When you want to pretend, at the very least, make sure the other person will cooperate with you. Otherwise, you’re just asking for it. Words are knives and what someone speculates, while not the truth, is more influential than the truth.
Chapter 11 Confrontation
The West Hall of Chang De Gong Fu was specifically used for female gatherings so the majority of the furnishings were vibrant yet well-made. Inside, there were artwork and calligraphy of masters and it looked as this was a home with some foundation. But it was to be obvious that each generation was worse than the previous. The present Duke of Chang De was so preposterous that many laughed at him behind his back.
Qu Qing Ju was at the same table as Qu lao taitai and her spot was beside Luo lao taitai. It was obvious from the seating the attitude that the Qu Family held toward her. At the table, there were people who were willing to ingratiate themselves so the mood at the table was somewhat busy. But when Qu lao taitai seated the Qu Family’s san guniang beside her, everybody’s eyes changed. If this was a family banquet, nobody would say an extra word, but of the womenfolk present today, there were several females who ranked higher than Qu lao taitai. This Qu san guniang was both of a younger generation and wasn’t titled. It really wasn’t suitable for her to sit at the table.
The Marquess of Bao Rong smiled coldly at Qu lao taitai’s actions, understanding that this was Qu lao taitai wanting everybody at the table to meet Qu san guniang but the timing just wasn’t good.
“This old one has always preferred these two girls. Now that da yatou has married, we’ve finally managed to gather together today,” Qu lao taitai couldn’t not know what others were thinking. She used her handkerchief to wipe at the corner of her eye, “Now that these girls have grown up, this old lady still wants to keep them by my side all the time.”
One of the furen that had good relations with the Qu family smiled and followed: “This is lao taitai’s love for her granddaughters. But when the children grow up, they can’t stay at home. San guniang is the epitome … …” When she got there, she smiled mischievously.
Qu Yue Su heard those words and quickly dropped her head in embarrassment.
Seeing her act like a little girl, Qu Qing Ju smiled at the woman that spoke. This person was on the side of Qu lao taitai Wei shi. Her husband was an assistant minister at the Ministry of Rites, a not very large yet not very insignificant position. But this person usually only treated Qu Yue Su courteously. At the beginning, both Qu Qing Ju and shu daughter Qu Hui Xue hadn’t come into her eyes.
“Wei furen is very funny. At this time, san meimei is the youngest and grandmother loves her best. Why can’t she spend more time with grandmother.” Qu Qing Ju smiled thinly at Wei shi, and took the handkerchief Yin Liu handed over to wipe her hands, “It is er meimei who has less time to spend with grandmother.”
Liang shi heard what Qu Qing Ju said and felt anger stir. Qu Qing Ju was trying to ruin her daughter’s marriage. Mentioning the second daughter, she was telling others that her, the di mother, wasn’t benevolent, would only think of her own daughter and neglect the shu daughter?
Wei shi paused and didn’t seem to have any response. In the past, she had always ingratiated herself with her gumu in this manner. Today, she was firmly pushed back by Qu Qing Ju and just realized that the person sitting across from her wasn’t the Qu da guniang of the past, but the noble and elevated Duan Wang Fei.
Luo lao taitai smiled as she looked at Wei shi, her eyes full of distain. Who was Duan Wang? He was the second son of the Emperor. His mother Jing Fei may not be as favoured as Shu Fei but she still had some level of influence with the emperor. As to what Duan Wang was really like, nobody knew. But in the eyes of the entire court, Duan Wang might not be the most capable of the four imperial sons, but he definitely was not useless.
Jinshang only has four sons. The eldest imperial son Ning Wang had some power in the court. However, his birth was not high and his birth mother was only a cairen. The mother of the third imperial son, Rui Wang, Shu Fei was the most favoured of the Emperor which spilled over to favouring her son. It was just that while this imperial son had some ability, his schemes were cruel and many were afraid of him. The fourth imperial son was Cheng Wang. His mother was a guipin but wasn’t favored by the emperor. The Emperor’s attitude towards the fourth imperial son was not special and as to the person Cheng Wang, he was also average.
