Jia Mo (Marrying the Devil) Chapter 1 – The Lone Guest (1)

It was raining. The raindrops slid down the fish scale roof tiles, weaving a dense stitch pattern on the stone brick ground. It’s just dawn and it’s raining again, making everything hazy. The gray and white moon shadow rested on the eaves of other people’s houses, a very dim, incomplete circle that seems like it will disappear with the blink of an eye.

Qi Yin woke up to the sound of rain tapping on the roof. He saw rain dripping in from a broken tile and wetting the wooden floor. He sat up and pulled out a wooden basin from under the bed to catch the water. He lived in the attic, and a few tiles were blown away by the wind two days ago, but he hadn’t had a chance to fix them. He murmured to himself as he got dressed, thinking of telling his aunt when they have breakfast later. He could repair the roof himself as long as he had the materials.

He climbed down the ladder. Everyone in the house was still sleeping. It was quiet except for the sound of raindrops falling on the gray courtyard. He went to the kitchen to chop wood, light the fire, and make breakfast, which he did every morning. He had no parents and was living with others, so he must be a bit more self-aware.

According to his aunt, Qi Yin lost his mother when he was five years old. She was doing laundry by the river when she was dragged away by a water ghost. Qi Yin was playing with water nearby and thought his mother was diving for ducks. He asked his mother to catch fish for him with a smile on his face, but she never resurfaced.

He didn’t know his father. His father was said to be a sword immortal from some celestial mountain. His father had a brief romance with his mother and then went back to cultivate immortality with his sword. The only thing he left behind was the eighteen glass beads on Qi Yin’s wrist, each with deep and shallow golden runes, which could ward off evil and keep one safe. 

The immortal disregarded trivial matters and it wasn’t his father’s fault even if he didn’t marry his mother. From a young age, Qi Yin knew to find excuses for his father who he had never met. He guessed that his father was probably sealing a world-destroying demon and couldn’t come back to take him and his mother to the immortal mountain. He convinced himself that this was true and used this reason to explain why his father didn’t come to pick him up, showing off his precious eighteen glass beads to his runny-nosed neighbors and classmates who played games together and got punished. His aunt also held onto this hope, hoping that one day his father would descend from the sky to take him away, and to repay his aunt’s kindness, he would also take his cousin along. The two brothers would happily cultivate immortality together.

However, his father had been gone for eighteen years, and until now there wasn’t even a trace of him. A few years ago, his aunt asked a wandering Taoist to deliver a letter to Wu Fang Mountain, but there was no response. Everyone gradually realized that Qi Yin was an abandoned child, whose mother had died and father didn’t want him.

Her aunt’s attitude towards him gradually changed. Before, he slept in the upper room with his cousin under a moonlit window. Now, he can only sleep in the leaky attic. If it weren’t for fear of neighborhood gossip, he would not even be able to finish his education. His aunt kept him purely because it cost money to buy a servant. Two years ago, they had to hire a female servant because there was too much work for Qi Yin alone to handle, and she had been resentful ever since. 

Qi Yin didn’t have any aspirations. Ever since he realized he was an orphan with no parents, he took on the role of helping out his aunt’s family with great seriousness. He was just an ordinary person with no chance of becoming an immortal and no brains for passing the imperial examinations, living a simple life without much prospect.

He kindled the fire with wood and added gelatin and cooked rehmannia root (1) to the medicinal pot before pouring in water. This was the beauty-enhancing soup his aunt drank every morning and night. Although his aunt was getting older, she refused to accept old age. Ironically, the person his aunt hated the most in the house was not Qi Yin but the female servant Xiao Yuan. Xiao Yuan came to the house at the age of thirteen, a thin and weak little girl who looked like a weed by the roadside. After staying in the house for three years, she grew up to become a pretty young woman with rosy lips and white teeth, a snow-white neck, and round shoulders. When she walked, she revealed the three-inch golden lotus buds (2) on her feet. All the men in the house were dazzled by her beauty, except for Qi Yin.

