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Today was the third day after the wedding, the day for the newlyweds to return to the bride’s natal family. Like other new brides, Cheng Yujin would also return to her natal family today to show her situation after marriage. Before leaving the palace, Cheng Yujin went to Empress and Empress Dowager Yang’s palaces for the guankui ritual, where the new bride served her new elders meal for the first time. Empress Yang knew that Cheng Yujin was going back to her natal family today. She didn’t do much to make things difficult and soon released Cheng Yujin.
Cheng Yujin went back to Ciqing Palace, changed her clothes, and boarded the horse carriage with her personal servant girls. When she arrived, the whole Yichun Marquis Manor had been waiting for a long time. Cheng family opened their main gate and made sure that everything was spotless. Cheng Yuanxian, leading the rest of Cheng family’s brothers, cousins, and nephews, stood eagerly in front of the main gate. Meanwhile, Old Madam Cheng led the womenfolk and quietly waited for the Crown Princess’ arrival at the second gate1.
As the sun was getting higher, Old Madam Cheng was still waiting patiently. Finally, a messenger ran in, informing them that the Crown Prince and Crown Princess had arrived. Old Madam Cheng hurriedly instructed other womenfolks and waited with their breath held.
The sound of clapping hands filled the long street. Li Chengjing’s carriage stopped after the main gate, but Cheng Yujin’s changed into a sedan chair and drove right into the manor’s second gate, where Old Madam Cheng, Qingfu, Ruan-shi, and nearly one hundred other people knelt respectfully. Upon Cheng Yujin’s arrival, they simultaneously chimed: “Greetings to Her Highness the Crown Princess.”
Several women in palace attires stepped forward to lift the curtain of the sedan chair and carefully assisted the person inside. Cheng Yujin slowly got out. Standing in front of the kneeling people, she slightly lifted her chin and said: “You’re exempted.”
Everyone slowly stood up. Old Madam Cheng had to be supported to stand up, and she tremblingly said: “This old woman pays respect to Crown Princess. May Your Highness be blessed with eternal peace and fortune.”
“Grandmother, no need for formality.” Cheng Yujin stepped forward and supported Old Madam Cheng: “This granddaughter is not filial, letting elders wait here for long. Grandmother, quickly come in.”
Cheng Yujin just made a gesture and didn’t really give Old Madam Cheng a helping hand. Old Madam Cheng saw the red gold-woven sleeves spread out in front of her. The golden lines on the fabric shone under the sun, making her dizzy. Old Madam Cheng stood in a daze for a while and finally said with a smile: “Crown Princess is right. This old woman misses you so much and is too impatient. Crown Princess, please come in.”
Upon hearing the cue, Cheng family’s servants quickly dispersed left and right, opening a path in the middle. Only after Cheng Yujin and Old Madam Cheng walked in did the rest of the womenfolk dare to follow behind.
Today, everyone in the Cheng family, masters and servants alike, all came out to greet the Crown Prince and Crown Princess. The men stood with Cheng Yuanxian to wait on the street outside the main gate, the women stayed with Old Madam Cheng at the second gate, and the servants knelt in different places according to ranks. After entering the second gate, Cheng Yujin walked into Shou’an Hall’s main hall. At this moment, the whole Shou’an Hall had been prepared through and thorough, with sparkling new decorations everywhere to welcome the Crown Princess. Cheng Yujin asked Old Madam Cheng to sit on the main seat, but she was repeatedly declined. After three rejections, Cheng Yujin, who wasn’t sincere in her offer anyway, sat on the main seat on the highest position, while the Old Madam sat one seat beneath her.
The Crown Princess was going out of the palace. At this time, Cheng Yujin was naturally surrounded by many palace maids, with lower-ranking palace personnel stationed inside and outside the courtyard, all standing respectfully with perfect posture. Seeing this impressive scene, both Qingfu Junzhu and Ruan-shi were anxious and fretful. In just two days, Cheng Yujin seemed to be reborn into a different person.
Cheng Yujin wore a bright red dress today. Sitting upright on the main seat, she showed the majesty of the imperial family.
In the past, Cheng Yujin’s manners were excellent. Sitting, standing, walking…anything she did, it was pleasing to the eye. When people saw her manners, they only thought it was beautiful. Who knew that her beauty would turn into majesty once the person was clad in the imperial regalia?
This precisely was the imperial prestige. Like a moon that illuminated the world, one could feel the mightiness of the imperial family just by looking above. Beautiful but not bewitching, majestic but not emotional…it was hard to define how a crown princess should look like, but after seeing Cheng Yujin, everyone felt that this was what a crown princess should be.
Qingfu Junzhu suddenly felt that she had been a royal clan member in vain. Compared with Cheng Yujin, she, a dignified Junzhu, was totally nothing. Ruan-shi was even more embarrassed. When the marriage decree had just been released, Cheng Yujin’s crown princess attires had not been delivered yet. Ruan-shi thought that Cheng Yujin was still Cheng Yujin, just that she was lucky enough to get such a good marriage.
Therefore, Ruan-shi didn’t have any scruples when she came to Cheng Yujin, wanting her to assist her sons. As a result, Cheng Yujin ruthlessly blocked Ruan-shi and made her lose a great deal of face. Ruan-shi was so angry, yet didn’t dare to confront Cheng Yujin in person, so she used a roundabout way to criticize the girl in private. At that time, Ruan-shi didn’t think the crown princess was different from an ordinary married girl. Today, when she finally saw the imperial majesty with her own eyes, Ruan-shi finally felt scared.
If she knew today, she wouldn’t dare talk to Cheng Yujin like that, let alone scheming to take advantage.
The biological mother Ruan-shi was too scared to let her presence known. As for the legal mother Qingfu Junzhu, she felt it was too shameful to bow to her adopted daughter, so she didn’t want to talk.
Only Old Madam Cheng, who had lived longer and possessed more experience, was still stable at this moment. She turned to Cheng Yujin and slowly asked about her life in her husband’s palace.
Cheng Yujin replied one by one with a smile, saying that everything was good. Anyway, she couldn’t possibly say anything bad about the palace.
Old Madam Cheng obviously understood, but she showed relievance after hearing those lip services. After a light icebreaking, the atmosphere gradually became warmer. Cheng Yujin left her palace servants behind and moved to the inner hall with her family.
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