Last chapter recap: Elder Qin decides to make sure the Prelude to the Water Melody spreads.
Chapter 15 Realizing After the Fact
The carriage entered from the side door of the Su Mansion and coincidentally encountered Second Uncle and his group who were mostly drunk. They asked Su Tan Er about tonight’s news and whether she had fun. Su Tan Er answered back, her expression normal.
At this time, many poems were being passed around the city. The Prelude to the Water Melody was of course one of the best, but it could not truly cause a sensation and be called the top of the night yet. Kang Xian’s words over by Water Point Poetry Conference had not spread. In the eyes of ordinary people, the top poems were about the same. In the view of these people, this poem was good, but compared to Cao Guan, Li Pin and the others, it was just similar. Maybe because of these scholar’s fame, they would put Prelude to the Water Melody slightly lower. Only those who truly were knowledgeable could detect the profoundness of this poem, how it returned to the essence, and the great disparity.
Su Zhong Kan only discussed business with people tonight, dranking wine and flirted with prostitutes. He was not concerned with poetry and the news concerning Ning Li Heng did not reach his ears. Uncle and niece exchanged a few words and separated. Su Tan Er and her servants went back to the courtyard they resided in. Other than the big lantern still lit outside the gates, the courtyard was quiet and only illuminated by moonlight.
Su Tan Er glanced to the dark second-floor room. Xiao Chan asked, “Miss, should I call Guye …”
“No, he’s asleep, do not wake him. Chan’er, get some warm water. Juan’er, Xing’er, go sleep now … Chan’er, if you still have energy, could you tell me the stories that Guye told you?”
Chan’er nodded with a smile. Xing’er and Juan’er all raised their hands.
“Miss, Miss, we are not tired.”
“We also want to listen.”
She looked with exasperation at the two servant girls and then said with a smile, “Then come along. Speaking of this, we haven’t listened to stories for a long time.”
“I remember when young, Miss would tell stories to us …”
“Yes, yes, I still remember …”
The girls chattered. Then Su Tan Er went upstairs, Juan’er and Xing’er helping Chan’er go heat water, and carry the wooden basin and towels.
The lights far in the city had quieted slightly. IN the serene little yard, the warm yellow lantern light floated on the second-floor window and reflected the shadows of mistress and servant conversing in the room.
An unknown time later, when the night was much later, the three servant girls left the room, closed the door and went downstairs. Returning to her own room, Chan’er closed the door and leaned against it. Her hands pressed to her chest, she looked up and breathed deeply. Her innocent face showed a complicated expression, joy, puzzlement, fear, wonderment …
Su Tan Er had taught her many things. Due to this, she was not purely innocent and her own thoughts. But her thoughts would always be for the people she liked around her, for example, Miss, the Su Family, and now maybe Ning Li Heng as well.
In the past, she could argue with Elder Qin by the weiqi stall on behalf of the Su Family. She had interacted well with Ning Yi in the recent while. Ning Yi had an aloof personality but humorous, and when doing things — even though he never did any real things — was calm and methodical. He treated her well, and she liked him.
On the other hand, she didn’t just like Miss, she was also grateful and wanted to pay the other back. In conclusion, she really really liked Miss. She understood Miss’ previous distress and knew what Miss liked. Since she found Guye was not a bookworm like they had heard previously, she would naturally think about the marriage between her and Miss. If they liked each other and got together, it would be best. She didn’t have to do much. Let Miss know of Guye‘s matters, let Guye know of Miss’ good traits — this was a job she should do as a personal servant girl.
She knew Miss liked poetry, but the ones that Guye had wrote before were nothing that could be put into public. Sometimes, she would feel that Guye had deliberately wrote those things as a joke. Tonight, she saw the Prelude to the Water Melody that Guye wrote. While she was not very knowledgeable, she detected the greatness of the poem. She found a treasure, so she took the poem to Pu Park Poetry Conference and planned to find a time for Miss to read. Then she saw Xue Jin come in, and understood something had happened. She followed the flow and took out the poem. No matter what, this poem should be good and not a shame.
She just hadn’t imagined that this poem would be so good in the eyes of those people.
