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Chapter 222 – Old Cucumber (1)

The imperial study plummeted into a deathly silence, the air still– nothing but the sound of heavy breathing filled the room. The livid doe-eyes glowered, the shocked hawk-eyes glared as a woman and man stood in a deadlock… neither willing to back down.

Old cucumber?!

[T/N: old cucumber: is a shrivelled old man. Here, it is an allusion to an overused “third leg”.]

Mo Rongzhan nearly doubted what he had just heard.

What did she just say? Old cucumber?

This was too vivid. Even if he did not want to think about it, he was compelled to. A young girl, yet to be married, and to his surprise*…

[T/N: he’s surprised cos it’s a term that should be known only to married women. And here, a still “pure” LYY mentioning it takes him by surprise.]

Ye Zhen was also a little dumbfounded at this time. In her fit of rage, she had repeated the words once spoken by her father.

Back when she was determined to marry Mo Rongzhan, her eldest uncle had strongly opposed. He had wanted to marry her to the crown prince, saying that she could be the mother of the world in the future.

Her father firmly disagreed and shouted at his brother.

“Why do you want her to enter the palace to compete with other women for an old cucumber*?”

[T/N: Continuing from the previous note, her father must have used the term to say the crown prince is an old man, if not he definitely has a fair share of concubines and the father found it disgusting as is. And YZ just parroted him without much thought.]

She remembered those words even to this day. They seemed to have been, unknowingly, etched in her mind.

Mo Rongzhan was unwilling to let her off, looking down at her eyes full of shame, he asked with some uncertainty, “Lu Yaoyao, what did you just say?”

Ye Zhen tightly pursed her lips and refused to speak again. She had uttered those words at the peak of her emotions. Now that she’s embarrassed to even think about it, how could she say it again.

Mo Rongzhan looked at her clear and clever eyes with shame and anger. He glared at her then pressed his lips together.

“Who taught you that?” Mo Rongzhan demanded. Let him know who talked rubbish in front of her, he would certainly not let that person off!

“Your Majesty, would you let me go?” Ye Zhen said coldly.

Mo Rongzhan gazed at her rosy, glossy lips and asked, “Lu Yaoyao, is it because of the Wang Fei that you refuse to enter the palace?”

Ye Zhen smirked looking at him squarely. “Even if there is no Wang Fei Lu, I will still refuse.”

“Why?” Mo Rongzhan creased his eyebrows as he asked.

This girl was beyond his understanding. To say she sought no fame, she was ambitious: she was attending the Medical Academy and wished to be an Imperial Physician. She snubbed the offer he had willingly, time and again, made her; an offer that every girl yearned and fought to grab.

Why? Ha! What does it matter to him! For a split second she was tempted to blurt the truth, but one ‘old cucumber’ was enough for today. She did not wish to bury herself deep, not yet, least of all alone.

“I do not desire to marry now. Moreover, why must I do it to enter the palace?” said she, “Besides, the likes of you can never understand the beauty of being a couple for a lifetime… fickle in affection; loving the new and loathing the old.” Ye Zhen smiled, while her limpid eyes looked on in ridicule.

She was such a person. She had a deep sense of justice and emotions. When she loved, she would do so with her entire being, all the way to the end, never once wavering. Or, she would never love at all. She had always found the notion of the world she was in hypocritical and refused to bow down to it. A woman was expected to pledge her heart and soul to her man, while he was allowed to “share” his love without any qualms. Was it so difficult for a man to have a one and only?

Ah, having a husband who lays down with other women… she would rather not marry at all!

A couple for a lifetime? Mo Rongzhan wanted to laugh at those words. However, when he saw how serious she was, he clenched his teeth and pressed his lips together instead. The smile on the corner of his mouth gradually faded, his hand around her waist gently loosened.

Ye Zhen didn’t waste a moment to push him away, took several steps back, and eyed him warily. She had clenched her fist on her sides, ready to pounce if necessary.

Mo Rongzhan had an indescribable emotion in his heart. Her words… her actions just then, somewhere in the deep crevices of his heart, he felt an inexplicable pain. What she sought, was the very thing he could not give. He was unsure if it was because of an emperor’s helplessness or a man’s unwillingness. But give, he could not.

He soon brushed aside his sentiments and snapped back to reality. After a moment, his rationality returned, and he categorized this requirement as what it should be: absurd.

“Lu Yaoyao, you know this idea is not realistic. All men like having three wives and four concubines.” He was surprised by his own words, why was he trying to appease her?!

“Not all men do.” Ye Zhen replied softly. She believed this had more to do with intent than the societal norms. Should a man put his foot down and commit himself to just one woman, who could stop him?

“What if you can’t find one?” He countered.

Ye Zhen just smiled like he had missed something obvious. “Your Majesty, how many women in the capital do you think have looks comparable to mine? Since I am already the best, who would choose those who are worse than me?”

If he thought he could demoralize her, he was barking up the wrong tree. She was well aware of her worth, and needed no man to tell her so, certainly not the one standing before her.

Mo Rongzhan’s mood turned gloomier at the thought of how some men would taste her sweetness in the future. He was unreconciled. His childishness got the better of him.

“What if… I command you enter the palace?

He was the emperor, who on earth could defy him? If he wanted her, then no one could stop him and no man could have her.

“I would rather die.”