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Chapter One Hundred and Nine The Question of Trust
Qu Qing Ju’s recent days were extremely carefree. Everyday, she played with her son and ate delicious food. Her days were both easy and comfortable.
Today, when He Heng came to the rear hall, he saw his son wearing underwear as he struggled to wave his limbs on the bed, his neck toiling to raise itself up slightly before heavily falling down. It caused his mother to laugh out loud.
“What is this?” He Heng sat down at the edge of the bed, watching his son move his limbs like a turtle. The result was that he didn’t move an inch. But he didn’t throw a tantrum, only resolutely pushing his legs.
“Nothing, just letting him exercise his legs and neck,” Qu Qing Ju proficiently flipped her son around, dealing a slap on his butt. Seeing him smile widely at her, she bend down to kiss his cheek. Taking a talcum powder box from Mu Jin’s hands, she started to dust the powder to prevent rashes.
“The nursemaids can do this,” He Heng poked his son’s arms that were like lotus roots, “This brat does have a good temper.”
“My son takes after me,” Qu Qing Ju pulled out Tun Tun’s arms to powder in his armpits, “I can do these things. If I don’t care for my one son, why did I give birth to him?”
He Heng felt slightly upset for a bit. He looked with a complicated expression at the grinning fat infant on the bed and for a second, felt that his place in Qing Ju’s heart wouldn’t even compare to half a finger of his son,” Tomorrow is Tun Tun’s Hundred Day Ceremony. Do you have anything to add to the schedule I gave to you earlier?”
“It’s pretty good,” Qu Qing Ju carried Tun Tun into the arms of his nursemaid for her to bring him down to eat. After the nursemaid and others left, she commented, “But isn’t it too grand? It’s just supposed to just be a hundred day ceremony……”
“He’s the Imperial Eldest Son. His status is noble, there’s nothing wrong with grand,” He Heng understood Qu Qing Ju’s misgiving. He gathered the other into his arms, “After our other children are born, we’ll make it slightly less than their brother.”
“Alright,” Qu Qing Ju smiled. She didn’t seriously considered the vow-like words He Heng said. She knew that his words were sincere now, but it didn’t mean that she would believe the words would always be effective.
The time for the Hundred Day Ceremony of the Eldest Imperial Son had been chosen by the Imperial Astronomers, based on the birthdate characters of the Eldest Imperial Son and the celestial stars of the day. They had even examined the furnishings in the Luan He Hall to guarantee which time was the best time of the day and the most advantageous for the Eldest Imperial Son.
Qu Qing Ju wasn’t very knowledgeable about that kind of complicated matters, but from the preparation of Tun Tun’s Hundred Day Ceremony, it showed how much importance He Heng placed on the ceremony.
Personally putting her son into the “hundred day” clothes that the Empress Dowager had personally made for Tun Tun, she had heard that the cloth for this clothing had been sought by the Empress Dowager from many prosperous and healthy families. On closer look, it seemed that even the thread had come from more than a hundred families.
Touching the gourd peanuts and other designs embroidered on the hundred day clothes, Qu Qing Ju bent to lift up the still asleep Tun Tun, “Go, to Luan He Hall.”
Luan He Hall was the place used by the court only to hold large banquets, such as the coronation of an empress, or the crown prince. To use such a place for holding a Hundred Day Ceremony, it was enough to prove Tun Tun’s position.
In Luan He Hall, the people who should have arrived came. Everyone looked towards the entrance as they waited for the Empress to appear with the Eldest Imperial Son. But due to the fact that the Emperor and the two Empress Dowagers were present, their moves were very subtle.
When it was almost at the auspicious time, the guests finally heard the sound of the taijian making the announcement.
“Presenting the Empress, His Highness Imperial Son.”
The people rose and then knelt. What they then saw was a procession walk past on the red carpet, the pair of gold slippers walking at the front, embroidered with phoenixes in flight, were astoundingly magnificent.
Everyone then stood and then saw the Empress carrying His Highness Imperial Son sit down on the right side of the Emperor. She was wearing a heavy phoenix robe, her eyes bright, she was unspeakably beautiful.
Some people said after a woman gave birth, she then becomes a dried plum, sour and bland. But how the Empress looked, did she look as though she just gave birth?
Some people started to sigh. No wonder the Emperor was so infatuated. This kind of woman, placed in any home, was the kind to draw a man’s affections.
The Hundred Day Ceremony really wasn’t a complicated event. Since the child was still so young, who would invent a large heap of rituals to torture the child?
It was just the Emperor and Empress personally praying to the heavens for the child, and then personally putting on a “long life” lock and bracelet, to represent locking down the child’s life expectancy and good fortune. Then it was the two Empress Dowagers putting on the tiger shoes and tiger hat for the child and touching the top of the child’s head to represent the good wishes of the elders for the child. That was the end of it.
After the process, Tun Tun was carried down by the nursemaid. The two Empress Dowagers also left with them, leaving He Heng and Qu Qing Ju to partake in the banquet with the other people.
The names of the dishes on the banquet were all ones that were auspicious and good-sounding. The taste came second. But everyone still managed to decipher the significance placed by the Emperor on the Empress and the Eldest Imperial Son from the banquet.
No one dared to force the Emperor to drink, but they gave many compliments about the Eldest Imperial Son to the Emperor and Empress. This caused He Heng to feel good and he couldn’t resist drinking a few more cups.
