The next year, Qiao-Shi gave birth to a daughter.
This was Ruan Siyi’s first time becoming a father, and he was excited for several days before calming down. He named the child Ruan Chenxi.
The days passed as before. Because there was an additional mouth to feed, their lives became more impoverished.
Ruan Siyi knew something had to be done and searched everywhere for opportunities to earn money. Those who put in the effort would be rewarded. He found a job that involved copying books. Although the pay wasn’t high, it was a stable and long-term job.
When their daughter turned two, Qiao-Shi proposed leaving the capital and moving to Ruan Siyi’s ancestral hometown in the southern Shaanxi Province.
“Since you’ve already decided to walk that path, we must go back there sooner or later.”
Ruan Siyi was silent. He started packing up and they soon sold off their residence and moved back to his hometown.
It took a month for the family of four to arrive at the Yu County in the Shaanxi Province.
Actually, Ruan Siyi didn’t have many relatives left in the Yu County, and he had never returned since growing up. But like Qiao-Shi had said, since he had such plans, he had to come back sooner or later.
He would be starting from scratch.
Luckily the residence in the capital was sold for over three hundred silver taels, and they temporarily didn’t need to worry about money.
They rented a residence which was chosen by them after looking around for a while. It was close to the market but also secluded enough. It was extremely convenient.
Qiao-Shi’s bun stand opened up shop once again, but Ruan Siyi’s letter writing stand didn’t reappear. Qiao-Shi had him study properly in order to pass the county level exam the following year. During this year, the money they got from selling their residence could last them for a while.
That’s right. This was the reason they had moved back. The Ruan family was stripped of their nobility, and were now naturally permitted to take the imperial exam.
Ruan Siyi focused all his efforts on his studies. While Qiao-Shi set up her stand, he would read and occasionally help Matron Chen take care of his daughter. When Qiao-Shi was about to pack up, he would go pick her up.
The next year, Ruan Siyi entered the exam venue full of confidence, but didn’t manage to pass.
When the results were announced, Ruan Siyi was extremely dispirited.
Eighteen years ago, his teacher had called him a good seedling. His poetry and prose had all been decent. Afterwards, he had cast aside his studies after feeling dejected, and it seemed he was now unable to pick it up again.
He wasn’t willing to try again, preparing to continue setting up a stand to support his family. Qiao-Shi however scolded him and said: “Could it be that you finally have the opportunity to do something you’ve wanted to do for eighteen years, and you’re going to give up just like that?”
That’s right, this was something he had wished for a long, long time ago. This sort of longing had started the moment he picked up his brush, but due to the limitations of his status, he could only suppress his desires.
That’s right, how could he give up?
He had already cast aside his dignity and two decades of prestige to become an impoverished letter writer. He had already given up on his pride and ego, what else did he have to lose?
If he didn’t pass, he’ll just try again! That temperate and refined Fourth Master Ruan had been ground to pieces over the years, and he had been able to piece himself back together. Why would he fear starting over!?
One year passed, two years. On the third year, Ruan Siyi finally passed the county-level exam.
He participated in the provincial exam the next year but failed.
At that time, Ruan Siyi was completely able to remain calm in the face of failure. His character had already been polished extremely well. He found a private school and worked as a teacher while helping Qiao-Shi with the stand during his free time.
Within these three years, Qiao-Shi became pregnant once more. She gave birth to a boy, and they named him Ruan Zhiyuan.
After gaining three more years of experience, Ruan Siyi tried once again. This time he took first place in the provincial exam.
The entire Shaanxi Province was shaken, but Ruan Siyi quietly took his wife and children back to the capital.
Seven years had passed, and they had returned once again to the familiar yet foreign capital.
Ruan Siyi bought a house in the slums where they had once lived. Although it wasn’t their old house, it was extremely close by. Many people on the street didn’t recognize this new family. Only the old neighbors still remembered that scholar with his stand back then and his wife who sold buns.
No one knew that he wasn’t a mere scholar anymore. This was the first place candidate of the provincial exam who shook the entire Shaanxi Province during this autumn’s exam: Ruan Siyi.
The Shaanxi Province was too far from the capital. A provincial top scorer was too insignificant here. They were a dime a dozen amongst the minor officials in the capital.
The capital started becoming lively. More and more people gathered in preparation for the city-level exam that would grant them a chance to become imperial students.
At the same time, Ruan Siyi actually set up his stand once again. Qiao-Shi didn’t continue with her stand. She had to take care of two children and truly didn’t have the time.
In the fourteenth year of the Splendid Era during the second month of spring, the city-level exam began.
Ruan Siyi entered the venue on the ninth, and only came out on the evening of the seventeenth. Qiao-Shi had long since hired a carriage and was waiting by the doors. The moment he got on the carriage, he fell unconscious. Qiao-Shi’s heart ached as she wiped away her tears.
