Ta-ta, the title in Chinese is 微臣有罪 (Wei Chen You Zui). I gave you a literal translation so it is quite easy to find the title in Chinese. If I translate another one, I intend to give a red herring to make your next title search a lot harder, lol. Anyway, I doubt there’ll be another one since I don’t think I can translate ancient novel well because the language is harder to understand. I better don’t destroy the authors’ hard work and leave them to people who can read Chinese so it will be more accurate. A big thank you to Hoju for helping me to translate some unfathomable Chinese terms and improve the quality of my translations 🙂
Happy Easter to those who celebrate!
Chapter 7 (Final)
On that night, I keep on considering whether or not to run away. I also ponder over what is the meaning of Yan Xiao Wu’s words, but still remain puzzled after pondering over it a hundred times.
On the next morning, with dark circles under my eyes, I get up to open the doors for business. Once the doors are opened, I am stunned silent.
A man wearing a fur coat is standing outside. I do not know how long he had stood there. There are a lot of snowflakes on his fine and soft black hair. He is quietly looking at me.
“Keguan (polite appellation in Chinese for a guest at a hotel)…… please come inside ……” I shallow nervously and greet him.
The lady boss is walking down the stairs and is also stunned when she sees him. Following which, she seems to float down the stairs and smilingly says: “Such a handsome young man. Stop by for a meal or stay overnight in the inn?”
“Stay overnight in the inn.” He sounds a little hoarse.
“Do you want a bottle of our wine to fend off the cold and warm the body?” The lady boss says graciously.
“No!” I blurt out. Two people turn their face to look at me. I move my lips and say in a low voice, “It’ll cause heartburn. Since your tolerance for alcohol is low, don’t drink.”
“Then I won’t drink.” He is talking and looking for a chair to sit down.
The lady boss moves closer, touches my shoulder and says in a low voice: “Your man?”
I open my mouth wide but do not know what to say.
“If he is not your man, then I’ll take him!”
“Hey!” I am anxious, “He is only twenty years old!” An old cow eats young grass! (a Chinese idiom meaning a romance where one party is significantly older than the other)
“Oh, he is really a close friend, then you should be anxious.” The lady boss laughs out loud and pushes my shoulder, “Why are you making it difficult? Such a handsome man, quickly go up and conquer him!”
I stagger a few steps, before standing on a firm footing in front of him, and ask: “What do you want to order?”
He flutters his eyelashes which seem to have been covered with some snowflakes. I resist the urge to reach out and touch them.
“I’m a little cold ……”
“Then? I’ll pour you some hot water? It is very simple here. Thus I am afraid you’ll not be used to the food in the north.”
He gently nods his head and says: “You make the decision la.”
While pouring the water, I think to myself that I suck so badly, that so easily, I had let him stir my heartstrings. I could not pretend that there is nothing the matter, nor could I use a harsh tone and snap at him.
He is carrying the steaming large bowl. His pale lips touch the hot water and quickly turn to rouge color.
“I’m sleepy.” He raises his innocent and pitiful eyes to look at me.
“I’ll take you upstairs.” Did he rush over from the capital? Unlikely, he should be around beforehand?
The condition of the inn in this border town is not so good. Hence I take an extra quilt to make his bed and say: “Get some rest. The bed is harder here. I’ll light a fire for you ……”
Before I finish talking, he throws himself at me.
“Ling Shu ……” I am pushed down into the bed. He bites my ears. With heavy nasal sounds, he calls out my name.
“Hey hey …… you …… you get up …… I am dying ……” I am suffocating!
He reluctantly gets up. The moment, I roll over, I am hugged by him again.
“Got you.” He rests his head on my shoulder and heaves a sigh of relief.
“What are you doing here ……” I look at the roof beams and say grudgingly, “Life is so comfortable in the palace, why come to this kind of place to suffer?”
“Oh, since the palace is so comfortable, then why did you come here?” He asks in reply.
I’m at a loss for words.
“I know you like me.” He says, unable to conceal his pride.
“Yan Xiao Wu said, Ling Shu even called my name in her dream. When you were in a coma, you kept on calling my name. When I left, you immediately cried.”
“I didn’t know.” I say dryly.
“I asked Yan Xiao Wu to take good care of you, but did not expect him to be so useless, letting you run away.”
“What?” I stood frozen for a moment, then turn to look at him. A cool softness sweeps over my lips and I see a naughty grin at the corner of Liu Xi’s lips.
“Initially, I intended to punish you after I’ve found you. But after seeing you, I could not bear to go through with it.” He turns over to cover my body. He presses tightly on my lips and says, “Ling Shu, finally I’ve the ability to protect you. Ling Shu, come home with me …… ”
“No, I don’t want!” I am lying on the bed, so regardless of whether I turn my head left or right, I also cannot avoid his lips, “Grandfather had passed away, I don’t have a family anymore. Grandfather said, I am not supposed to get too close to you.”
He pauses for a while, so I quickly gulp a big mouthful of air.
