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Chapter 14: Overthinking
As the two siblings stepped through the gates of their home, they were surrounded by their family members. Gu Cun Jing was pulled by his father and brother to the side and asked about the situation of the racecourse. Gu Ru Jiu was hurried into the room by her mother and sisters-in-law. She was made to drink calming tea and arranged to bathe and change her clothes.
Based on tradition, when one encountered an accident, everyone would try to avoid being touched by unlucky energy. They would bathe in incense and ask their ancestors for protection from illness and calamity.
Gu Ru Jiu could not refuse the concern of her family and allowed her mother and sisters-in-law to move her round and round.
Seeing his daughter being led away by his wife, Gu Chang Ling sighed and called for his two sons to sit. “The Sima and Li families will have animosity due to this matter. You two, do not be pulled in. In any case, we do not have much of a relationship with these two families.”
He had a gentle personality but he knew what was important. The Gu Family would not be a pawn in the fight between the Sima and Li families.
Gu Zhi Yu and Gu Cun Jing knew what Father worried about. The two nodded and said, “Father, do not worry; we will act with caution.”
“Yes.” Gu Chang Ling nodded. He was not worried about the conduct of his two sons. His eldest son was a reliable person, and his second son was clever and good at talking. None of them were ones to cause trouble.
“Today, at the race course, I sensed something was wrong.” Gu Cun Jing frowned. “Li Wu shi seems to have some conflict within the Li Family. I saw that her attitude did not seem to be right.” He originally thought that Li Wu shi was unstable due to having just lost her daughter, but when he thought back to it, her gaze when she looked at the Li family members did not seem like that of a matriarch looking at her family members.
Since he could not figure this out, he would discuss it with his father and brother. It was better than pondering it on his own.
After Gu Chang Ling heard Gu Cun Jing narrate this, he felt that as a male elder, it was not appropriate to discuss the private matters of women from other families. He only shook his head, sighed, and said, “You should not investigate the internal matters of the Li Family.”
Hearing this, Gu Cun Jing knew that there was definitely some past matter involved. But Father visibly did not want to discuss it and Li Wu shi had just lost her daughter, so it was not a gentleman’s action to discuss someone behind their backs. He suppressed his curiosity to ask.
Gu Zhi Yu originally worried that his younger brother would speak and was relieved when the other did not continue asking.
“The Sima and Li families have inter-married within the last century, but two tigers cannot coexist on one mountain. Even though they are top-tier aristocratic families, there is a division of relative superiority.” Gu Chang Ling gently rubbed the teacup in his hand. His gaze seemed emotional but also relieved. “But the present is not several centuries ago.”
The glory of aristocratic families would gradually fade, and imperial power would be above all.
Thousands of years ago, masters were so glorious and could kill slaves with a word. But due to the collision between culture and privilege of different social stratas, this land became the world for the aristocratic families and the kings. A thousand years ago, when the first emperor conquered the eleven countries to found the imperial dynasty, the relationship between the aristocratic families and the imperial house had been one of mutual restraint.
The progress of history could not be changed. Then, as someone who had predicted this, he could only do his best to find a path for him and his descendants.
Gu Zhi Yu and Gu Cun Jing saw their father’s complicated expression and grew silent.
At this time, the female official Jin Yang sent to make the delivery arrived.
“Greetings to Marquis Gu and the two young masters.” The leading female official bowed to the three and then stated her intentions.
“The Holy One misses the marquis and recognizes the marquis’s hard work in teaching the Holy One and had this servant come with restful tea, fragrance and other items.” The female official indicated for the palace attendants and eunuchs behind her to present the items and said with a smile, “The Holy One wishes to respect his teacher and hopes that Marquis will not refuse.”
Gu Chang Ling looked at the tea, fragrance, and bolts of brocade and silk in the hands of the palace maids and eunuchs. His emotions became complicated. These bright clothes that looked to be for the use of a young girl were really for his use?
Which good student that respected their teacher would have their teacher use such things?
“His Majesty is too polite, and this subject is greatly moved and blushes with shame.” Gu Chang Ling accepted the items with a smile and commanded the steward to lead these people from the palace to drink tea. Seeing the female official determinedly refuse, he personally saw them off at the gates, and gave each of them a red envelope.
After those people left, Gu Chang Ling and his two sons found that within the gifts, the medicines were all good things to rest the mind and good for the appearance, the bolts of cloth were in colours appropriate for young girls, and there was even a box of pearls. Was that for him to grind it into powder and drink it in pigeon soup?
“What does His Majesty… mean?” Gu Zhi Yu was dumbstruck. These things did not appear to be for his father’s use.
Gu Chang Ling caressed his beard and smiled after examining these items. At his eldest son’s question, he said, “Didn’t they say that they are for this father to rest and recover?” Then he called some servant girls to pick up the items and follow him into the courtyard.
