People & Money In Position About To Takeoff
Idler’s Note: This is a make up chapter since I had nothing up for Friday (July 29th, 2016) during my week away. Also, here’s wishing a happy Qixi Festival (七夕節) to everyone today! This festival was the Chinese equivalent of Valentine’s Day since it celebrates the reunion of the two star-crossed (literally!) lovers, Zhinü (織女) who represents Vega and Niulang (牛郎) who represents Altair. You can read more about the Chinese folk tale behind their story, the Weaver Girl and the Cowherd, here. You might also recognize this festival under its Japanese name of Tanabata.
Also, I have to apologize for the footnotes… There were a lot this time, too. ^_^;
Disclaimer: This translation is by a fan for fans. Any opinions or commentary presented here are translated as is written by the original author. Any remarks by the translator will be in footnotes or in an editorial aside. The original work is the property of the author and any other associated copyright holders in their respective territories. Please do not reproduce, redistribute, or resell this translation anywhere else without permission! If you are reading this anywhere else but on WordPress, then it is being reposted without permission from the translator! If you are the copyright holder and/or have licensed this work for English publication and wish for this translation to be removed, please contact me to do so. Thank you!
Song Jing-gong carefully observed Zhang Xiaobao before he rolled up a flat cake, slowly eating it bite by bite as if savoring it and yet, not as if he was simply savoring this flat cake and spicy sauce.
Zhang Xiaobao and Wang Juan, the two of them didn’t bother him, either, as they tore off a thin piece of flat cake there, dipping it into the sauce before they carefully started eating.
“The taste is still a bit poor.” Wang Juan licked her fingertips as she smacked her lips twice.
“Unh, I also think so. It wasn’t fried using oil so it’s considered raw paste sauce. Wait till it’s been fried and it’ll be better.” Zhang Xiaobao nodded as he agreed with her.
“In a while, use oil to fry it for a bit. We’ll eat it for lunch. Send some to my family, too. Yesterday night, my mom even sent us peaches, ~ne.” Wang Juan said once she had stuffed that little bit of flat cake into her belly.
Over here, Zhang Xiaobao had also just finished eating and nodded: “Send it, definitely have to send it. But without the soybean oil, the flavor is worse by quite a lot. Last time when we went to the kitchen, I saw that there was some beef tallow over there. Use that, then. Let’s think of a way for when an ox can fall down dead so we can use the beef to make sauce with.”
“Have to keep them for plowing the land, ~ne. Killing the ones on the manor isn’t allowed. Buying an old ox to kill it would be cheaper.” Wang Juan added there.
In this moment, Song Jing-gong’s inner heart was filled with mixed feelings.1 From the words of that manservant who had just left, he’d already discovered that this sauce had been produced by the little kid in front of him. From the start, he himself had really been ridiculous for still wanting to swindle them. Look at them—they could think of one after another idea for legitimate business.
His loss wasn’t a bit unwarranted—they were basically not even on the same level. One year old, ~ah. Could it be that they were the reincarnation of saints?2 When he listened to the words that these two kids were saying again, how were these children who hadn’t even been weaned off milk? They were clearly just like adults.
No wonder Yingtao had such a pride-filled face whenever she spoke of Little Mister and Little Miss Juan-Juan. If he himself had such masters, he presumed he’d be the same way, too. All right, he wouldn’t argue from now on and just be an aide to this little kid. By following him, perhaps he’d see even more splendid things.
Just as Song Jing-gong was thinking on matters, Zhang Xiaobao had already instructed Xiaohong to go to the kitchens to get some things. She had just brought them over when Song Jing-gong was finished with his thoughts, only to see Zhang Xiaobao place some scallions and cucumber slices on top of the flat cake and then smear on some sauce before saying to him:
“[Older] Brother Zijin, try this. In the future, I’m prepared to sell this stuff to every restaurant and snack shop. Unh, just selling the sauce—if it’s just a little more expensive, people can still accept it. After all, wait until after we’ve extracted the soybean oil. Then, only our family will have it. Juan-Juan and I are still little and can’t eat so many things. [Older] Brother Zijin, please.”
