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/ Bu Bu Jing Xin

Startling Surprises with Every Step Written by Tong Hua Chapter 1 Translated by Plushie and Hoju

Translation Notes This is my first time translating anything like this, so please forgive any grammar mistakes, typos or translation errors that may occur. I have tried my best and am still learning. ^^ For those who dont know, there is more than one version to this novel. I am translating from the Taiwanese version of the book, as it is the version I own in hardcopy. Others who are working on the other chapters are using the revised version online. Besides the usage of traditional Chinese, there should not be any difference between my hardcopy and the revised version of the novel online. Ive also utilized some of Hojus translations for the beginning portion of this chapter. So thank you Hoju! You are awesome! Reading the footnotes is also highly recommended. Hoju and I have tried to explain some of the terms and historical context to our best efforts. I know some are kind of long, but Ive added interesting information that I thought you all may want to know (though some may be pretty useless info as well..XD) Hopefully you will learn more about the Qing Dynasty and some of its customs. I know I did. So enjoy!

Chapter 1 It is now the height of summer, and the green color in front of me feels downcast, unlike the fresh green of early spring that signified that the good days were just beginning and made everything feel bright and cheerful. It could be because I know the seasons splendour has already reached its peak and what lies ahead is only a steady deterioration. This feeling of melancholy is the same as how I feel now. Its already the tenth day since Ive been here in ancient times, but I still feel as if it is all just a dream. I feel like I am only waiting to awake up in modern times and am not really in the forty-third year of Kangxis reign1. Im still that twentyfive year old, single, white-collar professional, Zhang Xiao and not this thirteen year old Manchurian girl, Maertai Ruoxi. Ten days ago, after I got off work, I did not pay attention to the traffic as I crossed the road. By the time I heard the crowds screams, it was too late. I felt myself flying towards the sky, yet I could see the physical half of my body still dangling from the truck. In the midst of terror and intense pain, I lost consciousness, and when I awoke again, I was already on the bed of this bodys previous owner. According to the servant girls, I had fallen down the stairs to the loft and was unconscious for a full day and night. As for this condition where I lost all my memories upon awakening, the doctor said this was due to excessive shock and with careful nurturing I would slowly recover. After walking only a short while, sweat can already be seen on my forehead. Next to me, jie-jies2 maidservant, Qiaohui, whom jie-jie had brought with her from home when she married, urges me, Second Miss, lets go back. Even though it is past noon, the heat from the ground at this time is the most harmful. Your body still hasnt fully recovered yet. I answer her acquiescently, Alright. Jie-jie should be done reciting her Buddhist scriptures by now anyway. My name is now Maertai Ruoxi and this older sister I acquired is Maertai Ruolan, the second wife3 of a rather well-known figure in Qing history: Prince Lian4, also known as the Eighth-prince5, Yunsi.
1704 AD. elder sister 3 Orig. ce fujin. Fujin is the Manchurian word for wife or madam. Ce means side. Ce fujin is the wife who dwells in the side room. In comparison to regular concubines, being a Ce fujin is still a highly regarded position in the household as both di fujin (First wife) and ce fujin are officialised by the Ministry of Rites, and their names are added to the royal book. You also can have more than one ce fujin. 4 Original word used: Qin Wang. The Prince (Qin Wang) here is not the same as being called a prince by birthright, but rather, it could be translated as Prince of the first rank or Prince of the blood. It is a peerage title granted to male descendants in the royal family, and is the highest rank in the Qing peerage system. The first 4 ranks are usually given solely to direct male descendants of the Emperor, though exceptions are found. There are a total of 12 ranks for the imperial line. Because its an official title, I will be using Prince here with an upper case P. 5 Original word used: AGe. In the Qing royal family, a young prince who has not yet been bestowed any title is known as AGe. Most of the time, the princes are not referred to by their actual first name (not even by the Emperor himself) but rather, their number then the word AGe. So as the 8th son, Yinsi is known as the Eighth AGe. I will continue to use the word prince (with a lower case p) here rather than AGe for easier reading.
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Currently however, the Eighth-prince still has not been bestowed the title of Prince and is only a Duoluobeile6. Furthermore, he has not yet forced to change his name to avoid taboo against Emperor Yongzhengs name, so he should still be called Yinsi7. If one puts it nicely, jie-jies nature can be said to be gentle and virtuous, and if put not so nicely, she is weak and unwillingly to strive for anything. In an entire day, she spends at least half of it doing nothing but recite Buddhist scriptures. I suspect she is not very favoured. At least, in the ten days that I have been here, I have never heard of the Eighth-prince coming to see her. However, based on these ten days, I can also tell she is very caring towards her younger sister. From food and drink to clothing, nothing is too big or small for her to think about, for fear that I would be uncomfortable. I sigh silently. If I am unable to go back, then in this place and age, she is the only person I can depend on, but as I think about Eighth-princes fate in the future, I feel that this support is not that reliable. However, that is still many years in the future, and I cannot worry about it for now. Sure enough, when I return to the house, jie-jie is already there and is sitting by the table eating some refreshments. As she sees me entering the house, she says in a light scolding tone, You didnt even think about the heat beating down on your head. I walk forward and sit down beside her. With a smile, I answer, Im not that delicate. Besides, after going out for a little stroll, my body actually feels less heavy than it did a few days ago. Examining me carefully, she says, Your complexion does look a little better. But right now, the heat is the deadliest. Dont go outside again at this hour. I answer her offhandedly, I understand. Dongyun comes in carrying a washbowl and while half-kneeling, she waits upon me as I wash my hands. I laugh secretly and think to myself, Understanding is one thing but whether I actually follow it will be left up to next time. Qiaohui brings a towel over and helps me dry my hands. She then picks some amber-coloured ointment for me to apply over them. Its smell is fragrant and sweet, but I do not know what it is made out of. After cleaning my hands, as I am preparing to decide which of the sweets to eat, a strange feeling comes over me. I look up, seeing jie-jie has been watching me, my heart suddenly skips a beat. As I return her gaze with a questioning look, she suddenly broke into a mild laughter, You were always so lively and naughty that you never listened to fathers words. Now that you took a fall, it actually changed you for the better. You are actually much calmer and well-mannered now. Feeling relief, I look down at the sweets again, asking smilingly, Does jie-jie wishes me to continue to be a troublemaker?
duoluobeile, often shortened to Beile, is a peerage title that can be bestowed to those within the royal family. It is the third rank in the Qing peerage system for the imperial line. 7 All of Kangxis sons had the word Yin in it. Yongzhengs brothers all had to change this word to Yun in their names to avoid taboo when Yongzheng became Emperor.

