The chapter title is way more poetic in Chinese but you get the point. I think Qin Bai Lu is just inexperienced. You can’t compare her to Qu Qing Ju and what she is doing is bad. She’s a fifteen year old girl whose husband wants another woman. And that other girl is showing off and everyone in the city knows it.
I think the age of the characters is something that authors forget when writing historical novels, especially time travel ones. What is the accomplishment if your main character is an adult reborn who wins over ten year olds?
Chapter Forty Four Pointing at the Mulberry Tree and Swearing at the Locust Tree
Females tended to prefer subtle and graceful poems. Qu Qing Ju took the poems that Wei Qing E passed over. She casually took a look and saw characters for light wind, wispy smoke and others along those lines. She carelessly flipped through before handing them to Qin Bai Lu on her other side, “I feel all of these guniang have literary skill, but I am not skilled poetically. San dimei, have a look instead.”
Qin Bai Lu took these poems that had been picked out by Jin An Princess. The one on top was the work of the third guniang of Chang De Gong Fu. A hint of ice appeared at the corner of her lips. She flipped through and said to Qu Qing Ju: “Er sao comes from a noble family. Even your fu’s san guniang is this talented, why should you underestimate yourself?”
These words were somewhat harsh. Even though Rui Wang had the emperor’s favour, he was still an younger brother. You, as a di mei, talking in this type of tone to your saosao, it was not having any respect. How was it that the Family Qing was an educated and literary family yet produce a woman of such conduct?
Jin An Princess’ eyes jumped. She glanced at Qin Bai Lu before lowered her head to drink tea.
“My fu?” Qu Qing Ju giggled as she took out a handkerchief to wipe her mouth. Her voice was gentle as she lectured, “San di mei, it’s not that saosao likes lecturing others, but your words are too improper. Us women, when we marry, we follow our husbands. My fu is wang ye’s fu. San dimei, are you saying that I am not a member of the Imperial Family?”
This kind of words, even the empress couldn’t say them, to say nothing of Qin Bai Lu as a dimei?
Qin Bai Lu finished listening to the speech and in her heart, she hated Qu Qing Ju for not leaving her a shred of dignity. On the outside, she could only smiled and apologize: “Er sao, forgive me. It’s just my mouth got away from me. Saosao, please forgive me.” Finishing, she stood to give a bow.
Qu Qing Ju didn’t stand to return the bow but nodded instead: ”Meimei doesn’t have to be so courteous. There isn’t that many protocols between us zhouli, but today, I had to say a word. Now, I am Duan Wang Fei, my mother is Qu Tian shi. Dimei, you can’t get mixed up in the future.
The smile on Qin Bai Lu’s face almost froze. She hadn’t expected Qu Qing Ju to straightforwardly throw the Duke of Chang De aside. Thinking about the rumors involving Chang De Gong Fu and Duan Wang Fei. That the Duke of Chang De was a dissolute person, not yet one hundred days after his wife had died, he married a wife. That Qu Liang shi was not a loving mother and harshly treated the daughter of the previous wife, and didn’t even care for the shu daughters, only being caring to her own daughter and her maternal family.
No wonder that everywhere in these past days were the previous scandals of Chang De Gong Fu. It was waiting here. Qu Qing Ju wanted to clearly express her attitude towards Chang De Gong Fu.
Many people had come today and in front of all these people, Qin Bai Lu couldn’t throw a tantrum despite the great humiliation she endured. She could only sit with her suppressed rage. She handed the poems in her hand back to Jin An Princess: “Which one does Princess think is the best?”
Qu Qing Ju looked at her anger simmering under the surface and thought uncharitably that Rui Wang and his wife were naturally a couple. Their way of speech was not well-thought out and insulting. Their arrogant conduct was just asking for retaliation.
“Ben gong feels that the young ladies Qu and Lu are both good,” Jin An Princess raised her head, “Who are these two guniang, come up to let ben gong see.”
Qu Qing Ju looked at the guniang that came up to bow. Qu Yue Su was warm and beautiful to the eye, the Lu Family’s guniang was thin and graceful. She was truly someone that would catch someone’s eye. If she didn’t guess wrong, this Family Lu’s guniang should be the Great Scholar Lu Jing Hong’s daughter, Yu Rong.
“Ben gong sees you two’s poems both have their own merits. They say there is never just one winner in the arts. Why don’t you both be the winners, “ Jin An Princess had heard of the event between Qu Yue Su and Rui Wang. She gave Qu Yue Su an extra look. This woman did have the looks of a spring flower, her brows like a painting.
At this time, she couldn’t help but look at Duan wang fei as she smiled faintly and tasted the tea. The two were sisters of the same father, but their appearances and aura were completely different. Qu Yue Su was very beautiful, but it wasn’t a rare kind of beauty. But while Duan wang fei’s appearance wasn’t peerless, it just made people feel she was unspeakably beautiful, each move and word carrying the flavour of beauty.
This probably was each person’s charisma. Jin An Princess let the servants present a set of precious ink and hair ornament to Qu and Lu before giving a few more compliments and letting the two sit down. She didn’t even mention once the relation between Qu Yue Su and Qu Qing Ju.
Very quickly there were servants that presented fresh cakes and fruits. Everyone saw that these were all good things and it could be seen how much the emperor favored Jin An Princess. No wonder the wang feis were all this harmoniously interacting with Jin An Princess. Even a person as proud as Rui Wang Fu was courteous.
From beginning to end, Wei Qing E, who hadn’t spoken more than a few words, felt that Qu Qing Ju’s fate seemed to naturally conflict with Qin Bai Lu. And each time, it was Qu Qing Ju who won.
