Chapter 8 … Lin Si Ze looked at his book; she looked at Lin Si Ze.
Lin Si Ze was nearly at the ends of his patience. Gu Hong Jian could finally be considered to be able to write ‘Lin Si Ze’ (林思泽) relatively normal. In reality, Lin Si Ze also didn’t expect it would lead to a fight to the death just to get her to be able to write his name. After this, he made her practice other characters.
Contrary to what he expected, Gu Hong Hian learned to write the other characters very quickly. This caused Lin Si Ze to have no choice but to deeply suspect that Gu Hong Jian was deliberately acting stupid about being unable to write his name; as a matter of fact, he continuously had a headache from dealing with Gu Hong Jian. Thus, he completely didn’t bother investigating this.
And because Lin Si Ze taught her to read, the two of them, at last, transitioned from refusing to acknowledge each other to mutual conversation.
Only, Lin Si Ze still wasn’t inclined to speaking, minimally responding to Gu Hong Jian’s words.
Lin Si Ze taught Gu Hong Jian to write the character ‘Chun’ (春), explaining that ‘the whole year must be planned for in the spring.’1 All living things originated in the spring. Gu Hong Jian nodded at once, as if she was repeatedly kowtowing to him. She said, “Chun Hua!”
Lin Si Ze stared blankly at her before immediately saying, “The turning of the seasons, a lifetime is certainly a quick affair… you actually understand this.”2
Gu Hong Jian was very unhappy that he considered her to be illiterate and loudly protested, “Of course! I used to be called that name!”
Lin Si Ze was dumbstruck. He immediately pressed, “You were called… Gu Chun Hua?”
Gu Hong Jian said, “Yes!”
Lin Si Ze set down his writing brush. With a sly expression, he turned his head.
After quite a while, Gu Hong Jian found something fishy. She bellowed, “LIN SI ZE!!! Do you think I don’t see you laughing into your sleeve?!”
This was the first time Gu Hong Jian had called Lin Si Ze’s name. This was entirely because, at that moment, she was too furious in addition to practicing those three characters beforehand.
After she had finished yelling, she had a somewhat guilty conscience. Fortunately, Lin Si Ze was restraining himself from laughing, so he also didn’t notice this. Or perhaps, he didn’t care very much about this matter. Thus, he merely turned his head and pretended to solemnly say, “I did not laugh.”
Gu Hong Jian said, “…Then why did you first force the corners of your mouth down!”
Lin Si Ze replied, “Were you really called Gu Chun Hua?”
“… Yes. Do you have any objections with this name?” Blue veins pulsed on Gu Hong Jian’s forehead. “My younger brother was called Gu Da Yong!”
Lin Si Ze was somewhat surprised. “You also have a younger brother?”
Gu Hong Jian said, “Yes. When my home was flooded, my parents took my younger brother away, but they didn’t take me. Afterwards, I was kidnapped by a child trafficker.”
This was the first time Gu Hong Jian told someone else this, and this was also a rare time when Lin Si Ze wanted to listen. He listened to Gu Hong Jian speak and roughly recalled his own past. After being silent for awhile, he asked, “Afterwards?
Gu Hong Jian said, “Afterwards? Afterwards, I was taken to the capital. Gu mómo came from the palace and wanted to buy a little girl to pay her last respects when she died. As it turns out, she found me. Because she and I both had the last name Gu, it felt more like we were brought together by fate. Regardless of my young age, she bought me.”
“How did you end up in the Huàn Yī Jú?” Lin Si Ze asked. “Teacher Meng said that you came from the Huàn Yī Jú.”
Gu Hong Jian responded. “Do you know Duān Fēi? Originally, she was my master. After what had happened… all her personal palace maids were executed. Because of my low position, I was instead sent to work elsewhere. I had nowhere else to go, however, so I had no other option but the Huàn Yī Jú.”
Lin Si Ze was silent for a moment before inquiring, “Do you hate your parents?”
“My parents?” Gu Hong Jian propped her chin up as she thought for a while. She foolishly shook her head. “I don’t hate them.”
Lin Si Ze asked again. “Why?”
“I’m a girl. I naturally wasn’t worth spending money on. Otherwise, my family would’ve been destitute. My folks were unlikely to produce another one.” Gu Hong Jian said, “But I don’t feel like hurting my younger brother even though I’m stronger than him for the most part! But there is nothing to be done… everyone thinks like this. My parents also think something like this is proper and to be expected as a matter of course. When the flood happened, I was outside of the house, shopping. When I rushed home, it was already completely empty. The flood had risen to my shoulder by then. I think that if my parents had waited for me instead of escaping immediately, my younger brother probably wouldn’t have survived. The valuables in the house wouldn’t have survived either.”
