Why Harem Intrigue When You Can Just Raise A Dog Instead? (Chp 65)
Chapter 65: Confession (告白)
Translators: Nyamachi & Tygris
TL assistants: 247Reader & Tygris
English proofreader: JimmyfromIT
There was not only one concubine who had bribed the eunuchs of the Office of Eunuch Affairs. Previously translated as the ‘Respect Room’. Thank you for your help, Lazilily! We’re excited to have you as a TL Assistant! Countless pairs of eyes were focused on the actions of the eunuch who had carried the tray towards Qian’qing Palace. All of the concubines were, without exception, praying that they would be selected. 屏雀中选 (píngquè zhòngxuǎn) refers to the Chinese idiom, 雀屏之选 (quèpíng zhīxuǎn) (Lit. bird screen choice). This describes a person who is the ideal choice. The Old Book of Tang describes the story of how General Dou Yi of the Northern Zhou Dynasty chose his son-in-law. He felt that his daughter was both talented and beautiful and couldn’t marry some mediocre pleb, wanting his daughter to marry a real warrior. He drew two peacocks on a screen and asked the men who proposed to shoot two arrows, stipulating that whoever could shoot the peacocks’ eyes would be his son-in-law. That’s one way to choose a son-in-law, I guess. It’s a bit better than throwing a ball into a crowd and letting fate decide. Right now, what they needed the most was the Emperor’s favour. Only with imperial favour would they be able to crawl out of the poisonous pit that Shen Hui’ru had dug. If they were able to ensnare the Emperor, they would have power and status. They would even have children. In the palace, it was a piece of cake to find someone to be a surrogate for them.
However, very soon, their beautiful delusions were shattered. Not only did the Emperor beat that eunuch half to death, he also burned all the nameplates. What was the Emperor thinking? Was he planning to never visit the Inner Palace again? Many imperial concubines were too scared to think about that possibility, so much so that some had even thought of going to ask the Empress Dowager to seek justice for them.
After Meng Sangyu heard the news, she rolled around laughing on her divan while holding Er’Bao. Just because others weren’t aware, did that mean that she wasn’t either? How was that a tray of green nameplates? It was clearly a tray of green hats! Refers to the phrase, 戴绿帽子 (dàilǜmàozi), meaning that someone’s partner is unfaithful.
The Emperor, who was normally busy with government affairs, wouldn’t think too much about it, but once he saw the green nameplates, wouldn’t it remind him of the fact that his head was covered with so many green hats they reached the sky? It would be stranger if he wasn’t mad!
What a pitiful guy! Meng Sangyu’s mouth curved into a smile as she fondled Er’Bao’s soft little paws. She spoke with interest, “It seems like it’s been a long time since His Majesty was in the mood to summon imperial concubines to attend to him. Let’s go and bring Er’Bao to visit the Imperial Gardens!”
Nurse Feng agreed. She helped her master find a silver fox fur cloak and draped it over her shoulders. They left to take a stroll in the Imperial Gardens.
The group enjoyed warm wine and appreciated the plum blossoms. They took Er’Bao and wandered around. It was dinner time when they finally returned to Bi’Xiao Palace. The green nameplates were burned and the imperial concubines had lost the will to compete for the Emperor’s affection. Everyone, without exception, hid in their palaces to re-strategize, leaving the Imperial Gardens empty. This made it several times more fun than usual.
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When Meng Sangyu returned, her expression showed that she still had not had enough fun, but upon catching sight of the eunuch who stood by the gate wearing a worried face and Chang’xi who stood beside him, her excitement immediately settled down.
“Eunuch Chang’xi, did His Majesty come to visit?” She walked forward and asked while holding Er’Bao close to her chest.
“This servant greets Your Ladyship. Replying to Your Ladyship, His Majesty arrived an hour ago. Presently, he is waiting for your honoured self in the study.” Chang’xi answered respectfully, waving his horsetail whisk and saluting.
Study? Which study? She glanced at the eunuch behind Chang’xi. The eunuch’s pinky finger pointed at the most hidden corner of Bi’xiao Palace.
