Why Harem Intrigue When You Can Just Raise A Dog Instead? (Chp 38)
Chapter 38: Brother-In-Law 2 (大舅子2)
English proofreaders: JimmyfromIT, 247reader
By the time Emperor Zhou’wu led Yan Jun’wei downstairs, both sides of the street had already filled with people watching the show.
They could just barely hear the distinct voice of a man standing in the centre of the crowd. “I bumped into you? Who’s to say you didn’t purposely walk over and bump into me? Shen Xi’yan, are you looking for another beating?”
“You, beat me? Meng Yan’zhou, today you can finally give it your best shot! Do you know the penalty for bumping into an Imperial Court Official? A light sentence is being caned 80 times; a heavy sentence is to be restrained in a cangue 枷 (jiā) Similar to the European pillory, a cangue was a wooden collared scaffold used to restrain and punish criminals in China. It was also used for public humiliation. There’s also a cage form that you might be more familiar with from dramas. See images. and tortured. Somebody, come! Bind him up and take him to the capital’s government office!” 衙门 (yámen) The government’s office in feudal China was typically associated with embezzlement, hence the saying ‘衙门八字开, 有理无钱莫进来,’ meaning ‘The yamen gate is open wide; with reason/right but no money, don’t go inside.’ Its function is similar to a municipal court office or police office today. When I hear yamen, I think of Bao Qing Tian [My childhood | Historical figure]. Did anyone else watch that drama? As Shen Xi’yan shouted, the scar on his face twisted further. He looked utterly terrifying.
Meng Yan’zhou smiled coldly. “An Imperial Court Official? You? As far as I know, the imperial government has a law decreeing that those with physical deformities cannot become officials. Just based on your rank and honour, who on earth would take you?”
“You…!” Shen Xi’yan was so enraged, his face turned blue. He refuted, “In times gone by, our Great Ancestor 太祖 (tàizǔ) Lit. Great Ancestor; A posthumous title for the founder of a dynasty. was missing an ear but still proclaimed himself Emperor. Why can’t I become an official? Tie him up and drag him to the government office!”
A group of household servants loudly agreed and rushed forward to surround Meng Yan’zhou.
“Not good. This group of family servants isn’t ordinary. Look at their drawn-out breathing and steady stances. All of them are martial artists. Shen Xi’yan is purposely laying a trap for Meng Yan’zhou!” said Yan Jun’wei in a grave voice.
Although Emperor Zhou’wu’s kung fu was not as good as that of Yan Jun’wei, he had still practiced martial arts since childhood. He’d already taken notice of this. His expression turned frosty and he pushed through the crowd.
“Bumping into an Imperial Court Official? Indeed, that’s no small crime. It needs to be handled seriously. May I venture to ask if your distinguished self 阁下 (géxià) Your distinguished self; Sire; Your Excellency – A courteous way of addressing someone with a higher status than you. has a certificate of appointment or an official seal? Take out these two items and this brother 兄台 (xiōngtái) Lit. brother; A polite appellation for a male friend one’s age; To my knowledge, I’ve only seen this form of address used between males. Perhaps it’s the ancient Chinese version of the Korean Hyeong 형? will naturally follow you to the government office without a word of complaint!” He strolled over to Meng Yan’zhou’s side and clasped his shoulder. To his knowledge, there was still half a month remaining before Shen Xi’yan would formally take up his post. Needless to say, he didn’t have those items.
Meng Yan’zhou’s martial arts weren’t at an ordinary level. How could he not have noticed those family servants’ backgrounds? He promptly cooperated, yelling back, “Shen Xi’yan, if you show me your certificate of appointment and official seal, today this great lord Meng Yan’zhou calls himself “大爷我” indicating that he views himself above Shen Xi’yan. will allow you to beat me as you wish! Even if you kill me, I’ll voice no complaint! But if you can’t show proof…”
“If you can’t show proof… According to Great Zhou’s laws, those who falsely claim to be Imperial Court Officials will, for light infractions, have their properties confiscated and be exiled, or in more serious cases, face capital punishment by being cleaved at the waist.” Emperor Zhou’wu waved the white-jade framed fan in his hand. His tone suddenly turned frigid. “Moreover, the Great Ancestor lost his ear as a result of injury in battle. Yet your distinguished self’s [injury] was brought about by supporting a woman. How could your distinguished self dare to speak of yourself and the Great Ancestor in the same breath? Everyone says that Gracious Consort is the most favoured in the Imperial Harem and that Imperial Preceptor Shen’s authority holds sway over all levels of society. The Shen family desires to stand shoulder to shoulder with the imperial family. Could it be that they wish to cover the sky with one hand, 一手遮天 (yīshǒuzhētiān) An idiom meaning to hide the truth from the masses. or do they wish to transform heaven and earth?” 改天换地 (gǎitiān huàndì) An idiom meaning to change the world tremendously. 改天 also alludes to changing Emperors who were believed to be Sons of Heaven and 换地 sounds the same as 换帝, haha~
Each of the newcomer’s accusations was more serious than the next, but they all hit the heart of the matter. He obviously had a mild-mannered disposition but facing the other party’s pitch-black eyes, Shen Xi’yan felt his blood run cold. Seeing the skeptical expressions of the crowd, he recalled his father’s earnest instructions to keep a low profile. He clenched his teeth, hesitating. Meng Yan’zhou had almost destroyed his future prospects. It hadn’t been easy for him to catch this opportunity. Was he just going to let him go like this?
