Chapter 13 – Xiran is in the Wrong, Would Mother Please Forgive?
Kirindas: xxx, more possible schemes awaken…
That night, I slept very well, even had a very sweet dream. In that dream the princess was lying by my side, gently calling my name.
“Xiran… Xiran… I miss you…”
“En, princess, I miss you too~ though it’s only been a day, but I still miss you~~ I’ll be back soon…”
Then, I made kissing noises with my lips and grabbed her hand, yi? Why was her hand different? It seemed…bigger? And kind of rough, with callouses?
… … …
I woke up bewildered, looking around frantically to check whether I was still dreaming or not. If this was a dream, that hand was still a little too real, ba.
However, as my eyes started to focus, a large face loomed in front of me. It was a man’s face. His eyes were like two large bells, he expression was as though he was looking at a particularly crazy patient from the loony bin.
As my consciousness returned to me, this face, surely its owner was Xu Mo?
At the same time, a particularly manly voice pierced my ears, “Xiran, how long do you plant to hold my hand?”
Frightened, I leapt off the bed and scuttled at least three feet away. I watched him fearfully.
“Y-y-y-y-you, what are you doing? Why are you in here?”
“What am I doing? It’s already late morning, Master Lin told me to wake you up, so here I am. Who knew you’d actually still be sleeping. When I tried waking you up, you suddenly grabbed my hand and mutter nonsense, saying that you miss someone. Who are you missing, ah?”
“This… is not important, master is calling me, ba. Then I should go over quickly. Thanks for waking me up, Xu Mo. I’m going now, if fate wills it, we’ll meet again.”
As I talked, I continued pulling on clothes, stuffed my feet into my shoes and flew off, leaving Xu Mo in my room.
I knew that I was already late as I rushed over to my master’s side, running until I was out of breath.
“M-m-m-master, master, sorry I’m late.” I gulped in large mouthful of air, trying to catch my breath.
“So you still know how to come, I was about to invite you over. Very well, come with me to the kitchen, ba.”
“Yes… master.” Knowing that I was in the wrong, I obediently followed master’s instructions.
We entered the kitchen. Master made me wash my hands and do some prep-work before speaking.
“The Imperial Banquet have always been under the authority of the Imperial Kitchens, Since the emperor has placed this responsibility on you, this means he has confidence in your cooking and trusts your ability. In terms of menu, there’s no need for you to worry, the Imperial Banquet menu was something that was already set. There would also be specialized servants in charge of most of the cooking. The only thing you need to do is properly delegate the job. Your real job is to introduce new dishes. I’ll teach you a new dish today, please watch properly, first you should have these ingredients…”
I paid full attention to master’s teaching, even brought out a paper and writing brush to record the steps.
Time flew quickly as lesson went on, I listened to master’s instructions as I worked, in a blink of an eye, evening fell.
After dinner, I suddenly remembered the little sandalwood comb that I had ordered at that accessory shop three days ago, and decided to retrieve it today.
As I entered the shop, the owner saw me and happily rushed over.
“Young master, you’re finally here, I’ve been waiting for your illustrious presence since this morning.”
“Why are you more excited than me?” I looked at the shop owner who looked especially anxious.
“This one is just really excited for young master to see the finish product. Young master really has a good eye, the item came out really well.”
“Very well, as we have agreed, since I’ve special ordered this item and money already handed over, you must not make the exact pattern for others, you understand?”
“Yes, yes, yes, I guarantee young master. We’ll never make a comb that’s exactly the same. If you really find a comb that’s exactly the same in this city, this shop will give you 10 times, no 20 times the compensation! Well? Would young master please come over to inspect the item, please.”
I was very satisfied with his answer and followed him to the counter. From a black sandalwood box, he took out the special order comb that I had put in for the princes.
The comb was very finely made, reddish brown in colour, a gentle ripple pattern flowed across the whole comb, including the teeth. Other decorative pattern was also etched on, creating a lovely, balance look. The most eye catching point was the body of the comb, where a peach branch and a single red bean was engraved. The leaves of the peach branch was created using green turquoise, on one of the peach blossom petals, a very tiny ‘蓁’character was carved on.
|Words of Shijing:
A peach tree flowers, red petals bloomed. A girl marries, sets up house.
A peach tree bears, plump peaches appear. A woman married, house becomes a home.
A peach tree grows, leaves abundant. A wife and a husband, together until the end.
Her name ‘Zhen’ should be written this way, ba? As for that single red bean, the meaning behind that was this saying: I play dice with red beans, and miss you to the bones.
With these meaningful symbols etched on a comb that represents endless unity, I hope to give the best wishes in this world for the both of us. My only wish was to live with her for the rest of my life, and never be apart.
Satisfied with the comb, I paid the rest of the money at the cashier, collected the comb and left to return to my master’s place.
By the time I got back, it was already dark. After running about for the whole day, I placed the box with the comb next to my pillow like a precious treasure, and fell into sweet dreams, sleeping the night away.
The days past the same way for nearly two weeks, learning cooking with the master and the occasional visits from the princes. She would personally bring me some good things to eat, but most of the time it was Yuan’er who brought me things.
