The news of Cheng Yuanjing’s return to the capital somehow reached the Changguo duke manor. After a few days, Cheng family’s married lady, Cheng Yujin’s paternal aunt Cheng Min came to visit with her children.
Old Master Cheng had three sons and one daughter. The eldest son, second son, and eldest daughter were all born by old Madam Cheng.
Cheng Min grew up in luxury. Like other members of Cheng family, she was beautiful. So when she reached marriageable age, she was married off into Changguo duke manor. Although both families were titled noble, a marquis and duke manor were too far apart. There were so many marquises ran along all over the capital, but only a few had a duke title.
Changguo duke manor was also very wealthy and influential. They have been living in glory for generations. Their clan was vast and mighty, with countless collateral branches. Cheng Min married the second son of the main branch, the younger full brother of the current Duke Changguo. Considering Yichun marquis manor’s situation, it was already regarded as marrying into a higher rank.
Therefore, this paternal aunt visit to her natal family was very lively, and old Madam Cheng had busily nagged the preparation early on. Qingfu Junzhu was feeling nervous all the time, feared that something might go wrong and offend both the old Madam and this sister-in-law.
Early in the morning, Cheng Yujin put on her new clothes for seeing a guest. She wore a jade red double-breasted jacket with a long mamian skirt underneath. Because she was still unmarried, her hairdo wasn’t too exquisite. She had a pair of gold-plated silver hairpin with flower laces decoration. At the top, there was a white and red jade butterfly inlaid with gems. Crystal-clear ruby was embedded at the flower stalk. The other hairpin was also had a similar design, but with swapped white and red colors. After Cheng Yujin finished dressing up, she was indeed a jade-like beauty, a scenery perfect for a painting.
Cheng Yujin went to pay respect to her paternal aunt. This time, Cheng Min visited her natal family together with several children. Girls and boys around thirteen to fourteen years old gathered together, and their joyful commotion could be heard from far away. At this time, a servant girl guarding the door reported, “Eldest young miss is here.” Cheng Min turned back to see the newly arrived girl, and her eyes instantly brightened.
Cheng Yujin entered the room and greeted Cheng Min. Her voice was neither fast nor slow, and her movement was absolutely perfect. When bowing down, from the hairpins on her head to the bottom of her skirt, not a little bit were shaken. Cheng Min secretly praised the girl in awe. She turned back to Qingfu Junzhu and said: “The daughter eldest sister-in-law taught is really praiseworthy. Just looking at her makes me extremely envious. If my family’s child can be half as sensible as Jin jie’er, I would be happy even if it cost me several years of lifespan.”
Qingfu Junzhu smiled humbly. Cheng Nianchun who got criticized by her mother snorted disapprovingly and pouted: “Mother, you always belittle me. If you like eldest biao(1) sister so much, then just take her back to be your daughter.”
Old Madam Cheng laughed at this. She pointed at Xu Nianchun and said: “Look, this girl is jealous.”
Cheng Min pretended to pinch Xu Nianchun and jokingly said: “You always talking too much. No one will think you are dumb if you speak less. Even if I wanted to rob your biao sister to be my daughter, afraid your maternal aunt must be unwilling.”
Qingfu laughed: “It’s her blessing that her paternal aunt valued her so much. I see that Nianchun is lively and charming. I would also like to have another daughter like her.”
Xu Nianchun immediately ran to Qingfu Junzhu, asking to be spoiled. Old Madam Cheng was grinning from ear to ear. The other girls and madams presents were also cover their smiles with their handkerchief. For a while, Shou’an hall was filled with a joyous atmosphere.
Cheng Yujin also showed a smile befitting the situation. But inward, she felt sad. Xu Nianchun was able to banter with her mother unscrupulously and then ran to Qingfu Junzhu to be spoiled. Cheng Yumo could also hug Ruan-shi and laughed freely.
What about her?
The room was full of excitement, yet it had nothing to do with her.
But even so, Cheng Yujin couldn’t show the slightest sadness. She still had to laugh with everyone else and make her grandmother happy. Cheng Min smiled for a while. She then turned around casually, and couldn’t help seeing Cheng Yujin standing inside the cozy and beautifully decorated room, watching everyone else laughing with a gentle expression.
Cheng Min felt a bit moved. She carefully sized the girl up and found that this niece was surprisingly very beautiful. Cheng Yujin wore red attire. Even her jewelry also from gold and rubies. If changed with other people, they might be looked too tacky. But on her body, it was perfectly fit, as if all the world’s most precious beads and gemstones were created to be matched with Cheng Yujin.
The only regret was that the girl still young. The dress looked so formal on her body. If it was a few years later, when Cheng Yujin was seventeen or eighteen, after her facial features matured and her body fully grown, then one could even imagine what kind of brilliant scene she would be. Truly a peerless beauty.
After Cheng Min finished her observation, she couldn’t help but ask Qingfu Junzhu: “Eldest sister-in-law, your eldest girl looks so pretty. I’ve never seen her wearing that gold-inlaid jade jewelry before. Is that given by you?”
Qingfu glanced a bit and replied, “It was one the dowry that my consort mother prepared for my marriage. Now I was older, I couldn’t wear it anymore, so I simply gave it to the little girl to play with.”
Cheng Min chuckled. There was envy in her tone: “Eldest sister-in-law is really kind to your children. The eldest girl must have several lifetime blessing to be reborn as your daughter.”
In fact, right after Cheng Yujin entered the room, Ruan-shi instantly noticed her jewelry. And now, with Cheng Min’s words, she could openly stare at it. After closer examination, Ruan-shi’s mood became more complicated.
The whole piece was made from solid gold and still inlaid with large jade and gemstones. Ruan-shi herself didn’t even have a single piece of such expensive jewelry, yet Cheng Yujin, a little girl who still hasn’t left her boudoir, wore three or four. Looking from its style, she should own a whole set.
Ruan-shi was a bit sour. The girl was obviously her biological daughter, but for the sake of money, calling another woman ‘mother.’ Really a real example of the saying ‘whoever gives milk is the mother.’
On the other side, the rest of the girls glanced at her with obvious envy and jealousy. It was really profitable for Cheng Yujin to recognize Qingfu Junzhu as her mother.
(1) Biao : ‘Outer’ relatives. Refers to relatives with different surname, like mother’s natal family or maternal cousin.
A more detailed chapter about Cheng Yujin’s inner situation. It truly be hard for her. No wonder even the cold and distant Cheng Yuanjing pitied her.
On more technical rambling, this series killing me with two things : fashion description (I spent almost twenty minutes just for one paragraph describing Cheng Yujin’s clothes. Browsing the meaning and tried to phrasing it into a good english sentence) and familial relationship.
Especially familial relationship. At first I still tried to fully translate it into english, but it would be like this ‘Second maternal (older) cousin sister’ and ‘eldest maternal (younger) cousin sister’. Imagine that. No wonder many translator simply used ‘Da biao jie’ or ‘San tang ge’, no matter how confusing is that. And trying to curb some of english detail? Then we lost quite a few nuance, like the character relationship related to their age, which is important in chinese culture. So at the end I use partial chinese, partial english instead, mimicking ‘Tyrannical Wang’ translation.
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