Slow and steady is this story. Character development before romance. ;P Qu Qing Ju “reacquaints” herself with the women in her new home. Glossary updated with definitions from chapters one to four.
Thanks to everybody who commented, and referred and to those who have visited so I know I’m not sending things away into empty space. Also, for those who haven’t encountered it yet, there’s a website called novel updates which is amazing as collating all the updates each day for the various translations. They have pages for the translation groups, each book/series and filters. Very similar to baka-updates if you’ve ever gone there before.
Does anyone know why wordpress keeps changing the scheduled post time whenever I try to edit my draft?
Chapter Four Embarrassment
A new day had arrived. the ce fei and shiqie of the wangfu obediently came to the zhengyuan to pay their respects. The result was that they had waited for almost an hour but didn’t manage to see wang fei’s face.
The other three were still alright, only sitting there woodenly. But Feng Zi Jin’s face showed a hint of impatience. Even so, even she didn’t dare turn and leave.
Taking a drink of tea to suppress the impatience inside, Feng Zi Jin asked in a quiet voice to her yahuan behind her: “Chun Yu, what time is it now?”
Chun Yu looked outside. The sun had already risen. She could only say: “Mistress, it’s already past nine.”
Jiang Yong Yu coldly observed the motions of Feng Zi Jin and her servant. She lowered her gaze to her lotus-colored dress as though she was an unfeeling piece of wood, waiting for wang fei to arrive.
After another fifteen minutes, they finally saw wang fei’s first-ranked yahuan Mu Jin slowly walk out, a face full of remorse. She bowed deeply to the four: “Ce fei and yiniang, please return. Wang fei said that paying respects daily is a torment and that paying respects every three days would be enough.”
“Wang fei is considerate,” They waited for the better part of the morning, but they only received these few words. The insides of these four present were complicated and varied but their expression was the same. As one of the ce fei and the senior one on top of that, Jiang Yong Yu came up front and smiled, agreeing: “Then we wouldn’t disturb wang fei any further.”
“Wang fei is very busy everyday. If there had been a notice yesterday, there would be no need for a disturbance today. It was us that was rude.” Feng Zi Jin smiled mirthlessly and followed with, “I am a rough kind of person, very undisciplined. I’m never good at the fine details, so wang fei will have to forgive me.”
Listening to Feng ce fei’s ambiguous words, Mu Jin’s smile didn’t waver and she bowed again: “Feng ce fei has no need to worry. Wang fei is always lenient and wouldn’t be moved to anger over small things.”
The two pairs of eyes met. Mu Jin’s gaze held laughter, a lowered chin giving the impression of respect. Feng ce fei’s smile gradually became colder and in the end, she only took her yahuan Chun Yu and Xia Yun and left.
The other three were much more courteous and left the zhengyuan with smiles on their faces.
Coming out of the zhengyuan, the three released a breath. Luo Yin Xiu couldn’t help but say; “Now zhengyuan’s atmosphere has become frightening.”
Jiang Yong Yu smiled but there was no mirth in her eyes: “That one is wang fei. Whether I am favoured or not, I cannot displease her.”
Han Qing He was the eldest among those four and had been the yahuan arranged by the Department of Household Affairs to wangye’s side to teach him about adult matters. She didn’t like what Jiang Yong Yu said, but she couldn’t help but agree on the inside. She had assumed that wang fei would get her to serve at breakfast again, but who knew that she made them leave without even showing up.
“If there is wang ye‘s favor, then it’s fine, if there is no favor…” She grimaced and looked back at the zhengyuan, “will there be good days in the future?”
After these words came out, the three became silent. At present, none of them had children and nobody could be certain of the future. If wang fei wanted to torment them, only a few word could accomplish it.
Inside the zhengyuan, Qu Qing Ju finished her ablutions and sat in front of the copper mirror, playing with a jade scepter. Seeing Mu Jin coming in, she then lazily stood, holding Yin Liu’s hand to set down at the table in the outer room. She asked: “Were any of them unsatisfied?”
