Just two words. Boo hoo. What? Why?
Of course it’s a good Boo hoo!
Though I am a latecomer to the Bu Bu Jing Xin (BBJX) train, I have been catching up on the madness. Finishing the 35 episodes in 3 days while reading the book itself.
I first heard of BBJX when Alice (*mumbles softly ‘Enabler’) posted two episodes of the show while completing the upload of Huan Zhu Ge Ge (HZGG). I had given up on HZGG after the first season. Skeptical of the title, I downloaded the first episode and was hooked. The gorgeous costumes coupled with crisp dialogue, a well-paced storyline as well as good acting made this jaded drama addict’s day.
Just as Alice had done for me, I’ve spread my excitement about BBJX to others. And I wanted to continue sharing through recaps of the episodes. I am new to this blog and new to writing recaps, so bear with me. All typos, etc, etc are mine. Onwards ho!
Episode 1 (Alice’s download) dives straight into the past where a groggy modern-day Zhang Xiao finds her spirit in the body of a young Manchurian lady. Lying on a bed, with her head bandaged, she looks around the room. She looks like herself in the mirror; her features are similar but much younger with long hair. She stares at the room and assures herself that it is a dream when a maid, Qiao Hui, comes in and calls her, “Second Young Mistress.”
Confused, Zhang Xiao questions Qiao Hui. Told that she is in the 8th prince’s household, she lashes out before angrily demanding to see who placed her in a ‘Candid Camera’ show. Qiao Hui is flustered and keeps calling her young mistress.
Under Zhang Xiao’s questioning, Qiao Hui tells her that the present emperor is Kangxi and that the young mistress is Maertai Ruo Xi. Zhang Xiao repeats the name incredulously when another woman corrects her, “Maertai Ruo Xi. I am Jie Jie (Elder Sister). Do not be afraid.”
Asked, Maertai Ruo Lan tells Zhang Xiao that Maertai Ruo Xi fell down a long flight of stairs and had been unconscious for a few days.
Zhang Xiao has a flashback. She was in an argument with her boyfriend when an accident happened.
Hit by a car and then electrocuted, she realizes that her spirit had been send back into time. An image of Maertai Ruo Xi rolling down the stairs flashes while another woman stands at the top of the stairs.
Zhang Xiao spends the next 10 days exercising to strengthen her new body while trying to find a way to go back to her own time. As Maertai Ruo Xi, she lives a comfortable life attended by Qiao Hui and being cosseted by Ruo Lan.
The second wife of the 8th prince, Ruo Lan spends most of her time praying and Zhang Xiao believes that her new sister is not highly regarded by her husband. Ruo Lan treats Ruo Xi well. However, Zhang Xiao in Ruo Xi’s body is uncomfortable and pensive about her own future as she thinks about what will happen to the 8th prince. After moment later, she dismisses her concern as that unfortunate future is many years ahead and decides to live in the present moment.
As Zhang Xiao walks back to her room, she questions Qiao Hui about the Maertai family including herself. Sitting down for tea with Ruo Lan, Zhang Xiao finds out more about Ruo Xi.
Their mother had died just after Ruo Xi was born. Maertai Ruo Xi grew up free-spirited, running wild like a untamed horse. Unable to control the wilful Ruo Xi, their father had send his younger daughter to her sister, hoping that Ruo Lan would teach Ruo Xi manners. Ruo Lan comments that after the fall, Ruo Xi has changed a little; being more polite and behaving more like a ‘Xiu Nu’*.
Zhang Xiao wonders if she should tell Ruo Lan that she was not Ruo Xi but someone else. A second later, she abandons the thought. No one would believe her after all and would consider her insane.
Zhang Xiao probes Ruo Lan gently, wondering how long she had been staying with her new-found sister. Ruo Lan asks Zhang Xiao if she had forgotten why she had been sent to the 8th household. Zhang Xiao uses her fall to excuse her ignorance. Zhang Xiao finds out that Ruo Xi has been with her sister for three months. Their father had send Ruo Xi to the 8th household because Ruo Xi was at least willing to listen to her sister and there was some hope to teach Ruo Xi manners before the compulsory Xiu Nu Imperial Inspection* that will take place six months later.
