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Cheng Yujin reached out to her sleeve, took out a light purple handkerchief, and slowly wiped the tears on the corner of her eyes. Unexpectedly, more tears were falling. Cheng Yujin raised her head, and both the Old Madam and Ruan-shi saw her face full of tears.
The two women were suddenly dumbfounded. Wiping her tears, Cheng Yujin said sadly: “I understand. I’m the eldest sister after all, so I have to give way to my siblings. Anyway, this is my fate. Second sister’s future is bright, so it is natural for me to make a little sacrifice for her happiness. But, although this is a family’s matter, we still have to pay attention to etiquette and order. Before her elder sister gets married, second sister already got married during the mourning period. People will inevitably begin to gossip. In my opinion, it is better for me to cut my hair and become a nun. This way, I’m freeing the road for second sister, and outsiders can’t say anything.”
Ruan Shi was taken aback and lost her composure: “What are you saying!”
Without blinking her eyes, Cheng Yujin replied: “It seems that second aunt is not satisfied? Right, if I become a nun, others probably will speculate that I was being forced. This will bring a bad reputation for second sister. Yes, second sister can’t bear this infamy. After all, she is going to be Marchioness Huo. How can she have a sister who becomes a nun? Then, I will ask grandmother to prepare white silk for me. After grandfather’s 49th-day rite was over, I will choose a clean day to hang myself quietly and will not cause trouble for anyone. This way, second aunt can send second sister to marry without any worry.”
Hearing those heartbreaking words, tears streaming down from Ruan-shi’s eyes. She covered her face with a handkerchief, and said with a choked tone: “My child, what are you saying! You and Mo’er are flesh and blood born from my stomach. You sisters were so weak when you were just born. The doctor said that you might not make it. I hated myself that I cannot exchange my life for yours. You and your sister finally grow up until marriageable age, but now you said you want to die! How can I bear it? Why do you deliberately stab my heart like this, ah!”
When she reached the last sentence, Ruan-shi almost roared out. Cheng Yujin knelt down, crying silently. She was wearing a white plain dress, and her slender face was almost whiter than her mourning dress. Kneeling on the floor with both sleeves on her lap, she looked so thin and fragile. Cheng Yujin’s face was wet, and two lines of crystal tears slowly fell on her cheeks, silent and helpless.
Unlike Ruan-shi, Cheng Yujin’s emotion didn’t get out of control, but others could see how she deliberately tried to suppress her sadness, making people felt even more heartache: “Then, what does second aunt wants me to do? You don’t want me to die, then what should I do?”
Ruan Shi covered her mouth with a handkerchief, crying until she was out of breath. Cheng Yujin was kneeling on the floor. Tears kept sliding off her eyes. She didn’t make a sound, but it was even more distressing than Ruan-shi hoarse sobs. Seeing the two crying like this, Old Madam Cheng couldn’t bear it and smacked the table: “Enough. Don’t cry anymore.”
Ruan-shi’s sobs quickly weakened, while Cheng Yujin kept kneeling firmly on the floor, wiping her eyes with a handkerchief from time to time. Old Madam Cheng sighed heavily: “Marriage is a happy event, so why do we have to sacrifice one for the other? Second girl’s marriage can no longer be postponed, it’s better if we let her married ahead of schedule. Eldest girl is staying at home to observe the mourning for Old Master. After your mourning period is over, grandmother will help you find a marriage.”
The Old Madam wanted to settle the situation by using an empty promise, but Cheng Yujin refused to comply. Today, the Old Madam put on nice words, but who knew whether she would really admit it later or not? With teary eyes, Cheng Yujin said: “Grandmother, it is a fact that my engagement has been canceled once, and it is also a fact that second sister has to marry before me. After a year passed, even if you do the best for me, who knows what outsiders will talk about me? Under such a situation, which family will be willing to marry me? Instead of putting my elders into difficulty, it is better for me to die quietly, so others won’t be able to wiggle their tongue.”
“Don’t be stupid!” Old Madam Cheng snapped. “Your body is given by your parents. It’s not easy for your family to raise you until this big. Marriage is a family matter. There is always a way to solve the problem. Why are you keep talking about dying?”
Ruan-shi was frightened by the Old Madam’s momentum. She lowered her head and said, “Yes, mother is right.”
After scolding, Old Madam Cheng calmed down and said: “Your grandfather went so suddenly. Before his death, he specifically prepared a dowry for you sisters. Originally, he was looking forward to you two to grow up, getting married, and having children. Unfortunately, his life was so short. Therefore, I want to fulfill your grandfather’s wish. When your grandfather was gone, he was surrounded by family members. Outsiders don’t know anything, so let’s just say that this is his dying wish. The Old Master loves you. In his heart, eldest granddaughter is no different than eldest grandson, so he wanted you to stay in the home to observe mourning for him. Meanwhile, his younger granddaughter is pampered since childhood. Let her get married early, so she can give birth to outer greatgrandchildren(1) soon and adding joy to the family.”
Ruan-shi’s cry subconsciously stopped. Cheng Yujin was quite satisfied with this decision. Her eyes moved slightly, and then she said: “But, will outsiders believe this?”
“Wait until your grandfather’s 49th-day rite. I will personally tell the guests and explain your grandfather’s last words. Even if they don’t believe if others said it, they will believe me. I’ve lived until this age and still have this much face.”
(1) Outer relatives: Relatives with a different surname. For example, children from a daughter are outer grandchildren.
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