The concubines are back in (the last chapter wasn’t that heavy on Qu Qing Ju but it was a plot expansion chapter) and something exciting happens!
Now available are the updated version of the cast and a family tree on the Cast page. Or you can click and see pretty much the entire cast below. The colors are pretty explanatory but red for marriage, blue for children of union, and pink for concubines. It’s based on the relations at the beginning of the novel.
No one commented on the embeds for some reason so I’m making it simpler by putting in a poll. The embeds, if I choose to keep doing them, will only be for the first time each term is mentioned in the story so it’s more convenient than clicking down and back up but they won’t be there in future chapters. Also, you guys get to decide whether to keep the footnotes and to move them up to headnotes or not. Please vote because the decision will affect all chapters and other readers.
Chapter Twenty Nine Yun Qing’s Tragedy
On the twenty-eighth day of the twelfth month, the Royal Court seals its pens and the palace started to bestow gifts into the households. Most that received gifts were officials and noble families of some significance in the City of Jing. Therefore, the absence and presence of gifts from the Emperor represented the Emperor’s favor. Lower-ranked officials that wanted to climb up kept their gazes tightly locked to see which houses they could curry favor with, which houses they could find a way in.
Qu Qing Ju followed He Heng and knelt in the front hall of the wang fu to receive the Emperor’s gifts. It was just a couplet for the Spring Festival that the Emperor wrote personally, a “good fortune” character and two plates of golden-yellow kumquats. Kumquats had the meaning of luck and it was a good beginning.
Bidding farewell to the taijian that passed on the decree, the two returned to zhengyuan and opened the Spring Festival couplet. It was gold on red paper, with flowers on the border. Based on Qu Qing Ju’s inexpert opinion, the characters were very good-looking but from the strokes, Qing De Emperor’s characters was more soft than bold, revealing his personality.
Casually tearing open a kumquat that was about the size of a thumb, Qu Qing Ju fed half into her own mouth and fed He Heng the other. She nodded and commented: “Good characters, the kumquats are sweet, too.”
He Heng looked at her stream of actions and smiled as he placed the couplets down, “Qian Chang Xin, you and Ming He go personally put the Spring Festival couplets up.”
“Yes,” Qian Chang Xin carefully bore the plate with the couplets on it and retreated with Ming He.
Qu Qing Ju looked at the pair of “good fortune” characters, “Then where do we put these two characters?”
“In our rooms, naturally. I’ll put it up later,” He Heng pointed to the gate of zhengfang and saw that Qu Qing Ju had started on another kumquat, “It’s very cold, don’t eat too much cold food.”
Qu Qing Ju’s wrist bent and shoved the kumquat in her hand to him: “Since wang ye is personally putting up the characters, then I will help you see if it is skewed.” Finishing, she took the characters and started to order the servants to bring the tools to paste the paper.
He Heng saw her enthusiasm and allowed her to proceed. Under the protection of a few taijian, he stepped on a stool to put up the “good fortune” character.
“It’s tilted, move a bit towards the right.”
“Too much, a little little bit to the left.”
Qu Qing Ju looked with a bit of dissatisfaction at He Heng’s results and reluctantly nodded: “More or less this is good.”
The taijian heard this and hurried guided wang ye to step down the stool. They dragged the stool as they retreated to the side to not affect the little amusement between wang ye and wang fei.
He Heng walked back a few stepped and nodded in satisfaction. He then lifted his head to tap Qu Qing Ju’s forehead, “I think you are terrible at directing.”
Qu Qing Ju went back a step and teased: “It’s wang ye whose skills aren’t high, how can you blame me?”
Not far away, Jiang Yong Yu, accompanied by the three shiqie, stood and watched the antics between wang ye and wang fei. They didn’t know whether they should leave or stay. Originally, she had come with the others to thank wang fei for the hairpins wang fei had bestowed down today, but looking at the scene before her, she wasn’t so thoughtless to interrupt.
