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Chapter Eighty Three The Oncoming Wind and Rain
Sometimes, the most painful time wasn’t when you had lost everything. It was when you had lost everything and the person who had been suppressed by you was standing in great circumstances right in front of you.
Qu Wang Zhi looked at the silver in the hands of the taijian standing in front of him. He might have been a bit of a wastrel but even he knew that the amount of silver in the pouch wasn’t insignificant. It was enough for a normal family to live on for a few decades without doing anything. But even though he didn’t have anything at present, he still didn’t want to receive that pouch of silver.
Liang shi, who had been wiping away her tears, snatched the silver from Ming He’s hands and threw it ferociously on the ground. She pointed at Qu Qing Ju in the carriage, ranting: “We don’t need you coming here at this time to falsely give aid!”
The snowy-white silver rolled out from the cotton pouch, scattering to the ground. Under the sunlight, it was even more blinding. The spectators in the street saw the scene and started gossiping amongst themselves.
Qu Hui Xue supported her grandmother. Listening to the mocking laughter of the spectators targeted at Chang De Gong Fu, she embarrassedly lowered her head and saw an ingot of silver that had rolled to her feet. For some reason, she suddenly thought of a certain day three years ago when taitai had thrown a teacup in the exact same manner at da jie’s feet.
That cup of tea had been very hot. It had been the beginning of spring yet she was able to see the white steam as the tea splashed onto da jie’s feet. But at that time, da jie always kept her head down so she wasn’t able to see the expression on da jie’s face.
For some reason, she suddenly felt somewhat elated. Liang shi, well-off for more than a decade, Liang shi, who had abused her mother, finally met today’s outcome. As she thought some more, a smile appeared on Qu Hui Xue’s face and she bent down to pick up the silver at her feet. She blew away the dust on the silver and put it in a pouch at her waist.
Liang shi didn’t notice her actions. However, Qu lao taitai saw but didn’t say a word. She wasn’t intelligent but she was able to see the situation more clearly than Liang shi, so she wouldn’t do anything that would provide more food for gossip.
Liang shi had never thought that there would be a day when her and Qu Qing Ju’s positions would be switched. That yatou in her memory, who had always been submissive, is now become high up in the sky and she has now become a base shumin. She was both hateful and unsatisfied, so she placed the source of the misfortunes onto Qu Qing Ju who was sitting in the carriage.
Qu Qing Ju calmly looked at Liang shi. This woman did have some beauty, but only just some. She couldn’t understand how the Duke of Chang De was so captivated by her that he would do something as crazy as killing his wife. A man that heartless, did he really know what was love?
After seeing Liang shi lose her composure and started to curse, Qu Qing Ju felt the discontent, deep inside her heart, gradually dissipate. She covered her chest, as though she could see the lonely and helpless little girl enduring the days and nights in Chang De Gong Fu, saw her marry into the wang fu, saw her resist the man’s approaches, saw her silently lie down on the carved bed and calmly close her eyes.
He Heng noticed that Qu Qing Ju’s expression wasn’t right and gently grasped her hand, “Qing Ju, what’s wrong with you?”
Qu Qing Ju’s gaze met his and she suddenly smiled. She shook her head, answering: “Nothing.” She moved her gaze back towards Liang shi, and bent to get out of the carriage. She gave her hand to Mu Jin who had been standing by the side of the carriage and stepped on a wooden stool as she got off the carriage. Step by step, she walked to stand in front of Liang shi, whose face was distorted, and in a very small voice, she said: “If you keep making a fuss like this, that’s not accumulating virtue for your children. Didn’t anyone tell you that I hold grudges?”
Liang shi was so angry that she wanted to scream. But when she saw the smile on Qu Qing Ju’s face, she couldn’t say a word. She turned to look at her son, and thought about her daughter who was a ce fei in Rui Wang Fu. She gritted her teeth: “What do you want to do?”
“Take a guess,” Qu Qing Ju made a long exhale and took a few steps back, “No matter what, you’ve taken care of me for so many years. I just need to reminisce on the past to feel overwhelmed and beside myself.”
“You slut!” Liang shi reached out to try to scratch Qu Qing Ju’s face but was pushed aside by Ming He’s hand. He said in a loud voice: “Outrageous, wang fei was thinking of Qu lao taitai’s age and especially came here to give some silver to make your days easier. It’s fine if you aren’t grateful, but you want to harm wang fei, you are too evil.”
The crowd of spectators saw the scene and extrapolated on how Duan Wang Fei, who had been abused in Chang De Gong Fu, was still sympathetic of Qu lao taitai due to her advancing age and made a trip just to give some silver. The result was that the evil step-mother cursed her when she saw her without a hint of regret. It did seem as though this Liang shi was even more malicious than what was rumoured. They didn’t understand how the kind and filial Duan Wang Fei escaped her evil clutches.
Qu Qing Ju looked very hurt at Liang shi, who was being supported by Qu Wang Zhi. She said helplessly: “Since you don’t welcome me, I won’t ever appear in front of you in the future.” She made a bow in the direction of Qu lao taitai, “Everyone, take care.”
When she’d finished speaking, Qu Qing Ju looked very wane and she held Mu Jin’s hand as they went back to the carriage. When the curtain to the carriage was put down, the loss on her face instantly disappears. She really just loved watching Liang shi live out her days in fear.
Maybe what she should be worried about was just how she, as Duan Wang Fei, would harm her children. Maybe she would live every day in her hatred. But these issues weren’t important anymore.
“Let’s return,” He Heng smiled slightly as he held her hand.
Qu Qing Ju smiled and nodded, “Return.”
The people of Duan Wang Fu left, and so did the spectators. Before the Qu Family could react, several ruffians and gangsters suddenly ran over and picked up the silver from the ground and disappeared.
