Translator’s Note: Warning, there is an implicit sex scene in this chapter, but it is only a flashback and merely two lines in length. It is preceded by footnote #18 and will be a bright pink in color. It is also blurred from view on default. Please do not complain about a lack of warning.
Chapter 3 … Assistant Minister, Assistant Minister—what exactly was an Assistant Minister?
Gu Hong Jian discovered that she apparently didn’t need to go to sleep, so she waited for Lin Si Ze to finish his business with He Fang Ning. As the candle light extinguished, she wandered aimlessly inside He Fang Ning’s palace hall.
It didn’t matter if she was a ghost or a human, Gu Hong Jian’s ability to recover wasn’t bad.
To outsiders, Gu Hong Jian was the only female government official since the state’s founding. She had overbearing power, and a dubious relationship with the emperor that couldn’t be described. With her vicious methods, swift and decisive actions, resolution, and rare smiles, she was a textbook femme fatale with a tomboy nature. It was like her whole person was made of steel.
Only Gu Hong Jian herself and Lin Si Ze knew that Gu Hong Jian was in fact just an ordinary woman. She really strived to maintain her awe-inspiring reputation to outsiders, so she didn’t laugh very much. Secretly, however, after getting to know people, she would cry and laugh very easily, crying at stories and laughing at non-ridiculous stories, so much so that even Lin Si Ze stroking her head would have her giggling for a very long time.
Gu Hong Jian’s mood fluctuated because of Lin Si Ze as well, but Lin Si Ze always tormented her. It took her a long time for her ego to be able to recover from it.
It was pitch black. Unable to see clearly, she floated, lost in thought, not paying attention to the sky as it gradually brightened.
He Fang Ning and Lin Si Ze awakened. Lin Si Ze made himself presentable and left early for the morning court. He Fang Ning was reluctant to part with him, hoping that Lin Si Ze would make promises such as “after the court session, I will come to see you,” and so forth. Lin Si Ze didn’t reply, however, and left.
Gu Hong Jian stuck her tongue out at the dazed He Fang Ning and followed Lin Si Ze when he left for the palace.
Lin Si Ze unexpectedly mentioned the Hu Prefecture during the morning court, asking General Sun if there was anything new to report. General Sun said, “Answering, your majesty the emperor. There still hasn’t been any news, but I believe it will come in the next few days.”
General Sun was originally Lin Si Ze’s most decorated high-ranking military officer. This Hu Prefecture business was also supposed to be his responsibility, but at the last moment, Gu Hong Jian took over. General Sun didn’t become resentful of her, only very concerned.
Lin Si Ze nodded at General Sun’s response.
Then, a man suddenly appeared, saying, “Your majesty the emperor, wēi chén1 has a matter to report.”
Lin Si Ze said, “What’s the matter?”
Gu Hong Jian glanced quickly and discovered that the man was Zhao Yun Yuan. He was a famous scholar at Imperial Hanlin Academy2. After enduring a few more years, he would probably replace Imperial Secretary Zhou, who was rapidly losing the ability to hold a brush.
Zhao Yun Yuan said, “Assistant Minister Gu is a female when all is said and done. Although she has Vice General Wang to help, a heavy crisis could still occur. Chén thinks… perhaps some troops should be sent to assist Assistant Minister Gu.”
Gu Hong Jian listened and was rather surprised.
Zhao Yun Yuan was a very honest man.
Because of his honesty, he once made a report, impeaching Gu Hong Jian, and said that she had a venomous heart and was of an evil nature. Lin Si Ze had tossed the report to Gu Hong Jian to have a look, and she had glanced over it, saying that Scholar Zhao was of good literary talent, indeed worthy of being the true Principal Scholar of the Golden Imperial Examinations3. This bastard was much better at behind the scene powerplays than her.
The second year after Lin Si Ze ascended to the throne, his relationship with Gu Hong Jian had eased somewhat.
Gu Hong Jian had forged an identity—Gu Hong4— and was able to pass the Imperial Examination, all the way up to the Palace Exams5. Only Lin Si Ze knew about this matter at that point. His calm and collected face didn’t reveal anything. He instead straightforwardly anointed Gu Hong Jian on the spot as Principal Scholar. At the same time, there was an exam candidate who truly held a genuine aptitude that had everyone praising to the high heavens about. Lin Si Ze also rather enjoyed it. As a result, there was an unprecedented outcome of two Principal Scholars.