Meng Sangyu really wanted to smack her forehead. She had just thought of how to raise her guard against that man, but in the blink of an eye, she had revealed another secret! This man just had to come and especially disrupt things for her, didn’t he?
She unconsciously tightened her hold on Er’Bao and hurried over to the study while thinking of countermeasures at lightning speed. If she didn’t give the man a satisfactory explanation, for him who had just recently been upset by the green nameplates, it was unclear whether he would take out his anger on her. The crime of deceiving the Emperor was no joke!
She paused just as she reached the study. She composed herself and unhurriedly pushed open the doors. He was standing with his arms behind his back, admiring a piece of calligraphy on the wall. Hearing sounds of movement, he turned his head. His handsome face was expressionless. Only his eyes were darker than in the past, resembling two fathomless abysses.
Meng Sangyu was startled with fright. She promptly bowed her head to avoid his sharp gaze. Looking at Er’Bao, round and plump in her arms, her tense heartstrings slightly relaxed.
She was just about to curtsy in greeting, but unexpectedly, the man spoke first with a heavy voice. “Throw it outside!”
These words were completely out of the blue. Meng Sangyu stared blankly for a while before she was able to react. She quickly handed Er’Bao over to Nurse Feng, who was standing by the door, and instructed her to take Er’Bao a bit further away and not to come over and cause trouble.
“Your Majesty, this concubine understands her faults.” Closing the door, she knelt on the ground with a loud thump.
Kneeling so rigorously, didn’t it hurt? Emperor Zhou’wu’s heart trembled. He walked over with large strides to haul her up, and said with an angry tone, “Zhen didn’t ask you to kneel. Sit here and reply!”
“Thank you, Your Majesty!” Seeing anger hidden in the man’s expression, Meng Sangyu acted even more cautiously. She secretly pondered how she should word her explanation.
“Didn’t you say that you didn’t understand the literary arts? How come you’ve turned into a talented girl after not seeing you for just a few days?” The man sat opposite her. A masterfully refined piece of calligraphy was grasped in his hand as he asked with raised eyebrows. The inscription and personal seal at the bottom of the calligraphy piece flashed by Meng Sangyu’s gaze, giving her a headache.
“Replying to Your Majesty, the aforementioned ‘not understanding the literary arts’ was concocted by the outside world. It has nothing to do with this concubine. Scholarly knowledge should be used to enrich and improve oneself and not as a tool to show off. Chinese: 胸藏文墨虚若谷，腹有诗书气自华. Please let me know if you have a better translation! Therefore, this concubine has always remained self-aware, so as to not pollute myself with pretentiousness and lose sight of the true meaning of acquiring knowledge.”
Meng Sangyu’s silver tongue was as amazing as ever. She could distort the truth in the blink of an eye! Emperor Zhou’wu snickered inwardly, but his outward expression became even more grim. “If it was someone else, then who cares? But why did you never confess to Zhen when Zhen taught you calligraphy several times?”
Meng Sanyu bowed her head, and her eyes wandered about, but in a flash, she came up with an answer. Biting her lip with her snow-white teeth, her cheeks slightly reddened, and she spoke while feigning extreme shame, “Replying to Your Majesty, it wasn’t this concubine’s intention to fool your honoured self. This concubine just wanted… just wanted to get closer to Your Majesty!”
Saying thus, her phoenix eyes glistened with tears. She quickly cast a glance at the man before quickly lowering her head again, and said softly, “Your Majesty hugged this concubine while writing characters and this concubine felt really happy. It was really hard to resist the temptation to get closer to Your Majesty, so this concubine hid the truth. May Your Majesty please forgive me!” These words were so sappy that she almost threw up herself!
Several teardrops stuck to her curled eyelashes without falling. That timid look incited the pity of others to the point where they couldn’t bear to criticize her harshly. He knew full well that she was acting and that her words were complete lies, but Emperor Zhou’wu was nevertheless entranced. An indescribable sweetness bubbled forth and he unconsciously reached out to wipe her tears. His actions were extremely gentle, as if he were afraid that she would shatter.
