The night was getting deeper and deeper. Qingfu has been checking the account books for hours. She knew that no matter how much she wished, the numbers written wouldn’t increase. She could only stand up regretfully and slowly moved her stiff back: “I spent all night checking the books, how exhausting. But it’s a pity. Even after so much effort, in the end, I still let others profited off my effort.”
The mama served Qingfu to change clothes. She asked: “Madam, if you think the number isn’t good, why don’t you ask the eldest miss tomorrow? Maybe the shops in eldest miss hand are better.”
Qingfu Junzhu sneered: “Impossible. How much money can he give to a granddaughter who is going to marry out? The Old Master thinks that the girls are going to be married soon. It won’t be good if he leaves things only for Bao’er. To save his face, he also has to allocate some for the granddaughters. Moreover, Cheng Yujin’s engagement has been canceled. In the future, she cannot even be compared to Cheng Yumo. Cheng Yumo got one thousand taels to pad her dowry trunk. But Cheng Yujin’s shops must be far less valuable.”
Qingfu Junzhu didn’t know where Cheng Yujin’s new three shops were located. But the Yangzhou shop she and Cheng Yuanxian got only earned one thousand taels per year. Was it possible that the properties given to a granddaughter to be better than the son? Qingfu naturally thought that those were just a few run-down shops. Old Master Cheng was afraid to be accused of being biased, so he reluctantly used some useless properties to appease Cheng Yujin.
The dowry mama thought it made sense. In the end, it was just a granddaughter. Giving out one thousand taels could be considered an elder’s love. But Old Master Cheng’s money certainly had to be left for sons and grandsons. The master and servant pair no longer cared about Cheng Yujin’s shops. They began to suspect whether the second branch secretly cajoled the Old Master to give them the bulk of properties.
Meanwhile, in the second branch’s courtyard, Ruan-shi also had the same suspicion. Her ability to read account book wasn’t as good as Qingfu, but she still felt that the amount of money written was wrong.
Lying on their bed, Ruan-shi and Cheng Yuanhan complained all night. The more they talked, the more they were sure that the first branch was deceitful and shameless. Who knew how much properties the first branch secretly took away. In fact, the second branch’s share of the Old Master’s properties was already a considerable sum for them. But instead of worrying about the amount, they were angry at the thought of being deceived. Whenever they thought that they could have more, the couple’s anger rose once again.
This night was destined to be a sleepless one. In the first half of the night, many people busied themselves under the lights, from Cheng Yujin to Qingfu to the Ruan-shi and Cheng Yuanhan couple.
At midnight, Cheng Yujin had just fallen asleep when she was suddenly awakened by a loud noise outside.
Du Ruo put on her clothes and hurriedly knocked on the babu bed’s frame(1): “Miss, quickly wake up! The Old Master is dying!”
Cheng Yujin’s sleepiness instantly disappeared. She immediately raised the curtain and sat up: “When did it happen?”
“Just now. People from the front yard knocked to report. And the lights in other courtyards are also turned on.”
Cheng Yujin’s face suddenly grimmed. She stopped speaking and immediately got up to change clothes. She couldn’t make mistakes at such a significant time. Cheng Yujin quickly changed out her bright-colored garments and wore a plain one before rushed to Fuli Courtyard.
When Cheng Yujin arrived at Fuli Courtyard, the place was already full of people. Everyone clearly looked that they were awakened in the middle of sleep. None of the womenfolks wore makeup or face powder, and even their hair wasn’t combed. Ruan-shi had a naturally beautiful face, so now, she still looked okay even in a disorderly state. But Qingfu Junzhu clearly looked much older.
Fortunately, no one cared about this trivial thing now. Cheng Yujin walked towards Qingfu and stood in the cold night for almost an hour. A servant came out from the inner room and immediately cried to the Old Madam: “Old Madam, the Old Master is gone!”
A commotion instantly burst, and all the people in the courtyard suddenly began to cry. Cheng Yujin also followed the crowd. But she secretly sighed. Just several hours ago, she personally took a key from the Old Master’s hand. Now in a blink of an eye, the person has gone forever. This world was indeed impermanent, and human life was so short.
Cheng Yujin lowered her head. Whether she could cry or not, she at least had to show a sorrowful face. But her gaze accidentally fell on Cheng Yumo’s pale face. She pulled Ruan-shi’s sleeve in panic, whispering something.
Ruan-shi had been crying, but after hearing Cheng Yumo’s words, her expression changed drastically. Cheng Yujin suddenly became curious. She observed for a while and slowly figured out the matter.
Old Master Cheng had just passed away. His sons and daughters-in-law had to observe mourning for three years, and his grandchildren for one year. During this period, they couldn’t wear bright clothes, couldn’t attend banquets, and naturally couldn’t get married. Huo Changyuan was twenty-one years old. Huo-shi has long been impatient about his marriage. Cheng Yumo now had to mourn for a year. What would happen with her marriage with Huo Changyuan?
(1) Babu Bed: Chinese traditional canopied bed. Instead of having four posts with curtains (like western one), it has a full wooden frame surrounding the bed like a mini room.
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