This chapter has been brought to you by me and Adnana.
In Purple Imperial Hall, Gu Chang Ling finished his class with Jin Yang and then gravely thanked Jin Yang for his grace.
“Teacher does not have to be so.” Jin Yang walked forward and reached out to help Gu Chang Ling stand back up from his bow. “This is just Zhen‘s affection for Junior Sister. When a brother cares for a sister, where is there thanks to speak of?”
Gu Chang Ling looked at the emperor who had a serious expression. He said after a momentary daze, “Your Majesty treats my daughter so, how can this subject feel this is a prerogative?”
Jin Yang smiled upon hearing this and said to Gu Chang Ling, “Teacher is worrying too much.”
Even if Gu Chang Ling was skilled verbally, he didn’t know how to continue talking. It was not appropriate to express gratefulness again, but if he did not, it went against how a subject should act towards his monarch.
“Your Majesty, County Princess Changyan is asking for an audience.” A young eunuch came in and interrupted his dilemma.
“Please, invite the County Princess in.” Jin Yang took a step forward with his left foot. When he turned and saw Gu Chang Ling still present, he imperceptibly pulled his foot back. “Junior Sister has taken great care of Mother-Empress. Mother-Empress treats her like a daughter. A county princess title is nothing.”
Gu Chang Ling lowered his head and thought silently, but this was not a true blood daughter. You and the imperial family doing this has caught the Gu Family greatly off guard.
“Your Majesty,” Gu Ru Jiu entered the hall. She first curtsied to Jin Yang and then bowed elegantly to Gu Chang Ling, giving a bright smile.
“Junior Sister, how is it that you have come here?” Jin Yang sat down at the front and invited Gu Ru Jiu and Gu Chang Ling to be seated. “Have the palace attendants not been serving properly?”
“The palace attendants have taken great care of me. I came today to thank Your Majesty.” She stood up and curtsied again. “This subject has no talent or virtue to be ennobled as a county princess, and feels great fear.”
“I treat Junior Sister so in hopes that Junior Sister will be good and at peace,” Jin Yang hurriedly said. “If this frightened you, it was my fault. Do not think that. My original intentions were not so.”
While a person’s sincerity or lack thereof could be faked through words, it could not be faked by one’s eyes.
Gu Ru Jiu looked at the other’s eyes and suddenly stilled. In these last years, while she had frequently seen Jin Yang in Kangquan Palace, Jin Yang had never postured as an emperor in front of her, and acted more like a gentle youth. She only thought that this was caused by the other’s upbringing and innate personality, and did not feel that Jin Yang really had much sibling affection towards her.
But from how the other looked at her, she felt slightly ashamed. She was ashamed that she had relied on her so-called wisdom and knowledge to think of the other’s true feelings as courtesy and their concern as politeness.
She would always judge objectively as an outsider whether he was a good emperor, and ponder his every action and word. She had never treated him like a close friend or brother.
“No, I was frightened, but also happy. Thank you, Your Majesty.” Gu Ru Jiu smiled, her lips pressed together, and her eyes also laughing. “I am slightly unused to suddenly becoming a county princess.”
Even if he became an emperor like those of many history books, at least he had treated her sincerely in his youth. Then she should not treat his sincerity as though it was a matter of fact.
“You will get used to it. When I first entered the palace, I was also slightly unused.” Jin Yang saw that Gu Ru Jiu was not displeased by his decision, and the inexplicable nervousness he felt disappeared. “Do not forget to come to my capping ceremony in two days.”
His junior sister was good in all aspects, but liked to sleep in. He worried that on the day, when the capping ceremony started, Junior Sister would still be in bed.
“How can this junior sister miss Senior Brother’s capping ceremony?” Gu Ru Jiu laughed out loud. “Your Majesty, I will arrive on time.”
Jin Yang heard this and nodded. He turned and had Bai Xian come out with a box. Then he took the box and placed it in front of Gu Ru Jiu. “I heard Cun Jing say that you like the folk arts. I had someone find some for you. Take it and play.”
“Thank you, Your Majesty,” Gu Ru Jiu smiled and took the box, hugging it to her chest. Then she glanced over at Gu Chang Ling who was pretending to be a statue on the side. “Then I will not disturb you and will leave.” She finished speaking and trotted out of Purple Imperial Hall.
“Cough.” Gu Chang Ling coughed. “Your Majesty, this one has spoiled my daughter. She really…”
“Junior Sister is good like this.” Jin Yang walked next to the table with a smile. “Right, there is an old saying—When one has virtue, they should not yield to the teacher. But there are also other sayings. The student should respect the teacher. How to explain?”
