This chapter has been brought to you by me and Adnana.
Chapter 10: Older Sister
The weather in the fortnight after the earthquake was not good—the days were either rainy or cloudy. The court worried that the people would become ill from drinking contaminated water. They sent patrols each day through the streets to tell people to boil water before drinking and not to kill their entire family just to save on wood.
The Ministry of Works also sent people to spread quicklime everywhere, and put up notices with preventative measures. They even set hard rules on what things people could do or not do.
Fortunately, this was in Jing. No official dared to slack off and put people who had diarrhea or a fever to the side to die. They were all sent to a remote and quiet place in the suburbs with free medicine to drink each day. Many people survived.
The heated post-disaster arrangements in Jing gained the young emperor even more popularity. In the eyes of the ordinary people, he clearly was a benevolent and virtuous ruler who was far beyond the previous emperor.
The ordinary people of the Feng Dynasty were practical. They would praise without sparing any effort whoever was good to them.
The young emperor benefited the most in this matter. Gu Chang Ling, as the person who dared to speak, also had his reputation rise greatly; in the eyes of the ordinary people, he became a good official who dared to take risks for the lives of the people. In the eyes of the scholars, he was the representative person for noble and upright conduct.
In the eyes of the aristocratic families… The aristocratic families thought they were extremely depressed. They had no effort to spare to consider this matter where someone obtained glory while they had bad luck.
So when the news of the second daughter of Gu Chang Ling being titled a county mistress spread, no one was surprised. They all felt that this should be so. A fortnight later, Gu Chang Ling’s second-rank marquis was elevated to first-rank marquis. His wife was also elevated to commandery lady. The Gu Clan enjoyed great glory in Jing at this time.
Many people admired and were jealous of the Gu Family. But then they thought, if they encountered this matter, they may not have the bravery Gu Chang Ling had to report it. So the admiration gradually became respect. Other people could do something you could not. Could you refute it and be jealous?
Perhaps there were people who were jealous, but as Gu Chang Ling was deeply respected by the ordinary people right now, no one would express any discontent with the Gu Family. They had to publicly express their admiration of Gu Chang Ling’s virtuous action to show that they were as upright as Gu Chang Ling.
The nobility and aristocratic families always had an upright and noble image. So through their possibly sincere or not compliments, Gu Chang Ling’s label of being a “good official” was almost completely nailed down.
The aristocratic families paid attention to their honour the most. Gu Chang Ling having such a good reputation seemed to have lifted up the image of all Gu Family members.
As Jing recovered its former glory and prosperity, Gu Ru Jiu’s older sister, Gu Pan Qi, came back to her paternal home with her husband.
Hearing her older sister had returned, Gu Ru Jiu changed outfits before she left her courtyard. When she entered the main yard, she heard laughter coming out of the room. She quickened her steps and entered the room. She did not bow to her parents, brothers and their wives before she walked towards Gu Pan Qi.
“Older Sister.” Lifting her dress slightly, Gu Ru Jiu trotted towards Gu Pan Qi. Her gaze quickly scanned the other from head to toe. Then she turned and bowed to Zhang Shao who was sitting next to Gu Zhi Yu. “Greetings, Older Brother-in-law.”
“Greetings, Younger Sister-in-law.” Zhang Shao stood to return the bow, and also gave a gift to Gu Ru Jiu.
“Thank you, Brother-in-law, Sister.” Gu Ru Jiu took over the gift box and sat next to Gu Pan Qi. She whispered, “Sister, are you well?”
Gu Pan Qi’s eyes contained a smile and she nodded minutely. “The Zhang Family has been good to me, and your brother-in-law is a gentle person. Do not worry for me.” She and her younger sister were extremely close. When she had gotten married, she saw her sister, who did not like to cry, had red eyes and a red nose.
After she arrived at the Zhang Family, she constantly worried that her younger sister’s servant girls were not meticulous enough, that her younger sister would be lonely without her company, even though she knew that she did not need to worry so. But Jiu Jiu was her only younger sister, and Jiu Jiu only had this one older sister. How could she not worry?
