Zhui Xu Chapter Five “The Hen That Dove Into The River”

This is a long chapter and I severely underestimated how distract I became with the history.

[1]The Yelu Clan were historically the rulers of the Liao Dynasty to the north of the Song Dynasty, a country of the Khitan people. They later fell to the Jurchens. (Wikipedia)

[2] The Humiliation of Jing Kang refers to the war between the Song Dynasty and the Jin Dynasty. The Jurchens managed to reach the capital of the Song Dynasty and captured the Emperror. The Song fled south, with enormous losses of life and wealth. This incident is also seen as a turning point for women’s rights (to chasity and obedience) as well as a delay in the economy and society. (Wikipedia)

[3] Poem is “Spring South of the River” by Du Mu. Or rather, Jiangnan Spring. However, this poem is from the Tang Dynasty. (Source)

Chapter  Five The Hen that Dove into the River

In the morning of an autumn day, when the sky in the east just started to glimmer with weak light, the white mist floated in this ancient city. Boats moved along the Qinhuai River slowly and were hidden behind the patches of mist like the jade palaces that floated in the sky.

Amidst the thick autumn mist, Ning Yi hummed as he ran on the path along the Qinhuai River. His exercise each morning had already been settled. In any case, he had lots of time. As he ran, he could pass by the simple and old building constructed by wood, all kinds of trees, boats on the Qinhuai River and even occasionally, ship works or tired women of the fireworks appear on the boats.

This period of time was the most interesting time when Jiangning City’s old and new connected. In this night, the conflicts and prosperity ended, and a new life begun. The gates towards the outside were open. The vegetable farmers or little merchants slowly came in for the morning market. There were many little markets scattered around and not many people at each one, but these places always gave people the feeling of green and energy. He could occasionally see some people that were not dressed properly and had tired expressions who hurriedly by. They mostly had spent the night in some pleasure tower. Because they had matters in the day, they were in a hurry to leave. Half of the shops were open and the urchins had not yet gotten up.

Happiness usually came from unhappiness. Prosperity always came from a contrast. For Ning Yi who had seen the big modern cities, the prosperity of Jiangning was not anything. However, there was no need to seriously consider this matter. The people living here were the people that were easily satisfied and could easily smile.

Ning Yi would occasionally discuss this with Elder Qin. Jiang Ning was already a relatively good city, but in reality, urchins were everywhere and formed gangs. It was not uncommon to see people selling their sons and daughters as there were many rich households here. If they could sell their children into a good compound to be manservants and maids, they would not have to worry about problems of hunger and shelter. It would be good fortune from the ancestors if that was so. Due to the multitude of firework places near the Qinhuai River, poor but beautiful female children had another place to go. If they could learn poetry, writing, singing and music, and the madam was good, they could become famed prostitutes that only sold their skills and not their body. Those that were even luckier might be able to marry into a large and rich compound to be a concubine. But the great majority did not have good luck. They could only sell their bodies their entire lives. If the madam was a kind one, they would be freed when they became old. Fortunately, rules naturally formed where there were concentrations of places like this. If women abided by the rules, they would be able to peacefully live their life. Of course, the good and bad of this life was also a contrast. If the old prostitutes did not have any money, the brothels would mostly keep them on for cleaning duties until they died rather than throw them onto the streets. After such a long time of working there, there was some kindness and benefits. However, if it was not a city like Jiangning and Yangzhou, then even such things would not be guaranteed.

There were also those that raised child prostitutes. In the future, the child prostitutes of Yangzhou started from the Ming Dynasty, but in reality, similar things occurred in this time. The scale was not large but at least, it was a kind of investment associated with the red-light district. The female children that were raised as prostitutes would have better lives than those that were sold into the brothels. They would at least have the chance to learn the four arts and other talents. In the future, they would even have a chance to become a famous courtesan.