The flat cake was small. Song Jing-gong hadn’t eaten his full after having two, much less after having not eaten anything at all since yesterday afternoon. He was hungry right now, ~ne. So right then, he wasn’t polite at all as he accepted the flat cake and gobbled it down in two or three gulps. Exhaling with satisfaction, he moved to roll up another two cakes and eat them as he said:
“Little Mister, from now on, wherever you [honorific] say to go, then Zijin will go there. As for that Noteworthy House, Little Mister, please don’t bother with it. The store is small but can still support three families of people, ~ne.”
“What is Zijin talking about? The store affairs naturally are up to Zijin to decide. I’m so little, how can I manage so many things? These flat cakes are tasty. In the future, I’ll have people get a small stall specifically to sell them—just like spring platters,3 only I know how to add some vegetables that no one else knows how to make yet.”
Zhang Xiaobao looked at Song Jing-gong and seeing that he didn’t seem to be pretending, explained a bit more. He wasn’t afraid of people deceiving him as he wasn’t lacking in the ability to keep his subordinates in check.
Song Jing-gong was still eating over there. This kind of stuff was really too good to eat as it was delicious and spicy, making him want to eat more the more that he ate. Only until he really couldn’t continue eating did he stop and then, looking at the two kids facing him, he said: “All right, I’m full so I’ll leave now to go collect the soybeans.”
Having said this, Song Jing-gong stood up to leave but Zhang Xiaobao suddenly spoke up: “Hold on. It’s raining hard and the wind is cold outside; Zijin will need to take care of your health. Xiaohong, is the wine with the added ginger strips warmed up yet? Serve it to Zijin to fend off the cold. I’ll have to trouble Zijin—Juan-Juan and I are still too small so we can’t do a great many things. Everything will depend on Zijin handling it and exhausting himself out there so Juan-Juan and I give our thanks.”
As they spoke, Zhang Xiaobao and Wang Juan saluted in gratitude to Song Jing-gong together as they used those small hands to tremblingly carry and place the wine in front of Song Jing-gong.
Hearing this, Song Jing-gong looked at those weak little hands and accepted the warmed wine. Not having yet drunken it, ~ne, he already felt that his heart had been warmed up. With a tilt of his head, he drank the wine down to the dregs and then, cupping his hands in salute to Zhang Xiaobao: “Thou treats this one like a gentleman of the state so this one must repay thee as a gentleman of the state.4 Farewell.”
Having said these words, Song Jing-gong turned and left, not even using an umbrella as he directly charged into the torrential rain with that pair of steady and powerful legs.
Zhang Xiaobao and Wang Juan followed along until the doorway until Song Jing-gong’s silhouette had disappeared before turning around to return. But suddenly seeing Xiaohong over there with red-rimmed eyes, they asked in surprise: “Xiaohong, why are you like this? Were your eyes burned by the ginger? Quick, go use water to rinse it out.”
“No, I’m fine. I just feel like my heart’s been comforted. Mister treats people so well—no matter if it’s Yingtao, Shiliu, me, or that Mister Song—Mister treats them all sincerely. For Xiaohong to be sent to Mister’s side is Xiaohong’s fortune.”
Xiaohong shook her head there but she hadn’t even finished speaking, ~ne, and the tears had already started falling. Don’t just look at how her age wasn’t that big, she also knew of the coldness and warmth of human emotion.5 Little Mister was not only smart, he also treated people well—to serve such a master must certainly be due to the good deeds from a previous life.
“Don’t cry, don’t cry. The good days are still yet to come, ~ne! There’s still flat cakes left so you can eat them while they’re still hot and help me try out the taste to see if it’s still missing anything.” Zhang Xiaobao and Wang Juan exchanged a look as they inwardly sighed. The people here were so good, ~ah.
“Unh, tasty. The things Mister makes are so tasty. When I smelled the aroma just now, I knew.” Xiaohong wiped her eyes as she enthusiastically nodded her head and helped the two children back on top of the couch, already starting with her praises though she hadn’t eaten it yet.
Zhang Xiaobao and Wang Juan didn’t make a sound either as they watched Xiaohong eat three flat cakes in a row before they said: “Xiaohong, wait until the rain’s stopped as you still have other things to do. You’ll need to find people to dig in that lowland area by the river on the manor. Also, open up a hole in the river and channel the water flow into it. The manor needs to raise a lot more ducks and geese as well as plant some lotuses. Once it’s winter, we’ll have more types of vegetables.”
