Sorry, got the wrong chapter up today. This one is the right chapter. (For those of you that read chapter thirty six, I’m sorry.)
Chapter Thirty Five The Tian Family
The Marquess of Xiang Qing, Tian Jin Ke, wasn’t yet fifty this year. His personal conduct was sincere but he wasn’t inflexible. He had a good reputation in Jing City. Chang De Gong Fu was probably the only entity he didn’t like in the entire city of Jing. By now, there wasn’t anyone in Jing City that didn’t know Duan Wang Fei was close to her relatives in Xiang Qing Hou Fu, and treated Xiang Qing Hou Fu like her own maternal family.
Due to the fact that what the Duke of Chang De had done really wasn’t something to be proud of, there were some that praised Tian Jin Ke for being so loving. Not everybody would care for a niece that didn’t even have a mother. Karma was real. See how Duan Wang Fu had distanced itself from Chang De Gong Fu, this was karma.
Today was the Tian Family banquet. After the morning just had passed, the guests started to arrive. Tian Jin Ke took his two sons, Tian Kun and Tian Jun, to welcome the male guests. Just as he was deep in conversation with the guests, he saw the stewards run over quickly to say Duan wang ye had come.
“Duan Wang?” Tian Kun looked in shock at the steward. He realized the surrounding guests were gazing in this direction and lowered his voice to ask: “Father, why would Duan Wang come?”
Tian Jin Ke waved a hand: “Lao da, come with me to the middle door to welcome wang ye. Lao er, stay here and accompany the guests.” Finishing, he walked with great strides towards the outside.
Tian Jun looked at the backs of his father and brother. When he turned, he saw all the guests had curiosity on their faces so he started to divert their attention. He was surprised inside. His family didn’t have many interactions with Duan Wang. Was it really that Duan Wang was willing to lower himself for meimei?
“Tian er gongzi, is there a valued guest coming?” A guest of the same age as him put his hands up in a greeting, “Who is it?”
Tian Jun smiled as he returned the greeting: “Everybody is a valued guest. When the person arrives, everybody will have to drink a few more cups.”
“Of course, of course.” This person smiled. Even though he hadn’t found out anything but at least what Tian Jun said didn’t embarrass him, so he wasn’t angry.
The others saw that it wasn’t likely and they settled down. No matter what, they would see them later. This person might be of high status, but he wouldn’t be the Emperor.
Tian Kun stood behind his father and looked at the large eight-person sedan imprinted with the characters of Duan Wang Fu stop at the gate. He raised his feet to walk outside the door and bowed: “This lowly official welcomes wang ye, wang fei.”
Qian Chang Xin came up to bow to Tian Kun with both hands raised. He bowed to open the curtain and revealed to Tian Kun He Heng and Qu Qing Ju sitting together. There was a hint of intimacy between the two. He quickly lowered his head, afraid to look.
“Biao xiong [i] doesn’t have to be so courteous,” He Heng held Qu Qing Ju’s hand as they walked out of the sedan. He smiled: “We are one family, there’s no need to be so polite.” Finishing, he held out a hand to let Tian Kun straighten before he walked into the gate with Qu Qing Ju.
“Jiujiu.” Qu Qing Ju gave a very deep bow. She looked at the middle-aged man in front of her. His appearance was proper and he had a strong posture. It was easy to feel at ease with this man.
As her uncle, Tian Jin Ke hadn’t spent much time with Qu Qing Ju. He made a motion as to support Qu Qing Ju and quickly scanned her. He saw that his niece seemed to be living well before he bowed with two hands up: “Wang ye, wang fei.”
“Marquess doesn’t have to be so courteous. You are wang fei’s jiujiu, so you are ben wang’s jiujiu,” He Heng returned a greeting, “There’s no need to be so polite.”
Tian Jin Ke smiled as he straightened. In a warm voice he responded: “If that it so, then this lowly official can only overlook protocol. Wang ye, please come with this official.” The smile on his face became much friendlier but his conduct still held to protocol. But even like this, it still allowed people to feel that his attitude was much more intimate.