Right at that moment, Yan Jun’wei brought over a youth clad in the ceremonial dress of a military officer. They forced their way through the crowd. The youth had made a name for himself at age twenty. His features were extremely handsome, and the space between his eyebrows revealed a hint of ruthlessness. He looked in the direction of Shen Xi’yan and said coldly, “Shen Xi’yan, ‘bumping into an Imperial Court Official’ – there’s still half a month before you have the right to say this phrase. Today, if you keep this up, this official will personally bring you to the capital’s government office for a taste of misfortune. The imperial guards can, too.”
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“Hmph! Let’s go!” At present, the imperial guards were not completely under the Shen family’s control. Furthermore, the newcomer was stubborn and not someone to be easily provoked. Shen Xi’yan glared sharply at the gathered group before leading his family servants in a line through the crowd, retreating in embarrassment.
“This brother, thank you very much!” Meng Yan’zhou faced Emperor Zhou’wu and gave him a cupped-hand salute 拱手 (gǒng shǒu) To make an obeisance by cupping one hand in the other before the chest. For a visual and an explanation, look at the first picture in this article. with a bright smile. Afterwards, he walked over to the young military officer and clapped his shoulder, saying, “Hua’shan, what brings you here?”
“Qi Dong’lei sent people to give me a letter.” The newcomer pointed at Yan Jun’wei beside Emperor Zhou’wu.
“Dong’lei, how come you aren’t dallying in some peaceful village? What brings you out here today? Thanks a lot!” Meng Yan’zhou walked over and gave Yan Jun’wei’s shoulder a hearty clap. His manner of speaking was quite friendly. As they were both famous, rich good-for-nothings 纨绔 (wánkù) Lit. silk pants; It’s a euphemism for a hedonistic son from a rich family. Someone who indulges in amusement all day, spends money like water, and doesn’t do any real work. in the capital, it was natural that they were familiar with each other.
“I can’t spend every day glued to a woman’s side. How useless!” Yan Jun’wei opened his folding fan arrogantly, thinking that he was refined and chic, but his uncouth appearance was honestly an eyesore. The crowd of onlookers immediately dispersed, long tired of watching Qi Dong’lei’s drama.
“Is this your friend?” Meng Yan’zhou glanced at Emperor Zhou’wu beside him, and Emperor Zhou’wu gave him a warm smile.
“Yeah, he came from Zhili province to do some business in the capital.” Yan Jun’wei gave a nod.
Emperor Zhou’wu gave a cupped-hand salute and said, “This humble one is called Han Hai.”
“This humble one is called Meng Yan’zhou. Thanks a lot for earlier!” Meng Yan’zhou said, hurriedly returning the greeting. He was clearly a man with a bold personality, without a shred of a noble scion’s arrogance.
Since Meng Yan’zhou was a civilian who normally didn’t attend to his proper duties and only knew how to blindly indulge in amusement, this was Emperor Zhou’wu’s first time seeing him in person. Seeing him now, he realized that this brother-in-law of his was not as undesirable as the rumours in the capital painted him to be.
“This humble one is called Wang Hua’shan.” The young military officer followed suit and gave a cupped-hand salute. His stern expression had already softened.
“Wang Hua’shan?” Emperor Zhou’wu’s smile froze slightly. Though he had only heard this name once before, he had thoroughly made note of it. This was someone to whom Sangyu could wholeheartedly entrust her family in the face of danger. This man’s mutual affection with Sangyu was undoubtedly out of the ordinary. How could he not take notice?
“Brother Han knows of this humble one?”
Emperor Zhou’wu’s deep dark eyes bore into him, causing Wang Hua’shan to feel uneasy. This person’s gaze possessed extreme dignity and sharpness. He was definitely not the average young lord from a rich family.