Jie-jie picks up a piece of my favourite dessert, the hibiscus cake, and passes it to me, Theres only half a year left until the preparative concubine selection event8. It is for the better that you are becoming more mannerly and proper. How can you afford to keep staying wild and mischievous? Suddenly, I choke on the piece of the hibiscus cake in my mouth. I cough loudly as jie-jie quickly passes some water to me. While Qiaohui busily pats my back, Dongyun hurries to get a handkerchief. Seeing me recover only after gulping down a couple mouthfuls of water, jie-jie laughs, Just as I was saying you were becoming more proper, you do this. No need to wolf down your food. Theres no one here to steal your cake away! I wipe my lips thinking to myself, what am I going to do? Tell her that I am not your younger sister Ruoxi? No, definitely not! A thousand thoughts run through my mind, but I cant come up with a single good plan. I can only console myself; there is still half a years time left, isnt there? I pretend as if nothing has happened and asks her, Last time, I heard jie-jie say that father is stationed in the Northwest, and I had only arrived here three months ago. Was it because of the preparative concubine selection event that father has sent me here? Yes! Father said mother had passed away early, and you dont listen to a word second-mother9 says. The stricter they are with you, the more unruly you get. Thinking that you at least still listens to me somewhat, they decided to sent you here early so I can teach you some proper etiquette.


In these past few days, from the moment I finish breakfast, I would immediately go out for a stroll. After dinner, I would go for a stroll again. This is the only plan I had come up with to work out my body. Though it is a simple plan, it seems to be working quite well. Unlike the first few days after gaining consciousness, when I had felt feeble and weak, more and more do I feel that this body is like my own. I have also managed to induce Qiaohui to show me the loft where the real Ruoxi fell from. As I was standing there, several times I had the urge to jump, hoping in a blinks time I would return to the present. Nevertheless, I did not, for I was more afraid that not only will I not return to modern times, but gain a permanent disability instead. Besides, deep in my heart, I had secretly understood that the probability of the latter happening is much higher. The horrific scene I had seen after losing consciousness from the car accident was not an illusion. As for how or why my spirit came to into this ancient persons body, I have no idea. Since Im already here, I can only make the most of it.