That tragic co-Principal Scholar was Zhao Yun Yuan. Thus, he unfavorably viewed Gu Hong Jian, who completely understood. Besides, Zhao Yun Yuan clearly wasn’t bearing grudges against Gu Hong Jian. Instead he truly… viewed Gu Hong Jian unfavorably.
During the Qiónglín Feast6, Gu Hong Jian immediately clarified her identity, announcing that she was a woman. Everyone was terrified out of their wits, and Lin Si Ze’s complexion turned dark. He didn’t explain the matter, however, and just declared that now there was a female government official. In time, several officials attempted to impeach her, but Gu Hong Jian slowly resolved the backlash.
The voices that proclaimed Gu Hong Jian was a devious and evil official never ceased, but Gu Hong Jian didn’t pay any attention to this. The officials she eliminated all had one commonality; they were detrimental to Lin Si Ze.
After assuming the position as a female Principal Scholar, for the past several years, she had been sinking and floating among the bureaucracy. Gu Hong Jian could no longer find a government official who was closer to Lin Si Ze than she was. Everyone knew that she was Lin Si Ze’s confidant, his right-hand man.
During the previous dynasty, the censorate7 had become a decoration. From the Senior Imperial Censor8, to the provincial governors9, and even the investigating censors10—none of them had very strong characters, and very few people even dared to speak. Since Lin Si Ze’s ascension, Gu Hong Jian once again began eliminating people who challenged Lin Si Ze. Nowadays, the censorate seemingly resembled an empty shelf.
Although Gu Hong Jian’s methods were cruel, they were rather effective. Moreover, the censorate didn’t have any capable people. In time, there were less people who tried to impeach her. Everyone saw Lin Si Ze’s resolute manner and had no other choice but to accept this peculiar woman who stood among them during morning court.
What a pity that she wasn’t male. That time with the Golden List11 and her step-by-step ascension could not have been achieved without tricks——really, how could she become the Assistant Minister within seven years? That Zhao Yun Yuan still hadn’t become an Imperial Secretary after seven years, still merely Scholar Zhao while Gu Hong Jian was already an Assistant Minister.
Those people flattered and fawned over Gu Hong Jian when in her presence, but behind her back, they secretly spoke malicious words about her. Some of these words reached Gu Hong Jian’s ear, but she realized that she couldn’t refute them.
At first she was livid, but later on she no longer cared. Looking at the slow and stupid-looking Zhao Yun Yuan’s letter of impeachment, she could only smile and compliment the good penmanship.
Gu Hong Jian also thoroughly understood her destestable nature, but she didn’t anticipate Zhao Yun Yuan to actually be rather concerned for her… Well, from a different perspective, he basically had no faith in Gu Hong Jian’s capability…
Just after Zhao Yun Yuan finished his statement,another person appeared and said, “Assistant Minister Gu is full of stratagems. In all likelihood, there are no problems. Why should Zhao dàren be worried?”
Gu Hong Jian looked at this man with disdain. She couldn’t help snorting—even if the other person couldn’t hear her at all.
This man was currently Head of the Supreme Court12. With such a position, he would seem to be rather old, but he was actually Gu Hong Jian’s age. Although his features were naturally excellent, it led to a shrewd and arrogant aura, making others look at him and purposely avoid any further association with him.
He had been able to assume the position of Head of the Supreme Court, and aside from his capabilities, what was even more important was actually his family name—Zuo. His name was Zuo Ning Hao.
It was precisely the famous son of Minister Zuo, who had now retired from court and was passing his days idly at home, that he had in his later years. He was Zuo Ning Yan’s younger brother. It was said that he was born later than Zuo Ning Yan by only two to three minutes.
He and Gu Hong Jian loathed each other. Thus, for him to speak out like this, Gu Hong Jian wasn’t the least bit surprised. She only felt that this man was exceedingly childish.
Lin Si Ze’s gaze swept past Zhao Yun Yuan over to Zuo Ning Hao. He only said, “This matter will wait for news from Hu Prefecture before a decision is made.”
In simpler terms, he wouldn’t agree or disagree, but he had given a reply. Zhao Yun Yuan’s voice of “agreement” ceased while Zuo Ning Hao shot a glance towards Zhao Yun Yuan, who was also silent.