“I don’t know you, but I’ve vaguely heard someone mention your name.” Emperor Zhou’wu waved off his question. The smile on his face thinned a bit.
Yan Jun’wei’s eyes flashed, and he enthusiastically invited the two of them upstairs to have a meal. It was already midday. Qi Dong’lei and Han Hai had really helped them out, so Meng Yan’zhou and Wang Hua’shan didn’t refuse and followed them up the steps.
Arriving at the doorway, Emperor Zhou’wu lagged behind, pulling Yan Jun’wei aside to inquire in a low voice, “What’s Wang Hua’shan’s background?”
He actually asked! He must have heard Her Ladyship Virtuous Consort mention the name and now he’s jealous! Yan Jun’wei secretly smiled and gave a rough summary, “His father was originally Imperial Duke Meng’s Deputy General. He was a concubine-born son who was bullied by his legal mother. When Her Ladyship Virtuous Consort was young, she saved him by chance and appointed him as Meng Yan’zhou’s personal attendant. After he showed outstanding talent, she persuaded Imperial Duke Meng to send him to the army to gain experience. He’s extraordinarily talented. Now he’s already climbed up the ranks to become an officer within the Imperial Dragon Guards. Since he was able to gain a foothold within the household, naturally he felt deeply grateful towards Her Ladyship Virtuous Consort.”
“Sangyu has good eyes. This person is capable to be able to have become a military officer at age twenty without a clan’s backing.” Emperor Zhou’wu clamped down on his jealousy to make an objective assessment.
“Exactly. He refused to offer his services to Imperial Preceptor Shen and is now being ostracized.” Noticing that the two people inside the room were looking over at them, they halted their conversation and called over the waiter to order dishes.
With a stomach full of pent-up frustration, Meng Yan’zhou emptied three bowls of wine in succession after sitting down. His face was bright red and he appeared to be laden with anxiety.
“You don’t need to be like this. Even though Miss Fu’s features are average, she has a good disposition. She’ll definitely be a good wife.” Wang Hua’shan took away the bowl of alcohol in front of him and tried to assuage his worries.
“That’s right, Sang… Your younger sister wouldn’t harm you. That Miss Fu has her own strengths as well,” said Emperor Zhou’wu warmly.
“How do you know that my sister cares about this marriage?” Meng Yan’zhou suddenly raised his eyes to peer closely at him.
“I heard Dong’lei mention it before.” Emperor Zhou’wu naturally had an excuse. He thought to himself: His natural vigilance is not bad.
“Last time, I heard you bring it up. What, did you forget?” Smiling, Yan Jun’wei took a sip of wine and covered for his boss’ lie.
“Of course I know my sister wouldn’t harm me. I’ll marry whoever she wants me to. In this world, there are too few women like my sister who are beautiful, have a good personality, and are intelligent to boot. If I was any pickier, I’m afraid that I’d remain a bachelor forever.” Meng Yan’zhou snatched back the wine bowl, filled it to the brim, and resolutely downed a large mouthful. The melancholy in his face didn’t decrease.
When Emperor Zhou’wu heard those words, he broke into a smile. The best woman in the world was naturally his Sangyu.
“Since you know, you should stay quietly in the manor and not stir up trouble outside. The Lady will worry,” said Wang Hua’shan, frowning.
“You’re right, but the present times aren’t like the past. Imperial Preceptor Shen holds power, and your father…” Yan Jun’wei also wanted to offer a few comforting words. This man was someone who His Majesty considered his most esteemed Lord National Uncle. 国舅老爷 (guójiù lǎoye) The formal title for the brother-in-law of the Emperor or the Emperor’s maternal uncle. YJW uses it in this instance so I thought I’d keep it instead of using ‘brother-in-law.’ It wouldn’t do to not curry favour with him.
“Come, let’s drink!” Wang Hua’shan suddenly sprang up and stuffed a bowl of wine in Yan Jun’wei’s hands, interrupting his words, while Emperor Zhou’wu, who was sitting at his side, went ahead and made a ‘taboo word’ hand signal. Sangyu had repeatedly instructed that no one should let Meng Yan’zhou know of Imperial Duke Meng’s matter, for fear that he would run off to the frontier on impulse to court death. This was Sangyu’s legitimate blood-related elder brother. He couldn’t let something happen to him.
