This chapter has been brought to you by me and Adnana.
The matter of the Chen Family making a fuss in the Gu Family to save their son was not kept a secret by the Chen Family. Therefore soon, it reached the ears of others. There were gossips who said that the Chen Family had ugly expressions when leaving the Gu Family and seemed dissatisfied.
In the eyes of outsiders, the Chen Family’s conduct was over the line. The relationships between aristocratic families were back and forth. The Gu Family was kind, and had been taking care of the Chen Family unilaterally over the years. Now, the Chen Family’s child had killed someone, and a member of the imperial family at that. No matter how capable the Gu Family was, they could not speak for the Chen Family on this matter.
With the two family at odds, the outsiders would only say the Chen Family was stupid, and that the Gu Family was too soft to not speak up when already so harassed. But no matter the point of view, no one felt the Gu Family was in the wrong.
As a brother-in-law, Gu Zhi Yu had done what he should do, and urged when he should urge. They were also not true brothers. He could neither beat nor scold the other. At this point, one could only blame the Chen Family for spoiling their child too much.
The Gu Family had not said bad things about the Chen Family at this point, but the Chen Family was dissatisfied and hated the Gu Family. People of the capital unconsciously distanced themselves from the Chen Family.
“Mistress, the rumors all say that the Chen Family did not teach their son well, and are greedy.” The servant girl made up Yang shi‘s hair. “Do you think this looks good?”
Yang shi glanced at the mirror and nodded. “Yes.”
“When Her Majesty sees you, she will be happy.” The servant girl had served Yang shi for many years and knew how much Yang shi valued her children, so she picked good things to say.
“None of these children are worry-free.” Yang shi sighed with a smile. She thought of the negative discussion regarding the Chen Family, and a hint of a sneer appeared on her lips.
As a woman of the inner courtyard, she had her means to teach someone a lesson.
“Mother, are you ready?” Gu Zhi Yu said warmly outside the door. “The carriage from the palace has come.”
“Good.” Yang shi stood up. Coming out of the room, she saw her son. She said with a smile, “How come you did not go to the ministry today?”
“This son will see Mother into the palace first,” Gu Zhi Yu responded with a smile. “As long as Mother does not find this son troublesome.”
“I do not mind my son opening the way.” The smile on Yang shi‘s face rose. She walked out of the gates and before she boarded the carriage, she turned and looked with joy in her eyes as her son mounted the horse.
Her son had finally thought it through, and regained his former spirits.
The carriage from the ducal establishment passed by. The passersby moved aside. Some women saw Gu Zhi Yu on his horse and could not help but blush, covering their faces with their hand but also peeking through.
“That is Heir Gu—face like jade, eyes like stars.” A miss from an official family whispered to her companion. “If I could …” She suddenly covered her face. She said nothing, but her face was bright red.
“What are you thinking?” Her companion looked at her with a smile. “That is the imperial brother-in-law, the future inheritor of the dukedom. Even if he is marrying for the second time, it would not be our turn.”
The miss knew that she should not have said what she just did and gave a silly smile to her companion. When she looked back down, the ducal carriage had moved far away.
In Purple Imperial Hall, Gu Ru Jiu rubbed her sore and hurting waist, and constantly looked out.
Qiu Luo saw her like this, and was slightly amused. “Your Majesty, stop looking. If Madam arrives, someone will report.”
As she was speaking, Bai Xian walked in with a smile. “Your Majesty, Madam has arrived.”
“Come in, come in.” Gu Ru Jiu stood up, helped by Qiu Luo. Before she walked to the door, Yang shi already came in.
Yang shi saw her daughter with a large belly and hurriedly said, “Do not come out—careful you do not fall.”
“This daughter is just in a hurry to see Mother.” Gu Ru Jiu pulled Yang shi‘s hand and smiled fawningly at Yang shi. “Is the family well?”
“All well, all well.” Yang shi helped her daughter sit, and put a cushion behind Gu Ru Jiu’s waist. “How about you?”