Nothing major happened after that, so Gu Hong Jian floated around, hoping that one of them could see her. Unfortunately, the imperial court proceeded as usual. She wasn’t able to make out any expression of terror or awe on any of the imperial court members’ faces.
Nevertheless, no one could see her.
——If someone could see her, Gu Hong Jian wanted it to be Zuo Ning Hao because she believed this guy would immediately die of fright.
Once the morning passed, Lin Si Ze immediately returned to Wen Dao Tang. He corrected his accounts book.13 Meanwhile, Jiang Hai Fu allowed servants to deliver some light refreshments. Lin Si Ze didn’t meet anyone at all. At noon, he stopped to eat a meal alone and took a nap afterwards. He then went to the imperial garden for a walk and to practice martial arts. Finally, he returned to his office and corrected his accounts book.
Gu Hong Jian followed by Lin Si Ze’s side from morning to evening, suddenly realizing that Lin Si Ze’s life was in fact outstandingly boring and dull.
Moreover, Lin Si Ze clearly didn’t particularly enjoy this lifestyle. As the day ended, Gu Hong Jian stared blankly as she couldn’t see Lin Si Ze’s smile at all.
Apart from his midday chat with Imperial Secretary Zhou14, Lin Si Ze didn’t see anyone else that day.
It seemed that Lin Si Ze was actually very pitiful…
Gu Hong Jian’s pity towards Lin Si Ze vanished later that evening. He Fang Ning probably saw Lin Si Ze go to her place yesterday, so today, she had gathered her courage and arrived at Wen Dao Tang, saying that she had made some light pastries and soup. Lin Si Ze met with her, failing to comment on her lack of etiquette. He didn’t seem very happy as he had her return first to Zi Yun Palace.
’First’— this word suggested that Lin Si Ze would follow her later, so He Fang Ning was unable to contain her joy. She still stifled as much of it as she could, only exposing a captivating blush on her cheeks as she said, “Your majesty the emperor, chén qiè will return first with nothing to do. Chén qiè believes it would be better for chén qiè to stay here to accompany your majesty.”
Lin Si Ze glanced at her and responded, “Then you can grind the inkstick for me instead of him.”
To the side was a young palace eunuch grinding the inkstick, his eyes seemingly on the verge of closing. He Fang Ning smiled. She didn’t dislike grinding the inkstick, despite the coarse and monotonous work. Raising her sleeve lightly, she used her pure white, slim jade fingers to pinch the end of the inkstick and began grinding it softly against the inkstone.
This scene of a beautiful wife accompanying her scholar husband in his studies made Gu Hong Jian roll her eyes greatly. She didn’t simmer like last night, however, as there was currently nothing to get angry about.
He Fang Ning grinded half the inkstick before suddenly saying , “This is the first time Fang Ning has grinded an inkstick. Don’t take offense, your majesty the emperor, if the grinding is no good…”
Lin Si Ze said, “Very well.”
Pausing from his work, he continued, “There is a large difference between you and someone else; by now, the inkstone would have broke.”
He Fang Ning blanked out, turning her head to the side to look at the young palace eunuch. The young palace eunuch stared back innocently at them, later shaking his head and trembling with fear. —May the heavens have mercy on him, for he had never spilled a single drop of ink or caused it to splash before!
Floating to the small group’s side, Gu Hong Jian stared blankly at them.
The person Lin Si Ze spoke of should… No, it was definitely her.
That was in the 3rd year of Píngchāng. Lin Si Ze had ascended to the throne in the 4th year while she went to live in Zhao Hong Palace.
Before that, she and Lin Si Ze held heavily conflicting views, and this was the first time they unexpectedly had difficulty reconciling with each other. Not only did they reconcile, but they also became more intimate compared to before. That time, He Fang Ning did not appear by Lin Si Ze’s side. The only woman for him was Gu Hong Jian.
At the same time, Gu Hong Jian began unceasingly rising in the government ranks, all the way up to Assistant Minister. Lin Si Ze, for the most part, felt that the title Assistant Minister was rather ambiguous.
Assistant Minister, Assistant Minister—what exactly was an Assistant Minister?