If she had an accurate understanding before, she would not have rashly taken out the poem like that. Now, it appeared that this had taken the opposite effect of letting Miss see Guye‘s talent — Miss seemed to be frightened. She had looked unprepared on the boat, and she felt slightly guilty. She had just wanted to prepare a small surprise. But the surprise was so great she scared herself …
Oh, why was it like this …
The lantern fire swayed. Xiao Chan sat by the table, thinking hard with her hands propping her chin. She read the Prelude to the Water Melody that Ning Yi had wrote her repeatedly.
Guye, it is good you have talent, you do not have to have such great talent … how will Xiao Chan tell you these things tomorrow.
As expected, it was Guye‘s fault.
She pouted, and poked the paper. When she saw the last words, her face grew red. Then she folded the paper carefully and put it at the bottom of her drawer.
Blowing out the oil lantern, her face heated. The young girl slowly climbed on to the bed in the darkness …
“Man will live long as he can … hee …” 1
In the early morning, the white mist once again spread out over Jiangning. The bright sun rose above the mist, and created a beautiful sunrise.
Ning Yi felt refreshed upon waking, having recovered mostly. He would rest another day and go back to teaching tomorrow. Today was enough time to get some wooden dummies and sandbags from the guards. This body had been weak for many yeas, and he had to exercise it.
The steward in charge of the guards seemed to have the surname Zhang. Based on the atmosphere he felt in the Su Family, Grandfather Su was relatively considerate. However, if he got things like wooden dummies and sandbags into the courtyard, Su Tan Er and the others might get a great shock. There was nothing in a weak scholar going on a run, but if he suddenly said he was going to practice martial arts, they would think him an idiot.
He had to slowly let them accept that he was different. This might be too fast. He pondered this in boredom. Then during breakfast when they were drinking meat porridge together, he felt Su Tan Er was looking at him weirdly the entire time.
He glanced up. A moment later, Ning Yi put down his bowl and gazed back in puzzlement at his wife. “What is it?”
“Nothing.” Su Tan Er smiled slightly and shook her head. “I just feel that Husband is very energetic this morning.”
“Oh, the illness has passed, cough … my throat is slightly dry. But I will be fine after today, and can go back to the school.”
“As long as you are healthy. Maybe Husband will be very busy these few days.”
“Yes.” Su Tan Er nodded. She did not explain and started to elegantly sip her porridge. Puzzled, Ning Yi felt the smile on her mouth was similar to the Mona Lisa …
What did that mean, was the school going to add work? Ning Yi speculated on the meaning of the other’s words. He finally grasped the emotions in the other’s gaze when he returned to his room and Xiao Chan timidly came to tell him what happened last night.
“So-sorry, Guye, Xiao Chan originally wanted … to just let Miss read , but that Xue Jin was really horrid …”
Ning Yi gaped as he listened to her finish. Then his expression calmed. He thought for a while, and then laughed in amusement.
“Oh, nothing, there isn’t a big problem.”
Seeing him not become angry, Chan’er nodded happily. “Yes, Guye‘s talent …” Ning Yi tapped her forehead with a finger.
“Who said I have talent? Do not say this to other people.”
“… oh,” the young girl hesitated and then nodded.
“If this is the case, I won’t leave today.” Ning Yi thought and then laughed. “It seems I have to be ill for a few more days.”
The sunlight came in through the window. Ning Yi took a novel and went back to his bed, preparing to pretend illness. Moments later, he waved a hand at Xiao Chan. Xiao Chan finally was relieved of her worries. She moved over a box with weiqi pieces and a small table from the corner to play five in a row and happily ran over …
Some people slept late on Midautumn night. Due to this, many people were late in getting up. The city of Jiangning was an hour late in resuming its usual prosperity. This afternoon, the matter of the Prelude to the Water Melody and the other news regarding the poem started to spread. This Prelude to the Water Melody started to make waves and vibrations over the next few days, in Jiangning, and spread outwards over time …
Translator Ramblings: Each chapter is only a few hours of time … turtle-pace development.
- Zhui Xu Chapter 19 “Loyal Subject”
- Zhui Xu Chapter 18 “Hang Oneself on the Southeastern Branch”
- Zhui Xu Chapter 17 “Presence”
- Zhui Xu Chapter 16 “Nie Yun Zhu”
- Zhui Xu Chapter 15 “Realizing After the Fact”
- One of the words in this phrase has the same chan character as Xiao Chan and also a juan character the same as Juan’er. ↩