Cheng Yujin stepped back and gave way. The man didn’t pretend to be polite and walked pass her.
He was tall and straight, taller than Huo Changyuan. His eyebrows shaped like a sword and eyes shaped like a star. The bridge of his nose was straight and his face had distinct edges. Overall, his appearance was very outstanding. There was no expression on his face, but when he walked closer, Huo Changyuan unconsciously stepped back to give way to this man.
That kind of aura, as if he was born to be worshipped by many, obviously wasn’t like normal people.
Cheng Yujin knew that the Cheng family had a member with an extraordinary identity. However, that person had not been in the manor for so many years. These last two years, he seemed to work as an official outside the capital, and her memory about him was very few.
That year, the incident was very big and almost made old Madam Cheng fell out completely with her husband, the old Master Cheng. At that time, Cheng Yujin was merely a one-year-old baby, so she didn’t have the slightest recollection about the day when old Master Cheng suddenly brought back a six years old boy from the outside and told his family that he was his and Xue-shi’s son. Cheng family’s blood couldn’t be allowed to stray outside, so old Master Cheng brought the child back to let him recognize his ancestors.
Old Madam Cheng instantly exploded. Very good, she worked hard at home, taking care of his family, but Marquis Cheng dare to sow his seeds outside, joining back affection with his old lover, and gave her a six years old illegitimate child!
Want him to enter Cheng family’s door? Dream on!
However, old Master Cheng was determined this time. He insisted on opening the ancestral hall, recording the child into Cheng clan’s genealogy, named him Cheng Yuanjing, and gave him a family’s rank of his generation, thus the boy became Cheng family’s ninth master.
In other words, based on seniority, Cheng Yuanjing was her ninth uncle.
What happened later, even Cheng Yujin barely remembered. Old Madam Cheng kept making out ruckus, threatening that if old Master Cheng insisted to bring back little Xue-shi and their illegitimate son, she would bring her sons and daughter back to her natal family. Old Madam Cheng’s granddaughters had been born, of course, she couldn’t be divorced. Moreover, she was also the family’s matriarch, and she had given birth to two sons and one daughter for the old Master, so he had to give his wife some face. Thus the Marquis bought a residence outside, and let little Xue-shi and Cheng Yuanjing lived there.
Man, even if you could tie up his body, you couldn’t tie his heart. Old Madam Cheng was no longer able to stop her husband. Because little Xue-shi and Cheng Yuanjing no longer could affect her status, she simply turned a blind eye on them. Because of the old Madam, no one in Cheng family dared to mention the ninth master. From the gossips sometimes leaked by Qingfu Junzhu, Cheng Yujin knew that this outside son seemed to be very intelligent. At the age of sixteen he already a jinshi(1). But because no elders took care of him, his career didn’t run smoothly.
It was normal for a jinshi to enter the Hanlin academy(2). Although the position there was a bit underappreciated, it was under the direct control of Senior Grand Secretary Yang, which was the only way to enter the cabinet in the future. Cheng Yuanjing didn’t have this kind of good luck. First, he was granted an official position that wasn’t low nor high, and not long after, he was transferred outside the capital.
This kind of transfer, few would be called back. But today, Cheng Yujin suddenly saw her ninth uncle, Cheng Yuanjing, in the inner courtyard.
When Cheng Yuanjing passed by her, he didn’t even give her a single glance. But Cheng Yujin didn’t care, because he also ignored Huo Changyuan.
Huo Changyuan was equally bewildered. He was a man who received army training. He also had eaten his share of experience in the battle, but he didn’t even notice the man who was standing at the walkway with so many servants!
This greatly shocked Huo Changyuan and made him afraid. He couldn’t care about Cheng Yujin anymore and didn’t even try to stop when she left.
He couldn’t move his hands against a woman, so Cheng Yujin’s slap was his compensation for damaging her reputation.
Cheng Yujin walked through the path and passed a heavy gate. After she could no longer see anyone behind, she asked, “The man just now is ninth uncle?”
“Listening to how his servant called him, it should be so.”
Cheng Yujin frowned and muttered: “My grandmother hates little Xue-shi the most. These four or five years we never heard about him, why did he suddenly come back today?”
How could Du Ruo and Lian Qiao know? Cheng Yujin walked through the moon gate and murmured to herself: “Only three years and he already rose to the fourth rank, it is too fast.”
Du Ruo and Lian Qiao did not have any knowledge about the imperial court, so Cheng Yujin’s words made them curious: “Miss, you just looking at him, how do you know that ninth master is already a fourth rank official?”
“Duke, marquis, fuma(3), and official until the fourth rank wore dark red clothes. The Fourth rank already high enough status. In court, officials of the third rank and above are hardly a few.” Cheng Yujin’s steps suddenly stopped, “It’s bad.”
They stopped right under a red plum blossom. White snow and red flowers, because Cheng Yujin wore a red cloak, she looked even more picturesque, clear and bright.
“Ninth uncle’s biological mother is little Xue-shi, and Huo Changyuan’s mother also has the surname Xue.” Surname alone couldn’t determine little Xue-shi and Huo Xue-shi relationship, after all, these two women’s life experiences were different like cloud and mud. But Cheng Yujin had seen her previous life in the dream, and she happened to know that these people were really distant relatives!
Cheng Yujin suddenly turned around and walked back. Lian Qiao and Du Ruo looked at each other and quickly chased her.
At this moment, Cheng Yuanjing stepped into the gate of the most luxurious courtyard in the Yichun marquis manor. He removed his outer cloak and handed it to his servant. The servant carefully took it and put the cloak on the stove to dry the snow from its surface.
Old Master Cheng struggled to rise from his sickbed, he took two steps towards the door and almost fell down. Cheng Yuanjing’s eyes were swift and he quickly helped old Master Cheng. Even before the younger man opened his mouth, the old man’s eyes already wet.
Cheng Yuanjing raised his hand, and the servants quickly retired. After no other people left in the room, old Master Cheng stood up tremblingly, he bent his knees and going to kneel down, “Your highness the crown prince, you are back!”
Cheng Yuanjing held old Master Cheng’s arm and stopped him. “Marquis, please sit up.”
Old Master Cheng’s tears barely stopped, he refused to sit and said, “How can this old man sit with your highness, this isn’t conforming the rules.”
“Marquis is joking, how can there be any rules here.” Cheng Yuanjing smiled, but his eyes still indifferent. “Marquis, my surname now is Cheng, you can’t call me that anymore.”
(1) Jinshi : title given to scholars who passed the highest degree of imperial examination. In some dynasty, only jinshi could enter Hanlin academy.
(2) Hanlin Academy : academic and administrative institution in imperial china. Consists of elite group of scholars, the academy performed secretarial and literary tasks for the court and also as a breeding ground for aspiring bureaucrats.
(3) Fuma : emperor’s son-in-law. Title given to a princess’ husband.
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