Rumours never failed to follow the spirit of ‘the more the merrier’, the more exaggerated the better it was. The original rumour was “Fule Junzhu and the Second Prince had an argument in front of the Great Moon Palace”, but as it went on it had turned into “The Second Prince was boorish towards Fule Junzhu in front of His Majesty, broke her arm and made His Majesty furious.”
Rumours had also spread when the Second Prince snatched Fule Junzhu’s prey at the hunting ground but it was not taken seriously, young people often had bad tempers and it was not uncommon for them to quarrel. However this time a prince being physically offensive and injured a Junzhu wasn’t something that could be blamed on a young man’s hot blood.
Daye Dynasty was more liberal for men and women, but it still upheld a gentleman’s code of conduct. What’s the difference between a royal prince assaulted a Junzhu and a rough ordinary man on the street bullying a weak girl?
And doing this two days before the Grand Princess’ birthday, was the Second Prince not giving face to the Grand Princess?
When the news reached Count Zhongping’s residence, Xie Wanyu was both happy and worried. Could it be that the Second Prince did it for her because her relationship with Ban Hua wasn’t good? But when she remembered that he was gossiped and got confined by His Majesty, she became worried that he suffered for it.
“Sister1(Younger sister),” Xie Qilin saw her restless appearance when he walked into the courtyard, understood she was worrying on behalf of the Second Prince, “Don’t you worry, Second Prince is His Majesty and the Empress’ son, noone in the Palace dares to mistreat him.”
“Second Brother,” Xie Wanyu was sitting at the side of an Eight Immortals table, she laughed with some embarrassment, “The Second Prince will really be fine?”
“So it is true that when a girl has to be married off when she is of age. You aren’t married yet, but you are already concerned about your future husband.” Xie Qilin’s face was tinged with some unresolved melancholy, his smile wasn’t as bright as before, “Don’t worry, however much the Emperor cares about Ban Hua, she is still an outsider. His own son is naturally more important.”
“En.” Xie Wanyu studied Xie Qilin’s expressions, he didn’t seem to change much when mentioning Ban Hua, she inwardly breathed a sigh of relief, “Brother, what do you think of the girl Mother told you about a few days ago?”
Her second brother once eloped with a woman from red-light district, and with his one eye injured, it had become difficult to find a bride from similar status families. After looking around, their mother had settled on the daughter of a fourth-rank lower official. This family had no name to speak of, but they were unlikely to cause trouble and the girl had a gentle temperament, she would be able to take good care of her second brother.
At the mention of his marriage, Xie Qilin touched the mask on his face and said indifferently, “I have become like this, why should I drag others down.”
“Second Brother, why are you talking like that.” Xie Wanyu was angry and anxious, “There are so many good girls in the world wanting to marry you, how are you saying such distressing words?”
Xie Qilin was still apathetic, “It’s fine if there is still anyone who wants to marry me.”
Xie Wanyu felt her heart burst with pain, her perfect and dazzling second brother had turned into a dispirited deep well. The Heaven really had no eye, a deadbeat like Ban Heng was living fine, for what reason her brother had to go through all these?
“It’s all that cheap Ban Hua who brought you bad luck, it wouldn’t have happened if not because of her,” Xie Wanyu cursed, “I am sure she won’t be able to get married for the rest of her life.”
Hearing his sister’s words of resentment, Xie Qilin expression turned wooden as he stood up, “Wanyu, I am going out of a walk.”
Xie Wanyu was afraid she had spoken too much and made her brother unhappy, she hurriedly nodded, “Alright.”
Xie Qilin walked out of the inner courtyard, his mind was filled with his sister’s words. His own family talked about Ban Hua in such a way, how about other people outside?
He was young and impetuous, he didn’t actually dislike Ban Hua, he just couldn’t accept that his family decided on his marriage like that.
Four years ago after he was engaged to Ban Hua, he heard some displeasing rumours. Some said Xie family wanted very much to please the Grand Princess that they could even sacrifice their son. Some others said Ban Hua looked beautiful but her behaviour was outlandish beyond belief, Xie Qilin was a vulgar person who only cared about outward appearance and neglected inner substance, and he wouldn’t dare to say anything even if he was cuckolded.
After hearing so many of those, he had gradually became more and more repulsed of Jingting residence people that visiting Ban family felt like humiliation.
He eloped with that courtesan wasn’t because he really liked her, he just wanted to show others that he Xie Qilin wasn’t some man who bent his waist in front of a woman for the sake of power, he would rather be with a courtesan instead of with Ban Hua.
After he returned home and heard how people had made a laughing-stock out of Ban Hua, he only realised he had chosen the worst way to dissolve the engagement. Since then he almost never appeared in front of Ban Hua, he didn’t have the face to do so.
Only when he saw her again the other day on the street, he found the slightly green young girl in the past had turned into a dazzling pearl whose presence noone could ignore.
Amidst the clamour of the street, she was the only vivid flame in a grey world, she was so bedazzling to the eyes that he was ashamed to face her.
On the back of his tall horse with the silver mask to cover his ruined eye, he was still an elegant gentleman in the eyes of everyone else, but only he himself knew that the world of a one-eye man had shrunk, dimmed and narrow.
“Second Xie-gongzi.” Shi Feixian lifted the curtain of her carriage to look at Xie Qilin on the horseback. A guilty and complicated looks appeared on her face, “How have you been lately?”
