“Have you heard?”
“Ahem, mn, it’s Nan Ge Er. After drinking, the two of them did that…”
“Mo Shu-xiansheng moves real fast, huh.”
“Shh shh, you should address Nan Ge Er as ‘Furen’ now.”
“You’re right, hey, why is Furen’s face so dark? Is his body still not well…”
“…Heh heh, what do you think, being together with Mo Shu-xiansheng, his body still isn’t well…”
“Oh oh, I see. Heh heh…”
Nan Ge Er was strolling around the streets. As he listened to the wretched laughter coming from those two, his face became darker and darker…I really want to rush back this moment, and spank that sweet-food-con1 to death!
When he went out on the fifth day of the first lunar month, he realized that he and Mo Shu had become the target of the district’s gossip, and they even imagined them in that respect, which utterly devastated him. By no means was he homophobic, but he really didn’t bat for the same team.
During the time when he could fall in love, he had a crush for a certain cute girl in the Chinese department. When he had just started being interested in love, he also had a spark for a few girls in his class. All of them were females! And when he arrived in this world, he did have intimate experiences with others too; those were all females as well! Thus, he never thought he had the possibility of offering himself to a certain guy as a bride. No matter how perfect Mo Shu is.
Besides, isn’t there something going on between Mo Shu and Advisor Zhu Xi?
Moreover, he felt that he had already lost the passion and affection he had for humans, no longer needing love or warmth. However now, before returning to spank a certain someone, he had to take a cat back home from the red-light district.
As the food stored at home gradually increased, rats began to find it an excellent residence. Furthermore, since the government office was huge, it was infested by rats. Nan Ge Er had arranged to borrow someone’s cat to scare the rats. Actually, Nan Ge Er secretly thought that the biggest rat in the government office would be Mo Shu.
Because it was only the third day of the month when all of the stored food that was intended to be eaten throughout the month disappeared. Although Mo Shu claimed that he didn’t eat anything and that it might be the work of rats, Nan Ge Er felt that the rats were probably wrongfully framed …Mo Shu’s nature made his words, no matter how severely spoken, suspicious.
Even though almost everyone in the district knew about the rumor, Nan Ge Er did understand that they weren’t ill-intended. Alright, perhaps it was their way to give their blessings…
Hey! Is the current society so open-minded? Is it ok for your saint Mo Shu-xiansheng to be together with another guy? Also, I’ve already said that I don’t even have an intimate relationship with your Mo Shu-xiansheng!
“Oh Nan Ge Er~” Groups of alluring ladies, who were still on their Chinese New Year break, lay on the fence at the loft, shouting to him while grinning seductively. Nan Ge Er lifted his head up, smiling towards the ladies upstairs. Though the weather was cold, and they wore quite a lot as well, with furry scarves around their necks, their cleavages, and snow-white complexions were still faintly discernible.
He stood on the street. From a distance, there were groups of seductive prostitutes and money-boys2 who had woken up a tad earlier looking downstairs as they laze around on top, a colorful array of handkerchiefs waving around. Yup, he had arrived at the red-light district. All kinds of brothels, with varied signboards and erotic names, gathered in that street; the whole street was heavy with the smell of cosmetics.
“Look at Nan Ge Er’s outfit,” a woman wearing a red fox-fur robe coquettishly lay there, lowering her head as she took a gander at Nan Ge Er while chatting with her sisters3 beside her, “just like a fur ball.”
Next to her was a woman with a brown embroidered coat. With her handkerchief covering her mouth, she let out a faint giggle, “Isn’t that true, from a distance, he looks just like a ball rolling in.”
As Nan Ge Er heard the two’s conversation above, he made a face unwittingly. My apologies for not being able to wear it as flirtatiously as you guys…That’s right. Upon noticing Nan Ge Er’s fondness for that white fur coat, during the first lunar month, Mo Shu managed to get Nan Ge Er another fur pelt from god knows where. The outfit currently on him was a complete set, with sleeves and pants. Coupled with the fluffy, soft, white fur that fluttered with the wind, he had an uncanny resemblance to a fur ball.
“Hey, Nan Ge Er, come on up to have a cup of tea.” Another one of them seemed to have just woken up, casually rolling her sleeves up, as she languidly greeted Nan Ge Er.
“Another time, perhaps. I have to go to Chun Jiao’s place to borrow her cat.” Nan Ge Er notified the ladies, “I’ve arranged with her beforehand.”
Unexpectedly, once Nan Ge Er’s words got out of his mouth, the ladies upstairs were stunned for a moment before bursting out giggling.
Their behaviour alerted Nan Ge Er that something was wrong. Stopping in his tracks, he stared blankly at the ladies who were in fits of laughter, “What… what’s wrong?”
