Jing fei is a good mother.
Chapter 15 The Women of the Imperial Palace
When He Heng entered the room with a smile, he bowed to Jing Fei immediately. After Jing fei allowed his to rise, he walked to sit next to Qu Qing Ju and took a sip of tea before inquiring: “What has mufei been talking to them about?”
Jing fei looked at the Yun brocade golden bordered robe of a qin wang, and with a cheerful expression said, “What can women say, it’s just little things. Why are you so thirsty, are the servants of the fu not diligent enough?”
“The matters at court required some talking, nothing to do with the people of the fu,” Knowing that mufei was meaning to put the blame to Qu Qing Ju, He Heng said, “These past days, the court has been arguing over some small things, even us brothers have been examined much by our fuhuang.”
Touching upon matters of the court, Jing fei intelligently didn’t continue the line of questioning, only continuing: “You should take care of your body no matter how busy it gets. Now that you are married, you cannot act like you did before.” Saying to there, she looked at Qu Qing Ju who docilely sat at the side, “Your wife is a virtuous one. Just like mufei, she hopes to let wang fu be fruitful in children. You don’t want all your brothers to have children, and you are still living idly.”
Qu Qing Ju’s brow moved slightly. Jing fei was criticizing her for being jealous, not letting He Heng go to another woman’s bed? This man’s legs are grown on his own body, it was his freedom where he wanted to go. The so-called rain and dew must be shared was a joke. If it had to be shared, then why did the Da Long Dynasty still have the rule that the husband had to reside in the wife’s rooms on the first and fifth of each month?
She didn’t have any feelings towards He Heng but she didn’t want to live like a widow. Additionally, she didn’t like having something she frequently used be given into the hands of another woman of her own initiative. Did they think she stupid or a saint?
He Heng smiled slightly and didn’t reply to Jing fei’s words. He turned his head and looked past Feng Zi Jin: “Did mufei like the little playthings Qing Ju sent, erchen and your erxi had collected them for many days.”
“I know you are filial,” Jing fei saw he didn’t want to follow up on the subject and turned to speak of daily life, asking everything about what He Heng dressed and ate everyday.
Qu Qing Ju listened silently at one side. She had to admit, Jing Fei might not be a good popo but was definitely a good mother. She was also very perceptive. Whenever she found a subject He Heng didn’t want to talk about, she would move onto another topic, rather than, like other women, continue to try to educate the other until the other had accepted her way of thinking.
This was an intelligent woman. Otherwise she wouldn’t be the only imperial consort that could match Shu fei. The present hougong had an Empress but this Empress had no children and her own family wasn’t of any significance. Consequently, she didn’t have any real power in this hougong, just an empty scaffold at the top of which she could look at others engaged in conflict.
He Heng didn’t try to intentionally say good things about Qu Qing Ju in front of Jing Fei but he was more attentive in his words to Jing fei than normal. This caused Jing fei’s smile to not disappear from her face for an instant.
When it was time for the noon meal, Jing fei retained He Heng to eat. Feng Zi Jin and Jiang Yong Yu had to stand at one side to serve. Qu Qing Ju, due to the fact that she had just recovered, received popo’s extra “affection” and was released from the act of having to serve popo and sat down beside He Heng.
There were more than ten dishes that were presented. Each dish was finely made and the skill of the chefs in Zhong Jing Palace could be seen. What could also be seen was Jing Fei’s position in the imperial palace.
“Go down to serve wang fei, ben wang doesn’t need your service,” Waving away Feng shi who had been coming near, He Heng used his eyes to indicated to Ming He and pointed to the fish stewed in milk in front, “This dish mufei likes, serve some over.”
Even if it was a favourite dish, it wasn’t a rare dish but a common one. However, Jing fei still enjoyed He Heng’s attitude and looked twice at Qu Qing Ju. At least, after her son got closer to her, he was more concerned about her as his mother. Before, she hadn’t seen him be this attentive.