“The others were fine, but Feng ce fei said a few words.” Mu Jin came front to serve her a few chopsticks of food. She smiled and said: “Nubi wasn’t too courteous to her, so when Feng ce fei left, her face didn’t look so good.”
Motioning for her to stop, Qu Qing Ju rinsed her mouth before speaking: “That’s a good way of dealing with it. People say that the gatekeeper of the Prime Minister is akin to a seventh-rank official, you are my first-rank yahuan, every action you take represents our zhengyuan. You can be courteous but you cannot be weak. Before, when I retreated a step, I didn’t see any of them respect me one single bit.”
Hearing what wang fei said, Mu Jin understood that wang fei was putting her in the first spot. She became excited but kept her smile: “Nubi will remember.”
Qu Qing Ju nodded and started to eat. After she put down the chopsticks, it was rinsing and washing again. After everything was put in its place, it was the beginning of a new day.
“Wang fei, nubi doesn’t understand, why let the cefei and shiqie pay respects every third day,” Yin Liu asked in bewilderment, “Not saying anything about other compounds, but even in Chang De Gong Fu, the ji mistress had the yiniang come pay respects everyday.
“What benefit do I get if they come everyday? I wouldn’t even be able to have a good breakfast,” Qu Qing Ju held their hands to cross over the doorway. She looked at the spread of green in the yard and her mood lightened: “I’m too lazy to wake up and prepare everyday to wait for them to come pay their respects.”
Yin Liu nodded in understanding, carefully holding wang fei’s hand as they walked into the yard. This yard wasn’t small, it had the required elements of a false mountain, water, a bridge and blooming flowers. The servants were doing their duties but Yin Liu felt that this yard was too quiet.
“Wang fei, do you want that little taijian that you wanted to put into the interior yard come over and kowtow?” Mu Jin saw wang fei stand on the bridge using fish feed to tease the fish in the water and spoke quietly, “If there is no meeting, what is to be his duties?”
Dropping all of the feed in her grasp into the water and seeing a swarm of golden fish flash by, Qu Qing Ju smiled and said: “Let him come over.”
A short while later, she saw that taijian whose name she had changed to Huang Yang kneeling in front of her. Qu Qing Ju examined him closely. His face was clean and seemed very obedient. She smiled suddenly: “Stand up. The taijian in this yard need a leader. In the future, you will be in charge of these taijian. As to what you need to do, you just have to understand inside.” After her words, she saw this Huang Yang kneel down again to thank her. Qu Qing Ju looked once at Mu Jin: “Mu Jin has served many years at my side. If there is anything you do not understand, you will ask her.”
Huang Yang confirmed and bowed to Mu Jin. Mu Jin returned the greeting and laughed: “Wang fei has selected you because you were obedient. You should try to live up to wang fei’s hope.”
“Please don’t worry, Mu Jin guniang. Nu will be careful in service of wang fei.” Huang Yang didn’t say any superfluous words. It could be seen that wang fei didn’t like listening to useless things. Seeing the situation, Mu Jin nodded inside. He didn’t seem to be of any great use, but at least had a good eye for detail and wasn’t so dumb. What wang fei had just said, it was to make declare that all the servants in the neiyuan would be under her charge. She had no way of reciprocating except take note of every small thing and always putting wang fei first.
Huang Yang hadn’t thought that he would receive wang fei’s attentions and he was ecstatic on the inside. To say nothing of bowing to Mu Jin, if he had to kowtow a few times, he would do it willingly. After retreating, his face finally revealed his state of excitement. Turning his head back to look at wang fei on the bridge, he thought, who said wang fei was a wood-like person, he didn’t think there was a woman in the wang fu that could outcompete wang fei niangniang.
Seeing Huang Yang retreat, Qu Qing Ju sighed and leaned in boredom on a post on the bridge. She suddenly heard a serene stream of flute music from far away. The sound was both full of worry and like the cries of a woman. She looked in the direction of the flute and asked suspiciously: “Why is there flute music at this time?”
The faces of Mu Jin and the others changed slightly but nobody spoke.
