Chapter 54.2: Move Aside, Bad Green Plum
Xiaoqi suddenly became studious. At night, she hugged the verse books Qiu Tong had moved into the room and read. When Song Liangzhuo asked Xiaoqi, Xiaoqi very mysteriously wrinkled her nose as she said: “Mom is testing me. I’m looking for the answer.”
Song Liangzhuo poked his head over and saw Xiaoqi was only looking at and reading things with the term 《Partridges Sky》. He smiled and shook his head, but didn’t say anything.
Xiaoqi read the book for a while, then had Qiu Tong prepare ink and paper. Afterwards, she took out a wooden stick that she had long since prepared and dipped it into the ink before starting to write the letter.
Song Liangzhuo lifted his brows as he smiled, “What kind of brush is this?”
Xiaoqi batted her eyes, “Husband doesn’t understand huh? Dad said everyone at that side of the ocean uses feathers to write. In the beginning I also used them, but feathers weren’t as good as wood. Wood can even absorb ink so it can be used to write quite a few words in one go.”
Xiaoqi demonstrated it very well as she dipped it into the ink, then pinched the shaft and solemnly wrote down ‘Lu Liu’, these two words.
Song Liangzhuo put down the scroll in his hand and sat down next to Xiaoqi to watch her write. Xiaoqi tapped the pen on her lips as she asked: “Is there anything Husband wants to say to Lu Liu? I’ll help you write.”
Song Liangzhuo thought for a moment, then said: “I’ll write it myself. It’s also about time to write a letter home. Xiaoqi should just write whatever you want to write.”
Xiaoqi didn’t bother to be polite anymore and covered the paper with one hand as she rather impatiently waved her hand, “Then go, go. I’ll write my own. You’re not allowed to peek, got it? It’s a private letter for Lu Liu.”
Song Liangzhuo gave a light laugh and also took a piece of paper and started moving a brush.
Song Liangzhuo wrote the letter very quickly. He passed on some of the matters inside the home, Xiaoqi’s health situation, and the matter of the makeup wedding ceremony next month. Then he gave his respects to the two parents. In passing he also wrote Meng Yunfei and Lu Licheng letters as well, separately asking them about the dam and Lu Licheng’s health.
When Song Liangzhuo finished tidying everything up, it was already deep in the night. Lifting his head, he saw that Xiaoqi was still covering the paper and writing stroke by slash. Song Liangzhuo curiously glanced over and asked, “Why are you this slow? How much have you written?”
Xiaoqi hurriedly used her hand to cover it and pouted, “You’re not allowed to look, not allowed to look! Husband, go to sleep.”
Song Liangzhuo lifted Xiaoqi completely up and smiled, “It’s already the middle of the night, what are you writing private words for? Writing it tomorrow is the same, we should sleep now.”
Xiaoqi hugged Song Liangzhuo’s neck as she kicked her legs and continuously whined. Randomly rubbing his cheeks, she said: “Big baddie big baddie. Bad Official, shame on you.”
Song Liangzhuo carried Xiaoqi directly onto the bed in a good mood. Rubbing her ears, he asked: “How was your day today?”
Xiaoqi blinked her eyes, then covered her mouth as she smiled, “Mom thought of an idea for me.”
Xiaoqi slanted a glance over, then pouted, “Not telling you.”
Xiaoqi’s slanted gaze really imitated Mrs. Mei’s skill in sending coquettish glances. Mrs. Mei liked to slightly lift her chin as she looked disdainfully out of the corner of her eyes at everyone. Especially when she cast sidelong glances at Old Man Qian, the alluring expression that appeared in those slightly hooked eye corners immediately toppled people.
But sadly, Xiaoqi couldn’t make such a charming expression with her doll-like face. The moment her slightly hooked eye corners lifted and her wide eyes tilted, it would cause people to burst out laughing. It remarkingly resembled the expression Ha Pi would have when he tilted his head and glanced sideways towards Chinese minced pork cornbread.
