Chapter 10: Antique Ink Stone!
Although Wu Xiu He did not hold eight Liang of silver at great value, he did value the Ran Family. He was pleased with Ran Yan’s actions these past few days. Besides his face readings were never wrong…….
Quickly changing his mind, Wu Xiu He stroked his long beard and showed a benevolent expression, looking pleased, as if one’s own daughter had grown up.
Wu Xiu He reached out and helped Ran Yan up, “Quickly get up. Before, I saw that you were great at growing medicinal herbs, and I knew you had an innate gift for medicine. Please come in to talk.”
Ran Yan followed Wu Xiu He into the room. Looking at the silver in her hands, Wan Lu knew it would soon belong to someone else and felt even worse.
“I (third person) am from Gui Gu Zi’s sect. Now it is already the ninety third generation……” Wu Xiu He sat properly in the kneeling position at the head seat and continued, “I have been brought together by fate with you (this young girl) and today (I) will accept you as the ninety fourth generation disciple.”
Wan Lu opened and closed her mouth. Before she could make a noise, Ran Yan stopped her with a glance. Tightly pursing her lips, only doubt and suspicion showed in her pair of almond-shaped eyes.
Wu Xiu He finished his long-winded spiel and performed the discipleship ceremony, formally solidifying their relationship as master and apprentice.
“I (third person) was collecting medicine on east mountain today, and with great luck, I unexpectedly collected a twenty-year old Zi Zhi (also known as Ling Zhi). I’ll say, that it was because the heavens were afraid that I will not have a meeting present.” As Wu Xiu He said this he got up and moved around the screen curtain and retrieved a bigger piece of Zi Zhi from the basket, thought about it, and put it back for a smaller piece. With a smile across his face, he came out from behind the screen.
“Take this Zi Zhi as a token of our meeting as master and apprentice!” Wu Xiu He placed the Zi Zhi in Ran Yan’s hands. With a look of great care he said, “Tomorrow let Wan Lu stew it for you to help with your recovery.”
Ran Yan smiled lightly and quickly bowed saying, “Many thanks for teacher’s thoughts.”
“Stand up, stand up, our Gui Gu Zi sect is not about the formalities.” Wu Xiu He said with a smile.
Ran Yan tells Wan Lu to take out the Eight Liang of silver saying, “It is late, teacher please rest early. I will not bother you anymore.”
Not a hundred steps after they had left, Wan Lu couldn’t help but say, “Niang Zi, the Great Doctor Wu initially said he was Bian Que’s later generation, then he said he was from Hua Tuo sect, now he says he is from Gui Gu Zi’s sect. He, he is lying to us!”
Though Wan Lu was not very educated, she still knew that Bian Que and Hua Tuo were not the same person.
“Do you know why I wanted him as my teacher?” Ran Yan asked as she gave the Zi Zhi to Wan Lu.
Wan Lu shook her head, and cautiously took out a handkerchief to wrap the Zi Zhi.
Ran Yan said softly, “For example, take this Ling Zhi. It is not twenty years. Regardless of the Great Doctor Wu’s background, it doesn’t really matter. What I want is merely his influence in the countryside.”
“Not twenty years old!” Wan Lu completely missed the point of Ran Yan’s words. Instead, her eyes ablaze showed that she was angered by Wu Xiu He’s lies. Her attitude showed that she wanted to immediately turn back to argue with Wu Xiu He.
Grabbing onto her, Ran Yan explained, “According to scientific knowledge, Ling Zhi is not differentiated by age. As long as it is mature, there will be medicinal value. On the other hand, some Ling Zhi that are really old has lost its spores and thus do not possess the ability to propagate and has lowered medicinal value. What people call thousand-year Ling Zhi is just a scam really.”
“Scientific knowledge……Spore……Propagate?” Wan Lu blankly listened to these foreign vocabulary from Ran Yan’s mouth, and tried to take it all in. Although she still did not understand fully, she faintly understood Ran Yan’s meaning: Ling Zhi can be used as medicine as long as it is mature.
Ran Yan realized that she had misspoken and nonchalantly brushed it to the side, “Ling Zhi can be graded according to size and spore……and color, and shape to determine quality. Regarding this Ling Zhi, other than its smaller size, it is actually pretty good.”
Wan Lu stared at her and slowly said, “Niang Zi I suddenly feel that I have become dumber.”
Ran Yan knew that she shouldn’t suddenly change so much but she needed the people around her to adjust as quickly as possible to move on with her plans.
Xing Niang is careful and thinks a lot while Wan Lu, though clever, usually doesn’t think too deeply about things and can fulfill Ran Yan’s needs (easily).
“Others say those who are ill for a long time become good doctors. After being ill for so long I have naturally learned some things.” Ran Yan gave an explanation that wasn’t really an explanation, followed by, “Regardless of how teacher is to others, he has helped us quite a lot these past couple of years. If not for him I may have died from illness. So Wan Lu, you must still respect him in the future as you have before.”
