This chapter has been brought to you by me, ororomunroe90, vivie and leecherleechleech.
I really liked halffriedchickens’ guess that the pearl slippers reminded He Heng of Qu Qing Ju but Blossommay0630 was correct!
Chapter Ninety Eight
As He Heng walked up to her, Qu Qing Ju prepared to stand and properly greet him but was stopped when he gently pushed on her shoulder: "There's no need, zhen just came from muhou's palace, and came here to take a look."
Hearing that, Qu Qing Ju responded: "It had been planned for muhou to also come here, but who knew that the two of them would say that due to the complexity of the palace affairs, they wouldn’t be able to attend this flower banquet." As she spoke, a hint of guilt appears on her face, as though it was her fault that the two Empress Dowagers were so busy.
"You're pregnant now and it's not necessary to do those burdensome matters," He Heng smiled as he sat down beside her, "Both muhou will understand." Towards the two Empress Dowagers, he was confident of their abilities.
Earlier, he had asked the taiyi. They said that during a woman's pregnancy, she can't be exhausted, and can't be angry, or else it would harm the body and the child. That was a big no-no.
Hearing He Heng say so, Qu Qing Ju smiled, "This is escaping from frustration into relaxation."
Even though he was sitting at the front of a crowd of women, He Heng wasn't the slightest bit unsettled. He even managed to disregard the womenfolk sitting below, full of ease as he chatted with Qu Qing Ju about some small matters, acting as though the other people were also pots of flowers.
Using a gap in the conversation, Qu Qing Ju looked down. All of the womenfolk seemed to be comfortably engaging in conversation with those beside them. The atmosphere hadn't cooled because the Emperor had arrived. They tried very hard to make the Emperor feel welcomed.
Qu Qing Ju felt that she couldn't waste the time of the womenfolk present and said: "Originally, everyone was to stay for a meal before leaving, but ben gong is pregnant. The taiyi has reminded many times not to sit long in the first three months so today, we won't keep everyone. To have neglected everyone so, ben gong hopes for everyone's understanding."
The womenfolk who had children stood in succession, thanking the Empress for inviting them as they mentioned that it was important to be careful in the first trimester. They also said that the Empress and the embryo inside were full of good fortune, and would smoothly coast and meet auspicious events along the way.
Qu Qing Ju smiled and let them leave. Before they left, she took another look at Qin Chao Yun. A pretty beautiful young girl. She knew how to show herself off. But it was a pity that she wore such plain clothes, but her slippers exposed her true nature.
If a person had to act, then they had to make it more realistic. Except for the normal hairpins, the plain clothing, how could she forget about her slippers?
The embroidered shoes of unmarried girls were frequently changed. Especially the kind that were encrusted with agate or pearls. Because it wasn't easy to clean, the pearls and agate would fall apart or the color would be wrong. So after they wore it once, they wouldn't wear it again. This caused families who didn't have the wealth to not frequently wear that kind of slippers.
This was where Qin Chao Yun had failed. If she had really preferred plain adornments, why would she wear that kind of slippers?
She might have had some schemes, some bravery but was still too inexperienced. It wasn't enough in front of He Heng.
Jin An Princess Royal had originally planned to privately talk with Qu Qing Ju after the banquet. But seeing the Emperor protect her so, she felt she didn't need to say those things and smiled as she left with the other womenfolk.
After the womenfolk left, the two of them returned to Tian Qi Palace to eat. Each dish was tested by a taijian before they started to eat.
The meat and vegetables of the dishes were perfectly complementing and all of them were beneficial to a pregnant mother and her child. Qu Qing Ju didn't like how the dishes became slightly less flavorful but still ate a lot.
After the meal, He Heng went to the front hall. Qu Qing Ju leaned back on the recliner, calmly asking: "The people who brought their di daughters into the palace, have you remembered all of them?"
"Niang niang, don't worry," Mu Jin put a thin blanket over her, "There were only a few families who took their unmarried daughters into the palace, nubi remembered them all."
Qu Qing Ju nodded. She was confident in Mu Jin, "The Qin Family is very fortunate to still be an educated noble family. Doing what they have done, it doesn't look anything like what a noble family would do." She wasn't very clear about the Qin Family, but based on what she knew about educated and literary families, weren't they elegant, respectful, modest yet not false? Why was it then, when it came to the Qin Family, it seemed that they were ruining the reputation of all literary families? Wasn't that morally wrong?
"Empress, you might not know," Jin Zhan, who usually had the most information, interjected, "Nubi heard that the last Grand Duke Jing was a man of great character. Who knew that the heavens were jealous and he died before thirty without even a son. They could only pass the title to his shu di's son, who is the present Grand Duke Jing. The Grand Duke Jing's personality is weak and usually listens to the Duchess of Jing. In the past, it wasn't visible, but the Qin Family are more and more restless. If this continues, they might not be able to keep their label of a literary family."
