This chapter was translated by Sian for https://nuttyisprocrasinating.wordpress.com only and edited by Din2.
By Qian Lu
Since the old days, Autumns are lonely, empty — people say;
But for me Autumn’s always better than any Spring day.
A single crane shoots through clouds up to the boundless, blue sky;
O With it, all my poetic sentiments soar as high.
(QIU CI: “Autumn Song” No. 1 (of 2)
— LIU YUXI (772-842)
— Translated by Frank C Yue )
The clear and refreshing autumn weather day was really suited to go out, Murong Shu Qing did not use the carriage, she took Lu Yi to go along the flagstone pathway to enjoy the ancient street alleys within the Capital. It was different from a bustling and flourishing main street, there was no gorgeous store fronts on the street, no loud sounds from the tearoom or wine shops. But there was a bungalow that was built with greenish stone brick roofs as its tower, also there were snack and tea stalls along the street. Murong Shu Qing liked to wander within this kind of alley, it used its simple and unadorned architecture to talk about the ancient cultures and stories. Murong Shu Qing walked all the way, while she was kneading her somewhat swelling temple. She believed that she caught a cold, due to her fondness of the cool autumn wind, she unexpectedly fell asleep on the lawn last night. It if were not for Lu Yi who woke her up, she would definitely get more than a headache now. But when she woke up last night, the man who was also admiring the full moon with her, was already gone long ago. Since he appeared at the Qi’s family at that moment, so he should also the Qi family’s person, she would meet him again sooner or later.
Bypassing the bluestone alleys, one would see the Capital’s Yue Yang He (river) behind the cross, the river was not wide, and the water was not deep either. There were many scholars and poets walking and loitering within the location freely, so everyday, there would be some gorgeous or impressive or elegant or decorated boats that were anchored on the river.
The cool wind from the river, was slowly blowing, it made Murong Shu Qing’s slight aching head to get some relief. Her purpose to go out today was to tour the Capital’s famous street alleys, and to visit Bao Yue Shu Zhai (book store owns by MSQ) to get some books to bring back home to read. She had already looked at all of Qi Yue’s books once, so she was not interested anymore, if she did not look for more books to pass the time, she would be very bored.
The biggest book store at the Capital, Bao Yue Shu Zhai was just opened by the Yue Yang riverside. The front courtyard of the study room was planted with green bamboo, passing through the small bamboo forest was a spacious and wide bungalow. Murong Shu Qing looked up and down at the main gate and she was very satisfied. The entrance by the front of the river was open wide, the lintel doors, with a wooden tablet that was hung on it, was clearly painted with Bao Yue, these two words. Entering the inner room, there were several mahogany carved tables and chairs, and when she was walking deeper inside the room, there should be a big library (room) that was part of her requirement in designing this bookstore. And sure enough, winding around, on the side of a huge pine tree that showed auspiciousness, there was a huge room for books, there were already many scholars who were reading the books inside.
She also came to get the books today, so she did not plan to show her identity. When she left home, she chose an indigo plain clothing cheongsam, and was using the same color for her head covering and headband. Her conspicuously thin and slender figure, with a warm, gentle and calm smiling expression, she really looked like a delicate and refined scholar.
The young child who was on the side serving, also gave her a piece of paper and a brush, he modestly greeted and said: “Gongzi, you can write whatever book that you want to write down, when you leave, we will help you to organize everything properly.”
Lu Yi who was behind, took the paper and brush, Murong Shu Qing slightly cupped her hands and smilingly said: “Many thanks.”
The young child returned her greeting, and retreated to the side.
Flipping through the books all the way, Lu Yi would write down the books that she liked, and she walked around once. Murong Shu Qing discovered that she had actually been inside the bookstore for two shichen (4 hours). Looking at Lu Yi’s hand that was holding a thick booklist, she could not help but to laugh, it did not look like she was buying books, but it looked like she was moving the books out of this bookstore.
But since she already picked those books, she could only carry them. Taking that big stack of booklists that were handed over by the young child, he also showed a stupefied expression, when she handed over 500 taels of banknotes, and said: “You can prepare the books first, and wait for someone to come and get them.”
Finished speaking, she pulled Lu Yi out of the bookstore, because they were really hungry.
Murong Shu Qing looked at Lu Yi’s complexion that was somewhat not good, she felt guilty and said: “Lu Yi, you are hungry, I will take you to eat delicious food.” After all, she made Lu Yi to accompany her to get books with her hungry stomach, and she really made it difficult for her (LY).
Lu Yi was happy so she smilingly said: “Thank you, Miss.”
Murong Shu Qing pretended to be angry, said: “You called me with a wrong appellation again.”
Lu Yi stuck out her tongue: “I am so hungry and dizzy. I will call you Master in the future, and will not make any mistake again.”
Murong Shu Qing laughingly looked at her, this girl, looked more and more like Hong Xiu. The two people were smiling and bickering, while they walked towards Ying Ke Lou, but they had not walked for several steps, several hurried sounds of the footsteps echoed from behind them, a blue dress woman was gasping behind them, and she called out: “Gongzi, please stay.”
Murong Shu Qing peered at the delicate, pretty and young lady who was in front of her, she did not remember that she was familiar with her ah? But Murong Shu Qing still asked with courtesy: “Does this young lady have any comment?”
With great difficulty, she steadied her breath, the woman slightly saluted, she pointed to a light blue and exquisite decorated boat that was upfront, and said: “My family’s Miss invites Gongzi to chat.”
