Except for sighing, Cheng Min was helpless to do anything. She couldn’t bear seeing Cheng Yujin like this, but remembering the brat in her own family, she was unable to say anything.
A few months ago, Xu Zhixian’s state seemed to be wrong, and he looked to be out of spirit. As a mother, Cheng Min could roughly guess what was bothering her son. She initially thought that the marriage talk she had put down earlier suddenly found a fortunate turnaround. But not long after, Xu Zhixian came home in depression. Cheng Min tried to mention Cheng Yujin again, but her son just shook his head in silence.
Cheng Min could see that Xu Zhixian truly rejected this time, but no matter how she asked, he refused to tell the reason. Cheng Min failed to persuade her son and could only sigh deeply.
The children had truly grown up.
Cheng Min sighed inwardly, and suddenly heard Cheng Yumo calling her. Cheng Min returned to her sense. She turned to look at Cheng Yumo, who was wearing an expensive and beautiful dress, like any noble family young madams in the capital. The girl was smiling elegantly and gracefully: “Aunt, what are you thinking about? You seem to be engrossed. I have called you several times, but you didn’t respond.”
Seeing the look in Cheng Yumo’s expression, the uneasiness in Cheng Min’s heart became heavier. However, she was, after all, the second madam of a dignified duke manor. Cheng Min adjusted her expression in an instant and smiled like nothing was wrong: “I was thinking about your second biao brother, that naughty brat. I wonder what he is up to now. Mo’er, what did you just say?”
Cheng Yumo pursed her lips slightly, a delicate little dimple appeared on her cheek: “Mother and I were talking about the Lantern Festival1. There is no curfew in the capital during those three days. Marquis has a rare holiday and said that he would take me to walk around the streets. But Jingyong Marquis Manor has a small population, and my mother-in-law feels it is too tired to walk around. It will be too boring with just two people, so I wonder if Aunt wants to go with us. There are many young masters and young misses in Chang Duke Manor. After marrying into Huo family, I realized how nice it was to have many family members around, and our Marquis also thought so. He seems to like Chang Duke Manor’s liveliness. So, Aunt, how about our two families going together?”
Cheng Min was surprised at first, but soon overjoyed. Huo Changyuan was on the rise now, unlike their Chang Duke Manor, who was declining. In recent years, they had been relying on the imperial consort in the palace to barely keep an appearance. Xu family people also wanted to have a relationship with Huo Changyuan, but couldn’t find the right timing. Cheng Yumo’s invitation was an opportunity that they desperately needed.
Of course Cheng Min agreed. Cheng Yumo was her niece. When she returned home and brought back this news, her position in front of Old Madam Xu would also rise.
Cheng Min vaguely sensed that Cheng Yumo was deliberate. After all, Cheng Min had always preferred Cheng Yujin, who was smart and sensible. This kind of preference couldn’t be concealed from the related parties. Now, Cheng Yumo was deliberately competing with Cheng Yujin, and wanted to show Cheng Min that she had chosen the wrong person all this time.
Cheng Min really hoped that she was overthinking, and that she had misunderstood Cheng Yumo by seeing a good man’s intention using the villain’s mind. However, facts were stronger than people. A woman’s status followed her husband. Cheng Yumo was now rising with the tide, and this was an indisputable fact.
Cheng Min also had to bow her head to this second niece of hers. She looked at Ruan-shi and asked: “Of course we will be happy to watch the Lantern Festival with Huo family. However, second sister-in-law, you rarely see Mo’er. Are you not going with her?”
Ruan-shi sighed and said, “I originally wanted to do so, but mother said earlier that she had made a plan for the Lantern Festival, and told us not to accept others’ invitation. After all, Mo’er is Jingyong Marquis Manor’s person now. I cannot go against mother’s will. So I have to ask Lady to take care of Mo’er later.”
Cheng Min naturally agreed. Speaking of the Lantern Festival, this was a festival popular among women. Not only the married madam like Cheng Min, Cheng Yumo, and the others; all women in the capital, married or unmarried, commoners or nobles, all were looking forward to the Lantern Festival.
The festival lasted three days, and there was no curfew during this period. The Emperor and his subjects celebrated for the whole day. Everyone went to the streets to watch the lantern parade. The usual strict separation of gender was also loosened, and there were no curtains or partition separating men and women. Young people walked in small groups, regardless of gender, to meet on the streets and spend time together.
In other words, the Lantern Festival was truly a lover’s day.
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