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Chapter 13: Life and Death
Worried for his sister and cousin, Yang Wen Ji did not stay together with his good friends and searched for the figures of Yang Xi Xue and Gu Ru Jiu on horseback. Seeing the two of them in the corner with other young misses, he hurriedly dismounted and ran over. “Sister.”
Yang Xi Xue saw him coming over, and moved to welcome him as it was not appropriate for her older brother to stay with young girls. “Big Brother, how did you come over?”
“Are you all right?” Yang Wen Ji examined her, and then looked at Gu Ru Jiu and Zhang Yu Qin. Seeing the three still with spirit, even though their expressions were not well, he was reassured and said, “The Sima and Li family elders are coming over. People from the Court of Judicial Review and the Ministry of Justice are also arriving.” The underlying meaning was that they could not leave soon.
Those present were all spoiled young masters and misses. They were already extremely anxious after seeing someone of their age die in a fall. Now that the Court of Judicial Review and the Ministry of Justice were not letting them leave, while they did not show anything in their expressions, they were slightly displeased.
The Sima Family had arranged this place, and brought their own horses. Sima Ling had been the one to suggest racing horses. Now that there had been a fatal accident, the Sima Family did not suspect their own miss, and had the Court of Judicial Review and the Ministry of Justice keep them here?
Was they under suspicion?
So what if the Sima and Li families were top-tier aristocratic families? There were so many of them here they might outweigh the two families.
The officials of the Court of Judicial Review and the Ministry of Justice were at pains. They had inspected the crime scene, and there had been nothing suspicious. When they inspected the spot where the two horses had fallen and broken their legs, they had not found any man-made marks. In the face of the Sima and Li family’s pressuring attitudes, they could only muddle through as they tried to comfort the young masters and misses of other aristocratic families. What was this?
Sima Ling, as the person under most attention in this matter, appeared blank and bewildered. She looked at her sobbing second aunt and her second uncle who had an expression of sorrow. She opened her mouth but didn’t know what to say.
Second Female Cousin had a competitive personality. Usually, at home, if it was not anything important, she was willing to let the other win. She knew that Second Cousin wanted to compete for first against the miss from the Li family. But who knew that an accident like this would happen?
Three misses from the Sima Family had come to the gathering today. But Second Cousin did not like being together with Third Cousin Sima Xiang. She had been worried that Little Xiang would be ill at ease since she only came to Jing half a year ago and deliberately rode together with her. Who knew that in this span of time…
When Li Wu shi came in a carriage, she heard the sobs of the second madam of the Sima Family. She looked hatefully at the Li family with red-rimmed eyes and walked towards her pale-faced son.
“Huai Gu, your sister…” Li Wu shi could not continue. She took out her handkerchief to cover her face and sobbed. She appeared much sadder than the second lady of the Sima Family. Even the officials from the Ministry of Justice felt some sympathy for her.
By now, other than the Sima and Li families, the other aristocratic families also sent people to pick up their young masters and misses. The usually unpopulated racecourse was lively as though it was a market.
The one who came to pick up Gu Ru Jiu was her second brother Gu Cun Jing.
Gu Cun Jing had a position in the imperial guards’ northern office. He was a close personal guard of the emperor. The common people usually called them the dragon imperial guards. This was a leisurely second class fifth rank position. So when he heard his colleagues say something had happened in the suburb racecourse, and the misses from two families had fallen off their horses and died, he excused himself with his superior and hurried to the suburbs.
Along the way, he learned that the two misses were from the Sima and Li families. He sighed in relief inside. As long as it wasn’t his sister.
After racing to the racecourse, the officials from the Court of Judicial Review and the Ministry of Justice were preparing to leave because regardless of how they investigated, there were no signs this incident was deliberately caused. It was common for horses to fall during races. But these two misses were unlucky and lost their lives.
After hastily greeting the familiar families, Gu Cun Jing found his younger sister with the Yang family cousins.
“Jiu Jiu.” Gu Cun Jing jumped off his horse and walked next to Gu Ru Jiu. “Were you frightened?”
Gu Ru Jiu shook her head. “With the cousins’ company, I was fine.”
Gu Cun Jing turned and thanked Yang Wen Ji and his sister. The Yang Family was their maternal family, so the relationship between the families was relatively good.
“Second Brother Gu, no need to be so polite; we are one family.” Yang Wen Ji bowed to Gu Cun Jing and said with a smile, “It is late. Second Brother Gu should take Younger Sister Jiu home to rest.”