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“What happened to my father? Why didn’t you let Dong’lei go on?” Meng Yan’zhou pushed away Wang Hua’shan. With a solemn expression, he said, “I know that my father has disappeared. Such an important matter – the news has already spread throughout the capital. Even if you keep me under house arrest, I still have ways of finding out. Although I act rashly, I’m not a fool. If I left, what would my mother and sister do? At home there’s Aunt Wen 姨娘 (yínniang) The form of address for one’s father’s concubine. to cause problems for my mother, and my younger sister has currently fallen out of favour. If something happened to me, they wouldn’t be able to live on. Especially my younger sister! In the palace, people trample the weak and favour the strong; it’s a cutthroat place. If I don’t support the Meng family, my sister won’t have a way to survive. I don’t know what my parents were thinking back then, insisting on sending my sister to that shameful, godforsaken place. If she had married Hua’shan, how happy they would be now! That emperor has three thousand beauties, how is he fit to be my sister’s husband?”
“Yan’zhou, you’re drunk!” Wang Hua’shan hastily stretched out a hand to clap his shoulder. With guarded eyes, he looked in the direction of Yan Jun’wei and Emperor Zhou’wu.
“One can’t take drunken words seriously. I didn’t hear a thing!” Yan Jun’wei hurriedly waved a hand in denial and stole a glance at Emperor Zhou’wu’s expression. Oh, his face turned green. Even a thick layer of makeup couldn’t hide it!
“Don’t drink anymore.” Emperor Zhou’wu’s eyes were darkly frosty as he shot a glance at Wang Hua’shan. He brushed aside the wine bowl in front of Meng Yan’zhou and said cautiously, “There’s no harm in saying these kinds of things in front of us. If you said this to others, wouldn’t that harm your sister? Your esteemed younger sister is blessed with immense good fortune. She’ll surely obtain the noblest things that the world has to offer.”
Was this a hidden promise? How exactly had Her Ladyship Virtuous Consort treated the Emperor these last few months to cause him to fall so deeply in love with her? Yan Jun’wei lowered his eyes, but he felt awfully curious.
The last sentence was particularly emphasized. Each and every word sounded as if it was imbued with power, and one couldn’t help but be convinced. Wang Hua’shan looked over at Han Hai in surprise. His eyes gleamed as a thought flashed through his mind. Somehow, he had felt a little bit of hostility from this person just now. Had he offended him before? Moreover, this person had a powerful and dignified bearing. He definitely didn’t have an ordinary identity.
Meng Yan’zhou had already sobered up from the wine. With an awkward expression, he gave Emperor Zhou’wu a cupped-hand salute. “I often say things without thinking. Many thanks, Brother Han, for the reminder, and thank you both for your discretion as well.” 包含 (bāohán) means to contain/embody/include. In this instance, the meaning seems to be that MYZ is thanking ZW and YJW for keeping what he said a secret.
“No problem. Since you know that your younger sister doesn’t have it easy in the palace, you shouldn’t be so unrestrained and cause her more trouble for nothing. If you want to support the Meng family, then what are your plans?” Emperor Zhou’wu asked solemnly.
They haven’t gotten properly acquainted with each other yet, but a brother-in-law’s The word used here is 姐夫 (jiěfū) Brother-in-law, specifically one’s elder sister’s husband. It should be 妹夫 (mèifū) Younger sister’s husband. attitude has already revealed itself. Yan Jun’wei thought as he observed Emperor Zhou’wu’s dignified manner.
“I wanted to enlist in the army to gain experience, but something happened to my father. As things are now, I can’t afford to leave my family, so I can only wait and see what happens in the future.” Meng Yan’zhou was determined and his attitude unconsciously became very respectful.
“To train in the army?” muttered Emperor Zhou’wu to himself. When he opened his mouth to speak again, his voice was gentle. “Right now, these are troubled times. Put the matter aside until the Imperial Court stabilizes. When the time comes, maybe a better destination will await you. Besides, your father is only missing. He may not necessarily have met with an accident.”
“Thank you for your blessings,” replied Meng Yan’zhou respectfully, without even the slightest inkling that he had already been taken in by Han Hai’s majestic presence. However, the few words they had exchanged made him feel that Han Hai was extremely reliable. He felt completely at ease with him. The worry in his heart had also lightened quite a bit.
Both hosts and guests enjoyed the meal to the fullest.
Once they finished eating, Wang Hua’shan returned to the Imperial Dragon Guards to take up his post. Whether intentionally or not, Meng Yan’zhou ended up guiding Emperor Zhou’wu down the stairs, and invited the two of them to visit his manor.
Yay~ ZW and MYZ are becoming friends! Hehe… ZW gets jealous so easily towards Wang Hua’shan~
FYI “Brother-in-law” in this chapter is referred to in two ways: 1)大舅子 meaning one’s wife’s elder brother and 2) 姐夫 meaning one’s elder sister’s husband. — It should really be 妹夫 (younger sister’s husband) though? Chinese is very specific about how people relate to one another!
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