“Heaven, earth, monarch, parents, teacher. The universe is greater than the monarch greater than the parents greater than the teacher.” Gu Chang Ling said after a moment of thought, “Your Majesty is the monarch of the world, and is naturally greater than the teacher.”
“Teacher, do you know that the Sima and Li Families are Zhen’s greatest worry?”
Gu Chang Ling thought for a moment. He walked to the center of the hall, lifted his robe and knelt. “While this subject is mediocre of learning, this subject is willing to be a sword for the monarch.”
“Teacher, please rise.” Jin Yang helped Gu Chang Ling stand up. “Teacher, to Zhen you are not a sword, but a lantern. Teacher’s help is Zhen’s good fortune.”
Gu Chang Ling looked at this young emperor and said, emphasizing each word, “This is this subject’s good fortune.”
Two days later, just as the sun was peeking into the sky, Gu Ru Jiu had already risen to wash and change into the palace attire the empress dowager had sent over yesterday.
“Miss, it’s almost time.” Qiu Luo bent down and neatened Gu Ru Jiu’s dress. She bowed and took several steps back. “The carriage is already waiting outside.”
Gu Ru Jiu looked at herself in the mirror. After making sure everything was fine, she nodded and said, “Let’s go.”
Jin Yang’s capping ceremony was being held in Chaoyang Hall. But before this, he had to first pay respects to his ancestors before starting the ceremony. As a woman, she did not have to follow. She only had to stand as a spectator in Chaoyang Hall.
She had not expected Jin Yang to make her a third-rank county princess. With such a status, she could stand openly in Chaoyang Hall.
There was a distance from Kangquan Palace to Chaoyang Hall. Gu Ru Jiu listened to the sounds of the carriage wheels on the slate stone. She felt a surge of emotion. More than three years had passed in the blink of an eye. The young emperor, once not treated seriously by anyone, was finally stepping onto the true path of an emperor.
There were musicians playing in Chaoyang Hall. When she descended the carriage, she saw the two rows of guards lined up outside the hall, and the men and women standing on the two sides.
“County Princess Changyan, please come this way.” A young official from the Ministry of Rites walked over, bowed to her, and pointed a direction for her.
“Thank you.” Gu Ru Jiu thanked this person, and then glanced at her servant girls behind her before stepping on the jade stairs by herself.
Her long palace dress flowed on the steps like water. Gu Ru Jiu’s heart felt a small ripple, like water in a small breeze.
When she climbed the last step, she turned and looked back. The faces of people at the bottom of the stairs could not be seen clearly. They seemed to be people of two worlds.
She moved her gaze away and walked towards the group of women. She picked up her dress and walked in the direction of Yang shi.
Yang shi‘s status was as a commandery lady, just below a country lady. Among the women present, Yang shi held a high status, not including the women of the imperial house.
Standing to the left of Yang shi was the Li Family mistress Wu shi. Gu Ru Jiu bowed to Yang shi, and then curtsied to the surrounding noblewomen before going to stand at her spot.
Yang shi saw her daughter’s face was rosy and her spirit energized. She was reassured.
“Mistress Gu’s miss looks to have good fortune.” Standing to Yang shi‘s right was the wife of Right Prime Minister Zhang. While her husband had been from a common family, his rank existed, and so she stood near the front.
However, the surrounding ladies were not warm towards her. The aristocratic families were too subtle in their actions, so Mistress Zhang did not feel that she was being excluded.
“Thank you. She’s a child, she has no good fortune.” Yang shi smiled faintly. She was slightly displeased with Mistress Zhang for discussing her daughter’s conduct in public.
“You cannot say that. Even Spiritual Master Chu Yun said so. How can it be false?” This Mistress Zhang was a faithful believer, and did not doubt Spiritual Master Chu Yun’s words. She originally had no impression of the Gu Family miss. Seeing Gu Ru Jiu’s white face now and how she was more beautiful than her own daughter when she walked, she couldn’t help but have some thoughts.
While her family could not rival an aristocratic family, her husband was prime minister of the right, and her youngest son worked hard. If he was so lucky to marry this lucky county princess…
“The Emperor has arrived!”
As Mistress Zhang pondered, she suddenly heard the sharp cry from the eunuch and her attention was pulled back. She looked and saw below the jade stairs a youth dressed in black robes embroidered with red. Each of his steps was extremely steady, as though he was not stepping on jade steps but on the entire world.
