步步惊心/ Bu Bu Jing Xin
Startling Surprises with Every Step
Written by Tong Hua
Chapter 4 (Part 3)
Translated by Hoju
Brought to you by the Magnolia Translation Team
Download Link: http://www.mediafire.com/?w432eo71oa6k4e1
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.
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 demeanor.
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.
Ji’xiang: A standard greeting one of lower status uses to greet people with higher status in court. The word literally mean auspicious and can be translated as, ‘I wish good fortunes, prosperity and happiness to you”.
Chapter 4 (part 3)
I was shocked and for a moment, did not know how to react. Then, with a jolt, I hurriedly jumped to my feet, stepped out from the tables, walked forward, and kneeled down. I kowtowed while saying in a clear voice, “Your Imperial Majesty ji’xiang.”
Kangxi answered, “Rise to speak.”
As I stood up, I was searching my mind. What is this about? Kangxi asked with a laugh, “This is the ‘Death Challenging Thirteenth Sister’?”
One of the imperial concubines sitting beside him smiled obsequiously, “I never expected that she is actually a cute and delicate young girl.”
With the eyes of the crowd fixed intently on me, all I felt was tremendous nervousness. Kangxi looked at me with a smile and asked, “Are you very nervous to see Zhen?”
I knew that if I still did not say anything, it would definitely not be very good, so I had no choice but to respond with, “Yes.”
Kangxi seemed to find this quite amusing, and he added, “Why?”
I contemplated for a moment before I replied, “This is the first time I can look upon Heaven’s countenance. Its augustness is boundless, and hence, it makes me nervous.”
Kangxi gave a, “hmm” and then asked, “You find me very august?”
I cried silently, oh Heaven! Why won’t this end? I carefully deliberated how I should answer. One bad answer and it would be game over.
Seeing that I did not immediately give a response, Kangxi smilingly continued to press, “Are you afraid of Zhen?”
I thought to myself, only a tyrant wants everyone to fear him. Since the ancient times, what a wise ruler desires is for the people to genuinely respect and accept him. I dared not hesitate any further and hurriedly replied, “No. Your Imperial Majesty is a sage- emperor of this age. Why would maidservant be frightened? But this is the first time maidservant has come to the palace, and I find the Son of Heaven has an august aura. That is why I am slightly nervous.”
Kangxi asked with a smile, “A sage-emperor? Why do you think Zhen is a sage-emperor?”
I screamed with frustration mentally. Why? Because history has already made that judgment. However, I did not dare directly recite all that, “ascended the throne at the age of Eighth, captured Oboi, suppressed the Revolt of the Three Feudatories, seized Taiwan, defeated Galdan Khan…” because these were all achievements that Kangxi in his later years gave to himself as a form of self-evaluation. I dared not steal his lines from his own script. I racked my brain desperately, and thoughts spun several times until what finally popped into mind was the poem, “Snow” that had been in my high school textbook. I thought it was rather fitting. I could not worry about anything else. Saving my own life was the most important thing. So, in a clear voice, I recited,
and Song Taizu had little poetry in their souls; That proud son of Heaven, Genghis Khan5, Knew only shooting eagles, bow outstretched. All are past and gone! For truly great men Look to this age alone.”
After Emperor Kangxi finished listening to this, he gave a nod and chuckled, “After growing accustomed to hearing ‘Yao, Shun, Yu, Tang’, these words today are rather novel.”
I groaned inwardly. How could I forget about ‘Yao, Shun, Yu, Tang’? But, it seems this had a rather good effect. My bootlicking did not do too badly after all.
Kangxi remarked, “It seems it is not just ‘fighting fiercely’ that you know how to do!” Then he instructed the eunuch at his side, “Reward!”
I hurriedly fell to my knees again, and then after receiving my reward, I stepped away. Upon returning to my seat, I realized that my palms were all clammy. I looked to see that the Crown Prince and Fourth prince were assessing me with their eyes, so I quickly dropped my head back down.
Following this bit of excitement, Kangxi appeared to be in great spirits. The imperial concubines and consorts accompanying him were also smiling and chatting affably.
One after another, the princes went to toast Kangxi and say auspicious words.
After Ninth prince returned to his seat, Tenth prince stepped forward. Raising his cup of wine, he said, “Imperial Father, all the auspicious words have been taken by my older brothers already. I don’t have any fancy words to say, and only wish Imperial Father good health.” With that, he threw his head back and drank his wine.
Kangxi shook his head. , “Cannot remember lines and quotes of literary works so can only use common sayings.”
A beautiful consort beside Kangxi smiled, “Even though it is a common saying, it nonetheless is true.”
Kangxi nodded. He looked at Tenth prince, mulled over something for a moment, and then stated, “Seventeen years old already.”
The consort smiled and said. , “When Ninth prince was this age, he had already taken a fujin.”
She had just spoken this before all the princes had tuned in and were listening attentively. Tenth prince’s head was lowered, looking as if he was deep in thought.
Kangxi replied, “He has reached that age.”
Still smiling obsequiously, the consort continued, “The day before yesterday, Jing Ge-Ge was mentioning to me that her younger daughter, Mingyu was at about the right age, and she was asking me to help mull over who could be an appropriate match. In my opinion, she and Tenth prince are quite well-suited.”
