I forgot who asked me about the age difference between Eleven and Xiao Nanchen Prince. I couldn’t remember offhand that time and gave an approximation, but the answer is given in this post.
Mo Bao Fei Bao says her inspiration for her novels is her real life. There are parts of her and her experiences written into most of her novels as a way of journaling what she wants to remember. So now that you have read more about Zhousheng Chen and his romance with Shi Yi, I’ll give you this tidbit: MBFB has her own real life chemistry professor whom she loves dearly and she once said that the favourite male lead that she has written is Zhousheng Chen. It’s no wonder that Zhousheng Chen is, to me at least, the type of man that every girl would want to have as a husband and spend the rest of her life with. The perfect but down-to-earth romance.
The ancient water towns are so romantic with their bridges and canals. And what could be more romantic than a reunion in one of those towns?
Chapter 11.1 – Your First Adornment was Like You (1)
“’Pai gow that risks a city’?” Du Feng smiled, as if he was thinking of something. “That’s a saying you don’t hear often.”
Zhousheng Ren lowered his head and began again to flip through the book he had brought along. “Mr. Du, you seem very interested in all this.” His tone had suddenly turned cool and distant, but Du Feng did not seemed bothered by it.
Perhaps it was the feeling of pridefulness that Xiao Ren radiated, or possibly it was something else, but Shi Yi seemed to sense that the atmosphere between him and Du Feng was very unfriendly.
Everyone was playing excitedly, but Shi Yi felt it was rather pointless.
When she saw Xiao Ren’s focused look as he read his book, she suddenly felt guilty. He really loved to read, yet he was keeping her company here and carrying out idle conversation with people. Pulling out a pen from her handbag, she inconspicuously wrote on a facial tissue: Let’s go back?
Then, with her pointer finger, she tapped the back of his hand and covered the book he was reading with the tissue.
The boy was taken aback momentarily, but then his lips came together and turned up into a smile.
They quickly departed from that place. Shi Yi returned to her room to grab some books, paper, and a pen, and together they went to a quiet teahouse. Sitting up on the second level next to a window, they each read their own books.
Every once in a while, Shi Yi would raise her head to glance at Xiao Ren. She all of a sudden had a feeling that she was like a parent or guardian.
And this child was certainly one of those who loved studying, the type where you absolutely did not need to worry about him. From the very beginning, once he had fully immersed himself into his reading, he paid no heed to the sounds of water or the songs of the cicadas around him. With pen in hand, he was continuously writing something on his paper, and his eyes never left his paper and book.
Shi Yi lowered her head and carried on reading the book in her hand.
She also had the habit of writing as she read. At times, when she read a word or sentence that she liked, she would copy it down and that would help her remember it. Maybe the atmosphere here was simply too nice or perhaps Zhousheng Ren’s stillness had influenced her. The pen in her hand had been writing away and then it stopped.
Somehow, like her hand was being guided by something, she put her pen to paper and wrote a sentence:
Summer, sixth month, year of Ji-hai, the emperor died in the Palace of Eternal Happiness.
Her pen was still once again, its tip hovering above the paper, reluctant to continue writing.
She clearly remembered it had been the first day of the sixth month because that was the day she was born. She had come into the world, but on that same day, after the late emperor had breathed his last, fourteen-year-old Xiao Nanchen Prince had refused to accept the sealed imperial decree presented to him, questioning the genuineness of the seal for it appeared too small and suspecting that there was a mutiny in the imperial palace. This had nearly led to a disastrous incident of civil disorder.
He had been fourteen years old when she was born into the world.
Even before the first time she had seen him, the things she had heard about him were enough to fill a book.
Shi Yi had written the words of that one line such that they were very small, and her handwriting was very faint as well. Her heart pounded as she stared at it for a while. Perhaps she seemed overly entranced by what she was looking at for she attracted Zhousheng Ren’s attention. The boy set down his book and glanced at what she had written. With some surprise, he asked, “What you wrote, is it about the Zhousheng Chen of ancient times?”
She, too, was taken aback and looked over at him in hesitation. “You know about him, too?”
“Yes.” Xiao Ren’s appreciation of Shi Yi grew even more. “He is in the Zhousheng family geneaology records. Although the historical records do not have much information, I’m very interested in him. He was suspected many times of conspiring against the state and was also very amorous.”
“Amorous?” Shi Yi repeated in astonishment.
“He had relations with the crown princess. How could he not be amorous?” Xiao Ren laughed as he said this. “Who’s the crown princess? The future mistress of the Eastern Palace, but for him, she gave up everything and leapt to her death. Is that not amorous? That is so much more than others around him.”
Xiao Ren’s tone was half-joking as he said this.
Shi Yi was even more shocked.
“I heard Mother mention, my big brother was specifically named after this person,” Xiao Ren laughed, “so I was even more interested in him. Too bad, though, that not much was recorded on him.”
Too little was written in the records of him, and furthermore, what was written was not very complimentary.