Gu Hong Jian concluded, “So, they only had to choose between me and a few things. They chose what they felt was more valuable; it’s not a big issue. Teacher Meng didn’t tell you? ‘Every man for himself, or Heaven and the Earth will combine to’ … what comes next?”
Lin Si Ze was originally listening very seriously. At that moment, he helplessly finished for her. “Or Heaven and the Earth will combine to destroy you.”
“Right. Right. Anyway, because of this exact reason, they gave birth to me and raised me. Although they ultimately abandoned me, I also absolutely don’t hate then. At least I’m still alive right now. If I wasn’t brought to the capital to be sold, I wouldn’t have met Teacher Meng or you. If you truly want to soar high up in rank, I will also soar after you!”
“The divine steed Feihuang gallops.”3 Lin Si Ze sighed.
Gu Hong Jian ignored him and said, “In short, I don’t hate them. I feel a teensy bit sad. No matter what, I’m also their daughter. To be thrown away, who wouldn’t be distressed?”
Lin Si Ze heard what she said. “You should be okay then if you feel sorry for yourself.”
“I don’t need you to teach me!” Gu Hong Jian shrieked, but that shriek seemed to have a tinge of grievance. Her lips thinned, and she didn’t say another word.
The corners of Lin Si Ze’s mouth, in a seldom seen moment, quirked upward as he continued speaking, “If in the future… I become successful, and if you follow me, I won’t treat you unfairly.”
Gu Hong Jian, without the slightest hesitation, said, “Of course I’m following you.”
Lin Si Ze still didn’t say a word. Gu Hong Jian spoke up once more, “Ah, who else would want me.”
Lin Si Ze remained silent for a while before he said, “You—continue practicing your writing.”
“Ai ai ai, don’t be like this.” Gu Hong Jian had the cheek to say, “If it’s possible, then I feel that in the future, I will be a female government official!”
Lin Si Ze shot a glance at her. “Based on your ability to recognize characters?”
Gu Hong Jian became silent. “…”
Gu Hong Jian was extremely worried, but in the end, she made a firm resolution to strive for self-improvement by studying hard. Except, from time to time, Lin Si Ze would still ruthlessly attack her, tell her that it was essentially impossible for a woman to become a government official. Gu Hong Jian didn’t have any way to refute him at first, but later, she finally out a way. Sticking out her chest proudly, she said, “I know, I can dress as a man!”
At that time, Lin Si Ze didn’t say much. Very later on, when Gu Hong Jian would bring this plan up again, he would slowly nod, his gaze sweeping over Gu Hong Jian’s body. “This plan—you really have a gift for it.”
Gu Hong Jian didn’t react at first, but later, when she lowered her head and caught sight of her flat chest, she would suddenly realize what he meant. She would then immediately redden, almost as red as a drop of blood. She would then reach out to punch Lin Si Ze.
But this was something to be taken up later.
At that time, after Gu Hong Jian was almost able to learn and understand the Thousand Character Classic by heart, more than half of Wànshùn Year 31 had passed by.
Gu Hong Jian closed the worn Thousand Character Classic book and turned to hand it over Lin Si Ze, immensely proud of herself. “Here! I want to see if I can beat the exam!”
“…” Lin Si Ze sighed. “No need. I know you can.”
“Mhmm~~” Gu Hong Jian raised her eyebrow, very smug.
Lin Si Ze didn’t feel like paying attention to her and her unfathomably mysterious pride in herself. He said, “If you can recite from memory the Three Character Classic.”4
Gu Hong Jian glanced at The Analects of Confucius5 within Lin Si Ze’s hand and somewhat despaired. “Eh? I think I can study this one with you…”
Lin Si Ze said, “This one even I have yet to completely understand. Teaching you would thus hamper your progress. Moreover, with your current aptitude, studying this…would be somewhat challenging.”
“Not studying that then, not studying that then. Three Character Classic… Three Character Classic…” Gu Hong Jian pouted and stood on tiptoe to retrieve a book from the bookshelf. “I’ll go learn this by heart by myself then!”
“Hold on,” Lin Si Ze interjected.
Gu Hong Jian stopped, somewhat pleasantly surprised. She was under the impression that Lin Si Ze still thought it would be better to have her immediately study The Analects of Confucius after, but she heard Lin Si Ze’s following words. “You’re holding the wrong book. That’s Shijing6… you illiterate, shouldn’t you know how to count?”
Gu Hong Jian didn’t respond. “…”
Her cheeks were red through and through, her head bowed down. Sure enough, she had grabbed a book called Shijing. But because this book was so high up, she was on her tiptoe and didn’t pay much attention. She had seen the word ‘classic’ (经)7 and had immediately grabbed it, but to her surprise…
Gu Hong Jian tossed Shijing onto Lin Si Ze’s desk. “I grabbed it for you! Don’t you need to study Shijing?!”
