This chapter has been provided to you by me, ororomunroe90 and leecherleechleech.
He Yuan and Shu guifei have a little talk. We get a bit of perspective from the Emperor.
Chapter Sixty Nine
“Your Majesty, are you going to flip a name tonight?” The taijian from the Department of Household Affairs, who was responsible for the daily life of the Emperor, presented the placards of the feipin to the Emperor. On the tray were the fish-shaped signs which represented the status of each concubine.
Qing De Emperor finished reading the message that lao er had presented. He didn’t look at the signs and put the folder gently on the table, “Tonight, zhen is going to Zhong Jing Palace. Jing guifei has been worried about Duan Wang’s wounds these days. She has lost a lot of weight recently, zhen has to go check on her.”
“Yes,” The taijian in charge of recording the life of the Emperor wrote down the Emperor’s words and bowed as he left.
Qing De Emperor felt that even though the one he loved was Shu guifei, Jing guifei was a clever pearl and a satisfying confidant. When he was irritated, he liked to go sit at Jing guifei’s palace. Thinking about the worry Jing guifei had gone through these past days, he felt bad.
Everyone had seen the heightened attentions the Emperor had given Duan Wang and Jing guifei recently. So when the Emperor went to Jing guifei’s place, no one was surprised. It was only Shu guifei, after hearing of the incident, who reacted by smashing a cup.
“Wei shi, that slut,” Shu guifei gasped for breath before speaking to He Yuan sitting below her, “Yuan’er, now that lao da has fallen, you have to take advantage of the opportunity and not let Wei shi and her son sneak in.”
“Don’t worry, mufei. Even if they wanted to, they have to see if fuhuang thinks they are worthy. Jing guifei has played so many tricks, but doesn’t fuhuang still love you the most?” He Yuan condescended, “lao er always like to act as though he’s so sanctimonious. Some always fall for it.”
Shu guifei furrowed her brow: “You cannot underestimate Duan Wang. He is regarded as important by the Emperor. He must have some skill. Wei shi, that whore, isn’t as favoured as me, but after so many years, the Emperor still hasn’t forgotten her. Even her position isn’t lower than mine. You have to be careful of that mother and son’s tricks.”
He Yuan finished listening and objected unhappily: ‘As long as fuhuang isn’t willing, it’s futile, no matter what tricks they use.”
Shu guifei opened and then closed her mouth. Even though she felt that, over the years, the Emperor had been using his heart to care for her, and because of her complaint, he hadn’t allowed any other woman of the hougong to have children, she didn’t know why she still felt very insecure deep inside presently.
“Tomorrow, you are holding a flower-admiration banquet at your fu. Get your wife to become intimate with Jin An Princess. She may not have actual power, but she is the Emperor’s first daughter. The feelings are naturally different,” Shu guifei raised the teacup to take a drink, “The year she married, the Emperor didn’t care about the objections of the officials of the Ministry of Rites and gave her the title of Princess Royal. No one else can compare to this kind of favouritism from the Emperor.”
In the Da Long Dynasty, the previous Princess Royals had mostly been the sisters of the Emperor. Almost none had been given to the daughter, but the Emperor gave it anyway. He had even posthumously titled Qin pin, who had given birth to He Gui Nian and died as huang guifei.[i] It could be seen just how important He Gui Nian was to the Emperor.
“Qin shi’s conduct is too proud. This son really has nothing to say to her,” Thinking of Qin Bai Lu, He Yuan unhappily complained, “If I knew she was this kind of woman beforehand, mufei should have let me marry Qu shi instead. She’s better than an uninteresting woman like Qin Bai Lu.”
“Ridiculous!” Shu guifei was proud, but even she knew that He Yuan’s words were outrageous, “What is the position of Qu shi? What status does Qin shi have? Behind Qin shi is the Qin Family which is revered by many scholars. When you married her, you received the support of the Qin Clan. How could that fox-spirit Qu shi help you? Just the conduct of Chang De Gong Fu, if they didn’t make any more trouble, it would be good fortune. And right now, she is your er sao, you cannot say this again!”