“Unh, Xiaohong understands. Little Mister, rest assured. There are quite a few people on the manor. As long as a meal is covered, they’ll come over to work. Tomorrow, I’ll go digging.” Xiaohong said in confirmation.
But Wang Juan shook her head: “Not only will you need to cover a meal but you will also need to give a wage. You decide on the number and return to get it. In the future, the two manors of Zhang and Wang will also be opening up a general goods store here to let the people of the manor do their purchases and trading more easily. It’s not for the sake of making money but it’s so the people of the manor can walk a step or two less.”
“Little Miss is righteous and kind; Xiaohong gives thanks on behalf of the elder patriarchs6 of the manor.” Xiaohong had eaten her fill so she was full of motivated energy. When she thought of the days to come, she felt like the rain outside was also so joyous.
The next day, the white clouds were puffy, the sunlight was brightly shining, and the river was clear as the children happily played within it.
The laborers of the manor had all been summoned by Xiaohong. Plotting out the area and not even caring about the muddiness in the aftermath of the rain there, they brought their tools and started working, each and every one all acting as if they didn’t know what fatigue was.
At this time, Xiaohong had people set up the big pot to the side that was simmering fragrantly tasty large bones. There were also people making the dough in preparation for pan-frying7 the flat cakes. The sauce had also been placed to the side as the shredded pork was stir-fried using oil. When it was time to eat, it just needed to be returned to the pan to add some chopped scallion rolled up inside the flat cake so the taste would be even better. This had been due to Wang Juan’s guidance since she loved shredded meat with * sauce.8
“[Older] Brothers and uncles, work hard. You certainly need to do justice to Little Mister’s 3 wen [cash] in daily wages. Wait until noon as there’ll be enough big flat cakes rolled up with vegetables to eat.” Xiaohong stood to the side as she yelled—she even knew to drum up morale.
The people working could already smell the fragrant aroma rising from the pot so while they gulped down their saliva and vigorously shoveled, Zhang Xiaobao and Wang Juan was also standing nearby as they observed. This could be considered a kind of method to rally the people’s hearts.
“From now on, the days will be better. Xiaobao, I want to transform the two manors of Zhang and Wang into an otherworldly paradise.9 The elderly will be provided for;10 the young will receive an education;11 every family can build new homes; every person can eat their fill and be warmly clothed—is that hard?” Wang Juan said with a face full of yearning.
“If it’s only two manors, it’s not hard. But I’m prepared to expand this place a bit later on so the things to manage would be a lot, ~ne. It’ll be necessary to cultivate some talent. What we need to do is to give them hope and confidence. By that time, you can train the footmen.” Zhang Xiaobao was also making calculations there; he also wanted to let the people of the manor live well.
“Little Mister, do you [honorific] still want to eat toads?” Just when Zhang Xiaobao and Wang Juan were both imagining the future, a child in the river built up the courage to ask this.
Zhang Xiaobao knew that these children wanted to get some benefits in exchange so nodding and then, shaking his head: “Want to eat but not toads. You guys get me some river snails. In a while when it’s time to eat, you guys can also eat, too—you can even take home a portion.”
Once Zhang Xiaobao said this, the children all cheered and one after another, they plunged headlong into the water and started to spread out to catch river snails. They all knew what was cooking inside the pot and that shredded meat which had already been stir-fried. To eat a portion themselves and then bring home another portion simply through getting some river snails, it was really too easy.
“Xiaobao, there are parasites in the river snails. I heard that there were people who ate it and worms grew in their brain.” Wang Juan was a little averse to this stuff.
“No fear. When we go back, use some clean water with some salt added to store them in. Use boiling water to scald them twice over and then, dress them using parsley, garlic, and scallions to give to my dad to eat as wine appetizers. We’ll give a portion to your family as well. We’ll just drink a bit of soup. That stuff is tough so we won’t be able to chew it.” Zhang Xiaobao had already thought it through on how to make them.
