Back in the Ming Dynasty, the government would erect memorial arches for chaste widows. They look something like
弱冠 – coming of age. This refers to the capping ceremony. When men come of age at 20, they wore their hair up in a bun and wore a special cap. Heres a . And now you know how old Tingye is 🙂
I no longer have Microsoft Word, and I gave up on copy-pasting dashes right in the middle of this chapter. If you see "–", just bear with it.
Also, such salt from the ukes.
The intricate music hung in the air, shattering the silence that gripped the night. Vivid notes flowed from the young womans pale, thin fingers. It brought to mind the poignant play of moonlight on water, the merry bubbling of a running stream. It brought to mind the sweet chime of jewelry on a , the gentle rustling of a breeze through a bamboo forest.
When the song ended, everyone was still. The young woman giggled and rose from her seat to make a deep curtsey. "Greetings, I am Jiang Zhaorou of Funan. Long live the emperor."
"Jiang Zhaorou The renown songstress of Funan" muttered Yan Ran while poking Shao Zitang, who was besides him.
"If shes not lying, then yes, thats the right Jiang Zhaorou."
"So its her then. I heard that this Jiang Zhaorou is a very proud woman. Many a rich merchant and nobleman in Funan would give a fortune to hear her play but a single song, but she spurns them all. She haughtily turns them away at the door, but it only incites more young noblemen to try," Yan Ran said, smiling, but there was a hint of ridicule in his eyes as he drained a cup of rice wine on the table.
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"No matter how proud, shes still just a whore. Theres no point in pretending to be noble and virtuous when youve fallen to prostitution. Her slender jade arm has been a thousand mens pillows, her vermillion lips have been tasted ten-thousand times. Is she hoping for a chastity memorial or something" Shao Zitang glanced at the charming woman still on the pavilion with loathing. He looked away quickly as if disgusted. "If shes so virtuous, then why does she act so seductive Playing qin Hah, I think shes not here to play qin, more like here to play men."
"Xiao Tangtang is right. Tsk tsk tsk, looks like Prince Ruis turning senile in his old age. Does he really think that by bringing this songstress to court, Our Majesty will be bewitched by such a vulgar little slut So naive. Even if Our Majesty liked women, theres plenty of noblewomen at court. Why would he fall for a tramp like her Even that girl from the State of Xia is better than her by...."
"Whats wrong" Shao Zitang was gratified by his rant, but he had no choice but to pipe up when Yan Ran suddenly stopped. He was a little baffled.
"Even though shes a weirdo, it looks like she isnt totally indifferent to Our Majesty. Look over there."
Shao Zitang looked suspiciously in the direction Yan Ran indicated. He was stunned. The girl nibbling on osmanthus cake besides Feng Tingye was glaring so hard at the slowly descending woman that her eyeballs were about to ignite.
It wasnt only Yan Ran who had noticed Xia Yuqings open glare, Feng Tingye had too. At first he was shocked, then he couldnt help but preen. Although she was always abusing him, somewhere in her heart, she still felt something for him. Tut tut tut, so she really does care about me. Look at that glare thats about to burn a hole through that amorous songstress. If so, then....
But in reality....
BIIITCH! She hated bitches! Especially the ones that acted all weak and pitiable, while hiding a bellyful of venom! Youre going to turn cross-eyed with all those flirtatious glances youre throwing! And Seme-sama! Sobsobsob, stop staring at that bitch! Your poor ukes are gonna cry! Theyll be heartbroken!
Prince Ruis gaze darted between Jiang Zhaorou and Feng Tingye, who was staring intensely at her. Delight flashed through his eyes. "Cough cough, Your Majesty...." He coughed lightly to caution Feng Tingye.
Feng Tingye glanced at the still kneeling Jiang Zhaorou again. He laughed, "Weve heard of Miss Zhaorou of Funans amazing qin skills, and now we see that its truly well-deserved. Rise. Someone, give her a seat."
Yan Ran was downing cup after cup of wine, when he heard Feng TIngye. A mouthful sprayed out. "Pfft—hahaha. Tingye that fellow is playing with fire: look at her face. We havent come tonight for nothing. This is going to be fun." Luckily, Shao Zitang dodged just in time. Otherwise, he would take revenge on Yan Ran.
Shao Zitang sneered at the wet stains and the glee of his compatriot. He narrowed his almond-shaped eyes, staring at Xia Yuqing. A sliver of interest flickered in his eyes.
"Thank you, Your Majesty." Jiang Zhaorou revealed a shy smile. As she got up, she even peeked bashfully at Feng Tingye in a super affectionate manner.
Bam—The maid serving wine watched in horror as Consort Qing, gnashing her teeth, singlehandedly snapped her ivory chopsticks. Sobsobsob, the world is such a scary place. I wanna go back to sweeping.
"Your Majesty, on my way back I passed through Funan and met Miss Zhaorou. She was so charming and considerate that I adopted her and brought her back to the capital, since Your Majesty still has no partner despite coming of age. I hoped that she would please Your Majesty, thus–"
"Your Highness Rui neednt have worried. His Majesty might not have hundreds of beauties for company, but he has me. Im not spectacularly beautiful, nor am I seductive, but I am the princess of a country. At the very least, I am presentable in public, no" Xia Yuqing chuckled coldly, standing. She glanced loftily at the bitch, who met her challenging stare silently. Dont take me for Hello Kitty just cause Im a pacifist! Imma beatcha at your own game today!
"You...." Prince Rui was stunned. He hadnt expected that Xia Yuqing would jump out and shame him. Just as he was about to reply, he was interrupted by her again.
"Your Highness, since you are my elder, I didnt want to argue with you. But I have no choice since this concerns the prestige of the imperial family. As His Majestys Third Uncle, your position is different from the rest of the imperial household. You are the representative of the imperial house, but you suddenly adopt a random whore as an imperial daughter. Those who hear of this brothel songstress rise into a junzhu of the State of Ye will laugh at Your Highnesss sappiness, and those who dont, well, theyll be lucky to not hear how ugly itll get. If this matter gets out, Im afraid it wont just harm the imperial familys prestige, but Your Highnesss reputation as well...."
Xia Yuqing watched as Prince Ruis handsome face abruptly sank. She continued, smiling, "Its because I cared that I risked the offense of going against my elders to warn Your Highness. Your Highness wont blame me, I hope"
"I..." Prince Rui was left tongue-tied and choking with rage.
"Your Highness...." Jiang Zhaorou had always been adored by her noblemen customers. Shed never experienced such humiliation before. Her eyes immediately reddened. She grabbed Prince Ruis sleeve, looking pitiable and pathetic.
Xia Yuqing glowered at her. She didnt want to put up with any more of her coquetry, so she decided to use her ultimate. She put on a selfless and refined smile and said, "Miss Jiang is indeed an exquisite beauty that puts me to shame, and as Your Highness says, charming and considerate. Unfortunately, His Majesty doesnt need her. Ive heard that in all your years on the battlefield, Your Highness has yet to find a lady love. Since Your Highness pities Miss Jiang so much, then let me borrow your words: since Your Highness has no partner, wouldnt this be the best of both worlds if you let Miss Jiang enter your household"
Everything became dead silent in the imperial gardens.