Every time it was the flood season, refugees would come. There would be less if it would a good year, but there always were people. If the year was not good, and a year with calamities such as the flooding of the Yellow River which would occur every couple of years, the city would be in a tense state for a time. The army would guard the doors and would not permit the refugees to enter the city. The Prefectural Magistrate would summon the rich merchants for a meeting. In reality, they would donate and then set out booths to give out rice and porridge … … People would also freeze to death in the winter and that also depended on the year. If the year was good, less would die, nothing needed to be said if it was a bad year. Urchins had a hard time surviving the winter. If it snowed, on the second day, it would be possible to see beggars curled up together that had frozen to death. This was not uncommon.

[1]The Yelu Clan were historically the rulers of the Liao Dynasty to the north of the Song Dynasty, a country of the Khitan people. They later fell to the Jurchens.

One would get used to this after seeing it frequently. However, Elder Qin would occasionally say, “This is not a good time.” There had been good times. The initial years of the Wu Dynasty had been ones of prosperity. Wu Heng Emperor and Wu Huai Zhong along with others had great minds and talent. Ning Yi always felt dizzy when he listened to the history. Any dynasty would have times where it was full of prosperity. Right now, the Wu Dynasty was similar to the ending times of the Northern Song Dynasty. In places far from prosperous ones south of the river, there were several groups of farmer that were rebelling. Bandits were everywhere. The north which was ruled by the country called the Great Liao by the Yelu Clan[1] had invaded the borders multiple times. Whenever they crossed the border, they would negotiate for peace, and then invade and then negotiate for peace. A few years ago, they signed a treaty and called each other brother countries. Of course, the Liao was the older brother and the Wu the younger brother. Even though they signed the treaty, they were still fighting. Small conflicts had never stopped.

[2]The Humiliation of Jing Kang refers to the war between the Song Dynasty and the Jin Dynasty. The Jurchens managed to reach the capital of the Song Dynasty and captured the Emperror. The Song fled south, with enormous losses of life and wealth. This incident is also seen as a turning point for women’s rights (to chasity and obedience) as well as a delay in the economy and society.

Ning Yi did not worry about this. The Humiliation of Jing Kang[2] had not happened yet. Since the Emperor was not the same, if the incident happened, it would definitely not be the same. The Emperor had not moved the capital to Jiang Ning yet. This country still had power. If they had to fight, they could. Even if the capital was moved, and the Wu Dynasty moved into the situation of the South Song Dynasty, didn’t Southern Song also manage to survive for a very long time? So when the Jin Country invaded this far, he would be near the end of his life. Of the four hundred and eighty temples built in the Southern Dynasties, many towers and terrances there, shrouded in mist and rain.[3] It could be seen how Southern Song —uh, this poem wasn’t describing South Song. Ning Yi thought for a while and then did not think of a conclusion so he threw it to the side—in any case, life in the South Song was acceptable.

[3]Poem is “Spring South of the River” by Du Mu. Or rather, Jiangnan Spring. However, this poem is from the Tang Dynasty.

He did not have any thoughts of saving the people or creating a great empire in this medieval time. He was already tired, he wanted to put down the hot-blooded burden. He was used to seeing too much injustice and darkness. The modern society was also dark. Even if people were having hardship, this could not cause sympathy in him—it wasn’t that he had no sympathy, but there wasn’t enough. As to things like becoming the Emperor, it was extremely childish for a person who could only live for sixty years to think about what would happen in one hundred and twenty years. However, coming back to this, when he was bored, such as when he was resting at the serene Qinhuai River bay after he finished his morning run, Ning Yi would irresponsibility think of matters that would look a little more positive to other people.

If he really wanted to do something, the identity of a zhuixu was actually very troublesome but the problem was not major. In this time, there were opportunities everywhere. There was no MSG in food, and he knew many methods of making MSG. It was easy to think about but complex to realize. However, he could probably start mass producing it after a year. If he merged that with some new dishes, and made a food city according to the style of modern food, he could make a good sum.