“Yes, Niang Zi is right.” Wan Lu nodded, this was the truth. A folk doctor with no relations put all his efforts into healing Niang Zi and not for the money – this was already a kind act. How could one now nitpick that he did not give the best present?
Thinking about the greeting present, those eight Liang, Wan Lu hurt all over, “We were going to get fabric to make clothing for Niang Zi tomorrow, but now, there are only half a Guan left which isn’t even enough for making a He Zi.”
“He Zi, is a term characteristic of the Tang Dynasty. Similar to an undergarment from other dynasties except it does not have the strap that goes around the neck making it easier to wear Tang style dresses.
Five hundred Wen (same as half a Guan) is actually enough for making a He Zi, but it was far from the expense needed for making a dress.
“I know, but I also just wanted to look around in town, not just to buy clothes.” Ran Yan mainly wanted to look around to find ways to earn money. Just waiting to run out of money is not a solution, and besides, this money wasn’t going to last more than one more month.
Wan Lu helped Ran Yan prepare for bed and stored away the Zi Zhi, before quietly slipping out the door.
After formally becoming an apprentice, Ran Yan finally finished something that was on her mind and slept well through the night. The next day she woke up feeling refreshed and filled with energy.
After night duty, Wan Lu did not sleep much. She first let Xing Niang attend to Ran Yan’s morning routine. Then, when everything was done, Wan Lu came over.
Although Xing Niang insisted on not going, she also gave endless advice as they were leaving.
After a simple breakfast, the two of them finally escaped Xing Niang’s “torment.” As they were putting on their shoes, a male servant outside the courtyard said, “Is Shi Qi Niang here?”
After a brief pause, Wan Lu ran to open the door and said, “She’s here, what is the matter?”
The servant gave the package he had in his arms to Wan Lu and said, “This is from the new village teacher, Sang Xian Sheng.
Although there was nothing wrong with the servant’s attitude, there was gossip in his eyes that was difficult to ignore. Wan Lu glared at him viciously. As she was about to verbally abuse him, she realized that if they offended him, their stay at the estate would be more difficult in the future. Instead she rigidly held it in and carelessly bowed, “Thanks for your trouble. Did Sang Xian Sheng say anything?”
“No.” Replied the servant.
“Sang Xian Sheng is a well-read person! How could he not know to avoid!” Wan Lu muttered.
This situation would have no meaning in the north. The women of Chang An didn’t even wear cloth covers when going out. Accompanying males were commonplace there, but in the south it was very different. This type of interaction sending things privately, even if there was no criminal charge, was still not good a thing, “Please wait, I must first inform Niang Zi.”
“What is it?” Ran Yan naturally put on her cloth cover and stepped outside the courtyard.
“Sang Xian Sheng sent this.” Wan Lu presented the cloth bundle to Ran Yan.
Puzzled, Ran Yan paused momentarily. She and Sang Chen had only met briefly, there was no occasion to send presents. Ran Yan reached out and opened the bundle. Inside was an ink stone and two Liang silver. Below the ink stone was a letter.
Ran Yan stared at the ink stone attentively, pupils suddenly contracting.
This was a purified clay ink stone, a violet rose color. On one side of the ink stone was a carved pattern showing a lifelike orchid. Other than it being a new ink stone, there was no difference from the ink stone Ran Yan had on her work desk in her previous life.
The appearance of the ink stone shook Ran Yan’s resolve to stay in the Tang dynasty. That Sang Chen, who was he really and what was his relationship with her time traveling?
Many questions jumped at her flustering the normally calm and collected Ran Yan. Fortunately the cloth cover was on and the male servant and Wan Lu did not see anything out of the ordinary.
Taking in a few deep breaths, she calmed herself and reached out and slowly unfolded the letter under the ink stone.
1. It is traditional to exchange presents on special occasions. Apprenticeship would be one of those occasions where presents are exchanged.
2. Bi Hui = Avoid interactions with the opposite gender because that was not something that was a cultural norm of the time.
Comments and Update
Hope you have a Happy Thanksgiving if you celebrate this holiday. There are so many things to be thankful for and I really love this time of year. One thing I’m thankful for is starting this blog because being able to interact with you guys and share things I love has been such a blessing in a somewhat stressful period in my life. Thanks everyone 🙂
Some life updates — After recovering from a cold, I started my first real job which came with lots of adult responsibilities. In the past couple of weeks, I have started a small aquarium, cooked interesting foods, and worked on personal development projects. I’ve also thought about this blog (really missed blogging) and re-evaluated what is a reachable goal.
Firstly, I will definitely be continuing my ongoing translation project — I kind of love translating and this new hobby has really integrated itself into my life. There has been a lot happening so instead of the more frequent updates like before, I may only be able to update this particular project every week or two until things become more regular or I get some help translating *open to volunteers*.
Additionally, I still plan on translating snippets that inspire me from what I am currently reading and writing about other interests which mainly consist of dramas, movies, music, and food. Modern novels that I keep up with also tend to be much easier to translate. In the meantime, will also bug my friend to write as well if she finds time, heheheh.