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Jing guifei makes her move. The love of a mother is wonderful.
Chapter Fifty Two Jing Guifei’s Strategy
The news that the Wei Family’s guniang went to the wang fu to offer herself on a pillow had somehow passed into the ears of Jing guifei. Originally, she felt that Wei Ran Shuang was an indecisive person, but now she believed that this was a guniang who had no sense of conduct and has subsequently dirtied the Wei Family’s reputation. Thankfully, they didn’t share the same grandfather. Otherwise, even she would be compromised.
“Ding mama,” said Jing guifei in a cold voice and a dark expression on her face: ““You go with ben gong’s sign to personally visit Wei lang zhong’s[i]fu. Just say that Qin shi’s moral conduct is lacking and she has improperly educated her daughter. I hope that he can admonish his wife and daughter so that the reputation of the Wei Clan is not adversely affected. If he cannot, then there will be no interactions between the two fu in the future.” This tang ge of hers was mediocre with no great ability. He had properly fulfilled his duties outside and once he’d returned to Jing, it was only because of Heng’er’s efforts that he’d received the position of a fifth-grade lang zhong in the Ministry of Revenue.
No mother liked a woman who recommended herself to be a bed-warmer for her son. Jing guifei was no exception. Even if this woman was a relative of her maternal family, and that as a guifei, she had no power to send a decree, she could still lecture on any inadequacies found within the clan. Many fei in the past had been accused and imprisoned for not effectively controlling their clans’ behavior.
Ding mama was the most favored among Jing guifei’s servants. When she arrived on a green-clothed carriage at Wei lang zhong’s residence, the servants at that fu were very courteous to her. Wei lang zhong himself even went to the gate to greet her and he ushered her into the main hall which was used to receive valued guests.
Ding mama courteously bowed to Wei lang zhong and rejected Wei lang zhong’s offer when he told the servants to bring in refreshments: “Wei da ren, this old one has come today to pass on some words from guifei niangniang.”
“What does guifei niangniang have to say?” Wei lang zhong rose from his seat and lifted his hands to perform a bow in the direction of the palace, “Please, mama, tell me.”
Ding mama looked at the honest and sincere Wei lang zhong and sighed for him. This distantly related biao ge of niangniang was a good man. It was a pity that he had such a troublesome di [ii] wife. He was only a small fifth-grade lang zhong in the Ministry of Revenue. It seems he wouldn’t get a chance to climb any higher.
She bent at the waist as she spoke: “A few days earlier, niangniang heard some vague rumors and felt worried. She then requested this old one to send word to da ren.” She raised her head to look at Wei lang zhong and saw his face was full of concern. It was clear that he was still in the dark as to what had happened, “Niangniang said that Wei furen’s moral conduct is lacking, and she has improperly taught her daughter. She’s afraid that the reputation of the Wei Clan would be affected and hopes that da ren would be able to advise her.”
After hearing Ding mama’s words, Wei lang zhong’s face turned dark and then white. A while later, he finally forced some sound out of his throat: “I hope mama can clearly explain what my wife and unfilial daughter have done?”
Ding mama looked at him in sympathy. She made a bow, saying: “This matter, da ren should ask your furen. This old one has to return to the palace to serve niangniang. Goodbye.”
Wei lang zhong didn’t know what happened but he understood that guifei niangniang was feeling discontent with his family. His heart started to tremble as he waited for Ding mama to enter the carriage before he turned to walk towards the neiyuan.
Because he was only a fifth-grade lang zhong, his residence was just a two-entry compound but it was located at a very good area. Because the seller had favourably considered his familial connection to His Highness Duan Wang, it was easy for him to purchase the compound. Otherwise, he wouldn’t have been able to live at that location. In the city of Jing, the location of residence was a symbol of status. It wasn’t possible to buy a house with just money.
When he came into the courtyard, he saw that Qin shi was chastising a servant. His face was dark as he motioned for the punished servant to retreat. He asked icily: “What good deed did you do recently?”
“What did I do?” Wei Qin shi had a bad expression on her face as she looked at Wei lang zhong. Her voice rose in pitch as she demanded, “Wei Ru Zhi, speak clearly. What have I done that warranted such an expression on your face?”