Next, we find Zhang Xiao contemplating what she had learnt and her options. She realizes that Ruo Lan will not be a reliable haven because of the 8th prince’s future, but it was even more dangerous to be selected for the palace. After all, the Xiu Nu Imperial Inspection is not a beauty contest! She realizes she needed to escape before the six months is up. She wonders how the movie heroines would escape. Use electricity? But she’s in the 1700’s, where would she find that? She decides that she needs to find some way to send her spirit, not Ruo Xi’s body back to her own time. Then she had an ‘Eureka’ moment.
Qiao Hui leads Zhang Xiao to the scene of Ruo Xi’s fall. Qiao Hui describes how Ruo Xi was found at the foot of a long stretch. Ming Yu was the only witness and said Ruo Xi just slipped and rolled down two storey’s of steps. Ruo Xi
As Zhang Xiao climbs the stairs, she remembers the sensation of falling before fainting from her own accident. Qiao Hui follows behind, looking worried. The height of the stairs is frightening and Zhang Xiao realizes that if she falls again, her spirit would definitely leave Ruo Xi’s body and she would return to 2011. She hesitates, wondering if her own body was still alive to return to. If she does not try to recreate the accident, how would she know.
She turns at the top of stairs, staring down the long stretch as her feet inches closer and closer towards the edge of the first step. She hesitates, rocking at the edge when Qiao Hui suddenly lunges forward, blocking her and declares it is time for them to return.
Zhang Xiao acquiesces and descends, pensively asking Qiao Hui if she thinks of her parents and if they are well. Qiao Hui nods but says that since she has siblings, the parents will be well cared for. Zhang Xiao looks up, wondering if their parents see the same sky as they do. Puzzled by the comment, Qiao Hui looks up in the same direction. Zhang Xiao then says life is full of troubles, and that what’s most painful would be parents living longer than their children.
Suddenly, male laughter rings out and two gentlemen walks up to them. The first remarks that this little girl is interesting, her speech quite unlike a young child. (Rou Xi’s body is around 13). The second man agrees, examining her with interest and remarks that she speaks like someone who has a lot of experience in life, someone who is mature. Zhang Xiao exchanges stares with the second man, while Qiao Hui hurriedly curtsies and greets 9th and 10th.
Qiao Hui tugs at Zhang Xiao’s arm and after a moment, Zhang Xiao bows to greet them. 9th raises a brow. He comments on Zhang Xiao’s unconventional bow before allowing them to stand up.
10th asks if Zhang Qiao is a Maertai. She nods. A moment later, both walks away as Zhang Xiao looks at them. Although she is in the 8th prince’s mansion, the first princes she meets are the historic ‘Poison Snake Old 9th’ and the ‘Wastrel 10th’.
10th suddenly looks back at Zhang Xiao and makes a funny face at her. Both laugh and she says, he does indeed seem to be a simpleton.
A little while later, Zhang Xiao secretly slips out of the house with Qiao Hui and wanders the city streets. Qiao Hui tries to persuade the excited Zhang Xiao to return but she refuses. The maid remarks that Ruo Xi must be well since she is growing more daring, wanting to go everywhere. Zhang Xiao retorts that spending too much time idling would allow ‘grass to grow on her’. Zhang Xiao’s frequent slips of tongue, using modern slang and exclamations confuse Qiao Hui.
They come across a stall selling flatirons. As Zhang Xiao examines the queer implement, Qiao Hong pipes up that when Ruo Xi was difficult to wait on, the maids would often privately wish to purchase an iron large enough to contain her wild spirits and make her more docile.
Zhang Xiao pauses, asking if she had been that difficult to serve. Qiao Hui replies that she is only teasing.
They continue to walk. As they pass ‘Da Shi Lang’, Zhang Xiao comments that she had visited this place many times and is pleased that the air of Old Beijing had been preserved. Qiao Hui is surprised, asking how Ruo Xi could have visit this place and know Beijing since it is the first time she has stepped out of the mansion. Zhang Xiao laughs it off, saying she heard of it.
There is a huge commotion and soldiers start to clear the road, lining along the side while the common folks stand behind. Qiao Hui urges Zhang Xiao away, saying the soldiers must be there to welcome the Emperor’s return to the capital.
Zhang Xiao looks on with curious excitement and then stares in surprise at the eunuch walking past. She recognizes the face. It is the same face as the construction supervisor who had stepped in during her lover’s quarrel. She calls out and hurries forward, pushing through the crowd.
