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Chapter 29: Thoughts
Inside the imperial kitchen, Chef Zhao was surrounded by some lower ranking eunuchs. These eunuchs briskly assisted him and called him Big Brother Zhao.
The main chef in the hot dish area looked at the eunuchs’ diligence and snorted as he turned his head. He clattered the pot in his hand as he shouted for the servants who were responsible for tending the fire to make it burn hotter.
Chef Zhao carefully placed the pastries on the dish, not letting other people interfere. Then he carefully placed the plate into the food box. He only sighed in relief after the junior eunuch took away the food box.
Looking at the sous chefs that were flattering him, he couldn’t help but hope that County Mistress Gu would stay longer in the palace. This way, he would live better.
As expected, an hour later, someone from Kangquan Palace came to give a “gift of thanks.” Chef Zhao received a beautifully embroidered wallet filled with several pieces of silver. He smiled and took out a piece of silver to hand to the person who had given the wallet to him before carefully putting the wallet into his box.
This wallet was a work from the palace. If he took it home for his wife to use, it would be an honour.
The other people admired Chef Zhao’s good fortune and sighed over County Mistress Gu’s favour. If there was a princess in the palace, she would only be so. They didn’t know what kind of good luck this person had that the empress dowager favoured her so.
In Kangquan Palace, Gu Ru Jiu was playing weiqi with the empress dowager. But she was terrible at playing, and had lost several matches in a short hour.
Jin Yang saw her sad face and his feet tapped on the ground several times. He finally could not endure and went over.
Seeing him come over, Gu Ru Jiu couldn’t help but plead with him using her gaze. Jin Yang coughed and whispered, “Junior Sister can try to move the third piece from the left.”
Gu Ru Jiu did not hesitate in doing so.
Empress Dowager Zhou’s eyebrows moved slightly and she continued to play.
“Seventh on the bottom right.”
“Third on the left.”
“Four on the right.”
“Does Your Majesty not know that gentlemen do not speak when viewing a match?” Seeing her advantage half-gone, Empress Dowager Zhou gripped a stone piece and said, “This is not a gentleman’s conduct.”
“Mother-Empress, please forgive this son for not bearing to see Junior Sister in such difficulty.” Jin Yang smiled and bowed to Empress Dowager Zhou. “The sunlight is great now. How about we walk outside?”
Gu Ru Jiu heard this and threw away the stones in her hand like she was freed. She nodded and said, “Yes, more sunshine is good for Your Majesty’s health.”
“If that’s the case …” Empress Dowager gripped a stone and smiled. A beat later, she put down the stone and said, “Then we should go out and walk.”
Gu Ru Jiu chuckled and went up to hold her arm. She linked her arm with Gu Ru Jiu and they looked like affectionate mother-and-daughter and not senior and junior.
Before leaving, she glanced at the board. The black stones’ path looked gentle and conservative but in reality were profound. If this continued, her white stones would be surrounded, and her retreats cut off.
The gardens of the imperial palace were not large in Gu Ru Jiu’s view. But they were better because they were more refined. It could be seen that the gardeners of the palace had spent much effort to manage the gardens.
The spring sunshine falling down made people feel warm and indolent. Gu Ru Jiu couldn’t help but yawn. As she used her handkerchief to cover her mouth, she found that Jin Yang had noticed her movement. She immediately felt slightly awkward.
Maybe because Jin Yang detected her embarrassment, he moved his gaze aside and said, “Mother-Empress, Junior Sister, why don’t we go to the pavilion and sit?”
The Eight Treasure Pavilion nearby had been built exquisitely. With the sunshine pouring in, before people even went in, there was a feeling of comfort.
Empress Dowager Zhou looked at the two juniors and nodded. “That’s good.”
Matron Liu saw the situation and led some palace maids and eunuchs to put cushions on the stone benches, and carry in incense pots and other items before moving to the side.
The sunlight was gentle, the tea was fragrant, the words were quiet. It was serene and extremely content.