Luo lao taitai didn’t understand the politics of the court and government but she wasn’t too bad at examining people. This Duan Wang’s future was most likely limitless. Her own family, the Luo Family, might not have any desire to stand on any side but they didn’t want to offend Duan Wang. To be in the situation that Duan Wang was in, he either was truly as he appeared or he had very deep depths.
But who in the Imperial Family was as they appeared? She had lived this many years, and saw many people so she understood even more clearly what people could not be offended or what people, if offended, wouldn’t be a problem.
Duan Wang was the former, and Chang De Gong Fu was the latter.
But she hadn’t been correct about this Duan Wang Fei. In the past, she had only paid attention because she was born from a daughter of the Tian Family. But now she felt that this Duan Wang Fei wasn’t a simple woman. Thinking about it, she felt lucky. She didn’t beg that Duan Wang Fei would be grateful towards her, but if she did, due to her previous care, create goodwill on the part of Duan Wang Fei to the Luo Family and her daughter, it was a good thing.
In the time it took to blink, many thoughts had formed in Luo lao taitai’s head. On her face, she still had a friendly smile and complimented: “You can see that Duan Wang Fei still thinks for her sisters all the time. This old one’s girls might occasionally say a few words, they cannot compare to wang fei.”
“Lao taitai is too modest. I’ve seen the sisters of your family before. Each is well-educated in all aspects. Even my aunt frequently praises them.” Qu Qing Ju received the goodwill of Luo lao taitai, “Someday, get the meimei to come to wang fu when they are free. My aunt is friendly and cares greatly for me but she has no daughters. Even if I want to interact with girls like my aunt, I don’t have anybody. Luckily, the sisters of your fu will allow me to satisfy my desire. Lao taitai, do bear to part with them and let them come out.”
Luo lao taitai heard that Duan Wang Fei’s words were pointing out the care that her daughter had taken and, in passing, complimented her granddaughters. The smile on her face became larger: “Wang fei, don’t praise them too much. If wang fei doesn’t distain them for being too wild, this old one definitely will take them to the wang fu to greet you if there is a chance.”
Everybody present had heard at least a bit about the care that Duan Wang Fei had received from Xiang Qing Hou Fu before her marriage. Hearing what she said today, they received some proof of the rumors. It did look like Duan Wang Fei was very close to her maternal uncle’s family. It didn’t waste the care that Xiang Qing Hou Fu had given her in the beginning.
Everybody was women and naturally understood the dark side of the inner home. It looked like Duan Wang Fei wasn’t that close to Chang De Gong Fu at all. In that case, when they will interact with Chang De Gong Fu in the future, they didn’t have to worry about Duan Wang Fu.
Qu Yue Su heard the discussion flowering around her, a smile was constantly on her face as though she didn’t know what they were discussing. Seeing the dishes being brought up, she affectionately ordered a yahuan to specially put a dish of fragrant and spicy tofu in front of Qu Qing Ju: “Meimei remembers that da jie’s favourite this is this one. A few days earlier, mother had ordered the servants to make this dish well. Da jie, take a taste and see if you still like it.”
White tender tofu sprinkled with green onions and pale yellow peppers and the red of the chili oil. It did look very appetizing. Qu Qing Ju smiled at Qu Yue Su and nodded in agreement: “Thank you meimei.” This san meimei of her’s wasn’t a simple person.
“Please, wang fei, forgive this nubi for being disrespectful but there are some things nubi has to say.” Mu Jin crouched, respectful yet helpless, “A few days earlier, you had been sick for half a month. The entire fu had been worried for you. The taiyi had said that you couldn’t eat anything spicy or oily. Now that you have finally recovered and wang ye has allowed you to go out the door … … don’t forget what wang ye had just said.”
Luo lao taitai heard those words and also persuaded: “This yahuan is a faithful one. I had heard that wang fei had been ill. Even though wang fei has filial love, but the body still needs to be taken care of.”
