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I feel the face is a bit young but Qu Yue Su is around fifteen.

The sweetness, it’s almost too much. Also, there are only difficult and even more difficult choices sometimes.

Chapter Forty To Repay Grievances Fairly[1]

Qu Qing Ju felt that she didn’t understand what was going on. This era didn’t treat women as strictly as the previous dynasty, but Qu Yue Su had just reached her marriageable age of fifteen. She just casually walked with a wang ye that already had a wife on this public street, wasn’t it a bit inappropriate?

She looked at the veil that the other was wearing. Her appearance was faintly unclear through the fabric which would more easily cause others to speculate. She didn’t want to involve herself in whatever Chang De Gong Fu was doing so in the end she didn’t say anything

“It is meimei,” Qu Yue Su’s voice was as sweet as usually and had an extra hint of gentleness. She gave Qu Qing Ju a slight bow, “I didn’t think to be able to see jiejie here.”

She had just called her Duan Wang Fei. After one call of “san mei” the other instantly changed appellations. In her voice, nothing of the conflict between Qu Qing Ju and Chang De Gong Fu could be heard, as though Qu Qing Ju was just her sister.

“Just a good festival so I came out to see,” Qu Qing Ju had no interest to chat in front of two wang ye and an unfamiliar woman. She replied coldly and didn’t speak further.

Qu Wei Su saw she didn’t want to speak and casually responded before stopping talking. She clearly was a perceptive person. This series of actions made Qu Qing Ju feel that it was a miracle that Liang shi could raise such a daughter.

It instantly became silent between the four people. Nobody spoke. Suddenly, a ball of fire exploded in the sky. Qu Qing Ju raised her eyes to watch. She saw the eye-catching spread of fire as she heard the cheers of people in her ears.

Qu Yue Su also raised her head but she only saw the sparks as the fireworks faded. She had no desire to watch so she turned her head to look at Rui Wang beside her. The other’s handsome appearance caused her to slightly blush.

“Didi has a pleasure boat by the river, how about er ge and er sao come together on to see the river lanterns from there.” He Yuan said calmly, “It’s rumoured that the fireworks would be going on for two hours tonight. It wouldn’t be as noisy on the boat. Er ge, you can’t disdain the boat for being too crude.” Finishing, his face revealed a smile that held a hint of pride.

Hearing the other mention the pleasure boat, He Heng knew this boat. It had been commissioned from the Ministry of Works specifically by fuhuang for lao san. He had never been on it, but he had heard people mention it. This boat had exquisite carvings all over. Since the other had the desire to boast, he couldn’t reject.

“That’s great, er ge hadn’t had the chance to see didi’s boat. It’s very fortunate to have met tonight, we’ll have to disturb you,” Finishing, he turned and held Qu Qing Ju’s hand as he explained with a shallow smile: “Seeing the lights from the river, it has a distinctive flavour.”

Qu Qing Ju’s index finger scratched his palm and nodded her head lightly.

He Yuan looked at their close conjugal state and put his hands behind his back in disgust, moving his eyes away.

On the side, Qu Yue Su was deeply moved. A person like da jie who had such a dull personality, she was able to receive Duan Wang’s affection. Even her personality was more outgoing than in the past. It could be seen just how great the influence Duan Wang had on her. A sense of admiration rose in her heart, a bit sour and a touch bitter

Chang De Gong Fu’s days were one worse than the past one. So they thought to let her enter Rui Wang Fu. Even if she couldn’t become zheng fei, but after Rui Wang succeeded the throne, she could at least be a fei. If she gave birth to a son, she might even have better fortune in the future.

She had already accepted that she had to walk such a past, but seeing how da jie was able to hold hands and walk together with Duan Wang, her heart still felt ill.

In this world, which girl didn’t want to be wearing a phoenix crown and a red cape as they married. Why did they have to wear that mountain crow dress to become another man’s shiqie, and that man, she couldn’t call him her husband.

The guards at the two sides quickly pushed aside the surrounding crowds, leaving behind enough walking space for their masters. Qu Qing Ju and He Heng walked at the very front, a feeling akin “a very important person was coming and onlookers had to leave.”

On the two sides of the road there were peddlers selling snacks. Yuan xiao, candy, and other foodstuffs. It had attracted many customers. She even saw a chubby child holding a bowl of hot sesame soup and wolfing it down.

