Wild Goose Pass
Yan Poxi Embarrasses Song Jiang

Yan Poxi Embarrasses Song Jiang

Excerpt from The Water Margin, chapter 20

(Read the original here.)

“Daughter,” Old Woman Yan called out, “the one who makes your heart beat is here!”

At that moment Poxi was lying in bed, staring at her lamp and thinking about Assistant Zhang. When she heard her mother call out “the one who makes your heart beat is here,” naturally, she thought it was him. She jumped up and checked her hair in the mirror, all the while muttering to herself: “That devil thinks he can make me sit around and wait! Well, when I see him, I’m going to give him a good smack.”

She hurried down the stairs and peeked through the lattice screen. The glass lamp in the entrance hall shone brightly, revealing the face not of Assistant Zhang, but her husband, Song Jiang. When Poxi saw who it was, she turned on her heels and ran back up the stairs.

The old woman, meanwhile, heard her daughter’s footsteps rush eagerly down the stairs before turning around and scurrying back up. She called out, “Daughter, your love is here! Why did you run off?”

Song Jiang playing card, by Chen Hongshou, Ming dynasty

Poxi had by now returned to her bed, where she lay sulking. “Ma, stop with your nonsense!” she yelled back. “Is my room so far away that he can’t find it? He’s not blind! Why doesn’t come up here instead of waiting for me to go down and greet him?”

The old woman shook her head and said to Song Jiang, “That shameless girl is just upset because you haven’t been by to see her lately. That’s why she says such things.” She gave a nervous laugh. “Let me accompany you upstairs.”

As Song Jiang listened to his mother-in-law, he began to feel more and more uncomfortable. But she pulled on his sleeve and wouldn’t let go, and so, reluctantly, he followed her. At the top of the stairs was a large room that had been divided in two. In the front section was a dining table and stools. Behind the lattice divider was the rear section, which had a carved wooden bed pushed up against one wall, with red silk curtains hanging down from the bedposts. Next to the bed was a clothes rack, over which a towel had been thrown. At the other end of the bed was a washbasin and pewter lamp on a gold-lacquered table. Two matching stools stood next to it. In the middle of the wall was a painting of a lady, and four wooden armchairs were lined up opposite the bed.

Old Woman Yan dragged Song Jiang into the bedroom and sat him down on one of the stools. She then pulled Poxi out of bed, saying, “Sir Clerk has come just to see you, and yet all you do is lose your temper and hurt his feelings. You may be angry because he’s been ignoring you, but I know you’ve been thinking of him just the same. I had such a hard time getting him to come home. And now that he’s here, you refuse to apologize. Why are you in such a bad mood?”

Poxi pushed her mother’s hands away. “Ma, stop nagging. I haven’t done anything wrong! How can I apologize if he never comes to see us?”

Song Jiang sat there without saying a word. The old woman dragged a chair over to the table and forced Poxi to sit down next to him, saying, “Sit with your husband. If you won’t apologize, then the least you can do is stay still. You two haven’t seen each other for a while. Why don’t you try and say something nice to one another?”

But Poxi wouldn’t stay put, and stood up to sit in a different chair. Song Jiang looked down at the floor without saying a word. Poxi, meanwhile, turned her head to the side, refusing to look at him.

“Without wine and soy sauce, how can we have a banquet?” the old woman went on. “I’ve got a good jar of wine downstairs, all we need is to buy some food and the matter will be settled. Daughter, you stay here with Sir Clerk. Don’t worry, I’ll be right back.”

“Old Woman Yan thinks she’s trapped me here,” Song Jiang thought to himself, “but the second she goes downstairs, I’ll be able to leave.”

But the old lady knew exactly what Song Jiang was planning. So when she left the room, she made sure to bar the door shut behind her.

“Damn it!” he muttered. “That old bat has locked me up!”

Old Woman Yan went downstairs and lit the lamp by the stove. She saw there was already a pot of stewed chicken feet simmering, so she added some more wood to the fire. Then she took a few spare coins and went to the end of the lane to buy some fruit, fresh and salted fish, and a tender chicken. She brought it all home and arranged it on a platter. Then she warmed up the wine and ladled it into a serving vessel. She gathered together several vegetable dishes, three wine cups, three sets of chopsticks, and placed it all on a tray and brought it upstairs. She opened the door to the bedroom, and set the tray down on the table in front of Song Jiang and Poxi.

The pair hadn’t budged. Song Jiang was still staring at the floor, while Poxi was still sulking with her head turned to the side.

“Daughter, serve the wine.”

“You two eat,” she replied. “I don’t feel like it.”

“Daughter, your father and I must have been too lenient with you when you were a child. But you can’t act like this in front of other people.”

“What if I don’t serve the wine?” Poxi said. “Will his sword fly out and chop off my head?”

Next: Old Woman Yan Beats Up Tang the Ox