“Fine fine, this yahuan has served me many years. She is such a nag. I’m afraid of her.” Qu Qing Ju seemed to sigh in helplessness. “The medicine that lao taitai sent over earlier, I still haven’t expressed my gratitude yet.”
“Excuse me for saying a disrespectful thing, but this one saw wang fei grow up. Everything is fine as long as the body is healthy, that doesn’t need any gratitude,” Luo lao taitai pointed at a dish of pigeon soup, “this pigeon soup would be fine for wang fei to drink. Get a yahuan to serve a bowl to taste.”
Seeing Mu Jin pour a bowl of soup, an awkward smile appeared on Qu Yue Su’s face. The words implied that nobody at Chang De Gong Fu was concerned about da jie’s illness and also mocked her mother for not being loving towards da jie. Even the Luo family, who didn’t have much of a connection to da jie, sent over medicine but her mother hadn’t done anything. Once the word was out, what virtuous reputation would her mother have left?
Qu lao taitai heard those words, her smile didn’t change, but she took a few more looks at her daughter-in-law, Liang shi.
Liang shi, sitting at one side, had managed to hear the meaning implied. She didn’t think that the present Qu Qing Ju would be this forceful but she had no way of explaining. She could only smile and say: “Wang fei was sick? Why didn’t you let somebody send a word, to let mother go take care of you for a few days?”
“I don’t dare let mother labor,” Qu Qing Ju had finished washing her hands and was wiping away the droplets of water that remained. Hearing what Liang shi said, she jerked her lips in a smile, “They say, a married daughter is thrown away water, this daughter didn’t want father and mother to worry. There are a lot of servants in the wang fu. It was just a small illness, nothing that everybody had to know about. In the case of Luo lao taitai, it was because jiumu had somebody deliver things and received notice that I was sick. That was how she knew about my illness.”
These words were much deeper and even nastier than the previous words once understood. Duan Wang Fei mentioned a “dare”, it was enough to make people speculate on how Liang shi treated the daughters of others in the houyuan.
Smiling as she saw Liang shi pushed to the point of speechlessness by her words, Qu Qing Ju stopped talking and started eating. She wasn’t afraid of ruining the good name of her paternal home, she wasn’t even afraid that her husband’s family will hate her due to the reputation of her paternal home. It was just a life she had picked up, she would live freely until she couldn’t. But what she had picked up was another person’s life. At least, when she was living freely, she could help the other finish the gratitudes and grievances of her past. If there was really a day when Duan Wang really became the Emperor, or he failed in his attempt and wanted her life, she didn’t think she would have any regrets. When she could still flaunt it, she would. Otherwise, maybe one day she wouldn’t have a life.
Qu Yue Su looked at the elegant posture of Qu Qing Ju and felt inexplicably complicated inside. Even though her mother really didn’t like her, but in private she still felt some sympathy for her da jie. So she had always given her some of the jewellery and playthings she hadn’t liked to da jie. But now, the da jie that needed her sympathy was a wang fei that even her grandmother had to be courteous to. As for herself, in the future, she might have to always be below her.
Thinking about that, Qu Yue Su’s slender brows slightly furrowed. Why did she have such a feeling of apprehension?
The banquet meal ended. The servants of the Qu Family guided everyone to the wide outer yard to hear a play. The stage had been built beforehand. The sexes were blocked from each other by tall screens. Even though everybody was in the same place, but they could only see the stage.
The first play was “Magu giving her birthday greetings”. Qu Qing Ju sat on the chair and watched coldly at Liang shi who was coming towards her with a sandalwood box.
This Liang shi was going to personally put on a play?
姑母: sister of father
 敬妃: 敬 (jing) means respected, venerated.
 淑妃: shu (淑) is warm and virtuous
 今上: the present one on top. Refers to the Emperor.
 宁王: ning means peaceful, serene.
 才人: cairen, a lower-ranked consort.
 瑞王: rui means lucky, felicitous omen, auspicious.
 贵嫔: gui(贵) is noble, pin(嫔) is a rank. Having gui as part of the title makes it of a higher rank than other pin.
 麻姑贺寿: 麻姑 is an immortal deity associated with the elixir of life/immortality