Zhui Xu Chapter Nine “Vision of the Future”

Last chapter recap: Ning Yi encountered the female he rescued from drowning and helped her kill a chicken. Then he fell ill … …

Chapter Nine Vision of the Future

In the evening, the sunset turned the sky red, and also immersed half of Jiangning City in the lazy red glow. When she came in from the outside, Su Tan Er encountered Xiao Chan and learned that Ning Yi had fallen sick to a cold. As she inquired Xiao Chan about what the doctor had said, she led her three servant girls to walk towards the yard of her granfdather, Old Master Su, Su Yu.

Today, she had to ask for guidance from Grandfather. Since she knew that there was nothing serious with Ning Yi, she naturally did not have to hurry over to see him. After entering the yard, she discovered that her third uncle, Su Yun Fang, and his wife were present. Along with them was the second daughter of her third under. Right now, everyone called this child Seventh Girl. She was narrating a story to Grandfather at the moment, and the servant girls were serving in the surroundings.

“… … And then, that Zhou Yu beat up Huang Kai … …”

Su Tan Er walked over and moved a bench to sit. Together with her grandfather, third uncle and third aunt, she listened to the female child’s story. It was about the Three Kingdoms and pretty interesting. The story was finished not long later, and the child stood up. “Second Sister.”

“Little Seven knows to tell stories now. Excellent, did you go with your father to the restaurants to listen?”

“No, it was Teacher who told us during class.”

“En?” Su Tan Er hesitated for a while. “Which teacher.”

“Brother Ning. Brother Ning knows many things.”

Xiao Qi (小七) means little seven, referring to her young age and also her ranking among the generation.

While the label of zhui xu was not pleasing to hear as the person was under the roof of another family, but among the female’s family, a zhui xu was referred together as a brother. Due to this, Xiao Qi would[1]  refer to Ning Yi as a brother, and not as brother-in-law. After hearing her say this, Su Tan Er smiled  slightly. However, inside, she was thinking about the meaning of this matter. At the side, Third Uncle Su Yun Fang said, “Was this taught recently?”

Learning in Brotherliness is the fourth chapter in the Analects of Confucius,

Seventh Girl nodded. “Yes, we learned up to Learning in Brotherliness[2] … …” Her expression was slightly nervous. Usually, when she was asked about her schooling, what was next was asking her to recite a text.

However, her father did not ask her to recite a text this time. Su Yun Fang looked at Sun Tan Er and said, “To speak of the Three Kingdoms while in Class for Analects. While children like to listen to stories, but a teacher should be respected by students for their scholar knowledge. It is good to use examples, but this should be measured. Tan Er, you should remind Li Heng.”

This was a harsh scolding. Su Tang Er could only nodded and agree. The Old Master laughed and said, “There is no need to be so serious. He is able to gain the affection of the students in just a few days, he naturally will be able to guide them to like eduction. The children have been given to him, and it is his business now. Third Son, you don’t know the situation is, how do you know that the Analects has no connection to the Three Kingdoms, or what Li Heng’s intentions are. Do not meddle in affairs not of your position, I have taught this moral to you brothers a long time ago, do not meddle further in this matter.”

Actually, Su Tan E did feel that it was not appropriate to talk about the Three Kingdoms during Analects class but Old Master Su liked it. He did not care about Ning Yi’s knowledge. He knew beforehand that the other’s learning was not high, and he was looking at this matter from another perspective.

The Su Family’s present situation was complex. The three sons, the eldest Su Bo Yong, the second, Su Zhong Kan, and the third, Su Yun Fang each had their share of the business. However, in terms of skill and talent, Su Bo Yong was above the other two. Right now, Old Master Su was still present, and the situation still seemed to be one of respect between brothers. But if one looked further, the third generation was full of idiots. Only Su Bo Yong’s only daughter, Su Tan Er, was outstanding. Su Yu had considered for many years, and decided to put the family business onto Su Tan Er. Of course, this was a greatly troublesome matter.

A woman taking power would encounter resistance several times greater than a normal passing of power. If there was one male in the Su Family with some talent, it would not happen, but there wasn’t any. Su Tan Er was not fierce nor soft in her conduct, but her skills were outstanding and she was a leader. She had the ability, and ambitions in this area. Old Master Su had divided a part of the businesses that Su Bo Yong managed to give to her to formally manage. This could be considered a formal test. This test was not of her abilities, but for her to use her father’s resources to win over, and organize the two other branches. It was to see how far she could go.

