Target text—-Translated by Karen S. Kingsbury
As soon as the door closed behind her, the drawing room fell into shadow. Two squares of yellow light streamed in through the glass panes in the upper part of the door, landing on the green tile floor. In spite of the gloom, one could see, on the bookshelves that lined the walls, long rows of slipcases made of purplish sandalwood into which formal-script characters had been carved, then painted green. On a plain wooden table in the middle of the room, there was a cloisonné chiming clock with a glass dome over it. The clock was broken; it hadn’t worked in years. There were two hanging scrolls with paired verses; the crimson paper of the scrolls was embossed with gold “longevity” characters, over which
the verses had been in-scribed in big, black strokes. In the dim light, each word seemed to float in emptiness, far from the paper’s surface. Liusu felt like one of those words, drifting and unconnected. The Bai household was a fairyland where a single day, creeping slowly by, was a thousand years in the outside world. But if you spent a thousand years here, all the days would be the same, each one as flat and dull as the last one.