Last time on Zhui Xu: Guye helps Nie Yun Zhu push her crêpe stall home in the snow.
This chapter has been brought to you by me and Smash10101.
Chapter 28- Samgha Rain
Ning Yi pushed the cart into a low hut by the small house and then hurriedly helped carry things in. When he stepped into the room, he couldn’t help but think of a phrase: from the main room, enter the inner chamber.1 He felt very depraved and smiled.
While the two would chat a bit every morning, this was the first time Ning Yi had entered the house.
This small house was by the riverside and only had some trees in the surroundings. It was quiet and elegant, but not a large structure. It might be cool in the summer but it was clearly cold in the winter. The outer walls had been thickened for the winter and thick curtains blocked off openings, but the owner had been out half of the day, so it felt colder than the outside. There were not many items in the living room, but it appeared elegant. Nie Yun Zhu was slightly panicked about a guest and ran around wanting to find some things. But the tea was cold, and there was nothing to eat. In the end, she could only beckon Ning Yi to sit down, and then moved a small charcoal stove outside to move the fire from the cart stove inside.
She placed the small stove at the center of the room not far from Ning Yi. Then she placed a teapot on top. “Uh … it will take just a bit of time.”
Ning Yi laughed in amusement. Nie Yun Zhu felt slightly embarrassed. Then she remembered something. “The salted duck eggs …” She ran to the inner room and moved out two earthen jars to the table in front of Ning Yi. “This … I made it based on Young Master Ning’s words. I don’t know if it is edible.”
She had prepared to sell some tea eggs or salted eggs when she was preparing for her crêpe stall. When she told Ning Yi, Ning Yi thought of something and asked her to make these. Ning Yi had put in the money. The process was about the same as salted eggs. It used things like lime water and camphor wood ash.2 It did not use as much salt as salted eggs. He only said this was an experiment for her to do strictly based on the ratio. It had been more than twenty days so it should be possible to see the results now.
Nie Yun Zhu was interested in these salted duck eggs made with this strange method. But she was more interested in the songs that Ning Yi spoke of on the way. She disliked entertaining people with her beauty, but not the skills themselves. She did not ask but of course she was curious about the songs a person who composed the Prelude to the Water Melody would hum. She brought over a basin of clear water and a bowl for Ning Yi. Then she moved over the guqin, ink, brushes, and paper. She sat down at the table without a word.
Ning Yi took out a duck egg and threw it into the water to clean. Seeing the other’s expression, he smiled and nodded, “Alright, I will sing for you, you write down the lyrics. But do not laugh at me if it does not sound good. The name of this song is “Samgha Rain” … yes, this samgha …”
The snowflakes fell as song came out of the small house.
“The sounds of bustling life enter the Buddhist refuge, tormenting the common people. The dreams are cold. After wandering this lifetime, there are more love debts. Like you have silently accepted, you wait year after year until you wither. Levels of the Buddhist Pagoda have caved in. Whose soul has caved in? Sprinting in pain past a broken lantern towards the destroyed gates. Allow me to let history turn back, for fragrant wine, for you to play a song on the zither …”
Chords quietly sounded…
In the Su Mansion, the test at the library tower had finished, but Ning Yi did not appear. After talking with Grandfather Su and the others, Song Mao returned to the courtyard the Su Family had arranged for him, and ordered the steward who had accompanied him here to prepare gifts and items for visits.
His schedule this time to Jiangning was slightly tight, especially the first few days. Care had to be taken in deciding who he visited first. As he thought of some things, Song Kai came in. “Master, Young Master Wen Xin asks to meet.”
Song Mao nodded. “Have him come in.”
Su Wen Xin was Su Zhong Kan’s son and ranked fifth among the men of the Su third generation — of course this ranking wasn’t just in the third branch and included the many cousins — but Su Wen Xin was born from Su Zhong Kan’s wife. Song Mao was his maternal uncle, and had favored him greatly in childhood. So Song Mao had predicted that Su Wen Xin would come here.
