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Old Madam Cheng was napping inside, and Cheng Min also took a rest, leaving the high-spirited juniors unsupervised. They had no need to rest and no elders were watching. They immediately piled up together to have fun.
Xu Zhixian was growing up among the womenfolks and didn’t feel awkward to stay with a group of sisters. He crowded up with Cheng Yumo to look at a picture book. When Xu Nianchun saw them, she also took off her shoes to join in.
At this time, Cheng Yujin was out of place. In fact, she didn’t like to mingle in this kind of activity. But her new target, Xu Zhixian, was here. She couldn’t just turn around and leave. So Cheng Yujin patiently sat down and waited.
Soon after, Cheng Yujin saw Xu Wanchun who was sitting on a stool and drinking tea alone. Xu Wanchun was a shu daughter. Even if she tagged along with her two di siblings to visit their maternal home(1), she still couldn’t blend in familiarly. When Xu Zhixian reading a picture book with his younger sister Mo, Xu Nianchun soon joined in. But Xu Nianchun was a di daughter, if she wanted to join in then she easily could. This left Xu Wanchun alone, confused and embarrassed. Moreover, she also had a timid temper, thus she could only sat alone and drink her tea with a lowered gaze, staring at her own skirt’s pattern.
Cheng Yujin’s character wasn’t the one to please men. This she realized very early. From a young age, whenever they had guests, the madams would praised Cheng Yujin as soon as they saw her. Boys would also notice her at the first sight, having their eyes stunned by her breathtaking first impression. However, it didn’t take long before the madams started to praise Cheng Yujin more and more, but their sons instead find her boring. The boys would prefer to play with the lively and cheerful second miss Cheng Yumo. Afterwards, when the elders let the juniors to play by themselves, they would unconsciously flocking around Cheng Yumo.
At first glance, the eldest miss was more conspicuous, but after getting along, they would slowly liked the second miss instead. Because Cheng Yujin was always looked beautiful and dignified, never let her clothes wrinkled even a bit. However, Cheng Yumo would play with them, ran along and laughed together.
Cheng Yujin admitted that maybe her personality was indeed very boring. But what did that matter? The one who made the decision were the mothers, not their sons. As long as Cheng Yujin managed to please the madams, it would be enough.
For example, right now. Cheng Yumo and her aunt’s children were reading book together, heads side by side. Cheng Yujin disliked their unsightly posture. Instead, she noticed Xu Wanchun who was left out alone. She was also a guest from Xu family. Letting their guest uncomfortable was a host’s dereliction of duty.
Cheng Yujin sat down next to Xu Wanchun. With a smile, she opened a conversation: “Second biao sister, how are you recently?”
Xu Wanchun was so flattered. She didn’t expect Cheng Yujin, this noble di miss whose reputation was famous all over the capital, would come over and chat with her personally. Although initially surprised, once Xu Wanchun started conversing with Cheng Yujin, her tightened fingers slowly became relaxed.
The famous Cheng Yujin didn’t seem to be as unapproachable as she thought before.
The two girls chatted back and forth. However, Xu Wanchun wasn’t Cheng Yujin’s opponent, who easily led the flow of conversation without being noticed. Soon, Xu Wanchun’s face was bright with smile. Cheng Yujin also smiled lightly, and slowly led the other party to talk about Xu Zhixian.
While keeping her ears on Xu Wanchun, Cheng Yujin glanced thoughtfully at Xu Zhixian, like someone who was weighting how much money a pig could sell. Still deep in thought, she suddely heard a movement from the door. Cheng Yujin turned around and saw Cheng Yuanjing entering the room. His gaze swept over once, then following Cheng Yujin’s line of sight to see Xu Zhixian. He observed the younger man for a moment. After withdrawing his gaze, Cheng Yuanjing’s eyes were full with understanding.
Cheng Yujin was utterly dumbfounded. Resentment secretly grew in her heart. Why it was him again! Last time with Huo Changyuan, this man was there. And now right when she was just going to start with Xu Zhixian, Cheng Yuanjing came again. Everytime she had a entanglement with a man, She would be found out by Cheng Yuanjing, and even at the shameful part!
With an utter unwillingness, Cheng Yujin stood up and saluted Cheng Yuanjing: “Greetings, ninth uncle.”
Cheng Yujin’s voice called everyone’s attention. Some juniors who were sitting on the heated kang(2) looked up in confusion and saw a young man standing at the door. They quickly rushed to put on their shoes and following Cheng Yujin to salute : “Ninth uncle.”
This made Cheng Yujin very satisfied with her own appearance. Her clothes were neat and her skirt perfectly straight. She didn’t need to climb up and down, so nothing on her body was a bit untidy. Her whole facade was probably even more important than her own self.
Cheng Yuanjing indifferently glanced a bit and asked, “Is the Marchioness inside?”
The juniors in the room looked at each other. This man was young, and also very handsome. No one dared to take initiative to speak. Cheng Yujin naturally took the lead and answered, “Replying to ninth uncle, grandmother was taking a nap, and she is probably awake now.”
Cheng Yuanjing nodded, and right at that time a servant girl came out from the inner room: “Ninth master, the old Madam is calling.”
After Cheng Yuanjing went in, the room was filled with silence. After a while, Xu Nianchun whispered, “He…”
Everyone subconsciously looked at Cheng Yujin. She was always regarded as their invisible leader. Whenever unexpected problem happened, they would turn to her. And this time wasn’t an exception either.
Cheng Yujin very naturally accepted their inquiry, and took the responsibility to explain: “That is our ninth uncle. Several years ago, he got the jinshi title and was stationed outside the capital. He has just returned back earlier this year.”
Xu Nianchun finally got it. The trouble between old Master Cheng and his wife wasn’t small. Cheng Min also privately told her children about their maternal grandfather’s favored outside mistress. Xu Nianchun blushed, the shu sons she had seen before all were timid and didn’t have presentable look. A child from outside mistress had an even lower position than the proper shu born.
Yet Xu Nianchun had never seen such an outstanding man. For a moment her cheeks were flushed with excitement, no longer noisily clamoring for her brother’s attention. Even Xu Wanchun’s face also shaded in thin blush, sitting shyly on the chair.
(1) Maternal home: Only a legal wife’s family was regarded as proper in law. Shu children only had their legal mother’s natal family as their maternal relative. Generally, they were forbidden to acknowledge their birth mother’s family as relatives.
(2) Kang : A traditional heated floor/bed-stove for general living, working, entertaining and sleeping used in the northern part of China, where the winter climate is cold. It is made of bricks or other forms of fired clay and more recently of concrete in some locations (wikipedia)
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