One morning, I received a letter from Wei Qi, informing that he’ll be back in the city soon. Moreover, he had a surprise for me and that we should meet at the normal meeting place at noon.
The letter made me feel like this guy was hiding something from me, still like to play these childish games even after all these years.
However, I still made it on time at [Ju Xiang Ge]. Since Xuan’er worked and lived here, it would be impossible to avoid her. The last time Xu Mo came over, I told him not to tell Xuan’er that I was at master’s place. Since he said nothing, she still thought I was at the palace.
“Elder Brother Ran’er, you finally came. That elder brother that came with you last time is upstairs. He said you’ll definitely come,” She was still this excited every time she saw me, her cheeks rosy with a lovely blush,
I really don’t dare to think, just how angry she’s going to be if she knew that I was at master’s place for over two weeks.
I evasively said, “That’s right, I’ll definitely come. Wei Qi is already here, ba. Then, I’ll go upstairs right now. Talk to you later, Xuan’er,” I hurriedly rushed up stairs. I already have princess, I absolutely can’t have any entanglements with any other girls, this included Xuan’er.
Somehow, I could not help looked back and saw her dispirited face…
“Xuan’er, you are a good girl. You’ll definitely find someone better.”
With that, I resolutely turned, went upstairs, making for the room we agreed to meet at. Before opening the door, I heard two voices from within, the first was Wei Qi’s, the other one was just as familiar…
“This voice… it’s mother!”
I quickly opened the door and saw that it was really her. The way she dressed was still the same, simple and neat. There were more white hairs on her head and thin lines on her face.
Though my mother came from common stock, her education was no worse that a lady from a big family. Even now, there was a scholarly air about her person. However, thanks to the trouble I’ve caused all these years, her temper had gotten worse, a lot worse.
Nevertheless, I could not help the tears from my eyes as I dropped to my knees in front of her.
“Mother, this child is unfilial, though it’s been such a long while, this child of yours haven’t gone back to visit you, how have you been?”
Seeing me, my mother also became emotional. She wiped her face as she said:
“You horrible little rabbit, running off to the city and not even a letter for half a year. Do you know I almost went crazy from worry? Get up quickly, what are you kneeling for? Have you been skipping meals? You’ve gone so thin.” She hurried over to make me get up and ushered me to a chair, before settling back to stare at me with a distressed look.
“Mother, I’m in the wrong, please forgive Ran’er ba. I had planned to finish my business here quickly and visit you, but how come you’re here instead?” I wiped the tears from my face, not letting go of mother’s hands.
Mother gave Wei Qi a glance and said to me, “According to this child, you missed me too much, saying that I must come over to look at you properly. Also, mother really misses you and came over without much persuasion.”
I gave Wei Qi a grateful look, which he returned with a ‘please don’t mind me’ look. What a good brother, understood me so much~
“Foster mother, Xiran, seeing the two of you reunite really makes me happy, ah. Xiran, I heard that you’re really busy these days. Why don’t you let mother stay at my place for a while, I promise to take care of her, what do you think?”
“Your place, is it all right? Wouldn’t it inconvenience you?” I was really worried that Wei Qi would really be troubled by our family.
“I’ve been conferred a level 5 position at the Han Imperial College by the emperor which came with an official estate. On top of that there was a reward of 200 liang of silver. After gaining such fame I must show my filial appreciation for foster mother for taking care of me all these years. You are my good brother, foster mother is just like my own mother, what’s wrong with letting her stay at my place? It just so happen that my parents will be staying with me too, having companions from the same generation is good, isn’t it? Foster mother, what do you think?”
Seeing my mother nod her head in such a gratified manner, I see no reason to stop her. I cast a grateful eye at Wei Qi and gave my thanks, this brother was just too good~~
“Xiran, you can stop your thanks, tonight is a good night. I shall be the host, let’s all get drunk tonight, what do you think?”
Warm laughter sounded in the room as we feasted and drink under a happy atmosphere. I accompanied mother all the way to Wei Qi’s place, after she settled down down, we sat together and have some heart to heart mother and daughter chat. After a bit, I had to return to my master’s place.
As I got ready to leave, Wei Qi called out.
“Xiran, please wait a moment. I have something to say. Since mother has just arrived in the capital, there are plenty of places she had not visited yet. Why don’t you get a day off and the three of us go sightseeing?”
“Aiya~ Wei Qi, how are you so thoughtful, I never thought of that. You’re really a good guy, I should really thank you, ah.” I patted his shoulders, pushing down the urge to cry. This must be what’s called the blessings of the previous generation.
“We’re both brothers of the same family, how could I not understand you. These are all the things that should be done. Anyway, it’s late, you should return soon, I’ll send someone to pick you up tomorrow.”
After another round of thanks, he called a carriage over to send me back.
As the carriage slowly moved away, he quietly remained in place for a while, watching the direction of my departure. A meaningful smile floated on his face.
“Xiran, see you tomorrow.”
After saying that, he entered the government house and slowly closed the door.
[Translator’s Note: Wei Qi! Please don’t be a bad guy!! Stay pure! Get a nice wife or boyfriend, whatever, stay good!]
 Blessings of the previous generation – There’s a belief that good luck came from all the good karma collected by one’s ancestors. Either through hard work or suffering, thus benefiting the next generation.