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Ruyi’s Royal Love in the Palace (Arc1 Chp4 Pt2)

Chapter 4: Straight-forward Speech (Part 2)

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

Qingying slowly walked out of née Fucha’s palace, feeling parched and thirsty. She had never been so vexed. Even previously… previously when the Third Prince Hongshi [1]Hongshi is the older brother of Hongli, our Emperor. rebuffed her, [2]Implying that she attended some sort of selection to be Hongshi’s wife or concubine, but was rejected. she had not suffered this much humiliation. 

But thinking of the two characters “Hongshi” made her feel only disgust and annoyance. She strongly shook her head, and, supporting herself with Suoxin’s hand, slowly walked out.

The scorching summer heat had subsided, and occasionally there was a gust or two of wind, giving a faint sense of refreshing coolness. Ahead, someone was chatting and laughing while walking closer. Qingying frowned and was just about to speak when she saw Gao Xiyue and Jin Yuyan arriving affectionately. Seeing Qingying, Jin Yuyan took half a step back as usual and bent her knees to salute, but Gao Xiyue only smiled and looked at Qingying. “Younger Sister was so early.”

Qingying recognized that the situation was not the same as before. She went ahead and greeted Gao Xiyue with a pingli [3]Greetings exchanged between those of equal status. and then said with a smile, “Coming early is not as good as coming with perfect timing. Mistress has finished washing up, so now is the most opportune time to go in.”

Xiyue nodded, smiling, “After staying in the palace these few days, has Younger Sister become accustomed?”

Qingying replied, “[I have] troubled Elder Sister. All is well.”

Xiyue nodded. “It is good that you have grown accustomed. I was worried that Younger Sister would have been overly used to sleeping on the warm end of the kang [4]炕 (kàng) refers to a sleeping platform made of bricks with a hole underneath connected to the chimney or outside, where a fire can be burned for warmth. [5]炕头 (kàng tóu) refers to the head of the kang bed, or the warmer side. back at the Prince’s Residence and would be unused to the high beds and big pillows of the Forbidden City, waking up lonely in the middle of the night in a state of shivering fright.” 

Qingying’s brows furrowed slightly, but she still carried a smile on her face. “Elder Sister Gao has always been humorous. The Emperor is observing filial piety for the late Emperor and has been residing in Yangxin Hall these days. Could it be that the Emperor was still accompanying Elder Sister?”

Xi Yue glanced at her condescendingly. “Younger Sister is extremely clever. In the future, you can be considered an opponent in chess. [6]棋逢敌手 (qí féng dí shǒu) is the first part of the phrase 棋逢敌手,一着争先 (qí féng dí shǒu, yī zhe zhēng xiān), which translates to ‘when you encounter an opponent in chess, fight for the first move.’ This means that when you meet a competitor, you can win or gain the upper hand by taking the lead in the first move. Jing’ren Palace’s Ula Nara Empress will likely be just as leisurely as Younger Sister; [you] can speak of family affairs together.” 

Seeing Qingying’s somewhat awkward expression, she took a step closer and whispered, “While caught between the Empress Dowager and Ula Nara Empress, instead of spending time competing for favor, Younger Sister should consider how to best protect herself.” 

Gao Xiyue waved at Jin Yuyan, calling out warmly, “What are you doing still standing there? Still not coming in with me!”

Jin Yuyan responded with a “Yes”, her gaze floating over Qingying, and complacently put her hand around Xiyue’s. They entered with a show of affection.

The wind scraped against one’s face. It turned out that the September winds of the Capital truly could be this cold-hearted and sandy; the force of the blows could bewilder one’s eyes.

Suoxin waited until [Gao Xiyue and Jin Yuyan] entered, then supported Qingying’s hand and continued walking forward. She muttered indignantly, “[Xi]Yue Consort is [of] the same [position] as you, yet she accepted your greeting without returning a greeting. She…”

Qingying faintly expressed, “There will be more of these days in the future. If I could not tolerate even this bit of prodding, then all those years spent getting along with her would have been wasted.” She sighed. “Furthermore, she is indeed several years older than I. Showing her respect and listening to her teachings is what I should do. As long as she does not take it too far, then I shall let it go.”

Hearing these words, Suoxin had something to say but stopped herself from speaking. [7]欲言又止 (yù yán yòu zhǐ) means to want to speak but then refrain from doing so. Expresses the difficulty of having words that are hard to say. Qingying looked at her. “What do you want to say?”

Suoxin lowered her gaze. “That Little Mistress speaks thus shows that Little Mistress understands [Xi]yue Consort’s disposition. It is not that as long as we tolerate her, she will not go too far.” 