Meng Sangyu turned her head to the side to dodge him. She wore a shy, flustered expression, as if she were too ashamed to show her face, but her watery phoenix eyes flashed with cunning. She knew it, no man was capable of resisting a deeply-in-love white lotus’s tears and confession! 白莲花 (báiliánhuā) White lotus describes a woman who is innocent and kind. Used sarcastically, it can refer to people who seem pure on the outside but are actually rotten on the inside.
Catching the flash of cunning, Emperor Zhou’wu awoke from his happy trance. Bitterness swelled in his heart, but it was still unable to affect his good mood. He enjoyed removing Meng Sangyu’s mask, layer by layer. He enjoyed watching her wrack her brains to respond to him. He enjoyed watching her focus all her attention on him. He was convinced that when someone thought of another person enough times, they would automatically develop feelings for them.
Moreover, Sangyu’s energetic appearance when trying to think of ways to outmaneuver him was just too adorable, making him love her even more. He wanted to just hug her and laugh out loud.
Thoughts lead to feelings and feelings lead to actions: he pulled the woman into his arms and chuckled. The sound of his vigorous laughter and the vibrating of his chest made Meng Sangyu uncomfortable to the point that even her earlobes turned red.
“Zhen also cannot resist the temptation of getting closer to Sangyu. Holding Sangyu in these arms, Zhen also enjoys it very much!!” The man lowered his head next to the woman’s ear and muttered. The sincerity and deep feelings contained within his words could not be mistaken, making Meng Sangyu feel somewhat guilty.
There was no hate without reason nor was there love without reason. This man was the Emperor, how could he understand what love was? This was just him trying to get in her pants. She strengthened the walls of her heart, so as to not let herself be fully immersed in the man’s warm embrace.
“Since you like to read and write with Zhen, why did you not say so earlier? Zhen will practice calligraphy by copying books with you. How about this book, [Records of the Grand Historian]?” 《史记》(shǐjì) by Sima Qian (司馬遷) was the first of the 24 dynastic historical books of ancient China called 二十四史 (èrshísì shǐ). He is known as the father of Chinese historiography. Emperor Zhou’wu stood up while still holding the woman, and picked out a thick and heavy book from the desk.
Meng Sangyu’s phoenix eyes widened and her elegant eyebrows furrowed, “Your Majesty, this book is too thick, why don’t we choose another?”
“If we don’t finish today, there is still tomorrow.” He prepared the pen, ink, paper, and inkstone while kissing the woman’s fair face and lightly nibbling her jade-like earlobes.
Is your zodiac a dog? You kiss, lick, and bite people? Blue veins pulsed on Meng Sangyu’s forehead, but she still obediently snuggled into the man’s arms with a shy smile on her face. You bastard! This is called bringing about your own downfall!
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The man was very pleased with her obedience and carefully folded up her oversized sleeves to prevent ink splatters. Holding her fair and tender small hand, he took up the brush to start copying [Records of the Grand Historian] from the first chapter. Picturesque characters appeared on the silk paper, combining both masculinity and femininity into one, appearing very brilliant.
The man’s pitch-black eyes slightly narrowed as he truly savoured this feeling of hearts connecting. Wrapping his arm tighter around the woman’s waist, he tilted his head to kiss her cheek and said in a low voice, “In the future, Zhen will make some time every day to study characters and practice calligraphy with you. Would you like this?”
Meng Sangyu turned around to face the man’s eyes that were as deep as the ocean. The tip of her heart slightly trembled and she forced the corners of her mouth up to answer, “I like it!” Saying this, she turned her head to face the silk paper and immediately put away her stiff smile. She opened her mouth wide and soundlessly shrieked with a sinister expression. Damn it! Coming over every day? I’m going to go crazy!
The inkstone was so full of ink that it shined like a mirror, perfectly reflecting her sinister look to the man behind her. At first he stared blankly, and then gave a muffled laugh. Sangyu’s contradictory manner 阴奉阳违 (yīnfèngyángwéi) seems to be either a typo or play on words for the Chinese idiom 阳奉阴违 (yángfèngyīnwéi), meaning to agree on the surface while opposing someone in secret – which is what Sangyu is doing. The way its written here, it means means opposing someone on the surface while secretly praising them – what Emperor Zhou’wu is doing. was just too cute!
