Sunday, March 19, 2017

何为贤妻 (Being a Virtuous Wife) : Chapter 3.2 Prince of Duan

Side Consort Jiang  commented, "Your Highness, you have really humiliated Side Consort Feng. If His Highness know and blamed you than..."

"There's no need for you to worry," Qu Qing Ju interrupted laughingly with her gaze in the direction of the study, "His Highness is no ordinary person." Inwardly she added, "A man of his caliber would not bother himself over trivial matters."

As long as she was his Consort and did not do anything to damage the reputation and interest of the Prince of Duan, he would still give her respect that is due to a primary wife. Even if her paternal family did not care for her, her maternal uncle (brother of her mother) held the rank of a marquis and was also the Supreme Justice. His wife's father was the Minster of Defense. They did not have any daughters, only 2 sons. So they were very attentive towards their niece and her well-being. It was thanks to them that the original's mother's dowry was protected and conferred to her safely, else it would have long gone been squandered away.

Although the Prince of Duan might not need to depend on his Consort to accomplish great things, a person of his standing would never favor a concubine over the main wife. Every son of the emperor at this point of time was restless, and Prince of Duan was not an unambitious person.

That said, Qu Qing Ju was not the sort of person to live in discomfort. If life were to to be hard and unpleasant for the rest of her life, she would rather just jump into the pond and drown. How she would be treated if the Prince of Duan gained the throne was too much of a hassle for her brain to think. Who know what would happen in the future? Even if she was a generous and virtuous wife,

She wasn’t the type of person live in discomfort. If she really had to live in hardship and unpleasantness for her entire life, it would be better for her to just jump into a pond right now. As to how Duan Wang would treat her if he gained the throne? She was too lazy to think that much. Who knows what would happen in the future. Even if she was really virtuous and generous, it didn’t appear that this Duan Wang likes her very much.

Despite not understanding what the Prince Consort had said, Jin Zhan did not dare ask. She along with Mu Jin and the rest, walked Her Highness back to the Main Palace. When they arrived, the steward of the kitchen was already there waiting for them. 

The moment the kitchen steward saw the Prince Consort's entourage, he immediately approached with a formal bow, and blabbered a rushed list of explanations and requests for mercy.

How unlucky for them. Previously they had also sent the same food items to Her Highness, so there was no warning that Her Highness would erupt into a violent temper today of all days. If she had flared up earlier, it would not have been so bad. But now, even the eunuch serving His Highness, Ming He, came to berate them.

As a result of this episode, the original kitchen steward was discharged and he the current steward had been the assistant who saw an opportunity to be promoted. Wanting to start on the right foot, the new steward had arrived early to make amends and pave a smooth path for himself.

Qu Qing Ju glanced at the new steward: he seemed like a simple man who did not talk much and looked honest.  From his posture, he seemed obedient and docile, but to have become a steward in such a complicated Prince's residence, he was by no means simple. She was weary of his apologies and dismissed him, "I do not care what the kitchen is like, but if you are not attentive in the future, you need not bother to kneel here."

Upon hearing her decree, the steward nodded his head frantically and handed over a menu, which he emphasized was for her to select the dishes for today and the next day.

Not taking the menu, Qu Qing Ju simply smiled at the steward and said, "In the past, every was done according to protocol, so it would not be appropriate to order." 

In response, the steward immediately replied, "Reply Your Highness, while it is true that your food is mandated by protocols, it is still possible to order dishes. The messenger who delivered such a message must have said it wrongly." Inside his heart he was already cursing and swearing at the messenger for being an idiot and causing such a misunderstanding. 

Not wanting to hearing anymore nonsense from the steward, Qu Qing Ju consented and said, "Fine, I get it. I know you will be attentive. Yin Liu, hand me the menu."

With the menu in her hand, displayed before her was all the methods of cooking for every kind of dish. Qu Qing Ju picked a few dishes that she preferred and ordered, "In the morning, I do not like having greasy or heavy food. Other than that, the kitchen can prepare the meals as usual. If it meets my expectations, of course there will be rewards."

Feeling the weight of her words, the steward inwardly wondered, other than Her Highness herself who else would now what would suit her palate? While outside he repeatedly thanked and declared  that she was generous and compassionate. 

With the kitchen steward being sent off his way, Yin Liu massaged Qu Qing J's shoulder and expressed disgruntlement, "What a bunch of useless spineless cowards!" 