At the same time, a horse gallops from the opposite direction. The eunuch pauses at the sight and hurriedly kneels just as Zhang Xiao runs out and grabs the eunuch’s arm. She cries out, “Where is Huang Di?” (Her boyfriend’s name is Huang Di.)
The eunuch snaps at Zhang Xiao and both stare at each other even as the galloping grows loud. The eunuch looks up and ducks away to safety but Zhang Xiao stands, stunned. A blue aura surges up and out from her as the horse slows but then the partial release of her spirit spooks the horse and it rears up in panic.
Neighing, it neighs again and her spirit snaps back as the rider knees his horse, jumping over the crouching Zhang Xiao.
Landing heavily, the rider fights to control his startled mount before wheeling round to stare coldly at Zhang Xiao.
Their glances lock and remain locked even as the eunuch kneels. Qiao Hui hurries forward and recognizing the rider, she kneels and pulls Zhang Xiao down beside her, “4th prince, please forgive us. We are from the 8th prince’s household.”
4th stares down at their heads while Zhang Xiao glances up and down again. A moment later, he rides off and Zhang Xiao mumbles softly, “4th prince. Yong Zhen.”
After this incident, they return to the mansion and tries to sneak quietly back in. However, Zhang Xiao is told that her escapade has been discovered and the servants are being punished. She protests and runs off to the hall where she sees Ruo Lan with Ming Hui, the 8th prince’s main wife or Di Fujin. Zhang Xiao asks Ruo Lan to stop the punishment, calling it heavy-handed and asks how the kind Ruo Lan could mete out such a punishment.
Ming Hui remarks that since the command to punish had been given by her, Ruo Lan still retains her buddha-like kindness while she is the one with the unkind heart. She continues, comparing both sisters. Though both look alike, their personalities are different. One is anti-social, the other impulsive. She declares that household rules must be maintained. That those servants who break the rules, deserve punishment. That the mistresses who are unwise in their actions, deserve to be even more heavily punished. Ming Hui is determined to punish Zhang Xiao/Rou Xi for leaving the mansion without permission.
Rou Lan kneels, asking to be punished in return. She reasons that her sister is young and unaware of the household rules. Ming Hui agrees saying that since Rou Lan is responsible for Rou Xi, she deserve a harsher punishment.
Angrily, Zhang Xiao points out that since Ming Hui sits above Rou Lan in rank, then by the same logic, Ming Hui should receive an even heavier penalty because of Rou Lan perceived error.
Ming Hui furiously raises her hand but Rou Lan holds onto the Di Fujin’s arm. Both struggle and Ruo Lan falls. Zhang Xiao hurries forward to help Ruo Lan but Ming Hui pulls younger girl away, determined to strike her. There is a 3-way tussle. Ruo Lan falls again. Zhang Xiao pushes hard and Ming Hui lands across a chair, hitting her head and bleeds.
After Ming Hui is hurried back to her room, both sisters walk together back their courtyard. Zhang Xiao is contrite while Ruo Lan coolly ignores her for a few moment. Zhang Xiao asks if Ruo Lan needed a doctor as well. Ruo Lan shakes her head before asking Zhang Xiao not to worry about the punished servants since she had instructed they be treated.
Touched, Zhang Xiao asks to be scolded, saying that Ming Hui would use this incident to make matters difficult for Ruo Lan. Qiao Hui added that ever since Ming Huiu married into the household, the first wife had been making Ruo Lan’s life difficult.
Zhang Xiao is upset and wonders aloud why Ruo Lan remains married to 8th. Being confined within her small courtyard and having to share her husband with other women, Zhang Xiao declares that Ruo Lan could do better.
Ruo Lan asks the younger woman to be quiet but Zhang Xiao persists, saying that a woman needs to have self respect. She states that if a woman is capable and willing, she could be self sufficient and independent. She asks if a woman had to be married. Couldn’t a woman be contented having freedom and not withstand other’s resentment?
Ruo Lan turns, reprimanding Zhang Xiao for her disrespect and asks if she has forgotten who she is? What her status and rank is?
Zhang Xiao falls silent. Her strong feminism is very clear in this conversation, highlighting the difference between Zhang Xiao’s modern outlook and Ruo Lan’s traditional upbringing.
Qiao Hui slowly says, “Second mistress, your words are a little too …”
Zhang Xiao replies, “Too forward-thinking?” Her choice of words confuses the others. She looks down, realizing that the other women could not understand what she means. It is the 1700s and feminism is hundreds of years ahead in the future.
