Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Bu Bu Jing Xin Chapter 4 (Part 1-2)

步步惊心/ Bu Bu Jing Xin
Startling Surprises with Every Step
Written by Tong Hua
Chapter 4 (Part 1): Translated by Yitiantulong and Lulupony
Chapter 4 (Part 2) Translated by Hoju!
Brought to you by the Magnolia Translation Team

Please give thanks to Yitiantulong, Lulupony and Hoju!. They are the ones who has translated Chapter 4 Parts 1-2. Please also give thanks to the wonderful Cutzie who's been helping with the editing all this time! :)

I'll also be posting the compilation of all the parts of Chapter 3 within the next few days.

Enjoy everyone!


This work is an amateur fan-translation of original work by Tong Hua as available in free online format in Mandarin Chinese at:

The translation is done as good will, so that fellow fans who do not read Mandarin may enjoy this lovely work. We declare that we do not profit monetarily in any way from this work, and also do not pretend to be professional translators, hence apologize in advance for inadvertent translation errors. In addition reposting of the translation must be done with explicit permission of all translators as contactable via spcnet.

Characters Introduced So Far

(In Alphabetical Order)

Dong Yun: One of Ruolan’s maids.

Fourteenth-prince (Aisin-Gioro Yinzheng): The fourteenth son of Emperor Kangxi. He is described as being quite handsome. Is currently around fourteen to fifteen years of age.

Fourth-prince (Asin-Gioro Yinzhen): The fourth son of Emperor Kangxi and the future Emperor Yongzheng. Slightly pale and has an impassive demeanour.

Eighth-prince (Aisin-Gioro Yinsi): The eighth son of Emperor Kangxi. Also known as the Eighth Bei’le. Ruolan is his Ce’fujin (Second Wife). Is often seen smiling out of the corners of his mouth as well as conducting himself with a calm and gentle disposition.

Kangxi: The current Emperor of China.

Mingyu Ge’ge (Guoluoluo Mingyu): Younger sister of the Eighth-prince’s Di’fujin, Guoluoluo Minghui. Not on good terms with Ruoxi. Most likely the one who caused the original Ruoxi’s accident after an argument. During the Tenth’s Birthday banquet, Ruoxi and Mingyu gets into a fight, resulting in quite a spectacle.

Ninth-prince (Aisin-Gioro Yintang): The ninth son of Emperor Kangxi. Currently not given a peerage title. Seems to have a more taciturn personality. Nicknamed “the venomous snake” by Ruoxi.

Qiao Hui: One of Ruolan’s maids. Qiao Hui used to serve Ruolan even before Ruolan’s marriage. When Ruolan married, Qiaohui accompanied Ruolan to Eighth-prince’s household. Seems to be concerned for her mistress especially regarding Ruolan and Eighth’s relationship.

Ruolan, Maertai: Ruoxi’s older sister. The two are especially close as they are born from the same mother. She is also the Ce’fujin (Second Wife) of the Eighth-prince. Mild and gentle in nature, Ruolan likes to spend a better part of her days reciting Buddhist scriptures. Has a deceased lover who was a soldier in her father’s army. The man was of Han descent and had taught Ruolan how to ride.

Ruoxi, Maertai (Zhang Xiao): Protagonist of the story. Originally a modern day, white collar professional named Zhang Xiao. Under certain unexplainable, supernatural occurrence, Zhang Xiao’s spirit travelled through time upon her death and took over a young Manchurian girl’s body. Now stuck in ancient times, Ruoxi must navigate through an entirely foreign environment armed only with the little historical knowledge she remembers.

Tenth-prince (Aisin-Gioro Yin’e): The tenth son of Emperor Kangxi. Currently not given a peerage title. A bit of a simpleton. Likes to tease and bicker with Ruoxi. Nicknamed “the blockhead” by Ruoxi.

Thirteenth-prince (Aisin-Gioro Yinxiang): The thirteenth son of the Emperor Kangxi. Nicknamed “the Death Challenging Thirteenth” by his brothers. Has a more carefree and unrestrained demeanour.

Glossary of Terms

(In Alphabetical Order)

Bei’le: Shortened from Duo’luo Bei’le. A peerage title that can be bestowed to those within the royal family. It is the third rank in the Qing peerage system for the imperial line.

