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Six Records of a Floating Life, 3: Kanke Jichou (Section 12)

A bamboo mesh with the characters '浮生六記 / 坎坷記愁' superimposed on itThis is a sentence-by-sentence translation from the chapter 坎坷記愁 in Shen Fu’s 浮生六記 (Six Records of a Floating Life). It aims to be literal and close to the original text as far as possible, rather than be an idiomatic conversion to English.

(See the index of Fu Sheng Liu Ji translations)

浮生六記第六卷:坎坷記愁 → Section 12

余告以投親遇雪之由,曹曰: I told him the reason for casting myself into the hands of my relations, and encountering the snow; Cao said:

「明日天晴,我當順途相送。」 “If tomorrow’s weather is clear, I should see you off on the way.”

_相 here is a generic pronoun._

出錢沽酒,備極款洽。 He took out money to buy wine, and showed me the utmost level of cordiality.

_'showed me generosity' would also be a good translation here._

二十日,曉鐘初動,即聞江口喚渡聲,余驚起,呼曹同濟。 On the 20th, when the early morning bell first struck, I heard the ferryman calling people; I jumped up, calling Cao to catch the ferry together.

曹曰:「勿急,宜飽食登舟。」 Cao said: “Don’t rush; we should eat our fill before boarding the boat.”

乃代償房飯錢,拉余出沽。 Then he paid for my lodging and food, and took me to go out for a drink.

_沽 here is likely to be 'drink', rather than the more common meaning 'buy'._

余以連日逗留,急欲趕渡,食不下咽,強啖麻餅兩枚。 As I had stopped over there for several days in a row, I was anxious to cross on the ferry and couldn’t swallow the food; I forced myself to eat two sesame cakes.

_枚 is a measure word for the sesame cakes._

及登舟,江風如箭,。 Then we boarded the boat; the wind on the river was like an arrow, and my four limbs shivered violently.

_四肢發戰 is literally 'four limbs battled with each other' (i.e. knocked together whilst shivering)._

曹曰:「聞江陰有人縊於靖,其妻雇是舟而往,必俟雇者來始渡耳。」 Cao said: “I heard that someone was strangled in Jiangyin, and his wife hired this boat to go there; we must wait for her to get here and then cross.”

_It's not entirely clear whether the person has been executed, murdered or has committed suicide. Something unpleasant, in any case. Literally, Cao says 'wait for the hirer'._

枵腹忍寒,午始解纜。 With an empty stomach I endured the cold, and at noon the boat was unmoored.

至靖,暮煙四合矣。 When we arrived at Jing, the evening mist was merging in all directions.

曹曰:「靖有公堂兩處,所訪者城內耶? Cao said “Jing has two government offices, is the one you’re visiting inside the city?

城外耶?」 Or outside the city wall?”

余踉蹌隨其後,且行且對曰: I staggered after him; whilst walking I said to him:

_This 且... 且... structure means 'whilst', and is like '一边...一边...' in modern Mandarin._

「實不知其內外也。」 “Actually I don’t know if it’s inside or out.”

曹曰:「然則且止宿,明日往訪耳。」 Cao said: “If that is so then we might as well stop and rest, and go and visit tomorrow.”

進旅店,鞋襪已為泥淤濕透,索火烘之,草草飲食,疲極酣睡。 We went into an inn, and my socks and shoes were already wet through with mud and dirt; I requested a fire to dry them, hastily ate some food, and extremely wearily fell into a deep sleep.

晨起,襪燒其半,曹又代償房飯錢。 In the morning, the socks were half burnt, and Cao once again paid the money for my food and lodgings.

訪至城中,惠來尚未起,聞余至,披衣出,見余狀驚曰: When I got within the city walls, Huilai had not yet risen; when he heard I had arrived, he threw on some clothes and came out; seeing the state I was in, he was shocked and said:

「舅何狼狽至此?」 “Brother in law, what distress has brought you here?”

_狼狽 is from the chengyu 狼狈为奸 - "the wolf and bei conspire together" (a 狈 is a mythical animal that rides around on wolves). The phrase refers to events conspiring against someone, or just bad circumstances in general._

余曰:「姑勿問,有銀乞借二金,先遣送我者。」 I said “For the time being don’t ask; if you have any silver, I beg you to lend me two ounces; first I must repay the one who has brought me here.”

_姑 means 'temporarily' here._

惠來以番銀二圓授余,即以贈曹。 Huilai gave me two foreign silver coins, and I promptly presented them to Cao.

_The coins here are probably Mexican silver dollars._

曹力卻,受一圓而去。 Cao forcefully declined, but took one and left.

_To clarify: Cao refuses for a while and then politely accepts half of what's offered; this is typical of Chinese manners._

余乃歷述所遭,並言來意。 I then related all of the misfortune I had experienced and said why I had come.

Series: Six Records of a Floating Life

  1. Six Records of a Floating Life, 3: Kanke Jichou (Section 1)
  2. Six Records of a Floating Life, 3: Kanke Jichou (Section 2)
  3. Six Records of a Floating Life, 3: Kanke Jichou (Section 3)
  4. Six Records of a Floating Life, 3: Kanke Jichou (Section 4)
  5. Six Records of a Floating Life, 3: Kanke Jichou (Section 5)
  6. Six Records of a Floating Life, 3: Kanke Jichou (Section 6)
  7. Six Records of a Floating Life, 3: Kanke Jichou (Section 7)
  8. Six Records of a Floating Life, 3: Kanke Jichou (Section 8)
  9. Six Records of a Floating Life, 3: Kanke Jichou (Section 9)
  10. Six Records of a Floating Life, 3: Kanke Jichou (Section 10)
  11. Six Records of a Floating Life, 3: Kanke Jichou (Section 11)
  12. Six Records of a Floating Life, 3: Kanke Jichou (Section 12) (this article)
  13. Six Records of a Floating Life, 3: Kanke Jichou (Section 13)
  14. Six Records of a Floating Life, 3: Kanke Jichou (Section 14)

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