Qu Qing Ju looked at this uncle of hers. No wonder he was like a fish in water in Jing City. Such conduct, everybody would praise it. It could be seen how important emotional intelligence was.
The male and female guests had separate banquets. After He Heng followed Tian Jin Ke and left, Qu Qing Ju smiled at Tian Kun who kept five paces away from her and turned to get on the already prepared sedan.
Watching as the sedan was carried away by heavy labor mamas, Tian Kun allowed a smile to appear. It seemed as though his sister had a somewhat good life. His family could rest some of their worries. Putting his hands behind at his back, he slowly headed inside. Instantly, the smile on his face grew fainter. The members of the Imperial Family, their desires and interests changed quickly. Who knew if Duan Wang would always treat his sister this way.
He himself was a man and naturally understood those desires of men. What about a man like Duan Wang who was used to seeing beautiful women?
When the sedan came into er men, it stopped. Qu Qing Ju came down the sedan and saw Luo shi with a young girl standing not far away. She walked a few steps in front of Luo shi and bowed in greetings: “Good day, jiumu.”
Luo shi and the girl behind quickly returned a greeting before she reached out with a hand to meet hers to observe: “You look thinner. Come with me inside now, this cold period in spring is too strong.”
All the elders of the world were the same. When they saw younger generations after a long time, they always felt that they had become thinner. Qu Qing Ju intimately held Luo shi’s hand “I’m not thin, the entire wang fu is under my command. The servants don’t dare treat me badly.”
Luo shi cared for her like she was half a daughter. Seeing that she was willing to be close to her, she naturally felt happy. Luo shi patted her hand as she said lovingly: “You have to manage such a large wang fu, you must be tired, it doesn’t matter how good you eat.” Finishing, she started to ask whether the servants were easy to manage or if she had troubles with her residence and food. Her actions were very similar to how Jing guifei questioned He Heng.
Qu Qing Ju answered the questions one by one. She saw the girl behind Luo shi kept quiet all this time and inquired: “Jiumu, such a pretty guniang, which family? She looks so adorable.”
Luo shi stopped walking and looked at the guniang that Qu Qing Ju mentioned. The girl’s face was already crimson. Luo shi answered: “She’s the same year as you, but a month younger. It’s appropriate for you to call her meimei. This is the eldest niece of my maternal family, Wen Yao. In the future, you will spend a lot of time together so I wanted you two to meet.”
Wen Yao, Luo Wen Yao? Qu Qing Ju instantly understood. This was the di granddaughter of the Luo Family that had been decreed to marry He Ming? She saw that Luo Wen Yao’s face was as red as it could get and didn’t ask for confirmation, only commenting: “I like this memei.”
Luo shi heard her inappropriate words and sighed: “Just a few days, you are even more mischievous.” Finishing, she pulled Luo Wen Yao over to let them stand right and left of her, “But, you like this meimei, then I don’t have to worry any longer.”
Qu Qing Ju understood Luo shi’s meaning. Such a good girl forced to marry an disfavored imperial son. Not every family was willing. The waters of the Imperial Family were muddy, her husband wasn’t favored, none of her zhouli were simple. If there wasn’t somebody there, she would definitely be at a disadvantage.
Thinking about it, she let a smile appear on her face, “Aunt, don’t worry. I will definitely care for Wen Yao meimei like she was my own.” There were four erxifu in the Imperial Family. But the three had to be at odds with each other. If she was close to Luo Wen Yao, it wasn’t a bad thing. But she hadn’t though that the Luo family would actually take this step. It could be seen that they really loved this girl.
Luo Wen Yao quietly listened to her aunt and Duan Wang Fei talk. In the past, she had heard much about how before Duan Wang Fei had married, she had been harshly treated by her stepmother. Today, as she saw the real person, she felt this was a blinding woman. Each move and laugh full of grace and stirring in her a strange feeling of closeness.
People were very easily attracted by people dissimilar to them. Luo Wen Yao’s personality was quiet and gentle, her future husband had no conflict with Duan Wang. Seeing the friendliness of Qu Qing Ju, it was naturally easy to feel close to her. So when they walked into the room, the two of them had started conversing.