Ce’fujin: A title. Meaning second wife or ‘side’ wife in Manchurian.

Di’fujin: A title. Meaning first wife or main wife in Manchurian.

Ge’ge: A Manchurian word for young mistress, or lady. It is a title you would call an unmarried noblewoman (or before they are bestowed an official title by the Emperor) above a certain rank.

Jie-jie: Older sister in Chinese.

Chapter 4 (Part1-2)

The days passed one after another, and I was beginning to feel that life was getting extremely dull. Everywhere I turned there were only a few things that I was allowed to do. Jie-jie was still giving me the cold shoulder and all the places I could go within the Eighth Bei’le’s Manor I had already gone to countless times. I started to intensely miss the alcohol, the partying, the “unsavory” company and general debauchery back in Shen Zhen[1]. Yet here, such pleasures were reserved entirely for men.

I sat on a rock while facing the lake, bored out of my mind.





Suddenly I heard the Fourteenth-prince’s voice from behind me: “I win!”

I turned around and saw the Ninth, Tenth and the Fourteenth prince all standing behind me. I hastily got up to give my greetings. The Tenth prince loudly said, “Why do you keep sighing? Your few sighs have lost me twenty taels of silver!”

The Ninth-prince chimed in, “Not to mention twenty taels of my silver!”

I cast a puzzled glance at the Fourteenth-prince, who is grinning from ear-to-ear. He laughed, “We laid a bet on exactly how many times you were going to sigh. Ninth brother wagered less than twenty, Tenth brother said less than forty and I bet you would sigh over forty times.”

I thought about it for a bit and asked, “Did I really sigh that many times?”

All three of them chorused, “Yes!”

I gave a bit of a pout but said nothing.

The Tenth-prince asked, “Why were you sighing?”

Just as I wanted to answer him, the Fourteenth-prince interjected, “Wait, don’t tell us, let us guess. The wager is still twenty taels of siler.”

I laughed, “Gambling addicts!”

The Fourteenth-prince nudged the Ninth-prince. “Ninth brother, you guess first.”

The Ninth-prince waved his hands saying “I can’t guess. You two guess.”

The Tenth-prince looked at me carefully and then said, “Boredom.”

The Fourteenth-prince laughed, “Looks like today I’m only going to win forty taels. My guess is also boredom.”

I made a face and shook my head. “It’s not boredom.”

The two princes gave me a blank stare before looking curiously at me. The Tenth-prince asked, “Then what is it?”

I very seriously answered, “It is extreme, extreme, extreme boredom.” Then all four of us all laughed together.

The Fourteenth prince said, “Well, stop being bored. It’s nearly the Mid-Autumn Festival[2] and the Palace will soon be holding a banquet.”

I mentally checked the date. “Why, it is nearly mid-autumn!” I continued to ask, “Are you all here to see the Eighth Bei’le?”

The Tenth prince answered, “Yes, but that garrulous old Assistant Minister Yao is in the study right now, and I’d rather not meet him. That’s why we’re taking a walk here in the garden.”

I thought about it for a bit before saying, “When you go in later, can I come in with you to pay my greetings to the Eighth Bei’le as well?

The Fourteenth-prince raised his brow. “There is no such thing as unmerited favor. You're up to something.”

I threw him an evil look without saying anything.

When we entered the study, the Eighth prince saw me walking in alongside the other princes. However, he didn’t show any particular interest, but only smiled gently as he allowed me to sit.

I smiled, “Standing is fine. I’ll be very short. Just wanted to say a few words and then I’ll leave.”

He leaned against the back of the chair, and absently played with his snuff bottle. With a hint of a smile on his face he said, “What you want, I can’t help you with. ‘Only the person who tied the knot can undo the knot[3]’.”

I stared at him for a moment, before finally bowing despondently. “Then Ruoxi will take her leave now.”

He smiled, “Go now!”

I turned to leave the study. As I walked, I thought how I had hoped that the Eighth-prince would be able to come to my rescue, but I was wrong, so all that was left was to utilize my own best efforts!

When I returned to the house, Jie-jie was still in the prayer hall reciting her scriptures. I paced inside the house, thinking of what to say to her. As I was thinking, Jie-jie returned and saw me pacing. She ignores me and went to lie on the couch.

