I love this picture. I’ve been trying to find a post to use it. 🙂
More information revealed…
Chapter 15.1 – To Leave Painted Only Half of One’s Face (1)
Zhousheng, with the single character given name, Chen.
So many years have passed since being separated by life and death, yet never did your soul enter my dreams.
Outside the boat, the rain came down in a fine, continuous drizzle. There was no wind.
Inside the boat, the light and shadows cast on the bamboo curtain seemed as if they had been infinitely stretched out as they fluttered slightly. The young couple in the adjoining space did not want to disturb them either and were not speaking loudly. And hence, she could only hear him, and he could only hear her.
She exhaled softly, and then said in a low voice, “Noble young master’s name… is one this lowly girl has heard before.”
His eyes were bright and clear. “From where was it heard?”
She seemed to grow serious. “Noble young master’s name is renowned through the land. Naturally, then, it would have been from the mouths of the common man.”
“Oh?” He smiled, “And what is it that is said?”
Her voice light and her eyes gazing straight into his, Shi Yi said, “ ‘Drunken he lays upon a stretch of white bones, uninhibited and free in song. A jug of wine, a single horse; in this world, how many are true rulers?’ ”
Zhousheng Chen fell silent for a moment, carefully absorbing her words.
He believed he could guess whom she was referring to. “You really like that Xiao Nanchen Prince?”
“You know about him?”
“Yes,” he told her. “He is in the Zhousheng family geneaology records. My name was taken from his.”
“Right…” She remembered, “Xiao Ren mentioned that to me. Would what’s written about him in your family’s geneaology records have more information than what’s commonly available?”
“There are only a few sentences.”
“What about that crown princess?”
“The Cui family’s daughter?”
It was rare to find a woman’s name documented in historical records. To have something such as “Cui family’s daughter” recorded was already considered a special treatment and was only because of her high and esteemed status.
“Mm-hmm. Is there anything?”
Zhousheng Chen thought back in his mind for a little while, but then shook his head and said, “No.”
So many years have passed since being separated by life and death. Apart from her, truly, no one would remember anymore.
For one brief moment, she stared out blankly in despondency.
The boat was swaying slightly. The boatman said that the rain seemed as if it would be coming down for the entire night and advised that it would be best if they returned to shore as soon as possible to allow the guests to be able to return home. Their boat pulled out from under the canopy created by the old trees and followed back along the same way they had come. After leaving the protection of the tree covering, quite a bit of rain would splatter in. With rain coming in on both sides of the boat, there was no place to hide from it. Zhousheng Chen pulled off his coat and covered Shi Yi’s legs with it.
Very shortly, his own trousers were soaked..
Prior to tonight, there had still been the remnants of summer heat in the air, but this rain really left behind the feeling of autumn.
Only the bottom of her slacks and her shoes had gotten wet, and she already felt the cold was unbearable.
He went to the vehicle first to get an umbrella to pick her up, and in his trip there and back, his button-up shirt became sodden as well. After the two had gotten into their vehicle, he went to the trunk and pulled out two pairs of track pants and two shirts from a small suitcase that was inside before he walked back to the front, reclined the seat, and handed one of the pants to her. “It is a little big, but put it on first.” Fortunately, it was late and there was no one in the parking lot.
“Mm.” She took it from him and in that tight, little space, began to remove her slacks, shoes, and socks.
And then, she slipped on his pants. It was much more than just “a little big,” and it was very long, too…
Her feet bare, she stepped on the bottom part of the pant legs, not needing to wear shoes at all.
She heaved a long sigh. “I only just discovered today that your legs are so much longer than mine.”
Finding the sight rather amusing, Zhousheng Chen threw a couple extra glances at her.
He took a clean dress shirt, folded it, and placed it underneath her feet. His hand brushed against her foot. It was frightfully cold. “Are you very cold?”
“A little bit.” Her voice had already started to take on a nasal tone.
Taking her two feet into his hands, he set them on his knees and gently began to rub them.
Shi Yi was somewhat surprised, but she compliantly allowed him to do so.
He had never been skilled at verbally expressing his emotions, but in their times together, he would occasionally do something that would allow her to tangibly sense his feelings for her. They were not intense and scorching, but slowly, they penetrated deep into her.
The warm wind of the car’s heat and his actions allowed her feet to gradually warm up.
Shi Yi shifted her feet.
He lifted his eyes to look at her. “Warmer now?”
“Mm-hmm.” She urged him, “Hurry and change your clothes.”
She pulled her feet back and set them on the clean shirt he had folded, then handed the clothes that had been on the backseat to him.