The servants, who were standing nearby, saw the situation escalating and carefully retreated to the corners, trying to bury their heads deeper.
“If you didn’t do anything, guifei niangniang wouldn’t have sent someone to express her displeasure,” Wei Ru Zhi’s face was ashen as he saw Wei Qin shi’s shrewish manner, “All these years, I’ve always endured your behavior, but I cannot allow you to ruin the reputation of my Wei Family.”
“Wei Family?” Wei Qin shi sneered, pointing at Wei Rui Zhi as she scolded, “You think you are so important! Go see if guifei niangniang would look favourably upon you. That branch is one family, we aren’t anything. You are yelling at me because you want to boast that your Wei Family has a guifei niangniang. My Qin Family is an educated noble family. Who knows how many niangniang were my ancestors. I don’t want you showing off in front of me!”
“Stupid woman!” Wei Rui Zhi was so angry that he threw his hand at Wei Qin shi’s face. His personality was usually gentle but now he was furious enough to threaten, “How did I marry a woman like you? If you really feel that the Qin family is good, I’ll help you. A letter of divorce [iii] doesn’t require much effort. Don’t keep telling me about how great the Qin Family is. I didn’t say anything in the past because you raised my children. Since you have become so shameless, I don’t have to cover for you anymore. You can go to the main Qin Clan to complain and see if they will recognize you. You’re just a distant side branch, don’t think you’re somebody!”
Wei Qin shi opened her mouth but couldn’t say a word. She was so used to being the sole decision maker and Wei Ru Zhi rarely interfered. Now he was saying he would give her a letter of divorce. She felt as if cold water had been poured over her head. She was furious yet afraid.
Acting as if he had reached the end of his rope, Wei Ru Zhi became angrier as he spoke: “Now that the children are grown, you don’t have to worry about me slighting them. I won’t marry again in the future. As soon as you say the word, I’ll give the divorce to you immediately, and avoid wronging you.”
“Wei Ru Zhi, I’ve raised your children. I have put so much in. Now you want to kick me aside?!” Wei Qin shi grabbed a reason out of thin air and instantly shrieked, “Now that the children have all grown up, you don’t need me anymore and you despise this old woman. It won’t be that easy!” She surged forward to scratch Wei Ru Zhi’s face.
Wei Ru Zhi pushed her aside. He icily retorted: “If it wasn’t for the children, I would have divorced you a long time ago. If you don’t want me to divorce you, then just quietly stay in the fu. Your Qin Family is educated and noble so they’re not worried about tarnishing their reputation. But my Wei Family is smaller in comparison and they cannot afford to lose theirs.” He left the courtyard with a swish of his sleeves.
Wei Qin shi sat on the floor, tears and snot running down her face. After crying for a long time, she used her sleeves to wipe her face clean. Thinking about her husband had said to her, she understood that Jing guifei was displeased about her trip to Duan Wang Fu. She uttered hatefully: “You really believe that your family’s son is the greatest in the world? When another wang ye succeeds the throne, let’s see how arrogant you are then!”
Wei Ran Shuang stood at the window and watched as her father and mother fought in the courtyard. She couldn’t help but start sobbing. Father was usually gentle. He must have gotten into such a vicious fight with mother today because of her. She started sobbing harder.
“Guniang, don’t cry,” Her yahuan carefully comforted her, “If furen saw, she would be worried.”
Wei Ran Shuang stilled and stared in shock at Wei Qin shi standing in the middle of the courtyard. Mother was in a dishevelled state. Father had humiliated mother in front of all the servants. How could mother run the household in the future?
“It’s all my fault. Otherwise, it wouldn’t have ended up like this,” Her tears ran down again.
The news of Wei Qin shi being harshly scolded by Wei Ru Zhi hadn’t spread beyond the walls but Jing guifei knew. She understood that this was Wei Ru Zhi’s way of expressing his resolve and decision. After she finished listening to what the servant reported, she nodded: “This should have been done earlier. Ben gong’s distant tang xiong just was too soft.” She turned to look at Qu Qing Ju sitting beneath her, “You don’t have to worry any longer. Wei Ran Shuang, that yatou, won’t be entering the fu.”