“Why are you up so early?” Xiao Yuan walked in wearing peony red embroidered shoes. Qi Yin turned his head and saw Xiao Yuan smiling at him.

“I’m boiling medicine. Auntie has been getting up early lately” Qi Yin scratched his head.

The medicinal pot was boiling with a “gudong gudong” sound. He went to steam the steamed buns, and as he lowered his head, he saw two butt marks on the coal ash on the stove. The marks were round and plump, indicating that their owner was very curvy. He unconsciously looked towards Xiao Yuan, who was kneading dough. She wore a black jade bracelet on her wrist that fit tightly around her flesh, and the handkerchief couldn’t even be tucked in.

Perhaps sensing Qi Yin’s gaze, Xiao Yuan turned her head and looked at him with a teasing smile. Qi Yin awkwardly withdrew his gaze and silently wiped the butt marks clean before putting the steamer into the stove.

“Hey, I’m sweating. My hair is sticking to my neck. Can you help me lift it up?” Xiao Yuan said.

Qi Yin looked over and saw a strand of black hair sticking to her fair neck. Somehow, he thought of the white pork hanging on the meat rack at the market. Qi Yin placed a stack of wet cloths in front of her and said, “Wipe your hands and lift it yourself.” Then he went out.

Xiao Yuan’s face stiffened, and she threw the dough onto the chopping board. “Hmph, acting so high and mighty! Bastard,” she said, intentionally not lowering her voice, and her voice drifted into Qi Yin’s ears. Qi Yin ignored her and stepped out of the threshold.

He knew that Xiao Yuan and his aunt’s husband were having an affair. They had slept together during Chinese New Year. The kitchen was located under the attic, and the windows in the attic were not secure. Every time his aunt’s husband snuck in for a bite, the muffled sounds floated up, and Qi Yin would lie there with his eyes open, looking at the ceiling amidst the suppressed sounds of pleasure. However, he didn’t dislike Xiao Yuan because she was scheming, but because he already had someone in his heart. There was a medicine shop across the street, and he liked the female servant there – Feng Xian.

Every time he helped his aunt buy medicine, he would go to that pharmacy with its dark counter, shelves of medicine jars with cloud-shaped stoppers, and the faint bitter smell that was especially refreshing. Feng Xian always stood behind the counter, carefully weighing the medicine with a small scale. She had black, shiny hair which was tied up in a rough jade hairpin. Under her bangs were low-hanging eyebrows and eyes that exuded a quiet beauty. He suspected that she liked him too, because she always smiled at him, her charming gaze making his legs feel weak when he left the shop. The strongest evidence was that she gave him an extra amount of rehmannia root last time, and when he said he didn’t need that much, she smiled and said, “It’s a gift for you.”

He had already made up his mind over the years. He saved up some money from his odd jobs and planned to rent a room outside, then find a steady job. In two years, he could save enough money to propose marriage to Feng Xian. Feng Xian’s family was also poor, so the bride price they wanted would not be high. He had confidence in himself.

The rain was still falling, but there was already daylight shining through the clouds, radiating a brilliant gold. Qi Yin rinsed his mouth and thought he looked silly, staring at the shimmering water on the slate floor. After laughing, he looked up and saw his cousin Yao Xiao Shan staring at him with a dumb smile on his face.

Qi Yin said, ” …”

“I have something to discuss with you,” Yao Xiao Shan squatted beside him sneakily and took out a stone egg from his pocket. “My mother has nothing better to do, always checking my room. So, I’ll leave this egg with you, and you keep it safe for me.”

Yao Xiao Shan was his cousin who had become a scholar at a young age. His aunt loved him dearly and served him with delicacies every day. But recently, he had been acting weird, often sneaking out to the western market, claiming to seek immortals. In fact, for people like them, the opportunity to cultivate immortality was very slim. The four immortal mountains were elusive, and Wutang Town was a remote corner where even demons did not bother to haunt, so there was no chance of meeting sword immortals.

