Introduction of He Heng’s elder sister, Jin An Princess Royal. She is also the adopted daughter of the Empress (to answer the one commenter).
Chapter Thirty Eight The Woman in the Rumors
In the deep of the night where no one was there, a dark shadow flashed at the corner of the firewood room. Before this person could near the room itself, suddenly several lamps lit up in the surroundings. He looked in surprise and found many people surrounding him.
“Qian yeye here has waited so many days. Finally caught this rat,” Qian Chang Xin held a lamp as he came out of the corner. He looked disdainfully at this servant in the guise of a manservant and raised his hand, “Bind him up, don’t disturb anyone else.”
The servants rushed in. Before the person could speak, he was gagged, bound and dragged away.
“Stupid trash,” Finishing, he spat on the ground. He kicked the door to the firewood room with one foot and looked down at Bai Zhi who was tied and gagged in the corner. He gave a joyless smile and said: “Bai Zhi gunaing, your accomplice has already been captured. Why don’t we have a chat and you tell me who let you into the fu?”
Bai Zhi squirmed against the rope on her body but the ropes were too tight and she could not escape. She glared hatefully at Qian Chang Xin.
“Free her mouth,” Qian Chang Xin took a whip from a person behind him. He slowly whipped it on his palm, his face still carrying a harmonious smile, “Bai Zhi guniang, have you thought what you are going to say?”
“I don’t know anything,” Bai Zhi hatefully turned her head away, not looking at Qian Chang Xin, “I just wanted to fly a paper luan, wang ye has the wrong person.”
Qian Change Xin was too lazy to argue with her but only said impatiently: “There’s not much difference between you saying or not. But it’s such a pity for your old and young in the family, and the newly married sister of yours. How about we give you a crime of poisoning wang ye, wonder what would your family have to suffer?”
“Shameless!” Bai Zhi turned her head and stared straight at Qian Chang Xing, “What do you want to do?”
“You aren’t the first person to praise yeye this way,” Qian Chang Xin uncoiled the whip, the smile on his face even more visible. Suddenly the whip dealt a blow on Bai Zhi’s body, “Usually the people who praise yeye like this, by now their teeth won’t even be on their body.”
The pain caused her body to shrink, Bai Zhi stated with a white face: “Nubi is innocent.”
“Since you are willing to give up on your family to protect your master, then yeye won’t care about your family either,” Qian Chang Xin proclaimed cheerfully, “Tomorrow, I’ll let your family go first. Hopefully when you go down to see them, you can still face them.”
Tears were streaming down Bai Zhi’s face. She covered her wound and chocked out: “It’s His Highness Ning Wang that wanted nubi to pay attention to the movement of the fu. Except nubi’s status was too low and couldn’t pass out any news. A few days earlier, His Highness Ning Wang wanted nubi to investigate how wang ye treated wang fei in the fu. Nubi assumed this wasn’t such an important matter and so dared to pass on the news.” She wasn’t afraid of death but was afraid of it involving her family.
“That’s nonsense, His Highness Ning Wang is a straightforward and honest person, you can’t slander him!” Qian Chang Xin disagreed, “Such vile slander, wang ye won’t believe you.”
“It’s true. A while ago, nubi’s didi entered Ning Wang Fu for a job. Nubi had no other way and did wrong things. Gonggong, please investigate carefully, nubi really didn’t pass on any information.” Bai zhi cried as she knelt in front of Qian Chang Xin.
“Fine, yeye I don’t want to listen to your nonsense,” Qian Chang Xin retreated two steps, not allowing Bai Zhi to hug his leg. He said in a cold voice, “Bai Zhi died due to an illness recently. Send somebody to give her family thirty taels of silver.” Finishing, he motioned for the person to pour the poisonous wine into Bai Zhi.
“Thank you wang ye, thank you gonggong.” Bai Zhi trembled as she held a hand and poured down the wine. No matter what, at least wang ye let her family go.
Qian Chang Xin came out of the firewood room and threw the whip to one side. He took a handkerchief that a lower-ranked taijian handed over to wipe his hand, “Bury the person carefully. At least she served wang ye before. People, they can’t try to find death themselves. Those that betray their masters, they don’t have good endings.” Finishing, he left without a second glance.
Tong fang Bai Zhi’s death didn’t arouse much interest in the fu. Everybody new, Bai Zhi died suddenly. Curiosity wasn’t allowed in the case of a sudden death.
When Qu Qing Ju heard the news, she was trimming a newly delivered bonsai. She finished listening to Huang Yang before she put down her scissors to order: “Since the person is gone, don’t mention the past anymore. Get someone to send something to her family, it is wang ye’s grace.” Since He Heng said Bai Zhi died of illness, then she had to give the appropriate response.
Even Yin Liu who was quick of the mouth didn’t say anything at the time. After Huang Yang left, she spoke with some fear: “She’s just gone.”
“As a servant, you can’t have multiple masters,” Mu Jin sorted away the scissors that Qu Qing Ju placed on the table to prevent Qu Qing Ju from accidentally harming her hand, “This way, it was very generous of wang ye.” This type of thing, it wasn’t just a life, it was possible to influence an entire family.
Yin Liu didn’t argue with the words. To her, all she had to do everyday was serve wang fei well. She didn’t have to think about anything else. She didn’t want to think that much either.
Qu Qing Ju propped her chin up with one hand and looked outside in boredom. In these days without a computer or phone, it was boring. She gave a yawn and drawled lazily: “Mu Jin, find a story book for me.”
Mu Jin retreated but after a while, she didn’t receive her novel, but Qu Qing Ju received a flower and gold printed invitation.
