Cheng Yujin was sitting in the inner hall, quietly listening to a palace maid’s report. This particular maid was tasked to wait in the front hall and happened to overhear the ongoing discussion between the Crown Prince and his staff when she went in to deliver fresh tea. Surprised to find that His Highness was going to take a side consort, she hurried back to report to the Crown Princess.
Cheng Yujin was silent throughout the maid’s report. It was Du Ruo and Lian Qiao, who were also listening from the side, who had their expressions changed. “Your Highness…” they turned to their mistress, anxious and worried.
There was no change in Cheng Yujin’s expression. She just sat there in silence for a while. Finally, she waved her hand lightly, ordering: “I see. You can go now.”
The maid did not dare to say another word and quickly retreated. After she left, Du Ruo and Lian Qiao both looked at Cheng Yujin, “Your Highness, there might be a misunderstanding here. Could it be that she had heard it wrong?”
“Even the person’s surname and her father’s official position were clear. What doubts there be here?” Cheng Yujin sat in place, looking unmoved, but suddenly lost interest in the things in front of her, “The only daughter of the Fifth Batallion’s Commanding General. Elegant and virtuous, and also with such an extraordinary family background. She is naturally worthy of His Highness.”
When Cheng Yujin mentioned the name of the supposed side-consort-to-be, Lian Qiao looked as disgusted as having swallowed a fly, “This person… if she truly is moved by Crown Prince and Crown Princess’ love, then she should watch from a distance and give her blessing. But what did she do? She instead wants to marry into the Eastern Palace as a concubine… getting herself a virtuous reputation for not intervening between the Crown Prince and Crown Princess, as if she were a holy mother. Bah! She is just jealous of Her Highness and thinks that she could do it better, but insists on using such a sickening excuse to look pure and innocent.”
Lian Qiao was furious, but Du Ruo was more aware of the current situation and felt helpless. She looked at Cheng Yujin and said in despair, “In normal times, this kind of trick is nothing to fear, but His Highness is at a critical juncture and urgently needs manpower at this moment… Your Highness, what should we do?”
“What should we do?” Cheng Yujin let out a very soft chuckle, stood up, and walked in the direction of the inner chamber, “Who can stop if His Highness made up his mind? General Dong wants to take the opportunity to join the Crown Prince’s faction by marrying his precious daughter, and it just happened that this Miss Dong is also willing. His Highness can obtain half of the Fifth Batallion in one swoop. This is clearly a good deal that greatly benefits all three related parties. As for me, what does it have to do with me? What does my opinion matter?”
Cheng Yujin obviously did not want to talk about it anymore. She asked, “Where are Mingyue and Mingqian?”
“They are still sleeping. The wetnurses and Mama are watching over them.”
“I see,” Cheng Yujin nodded and said, “Tell the wetnurses to pay more attention. There are a lot of mosquitoes these days. Mingyue and Mingqian’s skin is still tender; don’t let them get bitten.”
“Yes, Your Highness.”
Cheng Yujin walked into the study. All the while, her voice remained calm and composed, and there was no particular emotion in her slightly cold face. Still, Lian Qiao and Du Ruo exchanged glances and remained silent, too afraid to continue bringing up the topic.
The Crown Princess was clearly in a bad mood, and even her personal servant girls who had served her since her maiden days did not dare to make a sound, let alone others. As a result, the entire Ciqing Palace was shrouded in a quiet and depressing aura.
When Li Chengjing saw that a palace maid suddenly left the front hall and went directly to the inner hall where Cheng Yujin was, his heart immediately sank. It was clear that the maid was going to report to Cheng Yujin, which was Li Chengjing’s negligence. After the meeting ended, he immediately rushed back to their living quarters.
After Li Chengjing entered the inner hall, he found the atmosphere very gloomy. Seeing that his guess was confirmed, he hurriedly asked a nearby palace maid for Cheng Yujin’s whereabouts and walked straight to the study.
When Li Chengjing opened the door and entered, he saw Cheng Yujin was in the middle of painting. He walked in, brought the plate containing red cinnabar to her hand, and said, “Are you painting the Mid-Autumn Festival design for Mingyue and Mingqian’s new clothes?”
Li Chengjing put the paint Cheng Yujin was going to use next by her side and was about to stand next to her to watch her painting, but Cheng Yujin suddenly put down her brush and scrolled away to the opposite side, saying: “This consort doesn’t dare to let Your Highness do the chore. Please leave this consort alone.”
Feeling his empty hand, Li Chengjing’s brows furrowed a bit, and he slowly turned to look at Cheng Yujin.
Cheng Yujin kept her head low and began to return the plates of paint back into the box as if she didn’t notice Li Chengjing standing by her side. Li Chengjing retracted his hands and folded them behind him as he spoke slowly, “Has someone told you?”
Cheng Yujin continued packing the painting tools one after another, then she turned around, ready to leave, “This consort doesn’t understand what Your Highness is talking about.”
Li Chengjing suddenly reached out and grabbed Cheng Yujin’s wrist, using such a strong force that he directly restrained her in his arms. Cheng Yujin pulled hard and tried to break free, but failed. Li Chengjing turned her around and forced her to look into his eyes, “Why don’t you ask me?”
Cheng Yujin was still struggling hard, but when she heard Li Chengjing’s words, she raised her brows slightly, as if she had just heard a bad joke, “Right after the maid came reporting, Your Highness immediately returned. Do I still need to ask?”
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