However, Qi Yin has always been kind to people, and did not act rude towards him, only saying: “What is this thing? Last time you put a stack of talismans in my room, and they all turned into toads, causing me to catch them all night and be scolded by my aunt.”

Yao Xiao Shan smirked, “Last time was an accident, an accident.” He held the stone egg in front of Qi Yin’s nose and said mysteriously, “This is a Qilin (3) egg. It is said that after incubating for one hundred and eighty years, a baby Qilin will hatch. I bought it for collection. Maybe by the time my son grows up, our family will have a Qilin to guard the house.”

A Qilin laying eggs? Qi Yin was a bit speechless.

“If you don’t help me, I’ll tell my mother that you like Xiao Yuan,” Yao Xiao Shan threatened.

Qi Yin was startled and almost bit his own tongue. He quickly widened his eyes and said, “Don’t talk nonsense!”

Yao Xiao Shan said, “I saw you two exchanging glances earlier, and Xiao Yuan even asked you to help her adjust her hair.”

“You!” Qi Yin was really at a loss and said dejectedly, “Fine, I’ll help you hide it. Please don’t spread rumors, it could be dangerous!”

Only then was Yao Xiao Shan satisfied. He put the stone egg into Qi Yin’s arms and left with great swagger.

He and his cousin were really enemies. When they went to a private school, Qi Yin helped him copy the Four Books and Five Classics as punishment. At home, he had to help him take the blame for things. Even if Yao Xiao Shan got into trouble with a local gang, Qi Yin had to go with him and take the beating. But Qi Yin didn’t have much choice. He was a dependent and had to be a servant, his cousin’s younger brother. The stone egg in his hand was cold and he couldn’t tell at all that it was a Qilin egg. The guy probably got cheated again. Qi Yin sighed and put the stone egg in a box and locked it up to prevent it from hatching a toad or something.

As soon as he went downstairs, he heard a commotion upstairs, with dishes being smashed and someone crying. Qi Yin heard his aunt’s scolding voice from far away, “You little whore, who are you trying to seduce with that appearance? If you dare to seduce my son and distract him from his studies, I’ll skin you alive! You lowly thing, all you know is how to seduce men!” Then he saw Xiao Yuan running out, holding a black lacquered tray and sobbing.

“Alright, alright, stop scolding,” Uncle said, trying to calm his aunt down.

Aunt was still scolding, “Every single one of you is so troublesome! And there’s Qi Yin, what’s the use of his mother following the immortal? He just disappeared on a flying sword, and it was all for nothing! Giving birth to a son who eats for free in my house and is almost 18 years old, but still has no prospects!”

“Hey, hey, hey, why bring up Qi Yin again? Be careful, he might hear you,” Uncle warned.

Qi Yin stood dumbfounded on the porch for a while before silently walking into the courtyard. The rain was falling incessantly, just as it always did in the south. It wasn’t heavy, but it was dense and never seemed to stop. Grandma had already gotten up and was embroidering on her chair. She was a plain woman who didn’t get close to anyone or meddle in household affairs, only embroidering handkerchiefs every day to make ends meet. Although Qi Yin had no blood relation to her, he called her grandmother along with Yao Xiao Shan.

The sound of the scolding from the front yard was faintly audible. Qi Yin didn’t know if Grandma had heard it or not and awkwardly thought about going to the back door to wait. Grandma raised her head and gave Qi Yin a glance, beckoning him over and patting the stool next to her. Qi Yin sat down, and the old lady hunched over and took out a snail shell box, placing it in Qi Yin’s hands.

“Grandmother?” Qi Yin opened the box, which contained a stack of silver notes. Qi Yin was stunned for a moment and looked at the old woman in confusion.

The old lady smiled and looked at him, “I’ve been saving for many years, and there are at least five taels in there. Please use it to buy gold and silver jewelry, prepare a wedding banquet, and it should be enough. Be frugal with your spending, as raising children will cost a lot of money in the future.”

