Old Master Cheng promptly nodded. He didn’t dare to disobey Cheng Yuanjing’s words and slowly sat at the opposite seat. However, although he was sitting, his posture was clearly humbling down.
“This old subject then will be impolite, and call you ninth boy for the time being.”
Cheng Yuanjing made a gesture with his hand, “Marquis, you may.”
“Ninth boy, your situation outside was very good, why did you come back suddenly?”
“I heard that you are seriously ill. Since I am a junior, how can I ignore you? Besides, I cannot stay at the outside post forever, so I simply asked to be transferred back to the capital to carefully care for Marquis’s illness, so later I’ll stay at the capital.”
Old Master Cheng sighed joyfully. Although Cheng Yuanjing was a prince, the son of the dragon, but after all he had been raised under old Master Cheng’s name for so many years, how could there be no emotion between them?
Last winter old Master Cheng had a serious illness, and since then, his health had been worse than before. In recent days, he often felt that his end was approaching. Old Master Cheng reminiscing his whole life. Born in a wealthy and noble marquis manor, he lived a good life as a young man. Although he once lost his beloved, later he was fortunate enough to be reunited with her and start anew together. In his later years, he also bore the hope of the whole country. Old Master Cheng had nothing to regret, except for this crown prince, who had to stay alone outside, hiding his own identity.
So when he saw Cheng Yuanjing came back today, Old Master Cheng was really moved. He wiped the tears from the corner of his eyes. He took Cheng Yuanjing’s hand and said, “It’s very good that you came back, very good. If you stayed at the capital, the emperor could see you and feel at ease.”
Cheng Yuanjing paused for a long time before asking: “Emperor… is his health good recently?”
“Emperor’s body was completely healthy. Just, because you weren’t in the capital, he missed you. Previously he got the chance to see you at the palace test, but then you went to work far away, the emperor greatly worried. Whenever he saw a man about your age, he couldn’t help but choke with sobs.”
After hearing this, Cheng Yuanjing fell into a long silence. Old Master Cheng sighed and said slowly: “Ninth boy, this old subject knows that you have suffered a lot since you were a child. Obviously, you are a son of heaven, but you have to bear the ill reputation of an illegitimate child. But the emperor is also suffering. Yang Fucheng is in control of the government, while empress Yang is in control of the inner palace. It’s not that the emperor doesn’t want to take you back, but that he cannot.”
“I know.” Cheng Yuanjing retracted his eyes and smiled calmly yet indifferently, “Of course I know that the emperor doesn’t have it easy. Since I am a courtier, naturally I have to bear a part of his hardship.”
Cheng Yuanjing’s answer made old Master Cheng felt an unspeakable discomfort. He wanted to persuade him again, but the young man’s expression inexplicably stopped his words. Cheng Yuanjing didn’t look gloomy nor angry. The three years he spent outside had honed him. He became more profound and reserved, never showing up his emotion. However, this only further enhanced his majestic aura.
He was decisive and unperturbed, deep and immeasurable.
Old Master Cheng saw that Cheng Yuanjing showed more and more majesty of the one destined to be high above. If he really a descendant of his Cheng family, old Master Cheng could already close his eyes in peace now. It was a pity, although Cheng family had such a blessed young man, his real surname wasn’t Cheng, nor was he a real Cheng Yuanjing.
He was Li Chengjing, his royal highness crown prince who had been missing for fourteen years.
Old Master Cheng had been mingled in imperial court for decades, his ability to discern people’s mind was real. He saw that Cheng Yuanjing didn’t want to mention the emperor, so he changed the topic: “Ninth boy, you have been away for three years, and never coming back even on new year holidays. Since you have just returned to the capital and the Ministry of Personnel still not give you a new assignment, then you should rest at home for a few days. You left home for so long, some of the little ones have been grown up, perhaps you haven’t seen them yet.”
Cheng Yuanjing unexpectedly recalled the scene he had just seen on the way.
Well, he might have seen one of them.
Cheng Yuanjing became a little curious. Since he had nothing to do today, he asked a few more questions: “I see a guest come today, who is it?”
“Guest?” Old Master Cheng was puzzled. He had been seriously ill and currently in recuperation, so naturally, no one would bother him about the incoming guests. Old Master Cheng had no idea who was visiting today. Seeing this, Cheng Yuanjing added, “It is a young man, not very old. A military member.”
Old Master Cheng finally got it. There was only one young military man who could appear in the backyard of Cheng manor. He smiled and said, “He is the boy from Jingyong marquis Huo family, his name is Changyuan, last year he was engaged with your eldest niece.”
“Oh?” this piqued Cheng Yuanjing interest even more, and a shallow smile rose in his eyes. After a short pause, he said slowly, “However those engaged couples didn’t seem to be in a good relationship.”
“What?” Old Master Cheng was baffled. After he found little Xue-shi, his attention and care were completely for her only. Later, he learned about Cheng Yuanjing’s true identity, and wholeheartedly planned for the young boy. Old Master Cheng was rarely, or probably even never, paid attention to his grandchildren in the inner courtyard.
But after all, he still knew that the eldest girl was originally born in the second branch, and later was given to his eldest daughter-in-law to be her di daughter. Over the years, this eldest granddaughter was obedient and sensible. Although old Master Cheng didn’t have much affection for Cheng Yujin, as an elder, he certainly hoped that his granddaughter would have a good life. So when Cheng Yujin and Huo Changyuan were engaged, he was genuinely felt happy for her.
Only two months since they engaged, how could the situation change so fast?
Old Master Cheng never asked about domestic affairs, because he had a complete confidence in his family’s womenfolks. He said: “Your eldest niece has always been an obedient girl, I’m afraid that it was the Huo family’s boy who wronged her.”
Cheng Yujin was wronged? He didn’t think so.
Old Master Cheng didn’t see Cheng Yuanjing’s expression and continued to prattle: “Later I have to call eldest child over and ask the details. His age isn’t young anymore, he has to act like a father more. Right, ninth boy, Huo Changyuan and you actually can be considered a relative.”
Cheng Yuanjing was surprised. He raised his eyebrows: “Oh? ”
“Huo Changyuan’s mother is also surnamed Xue, she is Xuelan’s distant cousin.”
Cheng Yuanjing really didn’t know about this. Old Master Cheng explained: “That year when Xuelan’s family was implicated, her whole family was punished by exile. Huo Xue-shi’s branch was quite far from Xuelan’s, plus the punishment didn’t reach to the married daughters, so she didn’t get exiled.”
Xuelan was little Xue-shi’s given name. It was she who bring back Cheng Yuanjing to the capital and raised him. In one sense, little Xue-shi was his foster mother.
Cheng Yuanjing nodded, it seemed that since he already moved back to the capital, then he would have to thoroughly investigate the details of each prominent family.
When old Master Cheng and Cheng Yuanjing were still conversing, they suddenly heard footsteps approaching from the outside and stopped talking.
The guard stationed outside cupped his hands from the door, “Marquis, ninth master, eldest young miss comes to pay respect.”
Pay respect? Cheng Yuanjing shook his head and smiled, he found this nominal niece more interesting. She was actually anxious because he accidentally caught up with her ‘little action’. Yet unexpectedly it took a long time before she finally chased him here.
Old Master Cheng frowned. He usually didn’t let his juniors pay respect daily. Only on the 15th every month, his sons and grandsons would come by, just as a formality. Granddaughters, he usually saw them only several times a year. Why did Cheng Yujin suddenly come?
Old Master Cheng looked at Cheng Yuanjing, asking for his opinion. Cheng Yuanjing nodded with a smile and said, “Let eldest young miss enter.”
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