Xie Qilin gave Shi Feixian a salute, calmly said, “Thank you Miss Shi, I am very well.”
The fingers Shi Feixian lifted the curtain with were slightly trembled, “I am sorry, I…..”
“Yo, isn’t this the Second Xie-gongzi?” Ban Heng’s waddled over on his horseback and shot a mocking glance at those two, “Second Xie-gongzi has always been fond of women from red-light district, how is it that today….”
“Ban-shizi,” Xie Qilin interrupted Ban Heng, “The grudge is between our two families, don’t involve others.”
“Tsk,” Ban Heng rolled his eyes at Shi Feixian, the whites of his eyes were about to fly to the sky, but he couldn’t see anything amiss with the two of them.
“What grudge do I have with you, stop saying my family your family. My family has never committed bribery and fraud, never played favourites, and never preyed on people.”
Bystanders around them didn’t know Ban Heng, they naturally thought highly of him, this person must be from an honourable and ethical family.
Shi Feixian had never meet anyone as shameless as Ban Heng. What was it to say their family had never committed bribery and fraud, bluntly speaking wasn’t it because none of them held a real job?
She thought Xie Qilin would rebuke Ban Heng, but to her surprise Xie Qilin didn’t react much.
“Ban-shizi, please be careful with your words.” Xie Qilin wanted to argue with Ban Heng, but his elder brother was still in prison and the case hadn’t been investigated clearly. He couldn’t afford to offend Ban family, this ludicrous family had access to His Majesty.
“Hmph,” Ban Heng patted his horse’s back-end, coldly laughed, “One has to bear consequences of one’s actions and not be afraid of people talk. The sky is clear, the universe is bright, His Majesty will definitely bring justice for his people in the world.”
“Good!” Some of His Majesty’s people on the side applauded.
“Gongzi speaks well!”
“His Majesty is a wise ruler, he won’t harbour officials who have done wrong!”
Ordinary people didn’t know who were good and who were bad, but everyone hated corrupt officials. Today someone who looked like having some status was standing up blasting corrupt officials, they felt bold enough to applaud behind him, even if nothing could be done to corrupt officials, joining in the cursing and applauding was quite satisfying.
Shi Feixian was stupefied by this scene of flipping black and white. This idle and frivolous Ban Heng was brave enough to discredit Xie family?
She was opening her mouth to return Ban Heng’s ridicule when Ban Hua’s voice was heard.
“Brother Heng, weren’t you told to bring something to Grandmother?” Ban Hua was riding her horse with her left arm bent like she was injured, “Why are you still here talking to irrelevant people?”
Xie Qilin looked slightly awkward, he turned and got off the horse to bow towards Ban Hua, “Greetings2(“见过郡主” which literally means “Meeting Junzhu.”) Junzhu.”
Ban Hua lowered her eyelids and gave him a look, “It’s better to not have met. I am not in a good mood whenever I see you.” She rode away without waiting for Xie Qilin to react.
Ban Heng saw it and loyally followed behind her, his face was like ‘my sister is always right, you are nothing but dregs’. It was extremely infuriating and absolutely asking for a beating.
The crowd saw the show was over and gradually dispersed, only Shi Feixian and Xie Qilin were left with an awkward atmosphere remained between them.
“Miss Shi, I’ll take my leave.” Xie Qilin stroked his horse’s mane, his voice was as light as a feather reaching Shi Feixian’s ears,
“This Xie person had let go of the past, wishing Miss Shi meet the ideal gentleman and eternally devoted to each other.”
Shi Feixian felt heart heart shook as she watched Xie Qilin’s shadow departed, she bit her lips without a word.
“Miss?” Her maid worriedly asked as she had been silent for a long time, “Miss what happened to you?”
“Nothing.” She pulled the curtain down, said in low voice, “Go back.”
On the first floor of a teahouse down the street, Changqing-wang3(Prince Changqing) said to the person besides him, “This is an interesting drama.”
Rong Xia sipped his tea without a word, his gaze fell on the end of the street.
One form of salutes appears a lot in this novel: 作揖 (such as in this sentence ‘Xie Qilin’s looked slightly awkward, he turned and got off the horse to bow towards Ban Hua’). It is sometimes translated as ‘bowing’ and sometimes ‘salute’, last night I checked this video to see what it’s actually like. The video shows several forms of salutes, I picked some that we often find in Ancient China novels:
顿首 dunshou (2:09), which the narrator says is what normally called kowtow 磕头, usually for bowing to parents, altars, etc.
稽首 jishou (2:23), which the narrator says often used by officials to greet their superiors or to the deities.
抱拳 bao quan (3:36), clasping his fist (like when Du Jiu saluted Rong Xia)
時揖 shiyi (4:32), there are more than one forms of 作揖 (how high the arms are lifted according to the status of the person they are greeting), but I think this looks like how Xie Qilin, Rong Xia etc of the similar generation and status would do.
裣衽礼 lianren li (5:26), for women, I often see this in dramas.
万福 礼 wanfu li (5:33), for women, also sometimes seen in dramas, and I have also seen this in the raw of one other novel.
(These two women special ones are linked here because I like how graceful they look… there is actually one more for women, this is for Manchu women.)
- 1(Younger sister)
- 2(“见过郡主” which literally means “Meeting Junzhu.”)
- 3(Prince Changqing)