Qi Yin was still in a daze.

“The little Feng Xian from across the street, do you like her?” The old lady winked at him.

Qi Yin’s face turned red instantly, and he was so flustered that he couldn’t speak clearly. “… How did you know?”

The old lady lowered her head to embroider, carefully poking a fine silver needle into the fabric. “Every time you rush to buy medicine, this old woman gets curious and took a look last time. Hmm, she looks good and has a big butt. She will find it easy to bear children.”

Qi Yin’s face was so red that it could drip blood, and he stammered, “She is good-looking and gentle, and seems to be virtuous.”

The old lady squinted at him, “You haven’t even married her yet, but you’ve already learned to speak up for your future wife.”

Qi Yin didn’t want to say anything, but the old lady smiled and pushed him, “Alright, hide it well and don’t let your aunt know. Go now.”

He nodded vigorously and ran back to the front yard, just in time to see a guest arriving at the door, wearing a black hat and a long coat, presumably a courier from the official post. His aunt came out of the upper room, smiling and welcoming the guest. Qi Yin quickly turned and headed for the back door. The old lady pointed to the back door and he understood, stepping across the threshold and closing the door behind him before crouching under the stone lion. He had to wait until his aunt returned.

Qi Yin decided to leave and go back to his own room, so as not to be discovered by the old lady. He tightly hugged the small box, which was the size of a book, and even though it was summer and it rained, he felt a bit chilly. However, his heart was warm. He remembered when he was a child, the old lady often took him to the market two miles away to buy vegetables. A little person holding the old lady’s hand, with a basket slung over the elbow, would greet anyone they saw. One time, he accidentally got separated from the old lady and stood under a gate holding the basket, waiting. Fortunately, because he was usually sweet-tongued, the passers-by recognized him and led him home.

He smiled at himself in the puddle. It didn’t matter if his aunt didn’t like him. He still had his grandmother and Feng Xian.

Suddenly, a shadow covered his head. He looked up and saw a man standing beside him. The man had black hair and was wearing black clothes that were soaked. A fat black cat was squatting on his shoulder with water dripping from its fur. He could only see the man’s side face, which was pale and had long eyelashes that looked like the wings of a moth in the daylight. 

Taking shelter from the rain? Qi Yin wondered.

The black cat turned its head and saw him, then jumped off the man’s shoulder. The black cat was really too fat and looked like a ball of fur when it jumped down. It rubbed against Qi Yin’s feet and let out a soft meow. Qi Yin laughed and stroked its fur. The man also turned his head, and Qi Yin saw his face: handsome features, big and black eyes reflecting the rain and wind, as well as Qi Yin squatting on the ground.

“You look unfamiliar. Are you from out of town?” Qi Yin asked.

The man seemed not used to talking to others, and he looked down at him for a while before nodding.

“Are you looking for relatives? Or just passing by?” Qi Yin asked again.

“My bride is here,” the man said in a light and thin voice like a gust of wind. “I came to find her and get married.”

t’s raining. The raindrops slide down the fish scale roof tiles, weaving a dense stitch pattern on the stone brick ground. It’s just dawn and it’s raining again, making everything hazy. The gray and white moon shadow rests on the eaves of other people’s houses, a very dim, incomplete circle that seems like it will disappear with the blink of an eye.

Qi Yin wakes up to the sound of rain tapping on the roof. He sees rain dripping in from a broken tile and wetting the wooden floor. He sits up and pulls out a wooden basin from under the bed to catch the water. He lives in the attic, and a few tiles were blown away by the wind two days ago, but he hasn’t had a chance to fix them. He murmurs to himself as he gets dressed, thinking of telling his aunt when they have breakfast later. He can repair the roof himself as long as he has the materials.