“This daughter is well.” Gu Ru Jiu held Yang shi‘s hand and did not let go. “Is Yuan Yuan growing well?”
“He has a good appetite recently, and needs two wet nurses.” Yang shi looked at Gu Ru Jiu with a smile. “Last time, you had people bring so many things that were not used, and now they do not fit.”
“Babies grow quickly; it is good they do not fit.” Gu Ru Jiu smiled as she chatted about home matters with Yang shi. Because she was pregnant, she had to go to the washroom frequently. Yang shi saw the palace attendants surrounding her daughter, and could not help but smile.
After a while, Gu Ru Jiu came back and said to Yang shi, “Mother, I arranged for you to stay in the side hall of Luanhe Palace. That place is close to here, and has a good environment. You should not be unaccustomed to living there.”
“All good,” Yang shi said. “I had people bring fermented bean curd. But do not eat too much, just to relieve your craving.”
“I know that Mother is the best to me.” Gu Ru Jiu hugged Yang shi‘s arm and shook it. She suddenly said, “Today is the day of Chen Kong’s execution?”
“Do not worry about such things.” Yang shi looked at Gu Ru Jiu’s belly. “Do not frighten the child.” Why mention such unfortunate things with a child in her belly? This girl did not think before speaking.
Gu Ru Jiu shrank her neck back and snickered at being scolded by her mother.
Yang shi saw her like this and said helplessly, “It seems the emperor has spoiled you.”
“If he does not spoil me, who will he spoil?” Gu Ru Jiu smiled shamelessly. Yang shi heard this, wanted to say something but could not, and then smiled helplessly.
It was not yet noon, and Jin Yang returned to Purple Imperial Hall. Seeing Yang shi already present, he gave the bow of a junior to Yang shi.
Yang shi would not receive such a bow, dodging and returning the bow. She said, “Since Your Majesty has come back, then this subject will go to Luanhe Palace to take a look, and so the servants will not be ignorant of how to place my luggage.”
Jin Yang knew that she was finding an excuse to leave. This was Purple Imperial Hall, the place where the emperor lived. It was not appropriate for her to stay here.
“It is rare for Mother-in-law to come to the palace. It will be the same if you eat the noon meal here before going to unpack.” Jin Yang knew that Jiu Jiu had a good relationship with her family elders and did not bear to have Jiu Jiu be in distress. He said, “Only Jiu Jiu and I live here. Mother-in-law does not need to worry so much.”
Jin Yang had said so much that Yang shi could not speak of leaving and so accepted with a smile.
During the noon meal, as the dishes were presented, Yang shi found most of the dishes on the table were ones that Jiu Jiu liked to eat. The palace attendants appeared to be used to this.
While one should not speak when eating, Yang shi found that the emperor frequently served food for Jiu Jiu, without even using the eunuch, and her daughter…
Her daughter was lazy and let the emperor serve her.
Yang shi felt that she could not keep looking. Before the child married, she did not seem to be so lazy. Now she was like this?
Gu Ru Jiu’s appetite had changed dramatically recently. She would want to eat sweet, then sour, then salty. The people in the imperial kitchens would prepare several dishes of any taste in the last few months in order to satisfy the empress.
Jin Yang took a taste of the sweet and sour fish. He felt the sauce was fresh and the fish was appetizing wrapped in it. He could not help but hold his chopsticks with a piece to Gu Ru Jiu’s mouth. Worried that the sauce would drip and dirty Gu Ru Jiu’s clothing, he held his other hand underneath.
After Gu Ru Jiu ate, he asked with his gaze, how did it taste? Jiu Jiu recently did not like to eat fish, finding it fishy, so he could only coax her into eating.
Seeing Jin Yang’s anticipating gaze, Gu Ru Jiu smiled and nodded.
Jin Yang became happy and fed Gu Ru Jiu two more bites before putting down his chopsticks.
Seeing the two interact like this, by the time she finished the meal, Yang shi did not know what she had eaten. Fairly speaking, her daughter had a big belly right now, and her face was swollen. She was not as good-looking as she usually was. But the emperor looked at her daughter like she was a treasure.
