Ruan-shi’s complexion was pale. Old Madam Cheng gave her a threatening glance, as if deliberately reminding, and said: “Living in the society, the most taboo is being confused. If you do something wrong, it’s just proper for your elder to give you a reprimand, and you must reflect on your wrongdoings. Never confuse your own identity and harm yourself and others. Second child’s wife, do you understand?”
Ruan-shi realized the warning behind the Old Madam’s words. Of course she knew that she gave birth to two daughters, but the Old Madam chose the stronger baby and gave the child away to eldest sister-in-law. When she was physically weak after giving birth, Ruan-shi couldn’t help but crying whenever she thought of her other daughter. She secretly went to see Cheng Yujin, but Qingfu Junzhu’s mama coldly blocked the way. At this point, Ruan-shi finally understood, Cheng Yujin was born from her, but didn’t belong to her. Only Mo’er was fully her own.
The two daughters slowly grew up. Mo’er started to sit, crawl, walk, and talk. All Ruan-shi’s attention was on Cheng Yumo, and it was difficult to spare some energy to think about her eldest daughter. After that, she had two sons, Cheng Enci and Cheng Enbi, and Ruan-shi no longer cared about Cheng Yujin.
It was only when she came to pay respect to the Old Madam that she saw Cheng Yujin, standing behind Qingfu Junzhu. Ruan-shi was surprised. Ah, it turned out that Cheng Yujin has grown so much.
Before Ruan-shi knew it, her eldest daughter has grown up in a completely unfamiliar environment. Cheng Yujin was well-behaved and sensible, never noisy or making a fuss. When encountering something she couldn’t understand, she would quietly stare at it. Other children were crying at every turn, but she alone was different.
Later, as the children grew up, Cheng Yujin became more and more outstanding, leaving her peers far behind. Ruan-shi often heard Old Madam Cheng praised Cheng Yujin in front of many people, while Mo’er could only sit and listen with lonely eyes. This scene greatly provoked Ruan-shi. Compared to herself, Qingfu Junzhu was born nobler and had a greater say in the Cheng family. Why should it be that even the daughter Qingfu raised was better than hers?
Ruan-shi’s feeling towards Cheng Yujin was very complex. There were regret, pity, and remorse, but there were also indifference, anger, and jealousy. Ruan-shi despised the fact that Cheng Yujin was adopted by other people. Whenever she had the chance, she would speak before Cheng Yujin. Ruan-shi wanted Cheng Yujin to live well, but didn’t wish her to be too excellent and surpassed Cheng Yumo. More importantly, Cheng Yujin should never forget her biological parents, should get closer to them, and never get close with that woman, Qingfu Junzhu.
Every time Ruan-shi saw Cheng Yujin, her feelings would change subtly, but more complex. But she never expected that Cheng Yujin would resent her, or even denying her as her mother. It was her who brought Cheng Yujin into this world, and it was by her grace that Cheng Yujin was born. How could Cheng Yujin be unfilial to her? Even if Cheng Yujin was raised by other people, she should always think about her biological parents. After she grew up, she should admit her birth and return to her real family, then pay back her parents and brothers twice. How could she put on distance with them? How could she?
For Ruan-shi, this was no different than thunder on a sunny day. She was used to the Old Madam’s warnings, but couldn’t believe that Cheng Yujin actually thought the same way. Ruan-shi stared at Cheng Yujin, hoping to see some embarrassment and sadness on her face. But no, Cheng Yujin’s expression was as calm as usual, and she didn’t even respond to Ruan-shi’s shock.
Old Madam Cheng noticed Ruan-shi’s gaze. Her eyes narrowed, and she said again: “Second child’s wife, did you hear what I just said?”
This time, there was a threat in the Old Madam’s tone. Ruan-shi was frightened. She retracted her gaze and whispered: “Yes.”
Old Madam Cheng was so angry with her daughter-in-law’s stupid persistence. Adoption was changing one’s root, completely severed the relationship with the previous family. Both legally and emotionally, Cheng Yujin was Qingfu Junzhu’s birth daughter. But Ruan-shi has never been reconciled, and from time to time, stubbornly stepped forward to stir up troubles. From the beginning, Qingfu didn’t have any affection towards Cheng Yujin. With Ruan-shi’s provocation, there was no way she would get closer to this daughter.
Although displeased, Old Madam Cheng was helpless. Her eldest daughter-in-law was born noble and would eventually become Marchioness. In her old age, Old Madam Cheng would have to depend on Qingfu Junzhu. No matter how much she loved her younger son, the Old Madam would never openly offend her eldest daughter-in-law.
Thinking of this, Old Madam Cheng was even more determined to give Ruan-shi a lesson. She cleared her throat and said: “Now children and grandchildren have grown up. What I can do for you is not much. The Old Master has gone, and my turn isn’t far away. Life is impermanent. Even if you wear more gold and silver, or eating expensive foods, once the lid opened, it’s empty inside. When a person is getting old, they become more and more detached from worldly objects. Those things are not as good as one’s children and grandchildren. Zhang Mama, go and take out the red carved lacquer box from my trunk.”
Zhang Mama was surprised. She tentatively asked, “Old Madam, do you mean that lacquer box you brought here when you got married? That box has been with you for more than 30 years. You clearly said before that you would bring the box as your funerary item.”
“I know.” The Old Madam replied indifferently, “I am already half a leg into the soil. What I bring or not bring into the coffin will make no difference. A jade bracelet with such a good aqua color is rare. Better leave it to the younger generation for their self-protection.”
When Ruan-shi heard this, her expression changed. She knew that Old Madam Cheng had a pair of extremely precious jade bracelets, which very seldom were taken out over the years. At other times, the bracelet was kept away securely. Both Ruan-shi and Qingfu Junzhu had been eyeing it for a long time. Based on the Old Madam’s words, was she going to bestow it now?
Ruan-shi couldn’t help but feel excited by expectations. Those who saw things got a share. Since the Old Madam said it now, it was impossible that the Old Madam wouldn’t give it to her. In any case, Ruan-shi, a daughter-in-law, was in a higher position than Cheng Yujin, a granddaughter.
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