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Chapter 8: Rejoice
In front of a natural disaster, humans were minuscule. Aristocratic families and ordinary people would receive equal treatment in front of these disasters.
The violent movement did not stop due to the cries on the earth. The shaking increased in a destructive manner, as though sky and earth would flip upside down.
The people seemed to hear the roar under the ground. The terrifying sound caused many people who had fled outside to kneel on the ground and cry to the heavens to spare them.
The shaking finally stopped, whether it was due to the tiredness of the earth dragon or the prayers of the people. But some not so secure buildings had become ruins, and the cries for friends and relatives came from all over.
After the terrifying movement, the common people had lost some wealth, but they were filled with gratefulness towards the emperor. If the emperor was not benevolent and virtuous so the ancestors sent a warning, they would likely have been smashed to death in their sleep by the falling house beams. They would not have been able to survive, and even protect their important assets.
No one knew who first shouted “Long live the emperor,” but the call caused numerous common people to kowtow in the direction of the imperial palace. They desired to set up a monument to the emperor. For the common people who innately revered the imperial house, the emperor being only thirteen years old was not important.
They did not care how young or old, ugly or beautiful the emperor was. In any case, the emperor received a dream from the ancestors just after taking the throne, and the people of Jing escaped a calamity. This showed that the emperor was a wise ruler.
Compared to the ordinary people who listened to the court and left their houses, some of the aristocratic families in Jing were not so lucky. From the bottom of their hearts, they thought nothing of the young emperor, so they thought the earthquake was just frightening words to scare people.
As a result, they were woken up from their dreams by the shaking of the earth. While most people escaped under the protection of their faithful servants, there were some who died, and there were innumerable damages to their property.
The Sima Family also had great losses. The members of the third branch looked at the messy residence with lingering fear.
Sima Ling, who stood in the middle of everyone, had tear tracks on her face, her hair a mess. She had none of her usual cold and pride. Sima Xiang, who was soothing her softly, was not much better off. Her hair was a mess, and her clothes were dusty. She was unspeakably dishevelled.
The Sima Family had no place where to voice their complaints. While they were the young emperor’s maternal family, they were not very close to the young emperor and did not have a good outlook on his rule. So in the last half year, they had remained distant as subject and ruler without any hint of feeling.
Even more importantly, the young emperor seemed to be closer to the new nobility and the aristocratic families who were not especially prestigious. This displeased them even more. They did not care too much about the earthquake warning this time. This place was the prosperous location for several dynasties and in the last millennium, there had been no record of earthquakes. Would the earth move just because you say so?
The young emperor had an inexplicable dream, and after being fawned upon by the Gu Family, he took it as true. Rashly putting out such notices was to make people panic.
The Li Family had the same thoughts as the Sima Family. Influenced by the two families, several other families had not moved, so they were the families that suffered the great losses in this disaster.
In the end, before they had time to mourn, people from the palace came. They said that after the earth movement, it was feared that the earth dragon would still not go back to sleep, and hoped that the ladies and gentlemen would be careful.
The major aristocratic families that had dismissed the young emperor’s words now turned back to look at their disordered residences. They obediently had servants build huts and sorrily went inside.
As expected, the earth shook a few more times in the following days, with varying intensities. No one dared to sleep in peace. Any vibration would cause them to wake up from their dreams.
Fortunately, because preventative measures had been taken and the disaster limited to Jing’s general area, not many people were killed; just some buildings had collapsed and there was minor property damage. Fortunately, the Feng Dynasty’s treasury did not lack money. After a general accounting, the Ministry of Revenue quickly sent the first disaster relief funds.
This action won the young emperor a lot of people’s hearts. Due to this, he gained the right to speak in court, whether it was because he had the people’s hearts or because the court officials, in their fright, believed greatly that the Jin Family ancestor had sent a dream.
The people of the present were still deeply reverent of ghosts and gods. Even though many scholars said they did not believe in gods, they still revered their own ancestors.
After Gu Chang Ling went into the palace with the “Record of Fantasies,” Gu Ru Jiu had not seen him at all. She only saw him after the aftershocks had faded, and she was riding back to the city with her mother, brothers and their wives. He was waiting for them at the city gates.
After a few days of repairs, the city of Jing was no longer in disorder after the disaster had struck. While the passersby on the streets were fewer than usual, the usual order had recovered. Vendors peddled their wares on the streets, and their items were piled up on the stalls.
Seeing this scene, Gu Ru Jiu sighed inwardly in relief. Fortunately, this emperor was not an indecisive person. If her father had encountered a cowardly emperor, then the consequences of this natural disaster would have been unpredictable.
Thank heavens her father had good judgement of people. This young emperor was one who dared to gamble and put the safety of the people first.
If this had been the previous emperor, her father may not have had such a smooth time on this matter.