“What educated and noble family? I can’t really see how Qin shi has the composure of a daughter of an educated and noble family,” He Yuan submissively listened to Shu guifei‘s admonishment, but still felt dissatisfied with Qin shi, “She has made the wang fu a total mess. I get irritated just looking at it.”
As a popo, there was always a tendency to pick on the erxifu. After He Yuan complained, Shu guifei became even more dissatisfied with Qin Bai Shuang: “Qin shi’s birth may be better than Qu shi but her tactics aren’t as good as Qu shi. Don’t be irate. During the great selection, I’ll pick a few suitable women for you.”
He Yuan bowed with his hands together raised in a fist: “Then I will have to rely on mufei.” He thought that it would be best to pick a woman with more flavour than Qu shi, but thinking that Qu shi was his saozi, he didn’t say the words that would definitely breach the rules.
“The flowers are wilting and falling in the night, the flowers carry their fragrances as they float to the ground.” Qu Qing Ju stood on the stone bridge and looked at the red flower petals as they floated in the stream. She couldn’t help but think of these two lines of poetry that described spring. She scattered the fish feed into the water and watched as the red koi turned into a swarm. In a happy mood, she ordered, “Mu Jin, tomorrow at Rui Wang Fu, I will wear that floor-length wide-sleeved dress with the hundred flowers and butterflies. Such a good spring, it wouldn’t let down that beautiful dress.”
There was no way to avoid it, she was a mortal. She liked wearing beautiful clothes, liked wearing exquisite jewellery. It was already such a tragedy that there was no internet in this era. If she couldn’t find some interests, then her days would be too miserable.
“Yes, those clothes would perfectly fit the swallow ruby and lapis lazuli encrusted head comb, and that pair of five petal jade flower buyao.” Mu Jin started to ponder in her head which earrings and bracelets that Qu Qing Ju should wear. Even the handkerchief, shoes, and the ornaments hanging on the dress had to be match perfectly.
Qu Qing Ju saw Mu Jin and the other yuhuan had already started to discuss her outfit and smiled as she leaned against the stone post. Looking at the bottom of the clear water, she narrowed her eyes as she uttered: “No matter what, all I have to be tomorrow is the most beautiful.” Didn’t Qin Bai Lu like wearing light-colored cloths and act all virtuous and high? As a common person, she could only develop herself towards becoming beautiful and stunning.
Thinking about wearing a beautiful dress in a sea of flowers and standing in front of Qin Bai Lu, Qu Qing Ju strangely felt that she was in a good mood.
She knew that Qin Bai Lu looked down on commoners like her. She couldn’t stand Qin Bai Lu’s conduct either. Since the dislike was mutual, it didn’t matter that she would deepen the negativity.
“Wang fei, Luo yiniang wants to see you,” Rui Xiang rushed over and bowed in front of Qu Qing Ju, “Nubi saw that Luo yiniang’s face didn’t look well. Something major must have happened.”
Luo Yin Xiu? Her impression of the person was silent and reticent, didn’t compete for favour and didn’t speak much. Qu Qing Ju didn’t have a deeper impression of her. After hearing Rui Xiang’s words, she responded, “Get her to sit in the outer hall, I’ll come over immediately.”
“Yes,” Rui Xiang bowed before retreating.
“Wang fei, why would this Luo yiniang suddenly want to see you?” According to Jin Zan’s knowledge, Luo yiniang was very aware of her role and she didn’t have much courage. When she appeared in front of wang fei, she usually was shrunk in and didn’t dare to speak. On her own, she was asking to speak to wang fei, what major event had occurred?
“Let’s see first,” Qu Qing Ju felt that, out of He Heng’s concubines, both Jiang Yong Yu and Luo Yin Xiu, if they had the choice, wouldn’t have been willing to be a concubine of a wang ye. But they had to accept the reality.
