With Cheng Yuanjing as her cover, they went all the way unimpeded and soon arrived at the Xuanbei district. Xuanbei district was close to the offices of sixth ministries, and has always been the gathering spot for dignitaries. Its main street was full of riding horses, pedestrians coming and going in flocks, and women from official families accompanied by their husbands or family servants for shopping. Cheng Yujin didn’t look out of place here.
She never went out alone. In the past, even when going out for shopping, she always followed Qingfu, Ruan-shi, and other female elders. Cheng Yujin had to pay attention to everything she did, and didn’t dare to enjoy the shopping. She couldn’t ask the carriage to stop when she saw something she liked. But now it was different. She was the only female master in the carriage. Cheng Yujin was too lazy to put on a pretense, and she didn’t hesitate to direct the coachman to the place she wanted and stop whenever she wanted.
She wasn’t in a rush to see the shops. This kind of opportunity might not come again next time. She had to research the market price while she had the chance now. Cheng Yujin went into several shops selling jewelry, ready-made garments, and fabrics. However, she didn’t buy anything. She just looked at the items and asked about the price, secretly making a comparison. Cheng Yuanjing’s men saw Cheng Yujin entered and exited the shops without buying anything. Liu Yi who accompanied them couldn’t help but ask, “Eldest Miss, why don’t you buy something? This servant will carry it for you.”
Cheng Yujin looked back at him strangely: “Why should I buy?”
Liu Yi entered the palace at a young age and later came out in disguise to serve Cheng Yuanjing. Over the years, he has been in contact with all kinds of noble people, and he was also used to seeing the consorts and concubines in the palace competing and spending lavishly. According to his understanding, when Cheng Yujin looked at the items but didn’t buy anything, it should be because she didn’t have enough money. To be a good servant was to do the master’s intention, even without being told. This trip should be paid off by His Highness, and the crown prince never took this little money into his eyes. Liu Yi subtly offered to pay for Cheng Yujin’s shopping, but her replied made him stupefied.
For a moment, Liu Yi stunned in confusion. He then asked: “Eldest Miss, aren’t you go out for shopping?”
“Yes.” Cheng Yujin also looked at him strangely: “Shopping is window shopping. There is no need to buy anything.”
Liu Yi was shocked, unable to understand this logic. After all, he wasn’t a woman. The consorts and concubines he met in the palace has lived in the forbidden city for years. After entering the palace, they never had another chance to come out, so Liu Yi truly didn’t know how women usually shop.
While Cheng Yujin and Liu Yi talked on the side, Lian Qiao saw something interesting and quickly called Cheng Yujin over. Cheng Yujin rarely went out. This kind of opportunity was hard to come, so she generously brought both of her personal servant girls with her. Du Ruo and Lian Qiao seldom had the freedom that they had today. They quickly broke free of their usual restraint and happily threw themselves into the joy of shopping.
Liu Yi saw the girls who rarely walked out of the second gate(3) cheerfully strode along the street. Their eyes busily moved around without the slightest sign of fatigue. Liu Yi didn’t know what to say, and could only admire them silently. Cheng Yujin visited a few more jewelry shops. The items sold here weren’t expensive, but they were more colorful and lively than those in marquis manor. Cheng Yujin was satisfied. As soon as they returned to the carriage, Lian Qiao exclaimed “Huh?” in surprise.
(3) Second gate: The gate that separates the inner and outer courtyard in a manor.
She pointed to the colorful fabric packed inside the carriage and asked Cheng Yujin: “Miss, when did you buy these?”
Cheng Yujin frowned, “It’s not me.”
Cheng Yujin’s mind quickly turned. She looked out through the curtain on the carriage and saw Cheng Yuanjing, sitting on a horse with one hand on the rein, controlling his steed with ease among the crowd. Because they had to observe mourning, Cheng Yuanjing also wore a white dress today. But he used white brocade jacquard satin. This kind of fabric was bright in color, with clouds and cranes motif woven on both sides. Although the color was plain, it was more elegant than gold woven fabric in red and yellow.
The streets were bustling with the hustle and bustle, people’s noises, and the shouts from vendors. Cheng Yuanjing, dressed in white, was clearly separated from his surrounding. Even in this environment, he was still noble and elegant, as if he were sitting in the imperial palace.
As if perceiving Cheng Yujin’s line of sight, Cheng Yuanjing looked up at her. Cheng Yujin quietly put down the curtain. Lian Qiao tentatively asked: “Miss, these things…”
Cheng Yujin glanced back and said, “Since this is Ninth Uncle’s kindness, we should accept it.”
Don’t be kidding. Someone was willing to pay for her, would Cheng Yujin push back the money that entered her hand? Impossible. Cheng Yujin thought this was a gift from an elder, so she accepted it without any scruple.
The carriage kept moving forward. There were many people on the street. The carriage couldn’t run fast, and stumbled every short distance. Taking advantage of this time, Cheng Yujin flipped through the fabrics in the carriage and found out that all of these were the things she touched for a while, or inquired further with the shopkeeper. From the beginning, she didn’t intend to buy any of it, but Cheng Yuanjing noticed all the things she touched and directly had them packed away.
Cheng Yujin couldn’t help but feel mixed. Cheng Yuanjing was willing to take her out, and Cheng Yujin was already very satisfied. She never thought that the crown prince would accompany her shopping. Seeing Cheng Yuanjing actually came in person with her, Cheng Yujin was scared enough. She never dared to expect him to accompany her visiting one shop after another. Cheng Yujin initially thought that he would soon leave, but unexpectedly, Cheng Yuanjing waited patiently. She was busy seeing things inside, but he stopped outside the shop and waited. No matter how long she shop or how many times she asked for a stop, he never urged her once.
It was already beyond considerate. Although he didn’t come into the shop person, he noticed her movement and bought all the things she asked and touched. Even as a person without conscience, Cheng Yujin was touched.
Cheng Yujin lowered the curtain back. Across the carriage, the outside bustle was noisy, but for some reason, she could distinguish a particular horseshoes sound from among all other noises. It was clear, steady, and unhurried.
Cheng Yujin felt at peace, and she couldn’t help thinking that if the crown prince returned to claim the throne in the future, he would definitely become a benevolent monarch.
Wise and kindhearted, with strong self-control.
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