Putting aside the pressure that Su Tan Er was facing, the meaning in Ning Yi marrying in was so that Su Tan Er could continue to stay in the Su Family. The Old Master Su still thought highly of the relationship with the Ning Family and had paid attention and care to Ning Yi due to that. The conflict of the Su Family seemed to not have started. Su Tan Er wanted to suppress the other people and sort them out, the other side would not let her. Before Old Master Su died, no one would become strong.

But if the conflict intensified in the future, and Old Master was not present, if the other people wanted to attack Su Tan Er, Ning Yi who was her husband that married in, and was looked down upon would be the best opening. If they accused him wrongly, and found an excuse to stir up some trouble, it would be simple. Old Master Su saw this, and it was why he had Ning Yi go teach. There were many of the Su Family members in the Mount Yu School and if Ning Yi was a good teacher, and received the respect of the younger generation, his status would rise in this conflict. At least, he would have the halo of a teacher, and people would think twice about moving him.

Due to this, it was best if the children liked Ning Yi. Old Master Su then asked more about how Ning Yi taught. The young girl was happy to speak and asked Su Tan Er, “Second Sister, do you know what Teacher would speak of tomorrow?”

Su Tan Er smiled. “I’m afraid that there wouldn’t be anything tomorrow. He has a cold. He is resting today, and most likely cannot go to class tomorrow.”

“Oh?” The old master inquired about the situation and Su Tan Er narrated what Xiao Chan had said. The little girl said, “Then can I go visit Brother Yi?”

Su Tan Er shook her head. “The cold may spread. Xiao Qi, wait for your Brother Yi to get better before visiting.”

AFter Third Uncle and Third Aunt left with the little girl, Su Tan Er chatted for a while longer with Grandfather before returning to her own yard. When she went to visit Ning Yi, Ning Yie was sitting up in bed and drinking medicine. His expression was displeased. Su Tan Er inquired about his wellbeing. She had originally wanted to talk to him about the stories, but seeing that he was ill, she did not mention it.

Su Tan Er had abilities, and wanted to accomplish something as a female. However, on the other side, she was still a very tradition and orthodox female. This could be seen from how she had chosen to accept and try to interact with Ning Yi despite disliking the marriage. She had her personality but the framework was still that framework.

She hoped that Ning Yi as a teacher would have authority and not use tricks to gain favor with the students. Compared to the tricks and short-cuts, she was more willing for Ning Yi to be a traditional and even pedantic teacher. Even if he did not have much knowledge, she hoped that he would be closer to the “true path.” Of course, speaking from the present, they were still in the process of learning about each other. She would not easily make conclusions but she would try to slowly draw out a picture in her mind of her husband.

Actually, the picture was clear. He was a normal student, not of great knowledge nor breadth of mind, his heart was alright, his temper was average, this was the person she was about to spend her life with.

While she could throw a fit now, time was limited. There would be a day when the two of them would have to reside together, and she would have to have a child with him. As long as he was not an evil person, these matters would occur. The future … … was most likely that. There was nothing to change. While she might still feel some yearning in her heart, but even she didn’t know what the yearning was for. After more contact, she might understand her husband better. But there most likely wouldn’t be any surprises or great differences.

 

At the end of autumn in the seven year of the Jinghan Era of the Wu Dynasty, inside the Su Family Compound of Jiangning City, the pretty woman that walked out of the eaves raised her head to look upwards and brushed her hair behind her ear. The eyes in her pretty face were still clear, and with slight helplessness. However, more was a calm indifference. When the wind blew past the yard, the light blue dress waved in the wind. This Miss Tan Er of beauty and intelligence that had just become married in name thought of her marriage like this at this time … …

However, right now, this was not something that possessed a great part of her life. She still had other things to think about, to do. Even if she reflected occasionally about a normal life, it would calmly walk on its own path. If everything developed according reasonably, maybe a few decades later, when she once against walked out under the eaves and looked up, she would suddenly remember the wind that she felt on a day many years ago. It would carry her to a faraway place, but right now, everything was in abundance and she did not need to care about many matters.

It was in this time that was abundant that the Mid-Autumn Festival arrived.

 

*********************

Illness would come like an avalanche, and leave like unspinning a silk cocoon. At this time, there were no prescription medicine, and this body had been weak to start with. He also became ill before he had exercised greatly. Therefore, when Mid-Autumn arrived, Ning Yi was still staying in his room, and could only look at medieval novels to waste away the time.