Qu Qing Ju saw his state and was worried that he would get drunk. She got him to drink some soup to suppress the drunkenness, but after seeing how happy He Heng was, she felt that the soup wasn’t effective.
“Chen di toasts the Emperor, and wishes for Emperor and Empress to grow old together, and His Highness Imperial Son to be healthy and fortunate,” Just as the banquet was coming to an end, He Yuan raised a wine cup as he stood and said to He Heng, “Chen di will drink first.”
He Heng looked at He Yuan who had his cup raised high up, and raised up his own wine cup as he slowly stood, giving a small smile as he replied: “Many thanks san di.”
The brothers gave each other a smile, and threw their heads back to drink all of the wine.
Qu Qing Ju watched the two people and found that there wasn’t much mirth on either of their faces. She looked at the others sitting down under her. There was a height of nine stairs that separated her from the rest of the people and the gap between their places was even further.
As expected, He Heng was somewhat drunk after the banquet. Although his actions were no different from normal, but from his eyes and the tone of his voice, Qu Qing Ju detected that the other wasn’t clear-minded.
“Return to the rear hall,” When He Heng pulled Qu Qing Ju onto the Imperial Carriage, he didn’t forget to order Qian Chang Xin, “Make sure the nursemaid takes good care of the imperial son.”
The Imperial Carriage wasn’t fast or slow but moved at a very steady pace. Qu Qing Ju could only feel a slight sway. She gazed at the person next to her as she raised two fingers: “Emperor, how many?”
He Heng enclosed the two fingers she raised in his hand, smiling as he responded: “I’m not drunk, don’t worry.”
The palm of the other’s hand was slightly hot. Qu Qing Ju reached to touch his forehead, smiling helplessly as she said: “That’s good,” No drunk would say that he was drunk, just like those who committed many mistakes wouldn’t admit that they were wrong.
“You don’t believe me?” He Heng raised his head to look at her, his eyes bright. With a hint of poutiness and discontent, he added, “You always don’t believe me.”
“I believe you,” Qu Qing Ju saw his pout and smiled, reassuring, “You aren’t drunk, I didn’t say that I didn’t believe you, right?”
“Many times, you don’t believe me,” He Heng leaned his head on Qu Qing Ju’s chest, “I said that I would always treat you well, you didn’t believe; I said that I will only have you from now, you also didn’t believe; I said that in the future, I will only have you to have my children, you still doubt me. Why can’t you believe me?”
The hand that Qu Qing Ju had been running down He Heng’s back slightly stilled. She looked down at the man complaining to her, smiling gently a second later, declared: “Emperor, you think too much.”
“I didn’t think too much, I know very well,” Both of He Heng’s arms wrapped around her waist, tightly embracing her, “We still have decades in the future. One day, you will believe zhen’s words.”
His voice was already somewhat indistinct. Qu Qing Ju knew he was going to enter sleep soon. Like she comforted Tun Tun, she gently patted his back, murmuring: “There isn’t trust that has no reason. If Emperor wants me to believe, then always treat me well. Only time will tell.”
The man in her arms mumbled something Qu Qing Ju didn’t manage to catch. She only patted the man’s back, her expression calm and serene.
Outside the Imperial Carriage, Qian Chang Xin and Ming He didn’t seem to have heard the noise from inside. The two didn’t even exchange looks but the expression on their faces became much more solemn.
The eighth month was still hot. After He Heng was supported to the bed so he could sleep, Qu Qing Ju got the servants to move away the two ice basins in the room. Drunkenness and too much cold, it was a recipe for pain after waking up.
Taking the handkerchief that Mu Jin handed over to personally wipe He Heng’s face and hands, Qu Qing Ju said, “Let someone prepare the sobering tea. If the Emperor wakes up, he needs to drink it.”
Yin Liu soundlessly went out. The others also detected that the Empress seemed amiss, but they didn’t know what had happened. But no one dared to needlessly ask, putting more care as they served.
When He Heng woke, the sun was setting. He rubbed his aching head as he sat up in the bed. From a look, he recognized that it was Qu Qing Ju’s bedroom. After thinking for a long while, he still couldn’t recall how he had laid down on the bed.
“Emperor’s awake?” A blue and white teacup was held in front of him, “Drink the sobering tea.”
He raised his head to look at Qu Qing Ju. The sun’s rays pierced through the window to spill onto her body. Due to the backlighting, he couldn’t make out the expression of her face, but he was strangely confident that the other was smiling now.
Maybe it was that confidence that had him obediently take the teacup and drain down the entire cup of nasty-tasting sobering tea. After that, he rubbed his throat, asking: “It’s already this late?”
“Yes, you drank a bit too much at the banquet,” Qu Qing Ju took the empty cup from his hand, “I got the kitchen to prepare some light dishes. Come up and eat some.”
He Heng dressed into his robes. He still felt this head was dizzy. He furrowed his brows as he looked around the room, discontentedly barking: “Where did all the servants go? How can they let you stay in the room alone?”
“You don’t count as a person?” Qu Qing Ju glared at him, “You were in a deep sleep so I made them all leave, rather than have them disturb you.”
He Heng became refreshed once Qu Qing Ju glared at him. Then he thought suspiciously, something wasn’t right, were Qing Ju’s eyes, as they looked at him, slightly warmer?
Was it that he still wasn’t completely awake or did he wake up the wrong way?