I know this is technically a Beautiful Bones post, but I just had to share that I saw a pic of the cover for Really, Really Miss You (strawberries everywhere!) and some bonus little chibi drawings that will be included with the first batch of the published novel. Release should be soon! (They have given the story the official English name, “Miss You.”)
Poetry, calligraphy, traditional Chinese medicine, and Stanford-Binet IQ tests. >_< What a fun ride translating this chapter was.
Chapter 5.3 – The Tune of Old (3)
The she and he of the past had once been separated by their teacher-disciple relationship, separated by her betrothal, arranged even prior to her birth, to someone else. From when she was age seven to seventeen, her knowledge of the four arts of the qin, chess, calligraphy, and painting; her behavior and how she conducted herself in society; and even every book, every line of poem or lyric she knew was a result of his teaching. From when she was naïve and unaware of the world to when it was all so deeply integrated into her very being, like it had penetrated into her bone and blood.
Beauty is offered, a soul is given in return. [Love expressed even in silence.]
A mind bewitched by love.
She used ten years to truly understand the meaning of those two lines.
“Tired?” Zhousheng Chen suddenly asked her.
Shi Yi shook her head. “I was just thinking about something.” Worried that he might ask further, she quickly added, “Stuff from work.”
After finding out that he did not have any work or family commitments, she deliberately told him that she had worked very late the previous night and was rather tired. The two of them spent the entire day in her home. There were plenty of things available to pass the time, and he chose Go. The way he held his stones was very attractive, and also very familiar.
Sometimes, Shi Yi would pretend to be deliberating over the game and quietly steal glances at him as he played.
She surmised, he was probably aware of what she was doing, but he simply allowed her to do it.
He brought her to what would be their new home.
The yard was small and the house was three levels. The interior décor gave a sense that it was like a piece of white notepaper, with colors that were not vibrant but carried a calming atmosphere. From the instant she walked in, she would instinctively lower her voice every time she spoke. She suddenly wondered, if it was anyone else and not herself as his fiancée, would that person feel that everything he did was inharmonious –– a feeling that he was inharmonious with the era?
For her, she had never felt there was anything uncomfortable with him.
As the person who was about to become his betrothed, it stood to reason that she should be involved in everything. Zhousheng Chen did not believe he was entitled to dictate everything, and even something like the wooden block watercolor imprint that was to be used on the invitations, he personally brought to her to have a look and to ask her which type of calligraphic script she preferred. When they were discussing this, it was during the break in between his conversation with his aides.
On a dark brown desktop, there lay a row of wooden block carvings, and beside each of the carvings was a long strip of xuan paper.
He had instructed people to carve her name onto the blocks and then imprint it onto the paper. In fact, she recognized each one of the calligraphy styles that were there in front of her, and even knew the stories behind each of them. She asked him, “Normally, which one do you like to use?”
“The older generation holds in esteem styles of the Tang dynasty and likes the uprightness and properness of regular script, but specifically which calligrapher’s style, that comes down to personal preference.”
She nodded. Of the four great masters of regular script, only Zhao Mengfu was of the Yuan dynasty. Without hesitation, she eliminated in her mind that particular strip of paper.
Then, she very accurately pulled out the remaining three calligrapher’s styles and placed them before the two of them.
She, however, did not notice the slight hint of surprise in Zhousheng Chen’s eyes. He had not expected that she could so accurately recognize each calligrapher’s script.
“I really like Yan Zhenqing’s writing, but his death could be considered a tragic one. Would it be not very auspicious, then?” She was hit with an inexplicable superstitious mood. “Liu Gongquan’s writing is too rigid and strict. Would it be not very suitable for an engagement ceremony invitation?” She was murmuring to herself, hesitant over which to choose, but then soon turned around and felt that she was overthinking this. It was just the calligraphy style that would be used on the invitation; there was no need to take it so seriously.
Zhousheng Chen seemed to think nothing of her over-pondering. He pulled out the only paper of calligraphy style she had not rejected. “The calligraphy strokes are strong and cutting, yet do not fail to still be graceful and free. Ouyang Xun’s script is very good.” When he finished saying this, he summoned for someone to take away that strip of xuan paper.
