Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Bu Bu Jing Xin Chapter 5 (Part 4-5)

步步惊心/ Bu Bu Jing Xin
Startling Surprises with Every Step
Written by Tong Hua
Chapter 5 (Part 4-5)
Translated by Hoju!
Brought to you by the Magnolia Translation Team


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, we 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)

Crown Prince (Aisin-Gioro Yinreng): The second son of Emperor Kangxi. Currently the Crown Prince and thus next in line for the throne.

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-prince’s Birthday banquet, Ruoxi and Mingyu gets into a fight, resulting in quite a spectacle. Arranged to marry the Tenth-prince by Kangxi.

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. Likes Ruoxi but is forced to marry Mingyu Ge’ge.

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.

Ji’xiang: A standard greeting one of lower status uses to greet people with higher status in court. The word literally means auspicious and can be translated as, ‘I wish good fortunes, prosperity and happiness to you”

Chapter 5 (Part 4-5)

He counters tauntingly “Why are you here then?”

I do not have a reply to this. I am silent when suddenly I realize that I have not performed the ceremonial greeting. I hurriedly dip my knees and say, “Thirteenth-prince ji’xiang.”

He laughs coolly. “The ones waiting to hear blessings of prosperity and happiness are in the reception hall.” Since he has not said, “rise”, I can only stay unmoving in my half-crouch position. After a little while, I finally hear him say, “You may rise.”

I slowly stand up and wait quietly for him to leave.

A long time passes, and still he has not moved. At last, out of the blue, he says, “Today, you and I are two people with broken hearts. Why don’t we keep each other company?”

I look at him with a puzzled expression.

He hops off the railing and strides toward me. Grabbing my hand, he begins to leave this place.

His steps are long and brisk. Unable to yank my hand away from him, I have no choice but to jog along next to him while demanding, “Let go!”

He pulls me out of the manor from the side entrance. The servant standing watch at the door does not dare say anything after the prince throws a chilly glare at him. I hear him whistle, and then “clop clop”, the sound of a horse’s hooves ring out. A shiny, black horse trots over and stops in front of us.

I let out an “ah”, but before my startled cry is finished, I realize I am already sitting on the horse’s back. He, too, jumps onto the horse, wraps one arm around my waist, and uses the other hand to grab the reins. I hear a shout of “jia[1]”, and then the horse is already galloping away.

Never before have I ridden such a swift horse. I feel as if I have mounted a cloud and am riding on the mist. I am being jolted crazily. Terrified, I can only shrink back against his chest as if my life depends on it. The wind that is howling towards us cuts painfully into my face like the points of knives. I twist my head around and press my face into his shoulder.

After a period of galloping at breakneck speed, I feel as if my entire body has gone numb from the cold. I wonder, what does he want? Does he want me to freeze to death? Could it be he likes Mingyu Ge’ge? Otherwise, why would there be “two people with broken hearts”?

The horse gradually slows down and, at last, comes to a halt. He dismounts, and then turns to lift me down from the horse.

Standing on the ground now, I feel even colder, like the chill has sunk to my bones. I hug myself tightly and clench my teeth. My whole body is trembling.

He unties a wineskin from the saddle and pulls out the stopper. With one hand supporting my head, he brings the wineskin next to my lips and instructs, “Take a drink.” Still shivering, I swallow a mouthful and feel a pungent heat go straight down into my stomach. He again orders, “Have one more.” I drink another gulp from the wineskin in his hand.

Slowly, that heat spreads to all my internal organs. I finally gain my sensations back, although I am still quivering uncontrollably.

Ignoring me now, he turns and heads into the woods. I want to cry out and tell him to stop, but I realize I am so cold that no sound will come out.

The sky is pitch black. I am standing here alone with only a horse beside me. Shudders continue to rack my body. I am terrified, and at the same time, I swear to myself never to provoke Mingyu Ge’ge again. I am no match for this bully.

A short while passes, and then he returns, carrying a large stack of sticks. After fiddling around for a little bit, a large fire is started.

Seeing that there is a fire, I immediately seat myself next to it. He hands me the wineskin again, and I do not refuse. Taking hold of it, I down another mouthful and then hand it back to him. The two of us sit here like this, warming ourselves beside the fire while drinking wine, back and forth, one gulp each.

Jie-jie should definitely be worried about me by now, but as I sneak a peek at the bully’s face, illuminated by the light of the flickering fire, I do not have the courage to say anything. I only hope that he keeps in mind that Mingyu Ge’ge’s marriage to the Tenth-prince was Kangxi’s idea and had nothing to do with me, and that he will not play any more tricks. Otherwise, I am afraid I may not see Yongzheng ascend to the throne before I die at the hands of this bully.

The two of us continue drinking, one swig from him, one mouthful from me, back and forth, until slowly, the wineskin is empty. He gets up, takes another wineskin from the horse’s back, and we carry on.

I drink and drink away. Memories rise to the top of my mind. I remember going drinking with friends in Lan Kwai Fong[2] in Hong Kong, or stealing the champagne at home when I was a child and getting drunk… And later, sometimes I would giggle and sometimes I simply stare at the fire, lost in thought. And after that? After that, I do not even know what I did, but anyhow, when it is still dark, he shakes me awake. I look groggily up at him and realize that I am sprawled entirely across his lap.

He puts out the fire, and lifts me up onto the horse.

There is another bout of fierce galloping. Again, I pull myself back against him with all my might, and again, I am so cold my whole body loses all its feeling. By the time we arrive at Eighth Bei’le’s Manor, the first glimmers of dawn are already starting to show. He tosses me to the door, and says, “Great drinker! I’ll find you next time to drink again.” With that, he rides away on the horse.

