Chapter 68: Drunk in Your Arms (1)
“…He ordered my mother to create various opportunities for him to meet my aunt, but my mother refused. He said that since she was being a disobedient wife, she would have to give up the child in her stomach.”
“My mother had to give in for my sake. In the end, she lost all hope. She originally wanted to oppose the pair’s relationship, but later on she was too lazy to care anymore. She merely looked on indifferently as her husband and her own sister mingled together within her home. My mother comforted herself by singing during those times.”
Gong Yi Mo listened quietly as he spoke, and for a moment, the air seemed to thicken from the tension. But Shen Shi Ye smiled as if he didn’t care.
“I was very young then, but I can remember a line of one song clearly. I’ll sing it to you…”
The young man cleared his throat and began to sing the lyrics…
“Who would have thought… The Spring Pavilion was warm and cold for ten nights [note] ten nights 十夜 ‘Shi Ye’–this is where his name comes from… Shen Shi Ye [/note] .It used to be a phoenix’s nest.”
His young voice echoed through the streets and alleyways. He sang a well known opera piece called ‘A False Phoenix’ which was often sung by women. His voice gave a deeper tone to the lyrics, giving it a special sense of sorrow.
“Did you know?”
He suddenly stopped his pace and said to Gong Yi Mo, “Once my mother was pregnant, father never visited her courtyard again. He only visited her for those ten nights. When my mother gave birth to me, my father was never around, so my mother only had me. The name ‘Shi Ye’ is so full of irony! And since she hated him, she was also against me…”
“An existence like this was far from the wanton life she wanted, so she became more and more obsessed with opera. Regardless of the everyone’s opposition, she refused to attend the New Year’s Eve at the Prince’s estate, and instead, went to the opera to perform in a play called ‘Farewell to My Concubine.’ She never imagined that a real sword would be used against her during her acting, nor that the blood spilled that night would be her own. I was by the stage at the time, yet her last words weren’t even to me…”
Shen Shi Ye’s voice trembled slightly.
“Later on, it was a simple matter. Father reached an agreement with my paternal grandmother in order to marry my aunt. As long as grandmother approved, he would gain the inheritance no matter how many children there were, so grandmother allowed my aunt to marry into his house to become my stepmother.”
Gong Yi Mo gradually sobered. She seemed to imagine the woman who painted her skin in heavy makeup managed and finished her last lines in the drama. That kind of life was too much a torment for a woman with a passionate heart. Raised in a feudal society, even his mother could not escape a life with these strict ideals.
Sensing the deep sorrow emanating from this young man, Gong Yi Mo reached out to rub his head and smiled,
“I can’t sing opera, but I can dance. Do you want to see it?”
When the sorrowful Shen Shi Ye heard Gong Yi Mo’s words, he looked at her small flat body and chuckled, “Dance? Just you?”
Gong Yi Mo walked a little further before performing. She turned around gracefully and lifted her head. Shen Shi Ye thought that her movements were very natural and smooth, even with the simple robes she wore. Because she was drunk, a simple twist caused her to stagger, making her appearance look a little funny. This inexplicably caused Shen Shi Ye’s mood to brighten.
“Look at you, are you trying to perform drunk in front of this young master? Don’t ruin this master’s eyes.”
Gong Yi Mo refused to admit she was drunk and looked up at him proudly. Since she wasn’t quite sober, she muttered foolishly,
“I can dance but Emperor Gong Sheng has yet to see my performance. You are lucky to be the first!”