The pressure that Yin Liu applied was perfect. Qu Qing Ju leaned back leisurely on the recliner and replied smilingly, "There are many such people in this world. So it is not worth to get angry over an insignificant steward."

At this moment, Mu Jin entered the room with a goblet containing date and honey tea. She heard what the Prince Consort had said and agreed, "Your Highness is correct, this servant thinks that from now on there will no longer be any more  disrespectful and disobedient servants." 

Qu Qing Ju opened her eyes and sighed at the comment, "In the past, I thought the best of others but it is today that I have opened my eyes and decided to return goodness where it is due and evil for those who have done me injustice. That is the mantra of living in the Imperial family."

Placing the teacup on the redwood table Mu Jin smiled and pulled a thin blanket over Qu Qing Ju, "If Your Highness thinks in such a way it is a good thing." Amongst the first ranking maid servants, Mu Jin was the oldest. From the beginning, when the Madam had bought her and taken her into the residence, the little mistress was only a year old. Now this same little mistress had become a Prince Consort and she was over two decades old. She had always been adamant about not marrying, her only wish was to stay beside this little mistress and guard her. With this change, it was for the best.

Looking at Mu Jin, Qu Qing Ju recalled the meaning of her name. Mu Jin, it meant resolve. Such a name was appropriate for such a character. It was one of the good things the original was blessed with, this maid servant was one who always wanted what was best for her.  

Qu Qing Ju closed her eyes and assured, "Mu Jin's wish, I understand."

Mu Jin's eyes reddened with emotion but she smiled and blushed, "Your Highness words are embarrassing your maid servant." Once she finished, she covered her face and left. 

Meanwhile in the study, He Heng had closed a missive and was waiting for it to dissolve in a bowl of water. While waiting, he told Ming He, "Do not bother with what is happening in the south. Big brother and third younger brother are fighting fiercely. It would be better to watch from the sidelines." 

Ming He nodded in agreement. He saw the pieces of missive continuing to be dissolved in water before changing the topic," Your Highness, the kitchen servants have been reprimanded. The new steward seems to be quite smart. He already went to the main palace to ask for mercy."

Not paying much attention, He Heng nodded and concurred, "Madam Qu is this prince's wife. What she is due, she will be given." Recalling back to Qu Qing Ju's lively new appearance which was a contrast to her previous dull soft-spoken self, his brow slightly arched, "As to how she would perform in the future, we will have to wait and see."  

Ming He silently nodded. This matter was between the main masters of the residence. He was only a servant, hence he had no opinion. However, he sense that the Prince Consort of today was different from before and it was no just a change in wardrobe, but her personality. Being the main steward of the residence, he had seen the Prince Consort a few times before, but the feeling he had after he saw her today was... it gave him the impression that a little harmless gray bunny had transformed into a cunning female fox? 

Realizing that he was speculating about his masters, Ming He buried his head between his shoulders. Dear god ah... he should be punished.

Wednesday, March 08, 2017

何为贤妻 (Being a Virtuous Wife) : Chapter 3.1 Prince of Duan


From a distance, He Heng had noticed the entourage in the garden but they were too far away for him to identify them. Although he could not see very clearly, the movements of the woman at the front of the entourage seemed unfamiliar. 

“Ming He, can you see who is it?” He Heng questioned. He had just return from the royal courts and did not want to waste his energy dealing with a bunch of chattering women. Having said that, He Heng stopped his advancement and waited for a reply, his expression turning darker by the moment. 

Although Ming He was an eunuch, he dared not stare at his master’s women. Ming He squinted his eyes and took a quick glance look at the entourage in front before quickly lowering his gaze, “Your Highness, it seems to be the entourage of the Side Consorts, Consort Feng and Consort Jiang.” 

“Then who is that at the front of the entourage?”, He Heng asked as he squinted his eyes and tried to make out who it was. “She does not look familiar.” 

Upon hearing his master’s comments, Ming He raised his head again and took a look. The woman leading the entourage exuded an extraordinary aura and although he did not know what flowers had been embroidered on that wide-sleeved silk dress, it was captivating. It took him some moments to recognize who that silhouette was and hesitantly answered, “Maybe it is Her Highness, the Prince Consort?” 

Even though Ming He did not believe his eyes and what he was saying, who else other than the Prince Consort would dare walk in front of the Side Consorts? At the mention of Prince Consort, He Heng remembered that woman with a weak personality, whose father was the Duke of Chang De, and maternal uncle was the Xiang Qing Marquis and held the a high position in the Supreme Justice of the Court. With her upbringing, it was no wonder that there was little opposition when his royal consort mother chose this Madam Qu as his wife. 

