The chapters are passing by so quickly. Only a month left for this story.
This chapter has been brought to you by me, orormunroe90, leecherleechleech and vivie.
Guess who’s going to show up this chapter? (Somebody you probably will not like.)
Chapter Seventy Nine
As expected, there really was a glowing moon. The servants in the fu had already prepared everything that was needed. He Ming and Lu Wen Yao looked at the heated lanterns hanging in the pavilion and then at the two tables nearby, holding of a variety of foodstuffs. They finally understood what er ge meant by his earlier statement of “no need to save”.
The four sat down around the table, each one taking a pair of the public chopsticks to start cooking in the pot. Even the not so favored He Ming had rarely ever cooked on his own, and his ignorance about how long something could be cooked created laughter and lifted the mood of the meal.
Luo Wen Yao looked at Qu Qing Ju rapidly picking up what she liked to cook in the pot. She always knew when to take the ingredients out when they were perfectly cooked. Luo Wen Yao couldn’t help but look down at the people of Chang De Gong Fu. Er sao was the eldest di daughter, no matter what had happened, but er sao had suffered so much. Otherwise, why else would she be so familiar about such matters?
Ignorant of the fact that she had become a little white cabbage in the snow in Luo Wen Yao’s heart, Qu Qing Ju contentedly drank a small bowl of silver tree-ear fungus and date soup to wash away the spiciness in her mouth. She felt that she was sixth-tenths full before commenting: “It’s been some days since I ate hotpot. This soup that our kitchen has made is getting better and better.”
“It’s alright to occasionally eat some. If you eat it every day, you won’t like any kind of soup,” He Heng used a pair of public chopsticks to serve a tea tree mushroom into her bowl, smiling as he said, “You ate so much meat today that it will be hard to sleep.”
Qu Qing Ju picked up the tea tree mushroom to dabble in the condiments dish. After she finished eating, she pouted: “Then later, you have to play weiqi with me.”
“Fine,” He Heng grimaced. Turning, he started to put what Qu Qing Ju liked to eat into her bowl.
He Ming poured Luo Wen Yao a small bowl of silver tree-ear fungus and date soup. Seeing er ge and er sao proficiently serve each other what they liked, he thought inside that he hadn’t done enough.
“Si di, your wounds have healed. You’ve gotten married now. Fuhuang has said that us brothers have to put more energy to state affairs. Why don’t you go spend some time in the Ministry of Revenue? That could be considered as going to learn something new.” He Heng raised a cup to He Ming and drank before continuing, “Even though I am the second eldest, I’m not even two years older than you. You should pay more attention to state affairs.”
He Ming didn’t refuse. Out of the four brothers, other than da ge who was seven years older than him, er ge and san ge weren’t that much older than him. But both er ge and san ge had been involved in state affairs for a long time. He was the only one who’d attended court after turning sixteen but he still didn’t have anything to do.
Fuhuang never spent any attention on him, his mother wasn’t favored, his maternal clan really didn’t have anyone. The result was that he had muddled his way for three years at court yet had never accomplished anything. Now that er ge had said this, it was like giving him a helping hand to let him establish himself at court.
“Thanks er ge, yu di definitely will learn how to do things, and not disappoint er ge,” He Ming raised the wine up, “Yu di toasts er ge.”
Sitting on the side, Luo Wen Yao gave a grateful smile to Qu Qing Ju. Even though she didn’t know the whole story, now that Duan Wang was willing to help her wang ye, from the bottom of her heart, she was grateful to Qu Qing Ju as Duan Wang Fei.
A whole meal ended in contentedness. The four admired the moon for a while as they digested before returning their rooms.
He Heng naturally accompanied Qu Qing Ju in playing a weiqi game before gathering up the beauty into their warm den. A round of physical pleasure later, the two contentedly fell asleep.
In the guest room, Luo Wen Yao took down her adornments and laid with He Ming together on the bed. She hesitated for a long time before inquiring: “Wang ye, does er be want to win you over?”
“Silly Wen Yao, er ge has no need to win me over,” He Ming leaned back on the headboard, gathering the other in his embrace, “What I have, er ge also has. What I don’t have, er ge still has. If I had not married you, er ge might not have been willing to help me.”
Luo Wen Yao stilled. She suddenly thought about her second aunt in Xiang Qing Hou Fu and Duan wang fei who was very close to second aunt. Instantly, she understood. She hugged He Ming in sympathy, comforting in a small voice: “That’s because wang ye is capable so er be wants to help you. Otherwise, it doesn’t matter who you married. It still wouldn’t work out.”
He Ming smiled as he patted her back, his laughter filling the entire room.
Because of Qing De Emperor’s serious illness, the people of Jing City were extremely anxious. However, after a few days, the Emperor started to take a good turn and could even continue to attend court. Those whose intentions had risen settled down.
Soon afterwards, the imperial censor wrote a complaint against Chang De Gong Fu. He detailed the scandals of Chang De Gong Fu, such as allowing servants to victimize others, putting out loans, buying the common people’s land at low prices by using their positions. He also mentioned that sixteen years ago when the di wife of the Duke of Chang De had just passed away, he immediately married a new wife which was a dishonorable thing. He even allowed the new Duchess of Chang De, Liang shi, to cheat others by using the position of the Duke and abused the original wife’s daughter as well as the shu daughters.
Instantly, the court erupted. They had heard what happened with Chang De Gong Fu before but no one could spare the attention to take care of it. But now that someone had censured them, naturally all these matters became unpardonable crimes. Even more so, there was no one in Jing who didn’t know that Duan Wang was very much in love with his wife. What Chang De Gong Fu had done, wouldn’t that Duan Wang unhappy?