Orig. xuan xiu nu, literally means to choose (xuan) an elegant female (xiu nu). Xiu Nu is basically a title given to preparative concubines to the Emperor. An event to choose these future concubines is held every 3 years. All Manchurians under the banner system have to send their unmarried daughters to this event when they are of age. Girls who are not chosen are usually arranged to marry men in the Imperial family, notable noblemen or sons of high ranking officials. 9 Refers to their fathers second concubine.

Qiaohui is accompanying me as we take a stroll in a large circle. By the end of our stroll, both of us are slightly tired. Behind the rockery, there happens to be a fairly flat rock. Qiaohui lays down a handkerchief on it for me to sit on and I drag her to sit beside me. The sun has just set, so the rock is still warm. A breeze passes over my face, bringing a slight cooling sensation. It feels very pleasant. I tilt my head slightly to view the sky above me. The sky is darkening and though it still retains its crystal clarity, its blue colour is starting to turn black. The clearness of the sky gives the impression that it is much closer to the ground than it actually is; as if I only need to stretch out my hand to be able to touch it. This is definitely a sky of an earlier time because in modern Beijing, the only time I had seen a sky similar to this was when I had stood on top of Lingshan Mountain10. Conjuring up memories of my parents, I feel a painful sadness in my heart. I am not saddened by my own death, but it pains me to know that my parents have to endure the agony of having to mourn the death of their child. It is fortunate that I have a brother. He has always been the pillar in my parents life and knowing he is still around with them, I am slightly comforted. Just as I am wallowing in my own sorrow, I hear Qiaohui say, Second Miss, you have definitely changed. Due to often hearing the same words from jie-jie in these past few days, my inclination to become uncomfortable after hearing them has given away to indifference. I continue to gaze towards the sky asking, How have I changed? Theres no way you could have stayed so calm and quiet before. In the past, you have always liked to talk nonstop and would have never been able to stay still in one place. Old Master had always said you were like an unbridled wild mare. Before your fall, youd always urge Mistress to recite the Buddhist scriptures less, and wear brighter coloured clothes. We were so pleased that there was finally someone here to talk some sense into her, but now you dont even mention any of it anymore. I glance sideways towards Qiaohui, but she quickly avoids my gaze as her eyes meet mine. Thinking for a moment, I say to her, Jie-jie is in a good state right now. With her head cast downwards, Qiaohui replies with a quivering voice, A good state? Its already been five years. Others who had come after her all have children now. I dont know how to explain it to her. To tell her that Eighth-princes future fate is a tragic one? That the more emotionally attached one becomes now, the more pain one would have to suffer in the future? I draw in a breath replying, Distancing herself from such things may actually be a good thing for her. Jie-jie is currently mentally at peace and content, I dont see why thats a bad thing. Qiaohui looks up at me, trying to discern if I am speaking from the heart. Finally, she looks to one side and says, But those people in the household


Lingshan is the highest mountain in Beijing.