He raised his wrist to glance at the time, then told her that following this, there were many arranged happenings that were not suitable for his participation.
Initially, she had found this odd, but after watching the outline of his backside disappear into the study, she discovered that there was a familiar face, held tilted to the side and smiling, on the other side of the door. It was the girl from the other night who had taken her measurements.
She suddenly understood what he meant by “not suitable for his participation.”
That night, when she had chosen fabric and had her measurements taken in the girl’s old home, only four people, the grandmother and her three grandchildren, plus an old woman who served tea and poured water, had been present. She had felt, at the time, that besides the antiquated courtyard home setting, there was nothing peculiar about them. But now, from watching the girl as she walked in, followed behind by more than a dozen exquisitely dressed middle-aged women, she could already sense what Zhousheng Chen had meant in his description of them as an “influential family of generations.”
Some of the middle-aged women’s hands were holding garments that were covered by deep red fabric, while others were helping to carry a long wooden box.
She looked over toward them but could not guess what that box would contain.
After the girl had greeted her, she signaled to the people to open up the box, and then soon, standing upright there was a dark red frame for hanging clothing.
It would seem, coming here to deliver clothing actually required bringing one’s own wooden frame as well to hang the garments.
She suddenly realized this.
The girl understood the look on her face and, feeling also that this act was annoyingly troublesome, explained, “Grandmother said, any matter pertaining to the Eldest Young Master of the Zhousheng family must be done with all the formalities.” Seeing Shi Yi’s surprised expression, the girl could not help sighing, “No choice. The one you’re going to marry, Miss Shi Yi, is, after all, surnamed Zhousheng –– and there is only one every generation.”
Someone removed the cloths that had been used as covering and hung up the dozen or more dresses.
Gazing at them, Shi Yi exhaled a long breath. “So beautiful.”
“You like them? Honestly like them?” the girl laughed. “Then let me tell you this. Right now, it’s just engagement. My [maternal] grandmother’s health has not been very good lately, so these designs are all by us three siblings. If it was the wedding, Grandmother would definitely take on the work personally, and then, it wouldn’t be just ‘nice-looking.’” As she spoke, she, too, seemed as if she was looking forward to this.
With a contented sigh, Shi Yi said thank you to her.
Someone had hung up a cloth curtain.
Shi Yi cooperatively tried the gowns on, one by one. She finally remembered she had never asked the girl for her name.
“My name is Wang Man.” Wang Man meticulously looked over the dress she was trying on at the moment. She puckered her lips and motioned with a nod for her to look in the mirror. “No wonder Grandmother said Eldest Young Master treats you so well it could not possibly get any better. You are the only girl in his family who is not required to wear a cheongsam in an open, social situation.”
“Is wearing a cheongsam a must?” she asked, finding this peculiar.
However, after carefully recalling the first meeting with his mother and also after, the meal near Jinshan Temple, where she had met his younger cousin-sister and cousin-sister-in-law, she realized they really had all been wearing cheongsam. Regardless of what sort of fabric or what type of design had been used for their garments, none of them could escape the restraints of the traditional cheongsam.
“I’ve only heard Grandmother mention before that those wealthy, high-class families have many different sorts of rules, so making clothes for people from those families is so boring.”
Wang Man was scrutinizing the end of the sleeve, and it seemed she was pondering whether she should remove some of the embellishments.
A beauty did not need excessive adornment. Being simple and minimal was actually the best option.
In the end, Shi Yi finally chose a gown that surprisingly actually revealed the lower half of her calf, but the sleeve still went down to her forearm.
The most important point was, this particular dress’s design was very similar to a cheongsam……
Wang Man saw through her intention and could not help laughing. She instructed someone to remove the screen that had been used as a partition for Shi Yi to change privately and was just about call Zhousheng Chen in to see when they heard Shi Yi’s mobile phone ring. Shi Yi picked up her phone off of the table and walked over to the window to answer the call. She had just answered it when she heard a man’s voice give a light cough.
Turning around, she saw a man and a woman standing at the door.
