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Chapter 20: Wholehearted
Jin Yang wanted Gu Ru Jiu to order. She wanted to refuse, but seeing Jin Yang’s persistent attitude, she briskly agreed. Other than Jin Yang, everyone present had grown up in the capital. She deliberately avoided the tastes that most Jing people could not tolerate, and picked a few dishes that suited the young emperor and her tastes.
She and the young emperor had eaten at the same table before. So while the young emperor looked like a good youth who was not picky, how could any person not have any preferences? So while the other had tried to conceal, she could guess the other generally liked relatively spicy and sweet dishes. The imperial chefs in the kitchen, out of consideration for the stomachs of the important people, rarely made foods with heavy flavors.
As expected, after Gu Ru Jiu picked a few spicy and sweet dishes, the young emperor’s expression became more content.
Seated next to Gu Ru Jiu, Gu Cun Jing frowned when he saw her pick heavier-tasting dishes. But due to the emperor being present, he could only secretly glare at her. Then he reached out to grab a handful of peanuts. He cracked them, and blew away the outer covering before shoving them into Gu Ru Jiu’s hand.
He worried that his sister had not eaten well at lunch after going out to have fun.
“Second Brother, thank you.” Gu Ru Jiu smiled ingratiatingly at him, and picked up a peanut to put in her mouth. Then she turned and saw the young emperor looking at her with pleading eyes. She gave the young emperor half. “Emperor, taste this.”
Gu Cun Jing could not bear to look at his younger sister’s conduct. Either you do not give him, or you give him all. Giving him half…
“Thank you.” Jin Yang copied Gu Ru Jiu and put a peanut in his mouth.
Gu Cun Jing silently continued to shell peanuts and prepared to not see or hear the childish actions of the young emperor and his sister.
The dragon guards present were able to accompany the emperor. This meant that their families were likely capable monarchists. When they saw the miss of the Gu Family play with the young emperor like children, these already grown young masters had their own thoughts.
Families with information sources could guess the plans of the Sima and Li families. But they saw from the emperor’s reserved attitude towards the families as well as how the empress dowager did not frequently meet the women from the families that the imperial house did not seem to want a marriage with them.
The two aristocratic families wanted to have a marriage with the imperial house. But the imperial house was unwilling. This would be a good drama. But this Gu Family…
The group looked at the young child-like Miss Gu and immediately felt they were overthinking.
They were men. They naturally knew what men liked. Immature ones like Miss Gu did not seem like they could enchant the young emperor.
The fish was quickly brought to the table. The eunuch that came along tasted all the fish and confirmed there were no problems before everyone touched their chopsticks.
No one touched the dishes in front of Jin Yang. The young masters from aristocratic families were very smart. They knew when they had to be avoid or when they had to pretend friendliness and intimacy.
The sweet and sour fish of the Delicious Fish Tower was not equal to Qingyuan Prefecture’s but was still delicious. Jin Yang had Bai Xian serve the belly flesh to Gu Ru Jiu. He whispered to her, “Better than in the palace.”
Gu Ru Jiu smiled. It wasn’t that the imperial chefs didn’t have such skill. They just worried that the important people would have problems, so they pursued not making a mistake over merit.
“Your Majesty can go visit the empress dowager more frequently, and then take the chance to stay and dine. Her kitchen’s chefs have good skill.” Gu Ru Jiu wiped her mouth. “I also like the dishes from the empress dowager’s own kitchen more.”
Jin Yang’s hand, which held chopsticks, paused. Then he turned and said to Gu Ru Jiu, “I will remember, thank you.”
“No need to thank me. If you go, the chefs will use more effort and I will also benefit when I go visit the empress dowager in the future.” Gu Ru Jiu smiled freely.
Jin Yang looked at the smile on her face and smiled as well.
Gu Ru Jiu’s stomach was finally full. She rinshed with a cup of tea and then lifted her chin at her second brother.
Gu Cun Jing touched his wallet and walked out dispiritedly to pay the bill. When he was at the doorway, he heard someone call him.
“Isn’t this Second Brother Gu?” A youth in his twenties walked out of the neighbouring private room. Seeing Gu Cun Jing, he bowed and said, “Long time no see. How about we go and have a cup together?”
“Thank you, Brother Wu, for your invitation. But I am not free today.” Gu Cun Jing bowed in return. “Next time, I will act as host for Brother Wu to apologize.”
Wu Chong did not press. The Wu and Gu families usually did not interact frequently. He was just speaking out of politeness. While everyone was from aristocratic families, their circles were different and so were their habits. They could not get together.
Seeing Gu Cun Jing hurriedly go down the stairs, Wu Chong looked towards the door of the neighbouring room. He could not hear anything so he could only return to his own room.
But this time, he was smart and paid attention to the crack in the door. He soon saw Gu Cun Jing return, his steps hurried like there was someone important in the room.
