It’s actually better to be a princess than a prince. At the very least, your survival is guaranteed unless the princess rebels.
Chapter Forty Six Kui Yuan Palace
The Count of Bei Lu managed to travel to Jing City on the twenty-sixth day of the first month. The first place he went to was the Princess Royal’s fu, but before he could enter, he was thrown out by the servants of the fu. He hadn’t known that the servants would make things this difficult for him. When he was about to start in on them, Jin An Princess came out, supported by a yahuan.
Because the Count of Bei Lu had constantly been thinking of that mistress, the husband and wife hadn’t been together for many days in the recent months. The Count of Bei Lu stood under the main gate, looking at the grandly-dressed princess. The fiery anger instantly was extinguished by cold water. He muttered: “Princess.”
“What is fuma doing?” Jin An Princess looked mockingly behind him, “Why don’t I see your little lover?”
The Count of Bei Lu’s face was conflicted. The servants and guards of the princess’ fu had filled the gate. He didn’t want to humiliate himself in front of these people but he had to do so. Otherwise, his entire Cao Family would be impacted, to say nothing of protecting the mistress he liked.
“The princess misunderstood, it was just a little bit of fun, it wouldn’t have influenced the feelings between us,” Count of Bei Lu forced himself to smile as he gave a deep bow, “I ask for Princess to forgive weifu[i], weifu will not do such an idiotic thing in the future.”
Jin An Princess disdainfully looked at the man in front of his eyes. He still was elegant and graceful, full of warmth and education. The person was still the same person, but the heart had changed. A man with a changed heart. If she kept it, it was just guarding a stinky skin, she would just disgust herself.
For some reason, she wanted to laugh and she did: “Fuma, this joke is really funny. Ben gong, in the past, hadn’t known that fuma would have lost himself because of playing with an amusement. Idiotic or not, you know in your heart. These kinds of words, ben gong doesn’t care to hear. Since it was fuhuang’s Imperial Decree that summoned you into Jing, you can go into the palace to explain to fuhuang.”
The Count of Bei Lu’s heart suddenly panicked. He heard the disdain in the princess’ words. But if this event didn’t have the princess to mediate, the emperor will definitely heavily punish him. And the Family Cao would be over. Originally, his Family Cao had been one with only a title yet no power. Now that the incident has gotten larger, they might not even be able to keep their title.
Thinking about this, the Count of Bei Lu could only continue: “Princess, we have been together for so many years, we can’t let such a minor thing affect our feelings for each other. This event, it was weifu’s great mistake. As long as Princess is willing to forgive weifu, weifu is willing to do anything.”
“Since you know we have been married for so long, why did you do such a shameless thing to break our union?” Jin An Princess wasn’t moved and looked expressionlessly at the Count of Bei Lu, “In this world, there is a reason for anything. These years, ben gong has never slighted any of your Cao family. You have treated me so, how can you come here?” Finishing, she turned and ordered the gatesmen: “Close the main gate!”
The Count of Bei Lu watched as the main gate slowly closed. He wanted to beg, but seeing Jin An Princess’ gaze, he couldn’t say one word. Because the other’s eyes told him, no matter what he said, the other wouldn’t change their heart.
The news that the Count of Bei Lu had begged to see the princess but was rejected quickly spread through Jing. Many said that the Count of Bei Lu was too reckless, and there were those that said the Count of Bei Lu wasn’t smart enough, but no one dared to say that Jin An Princess Royal was too aggressive. It wasn’t easy marrying a daughter of the Imperial Family.
When Qu Qing Ju heard of the incident, she let people find out more to tell her. In the deep courtyard, there really wasn’t anything, if she didn’t listen to what was happening outside to amuse herself, she didn’t know how to spend her time. No wonder the women here put on big or small banquets, looked at flowers, tea, paintings when they had time. All these were just excuses for the noblewomen to gather and waste time.
The night that this news had spread, the fu received the empress’ decree. It said they were having a family banquet at Kui Yuan Palace tomorrow and that He Heng and Qu Qing Ju both had to be there.
After receiving the decree, Qu Qing Ju felt a bit surprised. The Empress didn’t seem to be one that meddled. To hold a family banquet so unexpectedly, it was most likely for Jin An Princess’ matter.
He Heng saw Qu Qing Ju in deep thought so he spoke: “You don’t have to think too much. Tomorrow, other than us brothers, I’m afraid there will only be zhang jie[ii] Jin An, fuhuang and muhou.”
This was saying that the other consorts didn’t have the qualifications to be there? Qu Qing Ju understood. This was the warm-up to sorting out the Count of Bei Lu. She nodded, “Yes, it should be us maternal family who sort out this heartless man. To put aside such a good wife and entangle himself with an unclear woman, we can’t let him off easily.”
Detecting Qu qing Ju’s anger, He Heng smiled and stated: “It seems you had a good time with Zhangjie.”
Qu Qing Ju sat down on the carved chair. She sighed and observed: “Zhang jie is a good woman. The Count of Bei Lu is truly despicable. He clearly had a very good person at home but he had to go out to touch the unclean and unknown ones. It can be seen that the feelings from these many years, to him, it wasn’t important.”
Seeing her expression seemed tired, he didn’t know how he just started speaking: “There are millions of men in the world. Some don’t care for old affections, other people deepen their affections over time. Zhang jie just met a bad man.”