Qu Qing Ju blinked her eyes. A beat later, she said: “Thanks mufei, erxi had been worried about on how to treat her if she had entered the fu.”
“What treatment, she’s just a qie,” Jing guifei drank a mouthful of tea, her tone icy, “This kind of person wants to enter the wang fu. Did she really think that any kind of toy could serve my son?”
Qu Qing Ju slightly lowered her head. Her attitude revealed that she didn’t really hear nore understand these words.
Raising her head and seeing her erxifu’s naïve manner, the corners of Jing guifei’s lips jerked. A smarter person would’ve been saying some good words right now to make her happy. Why was her erxi just sitting there?
“You have been married to Heng’er for half a year now,” Jing guifei changed the topic abruptly, “ben gong was the same age as you when I entered the palace that year. It took almost four years after I entered when I had Heng’er. At that time, the position of the fetus wasn’t right and it wasn’t easy giving birth. The midwife mama said that it was lucky that ben gong was almost twenty when giving birth. The bones in the body had matured. Otherwise, it was quite possible that both of us would have died. Even though I couldn’t have any more children, ben gong has no regrets since Heng’er is a filial child .”
Qu Qing Ju stilled. She hadn’t thought that Jing guifei would say such a thing to her. She looked at the beautiful matron in front of her. She always had the bearing of one high in status, but these words revealed the feelings that a mother had for her son.
Jing guifei wanted her and her son to have a good relationship and even hinted that she didn’t have to be in a rush to have children. It didn’t matter if only a fraction of the concern was for her well-being. At least, the other hoped that she would survive labor so she can raise her own children.
She carefully digested these words. Maybe her popo really was telling her not to be in any rush, and let it occur naturally?
“Mufei must have had a hard time raising wang ye in those years,” Qu Qing Ju smiled and remarked, “No wonder wang ye always remembers mufei. He even knows what desserts mufei likes and dislikes.”
The smile on Jing guifei’s face became more prominent. A hint of mirth made its way into her voice; “As a mother, one always wants the child to be well. Nothing else is needed.”
Qu Qing Ju thought of her deceased parents. When they had been alive, they had protected her like she was the apple of their eye. When she had wanted to learn dancing, they put all their effort into supporting her. They treasured all the pictures of her performances. But when they died, no one else had treated her as well as they did.
Seeing her erxifu’s mood had become somewhat downcast, Jing guifei remembered that her erxi’s birth mother was deceased. For some reason, she felt that the other was quite pitiful and patted the back of her hand: “Just recently, ben gong’s kitchen created a new type of pastry. Ben gong has found it quite delicious. You should have a taste too.” She ordered a servant to get some pastries from the kitchen..
Qu Qing Ju looked up at Jing guifei. She smiled and said: “Thanks mufei.”
Jing guifei looked at her sparkling eyes and smiled. She said: “For such a minor thing, there’s no need for thanks. You’ve brought so many things into the palace today. It’s fine if mufei gives you a plate of pastries in exchange.”
“The food at mufei’s palace is so delicious. If it weren’t for gossipmongers, erxi would be coming here to eat everyday.” Qu Qing Ju wrinkled her brow, “The stuff made in the fu’s kitchen doesn’t compare to what mufei has here.”
The corners of Jing guifei’s mouth trembled. You are scorning the wang fu in front of your popo. Did you even think of how ben gong would feel? Even if you were trying to purposefully flatter me. But seeing that honest gaze made Jing guifei believe that this erxifu of hers really disliked the wang fu’s kitchen.
“That’s fine, ben gong will let someone copy the dishes and pastries you like and deliver it to the fu.” Jing guifei smiled as she reassured her. She didn’t want the others to assume that the chefs in Duan Wang Fu were useless.
Such a stupid erxifu, she definitely was not feeling sorry for her!
[i] 郎中: title of an official
[ii] Legitimate/first wife. The original spouse of a man. In many cases, the second wife, if the original di wife had died, would not be from a family higher in rank than the first wife.
[iii] 休书: literally cease letter. A letter that a man will give to his wife to end the marriage which has to occur for one or more of seven reasons (childlessness, adultery, unfilialness, chattiness, stealing, jealously, and serious illness.)