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Chapter 12: Accident
Among the aristocratic family misses that were skilled in the literary and martial arts, Gu Ru Jiu’s riding was not good but not bad. In races, she would never win but would not be the last. She would always be in the middle, not eye-catching but would not be dismissed by others.
However, everyone knew that the Gu Family’s ancestors came from the Qingyuan Province and were not soldiers. So many aristocratic misses were deeply moved inwardly by Gu Ru Jiu’s excellent riding skills. The madams who had sons of suitable age in their homes had thoughts long ago and put Gu Ru Jiu on the lists of candidates for marriage.
Gu Chang Ling’s branch was the main branch of the Qingyuan Province Gu Clan. A century ago, when the Gu Family was in decline, brothers from the main branch came to the capital to develop. Due to this, the Gu Family managed to reverse their fall and establish themselves in Jing.
In reality, there were many branches of aristocratic families in Jing that were like the Gu Family’s ancestors. They had all moved from their homelands to Jing for fame and benefit. However, not all aristocratic families were as fortunate as the Gu Family. Some of them had returned to their original homes defeated, and maintained the dignity of an aristocratic family there. Others gradually went into decline, and their names were removed from the register of aristocratic families in the end.
Gu Chang Ling being able to forewarn of Jing’s earthquake was enough to leave behind a mark on the history books. How many other people in the world were able to predict disasters? Gu Chang Ling managed to do it and save tens of thousands of people in Jing from a disaster. In the future, even if the Gu Family did not have any capable and virtuous person appear, as long as nothing was wrong with their heads and they did things they should not, they could live well in the next few decades.
Due to this, the Gu Family was a good family to form a marriage relationship with. The pity was that three of Marquis Gu’s four children were married. Only the youngest daughter was still not of age.
A young girl of twelve could look for marriage matches ahead of time, but the Gu Family seemed to not even remember this matter. Even if someone came to their home regarding this, the matriarch of the Gu Family, Yang shi, deflected the matter. Even when Yang shi‘s family came to test the waters, she did not agree.
There had long been rumors that Gu Chang Ling favored his youngest daughter among his children. This appeared to be true. A few days ago, when the Li Family entrusted someone to ask, the Gu Family had not agreed.
The Li Family was ranked equal to the Sima Family. If some other family had received a request from the Li Family, they would have happily agreed a long time ago.
Because of this incident, when the second young master of the Li Family, Li Huai Gu, appeared, many people wanted to watch and see if something would happen.
But with the family education of the Li and Gu Families, would they do something that shamed their status in public?
“Miss Gu.” Li Huai Gu sat with dignity on horseback and exchanged a greeting with Gu Ru Jiu with a smile. “Have you been well recently?”
“Young Master Gu.” Gu Ru Jiu returned the smile and softly patted her horse’s head. The horse stopped moving and appeared extremely intelligent. “Pretty well.”
Li Huai Gu saw her horse stop obediently when she touched its head. His eyes smiled. “This is a good horse.” He wanted to say, only a good master could make a horse so smart.
Gu Ru Jiu was happy that her horse was complimented, and her smile grew more evident. Hearing the sound of hooves behind her, she looked back. Several young masters of aristocratic families were racing madly, but the group slowed down after seeing the two of them.
The young masters did not quite understand Li Huai Gu’s way of thinking. This girl from the Gu Family looked all right, but what was the interest in an appearance like a soft and tender rice ball? In their view, the girls of the Sima Family were stunning, and the misses of the Li Family were dazzling.
They also liked girls like Gu Ru Jiu. Who did not like young children that looked soft and white? But this kind of affection was not one between a man and a woman. People would be embarrassed to have such feelings. It would be beastly to have perverted thoughts about this kind of girl.
So they were very surprised at Li Huai Gu having such thoughts towards Gu Ru Jiu. They had not expected the second master of the Gu Family to have such special tastes.
Li Huai Gu saw these aristocratic family young masters stop and exchanged greetings with them. After he said a few words to them, Gu Ru Jiu had travelled a distance away on her horse. He looked at the people of similar age around him and did not follow after a moment of hesitation.
Yang Wen Ji was Yang Xi Xue’s elder brother, and also Gu Ru Jiu’s male cousin. He saw this scene from nearby and shook his head. Even if this Li Huai Gu had thoughts towards his Gu Cousin, they were not many. Otherwise, he would have followed.
As a man, why be so reserved in front of the girl he thought about? Being too reserved meant that the feelings were not very deep.
Zhang Yu Qin and Yang Xi Xue had been waiting ahead. Once Gu Ru Jiu caught up, the two smiled at Gu Ru Jiu.
The two did not ask Gu Ru Jiu about Li Huai Gu. In their view, Gu Ru Jiu and Li Huai Gu were not suited for each other. They hoped that Jiu Jiu would find someone that had a strong personality and was willing to keep her protected. Li Huai Gu was not the best choice. They were curious, but because they worried if they mentioned this person to Jiu Jiu, Jiu Jiu would have thoughts she would never have otherwise, they did not ask.
The trio were not competitive people, so they slowly followed being the main group. They chatted, street rumours, jewelry, clothing, food, and matters of other families all within the range of their conversation.
“I heard a few days ago the eldest son of the Count of Zhongcheng was beaten up,” Zhang Yu Qin whispered. “He was too embarrassed to even go to court.”
The Count of Zhongcheng, Wei Ding Zu, was new nobility. Back when the previous emperor had been alive, because he had been skilled at obtaining the emperor’s favour, he had been titled a third rank count.
