Cheng Min sighed inwardly. Cheng Yujin deserved to be the Crown Princess — she had become even more refined and meticulous after entering the palace. Cheng Min began to chat with Cheng Yujin and slowly moved the topic to ask about Shu Consort. Cheng Yujin did not delay, and ordered Du Ruo to hand Cheng Min the package that Shu Consort asked her to send to the Xu family.
Consort Shu was different from Cheng Yujin. Not only couldn’t she visit her natal family, but she was also not yet in the position to freely call her family into the palace. This made it extra troublesome whenever she wanted to send something to her family. Of course Consort Shu could dispatch eunuchs to go, but doing it was not only very expensive but also attracted unwanted attention. Therefore, Shu Consort asked Cheng Yujin to deliver the package during the New Year’s visit.
Cheng Yujin didn’t refuse this request. She did it with the intention to strengthen her relationship with Shu Consort and even with the Chang Duke Manor. Relationships between people were started from such exchanges, so doing this small errand was nothing to Cheng Yujin.
Qingfu Junzhu and Ruan-shi watched as Cheng Yujin and Cheng Min exchanged information about the palace. Their conversation was full of Shu Consort, Empress, Empress Dowager. In the end, Cheng Yujin handed Cheng Min a package in front of everyone. Cheng family’s womenfolks looked at each other, feeling a bit awkward about being slipped behind by others.
Cheng Min was delighted upon receiving Shu Consort’s package and letter. More than anything, she was satisfied. Handing this letter and package to her mother-in-law and eldest sister-in-law would definitely give her much prestige in the Xu family. Therefore, Cheng Min’s smile towards Cheng Yujin became even more enthusiastic.
Cheng Min had just put away the package when a voice came from outside. Ruan-shi stood up enthusiastically, almost knocking over the teacup: “Mo’er is here!”
The two servant girls waiting outside the door opened the hanging curtain and said simultaneously: “The second lady is here.”
Ruan-shi walked quickly to the door, but the rests were much less enthusiastic. Although they showed welcoming gestures, no one stood up to greet Cheng Yumo as Ruan-shi did. Ruan-shi missed her daughter so badly, but the people here were of a higher status than Cheng Yumo, and there was no reason for them to greet her. As for Cheng Yujin, she sat unmoved on the main seat and slowly turned her gaze to the door, which was already giving Cheng Yumo a face.
When Cheng Yumo entered the hall, she saw Ruan-shi and immediately called “Mother,” with red eyes. The mother and daughter walked into the inner hall holding hands, then Cheng Yumo greeted the people inside one by one: “Mo’er greets grandmother, eldest aunt, maternal aunt. This subject’s wife greets the Crown Princess.”
Old Madam Cheng frowned slightly. Cheng Yumo was too disrespectful; how could she put the Crown Princess the last? Old Madam Cheng quietly glanced at Cheng Yujin and found that the latter was still smiling gently, without seemingly any intention to blame Cheng Yumo’s rudeness. Seeing this, the Old Madam could only suppress her worries and keep silent.
All the people here had a higher status than Cheng Yumo, and Cheng Min and the children she brought were not of Cheng family members, so Qingfu Junzhu could only replace Old Madam Cheng to open a conversation: “Second lady, you are here. It’s freezing outside. Do you feel cold on the way?”
“No, many thanks for eldest aunt’s concern.”
Qingfu Junzhu nodded and asked again, “This cold winter has made me too lazy to go out. It’s been a long time since I have seen Old Madam Huo. How is she recently?”
Hearing Huo Xue-shi was mentioned, Cheng Yumo’s face slightly stiffened. She nodded slightly: “Mother-in-law has always been in good health.”
Everyone in the Cheng family knew the story behind Cheng Yumo’s miscarriage. Now Huo Xue-shi was suddenly mentioned, the atmosphere suddenly turned awkward. Cheng Min quickly smiled and tried to soothe the atmosphere: “Alright, Mo’er has just arrived and hasn’t taken off her cloak yet. The inner hall is very warm, so she should quickly take off her cloak lest the cold enter her body.”
Everyone nodded with a smile. Cheng Yumo sighed in relief, then began to take off her cloak with the help of a servant girl. An observant servant woman moved a stool next to Ruan-shi’s seat, and Cheng Yumo then was helped by her servant girl to sit next to her mother.
The cloak Cheng Yumo took off just now was thick and heavy, making others feel tired just looking at it. In order to hide her wan complexion, Cheng Yumo deliberately wore a long red shirt trimmed with squirrel fur on the collar and cuff. The already bright shirt was paired with an even brighter red pleated skirt, contrasting each other.
Cheng Yumo’s outfit was supposed to be bright and festive, but she was too thin and pale. Her wrists were only skin and bones, and her face was unhealthily white with faintly visible blue blood vessels. The red clothes didn’t make Cheng Yumo ruddy and instead made her look even more feeble and sickly. All in all, Cheng Yumo looked she was just recovering from a serious illness.
Seeing this, Cheng Min couldn’t help sighing again. Cheng Yujin also wore red today, but Cheng Yujin’s clothes made her more beautiful and brighter than a flower. In contrast, Cheng Yumo looked like she was about to be crushed under her own clothes.
Everyone pitied Cheng Yumo, who just had a miscarriage, so no one mentioned her bad complexion. They then continued the chat lightly for a while until other sounds came from outside the yard, including voices greeting the Crown Prince. Cheng Yujin immediately knew that Li Chengjing, Cheng Yuanxian, and the rest of the men were here.
All the womenfolks in the hall stood up and were about to go out to greet the Crown Prince at the door, but halfway through, Li Chengjing had already lifted the hanging curtain separating the inner and outer hall and walked in. Seeing the people kneeling in a hurry, Li Chengjing just waved his hand and said: “Old Madam Cheng and Marchioness don’t need to be polite, please get up.”
Although he said this, Li Chengjing didn’t even glance at Old Madam Cheng and the others, but walked straight to Cheng Yujin and personally helped her up.
Since Li Chengjing went to the inner yard, the menfolks of the Cheng family naturally accompanied him along with the sons-in-law. After Li Chengjing walked in, the rest also followed behind, but Li Chengjing walked directly to Cheng Yujin and personally helped his wife in front of so many people. His movements were very natural without the slightest reluctance.
As for the married people who were already ready to make their greetings, they all lost their voices upon seeing this scene.
Qingfu Junzhu stood up tremblingly. Her eyes fell on Crown Prince’s hands, full of disbelief. Ordinary men liked to put air in front of people, and some even thought that talking to their wives was shameful, but Li Chengjing, a crown prince, actually did so much for Cheng Yujin?
Before Qingfu Junzhu recovered from her shock, Cheng Yuanxian cupped his hands and greeted his mother. Qingfu Junzhu put aside her shock and quickly greeted Cheng Yuanxian, but Cheng Yuanxian just nodded in response, full of pompous.
Many other couples were also in a similar situation, especially Cheng Min and Qingfu Junzhu, who had been married for decades. They had long slept separately from their husbands. It was already proper enough for the husband to say a few words to his wife when they met. As for physical contact, it was long gone.
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