Chu Yu’s mind was a mess. She couldn’t understand why she created so much commotion when she only wanted to shop along the streets!
How could the public order and folk custom of the famous capital of the Southern Dynasties be so bad?!
During the confusion, many thoughts flashed across Chu Yu’s mind, crashing into each other, crushed to pieces, then instantly flooded by anxiety. Among the chaos, Yue Jiefei’s hand was let go by her at some time, and he disappeared in the split of a second. Chu Yu didn’t dare look back to find him either, so she could only continue running.
The footsteps behind her made crackling and rumbling sounds, beating on Chu Yu’s tight nerves. This body was not strong enough, so after just a little while Chu Yu started panting, and her steps couldn’t help slowing down. But hearing the crowds pressing in on her from behind, energy was infused into her body again from nowhere. She ran faster, until once again she was out of breath.
Repeating this several times, Chu Yu finally couldn’t squeeze out more potential from her body anymore. Turning around a corner, she told herself that the worst that could happen was dying, but suddenly a person appeared before her eyes and told Chu Yu quickly: “Follow me.”
He led Chu Yu through complicated and crossing alleys, and not long after, they threw the crowd off. Chu Yu came to a stop and panted heavily, her mind blank. She could only feel sweat pouring out from her body.
Actually, her mind wasn’t really blank. As her body tried to recover from the extreme burden, Chu Yu recalled her behavior just a moment ago. Just then, when she saw so many ancient people suddenly crowd around aggressively, she panicked, and didn’t even had the time to think what was the best way to deal with the situation. All she could do was instinctively run.
The person beside her seemed to say something. After a few seconds of pause did Chu Yu come back to her senses: “Sir, what did you say?” Her voice was naturally low, plus she was still panting from all the running, so all the female characteristics of her voice were covered up.
The person who saved Chu Yu had a gentlemanly appearance; his clothing was very sumptuous, so obviously he came from a wealthy family too. Looking at Chu Yu’s pretty features at a close distance, he praised in his heart, and didn’t hold a grudge against Chu Yu for not listening to him before. He repeated his words: “My name is Pei Shu. Sir, is this the first time you came out alone?”
Chu Yu nodded, and asked astonishedly, “How did you know?”
Pei Shu laughed, “I knew by your reaction just a while ago. You actually didn’t need to be afraid, those people didn’t have any bad intentions.”
Chu Yu was still in shock, so she subconsciously blurted out: “That counts as having no bad intentions? They even started throwing things at me. If this is not called having bad intentions, then what is having bad intentions?”
Pei Shu replied, “Sir, you don’t know. Actually, they were just trying to express their admiration of a beautiful man, therefore the crowd got so excited. When you started running, you stimulated them, leading to them chasing you even more crazily.”
Chu Yu just stared. She couldn’t believe what she heard: “Are you kidding me?” This was close to the celebrity-chasing of the twenty-first century, but what did she had that was worth chasing?
Pei Shu smiled, “Don’t find this odd, the culture here has always been like this. Really, if you respond appropriately, there wouldn’t be such a commotion. Or you can bring several guards with you when you come out from now on, so you can keep a distance from your admirers.” Seeing that Chu Yu’s clothing was delicate and elegant, he could tell that Chu Yu was probably from an unordinary family, so he purposefully wanted to make friends with her. That’s why he used his familiarity with the streets to help her out.
Listening to Pei Shu’s explanation, Chu Yu finally understood. This was the folk custom that had been passed down since the time of Pan An1 . Once people saw a beautiful man on the streets, everyone would throw flowers, melons, and fruits at him, to express their admiration. Chu Yu couldn’t help but feel numb when she heard this; thinking back, it must have been really hard for Pan An to keep his life under the attacks of so many melons and fruits.
There was another handsome man in ancient China named Wei Jie2 , and like Pan An, he was extremely handsome. But just how handsome was he? It was said that when he stood in a crowd, it was like a shining pearl or a beautiful jade being put among a heap of rubble. Back then, when he first came to Nanjing, which is basically Jiankang, the local folk heard that a beautiful man came, so huge crowds came out to watch him; the streets were so full it was hard to move a single step. And they literally “watched” him, a pretty youth that was weak and sickly, to death. But combined with her own encounter today, Chu Yu suspected that the pretty boy from the Wei family was stoned to death by all the flowers and fruits.
This was a time period that worshipped beauty, especially masculine beauty.
These days, you not only needed a pretty appearance to be a beautiful man; you also needed a nimble and fit body.
Chu Yu was stunned for a long time, then finally let out her breath and laughed: “Haven’t I learned today.” Telling herself in her heart that it wasn’t her looking too bestial, but the local folk were too bestial, pouncing onto every single handsome man they see. Judging by that, it seems like her disguise wasn’t a total failure.
After resting for a little while, the two chose a quiet place to stroll. After some conversations, Chu Yu understood that she was just like half a pail of water; most of the times all she did was listen, and at places where she could understand she would sporadically add in one or two sentences of her opinion. Her silent, elegant smile made her seem calm and profound; plus her opinions were unique, so Pei Shu admired her even more.
What Pei Shu talked about was mostly poetry. Although Chu Yu wasn’t an expert in ancient Chinese literature, this didn’t hinder her from pretending to be clever. After all, she had the essence of more than a thousand years of poetry stored in her brain, so she surpassed Pei Shu a lot just on knowledge. Therefore, every time she spoke, although it was only a couple of words, she would always get the point.
Pei Shu was purposefully trying to make friends with Chu Yu, and Chu Yu wanted to meet some outside-world people too, to help her with further understanding this world, so the two began talking more and more agreeably. Although they didn’t know what the other was thinking about, and the surface, they seemed like old friends.
Time passed quickly as they conversed. Pei Shu remembered that he still had stuff to get to, so he bid Chu Yu farewell. After two steps, he turned back again, and laughed: “After talking with you for so long, I still don’t know how to address you, sir.”
Chu Yu smiled gently, “Call me Yu Zichu.” Knowing that the name of the Princess of Shanyin wasn’t some good name, she didn’t want to tell Pei Shu her real name.
“Ah, so it’s brother Zichu.” Pei Shu smiled, “Three days later I will be hosting a poetry banquet with music, flowing water, and a feast at the Pingding Mountain outside the city. Will brother Zichu be willing to attend?” Seeing that Chu Yu had insightful opinions, he took it for granted that Chu Yu would be good at composing poetry. How would he know that Chu Yu was just taking advantage over the time periods, and was just stealing other people’s pristine.
Pausing for a second, he added in a seemingly careless way, “At that time, Master Thousand-Gold will also come.” Although he seemed to be carelessly mentioning, Chu Yu could tell that there was an unsuppressable feeling close to boasting in his voice, as if he were saying, “The superstar is also attending, so if you don’t come, it would be such a pity.”
Although Pei Shu was deceived, Chu Yu knew clearly what her own level was. She was just about to reject, but suddenly a thought flashed across her mind, and she agreed: “Sure, I will definitely be there.” Although she had different intentions, at the same time, Pei Shu’s words and actions made it so she couldn’t help but be curious about that Master Thousand-Gold. Don’t know what kind of amazing figure he would be.
1. Pan An: 潘安, a famously handsome man in Chinese history. A Chinese idiom originated from him that means “so handsome that when going out in a carriage, fruits fill the carriage” (掷果盈车). This guy was briefly mentioned in Ch.3 in a list of names.↩
2. Wei Jie: 卫玠, another famously handsome man in Chinese history. Also briefly mentioned in Ch.3 in the list of names.↩