There was no music in this era. People that lived in a world where they could download music in unlimited amounts and could listen to whatever era of music they wanted would not be able to think of how boring it was right now. The performances in those pleasure towers might not be good to see, and the singing of those famed prostitutes might not be good to listen to. However, if you could not hear anything else, when you heard something that was slightly natural and fitting to standards, you would think it was a heavenly voice. There was a lot to do if he wanted to make an entertainment city. There were all kinds of music and dancing. The lyrics of modern songs were probably not usable but it would not be hard to localize the style of singing. If he made it a bit more conservative, and fit it to the standards of dance and song to this time, he might be able to copy some lyrics for people to sing.

He was very bored to keep thinking about the matter of eating, drinking and entertainment.

If he left behind food and entertainment, spend several decades to produce guns, put down a foundation for an industrial revolution and rebelled to become an emperor, maybe people two hundred years later could do something like fly in airplanes earlier in history. But no matter what, he would not be able to enjoy it. It was so dumb just thinking about it. It wasn’t as meaningful as opening a food and entertainment city.

The morning wind was slightly cold. He was standing at the bay formed by stones as he threw pebbles into the water and thought about these ideas.

Actually, he could not do these things in the short term.

Having married into the Su Family, there was basically no way he could open a pleasure tower. This could be put far into the future. The Su Family had a cloth business, and if he had a restaurant, that would also be troublesome. If he first gave a few ideas to the Su Family’s cloth business to prove his value then … … ha, then he would be sent to the business to be a shopkeeper to prove himself even more. Then it would turn into a profession like in his previous life. Then he could use the capital to open a restaurant, and tell the people who had puzzled expressions that there was a lot of money to be earned here. Then he would have to find people to make the equipment, start to twist his mind to do experiments, then make an assembly line. But the reason for all of this was that he missed MSG in his food. Wasn’t this ridiculous … …

As he hummed the tune to the Blue Danube, Ning Yi couldn’t help but laugh at his own idea. It might not be so troublesome if he really did it. But thinking about it, while he found it was interesting, it would be better if just bought several hundred pounds of seaweed to dry and crystalize. However, while the seaweed was easy to buy, if he tried to experiment in this area, other people would say that he was wasting food or people would tell him that a nobleman had to stay clear of the kitchen … …

After humming the opening to the Blue Danube, he forgot the rest so he switched to humming “The Two Tiger are Running Fast.” When he was humming it for a second time, there came the sound of a chicken on the path behind him.

“Coo coo coo coo coo coo coo … …”

“Cluck-luck cluck cluck cluck … …”

One of the two sounds belonged to a female and the other belonged to a hen. When he turned back to look, he found that a hen was running furiously between the path and the trees among the thick mist. Then a woman dressed in a grey cloth dress appeared. She was holding a vegetable knife as she pursued the hen. The person and the hen furiously ran in circles in the mist and flickered in and out of view.

Ning Yi stood under the tree by the river and watched this scene with his chin propped on his hand.

Theoretically, copying the call of a chicken was to give the chicken a feeling of safety or to lure them over. Now that the hen was frightened like this, there was no use in calling.

As he was thinking this, he watched the great fight between the human and the chicken. When he was feeling that this woman’s figure was pretty good, the hen suddenly changed direction and sprinted in Ning Yi’s direction, diving into the river decisively.

The woman followed closely with a face full of urgency. The mist was very thick to start with, and Ning Yi was not very eye-catching standing underneath a tree. The female probably did not notice there was someone around. Seeing the shore was up ahead, she chopped down with her vegetable knife. She used great force with this blow. The female even made a “humph” sound but she didn’t even hit the chicken. The knife left her hand and flew into the water.

Ning Yi jumped in fright by the presence of this blow. Then he found that the woman’s body had already tilted forward. Her arms tiled as she dropped towards the river. He unconsciously shouted “Hey!” and reached out to grab the woman’s hand. The female turned and her other hand reflexively reached back. Just as Ning Yi was going to pull her back, the stone underneath his feet loosened.

“Ah—gulp—” a short exclamation.


Then it was a fierce splash of falling into the water. The river surface underneath the mist roiled.