This was not surprising. Since being with him, every face she saw was an unfamiliar one. What was actually more peculiar were Wang Man’s momentary shocked expression and her eyes that were locked on that young man. Shi Yi also followed her gaze and looked over in that direction. The man was wearing a pair of light-colored pants, a green, checkered-pattern button-down shirt, and a black suit jacket.
His tall height was able to suppress the frivolousness of the green color.
It actually gave him a sense of being charming, free, and unconstrained.
The young man gave a slight nod to Wang Man and then turned his eyes to Shi Yi. “I am guessing that this lady who is so beautiful she causes people’s jaws to drop must be my older brother’s fiancée, correct?”
Shi Yi was a little taken aback, but she still nodded and answered, “Hello. I am Shi Yi.”
“Hello.” The young man walked over to her, stretched out his arms, and, as she was about to extend her own hand to shake his in greeting, gave her a warm, enthusiastic hug. “I’m Zhou Wenchuan. Zhousheng Chen is my older brother.”
This man’s spoken Chinese actually sounded quite out of practice.
He was completely unlike Zhousheng Chen.
Even so, Shi Yi was still able to recognize that he had their mother’s eyes, eyes that slanted upward.
So, this person was one of the twins he had once mentioned –– Zhou Wenchuan.
Only after the two of them had separated from the embrace did Zhou Wenchuan beckon to his female companion. He told her, “This is my wife, Tong Jiaren.” Tong Jiaren walked toward her but was not as affectionate as Zhou Wenchuan, simply shaking her hand and then letting it go.
A rather cool person, and even slightly hostile.
Shi Yi could not understand why the atmosphere in the room was so strange.
While she was hesitating over what sort of identity and status she should use to receive them, the door to the adjacent small meeting room was opened from the inside. He seemed to have heard the voices coming from the outside. In the meeting room, the men, whether they were sitting or standing, were all wearing black suits and were so stern in appearance they seemed as if they were in the midst of life and death negotiations. Zhousheng Chen stepped out and instructed someone to shut the door.
He was not wearing a jacket. The top button at his shirt collar was undone, and in his right hand were his glasses. He raised his eyes slightly and glanced around at the people in the room before his gaze very naturally landed on Shi Yi. “It looks very nice.”
Shi Yi smiled, but before she had a chance to speak, Wang Man had already heaved a sigh of relief. “That’s great that you think it looks nice.”
She seemed unwilling to stay and quickly told her attendants to pack everything up.
As she was taking her leave, Zhousheng Chen unexpectedly spoke up and asked Wang Man to stay and have dinner with them. “You and Wenchuan have known each other since childhood. It has been many years since you last saw one another?”
Wang Man cast a glance at Zhou Wenchuan. “About three or four years.”
“Has it been?” Zhou Wenchuan thought for a moment. “That’s about right.”
And so, the subject was brushed over and no further details were given.
Dinner was at their home, and after the meal, they sat out in the garden and chatted. To Shi Yi’s surprise, she determined from the conversation that Tong Jiaren and Zhousheng Chen had once been schoolmates. There was not a large age difference between the two of them, but by the time she had started university, Zhousheng Chen had already received his doctorate degree.
“According to the Stanford-Binet Intelligence Scale, this brother of mine very much so meets the standards of being gifted, with his IQ of 190.” Zhou Wenchuan chuckled and crossed his left leg over his right. “At age twelve, he was already receiving invitations from universities. Age fourteen, he entered university. Age nineteen, he received his PhD in chemical engineering.”
Laughing lightly, Wang Man jumped in, “You’ve bragged about your older brother so much people’s ears have already gone numb from listening.”
Zhou Wenchuan shook his head and laughed.
Wang Man continued, “According to the Guiness Book of World Records, the smartest person in the world is not Eldest Young Master. That person at two years old already knew four languages, at four years old was sitting in on university courses, and at fifteen years old had gotten a PhD in physics.
Zhou Wenchuan raised his eyebrows. “Hey, little girl, you’re always trying to argue with me.”
Shi Yi burst out in amused laughter.
