Cheng Yumo and Cheng Min were both visiting their natal home, and it happened that Cheng Yuanjing also came back today. It was rare for the Cheng family members to be so complete, and it was even more lively than New Year’s Eve. Old Madam Cheng was very happy to see all her children and grandchildren gathered, and everyone enjoyed a lively reunion banquet.
After being full and warm, people became drowsy. Old Madam Cheng retired to the inner room to take a nap, and Xu Nianchun was also sent to bed by Cheng Min. After placing her daughter in the green gauze cabinet, Cheng Min closed the door gently and stepped out.
Several people were still staying in the main hall. Without elders or little children around, they sat relaxedly in small groups, chatting and laughing. Second Master Xu, Cheng Yuanhan, and Huo Changyuan sat together and talked about court affairs. Cheng Yumo was pulled aside by Ruan-shi, and the mother and daughter were now sitting on the heated kang next door, talking about recent trivial affairs.
Cheng Min went through all five rooms in the front main hall, but didn’t find the person she looked for. Cheng Yumo saw Cheng Min went around in the circle, seemingly was looking for someone. She asked: “Aunt, are you looking for second biao brother?”
Cheng Min shook her head. She also sat down on the heated kang and said: “Not him. That child is already a big man; there is no need for me to worry about him. I am looking for Yujin. She only came back after we started eating. I went to the green gauze cabinet to prepare Nianchun’s bedding and didn’t pay attention for a moment, but she is already gone.”
Cheng Yumo smiled slightly and said: “So Aunt is looking for eldest sister. Ninth Uncle has just come back. She must be with Ninth Uncle now.”
“Oh, is that so?” Cheng Min hesitated, “Since when Jin jie’er became so close with the ninth child?”
The servant girl standing on the side answered: “Lady might not know about it yet. Since last year, Eldest Miss and Ninth Master have become very close to each other. When Old Master was still here, he ordered Eldest Miss to embroider Ninth Master’s calligraphy to be sent to the palace for the Emperor’s longevity present.”
Cheng Min nodded, “I know about this.”
“To embroider this present, Eldest Miss learned calligraphy from the Ninth Master for one or two months. After the embroidery was finished, Eldest Miss often went to Ninth Master’s courtyard to borrow books or learn calligraphy. She must be there now.”
Cheng Min was astounded. As a married daughter, she could only return to her natal family a few times a year, so she wasn’t updated about the recent situation of Yichun Marquis Manor. In the past, Cheng Yujin had always stayed by Old Madam Cheng’s side. This time, Cheng Min didn’t see her around and became worried. Only now did she know that Cheng Yujin and Cheng Yuanjing had actually become so close.
Who knew what Cheng Yumo was thinking, but she suddenly raised her hand to cover her mouth with a handkerchief and chimed in, seemingly unintentional: “Not only that. We are gathering here today, but suddenly found that eldest sister wasn’t here, and it was also Ninth Uncle who went out to look for her. Since Ninth Uncle came back, eldest sister rarely stays with us, and basically only follows Ninth Uncle around. They always go in and out together. Since I married, I rarely return home, and it has been a long time since I last talked with eldest sister. Maybe it is because Ninth Uncle is very knowledgeable, so eldest sister doesn’t bother to pay attention to us.”
Ruan-shi also nodded on the side: “Right. Even if other people were talking inside, they always sit separately outside. If people didn’t know, they might be mistaken as a couple.”
Cheng Min took a look at Cheng Yumo. The girl had her eyes drooping, and there was no change of expression on her white and delicate face. Cheng Min didn’t expose her, and said with a smile: “When a child grows up, they will have their own opinion. Besides, eldest girl matured early and has always been sensible. Compared with her, Nianchun is still like a naughty monkey. Eldest girl already knows how to help eldest sister-in-law in managing the household. Even if she sat together with Nianchun and the others, they wouldn’t have a common topic. As for us, the topics we are talking about are not suitable for an unmarried girl to listen to. If the ninth child wasn’t there, I’m afraid that she wouldn’t have anyone to talk with. Fortunately, the ninth child is back. The ninth child and eldest girl are similar in age, but he is much more experienced than her. Both are very smart people, and they must have many common topics. I am too old to keep up with young people, so just let them chat by themselves.”
Cheng Yumo’s expression was stiff. The corner of her mouth twitched, and she smiled unnaturally: “Aunt is correct. It seems that I didn’t pay enough attention to eldest sister.”
Cheng Min smiled cordially and said a few nice words to break the topic away. Cheng Yumo and Ruan-shi proceeded to talk about Huo family. Cheng Min deeply sighed in secret as she watched the previously innocent and weak second niece couldn’t stop mentioning Huo family in her conversation.
The children had grown up, and Cheng Yumo, who had always hide timidly behind the adults, now had learned how to turn around and demean her sister behind her back. Cheng Min sighed in regret. She wasn’t going to say that Cheng Yumo’s action was wrong, but it was true that it made her feel uncomfortable.
The girls were a pair of twins sisters, one was adopted, and the other stayed with their birth mother Ruan-shi. For this and other reasons, when others mentioned the sisters, they always compared them together. In the first fifteen years of their lives, Cheng Yujin dominated everyone’s attention with an absolute advantage. Cheng Min was no exception. She felt sorry for Cheng Yujin’s life experience and couldn’t help being biased towards her, not to mention that Cheng Yujin was indeed better than Cheng Yumo.
Cheng Min originally thought that the two sisters grew up to be an ideal pair. The elder sister was calm and dignified, while the younger sister was charming and lively. Unlike other family sisters, they were friendly with each other and never had a fight.
But facts gave Cheng Min a hard blow. The sisters she thought was supporting each other turned out to be just her fantasy. The fate of the two diverged at the age of fourteen, and the final result was totally out of everyone’s expectations. Cheng Yumo married high. Instead, it was Cheng Yujin, who grew up under high hopes, who had her engagement canceled and couldn’t find a good husband after a long time. Cheng Yumo had only been married to Huo family for four months, but she had already found a sense of superiority by secretly pointing fingers at her sister’s back and snatching family members’ attention.
It was common for children to compete among themselves in order to secure the family’s resources and attention. Still, Cheng Min felt a bit uneasy seeing this thing happen in her natal family. It was still four months now. In the future, after Cheng Yumo gained a proper foothold in her husband’s family and gave birth to the eldest son, would she do even more? In contrast, Cheng Yujin was already unable to secure a good marriage, and the gap between the two sisters would only get bigger and bigger.
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