According to Ning Yi’s previous experience, he could still go out into the yard and take a stroll. However, this was the medieval era, and medicine was not very good. Most people were not in good physical condition. As long as they had servants, they would put great importance on the prevention of illness. The days at the end of autumn started to become cold, and Xiao Chan guarded the door. She did not allow this restless patient to go out. Ning Yi understood the girl’s efforts.

Fine, he was not an active person anyways. He would only open the window once in a while to change the air. Xiao Chan was even unhappy about this. Ning Yi was bored and wasted time to explain to her that fresh air was beneficial for health.

When it was evening, Ning Yi added a layer of clothing and followed Su Tan Er who had returned and the others to go to a banquet. While he had a cold, he still needed to attend large scale family banquets like the one for MId-Autumn. From top to bottom, the masters to the stewards, manservants, servant girls, and guards, there were hundreds of people. The scale was so large that large tables had to be set up in the main yard and several large ones as well. It was extremely packed and loud.

Ning Yi naturally had ate at large banquets before. For example, the year end banquet of the company would be vast in scale. But it had to be said that as times moved into the future, the feeling of distance between people increased. Right now, in this medieval atmosphere, even if there were not many people that were friendly to him, the zhui xu, he could feel intimacy just sitting here. There were fireworks being set off outside, children running around, calls, greetings, chatter in the crowd. He received and gave greetings with Su Tan Er– he liked this feeling.

The sun had not set, but the dishes were brought out. Under this heated atmosphere, the torches and lanterns were lit. The sky gradually turned to night. All kinds of sounds melded together. Those playing games, having drunken fits, coming to Old Master Su and the people of the main branch to talk. Some of the children recited the poems they had written. Chan’er, Juan’er,and Xing’er were also happy. They had been arrange to sit at the servant girl banquet nearby. They laughed as they ran to and fro, and chatted with Su Tan Er to report, and would occasionally talk with Ning Yi. They would say, “Guye, Guye, they are passing around your stories … …” Ning Yi had just casually narrated a few stories in class, and this had spread among the younger generation. It also showed signs of spreading to the servant girls and manservants.

Tsk, an era that lacked entertainment … …

The night banquet started early and actually started to end just after night arrived. However, it was Mid-Autumn and everyone stayed together to admire the moon and for other activities. Old Master Su would talk with Su Bo Yong and the others. After Master Su left, a whole bunch of Su family members followed.They had to chat and talk with Old Master Su. Some of the younger generation also had to go through this process before they could leave. The three brothers, with Su Bo Yong as the leader, were responsible for the servants starting with the stewards. The red packets had already been distributed, but the primary aim was to take turns to say some compliments.

Old Master was already more than seventy but he was healthy and of clear mind. Ning Yi and Su Tan Er already talked with him during the meal. When they went over now, the old master said things along the lines of “You need to support each other in the future” before urging the ill Ning Yi to go back to rest. While Ning Yi looked fine now, his throat was still slightly hoarse.

If this was in the modern era, a twenty year old would be able to get over the cold without even eating medicine. Right now, Ning Yi felt helpless at being told by a seventy year old senior to take care of his body. But there was nothing to do now that the situation was like this. He had not exercised greatly in the past few months and had just done it out of habit for his health. Due to this, his student body had not been greatly influenced. In the future, he should move up his systematic strengthening exercises to a closer time.

After returning to the towers, Su Tan ER followed Ning Yi into the rooms on his side. A moment of silence later, she told Ning Yi to have a good rest, and then implied with difficulty that she had to leave during the night for some matters. It was for what she had mentioned to him a few days ago, she was attending the Pu Park Poetry Conference.

Regardless of whether Ning Yi was ill or not, Su Tan Er had to attend the Pu Park Poetry Conference because the main goal was for her to meet with other people and discuss business. Even if Ning Yi was unhappy and would throw a temper fit, it would not be of any use. However, as a wife, she felt it was slightly strange to tell him such a thin while he was ill.

But Ning Yi understood. He only felt this was interesting inside. This young wife of his definitely would not give up the Su Family business, but on the hand, also hoped to take care of the marriage. Even though right now this was just a marriage in name, and she held the power. A medieval woman, he found this adorable.

After admiring Su Tan Er’s expression as she tried to make him not think too much, Ning Yi smiled and told her to leave early and return early. When Su Tan Er was preparing to leave and ordered Chan’er to take care of him, he remembered and said, “Oh, no need, let Xiao Chan go and have fun. I’ll just read and then sleep.”

