“So you didn’t hear what they were talking about.” Cheng Yuanjing understood, “No wonder.”
“Eh?” Cheng Yujin was confused. She looked at Cheng Yuanjing suspiciously.
Cheng Yujin was sitting close in his arms as her eyes looked up at him. From such a close distance, she was even more beautiful and mesmerizing. Cheng Yuanjing suddenly had an impulse to do even more intimate things. However, they hadn’t been married yet or even engaged, and those kinds of actions were far beyond properness.
Cheng Yuanjing finally calmed his raging impulse. Having received the education of a crown prince for more than ten years, he was used to respecting orders like they were second nature. Moreover, doing otherwise would be disrespectful to Cheng Yujin.
Cheng Yujin saw that Cheng Yuanjing was looking at her in silence. The look in his eyes made her inexplicably wary. But then, he suddenly averted his gaze a bit and continued to say: “Zhai family didn’t come to talk about marriage. They came to apologize.”
Cheng Yujin subconsciously frowned: “How can it be possible. Even if they came to take back the marriage proposal, their attitude was too…”
She stopped abruptly. Cheng Yuanjing seemed to have expected it, and he looked at her with a smile: “That’s why I said they came to apologize.”
This kind of apology had two types. The first was to apologize to the woman for canceling the marriage proposal. Cheng Yujin had experienced it once via the Huo family’s insincere apology. The second meaning was to apologize for provoking someone they couldn’t afford to offend. Because they were afraid of future persecution, they came to apologize with a humble posture.
Cheng Yujin originally thought that second madam Zhai was coming to Qingfu Junzhu for the first type of apology. But it turned out to be the second type?
It was impossible for Cai Duke Manor to be afraid of the Cheng family, unless it was Cheng Yuanjing who made a move.
The marriage proposal between the Zhai and Cheng families was just a verbal agreement. There was no official contract nor engagement ritual, and not many people even knew about it. Zhai family retreated in a good manner. Cheng Yujin’s reputation didn’t get affected, and she even received a bunch of apologies from Cai Duke Manor, which was truly the best outcome. Even Cheng Yujin’s best plan wouldn’t be half as good.
Cheng Yuanjing said she didn’t need to worry and that he would solve the problem for her. It turned out that he was sincere.
Cheng Yujin was speechless. Because of poor communication, she didn’t know that everything had been solved for her. She didn’t know what second madam Zhai said last night, so she took the risk and gambled her life to measure Lin Qingyuan’s character. If Lin Qingyuan jumped into the river to save her…then she would have the legitimate reason to marry him. If not, she would have seen his character early, saving her a bad marriage.
If only Cheng Yujin learned a bit earlier that Zhai family crisis had been resolved, she would never take such a dangerous gamble. But she didn’t know, and time was pressing, which prompted her to make a hasty decision.
Cheng Yujin couldn’t speak for a long time. In the end, she finally sighed: “Alright. The matters have passed, and there is no use regretting the past.”
Cheng Yuanjing chuckled. He gently traced her index finger from top to bottom as he said softly: “You don’t trust me.”
“It was because you don’t trust me that you took such a big risk and jumped into the icy river in the winter. If you have a trust in me, you would never do it.”
Cheng Yujin was silent. At first, she really wanted to save the child. But seeing the ice cracked, another plan suddenly emerged in her mind. Half of her reason for jumping into the water was indeed to save the child, but the other half was to take advantage of the situation and secure Lin Qingyuan.
She lied to everyone. Even Du Ruo, who had served her for the longest, thought that Cheng Yujin jumped into the water because she was too anxious to save the child. In fact, if Lin Qingyuan was not there at the time, Cheng Yujin would turn around and return to the shore. Reputation was important, but her life was even more important. Yichun Marquis Manor had many strong and sturdy male servants. Why should she take the risk by herself?
But Cheng Yuanjing could tell at a glance. Perhaps when he jumped down to save her, he already knew why she did that.
Cheng Yujin sighed: “Since you already know, why bother to jump down to save me? Entering the river in the winter is very dangerous.”
“If I didn’t save you, then what should I do? Watch you got exhausted and drowned, or watch another man jumping down to save you?” Cheng Yuanjing’s tone was very calm with no particular emotion. But in Cheng Yujin’s ears, his voice was particularly scary. “You even disregard your life for a man. Do you want to marry him so badly?”
Cheng Yuanjing was angry. Unlike previous times where he deliberately wanted to scare her, his anger this time was real.
The angrier Cheng Yuanjing was, the calmer he was on the surface.
Cheng Yujin didn’t reply for a long time. Without warning, she suddenly shook her hand off Cheng Yuanjing’s palm and grasped his sleeve. Her eyes were wide open. Without caring about their difference in status, she directly glared into Cheng Yuanjing’s eyes: “Ninth Uncle was born as the eldest di prince and became the crown prince at the age of five. You can do anything you want and get anything you like openly and candidly. Is that why you look down on someone like me, who spends all my life scheming just to marry a rich and powerful man?”
Cheng Yujin didn’t wait for Cheng Yuanjing to answer: “If I were born a man, I wouldn’t need to live like this. If I have the choice to carve my path with my own effort, do you think I am still willing to bet all my future on a man?”
“Do you think I am willing?” Cheng Yujin’s eyes were clear and beautiful, with distinct shapes and outlines. At such a close distance, Cheng Yuanjing could see his own figure reflected on those beautiful pupils.
“If I were a man, if I had other choices, why should I do this kind of thing? Do you think practicing etiquette is easier than studying for the imperial examination? Practicing the same movement again and again, keeping every step and posture in the exact position. Do you think it is easier than staying up all night to read, memorize, and write?”
“I can recite poems and essays fasters than all brothers in the clan, and my calligraphy isn’t inferior to men. If I can participate in the imperial examination, I will choose to concentrate on reading and studying only scholarly books, spending day by day only to hone myself. But I don’t have such a chance.”
Cheng Yuanjing looked at her silently. A drop of tears swirled in those beautiful eyes and slipped down.
Cheng Yuanjing’s fingers trembled slightly. The warm tears seemed to be scaldingly hot on his skin. After a while, Cheng Yuanjing slowly raised her hand. As if touching a delicate treasure that might shatter at any moment, he wiped Cheng Yujin’s tears very gently: “Don’t cry.”
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