The other three didn’t feel at ease either but didn’t dare show any of it on their faces. They all looked at Jiang Yong Yu for her response.
“It’s fine, we can come tomorrow. Wang ye and wang fei are busy now,” Jiang Yong Yu looked away and was going to turn around but they suddenly met Yin Liu who was carrying a meal box.
“Greetings to Jiang ce fei and yiniang,” Yin Liu bowed.
“Yin Liu guniang doesn’t have to be so courteous,” Jiang Yong Yu smiled, “We thought to give thanks to wang fei, but hadn’t known that wang ye and wang fei are busy. We shan’t interrupt and will leave first.”
Before Yin Liu could reply, they saw Yu Zan quickly walk over and bow to the procession of four, “Jiang ce fei and yiniang, wang ye and wang fei invite you in.” It had been that Qu Qing Ju saw the movements on this side and sent somebody to call them over.
In the front room, He Heng and Qu Qing Ju sat at the front, the four ce shi sitting quietly and obediently under them.
Qu Qing Ju glanced at Feng Zi Jin. Just half a month, Feng Zi Jin seemed more fragile than before. Sitting there, she seemed akin to a statue without any hint of life. She took a small mouthful of tea before opening: “For what matter are you here?”
“Today, us sisters received wang fei’s gifts and felt grateful so we thought to come to give thanks,” Jiang Yong Yu replied, “We disturbed wang fei, and ask for wang fei’s forgiveness.”
“You are too polite,” Qu Qing Ju set down the teacup, “A good flower needs a good vase. Those ornaments and hairpins need to accompany beauties to shine. I was just making sure good things didn’t go to waste, it wasn’t worth you making a trip.”
Jiang Yong Yu smiled and said: “Even though wang fei says so, but nu still is grateful. If there wasn’t wang fei, nu wouldn’t have such good things.” Finishing, she touched the hairpin on the side of her head. Apparently it was one of the hairpins that Qu Qing Ju gave.
He Heng noticed her movement and interjected: “Wang fei’s kindness, you only have to bow and give thanks.” Finishing, he laughed at Qu Qing Ju, “No wonder you ordered the servants to make hairpins and ornaments, so it was for this.”
Qu Qing Ju didn’t have any desire to purposefully act virtuous and kind in front of He Heng. It was just it was the end of the year and she wanted to make it pleasing to her eyes. Either way she wasn’t spending her own money, so why should she save?
Now that wang ye had spoken, Jiang Yong Yu couldn’t continue and could only sit silently by the side drinking tea to waste time.
At this time, Huang Yang walked in. After a bow, he reported: “Wang ye, wang fei, Yun Qing guniang asks for an audience.”
He Heng furrowed his brows slightly, visibly irate: “She’s a tongfang, what matter does she need to ask wang fei for?” These words were very discourteous. Huang Yang, the messenger, slightly froze.
“Wang ye, Yun Qing guniang said she was grateful for the care wang fei has given her and wanted to bow in thanks.” Huang Yang replied obediently.
“Get her to just kowtow at the door,” He Heng opened, “Tell her that wang fei is a busy person most days. If there aren’t any important matters, then she should say in her own rooms.” He was sick of the entire act Yun Qing had. First it was virtuous and then it was playing pitiful. What was the act she’s playing now called?
This type of woman, no matter if attention was paid to her or not, would always find all the excuses possible, and in all possible ways appear. He Heng played with the teacup in his hand: “Nevermind. In the next days, get somebody to send her to one of the estates outside. Ben wang doesn’t want to see her.”
The other ce shi at this time buried their heads deep down, afraid that wang ye would find them an eyesore as well. Letting them go to the outside estates, if the people in this fu were sent away, there wasn’t a good change they would return.
They didn’t know how Yun Qing managed to provoke wang ye into disliking her. What they did understand was that they should never ever offend wang fei. Before them was the lesson of Yun Qing, behind them was the example of Feng Zi Jin. They didn’t dare have any other thoughts.
