We get to meet members of Qu Qing Ju’s family! A meeting between them is in later chapters. Also, another instance of “no zuo no die.”
Chapter 8 Chang De Gong Fu
It was another day for paying respects. The ce fei and shiqie arrived early to wait in the outer rooms of the zhengyuan. This time, their attitude was much more careful and they were much more courteous to the servants there.
Jin Zhan, along with a few little yahuan, came to pour tea for the women before standing silently to one side.
“Jin Zan guniang, we came a bit early today, did we disturb wang fei’s rest?” Feng Zi Jin’s face was full of apology and looked towards the inner room, “Wang fei must be very busy these past days and exhausted.” She had to be busy. Not just managing to gather all of houyuan into her hands, she also had the skill to let wang ye remain every night in her rooms. Wang fei had some smarts.
“Feng ce fei exaggerates,” Jin Zan bowed, her brows containing humor, “This fu hasn’t been very busy lately and wang ye also cares for wang fei, so there is no tiredness. Please don’t worry, Feng ce fei, wang fei will arrive shortly.”
Feng Zi Jin didn’t expect that her words would be rebutted. She paused slightly before saying: “Wang fei’s good health, is the greatest fortune for us sisters.”
Qu Qing Ju had walked to the door when she heard what Pin Zi Jin’s said. She laughed as she entered: “Feng ce fei’s concern, I will remember.”
The four heard the laughter and simultaneously looked towards the doorway. They saw Qu Qing Ju, wearing a complicated and sweeping embroidered silver luan and red clouds dress, walk in. That long dress trailed on the floor as though it was dragging on their hearts and inexplicably made them feel depressed.
The women stood and bowed towards Qu Qing Ju. As they bowed, they saw that red-colored dress stream across their eyes, the beautiful tail of the luan was painful to the eye.
“No need to be so courteous, sit already.” Qu Qing Ju sat down at the front and waved for the others to sit down. She looked at the color of the sky and said with a touch of remorse: “Today I woke up a bit late, sorry to let you wait.”
The others naturally didn’t dare accept this apology. They only smiled and said they didn’t wait long and then waited for Qu Qing Ju’s next words.
“All of us here are wang ye’s people. I don’t have anything to say. You should all serve wang ye to the best of your abilities.” Qu Qing Ju’s left hand held a teacup, her right hand lifted the lid, not looking at the faces of those sitting below her, “Wang ye has placed the houyuan in my hands. I am not a harsh person, I just cannot stand those who do not follow protocol. If somebody breaks a rule, I don’t need to care about any others, I only control the punishment. When the time comes, don’t blame me, this wang fei, for not showing mercy. You can all do your best.”
They didn’t expect wang fei to talk so plainly. Feng Zi Jin paused slightly. She felt that these words seemed to be targeted at her but she couldn’t say anything. Seeing the other three stand and express they would follow protocol, she also stood and weakly concurred.
“Since everybody understands, I don’t have anything more to say.” Setting down the teacup, Qu Qing Ju’s expression lightened slightly, “I heard Qian Chang Xin say that the wang fu received a shipment of fabric previously. Later, somebody will deliver them to your residences. The weather is getting colder, you should make some new clothes from the fabric.” Concluding, her hand raised the teacup and motioned towards the outside.
Everybody was perceptive enough to see and stood to leave. Coming out of zhengyuan, Feng Zi Jin snorted: “Using a few bolts of clothes to pretend to be a good person, it’s like dispatching a beggar!”
Jiang Yong Yu had been walking behind her and heard this complaint. Her steps slowed and the distance between them lengthened.
After the women left, Qu Qing Ju stood and yawned: “Service now.” She wasn’t noble and virtuous. Even though she wouldn’t be harsh without reason to other women, she couldn’t act the part of virtuous. As to what Duan Wang thought, that was Duan Wang’s problem.
Shaking her wide sleeves, Qu Qing Ju smiled. This medieval clothing was both finely made and beautiful.
After eating the noon meal alone, He Heng, as he wiped his hands, spoke: “Ben wang remembers that Chang De Gong Fu has sent an invitation a few days earlier. The Duke of Chang De’s birthday?”
Ming He took the silk handkerchief from wang ye’s hands, “Yes, a few days before Chang De Gong Fu did present an invitation. Other than our fu, many in Jing also received one.” But at the time, wang ye had just looked and threw the invitation to one side. Why was he mentioning it now?
“Ben wang heard that wang fei also received Chang De Gong Fu’s invitation,” He Heng’s brows furrowed and his voice carried a hint of displeasure, “This Chang De Gong Fu is getting worse each successive generation but their pageantry hasn’t seemed to have gotten smaller as well.”
Ming He knew that this was wang ye was now dissatisfied with the Duke of Chang De. He lowered his head as he retreated to one side.
At the same time, Qian Chang Xin, who had been standing outside the door, walked inside, “Wang ye, a servant from Cui You Yuan came to report that Yun Qing guniang committed suicide.”
“The person?” He Heng asked coldly.
“Already rescued, but she couldn’t breathe properly and fainted into sleep now.” Qian Chang Xi swore in his heart, these women from the brothels obviously couldn’t be seen in public. Suicide was easy, just wrap around the roof arch in the middle of the night and it was done. She had to pick this time to act like this. He didn’t know if she really wanted to die or do something else.
“If there’s nothing wrong then let her stay there. Tell her if she still wants to die, then go back to her original place to die. Don’t dirty my Duan Wang Fu’s ground. “
Seeing wang ye push aside the teacup in front of him, Qian Chang Xin instantly understood. Wang ye was tired of the woman’s ritual of first cry, two make noise and three hang. Yun Qing could be considered abandoned, “Nucai remembers.”
