Shou’an hall was the largest courtyard in Yichun marquis manor. Although it wasn’t as grand or majestic as the old Master’s courtyard, its decoration was the most exquisite. The main wing had five rooms, with a side wing each on the west and east. On the southern side, there was a reverse-facing building. Old Madam Cheng resided on the main wing, leaving the west and east wing empty. Even so, it would still be cleaned up daily. Occasionally, when the old Madam let some juniors to stay overnight, they would sleep on the side wings. The reverse-facing building had poor sunlight, the rooms there were dark and damp, thus it became the servants’ room.
Old Madam Cheng, as the matriarch of the whole manor, naturally had the best food and clothing, spending money like flowing water. She occupied the five rooms in the main wing by herself. The old Madam also expanded the front and back of the building, added three rooms each, installed windows, and created an enclosed porch. The main wing now had a ‘three, five, three’ structure. The front porch had good sunlight. The servant girls liked to do needleworks while gossiping here. Some juniors also liked to play here. The back porch, however, was darker and gloomier. One room was used as a Buddhist hall, and the rest to store large trunks and cabinets.
Cheng Yujin and other juniors were staying at the front porch, so people who entered and exited the main wing would bypass them. Today Cheng Min was visiting her natal home. As a nominal younger brother, Cheng Yuanjing had to greet her. When Cheng Yuanjing was inside, a few young girls sat in the porch, looking excitedly, yet with some self-restraint, at the inner rooms.
Cheng Yujin saw Xu Nianchun and Xu Wanchun’s action and really wondered what charm did Cheng Yuanjing had. His external appearance was indeed very good. He was tall, his face was top-notch, he had a jinshi title and already a fourth-rank official at such a young age. No matter what, his future was promising. Indeed a much-talked ‘that child from another house.’ But Cheng Yujin had an intersection with Cheng Yuanjing, and the instinct she honed over the years told her that this man wasn’t good.
Could be admired from distance, but shouldn’t get closer.
Xu Nianchun lowered his voice and asked about Cheng Yuanjing. Xu Wanchun also raised her ears to listen. Even Xu Zhixian who never had any interest in the imperial exam also full of curiosity about this newly returned ninth uncle. In this place, only Cheng Yujin knew a bit about Cheng Yuanjing. She vaguely told them one or two things and tried to change the subject several times. But her cousins persistently kept asking more.
“How awesome. Getting a jinshi at age sixteen.”
Xu Zhixian also sincerely convinced: “Yes. My mother always praised elder sister Jin’s fiance, saying that he is still young but already had achievements. However, ninth uncle is one year younger than Marquis Huo, and his official rank still higher. A civil official’s post is much harder to obtain than military, and the real power is also greater.”
Although Xu Zhixian didn’t have any real skill, after all, he still the son of a high ranking noble family. Naturally, he had basic knowledge about the court’s official ranks and posts. Xu Zhixian sighed in his heart. But right after he finished his words, the whole room fell into an awkward silence.
Xu Zhixian immediately noticed his mistake and quickly stood up to apologize: “Elder sister Jin, I’m sorry. I was careless. I didn’t mean to offend you…”
Xu Zhixian repeatedly bowed his head to apologize. As a man, this kind of action was already hard enough. Besides, it was a truth that her engagement had been canceled. Could Cheng Yujin stop people to talk about it? Now, Xu Zhixian didn’t have any malice, but it wouldn’t necessarily be true for others.
Cheng Yujin’s expression remained unchanged. She smiled and said: “It’s okay. I’ve forgotten about that bad thing. Elder biao brother doesn’t have to feel guilty.”
Cheng Yujin was actually younger than Xu Zhixian, but this young man subconsciously called her ‘elder sister’. Before, Cheng Yujin also had no intention of correcting it, but since now she already set her target on Xu Zhixian, she had to subtly change her address into ‘elder biao brother’.
Xu Zhixian never put on the air in front of his sisters. Since Cheng Yujin has a good temper and never made a fuss, this matter passed away politely. Under everyone’s eyes, they quickly changed the subject, and the room became lively again.
Cheng Yumo sat on a recliner on the kang floor, her mind wandered a bit when she heard Huo Changyuan’s name.
In her previous life, she also heard about her ninth uncle’s return. But she was a girl, so didn’t have much contact with him. She only knew that Cheng family had a young man with a high official position. But not long after, he fell gravely sick and quietly passed away at an assignment outside the capital. This short-lived ninth uncle thus soon disappeared from everyone’s mind.
On the contrary, after a period of time, Huo Changyuan’s momentum greatly accelerated. The crown prince had just returned to the court and vigorously promoted many people. One of them was Huo Changyuan. Therefore, Cheng Yumo couldn’t accept when Xu Zhixian said that Huo Changyuan was not as good as Cheng Yuanjing.
Cheng Yumo was a little absent-minded. Brother Changyuan treated her very well. He was overbearing yet gentle. Unfortunately, they took too many winding roads and wasted too much time. Now that she had the luck to be reborn, she must stay with brother Changyuan from early on.
Cheng Yumo glanced at Cheng Yujin secretly and thought: “Sister, don’t blame me. After all, a marriage that doesn’t belong to you shouldn’t be yours, no matter how much you scheming.”
Early separation was better than the late one. She did it also for Cheng Yujin’s sake.
“Younger sister Mo?”
Xu Zhixian called Cheng Yumo. She quickly returned to her mind and then joined everyone’s conversation with a smile.
Cheng Yujin was planning to take advantage of this good opportunity to catch Xu Zhixian. But she had just said a few words when a sound of footsteps came from the inner rooms. A servant girl lifted the bead curtain and sent Cheng Yuanjing out: “Ninth master, please walk slowly.”
Cheng Yujin and the others could only stand up: “We send ninth uncle off.”
Cheng Yujin’s face was respectful, but her mind busily shouted: hurry and go, don’t disturb her effort to secure a future path. She heard Cheng Yuanjing’s footsteps went further and was going to smile happily when the man suddenly stopped at the door: “Cheng Yujin .”
Cheng Yujin froze for a moment before quickly responded: “Niece is here. Does ninth uncle need something?”
“The Marquis calls you.”
The volcano inside Cheng Yujin’s heart erupted. This man really was too much. Did he have to use the same tactic twice?
Cheng Yuanjing saw Cheng Yujin’s suppressed anger, and the smile on his lips became more pleasant: “I’ve passed the message. Do as you like.”
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