“Wang ye, this Yun Qing is a very young girl. Sending her to an estate like this, it is such as waste,” Qu Qing Ju felt it was a great pity, “Such a young and beautiful girl.”
He Heng looked at her face full of regret and said helplessly: “Just a woman. But you care more than I do. If that’s the case, we’ll find a match for her on the estate, so she wouldn’t be alone and without support.”
Qu Qing Ju knew that the so-called tongfang was nothing more than a man’s plaything and turning to match them to a manservant was normal. In this case, wang ye hadn’t even touched this Yun Qing and didn’t have any possessive feelings. But a huakui, skilled in all four major arts, matched to a rough person, it was very wasteful.
If Yun Qing was really of great virtue, she should turn and hang herself. If not, she could make a living on the estate. It most likely would be better than losing her life in the future.
The other shiqie heard how wang fei, using just a few words, let wang ye marry Yun Qing to a rough person. Their hearts shook, especially Feng Zi Jin. Sweat started to form on her hands. If it was just being sent to an estate, there could be a day where wang ye would go to the estate and place importance on her again so there was a hope of return. If it was marrying another person, she could only livethe rest of her life with a rough person. To those who were used to an easy and luxurious life, this was very frightening.
When Yun Qing heard this news that appeared like thunder out of a clear sky, she went crazy begging to see He Heng. However, she was pushed down by the taijian and on the same night, she could only take a small bag and was forced onto a donkey-cart to a property in the suburbs. They traveled through the night and she was married to one of the minor stewards on the property.
A woman being sent away, to those of the wang fu, was a very normal occurrence. The only thing worth discussing was how this Yun Qing guniang was how virtuous she had been and how much importance wang ye had once placed on her, and how she had looked down on the servants.
“Pah, she deserves to be sent away.” A young taijian that hand suffered slaps from Yun Qing spat. He thought about how his ear was not as good as before and the taijian wanted Yun Qing’s life.
The other servants looked at him in sympathy. This person’s luck wasn’t good. When he had been sweeping Yun Qing’s room and cleaning the guqin, he had broken a string on the instrument. As a result, he had been punished with tens of blows to the face. Now his ears weren’t very good and what person was willing to use him? It was going to be hard for him to climb up in the future.
The day of the Spring Festival, Qu Qing Ju rose up early. She changed on a thick luan-embroidered tight-waisted wide-sleeved dress. In her hair she had a phoenix-tail buyao that represented her status. After a period, she looked at the eye-catching and radiance self and revealed a hint of satisfaction. She put out her foot to let Mu Jin put on for her a pair of god threaded shoes embroided with clouds. When she stood, she saw He Heng was already standing at the doorway.
He Heng’s entire body exuded nobility, the only thing slightly low-key was that dark blue pouch. Qu Qing Ju came up and bowed: “Is wang ye waiting especially for me?”
He Heng held her hand, “Qing Ju today has shocked me.” Qu Qing Ju rarely put on such attire, but today when she put on the whole nine yards, He Heng really couldn’t tear his eyes away.
Slightly raising her chin, the jewel at the forehead slightly swaying and revealing the cherry blossom drawn in the middle of the brows: “As Duan Wang Fei, naturally others should not be unimpressed.”
He Heng curled his lips and bent down to hold her hand. He slid next to her ear to breathe lightly: “My wang fei, she is naturally more beautiful than any other woman.”
Qu Qing Ju smiled and blinked at him. Inside she thought, these words he wouldn’t dare say to Jing guifei, otherwise, Jing guifei would whip him to death.
Thinking that later in the palace she would see her popo that had become a guifei, Qu Qing Ju felt a strange excitement.
The expression Jing guifei made when she was choked up and was still pretending to be calm, it was such a lovable expression. Thinking about it, Qu Qing Ju revealed an expectant smile.
As he lowered his head and saw the bashful smile on Qu Qing Ju’s face, He Heng’s expression became even gentler.