“The Jin An Princess Royal?” Qu Qing Ju looked at the invitation in her hand. At the banquet, there had been a few princesses and 郡主: daughters in the Imperial Family, most likely daughters of wangs. One rank lower than princess (gongzhu)jun zhu . But this Jin An Princess, she had never met before. If her memory wasn’t wrong, Jin An Princess was the eldest daughter of Qing di Emperor. Her birth mother had died, but she was adopted under the empress. The emperor had also decreed her the title of “the Princess Royal . She had significant status within the womenfolk but since she married down to the Count of Bei Lu, she moved to live in Jing Zhou and rarely returned to Jing.
The rumor was that the Count of Bei Lu and Jin An Princess Royal were deeply in love and had one son and daughter. She was the object of admiration from many of the women at court and was the epitome of husband of wife in many people’s eyes. But why was she returning to Jin now, at a time that wasn’t a festival and to hold a picture-admiring banquet.
She looked at the beautiful flowery xiaokai script on the invitation. The invitation that was sent to the wang fu would have been personally written by Jin An Princess Royal. To see a person through their writing. This Jin An Princess Royal was a very talented woman.
Personally writing a reply, Qu Qing Ju waited for the ink to dry before folding the paper. She passed it to Jin Zhan who had been grinding the ink: “Get someone to send it to the Princess Royal’s fu.”
At night, He Heng came to the zhengyuan. When the two finished eating the evening meal, Qu Qing Ju brought up the matter.
He Heng wasn’t very close to his jiejie but he did hear some rumors floating in Jing: “Two days earlier, the Princess Royal came back to Jing. You might have never met her before, but since the invitation has been sent, you can go.”
Qu Qing Ju gave him a cup of digestive tea, “I already sent a reply. It’s just that the picture-admiring banquet is three days later. The day after that would be the Lantern Festival. I was just surprised at the date that the Princess Royal had set down.” When He Heng took the teacup, he took advantage and rubbed her hand. She glared at him half-heartedly, “Has the Count of Bei Lu returned as well?”
He Heng shook his head, “Haven’t heard it. I’ve just heard that the Princess Royal came with her two children.”
Qu Qing Ju felt that there definitely had been something that happened. The Princess Royal returning before the Lantern Festival, with her children but not her fuma . Nothing serious was occurring in Jing at this time, why was she in such a rush?
Was it that this Count of Bei Lu had done something and let down the Princess Royal? Because in this world, the people that were held as examples of matrimony usually would screw up. This was most likely the supposed “the more loving, the faster you die.”
If the truth was like this, then it was very interesting that the Princess Royal was returning to the palace right now.
“Don’t think too much,” He Heng set down the teacup and reached with a hand to scrape Qu Qing Ju’s nose, “The Princess Royal is the most noble princess among my sisters. No one dare offend her.”
Qu Qing Ju instantly understood the meaning in these words. If the Count of Bei Lu really did let down the Princess Royal, if the Princess Royal was so angry and wanted to get revenge, then this Count of Bei Lu won’t have a good outcome. She looked at He Heng. These words might not be actual concern for his sister, but it was very honest.
“Wang ye is right,” Qu Qing Ju smiled, “I was overcomplicating it.”
“En, since it is already done, why don’t you think about us,” He Heng moved next to her body and gently bit her ear, “Like when should we prepare to sleep?” Finishing, he pulled on the hairpin in her hair. Instantly, her hair poured down like a stream of water.
Qu Qing Ju smiled at him, “What is wang ye thinking now?”
He Heng felt that this stare was like a string, pulling him in. He carried her up in a lengthwise embrace, “What I’m thinking, Qing Ju will know in a while.”
Qu Qing Ju laughed out loud into his chest.
The second morning, Qu Qing Ju sat up in the bed. She looked at the scattered clothing on the bed, then at He Heng who was dressing in front of the mirror before she lazily retreated back into her blankets.
Seeing her wake, He Heng said: “Today is the Lantern Festival, I’ll take you out on the carriage to sightsee.”
“Wang ye, you have to keep your promise,” Qu Qing Ju flipped around upon hearing this, propping her head up on one hand to look at He Heng, “Then you need to come back early, I’ll wait for you.”
“I’ll certainly return very early,” He Heng walked to the bed and bent down to steal a kiss from her lips. He straightened and announced, “I have to go to court. If you are tired, sleep a bit more.” Finishing, his gaze sweep ambiguously over the red marks on Qu Qing Ju’s collarbone.
Pulling the blankets to under her chin, Qu Qing Ju pointed outside and gently gave a snort: “Wang ye, you should be going to court now. Qie is still tired, and won’t see you off.” Finishing, she flipped around and left her back to He Heng.
He Heng shook his head as he smiled and his mood was light as he went out the door.
Qu Qing Ju slept for almost another two hours before lazily getting out of bed. She looked calmly on as the yahuan cleaned up the clothing under the bed. She sat at the mirror and drew her brows when she said: “Jin Zhan, get someone to ask around what’s going on with the Princess Royal.”
Jin Zhan bowed and left without a sound.
Silently looking at the woman in the mirror, Qu Qing Ju raised the corners of her lips.
 郡主: daughters in the Imperial Family, most likely daughters of wangs. One rank lower than princess (gongzhu)
 The title in Chinese is “长公主” which means the elder, head princess. It is equivalent to the “Princess Royal” in English nobility as a title except there could be more than one Princess Royal at a time.
 簪花小楷: xiaokai is a style of writing called regular script where the characters are of small size. It is akin to printing in English writing rather than handwriting/cursive writing.
 上元节:shang yuan jie. It occurs on the fifteenth day of the first month, also called 元宵节 (yuan xiao jie)
 驸马: the husband of a princess, the emperor’s son-in-law.