Zhousheng Chen swiftly changed out of his button-up shirt and trousers. When he had put on the clean pants, she took his wet clothing from him and tossed them into the backseat. Unexpectedly, she sensed him leaning in towards her. The distinct, gentle warmth of his breath caused her awareness to grow fuzzy, and she turned her head to the side, allowing her lips to bump his.
Inside the car, the two of them silently kissed.
Her body had gone from feelng icy-cold to a somewhat unbearable parching heat. As her fingers toyed with his shirt, they unintentionally brushed against his chest.
She suddenly became aware that this was still the car park.
She nudged him and said quietly, “Let’s go home.”
He kissed her lightly on the cheek and said an “alright” before, at last, buttoning up his shirt.
As their vehicle pulled out of the car park, he suddenly remembered something. “When we have confirmed a date for our wedding, how about we arrange for my mother to have dinner with your parents?”
Shi Yi was taken aback for a moment, and she gaped incredulously at him, her eyes filled with a delighted surprise. “Really?”
He smiled. “Really.”
It had been Shi Yi’s desire to not set a firm wedding date yet.
She wanted their wedding ceremony to be held after Wenxing’s surgery. After all, prior to that, most of Zhousheng Chen’s thoughts would be on Wenxing anyway, and Shi Yi was the same. However, she could inform her parents with certainty that they were already starting to prepare for their wedding. She had faith in Zhousheng Chen. Since he had already arranged for Granny Wang to begin making their wedding attire, this indicated that he was fully assured that he would be victorious in regards to the matters of the family.
Today, she would be recording at the studio, and this particular studio happened to be in the same building as the television station.
As a result, she arranged to meet-up with Hong Xiaoyu for lunch, planning to chat with her for a little while before she officially started her day’s work.
They were both not particular about what they ate, so they simply went to a small restaurant in the vicinity.
Not long after their food had been served, Hong Xiaoyu began telling her about her boyfriend. “Shi Yi, I’m going to tell you something. I think my feelings are genuine. I want to get married.”
Shi Yi smiled, “Let me eat first.”
“No, no. You have to talk to me…”
“Alright. You talk, I’m listening.”
“Um… There’s actually really not much to say. I just feel like he has very good character. You know, the type of goodness that comes from the very core of who you are. You can sense it.” Wang Xiaoyu thought for a moment and added, “He’s different from that scientist of yours. Your scientist seems almost like he ‘does not partake of the food of mere mortals’ [not part of this world]… Gives people a sense of being distant and removed.”
“Does he?” Shi Yi thought he was rather normal.
“ ‘Does not partake of the food of mere mortals’ seems a little strange when used to describe a man. Anyway, it’s like, he does not really care about the vast majority of things. When you guys are together… is it pleasant and harmonious?”
Her question made Shi Yi feel, um… seriously. She glanced at Hong Xiaoyu, but did not say anything.
“It’s really good? Really bad?”
“Alright, alright. “She shoved a cup of tea over to Hong Xiaoyu. “Change the topic.”
Typically, her working hours went from noon until eleven or twelve o’clock at night.
Since she had just recovered from a serious illness, in the first half a month after she went back to work, she would record only until nine o’clock and then finish up. Today, because the recording engineer had matters to attend to, they had already finished their work for the day shortly after eight.
She made a phone call to Zhousheng Chen. “I’m finished early.”
“Alright. I will be there in approximately thirty minutes.”
“Don’t rush.” She sat down on the couch and, from the shelf beside her, pulled out a magazine. “I have a place here where I can rest. Just come after you’re done taking care of your things.”
Zhousheng Chen hung up his mobile phone and then looked over at Tong Jiaren, who was sitting beside him.
Earlier on, when he had stepped into the parking garage, he had seen her standing beside his vehicle. She was already four or five months pregnant, but there was no one with her. He did not know what her purpose for coming was and merely invited her into the car first before any further discussions.
Their conversation was in the vehicle, so Uncle Lin stepped out the car.
“That was Shi Yi?”
Zhousheng Chen smiled but did not reply.
Tong Jiaren also did not immediately speak and simply tugged down gently on her gloves, glancing at him from the corner of her eye.
The Zhousheng Chen sitting beside her still liked to wear plain trousers and light-colored, checkered dress shirts. A suit jacket worn overtop and he would be ready to meet visitors or clients. Changing into the long, white coat on top and he could step straight into the laboratory. This was the man that she truly kept in her heart, the one who could dialogue with people of all skin colors, completely uninhibited by national borders, and who did things that would benefit mankind.
She recalled, the first time she had seen him outside of a laboratory setting, he had been different from the normal Zhousheng Chen.