Therefore, he didn’t allow her to rise in rank again. Only later did the two of them have a real lover’s quarrel. Lin Si Ze intended for her to move into the palace. Gu Hong Jian disagreed, saying that she was afraid that others would say Lin Si Ze was an incapable ruler because he was dallying with a government official. Lin Si Ze argued, however, that he was merely giving her his residence he resided in when he was a prince, De Ze Palace;15 the name had just been changed to Zhao Hong Palace. Gu Hong Jian who suffered from not having a place to live immediately agreed.
Zhao Hong Palace, Shao Hong Palace, he told her to go to live there.16 Since she was a child, she had obediently listened to Lin Si Ze’s summons every time.
Let alone De Ze Palace, which was his second residence when he was a prince, his first residence was Bai Fu Palace. Because it was in the most remote area, the place was absolutely empty. His second palace also held a lot of memories for the two of them. Gu Hong Jian could do nothing but accept.
It only seemed like Gu Hong Jian lived outside the palace in a mansion on Vermilion Bird Street. Every day, she would pretend to leave the imperial court with the others before riding a small palanquin back to the chambers of imperial concubines. This way, it failed to create a huge problem.
In the 3rd Year of Píngchāng, Gu Hong Jian was still somewhat uncomfortable. By the 4th Year of Píngchāng, she was completely accustomed to life in the harem. The entire harem also knew who she was. Although she didn’t have the status of an imperial concubine, she was nevertheless the only woman the emperor loved and visited. With the government officials, however, the two could not allow any of them to realize that Lin Si Ze highly regarded Gu Hong Jian.
Thereupon after the 4th Year of Píngchāng, Gu Hong Jian acted freely and unrestrained within the harem. Sometimes, she would even surreptitiously slip away to Wen Dao Tang to find Lin Si Ze.
At that time, Lin Si Ze would be very busy, perhaps even more busy than he was in the present, as he was always checking imperial reports or conversing matters with the chancellor.
Although Gu Hong Jian was Assistant Minister, she was too young to take care of all of China. The scope of her vision was very small, confined only to the person known as Lin Si Ze. She only wanted to help Lin Si Ze with his worries and difficulties. As a result, Lin Si Ze required her to think over the topic of her residence before he would allow her to decide.
Thus, after a long time, Gu Hong Jian didn’t manage anything. For the matters happening in front of her, she could only beg to have them taken care of.
Because she dreaded coming across the other chancellor in Wen Dao Tang, Gu Hong Jian would always appear outside Wen Dao Tang. She would then exchange looks with Jiang Hai Fu. If Jiang Hai Fu had a smile on his face and nodded, that meant there was no one present. She could then brazenly enter. If Jiang Hai Fu shook his head, she needed to make a quiet escape
If she could enter, she would rush in without the slightest hesitation. At first, she gave Lin Si Ze a scare, startling him and nearly causing him to toss his writing brush at her. Upon seeing that it was her, he steadied his grip on the nearly tossed writing brush and asked, “Why are you here?”
In the beginning, Gu Hong Jian would giggle happily and say something nonsensical. She would later keep him company and pick up imperial reports to review along with him.
In truth, this was a disgraceful affair, but Lin Si Ze didn’t seem to mind. Gu Hong Jian was even more unconscientious. She would grab the imperial reports, speak of matters that were not her business, and jeer at Commander Zheng’s typos. She would even speak of how Imperial Secretary Zhou was difficult to deal with. Her words at this age were still vigorous and energetic. Occasionally, she would assess a few imperial reports, but she would only complain about how it was a ‘bullshit report’ or full of ‘graceful words and flowery speech.’17
Lin Si Ze didn’t feel like she was truthful, but he wasn’t troubled by her and continued to ascertain his accounts book.
Later on, Lin Si Ze was completely accustomed to having a sneaky individual enter Wen Dao Tang, grab his imperial reports to begin recklessly criticizing their contents, and even fall asleep, almost drooling onto the imperial reports.
Upon returning from her dreamland, Gu Hong Jian woke up and found herself on the soft couch in Wen Dao Tang with a brilliant yellow quilt covering her. She looked around distractedly, remembered that it was definitely Lin Si Ze who relocated her, and immediately felt a bit embarrassed. She then ran outside where Lin Si Ze was, as expected, evaluating the imperial reports.
Gu Hong Jian leaned against the wall and said, “Oh, I fell asleep…?”
Lin Si Ze glanced at her and without a word, the meaningful look in his eyes expressed basically, “If not, what else?”
Gu Hong Jian said, “I was resting my upper body on the table and unconsciously… yi, how did I end up on the soft couch? Aiya, Si Ze, did you carry me there?!”
