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Chapter 16: Picking Flowers
Gu Ru Jiu felt that it was not appropriate for her, an outsider, to sit here during Empress Dowager Zhou and the emperor’s mother-son time. So she suggested leaving.
“It is almost noon. What are you going to do when you return?” Empress Dowager Zhou immediately refused. “I had the imperial kitchen prepare your favourite dishes. If you leave, won’t those dishes be wasted?”
Jin Yang also smiled and said, “Junior Sister, do not leave. I still want to get a free meal from Mother-Empress with you. If you leave, Mother-Empress will not be in the mood to dine, and I fear I will be disliked.”
Empress Dowager Zhou smiled and glanced at Jin Yang. She nodded and said, “Emperor is correct.”
Since the two already spoke like this, if Gu Ru Jiu still refused, then it would be untactful. Also, in the past when she came to Kangquan Palace, the empress dowager frequently dined with her. If she persisted in leaving today due to the emperor’s presence, what if she caused the young emperor’s unhappiness and he bullied her father?
This young emperor was at the age of teenage rebellion.
Seeing Gu Ru Jiu finally stop mentioning leaving, Empress Dowager Zhou’s smile grew bigger. She had the palace attendants serve a cup of appetizing tea for Jin Yang and Gu Ru Jiu and spoke of what had happened a few days ago at the racecourse in front of the emperor.
“I heard that the two girls in the accidents were all from legitimate branches?” Empress Dowager Zhou looked at the emperor who was drinking tea with his head held low and said meaningfully, “The women of these two families are not simple people. Jiu Jiu, you have to be careful when you interact with these girls in the future.”
“This subject will remember.” Gu Ru Jiu nodded and said, “The girls from the Sima Family are pretty good.” She hesitated and did not say that Sima Ling had warned her to be careful.
In her eyes, this may just be the other innocently giving her a kind reminder. But after the horse accident, everyone’s actions would be magnified. Even ordinary concerns would have different meanings in other people’s eyes.
She and Sima Ling had not had many private interactions and their relationship was a surface one. But Sima Ling treated her with more friendliness than hostility, so she was not willing to think the worst of a girl not yet fifteen.
“The Li Family…” Empress Dowager Zhou recalled that someone had mentioned a few days ago that the Li Family wanted to be in-laws with the Gu Family. But the Gu Family hadn’t had any interest and then the matter was left unsettled. But she swallowed the words as she did not want to mention this matter when she thought about Jiu Jiu’s young age. “I’ve had the imperial chef learn the recipes you gave me a few days ago. Remember to have a taste and see if the imperial chefs have mastered them.”
Gu Ru Jiu smiled and responded positively. The pair’s conversation moved from the racecourse accident to delicious food.
When women were extremely interested, men could not participate in their discussion. Jin Yang listened silently from the side as the empress dowager’s topics reached further to the grudges of the past few decades.
Matters such as the patriarch of the Li Family being a famous jade-faced young master in the past, the conflicts between the three branches of the Sima Family, or what absurdity the Wu Family had once had.
When Jin Yang heard of how a man of a certain family had secretly kept a mistress outside and cried and begged when his wife found out and beat him up, he took a sip of water to suppress his shock.
As expected of the women in the capital. They were even more ferocious in personality than the women he encountered in Jin Prefecture.
He inexplicably glanced at Junior Sister Gu. Seeing her listen intently with her eyes shining, Jin Yang couldn’t help but cough. “Mother-Empress, it is already noon.”
He felt if he let his junior sister continue to listen to these “great feats,” something bad would happen.
Also, what thoughts did the men of these families who had beautiful wives and filial sons have that they would find other women and harm their wives’ hearts?
He could not understand at this moment. Could it be that men were born to spend time drinking and in pleasure while women were born to obey their husbands and teach their children?
“It is time. Let’s eat.” Empress Dowager Zhou finally remembered that an emperor was in the room and tried to make her expression more serious.
Gu Ru Jiu went forward to hold Empress Dowager Zhou’s hand. With Jin Yang on the other side of the empress dowager, they came to the dining hall.
The palace maids flowed in, serving the three to wash their hands. Then a row of palace maids slowly entered and opened the food boxes. The dishes looked as though they just came out of the stove. It could be seen how quick and careful these palace attendants were in the process of serving the dishes.
With Gu Ru Jiu’s taste, the dishes were average. But under the empress dowager’s eager gaze, her opinion turned from “ordinary” to “not bad.”