Ruo Lan examines Zhang Xiao thoughtfully, before saying she understands. Maertai Ruo Lan and Ruo Xi grew up in the unrestrained north-west where rules were less rigorously maintained. Ruo Lan emphasizes that both of them are living now in the Capital, in a prince’s mansion where rules and regulations had to be followed.
Zhang Xiao sullenly states her reluctance to remain in the capital. Ruo Lan smiles, saying that Zhang Xiao/Ruo Xi has not changed from her old hoyden troublemaker self. However, she is glad because Zhang Xiao/Ruo Xi had defended Ruo Lan against Ming Hui. She tells Zhang Xiao that if she could show a little more restraint, Ruo Lan will overlook whatever her younger sister does within the confines of their circle. Ruo Lan shows great affection towards her younger sister.
Zhang Xiao pauses, softly telling Ruo Lan that the sister in front of her is not the same Ruo Xi that Ruo Lan had known. Ruo Lan replies that she knows. Because Ruo Xi is more caring, more understanding. Gently touching Zhang Xiao’s cheek, Ruo Lan smiles, “You have grown up.”
Disconcerted, Zhang Xiao struggles with herself. She finds herself caring for Ruo Lan yet at the same, she feels that she is cheating Ruo Lan’s sisterly love. How can she make Ruo Lan understand the truth?
Tossing and turning in bed, Zhang Xiao reviews the day’s close accident. If the horse had kicked her, she wonders if she could have returned to her own body. Unsure yet sure that she does not want to remain where she is, she slaps the mattress vehemently, “I want to go back!”
The next day, she considers her options. A map of where the car accident happened. Perhaps she could travel back if she is at the same spot. She steps out from her room and is surprised by the bustle within her sister’s courtyard.
Ruo Lan instructs her maid to prepare for a small family dinner, stating that there is no need for extravagance. Zhang Xiao finds out that 8th prince would be having dinner with Ruo Lan that night. Ruo Lan then instructs Qiao Hui to dress her younger sister properly since it would be the first time 8th would meet Ruo Xi.
(I’m using Ruo Xi in place of Zhang Xiao from here on.)
Properly in this case, involves swathing Ruo Xi in seven layers of cloth. Deep in thought, Ruo Xi is excited about meeting the historic ‘Virtuous 8th Prince’. Both 4th and 8th are rivals for the throne. Though 8th loses the battle for throne to the 4th prince, his intelligence and wits is renowned.
Ruo Xi wakes from her reverie, panting as she realizes how heavily covered her body is. She continues to complain, saying she would change from her garb if 8th prince does not appear. Unable to withstand the heat, she excuses herself and hurries out into the cooler outdoor.
Frantically fanning herself, she wonders if her makeup is waterproof. Sighing and moaning, she lightly dabs her head with her sleeve, covering her face when a hand appears with a silk handkerchief. A gentle voice bids her to stop her tears.
Astonished Ruo Xi drops her arm and examines the face in front of her. There is a faint hint of surprise in the man’s expression before he smiles, “You must be Rou Xi.”
Rou Xi drops her glance skimming his body and then suddenly realizes who he is. Flustered, she shifts this way and that before finally dropping a light curtsy to greet him.
8th laughs, “I thought you were crying.”
She shakes her head, explaining that she was perspiring from being overdressed. Turning back, she accepts the cloth and dabs at her skin.
8th says he heard about her accident and tells her she has to show care. She nods and he turns away. Ruo Xi slips a side glance, staying in place until 8th turns back, asking why she is not returning to the room.
Ruo Xi nods and follows a few moments later.
Meanwhile, 9th and 10th have arrived and waiting for 8th. Dinner starts and their conversation is affable, laughter ringing loud. 8th turns to Ruo Lan, telling her that he had dropped in on her father. Ruo Lan nods.
8th lifts a morsel, placing it in Ruo Lan’s bowl, saying she has grown thinner and asks Qiao Hui to prepare more restorative tonics. Ruo Lan again replies with a small nod.
Ruo Xi watches the couple, admiring 8th’s gentle thoughtfulness and sees his caring concern for her sister. It is difficult not to have good feelings for such a man. Yet in the history books, 8th is well known for his devious plots and stratagems. She tilts her head before realizing a moment later that 10th is intently watching her.
She glances away and then back again. He continues to watch and after a moment, she suddenly makes a snapping motion with her mouth. Startled, 10th drops his food and the others look over at the both of them.