The brothers looked at each other and followed after a moment of hesitation. What did Father mean?
Gu Ru Jiu, after bathing and changing clothes, burned incense to the ancestors with her hair half-dry in the company of her mother. Then she turned and bowed to the heavens before returning to her room to eat the pastries that her two sisters-in-law had prepared just for her.
Worried that they would stir Gu Ru Jiu’s terror, the three of them did not mention the events of the racecourse and talked with Gu Ru Jiu about interesting events that had happened on the streets.
“You did not see, but the eldest son of the Wei Family didn’t even dare to pick up his fallen shoe when he was being chased by his wife. Many people laughed.” Chen shi laughed softly as they talked about the events of Count Wei’s family. “New nobility like them do not desire to teach their children well, but think they are higher than anyone else now that they have gone up in the world. They are both ridiculous and dislikable.”
“It really is. No family that wants honour will act like they do.” Hu shi nodded along. There were new nobility in Jing, but most of them had traits that were worthy of being praised. There were not many families as absurd and shameless as the Wei Family.
“It’s only a pity for the women of his family to have such husbands.” Gu Ru Jiu took a sip of tea to suppress her dry throat. “The wife of the eldest Wei son is young and can divorce, but Countess Wei has wasted her entire life on Count Wei.”
Yang shi saw that her daughter’s expression was emotional and worried that she would have a bad impression of men. She said, “There are good and bad men and women in the world. One person’s speech and conduct cannot represent everyone. You should not easily trust people, but you can not blindly doubt them either.”
She did not feel that it was not good to talk about such things with her daughter. Her daughter was already eleven. If she did not teach her daughter this now, would she wait until her daughter had been lied to in the future?
The rules were dead, but people were alive. Some rules were acted out for other people to see. How would it feel to still look so polite and scholarly in front of one’s own family members?
No one could pick a flaw in the Gu family members’ manner in public. What they were like when they returned home and closed the door was none of other people’s business.
Hearing her mother tell her the principles of living, Gu Ru Jiu was about to bow down to her. Her mother was a hero among women.
It was not easy to be elegant and graceful in public.
“You have to remember your conduct and words in public represent the honour of you and your family. Take care and follow etiquette. But when you return home, naturally you should do what is comfortable.” Yang shi sipped tea and her gaze swept her daughters-in-law and her daughter. “Home is called home because it can make everyone feel relaxed and comfortable.”
Chen shi and Hu shi heard the meaning in Yang shi‘s words and smiled. As daughters-in-law of the Gu Family, from the time they married, they interacted harmoniously with their mother-in-law and sister-in-law. Naturally, they were extremely close to their husbands. The Gu Family had a great familial atmosphere. Everyone was of one heart so they all lived comfortably.
Gu Ru Jiu touched her nose. In more honest words, it was “do not be so serious in your conduct, keep your face stiff in public, and who are you showing off to if you do it at home?”
She finally understood where her two brothers had learned to be elegant in public and return to their true selves at home.
“Family members should act like this, and so should husband and wife.” Yang shi‘s voice lowered a few pitches. “Men would not like women who still speak of propriety behind closed doors. Women will also dislike men who come home and still speak pretentiously of benevolence and virtue.”
With her two daughters-in-law present, Yang shi did not say much and stopped. “What time is it now?”
Chen shi was about to reply when she heard footsteps coming from the door and looked over. She saw Father Gu and his two sons walk into the room with a few servant girls holding items behind him.
Learning that these items had been delivered by a female official at the command of the Holy One, they were all curious. After looking through the items, they understood. The Holy One was using the excuse of respecting his teacher to give Jiu Jiu things to suppress her shock?
Gu Ru Jiu had not expected the young emperor to give a pile of things. She reached out and opened a small brocade box. Inside was an exquisite silver flower hairpin perfectly suited for a girl not yet of age to wear.
Seeing the silver flower hairpin, Yang shi had an odd expression. “What does His Majesty mean?” It was no wonder she was overthinking. Who would send gifts like this?
Gu Chang Ling took the flower hairpin from his daughter’s hand and placed it back into the box. “This flower is too plain. Young girls should use brightly coloured jewelry.”
Gu Ru Jiu: …
How old was the young emperor this year? How old was she? Was her father thinking too much?
Marquis Gu and his wife had overthought. Jin Yang had the female attendant take along the silver flower hairpin to the mansion of Marquis Gu because these items were useless to him. He also thought that Junior Gu’s hair was both black and bright, so she would look beautiful wearing it.
He still remembered the other’s plain silver hairpin from a year ago when he encountered her on the palace path.
Did Junior Gu like that flower hairpin?
This night, Senior Jin Yang was still thinking about this matter before he fell asleep.
Translator Ramblings: It’s a pity that Gu Ru Jiu’s elder sister isn’t still at home because the sibling interactions will be so good.