This was what grieved her most.
The two of them talked for a while before Xiao Ren carried on with reading his own book. Shi Yi, however, could not settle her heart. Her eyes were fixed on that line again, and after wavering for quite some time, she continued writing:
Upon reading the document, the Nanchen Prince refused to weep and only stated, “The imperial seal upon this document is too small. A rebellion is suspected within the palace.”
She suddenly had a thought. She wanted to write down all those remaining memories she still had in her head.
Regardless of how much she still remembered.
This idea caused her sleep to be restless the entire night. When there was something you especially want to do, you subconsciously thought about it over and over again. It was something that was completely beyond your control. She tossed about the whole night in a half-asleep, half-awake state, and filling her mind were all those things she had once heard about: the flooding of Jiangzhou, the fierce battle of Shuozhou, six campaigns to Daizhou……
Eventually, even Mei Lin could not tolerate her any longer and, when the morning light was just starting to show, reached over and gave her a weak shove. “I hate you. Tossing and turning all night so that even I couldn’t sleep.”
Shi Yi was exhausted herself as she mumbled, “Kept on having dreams, and they were all dreams of war and chaos.”
“So then…” Mei Lin said, opening her eyes and looking at her rather pale complexion, “So maybe the night before, there had actually been no sound and it was just you dreaming.”
Shi Yi could not tell her that she had talked on the phone with Zhousheng Chen until the morning, so she merely shook her head. “I don’t know.”
“Do you feel that sometimes, the way you live is not very real?” Mei Lin asked her softly. “You’re not really interested in anything. You work only because you require a job. Since I met you, I haven’t noticed you being interested in anything. Apart from that husband of yours whom you suddenly met and then got married to.”
Shi Yi turned over, also feeling herself that her life was too dull.
Perhaps it was because she thought her previous life had been too exciting, with too many ups and downs – borne of a noble family, had a marriage of the greatest riches and honor prearranged for her, discipled under a man who easily could have the admiration of most women… and also hid in her heart a desire that was held in contempt by all people.
There were some things that, after you possessed them once, you would not even care about anymore.
Probably from when she was old enough to be aware and sensible about things, she had only been fixed upon the idea of “reuniting with him.” It was also because of this thinking, though, that she forced herself to integrate into this society and to use the most normal and ordinary identity to meet him again.
“In your opinion, if there really is reincarnation, is there any use for money? Is there any point to contending with or maneuvering against other people?” She contemplated briefly. “I think, really, there’s no point.”
“Yeah… But I don’t believe in reincarnation, so my life is more realistic and practical than yours. I like money, and I like people to respect me.” Mei Lin blew out a breath. “As for you, you only seem to value relationships. But that’s why being friends with people like you is the best. I never have to worry that you will do anything to hurt your friends.”
Shi Yi smiled, not saying anything.
Mei Lin’s thoughts turned to the husband that Shi Yi’s heart and mind were always thinking about, and she could not help sighing that she still had not had a chance to truly come in contact with him. A man who lived on the earth but would rather study Venus was quite fascinating.
Shi Yi was uncertain when he would be returning to the country and could only respond by saying that next time, when they had the chance, they would definitely all go out to dinner.
The competition came to a perfect conclusion, and Mei Lin successfully signed on three new artistes.
Two men and one woman, all who were very talented.
Mei Lin was sitting inside a barge, drinking some tea and cracking little jokes with some of the professional voice actors while the new artistes sat amongst them looking somewhat shy. One of the young men, Shi Yi very much admired the timbre of his voice and his innate sense of drama and acting, and she could not help saying a few more words to him before they were to all leave the West Village.
The barge was moving along very slowly. As it floated out from under a stone bridge, she happened to just finish her conversation and throw a casual glance in the direction of the bank of the canal.
Someone was there, watching her with a smile.
He was wearing light beige trousers and a sky-blue, short-sleeved polo shirt. Clean-looking and ordinary. He did not have any luggage with him and simply stood in a shady area on the banks, his glasses held in his hand.
He was far-sighted, so removing his glasses allowed him to see more clearly, and judging from the way he looked, he seemed to have been watching for quite some time already.
If the scenic area had not still been closed to the public, he would have very easily faded into the crowds of people… Shi Yi anxiously twisted around and grabbed Mei Lin by the shoulders. “Hurry and pull over to the edge. Pull over to edge!”
Mei Lin was slightly taken aback. Seeing the person standing on the bank of the canal, she tried for quite some time to place who he was before asking somewhat uncertainly, “Your hubby’s here?”
This one question aroused the curiosity of everyone on the barge.
People were always more interested in who would end up “getting” the beautiful girl rather than just the ordinary person. And furthermore, since the last awards ceremony, everyone knew that Shi Yi had someone who was so good it was enviable. Now, that person was here, so certainly they needed to look him over closely.
Of course, D. Wang was eyeing him over the most carefully.
Shi Yi only made a cursory noise in answer, her mind focused only on hurrying to land.
