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Ruyi’s Royal Love in the Palace (Arc1 Chp4 Pt1)

Chapter 4: Straight-forward Speech (Part 1)

Translator: Tygris
English proofreader: 247Reader, [redacted]

Qingying rose early in the morning and hurriedly freshened up before going to serve at née Fucha’s palace. To be at a convenient location to conduct the miscellaneous funeral rites, Fucha Langhua had continuously lived in a nearby side palace. 

When Qingying arrived, the sky had just brightened. Ruxin opened the curtains and welcomed Qingying in with a smile. “Little Mistress came quite early. Mistress had only just awoken.”

Qingying modestly smiled back, “I should have come earlier to serve Mistress in waking up.”

The curtains inside opened. The maids who served in washing up carried combs [1]T/N: The raws used the character 桎. The translator strongly believes that this is a typo and should instead be 栉. The character 桎 refers to ‘shackles’ or ‘handcuffs’, which makes no sense in the context of washing up. 栉 refers to ‘hair comb’ and had also appeared in a previous chapter. Both characters have the same pronunciation, which is likely how the error occurred. and towels, exiting methodically one after another. Qingying knew that née Fucha had finished washing up, and it was now time to serve in hair brushing and dressing up. 

Ruxin quietly spoke towards the inside. “Mistress, Qing Consort has arrived.”

Only to hear a gentle voice. “Invite her in.” 

The two servants on both sides simultaneously raised the curtains and welcomed Qingying in, bending halfway at their waists and lowering their heads and gazes. Qingying could not help but admire that even during national mourning, the discipline at née Fucha’s was still without a single flaw.

When Qingying entered, née Fucha was sitting upright in front of the mirror, allowing the momo [2]嬷嬷 (mó mo) may refer to one’s wetnurse or an elderly woman in general. specializing in hair-brushing to style her hair. Née Fucha was of a similar age to the Emperor and was at the youthful age of dignified beauty. [3]端然生姿的华年 (duān rán shēng zī de huá nián) is composed of several phrases. 端然 means to appear upright and stable. 生姿 means to have a beautiful demeanor or posture. 的 indicates that the prior words act as an adjective to the latter words. 华年 refers to one’s youthful age or youthful times. In summary, Fucha Langhua is at the prime of her life. Such a simple sapphire bianfang [4]扁方 (biǎn fāng), literally translated as ‘flat and square’, is a specific type of large hairpin that Manchu women wear when combing their hair into the Manchu women’s hairstyle. devoid of any decoration made her seem particularly simplistic and pleasing to the eyes, like a branch of white magnolia swaying in the wind: though plain, but tranquil and pleasant.

Qingying gave her greetings. 

Née Fucha smilingly nodded in response. “Get up. It is rare that you came early.”

Qingying stood up and gave her thanks. Née Fucha pointed towards the opened boxes of jewels and accessories on the dressing table, saying, “While mourning, one should not wear many pearls or ornaments, but being overly plain would cause others to laugh. You have always had good judgment. Come pick for me.”

Qingying smiled. “What kind of precious items has Mistress not seen? This is just to test this concubine’s eyesight.”

Née Fucha smiled slightly but did not speak. Qingying picked up a jadeite buyao [5]步摇 (bù yáo) is a dangling hair ornament worn by aristocratic women in ancient times whose name comes from how the ornament sways with each step. ‘步’ means ‘step’ and ‘摇’ means ‘to sway’. decorated with a silver phoenix mouthing a pearl and examined it, saying, “This day is the last day of the funeral rites. Tomorrow will be the official Coronation Ceremony. Even if Mistress is dressed plainly, there still needs to be some eye-catching adornments. This buyao is made of jadeite. The eye of the phoenix is also made from sapphire. Juxtaposed with a few sapphire and pearl flowers, [the headdress] would be dignified and elegant, yet still simple and plain.”

Née Fucha directed a smile towards the hair-brushing momo. “Still not acting in accordance with Qing Consort’s words.”

Qingying retreated a step and observed, only helping pick up items from the side. Née Fucha noticed but did not speak out. Only once the hair-brushing was complete did she slowly smile. “As a Secondary Consort of good standing, doing these low-effort tasks for me has wronged you.” 

Qingying hurriedly responded, “This concubine does not dare.”

Née Fucha looked again and again at her reflection in the mirror. Smiling, she said, “Your selection of pearl ornaments is truly flawless. If all of one’s conduct and actions are impeccably flawless, then one can be considered a person with both good fortune and intelligence.” Née Fucha closed her eyes for a moment, then said seriously, “You, in the end, have been wronged.” 

Qingying did not understand née Fucha’s purpose. Alarmed, she got on her knees, saying, “This concubine is dull and does not understand to what Niangniang is referring. Begging Niangniang to bestow some advice.”

Née Fucha took a second glance, slowly saying, “You know best how it was that you married into the Prince’s Residence as a Secondary Consort.”

Qingying, who was kneeling on the floor, did not know where to begin speaking, and could only lower her head, not daring to make a sound.

Seeing that her only reaction was to lower her head, née Fucha slowly revealed a smile. “You and I are sisters, so I ask you thus. You as a person, in the end, are succeeding via Xiao He, but one fears that you will also experience failure via Xiao He. [6]成也萧何,败也萧何 (chéng yě xiāo hé,bài yě xiāo hé) is a phrase referencing the story of the life of Han Xin, the founding hero of the Western Han Dynasty, who became a general because of Xiao He’s recommendation, but who was also killed by Xiao He’s schemes. This saying refers to how success or failure can be caused by the same person. The associated story teaches the following lesson: in one’s life, no matter when or where, one must be proper in words and conduct, avoid taking actions beyond one’s duties, and be on guard against others. No wonder née Gao constantly wants to steal your glory.” 

