The room fell into silence. For a long time, no sound could be heard. Cheng Yuanjing was the first to break the silence: “Is this your answer?”
Cheng Yujin lowered her head and replied, “Your Highness misunderstood. This subject daughter doesn’t deliberately want to offend you, but proper courtesy should be restored. This subject daughter has been rude before. Relying on the fact that Your Highness still needs Cheng family to be your cover, this subject daughter kept pestering you like a real uncle. This subject daughter is guilty. Since this subject daughter has known your identity, this subject daughter ought to maintain the courtesy between a ruler and his subject. Not to mention that yesterday, this subject daughter was fortunate enough to be rescued by Your Highness. Your Highness is the crown prince and also this subject daughter’s lifesaver. Being respectful to you is a must.”
A ruler and his subject. Restoring a proper courtesy. Cheng Yuanjing’s lips were smiling, but there was no smile in his eyes. “Oh? Then why didn’t you put on a distance when we were in the Cheng family and only realize it now?”
Cheng Yujin sighed inwardly. Sure enough, Cheng Yuanjing was not easy to take advantage of. She tried to borrow the skin from the tiger, but before she had the chance to use the skin, the tiger came to catch her.
Cheng Yujin originally thought that Cheng Yuanjing wouldn’t feel bothered by this small action of sponging, so she was full of calculations to gain the goodwill of the future emperor, to secure her own future, and finally, to get connected with a bright young talent she could marry. Three jumps in one step, and she would be the winner of life.
But Cheng Yuanjing’s act of jumping into the freezing water yesterday undoubtedly slapped a brick on Cheng Yujin’s forehead and strongly shocked her. In fact, she had begun to recall various of their intimate behaviors that were so blurred before. Indeed, for a man and woman that weren’t related by blood, they were too close. But the title ‘Ninth Uncle’ was really easy to confuse, and Cheng Yujin was gradually deceived. She felt that their closeness was normal between relatives, and their daily banter was also nothing out of the ordinary.
However, they are not real relatives. If neither of them mentioned it, no one would know about their relationship after Cheng Yuanjing was gone. But Cheng Yujin never imagined that Cheng Yuanjing didn’t intend to stop there. He tore open the flimsy paper window between them and forced Cheng Yujin to face a serious fact.
She had successfully gained the crown prince’s goodwill. Too successful, in fact.
Cheng Yujin truly never expected that Cheng Yuanjing would fall in love with her. Her mind subconsciously ruled out such possibility. When Cheng Yujin considered the candidates of her future husband, she never put Cheng Yuanjing in her options at all, so she naturally felt that Cheng Yuanjing was the same.
After all, Cheng Yujin for Cheng Yuanjing was no different than Zou Cheng for Cheng Yujin. Zou Cheng was the young man who passed the imperial examination in the same year as Lin Qingyuan and Cheng Yuanjing. But unlike the two, Zou Cheng came from a poor family. His study fund was earned by his mother and younger sister spinning threads day after day to make a living.
She and Zou Cheng were the same in that their personal worth was high, but their family was dragging them down. Considering Cheng Yuanjing’s special situation, Yichun Marquis Manor was even deadlier than the Zou family.
Cheng Yujin admired Zou Cheng’s talent, and was touched by his family’s mutual effort and support. But Cheng Yujin would never want to marry into the Zhou family and became a noble wife who allowed her husband to leap into a higher status. She definitely could pick someone like Xu Zhixian, who was of the same status, had a good family, but weaker personal ability, or she could even fight to get Lin Qingyuan, whose family background and future career were both excellent.
Unless there was a hole in her brain, Cheng Yujin would never choose Zou Cheng. Marrying him was tantamount to a high-risk, low-return business. From another perspective, however, the situation between her and Cheng Yuanjing was the same.
There was a barrier between common people and scholars, and another barrier between ordinary officials and hereditary noble families. Finally, there was also a barrier between noble families and the imperial clan, which was like the sky and the earth.
The descendants of noble families inherited their ancestor’s wealth and power. They didn’t need to pass the imperial examination and didn’t need any scholarly titles to enter the officialdom, making their starting point much higher than scholars of ordinary families. However, in the eyes of those imperial clan members, noble families were nothing more than names. The difference was that some families’ names were worth remembering, while others were not.
Yichun Marquis Manor Cheng family belonged to the unworthy category. In the capital city where princes and dukes were everywhere, a small marquis manor with no power was just an insignificant ant.
As for His Highness the Crown Prince, his existence was even higher, far above other imperial clan members. Originally, Cheng Yuanjing was someone Cheng Yujin would have never come into contact with. The situation in the court was getting more and more tense, yet Old Madam Cheng didn’t even bother to pay attention to the matter of imperial succession, which showed how low Cheng family was amounted of.
Only those who would be noticed by the people above needed to worry about the position they stood at. Cheng family didn’t even have the qualifications to join any of the factions.
Although Cheng Yuanjing had been absent for more than ten years, his crown prince title still remained. It was clear that the Emperor had the high hope to pass the throne to him. Under such circumstances, once Cheng Yuanjing recovered his identity and status, some senior officials and high-ranking families would be willing to join under his banner. The easiest way to create an alliance was by marriage. Cheng Yuanjing could easily choose a wife whose character, appearance, and ability were on par with Cheng Yujin, but had a powerful clan as her backing. That way, it would be much easier for him to fight with the Yang family. There was no way Cheng Yuanjing had never considered this fact.
And what did Cheng Yujin have? She only has a passable but unworthy family background, a glamorous but useless reputation, and a beautiful face.
Cheng Yujin always put her interests first. She never let herself be trapped in emotions and naturally assumed others to behave the same. Cheng Yuanjing was even more rational than her, only that he had never shown it. Cheng Yujin didn’t believe that such a person would be willing to give up obvious benefits.
That being the case, his behavior yesterday gradually pointed to another possibility that made her back shudder in a chill.
Check this page for the status of sponsored chapters.