"If that's the case, does it mean that the present Qin Family isn't considered as orthodox?" Yin Liu thought about how Rui Wang Fei acted, asking, "Since they aren't orthodox, Rui Wang Fei also acts like this?"
"Yes, thinking about it this way, Rui Wang Fei's branch is shu." Mu Jin gasped ruefully, "No wonder Rui Wang Fei is like that."
Even though she held a suspicious attitude regarding the division due to blood, Qu Qing Ju finally understood another matter. No wonder the conduct of the Qin Family was so short-sighted. So the real decision maker was a woman in the house. One had to know, in this time, no matter male or female, if they stayed in the home the entire time and didn't try to understand what was happening outside when they sent out orders, it was easy to make a wrong decision.
The inner compound easily restricted a person's knowledge and judgment.
When He Heng returned to the front hall, he abruptly dug out the list of the female candidates that the Department of Household Affairs had presented, "Rui Wang's conduct has become confused, one of the causes is that Rui Wang Fei could not restrain him. Zhen doesn't bear for didi to have a person who doesn't serve him with the entire heart, and specially bestows some female candidates to serve in Rui Wang Fu in hopes their conduct can move Rui Wang." After speaking, he then circled four names from the listed twenty eight, and let Qian Chang Xin leave with his words to send them to Rui Wang Fu.
These four female candidates didn't seem to be of significance, but in reality, their paternal homes were all in Jing. Even though they weren't of exceptional families, they still had some standing in Jing City, and they had done some things which He Heng didn't like. So when he sent the four girls to Rui Wang Fu, he felt very good.
He Heng put the list to one side. Right now, he didn't have any interest in taking a fei. In the past, he felt that the variety of beautiful women by his side was flowers on the gold, but now he felt, regardless of how many there were, if they weren't satisfactory, they just took up space.
"Come, send down the order, bestow every one of the female candidates in Tuan Fang Hall a pair of gold bangles for their dowry. Three days later, they can return to their homes for marriage so they don't have to stay in the palace."
By making such an order, the Emperor was explicitly telling others he had no intentions of taking the female candidates as feipin so he's allowing them to go home to marry of their own initiative.
The female candidates were sent home to marry on their own, the Empress was pregnant, then who would serve the Emperor? The people in the palace started to have thoughts, seemingly forgetting the lessons of the past.
Qin Bai Lu listened to the servants report on Qu Yue Su's sorry situation, her mood light. She rewarded a handful of copper to the clever-tongued yahuan. Raising a teacup, she said to Ru Hua beside her, "I just want to see, without wang ye's favor, how long she would survive."
Ru Hua saw the mirth on wang fei's face and said helplessly: "Wang fei, nubi heard that today at court, wang ye was ……"
"His matters has nothing to do with me," Qin Bai Lu smiled coldly, "Right now, I can't even run the inner compound, much less what happens outside."
Seeing wang fei's expression, Ru Hua understood. Wang fei still might not know that wang ye had been demoted and banned from court. This matter was extremely serious. If wang fei's state was seen by wang ye, would there be another fight?
"Ben wang's affairs naturally doesn't have anything to do with you," He Yuan strode in from outside. He didn't look at Qin Bai Lu and Ru Hua's expressions, and sat down at the front, faintly remarking, "Right now, your Qin Family has put their hats for the Emperor, how would they even look at ben wang?"
Qin Bai Lu's face instantly darkened. He Yuan's words were ugly, but it wasn't unsubstantiated. If he said it, then it meant that the Qin Family really did want to arrange someone to enter the palace.
He Yuan lightly laughed, "You really believe your Qin Family's daughters are goddesses that everyone falls in love? Your Qin Family might not find it embarrassing, but ben wang feels embarrassed for you." His fingers gently tapped on the arm of the chair, mocking, "Also, if you say that you have nothing to do with ben wang's affairs, why don't you pack up and go home? Ben wang will definitely ask for a divorce from the Emperor."
Qin Bai Lu's heart jumped. She looked at He Yuan, trying to find even the slightest hint of humor on his face. But his face didn't seem to be joking.
"Wang ye ……qie was personally decreed by xiandi to be your wang fei, you cannot treat me this way," Qin Bai Lu stammered, "You can't divorce qie."
"Even if xiandi was here, if ben wang wanted to divorce you, then it will happen. Even more so, now that xiandi isn't here," He Yuan looked frigidly at her, "Get out, ben wang doesn't want to see you."
The rims of Qin Bai Lu's eyes reddened, she bowed and prepared to leave when she saw He Fu Er rush in, and then he said something which made it harder for her to endure.
Why would the Emperor bestow a few concubines down, and accuse her of not serving wang ye well? Qin Bai Lu felt that her face was burning like someone had slapped her, burning with pain.
He Yuan didn't care for her, only ordering He Fu Er to lead the people over for him to take a look.
Qin Bai Lu looked at He Fu Er as he trotted away. She felt as though a basin of cold water had poured over her, freezing her from head to toe.