After a meal, Qu Qing Ju found that her tastes were very similar to Jing fei. After rinsing and washing, she silently sat at the side and continued to watch the heart-warming act of the benevolent mother and the filial son.
“Since you have come into the palace, then go to Kui Yuan Palace to kowtow to the Empress,” Jing fei lazily waved her hand, “The Empress’ body has been not well these past days. Even if she isn’t in need of anything, it is a bit cold there.” Finishing, she lifted her eyelids and looked at the two ce fei standing to one side, “You two can go outside the palace to wait. Ben gong is tired, you can all leave.” Even though she wanted to use the two ce fei to attack Qu Qing Ju, that did not extend to giving them the honor of a meeting with the Empress. She looked down at Qu Qing Ju as not being worthy of being her erxifu but she was still of a noble family. Behind her was a strong Tian family. That was enough for her to be a level above the other two.
Feng Zi Jin was unwilling but still assented and bowed. After she walked out of Zhong Jing Palace with Jiang Yong Yu, her face darkened.
Jiang Yong Ju took a quick look at her and gave a small smile at the end. With a lowered head, she silently walked out of the inner palace. After she went into the carriage and finding Feng Zi Jin was still slowly walking, she gave a cold smile and said in a low voice: “Fool.”
The yahuan beside her acted as though she hadn’t heard anything and poured her a cup of tea: “Mistress should use some strong tea to chase away sleepiness. Wang ye and wang fei will probably take some time before they could get back.”
Jiang Yong Ju took the cup. Seeing Feng Zi Jin come near, her face slowly returned to her normal expression.
Qu Qing Ju walked behind He Heng. The original didn’t have much of an impression of the Empress, only knowing that the Empress’ family wasn’t of remark, and she didn’t have much favor with the Emperor. The Emperor had made her Empress because he had seen she was obedient.
Because the Empress had no children, the Emperor didn’t frequently go to her palace, so the entirety of Kui Yuan Palace was usually respectful and careful. It couldn’t compare with Shu fei’s place of residence, Zhao Xiang Palace.
Coming into Kui Yuan Palace, Qu Qing Ju felt that the inside was overly silent. The palace maids and taijian were quite as though they were statues.
The messenger taijian quickly came out, and guided the two with a smile on his face into the inner hall. Qu Qing Ju saw the Empress attired in a plain dress and jewellery, her hair in a chui yun knot. The Empress looked around forty-years old, much older than Jing fei. On her wrist was a bracelet of Buddha beads. She had a slight smile on her face, but it seemed bland, making it uncertain whether it was a true smile or just out of politeness.
“Erchen erxi greets muhou.” He Heng and Qu Qing Ju performed a proper greeting, not being any less careful because the Empress had no power.
“You two do not have to be so polite. Sit down,” The Empress motioned for the two to sit and after a maid poured tea, she said: “How come Heng’er has come today?”
“I heard that muhou was ill, has muhou taken medicine?” He Heng’s tone held concern, “Erchen was using a meal at mufei’s place today and heard the news. Muhou, please take more care with the phoenix body.”
“It’s just old problems, I’ve already taken medicine. Heng’er has no need to worry,” The Empress smiled and used her handkerchief to disguise the cough that came up and turned to look at Qu Qing Ju, “Er erxi is more and more beautiful.”
“Muhou is laughing at erxi,” Qu Qing Ju saw that the Empress’ face was pale and there was no spirit in her eyes. She sighed inside, “But after recovery, I have more energy. If muhou recovered, you could go sunbathe more. Erxi heard the taiyi say that this was beneficial to the body.”
“Muhou remembers your intentions,” The Empress nodded, “Last month, san erxi who just married sent over an amount of ginseng and deer antler. Ben gong cannot use them as the body is too week, but this sunbathing might work.”
San erxi… … wasn’t it Rui Wang, He Yuan’s zhengfei that he married just last month? Qu Qing Ju couldn’t help look twice at the Empress and He Heng. These two’s conversation was normal yet formal but she kept on feeling something wasn’t right. The Empress just casually mentioned that san wangfei had come a few days ago to Kui Yuan Palace and intentionally said she couldn’t use those present, what was she telling He Heng?
