Sunday, June 23, 2019

Spring Once More ch42

Translator: ayszhang
Editor: Marcia
Beta reader: Dairytea

Spring Once More chapter 42
(Traditional Chinese cover scanned by Dairytea)

Chapter Forty-two

Gao-bo ran away.
After speaking with Master Su, I go to have breakfast with Fu Qingshu. While gracefully munching on a cold zongzi in the small hall, he tells me about this piece of tragic news. Pei Qixuan is across from him, cutting the strings of another zongzi. This is the emergency stock that I bought yesterday.
Gao-bo’s son, grandchildren and daughter-in-law have probably run back to their ancestral home and left the kitchen empty. Neither Zhong-shu, Xiao-Shun nor Xiao-Quan know how to work a spatula, so all that can be eaten for breakfast are the zongzi. On the other hand, Gao-bo ran a bit differently. He is hiding out in the rock formations in the inner courtyard. Fu Qingshu says that he spotted the old man munching on mantou behind some rocks this morning when he went for a stroll. The butler pleaded with the young marquess not to expose his whereabouts.
I can’t help but sigh. At such an old age, even if he doesn’t get heat stroke from being confined among the rocks all day long, he might just get sucked dry by mosquitoes. But after all, he is the one who beat me down a well, and that’s attempted murder. As long as I stay here, he is going to stay in those rocks. I invite Master Su to discuss action plans.
“Why don’t I find an inn? If Gao-bo goes down, then there’s no food for the rest of you.”
Li’l Marquess comments, “If you go, we all go, naturally. It’d be bothersome to delegate the servants alone.”
But Master Su frowns. “Your Highness has been treated unfairly these days in my lowly home. We will ask Xiao-Shun to find the best inn in town. May I suggest everyone go, and I alone will stay here?”
“That cannot be,” I immediately reject. “If you’re left alone with Gao-bo in this manor, you’ll have nobody to speak with. Let’s do as I said. I will go to an inn and take Xiao-Shun with me. Xiao-Quan and Zhong-shu will stay to serve you and Master Pei.”
Fu Qingshu adds, “Moyu will go along with Xiao-Shun to the inn, and I will stay there as well. It would not prove convenient for our investigation if we had to travel between the two residences.”
What he says makes sense, but I seriously don’t like the idea of Pei Qixuan and Master Su together in one house. And just at this moment, Pei Qixuan decides to voice his opinion.
“I shall be wherever the prince is, for my purpose here is to serve His Highness.”
The way he says “serve” seriously gives me a fright. You win, okay, Master Pei.
“There is no need for argument,” Master Su interrupts. “We should do as I suggested, I alone will stay here.”
The way he says “I alone” seriously gives me the chills.
While we are still locked in debate, Xiao-Quan, who had been at the front gate the natural draft, comes bringing an invitation and reports that a palanquin is at the door.
I take the letter and pass it directly to Fu Qingshu. The young marquess chuckles after reading it.
“The Huizhou provincial yamen sure has excellent intelligence.”
“What does it say?” I ask.
He tosses the invitation on the table. “The chancellor already knows that we are here and has requested our presence. Whoever is waiting outside is either the advisor or the chancellor himself. Shall we invite him in or not?”
“Why not?” I answer. “If he’s already here.”
The chancellor, Liu Nianci, is a middle-aged man with a goatee. He’s wearing a soap-coloured cotton robe and looks like the human embodiment of hepatitis B. When he came in, I thought he was the advisor, but as he kneels down and kowtows, I realize he is the chancellor himself. Huizhou is a land of abundance, and having a chancellor as scrawny as this is just downright embarrassing. I guess there’s just too many internal conflicts for equal shares of the textiles industry’s bribery.
“My sincere apologies. If only I’d been notified of Your Highness’ and Your Lordship’s presence earlier,” says Chancellor Liu. “We’ve prepared some food and drink for you at the yamen. It’s nothing grand, but I hope you may grant us this opportunity.”
I’d say yes to food any day, not to mention how genuine his head sounds against the floor. Li’l Marquess and I accept the invitation, taking along with us our personal attendants, Moyu and Xiao-Shun.
Judging by the chancellor’s furniture and décor – round, hand-woven stools, bamboo dishes and utensils on a black lacquered pear wood table in a pavilion made with green bamboo – he deserves his jinshi[1] title that earned him the fourth-rank[2] chancellor position.