She was just a small actress but she had to act like a virtuous person and also persisted in competing against wang fei. She had forgotten who she really was. She had the heart of a noblewoman but the destiny of a yahuan. It was self-inflicted!
“Since she wanted to die while living in Cui You Yuan, get her to move immediately to Qiu Yi Zhai.” He Heng stood and said in a fed-up manner, “That place is peaceful!”
Ming He saw Qian Chang Xin hurriedly retreat, his brow rose and fell. With such poor schemes, she still wanted to stir wang ye’s pity. It could be seen that this huakui didn’t live up to her reputation.
Inside zhengyuan, Qu Qing Ju played with the invitation in her hands. The birthday banquet of the Duke of Chang De. Whether she was willing or not, she had to at least go to that fu, even if it was just a formality. But just remembering the rage and dissatisfaction that existed in the original’s memories of that place, her face became colder.
In this kind of feudal era, there was nothing wrong with the dissolute nature of men in the eyes of society. But to marry somebody else when the body of the deceased person hadn’t even cooled and to treat his own daughter as nothing, that meant his character was lacking. A man who couldn’t even abide protocol during the one year after his wife had died, it was enough to make anybody feel extremely disappointed.
“Wang fei, if you don’t want to go, just order somebody to send the present,” Mu Jin saw that wang fei’s expression was strange and could only console her, “No matter how noble that Chang De Gong fu is, they aren’t more noble than you.”
A qin wang fei was nobler and higher-ranked than Chang De Gong Fu but the rumors wouldn’t sound very good. Also, why would she let go of such a good opportunity?
Under the absolute might of the Imperial power, even if she was his daughter, the Duke of Chang De still had to bow to her. This was a perfect opportunity to “return in glory”. If she didn’t use it, wouldn’t she be wasting her status as Duan Wang Fei?
“That’s not necessary. My good father’s birthday, I, this Duan Wang Fei, as his daughter, has to attend,” Lips rising upward in a smile, Qu Qing Ju threw the invitation to one side and saw Yin Liu walk in with anger on her face.
Mu Jin place the invitation in its proper place before asking: “Your face is green, who angered you?”
“Nobody except that one in Cui You Yuan. There was a beautiful play right now,” Yin Liu bowed slightly to Qu Qing Ju, “Just now, nubi heard that Cui You Yuan’s Yun Qing tried to commit suicide. In her letter she wrote something like qie originally was the snow on a high mountain but has now landed in a swamp. She was implying that there were people in this fu who treated her cruelly. She was blaming wang fei for not treating her well!”
Finished telling the story, Yin Liu had an even harder time controlling the anger in her voice: “A huakui, she isn’t some pure snow on a high mountain. Or does she mean no one is as noble as her!”
“When the snow on a high mountain melts, what is revealed is dirt. She loves to be the snow that is white on the outside and disguises a dirty inside, who wants to argue otherwise?” Mu Jin snorted coldly and immediately said: “What did wang ye say? Take care to not let anybody ruin wang fei’s reputation.”
“Mu Jin jiejie, you don’t have to worry about that. When the news spread earlier, wang ye reprimanded that person for needlessly dirtying the ground of Duan Wang Fu and ordered her to move to Qiu Yi Zhai.” Speaking of this, she felt her rage lessen, “That Qui Yi Zhai isn’t a good place. A beauty will become a wild person. You can see that wang ye is really dissatisfied with her. Wang fei has no need be angry over such a person.”
Qu Qing Ju finished listening to Yin Liu’s speech, laughed, and said: “I’m not angry, but you blew your top.” She motioned for Mu Jin to pour a cup of tea for Yin Liu to moisten her throat, “That Yun Qing was never somebody that deserved any attention, I have no reason to become angry over her.” This Yun Qing wasn’t a smart woman. If she had been perceptive, acted well-behaved all the time, she would still have some influence with Duan Wang. But she had to pretend to be virtuous which was the worst strategy.
Perhaps normal customers had liked Yun Qing’s virtuous and innocent act that fulfilled the desires of the masses, but who was He Heng? He was Duan Qin Wang of this entire Da Long Dynasty. What kind of women hasn’t he seen before? The schemes Yun Qing used, they only worked as long as He Heng was willing to play along.
“Send somebody to reply to Chang De Gong Fu’s invitation. Tell them that on the day of the banquet, I will go personally to congratulate my father.” Qu Qing Ju pursed her lips in a smile. She was looking forward a bit now towards the upcoming banquet of the Duke of Chang De. There wasn’t much entertainment in this era. She had to find something to do in order to not waste the time available.
Soon after, the Duchess of Chang De personally received the messenger mama of Duan Wang Fu and was informed that Duan Wang Fei would be coming that day to attend the birthday banquet.
After the messenger mama left, the Duchess of Chang De, Liang shi, sneered, commenting: “I’ve heard before that the yatou wasn’t favoured by wang ye. Today, that messenger mama acted as though wang fei was of some importance. I didn’t think that a person that dull knew how to pretend.”
Sitting by her side was Qu Yue Su who sighed and said: “Taitai, jiejie has already married. Whether or not wang ye favors her, she is still Duan Wang Fei.”
Liang shi looked at her daughter that was as pretty as flowers and jade and understood the meaning in her daughter’s words. She lowered her face and spoke coldly: “No matter what she is, she would not be as important as you in the future.”
Upon hearing this, Qu Yue Su smiled faintly and didn’t speak again.
 秋意斋: Autumn building. Zhai (斋) also means to a vegetarian diet or the diet of a monk.
 丫头: girl, servant girl. Can be used deprecatingly or as a term of endearment.
太太: Mrs, madam, wife, married woman.