No. 76 (Autumn 2011) Yang Jiang

Heart’s Desire: Act I
Translated by Christopher G. Rea

(Setting: The parlour of ZHAO ZUYIN’s house, which is furnished in a refined, classical style. The furniture is all rosewood, calligraphic scroll paintings by famous hands adorn the walls, and the tables are laid out with antique porcelains. As the curtain rises, LI JUNYU, wearing a blue qipao, stands in the parlour. WANG SHENG stands to one side.)
LI JUNYU: Is this the Zhao residence?
LI JUNYU: My surname is Li.
WANG SHENG: Li. OK, I got it.
LI JUNYU: I’m your master’s niece—Li Junyu.
WANG SHENG: I’ve never heard of you.
LI JUNYU: Isn’t this the Zhao residence? Isn’t your master Mr Zhao Zuyin?
WANG SHENG: Knowing his name isn’t going to help you. The master is a famous man—everyone’s heard of him!
LI JUNYU: I’m his niece. I just arrived from Beiping. Your master and mistress wrote me a letter asking me to come.
WANG SHENG: (Shaking his head) The master only has one niece, Third Mistress’s daughter, and her surname is Qian, not
LI JUNYU: I’m your Fifth Mistress’s daughter. My surname’s Li, and I’ve always lived in Beiping.
WANG SHENG: I’ve never heard of any Fifth Mistress! Next you’re going to tell me there’s a Fifth Master!
LI JUNYU: Of course there is! My father was famous too, a great painter.
WANG SHENG: Oh? But he’s not one of us.
LI JUNYU: He recently passed away, and Fifth Mistress long before him. We’ve always lived in Beiping—you’d have no way of
          knowing. Go ask your master and mistress to come out. They’re expecting me.
WANG SHENG: Didn’t I tell you to wait here? The master and mistress aren’t up yet! I’d really be asking for it to disturb them
          so early on a Sunday.
LI JUNYU: In that case, help me carry my trunk in.
WANG SHENG: You can’t bring it in here. The weight of it will ruin the carpet.
LI JUNYU: But someone will steal it if I leave it at the door.
WANG SHENG: Don’t you have someone watching it for you?
LI JUNYU: (To offstage) Binru, Binru! We’ll carry it in ourselves.
(Exit LI JUNYU, who then re-enters carrying a trunk and a mesh basket together with CHEN BINRU, who is dressed in an old, tattered, blue Chinese full-length cotton gown. WANG holds CHEN back, but CHEN pushes him aside and places the trunk and the basket in the centre of the parlour. CHEN exits and then re-enters carrying a rush bag and two wooden boards, tied together.)
WANG SHENG: (Stands to the side with his arms crossed) Great, great—a fine world of bandits this has turned into! The
         gentleman speaks with his mouth, not with his fists.
CHEN BINRU: A rascal like you only understands when fists do the talking!
WANG SHENG: (With his arms crossed in front of his chest) I’m not going to fight you.
CHEN BINRU: You wouldn’t dare!
LI JUNYU: Binru, just ignore him! Everything’s here. (Counts the luggage.)
    (Exit WANG SHENG.)


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