“Then, we’ll eat them tomorrow. Let’s keep them for today and have the river snails expel the stuff in their stomachs first before talking about it. You, hurry up with bakery cakes. Otherwise, nothing can be eaten with us like this.” Wang Juan was dismayed whenever she thought of their current age.
The children moved quickly and within 2 quarter-hours, they’d already grabbed a large bowl full of river snails. After having people use a wooden bowl to store and keep them in to send back home, they found Xiaohong and had her also prepare food for the children when it was time for lunch. Then, Zhang Xiaobao and Wang Juan went back to start training.
In the morning, Erniu got up very early and ate some porridge. Together with his older brother Daniu, they brought that small jar filled with the spicy sauce and found a carriage to leave for Sanshui County. Because it was adjacent to a river that wasn’t considered too small, there was a lot of traffic there and there were also quite a few hotels and such. Today, Erniu was ready to go sell the sauce.
For the sake of being able to sell it for a good price, Erniu continued to follow Little Mister’s instructions by pan-frying some flat cakes and bringing some chopped scallions along with him. Hurrying along the road, they finally arrived at Sanshui County when it was nearly noon.
“[Younger] Brother, how do we sell it? Do we need to yell out our pitches?”12 Daniu wasn’t as clever as Erniu for he was rather simple and honest so when they arrived, he didn’t know what to do.
“No need, Little Mister already planned for this. Let’s go. Drive the carriage to Waterview House13 over there. They and the Hundred-Flavored Pavilion14 next door are the two largest restaurants in the county. They’re both competing over customers so there’s no fear that they won’t buy.” Erniu recalled Little Mister’s words to find two competing restaurants to sell to so he had set his eyes on Sanshui County’s two landmark restaurants.
When the carriage had stopped in front of the Waterview House, Erniu and Daniu jumped down from the carriage separately while carrying their things before walking inside. By the entrance, an employee15 had already come over to arrange for the carriage’s parking spot before leading who he assumed to be two dining customers inside, walking as he talked.
“Unh, having studied under an Imperial Chef is good, ~ah. Is your noble owner in? Find a single room on the second floor. The two of us have some matters to discuss with your noble owner.” Today, Erniu was dressed well so he was emboldened as he held his chest high and used what he thought were the most elegant words with the employee.
“He’s in, he’s in. The two of you [honorific], please go upstairs; this little one will go and invite the restaurant owner over here now.” The employee didn’t know what the two of them wished to do, either. But seeing that they had requested a single room on the second floor, he respectfully invited them upstairs. Then, waiting until the two of them had entered the room, he called over another employee to serve them as he ran to go find the restaurant owner.
The newly arrived employee served tea before standing ready to the side. Erniu and Daniu were afraid of spending money so they basically didn’t order any food as they sat there and waited. After around the duration of the span of an incense stick,18 the owner of the Waterview House hurriedly rushed over here. He wasn’t surprised either upon seeing the two men waiting there as he politely greeted them: “Oneself19 is the owner of the Waterview House and didn’t know for what matter that both noble personages are calling about. Let’s drink tea, drink tea.”
Erniu was a little nervous. After all, this was his first time dealing with the owner of a big restaurant. So using the method that Little Mister had taught him, he slowly inhaled two deep breaths as he silently chanted that he could do it before he felt a bit better. Then, along with his older brother, he placed the item on top of the table and flipped open that fine silk covering it before taking out that jar of soybean paste sauce.
“Coming here today was to invite Owner to try this item.” As he spoke, Erniu prepared that still hot flat cake as he coated it with a layer of spicy sauce on top and then placed scallions inside, using chopsticks to roll it up bit by bit.
After this was done, he made another two to share with his older brother. Picking up one for himself, he said: “Please, Owner.”
Upon saying this, Erniu and Daniu directly started to eat in order to show the restaurant owner that there was no poison. Besides, the two of them was also rather hungry as they had only that little bit of porridge to fill them up with since morning till now.
The restaurant owner looked at the two men eating in front of him there, then glanced at this flat cake placed close by himself and understood what these two men came over to do. But with this stuff, he could make it after just one look so why split some of the benefits with other people? After thinking on it, he still picked up the flat cake to take a bite.