Her words made Murong Shu Qing feel suspicious even more, she followed her direction, Murong Shu Qing looked towards that decorated boat that was not too far away. The decorated boat was not big, but the decoration was refined and luxurious, a fluttering light blue muslin separated Murong Shu Qing’s sight, so she could only vaguely see several fuzzy silhouettes. When she was just about to decline the invitation, a trace of fiery silhouette came out now and bowed her head, and waved to her happily. Murong Shu Qing slightly narrowed her eyes, and finally could see the woman’s appearance clearly. It was the young lady from Qing Feng Lou from the other day, so the person who was on the boat, should be: “Hai Yue?”
Lu Yi looked at Murong Shu Qing for a long time, but she did not speak for a long time either, so she anxiously asked: “Master?”
Murong Shu Qing turned her head around, and gave her a ‘nothing was the matter’ expression.
Hai Yue wanted to invite her to this so-called chat with her? How many children of officials and handsome men who asked but did not have this opportunity, and it actually made her to run into this opportunity. Since this was the case, she could not let down her 10,000 taels. If her memory was not mistaken, the flavors of Qing Feng Lou’s tea and pastries were pretty good.
Murong Shu Qing turned her head around, she raised her eyebrows and smilingly said to Lu Yi: “I will take you to eat some delicious food.”
Looking at Miss’ mischievous look, she just knew that delicious eating arrangement would not be that simple. But Lu Yi still smiled and nodded.
Murong Shu Qing smilingly said to the young lady: “Young lady, please lead the way.”
Soon, Murong Shu Qing climbed on that exquisite and cozy decorated boat. Under the guidance of the red dress woman, she passed through layer upon layer of blue muslins, then Murong Shu Qing saw Hai Yue who was by the soft couch in the middle of the boat.
The pure white muslin skirt really matched with her bright skin, as if she was a piece of first-rated jade. Her bright and naked ankles wore an ice blue crystal chain, with her indolent and sincere smile, and her stylish and casual attitudes. All made her look perfect and made people to want to worship her. Murong Shu Qing lightly sighed, she was really a rare object, let alone a man, even a woman also wanted to admire her.
Hai Yue slowly sat down on the soft couch, her barefoot legs stepped on the pure white goat woolen rug, and she said: “How is Qin Gongzi doing?” Even though she still casually nodded to give her courtesy, but because she was the one who did it, it showed her infinite style.
Murong Shu Qing cupped her hands and smilingly said: “Thank you for Miss’ concerned.”
“Gongzi, please sit.”
Murong Shu Qing nodded and sat down, and also pulled Lu Yi to sit down next to her. Taking a lily mung bean cake that was in front of her and pushing it to in front of her (LY), she hinted to eat some. Lu Yi cleverly picked one piece, took a bite, she happily nodded her head lightly.
Looking that she was eating the food, Murong Shu Qing was also relieved, she was so hungry for a long time, if she fainted, that would not be good.
Observing the intimate interaction between the two of them, Hai Yue’s bright eyes slightly narrowed, she was swaying past Lu Yi for once, and found that she was really a delicate and vivid servant girl. Retaking her sight, Hai Yue naturally smiled and said: “Hai Yue is waiting for a long time at Qing Feng Lou, but does not see Gongzi again, unexpectedly, we meet fortunately today.”
Today was originally a boring day so she went boating on the lake, she unexpectedly saw him on the shore. He looked different than that day’s gorgeous and respected appearance, he did not wear any silk satin clothing or precious jade artifacts today. He only wore a coarse blue clothing, his hair was only wrapped casually also, but that graceful bearing on his body, did not drown out, it was actually dazzling the eyes like luster of gems even more.
Murong Shu Qing only took her words as conventional greetings, so she smilingly said a modest respond: “Miss is too polite, once I have heard that immortal sound of a song the other day, I still ponder over it until now.”
Hai Yue walked to the side of a guqin near the deck, and said: “Gongzi is surely an elegant scholarly master in playing instrument, I do not know whether it is possible or not to play a song for me.” If she was able to play the instrument in a perfect harmony with him, that would be better.
Play a song for her? Murong Shu Qing frowned her eyebrows, if she looked at a few music theory books, she might still be able to understand the guqin’s music. She also did not have any problem commenting about her feeling after she listened to the song, but playing the guqin like this, she was really powerless. So she could only oblige to said with regret: “Miss’ praise is erroneous, this humble person does not know how to play the instrument, and I do not dare to display my skill in front of you.”
Hai Yue did not believe that he was a common man, who did not know how to play guqin, it should be that he was not willing to play it. Walking to Murong Shu Qing’s side, Hai Yue used an affirmative tone, and said: “Gongzi is not wiling.”
Facing Hai Yue’s stubborn expression, Murong Shu Qing did not know what to say properly. She really did not know how to play stringed instrument ah……!
The almighty and cunning MSQ has a weakness. Hehehe… I wonder if this was the first time that she felt helpless as she was not able to play a stringed instrument in this era. Considering her background as a wealthy girl, she had to know how to play so of course, Hai Yue wouldn’t believe that she couldn’t play. Poor MSQ, she was put on the spot now.
The website for that poem that Din2 found: http://chinesepoetryinenglishverse.blogspot.co.id/2013/06/single-crane-shoots-through-clouds-up.html?m=1