These fresh scenes caused her to smile. She pointed to a small stand selling sticky rice cake and commented to He Heng: “Wang ye, that cake has sesame seeds and peanut bits on it, it seems interesting.”

He Heng looked at the nondescript stand. The sellers were a normal couple, past their sixties, but they seemed very energetic.

“Foods outside aren’t very clean, you can’t eat too much,” Finishing, he motioned for Qian Chang Xin to go buy.

Qian Chang Xin hurriedly walked to the small stand and gave a handful of copper to the owner. He even brought the bowl and spoon. Then he carefully held the sticky rice cake to He Heng, “Wang ye, nucai had them add extra peanuts.”

He Heng nodded and took the bowl to have a taste. The flavour was normal but there was some distinctive style. He held the bowl in front of qu Qing Ju, “Here, if your stomach aches at night, don’t blame me.”

“I’m not that delicate,” Qu Qing Ju didn’t take the bowl and reached out with her left hand to hold the spoon to eat the cake. Her right hand slightly pushed aside the fabric of her veil in front of her face, totally treating He Heng like a servant of hers.

Qian Chang Xin saw the master and mistress walk even slower and silently lowered his head. He definitely didn’t see wang ye taking pleasure in the act.

After a few pieces of cake go into her stomach, Qu qing Ju put down the spoon. She took out a handkerchief to wipe her mouth and commented: “The flavour is good. I just saw someone selling tofu, but it’s hard to eat and walk on the road.”

“Get the fu’s chef to make it for you,” He Heng threw the bowl at Qian Chang Xin and wiped his hands. He declared, “You can only just taste the flavour with these, but they should be more finely crafted.”

Qu Qing Ju obediently nodded, acting like “wang ye, you are right. I listen to you for everything.”

He Yuan, who had been following them the entire road, stayed silent. When he had saw He Heng hold the bowl for Qu shi, he felt surprise. As one of the imperial sons and descendants of the dragon, they never served anyone else. This Qu shi had some ability to let er ge be this happy in serving others.

No wonder mufei said she was a fox spirit. To wrap He Heng around her fingers, her tricks should be extraordinary.

People said to marry a wife was marrying virtue. This wife that lao er had married, she probably wasn’t a very worry-free one. Thinking of this, he raised his head to look at the backs of the two. This type of women, it would be better for her to be a beautiful qie.

They hadn’t walked for fifteen minutes when they reached the pleasure boat. At this harbour, there was only He Yuan’s boat. It even had guards protecting it. The other pleasure boats were anchored far away, clearly afraid to even cause any chance of collision.

He Yuan disregarded the guards as they bowed to him and ushered the couple onto the boat. As he led them inside, he informed: “This boat has two levels, we’ll go to the top.”

Qu Qing Ju found that even the handrail of the stairs was carved with pictures of mountains and rivers. The steps her feet rested on were made from high quality red wood. Each step was as steady as she was walking on solid ground.

He Heng walked at the front, carefully pulling Qu Qing Ju’s hand as they went up. Only when they reached the top did he let go.

The windows of the boat were open. Next to the window was a set of table and chairs. He Yuan ushed the two to sit, he himself sitting down by one side before he said to the still standing Qu Yue Su: “Qu san xiao jie, please sit.” He knew the idea that Chang De Gong Fu had. He didn’t have any interested in this third daughter, but if he took Duan Wang Fei’s meimei as qie, what would lao er’s face look like?

His good er ge was in love with wang fei, so he thought he wouldn’t be angry at her.

Qu Qing Ju sat beside the window, looking at the surface of the river as it turned red due to the lanterns on both shores. She used a hand to prop her chin as she admired the scenery. Occasionally, there were lotus lanterns that floated by, the candle in the middle fluttering, creating another kind of beauty in the night.

“In the cold night, a guest has come with such urgency that tea has to substitute for wine. The water started boiling in the bamboo pot, the fire crimson red and hot.” He Yuan raised a teacup, “er ge, er sao, why don’t you taste this boat’s tea?”

Qu Qing Ju heard his words and felt this couple of Rui Wang both had the habit of wanting people to taste tea. A person like her that didn’t have much learning in tea, the thing she disliked most was hearing this type of question. She raised the veil, revealing an ivory chin. Qu Qing Ju smiled as she took a sip and then she lowered her veil, elegantly putting the cup back on the table.

