Why Harem Intrigue When You Can Just Raise A Dog Instead? (Chp 84)
Chapter 84: Morning Sickness (害喜)
Translation assistant: 247Reader
Translation Checkers: Nyamachi, Petrified & Tygris
English proofreaders: 247Reader, Tygris & Nyamachi
General Meng had left for the campaign and was unable to attend Meng Yan’zhou’s wedding, thus everything was managed by Lady Meng. Although the Emperor had gone to the trouble of selecting many candidates, in the end, Lady Meng still decided on the Vice Minister of Rites, Fu Guang’da’s, eldest legitimate daughter, Fu Ming’zhu.
Naturally, someone from the Imperial Duke’s manor was like flowers blooming on brocade or cooking oil over a raging fire 鲜花着锦，烈火烹油 (xiānhuāzuójǐn, lièhuǒpēngyóu) This is a phrase from the famous Dream of Red Mansions (红罗梦) describing the liveliness and extravagance of rich families during happy events. It figuratively means being the cream of the crop or the best of the best. It describes something becoming better and better or something more lively and showy. The literal meaning refers to incredibly realistic embroidery which could only be obtained by the wealthy and an abundance of oil which was expensive at the time. – they had absolutely no need to depend on marital connections to improve their family standing.
Although Fu Ming’zhu’s background was slightly lower, her character and ability were first-class, which greatly pleased Lady Meng.
Half a month after the wedding, the exhausted Lady Meng was finally able to relax.
Recalling her daughter, who was currently pregnant and who in half a month would be conferred the title of Empress, she hurriedly brought her daughter-in-law to enter the palace and thank the Emperor for his grace.
The mother-in-law and daughter-in-law pair sat together in the swaying carriage as it headed toward the palace gates, each sitting silently with her own thoughts.
Fu Ming’zhu was splendidly dressed. Her delicate and pretty face was lowered, making her expression seem calm and gentle. Only her hand, slightly curled into a fist inside her sleeve, revealed her nervousness.
The Meng family was completely different from how she had imagined them.
Even though her husband was somewhat thoughtless, with a bad temper, it was easy to grasp ahold of his weak spots. This made him very easy to handle, so much so that he seemed a bit cute.
Her mother-in-law was noble and magnanimous, amiable and approachable. Her mother-in-law had quickly handed over all of the household affairs to her to manage and wasn’t critical of her in the slightest.
Even though she hadn’t yet met her father-in-law, she had heard that he was also a tolerant person.
As for Aunt Wen and her children, they had all been spurned by her father-in-law and were simply incapable of stirring up any waves.
One could say that her days in the Imperial Duke’s Manor were rather pleasant.
Even her younger brother had received her father-in-law’s protection and had become the disciple 门徒 (méntú) Disciple/student. Becoming someone’s disciple also had political implications as the disciple would join their mentor’s faction. of the current dynasty’s most respected Confucian scholar, Fang Xiao’zhi.
The circumstances before and after her marriage were like heaven and earth, provoking raised eyebrows and sighs.
It was precisely because her new life made her happier than she had ever expected that she didn’t dare to slack for even a moment.
As for the Imperial Noble Consort, her position within the Meng family went without saying.
Just from a few words from her husband and mother-in-law, she could already tell that the Imperial Noble Consort had been the Meng family’s backbone even before her marriage. Sometimes even her father-in-law had to listen to her as someone who could see through one’s abilities and strategies with a glance. 可见一斑 references the idiom, “管中窥豹，可见一斑” which literally translates to “a glimpse of the leopard can be seen through a tube.” Used derogatorily, it means that one is short-sided with a limited point of view. When used as praise (like with Meng Sangyu) it means that one can see the larger picture by only looking at one part.
She had also heard the rumours about the Imperial Noble Consort to some extent.
Though she didn’t know the cause, she had heard that Yu Ya’ge had been sent away from the palace. That person was unimaginably beautiful, yet because the Imperial Noble Consort’s puppy caused trouble, she had been expelled from the palace and become the laughingstock of the imperial capital.
