The birthday banquet arrives! You guys are amazing with your comments! Qu Qing Ju’s stepmother seems to be a very simple person… …
Chapter Nine Valued Guests
It had already entered autumn and the weather had gradually become colder. All over Chang De Gong Fu was an atmosphere of cheer as a variety of carriages parked inside. The gatekeepers had bowed to the point their waists couldn't straighten but kept smiles on their faces to welcome people inside the main gates.
At ermen, the Chang De Duke's only son and his nephew through his wife enthusiastically welcomed the coming guests. The two were still very young and received compliments of being promising youths.
In the recent years, Chang De Gong Fu had declined further and further but nothing could beat the fact that they gave birth to a good daughter that married Duan Wang to become a wang fei. No matter what they though inside, they still had to do all the formalities. If they didn't act on behalf of the monk, they still had to respect the Buddha. All of them still had to respect Duan Wang.
Thankfully, this Chang De Gong Fu was Duan Wang's in-laws so the benefits of coming in person and giving presents were higher than the cost.
"The Duke of Chang De's fortunes are as good as the North Sea is deep." The one that spoke was the Marquis of Bao Rong. He was only a middling character in the city of Jing but the Duke of Chang De didn't dare offend him and came up to greet him.
"It's nothing, nothing. Thanks, Marquis, for coming all this way." The duke took the other's hand as they walked towards the main hall. The other didn't remain courteous and as they walked, he said, "Today is your birthday, I wonder when will Duan wang ye arrive. When the time comes, I will have to rely on the duke to introduce me to wang ye."
When the Duke of Chang De heard this, he didn't feel so good inside. The message that Duan Wang Fu returned said clearly that wang fei will come, but as to whether wang ye would come or not, that wasn't confirmed. The words of the Marquis of Bao Rong stirred irritation in the Duke of Changde's heart at his married daughter for not having any skill at conquering wang ye's heart and forcing him to feel so awkward.
"Of course, of course," The duke smiled as he ushered the other person into the room to disguise his awkwardness.
The Marquis of Bao Rong smiled and said: "Since the duke is busy, I'll walk myself in, no need to be so courteous." Finishing, he entered the hall. Inside, he really was mocking the duke. Maybe others didn't know but he was clear, that daughter that the Qu Family married into Duan Wang Fu wasn't liked one iota by wang ye. It would be a strange thing indeed if wang ye did come participate in the Duke of Changde's birthday banquet.
Did he think that if his daughter was a wang fei, he was a relative of the Imperial Family? Pah!
In the gardens of neiyuan, Liang shi was receiving the womenfolk. Seeing that this year was busier than last year, Liang shi felt conflicted. In past years, these people only sent presents but didn't come personally. Today, they all had the spare time. It was all because that Qu Qing Qu became a wang fei. These people were still scorning her for not treating Qu Qing Ju well, as though if they said it, they were much more noble.
"The way I see it, furen really is lucky. The eldest daughter is Duan Wang Fei, and this third daughter looks like a flower," The Marquess of Bao Rong stopped and looked meaningfully at the shu second daughter of Changde Gong Fu that was standing in the corner, "Er guniang is also a paragon, this type of good fortune is something we can't even touch."
"Wang furen, don't compliment these yatou anymore," Liang shi's smile was slightly cold, "These wild girls, they can't compare to your fu's ladies." This entire Jing, who didn't know that the Marquis of Bao Rong's eldest daughter wanted to marry a poor scholar to the point of death, but now she was coming back to her home every few days to beg for money.
Who knew that the Marquess of Bao Rong seemed to be unaffected by Liang shi's words and only replied: "No, no."
The others indifferently watched the two's fight with tongues. The fact that conflict existed between the Marquess of Bao Rong and the Duchess of Chang De had started in their childhood. Now that they were married, they still allowed others to watch the spectacle they made.