But even though the Wei Family had a third rank count title, the aristocratic families did not like to pay attention to the family. No one would invite them to the gatherings of young masters and misses from the aristocratic families. The aristocratic families would exclude the new nobility slightly, but there were many new nobility in the court. Even if the aristocratic families were not very friendly, they would not usually exclude the new nobility like the Wei Family.
This was because the Wei Family was so disgusting in their conduct. During the time of the previous emperor, they had done many dishonourable things because they had a daughter who was a noble consort. Wei Ding Zu’s original name had been Wei Fu Bao. After being titled a third rank count due to his daughter being a noble consort, he thought he had brought honour to his ancestors. Consequently, he shamelessly changed his name to Ding Zu. The aristocratic families had been stunned by his self-confidence.
Disregarding the name change, he also let in many people into his rooms. Many people outside knew of how he favoured concubines.
Any aristocratic family that wanted to have face would not have a group of concubines. They would even not easily have any bedwarmers. Was the reputation of being lusty a good one to have?
Even the scholars who thought themselves romantic and had female confidants, would they bring those people into the home? This kind of scholar would be placed in the category of acceptable scholarly talent but of low virtue by the aristocratic families.
“What did the eldest son of the Wei Family do?” Yang Xi Xue asked curiously. No wonder she was asking this. The eldest son of the Wei Family had gotten worse over the years. He must have been the first one to commit the offence for him to be beaten up. So when Yang Xi Xue heard Zhang Yu Qin’s words, she first asked what the eldest son of the Wei Family had done, and not who beat him up. From this, it could be seen that the Wei Family members had no good reputation among the aristocratic families.
“What else could he have done? Taken a concubine behind his wife’s back.” Zhang Yu Qin’s tone was filled with disdain. “I heard that his wife chased him out of the gates with a knife and into the street. They are talking about separation right now.”
“Such a man deserves to be killed.” Yang Xi Xue snorted. “The Wei Family still thinks this is the time of the previous emperor.”
When they said this, they remembered that Jiu Jiu’s father was the emperor’s teacher, so they glanced at Gu Ru Jiu and stopped gossiping about the imperial family.
Gu Ru Jiu had been listening with interest. Seeing the two stop, she said, “The Dowager Noble Consort Wei has no children. Fortunately, the empress dowager is kind and generous to let her live out her days in the palace. But she, as the dowager noble consort, has not taught her family well. She fails the empress dowager’s grace.”
Zhang Yu Qin and Yang Xi Xue were stunned. Yes, with the Wei Family making trouble like this, wasn’t that a reason for the empress dowager to teach Dowager Noble Consort Wei a lesson? Who didn’t know that Dowager Noble Consort Wei, in the past, dared to show off in front of the empress dowager due to her youth and beauty? Who knew which corner she was in now regretting her actions.
But… why would Jiu Jiu think of these things?
The two of them looked over and saw Gu Ru Jiu’s innocent face. They couldn’t help but think, maybe Jiu Jiu had just randomly said this and didn’t think too much of it?
As the three of them gossiped about the Wei Family, an accident occurred on the racecourse.
This time was the flowering period and there were many insects such as butterflies and bees. A bee that had flown out of a flower had startled the horse of a miss from the Li Family and caused her to fall from her horse. The miss from the Sima Family chasing behind her was also affected and also fell due to the horse ahead, her head hitting the ground and her neck broken.
Gu Ru Jiu looked dazedly as the stewards of the racecourse ran around. She was slightly dazed and forgot to demount her horse.
“Jiu Jiu.” Yang Xi Xue saw that her expression was not right. Similarly pale, she grabbed Gu Ru Jiu’s hand. “Don’t be afraid.”
Steward Zhao was in a cold sweat, his calves trembling and on the verge of fainting. But he could not faint now. He had to send people to report to his superior and arrange the matters of the racecourse.
A miss from the Sima Family broke her neck and died immediately. The miss from the Li Family, before the doctor could arrive, also passed away. Misses from the two most prestigious aristocratic families lost their lives. His life was finished. He had nothing to ask right now but for this not to impact his family.
“You are the steward here?” A miss riding a short white horse suddenly appeared in front of him. She had a pleasing voice. “Send someone to keep watch over the horses in the racecourse so they will not harm others.”
Hearing this miss’ words, Steward Zhao’s originally despairing emotions recovered slightly. He looked up daringly at the miss on the horse and, in surprise, felt that he was seeing one of the immortal children of the goddess.
This miss was beautiful and exquisite all over. Steward Zhao did not dare to look again.
“This lowly official greets County Mistress Gu.” Coincidentally, the people sent by the Office of Imperial Horsemen arrived then. The lead glanced at Steward Zhao before dismounting his horse and bowing to the miss.
Steward Zhao immediately realized. No wonder she looked so noble; she was a county mistress.
“Officials are conducting matters, and this young girl shall not disturb you. Officials, at your ease.” While Steward Zhao’s head was bent down, he still felt that this county mistress seemed to glance at him.
“This steward looks to be reliable. Have him take people to settle the disturbed horses.”
With such simple words, Steward Zhao was saved from becoming a sacrifice in this undeserved calamity.
Translator Ramblings: For some reason, I think this is the earliest occurring death in the author’s novels. Hua Xi Wan and Qu Qing Ju didn’t have deaths occurring until later in their stories, or maybe I forgot.