However, the subject of their conversation did not seem like he was very interested. Glancing at him from the corner of her eye, Shi Yi tried to guess, was he thinking about his research project in Xi’an or about other matters in the family? It seemed the way things were now was quite enjoyable already. He was able to sit here quietly beside her, and from time to time, she could freely observe him while making fanciful guesses about what he might be thinking.
Shi Yi reigned in her train of thought back to the present.
But she unexpectedly discovered Tong Jiaren subtly shifting her gaze away.
Only Zhousheng Chen and Shi Yi were sitting in the direction she had been looking.
Shi Yi did not know whether she had been looking at her, or at him.
The two people who had been debating about IQ had now switched the topic over to moxibustion. Wang Man was saying, she had returned from London and had since left behind that type of diet that caused one to easily put on weight, but to her surprise, she had actually gained a little weight instead since coming back. “Every night, in the old manor house, I do aerobics until late into the night, then in the morning it’s yoga. I don’t eat a lot of rice or bread or noodles, either, but still, I’m not seeing results.”
Whenever a girl talked about losing weight, it would always be like this.
Regardless of whether you were of a wealthy, influential family or whether you had a pair of hands that were capable of sewing heavenly clothing, you would still need to be concerned about your weight.
Zhou Wenchuan merely laughed, “Be careful that your aerobics and jumping don’t cause granny to have a heart attack.” He looked over at his newlywed wife. “Jiaren, I remember you told your cousin that there is a method you can use that involves moxibustion and massage?”
Tong Jiaren was lost in thought and did not seem to have heard.
Zhou Wenchuan tapped her lightly on the arm with his hand, and with a half-smile, he asked, “What are you thinking?”
“Huh? Um, nothing.” Tong Jiaren looked confusedly at him. “What did you say?”
“I said, do you have some sort of method that uses moxibustion and massage to lose weight?”
“It’s not for losing weight, it’s to boost metabolism.” Tong Jiaren placed her fingers on the midline of her lower abdomen, three cun below her navel. “Right here is the Guan Yuan [“Origin Pass”] acupoint. Moxibustion and massage at this point can dispel dampness, promote diuresis, boost kidney function, and overall increase organ and gut health. Usually, if your metabolism is good, your body will not retain too much junk or fat in it, and so you won’t become overweight. This can be considered the healthiest way to lose weight.” When Tong Jiaren spoke, she was very nice and polite, but she gave off a sense of aloofness.
“Have you committed all that to memory?” Zhou Wenchuan looked at Wang Man.
A hint of displeasure could be sensed coming from Wang Man. She did not say thank you nor answer Zhou Wenchuan.
There was a moment of awkwardness.
Shi Yi had been observing them up to this point, and she increasingly felt that the relationship between all of them was extremely delicate and complicated.
She smiled and suddenly spoke up. “Also, Wang Man, you need to remember, moxibustion to this acupoint can cause excessive internal heat. So remember to drink a glass of warm water before and after the treatment, or you can pair it with moxibustion to the Yong Quan [“Gushing Spring”] acupoint on the sole of the feet to lower your internal heat.”
She had merely wanted to thaw the tension.
Instead, she brought about Zhousheng Chen’s interest. “You have knowledge of acupoints?”
With an “mm,” she replied, “A little bit.”
Much of what she knew was only basic knowledge.
However, because it was he of the past who had taught her, she had over and over again forced herself to keep it all firmly in her mind and had never forgotten any of it.
Including calligraphy, including moxibustion and acupoints.
After the guests had all left, she continued to sit with him in the garden.
Those people who had discussed business with Zhousheng Chen in the afternoon brought over a stack of papers for him to look over. Shi Yi very tactfully moved her gaze away and went to look at the colourful koi that were in the pond. All of a sudden, a golden koi leapt up out of the water, then with a smack, landed back inside again.
The light splashing sound seemed to contrast and emphasize tonight’s peacefulness.
He took the pen that was offered to him and signed his name on the lower right of one of the papers. After the men had left, he used two fingers to lightly massage between his brows before slipping on his glasses.
Then, he turned his head to look at her.