Gu Ru Jiu held the teacup and smiled when she saw the honeybees and butterflies flying in the garden.
Jin Yang followed her gaze. He saw the dense flowers and unknown colourful butterflies. He pushed the pastry dish next to his hand in Gu Ru Jiu’s direction. “Junior Sister, will you come to my capping ceremony?”
Gu Ru Jiu suddenly turned back to look at the smiling youth and did not respond.
The capping ceremony of an emperor was extremely important, and unrelated people could not attend. She was not a female member of the imperial house, and only had a minor county mistress title. How could she attend such an occasion?
Empress Dowager Zhou seemed to be unaware of the movements of the two juniors. She picked up a thumbnail-sized pastry and put it into her mouth. Her gaze was slightly complicated.
Jin Yang was not angry at Gu Ru Jiu’s lack of response. He smiled and said, “When I first met Junior Sister, I felt that Junior Sister was adorable, and thought how good it would be if I had such an adorable younger sister.”
Gu Ru Jiu thought of what her father had mentioned about Jin Yang’s past and her expression changed slightly.
“Luckily, you and I finally have the friendship of siblings. How can Junior Sister be missing from an important event like the capping ceremony?” Jin Yang raised a teacup and toasted Gu Ru Jiu. “Junior Sister, are you willing to give this stupid elder brother face?”
The corners of Gu Ru Jiu’s mouth twitched. In the end, she said, “If possible, this subject will definitely be present.”
Hearing the words, Jin Yang’s smile grew larger. “This is good.”
Empress Dowager Zhou turned to look outside the pavilion. Over there, the grass and flowers were vibrant but her worry grew stronger, turning to helplessness and bitterness. She silently took a sip of tea.
Jin Yang stayed in Kangquan Palace for more than half of the day. He only left in satisfaction after eating dinner. Before leaving, he repeatedly said that he would accompany the empress dowager to Five Estate Temple tomorrow.
The empress dowager drove him away like he was a mosquito, and then had Gu Ru Jiu return to her hall to rest. After Gu Ru Jiu left, her smile collapsed.
“Empress Dowager.” Matron Liu took down her hair bun. Seeing the empress dowager’s unhappy expression, she said worriedly, “What is it?”
“Maybe I should not have had Jiu Jiu visit the palace.” Empress Dowager rubbed her temples and said tiredly, “The emperor is growing up, and his thoughts are more and more deep. Even I cannot accurately guess them.” In reality, this was a good thing. One should be like this to be a qualified emperor.
But his attitude towards Jiu Jiu…
“Isn’t this for County Mistress’s benefit?” Matron Liu put the phoenix hairpins back into the jewelry box. She urged in a whisper, “The emperor is about to govern on his own. If you do not plan on her behalf now, when you do so in the future, it will not be good if the emperor misunderstands.”
“I want Jiu Jiu to have another support in the future, but…” Empress Dowager Zhou shook her head and grew silent. She really loved Jiu Jiu, so she did not want the other to be trapped in this kind of place for the rest of her life.
If Jiu Jiu had such thoughts, maybe she would think of a way to satisfy them. But this girl did not have such thoughts.
While the emperor was not her own child, he was the child that she had chosen to enter the palace. Even if blood was not thicker than water, they had true emotion after relying on each other. If he had such thoughts towards Jiu Jiu, what should she do?
In Purple Imperial Hall, Jin Yang did not sleep. He stayed in the study for a long time before writing an imperial edict with his own hands, and then stamped the imperial seal.
In the west hall of Kangquan Palace, Gu Ru Jiu looked at the decor in the room. After bathing, she laid comfortably on the soft bed, put the silk blanket over herself and fell asleep.
Translator Ramblings: The empress dowager is a good mother and aunt. She could make decrees for marriage but she considers both Jiu Jiu and Jin Yang’s sides. History is not short of empress/empress-dowagers who marry their sons off to daughters from their paternal family. It’s a good way to keep power going into the next generation and also keep your own status in the imperial palace since it’s not likely your niece is going to scheme against you.