We get to see a bit of He Ming and his mother.
Chapter Thirty Three The First Day of the New Year at Wang Fu
After the drinks and dishes were taken down, it was time for the tributes from each of the subordinate countries. Qu Qing Ju looked at the obedient diplomats and the matter-of-fact attitude of everybody else and suddenly understood what was “might is right”
As the taijian finished reading the pages of the lists that the diplomats presented, she found that those who had a larger tribute had faces with color and those with few tributes were full of poverty as though they wanted to kowtow to Qing De Emperor to express the helplessness they felt that they didn’t have any more to offer.
When these diplomats retreated, it had been more than an hour. Qu Qing Ju held a teacup and had a new insight into Da Long Dynasty. This mighty dynasty, it was akin to a holy land in the eyes of the surrounding little countries. Because of this, the likelihood that there would be an attack on Da Long Dynasty in the next few decades was very small. It was then no wonder that Qing De Emperor had such a weak personality.
At this time, a heavy drum started. Qu Qing Ju saw the Emperor and Empress walk out of the Great Hall and kneel on the white stone platform outside the hall. As she followed everybody outside, she went into as daze as she knelt with Jing guifei. She listened as Qing De Emperor gave his prayers to the Heaven. He seemed to be begging for good weather in the coming year and a good fulfilling life for the citizens.
When the fireworks exploded above Qu Qing Ju’s head, she finally woke up. Coincidentally, at this time the prayers of the emperor stopped. She supported Jing guifei to stand and retreat to one side. Then she heard the singing voices of the musicians and the chatter flow into her ear. She raised her head and saw the multi-colored fireworks in the sky. She couldn’t help but blink her eyes, her eyes seemed sore and uncomfortable.
Jing guifei also stared in a daze at the fireworks before lowering her head and informing: “Emperor and Empress have already returned to their palace. It’s late now. You should return too.” Finishing, she took a palace maid’s hand, “Ben gong is also tired.”
“Mufei, erxi will take you back.” Qu Qing Ju held Jing guifei’s hand. She saw tiredness between her brows and took the cape that Mu Jin had prepared to wrap around Jing guifei.
“There’s no need,” Jing guifei looked at the red dress that Qu Qing Ju wore and her hand gently fell on the knot of the cape in front of her throat, “It’s cold at night. You and Heng’er should return early. This isn’t far from Zhong Jing Palace, ben gong will sit on the step-carriage.” Finishing, she waved her hand and dismissed Qu Qing Ju, walking away with the support of a palace maid.
Qu Qing Ju stood for a while at the original spot before she let Mu Jin help her as she walked down the high white jade stairs. The long train of the dress flowed across the stone steps as though a stream of water had passed by.
At the bottom of the stone steps, the four He brothers stood mutually a few steps away. He Yuan’s face was icy. Behind him was an expressionless Qin Bai Lu. The two of them originally didn’t have many feelings between them but when the two had met, Qin Bai Lu acted as though she had been bullied. That was enough to make He Yuan flip his face so the two of them stood an arms-length away with mutually frozen faces.
Qin Bai Lu hated the fact that her popo had shamed her and was angry that He Yuan didn’t treat her warmly. Originally she had been bullied and now she had to act according to He Yuan’s temper so she felt even angrier. She didn’t care what others though and just stood with a heavy expression.
Looking at her, He Yuan irritably moved aside his gaze. When he raised his head, he saw a crimson clad figure come down across the white jade steps. The white and red, under the light of the fireworks, had an unspeakable sense of beauty. He tried to regain focus. When the person came near, he found it was He Heng’s wang fei. When he saw it was his brother’s woman, he didn’t look any more. He faintly moved his gaze away and turned to walk without another word. There evidently wasn’t any desire to bid farewell to his brothers.
He Ming wanted to say farewell but seeing that da ge and er ge seemed as though they didn’t see it, he hesitated and then lowered his head.
“Your hands are a bit cold,” He Heng walked to the stairs and as Qu Qing Ju stepped on the last step, he grabbed her hand. He took down the cape he was wearing and wrapped it tightly around Qu Qing Ju before he said to He Qi and He Ming: “Da ge, si di, I’m going to leave first.”
“Feel free, er di,” He Qi glanced at the tightly bundled er dimei, smiled and waved his hand: “It’s late, er di and er dimei should return early.” No wonder lao er protected her like she was his eyes, and was wearing a not well-made pouch. He looked with a teasing look at He Heng. This er dimei did have some beauty.
He Ming was so honest that he didn’t even dare look anywhere. He respectfully bowed with his hands in front: “Er ge, take care.” He made as to accompany them.
The fox fur that swept across the nose was a bit ticklish so Qu Qing Ju raised a hand to push it aside. She happened to saw He Ming’s proper farewell.
“There’s no need, si di,” He Heng held Qu Qing Ju’s and gently refused, “We’re brothers, there’s no need to be so polite.” Finishing, he turned to leave.
He Ming stared in confusion at the figure of er ge striding away, the step he had taken hadn’t even been completed.
“After you get married, you’ll understand,” He Qi patted his shoulder and happened to see Wei Qing E come out. He finished, “Ge’s also leaving, you should return early too.” Finishing, he boldly also left.
He Ming watched with even more confusion as He Qi walked aside. He saw da sao come over and bowed in greeting. In such a quick length of time, all his brothers left. He felt it was even harder to understand them.
It was a rare night that there wasn’t a curfew in the palace. He Ming waited for everybody to finishing leaving before he started walking towards An guipin’s palace.
An guipin’s palace wasn’t big, the furnishings weren’t exquisite but because she had an imperial son, the Department of Household Affairs didn’t dare skimp. Compared to the consorts that were not favoured, her days were already very good. She never lacked the necessities.