Furthermore, the Emperor had even dismissed all of the Concubine Candidates for her sake. Out of the three thousand beauties in the imperial harem, he solely favoured her. Truly, there had never been, nor would there ever be, another person like her. 前无古人后无来者 (qiánwúgǔrén, hòuwúláizhě) Describes someone or something without precedent that will likely be unmatched in the future.
Soon, she would be meeting this legendary figure, whose identity was so impossibly lofty. Even the steady and calm Fu Ming’zhu couldn’t help her palms breaking into a cold sweat.
What was the Imperial Noble Consort’s personality like? Would she be displeased with me? Would she disdain the fact that my background is too low?
These worries swirled about repeatedly in her mind.
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Lady Meng was inwardly planning what to tell her daughter. When she collected her thoughts, she noticed her daughter-in-law’s anxiety and quickly patted the back of her hand comfortingly. “There’s no need to be nervous. Originally, it was Sangyu who requested His Majesty to bestow a marriage decree for you and Yan’zhou. It’s clear that she likes you.”
“Daughter-in-law isn’t worried.” Since Fu Ming’zhu is younger and in a lower position compared to her mother-in-law, she would refer to herself in third person as a gesture of humility and respect. Fu Ming’zhu gave a faint smile as her mood stabilized.
The horse carriage stopped by the palace gates. The two transferred to a sedan chair before continuing on their way.
Under the servants’ eager gazes, they stepped into the splendid and verdant Bi’xiao Palace.
Fu Ming’zhu’s heartstrings tensed as she caught sight of a distant figure dressed in bright yellow. Copying her mother-in-law’s actions, she curtsied in salute. Even though she only took a hurried glance, it was still enough to shock her.
The woman’s hair was piled up like clouds above a face like a hibiscus blossom. Her excellent features, coupled with her powerful temperament, made her truly, eye-searingly beautiful.
Only the Master of Heaven could be a suitable match for this kind of magnificent, noble, and outstanding woman.
Already nervous, Fu Ming’zhu now grew even more panicked! She subtly tightened her grip on the handkerchief in her hand.
“Mother, please rise quickly.” Meng Sangyu promptly stepped forward to support Lady Meng up and turned her head to take the measure of Fu Ming’zhu.
Seeing her calm and composed expression, neither servile nor overbearing, with the deportment of a great, influential family, Meng Sangyu couldn’t help but break into a smile.
She extended a hand and said, “Please rise as well, Elder Sister-in-Law. 大嫂 (dàsǎo) Title used for the wife of your eldest brother. Come sit.”
When the woman smiled, the breathless grace and luxury on her body instantly dissipated, showing a bit of cuteness and amiability.
Only then did Fu Ming’zhu realize that the Imperial Noble Consort was also just a seventeen-to-eighteen-year-old young woman, who seemed to be even younger than herself.
In a flash, Fu Ming’zhu relaxed, and the corners of her mouth couldn’t help but unconsciously curve into a smile.
“How is Elder Sister-in-Law adjusting to living in the Meng family?” Meng Sangyu warmly inquired.
“Replying to Your Highness the Imperial Noble Consort, Mother-in-Law and my husband both treat Ming’zhu very well, just like family.” Fu Ming’zhu slightly bowed as she showed her gratitude in her words.
Before the wedding, she had felt rather distraught, terrified that she would be shunned by the people in the Imperial Duke’s manor. Only after her marriage did she come to see that she had read too much into things. Not every household was as cold and unfeeling as the Fu family.
“Heh~ Elder Sister-in-Law must have misspoken. You’re already part of our Meng family!” 咱 (zá / zán) An inclusive way to say we/our indicating both the speaker and the person being spoken to. Meng Sangyu covered her mouth as she giggled. Her pair of lustrous eyes were clear and bright, making her seem very mischievous and cute.
In front of her family, she was always just Meng Sangyu, not some kind of lofty pampered consort.
Lady Meng also lightly, jokingly patted the back of Fu Ming’zhu’s hand, and with that she let go of the last traces of her insecurity.