Qingying managed a slight smile. “This concubine and Elder Sister Gao serve the Emperor together. It is unclear who stole the glory from whom. If there is any aspect in which this concubine is not as good as others, it is right and proper of Elder Sister Gao to pass on her teachings.” 

Née Fucha faintly sounded a laugh. “Teachings? Back at the Prince’s Residence, did she dare to teach you? Now that the times have shifted and the world has changed, how should you support yourself?”

Hearing these words, Qingying unavoidably broke out in a cold sweat. She softly said, “Mistress …”

Née Fucha looked deeply at her for a moment before returning to her usual dignified and virtuous expression. She softly comforted, “All right. I just wanted to give a sentence as a reminder. The situation may not necessarily deteriorate to such an extent.” Proudly, née Fucha continued, “After all,  I am still the Empress, the Emperor’s hair-bound [wife]. [7]结发 (jié fà). When a couple gets married, as part of marriage customs, each takes a section of hair from their heads and together make a knot. Also understood to refer to the legitimate wife. Should you be peaceful and guard only what is yours, I will not tolerate née Gao bullying you.”

Hearing this, the only action Qingying could take was to thank [née Fucha] for her grace. “Thanking Mistress. Mistress has always treated Elder Sister [Gao] and me equally. Mistress is the only one on whom I can rely.”

Née Fucha’s eyes languidly swept across [Qingying’s] wrist. Seeing that there were no other ornaments on Qingying’s pure white wrist except a red lotus bracelet of jade beads and golden silk, she could not help but secretly express her approval. “That bracelet on your wrist is a tribute item of the An’nan Kingdom, [8]Ancient term for Vietnam. See: given when the Emperor was still a Prince. There is only one pair in total. At the time, the late Emperor had bestowed them to our residence. Bearing in mind that you and née Gao were on equal footing, I gave one to each of you. This was done not only to increase the intimacy between the two of you, but also to let you understand that both of you are Secondary Consorts and should not be treated differently; you should not argue over every small matter. Nowadays, you are still willing to wear [the bracelet] daily.”

This bracelet was an extremely precious tribute item from the An’nan Kingdom. Though An’nan Kingdom was a known producer of fine jadeite, such a pair of bracelets was still rare. Each was made of a string of same-sized emerald green jadeite beads; not only were the beads transparent and sleek, but they were also void of any debris or nonuniformity; the colors reflected that of flowing green waters. When exposed to the sun, fine wave-like white lines, with a gem-like luster, would appear, spreading out like peacock feathers. Because the jadeite beads were dark in color, flowers and leaves crafted of pure golden silk were specially chosen to armor each bead. Either side of each jadeite bead was covered by a thin lotus-shaped leaf of gold. The entire piece showcased great originality. 

When the Emperor, who was still the Fourth Prince at the time, received this pair of bracelets, he was exceedingly joyful. Though he favored the two newly-wedded Secondary Consorts, he still gifted them to the Primary Consort, née Fucha. Née Fucha was considerate of the Emperor’s wishes, and just a few days after receiving [them], she regifted them to Qingying and Xiyue.

Qingying, with her head lowered, fondled the bracelet with a rule-abiding and obedient expression. “Mistress speaks rightly. Due to gratefulness for Niangniang’s kindness, per Niangniang’s instructions that year, [I] have always worn [the bracelet] and [I] have always been vigilant [and kept your teachings in mind].”

Née Fucha warmly said, “You are one who understands propriety. I see that née Gao also wears it daily, but does not necessarily remember this layer of meaning.” 

She paused. “Sigh, it is not that I am unaware of née Gao’s transgression last night. It is just that you will need to make way for her more in the future.” 

Qingying thought of Hailan’s words last night, and was just about to speak, but heard née Fucha continue, “Before you arrived, the Emperor already gave a verbal edict to raise née Gao’s banner. This raise of banner is to the Bordered Yellow Banner. [9]The highest banner of the Qing Dynasty. See: He also bestowed a clan name of Gaojia. In the almost hundred years of Qing Dynasty history, née Gao has been the only one who had the great honor of an Emperor personally opening his mouth to raise the banner. Furthermore, only the Plain Yellow Banner and the Bordered Yellow Banner are considered confidants of the Emperor. The significance in this, [I presume you understand] after weighing it carefully.”

Qingying’s heart palpitated. She wanted to speak, but her mouth and tongue were numb with shock, rendering her unable to say a word. She could only smile agreeably.

Née Fucha turned around and leisurely picked out a pair of exquisite sapphire earrings from the jewelry box, saying, “Back at the Prince’s Residence, your status was naturally more noble than that of née Gao. Now it seems that she will be on par with you. Sigh… You should retreat first.”

Translator’s Notes

AHHHHHH this chapter is so long and many of the following chapters are even longer 🙁 Originally I wanted to split each chapter into two to guarantee translation accuracy and quality, but now it looks like I’ll need to split them into more parts — each released part should still be approximately the same amount of content (or more!) as the previously released parts though. I’m thinking that this fourth chapter will end up having three parts. 

Wish me luck.

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