Once the bite of flat cake entered his mouth, the restaurant owner was immediately surprised. What was this sauce? It was delicious and there was even a kind of fresh, spicy flavor. No wonder these two men dared come to his place here to sell stuff. So it was like that. Thinking of this, the restaurant owner put down the flat cake that he was holding.
“It’s all right. It’s edible. Leave this sauce’s recipe behind. I can give you two 200 wen [cash].”
Erniu and Daniu froze as they thought of the words that Little Mister had said when they left and had even more respect for Little Mister in their hearts. Even this could be predicted.
Right then, Erniu and Daniu got up simultaneously, putting away the flat cakes that hadn’t been rolled up and the sauce before turning around to leave. As he walked by, Erniu said: “As expected, Owner knows his wares. Since it’s like that, the two of us will first go to that Hundred-Flavored Pavilion to dine, then. We’ll return to speak of the recipe in detail with Owner after.”
“Hold on! Since the two of you have come here, how can you go elsewhere to eat? Liuzi,20 quickly, have the head chef in the back make the signature dishes to send over here. I’ll accompany the two noble guests at their meal.” Upon hearing this, the restaurant owner immediately knew that they weren’t stupid. So seeing that the two of them were about to leave, he hurriedly intercepted them and invited them back.
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The Chinese idiom describing Song Jing-gong’s feelings is “wu wei za chen” (五味雜陳), which means “five flavors, varied (and) old.” The Chinese defined the five flavors as sweet, sour, bitter, spicy, and salty. Since the flavors can tend to be associated with different emotions, this is an indirect way of saying a person feeling many different types of emotions that run the gamut in taste. ↩
“Sheng ren” (聖人) literally translates to “divine person” in Chinese and is usually translated to “sage, saint” in English. More specifically, it can be how the Christian saints or martyrs are referred to in both Chinese and Japanese (at least in Kanji form though the pronunciation will obviously be different). However, outside of the Judeo-Christian context, “sheng ren” (聖人) has had a long tradition of being used to as a label for personages that have been elevated to a demi-god status, if not totally divine level, within the Chinese culture though the divinity is usually metaphorical. Thus, this term can come up in Daoism and can also be used for greatly revered ancestors or previous generations that were spiritual predecessors such as Confucius who is considered a spiritual teacher to all of the scholars who claim to be students of the classic texts. Because I previously translated xian/仙 as “sage or immortal” and I wanted to emphasize the reverence accorded to “sheng ren” (聖人), I have chosen to translate this term as “saint.” ↩
The name for “chun pan” (春盤) is derived from a custom that became widespread during the Tang and Song dynasties where spring pancakes or “chun bing” (春餅) and raw vegetables were eaten together after the start of the spring, which was marked as “Lichun” (立春) on the traditional Chinese calendar, as a way to welcome spring. Because they were typically served on platters to guests in an arrangement similar to a hors d’oeuvre tray, they were called “spring platters.” Spring pancakes share the same concept as spring rolls or “chun juan” (春卷), which originate from the Han dynasty, and sometimes depending on the region, they are synonyms for the same dish. ↩
The language Song Jing-gong uses here is deliberately archaic, which you can tell when the Chinese gets super condensed and compact. The Chinese he uses here of “君以國士待某，某必以國士報之” is a modification of a quote by Yu Rang (豫讓) from the state of Jin (晉) during the Spring and Autumn period as recorded in the Biographies of Assassins (刺客列傳), the 86th biography written by Sima Qian (司馬遷) in the Records of the Grand Historian (史記). Yu Rang is well known in Chinese history as an assassin but he didn’t do it for a living as his assassinations were motivated by revenge in a situation similar to the one of the 47 ronin of Japan. Yu Rang had been an underappreciated vassal of the Fan (范氏) and Zhonghang (中行氏) clans who defected in service to the Count Zhi (智伯), Xun Yao (荀瑤) who did greatly appreciate Yu Rang’s abilities. By the way, the names are going to be confusing because this is during a time period when surnames, clan names, style names, title names, nicknames, and given names could all be used interchangeably without any