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The first part of today’s sponsored chapters is Ch 59 Part 1.
“Zhai Yanlin?” Cheng Yujin raised her eyebrows in surprise. “Why does Ninth Uncle ask about him?”
Cheng Yuanjing stared at the tea leaves slowly being stirred inside the teacup. His tone was flat, as if he was totally unconcerned: “Just asking casually.”
Cheng Yujin didn’t know why Cheng Yuanjing suddenly asked about Zhai Yanlin. She had always been cautious in her words and deeds, and thus was careful to give a neutral answer: “Duke Cai is a brave warrior and rare talent. He is also a good military commandant. Having him protecting the country is a blessing for common people like me.”
Cheng Yujin secretly remembered that Cheng Yuanjing had never mentioned Zhai Yanlin before. But after having a private conversation with him, Cheng Yuanjing came over to inquire about Cheng Yujin’s opinion of Zhai Yanlin. Depending on the situation, it was likely that some of Zhai Yanlin’s words caught Cheng Yuanjing’s attention, and he wanted to use this man as his confidant. Therefore, he came to Cheng Yujin to ask about what she thought of Zhai Yanlin.
Whether it was in the future or at this moment, Cheng Yuanjing needed to recruit and nurture his own people. Since this was the person valued by the crown prince, could Cheng Yujin said bad things about Zhai Yanlin? Even if her own evaluation was only five points, Cheng Yujin had to praise him to eight points, with the remaining two points being too exaggerating.
Cheng Yujin was satisfied with her diplomatic answer. But after she finished speaking, strangely enough, Cheng Yuanjing’s face turned colder. Cheng Yujin was baffled. What was going on? Could it be that Cheng Yuanjing didn’t want the court people to form factions for private collusion, so he was dissatisfied hearing her praising Zhai Yanlin?
Cheng Yujin really couldn’t guess what was inside Cheng Yuanjing’s mind. For a while, she didn’t dare to express her opinion, but tentatively asked: “I don’t understand the military’s important affairs. These are the words I heard from the elders. Why does Ninth Uncle ask about this?”
The tip of Cheng Yuanjing’s fingers brushed over the porcelain cup. His eyes were slightly blank. He found himself became more and more narrow-minded. He could warn Zhai Yanlin to not harass Cheng Yujin again. But as soon as he turned his back, Cheng Yuanjing became worried again. No matter how much he said to Zhai Yanlin, he couldn’t change the fact that the Cai Duke manor was indeed attractive for the Cheng family’s standard.
Even as a second wife, she would still be a Duchess. What did Cheng Yujin think about this? She was ambitious and had a clear goal for her future. Would she not mind about becoming a second wife and thus took a fancy to the high-status and powerful Duke Cai?
Cheng Yuanjing didn’t know. So halfway through, he changed direction towards Cheng Yujin’s courtyard and asked her in a roundabout manner about what she thought of Zhai Yanlin.
Before Cheng Yujin gave her reply, Cheng Yuanjing already had the answer he wanted to hear. Unfortunately, what Cheng Yujin said was far from his wish. Cheng Yuanjing was a little disappointed. If it weren’t for the disappointment that came so quickly and strongly, he didn’t even know that he was actually expecting a denial from Cheng Yujin’s mouth.
Cheng Yuanjing himself didn’t understand what was happening to him. Obviously, he got the answer he asked. But he still wanted to deceive himself, thinking that maybe Cheng Yujin didn’t really understand his question. This had never happened to Cheng Yuanjing before. Since he was very young, Cheng Yuanjing knew that the path ahead wouldn’t be kind to him. He had long removed emotions, soft feelings, and other weaknesses from himself.
But at this moment, Cheng Yuanjing still persistently asked, “Then, ignoring his meritious deeds and reputation, what do you think of him?”
Cheng Yujin secretly sighed. Sure enough, the crown prince wanted to recruit Duke Cai. Cheng Yujin had nothing to say of His Highness valuing Lin Qingyuan. But to also value Zhai Yanlin, wasn’t he a bit unworthy?
Cheng Yujin really felt that the Cai Duke manor was not much different from their Cheng family. Just look at the heirs being raised. Both Zhai Qing and Cheng Enbao were waste. The family would surely decline in their hands. Since the Cai Duke manor was not so much better than the Yichun Marquis manor, why not the crown prince support their Cheng family instead of the Zhai family?
Cheng Yujin sighed again in her heart. But on the surface, she had to put on a smile and praised His Highness’ choice: “Ninth Uncle has bright eyes and a wise mind. Of course, the people you like are the dragon and phoenix among men1.”
Cheng Yuanjing already saw the change in Cheng Yujin’s expression. He noticed the slight reluctance on her face and immediately asked: “If you have something in mind, just say. I don’t like others lying to me.”
Cheng Yujin sighed. “Okay. Ninth Uncle, what I want to say maybe not too pleasant to hear. Duke Cai is a meritious person with a real contribution to the country. Of course I know he is brave and heroic, but when it comes to his son… it’s truly hard to say.”
Cheng Yuanjing recalled about Zhai Qing and had the same opinion. A person’s ability to maintain private and public matters were undoubtedly interlinked. Suppose a high-ranking official was talented and useful, but couldn’t tell the right from wrong when it came to his household matters, couldn’t differentiate between his wife and concubines, or even couldn’t educate his children properly. In that case, this person must have a problem with his character. Zhai Qing was raised to be that way. It was true that he lost his biological mother at such a young age and had a grandmother who spoiled him unscrupulously, but the root cause still lay on Zhai Yanlin, who was incompetent as a father.
Although Zhai Qing could not be disciplined because Old Madam Zhai protected him blindly, wasn’t the Old Madam also Zhai Yanlin’s mother? The Old Madam couldn’t distinguish right from wrong, but what about Zhai Yanlin? The Old Madam was very old, emotionally fragile, and couldn’t bear to scold her beloved grandson. Could it be that Zhai Yanlin can’t bear it either? Old Madam Zhai became what she was today was also inseparable from Zhai Yanlin’s attitude.
Looking at how he managed his family, it could be seen that Zhai Yanlin was actually very arrogant and self-opinionated.
Seeing that Cheng Yuanjing had no intention to refute, Cheng Yujin boldly continued: “It’s still okay for children to be ignorant, but adults cannot be excused for letting the children keep growing in this direction. The last time I met Duke Cai, I found that although he was nominally strict with his son, he only beat and scold the shizi, but has no patience to educate him at all. He fully throws the matter of his son’s upbringing to the women in the inner courtyard. Duchess Cai passed away last year, and only Old Madam Zhai is in charge of Zhai shizi. Yet Duke Cai doesn’t say anything. If Duchess Cai was still alive, wouldn’t he blame the shizi’s unruliness for being the Duchess’ fault?”
Cheng Yujin was cautious when she spoke, carefully observing Cheng Yuanjing’s expression. As soon as she found him displeased, she was ready to change her words to positive ones. But until she finished, Cheng Yuanjing didn’t say anything. On the contrary…Cheng Yujin felt that the crown prince’s mood became better.
What made him so happy? Cheng Yujin was totally puzzled.
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