The three of them casually chatted about everyday family life. Most of it was Lady Meng instructing her daughter and daughter-in-law about caring for the fetus during pregnancy. Regardless if the topic was light or serious, they discussed everything. Nurse Feng called over Yin’cui and Bi’shui to take notes, fearing that she wouldn’t be able to remember all the details.
Having been occupied until midday, Meng Sangyu asked the two to stay for lunch before returning home. Just as they were about to decline, Emperor Zhou’wu happened to come in. He echoed the request in a bright voice.
Since the Emperor had personally invited them to stay, the mother and daughter-in-law pair had no choice but to remain.
Upon catching sight of the round dining table, which was even one size smaller than their own, Lady Meng and Fu Ming’zhu were both stunned. And seeing the ten or so common-place meat and vegetable dishes that were presented one after another, the two of them exchanged a glance, completely flabbergasted.
“Sangyu is fond of using a small, round table to eat. Zhen also feels that it’s very fitting.” Emperor Zhou’wu smiled, picked up his chopsticks, and passed Sangyu some vegetables. Selecting food for someone else and placing it in their bowl or plate is a show of care and consideration. This is a very common sight at a Chinese dinner table. He added in a soft voice, “There’s a sense of family!”
The dense love and sweetness exposed by his words greatly moved Lady Meng and Fu Ming’zhu.
“Mother, Elder Sister-in-Law, eat more.” Meng Sangyu softly glanced at Emperor Zhou’wu and held out a hand, inviting the pair, who had been distracted by emotion, to eat.
The two women collected themselves and promptly agreed.
The Imperial Kitchen’s skills were already the finest in the world, and now, having received the Emperor’s meticulous instructions, they had put their all into making the meal. The mouthfeel was eminently satisfying.
Between bites and snippets of conversation, the Emperor repeatedly selected food for the Imperial Noble Consort. He even refilled her tea, poured her water, and helped to wipe the corners of her mouth.
He had none of the airs of a monarch, but rather resembled an ordinary man, deeply in love with his wife.
Lady Meng and Fu Ming’zhu were endlessly surprised at his actions.
After eating a piece of steamed perch, Meng Sangyu suddenly covered her mouth and urgently left her seat. In her haste, she knocked over the chair behind her. A loud clatter sounded, causing everyone in the hall to jump.
Only Emperor Zhou’wu immediately left his seat to follow her. He hugged her waist with one arm, guarding her from falling. Meanwhile, he accepted the proffered spittoon from Nurse Feng with his other hand and caught the vomit that was expelled from her mouth. His motions were extremely practiced, almost as if he had done this a hundred thousand times before. TL Team: We doubt this was what Emperor ZW thought he’d be using his martial arts reflexes for lol.
Lady Meng and Fu Ming’zhu hurriedly set down their bowls and chopsticks and quickly stepped forward to check up on her, but Meng Sangyu waved a hand to stop them.
The sounds of her retching continued, mixed with a sour stench. However, Emperor Zhou’wu acted as if he hadn’t smelled anything. He softly patted her back, his face filled with sympathy.
Lady Meng and Fu Ming’zhu had no room to intervene. They could only stand to one side and observe.
Lady Meng had already seen how dearly the Emperor loved her daughter and wasn’t the least bit surprised. However, Fu Ming’zhu looked on, dumbstruck.
She and Meng Yan’zhou were newlyweds, but they couldn’t compare with the Emperor and the Imperial Noble Consort’s level of intimacy. They were so close that there was no gap where one half started and the other began.
Everyone spoke of how the Imperial Noble Consort was the most favoured in the Six Palaces, and would soon be crowned Empress. They said that she completely relied on Imperial Duke Meng’s outstanding military achievements.
Only after seeing how the two of them interacted today did Fu Ming’zhu realize that the rumours could not be trusted.
Emperor Zhou’wu held a cup of tea and poured it into Meng Sangyu’s mouth sip by sip. Using the spittoon, he caught the tea that she couldn’t hold down. Only after this process repeated was she finally able to keep down the vomit bubbling in her throat.