Seeing the man stop writing, as he hugged her and laughed without end, Meng Sangyu’s mood soured even more. She didn’t know how she had provoked him. The men of ancient times had such a low threshold for humor! She inwardly cursed.
Only after laughing for a long time did Emperor Zhou’wu finally calm down. He continued to hold Sangyu and copy the text. From time to time, he would drop a kiss on her cheek. Seeing her ears redden and her powdered lips slightly pout, he would feel extremely delighted. He finally understood why she always loved to tease A’Bao in the past. Sure enough, it was quite amusing!
After copying about half of a chapter, Chang’xi called from outside, “Your Majesty, it’s time to eat dinner.”
“Mm,” Emperor Zhou’wu replied. He put down the brush and kissed the corner of Sangyu’s mouth, softly saying, “Let’s go, we’ll continue this tomorrow.”
“Yes,” Meng Sangyu agreed, and secretly sighed. Being encircled by the man’s masculine aroma, she really felt a bit out of control, especially when the man was purposefully teasing her.
Walking out of the room and meeting the whistling cold wind, her feverishly hot earlobes finally reduced in redness. The man smilingly gazed at her expression of being relieved of a burden, took the silver cloak offered by Chang’xi and draped it over her shoulders, and attentively helped her fasten it securely.
The two people walked hand-in-hand along the cobblestone-paved path. The mood around them was very quiet and comfortable. Seeing that they were almost at the main hall, Yin’cui, Bi’shui, and Er’Bao’s sounds of amusement could be heard in the distance. They sounded very cheerful and lively. Earlier, they had witnessed the harmonious scene between the Emperor and their master through the window of the study and understood that their master was in no danger, so they naturally relaxed.
Seeing Er’Bao who was holding a ball with his mouth as he eagerly ran over once he caught sight of her, Meng Sangyu immediately let go of the man’s hand and ran forward to greet him.
“Er’Bao what are you doing? Playing fetch?” Hugging Er’Bao close and giving him a kiss, Meng Sangyu took the ball from his mouth and asked with a smile.
Woof woof woof! Er’Bao barked and nodded. His little figure seemed very earnest.
Meng Sangyu gave a gentle smile and threw the ball. The master and pet pair played fetch together, having an awful lot of fun, 不亦乐乎 (bùyìlèhū) is part of a quote from The Analects of Confucius and is used today to describe something in an extreme state. The full quote is: 子曰: 「学而时习之，不亦说乎？有朋自远方来，不亦乐乎？人不知而不愠，不亦君子乎」 | The Master said: “Isn’t it a pleasure to study and practice what you have learned? Isn’t it also great when friends visit from distant places? If people do not recognize me and it doesn’t bother me, am I not a noble man?” — Translation by A. Charles Muller. leaving Emperor Zhou’wu alone on the side. Emperor Zhou’wu face wore a smile but his gaze towards Er’Bao was utterly cold. If he had known earlier that this little beast would compete for favor this much, at that time he ought to have just banished it to the Cold Palace!
“Let Zhen also play with it.” Walking up, he took the ball from Sangyu’s hand and said with a faint smile.
“Sure,” Meng Sangyu let him do what he wanted without suspicion.
The man’s pitch-black eyes narrowed as applied inner strength to the ball in hand and threw it several hundred meters away right over the Bi’Xiao Palace’s walls into the Imperial Gardens.
“Take it out to search. If it doesn’t find the ball then it is not allowed to come back.” The man smiled, but his gaze was chillingly cold. Yin’cui and Bi’shui trembled and promptly carried Er’bao to the Imperial Gardens.
Meng Sangyu was stunned. Chang’xi secretly held his head, thinking: He actually wanted to compete with a dog for favour, this Emperor was really too much!
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Here is Chapter 65 of WHI! This is the first of the WHI chapters for December! Happy reading this month~
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