He climbs down the ladder. Everyone in the house is still sleeping. It’s quiet except for the sound of raindrops falling on the gray courtyard. He goes to the kitchen to chop wood, light the fire, and make breakfast, which he does every morning. He has no parents and is living with others, so he must be a bit more self-aware.

According to his aunt, Qi Yin lost his mother when he was five years old. She was doing laundry by the river when she was dragged away by a water ghost. Qi Yin was playing with water nearby and thought his mother was diving for ducks. He asked his mother to catch fish for him with a smile on his face, but she never resurfaced.

He didn’t know his father. His father is said to be a sword immortal from some celestial mountain. His father had a brief romance with his mother and then went back to cultivate immortality with his sword. The only thing he left behind was the eighteen glass beads on Qi Yin’s wrist, each with deep and shallow golden runes, which could ward off evil and keep one safe. 

The immortal disregarded trivial matters and it wasn’t his father’s fault even if he didn’t marry his mother. From a young age, Qi Yin knew to find excuses for his father who he had never met. He guessed that his father was probably sealing a world-destroying demon and couldn’t come back to take him and his mother to the immortal mountain. He convinced himself that this was true and used this reason to explain why his father didn’t come to pick him up, showing off his precious eighteen glass beads to his runny-nosed neighbors and classmates who played games together and got punished. His aunt also held onto this hope, hoping that one day his father would descend from the sky to take him away, and to repay his aunt’s kindness, he would also take his cousin along. The two brothers would happily cultivate immortality together.

However, his father had been gone for eighteen years, and until now there wasn’t even a trace of him. A few years ago, his aunt asked a wandering Taoist to deliver a letter to Wu Fang Mountain, but there was no response. Everyone gradually realized that Qi Yin was an abandoned child, whose mother had died and father didn’t want him.

Her aunt’s attitude towards him gradually changed. Before, he slept in the upper room with his cousin under a moonlit window. Now, he can only sleep in the leaky attic. If it weren’t for fear of neighborhood gossip, he would not even be able to finish his education. His aunt kept him purely because it cost money to buy a servant. Two years ago, they had to hire a female servant because there was too much work for Qi Yin alone to handle, and she had been resentful ever since. 

Qi Yin didn’t have any aspirations. Ever since he realized he was an orphan with no parents, he took on the role of helping out his aunt’s family with great seriousness. He was just an ordinary person with no chance of becoming an immortal and no brains for passing the imperial examinations, living a simple life without much prospect.

He kindled the fire with wood and added gelatin and cooked rehmannia root1 to the medicinal pot before pouring in water. This was the beauty-enhancing soup his aunt drank every morning and night. Although his aunt was getting older, she refused to accept old age. Ironically, the person his aunt hated the most in the house was not Qi Yin but the female servant Xiaoyuan. Xiaoyuan came to the house at the age of thirteen, a thin and weak little girl who looked like a weed by the roadside. After staying in the house for three years, she grew up to become a pretty young woman with rosy lips and white teeth, a snow-white neck, and round shoulders. When she walked, she revealed the three-inch golden lotus buds2 on her feet. All the men in the house were dazzled by her beauty, except for Qi Yin.

“Why are you up so early?” Xiaoyuan walked in wearing peony red embroidered shoes. Qi Yin turned his head and saw Xiaoyuan smiling at him.

“I’m boiling medicine. Auntie has been getting up early lately” Qi Yin scratched his head.

The medicinal pot was boiling with a “gudong gudong” sound. He went to steam the steamed buns, and as he lowered his head, he saw two butt marks on the coal ash on the stove. The marks were round and plump, indicating that their owner was very curvy. He unconsciously looked towards Xiaoyuan, who was kneading dough. She wore a black jade bracelet on her wrist that fit tightly around her flesh, and the handkerchief couldn’t even be tucked in.

Perhaps sensing Qi Yin’s gaze, Xiaoyuan turned her head and looked at him with a teasing smile. Qi Yin awkwardly withdrew his gaze and silently wiped the butt marks clean before putting the steamer into the stove.