“Your grandfather is wrong. I am not like my Imperial Father. He cannot protect my imperial concubine mother, but I can protect you ……” The depth of his eyes reflect the stubbornness and arrogance deep down in his heart, “He was a weak man. He loved my mother, but this kind of love has become a kind of harm. Because of the jealously of other women, he can only look on helplessly as my mother got poisoned, but unable to save her …… ”
I look at him blankly.
Liu Xi leans on my shoulder and sighs softly. “Your grandfather did not tell you anything. He likely had hoped that you never be pulled into all the discord and tumult. You thought I was merely a less-favored prince with an illness. Actually this was not the case. In fact, I was my emperor father’s most loved prince and I was not ill but was poisoned. My mother was from a humble family background, but was highly favored by my father. She did not have any backer. She cannot protect herself and Imperial Father also cannot protect her. When my mother was pregnant with me, she was poisoned. When it was discovered, it was already too late as the poison had already been absorbed by the body. However she still endured the pain to give birth to me.
After that, Imperial Father only realized that his love was like poison in the imperial harem. Hence he deliberately ignored me and pretended to have given up on me. Thinking that I would be safe this way, but my body still have the poison, which no one can cure. You should know how much mental and physical efforts are needed to get rid of the poison. If not for Imperial Father secretly giving order to your grandfather, do you think he will really dare to save a prince who was not well-liked?”
I have never thought so much …… because grandfather has always been a kind-hearted person. Even with a street beggar, he also could not bear to see people suffer hunger and cold. Yes, it is different with a prince. After you saved him, you may offend the opposition party. If not ordered by the late emperor, would he dare to take the risk?
“Since my body’s condition started to gradually improve, Imperial Father set about to arrange everything. On my behalf, he secretly built up power and looked for the best master to guide me. He did all these, waiting for the day for me to return to the imperial court and his side. Otherwise, with the power and influence I possessed at the time, I would never have even been able to step foot into the imperial court and would only have become the vassal king over a distant land who was destined to die far from his hometown. Actually, the throne’s allure to me was not great, but I had no choice. People had detected Imperial Father’s actions, and thus, I was thrust to the forefront. If I had failed, likely hundreds, even thousands would have died.
“Hence …… you became the emperor ……” Without any expression, I ask.
“Yes ah …… your grandfather always didn’t trust me. I told him I want Ling Shu because I like her and I will protect her well. However your grandfather was worried that you’ll end up like my mother. You’re just a small imperial physician and I’ve not consolidated my power yet. Power was held in the hands of the imperial relatives not of the direct line. If people were aware of my feelings for you, they may kill you because of jealousy, even if you were powerless and harmless to them. On that day in Shanglin park, I was drunk and lost control of myself. Thereby letting the spy became aware of my feelings for you and resulted in you getting injured. I’m always worried, if this gets dragged on, you will lose hope and run to a faraway place with Yan Xiao Wu. Until you told the truth during your coma, only then I was at ease to hand you over to Yan Xiao Wu, to let him take you away from the palace temporarily. When all the dust has settled, I’ll take you back.”
“Hey! What did I say when I was unconscious?” I interrupt him.
“You said you like me.”
“Impossible!” I deny firmly, “How could I’ve said such words!”
“You also asked me not to go.”
“Impossible, impossible!” I repeatedly shake my head, “Absolutely impossible.”
“Yan Xiao Wu can attest to that!”
“Both of you are colluding together!” I say with grief and indignation. As it turns out, he was the one who got Yan Xiao Wu to take me out of the palace. As it turns out, he wanted to let me leave the palace. Therefore he did not send any pursuing soldiers, causing me to imagine that my love was reciprocated on one hand and was heart-broken on the other hand.
“Then, answer me honestly now, do you like me?” The tip of his nose gently presses against mine and he asks affectionately, “Say you like me because if you say you don’t like me, it is deceiving the emperor.”
“You are forcing me to say ……” My heart is twinging again and again, and it feels both aching and numb.
“Yes, I am forcing you to say it. Say it, okay?” He says softly, trying to coax me.
Eh, indeed he is second to none, as no one can be more shameless than him.
I grit my teeth and bear the pain. Neither threats nor forces can subdue me.
“You can don’t say it now. Come back to the palace with me, as there’ll be plenty of opportunity for you to say it in the future.” He smilingly gives me a peck on the lips.
I feel sad in my heart. “I don’t want to go back …… Liu Xi, that is not the life I want. You already have imperial concubine Hua, and she was pregnant with your child. She even had a miscarriage because of you. Anyhow, you can’t let her down again.”
When Liu Xi hears this, he sneers. “She? Ling Shu, you’re too naive.”
“Imperial concubine Hua was not pregnant with my child.”
I open my mouth wide.
“I’ve never had any sort of intimate relationship with the imperial concubines in the imperial harem. They were given drug which can cause hallucinations, making them believe they had. Since it was hallucination, how was it possible to get pregnant? Thus she must have committed adultery. No matter who that man was, the end result was just wanting a prince.”
I cannot close my mouth for a long time. Hence a long time later, I stammer: “Then why you …… didn’t expose her, instead acknowledge it?”
“What else can I do?” Liu Xi purses his lips and appears a little depressed, “Don’t tell me to let the whole world know that I’ve been cuckolded?”