Song Liangzhuo couldn’t hold it in and burst out laughing. Xiaoqi didn’t let him off. Plopping onto his body, she stopped up his mouth. The two laughed and were noisy for a while until they quieted down due to the comfortable warmth with the quilt wrapped around them. Hugging each other, they softly talked until their eyes drifted closed.
Zixiao seemed to have changed tactics. She was silent for a few days without deliberately bringing up any topics again. When Song Liangzhuo was at home she would hover and circle around Song Liangzhuo as much as possible, bringing tea or grinding ink. She didn’t speak much, just occasionally giving a cry of Second Older Brother.
Xiaoqi was successful in ignoring her, treating her as one of the numerous maids that were offering tea.
Xiaoqi and Zixiao didn’t argue about anything at all, so Song Liangzhuo pretended even more that he couldn’t see anything. That side’s situation was already being investigated, and he also didn’t have the inclination to care so much about these little matters. As long as Xiaoqi didn’t mind, he also didn’t feel like mulling over anything, so he just treated it as if there was an additional, not very well-liked maid in the house.
Xiaoqi’s foot was pretty much recovered. Occasionally she would stroll around alone in the courtyard.
Most of the lotus flowers in the Song family’s flower garden had already dried up into unpresentable appearances, yet Xiaoqi still liked this lotus flower pond a lot. To be exact, she liked the still standing dry lotus seed heads in the lotus flower pond.
The lotus seeds inside had already become black balls like sheep dung pellets, but after using a rock to smash them open there would be white-colored, dry lotus seeds. If you used your teeth to scrape and eat it little by little, there would be a fragrant sweetness that fresh lotus seeds didn’t have.T/N
Xiaoqi had this taste from the start. The lotuses in Qing fu’s lotus flower pond were all purposefully left for her so she could smash them from the start of fall until late winter and slowly enjoy.
When Mother Song was busy, Xiaoqi would just dress up in thick layers and hug a verse book as she sat next to the lotus flower pond reading. In her leisure time, she would continue to write letters.
Xiaoqi had already finished the first letter two days ago. This letter at present was for Mrs. Mei. This one probably counted as a ‘monumental literary work’. Xiaoqi thought and wrote, wrote and rested. Other than the time she used to learn embroidery and read verses, the rest of the time was all used to write the letter to Mrs. Mei.
Xiaoqi looked through seven or eight books of verses. There were poems that praised the beauty of osmanthus flowers, but she didn’t find any that wrote about osmanthus flowers as a topic and also had 《Partridges Sky》 as a term. Xiaoqi seemed to have started liking to read books a little and didn’t deliberately look for some 《Partridges Sky》 anymore. Once she flipped through all the verses in the book, if she liked one she would re-read it. If she liked it even more she would copy it down.
This went on all the way until the last day of the time limit Mother Song gave her. Qiu Tong followed orders and brought over another book of poetic prose. Xiaoqi, according to habit, first flipped through the book looking at the poem terms. When she saw 《Partridges Sky Dark Light Soft Yellow Disposition Gentle》*, she smiled.
1 I made a mistake, ‘Partridges Sky’(鷓鴣天) is apparently a poem format? I still don’t quite understand it completely but it has something to do with the stressed and unstressed syllables and number of total words. It’s said that the name came from a famous verse by Tang Zhengyu in that format, the verse being ‘Spring Outing to Fowl Deer Passing, Home is at Partridge Sky’.(春遊雞鹿塞，家在鷓鴣天) Fowl Deer Passing is apparently an actual location in ancient China.
2 (暗淡輕黃體性柔)The rest of the stuff is the actual title (I think?) and the first line of the poem as well. ‘Dark Light Soft Yellow’ described the colors of osmanthus flowers which are dark yellow, light yellow and soft yellow. ‘Disposition Gentle’ points to its delicate constitution and sweet-tempered nature.
