Chapter 1-4

[Scene: Cui Yingying accompanied by the Monk] Today is the fifteenth of February and the monks are preparing the instruments for the service. Madam and mistress are ready for burning incense. Before the arrival of Madam Cui, Mr Zhang is asked to burn the incense first. Afraid that Madam would question the attendance of Mr. Zhang, Yingying would say that he is a relative of the Master.

[Zhang Junrui] Today is the fifteenth of February, and the monk has asked me to come and burn incense.

[Song] The moon is high above the Heavenly Palace, its jade-like walls shrouded by auspicious clouds. The fragrant smoke spreads to cover the throne, the citation of incantation can be felt by ocean waves. The flags are blown, as the donors all arrive.

The golden Buddhist drum is hit; it sounds like thunder in spring of February at the temple corner. The bell rings with the recitation of the Buddha’s name. For half of the day, there is wind and rain that make the pine trees wet. A servant is assigned to stand at the main gate; in front of the west chamber, standing by the curtained window, Hongniang is at duty. Zhang Junrui has a strong desire to see the face of Cui Yingying.

[Master] Mr. Zhang, please burn the incense first. If Madam Cui asks about you, you just say you are a relative of mine.

[Thought of Zhang Junrui] I wish all people in this world live long; I pray those deceased would have rebirth and fun in heavens. For my parents, grand parents and all ancestors, I am now paying my respect to the Buddha, his teachings and the monks. In my mind while burning incense I have these words: I wish the maid would not behave badly against me; Madam would not have a harsh heart, and her son would not do me any harm. Oh, Buddha! Please help me with our secret meeting.

[Madam] The Master has sent his words for our going to burn incense. Mistress, it’s time to go now.

[Monk] Mr Zhang, your sincerity has won the descending of the fairy.

[Zhang Junrui] Let me say that when the fair lady leaves the heavenly palace, she is to ask for a fortune-telling. I am a young man with weak figure; how can I be a match for her fine complexion of a great beauty.

Her mouth is like cherry blossom; her pinky nose is jade like; her complexion like plum flower; her waist light and graceful willow. Her gracefulness fills her cheeks; her delicacy covers the whole body.

[Master] I have a word, Madam. I have a relative here, a scholar of some kind, his parents deceased. He wants to pay his debt of gratitude and fast for them in the service. I have given my agreement, but he needs yours as well.

[Madam] Your relative is mine. Ask him to come and see me.

[Scene] Zhang Junrui bows to Madam. The monks are helping Yingying with the service.

[Thought of Zhang Junrui] The Master looks old, but he could not help looking at the beautiful young lady too. The monks look dump, led by Facong who is beating the drum.

The lookers, old or young, good looking or bad, all stand there like celebrating the Moon Festival. My beloved lady, so lovely, steals a glance of me, in tears.

[Song of Zhang Junrui] I stand still, with a longing heart. Her low cries are like birds chirping among the bush, her tears like drops of dew on flowers. The Master is doing his part, showing a kind of mercy on his face. The monk beating the drum looks sad, another helping with incense looks hurried. The candle lights move with the wind; incense smoke goes upwards to meet the clouds.

Zhang Junrui looks at Cui Yingying for a long time, until the candle lights go out and incense no longer burning.

[Master] The lights have gone out with the wind.

[Zhang Junrui] Let me have a light on and burn another incense stick.

[Thought of Cui Yingying] The young man has been busy all night.

He looks a romantic young man, clever, intelligent too. He has made his not-so-natural appearance to attract my attention.

[Thought of maid] I guess that young man is tired as he was sleepless the whole night. He must have pretended to read a book while he was actually thinking all the time of my mistress.

[Zhang Junrui] Mistress had a glance of me, with a kind of affection.

The affection of hers touches my heart. I have some sadness thinking of her. The beats on the drum are actually hitting my soul. The monks won’t understand what I have felt for her.

[Scene] The musical instruments have been set aside; the Master rings the bell for the last time announcing the end of the service; paper money has been burnt.

[Master] It’s day break now. Madam and mistress, please retreat to your residence.

[Thought of Zhang Junrui] I wish the service never stops so that I can see the fair lady a longer time.

It’s not always good to have affection as this affection hurts my heart. After a busy night, the moon has rested, the alarm clock is hit and the cock calls the day break. My fair lady has left; the service is over, and people are all gone.

As a flower, you look beautiful. But for that beauty, the plant needs to be nourished and taken care of.

To be continued..

Translation by Yingxiong Feng

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