Ruan Siyi slept for three days and three nights before finally waking up. The nine days of intense exams had drained him of all his stamina. Then, they awaited the results.
During the end of February, the rankings were released. Ruan Siyi passed, and was in twelfth place.
The court-level exam was held in the middle of March, within the Hall of High Politics. The emperor of Grand Xi, his majesty the Jing Emperor sat in the middle of the hall. Below him, the hall was densely filled with those who passed the city-level exam.
Many of the examinees had long admired the Jing Emperor. Seeing that he had personally come to oversee their exam, everyone was extremely excited.
Whether they would be accepted as imperial students depended on this moment!
In comparison to the others, Ruan Siyi’s emotions were complicated.
This person on the throne had ruined his family, and now he was taking the court exam under his supervision.
Fate worked in mysterious ways, but he was actually unable to hate this person. Wasn’t it due to him that he was able to mature, and become successful? Furthermore, wasn’t the Jinyang Estate’s downfall due to their own actions?
He suppressed his emotions and buried himself in the books. Fourteen years of effort all led up to this moment!
When the exam was over, the papers were scored the next day and the scores were announced the day after.
This time, Ruan Siyi’s name shocked the capital once again as he was conferred a New Field Top Scorer by the Jing Emperor.
After a horseback parade, there was a news convention. Ruan Siyi was in the limelight.
It seemed that no one remembered him as the useless young master of the Jinyang Marquis’s Estate. His own brother Ruan Siming had been present at the parade, but he hadn’t been able to recognize this grizzled, thin-faced New Field Top Scorer as his own useless brother who had disappeared a few years back.
Naturally people asked if the top scorer was married.
The New Field Top Scorer answered that he had a wife back home, and they had been married for two decades. They got along well and respected each other in marriage.
Only the heavens knew that as Ruan Siyi participated in the convention, there was a married woman who looked at the skies with flowing tears, mumbling: “Dad, my gamble paid off. Fourteen years, I spent fourteen years…..”
The top scorer was only famous for a brief period before falling back into obscurity. Ruan Siyi was conferred as an instructor at the Imperial Hanlin Academy to temper himself for three years. Three years later, he would be assigned something else.
These three years passed very peacefully.
Ruan Siyi went back and forth between his house and the Hanlin Academy every day.
During this time, Qiao-Shi had been uncomfortable regarding the difficulties between her maternal family and her husband’s family. In the end, she secretly sent a letter over containing only a few words: forgive your unfilial daughter!
Three years later, Ruan Siyi was sent out as the Su Province’s magistrate.
The night before they left the capital.
In the dark, Ruan Siyi looked at Qiao-Shi who was tossing and turning next to him, and said: “We’re leaving once again. Don’t you want to make a trip to your maternal family first?”
Ruan Siyi patted her and said softy: “Make a trip tomorrow morning. Don’t worry about me.”
The next day before dawn, Qiao-Shi swiftly took a carriage to the High Official’s Estate. High Official Qiao and his wife hugged their daughter as they cried their hearts out.
Madam Qiao couldn’t help but scold: “……you heartless person, not even coming back once in ten years…..” After scolding, she cried with heart ache: “….my daughter has suffered……”
After crying the three sat down to talk. As Qiao-Shi spoke, Madam Qiao couldn’t help but wipe away tears and High Official Qiao couldn’t help but sigh. In the end, he said: “Hard work will be rewarded in the end. Since he has some future prospects, your days won’t be hard in the future.”
As noon approached, Qiao-Shi hurriedly got on her carriage. She didn’t go home, but instead hurried to the harbor.
At the harbor, an official ship was waiting.
When Qiao-Shi got on board, the ship set sail.
Ruan Siyi and Qiao-Shi stood on the ship’s tail glancing at the distant imposing city.
Qiao-Shi wiped her eyes, “I’m truly unfilial…..”
Ruan Siyi pulled her into his arms and sighed: “When we come back once more, let’s go visit my in-laws.”
Ruan Siyi patted her comfortingly and didn’t say anything.
“Actually……” Qiao-Shi let out a deep breath. “Actually, I have a secret that I’ve never told you……”
Ruan Siyi looked at her deeply and said: “I know.”
“You know?” Qiao-Shi’s eyes widened in disbelief.
Ruan Siyi nodded.
How could he not know about it? Perhaps he had been confused at the time, but afterwards he slowly started to understand. But he just couldn’t forget that she had appeared during his most helpless moments, and couldn’t forget her haggard expression as he himself was on the edge of death. He couldn’t forget when she laughed and cried as she pulled at him when she thought he had vanished as he went out for a walk. He couldn’t forget that in their most difficult times she always gave him all the good things in the soup, leaving herself with only the broth. He couldn’t forget how she bought him a book after working hard at her stand for several months…..