Only after passing the spittoon to a servant and personally using his own handkerchief to freshen up himself and Sangyu did Emperor Zhou’wu finally look towards Lady Meng and Fu Ming’zhu.
Softly, he said, “Apologies to have disturbed the Madams’ appetite. Would you care to follow Zhen into the main hall to have new dishes brought over?”
“Your Majesty is too kind. Since Her Ladyship, the Imperial Noble Consort is feeling ill, we, your subject’s wives, will take our leave first.” Lady Meng refers to herself and Fu Ming’zhu as 臣妇二人. 臣妇 (chénfù) is a humble form of address to call oneself, similar to 臣妾, meaning ‘your subject’s wife’. It is the same when used singularly or in plural.
As Lady Meng observed the tiredness across her daughter’s face and saw that the corners of Sangyu’s eyes were bright with tears, she couldn’t help but offer to take her leave. If she left first, then it would allow her daughter to rest a bit earlier.
Emperor Zhou’wu wrapped an arm around Sangyu’s thin shoulders, her pain stinging his heart. He raised the hand stroking her abdomen to wipe the tears brimming at the corner of her eyes and said, “Zhen would still invite Madam to finish the meal before leaving. Recently Sangyu’s appetite has been poor, but with you here, she will be able to eat a little more.”
Sangyu often acted spoiled or shamelessly ignorant in order to avoid eating. He truly didn’t know what to do, and hated that she couldn’t keep the food down even if he fed her by hand. Today, after great difficulty, she finally had a bit of an appetite. How could he allow Lady Meng to leave?
Upon hearing this, Lady Meng felt very sorry for her daughter and promptly agreed to stay.
Everyone moved into the main hall to continue their meal. New dishes were quickly arranged in front of them.
Meng Sangyu moved the food around in her bowl with her chopsticks but didn’t seem willing to eat. It was clear that she was afraid of vomiting again.
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Emperor Zhou’wu sighed. He brought some lightly flavoured food to her mouth and softly coaxed her to eat.
Unexpectedly, his earnest and gentle appearance resembled a compassionate father coaxing his infant child. Lady Meng and Fu Ming’zhu’s eyes widened in surprise once more.
“Your Majesty, I really can’t eat anymore!” Meng Sangyu cried out in a pampered tone, tugging on Emperor Zhou’wu’s sleeve. Her phoenix eyes were gleaming with tears, making her appear very pitiful.
“Eat a little bit more, ah!” Emperor Zhou’wu hardened his heart and stuffed a piece of shitake mushroom into her mouth.
Meng Sangyu nearly choked as she chewed the food and in the end, she couldn’t help but throw it back up, her stomach churning.
Emperor Zhou’wu quickly embraced her, running a patting hand down the curve of her back. He also carefully rubbed her still-flat abdomen, feeling utterly dismayed.
He had never imagined that pregnancy was such an arduous affair.
Lady Meng’s heart truly hurt for her child, recalling that before Sangyu was married, her favourite foods had been her own personally cooked home dishes.
Even though she understood that it went against the rules, she still ventured to ask, “What would Your Ladyship the Imperial Noble Consort like to eat? If there is none in the palace, this subject’s wife can bring it for your honoured self from outside.”
Fu Ming’zhu anxiously glanced at the Emperor, fearing that this would earn his displeasure.
However, he only sighed. His voice was full of gratitude as he said, “Exactly. What are Sangyu’s favourite foods? We ask Madam to make them and send them into the palace.” After saying this, he tenderly massaged Sangyu’s shoulders.
Meng Sangyu’s eyes brightened. She muttered to herself indecisively for a moment before saying with great anticipation, “Mother, I would like to eat crispy flatbread 炊饼 (chuībǐng) A crispy round flatbread usually with sesame seeds on top. Can be sweet or savoury. Google 炊饼 for an image. and steamed cornbread buns, 窝窝头 (wōwotóu) Conial or round shaped cornmeal buns with meat filling, typically eaten with plain congee while pregnant. Here is a video of how it’s made. pickled bamboo noodles 老坛酸笋 (lǎotán suānsǔn) Literally old jar, sour bamboo shoots. It seems like this is usually paired with chilis and is a spicy dish. and Chinese toon salad, 凉拌香椿 (liángbàn xiāngchūn) A cold salad made with Chinese toon vegetables (Toona sinensis) with a vinaigrette dressing. Here is a recipe in case you’d like to try it. and green onion dipping sauce…” 野葱蘸酱 (yěcōng zhànjiàng) green onion or scallion dipping sauce. I’ve more commonly seen green onion and ginger sauce – it goes really well with rice. Here is a recipe.