She was very worried that all these people’s prying eyes would make him feel uncomfortable.
Zhousheng Chen was much more composed than she had expected, and when he saw everybody’s gazes on him, he gave a very natural nod of his head in greeting. The boat docked at the nearest stone steps along the waterway, and Zhousheng Chen also strolled over to that same spot. As Shi Yi stepped ashore, he stretched out his hand to help her.
“Mr. Zhousheng, hello.” Mei Lin was standing at the bow of the boat and was boldly and openly looking him up and down as she greeted him, “Every time, I have managed to miss the chance of meeting you. This time, I finally get to see you in person.”
With one hand, Zhousheng Chen firmly supported Shi Yi as she took a large stride onto the stone steps and then stood beside him.
“Hello, Mei Lin,” he smiled politely. “Shi Yi talks about you often. Thank you for taking care of her all this time.”
Shi Yi was slightly surprised by this. She had always worried that she would trouble him and would not talk to him about her work matters.
Mei Lin smiled and exchanged some polite niceties with him.
While the boat was pulling away, Zhousheng Chen eyes moved over the entire group again, and he nodded and said goodbye.
His gaze intersected with D. Wang’s before shifting away, but everything remained uneventful and peaceful.
After the boat had moved away from the canal’s edge again, Shi Yi finally could not hold herself back and took his hand. “When did you get back? Why did you suddenly come back? What about your stuff over on the other end? The problems over here regarding entering the country, have they all been resolved, too?”
Her questions came one immediately after another.
He smiled, putting on his glasses and then, to her surprise, he wrapped his arm around her waist.
His action had not been overly conspicuous and the pressure applied by his arm was not great, but it was enough to bring her into his embrace. Shi Yi was startled, and only when she was resting against his body did she detect that his arm was somewhat moist with perspiration as it pressed against her own arm. Skin-to-skin contact. It was not necessary to be bare before each other within a room. This moment was enough to cause her cheeks to burn.
“I arrived in Shanghai this morning. The main reason was because I was worried about you being alone here and whether you might have issues or problems. My matters have been resolved for the time being, including my research and the issues regarding entrance into the country.” He answered each of her questions one by one before, with a light smile, he asked her in return, “Any other questions?”
“Mm-hmm. One more.” Because he was behaving so intimately out in the open and under broad daylight, she also very naturally slid her arms up to rest on his shoulders as she asked softly, “Aside from worrying that I might encounter problems, was part of the reason for your return because… you missed me?”
To have him here beside her was so nice. Even the sky seemed clearer.
Shi Yi knew too clearly that all of her emotions –– happiness, anger, sorrow, and joy –– were tied up in him alone, but she gladly accepted this.
She gazed up at him.
His eyes were fixed on her as well. With a smile, he looked at her for some time before finally nodding.
“Yes, I really missed you.”
 六月，己亥. This is referring to the sixth month of the Lunar calendar. 己亥 “Ji-hai” is the thirty-sixth year in the traditional, 60 year cycle used to name years (refer to chapter 9.2, footnote ).
 东宫 “Dong Gong.” Literally means “Eastern Palace.” The Eastern Palace refers to the palace belonging to the crown prince because traditionally, it had been located on the eastern side of the imperial palace.
兵荒马乱 “bing huang ma luan.” This idiom is describing a society that is in tumult because of war times, but when taken to a broader sense, it could simply be used to describe something that is chaotic and disordered. When Shi Yi used this idiom, Mei Lin could be interpreting it that she was just dreaming of things that were chaotic and jumbled, but Shi Yi was probably meaning this literally, that they were dreams of the war and chaos she remembered from her past life.
It may be because I’ve watched way too many c-dramas, but can anyone else see this reunion scene playing out in their mind? Shi Yi is on a barge, her back to the shore as she chats politely. Camera cuts to the water’s edge where, unbeknownst to her, with the sun shining playfully through the leaves of a tree that have cast a slight shade upon him, a tall figure stands waiting for her, his back straight, the breeze tousling his hair slightly, a slight smile on his lips. Suddenly, she catches a view of that figure from the corner of her eye and whips around as the scene turns to slow motion. Cue up the romantic music. In slow motion, the man who has occupied her thoughts since their farewells in Bremen is slowly coming closer to her as the barge she is on moves closer.
Come on, I can’t be the only one who’s watched too many dramas and can visualize how the cameras would switch back and forth between the two of them, when the scene would change to slow-mo, and what sort of music would be playing, right? Yeah, I’m a sap. I love this scene. 🙂 “Yes. I really missed you.” Excuse me while I go off to a corner to squeal.
(Also enjoyed that this chapter could give us lots of little pieces of information, from the origins of Zhousheng Chen’s name to Xiao Nanchen Prince’s bold personality, even as a youth the same age as Xiao Ren, to Mei Lin’s assessment of Shi Yi, etc.)
1 of 1 Prologue
34 of 56 Main story segments
0 of 3 Epilogues