Mistress Zhang recognized this youth—the emperor the empress dowager had adopted a few years ago.
After the emperor entered the inner hall, he first recited a long essay. Mistress Zhang had not been educated, and did not understand the meaning. She just felt that the emperor looked very handsome when he was reciting, and her sons could not compare.
After that was the capping and naming processes. It was extremely elaborate, so that Mistress Zhang was very dizzy. She just felt the name “Chen Jun” was pleasing to hear. Then she thought, and felt it was a pity. No matter how pleasing an emperor’s name was, no one would be able to call him.
Looking at Gu Chang Ling who was acting as a supporting guest, Mistress Zhang felt slightly unhappy. They were all the emperor’s teachers—how could Gu Chang Ling be a participant, and her husband only a spectator?
No matter how much displeasure Mistress Zhang felt inside, at least other people looked pleased. Gu Ru Jiu stood amid the crowd and looked at the emperor with the emperor’s crown and the black nine-dragons robes. She felt some small excitement.
She wondered if this was just her feeling, but she felt that Jin Yang had glanced towards her spot when he turned towards the crowd.
The emperor’s capping ceremony was really a torment. When the ceremony finished, Gu Ru Jiu’s legs were stiff. She saw Yang shi off before sitting on the carriage to return to Kangquan Palace.
She returned to the west hall, and changed. When Gu Ru Jiu came to the main hall, Empress Dowager Zhou and Jin Yang were both present. Seeing her come in, Jin Yang smiled. “Junior Sister.”
Gu Ru Jiu smiled towards him. Seeing him slightly pale, she curtsied to Empress Dowager Zhou and said, “Senior Brother does not look very good—are you exhausted?”
“I am fine.” Jin Yang coughed and the teacup in his hand shook. “Junior Sister, do not worry.”
“I know you are filial. But you are tired out. Go back and have an early rest.” Empress Dowager Zhou saw this and hurriedly said, “Bai Xian, help His Majesty return.”
Gu Ru Jiu nodded as well. “Your Majesty, Aunt is right. Go back and rest.” She ignored etiquette and took the teacup from Jin Yang’s hand. “I’m here.”
“Thank you, Junior Sister.” Jin Yang coughed and gave a small smile to Gu Ru Jiu. He allowed Bai Xian to help him stand up.
Empress Dowager Zhou resisted for a while but finally said, “Jiu Jiu, go send your cousin off.”
Cousin? Gu Ru Jiu stilled and then followed.
Seeing Gu Ru Jiu follow, Jin Yang’s steps slowed. He waited for Gu Ru Jiu to catch up before saying, “Junior Sister is also tired after standing for most of the day?”
Gu Ru Jiu shook her head. “I am fine. Your Majesty, do not worry about me.” She saw the exhaustion on Jin Yang’s face and said worriedly, “Your Majesty, I heard that drinking some almond milk tea a half hour before sleep helps. How about you try?”
Bai Xian sighed inwardly when he heard this. His Majesty had to learn so many things each day—how could he get a good rest?
“All right.” Jin Yang smiled and nodded.
Gu Ru Jiu watched him board his imperial procession. She couldn’t help but speak again. “Your Majesty, there will be governing matters every day, but there is only one you. I hope that you will take care of your health for you and the empress dowager.”
Jin Yang’s hand paused while lifting the curtain. He looked back at the young girl standing in front of the carriage and said “all right” with a smile again.
Gu Ru Jiu took a step forward, opened her hand and said, “This subject congratulates Your Majesty for the capping.”
A pouch embroidered with the words for good fortune and longevity was on her palm.
The third day of the third month in the Feng Dynasty was the Daughter’s Day. Each year at this time, the girls not of age in the home would give their parents and siblings embroidered items to wish them good fortune and health.
It was long past the third of the third month, but the meaning of this pouch was the same.
Jin Yang saw the strings of the pouch flying in the night wind. He slowly reached out. His cold fingertips touched the other’s palm, and the heat almost scorched his heart.
This was the first time he had received a pouch for good fortune and longevity. Bewildered, he was slightly at a loss.
This pouch was not embroidered well and had thread ends poking out of the corner. But Jin Yang tightly held this pouch.
Standing next to the carriage, he bowed, looking at this charming girl and said softly, “Thank you.”
Translator Ramblings: Where does exchanging tokens fall on the historical baseball bases for a relationship?