At that moment, he had been arguing about something with a black person, focused and passionate. She had not understood what he was saying.
From when he entered university at fourteen years old, they had become separated into two different worlds. She had tried with all her might to catch up to him, but this had still only qualified her to be invited to some of the same meetings as him that were more about formalities than of actual substance. That was all.
The world of his mind, thoughts, and beliefs had been her life’s goal.
In that moment, Tong Jiaren’s mind was on the things of the past. She even started to doubt why she had come to see him. To be able to quietly be with him for a few minutes, or to…?
“I will not choose to make the situation the worst possible.”
In the end, it was Zhousheng Chen who spoke first. Before she had said anything, he had first given her the answer.
His words were frank. “No matter what, we are family.”
His lenience and forgiveness made her unable to find words.
Since Uncle’s return, all the things that Zhou Wenchuan had done had filled her with disdain.
Never before had she ever seen such a tumultuous Zhou family. The elder generation all turned a deaf ear while the younger generation was restlessly stirring, preoccupied with choosing their side – to join themselves with the Eldest Young Master, who was the rightful and legitimate person, or to choose Uncle and Zhou Wenchuan, whose foundation of power was firm and well-established. Only a few days ago, Zhousheng Chen’s mother, who had since the beginning remained silent on all of this, finally began to recognize Shi Yi’s status. This was equivalent to siding with her eldest son.
Uncle could be remarkably capable, but he still was not the rightful successor. The choice of Zhousheng Chen’s mother was clearly pointing out the direction for everyone else, including close friends from the past of Zhousheng Chen’s father, who were now gradually starting to reveal their stance.
“I’m sorry,” she said.
He looked at her.
“I’m talking about the incident when she was in Wuzhen.”
“I know.” Zhousheng Chen’s tone was very impassive.
“It was because I… was jealous of her.”
He smiled, but did not speak.
Tong Jiaren thought, before such an intelligent person, it seemed like anything she said was merely repeating something he already knew. It was out of jealousy that, when she learned that Zhou Wenchuan had sent people to abduct Shi Yi, she had not tried to prevent it or even to warn her. She recalled that every time Zhou Wenchuan mentioned this topic, he would always mockingly jeer, “My dear wife, I truly did trust you during that time because I knew you must be jealous of her.”
“My apologies, Jiaren.” He glanced at his watch. “I need to leave now.”
It required fifteen minutes driving time from this place to where Shi Yi was, and their conversation just now had already used ten minutes.
She forced a smile. “It is I who should apologize.”
She knew he honored punctuality, so she did not attempt to say anymore. Opening the door, she stepped out of the vehicle.
Uncle Lin, too, was looking at his watch. When he saw Tong Jiaren had gotten out, he nodded and inquired, “Do you, Second Young Madam require a vehicle to be arranged to pick you up?”
“No, thank you. A vehicle will be here soon for me.”
Uncle Lin nodded once more. Soon after he had sat back into the car, he had driven out of the parking garage.
She stood off to the side of the road, completely unable to see through the window to the person on the other side, but in her mind, she could easily evoke the image of a figure sitting inside.
The curve of his back, the position of his arm, as well as his expression when he spoke to Uncle Lin.
When she was only a few years old, she had already sat in the same car with him. Even up to their teenage years, up to when she had graduated from university, up to the time prior to the wedding, she had been the only girl who had ever shared a vehicle with him. It was to the extent that, even now, she still was not accustomed to the feeling of Zhou Wenchuan sitting beside her. He was too restless and edgy. No matter how hard he tried to conceal it, Zhou Wenchuan’s heart was restless and edgy because he coveted.
Unlike him. He would never be able to be like him.
 悠悠生死别经年，魂魄不曾来入梦。This is a line from Tang dynasty poet, Bai Juyi’s (see footnote , chapter 9.1) famous poem, 长恨歌 “Song of Everlasting Regret.”
 不食人间烟火 “bu shi ren jian yan huo.” This phrase, “to not partake of the food of mere mortals,” was originally used to describe immortals or those who studied Taoist ways, i.e. removed from the things of the mortal world. When used to describe a person, especially a woman, it could be referring to someone who has such beauty or bearing that appears almost ethereal. (Think Xiao Long Nü from Jin Yong’s “Return of the Condor Heroes.”) But on the flip side, it could simply carry connotations that a person has an aloof, even antisocial temperament, and does not really fit in with the crowd. In describing Zhousheng Chen, it is kind of carrying all those connotations. His aspirations and career seem so far from the things of ordinary people that he does seem almost separate from the mortal world, to the point that he exudes a sense that people can’t get close to him.
1 of 1 Prologue
47 of 56 Main story segments
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