I remember that afternoon, all the imperial physicians who were kneeling and a gloomy looking Liu Xi. I cannot help but painfully nod my head and touch his head to console him. He happily rubs against my hand.
“That baby in her stomach will also not live very long. Even if I don’t do it, other people will also not let her give birth. I secretly took some medicine to feign illness. The situation was unclear, so they can’t stay put. Each and everyone wanted to seize the opportunity. I happened to borrow the opponent’s force to defeat their own force, letting the Minister of Revenue and General Hua, the two forces to engage in a dogfight to weaken each other.”
“You really feigned illness in that three months ……” Suddenly, I realize now.
“I don’t want to give anything away. When can I force them to take action? I granted you a wish, but you told me you wanted to leave and go to a faraway place with Yan Xiao Wu. Do you know how sad I felt ……”
“Hey, hey …… you are the emperor, so can you not express such grievances!” I look languidly at him. He still thinks he is little Liu Xi, feigning illness and weakness to gain sympathy …… “I …… what can I do if I don’t leave? I just thought that you already have a perfect family. Actually it was meaningless for me to stay …… Although you are saying everything was fake, but there are hundreds and thousands of beautiful and charming women in the imperial harem. With so many beautiful women around, will you really not be tempted to take advantage of them? Then you must be either Fu Chun or Confucius.”
Liu Xi says sadly: “This really won’t do …… One is the daughter of the Minister of Revenue. Another one is General Hua’s sister. There is also the granddaughter of the Prime Minister. When I look at them, I’ll think of the fierce-looking Minister of Revenue, General Hua’s tough and stocky build and the Prime Minister’s wrinkled face …… a real torture for me to hug them ……”
“This being the case, then there is no need to waste the young women’s youth ……” I heave a sigh and speak with contempt in my voice, “It’s all your fault.”
“They only want to become the queen and don’t really care who is the emperor. They want to make use of me.”
“Are you so certain that I am different from them?” I look doubtfully at him.
Liu Xi says: “You are different from them. I know, you only like Liu Xi and don’t care who is Liu Xi.”
I lower my eyes as I am left speechless.
“All the promises I made to you, will be honored.” He displays a charming smile while sweet talking me. I give a long sigh because I willingly fall into the trap.
However at that time I did not remember what he promised me until he tells me on the wedding night.
“I promised you that when I’ve become the emperor, I’ll grant the Song family amnesty. In the future, you need not be an imperial physician, your children also need not be one and they can do what they want to do, so ……” He kisses me on the cheek “be my empress. You can give birth to as many babies as you want. I’ll only have you as my empress, so the sole responsibility of giving birth to more offspring falls on you ……”
“This ……” I have a bad feeling, moving while retreating away. Finally I am cornered at the edge of the bed. “I keep on feeling like something is wrong ……”
“What’s wrong?” He tries to remove my belt by lowering his head to carefully unfasten the cumbersome buckle. But he has no patience, frowns and tears it apart.
I push away his hand frantically, “Wait, wait a minute ……”
He looks up at me. The depth in his eyes seem to be able to suck in all the light, “What are we waiting for ……”
“That ……that …… why Yan Xiao Wu did not come to attend our wedding?” I change the subject.
Liu Xi frowns unhappily, “Isn’t it more wrong to think about another man at this time? He lost you before, so I punish him to go to guard the border area.”
“Hey! He can be considered to be from my side of the family, so how can you treat him like this!” I am dissatisfied and shout at him.
“Oh?” Liu Xi raises his eyebrows, “He is a member of your family, then what about me?”
“What about me?” He approaches another step, resulting in me falling on the bed.
“My immediate family ……” Under his intense pressure and oppression, I tearfully concede defeat.
He is pleased, narrows his eyes with satisfaction, strokes my head and says: “Good ……”
When I inadvertently say I cherish the memory of the small and soft little Liu Xi, he says: “Give birth to a few more babies in the future.”
I always feel that I’ve kind of strayed into a den of thieves. This feelings last for many years. I do not understand what went wrong until many, many years later. When I am accompany little little little Liu Xi to study, I inadvertently come across a history book. I feel like I am struck by lightning, and suddenly see the light.
According to the Grand Scribe (the title by which Sima Qian refers to himself in Records of the Historian), a female imperial physician with the surname Song became Empress Tianqi. Her nature was one marked with jealousy, received the sole favour of the emperor for decades and abolished the imperial harem, every night seeking pleasure and staying in the emperor’s imperial bedchambers.
P.S. from the Grand Scribe: She must have used her medical knowledge to cast some sort of black magic on His Majesty!
I have been forced, okay!
Final Commentary: When we read novel, we’ve to read it within of the context of the time period in which it was written. But who can ship an emperor with an imperial harem? Hence I find this novel refreshing in that the emperor only has one true love, from childhood to adulthood. Such a faithful man who’ll only have one empress and no one else. I also like this novel for its light-heartedness and no rebirth, revenge or power struggle plot. Such a happy ending. All’s well that ends well. Are you satisfied with the ending? Did you notice this short story is a parody of the various popular palace dramas such as Bu Bu Jing Xin, Legend of Zhen Huan and My Fair Princess?