The advisor turns out to be rather well-fed and extremely hospitable. None of the valets or waiters that we’ve seen can compare to his service and entertainment.
Hui cuisine is one of the eight great Chinese cuisines, less spicy than Szechuan cuisine and less fatty than Cantonese. The key is in the spices, herbs, sauces and the heat when stir-frying. I’ve been craving for some time, but I’ve only ever heard of talk about it.
Right off the bat, we’ve got assorted cold appetizers and then an emerald icefish geng. My rating for the chancellor rises to a whopping three stars. Then comes the first hot dish which Advisor Chen presents with enthusiasm.
“Prince Tai, you’ve come to Huizhou before, so you’re familiar with this dish. Young Marquess, however, has got to try it. This is the signature dish of Hui cuisine. You can’t say you’ve come to Huizhou without eating it.”
I’m just itching to try it. The dish is served, and I have to act civilized with Fu Qingshu, using chopsticks to eat and all that.
Meanwhile, the advisor explains proudly, “Cooking the masked palm civet isn’t straightforward, as steaming or stewing leave it with a foul smell. The only method is red-braising. I present to you, red braised civet.[3] Please help yourself, Marquess.”
My chopsticks make a U-turn, picking up instead a block of jelly from the appetizer plate. Just as Fu Qingshu’s piece of civet is about to make it into his mouth, I jab my elbow and the meat drops flat on his robe leaving an oily patch.
“Cheers, everyone!” I call out, holding up my cup. The chancellor and all his invitees hurry to their feet and drink to my toast. The li’l marquess still hasn’t gotten over the civet and reaches for it again. Yet again, I stick out an elbow, and another splat of oil appears on his robe. At last, he has given up his obsession and shoots me a look. I pretend not to notice, feeling quite proud of my kindness.
Son, I’ll have you know even modern medicine cannot guarantee you life if you eat that shit. Here you have to drink traditional medicine for a fortnight just to cure a cold! I’m just looking out for you, all right?
An official feast like this is very particular since its sole objective is to check if the other party shares your interests. Every dish, every utterance and every toast has its hidden meaning. Having been to two of these in the capital, I know the ropes. As the ship gradually floated into the harbour, Chancellor Liu coughed and the advisor left the table. Fu Qingshu and I remain calm since we expect him to bring something back, the only question being what it’s wrapped in – a red envelope or pink dress.
After about a pot of tea’s time, the chubby official returns, back bowed. Behind him is a cute, petite girl wrapped in sheer fabrics. My chopsticks hit the plate causing ripples through my heartstrings. Pink dress! Of excellent quality!
The advisor’s smile looks like a trumpet horn. “This is the most renowned talent of Guanzhi House, Miss Chuxian. Her skills on the strings are superb, and her poetry is exquisite.”
Her starry gaze flutters about me, and she lowers her head shyly. I swear I’m floating in the air. Stunning! Absolutely gorgeous!
Advisor Chen leads her in closer and closer, and I feel my heart blossoming bit by bit. She stops and bows toward me. I smile and nod. Chuxian smiles back and glides over to sit next to Fu Qingshu.
What the hell! I’m the prince here! I shoot the chancellor a look, and the advisor leaves again. When he comes back this time, I feel fire and bile rising from my gut as two clean, pretty boys flock to me.
Pinky up, Chancellor Liu brushes his beard and asks me with a bright smile, “Your Seventh Highness, are these kids to your liking?”

[1] Jinshi is the title of any person who writes the final round of the national examination.
[2] Officials were categorized into nine ranks, the first being the highest and with two sub-ranks in each rank.
[3] Eating the meat of the masked palm civet is suspected to be the source of the SARS epidemic.

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Hello everyone! It's been a long time, and I'm sorry for the hiatus. Work was really draining me! Not to mention, a cat came into my life, so I had even less time for translating. The good news is that in summer, I have less hours and this means I get more time to translate.

Всем здравствуйте! Я сейчас живу в Астане в Казахстане. Изучаю русский язык) I'd love to meet any readers who are nearby or in town for a visit! 

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