Part of a Memories of a Graceful Reflection translation project at fruitydeer.com.
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Source: 猶記驚鴻照影 by Feng Ning Xue Wu // Translated By: Xin (fruitydeer)
In novels about palace life, half the battle is figuring out how to deal with the help. Win them over, and life is good. Otherwise…good luck sis. In this chapter, we take a step back from Murong Qian’s thoughts and examine what’s in store for her by taking a look at the attitudes of those working in the wang fu.
Chapter 004: The Fourth Time
I was not sure whether it was the bed or if it was some other reason, but that night, I did not sleep well. My eyes remained open as I watched the horizon brighten up little by little.
Although I moved as lightly as possible, Shu Ying, who had been sleeping in the outer room, was still woken up by me.
She hurriedly came over to help me tidy up my robes. Simultaneously, she asked: “Why doesn’t Young Miss sleep longer?”
I smiled: “Since I’ve woken up, continuing to lay in bed will make me feel at ill ease. You, on the other hand, got woken up by me after such a long, tiring day yesterday.”
“What does it matter to me?” She smiled before turning around to go outside: “I will go get some hot water to help Young Miss freshen up. However, the time is still early. so I’m unsure if the wang fu‘s people have prepared any yet. But it’s no serious matter. On the way over, I can go find out whether or not the Third Highness has returned or not.”
Before she reached the doorway, the sounds of light, nimble footsteps carried in from outside. It was interwoven with the low voice of a servant girl: “We don’t even know how much longer it will be before wang fei finally rises. On such a cold day, Xun Yun jie-jie1 just had send us over so early.”
Another voice sounded coldly. Although the voice was deliberately lowered, I could still hear it clearly: “It’s merely a dove dwelling in the magpie’s nest,2 is it worth involving so many people? Let me say, even that third miss of the Murong Family who is ‘as beautiful as a fairy’ is unworthy of His Highness, let alone her.”
I held back Shu Ying, who was about to push the door open and go out and quarrel, indicating that she not make a sound. With a faint smile, I listened to the voices coming from outside.
“But this new wang fei is also very beautiful. Last night, did jie-jie see when Wang fu ren took off the bridal veil?”
That girl laughed disdainfully, her voice still just as cold: “Even those rainbow-clad singers3 in the fu are more beautiful than her. Not to mention, who knows…”
Her next words were suppressed even lower, spoken in such hushed tones that I could not hear. All I heard was the other servant girl’s voice of shock: “That’s impossible, Murong Family’s second young miss indeed encountered disaster in the past, but the prime minister’s fu sent people to find her. It’s their own daughter, how could they mistake another person for her? Moreover, at the time, Miss Murong’s servant girl who fell off the cliff with her has a younger sister, An Xiang, who is the maidservant of Murong Family’s third miss. I happen to know her, how could it be fake…”
Before she could finish, a girl cut them off: “What sort of nonsense are you talking about?”
I recognized this voice. It was the servant with the pure and polite voice. I smiled imperceptibly. This show seemed to be coming to an end.
That girl was able to enter the bridal room while maintaining calmness and courtesy in conversation. It was not difficult to see that though she’s a maidservant in the fu, her standing was definitely not low.
Indeed, the two girls from from before immediately quieted, calling out hesitantly: “Xun Yun jie-jie, Zhu Yu jie-jie.4
That clear, authoritative female voice sighed, uttering in a low voice: “It’s been some time since you’ve arrived at the wang fu, do you still not understand what words should and shouldn’t be spoken? If you do not understand the severity such things, sooner or later, something will happen to you. I can’t protect you all the time.”
The two other girls had yet to speak before the other delicate, charming voice chuckled lightly: “Alright, Xun Yun, it’s not like you don’t know that in the eyes of these two little girls, Gong-zi5 is like a god of the heavens. Now that he’s married, the turmoil in their hearts is understandable.”
That Xun Yun seemed a little helpless and said softly: “Zhu Yu, why are you also adding to the nonsense? Speak quietly, don’t awaken Wang fei. Also, I’ve told you so many times, yet you still haven’t changed your form of address. Although His Highness isn’t bothered, it’s still bad for outsiders to hear…”
Zhu Yu interrupted her with a gentle laugh: “Alright, alright, good jie-jie, next time I won’t dare. Besides, you don’t need to be so careful about everything. How exhausting. For example, I bet our new wang fei will not wake up that early. Yesterday was so tiring, ya, that’s not something these golden branches and jade leaves6 can endure.”
“This wang fei seems different from ordinary boudoir girls. She encountered such a thing last night, but she didn’t panic in the slightest like how ordinary girls would have. Her manner of speech was calm and relaxed.” Xun Yun paused for a moment, then finally spoke again: “Zhu Yu, did you notice her eyes yesterday?”
That Zhu Yu laughed gently: “Good jie-jie, the new wang fei is not bad, but after following His Highness for so long, what sorts of beauties have we not seen before? I don’t have the mind like you to pay attention to her eyes.”
“At first glance, it’s not very noticeable, but if you pay close attention…” After a long pause, Xun Yun finally spoke: “Her eyes look like a certain somebody’s.”
Zhu Yu froze for a moment. Then, with some hesitation, she said: “You’re saying that…”
Neither person continued to speak, only remaining silence.
Since they stopped speaking, the two other junior maidservants naturally did not dare to make a sound.
Outside the door, only the sounds of wind blowing against the leaves could be heard.
I squeezed Shu Ying’s hand tightly, placating her indignant expression with a smile. After some time passed and I was sure that no one would detect anything unusual, I looked at her and said smilingly: “Alright, open the door. Just say that we just woke up and need hot water.”
Shu Ying’s expression was still disgruntled, but she still followed my words. Even if the people outside detected that her expression was abnormal, they would merely assume that she was still troubled by the events of last night. No one would complain, let alone be doubtful.
- 姐姐 // Jie Jie: Older sister.
- 鳩占鵲巢: Fig. To reap what one has not sown. Taking what one doesn’t deserve.
- Refer to Chapter 3’s intro and Chapter 3, footnote 1. This is a callback to the poem quoted in the first line of the previous chapter, Raiment of Rainbows and Feathers, describing beautiful dancers/courtesans but also serves as an metaphor for brides.
- Xun Yun means seeking clouds, Zhu Yu means chasing rain.
- 公子 // Gong Zi: Young man, usually one of noble background but also as a general way to refer to a gentleman. Here, it’s referring to the prince.
- 金枝玉葉: Referring to blue-blooded nobility, including boudoir girls like Murong Qing.