I cut her off, Just look up towards the sky and take in its beauty. You will forget all about those unhappy thoughts. Thrown off by my words, she hesitantly looks up at the sky and then at me, wanting to say something. Seeing that I am still staring up at the sky, unmoving, she eventually swallows her words and joins me. A sudden laughter broke the silence, and from the side of the rockery emerges two figures. The shorter and chubbier one in front laughs to the other behind him, This little girl is interesting. Only a thirteen, fourteen year old girl and already she displays a maturity that does not match her age. She speaks as if she has already experienced much in life and is worldly wise! Seeing them, Qiaohui immediately stands and curtsies to them, Ninth-prince, Tenth-prince jixiang11! Since I have been here, I have not yet seen any outsiders. Therefore, I found myself standing there dumbfounded. It is only after seeing Qiaohuis ceremonial greeting that I finally managed to react, remembering that in this time period, hierarchy still exists and propriety matters. Luckily, I have previously watched many ancient historical dramas and hurriedly mimic Qiaohuis example. As a result of his words, my heart pounds like a drum. I keep forgetting that my age now is thirteen and not twenty-five. Looking at me up and down with one hand on his chin, the smiling teenaged boy in front did not answer our greeting. Observing quietly, I decide that this one ought to be the Tenth-prince and the one on the side of his rear, the one with a particularly straight physique, must be the Ninth-prince. Flatly, Ninth-prince says to us, rise. Both Qiaohui and I rose. On one hand I keep thinking to myself: of all of Kangxis famous sons, the first ones I meet are surprisingly not the Virtuous Prince Eighth, but instead, the legendary venomous snake Ninth and blockhead Tenth. On the other hand, I keep going back to what I had said to Qiaohui, trying to figure out if I had said anything inappropriate. Eventually, I conclude that it did not seem like I had said anything that was disrespectful, so letting them overhear my words should not be a concern. Laughing, Tenth-prince asks, You are from the Maertai Family? Yes! I reply. Just as he was about to say more, Ninth-prince prompts, Lets go, Eighth brother is still waiting! Smacking his head, Tenth-prince hurryingly strides past us, exclaiming, Youre right, I was so busy watching the fun that I had forgotten about why were here. Lets go go go!


jixiang is a standard greeting one of lower status uses to greet people with higher status in court. The word literally mean auspicious and can be translated as, I wish good fortunes, prosperity and happiness to you.

After they passed us by, I finally lift up my head to look at their backs. Recalling the manner the Tenth-prince had just conducted himself, I sigh secretly. The history books have not been lying, he is a bit of an oaf. Unable to contain myself, I begin to giggle at the thought. Just as my grin spreads across my face, it is unexpectedly greeted by Tenth-princes turning head. With my laugh suddenly frozen in place, my anxiety rises. I dont know what kind of punishment is given to someone who laughs at a prince. To my surprise, he makes a funny face at me instead, prompting me to burst into a fit of laughter. Giving me a final grin, he turns away and begins to chase after the Ninth-prince. As we return to the house, Qiaohui does not say a word. I am uncertain if she is a bit shaken by what has just transpired, or is unhappy with my behaviour. I remain silent as well, still surreptitiously discerning what just happened. If my pitiful historical knowledge is to be trusted, then the Tenthprince is sure to have an honest and forthright personality. He will not hold anything back and tell the Eighth-prince about what just happened. As to how the Eighth-prince will react, I have absolutely no idea. If one is to take his title as the Virtuous Prince as an actuality, then he most likely would not be a narrow-minded person. However, just to be safe, I should still inform jie-jie about what has occurred. Just as I finish making up my mind, I noticed we have almost arrived at the house. Slowing my steps, I tell Qiaohui, Of course I will always wish the best for jie-jie. Dont you worry! Not waiting for her reaction, I hurry into the house. Jie-jie is lying sideways in bed, while a young servant girl is kneeling on the floor massaging her legs. Signalling the servants to stay silent, I sit down on a chair right across from jie-jie. Jie-jie can definitely be called a beauty: with her sharp chin, and a face one cannot help but love to cherish. Her skin is also especially lovely, so white and smooth. Under the light her skin looks even more luminous and translucent, like an exquisite jade. If she exists in modern times, her suitors would unquestionably be numerous enough to form a company12, if not an entire army. Jie-jie opens her eyes. Seeing me watching her, she lets the servant girl help her up. After leaning comfortably on the cushions, she smiles, You are really much calmer now, to not even say a word when you return. Just what is so mesmerizing about my face? I smile back, saying If Jie-jie is not mesmerizing, then there must not be many attractive people left in this world. One of the maids brings some water to jie-jie. I watch her take a few sips, before handing the cup back to the maid. Afterwards, she half closes her eyes again. I casually tell her, Just earlier, I met the Ninth-prince and the Tenth-prince in the gardens.


Not company as in business company but company as in a unit of an army. A company usually is comprised of 3-5 platoons of men.