A few that had known the two back when they were younger still remembered when Wang shi had married the Marquis of Bao Rong, Liang shi had been angered to the point of not attending any gatherings for girls in the city for the better half of a year. It wasn't until Liang shi had married the Duke of Changde, whose status wasn't below that of the Marquis of Bao Rong, that she started to compete with Wang shi again.
Some looked down at Wang shi's frivolous attitude, but they dislike the way Liang shi acted even more so they didn't speak through the entire incident. But this finalized their decision to not take any young girls anymore to Bao Rong Hou Fu and Chang De Gong Fu.
At this time, not far away from Chang De Gong Fu, the entourage of Duan Wang Fei slowly neared. The other officials that came to attend, once they saw Duang Wang Fu's procession, quickly moved to one side and waited for the people of the wang fu to pass before resuming their own journey.
"Why did the carriage stop?" A first-rank furen, feeling the carriage she sat in stop, asked in confusion. She hadn't wanted to come to Chang De Gong Fu. Now that the carriage had to stop, her desire decreased even more.
An old mama came inside the carriage and said in a low tone: "Furen, Duan Wang Fu's people are coming up from behind. Everybody is making way."
Hearing that it was Duan Wang Fu, the dissatisfaction that the furen had instantly disappeared. She peeked outside through the gap in the curtains. She saw the guards forming a path, four date-red horses pulling a grand carriage slowly passing and then there was two relatively more normal two-horse carriages passing. Following that was handsomely dressed servants and taijian. Even if it wasn't ostentatious, it was possible to see at a glance that this was the grandeur of the Imperial Family.
"That seems to be Duan wang ye's carriage," The furen of a court official felt lucky. Lucky that she had come in person today. Otherwise, if wang ye arrived but her family only sent over a gift, wasn't that offending the Imperial Family? No matter which wang ye sat on that throne in the future, the honor of the Imperial Family couldn't be impinged upon by her kind of people.
The gatekeeper saw Duan Wang Fu's carriage coming from far away and turned to run into ermen to tell the duke.
The duke had been exchanged pleasantries with another when he saw a manservant quickly run over and say that wang ye's carriage had arrived.
The other that had been talking perceptively expressed he didn't need any special care from the Duke of Change De. He saw the Duke of Chang De hurriedly walk towards the outside and walked into the inner hall, his mind whirling.
Inside the large carriage, Qu Qing Ju sat beside He Heng. She looked at the calm expression of He Heng and opened: "We're probably getting close to Chang De Gong Fu now."
"Wang fei is missing her home," He Heng didn't want to come at first, but thinking about the treatment that wang fei had received before her marriage, he strangely wanted to come. Seeing that wang fei had a calm and steady voice, he couldn't help but tease, "It is my fault that I am not a good husband, that wang fei misses her father."
"Wang ye, don't laugh at qie anymore," Qu Qjing Ju glared at He Heng. Early in the morning, this wang ye, with his strange personality, had let the servants deliver a variety of jewellery and said for her to pick whatever she wanted to and wear whatever. She had looked at the multitude of boxes, each containing a small fortune in jewellery, and assumed that this wang ye was going to open a jewellery shop.
After she finally managed to dress in her finery, this person had came out of nowhere in his moonlight colored with embroidered gold clouds robes, saying that he was going to accompany her to Chang De Gong Fu. Seeing the fact that he had dressed very handsomely, Qu Qing Ju had laughed and followed him onto the carriage. Who knew that he was saying strange things now.
"Qie is married to wang ye, Duan Wang Fu is home. Wang ye saying otherwise, is it due to disliking qie for not doing well?" Qu Qing Ju tilted her head and created the expression she didn't want to pay attention.
Upon hearing this, the smile on He Heng's face became more visible. He reached out his hand to grasp Qu Qing Ju's hand: "Don't be angry, if you are angry, the one who feels regret is me." Finishing, his face became more serious, "Some things, I know. You don't have to worry."
Qu Qing Ju turned her head towards He Heng. Seeing the other smile like usual, she didn't understand the reasoning behind him saying those words so she smiled and said: "Wang ye's affections for qie, qie understands in her heart." If she really believed, it would be a tragedy.