“Brother Wu, what are you looking at? It is not early, we should return.” A youth sitting at the table waved at Wu Chong, his expression intoxicated. Those on good terms with Wu Chong were wastrel members of aristocratic families. While they did not do evil deeds like killing people, raping or pillaging, they were idle and liked causing trouble.
Wu Chong smiled at this person, opened the door and said, “It is late and it is time to return.”
The drunk wastrels in the room walked out of the door and encountered Jin Yang’s group.
When the wastrels of aristocratic families and the outstanding members of the aristocratic families encountered each other, what would they do?
The wastrels noticed there were some females in this group and perceptively did not say anything insulting. They awkwardly exchanged greetings and prepared to leave.
But there was only one hallway. Who would walk first?
While these outstanding members of aristocratic families were frequently mentioned as “those other children” by their elders, people wanted face. While they spoke of letting the other go first, it did not mean that they really wanted to do so.
Usually, when they encountered a situation like this, everyone would mutually refuse and give the other side enough face, no matter how displeased they felt. But this time, things seemed to be different.
When the wastrels yielded this time, the outstanding members actually walked away!
What is going on with you outstanding members? Where are the humbleness and etiquette of aristocratic family members?!
The wastrels were about to express their displeasure and dissatisfaction. However, they were the ones who had said the others should go first, so they had to endure this irritation.
Just as everyone wanted to start talking, Wu Chong suddenly said, “Do you recognize the person walking at the front?”
Everyone shook their heads.
“Aren’t these the imperial dragon guards?” As a core member of the wastrels, Wu Chong’s intelligence was above the rest.
Able to walk in front of these outstanding members, and had an unfamiliar face. Who would he be?
“Would that be…”
Wu Chong put a hand over the speaker’s mouth. “Do not speak indiscriminately.” The Delicious Fish Restaurant was full of people. Calling out the emperor was not a joke.
The wastrels present nodded. They could not be blamed for not recognizing the emperor because with their abilities, they had no chance of meeting the emperor.
Who could understand the pain of wastrels?
Everyone wiped their faces and had their manservants pull over their horses. They quickly returned home and told their families that they encountered someone likely to be the emperor at Delicious Fish Restaurant and also who had accompanied him.
When Gu Ru Jiu and Gu Cun Jing returned home, Gu Chang Ling and Yang shi were present. Seeing the two come in, Gu Chang Ling opened his eyes and said, “Cun Jing, I heard you took your sister out to play?”
Seeing his parents having ordinary expressions, Gu Cun Jing nodded obediently, unable to see any anger.
“What do you think His Majesty was intending?” Gu Chang Ling pointed at the chairs, indicating for the siblings to sit.
“His Majesty… wants to tell the other aristocratic families he is well, and no one can easily steal away his throne?” Gu Cun Jing would not be so innocent to think that the young emperor came out of the palace just to eat fish.
If he wanted to eat fish, he could ride horses or a carriage. Why would he walk so far on foot and allow so many people to see him?”
“Other than this?” Gu Chang Ling took a drink of water and asked.
Gu Cun Jing thought. “To show his closeness to the monarchists?”
Gu Chang Ling smiled in satisfaction. “It is very good you thought of all this. Remember, the emperor is young but he has a breadth of mind and is not an ordinary person. You are a few years older, but you cannot be dismissive. The emperor is a strategic and skilled person that you two brothers cannot rival.”
Gu Cun Jing nodded gravely. “Son understands.”
Seeing his son understand, Gu Chang Ling was even more satisfied. He turned to his daughter. “Jiu Jiu, did you have fun today?”
“Not much this morning but good this afternoon,” Gu Ru Jiu responded with a smile. “His Majesty is a gentle person.”
“Then what do you think was the intention in the emperor’s trip this time?” Gu Chang Ling asked casually.
Gu Ru Jiu tilted her head and thought. Then she said, “Maybe the emperor came to eat fish and also see the lives of people in Jing.”
Gu Cun Jing and Gu Chang Ling were shocked. A beat later, they shook their heads and smiled helplessly.
Their Jiu Jiu was too innocent.
In the palace, Jin Yang was lying in bed with two eunuchs massaging his legs for him.
“Your Majesty, do you feel better?” Bai Xian asked in worry.
“No matter.” Jin Yang coughed. He took the tea that Bai Xian handed over for a drink. “It is good to go out and walk. I was even able to encounter Junior Sister Gu. Such a good thing.”
Bai Xian was wondering if the emperor had intentions towards County Mistress Gu when the emperor spoke again.
“Junior Sister Gu is so good and cute. I wonder if her future husband will bully her. Do you think I should find a chance and ennoble Junior Sister? Then I will ennoble her once more at her marriage. This will show that Mother-Empress and I think highly of her. Her husband’s family will respect her more.
“Legally, when women are fifteen, they can be married. I wonder what kind of husband Mistress Gu will pick for Junior Sister…”
Bai Xian remained silent. County Mistress Gu was only eleven and you were already thinking about her husband and his family on her behalf.
So… Your Majesty, as long as you are happy.