Qu Wang Zhi looked at the scattering ruffians and turned his head to look at his family. For an instant, he felt that there was no place in this great big world for them.
“Let’s go,” Qu lao taitai banged her walking stick and glanced icily at Liang shi, “What are you standing here for? This place isn’t the Qu Family’s anymore.” She started walking away, supported by Qu Hui Xue.
Liang shi looked at her son and in the end, she could only helplessly follow lao taitai. But in every street she passed by, there were many people pointing at her. She even saw some spitting behind her.
She looked blankly at these people. She finally understood. She wasn’t a duchess anymore. There weren’t any more riches and honors. She didn’t have anything. And the daughter left behind by that whore was going to plot against her.
Finished, all finished.
The spring gradually passed and the hotness of the summer slowly came. By this time, Qu Qing Ju didn’t like to go out. Most of the time, she was hiding in the cooled room, wearing a silk dress as she waved a fan and listen to Jin Zhan and Huang Yang tell her the gossip in Jing City.
A few days earlier, something unexpected happened to Qu Qing Ju . Qu Hui Xue had been married to a xiucai. This xiucai had no parents but he had land and servants. Even more unexpected, this xiucai’s mother had once been Qu Hui Xue’s mother’s good friend. After the xiucai married her, he didn’t slight her because of Chang De Gong Fu and the two had a good relationship.
This event was probably the most fairytale-like incident since Qu Qing Ju came to this time. This incident also proved that sometimes, real life was more unexpected than stories. After she was informed of the matter, she let Xiao Gan Zi send some appropriate celebratory gifts to Qu Hui Xue as well as the questions from past examinations and the best answers. It counted as her good wishes to the couple.
Qu Hui Xue didn’t start interacting with Qu Qing Ju greatly because of the presents. She solemnly wrote a letter of appreciation and let a servant deliver some fresh produce as well as some of her own embroidery. After that, she went on to live her own life.
“Wang fei, this is a lily silver tree-ear fungus Buddha fruit soup which has just been made by the servants. Drink some to reduce the heat,” Yin Liu put down the bowl of soup in front of Qu Qing Ju and took the fan from a yahuan. She helped fan Qu Qing Ju at a moderate pace. Seeing the white sun outside, she gave a sigh, “It’s become hotter and hotter. I wonder when it will rain.”
“You just came from outside, there’s ice here. Careful not to get sick,” Mu Jin pulled Yin Liu further away from the ice, smiling as she took the fan from her hand, “Take care to not stink wang fei with your sweat.”
Yin Liu instantly protested her innocence. The two fell into battle, causing Qu Qing Ju to laugh. She put down the spoon to interject, “Stop, stop. Let the kitchen make each of you a bowl of iced plum soup and stop your mouths.”
“That’s great, nubi certainly won’t fuss,” Mu Jin smiled as she walked back to Qu Qing Ju’s side to fan her. Qu Qing Ju looked towards the door to see Huang Yang run over as he wiped away his sweat. She couldn’t help but frown. Huang Yang wasn’t this helter-skelter usually. Did something happen?
“Wang fei, just now wang ye sent a message saying that he’s afraid he can’t return to the fu,” Huang Yang’s head was full of sweat, his clothing and his back was all wet and he gasped as he spoke.
“Pour Huang Yang a cup of cold tea,” Qu Qing Ju said with a grave expression, “Did something happen in the palace?”
Huang Yang usually did care for his impression in front of wang fei but the speed at which he drank tea was much faster than normal. After a bowl was drunk, he used his sleeve to wipe his mouth and narrated: “Ming He gonggong passed on that the Emperor suddenly fainted today at Court. All the taiyi on duty at the Imperial Hospital were summoned into the palace. Wang ye is there too. He was afraid that you would worry and specially sent a message for you.”
Was Qing De Emperor He meimei, that he would have an incident every few days? Qu Qing Ju frowned. She felt that He Heng was more proactive today than all the other times Qing De Emperor had been sick. Was it that this time, Qing De Emperor’s illness was dangerous?
Seeing a roomful of yahuan who didn’t dare speak, she said in a heavy tone: “Spread the news that before wang ye returns to the fu, the fu will not receive guests. Anyone who needs to manage an affair outside the fu must report to the stewards and register the time they left and the time they come back. Everything has to be recorded. If someone resists, throw them out of the wang fu.”
Huang Yang’s eyebrows jumped. He pushed down the fear in his heart: “Yes, this one will pass it on.”
After Huang Yang left, Mu Jin said uncertainly: “Wang fei, this matter … …”
“Fuhuang is a son of Heaven, he would be protected by the Heavens,” Qu Qing Ju held the spoon to take a sip of the lily silver tree-ear fungus Buddha fruit soup. With a calm face, she said, “Make sure the servants control their mouths. If I hear something that shouldn’t be said, everyone will be heavily punished.”
“Yes,” Mu Jin detected wang fei’s cautiousness and exchanged a glance with Yin Liu. She hurriedly left to start managing the other servants.
A bowl of lily silver tree-ear fungus Buddha soup was soon finished. Qu Qing Ju took out a handkerchief and slowly wiped her mouth clean. She stood to walk next to the bed. The winds had picked up, and thick clouds started to appear on the horizon. The sky was half light, half dark with clouds.
“Wang fei, nubi thinks that it is going to rain,” Yu Zan noticed the wind was too heavy and afraid that the window would block wang fei’s line of sight, reached out to hold the window. She looked at the horizon and gasped: “Such mighty winds and thick clouds. The rain won’t be small.”
Qu Qing Ju smiled: “No matter how heavy, after it comes down, it has to stop. We are inside, what is there to be afraid of?”
Staring at the thick clouds as they came closer, Qu Qing Ju’s brows furrowed. She kept feeling anxious inside.