notice—especially if the person was a member of the nobility—so it is all very headache-inducing even for native Chinese speakers because one person could be referred to by a dozen various names much less when you consider that history usually had more than just one named noble figure involved. During the Warring States and the Spring and Autumn period of China, the surnames and clan names hadn’t been set in stone yet so nobility could often take on different surnames or clan names within just one generation and they were not treated as uniformly as surnames or clan names are now. To clarify, Yu Rang’s third and last sovereign lord, Count Zhi (智伯), is known under MANY different names, which I will attempt to explain so it is less confusing but it is a rather detailed explanation so I’m very sorry for the length of this footnote. Though Count Zhi is listed on Baidu as Xun Yao (荀瑤), he is hardly ever referred to by that surname of Xun (荀) and was only retroactively given that surname due to modern sensibilities because he was the son of Xun Shen (荀申). Confusing the matter further is that Count Zhi’s surname (xing/姓) was Ji (姬), which is actually also hardly used as a surname though it is one of the most ancient Chinese surnames, while his clan name (shi/氏) was Zhi (智), which is a homophone for the character meaning “to know” or zhi/知 so he can also be referred to as the “Count of Knowing” (Zhibo/知伯). This pun on his title was common enough that reputable historic records would address him by this pseudo-nickname. He also received a posthumous name or “shi hao” (諡號) of “Xiangzi” (襄子) so Count Zhi can also be referred to as “Zhi Xiangzi” (智襄子)—please note that there is only a difference of one character to differentiate Count Zhi’s posthumous name of Zhi Xiangzi from that of his most bitter rival who ended up supplanting him, Zhao Xiangzi (趙襄子) who is also known as Zhao Wuxu (趙無恤). To differentiate from the other possible counts from his clan, Count Zhi can also be specifically labeled as Count Zhi Yao (智伯瑤). I have to explain these names because otherwise, the Wikipedia and any other encyclopedic articles describing these historical events and the people involved are even more confusing. The breakup of the state of Jin was actually the catalyst for Yu Rang’s transformation into an assassin as it was a process that first started out with Yu Rang’s former masters, the Fan and Zhonghang clans, being eliminated by his current master, Count Zhi, but also planted the seeds for Count Zhi’s death and the ultimate destruction of his clan. With the loss of the Fan and Zhonghang clans, the state of Jin had only four out of the six aristocratic clans remaining and left the Zhi clan the most powerful of them all. But Count Zhi then started trying to consolidating the Zhi clan’s power and territory by taking advantage of his clan’s superiority and demanded concessions from the three remaining clans of Zhao (趙), Wei (韓), and Han (韓). So they rebelled and turned on the Zhi clan in the Battle of Jinyang (晉陽之戰), leaving the Zhi clan shattered and their former fiefdom evenly split between the three victorious clans. Because of his personal feud with Count Zhi, after Count Zhi’s defeat and death which he personally orchestrated, Zhao Xiangzi even went so far as to lacquer Count Zhi’s skull to use as a drinking cup. Because of this indignity done to his sovereign lord’s corpse, Yu Rang vowed revenge against Zhao Xiangzi. Yu Rang’s first assassination attempt entailed him going undercover into Zhao Xiangzi’s palace and hiding in the toilet. However, Yu Rang was caught before he could kill Zhao Xiangzi but he was let go since Zhao Xiangzi admired his loyalty and bravery. The recorded exchange between them here is the source for one of Yu Rang’s other well known quotes, which isn’t the one Song Jing-gong is referencing. Yu Rang didn’t give up after his failure though and disguised himself as a disfigured beggar by painting his skin and swallowing charcoal to make his voice hoarse until his own wife couldn’t recognize him. His friend did though and tried to dissuade Yu Rang from his course but to no avail. Then, Yu Rang hid under a bridge to try to ambush Zhao Xiangzi but because Zhao Xiangzi’s horse suddenly took a fright, it allowed Zhao Xiangzi to sense that there was an assassin lurking underneath the bridge and correctly guess that it was Yu Rang. When Yu Rang was captured, Zhao Xiangzi asked him why he was going to such extremes for Count Zhi since he had previously served the Fan and Zhonghang clans that Count Zhi had destroyed yet he hadn’t avenged them so Zhao