“Hey, I’m sweating. My hair is sticking to my neck. Can you help me lift it up?” Xiaoyuan said.

Qi Yin looked over and saw a strand of black hair sticking to her fair neck. Somehow, he thought of the white pork hanging on the meat rack at the market. Qi Yin placed a stack of wet cloths in front of her and said, “Wipe your hands and lift it yourself.” Then he went out.

Xiaoyuan’s face stiffened, and she threw the dough onto the chopping board. “Hmph, acting so high and mighty! Bastard,” she said, intentionally not lowering her voice, and her voice drifted into Qi Yin’s ears. Qi Yin ignored her and stepped out of the threshold.

He knew that Xiaoyuan and his aunt’s husband were having an affair. They had slept together during Chinese New Year. The kitchen was located under the attic, and the windows in the attic were not secure. Every time his aunt’s husband snuck in for a bite, the muffled sounds floated up, and Qi Yin would lie there with his eyes open, looking at the ceiling amidst the suppressed sounds of pleasure. However, he didn’t dislike Xiaoyuan because she was scheming, but because he already had someone in his heart. There was a medicine shop across the street, and he liked the female servant there – Fengxian.

Every time he helped his aunt buy medicine, he would go to that pharmacy with its dark counter, shelves of medicine jars with cloud-shaped stoppers, and the faint bitter smell that was especially refreshing. Fengxian always stood behind the counter, carefully weighing the medicine with a small scale. She had black, shiny hair which was tied up in a rough jade hairpin. Under her bangs were low-hanging eyebrows and eyes that exuded a quiet beauty. He suspected that she liked him too, because she always smiled at him, her charming gaze making his legs feel weak when he left the shop. The strongest evidence was that she gave him an extra amount of rehmannia root last time, and when he said he didn’t need that much, she smiled and said, “It’s a gift for you.”

He had already made up his mind over the years. He saved up some money from his odd jobs and planned to rent a room outside, then find a steady job. In two years, he could save enough money to propose marriage to Fengxian. Fengxian’s family was also poor, so the bride price they wanted would not be high. He had confidence in himself.

The rain was still falling, but there was already daylight shining through the clouds, radiating a brilliant gold. Qi Yin rinsed his mouth and thought he looked silly, staring at the shimmering water on the slate floor. After laughing, he looked up and saw his cousin Yao Xiaoshan staring at him with a dumb smile on his face.

Qi Yin said, ” …”

“I have something to discuss with you,” Yao Xiaoshan squatted beside him sneakily and took out a stone egg from his pocket. “My mother has nothing better to do, always checking my room. So, I’ll leave this egg with you, and you keep it safe for me.”

Yao Xiaoshan was his cousin who had become a scholar at a young age. His aunt loved him dearly and served him with delicacies every day. But recently, he had been acting weird, often sneaking out to the western market, claiming to seek immortals. In fact, for people like them, the opportunity to cultivate immortality was very slim. The four immortal mountains were elusive, and Wutang Town was a remote corner where even demons did not bother to haunt, so there was no chance of meeting sword immortals.

However, Qi Yin has always been kind to people, and did not act rude towards him, only saying: “What is this thing? Last time you put a stack of talismans in my room, and they all turned into toads, causing me to catch them all night and be scolded by my aunt.”

Yao Xiaoshan smirked, “Last time was an accident, an accident.” He held the stone egg in front of Qi Yin’s nose and said mysteriously, “This is a Qilin (3) egg. It is said that after incubating for one hundred and eighty years, a baby Qilin will hatch. I bought it for collection. Maybe by the time my son grows up, our family will have a Qilin to guard the house.”

A Qilin laying eggs? Qi Yin was a bit speechless.

“If you don’t help me, I’ll tell my mother that you like Xiaoyuan,” Yao Xiaoshan threatened.

Qi Yin was startled and almost bit his own tongue. He quickly widened his eyes and said, “Don’t talk nonsense!”

