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Chapter 26: Carriage
The next morning, after Gu Ru Jiu finished breakfast, she heard that her family had received a pile of invitations. There were ones from friends, not friends, and relatives from many generations ago who came with their family trees. This greatly broadened Gu Ru Jiu’s view.
However, all that had nothing to do with her. Yesterday night, she had packed up her luggage. Now she was waiting for the palace carriage to arrive so she could leave and not have a headache over these matters.
Had the empress dowager predicted such a situation, and called her into the palace in order to openly slack off?
Because she was going into the palace for a short visit, Gu Ru Jiu took along her four personal servant girls. All her other servants were left in the marquis residence.
Before leaving, Yang shi told Gu Ru Jiu, “The palace has a complicated composition of people. Remember that while the rules are dead, people are alive. Since you are entering the palace to keep the empress dowager company, then your conduct represents the empress dowager’s face, and the Gu Family’s face. If you encounter anything, know if you should advance or retreat.”
Gu Ru Jiu nodded. Her face, already turning from a bun to a goose egg shape, had a smile. “Mother, do not worry. I understand.”
“Yes.” Yang shi touched the hairpins in her hair. “Everyone says that you are innocent and, due to our doting, do not think of anything. But I know that, while you appear young, you are more clear-minded than anyone else.”
A mother knew their daughter. How could she not know what the personality of the child she had raised was like? Her younger daughter looked innocent and naive, but from childhood to now, when had she suffered a loss?
Anyone else at odds with her had been tormented to the point of helplessness, but were unable to say anything.
Smart people could injure others invisibly. Her daughter’s way of action was much smoother and clever than hers had been back before she came of age.
After sending her daughter off on the carriage, Yang shi turned to walk back to the study.
The court sessions of the Feng Dynasty were arranged into a small session every three days and a major session every five. Today, Gu Chang Ling did not have to go teach the emperor or go to court, so he had been reading and writing in the study since morning.
When Yang shi walked into the study, her voice carried a hint of anger. “Husband, previously when the Li Family came to propose, you said their family was chaotic and not a good choice. Now, Duke Yang’s family has intentions. Their family is a simple one, and also a scholarly family. The eldest Yang son is a rare handsome youth. Why do you still have objections?”
“Wife, do not be angry.” Gu Chang Ling put down his book, helped Yang shi to sit down on a chair before saying, “Jiu Jiu is only thirteen right now. The noble women in Jing will not think a marriage is late even if they are twenty. Why are you in such a hurry?”
“Do not speak to me of these things.” Yang shi abandoned her composure as an aristocratic family lady. She patted away the hand Gu Chang Ling had put on her arm. “You dare say you have no other thoughts at all?”
“Even if I have other thoughts, I will not joke with the life of my daughter.” Gu Chang Ling saw his wife was truly angry and said, “The situation in Jing is growing more complicated. The emperor and the empress dowager have long been discontent with the aristocratic families. I fear that when the emperor is governing on his own, Li Guang Ji’s position as the prime minister of the left will not be stable.”
“Even if the Sima and Li families are not good choices, Duke Yang’s family has a good reputation, and will not be second-guessed by the palace. Are they also not suitable?” When Yang shi said this, she frowned. “Do you want to send Jiu Jiu…”
Yang shi did not say it clearly but she believed Gu Chang Ling would know what she spoke of.
Gu Chang Ling sighed upon hearing this and said with slight helplessness, “This is not about what I think, but what the emperor thinks, and what our girl thinks. It is too early to discuss all this.”
“The Jin Family is not an aristocratic family. Before their ancestor took the throne, they were peasants from somewhere unknown. After obtaining the throne, they said they are the descendants of the famed Jin Family of eight centuries ago. These words can only fool the Jin family members and the common people. Which aristocratic family believes it?” Yang shi said exasperatedly. “Also, what is good about that place? If the emperor wants to take a concubine, our girl will not be able to stop it even if she wanted to.”