When Tenth prince heard this, he abruptly lifted his head up and stared at Kangxi, his entire face tense. Kangxi nodded. , “Well-suited indeed.”
Kangxi pondered for a short while before looking at Tenth prince. , “Then let us appoint Guoluoluo Mingyu as Ol’ Tenth’s Di’fujin!”
Tenth prince’s face had grown flushed, and now, he cried hurriedly, “Imperial Father, your subject-son is still young…”
 Orig. 朕. Prior to the Qin dynasty, this word could be used by anyone and meant “I” or “me.” However, Qin Shihuang, the first emperor of unified China and founder of the Qin dynasty (259 – 210 BC), passed an edict in which only the Son of Heaven could address himself as ‘Zhen.’ From that time onward until the Qing dynasty, this was a form of self-address exclusive to the emperor.
 Orig. 天家 ‘tianjia’. Another way to refer to the emperor. Tian means ‘heaven’ and jia means family. Everyone under the heavens is the Son of Heaven’s family.
 Oboi (鳌拜, pinyin: Aobai) was a distinguished official of the Qing dynasty with outstanding military achievements, who served under three successive emperors. He was one of the four appointed regents to assist the young Kangxi until he reached the age of majority. Tension between Kangxi and Oboi rose due to Oboi’s significant power and influence in court. Kangxi seized power early. Oboi was arrested in 1669 (8th year of Kangxi) and ended up dying in prison.
 Three generals, Wu Sangui, Shang Kexi, and Geng Jingzhong each ruled over a relatively independent territory in southern China. These territories had been bestowed to them by the Qing court after the Manchus conquered China. In 1673, approximately only three decades after the Manchus had established the Qing dynasty, these three rebelled against the Qing government. In 1681 (20th year of Kangxi), Kangxi defeated the rebel army, and China was unified again.
 Between 1661 to 1683, Taiwan was ruled by the Zheng family and opposed the Manchu-ruled Qing government. After being defeated by the Qing navy in 1683 (22nd year of Kangxi), the ruler at the time, Zheng Keshuang surrendered. Taiwan was officially annexed into the Qing empire shortly after.
 Orig. 噶尔丹 (pinyin: Ga’er’dan). Galdan Khan of the Dzungar-Oirate. His increasing power and expansion of territory in Mongolia was a threat to Beijing. He was defeated by the Qing army in 1696 (35th year of Kangxi).
 Orig. 沁园春·雪. A poem written by Chairman Mao Zedong in 1936. Note that the character, 雪, meaning ‘snow’ is the actual name of the poem. This is ‘ci’ poetry, which is a form of poetry that follows one of hundreds of set patterns/tunes/rhythms. 沁园春 is the name of the pattern used for this particular poem.
 First emperor of unified China as the founder of the Qin (秦) dynasty (259-210 BC).
 Seventh emperor of Han (汉) dynasty (156-87 BC): remembered as one of the greatest emperors in Chinese history, and known for the vast terrestrial expansions under his reign, effectively establishing China as the most powerful country at the time.
 Second emperor of Tang (唐) dynasty (599-649 AD): officially recognized as co-founder of Tang dynasty with Emperor Gaozu. He was known for being extremely wise and able, and his reign was known as the Reign of Zhenguan (贞观之治), a period of economic and military posperity and commonly regarded as one of the golden ages of China.
 Founder of Song (宋) dynasty (960-976 AD)
 Founder of the Mongol Empire, or the Yuan (元) dynasty as known in China (1162-1227)
 Excerpt from “Snow” (沁园春·雪, 1936) by Mao Zedong. Translation by the Maoist Documentation Project.
 Orig. 尧舜禹汤. Yao, Shun, Yu, and Tang are all legendary, venerated kings or rulers of the far-ancient times, upheld as examples for sovereigns to emulate, and hence, using “Yao Shun Yu Tang” to describe a ruler is a form of praise.
Yao and his successor Shun are sage-kings of Chinese mythology, said to have ruled in approximately in 22nd – 23rd century BCE, and are both known for their virtue, benevolence, and humanity. The people lived in unity and harmony under Yao, and he was well-loved. Shun was recognized for being filial.
Yu was appointed by Shun to deal with flood control during the Great Flood of Chinese mythology, and he spent 13 years of his life on this. Yu was honored for his self-sacrifice and perseverance. Shun passed his throne on to Yu, who is said to have founded the Xia dynasty. Yu is said to have been wise, practical, frugal, and modeled what he preached.
Tang overthrew the tyrant king, Jie, the last ruler of Xia, and established the Shang dynasty in 16th century BCE. He lowered taxes, encouraged production of goods, and expanded the territory of Shang’s rule and influence.
 Orig. 皇阿玛 ‘Huang A’Ma’. How princes and princesses would address their father, the emperor, in the Qing dynasty. ‘Huang’ means royal or imperial and ‘a’ma’ is the Manchurian word for father.
 Orig.儿臣 ‘Er’chen’. 儿 ‘er’ means “son” or “child” and臣 ‘chen’ means “subject” or “official”. Children of the emperor would use this to refer to himself/herself when speaking to the emperor. In addition, the emperor, his siblings, as well as his children would also use this form of self-address in front of the empress dowager. I will use subject-son and subject-daughter for the translation.