Yao Xiaoshan said, “I saw you two exchanging glances earlier, and Xiaoyuan even asked you to help her adjust her hair.”

“You!” Qi Yin was really at a loss and said dejectedly, “Fine, I’ll help you hide it. Please don’t spread rumors, it could be dangerous!”

Only then was Yao Xiaoshan satisfied. He put the stone egg into Qi Yin’s arms and left with great swagger.

He and his cousin were really enemies. When they went to a private school, Qi Yin helped him copy the Four Books and Five Classics as punishment. At home, he had to help him take the blame for things. Even if Yao Xiaoshan got into trouble with a local gang, Qi Yin had to go with him and take the beating. But Qi Yin didn’t have much choice. He was a dependent and had to be a servant, his cousin’s younger brother. The stone egg in his hand was cold and he couldn’t tell at all that it was a Qilin egg. The guy probably got cheated again. Qi Yin sighed and put the stone egg in a box and locked it up to prevent it from hatching a toad or something.

As soon as he went downstairs, he heard a commotion upstairs, with dishes being smashed and someone crying. Qi Yin heard his aunt’s scolding voice from far away, “You little whore, who are you trying to seduce with that appearance? If you dare to seduce my son and distract him from his studies, I’ll skin you alive! You lowly thing, all you know is how to seduce men!” Then he saw Xiao Yuan running out, holding a black lacquered tray and sobbing.

“Alright, alright, stop scolding,” Uncle said, trying to calm his aunt down.

Aunt was still scolding, “Every single one of you is so troublesome! And there’s Qi Yin, what’s the use of his mother following the immortal? He just disappeared on a flying sword, and it was all for nothing! Giving birth to a son who eats for free in my house and is almost 18 years old, but still has no prospects!”

“Hey, hey, hey, why bring up Qi Yin again? Be careful, he might hear you,” Uncle warned.

Qi Yin stood dumbfounded on the porch for a while before silently walking into the courtyard. The rain was falling incessantly, just as it always did in the south. It wasn’t heavy, but it was dense and never seemed to stop. Grandma had already gotten up and was embroidering on her chair. She was a plain woman who didn’t get close to anyone or meddle in household affairs, only embroidering handkerchiefs every day to make ends meet. Although Qi Yin had no blood relation to her, he called her grandmother along with Yao Xiaoshan.

The sound of the scolding from the front yard was faintly audible. Qi Yin didn’t know if Grandma had heard it or not and awkwardly thought about going to the back door to wait. Grandma raised her head and gave Qi Yin a glance, beckoning him over and patting the stool next to her. Qi Yin sat down, and the old lady hunched over and took out a snail shell box, placing it in Qi Yin’s hands.

“Grandmother?” Qi Yin opened the box, which contained a stack of silver notes. Qi Yin was stunned for a moment and looked at the old woman in confusion.

The old lady smiled and looked at him, “I’ve been saving for many years, and there are at least five taels in there. Please use it to buy gold and silver jewelry, prepare a wedding banquet, and it should be enough. Be frugal with your spending, as raising children will cost a lot of money in the future.”

Qi Yin was still in a daze.

“The little Fengxian from across the street, do you like her?” The old lady winked at him.

Qi Yin’s face turned red instantly, and he was so flustered that he couldn’t speak clearly. “… How did you know?”

The old lady lowered her head to embroider, carefully poking a fine silver needle into the fabric. “Every time you rush to buy medicine, this old woman gets curious and took a look last time. Hmm, she looks good and has a big butt. She will find it easy to bear children.”

Qi Yin’s face was so red that it could drip blood, and he stammered, “She is good-looking and gentle, and seems to be virtuous.”

The old lady squinted at him, “You haven’t even married her yet, but you’ve already learned to speak up for your future wife.”

Qi Yin didn’t want to say anything, but the old lady smiled and pushed him, “Alright, hide it well and don’t let your aunt know. Go now.”