Jie-jie waits for me to continue, and noticing that I do not, she opens her eyes. Taking a quick glance at me, she instructs the maids around the room, All of you, go prepare a bath for the young miss.13 As all of the maidservants leave the room, I stand up to sit next to her and begin to repeat all that has happened earlier. Jie-jie does not speak after hearing me out. Instead, she only stares blankly at a glass screen, decorated with majestic steeds running on a plain, which stands on one end of the room. After a long while, she sighs, Mei-mei14, you really have grown! You are no longer like a thirteen year old girl, but more like one who took a fall and suddenly matured ten years. I thought to myself, it is truth. Ruoxi has taken a fall and matured. At that moment, a maid comes in reporting, The hot water and bath is ready now. Jie-jie gives me a nudge, You can now go to take a bath. I keep looking at her, not budging from the spot. She looks at me as well, her eyes somewhat sad and pitiful. She says to me, You have grown. You know how to be considerate to your jie-jie now and I am very happy about this. But while you are here with me, I want you to live your days without too much worries. As long as you dont do anything that is too out of bounds, no matter how much you want to laugh and be playful, its up to you. She straightens the stray hairs by my ears then gently continues, in the the future when you are in the Palace, even if you want toyou wont be able to anymore. Faintly understanding the meaning behind her words, my mood dampens instantly. I softly reply her with an ok, and then follow the maids for the bath. _______________________________________________________________________

After that day, even though I kept thinking that I didnt say anything that over bounds my station; I was still concerned. However, after seeing that three days have passed and nothing has happened, my heart was gradually calmed. Nevertheless, I keep warning myself that I must be more cautious in the future. Jie-jie is not well favoured and I must not add more trouble for her. After my afternoon nap, I go to give jie-jie the customary greeting. Noticing all the maidservants around her looking gleeful, and jie-jie looking apathetic, I cannot help but ask, What is going on? Jie-jie does not respond, but only gives me a faint smile which disappears even before it fully materializes. Qiaohui happily answers, Masters servant has just come to deliver a message. He says Master is coming over for dinner tonight. Not knowing what to say at that moment, I could only just silently sit there. After perceiving my silence and probably assuming that I am nervous, jieOrig. word: Ge-Ge ( ). A Manchurian word for young mistress, or lady. It is a title you would call an unmarried noblewoman (or before they are bestowed an official title by the Emperor) above a certain rank. It does not mean princess like it is often used in Chinese dramas and novels. Before they are given titles, daughters of the Emperors are referred to as gong zhu ( ), as the Manchurians have adopted certain Ming customs after they established control over China. Therefore, as a noblewoman, Ruoxi is considered a GeGe. 14 Younger sister

jie smiles at me, It is nothing too important to worry about. She then turns to Dongyun instructing her, Go and make sure the young miss is dressed up properly. Although it is only a casual dinner tonight, this is the first time she is meeting the Master. We cannot afford to have her looking improper for the occasion. I did not know anything about ancient hair styling, make up or clothing, so I let the servant girls attend to me and do all the work. I only have to be an obedient wooden puppet. Internally, however, my mind was not still for a single moment. Reflecting that in all of the Qing dynasty dramas I have watched, this Eighth Prince has always been Yongzhengs archrival. A person, whom Yongzheng views as a formidable opponent and hates so much that he cannot even rest or eat in peace, is most certainly no ordinary individual. Secretly, I am actually looking forward to tonights meeting. It is as if I am finally going to meet a beloved idol face to face, and at a private meeting no less. After all the dressing up has ceased, I finally realise how much women in ancient times had to suffer. From head to toe, there is nowhere on me that is not tightly bound to the skin by clothing. I am pretty much wrapped up like a rice dumpling. Regrettably, it also happens to be the middle of summer, making it extremely uncomfortable. I keep fidgeting in my chair, but the Eighth-prince refuses to show up, even when the appointed dinner time has already passed. The enthusiasm I had in the beginning begins to wane, and I become increasingly restless. I get up to snatch a fan from a maidservants hands, and begin to fan myself furiously. Jie-jie furrows her brows, It isnt that hot is it? As I am fanning myself, I assert, If he still doesnt come, I am going to back to change my clothes. This is really tormenting! Barely finishing, I see the curtain lift upwards and three figures enter in a single file. The man in front is twenty-two to twenty-three years old, with a thin and tall build. He is wearing moon-white15 robes with an emerald coloured belt tied around his waist and a jade ornament of the same colour hanging from it. His face is like carved jade and his eyes as bright as the stars. I compliment him secretly: This Eighth-prince is a bit effeminate, but is undeniably a handsome man. Seeing me, he looks to be partially stunned, exhibiting a faint astonishment in his eyes. However, his expression instantly returns to normal. Holding a slight smile at the corner of his mouth, he moves his gaze towards my sister. At this moment, all the servants in the room are half bent, curtsying. It is only then when I realise this that I manage to respond. Following their example, I also quickly bend down to curtsy. Ai, it seems to me I have not yet gotten used to all this bowing and curtsying business. He smile, and lifts jie-jie up, and says, You may all rise! He then tells jie-jie, We were delayed by some things. I still have matters to discuss with Ninth brother and Tenth brother later, so we decided to come together. Because it was a last minute decision, we did not have time to notify you. Jie-jie smiles back, Not to worry, its not a matter of too much inconvenience.