I hurried over, and after a moment of silence, I quietly said, “When mother passed away, I had just been born. Ever since I was little, father’s called me a troublemaker and step-mother has disliked my mischievousness. As for our other step-siblings, although I do get along with some of them, they are after all not my full siblings. There’s only Jie-jie. We are born from the womb of the same mother and thus Jie-jie has always taken so many pains with me. If I have done anything wrong, and Jie-jie beats me or scolds me, I would listen. But to have Jie-jie ignoring me… I…I ”

As I spoke, I thought back on my true parents, whom I will never see again; because I was also genuinely hurt by Jie-jie giving me the cold shoulder these last few days, tears started to surge out and I was sobbing so hard I couldn’t finish my sentence.

Jie-jie wept too as she listened to me. She leaned over and hugged me to her. We stayed like that and cried for a long while before Qiaohui and Dongyun finally persuaded us to stop.

Jie-jie used a silk handkerchief to dab away my tears while chastising gently, “You are going to have to change your fierce temper, otherwise, you may lose this little life of yours, and you won’t even know how it happened.” She paused briefly before adding, “Do you think that Mingyu Ge’ge of the Guoluoluo family is easy to pick on? This time, if Lord Bei’le had not taken the responsibility of this onto himself, you would not have been let off easily by either Di’fujin or those of the E’fu[4] Manor.” After hearing this and seeing how upset Jie-jie was, I could only nod my head and promise her.

Ever since the day we hugged and cried, Jie-jie’s anger had completely dissipated, and she was even more gentle and caring toward me. The Mid-Autumn Festival was quickly approaching, but because Di’fujin was feeling unwell, the festival celebrations in the manor were left to Jie-jie to organize. Every day, Jie-jie was so busy that she did not have time to rest.

Now that the matter that had been troubling my heart was resolved, my mood improved considerably, and I could be a rich idler again. The best thing was, since that time I complained to the Tenth and Fourteenth-prince about being bored, the two of them would often send over novel toys or gadgets to me, curing quite a bit of my monotony. Plus, I was always speculating what they would be sending over the next time, making all the servant girls excited along with me. The sound of noisy laughter could constantly be heard.

It seemed like, in the blink of an eye, Mid-Autumn Festival was nearly upon us. The manor was filled with an atmosphere of jubilation. Since I was going to the Palace to attend the celebration banquet, everyday, Jie-jie would tell me the rules again and again: where to go to the lavatory, where to sit, where to mingle, where the feast would commence, where to go to for a rest. She made me memorize and recite these, over and over again, for fear that my etiquette that day would be improper.

On the afternoon of the fifteenth, the Eighth Bei’le and Jie-jie were dressed-up and I was ready as well. Each of us was in our own sedan chair, and in a single procession, we headed to the Forbidden City[5].

When I was in university, one of the options I chose to take was a course on the history of scroll paintings. The Palace Museum[6] often had art exhibitions that I used to frequent, but I was only familiar with a few places near the Painting and Calligraphy Gallery. The Palace Museum was just too big. I had never strolled through all of it. Today, I was about to appreciate this palace at its finest. To say I was not excited would be a lie.

Passing through door after door, propriety after propriety, and row after row of guards, my head was spinning, and my nerves were so extremely high-strung out of fear that I would make one wrong move. So scared I was that I could not even be bothered with looking around at my surroundings. Only now did I silently appreciate that Jie-jie had trained me well.

Finally, I had the opportunity to sit down. My legs were feeling a little weak. After recuperating for a bit, I took in everything around me: tens of thousands of hanging lanterns glowed bright as the day; incense burners released the scent of rare sandalwood incense; flower buds were arranged in vases; silvery light reflected off swirling snow; and gems dazzled the eyes.

I sighed inwardly. What a sight worthy of the imperial household. Television dramas of modern times simply could not portray even one ten-thousandth of this.

All the consorts and imperial concubines, princes, fujin, and ge’ge gradually arrived, and each took their seat. After waiting again for a short while, a group of eunuchs walked in with quick steps and stood in position. From far away, a voice announced, “His Imperial Majesty has arrived.” Everyone rose and stood still. Another moment passed before a middle-aged man of medium build, wearing a yellow robe and a hat adorned with jade strolled into the gathering. His features are simple and unassuming, and a faint smile can be seen on his lips.