He nodded vigorously and ran back to the front yard, just in time to see a guest arriving at the door, wearing a black hat and a long coat, presumably a courier from the official post. His aunt came out of the upper room, smiling and welcoming the guest. Qi Yin quickly turned and headed for the back door. The old lady pointed to the back door and he understood, stepping across the threshold and closing the door behind him before crouching under the stone lion. He had to wait until his aunt returned.

Qi Yin decided to leave and go back to his own room, so as not to be discovered by the old lady. He tightly hugged the small box, which was the size of a book, and even though it was summer and it rained, he felt a bit chilly. However, his heart was warm. He remembered when he was a child, the old lady often took him to the market two miles away to buy vegetables. A little person holding the old lady’s hand, with a basket slung over the elbow, would greet anyone they saw. One time, he accidentally got separated from the old lady and stood under a gate holding the basket, waiting. Fortunately, because he was usually sweet-tongued, the passers-by recognized him and led him home.

He smiled at himself in the puddle. It didn’t matter if his aunt didn’t like him. He still had his grandmother and Fengxian.

Suddenly, a shadow covered his head. He looked up and saw a man standing beside him. The man had black hair and was wearing black clothes that were soaked. A fat black cat was squatting on his shoulder with water dripping from its fur. He could only see the man’s side face, which was pale and had long eyelashes that looked like the wings of a moth in the daylight. 

Taking shelter from the rain? Qi Yin wondered.

The black cat turned its head and saw him, then jumped off the man’s shoulder. The black cat was really too fat and looked like a ball of fur when it jumped down. It rubbed against Qi Yin’s feet and let out a soft meow. Qi Yin laughed and stroked its fur. The man also turned his head, and Qi Yin saw his face: handsome features, big and black eyes reflecting the rain and wind, as well as Qi Yin squatting on the ground.

“You look unfamiliar. Are you from out of town?” Qi Yin asked.

The man seemed not used to talking to others, and he looked down at him for a while before nodding.

“Are you looking for relatives? Or just passing by?” Qi Yin asked again.

“My bride is here,” the man said in a light and thin voice like a gust of wind. “I came to find her and get married.”

Footnotes

1. Rehmannia Root – also known as Chinese foxglove. The root of the Rehmannia plant is used in traditional Chinese medicine to treat various health conditions, such as anemia, fever, diabetes, and inflammation. It is also believed to have immune-boosting properties and to help regulate the blood sugar levels in the body.

2. Three-inch golden lotus buds – is a term that is commonly used to refer to the feet of women who have undergone foot binding, a practice that was once popular in China. Foot binding involved tightly wrapping young girls’ feet to prevent them from growing, resulting in deformed feet that were seen as a symbol of beauty and status.

3. Qilin – a mythical creature from Chinese folklore that is often depicted as a hybrid of different animals, including a deer, a dragon, a horse, and a unicorn. The qilin is said to have a gentle and peaceful nature, and it is often considered to be a symbol of good luck, prosperity, and auspiciousness. 

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Kuchiki Risa
Kuchiki Risa
1 year ago

Thanks so much for the translation!!! ❤️❤️

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Admin
1 year ago
Reply to  Kuchiki Risa

I hope you enjoyed it. Thanks very much for commenting!

Reira
Reira
1 year ago

Thank you so much for picking up this novel!! Can’t wait to read it as soon as I have time, I loved dzyb from the same author so I’m really curious to read their other novels 💗

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Admin
1 year ago
Reply to  Reira

Thanks for your comment! I also love dzyb! In fact, I decided to start translating this author’s other works after reading dzyb

BB
BB
1 year ago

Hi. Thanks for the translation!! Do you allow translation into another language?

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Admin
1 year ago
Reply to  BB

Hi, thanks for your query. I think I would prefer not to go ahead with it for now, but thanks for asking

Reira
Reira
6 months ago

I really hope you’ll continue translating this… I miss them