The side profile of Shi Yi’s face was very beautiful. The moonlight’s reflection could be seen in her eyes, which, because she was trying to avoid looking at his business matters, were focused on the pond and the rockery beside it. She was not showing even the slightest impatience. He was reminded of a phrase that was used to describe beautiful women. “The most beautiful are those who are not aware of their beauty.”
When he had first met her, he had suspected that she had been a part of someone’s scheme, to use her outstanding appearance to get close to him. But now, he truly conceded that she had genuinely only wanted to meet him.
A very simple, pure intention.
In the moonlight, she was watching the koi and he was watching her.
He was reminded of the line:
Beneath long, curved brows, sidelong gazes are cast again and again. Beauty is offered, a soul is given in return, and the heart rejoices to be at one another’s side.
琴 “qin”. This is referring to the 古琴 “guqin” [“gu” meaning old], which was considered the instrument of the scholarly. It was one of the first string instruments in Chinese history, in existence for mor than 3000 years, even in the time of Confucious.
棋 “qi.” The chess is generally referring to Go and sometimes, Chinese chess.
 The previous explanation of this line from the rhapsody in the previous chapter was a more literal explanation. What this line also tries to express is that when love is mutually known to exist between two people, it can be expressed without spoken words – through actions, through expressions, through eyes, etc.
 See footnote , chapter 2.3
宣纸 “xuan zhi.” Also called “rice paper.” A special type of white paper known for its softness, fine texture, strength, and absorption. Used since ancient times in China for brush calligraphy and painting, it is actually resistant to aging and decay, and hence, most of the ancient art and calligraphy that has survived the ages are on xuan paper.
 See footnote  in chapter 4.1.
楷书四家. The four calligraphers in Chinese history recognized for especially for their calligraphy using regular script are Ouyang Xun (of the Tang dynasty), Yan Zhenqing (of the Tang dynasty), Liu Gongquan (of the Tang dynasty) and Zhao Mengfu (of the Yuan dynasty).
颜真卿 Yan Zhenqing was a calligrapher and held various positions as an official of the imperial court during the Tang dynasty. During a rebellion against the dynasty, he was sent to negotiate with the leader of the rebels, and after refusing to surrender, was strangled to death.
艾灸 “ai jiu.” A traditional Chinese medicine technique in which healing is facilitated by burning mugwort, an herb. Moxa, which is made from mugwort, is burned during an acupuncture treatment, either directly, by placing it in contact with the acupoint on the body, or indirectly by being held over but not in contact with the body.
寸 “cun.” A traditional Chinese unit of length where, because each person is a unique size and shape, it uses a person’s body as a way to take measurements. 1 cun = the width of one’s thumb at the knuckle. 3 cun = the width of all four fingers placed side by side together.
 In traditional Chinese medicine, there are six climatic “evils” that can enter and are detrimental to the body, and dampness is one of them.
I’m going to briefly explain what happened in the calligraphy selection scene, just in case it is not obvious to everyone.
The engagement invitations were going to use the woodblock imprinting technique for the calligraphy. Shi Yi’s name was hand carved into many different wooden blocks, and each block used a different calligraphy style. In Chinese calligraphy, the script of famous calligraphers is imitated and that is what is referred to as a “calligraphy style.”
When Shi Yi asked Zhousheng Chen which style he preferred, he answered that people in his family preferred regular script and things of the Tang dynasty. Shi Yi, therefore, automatically honed in on wooden blocks that had her name carved in regular script and found the styles of the four masters known for their calligraphy in regular script. Immediately, she eliminated the one calligrapher who was not from the Tang dynasty so she ended up pulling out three wooden blocks.
Now, recognizing calligraphy style is not a simple task, and only someone who has studied Chinese calligraphy would be able, in a glance, to recognize which style belongs to which calligrapher. That is why Zhousheng Chen was surprised. And then, for her to be able to know the history of the calligraphers (like what she said for Yan Zhenqing) and understand the distinctiveness of each style (like how she described Liu Gongquan) only further demonstrated how learned she was.
1 of 1 Prologue
16 of 56 Main story segments
0 of 3 Epilogues