Scanning the servants inside the palace, there were only two taijian and two maids, all silently standing with heads down. They probably were the people the Empress used frequently.
Hearing the two start discussing Buddhist scripture, Qu Qing Ju stared at that string of Buddhist beads on the Empress’ wrist. She found that the Empress’ wrist was very thin, just a layer of pale skin wrapped around the wristbone, appearing to be shrivelled.
“The “Lengyan Scriptures” say, the heart becomes moral; due to morals, there is concentration; with concentration, insight is found,” The Empress coughed, “That is to say, as long as the person can control the heart, then they will not be influenced by the environment?”
He Heng smiled warmly, and took a sip of tea: “Muhou’s insigts, erchen can’t compare.”
“It’s just eating a few more bowls of rice than you have,” The empress moved her gaze past the two of them, looking out the door, “In really, what ben gong sees, it’s just this little space of the inner palace.”
Qu Qing Ju followed her gaze. There wasn’t any sunlight outside, just some light that came in from the door so the room inside wasn’t very light.
A woman who had nothing, no power, no favor but she could become the Empress. This kind of woman, a woman that sees the truths in the hougong, could she be simple?
“The day is getting dark, you two should return,” The Empress raised a hand to touch the box on her lap. Inside was the knick-knacks that the couple had presented which came from outside the palace, “These things, ben gong hadn’t seen them for many years. Ben gong likes very much. Zhang mama, take out the bolts of Yun brocade from ben gong’s stores and let them take back with them. These things have to be worn on the younger people to look good.”
Qu Qing Ju, hearing this, hurriedly stood to refuse.
“Seeing you dress well, ben gong will be happy too. Don’t try to refuse, Kui Yuan Palace might not be as rich as Zhao Xiang Palace, but can still afford to give these things to you younger people.”
When that was said, Qu Qing Ju didn’t refuse anymore.
He Heng saw that the Empress wasn’t very energetic and didn’t stay longer. Together with Qu Qing Ju, they bowed and left. Zhang mama personally sent the two out. Qian Chang Xin and Ming He, who had been waiting outside, took the Yun brocade. She bowed to the two: “Wang ye, wang fei, walk slowly. This old servant will not send you off further.”
“Zhang mama doesn’t have to be so courteous,” Qu Qing Ju smiled. Just like how she came, she slowly walked behind He Heng as they walked towards the outside.
Zhang mama called them wang ye and wang fei without their title in the front. This was the same as the servants in Zhong Jin Palace. Were they the same to all the wang ye or just … …
When they reached the doors of the palace, He Heng turned his head back and saw Qu Qing Ju docilely walking. He suddenly smiled and raised a hand, saying: “Wang fei, we’ve reached the carriage.”
Qu Qing Ju raised her head and saw the wang fu’s carriage was just ten steps away. She looked at the hand in front of her and raised her own hand when she heard a series of steps come from behind her.
 父皇: father-emperor
 雨露均沾: the rain and dew is the favor, this idiom means that the women should “share” a man’s favor. Usually applied to the rulers who shouldn’t be “unjust” in his favors in order to have more children to ensure succession.
 儿臣: son-servant(or subject), used when speaking to empress, mother or emperor. It means that when the person is an imperial child, they are still a subject of the emperor
 后宫: back of palace or inner palace. Refers to the harem of the Emperor. In common usage, it also includes the Empress and the children that live in the palace.
 魁元宫: kuiyuan means first among peers, the chief, the best and the brightest
 兆祥宫: zhao(兆) million, mega-, trillion, tera- or billion xiang(祥) is auspicious, propitious.
 垂云髻: hair in a knot at base of neck
 母后: mother-empress. All children of the emperor has a di mother, the empress, who they refer to as muhou and for those born of concubines, who is their shu mother, they will call them mufei.
 This is a paraphrase of the three fold training that came from Buddhist scripture. The three tenets are morality, concentration and insight.