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Six Records of a Floating Life, 3: Kanke Jichou (Section 13)

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 13

惠來曰:「郎舅至戚,即無宿逋,亦應竭盡綿力,無如航海鹽船新被盜,正當盤帳之時,不能挪移豐贈,當勉措番銀二十圓,以償舊欠,何如?」 Huilai said: “You and I have come to be the closest of relatives; even if there were no debt, I should still exhaust my limited power; however our sea-faring salt ships have recently been robbed; I’m just in the process of checking the account books, and cannot manoeuvre to shift any generous gift to you; I should make the effort to arrange twenty coins of foreign silver for you, to compensate the old debt; how about that?”

_Huilai refers to Shen Fu as 郎舅 - 'uncle'. 宿逋 is a binome meaning 'unpaid debt'. 竭盡 is another binome, literally 'exhaustion' here in the sense of 'to exhaustion' or 'as far as possible'. 無如 means 'however'._

余本無奢望,遂諾之。 I did not have extravagant hopes to begin with, and thereupon consented to this.

留住兩日,天已晴暖,即作歸計。 I stayed for two days, and when the weather was clear and warm; I promptly made plans to return.

二十五日,乃回華宅。 On the 25th, I returned to the Hua’s.

芸曰:「君遇雪乎?」 Yun said: “Did you encounter the snow?”

余告以所苦。 I told her of my suffering.

因慘然曰:「雪時,妾以為君抵靖,乃尚逗留江口。 Accordingly distressed, she said: “When it was snowing, I thought you had reached Jingjiang, and yet you were stopping over at the river mouth.”

幸遇曹老,絕處逢生,亦可謂吉人天相矣。」 You were lucky to encounter old Cao, finding survival in peril; it could also be said that Heaven looks after the lucky ones.”

_絕處逢生 is an idiom, literally 'peril position encounter life'._

越數日,得青君信,知逢森已為揖山薦引入店,藎臣請命於吾父,擇正月二十四日將伊接去。 After several days, we received a letter from Qingjun, making us aware that Fengsen had already been introduced by Yishan to a job in a shop and taken in, and that our loyal servant [Qingjun] had requested permission from my father, and he [Yishan] had chosen the twenty-fourth day of the first month for her to be taken in.

_為 in '逢森已為揖山薦引入店' is a passive marker, like 被._

兒女之事粗能了了,但分離至此,令人終覺慘傷耳。 Our children’s affairs seemed to be in order by and large, but being separated up till now had ultimately made us feel miserable and hurt.

_This is literally 'Son and daughter's affairs roughly realised'._

二月初,日暖風和,以靖江之項薄備行裝,訪故人胡肯堂於邗江鹽署,有貢局眾司事公延入局,代司筆墨,身心稍定。 At the beginning of the second month, the sun was warm and the wind peaceful, so with the sum of money from Jingjiang I made modest preparations to travel; I paid a visit to my old friend Hu Kentang at the salt office in Hanjiang; there was a host of office staff in the tax office in charge of matters, who brought me into the office, so I was a substitute secretary; my body and my mind were slightly settled.

_貢 here means 'in charge of'._

至明年壬戌八月,接芸書曰:「病體全瘳,惟寄食於非親非友之家,終覺非久長之策,願亦來邗,一睹平山之勝。」 Come the eighth month of the following year, 1802, I received a letter from Yun saying ‘my sick body is completely recovered; to rely for food only on families which are not kin and not friends, I feel that in the end such is not a policy for the long term; I wish to come to Yangzhou and to see for once the sights of Ping Mountain”

_寄食 has the sense of 'to live off' or even 'parasitic' (寄食虫 is a parasite)._

余乃賃屋於邗江先春門外,臨河兩椽,自至華氏接芸同行。 I then rented a room outside the Xianchun gate of Yangzhou; it was two beams, overlooking the river; I myself arrived at the Hua family, met Yun, and travelled together.

_This 椽 - 'beams' - was a way of measuring the size of a house._

華夫人贈一小奚奴曰阿雙,幫司炊爨,並訂他年結鄰之約。 Ms Hua presented a small maid servant called Ah Shuang, who helped by being in charge of lighting the hearth, and we made an agreement to be neighbours at some future date.

時已十月,平山淒冷,期以春遊。 The time was already the tenth month, Ping Mountain was already freezing cold, and we scheduled a trip there in the Spring.

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)
  13. Six Records of a Floating Life, 3: Kanke Jichou (Section 13) (this article)
  14. Six Records of a Floating Life, 3: Kanke Jichou (Section 14)

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