Lianshen’s wife to die^, damned if I know why. You’ve been fudging the truth about your past dealings with Yi Lianshen so I’ve played dumb as well. Are you seriously finding fault with17 me because of his wife?
17 興師問罪 xīngshī wènzuì: to send punitive forces against. (fig.) to criticize violently. Translation originally published at tranzgeek(DOT)wordpress(DOT)com.
Min Hongyu took a deep breath then but her voice softened slightly as she said, ‘I used to think he had no conscience, but who would have thought you’re even more ruthless than he is? That Er Sao of yours was carrying your own flesh and blood. Leaving aside the despicable18 seduction of your own sister-in-law, that was your own child you wouldn’t even spare19…’ Before she could finish speaking, there was a pa sound as Yi Liankai slapped her hard. It had enough force in it to cause a red palm mark to bloom on Min Hongyu’s alabaster cheek, the imprint of his fingers leaving instant weals. She bit the corner of her mouth, but refused to cry and only glared at him.
After slapping her, Yi Liankai leisurely pulled out a handkerchief from his breast pocket and dusted his fingers clean of rouge and powder before remarking, ‘Since you’re working for me, then you should know there are certain things you can say, and certain things you can’t. I know you’re tired of living, but until the business is finished, you don’t have to court death.20
Min Hongyu raised her chin and replied through gritted teeth: ‘I have no intention of dying. I’m going to live very well so I can see your downfall. If that wife of yours — the apple of your eye — ever learns of the kind of heartless21 business you’ve been dealing in, imagine how she would treat you.’
Yi Liankai shot her a look: ‘Are you going to tell her?’
Min Hongyu laughed: ‘Not a word.’ She added slowly, ‘“Persisting in evil brings about self-destruction”22. That wife of yours isn’t stupid: sooner or later she’ll find out for herself and that will be far worse than my telling her. You wait, you’ll have your retribution one day.’
Yi Liankai, listening to her hate-filled23 words, leisurely lit a cigarette instead: ‘I have so much retribution due that honestly, I no longer need to care.’
23 恨之入骨 hèn zhī rùgǔ: to hate somebody to the bone (idiom). Translation originally published at tranzgeek(DOT)wordpress(DOT)com.
Min Hongyu looked at him sitting there calmly, utterly and unapologetically cynical24 as though what they had just discussed was nothing but a joke. She suddenly felt chills wash over her heart: this man was only in his twenties and came of a prominent family but when it came to being vicious and merciless25, no one was his equal. She couldn’t recall ever seeing him care about anyone or anything in his life. She used to feel that the only person who had a place26 in his heart was that wife of his: if he ever did anything out of character, it was always for his wife’s sake. But now it seemed as though his wife was just for show — it was second nature to him to make use of people and things around him as a façade. Her own heart was still wavering as she watched him sit there, smoking unconcernedly. Outside, a wind was rising. Below the big window was a flourishing evergreen which never shed its leaves all year round: instead, it had put out clusters of hawthorn fruit which looked beautiful. Outside this window, the bitingly cold north wind was blowing soundlessly and causing the tree to quiver as it cast its vast shadow around him, making it appear as though a pair of strange, gigantic wings had sprouted from his back.
24 玩世不恭 wán shì bù gōng: thumb one’s nose at the world; be cynical; to trifle without respect (idiom); to despise worldly conventions.
25 心狠手辣 xīnhěn-shǒulà: vicious and merciless (idiom)
26 一席之地 yīxízhīdì: 1. (acknowledged) place 3. niche
14 鐵面劍眉，兵權萬里: In the practice of physiognomy, people with such brows are usually described as having open and upright characters that win the trust of people. How very ironic. Translated as ‘slanted dark brows, a masterful mien’. http://www.baike.com/wiki/剑眉
15 濁世翩翩佳公子 zhuóshìpiānpiānjiāgōngzǐ: a term of description roughly corresponding to 潔身自好 jiéshēn-zìhào: clean-living and honest (idiom); to avoid immorality. Translated as ‘the epitome of honour’.
^ First mentioned in Ch. 7.2
18 泯滅 mǐnmiè: to obliterate. 人倫rénlún: human relations (according to feudal ethics). Translated as ‘despicable’.
19 From the saying 虎毒不食子 hǔdúbùshízǐ: 1. a tiger, though cruel, will not devour its cubs (idiom). 2. even wild beasts look after their young. Translated as ‘that was your own child you wouldn’t even spare…’
20 作死 zuòsǐ: seek death; take the road to ruin; look for trouble.
21 喪盡天良 sàngjìn tiānliáng: devoid of conscience (idiom); utterly heartless
22 Direct translation of 多行不義必自斃 duō xíng bùyì bì zì bì
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