Mother and son were always afraid of other people’s suspicions so they didn’t spend much time together normally. Meeting today, they could speak more. When An guipin heard her son mention what had happened after the night banquet, she couldn’t help but laugh: “It’s not our business what they do. As to Ning Wang’s words … …” seeing her son’s ignorance, the smile on her face brightened, “just a joke, you don’t have to think about it.”
Duan Wang’s wife had an exquisite appearance. As the Imperial Family, they didn’t lack in beautiful women but Duan Wang’s wife had an extra hint of flavour in there. As a person that had stay for so long in the palace, she naturally understood how attractive this kind of women was to men.
As a wang fei, to have this kind of looks, she didn’t know if it was a boon or a curse. Thinking back to Duan Wang Fei as she subserviently drank tea and ate desert next to Jing guifei, An guipin shook her head. Jing guifei wasn’t a simple person.
Reminiscing back to how she was the same age when she had entered the palace, she wanted for Duan Wang Fei to have a comfortable life. She said in a meaningful tone: “Ming’er, in the future, treat your wife well. It’s hard to be a woman.”
He Ming obediently answered but still didn’t understand how the topic had moved to his future wife. Maybe, it was that he was too dumb, Little Ming wang ye thought helplessly.
After the New Year, it was the first day of the first month of the new year. Qu Qing Ju and He Heng sat in the Great Hall of the wang fu. The major and minor stewards came up one by one to perform greetings for the New Year and the lower-ranked servants kowtowed outside the hall.
Listening to the variety of celebratory words of the servants, Qu Qing Ju motioned for Mu Jin and Shu Kui to reward these people. She looked at the joy and cheer on these people’s faces. Thinking back to the previous life and her mood when she had received a bonus at her agent company, it was probably the same as these people here.
“Nucai kowtows to wang ye and wang fei and hope wang ye and wang fei have a good and smooth new year,” Qian Chang Xin and Ming He were close to He Heng. The wishes they said were shallow and clear but the loyalty on their faces were more visible than any other.
Qu Qing Ju looked at the two of them and then at He Heng. She commented: “Wang ye, they don’t have it easy running her and there with you every day. You have to give them a good reward.”
Hearing this, He Heng smiled. He pointed out: “In our home, it’s wang fei, you, who makes the decisions. So it’s you who decides how to reward them.”
The stewards present heard wang ye’s words and stopped breathing. In the last few days, wang fei had been controlling houyuang, but some people were still trying to worm their way through. Today, wang ye was saying it very blankly. Some of the people who understood felt sweat forming on their foreheads.
“Since that is so, then qie will take matters into her own hands,” When there were many people around, Qu Qing Ju followed protocol and called herself “qie” in spite of the fact she disliked this ileism very much, “Mu Jing, give two pouches to the two gonggong.”
The two received the pouches, not squeezing or looking at them. They instantly kowtowed and gave thanks, their attitudes extremely deferential.
Those two were definitely worthy of serving by He Heng’s side. They had no visible flaws. She looked at the audience and announced in a loud voice: “It’s the first, there’s no need to be so reserved. You can all retreat.”
The servants kowtowed again before bowing as they left. Coming out of the Great Hall, some started admiringly at the two senior gonggong for catching the eye for the master and mistress. They carefully flattered them and some tried to find out what the pouches contained but were brushed off by the two men.
After the people in the surroundings left, the two then opened the pouches. It wasn’t some rare item in the pouch but a banknote for fifty taels of silver. The two simultaneously gave a sigh of relief. If wang fei really did bestow some rare item, then it would be troublesome.
The two exchanged a look. Qian Chang Xin sighed: “Our wang fei isn’t a simple one. Us two have to do our best in the future.” For normal people, fifty taels of silver was a large fortune, but to them, it wasn’t that hard to get. Wang fei had given them this number and it showed that wang fei wasn’t trying to entice them. It was telling them she thought them worthy but hoped that they wouldn’t do something they shouldn’t.
Fifty taels, it matched their status perfectly. Wasn’t it just telling them to know their place?
After the stewards had left, He Heng’s women came in a short while. In these women, other than the four shiqie that had status, there was a tong fang called Bai Zhi.
He Heng originally had three tong fang. But Yun Qing had been married off to someone on an estate, Ban Xia had been sentenced by Qu Qing Ju to become a laundress so the only one remaining that Qu Qing Ju hadn’t saw before was Bai Zhi.
After these women greeted her, Qu Qing Ju didn’t have any advice to say to them. She turned to ask He Heng: “Wang ye, do you have anything to say?”
He Heng didn’t understand, but to the shiqie, he really didn’t have anything to say so he shook his head.
“Since wang ye has nothing to say, you can all leave,” Qu Qing Ju raised her teacup, “Mu Jin, take out the red pockets that I prepared for them. Usher them out.”
The shiqie stood in shock. They hadn’t expected to be so quickly thrown out. Where was the required lecturing that occurred in other fus? Wasn’t she supposed to say something along the lines of serve wang ye well, respect the wang fu’s rules?
Each one of them held a red pocket and hadn’t recovered when they came out of the Great Hall. Luo Yin Xiu asked dazedly: “We’re leaving like this?”
“If we don’t return, what are we doing here?” Han Qing He pulled on the cape she wore and walked away without looking back.
Bai Zhi looked with some reluctance at the Great hall before she slowly started her steps.
Inside the hall, Qu Qing Ju stood and shook her body, “Wang ye is reluctant to part with the beauties?”
He Heng put down the teacup in his hand. He followed in standing. In a helpless tone, he announced: “It’s almost noon, let’s go eat.” Finishing, he pulled Qu Qing Ju’s hand and said warmly, “Don’t think too much.”
Hearing this, Qu Qing Ju smiled, but there wasn’t any mirth in her eyes.