Lin Qingyuan accidentally ran into this kind of thing. According to etiquette, he should pretend nothing has happened and never mentioned it ever again. But Lin Qingyuan was really curious. He paused for some moment, and still couldn’t help asking: “Eldest Miss Cheng, I have a question. I wonder if this is appropriate or not?”
Cheng Yujin kept smiling while looking at Lin Qingyuan. She had calmly analyzed this young man several times before. The more she looked at Lin Qingyuan, the more satisfied she was. From the family background to his own ability and conducts, he was truly a great prospect.
Cheng Yujin inwardly mused. She was wondering how to make another chance encounter with Lin Qingyuan, but unexpectedly met here today. She couldn’t help but rushing to talk more with the other party, so who cared about appropriateness? Cheng Yujin smiled at Lin Qingyuan: “Compiler Lin is too polite. You are a zhuangyuan, a first-rank talent. What you want to say must be reasonable. If Compiler Lin has something to ask, please say directly.”
Somewhat nonchalantly, she added: “You and my Ninth Uncle are a close friend, and you also helped me several times before. I think calling you Compiler Lin is too estranged. I wonder if you have a courtesy name?”
“Oh, of course.” Lin Qingyuan replied, “My given name is Qingyuan, and at my capping ceremony(1), my elders gave me a courtesy name Zhizhi. Eldest Miss Cheng may call me Zhizhi.”
“How can this be allowed.” Cheng Yujin smiled. “I’m a lot younger than you, and I also don’t have a court title. How can I call a zhuangyuan directly by name? What about I call you Brother Zhizhi?”
“Of course.” Lin Qingyuan wasn’t the one who trifled about small matters. He didn’t care about these kinds of things. Hearing this answer, Cheng Yujin’s lips pursed slightly, and the curvature of her smile deepened.
To change a man’s attitude, one should start with a name. First called Brother Zhizhi, then Brother Qingyuan, and later, calling Qingyuan directly.
Cheng Yujin was very satisfied with this progress.
The result of changing one’s naming address was quite significant. At first, when Cheng Yujin still called him ‘Compiler Lin,’ he only felt that she was courteous to a guest. But after it was changed into ‘Brother Zhizhi,’ he felt closer immediately. Lin Qingyuan subconsciously relaxed his attitude and asked: “Eldest Miss Cheng, my question may be abrupt. But you are young and beautiful, mastered the four arts, talented in cooking and needlework, and even create such a magnificent double-sided embroidery. So why do you have difficulty in marriage? And even…” Her family was so anxious that even the cousin from paternal aunt’s family asked to marry her. How could Cheng Yujin fall to this point?
Hearing the question, Cheng Yujin lowered her eyes. Lin Qingyuan saw her reaction and quickly said: “It’s me who inconsiderate. Eldest Miss Cheng doesn’t have to answer.”
Cheng Yujin looked up at Lin Qingyuan, bowed her head again, and sighed softly. She looked like she didn’t want to say, but still couldn’t help but confide to Lin Qingyuan: “Originally, these kinds of things shouldn’t be told to others. But except for Brother Zhizhi, I really don’t know who I can ask for advice. Brother Zhizhi should have known the matter of my previous engagement. It turns out that Marquis Huo likes my younger sister. Second sister and I are twins, and the Marquis recognized the wrong person when he came to propose marriage to me. Later, the Marquis realized his mistake, so he canceled our engagement and got engaged with my second sister. They loved each other and eventually become a couple. As an elder sister, I should give my blessing. But…I cannot.”
Lin Qingyuan has guessed what probably happened next. He sighed: “Eldest Miss Cheng…”
“Marquis Huo got his wish, and now is happy. But this world is so unfair to women. Their happiness becomes my disaster. After my engagement was broken, my reputation was damaged. Many good families dislike that I once had been engaged and are reluctant to propose marriage to me. Sometimes matchmakers come to the door, but they are sent by the people who want to take advantage of our marquis manor and take fancy of my dowry. Seeing that second sister is going to get married soon, if I don’t get another fiancee, I will end up staying in this manor, forever unmarried. I always wish that I can stay in Cheng family forever so I can be filial to my parents and elders, but this way, Yichun Marquis manor’s reputation would lose because of me. It doesn’t matter if it affects me alone, but I cannot bear seeing my parents and elders being implicated.”
Cheng Yujin’s words deeply moved Lin Qingyuan. He didn’t expect that Cheng Yujin was facing such a difficult situation. He originally thought that such an excellent woman would be sought after by many men, and definitely never had to worry about marriage.
Lin Qingyuan remembered that Cheng Yujin was about the same age as his younger sister. How angry would he if his sister suffered such a thing? Lin Qingyuan couldn’t help but feel pity for Cheng Yujin: “Eldest Miss Cheng shouldn’t be worry. You are smart, beautiful, and talented. Your future marriage won’t be bad.”
Lin Qingyuan said this sincerely. As a man, he knew that men were realistic. Just from Cheng Yujin’s beauty alone, no man would be willing to let go of her. Not to mention she was also smart, capable, and talented. Which man wouldn’t be unmoved by such a perfect wife?
Cheng Yujin knew that this was enough. Her goal has been achieved, and she didn’t need to continue showing off her misery. As long as Lin Qingyuan knew her miserable situation, she could emphasize one or two points in the future, and Lin Qingyuan would be moved by her sooner or later. Being too eager wasn’t good. As for whether Lin Qingyuan would marry her out of pity or love, did it matter?
Not at all.
Cheng Yujin smiled and pretended to look strong: “Why should we talk about these misfortunes? Let’s talk about more positive topics. Brother Zhizhi, where are you going?”
Lin Qingyuan remembered his original intention and said: “I’m going to Jingxing’s courtyard. I left two books with him.”
Cheng Yujin nodded. “So you are going to find Ninth Uncle. Ninth Uncle’s yard isn’t easy to find. I’ll take Brother Zhizhi there.”
Lin Qingyuan of course wouldn’t refuse. As a guest, he should follow the host. He gestured Cheng Yujin to go ahead: “Then, I will trouble eldest Miss Cheng.”
Cheng Yujin smiled back gently. She quietly planned a route to bring Lin Qingyuan around in a big circle. Such a rare opportunity to be alone with him shouldn’t be let go.
Cheng Yujin and Lin Qingyuan walked through the garden side by side, conversing all the way through the long, winding path. After they finally reached Cheng Yuanjing’s courtyard, Lin Qingyuan walked down the corridor and said to Cheng Yujin: “Many thanks for eldest Miss Cheng’s help. If not for you leading my way, I don’t know how to find this courtyard.”
Cheng Yujin was about to say some polite replies. But as soon as she turned around the corridor, she unexpectedly met one person. The person stood calmly and relaxedly, saying: “If you don’t know how to go to my courtyard, why don’t you ask me?”
(1) Capping Ceremony: Coming-of-age ceremony for men. The female counterpart is the hairpin ceremony.
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