Knowing that this was not the place to talk, Gu Cun Jing also worried that his sister would not be in good spirits due to this matter, so he bid farewell to the Yang siblings along with Gu Ru Jiu.
Not long after Gu Cun Jing entered the racecourse, Li Huai Gu saw him. In the past, Li Huai Gu might have gone forward and exchanged greetings with Gu Cun Jing. But today, he was not in the mood to gain favor with Gu Ru Jiu’s brother.
He could never have expected that his sister, who had been pouting with him just this morning, would be gone like this. If he had not been thinking about the second Gu miss, if he had taken care of his sister, maybe his sister would not have lost her life due to a competition.
In reality, he also knew that his younger sister did not like the second miss of the Gu Family very much. It was why she always warned him using the excuse that their mother did not like the Gu Family. In the past, he always felt, once Jiu Jiu entered his home, the sisters-in-law could interact and their relationship would change for the better. But now …
“Young Master Li.” Gu Ru Jiu saw the usually elegant youth standing by the gates dazedly. When she passed by him, she couldn’t help but say, “My condolences.”
Li Huai Gu looked at the young girl on horseback and was blank for a moment. He bowed and said, “Thank you, Miss Gu.”
Regardless of all the thoughts he had, after today, he could not mention them or think them again.
Words, at certain times, were powerless. Gu Ru Jiu looked at Li Huai Gu who was moving like a walking corpse and sighed. After saying farewell, she and her second brother left the racecourse together.
She never would have thought that Li Chu Rou, who had been talking with her just a while ago, would pass in the blink of an eye.
So life and death were only separated by such a short distance. She looked at her second brother who was shoulder to shoulder with her and couldn’t help but say, “Second Brother…”
“Do not be afraid.” Gu Cun Jing pushed his horse towards Gu Ru Jiu so the two horses were almost touching. He reached out to pat her arm. “Do not be afraid. Second Brother is here.”
“Yes.” Gu Ru Jiu felt that tears were rising and responded, her head low. Among the clip-clop sound of the hooves, she travelled home with her second brother.
“Farewell…” Li Huai Gu watched as the two siblings moved away. He found when he said the word, a cold wind seemed to pour into his mouth, making his throat and chest cold. This breath of cold air seemed to stick there, unable to be exhaled or swallowed. In the end, it turned into thoughts of his sister and his eyes reddened.
In Qiankun Palace, Bai Xian carefully waited for Jin Yang to finish what he was doing before whispering, “Your Majesty, something happened today.”
“What happened?” Jin Yang raised an eyebrow. Something that Bai Xian would mention especially would not be a minor matter.
“Today, the young masters and misses of Jing’s aristocratic families went to the racecourse in the suburbs to race. Two misses fell from their horses and are gone.” Because the emperor was in ill health, Bai Xian carefully avoided the words “death” and “passed away” to avoid any conflicts.
“From which families?” Jin Yang’s expression changed slightly and his tone turned heavier. No one would deliberately report accidents like falling off a horse to him, so in order to learn news like this from outside, he had to rely on the servants.
“The miss from the Sima Second Branch, and the miss from the Li First Branch, at noon. Even the Ministry of Justice and the Court of Judicial Review sent people. It was just an accident.” Bai Xian added, “The miss of the Li Family seems to be the one that the empress dowager mentioned a few days ago.”
“Her?” Jin Yang coughed and his tone calmed again. “These two misses are not yet of age, and they cannot hold large funerals. Mother-Empress and I will not send any condolence gifts. Just pretend not to know of this matter.”
Bai Xian listened, his body bowed, and nodded minutely to express he noted this.
“Did Teacher’s daughter also go to the racecourse?” Jin Yang suddenly asked.
“County Lady Gu is a noble miss of an aristocratic family. She must be at this kind of gathering.” Bai Xian knew that the Holy One had a good opinion of the Gu Family so he narrated in detail.
“Junior Sister Gu is young and innocent. She must be scared by this incident. A few days ago, didn’t you mention that my private stores have a good calming fragrance?” Jin Yang thought for a moment. “And that mutton jade that supposedly rests the mind—have a female official send them to Teacher Gu’s family.”
The previous emperor hadn’t been reliable but he had many good things in his private stores. After Jin Yang took the throne, he also inherited the private stores.
Bai Xian understood. Since the emperor said “send,” then it naturally was not a “reward.”
Translator Ramblings: The love broken off before it could even start.