The empress dowager also knew that the imperial chefs only just had the name of “imperial chefs” over the chefs from the aristocratic families that had existed for centuries. So when she heard Gu Ru Jiu’s “not bad,” she wasn’t unhappy. She felt that the other was willing to be close to her and would not deliberately say good words to lie to her.
“It is not bad they are able to grasp about half.” Empress Dowager Zhou said after she finished eating and rinsed her mouth. “The rain outside has stopped. You should not always stay inside. Accompany me to walk outside.”
Jin Yang and Gu Ru Jiu agreed in unison.
The imperial gardens did not have beautiful scenes such as “the almond flowers bloom in spring, the drizzle does not wet the clothes; the soft wind is fragrant and not cold” because the ground was swept clean. There were no flower petals, and not even a dot of dust.
Because of the previous few days of spring rain, the stone tiles were slightly damp. Embroidered slippers almost did not make a sound when stepping on the tiles.
So when Gu Ru Jiu discovered a young woman in her twenties appeared in front of her, she did not immediately know where the other had come from.
Only when the other called herself “Wei shi” did she have a general understanding of the other’s identity.
When Wei shi appeared, Bai Xian, who served Jin Yang, had taken a step forward to silently stand in front of Jin Yang.
Bai Xian could not be blamed for being too careful. There had been incidents in the Feng Dynasty Jin Clan of unclear relations between emperors and dowager consorts. Those “good stories” were still told among the common people.
The Holy One was young right now, and Wei shi was in her twenties, the best time of her life. Even if the two did not have anything, it would not be good if any gossip spread.
Fortunately, after Zhou shi became the empress dowager, Wei shi finally learned the etiquette that she had not learned during the time of the previous emperor. As a result, when she noticed the young emperor was also present, she lowered her head and took a few steps back.
“Dowager Consort Wei, where are you going?” Empress Dowager Zhou did not have much affection or dislike for Wei shi. So in this past year, she had not had anyone deliberately harass Wei shi.
But looking at the other’s old clothing and old-fashioned hair pins, she knew that Wei shi, who had lost the favour of the previous emperor, was not living well.
“This servant doesn’t dare to trouble the empress dowager, and is just walking around.” Dowager Consort Wei seemed to fear Empress Dowager Zhou. She had not raised her head from start to end and appeared to fear the Empress Dowager would treat her harshly.
“If that is so, then help yourself. This grieving one will look around with the children.” Empress Dowager Zhou coolly moved her gaze away, her eyes as calm as water.
Once the footsteps faded behind her, Wei shi slowly lifted her head. Seeing the young girl next to the empress dowager, she thought in curiosity, whose family was this child from? The empress dowager seemed to like this person greatly.
She had no power or connections in the inner palace now. She could not find any useful information. As a result, she was very curious when she saw an unfamiliar young girl next to the empress dowager.
But she had no bravery to inquire out of curiosity.
She had no children, and she had once been the previous emperor’s most favored concubine. If the empress dowager had been vicious at all, the empress dowager could have made her be buried with the emperor. But the empress dowager had not done so, so she could live as a dowager noble consort.
Just due to this, she lost any bravery of using scheming in front of the empress dowager.
“Dowager Noble Consort?” The palace maid behind her whispered, “The empress dowager has left.”
“Today’s weather is not good.” Dowager Consort Wei moved her gaze away. “It is not suitable for a stroll. Let’s return.”
When the empress dowager and the emperor were touring the garden, all unrelated people had to avoid it. While the empress dowager told her to help herself, it did not truly mean she could do so.
In the garden, Gu Ru Jiu tried to reach and grasp a flower the empress dowager liked. But tragically, her arm was not long enough. She wasn’t able to pick the flower, and also caused the empress dowager to laugh. If she did not have the good habit of not stepping on flowers and grass, she feared she would be stepping in the flower bed.
Seeing his junior sister jump again and again, unable to pick the flower even on her tiptoes, Jin Yang glanced at his mother-empress who was almost in tears of laughter, went up a few steps, and bent down to pick the flower for Gu Ru Jiu.
Looking at the flower in the hand, and the young emperor who was smiling bashfully, Gu Ru Jiu smiled, two dimples appearing. “Thank you, Your Majesty.”
Looking back at Empress Dowager Zhou who was still laughing, Gu Ru Jiu puffed out her cheeks.
This was really her biological aunt. She did not hold back at all when laughing.
Translator Ramblings: Separation of the sexes is really problematic sometimes …