"Wang ye, wang fei, we've arrived at Chang De Gong Fu." The carriage slowly stopped and Qian Chang Xin's voice came from the outside.
"This lowly official greets wang ye, wang fei," The Duke of Chang De saw the carriage stop and quickly came forward with others to bow.
"Today is the Duke of Chang De's birthday, ben wang has come to celebrate, there's no need for such formalities."
Qian Chang Xin heard wang ye make a sound before coming up to raise the curtain for wang ye and kneel down for wang ye to step on his back to exit.
Qu Qing Ju put on a veil. When she came out of the carriage, she saw a hand appear in front of her. She looked at the smiling visage of the owner of that hand. Then she lowered her head slightly to hold He Heng's hand to get down from the carriage.
At the side, the sedan had been prepared already. Mu Jin lifted the sedan screen for Qu Qing Ju to enter. Putting down the screen, she bowed slightly to wang ye and then, along with the other first-ranked yatou, sat on the little sedans behind.
Seeing that Duan Wang had come personally to celebrate his birthday, the joy that the Duke of Chang De overflowed. Seeing the attitude that wang ye held towards his daughter, his face broke into a smile and he ushered He Heng from the front entrance inside.
When Duan Wang entered the doors, the heavy labor mamas that carried the sedan raised the sedan and entered as well. But the direction they went was different than Duan Wang, they were going towards the garden in the back.
He Heng allowed the Duke of Chang De to escort him towards the inner hall. He saw two youths that weren't yet fifteen follow behind and asked: "This two are?"
"Wang ye, this is my son Qu Wang Zhi and wife's sibling's son, Liang Rong." Seeing wang ye pay attention to his son, the Duke of Change De joyously said: "Quickly come greet wang ye."
The two people bowed again. He Heng calmly dismissed excused the two from their bow, "What books have the two read?"
"My son is very disappointing, he is still studying in the Dong Shan College. My wife's sibling's son became a xiucai last year." The Duke of Chang De saw that wang ye's tone was calm, and didn't dare to exaggerate, only telling the truth
This Duan Wang was only about twenty years old but he just wasn't someone that could be overlooked. The Duke of Chang De felt rueful, he was definitely an imperial son.
"This young man is the duke's only son. He is still young, the duke shouldn't put too much pressure." He Heng nodded, "Ben wang has heard of Dong Shan College, many famous scholars have come from there. Ben wang heard that your furen had the rare dragon-and-phoenix twins that year. This young man will be accomplished in the future."
"No, no, wang ye is too complimentary." As a father, he naturally liked others compliment his son. Additionally, Wang Zhi and Yue Su were a pair of dragon-and-phoenix twins which was rare in Jing Capital. That had been the subject of much pride for many years. But at this time, he didn't see the iciness in He Heng's eyes.
Qu Wang Zhi, who had been walking at the back, heard the discussion between the two men. Thinking of his mother's dislike towards his eldest sister, he couldn't help but think, now that eldest sister was a wang fei, would she purposefully take revenge against them? If it was third sister that became wang fei, it was much better. Mother wouldn't have to be angry over eldest sister.
In the gardens, Liang shi and the Marquess of Bao Rong finished their duel of words and heard a yahuan hurried walked inside: "Furen, Duan Wang Fei has arrived."
The people present were not as highly ranked as Duan Wang Fei. Hearing the announcement, they all stood. As much as Liang shi didn't wish to, she still had to stand and wait by the Door of Hanging Flowers to receive.
When she had walked to the Door of Hanging Flowers, she saw a sedan made of fragrant wood with inlaid jewels stop by the door. Before the sedan could be lowered, a host of mama and yahuan crowded around, their expressions full of cautiousness and reverence.
She smiled coldly. It was really a pheasant become a phoenix. Even her behaviour had become outrageous.
 庶(shu): children born of a concubine, as opposed to those born from the wife as di
 秀才: person that passed the county-level imperial exams
 垂花门: Drooping flower door/gate