The saying that there were no talents in the third Su generation was widespread, but from outside appearances the twenty three-year old Su Wen Xin appeared to be good in appearance and manners. He first bowed and paid respects to Song Mao after entering. Song Mao smiled and said what he said before, “Wen Xin, the person who you say fishes for compliments is really this Ning Yi, Ning Li Heng?”
“Uncle, it really is that person. We’ve investigated his background before. In the last twenty years, he was an unknown pendant. He understands nothing. If he didn’t end up in poverty, why did he marry into the Su Family …”
Song Mao said with a smile, “I do not see this …”
“He said that a Taoist sang the Prelude to the Water Melody to Grandfather, Father and others. But Grandfather was stern and told everyone to not spread this matter so we cannot speak publicly of this …”
Su Wen Xin was dejected inside, and spoke casually in front of the uncle who liked him. Song Mao pressed his hand down in the air. “The plausibility of this matter is unknown. If he really is fishing for compliments and stole someone’s poem, Uncle will test him …”
“But Uncle, you praised him at the library today, if …”
This morning, Su Wen Xin had spoken of Ning Yi to Song Mao. Just now, in the library, Song Mao hadn’t known that Ning Yi was those children’s teacher. But after learning, he still had been full of praise. Su Wen Xin was dispirited by this, and feared of adding to the other’s reputation. Ning Yi only had his status as a zhui xu now. But his reputation would become a bargaining chip on Su Tan Er’s side.
Seeing his nephew speak of this, Song Mao shook his head inwardly. He patted his nephew on the shoulder, “Wen Xin, you are going to take over your father’s business. Uncle told you long ago to look further into the future. Do not be discontent when you see others gain a bit of fame. In the Su Family, your Sister Tan Er’s husband has married in, but your grandfather will not allow people to touch him. If he really has talent and you cannot do anything, then why not get on good terms with him and find his weaknesses. If he is false, then he will fall down one day. The higher he gets, the harder he falls. So before he falls, why not push him up?”
Song Mao’s square face looked dignified and honest as he finished speaking sincerely. He paused, “I have a matter and have to leave. Wen Xin, think on these words, and reflect. At night, go see your parents… yes, I am leaving.”
“Under-understood…” Su Wen Xin bowed respectfully. “This nephew thought incorrectly…”
Song Mao smiled and pushed the door to leave.
When Song Mao was walking out of the courtyard, another figure was walking towards a side door on the other end of the Su Mansion.
Xi Jun Yu, who had come with Shopkeeper Luo, did not leave with the shopkeeper. After the news from the library spread, he chatted for a while with the others before bidding farewell alone. The Su Mansion was large and he was not visiting for the first time. He was familiar with the place so after he turned around, he could see the two small towers where Su Tan Er and Ning Yi lived from this angle.
The snow came down. He stood there and thought for a while with a serious gaze before he turned to leave. He passed by several snowy courtyards. When he was close to the side door, he heard a voice coming from nearby, “Shopkeeper Xi, what a coincidence!”
In reality, this kind of “coincidence” was not the first time. Xi Jun Yu was slightly irritated today and frowned, but he still raised his folded hands. “Seventh Young Master, what a coincidence.”
A grandly-dressed young master walked over with a fan in hand. He was not old, and his features were young and likable. Su Wen Li of the third Su branch came with a smile. “Shopkeeper Xi has worked hard. My father is holding a banquet in Spring Tower today, how about Shopkeeper Xi …”
“Haha, thank you, Seventh Young Master for your intentions, but Jun Yu has other matters and no time for the banquet.”
“Shopkeeper Xi, do not say this each time …”
“Why does Seventh Young Master say the same thing each time?”
“Alright.” Su Wen Li’s expression turned normal. “Shopkeeper Xi, I know you like Second Sister.”
Xi Jun Yu calmed himself and then smiled faintly. “This is a new one.”