Ning Yi had been good in water in his previous life, but that touch was not something that could be carried over. This body was originally a weak scholar and his ability in water was not very good. He had also been wounded previously. Even though Ning Yi had tried recover his health in the last few months, and also exercised, the improvement of a few months was limited. The woman’s ability to swim was also not very good. The two of them furiously scrambled in the water that was not very deep. Ning Yi calmed down quite a few times and wanted to speak but was pulled by the other back under the water.

“You … … gulp… …”

“Hey … … gulp gulp … …”

“Don’t … … gulp gulp gulp … …”

Supposedly, many good Samaritans that were good at swimming drowned because of the panic of the person they were trying to rescue

A long time later, Ning Yi finally pulled the woman and climbed up the stairs ten meters far from the shore. His entire body was soaked and he spat out a few mouthfuls of water on his hands and knees at the shore before he recovered. Then he looked at the woman he had saved. The other had fainted from drinking too much water and was silent.

“Hey!” Ning Yi patted the woman’s face. The woman’s long hair was like seagrass and she seemed to be in a terrible state. She did not respond.

“Son of a … … you live near the Qinhuai River and you don’t know how to swim … …” Ning Yi sighed several time in helplessness. Then he straightened out the woman’s body and started to perform emergency CPR like he learned in the past.

Even if the other was a woman, this emergency CPR was not a good job. It wasn’t even a swimsuit beauty. At this time, the woman’s clothing was wrinkled, and with her mess of her hair, she looked like a watery ghost. Ning Yi felt panicked and hurriedly pressed down on her chest a few times to get her to spit up water. He then patted her face and found the other had not reacted at all. He gripped the other’s face and started to do mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.

After doing it for a while, the woman finally woke up in a daze. When Ning Yi was about to bend down to take a look, a slap sounded on his face. The sound was clear in the morning air. The woman said, sobbing, in a tragic voice, “You pervert, you … … cough … … what did you do … …” Hugging her chest, she furiously moved back. At this time, her dress was glued to her body. Her long legs were kicking on the ground. She looked thin and desolate, and seemed slightly pitiful.

If someone passed by at this time, they might even beat up Ning Yi because of this scene.

“I just knew that it would be like this … …” Ning Yi’s head was tilted for a long while as he relaxed his shoulder and exhaled deeply. Then he sat back down on the path. The two stared at each other for a long while before Ning Yi raised a hand. “Are you alright?”

The female stared at him and did not speak.

“It’s good that you are alright.” He answered himself. He pushed himself up. Ning Yi twisted his mouth and turned to walk back. When the cold wind blew, it really was cold.

Behind him, that woman sat curled up for a long while and watched as his figure gradually disappeared along the path.

That woman was really pitiful. She lost the hen and the knife. As he walked back soaked all over, Ning Yi thought with schadenfreude. Under such a state, it was a very painful matter when the cold wind blew. However, when he thought about how other people were even worse off, his pain would decrease slightly.

He always had his own way of dealing with these little matters. Since the reality could not be changed, then he could only use this method to temporarily make himself happier.
Translator Ramblings: Pseudo historical world that, at this point, deviates from history in just the dynasty.

I was hoping to put this chapter out two days ago but .. … got distracted by looking at the wikipedia pages and the CCTV documentary channel. Also, the author likes massive paragraphs.

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9 thoughts on “Zhui Xu Chapter Five “The Hen That Dove Into The River””

  1. Thank you so much for the hard work!
    Uhmm…where’s his maid that usually follow him everywhere every morning? He is now alone?
    How do the old dynasty save people from drowning case? Cant possibly do cpr, right? If not the girl would not slap him.

    1. they will probably try to get someone to spit out the water but I’m not sure they would do mouth-to-mouth.

  2. you know i forgot that you were still translating this but i’ve mostly been listening to the audiobook, got till the part where she burnt the room! so cute <3 also just fyi i prefer the previous website layout it was cleaner that the whole site was white

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