The buildings of the Count of Ningping’s Residence were not greatly damaged. While some items had been damaged, they had taken the valuable items with them, so they could go back to living in the rooms after a minor cleanup.
“The people from the Ministry of Works have already come. Our residence is safe to live in.” Gu Chang Ling’s tired face showed a smile once he saw his wife and children. He spoke of his arrangements in the last few days as he led everyone into the rooms.
“Daddy, when I was entering the city just now, I seemed to see the insignia of our family and of other aristocratic families at the rice providing place.” Gu Ru Jiu pulled Gu Chang Ling’s sleeve as she stepped over the tall door sill. “Are we providing food to the people for free?”
“Jiu Jiu is so smart.” Gu Chang Ling looked at his daughter and felt that she was an auspicious star. If not for his daughter reminding him this time, he feared he would not have thought about the earth moving. “Our family and the other families, because we were prepared, did not suffer much damage. Providing rice and porridge is to accumulate merit for our descendants.”
“Yes.” Gu Ru Jiu nodded seriously. She said in a sweet voice, “Daddy is a good person.”
Gu Chang Ling was clearly very happy to receive a compliment from his daughter. He bent down and picked her up, having Gu Ru Jiu sit on the crook of his arm. Then he said laughingly, “Tomorrow, Daddy will take you into the palace to see the empress dowager and the emperor.” He did not tell his daughter that the empress dowager and the emperor already knew that he had only searched for the “Record of Fantasies” after she warned him.
“I have to meet even the emperor?” It was embarrassing to speak of. She had entered the place several times this last half year but she hadn’t even seen the emperor’s appearance.
The first time, the emperor had been in his imperial cart. The second time, he had been on the bed with the coverings down. She had no luck to see the true appearance of the beautiful young man.
“She is so old now. How does it look when you carry her?” Yang shi was exasperated and amused. “Put her down.”
“Etiquette is performed for other people. With one’s family members, we should do what is most comfortable.” Gu Chang Ling argued righteously. “I am willing to spoil my own daughter. No one can say anything.”
Gu Ru Jiu laughed and leaned against Gu Chang Ling’s shoulder. Yang shi saw her daughter’s rosy face, and could not keep her stern expression. She also showed a hint of a smile.
In Qiankun Palace, Jin Yang finished the last stroke, put down the brush and examined it for a long time. He still felt this did not have much of Teacher Gu’s style, so he shook his head in helplessness.
“Bai Xian.” He beckoned to Bai Xian. “Have you seen Official Gu’s daughter before?” Teacher Gu was his most respected teacher. He should give some care to his teacher’s daughter. A few days ago, Mother-Empress wanted to ennoble Teacher Gu’s second daughter as a county mistress. Taking advantage of the great merit that Teacher Gu performed this time, he could give great rewards.
“Your Majesty, this servant has never seen the women of the Gu Family and has only heard that after the eldest daughter of Marquis Gu married into the Zhang Family last year, they have had a happy marriage. The second daughter is ten years old, gentle, and greatly loved by Marquis Gu. Even the empress dowager likes Second Miss Gu greatly, so she is frequently summoned into the palace to accompany.” Bai Xian paused and said, “Only that time half a year ago, when Second Miss Gu’s carriage and your imperial cart met on the palace streets, this servant accidentally looked. She is adorable and spirited. No wonder Marquis Gu treats her preciously. Even the two young masters are not as favoured by her parents.”
Hearing Bai Xian mention half a year ago, Jin Yang thought of the young girl he had encountered standing on the palace streets with her head lowered. He still remembered the plain silver hairpins in her hair, and her face half-covered by her hair.
Had that young girl been Teacher Gu’s daughter?
Translator Ramblings: Someone asked me how the ranks go.
Males, usually of royal blood, are “princes”/”kings” and rank behind the emperor. The highest rank is qinwang, or king, and usually have an entire prefecture/province to rule or receive taxes from depending on the dynasty. One level lower are the junwang or commandery princes. There are rare cases when men of non-royal blood become kings.
For most males, the rank goes from duke, marquis, count, viscount to baron in terms of precedence. Women mostly take their titles from their husband, or their sons if their sons receive a title.
I’m not sure of the exact inheritance rules for titles, which depend on the dynasty, but generally speaking, titles are bestowed and kept at that rank for a certain number of generations. After that, the title is either gone, or demoted. So a viscount title will gradually become a baron title as it is passed down for a number of generations.
Women can get their own titles, usually daughters of kings. Sisters of the emperor are sometimes titled as “grand princess”. Otherwise, the ranks are generally princess, commandery princess, commandery lady, county lady and village lady. These may be courtesy titles, or the woman may receive an allowance. I don’t think these titles are ever passed down to daughters.