Ruo Xi looks down, and then suddenly starts to choke. 10th breaks out in laughter while 8th rebukes his younger brother. 10th apologizes, saying how pretty Ruo Xi looks even when she choking unlike himself. 9th teases, saying 10th’s speech has improved.
Back in her own room, Qiao Hui serves a cooled drink to Ruo Xi. Ruo Xi begins a gentle probe, curious about her sister’s reaction to the 8th prince. Qiao Hui throws the question back.
Ruo Xi softly replies, perhaps she is not quite earnest. Ruo Lan is certainly more serious reading the scriptures. Qiao Hui smiles, why ask me since you’ve already got your own opinion.
Climbing off her bed, Ruo Xi asks. What does 8th think of my sister?
Qiao Hui straightens, slowly answering that the 8th prince seldom visits Ruo Lan. That his visits are very short, filled with polite questions. It has been the same for five years. His other wives who married in later, already have children. But Ruo Lan does not seem to care much about that.
Ruo Xi nods, thinking aloud that her sister is doing well. Qiao Hui nods back, agreeing but saying that the others within the 8th prince household, believes otherwise.
After Qiao Hui goes off, Ruo Xi thinks aloud. She is aware of what will happen to 8th, and given that, her sister’s uncaring distance towards her husband is not unfortunate. She muses that she feels helpless, despite knowing what will happen to these ancient historic characters. Slapping her crown with her fan, she scolds herself about worrying about others when she could not help herself. She tells herself to find a way back home. Ruo Xi’s growing attachment to her companions in the 8th household is apparent.
She lies back, fanning herself before flinging her arms up declaring, “I want air conditioning! I want ice cream!”
Ruo Xi sneaks out again. She lays out her options. “One. I go back. Two. I die. Three. crippled. Worth a try!” She turns around and looks down the busy street, looking for horses. There is none. She continues to stand, then tilts her head with a slow smile as she hears the rattle of hooves on road. “Horses are coming.” She deliberately stands still, waiting until the last moment before twisting around, flinging her arms wide with eyes close as the men ride hard down the street.
Hands pull hard on the reins, forcing the horses to a sharp stop. Ruo Xi opens her eyes and stumbles down to the road as one of the horses presses its nose against her face.
Two men look down, the first is the recognizable 4th prince and the other 13th. 4th coolly leans on his saddle, examining Ruo Xi while 13th drops down to the road, kneeling to ask if Ruo Xi is well. She is miffed, sharply asking why they had stopped.
Her gaze meets 4th and she rolls her eyes, exasperatedly wondering why it is the 4th prince again. 13th is surprised, his eyes sharp on the young girl as 4th introduces his brother to Ruo Xi.
Ruo Xi repeats, “13th prince.” She gives an unsure laugh, “Nice to meet you.” She finally manages that before 13th offers her a hand up. She stumbles, giving a little gasp. 13th asks what wrong. She replies, it’s sprained.
4th listens from the side, glances up the road and rides away. He dismounts in front of a medical hall and enters that as Ruo Xi releases her grip on 13th’s arms. She thanks him with clasped hands.
13th tilts his head asking if 4th and Ruo Xi knows each other. She replies, that she is 8th’s sister-in-law. He examines Ruo Xi, “You belong to the 8th prince’s household?” She nods. He replies that she does not look like she would be.
He explains at her look of surprise, “8th Ge (Brother) is known for his elegant and courteous refinement. And those who live in his household have received training and have a similar refinement in their actions. But you, you do not remain within the mansion to embroider but gallivant through the streets. Why?”
Ruo Xi snaps a quick answer, “I just came. I was bored stiff.” She looks back and sees 4th mounting his horse before retrieving 13th’s mount. 13th rounds on the young girl, holding her sleeve and tells her that they’d be sending her back to the mansion.
She hastily raises her hands, thanking and then asking for a favour. She hopes that both princes would not mention the incident to anyone within the 8th’s household. Stating that she’s be in big trouble if it becomes known. 13th looks up at 4th quickly. 4th gives a tiny nod and 13th looks back at Rou Xi, agreeing to her request.
Rou Xi grins, lightly patting 13th’s shoulder in delight, declaring him a righteous man. Both men give the young girl a thoughtful look. She is quite quite different from the other refined gentle women of her status, her laughter natural and bright while raising her hand in a half salute to both of them.
