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Chapter 25: Ambition
“Was your trip to the Duke of Dingguo’s Establishment successful?” Gu Chang Ling handed a teacup to Yang shi and asked.
“So-so.” Yang shi took the teacup and smiled at Gu Chang Ling. Then she took a sip, holding the cup in her hand. She turned to look at her daughter who had moved next to her second son to talk. She did not speak of how the Yang Ducal Establishment wanted to have a marriage. “Mistress Yang is a kind person. Their young masters and misses are all polite people.”
“People usually cannot pick any flaws in their conduct.” Gu Chang Ling had a good opinion of the family so his words carried some reverence. “While I do not know about the juniors, Duke Yang is a rare gentleman.”
“It isn’t important if he is a gentleman.” Yang shi smiled and turned to say to Gu Ru Jiu, “Jiu Jiu, did you interact harmoniously with Miss Yang today?”
Gu Ru Jiu had been talking with Gu Cun Jing about what was happening in the Dragon Guards. Hearing her mother mention her name, Gu Ru Jiu hurriedly turned around and said, “MIss Yang has a steady personality and does not speak much.”
“When one speaks too much, they make mistakes. It is good for Miss Yang to be so steady,” Yang shi said with a smile. “She is better than you.”
“There are millions of good girls in the world. If I compete with every person, I fear I will have no face to stay in the capital,” Gu Ru Jiu gave a fawning smile to Yang shi. “As long as you and Father think I am good, that’s enough.”
“It cannot just be that your father and I feel you are good.” Yang shi smiled. She was used to her daughter fawning and currying favor. “You played an entire day; you should calm yourself. Go return to your yard.”
Gu Ru Jiu stood and bowed to her parents. Then she said, “I will no longer disturb Mother and Daddy.”
Gu Cun Jing saw this, and stood up to bid farewell, chasing after her.
“Jiu Jiu.” Gu Cun Jing called out to his younger sister. “Wait for me, I want to talk to you.”
“Second Brother?” Gu Ru Jiu stopped walking, and looked in puzzlement at Gu Cun Jing. What matter did he have that he would pursue her out here?
Gu Cun Jing said a few words off-topic before finally guiding the topic to the emperor. “I heard His Majesty frequently call you Junior Sister in private?”
“Yes.” Gu Ru Jiu nodded. “What about it?”
What about it? Why did he not hear His Majesty call him or Eldest Brother “Senior Brother”?
“Nothing, I just saw His Majesty seems to be concerned about your matters so I asked.” Gu Cun Jing smiled and said, “I cannot ask His Majesty so I can only ask you.”
“There is nothing strange. He calls me Junior Sister to give Father face. Calling me Junior Sister is better than calling you and Eldest Brother, who have already entered court, Senior Brother.” Gu Ru Jiu felt that even if the emperor was very good to her now, when he first started calling her Junior Sister, the biggest reason was her father.
Seeing that his young sister could see clearly and had not misunderstood something due to the emperor’s special treatment, Gu Cun Jing was reassured. He immediately said, “Sister, you see clearly. This brother is too stupid.”
Gu Ru Jiu covered her mouth and laughed softly, “When did Second Brother become so stupid?”
“Hmph.” Gu Cun Jing put his hands behind his back, pretending to be angry as he walked away swaying.
Gu Ru Jiu looked at his back, her smile fading after a long time. After returning to her courtyard, she thought in puzzlement, why had Second Brother suddenly asked about this?
Three days later, the palace suddenly sent news that the emperor’s capping ceremony would occur on the twenty-eighth of next month. Because the previous emperor had passed away, Empress Dowager Zhou would take over the father’s role and organize the ceremony for the emperor. Gu Chang Ling, as one of the emperor’s most valued teachers and due to his own reputation, would appear at the ceremony in the position as a supporting guest.
Most subtly, the Sima Family were only appearing as guests, and did not have important roles in the emperor’s capping ceremony.
The capping ceremony was an important thing for men. While there had been scholars in the past that said an emperor’s capping ceremony should be when they were twenty, the empress dowager and the emperor both had intentions of having it occur earlier. Most of the officials had not come out in objections. So the success of this matter was set unless the emperor suddenly passed away or abdicated during this time.
Gu Chang Ling originally had an idle position in court in addition to the honor of being the emperor’s teacher. But soon after the edict that the emperor was holding a capping ceremony was sent out, Gu Chang Ling was promoted to being the rank two director of the department of state affairs. While this was not as prestigious as the Secretariat and Chancellery, this was a signal that Gu Chang Ling was valued greatly.
The director of the Secretariat was Zhang Zhong Han. The director of the Chancellery was the patriarch of the Li Family, Li Guang Ji. One came from a common family, the other from an aristocratic family. Their political positions could not possibly be the same. However, because Zhang Zhong Han was soft in personality and Li Guang Ji was not willing to appear pressuring, there were not too many conflicts between the pair.
But Gu Chang Ling’s promotion could possibly disrupt the situation at court. Of course, the people who were mostly worried were officials from poor families. The aristocratic families were much more assured as Gu Chang Ling was from an aristocratic family.
Many times, it was not that the poor families and the aristocratic families disliked each other. But they were all working for their own class’ interests, so at certain times, they could not afford to take a step back.
The officials all knew of the emperor’s ambitions in his early capping, but they did not have great objections. While most people in court had their own thoughts, this did not mean they were willing for a despotic and incompetent person to be in that position.
This emperor had not governed by himself since his ascension, so people could not see if he was diligent and loved his people, but at least his conduct was measured, and he had good moral character. With this, he was already much better than the previous emperor. Just this was enough to make the court officials feel satisfied with him.
Even more importantly, even the empress dowager had no objections to his early capping. So what did the court officials have to say?
So when the decree was sent and the capping ceremony was about to be formally held, no one stood up and objected to the emperor’s early capping. Court officials sent memorandums praising the emperor’s moral character and even his appearance. Some scholars even wrote a few poems praising the emperor’s virtues, even though they did not even know what the emperor was like.
But this was not important. It was important to them that other people could see their poems and they could enter court.
There were many people with such thoughts. Even the Gu Family received the poems and works of many scholars who used all kinds of channels to send them in.
Some poems were extremely corny. If one did not know, they would think that this was a poem written by a man to their beloved lady, and not by a youth with ambitions to the emperor.
The scholars had good dreams, but in reality, it was not an easy path to enter court through poetry, unless someone saw this person’s talent and was willing to recommend the other with great effort.
But while there were fine steeds frequently, there were not many good judges of talent.
Gu Ru Jiu had seen her father have a servant store most of the poems that he received into a storeroom.
“People have talent, but this does not mean they have the ability to govern and save people.” Gu Chang Ling closed a letter of self-recommendation. “A person who can write a good poem may not be able to write a good memorandum.” He folded the letter and shoved it into the envelope. He said to his daughter, “Jiu Jiu, the empress dowager says she is not feeling well, and hopes you can go to accompany her in the palace for a few days.”
She could not react when her father suddenly turned the topic from the correct way of governance to the empress dowager.
Accompany the empress dowager… She was going to stay overnight in the palace?
Translator Ramblings: Second Brother is getting suspicious …