[Cry of the Midnight Jackdaw] Chapter 3

Once they reached the entrance of the palace, he saw He Yang’s[13] sedan chair stop to one side, while the person himself was wrapped in a fox’s coat going inside. That fox coat was something the north gave as tribute last month on He Yang’s birthday, with only two in total. Because He Xuan lost his footing and dropped into an icy lake in his childhood, he had leg pain- each season it reverted between hot and cold, it would faintly be in pain, the imperial doctor did not have any way either, and only had him pay attention to keeping warm, and to not get cold.

The fox coat from then was rumoured to be most appropriate for warding off the cold, He Xuan narrowed his eyes, and sombrely looked at that fox coat of He Yang’s. Since Queen Mother had passed away, Father treated him lesser with each day after the next, the position as crown prince was conferred when he was born, but now watching that Née Liu and that precious son of hers climbing higher and higher, the calls in the courts to change crown princes rose along with it. With Father’s ambiguous attitude at present, He Xuan knitted his eyebrows, and quickened his pace.

“Is this not Big Brother?” Having taken that salt-transport envoy just a few days ago into his pockets, at this time, He Yang was still immersed in the delight of turning back a city, and high and mightily lifted his eyebrows, “Didn’t the imperial doctor tell Brother to be careful of the cold? Now that the cold airs are so heavy, how could you dress this thinly?” After finishing, before waiting for He Xuan to answer, he exaggeratedly let out an “ah”, and apologized in a very taunting manner, “Aye, forgive me for being so forgetful, I forgot that Father bestowed the fox coat to me, it must inconvenience Brother very much……”

He Xuan couldn’t be bothered to humour him, and wound around him and walked towards the front hall. In today’s courts, Father will arrange a candidate to watch and manage that Nan Liang’s abolished emperor. In the current court, only the former empress’ connections were on good relations with him. Née Liu was like the sun in the sky, and faintly had the force of splitting the courts and opposing with him, so if he could take Nan Liang, it would probably be of great aid.

As expected, when He Heng[14] came up, he talked about the matter of Nan Liang, “Now, the Nan Hun Duke has already reached the capital. Nan Liang and Jin’s styles are quite significantly differently, the Nan Hun Duke has arrived quite suddenly, so they must be fairly inconvenienced. I(z) want to find a person to help them habituate to the land of Jin as soon as possible, which subject will be willing to aid me(zhen)?”

It was said with such dignity, but he was simply afraid that that little emperor would be unresigned inside, and wanted to find a person to watch over him was all.

“Father, this son is willing.” He Xuan said, “This son has once went to Nan Liang in his travels, and has a bit of an understanding towards Nan Liang. I can definitely take on Father’s concerns.”

He Yang did not make any noise, unsure if Née Liu had instructed him or he also knew to withdraw his sharpness now. At this time, he stood to one side quietly without looking elsewhere, and was very obedient.

He Heng glanced at He Xuan, then nodded his head, “Then from today, this matter will be left to the crown prince……”

“Your Highness the Crown Prince, please wait a moment, his Majesty has said to have your Highness stay for the noon meal.” Just as they got off court, before He Xuan walked out the palace doors, he was blocked by Sun De Lu[15]. “His Majesty has called in the meal at the eastern warm room.” He Xuan understood, and thought it was to discuss about the matter of the Nan Hun Duke. Sun De Lu was He Heng’s favourite for the time being, and had received graces from the former empress in the past, and had a not too bad relationship with He Xuan. “You’ve worked hard then.”

When He Xuan stepped inside the eastern warm room, He Heng was leaning on a cushion taking a small rest. Two servant girls to the side were massaging his shoulders for him, and one corner of the room was burning with an easing incense that helped with sleep. The silver-threaded charcoal burned very vigorously, so warm that it made He Xuan also turn sleepy.

“Father.” He Heng narrowed his eyes and pointed to a seat to the side, “Sit, in a bit once Zi Tong[16] comes, we will eat together.” He Xuan paused, that Née Liu has now charmed Father to the point he became so infatuated, and was pretty much unable to be one step apart from each other.

Empress Liu’s Han Yuan Palace was very close to the eastern warm room, and not after a quarter of an hour, she arrived. Just as Empress Liu arrived, the young servant girl massaging the shoulders to the side very quick-wittedly withdrew and called in the meal, Empress Liu took off the guard on the finger, and massaged He Heng’s shoulders, then spoke, “Your Majesty, do you feel more relaxed these days?”