When they arrived in the Ce Fujin’s courtyard, Ruo Lan and Qiao Hui hurry forward to greet the princes. Ruo Lan is concerned about Ruo Xi’s limp and the younger sister dismisses it lightly, explaining that she tripped just as both 4th and 13th entered to look for 8th. 13th smiles in amusement at her quick tongue while 4th thoughtfully watches Ruo Xi.
4th confirms Ruo Xi’s lie by asking for 8th and Ruo Lan offers to lead them to the main hall. Qiao Hui leaves to inform 8th but 4th pauses, looking at Ruo Xi and asks for a few moments to speak with the younger woman.
Ruo Lan hesitates and then moves, leading the way for 13th. Ruo Xi is uneasy, looking down as 4th steps in front of her.
“4th prince.”” Ruo Xi murmurs. 4th quietly states, “You knew what you were doing. You saw our horses and deliberately step into their paths. Are you thinking of ending your life?
Ruo Xi denies it, claiming that 4th misunderstands her. She calls it an accident. 4th states that the first time was accidental, this second was not. He also notes that if she does try this a third time, he would not hold the horse back again.
Ruo Xi exclaims that she did what she did to live, not to die. There is too much to live for. Death is not something she seeks. This strange statement perks 4th’s interest and he stares at Ruo Xi. A moment later, he pulls out a bottle and holds it out. It is medicine for her sprain. She accepts it before quietly thanking him.
4th half turns then says firmly, “I saved your life. Without my permission, you better not even consider suicide.” He turns on his heels, walking towards 13th and Ruo Lan.
Ruo Xi holds the bottle, looking hard as they disappear.
Still hobbling, Ruo Xi visits her sister. Ruo Lan is thankful for 4th and 14th’s help, proposing a visit to show their appreciation. Ruo Xi rejects the idea, saying she’d already thanked them. Ruo Lan remarks that this is a basic act of courtesy.
Ruo Xi retorts, “It’s a small matter, both princes would probably not take it to heart. But if this matter comes to Ming Hui’s attention, a small matter might become a large incident.” Ruo Lan rebukes her younger sister, calling her shameless in how she misuses her intelligence.
Ruo Xi grins cheekily before leaning forward to look at the letter on the table. Ruo Lan says that the reader eunuch had not been yet and the younger sister offers to read the letter. Ruo Lan is surprised. Ruo Xi declares that is an easy matter, confidently spreading out the pages. The letter is from their father and elder brother.
Ruo Xi smiles and then squints while skimming down the page. Much of the script is in the traditional form, quite different from the modern simplified. In addition, the cursive style of the writing makes it even more indecipherable.
Ruo Lan glances over and Ruo Xi clears her throat. Stuttering and stammering, she works through the letter to quiet laughter, skipping words and adding her own little mutters as she struggles to read
“What? Is there even a spirit horse in the letter?” Ruo Lan exclaims. Ruo Xi mutters, “No.” A little interlude of amusement, highlighting how ill equipped the displaced Rou Xi is to live in the 1700s.
Ruo Lan covers her laughter, gently remarking that she is surprised to hear that Ruo Xi might have improved in her reading since she left the family home. But it is just as it was.
Ruo Xi sheepishly refolds the letter, replacing it in its envelope. She answers that it might be better for the reader eunuch to read the letter. Ruo Lan asks if Ruo Xi is giving up. The younger sister denies this, stating that perhaps it would be better if she starts from the beginning. Ruo Xi beats a hasty retreat while the smiling Ruo Lan shakes her head.
Ruo Xi leans against a post and reads aloud from the Book of Sung Poems. Her voice slows before she sets the book aside with a sigh. She thinks aloud. She is from the modern world, and had spend 16 years studying hard. In her own time, she could be considered a knowledgeable person. But in this new world and time, she is a half illiterate. Fortunately, she is in her current body and lives well. Otherwise, she’d starve to death because she would not be able to work and survive. Picking up her book again, she flips the pages before tossing the book aside on the rock.
Ants crawling along the top attract her eyes and Ruo Xi turns out, toying with the little insects while 10th creeps up on her. He looks on, laughing while 8th approaches from behind. Hastily, Ruo Xi straightens to greet both princes.
10th teases Rou Xi, saying that he wondered what the playful girl had found to amuse herself. He laughs, saying he thinks too highly of Rou Xi. Rou Xi tilts her nose at 10th, quietly fuming at his tease.
