Today was the day when Cheng Yumo returned to her natal home three days after the wedding.
Cheng Yujin changed the head ornaments she wore and replaced the red ruby hairpins with the blue ones. This set was personally designed by her and was made by Linlong Pavilion’s craftsmen. Inlaid with beautiful sapphires, the silver design was simple and elegant. Each hairpin in the set was of a similar style. They were all made of silver inlaid with sapphires. There was not much decoration, but they looked simple and elegant like rippling water.
Cheng Yujin repeatedly looked at her reflection in the mirror. Once she was finally satisfied with her hairstyle and ornaments, she took out a pair of teardrop-shaped blue jade earrings and hung those on her earlobes. After Cheng Yujin finished, she wore four hairpins and a pair of earrings on her head. Even so, she wasn’t overwhelmed by those, which complemented her look perfectly. The teardrop-shaped earrings swayed gently and twinkled with her movement. Her skin was as white as jade, her neck was long and slender, and her chin was so delicate.
All in all, Cheng Yujin didn’t look sumptuous nor luxurious, but elegant and refreshing.
Cheng Yujin was very satisfied with this effect of presentation. Cheng Yujin specially designed this set of head ornaments for her own usage. She was now in the mourning period and couldn’t use jewelry or accessories that were too gorgeous or bright in color. However, even plainness had a unique kind of beauty. Without bright decoration or complex design, the gemstone’s color and quality could be brought out more prominently, and, after slight adjustments, could also display intricate details.
Cheng Yujin went to Shou’an Hall in a seemingly casual but elaborately designed dress. At this moment, all females and underage members of the Cheng family were gathered in the main hall of Old Madam Cheng’s courtyard, which was a rare sight. Ruan-shi had arrived here early in the morning. She was looking out from time to time, waiting impatiently for Cheng Yumo’s arrival. Qingfu Junzhu of course didn’t have the same anxiety as Ruan-shi, who was waiting forward for her married daughter to come back. But for the sake of maintaining the face, she still had to come over and waited with other family members. Feeling bored, Qingfu Junzhu had Cheng Enbao’s wetnurse bring the boy over and used the handkerchief to tease her son.
Cheng Yujin came in and greeted Old Madam Cheng, Qingfu Junzhu, and Ruan-shi in turn, then stood on the side to wait.
Both Cheng and Huo family attached enough importance to the formal etiquette of the bride’s first return to her natal family. After a while, a servant ran in and announced with a bright face: “Reporting to Old Madam. Second lady’s carriage is coming in.”
Everyone in the hall reacted. Ruan-shi’s eyes were full of tears, and she stood up immediately, wishing to pick up Cheng Yumo at the second gate1 in person. After being reminded by her servant girl, Ruan-shi reluctantly sat back in her original position, poking her neck and looking out impatiently.
After a while, Cheng Yumo came in, led by a servant girl. The curtain was lifted, and she and her entourage walked into the hall. The moment Cheng Yumo saw Ruan-shi and the others, her eyes reddened: “Mother, grandmother.”
Ruan-shi’s eyes were already filled with tears, and she couldn’t bear it anymore. She stood up and rushed forward to Cheng Yumo. Holding her daughter’s hands tightly, she carefully examined Cheng Yumo from top to bottom, as if wanting to find out whether her daughter was getting thinner or was getting wronged in her husband’s family.
Ruan-shi cried loudly: “Mo’er, why are you getting thinner? Are you sleeping well at Huo family? Did you get accustomed to living there? What about your food? Are the people you brought didn’t serve you well?”
In fact, it was only two days. How could Cheng Yumo get thinner in such a short amount of time? But Ruan-shi was endlessly worrying about her daughter and couldn’t feel at ease. Qingfu Junzhu held her son’s chubby hand and sneered. Cheng Yujin stood on the side, quietly watching Ruan-shi and Cheng Yumo’s mother and daughter’s deep affection.
Sure enough, no matter how beautiful the words were, a real performance wouldn’t deceive. Ruan-shi always said how she treated Cheng Yumo and Cheng Yujin equally. But it was a pity that Cheng Yujin was given away right birth and wasn’t close to her biological mother. In fact, it was very clear that Ruan-shi loved her second daughter more. Like her performance at this moment.
Seeing Ruan-shi kept questioning her daughter anxiously, her servant girl smiled and said: “Second Madam, today is the second lady’s first visit to her natal family. Old Madam and eldest Madam are still waiting. Why are you getting so excited and crying so much on this joyous day?”
“Yes, yes. Today is Mo’er’s happy event. Look at my awful state.” Ruan-shi smiled and wiped her tears. When she turned around, she saw Cheng Yujin, standing alone and smiling beautifully on the side. Suddenly, Ruan-shi felt awkward and embarrassed.
With a slight smile, Cheng Yujin nodded to Ruan-shi and Cheng Yumo: “Second aunt, second sister.”
Cheng Yumo only saw Cheng Yujin now. Today in this life, she and Cheng Yujin’s roles were completely switched. This time, it was Cheng Yumo’s turn to visit her natal family wearing a bright red dress, while Cheng Yujin was the one wearing plain clothes, simple ornaments, and stood with the elders in the hall, waiting for Cheng Yumo’s arrival.
Cheng Yumo had imagined this scene countless times before. During Cheng Yujin’s first visit to her natal family in the previous life, Cheng Yumo was still ill and her complexion was not good, but Cheng Yujin was bright and radiant. In this life, Cheng Yumo could finally raise her head elatedly in front of Cheng Yujin, letting her taste the feeling of dejection and loss.
Cheng Yumo had looked forward for this moment. But when she finally saw Cheng Yujin, it was her who received the blow.
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