Qu Qing Ju suddenly smiled. Her left hand propped up her chin. She tilted her head to He Heng and said: “Wang ye has to be the person whose affections deepen over time.”
He Heng’s gaze was dark. He answered hoarsely: “Naturally I’m the kind of person whose affections deepen over time.” But in this sentence, he put emphasis on a certain word.
A man and woman alone. He Heng’s purposeful flirtation aroused Qu Qing Ju’s interest. They didn’t know who moved first but when Qu Qing Ju managed to react, she was already lying on the bed, revealing half a shoulder. He Heng’s dog teeth were licking and biting at her shoulder.
Feeling her shoulder tickle, Qu Qing Ju shrugged her shoulders and laughed out loud. This provoked He Heng to bite tighter. He said hoarsely: “It seems I didn’t put in enough effort, that Qing Ju can still laugh.” Finishing, he purposefully pinched at her waist, causing Qu Qing Ju to laugh even louder.
He clearly knew that she was most ticklish at her waist, yet he still purposefully put his hand there. Qu Qing Ju flashed to deliberately hide in his embrace and before he noticed, she took grasp of Little Heng. She threatened: “Wang ye, don’t tickle me, it wouldn’t be good if I accidentally move my hand.”
He Heng gave a deep laugh. He replied: “Wang fei, are you threatening me?” Finishing, his body pushed down, pinning the person under his body. He gently kissed her ear before raising his head to look at her and saying, “Then you have to take good care of it.”
“What is taking good care of it?” Qu Qing Ju widened her eyes, looking innocently at He Heng. Her hand very carelessly trembled a few times and felt Little Heng stand to attention.
This was igniting He Heng’s very large fire and he instantly threw himself in.
An hour later, the servants started to move the bathtub and hot water to zhengyuan. These taijian all carefully kept their head down, afraid to even look twice at the clothing and ornaments on the ground. But just from the clothing on the ground, they knew just how fiery it had been between wang ye and wang fei.
Qu Qing Ju sprawled at the border of the tub, permitting He Heng to knead her shoulders. Her voice carried laziness as she asked: “I heard we have a property in the Jing suburbs, it has hot springs?”
“You like them?” He Heng’s hand touched the fine skin and smiled as his chest glued itself onto that smooth and thin back, “Yu Quan Yuan [iii] does have a large hot spring. In a few days, I’ll take you to play for a few days.
“That would be good,” Qu Qing Ju tilted her head to gently kiss He Heng’s face, “wang ye, don’t forget.”
A beautiful woman giving a kiss was naturally a good thing. He Heng stole a few more from Qu Qing Ju’s lips before confirming, “Things that I have promised you, I won’t forget.”
Qu Qing Ju smiled as she straightened her head. The inky strands of hair flowed in the water, hiding the bottom of the tub.
When she came to Kui Yuan Palace, Qu Qing Ju found that there were a few more hints of life this time. There were even more servants around, as though they were deliberately acting out such liveliness.
Following He Heng into the main hall, she saw the Emperor and Empress there as expected. The person sitting directly under was Jin An Princess Royal. Under Jin An Princess were He Yuan and Qin Bai Lu.
Qu Qing Ju felt that the Rui Wang couple had come quickly this time and weren’t too proud. After she finished her greeting with He Heng, they sat down opposite the couple of He Yuan. Qu Qing Ju, as usual, drank tea and lowered her head.
Qing De Emperor, as emperor, and as a father, he might not be a good one, but at the very least, he still followed social conventions. Sitting at the top, he very rarely looked at his two erxifu, and only talked with his two sons.
A quick while later, the Ning Wang couple arrived. Qu Qing Ju watched as the two sat above them and He Qi started to amuse the emperor. She couldn’t help but think each imperial son was a master of flattery from birth.
“Since your didi have all arrived, zhen will ask you one more time, do you really want to separate?” Qing De Emperor gave a sigh. The old face showing tiredness, “Gui Nian, zhen shouldn’t have given you in marriage to that boy of the Cao family.”
“It has nothing to do with fuhuang. It’s knowing someone’s face not knowing their heart. Back then, it was this daughter that had agreed before fuhuang decreed the marriage. Basically, it was this daughter who didn’t have a good eye,” Gui Nian[iv] was Jin An Princess Royal’s name. This name had been personally chosen by Qing De Emperor. Perhaps it was that when choosing this name, Qing De Emperor had thought that this daughter, even if she had married, still remembered this home of hers that was the palace, so he named her Gui Nian.
Qu Qing Ju found that the Emperor treated Jin An Princess very well, better than the three sons other than He Yuan. Maybe it was that Jin An Princess was his first child, that the feelings were different.
“These years, this daughter and the Count of Bei Lu were full of respect in and in harmony with each other. But now, the Count of Bei Lu’s heart is not with I and the children any longer. He didn’t even care about my identity and the old feelings as he involved himself with a nine-grade official. He can humiliate this daughter, but he cannot humiliate the Imperial Family. Such a heartless man, what use would I keep him for. Separation, it would allow me to have clean days.” Jin An Princess gave a bitter smile, “Otherwise, if I forced myself to be with him, this daughter will feel disgust.”
[i] 为夫: this husband, as the husband
[ii] 长姐: eldest sister
[iii] 玉泉园: Jade springs orchard/garden
[iv] 归念: 归 is return念 is remembrance