“I am reassured seeing Sister like this.” Gu Ru Jiu did not speak falsely. The status of men and women in the Feng Dynasty was not as harsh as in the Ming and Qing Dynasties of her previous life, but still the status of women could not reach that of men. If the Zhang Family mother-in-law was a harsh person, her brother-in-law not considerate enough, and the other sisters-in-law not harmonious, these would all influence the quality of the marriage.
“You are a half-grown child. What are you doing worrying about such things?” Gu Pan Qi saw Gu Ru Jiu acting like an adult and laughed. “Is your sister someone who would be bullied and not say a thing?”
Gu Pan Qi was certain if the Zhang Family dared to treat her badly, her parents and brothers would take other people along to smash the Zhang Family’s doors, and not allow her to be bullied in the Zhang Family.
With such family members behind her, what did she have to fear?
Gu Ru Jiu covered her mouth and laughed. Her older sister looked gentle as water, but her personality was not like that. It could be seen that the saying “one’s appearance reflects one’s personality” was not always correct.
Yang shi saw her two daughters speaking secretly in the corner. Taking advantage of her movement in raising her cup to drink tea, she observed her son-in-law’s response. Seeing Zhang Shao showing no displeasure, and even some tolerance, she nodded in satisfaction.
It seemed that the decision to agree to the Zhang Family’s proposal was correct. Whether a couple had good relations could be seen from their eyes.
“Father-in-law told this son-in-law before the earthquake, and so this son-in-law’s family managed to avoid the calamity. This son-in-law is extremely grateful and cannot repay the favour.” Zhang Shao greatly respected his father-in-law Gu Chang Ling, as much as a husband who married in.
“While you are half my son, in my eyes, you are the same as my children. It is natural for a father to tell his sons earlier. What is there to be grateful about?” Gu Chang Ling waved a hand and said, “If you say more about this, you place yourself an outsider.”
Zhang Shao heard this. His eyes turned red with emotion and he could no longer say words of gratefulness. But after eating and drinking tea, Gu Ru Jiu discovered that her brother-in-law did respect her father like his own father.
It appeared in her brother-in-law’s eyes, her father’s status was not low.
Zhang Shao accompanied Gu Pan Qi to stay in the Gu Family until dusk before leaving. Gu Ru Jiu watched as her brother-in-law held her older sister’s hand to board the carriage to leave, and gave a smile.
She was reassured that her older sister was living with happiness.
Zhang Shao and Gu Pan Qi had visited to see the family and also to express the Zhang Family’s gratitude to Gu Chang Ling.
Before the earthquake, Gu Chang Ling had sent servants to tell the Zhang Family. The Zhang Family had not quite believed it, but to give their in-laws face, they had made some preparations.
Who knew that these preparations saved the Zhang Family. No one in their family died, and even the important items in their residence were basically protected. They knew just how great this favour was. So the old master of the Zhang Family had sent husband and wife on this trip with intentions for the two families to be closer in the future.
Time passed quickly. Summer left and winter came. After the new year was the spring of another year.
When the spring returned and flowers bloomed, the young masters and misses of the aristocratic families liked this time because they had countless novel activities to do.
Gu Ru Jiu would receive many invitations each year at this time, but this year’s invitations were clearly many more than usual.
Flipping through the drawn flower invitations in her hand, Gu Ru Jiu smiled. The Sima Family was inviting her to an estate in the suburbs to ride horses and view the flowers. She naturally would not refuse. She wrote a hand-written reply to deliver to Sima Ling. Gu Ru Jiu played with the refined invitation in her hand and recalled what the empress dowager had told her in the last few days.
The Sima Family had great intentions.
What did they want? Just the position of the empress and future status.
An emperor who was so decisive at the age of thirteen would allow himself to fall for the Sima Family’s scheme?
The Sima Family themselves probably also knew, so they were so constrained but were also unwilling to give up.
Translator Ramblings: One of the names you can call your father in law is Mount Tai. The origins are pretty funny and you can find it online. Calling your father-in-law a mountain is pretty special.