There were many performances on the six interconnected pleasure boats at the Pu Park Poetry Conference. Along the way, one would also be able to admire the night scenery of the entire Qinhuai River. For any person at this time, it was a great experience. A few days ago, Xiao Chan had been happily saying how fun the poetry conference would be as Su Tan Er had taken the three girls along with her previously. Ning Yi felt good about Chan’er and did not want to ruin the young servant girl’s fun. However, before Su Tan Er spoke, Chan’er smiled and shook her head, “I’m not going, I will stay and read with Guye.”

Speaking in terms of emotion, Su Tan Er thought of the three servant girls as sisters and felt more deeply about them than Ning Yi. But no matter what, servant girls were servants. Right now, Xiao Chan was an understanding person, and she did not say more. Ning Yi wasted a few more words, and after making sure that he was unable to persuade Xiao Chan, he gave up.

The two of them watched from the second floor as the trio left. Gazing from this spot, the Su Family Compound spread out until it reached the distant street. All of Jiangning City was lit up and busy. If one could find a high place to look down from, this bright medieval night would have its own aura. However, he was unable to admire this today.

Guye, let’s go in.” Xiao Chan smiled and said, “Can you tell a story to Xiao Chan?”

“Move the bench out and I’ll tell it here … …”

“Then I won’t listen.” Xiao Chan pressed her lips together and then jumped. “The wind is strong here, go in … …”

“It’s fine, it’s fine, look, there is no wind, and I’m already wearing so much … … how about adding a hat … … it is interesting to look from here, it’s settled. Move the bench here, I’ll tell you … … the Journey to the West … … or the Romance of the West Chamber.”

Since he said this, Chan’er could only give. The two moved a bench to sit on this small balcony. At this time, the Su Family Compound was not as busy as before. It was possible to see people preparing to go out. Sounds of fireworks and shouting came from a distance. While the Mid-Autumn night was said to be for family, but in truth, there were many social interactions. For example, Su Tan Er usually had to attend numerous lantern festivals, wine banquets, poetry conferences. Normal families may not stay at home, and would join in the festivities by touring the market, watching the dragon and lion dances, and attempt lantern riddles.

At many parts of the city, one of the primary activities was about to start. Some poetry conferences already hung the first poem outside. Then there would be pleasure towers that would chose to sing these poems. As to the biggest poetry conferences, people were still arriving. When Su Tan ER left the compound, the Pan Compound that was hosting the Water Point Poetry Conference was filled with people. Elder Qin who usually played weiqi with Ning Yi and the other beside the river was wearing slightly more formal clothing. Under the accompaniment of his concubine, Yun Niang, he came out of his carriage. Then someone with many attendants behind him came out to welcome him, “Master Qin has arrive, all of the Pan Compound welcomes you … …”

This person was the present Pan Family patriarch, Pan Guang Yan. He was also the elder brother of Pan Ming Chen, Assistant Minister of Rites and Imperial Academy Hanlin Scholar. He himself was a great scholar and most skilled in drawing, especially in cranes. Due to this, most people honored him by calling him the  Crane Man. Even so, he was still respectful towards this Elder Qin. The two were around the same age. Elder Qin hurriedly smiled and bowed back. “I do not dare to accept. Crane Man, if you dare to be so courteous, I wouldn’t dare to come next time.”

“Haha, Elder Qin is still so amusing … … right, Master Ming has already come … …” The two exchanged greeting and then walked inside.

Soon, the Water Point Poetry Conference would start. The six large boats that were chained together into one great boat that had been docked next to the busiest streets of the Qinhuai River started to slowly leave the shore. The poems flowed from all the conferences and were spread through thes treets. The city was filled with lantern fire and songs. The elegant atmosphere increased. The Mid-Autumn Festival of this city was finally starting its true climax.

Translator Ramblings: Long long chapter … … Su Tan Er has no idea who she married but she is keeping an open mind. Sometimes I forget that most people are supposed to refer to Ning Yi as Ning Li Heng … …

[1] Xiao Qi (小七) means little seven, referring to her young age and also her ranking among the generation.

[2] Learning in Brotherliness is the fourth chapter in the Analects of Confucius

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10 thoughts on “Zhui Xu Chapter Nine “Vision of the Future”

  1. Fantastic. I am loving this story, its such a change of pace and has its own charm. Thank you for translating.

    Like

  2. Yeah this story has a serene air about it and it’s well described. Pretty fresh from all the other cultivate, fight, rinse and repeat novels.

    Like

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