“Simple and elegant, the taste lingers in the mouth,” He Heng put down the teacup and smiled. He praised, “San di has such leisurely days. Er ge can’t find good things like this.”

“Recently I don’t have to go to court so naturally I will spend more attention on these things,” He Yuan said with a mirthless smile, “er ge has busy duties, there’s no attention left for these common things.”

Seeing the other mention the court, He Heng turned his head to look outside the window. He turned his head back to say, “San di is joking. Fuhuang is just angry momentarily. Once si di has uncovered the truth, I’m afraid san di will be busy with the court again.”

“I hope si di can return soon, and wash away the accusations again didi,” He Yuan gave a seemingly helpless sigh. He turned and said to Qu Yue Su who had stayed silent by one side, “I’ve heard that san xiaojie’s is exceptional at the qin. Is it possible for this small wang to hear a song?”

Under the veil, Qu Yue Su’s face froze. After a slight pause, she put down the teacup in her hands. With a light voice she said: “An inelegant song, hope everyone doesn’t laugh.” Finishing, she walked to sit behind the qin. When she plucked the chords, notes rang out.

The smile on He Heng’s face didn’t change but he looked down even more at the people of Chang De Gong Fu. Now, Qing Ju was Duan Wang Fei. Qu Yue Su, as her sister, was willing to play music for Rui Wang. A di daughter of a gong fu, she was rushing to become a qieshi. He didn’t know if it shamed Qing Ju or the reputation of Chang De Gong Fu.

Qu Yue Su’s skills were good. Qu Qing Ju listened and had a deeper understanding of the arrogance of He Yuan. He could, in front of her as his er sao, let Qu Yue Su play for him. That was clearly saying that he didn’t even put any importance on He Heng and his er sao.

Arrogant people usually died early. Qu Qing Ju smiled icily. Just this type of tactics and he wanted to be emperor. He was delusional. And this Chang De Gong Fu, it was too shameless. Thankfully the entire Jing City knew that she, as Duan Wang Fei, wasn’t close to Chang De Gong Fu. Otherwise, if they didn’t care about humiliating themselves, she cared.

Qu Yue Su played a famous song called “Clouds Over Xiao and Xiangjiang Rivers[2]”. Some thought this was a song lamenting the present and reminiscing on the past, but others felt this song just simply described the scenery. No matter what, this song required very high skills. If there were any weakness, they couldn’t play the meaning in the song.

Qu Qing Ju wasn’t an expert in the guqin, but as a former dancer, she did have a sense of music. At least she could hear, that when Qu Yue Su was playing this song, her mood wasn’t as good as imagined.

“San xiaoji’s skills are as extraordinary as said,” He Yuang listened for a while before continuing to drink tea. He suddenly remarked, “Er sao’s skills must be extraordinary as well.”

These words overstepped. Qu Qing Ju smiled rather than get angry. The motion she made as she set down the teacup was heavier than before. She retorted icily: “San shu does indeed have lots of leisure time. No wonder you would pay attention to such insignificant matters.”

These words were very impolite, it didn’t leave behind any coverings for He Yuan. Sitting by her side, He Heng didn’t speak, clearly feeling that there was nothing wrong with what Qu Qing Ju had just done.

He Yuan’s face showed an astonished expression. When he had finished speaking, he had already detected it wasn’t proper but he was used to being brash, and didn’t expect that this er sao would be so impolite.

A flame burned in his heart. He looked at He Heng and saw the other’s expression wasn’t very good. He could only raise his teacup, “It’s didi that transgressed, er sao, please forgive me.”

Qu Qing Ju lazily raised her teacup, “San shu is too polite.” But she didn’t drink the tea.

A sliver of a smile appeared on He Heng’s face. He raised the teacup and said to He Yuan: “San di, this tea isn’t wine. Don’t get intoxicated.” His woman, she showed have this daring. If she had to silently suffer such a thing, where did it put him as the husband?

He Yuan squeezed out a smile and took a drink but he felt that the tea in his mouth was bitter and harsh, the fire in his heart unable to be doused.

[1]以直报怨 is an idiom that states to justly treat people that they hate.

[2]潇湘 is a place Hu Nan

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