Lin Si Ze returned her blunt statement by not looking at her as she happily exclaimed, “Si Ze, you really do care!”
In private, Gu Hong Jian would call Lin Si Ze ‘Si Ze,’ and he would also call her ‘Hong Jian.’ In front of others, they would call each other ‘your majesty the emperor’ and ‘ài qīng.’18
ღღღ[ads_blur_spoiler color_blur=”#ff00ff”]When Gu Hong Jian climaxed in bed with Lin Si Ze, however, she would breathlessly cry out “your majesty.” This caused the vigorous Lin Si Ze to lose his breath as his movements became even more fierce and powerful before he finally released into Gu Hong Jian’s body.[/ads_blur_spoiler]
Gu Hong Jian recalled fondly of Lin Si Ze’s expertise. She remembered how she demanded to help him by grinding the ink stone.
Gu Hong Jian returned each time to see that Lin Si Ze had the young palace eunuch grinding the inkstick outside. Lin Si Ze once in awhile shouted for the palace eunuch to enter to switch out inksticks. Upon seeing how little of the inkstick was left, Lin Si Ze nodded in approval before allowing her to grind the rest.
In fact, Gu Hong Jian had never grinded an inkstick. Since she was a child, she would rather dance with blades and brandish spears. She had never served Lin Si Ze by grinding inksticks in her childhood. To the contrary, Lin Si Ze would teach her how to write characters and help her by grinding the inksticks as well. To pass the imperial examination later on, she persistently studied yet still had someone by her side to serve her and grind the ink for her. So,the first time she personally grinded an inkstick, she failed.
Gu Hong Jian began writing small characters with the inkstick as she was grinding, only to discover that she wasn’t grinding a lot of ink after a long time. She assumed that since the inkstick hadn’t snapped in half, she could grind with more pressure.
As she was a martial artist, her hands were not weak. She was strong enough to poke a hole in the inkstone, unexpectedly causing the entire inkstone to stand upright before breaking in half.
Ink drenched her hand and Lin Si Ze’s clothes, splashing out and splattering both of their faces.
Lin Si Ze was speechless.
Gu Hong Jian immediately panicked and reached out to wipe the ink off of Lin Si Ze’s face but forgot that her own hand was even dirtier. Thereupon, the serious Lin Si Ze’s face became quite black.
Gu Hong Jian was dumbstruck. She really couldn’t control herself and laughed loudly. Lin Si Ze was silent for a moment before also reaching out to suddenly pinch her face—his hand had long ago been dirty with ink.
Gu Hong Jian couldn’t avoid it, so she smiled and allowed him to play with her face. Surprisingly, Lin Si Ze wasn’t able to control himself and chuckled. Gu Hong Jian mockingly glared at Lin Si Ze, whose face was black. This, however, made her ordinary face adorable and funny. The two of them looked at each other, and after a while, Lin Si Ze held Gu Hong Jian’s chin. Neither of them minded getting dirty. Gu Hong Jian closed her eyes, accepting Lin Si Ze’s kiss as her heart softened immensely.
After a long time, Lin Si Ze released Gu Hong Jian. Gu Hong Jian rested her head against his chest while breathing deeply, conveniently grabbing his clothes and making them dirtier. Lin Si Ze held her hand and remarked, “Clumsy.”
Gu Hong Jian didn’t have any way to retort and merely extended her head up to lightly nip at Lin Si Ze’s chin.
Lin Si Ze lowered his head to look at her with deep eyes. After that, he called for someone to clean up, taking Gu Hong Jian with him to bathe. Zhao Hong Palace had an enormous bath. Lin Si Ze tossed her in and he quickly followed. The two of them helped each other wash their face. They then wandered lower…
Gu Hong Jian was a little embarrassed, but Lin Si Ze didn’t seem to be blushing with shame at all. He only embraced Gu Hong Jian and helped her thoroughly wash herself in the bath. In the end, Gu Hong Jian was carried out in his arms princess-style, her face red and unable to look at the gentleman.
After that incident, Gu Hong Jian didn’t dare to help Lin Si Ze grind inksticks.
With the vivid and sweet memory in her mind, Gu Hong Jian’s spirit returned to the present, her gaze falling onto the flawless He Fang Ning, who was bowing her head to review and correct Lin Si Ze’s imperial reports. She sighed lightly.