Qu Qing Ju dared to humiliate Qin Bai Su, she must be relying on the favour that Duan Wang held for her. Otherwise, why would she speak without regard for the consequences. She thought in derision, when Duan Wang didn’t favour her, how would she live? If she had offended the zhouli underneath her, who would pity her in the future?
If it was her, she would have said it more beautifully, at least, she wouldn’t have made it so the person had no dignity left. She sighed and raised a teacup to disguise her emotions. Sometimes, only the cruel reality could make women learn and grow.
“We are pretty done with the drawings. If everyone doesn’t dislike it, why don’t you come with ben gong to hear some music?” Jin An Princess held a yahuan’s hand as she stood. Once she spoke, everyone all agreed and said they had no dislike.
The stage had already been set up. After everyone sat down, the actors started singing. The meaning, broadly said, was a heartless man and a girl in love. In the end, the woman grew old and left before the man regretted his actions and repented.
Qu Qing Ju saw this kind of plot and felt uncomfortable. Why was it that the woman had to stay at home to care for the elders, raise the children while the man could drink and be merry outside. When the woman was old and her youth was gone, the man would have been bored of playing outside and wanted to return home. Why was it that the man was considered to be so valuable and admirable when he repented?
Who saw the youth of the woman, the blood and tears of the woman? When she was old, and couldn’t enjoy the beautiful times of youth anymore, what was the use in the man repenting?
According to her, these plays had been written by vulgar scholars to satisfy their own desires. They always wanted their own wives to be virtuous and taciturn, and hoped that other people’s wives were extremely lusty. In reality, they would never be able to find a wife. The only thing they could do was eat one meal before looking for the next, squatting in old and drafty cottages fantasizing that a landlord’s daughter or a noble daughter will wanted to marry them.
Mu Jin saw her mistress’ face wasn’t well and changed a cup of hot tea for her. She asked in a small voice: “Mistress, is your body not well?”
Qu Qing Ju held the teacup as she faintly replied: “It’s fine. I just don’t want to see this kind of man have such a virtuous and generous woman.”
She had been talking in a small voice but Jin An Princess had heard. Jin An Princess nodded and laughed icily: “That’s so true, this type of man still managed to live out his days with his family, it’s so disgusting. Get the singers to leave, ben gong doesn’t like this play.”
The actors quickly retreated, not understanding how they had provoked Her Highness the Princess into such anger.
“A few days earlier, I heard a repeat of “The Record of Pan Zhe”, it’s somewhat interesting. Does jiejie want to hear?” Qu Qing Ju gave a faint smile and commented, “The men and women in this world, they have to respect that karma will happen by the end. How can someone take advantage all the time?”
Jin An Princess felt that Duan Wang Fei was becoming more and more pleasing to look at. She picked “The Record of Pan Zhe” before she said to Qu Qing Ju: “Dimei, your words are good. I think the same.”
This Jin An Princess really did have some temper. Qu Qing Ju smiled as she raised the teacup, “Your Highness is wise.”
Qin Bai Lu stared coldly as Qu Qing Ju and Jin An Princess talked. She turned her head to glare icily at Qu Yue Su who sat in the corner. The women of the Family Qu were all fox-spirits disguised in those long sleeves which danced beautifully. The jiejie was a temptress, the meimei did what fox-spirits always did. None of them were good.
“The Record of Pan Zhe” was the story of a grassroots xuicai who fell in love with a noble xiaojie and tried different ways to win the good feelings of the xiaojie. But this xuicai had a childhood sweetheart who was his fiancée. The xuicai wanted it all so he concealed the information. In the end, what he had done had been found out by both the xiaojie and the childhood sweetheart. He was rejected by both people and was in poverty for his entire life.
The one he wanted to climb up to was the noble xiaojie, the one he wanted to break off was the childhood sweetheart. In the end, he didn’t climb up or break anything off. This was the biggest insult to the poor scholar’s greediness. When this play came out, no one had originally recommended it. Which man would like to watch such a play? And the women who were enclosed in their inner chambers naturally didn’t know there was this kind of a play.
So when this play was acted out, many were deeply attracted. After the play finished, the crowd started discussing, this saying how shameless the scholar was, that saying that what the xiaojie and the sweetheart done was right.
“It’s true that the scholar is deserving of hatred but this noble xiaojie should have secretly met with the scholar before. She nearly ruined her reputation,” Qin Bai Lu pointed out with a mirthless smile, “This world still lives by the decisions of the mother and father. Such a good girl, it’s not a good thing to mix with adult men.”
These words had an indirect target. Many people present had heard what occurred at the Lantern Festival and so no one continued the topic. That was a matter of Rui Wang Fu. Rui Wang’s personality had always been proud, it was better not to provoke him.
Liang shi heard Qin Bai Lu’s speech and her face changed. However, Qu Yue Su, standing by her side, didn’t change her expression as she kept a smile on her face. It was as though the target that Qin Bai Shaung’s “pointing at the mulberry tree and swearing at the locust tree” wasn’t her.
Wei Qing E and Qu Qing Ju both smiled and didn’t speak. They seemed to have not heard Qin Bai Lu’s words. The two exchanged a glance, raised the teacup in their hand, and simultaneously took a drink.
“Luckily this noble xiaojie didn’t make a great mistake. To know she had stepped wrong and return rather than continue onwards, it is a good thing,” Jin An Princess’s words broke the tense silence. A sharp smile appeared on her face, “This kind of man, you can’t tolerate or spoil him. Otherwise, he’ll forget who he really is.”
Once the words came out, everyone’s inside was full of different flavors. In this world, what man didn’t steal some, what man didn’t like beauty?
Qu Qing Ju looked at Jin An Princess. On her face, she saw what looked like a certain type of resolution.
攀折: 攀 is to climb, to claim connections of higher status折 is break, twist, snap, suffer loss.