Old Master Cheng’s burst of anger made him so dizzy that he had to be supported back to rest. Cheng Yuanjing sent the Old Master back to his courtyard. The others stayed in the main hall and watched the two left.
After the Old Master left, Cheng Yuanxian angrily vented: “Dad only knows how to unscrupulously being biased towards an outside child. He even beats me today. Hah, fortunately, I am much older than him, and mother also made a wise decision at that time to secure me the shizi title. Otherwise, look at Dad, he can’t wait to give all Yichun marquis manor to that bastard son of his.”
“Eldest child.” Old Madam Cheng stared at him harshly, “The juniors still here. Watch your words.”
Women taken without proper ceremony could only be concubines, and children born out of wedlock were all bastards. Cheng Yuanjing was born outside, originally his status was even lower than a proper shu-born. Besides being born out of wedlock, he also only formally entered Cheng family at the age of six. This made the old Madam completely looked down on little Xue-shi, and didn’t spare any effort to insult the other woman in front of her children. When the two were young, little Xue-shi was a noble young miss from a high-ranking family, while old Madam Cheng couldn’t even be compared with her toes. After Xue family’s downfall, Yichun marquis manor anxiously rushed to cut all ties, finding another engagement for their son. Thus a big bargain fell on the Old Madam’s lap. The Old Madam’s distorted hatred towards little Xue-shi slowly penetrated into the next generation. Cheng Yuanjing was a noble shizi, a future marquis. Yet, dirty curses like slut and bastard naturally flowed from his mouth.
When the hall plunged into chaos, the juniors all stood up. The younger ones were quickly taken away by their wetnurses, leaving only Cheng Yumo, Xu Zhixian, and several others who already old enough. Now they were also led by a mama to another room to avoid the elders’ conversation. Although Cheng Yuanxian’s curses couldn’t possibly be heard that far, the juniors were still present after all. It was unacceptable for him to keep shouting such unsuitable words near his unmarried nieces.
However, old Madam Cheng just casually said, and her expression clearly showed that she didn’t care much. Looking at the Old Madam’s stance, other people didn’t dare to speak.
Cheng Min’s circle in the duke manor was of higher standing than her natal family. The things she never noticed before, she slowly came to understand after her marriage. And right now, Cheng Min suddenly felt that her eldest brother was really unreliable. Her mother, too, very short-sighted, only knew how to spoil her sons rotten, every bad thing was the fault of outsiders. And the result? Eldest brother was in his thirties, already a ripe age, yet still didn’t have a decent official post. Her second brother also grew up to be a yes-man, yet had no ability. This family now had no dependable male masters.
The decline of the Cheng family was a foregone conclusion.
However, a married daughter was splashed out water. At her natal family, Cheng Min was a guest. It was hard for her to speak too much. She could only try to persuade the mother and son: “Mother, eldest brother. Father, after all, has raised the ninth boy for so many years. He is now old, and his health isn’t good, you should be more patient with him, and don’t start a conflict again. Besides, my father-in-law said that the ninth boy is already a fourth-rank official at such a young age, and his future is limitless. Even father-in-law told my husband to have a good relationship with the ninth boy. How could you reject a family member like this?”
Everyone became silent at her words. Cheng Min sighed and continued to persuade: “Mother, eldest brother, It may be okay of quarrel for a while, but have you think about this family’s future? You shouldn’t just think about yourself, but also for the grandchildren below. Ninth boy has just been transferred back, the Ministry of Personnel still hasn’t given him a new appointment yet. You should find a way to let him enter the Hanlin Academy, the future benefit will be great.”
Cheng Yuanxian immediately shouted in anger: “Hanlin Academy? Just for him?”
“Why not.” Cheng Min stared at her eldest brother, hating that iron didn’t become steel, “Don’t forget, he is an honorable jinshi. His previous two rankings were also very high, directly entered the palace examination.”
When Cheng Min mentioned the palace examination, everyone in the Cheng family fell silent. Not to mention the palace examination, none of them even passed the county level exam. It was precisely because of this kind of ignorance that they had no concept of what kind of monster a sixteen-year-old jinshi was.
The mother-in-law and sister-in-law were speaking, Ruan-shi didn’t dare to intervene. But when she heard Cheng Men persuading Cheng family to support Cheng Yuanjing’s career, she became anxious. Ruan-shi secretly glanced at Qingfu Junzhu, but the other woman showed to sign to interfere. Ruan-shi finally couldn’t help but say, “Find a way to let the ninth master enter Hanlin Academy? But the second master still….”
Cheng Min was utterly speechless. Alright, her full-blooded brothers, one after another thought too highly of oneself. And now added in this muddle-headed sister-in-law. She gave advice out of goodwill but getting a resentment instead. Cheng Min no longer bothered to waste her breath. She stood up and said: “I’m already an outsider. It isn’t good for me to speak too much. Mother, please consider carefully. I’ll go to see the eldest girl.”
Inside the green gauze cabinet, Cheng Yujin was leaning weakly on a luohan bed. When Cheng Min came in, she quickly got up to make a curtsy: “Aunt.”
“Hurry up and sit down. You are still injured, no need for useless courtesy.” Cheng Min quickly stopped Cheng Yujin, but the girl shook her head: “Courtesy shouldn’t be neglected.”
Cheng Min sighed. The more she saw, the more she admired how sensible this child was. She had to admit that her two older brothers were thoroughly undependable. In this life, they surely wouldn’t have any improvement. But looking at the third generation, none of the boys were hopeful either. Her eldest brother’s son Cheng Enbao was spoiled rotten by Qingfu Junzhu, too shameful to be presented outside. While the two boys from the second branch were too mediocre, showing the temperament of a humble family instead of a noble marquis.
Counting up and down, it turned out that the Cheng family’s future was depended on the two daughters. The eldest miss was calm and mature. The second miss was innocent and lovely. One was a favorite of the madams, and the other was popular among the young men. Both were promising. Cheng Min sighed at this idea. When a family had to entrust their future on their daughters, it meant that their decline was already close. This was also the case with the Cheng family.
Cheng Min sighed once again. She walked to Cheng Yujin’s side and asked softly, “Does it still hurt? Let me look at your injury.”
Cheng Yujin inwardly thought: how could I honestly let you see? But she obediently rolled up her sleeve to reveal the white gauze inside, then immediately put the sleeve down again: “Aunt, I’m fine. You don’t have to worry.”
Cheng Min felt a twang of pain when she saw the dense gauze covering the girl’s fair arm, but Cheng Yujin still tried to assure her instead. Cheng Min’s love for this niece almost overflowed her bosom. She didn’t expose Cheng Yujin’s ‘lie’ and grasped the girl’s hand: “A girl’s body shouldn’t leave any scar. I have a bottle of a high-quality scar-removing cream rewarded by Shu Consort. Later I will send it to you. At night, let your servant apply the cream when they change the gauze.”
A medicine given by Shu Consort? Xu family’s eldest miss indeed entered the palace to became an imperial consort. That was why, although the Xu family also didn’t have any of their family members in an important official post, they were still better off than the Cheng family. Cheng Yujin thought back and forth before finally smiled at Cheng Min with a bit of bashfulness: “Thank you, aunt.”
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