“Mm, I’ve heard that a few days ago, Zi Tong you especially went to find Doctor Fang to learn it?” He Heng smiled and patted Empress Liu’s hands, “I am aware of Zi Tong’s intents, do not overly burden yourself.”

“To share the burden with your Majesty, this concubine would not be tired.” Empress Liu then seemed like she noticed He Xuan who was sitting to the side, and said, “This concubine sees that Xuan’er has thinned a lot these days. It is the time of changing weathers, your body cannot bear the cold, you should pay more attention.”

“This son understands, thank you Mother for caring.” He Xuan put on curtsy with a spurious smile, and at this time, the noon meal had already been put up, so He Heng then got up and got in his seat. The table had a seasonal autumn fish from Fen Lake, with many bones to it- Empress Liu very attentively personally removed all the bones, and then placed it in He Heng’s bowl.

He Xuan truly found her actions an eyesore, and then constantly ate the braised vegetables stewed in oil, out of sight, out of mind. He Heng ate till he was content, drank a mouthful of ginseng soup, then wiped his mouth, “Xuan’er, are you dissatisfied with me leaving that little emperor of Nan Liang?”

“This son does not dare.”

“The country is currently at unrest. Since the previous emperor changed laws, Jin has started to show its talent, if we employ the tactics of a strong army, and massacre the imperial family and its civilians with one sweep, who would still dare to surrender? This action of Father’s is to draw in people’s hearts. For one, there are many useful people in Nan Liang, and two, in the future, we can be victorious without fighting.”

He Heng finely broke it down for He Xuan, and said, “You are still young, it is natural to not understand various reasons as well. This time when I let you go watch that young child of Nan Liang, I also had the intent of allowing you to gain experience.”

“This son will not let down Father’s hopes.”

He Heng naturally nodded his head in satisfaction, and took a sip of the teacup a maid from the side handed over, then waved his hand, “You can leave now, take care of your own body.”

“Thank you Father for your concerns, this son will now leave.” He Xuan left the warm room. The temperature outside the room was quite low, so cold he sneezed. The sedan chair from the residence already stopped in front of the palace, so he went into the carriage, then asked Li Fu Hai, “Where is that Nan Hun Duke arranged at currently?”

“The Nan Hun ducal residence, it is at that place at the main street, not far from the crown prince residence.” Li Fu Hai said.

He Xuan leaned against the cushion inside the carriage, then hummed, and said, “To the Nan Hun ducal residence.”

5 thoughts on “[Cry of the Midnight Jackdaw] Chapter 3

  1. [1] 云鬓花颜金步摇, [芙蓉帐暖度春宵]- a lengthy poem verse for what refers to a beautiful woman.

    [2] The original expression this is derived from is 酒肉穿肠过,佛祖心中留, which translates to how as long as you had Buddha in your heart, it was okay to drink and eat meat. The adjusted version here is moreso… you’re okay to eat meat and drink wine so long as you keep all sorts of diseases and ailments in your body. Indulge to your content so long as you pay the price.

    [3] 李福海- fu, for fortune. hai, for sea. A sea of fortune.

    [4] 贺暄- xuan, for warmth, in particular, of the sun. Also used for fluffy and soft.

    [5] 菱香- ling, for water chestnut/caltrop. xiang, for scent. The scent of water chestnuts.

    [6] 小心驶得万年船- being careful will allow one to sail a boat for ten thousand years.

    [7] née(氏), a way of addressing a married woman by their maiden name.

    [8] 孤(gu)- pronoun used by those (feudal) princes.

    [9] 言官- according to google, officials who examine material that is about to be released, such as books, movies, news, and art, and suppresses any parts that are considered obscene, politically unacceptable, or a threat to security.

    [10] 南风- south, or nan, sounds similar to the word for a man. Roundabout way to refer to homosexuality, in particular for men.

    [11] 公子哥- an old term for pampered sons of wealthy families who only know to play and eat.

    [12] 宋缨- ying, for tassel or ribbon.

    [13] 贺旸- yang, for the sunrise.

    [14] 贺蘅- heng, for wild ginger (asarum blumei).

    [15] 孙得禄- lu, for a government official’s salary. de, to obtain. To obtain official salary.

    [16] (柳)梓童- zi, for the Chinese catalpa, tong, for child, or, as an adjective, means bare. A bare tree (梓木) bears no branches nor fruit.

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