8th points to the book, asking if she was studying. She nods but 10th debunks it, twirling her book, saying she was playing with ants and pretending to be a student with the book. Ruo Xin narrows her eyes at the idiotic prince, “Have you not heard there is a world in a flower, a bodhi within a leaf? Those look like ants, but they aren’t really ants.” 10th blinks while 8th remarks that 10th should study a little more.
Self satisfied, Ruo Xi grins to herself as 10th is unable to retort. 8th turns to Ruo Xi asking if she reads scriptures. She replies that she had learned a little from listening to Ruo Lan.
8th nods, “Yes, she does read a lot of scriptures.” There seems to be a different layer to his words and Ruo Xi wonders at the 8th prince. If he is a boss, he would be the cream of the crop.
10th asks if Ruo Xin recognizes all the words in her book. She nods, moving to retrieve it, “I know them. But they don’t know me. But we are in the midst of knowing each other.”
8th asks how. Ruo Xi replies through guessing. 10th is astonished, asking if that is possible. If it is, then there would be no need for teachers. 8th smiles and moves away.
10th turns back, asking if she would like to go riding with them. She happily agrees, making a modern gesture of victory behind their backs. ‘
In the horse carriage, Rou Xi looks out of the window. She makes a small ‘eh’ sound before shaking her head, pulling the curtain back into place. 10th is curious and looks out of the window. He asks what she saw and Ruo Xi refuses to tell him.
He asks again, this time she demands he gives her something in return for her answer. 10th folds his arms, calling her too practical. She replies that he wanted to know and that no one would do anything without payment. 10th looks at 8th quietly sitting with eyes closed before tossing silver into her lap. She promptly tosses it back. He asks if she thinks it is too little. She replies that she is not mercenary.
10th retorts that her asking for payment is being materialistic. She replies she does not know what she wants and asks for a favour instead. The prince hesitates. Ruo Xi assures 10th it would not be anything he could not complete and he finally agrees.
Ruo Xi grins, saying 10th has to remember because she has a witness, pointedly looking at 8th. 8th opens his eyes with a smile, turning to face her and says, “I will remember. You may tell him.”
She grins again. “Listen well. The street is packed but we are able to move quickly through the crowd. I noticed everyone was moving away when they saw the horse carriage even when there is nothing to indicate that the 8th prince is inside. I wondered if there was something special that I do not know. That’s why I ‘eh’. ”
10th asks her she shook her head. She replies that those who lives within the city would be aware that only the high-ranking officials would ride such a carriage. So even though they do not know who is in the carriage, making way would make everyone’s life easy. She shook her head because she felt like she seems like a fox*. 8th laughs while 10th is puzzled. 8th states ‘Hu Jia Hu Wei’ and 10th understands, shaking his head at Ruo Xi. Exchanging a wish from a prince for such an explanation.
Ruo Xin grins and turns, catching 8th looking at her intently. Under his eyes, she suddenly looks away with pink cheeks.
At the riding ground, 10th criticizes each of the offered horses, declaring something wrong with them. 8th suddenly instructs his horse, Ling Lung, be send out for Ruo Xi. 10th is surprised. As they wait for Ling Lung, Ruo Xi watches as 8th mounts, sitting tall up on his horse. She exclaims softly in admiration, how handsome.
The saddled Ling Lung shifts in place while Ruo Xin bites her thumb, staring back at the large animal. 10th urges Ruo Xi to mount the horse but she asks him to go ahead. 10th refuses, saying he’d help her before mounting. 8th laughs, saying a horse is for riding and not for sightseeing.
Ruo Xi finally admits that she does not know how to ride. 10th laughs at her but at her fierce rebuttal, offers to hold the reins while she rides. 8th rides off and Ruo Xi watches him, eyes following his elegant form even as 10th leads her mount around the small clearing.
Ruo Xi thinks to herself, the 8th prince has both lineage and appearance of a fine man beyond compare. Fortunately, I am still considered a young woman of rank.
Back home, the younger sister tells Ruo Lan about her day. Exclaiming over Ling Lung’s fine qualities, she says it is well named. Ruo Lan looks at in surprise at her excitement and Ruo Xi pauses, asking if she know how to ride.
Ruo Lan asks, “You don’t remember again?” Ruo Xi nods slowly, a slight tension in her expression.
PS : Note what is around Zhang Xiao when she gets into the accident.
* See Notes for explanation