yue bai se, literally moon white colour. The colour moon white is not what people usually assume as a very bright, and pure white color. The ancient Chinese actually viewed the moon as being white with a blue tint. Thus yue bai se is really a colour that is a very pale blue.

After Eighth-prince, Ninth-prince and Tenth-prince all settles down, the maids begin to attend to their face and hand washing. Jie-jie leaves to instruct the eunuchs outside to send food over. I stay standing, thinking, Oh Jie-jie, how can you forget about me? Ninth-prince remains expressionless as before and Tenth-prince still retains his ruffian demeanour. Ever since he came in, he would every now and then take a glance at me. Eighth-prince is still smiling out of the corner of his mouth, though looking a bit tired, as he has his eyes half closed, resting. When Jie-jie returns, she informs us, We may begin dinner now. Opening his eyes, Eighth-prince nods. He looks at me and smiles, this must be Ruoxi right? I heard you were unwell in these past several days. Are you feeling a little better now? I have pretty much fully recovered, I reply. Eighth-prince then says smilingly, Your body has just recovered; you should stop standing. Sit down. I take a glance at jie-jie, seeing that she has no response, I sit down. During dinner, Eighth-prince would from time to time laughingly say a few words to jie-jie, while Ninth-prince would eat in silence. Perhaps it is because we were sitting diagonally across from each other, the Tenth-prince would, while eating, smile at me at the same time. He looks like he has quite the appetite. As it is, I barely have any desire to eat due to the hot weather, but with his constant staring, it made it harder for me to swallow anything. I wonder to myself, if I was like a lovely appetizer to him. Surreptitiously looking around, and noticing that no one was paying attention, I immediately glower right back at him. Happily eating and watching at me at the same time, he is caught off guard by my sudden glare. Flabbergasted, he even forgot to take out his chopsticks from his mouth and they lay dangling there. I stare at him for a few seconds, finding his dumb expression amusing; I giggle lightly then look down to eat my rice. As I look down, I inadvertently discover jie-jie, Eighthprince and Ninth-prince are all watching me. My heart skips a beat. Not daring to look up, I quickly eat two mouthfuls of rice only to choke on them. Stooping over while holding on to the edge of the table, I cough with my head lowered, as I wave to jie-jie to tell her Im alright. Tenth-prince is laughing loudly but I didnt dare to look up at him. Rinsing my mouth as if nothing has happened, I continue on with dinner, although I can feel my cheeks burning furiously. Finally managing to sit through the dinner, Eighth-prince stayed for a bit before leaving with Ninthprince and Tenth-prince. An old maidservant asks by the door, Should we leave the door unlocked for Masters return? Eighth-prince coolly replies, Theres no need. When they left, I immediately jumped up happily, shouting at Qiaohui to quickly assist me in changing my clothes. Jie-jie smiles while helping to fan me. Why are you so afraid of the heat? We are all fine with it.

I laugh loudly and do not say a word. I think to myself, Of course you are all fine, all of you are used to being all wrapped up like rice dumplings from a young age, but Ive been used to spending the summer wearing slip dresses. Since Eighth and the others have left, jie-jie and I have been quite cheerful, but this cheery mood obviously did not extend to the maidservants. I pondered for a moment before understanding why. However, seeing that jie-jie didnt seem to care, I did not give it any further thought.