She didn’t qualify for this position, so someone finally took it.
Gu Hong Jian observed that the two of them intended to have a sweet night19. To her surprise, however, Lin Si Ze made He Fang Ning leave and promptly went to his study to sleep for the night.
If you are unable to endure my diabolicalness, don’t look to cause trouble! Although I think I am not very diabolical, I see that I have esteemed readers who say that I am quite terrifyingly diabolical because of my writing. I’m not! I’m under pressure as big as a ripe white pear20 QAQ
- (this small official/humble servant— |wēi| meaning ‘small’ and |chén| meaning ‘servant’ which is used when addressing the sovereign) ↩
- ( an academic and administrative institution where membership in the academy was confined to an elite group of scholars, who performed secretarial and literary tasks for the court) ↩
- ( |状元| or |zhuàngyuan| is the title given to the scholar who achieved the highest score on highest level of the Chinese imperial examinations. |金科| is a compound abbreviation of |金| and|科舉|, |金| referring to the golden lists that successful scholars are listed on upon passing the exams and |科舉| the imperial examinations, which were a civil service examination system in Imperial China to select candidates for the state bureaucracy.) ↩
- (The characters of the fake identity |顾弘| is homophonous to the characters |顾虹| of her name Gu Hong Jian) ↩
- ( Diànshì |殿試, “court exam”| were held every three years in the Imperial palace and often supervised by the emperor himself, the highest level of examination where only a select number of qualifying scholars could take.) ↩
- (feast hosted by the emperor for successful candidates of the imperial examination) ↩
- (high-level supervisory agency, a branch of the centralized bureaucracy, paralleling the Six Ministries and the five Chief Military Commissions, and was directly responsible to the emperor) ↩
- (Second only to the Prime Minister, in charge of impeachment, maintaining order, and managing of official records) ↩
- (an official either elected or appointed to be the chief administrator of law throughout one or more of the many provinces constituting the nation) ↩
- (Censorate official in imperial China’s civil bureaucracy in charge of investigations and impeachment) ↩
- (|金榜| or “jīnbǎng” literally means “tablet with inscription in gold.” It is the pass list for the top imperial examinations, the roll of honor.) ↩
- (It is actually the Dali Temple, which is essentially equivalent to the US Supreme Court. To be head of the Dali Temple/Supreme Court is to be head of the judicial system) ↩
- (an accounts book is a booklet in accordion form with a slipcase, used for keeping accounts, etc.) ↩
- (Imperial Secretary, a title in reference to status as a member of the Hanlin Imperial Academy) ↩
- (|泽| in De Ze Palace is the same character for ‘Ze’ in the name Lin Si Ze. |德泽| itself is a phrase/idiom meaning ‘Grace’ or ‘Virtuous Benefactor,’ very ironic considering Lin Si Ze’s character. The authoress also loves wordplay since |德| is pronounced |dé| while |的|, a character that signifies a possessive, is pronounced |de|—very arrogant of Lin Si Ze, isn’t it, for him to reside in a palace practically announcing that it is his?) ↩
- (|召| is a character for summoning and is a character that makes up |昭|, the first character, ‘Zhao,’ in Zhao Hong Palace. The authoress is playing on the linguistics of the language and the phonetic similarity between the characters as well to convey the idea ‘I summon you’ or ‘I command you’) ↩
- (|花言巧语| is an idiom in Chinese that literally means “graceful words, flowery speech.” Figuratively speaking, GHJ is complaining about how the report is made up of “elegant but insincere words” or “dishonest rhetoric”) ↩
- (…this is how the emperor addresses his concubines.) ↩
- (slang term— “sweet night” is normally where the woman asks a man to spend the night with her, knowing full well that she would be kicking him out of bed the next morning. AKA the woman propositions the man for a one night stand, forcing him out of bed the next morning. In this case, it would be the opposite as it would be LSZ kicking out HFN) ↩
- (压力山大 is an abbreviated idiom of “压力（像）山（一样）大”, and “像…一样” which means “the pressure is as high as the mountain.” yā lì shān dà |鸭梨山大| is pronounced nearly the same except for the tones of 力 and 梨; it is actually used as a humorous variation of the former idiom. The authoress decided to use 好 (good) here to indicate that the pear is ripe… either that or she messed up the idiom.) ↩