Xiangzi wanted to know why he was avenging Count Zhi’s death. The latter half of Yu Rang’s response is what Song Jing-gong is quoting here: “至於智伯，國士遇我，我故國士報之。” It roughly translates to “As for Count Zhi, I was treated as a ‘guo shi’ (國士), thus I will treat him as a ‘guo shi’ (國士).” It makes more sense when you know that the previous sentence of Yu Rang’s response states that since the Fan and Zhonghang clans treated him as a common pedestrian, then he repaid them with pedestrian loyalty. I’ve translated “guo shi” (國士) as “gentleman of the state” even though shi/士 really has multiple connotations since it can mean “scholar, gentleman, soldier, or warrior.” The exact meaning of shi/士 is dependent on what context in which it is used in as well as what other characters it is combined with but if you consider it as having knightly implications, it would be a good correlation to draw to understand what being a shi/士 entailed. “Guo Shi” (國士) as a term is derived from how Sima Qian describes Han Xin (韓信) when recording his exploits in the Biography of the Marquis of Huaiyin (淮陰侯列傳) from his Records, “guo shi wu shuang” (國士無雙), which basically means a “gentleman of the state with no equal.” A roughly similar label in English would be “national hero.” Song Jing-gong modified and paraphrased Yu Rang’s original words by replacing Count Zhi (智伯) with jun/君 which has been simplified in meaning in modern-day Chinese to just mean “lord or sovereign” but ancient Chinese actually used it as a form of intimate address or polite and archaic way to say “you.” You can see these alternate uses reflected in how 君 was adapted into Japanese as Kanji since it can be pronounced as “kimi” (きみ) when it means “you” or pronounced as “kun” (くん) and used as a suffix when addressing younger men or boys (ex: Shin-kun or Shiro-kun). Because of these considerations, I translated jun/君 as “thou” since it gives off an archaic feeling in English and the intimate feeling that usage of “thou” was meant to have before people forgot that it was actually supposed to be familiar and wasn’t actually formal language (because of the Bible) is rather fitting in this context too since Song Jing-gong is trying to increase the closeness of their relationship. In summary, Song Jing-gong is basically stating that he will reciprocate Xiaobao and Juan-Juan’s respectful treatment of him with the same level of loyalty that Yu Rang historically gave. Whew! That took a bit of explaining but I thought it was an interesting lecture… I apologize if it was a bit boring and convoluted. I tried to cut it down as much as possible… ↩
The Chinese idiom used here is “ren qing leng nuan” (人情冷暖). I translated it literally since it conveys the meaning well enough but for those who wish for specific nuances, it’s basically an expression that is used to illustrate how the peaks and valleys of life exposes people to the warmth and coldness possible within the range of human emotion since when you’re riding high, everyone will show you their best sides and shower you with positive attention but when you’ve fallen low in life, hardly anyone will bother to show you anything but their worst sides or apathy and leave you emotionally cold. ↩
The term used here is “fu lao” (父老), which literally means “father elder.” It’s an idiosyncratic way of addressing an older audience in a “ladies and gentleman” general kind of way. ↩
To lao/烙 something is to press down on the food so it is baked or fried on top of a flat, heated cooking surface. A flat cake or bing/餅 made in such a way is called a “laobing” (烙餅) and resembles a pan-fried pancake. Because of how it is cooked, I chose to translate it as “pan-fry.” ↩
The original Chinese raw had *醬肉絲 with the asterisk standing in for a character but I’m not sure what the censored character might have been or why it would have been censored. ↩
“Shi wai tao yuan” (世外桃源) translates to “world external peach source.” If you consider that in Chinese folklore, the peaches of immortality could be consumed to gain immortality much like the role ambrosia played in Greek mythology and that the realms outside of the mundane or mortal world were considered the domain of the gods and immortal sages, then the the place that is the origin of peaches outside of this world would be an euphemism for the Chinese equivalent of a garden of Eden. So, I chose to translate this term as “otherworldly paradise.” This specific idiom was coined in the fable titled “The Peach Blossom Spring” or “Tao Hua Yuan Ji” (桃花源記) by Tao Yuanming (陶淵明), a poet from Eastern Jin dynasty during the Six Dynasties period. When labeling a real life place with this expression, it is usually meant to evoke how beautiful and isolated from the real world (and thus preserved in its natural beauty) it is. ↩
