At the end of the first month, the name of the Second Princess Consort was finally announced. Outsiders had no way to know what kind of cracks were forming inside the Yang family, but when the Empress issued the marriage edict at the end of the month, many people let out a long “ah.”
Although there was a bit of surprise, it was not completely unexpected.
When both Empress Yang and Empress Dowager Yang hurriedly left in the middle of the banquet, many people already had a lot of speculation. Rumors had been quietly circulating in private these days, but it was finally confirmed today.
This marriage edict followed the usual template. Empress Yang first wrote a string of good words complimenting Dou Xiyin’s womanly virtues and talent, then gave the order to make her the main wife of the Second Prince before finally announcing the wedding’s day.
After the announcement of the marriage edict, it didn’t take long for the Cheng family to send their namecard to the palace, asking for an audience with the Crown Princess. Cheng Yujin dispatched a eunuch to take Old Madam Cheng and the others to the Eastern Palace. After a series of usual greetings and light openers, Old Madam Cheng carefully changed the subject, “Crown Princess, is it already a given that the young miss of the Dou family is going to marry the Second Prince?”
Cheng Yujin nodded: “Yes.”
The word “yes” was too succinct, and Old Madam Cheng didn’t know how to continue the topic. After a pause, Old Madam Cheng tentatively asked again: “Crown Princess, your marriage edict to the Crown Prince was also announced on the first month of last year. Because His Highness’s age was already not too young, the engagement period was shortened, making it barely six months until the wedding. The Second Prince is several years younger than the Crown Prince, but despite his marriage edict being given on the first month, why is the wedding date set on the fifth month of this year?”
Last year, Li Chengjing and Cheng Yujin’s engagement was announced on the 26th of the first month. And now, on the 30th of the first month this year, the engagement between the Second Prince and Dou Xiyin was also announced. Rounding up, it looked as if the imperial family liked to do their affairs in the first month.
The only difference was that one marriage was personally bestowed by the Emperor himself, while the other was bestowed by Empress Yang. Although the marriage bestowed by the Empress couldn’t be said to be lower, Empress Yang was Dou Xiyin’s aunt after all. With her issuing the marriage edict, it inevitably gave the impression of forcefully propping up honor for Dou Xiyin. Even if the Yang family couldn’t ask the Emperor to bestow the marriage, having the Empress Dowager do it would still be better.
Moreover, Li Chengjing’s age was already a bit older for marriage, causing the procedures of the six marriage etiquettes to be hurriedly done within six months. The Second Prince, however, was only sixteen this year, yet his wedding was scheduled for the fifth month. With such a rush, it was normal for people to speculate whether something had happened to Dou Xiyin, which prompted the Yang family to hurry the wedding.
Dou Xiyin apparently had been staying home these past few days. The apparent reason was to prepare for the marriage, but outsiders had no way to know the actual situation.
What happened during the Lantern Festival banquet? Why was it Empress Yang, instead of Empress Dowager Yang, who bestowed the marriage edict? Why was the wedding date so rushed? Unfortunately, only the Yang family knew the answers. Facing Old Madam Cheng’s inquiries, Cheng Yujin calmly answered: “Her Majesty the Empress is the Second Prince’s biological mother, so she naturally has the right to decide the wedding date. Besides, the wedding of an imperial prince is not the same as the wedding of a crown prince.”
Hearing this, Old Madam Cheng quickly responded, “This old woman naturally understands this. The Crown Prince’s wedding is a national affair, and the ceremonies are naturally cumbersome. How can it be compared to a normal wedding? Getting married early also has its advantages. Since Her Majesty has made the decision herself, she must have done it after careful consideration.”
Cheng Yujin didn’t give a clear response and just smiled noncommittally: “Her Majesty always does things very well.”
When Old Madam Cheng saw that she couldn’t pry any useful information from Cheng Yujin, she could only sigh and gave up silently. The Old Madam then decided to move to another, more important matter, and began to ask in a low voice, “Crown Princess, do you have any good news recently?”
Cheng Yujin was silent for a moment, then shook her head calmly and indifferently: “Not yet.”
There was no need for Old Madam Cheng to say more. As long as Cheng Yujin heard similar questions, she instantly knew what these people wanted to inquire about.
During the New Year, she had listened to the same words again and again. Unexpectedly, after the Second Prince and Dou Xiyin’s engagement was announced, she would be urged again.
Sure enough, Old Madam Cheng sighed anxiously. She couldn’t help but move closer and whisper to Cheng Yujin: “Crown Princess, you cannot be like this. This old woman knows that both you and Crown Prince have your own consideration. Now that you are just married, it’s normal that you don’t want children yet. But now the situation has changed. From childhood, Miss Dou frequently visits the palace and becomes a childhood sweetheart with the Second Prince. Their starting point is different from two strangers who married according to parents’ arrangement.”
Cheng Yujin didn’t like hearing this, so she couldn’t help but say, “What if they are childhood sweethearts?” She and Li Chengjing were even an uncle and niece.
Seeing that Cheng Yujin seemed to be upset, Old Madam Cheng hurriedly said, “This old woman didn’t mean like that. Just… with childhood sweethearts, a close relationship in childhood doesn’t necessarily equate with the same closeness after marriage. Crown Princess doesn’t understand what this old woman means… well, this old woman might as well explain it a bit more clearly. Your Highness, you cannot wait leisurely any longer. The Second Prince and Miss Dou are getting married, and she… well, who knows what happened to her, but for some reason, they seem to be anxious to hasten the wedding. In case Miss Dou is pregnant soon after the wedding, wouldn’t the position of the eldest imperial grandson be snatched by them? Even if it were a daughter instead of a son, it would still be no trivial matter. The position of the first child is irreplaceable. It has been so many years since a child was born in the palace. When the first grandchild is born, he or she is guaranteed to be favored by the Emperor.”
Old Madam Cheng looked straight at Cheng Yujin. The meaning in her eyes was very straightforward: “Crown Princess, you and Crown Prince stand taller than others, but the burden on your shoulders is also heavier. Even ordinary people strive for the position of the eldest grandson, let alone someone like you? Crown Prince is the proper eldest di son, so you must never yield the position of the imperial eldest grandson to someone else.”
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