“Mother-in-law, this son-in-law has some things to take care of and needs to leave first.” After eating, Jin Yang spoke for a while with Yang shi and then stood up. “Please, Mother-in-law, take care of Jiu Jiu.”
“Your Majesty, do not worry—this subject will take good care of the empress.” Yang shi stood up and saw Jin Yang leave. Turning back, she saw Gu Ru Jiu still sitting. She suppressed for a long time before she said, “You and His Majesty… are always like this?”
“Ah?” Gu Ru Jiu looked with confusion at Yang shi.
Seeing her daughter ignorant, Yang shi sighed. “Never mind.” She walked next to Gu Ru Jiu and caressed her hair. “The emperor said that you will usually nap at this time?”
“Yes.” Gu Ru Jiu nodded. “But Mother is here today and I do not bear to sleep.”
“Silly child—I have come to the palace to keep you company. We can speak at any time. Go sleep first,” Yang shi said with a smile. “After you sleep, I will go see the empress dowager.”
One could not just not go greet the empress dowager after entering the palace.
Gu Ru Jiu, after being urged by Yang shi to sleep, could not lie down flat, and just leaned down. Yang shi waited for her to sleep before leaving Purple Imperial Hall.
“Mistress, the empress dowager is likely resting right now. How about this servant takes you to see your residence? If there is anything unsuitable, this servant will have them change it,” Bai Xian said with a smile as he followed behind Yang shi. “Although Her Majesty has never lived in Luanhe Palace, there are people cleaning it everyday, and there are servants readily available.”
“Thank you, Bai Gonggong, for leading the way.” Yang shi knew Bai Xian, and that he was a personal eunuch of the emperor. But from the situation today, he seemed to have become one of her daughter’s servants.
She did not quite understand, but she did not show it. But she was slightly concerned with what Bai Xian had said.
Her daughter did not live in Luanhe Palace, but each day, there were servants, and then there were the servants of Luanhe Palace all equipped. This really was… Even though she and Gu Chang Ling had been in love for nearly three decades, they were not like her daughter and the emperor.
Yang shi was even more shocked when she entered Luanhe Palace. Each blade of grass and each tree was set up with the shadow of Jiu Jiu’s childhood rooms. Only the furniture was more refined and delicate than in the Gu Family, and gave off auspicious meanings.
How much energy and manpower did the emperor spend in this palace?
Yang shi looked around and said emotionally after a moment, “The emperor has heart.”
Bai Xian hung his head and said, “Mistress, the emperor treats Her Majesty like pearl and jade. You do not need to worry.”
Hearing “like pearl and jade,” Yang shi stilled for a moment. She left the main hall and came to the side hall. She found that while this place was still refined, it could not compare to the main hall at all, but the decor still represented good luck.
“It is very good here. There is nothing wrong.” Yang shi saw fresh flowers in the vases. They likely had been put in not long ago. She said with a smile, “Everyone worked hard.” Then she had her servant girl send gifts to the stewards of Luanhe Palace.
Yang shi was the empress’ mother, and the stewards of Luanhe Palace did not dare to accept those gifts easily. They came to Yang shi, thanked her three times, and then left with her gifts.
Bai Xian looked at Yang shi‘s actions, and was emotional inside. As expected of the duchess who had raised two sons and two daughters. She did not slip in her speech or actions at all. People would feel close to her. No wonder the duke favored her alone for nearly three decades.
But the empress was not the same in personality as the duchess. She must take more after the duke?
With Yang shi keeping her company, Gu Ru Jiu was in a better mood with the attention of her mother. On the day of the court examinations, Jin Yang softly put on his clothes, but then Gu Ru Jiu woke up.
“I disturbed you?” Seeing her wake up, Jin Yang turned and went to her side, half-dressed. “Are you uncomfortable?”
“No.” Gu Ru Jiu shook her head. “I just did not sleep well.”
Jin Yang immediately kissed her forehead in distress. The baby was already nine months along, and moved very strongly. So Jiu Jiu was frequently woken up in the middle of the night.