In the front hall, right after Qu Qing Ju sat down, Luo Yin Xiu knelt in front of her with a bang. Qu Qing Ju saw that Luo Yin Xiu already had tears streaming down her cheeks.
“Wang fei, nubi begs wang fei to help nubi!” Luo Yin Xiu was gasping from crying and couldn’t speak properly.
“What is this? Yin Liu, help Luo yiniang up,” Qu Qing Ju saw Luo shi’s face had turned entirely red from crying. She asked, “What happened? Tell me first.”
After Luo shi brokenly finished talking, Qu Qing Ju finally understood what had happened. Luo shi’s parents had died when she was young and she had been raised in her jiujiu’s family. Her jiujiu’s family had been good to her. Even though her jiujiu was only a small and minor seventh-rank official, they made sure that she’d never lacked for nothing. They treated her like she was their own daughter.
But right now, Luo shi had received a letter from her jiujiu’s family that said her jiujiu had died due to illness and was going to be buried three days later. Luo shi wanted to go to the funeral for her jiujiu but as a qieshi, she wasn’t allowed to leave the fu unless it was for a major matter. Even more so, when the one who had died was her jiujiu and not her parents.
“Wang fei, you also have a very good jiujiu, please take some pity on nubi and let nubi say farewell to jiujiu. Nubi doesn’t need very long, it will be fine for me to just kowtow on the day of jiujiu’s funeral, please.” Luo Yin Xiu sobbed and knelt again in front of Qu Qing Ju.
When He Heng entered the front hall, what he saw was that scene. He frowned in displeasure. Why did these qieshi keep bothering Qing Ju all the time? He was going to speak out but then he noticed the sympathetic expression on Qu Qing Ju’s face so he closed his mouth. He walked to sit down next to Qu Qing Ju, “What is going on?”
Luo Yin Xiu looked at wang ye, her face changing and her heart froze. Would wang ye agree to such a thing? She widened her swollen eyes to look at wang fei, hoping that wang fei would put in a good word for her.
Qu Qing Ju hadn’t expected that He Heng would appear at such a time. She looked at Luo Yin Xiu. She was just seventeen or eighteen. In her previous life, she would have been a student preparing for the university exams.
“Luo shi’s jiujiu has died of illness. Luo shi has been raised by her jiujiu for so many years, she should go to the funeral,” Qu Qing Ju sighed, “For those who come after, it is good fortune to have a good jiujiu. As one of the younger generation, you cannot disappoint your elders. I think Luo shi could go back for a few days, kowtow more, burn incense and paper money to satisfy her filial piety.”
He Heng might not like to have the shiqie running around, but he had already investigated Luo shi’s background. There was nothing suspicious. Additionally, Qing Ju had only managed to grow up due to her jiujiu’s care, so it wasn’t beneficial for him to contradict Qu Qing Ju. He nodded and confirmed: “You can make the decision at this time.”
Hearing this, Luo Yin Xiu started crying due to joy and kowtowed heavily towards the two: “Thank wang fei, thank wang ye.”
Standing to one side, Mu Jin looked sympathetically at Luo yiniang. Such a minor matter yet she had forgotten the order to give thanks in. It was tragic and pitiful.
After Luo shi left, He Heng pinched Qu Qing Ju’s hand gently: “Do you like what I had the servants deliver?”
Hearing this, Qu Qing Ju smiled and informed: “Very beautiful, I’m wearing them tomorrow.” From a certain perspective, He Heng’s tastes fit what she desired.
“As long as you like them.” Looking at Qu Qing Ju’s smile, He Heng revealed a satisfied smile. He loved seeing his wang fei dressed and adorned beautifully. This preference probably wouldn’t change in this lifetime.
[i]皇贵妃: the highest position in the Imperial Harem other than the Empress. 皇 is imperial so the title is imperial guifei.