Lin Su Ze didn’t know whether to laugh or cry, the corners of his mouth quirking up. “This…truly still… many thanks.”
Although this guy was awfully horrid, yet again stiff and acting like an adult while demanding both himself and others to be strict with his words still caustic, when he smiled, he truly was charming…
Gu Hong Jian sent Lin Si Ze a stunned look. Afraid that he would discover that he was smiling again and panickedly turn away from her line of sight, she said, “The Three— Three Character Classic, where is it?”
Lin Si Ze assisted her, pulling it out and handing it over. “I have written my own annotations on top. Take a look at those first, and if you still don’t understand, come and ask me.”
Gu Hong Jian took the Three Character Classic. “Oh.” She turned to leave.
Lin Si Ze asked, “Where are you going?”
Gu Hong Jian distractedly said, “To… to read the Three Character Classic…?”
Lin Si Ze sighed. “You can sit here and read it. You know…you’ll very quickly have something you won’t understand…”
“…” In this rare moment, Gu Hong Jian didn’t have a retort. She gripped the book tightly before sitting silently on a small seat beside him.
Although Lin Si Ze was somewhat strange, he also didn’t look at her, immediately returning to his own book.
And Gu Hong Jian lowered her head to read her book, but then she couldn’t bear the excessive silence and peeked a glance at Lin Si Ze.
The window to the right of Lin Si Ze’s desk was slightly open. Sunlight streamed through the gaps of the shutters, falling onto Lin Si Ze.
At that moment, what did Lin Si Ze look like?
The Lin Si Ze then and the Lin Si Ze now were entirely different.
At that time, Lin Si Ze was barely eight years old, very short, and had a soft face. With his head bowed to read his book, his face resembled a steamed bun. 8 His eyebrows were furrowed; it seemed like he was pondering the contents of the book, his expression and appearance completely inconsistent with one another.
This guy, when he smiled, was incessantly good-looking. The sun shining down on his studious appearance was also very nice to look at…
Little Gu Hong Jian stayed stunned like this for the rest of the afternoon.
Lin Si Ze looked at his book; she looked at Lin Si Ze.
Lin Si Ze occasionally felt that somewhat was wrong and would glance at her. She would then panic and frantically look down at her book and pretend to be studying.
The afternoon passed in the blink of an eye. Lin Si Ze was amazed to discover that Gu Hong Jian unexpectedly didn’t raise a single question.
Thereupon, he got up and walked up to Gu Hong Jian’s side, saying, “Where have you read up to… You… Gu Hong Jian!!!”
Gu Hong Jian startled in fear. Bowing her head to look, she realized her Three Character Classic…was still on the first page. Not only that…the book was upside down.
“What have you been doing the entire afternoon?!” Lin Si Ze helplessly exclaimed.
Gu Hong Jian stammered, “…. I was…was…was recalling how to write your name! I had forgotten again!!!”
Lin Si Ze had no response. “……………………”
Lin Si Ze could no longer be angry at her. Gu Hong Jian once again smirked——he just called her Gu Hong Jian!
Previously, he had always called her ‘hey you!’
I made everyone want to quickly have the Emperor know of the female lead’s death. BUT if that happens without enough build-up, it wouldn’t make any sense! Not only that, you also need to know what happened between them. _(:з」∠)_
PS. Accept the several highly sweet chapters! 【sent flying】
- Idiom: Early planning is the key to success; in this case, ‘Chun’ (春) means ‘Spring,’ which is one of the basic characters you learn how to write because it’s both a season and used often in poetry since spring is the season of rebirth and renewal. ↩
- (春花秋月) is a common phrase in Chinese that literally translates to spring – flowers – autumn – moon, a poetic shorthand for the natural imagery of each season. | The turning of the seasons | / (确是人生快事) More specifically, (人生快事) refers to how quick life is, and (确是) merely affirms that it is conclusively this. | a lifetime is certainly a quick affair | ↩
- Idiom: To achieve meteoric success in one’s career. It also uses the character (飞), which was previously used by Gu Hong Jian as the word ‘soar.’ ↩
- The Three Character Classic is a 13th century reading primer consisting of Confucian tenets in lines of three characters. ↩
- The Analects of Confucius is also known as simply The Analects. It’s a collection of sayings and ideas contributed to the Chinese philosopher Confucius and his contemporaries and traditionally believed to have been compiled by Confucius’ followers ↩
- Shijing is the Book of Songs, an early collection of Chinese poems and one of the Five Classics of Confucianism. ↩
- (经) literally translates to ‘classic’ and is the ending character in the Chinese titles of both the Three Character Classic and the Thousand Character Classic, which was why she accidentally grabbed the wrong book. ↩
- Chubby/Squishy Cheeks! I imagine Lin Si Ze to look very adorable right now… and to be subjected to having his cheeks pinched a lot if he wasn’t a prince… ↩