“Lao you suo yang” (老有所養) was a quote popularized by Premier Wen Jiabao (温家宝/溫家寶) of the State Council of the People’s Republic of China, China’s head of government, in his address to the 2012 National People’s Congress. The expression is itself derived from a sentence that sums up the main principles of a Chinese utopian model called “Da Tong” (大同), which is typically translated as “Great Unity” in English. This was a philosophical idea whose origins come from one of the Confucian classic texts, the Book of Rites or Liji (禮記). More specifically, it is from the chapter titled “Li Yun” (禮運). These 4 characters basically are summarize the Confucian ideal of respecting the elderly by ensuring that they are provided for in their old age. ↩
“You you suo jiao” (幼有所教) is another part of the laymen’s summary of an ideal proposed within the Confucian classic, the Book of Rites, in its “Li Yun” (禮運) chapter. ↩
The verb Daniu uses is “yao he” (吆喝), which essentially means “to yell.” He is referring to how vendors would sell their wares in the marketplace by yelling out slogans and prices in order to gain a potential customer’s attention. ↩
The restaurant’s name is “Guan Shui Lou” (觀水樓), which I’ve translated literally. Again, lou/樓 is a Chinese term for a multi-story building that is not tall enough to warrant being called a tower. ↩
I translated “Bai Wei Ge” (百味閣) literally. ↩
“Huo ji” (伙計) is a northern Chinese slang term used to refer to a male employee who worked in the food and hospitality industry of ancient China (i.e. in restaurants, hotels, and inns, etc.). They tended to be responsible for greeting the customers as they entered, taking their orders, serving them, and then cleaning up afterward. So the equivalent modern job titles might be greeter, waiter, bellhop, errand boy, busboy, etc. Contrast this with the management jobs that tended to deal with the financial transactions and accounting as well as the administrative details of the business. So the image of a “huo ji” (伙計) tends to stereotypically be of a man or boy wearing an apron with a towel slung over his shoulder (sometimes with a cap). In modern times, this term is now used as a synonym for “partner/ally.” It can also be used in a way that mimics calling someone “man” or “bro” in English. ↩
I previously translated “zhang gui” (掌櫃) as “Storekeeper” since it can be used as a title for the person operating a store. However, this term also tends to be used for a business owner regardless of whether they directly managed the store. In this case, because it is being used to refer to the owner of the restaurant/hotel, I have opted for “restaurant owner” as the translation. When it is being used as a title to address the restaurant owner by, I will translate it as simply “Owner.” ↩
“Yu Chu” (御廚) refers to both the Imperial kitchens and the Imperial chefs. Obviously, the Imperial kitchens and the Imperial chefs were all supposed to be the best in China since they cooked for the Emperor. ↩
The Chinese used here is “yi jie xiang” (一截香), which means a length or span of an incense stick. This would make more sense if you understood that time in ancient China could be marked in how many of one full incense sticks or “yi zhu xiang” (一炷香) that burned down, which is a system of counting time that was derived from Buddhist monks who got too absorbed in chanting their sutras to keep constant track of time. Since the ancient Chinese divided time relatively, I will translate how Baidu summarizes it: 1 year has 12 months; 1 month has 5 weeks; 1 week has 6 days; 1 day has 12 shichen (時辰) [2 hour spans]; 1 shichen (時辰) has 4 quarter-hours (ke/刻); 1 quarter-hour (ke/刻) has 3 cups of tea (三盞茶); 1 cup of tea (一盞茶) 2 incense sticks (兩柱香); 1 incense stick (一柱香) has 5 parts (fen/分); 1 part (fen/分) has 6 finger flicks (tanzhi/彈指); 1 finger flick (tanzhi/彈指) has 10 instant moments (chana/剎那/क्षण). Because incense sticks were more or less the same size and length in ancient China, burning one down was roughly estimated to take between 40~60 minutes. Thus, a span of an incense stick, which implies that it isn’t the entire length, would be less than that amount of time. ↩
The restaurant owner is using “ben ren” (本人), which means “self person” as an illeism that is neutral in tone to refer to himself. It is not humble but it is not arrogant, either. I could only compromise by translating it as “oneself.” ↩
Liuzi (六子) means “sixth child/son.”