The elder Luo taitai who had been sitting in the room already expressed a relieved smile as she saw the scene. It looked like this Duan Wang Fei took after the Tian family’s personality.
The female guests present were close-knit to the Luo and Tian families so they weren’t too formal as they interacted with Qu Qing Ju. It was just when they heard that Duan Wang had accompanied Qu Qing Ju that they felt deeply moved.
Some detected that Duan Wang Fei came in with a guniang of the Family Luo and understood what was happening. Nobody announced it but only talked about some interesting local events to wile away the time.
“I heard that an able person came to the Five Estates Monastery. He’s very skilled at explaining the divination sticks. After the flowers bloom, I will go beg with my family.”
“Isn’t the Five Estates Monastery in the Jing suburbs, when are you going, let’s go together to beg for a stick.”
Qu Qing Ju heard this piece of conversation and put the teacup in her hand down. The dominant religion in Da Long Dynasty was Buddhism. The Court didn’t support any, but the citizens each had their own beliefs.
Luo shi saw that Qu Qing Ju seemed to be interested in the Five Estates Monastery and elaborated: “That Five Estates Monastery is the biggest monastery in Jing, it’s on the Bai Yun Mountain on the suburbs. The able person they are talking about is most likely Spiritual Master Xuan Ling. If you are interested, you can go take a visit.”
Qu Qing Ju smiled: “There’s no need. A person’s fate is already set down by the Heavens. To go divine it, it would decrease the good fortune.” She wasn’t a resolute atheist but she did believe that good fortune and luck will decrease with divination so she wasn’t interested in begging for a divination stick.
Nobody thought Qu Qing Ju would say something like this. Luo shi stared in astonishment before nodding: “This is true.”
Luo Wen Yao, listening in, felt her heart jump. She looked with respect at Qu Qing Ju. With such an open mind, how many women in this world could achieve such a thing? At this time, she felt that the worries she had about her marriage were just she making it difficult on herself. Nothing would be different thinking about things that had already been set in stone. It would be better for her to think how she would live the rest of her life, that was her good fortune.
Thinking about this, the stare that Luo Wen Yao gave Qu Qing Ju had a hint of gratefulness, a smile appearing on her face.
After the banquet, the guests listened for a long while before bidding farewell. Qu Qing Ju, when most of the guests had left, finally stood and held Luo shi’s hand as she announced: “Jiumu, I need to return now.”
Luo shi was a bit reluctant but had to agree: “In the fu, take care of your body. There’s a lot of people you should take notice off.” This was reminding her of the ce shi, but due to Luo shi’s identity, she couldn’t say it.
Qu Qing Ju nodded before she bent to enter the sedan. After she looked again at Luo shi, she let the servant drop the curtain.
Watching as the sedan disappear outside er min, Luo Wen Yao exclaimed in a quiet voice: “Duan Wang Fei is really an amazing person.”
Luo shi looked at her niece and thought about the days that her niece had suffered through in Chang De Gong Fu. She sighed. Hopefully Duan Wang would continue to treat her well.
“You have to remember, for a woman to live well, the priority is to treat herself well. If she could discomfort herself, others will also do so.” Luo shi opened in a meaningful voice, “Cheng Wang might not have the emperor’s favour, but I have seen him before. He has a lenient personality, you don’t have to be too worried.”
“Gumu … …” Luo Wen Yao’s face instantly reddened, in the midst of her bashfulness there were a few hints of expectancy.
At the main gate of Xiang Qing Hou Fu, He Heng watched as Qu Qing Ju walked out of the sedan. A hint of a smile appeared on his face, and Tian Kun, who had been accompanying him at one side, couldn’t help but look.
He watched as Duan Wang walked towards biao mei [ii]. Maybe it was that the two had such outstanding appearances, or maybe their smiles were too intoxicating, this scene was very beautiful but it was so beautiful it didn’t seem real.
Tian Kun blinked his eyes. Maybe he was thinking too much.
[i] 表兄: male relative from the female line of the same generation, older.
[ii] 表妹: female relative of the same generation from the female line, younger.