“Shopkeeper Xi, why do you not admit it? Anyone with eyes in the family can see this… Honestly speaking, at the start, everyone thought Second Sister would choose you. That day, Father also said, “I fear that she has chosen Xi Jun Yu. It will be troublesome.” There is no need to keep that a secret from you. Everyone knows your abilities. You support more than half of Second Sister’s business. But Second Sister, Eldest Uncle, and Grandfather did not choose you.”
Since he had already started, Su Wen Li swung his unopened fan and continued, “No one knows why they chose that Ning Yi. Don’t say that I speak ugly words that I am sowing discord. You will think this even without me. Just now, that Ning Yi got a lot of attention, did you know? Grandfather will place more and more importance on him, he is just a zhui xu…”
Xi Jun Yu heard the words and then smiled faintly. “Seventh Young Master, I know they have not yet shared the marriage bed. They still sleep separately. They appear to be husband and wife, but they are strangers. As long as they do not consummate, the zhui xu is just a joke.”
“They will consummate sooner or later! You and I both know Second Sister’s personality. Since she has started to interact with that Ning Yi, consummation will occur in the end. She has had a good upbringing from infancy, she will not do anything against morals, since she has accepted …”
“Ha, Seventh Young Master, you freely discuss your older sister like this …”
Xi Jun Yu shook his head and started to walk. Su Wen Li ground his teeth. “It is like this no matter the discussion! Xi Jun Yu, you know that Sister will accept him sooner or later. You have no chance…”
Before he finished, Xi Jun Yu suddenly turned around and strode over. He was a tall and broad person. When he walked over with a dark expression, his presence appeared intimidating after several years of business. He stared at Su Wen Li for a while and then smiled coldly. He shook his head. “Seventh Young Master, don’t be naive…”
Xi Jun Yu frequently came into the mansion to discuss matters and Su Wen Li frequently came to wait. Everyone spoke harmoniously during each “coincidence”, and Su Wen Li had never seen the usually calm and confident Xi Jun Yu have such an expression.
He stilled slightly and then said, “Shop-Shopkeeper Xi, if you come to my side, you will be a chief shopkeeper of the Su Mansion. You can use the resources of the third Su branch as you please. We will agree to all requests you have. If you can maintain the resources well, Second Sister is just a woman so there are ways for you to get her if she cannot take over the eldest branch… My father says you are a smart person. Everyone knows you are smart. We are sincere. There is no need for other words. You can think about it…”
Translator Ramblings: Samgha Rain is a song by Jay Chou supposedly inspired by a Record of Buddhist Monasteries in Luoyang by Yang Xuanzhi. The most common version of the story goes like this: a general and woman meet in Luoyang and fall in love. The general is sent by the court to the border to fight. After constant warfare, the capital Luoyang had turned to ruins. The woman kept on waiting for the general by the city, becoming a nun when she learned of the general’s apparent death. When the general returns, he learns the woman had passed away, but had kept on waiting.
- Zhui Xu Chapter 28 “Samgha Rain 1”
- Zhui Xu Chapter 27 “How Many Floors High”
- Zhui Xu Chapter 26 “Examination”
- Zhui Xu Chapter 25 “Gather Clouds In One’s Hand”
- Zhui Xu Chapter 24 “First Cousin”
- This saying is commonly used to mean “going up another level”, or “attaining a higher understanding.” But here, it takes on a more crude meaning. You could almost say it is “getting to the next base.” ↩
- From the editor: Fresh eggs can be preserved for up to a year without refrigeration with a process known as waterglassing. Clean, but unwashed eggs can be submerged in a sodium silicate or calcium hydroxide (aka pickling lime) solution which will create an air-and-water-tight seal, preserving the eggs. Clean them well before consuming, and poke a small hole in them before boiling if you don’t want them to crack. I’m not entirely sure what the camphor wood ash is for. Camphor was used as an ingredient in one of the first known ice cream recipes, from the Tang Dynasty. It was also used to flavor ancient Egyptian breads and found use in traditional Chinese medicine. ↩