My head is spinning and my body is shaking. At the same time, I am using my head to bang against the door.

Why do I not use my hand? Because my arm is frozen and not very useful.

The door whips open, and I follow its momentum and tumble in headfirst. A servant hurriedly rushes over to support me, and when he comes into contact with me, he exclaims, “Oh heavens! Why is your body like ice?”

I was carried back to Jie-jie’s dwellings. Jie-jie, her face flooded with anxiety, rushes over. Someone helps undress me, someone brings in hot water, and someone bathes me. Only when my body is, at last, not as cold as ice do they pull me out of the tub and put me on the bed.

Jie-jie asks many questions, but seeing my blank, silly expression, she gives up. I take advantage of the effects of the alcohol and fall into a deep sleep.

When the maids rouse me, it is already dinnertime. Besides my head feeling a little heavy, everything else feels fine. I cannot help secretly feeling glad that my alcohol tolerance has always been very good, never crying or shouting when I am drunk. I merely fall asleep with my head tilted at awkward angles.

I dress myself up neat and proper and enter the dining room, where I discover that Eighth prince is here as well. Having just woken up with a hangover and, on top of that, not eaten since yesterday afternoon, my brain is still a little slow. I hastily perform the ceremonial greeting but then, cannot be bothered with anything else and begin eating.

I eat and eat for a while before I start to get my senses back. How am I going to explain my whereabouts last night? I am mulling this over in my mind when I hear Jie-jie ask, “Where did Thirteenth Brother take you yesterday?”

I pause in surprise for a moment before blurting, “How did you know?”

Jie-jie replies, “An entire person disappeared. How could I not know?”

I think, that’s right. All anyone needed to do was ask the servant standing watch at the door and everything would be clear. However, the question of what we did is not an easy one to handle. As I recall all the preposterous things from last night, I cannot help feeling a little amused. When I was a young girl, every time I read a wuxia novel, I would imagine myself and a handsome hero with extraordinary martial art skills riding a single horse together, galloping out on the green pastures. He would stare lovingly at me, and I would gaze tenderly back at him. I did not expect that this beautiful dream would kind of come true yesterday, albeit in an altered form. Indeed, it was two people riding together on one horse. Everything else, though, was completely wrong. The more I realized how absurd and funny it was, the more I could not hold back the mirth on my face, yet I still needed to force myself to hold it in because the look on Jie-jie’s face was not pretty.

Seeing my pained expression, Jie-jie snaps, “Don’t hold it back. Just laugh! When you’re done laughing, answer the questions properly!”

I finally release all the laughter I had been holding in. Just when I was laughing gleefully, I suddenly felt on my face two stares that did not have the least bit of warmth. Alarmed, I quickly rein in my laughter, pull my face into a serious look and glance towards the Eighth-prince. The corners of his lips are still turned up in a smile, but there are traces of iciness in his eyes that cause me to shiver when he looks at me. I no longer am able to laugh, and hastily drop my head and eat.

Now that I am not laughing, Jie-jie orders, “Answer now! What sorts of things did you do last night?”

I reply simply, “We went out drinking.”

Puzzled, Jie-jie asks, “Why did Thirteenth Brother take you drinking?”

I contemplate for a moment but decide that I should not be broadcasting someone else’s private matters, and so I answer, “Probably he saw that I was feeling a little down and felt sorry for me.”

Jie-jie shakes her head. “An unmarried girl does not return home the entire night. Do you think there is not enough gossip about you already?”

Only now do I start to react. I think, oh no! Now the entire Forbidden City is going to want to have a good look at me. I am only anxious for a little while, and then my thoughts suddenly shift. They can look all they want. Who knows what is waiting for me in the future? I am just going to be happy and live in the moment. Who cares what they think of me?

I exhale in relief. The look on my face returns to normal, and I continue to eat my dinner with my head down.

Jie-jie waits for a moment, but seeing that I am just keeping my head lowered and scooping rice into my mouth, she says, “Fortunately, this time, Lord Bei’le found out about it early, and it also happened in Tenth Brother’s house. My Lord has already dealt with it appropriately. Besides a few trusted servants, no one else knows about this. At the time, we had wanted to send people to search for you, but if we sent too many, it would have attracted attention. If we only sent a few, it would not have been much use anyway. We were thinking, since it was Thirteenth Brother who took you away, he would have to bring you back, so we only sent a trustworthy servant to keep watch at the door.” She pauses briefly, and then continues, “But remember, only this once! There will be no next time!”

I grumble silently, do you think I really wanted to be out there in the wind in the middle of the winter? I was forced by that bully! As my thoughts reach this point, though, I cannot help feeling I have crossed the line a little bit, and I hastily admit, “Alright. At the time, I was not very happy and wanted to vent, so when he took me away, I did not truly resist.

When dinner is finished, the Eighth- prince and Jie-jie smile and chat briefly before he leaves in a hurry.

I carefully observe Jie-jie’s expression. She was not the least bit unhappy, and in fact, she actually looked relieved. I sigh inwardly and wonder, what was Jie-jie’s beloved like? Such an exceptionally elegant, fine man that the Eighth-prince is, yet even he cannot make Jie-jie to forget that person!

[1] Similar to “giddy-up”

[2] A district in Hong Kong known for its bars and dining scene.

1 comment:

  1. I'm into reading the novel now. Interesting. Thank you very much for translating it and keep it coming.....;-)