Xiaoqi repeatedly read that line ‘What need for shallow jade or deep crimson rouge, as naturally it is the best of flowers‘* over and over again, her heart feeling a little light and airy from being pleased. Then she hugged this book of poetic prose as she jogged to her own little courtyard. She unfolded the letter for Mrs. Mei that was half-written and carefully copied down the entire poem.
(何須淺碧深紅色，自是花中第一流)Osmanthus flowers don’t need to use light green or red shades to show off its beauty as it is from the start the ultimate ideal flower.
Xiaoqi expressed how she was adapting to life with the husband’s family at the end of the letter and also boasted about being good to her husband, Song Liangzhuo. At the very end, she analyzed Song QingyunT/N2 and Mother Song’s attitudes. Summing up the aforementioned, chaotic, spontaneously written passages that extended as long as twenty-something pages, she gave a final conclusion——Xiaoqi truly was ‘people that see will love, flowers that see will scatter’. The whole family dislikes the bad green plum. Every day Husband would only coax Xiaoqi to sleep and would even explain the Book of Songs(one of the Five Classics of Confucianism) to Xiaoqi. Mother-in-Law Mom would occasionally be fierce towards Xiaoqi–but it wasn’t real fierceness; it seemed like she was teasing Xiaoqi for fun. Father-in-Law Dad is still pining for that scroll. Yesterday when we were eating he ‘subtly’ mentioned it again. This time Xiaoqi heard the hidden meaning because Father-in-Law Dad said 《Seventeen Inscriptions》, these three words. When Xiaoqi went back, Xiaoqi used the blanket to wrap it up and hid it under the bed. Not even Husband knows.
At this point, Xiaoqi extended the letter yet again. She one-sidedly discussed the question of whether the scroll would grow bugs from being stuffed under the bed, and then she replenished the part about the bad green plum, adding on about her attitude today.
At the very end of the very end, Xiaoqi entailed Old Man Ma and Big Aunt Liu who were in charge of heating up the fire to cook, and the Shan Zi that was in charge of guarding the big door… Xiaoqi sent a greeting to the entire family’s elderly, youngsters, masters and servants, all several dozens of them. With a sentence of ‘Xiaoqi feels very happy and blessed, Xiaoqi also misses Mom and Dad and Big Sisters’, she wrapped up the tail.
Credits: Translated by Chiyomira, Edited by Ocelot
T/N – I don’t think I’ve ever had lotus seeds before. Wonder what they taste like?
T/N2 – It worries me a little that Mother Song’s name isn’t used but Song Qingyun is. Because my dictionary tells me that Qingyun might actually be figuratively talking about a high official position but since it’s figurative, I’m hoping Qingyun is Father Song’s name and not talking about his position. It’s probable that his parents just named him that as he is a descendant of a literary family. Crossing fingers~
The definitions in this chapter took a while to research… Like, an entire hour total? It was mostly Partridges Sky that stumped me but reading and understanding the verses took a while too.
Overall, a long chapter (for me) but quite sweet~
The next chapter is a horrible cliffhanger, so I’ll be filling in the first eight chapters next before resuming from chapter 55~
-4/27/17- on hiatus again due to the crisis of ap exams finally being less than a week away. I plan to resume posting again during the third week of May, more info here. Things are subject to change depending on whether I get any translators.
Chiyomira is now recruiting translators for Cultivating to Become a Great Celestial and Island: End of Nightmare! Chiyo has plans to pay staff translators, but whether it’s possible will depend on how well a Yumeabyss patreon does, which will be tested out in June. Meanwhile, please join with the expectation of little to no pay. View this google doc for the test blurbs and more info.
Basic requirements are:
Native/practically native knowledge of English + Proficient-advanced knowledge of Chinese
Have the time to translate 3 chps a week, on average
Have gmail + discord
Have the dedication to translate 50 chapters before retiring