“Today is the day of the court examinations?” Gu Ru Jiu let Jin Yang help her sit up. Then she slowly helped him dress. She righted the crown on his head. “I wish that Your Majesty will find officials of virtue that can help Your Majesty, so Great Feng will have good weather for crops and all countries will come to pay their respects.”
“Yes.” Jin Yang looked at Gu Ru Jiu. “Zhen will not disappoint Jiu Jiu.”
Gu Ru Jiu smiled and touched his face. “It is almost time.Your Majesty, go.”
Jin Yang carefully hugged her, and then turned to leave Purple Imperial Hall.
After Jin Yang left, Gu Ru Jiu held Qiu Luo and said, “Get them to make arrangements. This palace is about to give birth.”
“Plop.” The horse whisk in Bai Xian’s hands fell to the ground. He hurriedly bent down to pick it up. “Your Majesty, this servant will go arrange immediately. The emperor…”
“Before the court examinations are finished, no one is allowed to tell His Majesty!” Gu Ru Jiu said with a dark expression. “Anyone who disobeys will be driven out of Purple Imperial Hall.” This was Jin Yang’s first court examination after he started to govern on his own, and had great meaning. Gu Ru Jiu knew that if Jin Yang had known she was about to give birth, he would not have gone to the hall to supervise the exam.
The first examination after the emperor started to govern on his own, and he did not show up. If this spread, scholars might think that he looked down on scholars. How could she let something like that happen?
Her, Gu Ru Jiu’s, man must be an upright monarch that all people praised!
“Yes!” Right now, Bai Xian would agree to whatever Gu Ru Jiu said. He turned to make arrangements.
The place for labor had been prepared beforehand, and there was nothing to worry about. When Yang shi and Empress Dowager Zhou arrived, Gu Ru Jiu was already in the delivery room.
There was no noise from inside the room. Yang shi walked two circles outside, and then said to Empress Dowager Zhou, “Empress Dowager, Her Majesty is giving birth for the first time; this subject is worried and will go in to keep her company.”
Empress Dowager Zhou was also worried. Hearing Yang shi say this, she would not object and immediately nodded in agreement. If not for her status, she would not have been able to stop herself from charging in.
In Taihe Palace, the students participating in the court examination were lined up outside the hall and entered. They bowed to the man on the throne, even though from their positions they could not see what the emperor looked like.
The officials from the Ministry of Rites recited the rules of the exam and then bowed to Jin Yang. “Your Majesty, please.”
Jin Yang nodded.
The officials bowed to Jin Yang, and then turned to the students below. “Start answering.”
Jin Yang looked at the students below with their heads bowed as they wrote. He did not go down and read what they wrote, just observed their spirits, and then went through the list of candidates.
On the books were each candidate’s name, where they lived, who was in their family, who nominated them. Everything was recorded in detail, and it was hard to cheat.
Jin Yang did not find it boring, and read the records one by one. After reading over a dozen, his heart inexplicably jumped, like he could not breathe.
“Your Majesty?” He Ming saw that Jin Yang’s expression was not quite right, and asked worriedly in a whisper.
Jin Yang shook his head, took the tea that He Ming handed over for a drink, and suppressed his heart palpitations.
“It has been almost two hours—why is there no movement?” Empress Dowager Zhou turned in circles around the room. If not for Matron Liu, she would have charged into the room already. She had not spent so much time when she was giving birth.
“Empress Dowager, do not worry.” Matron Liu brought over a cup of tea. “Her Majesty is a person that Spiritual Master Chu Yun praised as having good fortune. Everything will be fine.”
“Yes, yes, yes.” Empress Dowager Zhou took a few gulps of the tea. She suddenly heard a suppressed shout of pain from inside the room, and shoved the tea back into Matron Liu’s hand. She started to pace around the room again. There was no more sound in the room.
“Has this been reported to the emperor?” Empress Dowager Zhou took a deep breath and looked at the sky outside. She feared the court examination had not yet finished.