Qingying’s eyebrow arched up. She profoundly uttered, “Is there a need to speak out loud the situation you already understand? Appearing slow in words but being quick in action [8]讷于言敏于行 (nè yú yán mǐn yú xíng) comes from The Analects of Confucius. Directly translated, this means “A gentleman can appear dull and slow in words, but he must be agile and diligent in action.” This means that practical actions are better than any words. is your advantage. Why are you now as outspoken as A’Ruo?”

Suoxin lowered her head without saying a word, only stretching out her hands. “This servant knows her wrongs. Little Mistress, it is time to pay respects at the late Emperor’s funeral vigil.”

During the Crying Ceremony on this day, Xiyue had, as though it was right and proper, knelt before Qingying could do so. Towards this, née Fucha spoke nary a word. On the contrary, she treated née Gao more courteously than usual. The people of the palace had always been most talented in swaying with the wind. Immediately, they changed from yesterday’s expression of shock to treating Xiyue ever more respectfully.

Just three-quarters of an hour past the Time of Chen [9]7 AM – 9 AM, the Dowager Consorts entered the hall one by one. Together with the new Emperor’s Concubines and Consorts, they separately occupied both the left and right sides of the hall, producing sounds of mourning. Though many people were in the hall, when stretching out the eye, all that could be seen were plain clothes and silver decorations in the frosty-white colors of mourning. Seemingly, no matter how much vitality a person held, they would still become but a dot within this sea of plain colors. 

After not yet half a shichen, the Empress Dowager, holding the hand of Fu gugu, [10]A term used to refer to higher ranked / tenured palace maids. also arrived. Owing to the continuous days of mourning, the Empress Dowager’s coloring was not that great. The Empress Dowager was the late Emperor’s Consort Xi and had always been favored and respected. She was extremely devoted to maintenance [of her beauty], appearing no more than a few years past thirty. Now, because of the sadness and grief in her heart, and because she was so sorrowful over the late Emperor’s passing that she had taken in neither water nor grain for the last several days, her entire person seemed to have become much more withered, as though a blooming beauty had within but a day lost all her flowers and leaves. 

Langhua saw the Empress Dowager enter the hall and hurriedly led everyone to pay their respects. The Empress Dowager gave a slight nod. “That is enough. This is a time to pay respects and filial piety to the late Emperor – there is no need to follow all these rules.”

Langhua hurriedly responded with a “Yes” and rose to assist the Empress Dowager by the arm. Qingying, who was the one who most often entered the palace with Langhua, similarly stepped forward, wanting to support the Empress Dowager. Unexpectedly, Xiyue collided with her elbow and then in one step moved forward to support the Empress Dowager’s other arm, saying tactfully, “Empress Dowager has been tired the last several days. Grief and sorrow can harm one’s person. [Empress Dowager] should pay attention to your phoenix body.” [11]Women who are legitimately of the Imperial family are Phoenixes, i.e. legitimate wives of Emperors. Birth mothers of Emperors are ‘upgraded’ to being legitimate to establish the legitimacy of the current Emperor.

The Empress Dowager nodded and patted the back of Xiyue’s hand. “You have had heart.” [12]This phrase is an acknowledgement of the other’s consideration and care.

Only when the Empress Dowager had gotten close did Qingying dare to raise her head and take a look. 

When they had previously met during visits to the palace, the Empress Dowager had been a favored Noble Consort. Though the younger Concubine Ning and Concubine Qian had been more favored in later days, she was still a long-tenured figure who met the satisfaction of the late Emperor. She had always sported a smooth and delicate face of makeup, never showing the slightest bit of slack. 

Now, under careful examination, it seemed that time was still merciless, and together with sorrow had soundlessly crawled across her skin, leaving fine marks near the edges of her brows and the corners of her eyes. The Empress Dowager’s lightly powdered face was wan and sallow, as though silk, no matter how high quality, after enduring the vicissitudes of time, would still be stained yellow with age and not be as full of luster, cleanliness, and smoothness as prior. 

Following the late Emperor’s passing, the Empress Dowager’s garb had become much more plain and simple. Under the white mourning robe, plain clothes of silver satin – the palest and most doleful color – embroidered with white bamboo leaves peeked out. The visible cuffs were adorned with bergamot flowers made of delicate and dense black and dark green silk twisted with silver threads. The jade hair decorations [13]Original text used the word 钿 (diàn), which refers to hair accessories that are inlaid with other metals, gems, or materials for decoration. scattered about the waning moon styled bun were of brilliant color, ever more so setting off the unconcealable white hairs amid dark strands, stabbing one’s eyes like a cluster of fleabane.

Qingying felt a welling of sadness in her heart. She followed the Empress Dowager and Langhua in kneeling in front of the funeral vigil, weeping miserably.

Although the days of crying were tiring, if one pretended that one was a candlestick placed in front of the funeral vigil, or that one was trapped by golden silk inside a hungry white curtain, the time would pass much faster.

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