After Li Chengjing was no longer visible, Cheng Yujin returned to the palace. It was still dim outside, but Cheng Yujin couldn’t sleep again, so she took a bath and got dressed. Afterward, she read a book in the study until it was time to pay respect to Empress Dowager Yang and Empress Yang.
The Emperor ruled the country with filial piety, and he respected his di mother Empress Dowager Yang. As the Crown Princess, paying respect to the two women was part of Cheng Yujin’s daily routine. Cining Palace was located in the west while Ciqing Palace was in the east. The distance between the two palaces was not small. When Cheng Yujin’s arrived, the palace gate was already full of waiting servants.
Cheng Yujin recognized two of the sedan chairs as Empress Dowager’s and the Empress’. Empress Yang was Empress Dowager Yang’s blood-related niece, so it was not surprising for the Empress to come to Cining Palace. As for the other one, very few people in the country were qualified to use Empress Dowager’s sedan chair.
Cheng Yujin entered the palace hall. Sure enough, she saw many ‘familiar’ faces. Besides the Empress, who sat by the Empress Dowager’s side, there were also Senior Grand Secretary Yang’s wife Yang Qian-shi, Empress Yang’s elder sister Yang Yan, and Yang Yan’s daughter Dou Xiyin.
After Cheng Yujin came in and saw the dazzling scenery of Yang family’s full appearance, she merely glanced around and chuckled inwardly. She wasn’t surnamed Yang, yet dared to enter the door. Others might call her a sheep entering the wolves’ den, or a dove occupying the magpies’ nest.
With such an obvious disparity in the number of people, Cheng Yujin did not show any timidity. Neither hurriedly nor slowly, she steadily gave her greetings: “This daughter-in-law pays respect to Her Majesty the Empress Dowager, to her Majesty the Empress. Greetings to Madam Yang and Madam Dou.”
Madam Yang, Yang Qian-shi, was Senior Grand Secretary Yang’s wife and also Empress Dowager Yang’s younger sister-in-law. She had two daughters under her knees. The eldest, Yang Yan, married into Dou family while the youngest, Yang Miao, entered the palace as the second empress.
Dou Xiyin was Yang Yan’s daughter with her husband Dou Da, but Dou Xiyin seldom lived in Dou manor. She spent half of her time in the palace and the other half in Yang manor. Only on the New Year did she return to Dou manor to show her face briefly before quickly returning to her maternal grandfather’s house. People who didn’t know would think that Dou Xiyin’s home was in Yang manor, and she was just a guest at Dou manor.
Yang family produced two empresses in succession, but they had no daughters in this generation. Yang Yan and Dou Xiyin’s ambition was clear to all. Even Dou Xiyin regarded herself as a Yang family member. For the past ten years, people in the capital had seen Dou Xiyin as the default candidate for the crown princess.
It was a pity that Dou Xiyin’s dream of becoming the crown princess fell apart, as well as the Second Prince’s dream of becoming the crown prince. The original Crown Prince, who had been missing for many years, suddenly appeared out of nowhere and brought his own crown princess on his return, shattering many people’s dreams.
When Yang Yan and Dou Xiyin saw Cheng Yujin, their expressions subtly changed.
Empress Dowager gave Cheng Yujin a deep glance before allowing her to get up. After a palace maid brought the Crown Princess a seat, Yang Yan said with an insincere smile: “I have heard about Crown Princess’ name for a long time but have never met before. At the palace banquet the other day, I only saw you from a distance. Looking up close, Crown Princess is truly a rare beauty. Being able to see Crown Princess today truly brings a heart’s delight.”
Since childhood, many people have complimented Cheng Yujin for her beautiful appearance. Until before, there was nothing wrong with that. But now that she had become the Crown Princess, Yang Yan was implying that she was merely a rare beauty?
Cheng Yujin’s smile remained unchanged. Facing the label ‘rare beauty that came out from Yang Yan’s lips, she responded gently: “Madam Dou is overpraising. Those are just superficial names people put on me when I was still in the boudoir. Now that I have become the crown princess, I must live up to His Majesty and His Highness’ trust. I must attach importance to moral virtue and set up examples for everyone. Appearance and whatnot, they are just superficial things.”
These words stifled Yang Yan. Cheng Yujin’s arrival ruined her mood, so she deliberately pricked with a thorn, saying that Cheng Yujin was a ‘rare beauty who became the Crown Princess after successfully attracting the Crown Prince. Unexpectedly, Cheng Yujin readily admitted that she was beautiful and still modestly added that appearances were superficial and she must attach importance to moral virtue.
Who really complimented her beauty?! She dared to respond?!
However, looking at Cheng Yujin’s countenance and figure, neither Yang Yan nor Dou Xiyin could say anything to refute.
Yang family held great power, but their rise only began with Empress Dowager. In terms of bearing and manners, their descendants couldn’t be compared to those of the noble and influential families who had been raised preciously for several generations. In particular, Cheng Yujin, who was sitting right before their eyes. From the appearance, manners, bearing…she totally suppressed all Yang family members by herself.
The unsurpassable, beautiful, and dignified Crown Princess.
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