“Her Majesty said that no one is allowed to tell the emperor before the court examination is finished,” Matron Liu said. “This is His Majesty’s first imperial examination after he started to govern on his own. This…”
Empress Dowager Zhou sighed upon hearing this. “I understand. Do as the empress thinks.” Then she looked at the room, and could not help but pray to the gods.
In the delivery room, Gu Ru Jiu felt that the child would kick their way through her stomach. The intermittent pain caused her to almost faint.
Suddenly, she felt her lower half warm, as if something was flowing out.
“The waters broke!” She heard a midwife say.
Oh, the waters had broken, she thought dazedly. Her hand unconsciously grabbed Yang shi‘s sleeve.
“Do not be afraid, do not be afraid—Mother is here with you.” Yang shi‘s eyes had turned red already. She did not feel much when she was giving birth, but seeing her daughter like this, she was very distressed.
“Your Majesty, try to not scream later—save your energy to give birth.”
“Remember, when the pains start, push; when the pains stop, then you stop. This way, you can save your energy.”
Gu Ru Jiu acknowledged, dazed. But halfway through, she felt she was weak all over, and had no energy left at all.
“Your Majesty, you have to push!”
Someone fed her some bitter soup. She licked her lips. There seemed to be the taste of ginseng. She felt slightly hungry, and a bit thirsty. So she opened her eyes to look at Yang shi, and said, feeling wronged, “I am hungry.”
“Quick, bring Her Majesty something to eat.” Yang shi saw her daughter’s expression and her tears almost fell down. Someone came with a meat porridge already prepared to feed Gu Ru Jiu.
Before Gu Ru Jiu could swallow a mouthful, the pains came again. She grunted in pain, then took a few large bites of the porridge. She felt that she had energy again, and continued an important step of human life—giving birth!
The tests were completed. Jin Yang picked some of the students that were near the top to answer questions. Seeing most of them having something to say, he nodded in satisfaction.
At this time, He Ming saw Bai Xian waving at him from the side door, his expression anxious.
He Ming was usually at odds with Bai Xian, but he knew what was important. He hurriedly walked to the side of the hall and asked in a whisper, “What is it?”
“The empress started labor in the morning, and has been in the delivery room for four hours,” Bai Xian said with an anxious expression. “But the child has not come down now. The empress dowager is anxious and had this servant come to report.”
“Why did you not report such an important thing earlier!” He Ming cursed. He looked back at His Majesty, and ran back to Jin Yang’s side.
At this time, Jin Yang had just finished asking a student questions. He Ming said in a whisper, “Your Majesty, Her Majesty has been in the delivery room for four hours. The child has not yet come down. The empress dowager is anxious, and sent people to report to you.”
Upon hearing this, Jin Yang’s expression changed greatly. If the students were not present, he would have thrown away the books in his hand, and sprinted to Purple Imperial Hall.
“All present are talented scholars, and Zhen is very comforted.” Jin Yang put the book down, said a few words, and then gave the matter to Zhang Zhong Han and the minister of the Ministry of Rites before standing up to leave.
The scholars saw Jin Yang leave with gratitude. In their view, the emperor had already sat so long with them, and asked them questions—this was so touching.
They had heard of the conduct of the previous emperor, and this made the present emperor special.
It was their good fortune to encounter the current emperor.
But the officials present were startled. What was with the emperor?
“Just now, I seemed to see an eunuch of the inner palace come with a message.” The Minister of Revenue pondered, and could not help but look at his important subordinate. “Was the imperial child born?”
Gu Zhi Yu changed expression. Just now, he had seen his sister’s servant Bai Xian appear. But the other did not have an expression of joy, but anxiousness.
Was his sister not doing well?
Jin Yang got off the imperial carriage, and ran towards the rear hall of Purple Imperial Hall where the delivery room had been set up.
Just as he came in the door, he heard Jiu Jiu’s cries of pain from inside. He immediately wanted to charge in, but the palace maids and the eunuchs stopped him.
“Your Majesty! You cannot—you cannot, Your Majesty!”