Cheng Yuanjing was made very helpless by the Emperor’s words. Both of them knew well his current situation. Now that Cheng Yuanjing was so nearby, the Emperor looked like an old father. He said with emotion: “Zhen doesn’t know whether the crown prince has been married or not.”
Whether he was married or not, wasn’t the Emperor knew it well?
Cheng Yuanjing didn’t want to speak at all. He didn’t even bother to lift his eyes and just quietly looking at the pattern on the seat. At this moment, he noticed Cheng Yujin was silently glancing at him. Her eyes brightened with what seemed to be gloating and pure enjoyment.
Cheng Yuanjing stared back at her. Cheng Yujin didn’t expect to be caught red-handed snickering at Cheng Yuanjing. As if nothing had happened, she immediately retracted her smile and returned to her usual polite and well-behaved posture before turning her head in silence.
Cheng Yuanjing was annoyed. There was no way a person who was urged to marry in front of a woman he liked would have a good mood. What’s even more vexing was that Cheng Yujin, as the related party, had no idea and even enjoyed watching the play.
Cheng Yuanjing’s face became even colder.
As for the Emperor’s last remark, no one dared to reply. The crown prince’s disappearance was known to the entire country. After so many years, not even the news of his life or death had been found. And the second prince was almost grown up. Both Empress Dowager Yang and Senior Grand Secretary Yang had made clear their intention regarding the heir to the throne. If, at this time, the crown prince was still alive and even had offsprings among the common people, what would happen?
Huo Changyuan was afraid of touching this sensitive subject, so he only dared to lower his head and listened attentively, but didn’t dare to respond a word. In fact, the Emperor also didn’t expect to receive any response either. He normally wouldn’t mention this kind of topic with people like Huo Changyuan. After pretending to sigh softly, the Emperor glanced to look at Cheng Yuanjing’s reaction. As a result, this eldest son was still as cold and indifferent as usual, as if the person just mentioned was not him at all.
The Emperor secretly felt a bit disappointed. However, he immediately changed his mind. As the future ruler of the country, the crown prince should always be calm and composed, never revealing his emotion easily. In this regard, Li Chengjing was indeed very good.
At the same time, however, seeing his eldest son was still alone at this late age was undoubtedly a thorn in the Emperor’s heart. Let alone having children, not even a single woman had seemed to enter the crown prince’s eyes. However, if Cheng Yuanjing eventually wanted to marry a wife, the Emperor would certainly make a thorough investigation.
The future crown princess couldn’t be chosen sloppily.
But the fact was a fact. Cheng Yuanjing was still unmarried at this late age. This was certainly a sore spot for the Emperor. Because of the empress dispute, it was already very late when Empress Zhong gave birth to Cheng Yuanjing, and the Emperor finally became a father at the age of 23. When the Emperor had no heir, the courtiers were very anxious. But Cheng Yuanjing was even more late. He was twenty years old this year, and still showed no sign of getting married.
The Emperor sighed inwardly. Fortunately, Cheng Yuanjing would soon return to his rightful identity. Next year, after the Eastern Palace’s affairs were fully arranged, it would be a perfect time to put the crown prince’s marriage on the agenda.
Without other people’s knowing, the Emperor had started choosing suitable crown princess candidates among the women in the capital. After thinking for a while, the Emperor realized that he hadn’t paid enough attention to younger generations over the years. He didn’t even know which suitable families in the capital had a girl of the right age.
The Emperor turned to Huo Changyuan again. His eyes were gentle, like any usual middle-aged man talking with young people, curious about their affairs. The Emperor asked Huo Changyuan: “You said that you have been married for three months. From which family is your wife from?”
The Emperor’s thought was actually very simple. He merely wanted to know how Huo Changyuan and his wife first know each other, so they could be used as a reference for his own son to choose a wife.
Huo Changyuan was flattered. Today, he had spoken to the Emperor more than his past twenty years combined. In addition, if the Emperor asked about military affairs, it was showing his trust. But asking about private affairs such as wife and family matters were showing a closeness.
What a glory! Huo Changyuan suppressed his excitement and answered respectfully: “Replying to the Emperor. This subject’s wife is Yichun Marquis Manor Cheng family’s daughter. This subject received a life-saving grace from her. After recovering from the injuries, this subject came over to propose marriage to her family.”
Tsk, turned out to be life-saving grace. The Emperor felt troubled. This was too difficult to be a reference. The Qingxuan Temple’s incident was more than enough. The Emperor didn’t want Li Chengjing to encounter another danger that made him lost contact and had to be saved by a stranger.
The Emperor nodded, no longer interested in inquiring further. His gaze swept over Cheng Yujin’s face. No wonder these four people appeared here together. It turned out that Huo family and Cheng family were related by marriage. Li Chengjing must arrange this newlywed couple as his cover. Since his nominal surname was Cheng, it wasn’t strange for him to also be here.
Immediately afterward, the Emperor felt something was wrong. The girl who introduced herself as Cheng’s eldest daughter was dressed as an unmarried girl. Then, which Cheng family’s daughter did Huo Changyuan marry? Did he marry an aunt’s generation?
The Emperor was curious, so he asked again: “Do you marry Marquis Yichun’s daughter? Does he still have a daughter of the right age?”
Old Master Cheng’s mourning period had not passed yet, and Cheng Yuanxian had not yet to assume the Marquis title. The late Old Master Cheng was still Marquis Yichun. Facing the Emperor’s misunderstanding, Huo Changyuan was very awkward. But he had to properly explain: “Replying to the Emperor. This subject’s wife is Marquis Yichun’s second granddaughter, not daughter. Miss Cheng is wife’s eldest sister, and they are twins. When wife’s sister was an infant, she was adopted by Cheng family’s first branch under Qingfu Junzhu’s name.”
The Emperor finally got it. So it turned out that these two women were sisters. Indeed, the late Marquis Yichun was already seventy or eighty years old. How could he still have a fifteen years old daughter? The Emperor turned to look at Cheng Yujin and Cheng Yumo, feeling strange: “Since you are twins, why don’t you look the same?”
Here came again. Since she was a child, Cheng Yujin had heard this exact same question countless times already. She was already sick answering it. All the madams who came to visit would definitely ask this question upon learning that she and Cheng Yumo were twin sisters.
“Are you older sister or younger sister? Why do you two look different?”
Not all twins in the world looked exactly the same—Cheng Yujin sighed inwardly. She respectfully replied: “Your Majesty, my second sister and I already looked different since we were infants. When we grow up, this is also the case.”
Seeing that the emperor was still curious, Cheng Yuanjing added from the side: “These two are the same with dragon and phoenix twins1, but they are a pair of sisters instead of brother and sister.”
After listening to Cheng Yuanjing’s explanation, the Emperor immediately understood. He felt amazed. Twins were originally rare, but twins siblings who didn’t look alike were even rarer. As was widely known, dragon and phoenix twins had always been a sign of auspiciousness. Although in the Cheng family’s case they were a pair of sisters, there was not much difference in essence.
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