Seeing the situation, Qu Qing Ju smiled and said: “Or is it that I am forbidden from knowing this?”
“Wang fei, over there is Cui You Yuan. Supposedly, a huakui that one of the officials gave to wang ye is living there.” Mu Jin, seeing wang fei didn’t seem affected, continued onwards, “Nubi heard this huakui called Yun Qing is famous in the capital. She’s skilled in the zither, go, calligraphy and painting. Wang ye frequently visits her but Yun Qing guniang’s personality is very virtuous, so she is still a guniang.”
The meaning was that wang ye hadn’t managed to get a taste of this huakui yet? Qu Qing Ju laughed and her interest in the flute halved. If she was really noble and virtuous, who would let another gift her into this wang fu and then put out this attitude? Seeing but not touching was an eternally-successful skill of all beautiful women.
She clapped her hands and then Qu Qing Ju held Yin Liu’s hand: “Let’s go elsewhere.”
They hadn’t walked a few steps before seeing an unfamiliar little taijian run over. Upon seeing Qu Qing Ju, he made a full bow: “Nucai Xiao Gan Zi greets wang fei. Wang ye has commanded nucai to tell wang fei he is coming over to zhengyuan for the noon meal.”
“Ben wang fei knows,” It took a few seconds for Qu Qing Ju’s brains to remember that this Xiao Gan Zi was one of the frequently used taijian of Duan Wang. She nodded to confirm her understanding, “Wang ye has returned already?”
Xiao Gan Zi answered: “Back already, but hasn’t entered the fu yet when he met the Royal Highness Cheng Wang so he let nucai send a message. It will probably be a while before his return.”
It was like that then. The sounds of the flute Cui You Yuan, did they appeared due to Duan Wang’s presence? That time would have been the time that Duan Wang was returning, the flute sounds were too much of a coincidence.
It was so sad that nobody was there to admire such beautiful sounds, why didn’t she go take some pleasure from it?
“Since wang ye wouldn’t be returning very quickly, then let the kitchen prepare the noon meal. Somebody go to Cui You Yuan and inform them that ben wang fei likes Yun Qing guniang’s flute and will visit shortly.” Qu Qing Ju touched the butterflies in flight of the buyao in her hair and smile happily.
Xiao Gan Ji stood in shock for a beat before bowing and leaving, turning towards Cui You Yuan. Even though wang ye had some minor interest in that women living in Cui You Yuan, but as somebody who had served at wang ye’s for many years, he understood that a small insignificant huakui wasn’t as important as wang fei.
Entering Cui You Yuan, he saw Yun Qing guniang who was playing the flute under the grape trellis. He didn’t pay attention to the other’s music. Walking forward, Xiao Gan Zi stated: “Yun Qing guniang, wang fei enjoyed your flute. In a short while, she will be deign to arrive, so please prepare.”
The sounds of the flute instantly stopped. Yu Qing looked coldly at Xiao Gan Zi and faintly said: “My place here is much too small, it isn’t worthy for wang fei to lower herself to come.”
Hearing this, Xiao Gan Zi laughed strangely: “Whether your place is good or not, I do not know, but it is an honor that wang fei wants to come. You only have to prepare. Or does wang fei have to report to you?” Just a plaything, did she really think she was of importance? This entire wang fu, unless it was the few used by wang ye, who dared to talk back to him this way? She was just too shameless and ignorant.
Yun Qin saw Xiao Gan Zi sweep away, her youthful face turning colors, unspeakably grotesque.
 姨娘: title used to refer to normal concubines/qieshi
 玉如意: ruyi(如意) is a carved talisman, usually in an S-shape.
 继: means to continue. It also refers to the new wife after the old, original, one died.
 娘娘: suffix which should only be applied to the empress or imperial concubines.
 翠幽苑: cui(翠) green jade, you(幽) is serene, secluded or hidden away, yuan(苑) is park or yard.
 花魁: the word oiran, courtesans in Japan, comes from the word 花魁. It refers to the top or best entertainer of a pleasure house.
 诚王: the Prince of Cheng (诚). Cheng means honest, sincere, true.