“The empress dowager and the emperor have not mentioned the matter, and neither have I. There is nothing.” Gu Chang Ling smiled fawningly and moved closer to Yang shi. “Since you are not willing, then we will slowly pick a good husband for Jiu Jiu. While the Yang Family’s child was not bad, he was too dutiful. This kind of man could be called a gentleman outside, but if one has to live with this kind of person, he is not so suitable.”
Yang shi calmed down and thought carefully. Then she sniffed softly. “No matter how unsuitable, it is better than going into the palace.” While she said this, her tone had softened. “You cannot make a decision yourself about Jiu Jiu’s matter. I know you have a good opinion of the Holy One, but in my eyes, even the best emperor in a thousand years is not as important as our Jiu Jiu.”
“Wife is right. This husband will not make a decision on my own. Please do not worry.” Gu Chang Ling deliberately made a deep bow to Yang shi, looking extremely repentant.
Yang shi glanced at him. While she had a smile, the wrinkles on her forehead did not relax.
Gu Ru Jiu’s carriage was several hundred meters away from the Vermillion Bird Gates when she saw a blue-roofed carriage stopped ahead on the side of the road. She saw a female dressed as a married woman standing next to the carriage, supported by servant girls.
“What has happened ahead?” Gu Ru Jiu lifted up the window curtain and asked the guard that had come along.
“County Mistress, up ahead, a mistress’ carriage is damaged.” The guard was from Kangquan Palace, so he was exceptionally polite to Gu Ru Jiu.
“Whose family?” Gu Ru Jiu frowned. In a situation like this, it would be inappropriate if she did not lend a hand in help.
After a while, the guard returned from investigating. Gu Ru Jiu learned that the one having bad luck was the wife of Prime Minister Li, Wu shi.
Thinking of Li Chu Rou who had died in an accident at the horse racetrack two years ago, she sighed, lifted the curtain and walked out.
“Mistress Wu.” Gu Ru Jiu went forward and bowed to Wu shi. Then she looked at the carriage. “The carriage… is damaged?”
Maybe because Li Chu Rou’s accidental death had dealt a great blow to Wu shi, Gu Ru Jiu had rarely seen Wu shi in the last two years and was slightly shocked this time.
Two years ago, Wu shi had been dignified and noble. She now looked much thinner and not in good spirits, as though she had aged seven years in two short years.
“Miss Gu.” Wu shi looked at the half-grown girl in front of her. An oval face, delicate brows. Her features looked fortunate. This was why she had agreed to her son marrying this girl in the past.
But the two had not fate together. In these two years, Huai Gu had never mentioned again this miss from the Gu Family.
“I do not know what happened, but there is a problem with the carriage axle. “Wu shi sighed and said, “Today, I was summoned to the palace to see the empress dowager. I fear I will be late.”
“If Mistress Wu does not mind, you can ride with this junior.” Gu Ru Jiu looked at the driver lying on the ground to fix the carriage. “This junior is also going to Kangquan Palace to greet the empress dowager.”
“Then thank you.” Wu shi thanked Gu Ru Jiu and stepped onto the bench to board Gu Ru Jiu’s purple-roofed carriage.
This carriage looked on the outside to fit the regulations for an ordinary county mistress but was extremely comfortable inside. When Wu shi entered, she could feel how much effort had been put into this carriage.
After the two exchanged polite greetings, they said nothing until the carriage stopped outside Kangquan Palace.
As one of the more prominent women in court, Wu shi had come to Kangquan Palace several times in these two years to visit the empress dowager, but not once had the carriage been able to stop so near the empress dowager’s residence.
The rumour that the empress dowager liked the second miss of the Gu Family had long existed, but she definitely never thought that the empress dowager valued Second Miss Gu so much.
“Mistress Li, County Mistress Gu.” The palace attendant waiting at the gates saw the pair, bowed to them, and then guided them into the palace.
Translator Ramblings: Living in a monarchy has problems … parents can’t really refuse a marriage of their daughter and the emperor.