Of course, there were those who looked at Rui Wang. Liang shi’s daughter was Rui Wang’s qie. If Rui Wang had any intentions of protecting them, it wouldn’t be wise for them to throw stones while the other was down. After they watched for a few days, they found that Rui Wang showed no reaction to the matter. Then everyone understood. Rui Wang didn’t have any desire to look after the matters of a qie’s paternal family.
Since Rui Wang wasn’t going to act, and Duan Wang didn’t have any good feelings towards Chang De Gong Fu, the hearts of the court officials were like a mirror. Within a few short days, the memorandums that censured Chang De Gong Fu fell like snowflakes in front of the Emperor. Numerous minor and major matters were revealed. Instantly, Chang De Gong Fu became the mouse that everyone was yelling to kill, as if one look at them would dirty their eyes.
When Qu Qing Ju heard that Chang De Gong Fu was being censured, it was the third day since the matter had started. After she’d finished listening to Jin Zhan’s report, she paused for a beat before inquiring: “Is there no one asking for mercy on behalf of Chang De Gong Fu in court?”
Jin Zhan shook her head. She took a look at wang fei’s face and found that wang fei didn’t seem to be worried at all for Chang De Gong Fu before continuing: “Nubi heard that many are censuring the Duke and the Liang Family. The Emperor is very angry about the matter.”
Qu Qing Ju nodded, “I understand.” Due to how much He Heng disliked Chang De Gong Fu, he definitely wouldn’t ask for mercy for the Duke of Chang De. The best case would be that he didn’t try to step on them even more. But according to He Heng’s style of conduct, he wouldn’t do it himself. No matter what, on the surface, the Duke of Chang De was his father-in-law. If he came out personally, others might purposefully exaggerate it and it wouldn’t be good for his reputation.
Then again, the kind of person that He Heng was, his best skill was doing everything in the dark. For him to be like He Qi or He Yuan and personally act, it would be very hard for him.
He Heng didn’t want to help Chang De Gong Fu. The intelligent people at Royal Court understood. And He Yuan didn’t have any intentions of giving aid. All together, everyone understood that Chang De Gong Fu was taking its last breaths. They said that not many gave coal in the snow, many dropped stones instead. People who censured Chang De Gong Fu and the Liang Family naturally popped out.
Hearing people mention the crime of the duke’s marriage to a new wife before the bones of the first wife was cold, Qu Qing Ju felt elated. Qu Tian shi was very unfortunate to have met a man like the Duke of Chang De. Additionally, Qu Tian shi’s cause of death was suspicious but her death was said to be illness by the Duke of Chang De. Now that the people of Xiang Qing Hou Fu had this chance, would they give it up?
As expected, Tian Jin Ke sent up a memorandum on the exact day. The general meaning was that his jiejie’s cause of death was suspicious. Liang shi was married for only eight months when she gave birth to twins. He was suspicious that the Duke of Chang De killed his wife so that he could marry Liang shi because she had been pregnant.
Once the news came out, Jing became even noisier. That year, Liang shi truly did give birth to the twins not even eight months after marriage. The statement given out at the time was that she was carrying twins which caused an early birth. But thinking of it now, the matter was fishy.
If nothing was wrong, why would the Duke of Chang De be in such a hurry to marry her, could he not even wait for the hundred days after his wife’s passing?
When the matter was exposed, those who had relationships with Chang De Gong Fu and the Liang Family all stopped interacting with them. The two families didn’t even have anyone to ask for aid.
As Qu Qing Ju heard the new situation each day about the Qu Family at court, her mood became better and better. But who knew that on this day when she had just finished listening to Jin Zhan tell her the gossip, one of the servants came to report that the Duke of Chang De was requesting to meet her.
The Duke of Chang De?
The memories in Qu Qing Ju’s mind of the Duke of Chang De were very apathetic, and there was even a hint of hate. She heard the Duke had come, and hesitated before standing to say: “Order the gatekeeper to let the Duke of Chang De wait in the side hall of the wang fu.”
“Mistress, you are going to see the duke?” Mu Jin looked worriedly at Qu Qing Ju, clearly worried on her behalf.
“There’s nothing to fear. Now, I am wang fei. Do I still have to fear that he will reprimand me for Liang shi?” Qu Qing Ju gave an icy smile, “Jin Zhan, help me dress.”
Jin Zhan quickly complied and the group of yahuan in the room joined in.
Seeing the yahuan bring in the different hairpins, jewellery and the grand clothes, Qu Qing Ju picked an extravagantly lavish wide sleeved qing luan robe. In her memory, didn’t the Duke of Chang De like taking up the role of the father to reprimand the original owner of this body?
Then she would let him know what it was like to be suppressed by authority.
The Duke of Chang De waited a long while outside the gate of Duan Wang Fu before someone came in to lead him inside the front gate. He followed the taijian in front to the side hall of the wang fu. Liang Hong, who had been following behind, took out a pouch to shove in the hand of the taijian leading the way, asking in a fawning tone: “This ge, do you know when wang fei will be free?” He had accompanied his yi fu[i]to quite a few homes. Some straightforwardly didn’t receive guests, some allowed them inside but after filling their stomachs with tea, they still didn’t see anyone. So he couldn’t resist asking.
The taijian took the pouch and politely smiled as he replied: “This little gong zi is too polite. This one is just a servant, and doesn’t know anything about wang fei. You two can wait here, it should be only a while before you can meet wang fei.” He made a bow before quickly leaving.
Soon afterwards, servants came in to serve them tea and refreshments. Liang Hong restlessly sat on the carved pear tree chair. He looked at the servants of the wang fu standing in the room with their tastefully chosen attire and strangely felt that he couldn’t breathe.
[i]姨父: husband of mother’s sister