In the main hall, a servant girl brought in the tea with her head bowed down. Qingfu Junzhu face was sullen, and after endured for a long time she finally said, “Madam Xue, the children’s marriage wasn’t trivial matter, can you consider again?”
Huo Xue-shi smiled and said: “Since I came here to meet Junzhu, naturally I won’t speak without any rhyme or reason. Eldest miss is indeed a good girl, Junzhu and Marchioness has raised her well, I also like her. But at the end, marriage needs both party’s consent. And this feeling, of course can’t be forced.”
Anger rose in Qingfu Junzhu heart. Mariage needs both party’s consent? When did Yicuan marquis manor ever begs Huo Changyuan to marry Cheng Yujin?
Qingfu Junzhu busily scolded Huo Xue-shi in her mind. Her anger wasn’t because her nominal daughter got her engagement cancelled, but because previously, they have raised a great fanfare about this engagement. Now if everything was cancelled, wouldn’t she lose her face?
Although Qingfu Junzhu was angry, but she has to admit that Huo Changyuan was indeed a perfect son-in-law. Looking all around capital, the young masters around Huo Changyuan’s age, were mostly had just moved out from inner courtyard, waiting for their elders to secure an official position for them. A youth like Huo Changyuan, who already had noble title and meritious deeds, was few and between.
After Huo Changyuan’s father, the old Jingyong Marquis, was killed in battle at the ninth year of Jianwu, Huo family got into a trouble. At that time, following the Senior Grand Secretary Yang intention, the court refused to titled his heir Huo Changyuan as the new Jingyong Marquis under the reason of his minor age. Because of that, Jingyong marquis manor became an empty shell. A marquis family without a marquis, anyone could casually trample on.
Huo Xue-shi, who was widowed at young age, was bullied in this way. She refused to bow down. Gritting her teeth, she raised her seven years old son alone. Fortunately, Huo Changyuan had ambition. When he was 16 years old, he saw that the imperial clan court still still had no intention to return the title to Huo family. Huo Changyuan knew that he could only rely on himself, so he ignored Huo Xue-shi’s heartbreaking plea and went off to battlefield.
In the same year, the long lasting case of Xue clan finally got political turnover. Huo family smelled the changing wind and tentatively sent a folded letter to the court. Although there was no further news, since the letter wasn’t sent back, it was a good sign. Huo Xue-shi was overjoyed, knowing that her son’s succession matter was finally started to see some light after all these years.
Huo Changyuan himself was also a ruthless man. In his second year in the army, he made his first contribution on the battlefield and finally gained public recognition. The emperor was joyful and personally speak with Huo Changyuan at the celebration feast. Seeing his tender age, the emperor was curious and asked why did he join the army. Huo Changyuan told him about his widowed mother and their family’s case. The emperor never knew this matter. After listening to it, he remained silent for a long time before finally sighed, “Heaven’s pity all parents. Zhen’s (1) crown prince, was also lost for twelve years. If he is still alive, he should be a bit younger than you.”
The emperor asked Huo Changyuan’s age, and became even more sad: “You are only 18 years old, so he is one year younger than you. You have a mother’s care and still like this. But crown prince, he was wandering alone outside, without any support nor any care, don’t know how much bitterness and hardship he met.”
The emperor choked with emotion and left the feast early. After the emperor left, the banquet hall was so quiet that even a slightest breath became audible. After a while, Senior Grand Secretary Yang raised his cup and skillfully restore the previous atmosphere.
No one dared to make any comment, but the emperor has made his words. The next day, official from Minister of Rites came to inquire about Huo Changyuan succession problem. One sentence from high above, completely changed the attitude of people below. Soon, the Ministry of Rites and imperial clan court office made a statement, claiming the low officials dereliction of duty. In the tenth month, Huo Changyuan received an iron scroll written in cinnabar ink, conferring him as the new Marquis Jingyong.
An eighteen years old Marquis, who was personally recognized by the emperor, and also had outstanding military achievements. Huo Changyuan instantly became famous in the capital, and similarly, Jingyong marquis manor became a hot newcomer in noble circle.
Qingfu Junzhu was even more prejudiced. At this moment, when she recalled the nephews from her natal clan, also the grandsons from her paternal grand-aunts families, she still had to admit that they were completely incomparable. Huo Changyuan had made his stance, and Huo Xue-shi was very doting on her only son, no wonder they dare to be so brash.
Therefore, this time Huo Xue-shi came fully intented to cancel the engagement. Although this action would also damage Huo Changyuan’s reputation, who told him to be so capable? Even without Cheng Yujin, dozens other young misses would still rush to marry him.
Cheng Yujin and Huo Changyuan’s marriage, from the beginning, more benefitted Cheng Yujin. So this matter was very thorny. Qingfu Junzhu obviously didn’t want the engagement to be cancelled. But Huo Xue-shi has personally came to rescind the marriage, and she heard that even Huo Changyuan also came together. If they kept clinging to this marriage, wouldn’t they lose too much face? For a while, Qingfu Junzhu didn’t know what to do. She inwardly complained. She had sent a servant to notify old Madam Cheng, why did she has not arrived?
Just at the moment, a rhythmic thud-thud sound came from outside. Qingfu Junzhu breathed a sigh of relief and stood up, “Mother is here.”
Surrounded by many servants, old Madam Cheng walked in. She was wearing a brown jacket embroidered with gold thread, a dark inner coat, and a warm fur shawl with intricate design. Seeing that old Madam Cheng has come, Huo Xue-shi stood up and greeted with a smile: “Old madam is here.”
Although Huo Xueshi also stood up, she was not very respectful. Her son was a marquis, and she was now an old marchioness. Strictly speaking, she was more senior than old Madam Cheng, a marchioness. But because the other party was older in age, Huo Xue-shi gave old Madam Cheng some courtesy.
Mrs. Cheng noticed the changes in Huo Xue-shi’s attitude, suddenly her heart sank. Previously after Cheng Yujin and Huo Changyuan got engaged, Huo Xue-shi became the same generation as Qingfu Junzhu. When she met old Madam Cheng, she would give the older lady a junior’s greeting. But now Huo Xue-shi just nodded and didn’t claim herself as a junior. It seemed that eldest girl marriage with Huo Changyuan was now completely impossible.
When old Madam Cheng entered the hall, the servant girls hurriedly replaced the tea and put on a new cushion. Old Madam Cheng leaned on her cane, supported by her personal servant, and slowly sat on the main seat.
(1) Zhen : How emperor called oneself in front of his subjects. May translated as ‘this emperor’.
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