Qu Qing Ju spotted a figure in the distance, one that the original feared - the Prince of Duan. Appearance wise the Prince of Duan was somewhere in his twenties. His stature tall and was posture good. The white robe he wore was edged in black and overlay with a white jade cornet, exuding the impression of a lofty personality who stood above others, a dragon among men.

As her entourage approached nearer, Qu Qing Ju noticed that although the Prince of Duan was smiling, there was no mirth in his eyes. When they had arrived where the Prince of Duan was Qu Qing Ju curtsied and smiled, "Greetings to Your Highness, have you just returned from the royal courts?"

He Heng's gaze landed on Qu Qing Ju delicate wrist which was a contrast against the blood red bracelet she was wearing, giving the illusion that it would break at the slightest touch. "Has my Prince Consort already recovered?"

"Yes, it is all thanks to Your Highness's good fortune," Qu Qing Ju smiled wryly as she used a handkerchief to wipe at the imaginary sweat on her forehead. "After this bout of illness and my weak body constitution, the imperial doctors had actually advised on a light diet. Who would have expected that the kitchen servants would only pay lip service and prepare greasy and oily foods, all of which are what the imperial doctors advised against. Hence, I was so angry that I punished them."

At the mention of the incident, Side Consort Jiang, Jiang Yong Yu, sneaked a peek at the Prince of Duan curious as what his reaction would be. What she saw was a nonchalant prince that did not react to the matter, as if it were something insignificant.

While He Heng did not care to bother himself with such insignificant details, he was surprised by his Prince Consort's boldness and being able to order the servants and actually managed to carry out a punishment.  He might not have any feelings towards this Prince Consort of his, but he would give her respect where it was due and would not embarrass her unnecessarily. She was after all, his main wife, and someone who was supposed to manage the household. So he nonchalantly concurred and replied, "Servants who are not faithful and obedient should be thrown out."

In response, Qu Qing Ju replied, "Your Highness's consideration is of great fortune to this wife." If she was correct, that the Prince of Duan had a personality of being ambitious and well-controlled. Before she transmigrated, in her previous life, Qu Qing Ju could have been considered a successful judge of character. So what kind of man had she not seen before? Besides, this Prince of Duan was not stunningly gorgeous in her eyes, so she couldn't care less. 

When He Heng saw that the other party had not intentions of continuing the conversation, he looked at the other women in the entourage. He noticed that although Consort Feng's face held a smile, it was stiff and it would seem that she had been insulted. He looked back to his Prince Consort, who lowered her head once his gaze was on her. 

In the end, He Heng only nodded his head and said, "Since you have recovered, it would be beneficial for your to have some exercise and fresh air outside." With that said he made his way back to his study room.

The moment He Heng left, Qu Qing Ju turned around and looked at Consort Feng wryly. She stretched out her right hand and tilted Consort Feng's chin upwards, and while rubbing the flawless chin, Qu Qing Ju used a gentle tone and said, "This face of Consort Feng, the more one looks at it, the more one seems to fall in love with it."

This movement made Consort Feng shudder and she retreated away from Qu Qing Ju. After touching Consort Feng's face, Qu Qing Ju used a handkerchief to wipe her thumb and index finger, the digits that were used to grasp and tilt Consort Feng's face. Once done she held on to Jin Zhan's hand be before she left, said, "That's ok. I am tired. You all may leave now."

Consort Feng looked at the handkerchief which had been used by Qu Qing Ju to wipe her hand after touching her face. It was now on the ground, 3 steps away from her, mocking her. Her smile was frozen in anger and humiliation. What made her angrier was that she was actually intimidated by the Prince Consort's gaze! How dare such a dull, timid woman treat her like this?!!

To make matters even more worse was that the other 3 concubines were actually laughing at her right now. Her expression darkened, her icy gaze swept across them, retorting, " What are you looking at? There is nothing to see. Leave immediately!."

The two lower ranked concubines curtsied to Consort Feng before leaving. However, before they could leave, Consort Jiang, Jiang Yong Yu, wanted to show her authority and magnanimity said, "Little sister concubines should return to your rooms early. I will take my leave first." Without a second glance to see Consort Feng's expression, Consort Jiang left. 

Gritting her teeth and mincing her words, Consort Feng stomped on the fallen handkerchief and exclaimed with a dark expression, "Qu Qing Ju!!"