With the rustling sound of clothing, everyone present dropped to his or her knees. I exclaim in my mind, an incomparable emperor of the ages, Kangxi!

Even though everywhere across the floor, there were kneeling people, not a single loud breath could be heard. When Kangxi was seated, the eunuch beside him cried, “Rise!” The people rose to their feet.

Kangxi’s smiled as his eyes swept over the people below him and said, “Please sit. It is not often we get to celebrate festivities. Everyone, let yourselves be a little more casual.” The gathering answered with a simultaneous, “zha![7]” before everyone took his or her seat.

That being said, though, from what I could see, all the appropriate etiquette and proprieties were still being strictly adhered to. I could not help sighing, so this is awesome power of the Son of Heaven, about whom it is said, “under the wide heaven, all is the king’s land[8]”.

Only after three rounds of wine did the atmosphere at the banquet start to relax.

A few of the younger princes started to amuse and joke with one another, raising their cups to toast each other, and amongst them, the Tenth prince’s voice rang out the loudest. The Crown Prince, the Fourth prince, and the Eighth prince were also chatting smilingly and drinking.

I was letting my eyes wander around when I suddenly met Mingyu Ge’ge’s stare. She was glowering at me hatefully. At once, I flashed a dazzling smile at her, thinking, you are going to be so mad you’ll just die! Her glare became more and more nasty, but all of a sudden, it was as if she realized something. The corners of her lips curled up, and she, too, sent a charming smile in my direction. Immediately, I felt a cold feeling flood my entire body, and with a shiver, I sighed inwardly, indeed, the smiling tiger is the most fearful.

Food and drink, drinking and stopping, laughing and watching. Even though nobody paid any attention to me, I was still enjoying myself. I had the fortune of being at this grand gathering; how could I not let myself savor it to the fullest?

Just when I was enjoying myself with my head down, I noticed that all around, it had grown quiet. I lifted my head and noticed that everyone’s eyes were on me. A eunuch was heard summoning, “Maertai Ruoxi, come forward and present yourself to His Imperial Majesty.”

[1] – A Major city in the Guan Dong province of China.

[2] [2] Orig. 中秋. This festival falls on the 15th day of the eighth month of the Lunar calendar (or agricultural calendar 农历), which is in September or early October of the Gregorian calendar. This is an ancient festival, dating back more than 2000 years ago, but it became especially popular and a major celebration since the Ming and Qing dynasties. It celebrates the end of the fall harvest season, when the food is at its most abundant. On this night, the moon is at its roundest and brightest for the year, and hence it is also known as the Moon Festival. Families celebrate by gathering and eating moon cake together among other things.

[3]Orig. 解铃还须系铃 – literally, “to untie the bell, the person who tied the bell is needed.” It’s a proverb that means it takes the person who created the situation to resolve the situation.

[4] Orig. 额驸. Referring to Mingshang E’fu, Mingyu Ge-Ge’s father. Refer to the footnotes Chapter 3, part 2 for more information on Mingyu Ge-Ge’s mother and father.

[5] Orig. 紫禁城 ‘Zijin Cheng’. ‘Forbidden City’ is translated from this original Chinese name, although literally translated, it should be ‘Purple Forbidden City.’ This was the imperial palace for both the Ming and Qing dynasties. I have differentiated this name from ‘Gugong’ (see footnote [5])

[6] Orig. ‘Gugong’. Literally, this is translated as ‘former palace’. This is the name given in the modern times to the former imperial residence, and in English, it is now called the Palace Museum. As a modern person, Zhang Xiao’s memories would be of her visits to ‘Gugong’.

[7] Orig. . In the Qing court, servants or someone of lower rank would say “zha” to a person of higher rank when answering yes to promise or agree to undertake an order.

[8] Orig. 普天之下莫非王土. This a line from the 205th poem in诗经 The Book of Odes (also known as The Book of Songs). Translation credit:


  1. Thank you for the release! :) From what I got through the progress page though, chapter 4 is done, isn't it? Why did you guys only release 2 parts?

  2. Thank youuu! :) I'm so happy you guys are back to your regular release!

    @lambayy x: I think maybe they want to space out their releases so there won't be a long gap like last time when there was no release for like a few weeks.

  3. Thank you all for your hard work in bring us this wonderful story.