She counted all of these dishes on her fingers as she listed them. Without exception, they were all foods that one would typically eat in the countryside.
Sure enough, the palace didn’t have any of these dishes, and even if they had, after being processed in the Imperial Kitchen, they would lose the original, authentic taste and natural flavour.
The more Lady Meng and Fu Ming’zhu heard, the more nervous they became. None of these dishes were worthy of serving to guests. They didn’t know if His Majesty would permit them to bring the dishes into the palace.
Yet, they saw that Emperor Zhou’wu just chuckled, pinching the tip of Sangyu’s nose. His tone was very indulgent as he said, “Truly a gluttonous cat! If you’re fond of these dishes, why didn’t you say something earlier? Zhen will send people to search for them and bring them back to you!”
“I just love eating Mother’s cooking. Others can’t reproduce that taste!” Meng Sangyu slapped away his hand. Her manner of speaking was unconsciously spoiled.
In the last half-month, she had been kept in the man’s palm as he pampered and shielded her, and the guardedness in her heart had reduced even more.
“Alright, alright~” Emperor Zhou’wu’s heart was tickled. He hated the fact that, if not for Lady Meng and Fu Ming’zhu’s presence, he could have caressed her in his arms and properly made love to her.
Looking towards Lady Meng, he requested respectfully, “Then in the coming days, we will be troubling Madam a great deal. 有劳 (yǒuláo) short for 有功劳 is a polite way to thank someone for their trouble when asking a favour or after having received one. It literally translates to ‘to have contribution or meritorious service’. In a short while, Madam can go to the Imperial Household Department and receive a palace token allowing you to freely enter and exit the palace without needing to report your visit.”
Lady Meng and Fu Ming’zhu promptly knelt down to thank the Emperor for this grace. Only then did Meng Sangyu cheer up and force herself to eat a little bit more.
After being personally sent out of the palace by Head Manager Eunuch Chang’xi, Lady Meng and Fu Ming’zhu ascended their carriage with somewhat dazed expressions.
Fu Ming’zhu remained silent as she repeatedly turned over the Emperor’s every word and action in her mind. The deep-rooted worry in her heart gradually dissipated.
Before she had married into the Meng family, she had thought that the Emperor’s extremely doting actions towards the Imperial Noble Consort were all an act, in order to cripple the Meng family and even scheme against them.
The Meng family only seemed like fresh flowers blooming on brocade, while in reality, their future prospects looked worryingly bleak.
But now, she had changed her opinion.
It was evident that the Emperor was deeply in love with the Imperial Noble Consort. As long as her father-in-law took the initiative to return military power to the Emperor after eliminating the rebelling Wangs, the Meng family could still safeguard a century of glory and splendour.
As she thought this, she inwardly sighed, feeling endlessly envious of the Imperial Noble Consort. Maybe the next time she entered the palace, she could ask the Imperial Noble Consort for advice on the art of managing one’s husband. Step 1: Turn him into a dog.
TL Team Thoughts:
Hello dear readers,
It’s another heartwarming chapter <3 What do you think about our main couple’s actions? Have any of you tried the dishes described?
We’re just finishing off some TL checking and editing for the remaining chapters for the month. Please stay tuned~
‼/ᐠ. ｡.ᐟ\ᵐᵉᵒʷˎˊ˗ ※ We are still looking for a translation checker for our other series, Held in the Lonely Castle! If you have time and would like to join our cozy team of novel-loving cats, please contact us for more info!
Until next time,
The Nyanovels Translation Team