Dou Xiyin bit her lip and suddenly made up her mind. She said to Yang Yan: “Mother, those people used to flatter me in the past, thinking that I was to be the future crown princess. Now that the position has fallen on another person, they are definitely mocking me in secret. If I even lose the position of second prince’s wife, do I still have a face to meet my peers in the future? Mother, you cannot let me become their joke.”
How could Yang Yan let this happen? Over the years, she had always considered herself the mother of the future empress, bragging and praising her daughter everywhere. Dou Xiyin was no longer the future crown princess. If she even failed to marry the Second Prince, wouldn’t Yang Yan also become a joke in the upper-class circle? Besides her pride, there was also the matter of future prosperity, so Yang Yan couldn’t let the Second Prince marry someone else, no matter what.
However, Empress Dowager’s attitude was very obvious. After spending half of her life together, Yang Yan knew her aunt best. If Empress Dowager Yang truly wanted to marry Dou Xiyin to Second Prince, she must have said it early to make Yang Yan and Dou family grateful to her. Instead, Empress Dowager Yang was ambiguous, not saying yes or no, and just hanging Dou Xiyin around. This forced Yang Yan to think in the direction of the worst possible outcome.
Yang Yan hesitated for a long time, and finally made up her mind. Empress Dowager Yang was indeed Yang family’s greatest backer, and Yang family made their first rise by relying on her support. But that was in the past. Now Yang Yan’s father had become the Senior Grand Secretary on the cabinet, and her younger sister had also entered the middle palace as the Empress. Why did they still have to be led in the nose by Empress Dowager? The second Prince was Empress Yang’s son, her father’s outer grandson1. How could it be the turn for Empress Dowager Yang, a mere maternal grandaunt, to decide on his marriage?
Yang Yan made up her mind and said to Dou Xiyin: “Xiyin, don’t worry. Mother will definitely let you get what you want. Now, most people have gone. Let’s greet your Empress aunt.”
Dou Xiyin was overjoyed and responded obediently.
Yang Yan took Dou Xiyin to Empress Yang. Meanwhile, Cheng Yujin also welcomed her ‘family.’
Cheng Yujin had seen Cheng Yumo’s pale face early during the banquet, but there were so many people around and she was also the center of attention, so she couldn’t inquire directly. After the banquet was over, the titled madams came in waves to talk to Cheng Yujin, and Ruan-shi and Cheng Yumo had to back off again and again. Finally, the two found a gap and hurriedly came to Cheng Yujin.
On the surface, they were coming to greet her, but in Cheng Yujin’s eyes, they were clearly here to tell grievances.
Family ugliness must not be shown to outsiders. No matter what kind of grievances happened between Cheng Yujin and Cheng family, no one aired it outside to become a public joke. After Ruan-shi and Cheng Yumo arrived in front of Cheng Yujin and curtsied in greetings, Cheng Yujin immediately waved her hand and said: “It turns out that second aunt and second sister are here. I just happen to want to ask about grandmother. How about we move to Ciqing Palace for tea?”
Ruan-shi couldn’t ask for more. She and her daughter immediately followed Cheng Yujin and walked towards the Eastern Palace. After entering the palace, Ruan-shi couldn’t help but look around, only to see the red walls and green tiled roof shining brightly in the sun. The imperial palace was the only place in the world allowed to use glazed tiles. The Crown prince ruled over the east direction, the direction of the wood element, so the color green had always been used to refer to the crown prince. Therefore, the glazed tiles used in the Eastern Palace were also green in color. The imperial palace was so large, but one could always tell where the Eastern Palace was by just looking at the green tiles above.
Except for Crown Prince, no one was allowed to use those green tiles.
When Cheng Yujin and her entourage entered the palace gate, all the servants knelt down in an elegant and respectful posture: “Greetings to Crown Princess. Blessings to Crown Princess.” Cheng Yujin kept walking without stopping, receiving all kinds of bows and salutations along the way. After entering the main building, Cheng Yujin led Ruan-shi and Cheng Yumo to the secondary hall in the west. As far as one could see, there was a majestic imperial style everywhere. The palace servants were very orderly and disciplined. They all moved quickly and quietly with their head down, without making a single sound.
Ruan-shi was made stunned by the momentum she witnessed. It was far from being achievable by displaying extravagant or expensive furnishing, no matter how valuable. Standing here, people simply did not have the mind to focus on how expensive a vase next to them was. Rather, it was the depth and vastness of the palace, the magnificent and majestic atmosphere of the imperial family, that gave the vase an unparalleled aura of grandeur.
Ruan-shi’s initial momentum couldn’t help but languish in such an atmosphere. She even began to hesitate and forgot the words she had prepared beforehand. After entering the secondary hall, Cheng Yujin first sat on the main seat, then motioned Ruan-shi and Cheng Yumo to sit too, “Second aunt and second sister seemed to have waited long. What happened?”
Ruan-shi and Cheng Yu sat down. Ruan-shi felt like she was sitting on a hot iron plate and couldn’t sit calmly. As for Cheng Yumo, she had just witnessed Cheng Yujin’s grandeur on the way — watching how everyone bowed down before Cheng Yujin, seeing how familiar Cheng Yujin was with the grand dresses and luxurious hall — and her mood suddenly sank to the bottom.
Cheng Yumo didn’t want to let Cheng Yujin know about her misfortunes. Instead, she couldn’t wait to turn around and leave this place.
But Ruan-shi didn’t understand Cheng Yumo’s inner turmoil. She calmed down and braced herself: “We didn’t mean to disturb Crown Princess, but Mo’er is very pitiful. Those people bullied her too much. We have no choice but to come forward and ask Crown Princess to give us justice.”
After finishing her opening, Ruan-shi saw that Cheng Yumo was still unmoved, so she couldn’t help winking at her daughter. According to their scenario, Cheng Yumo should use this timing to kneel down and cry, asking Cheng Yujin to give her justice. Regardless of the truth of the matter, it was in Cheng Yumo’s best interest to have Cheng Yujin be preconceived and make her feel sympathy.
However, Cheng Yumo kept sitting motionless. Her head was lowered, so Ruan-shi couldn’t see her expression clearly. Ruan-shi was anxious and couldn’t help saying again: “Crown Princess, Mo’er is very weak now. She has been in a trance like this for the past few days. She must be overwhelmed by joy upon seeing Crown Princess again. Please do not take offense.”
Of course Cheng Yujin saw the secret signal Ruan-shi sent to Cheng Yumo, but she simply smiled slightly before responding: “It’s alright. There are no outsiders here. If second aunt and second sister have any grievances, just tell me.”
Ruan-shi winked at Cheng Yumo again. Seeing that her daughter still showed no intention to speak, Ruan-shi felt exasperated inside. In the end, she had no choice but to put aside her pride as an elder and began to narrate: “Crown Princess, reasonably speaking, the ugliness inside the family should not be leaked to others, but apart from you, we really don’t know who can help to enact justice for us. Mo’er has been married to Huo family for more than a year. During that time, she has always been walking on thin ice. She serves her mother-in-law and takes care of the household with all her heart, but Jingyong Marquis Manor disregards all of her hard work, and even…want to give the Marquis a concubine!”
Cheng Yujin raised an eyebrow. Though this news was unexpected, it made sense. “Why does he suddenly want to take a concubine? Which girl is it?”
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