Therefore, even if there was some deceit, so what? What sort of deceit could be so thorough? If this was all a lie, then he was willing to be lied to!
“……Actually, I hated you a lot at that time, and wished you all sorts of bad luck. Only then would I feel a little better….I told myself at the time, I would definitely get my revenge against you and make you lose everything. I would make you fall in love with me before abandoning you and making you suffer….but in the end I ended up regretting it……”
From the day she secretly followed him as he set up his stand for the first time, seeing his impoverished and dispirited appearance and his determination….she had started to regret!
She realized that he was part of her life. When he was impoverished, her heart ached. When he was depressed, her tears flowed…she already loved him to the bone, and couldn’t bear to leave him, couldn’t bear to cut him off and couldn’t forget about him…..
Actually, the Qiao family had been willing to support their own daughter and son-in-law. Even if High Official Qiao wasn’t willing to accept this son-in-law who never treated his daughter well, he didn’t wish to see his own daughter suffer. But Qiao-Shi never let them, telling them that if he was merely a piece of mud, then they might as well let him dissolve. She said to give her three years, and if he turned out to be good for nothing, she would leave and come home….
Actually, she had lied to everyone. She had set out for the sake of vengeance, but instead had fallen victim right from the get go…..
She clearly had silver, but forced him to hit rock bottom. They clearly could have lived well, but she forced him into poverty…..
Qiao-Shi had hesitated several times over taking out the silver notes that Madam Qiao had slipped her. In the end, she still put them back into the box. All the way until today, she had never touched them.
These years watching Ruan Siyi change and transform, and enjoying their loving relationship, she had felt extremely guilty….she never said anything because she was afraid…..
She was afraid that all this would become a dream!
Qiao-Shi spoke one word at a time, airing out all the demons she had kept inside for so long, including her own thought process.
Her face was filled with tears and was unable to speak from crying.
At some point, Ruan Siyi had also started crying.
He pulled Qiao-Shi into his arms and held her tightly.
“I’ve always wanted to tell you that I was sorry, but I felt these words were too superficial. Now, I want to solemnly tell you: I’m sorry. If I could redo things, I would definitely not be that way.”
Qiao-Shi cried and laughed: “It’s fine.”
These words vented all of Qiao-Shi’s joys and sorrows, including her resentment from before, including her relief and resignation afterwards. If everything that happened before was necessary to obtain what she now had, she was extremely happy to make this trade.
After all, when they first got married, he had made mistakes, but didn’t she make mistakes as well? As the two of them grew more and more distant, she had made further mistakes….
She had used her own abilities to obtain a real husband. During these ten years, Qiao-Shi understood something she had never understood before: using sincerity to obtain sincerity!
Therefore, she was victorious at this moment, truly victorious. She had won everything, and escaped the clutches of fate!
This would continue into the future. Their happiness was just setting sail……
<End of novel>
It’s finally over. Can’t really describe the feeling in my heart. There is both joy and sorrow. Let’s meet again in <The Violent Concubine Has the Upper Hand>.
Well, it’s been quite a journey. It’s a weird feeling now that it’s over. Not sure how those translators who translate novels with several hundreds or thousands of chapters do it. Got a little emotional at the end. I am truly astonished at the number of readers I’ve managed to reach with this project, and how engaged everyone was in the comment section. Thank you to everyone who supported me during this time by reading along, commenting and donating. Thank you again to Kimmy G. for getting me started on this novel and on translating in general. Hopefully I lived up to your expectations.
As mentioned in one of the comments, I will be taking kind of a break. Things wrapped up at a very convenient time. For those who have checked out the “about me” page or who wondered about the theme of the website, I am finally able to make a trip to visit my girlfriend in Taiwan. I hadn’t been able to visit her since the country has been closed to social visits. Luckily the company I work for is headquartered in Taiwan, and I will be going there for business next week. I’ll have to quarantine for 14 days, but will be there probably until the end of November. During quarantine, I will revisit all the chapters and correct any mistakes/try to make all the terms consistent. I’ll also compile everything into an epub file (once I figure out how) so my readers can have it available for offline reading.
My plan is to sneak it at the end of one of the later chapters, as a bonus for my earlier readers. New readers can help me churn out some ad revenue until they reach the chapter in questions, hehe.
Once the file is available, I will leave it in Chapter 158. I’ll edit this part out once it’s released.
I haven’t decided on my next project yet. I did see some readers requesting “the Jin Prince dotes on his concubine” by the same author. I’m a little weary of that since someone has already been translating it six months ago, and I would have to either redo it or read through it to make sure the terms match up. Also I’m a little worried about being struck by copyright from the author/publisher, so maybe best not to keep all my eggs in one basket. I will keep it in mind, and it might be something I can do on the side or for a future project.
I won’t ramble on any longer, since hopefully this isn’t farewell to most of my readers. I’ll see you on my next project!