Nan Ge Er’s expression made the ladies laugh even louder. Those who reacted a bit too extremely even had to wipe the tears from their eyes with their handkerchiefs.
“Oh Nan Ge Er, don’t you know?” One of the more sympathetic ladies finally resisted the urge to burst out laughing again and explained.
“Hah?” Nan Ge Er was dumbfounded.
“Chun Jiao’s pseudonym is ‘Cat’; do you intend to bring her back to catch rats? Or to catch the little rats on you guys?” As she spoke out those perverted and violent words intrepidly, she cast a strange glance to Nan Ge Er’s lower body. Before she could finish her sentence, she began laughing her head off again. Everyone upstairs smacked their hands on the railing as they laughed wildly.
A whole bunch of black stripes fallen from the skies, brutally crashing onto Nan Ge Er’s head—he really wanted to disappear from the ladies’ line of sight.
No wonder when I asked everyone if they had any obedient cats, they would always have a wretched expression; no wonder when I discussed the matter with Chun Jiao, she had such an exaggerated laugh… All of them aren’t reliable at all! Nan Ge Er was infuriated internally…
Everyone finally stopped laughing and looked at Nan Ge Er, who was dazed as he stood on the street. One of them started cracking a joke again, “Who knew Nan Ge Er and Mo Shu-daren had such a kink?”
“Why don’t you let me come too?” another lady on the side laughed as she made a pass at Nan Ge Er, “You don’t have to pay me, I can even pay you guys two yin4 for a night.”
“Hey, how crafty, I want to go too, Nan Ge Er, I will pay three liang4 for a night.”
“Three liang and five qian.”
“I’ll pay four liang!”
“I’ll pay five liang, meals included.”
“Rascals, the one Nan Ge Er arranged with is clearly me! What are you fighting over for?!” … Miss Chun Jiao, who was ‘working’, rushed over in a rage from the end of the street, stomping up the stairs. She didn’t forget to entice Nan Ge Er by throwing a flirtatious glance at him while she berated the ladies…
“You did say it is just an arrangement, so Nan Ge Er has the freedom to choose anyone he likes.”
Nan Ge Er stood in the middle of the street, awkward and trembling, while the group of ladies made fun of him without any restraints. Why oh why is the atmosphere so similar to an auction?
“How is it?” The onlookers passed by Nan Ge Er, patting on the shoulders of the fur coat, “You’re really popular, huh. Go on and choose one.”
“Look, even the top rank in Nong Xiang Ge brothel wants to be your house cat. Not bad, huh?” God knows when did Nan Ge Er get surrounded by a bunch of idle fellows. Noticing that there was a scene going on, they began circling around, having a lively conversation as they looked on.
“The ladies in Zhu Yan Guan brothel are clearly prettier; they’d be a good choice too.”
“As a matter of fact, the guys in male brothels are much more suitable, look, the money-boys in Yang Qiu Lou brothel seem to be interested as well.”
“Oh oh, they aren’t a bad choice either.”
“This one is great too.”
In the midst of the clashing opinions, Nan Ge Er was unable to move, with black clouds hanging over his head.
Everyone began piling over; the ladies upstairs kept making jokes about him, the guys in the male brothels began throwing over handkerchiefs and other random stuff as well…He couldn’t escape, nor hide anymore. Is it a mistake for me to go out today without checking the calendar5? Is today an unlucky day for me to go out? It was the first time Nan Ge Er felt such disorientating despair.
Maybe due to the anxiety from the pressure, Nan Ge Er stammered and faltered for quite a while,” …I… I… I…” His face reddened, as he howled rather frantically, “I sell my skills but not my body!”
Everyone became silent. In a flash, the street was deafened with silence. Only the word “body..dy..dy” said by Nan Ge Er echoed. Perhaps the echo was just his imagination, but Nan Ge Er was practically teary-eyed from the anguish. He gave up all hope. Half a second later, the entire street was filled with bouts of laughter. Nan Ge Er was about to burst into tears as he stood dumbly in the middle of the bunch of rascals; he was fuming with embarrassment. He had the urge to hold his head in his hands and curl up for eternity.
Never had he face such embarrassment in his life. Great, so many particularly gossipy fellows witnessed this scene… Well, I’m completely famous now! What kind of stupid place is this? Why are the workers in the red-light district so haughty? Why is everyone just idling around in the streets instead of being busy making a living? Why are they all such senseless gossips? Why is this so?! I hate you, Mo Shu! Argggg!
1sweet-food-con: sweet-aholic/someone who loves sweets a lot
2Money-boys: male sex workers
3Sisters: Courtesans address their co-workers as sisters
4Yin(silver), Liang(tael), Qian(coins) are all ancient currency. More info: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ancient_Chinese_coinage https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tael
5 Some Chinese calendars contain predictions for zodiac signs.