Old Madam Cheng had to handle her granddaughter engagement cancelation early in the morning and was now in a bad mood. A servant girl came to report, “Ninth master and eldest young miss are here.”
When old Madam Cheng heard this, the corner of her mouth visibly drooped.
Cheng Yujin walked into the old Madam’s room, full of tense. Women couldn’t ask about the matters outside the house, nor could men intervene in the inner courtyard. Although old Master Cheng had the highest authority in Yichun marquis manor, for Cheng Yujin, he was far less influential than old Madam Cheng and Qingfu Junzhu.
Cheng Yuanjing noticed Cheng Yujin’s change and gave her a slight glance. After entering the inner room, Cheng Yujin’s nervousness became visible. She smiled, and one by one saluted the female elders in the room. “Granddaughter pays respect to grandmother, to mother, to the second aunt.”
Cheng Yuanjing’s greeting was much simpler. He just nodded and said, “Wish Marchioness to be in good health. Eldest and second sister-in-law too.”
Cheng Yuanjing had an official post, and some servant boy even said that he had risen into the fourth rank. As the proverb said, official one rank superior crushed the inferiors. Considering Cheng Yuanjing’s young age, he was even more terrifying. Therefore, when Cheng Yuanjing only greeted casually, old Madam Cheng’s expression didn’t change a bit. And because even their mother-in-law didn’t dare to show any dissatisfaction, Qingfu Junzhu and Ruan-shi also couldn’t say anything.
Although Qingfu Junzhu was the wife of the shizi, Cheng Yuanxian position was only a nominal fifth rank. His post held no real power, nor was it lucrative, and it would be hard for him to be promoted further. So Qingfu Junzhu really didn’t dare to offend this young brother-in-law.
The fourth rank was the real threshold in officialdom. Sons of noble families like their own could, by relying on their forefathers’ merits and some bribes, slowly climbed into the sixth or fifth rank. But for the fourth rank and above solely depended on one’s real skill. The posts in that ranks weren’t something that could be bought by money alone.
So when she heard Cheng Yuanjing was coming, Qingzhu Junzhu’s face stiffened, and she stood up from her seat. Since Qingfu Junzhu was standing, Ruan-shi had to follow. In this room, only old Madam Cheng kept sitting.
After Cheng Yuanjing finished his greetings, Qingfu Junzhu and Ruan-shi smiled and returned with half salutation. “Ninth master has back. Why didn’t you send a letter, if I knew, I would already dispatch someone to pick you up at the city’s gate. No need for the ninth master to trouble yourself.”
“Thank you for eldest sister-in-law’s trouble.” Cheng Yuanjing smiled faintly, “I’m used to wandering outside. These small things, no need to bother you.”
Qingfu Junzhu offered him goodwill, but the other party completely paid no heed. For a while, she stood awkwardly. Touching her own hair, she forced herself to smile: “I see. As long ninth master is fine.”
So this Qingfu Junzhu could also be deflated. Hiding her joy, Ruan-shi glanced at her sister-in-law.
Cheng Yujin and Cheng Yuanjing entered the room together. After the two gave a greeting one after another, Cheng Yujin smiled obediently, while Cheng Yuanjing exchange a small talk with the others. This scene somehow made old Madam Cheng feel an inexplicable strangeness before she suddenly came up with a ridiculous idea: how could these two people look like a couple?
Old Madam Cheng was taken aback by this thought. Right after, she afraid that her age had befogged her mind. Cheng Yuanjing and Cheng Yujin were uncle and niece, how could they be a couple. But, she had to admit that both of them had an excellent appearance and exceptional temperament. Standing side by side, they really matched each other.
Qingzhu Junzhu and Ruan-shi cautiously tried to converse with Cheng Yuanjing, but old Madam Cheng was much colder. She just lifted her eyelids and lightly said, “You are back.”
Cheng Yuanjing’s smile didn’t change a bit: “Yes.”
Old Madam Cheng really couldn’t show a good face to Cheng Yuanjing. She simply asked him about his post outside these three years, and whether his career was smooth or not. After that, there was nothing else. Seeing the cold atmosphere, Cheng Yujin quickly smiled and said, “Grandmother, ninth uncle just came back from visiting grandfather. Today grandfather’s condition seemed to be much better, and he was in a good mood. We just sat for a bit, and he already urged us to give you a visit.”
Cheng Yujin’s words were complete nonsense. The old Master and old Madam of the Cheng family had been a couple for decades. How could the old Madam didn’t know what kind of temperament her husband had? The husband and wife’s relationship had been completely frozen for so many years. How could now in his last years, he suddenly care about his wife?
Despite knowing all this, old Madam Cheng still couldn’t help smiling when she heard her granddaughter’s words. Everyone liked to listen to pleasant words. Old Madam Cheng took a look at Cheng Yujin. She was the granddaughter she was most proud of. The girl was attentive and knew how to use her words. Her each and every move was praiseworthy, bringing the pride for Yichun marquis manor.
For example, just now she saw that old Madam Cheng and her successful shu son fell into an awkward silence, Cheng Yujin quickly saved the scene. Just by smilingly said two or three sentences, she was not only flattered old Madam Cheng but also secretly mentioned Cheng Yuanjing’s filiality, that soon after he came back, he immediately paid his respect to old Madam Cheng. Without batting an eyelid, Cheng Yuanjing was extricated.
Old Madam Cheng enjoyed her granddaughter’s flattery, but the strangeness from before once again rose. This way, didn’t these two even more looked like a couple?
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