Cheng Yujin stood in the corridor in front of the solemn red gate. The cold wind was raging, blowing the snow accumulated overnight. She reached out to the snowflakes outside the pillar, her slim wrist was even fairer than the snow.
Snowflakes fell on the palm and soon melted into water. Cheng Yujin withdrew her hand and laughed with self-mockery: “Forget it, what is the use of me telling you this? You won’t understand.”
Cheng Yuanjing put his hands on his back, silently looking at the snow falling on the eaves. How could he not understand?
He was born in the most distinguished imperial family. His father was the honorable emperor; his mother was the original wangfei(1) and later the empress. Probably no one had a higher background than himself. But what was the use of it? His mother fell ill and died early, making way for the daughter of a powerful minister. His father’s greatest resistance was to mourn his wife for a full year and made him the crown prince. Cheng Yujin said that although she had complete parents, no one genuinely cared for her. Wasn’t it the same with Cheng Yuanjing?
Cheng Yujin didn’t know why she suddenly said this to Cheng Yuanjing. Maybe because too many things happened today. Maybe because Cheng Yuanjing had seen her worst appearance. Or maybe because despite all the bad things that befell her today, only he stood on her side.
Cheng Yujin withdrew her hand and took two steps forward. She suddenly turned her head, revealing a fierce look: “Today you have admitted to grandmother that my words are true. We are two grasshoppers tied on the same rope, neither can get away. You cannot tell others about what you saw this morning, nor can you break your promise!”
Her sudden fragility dissipated as abruptly. Cheng Yujin returned into the wise and sensible eldest young miss of Yichun marquis manor. Before leaving, she didn’t forget to threaten the witness.
Cheng Yuanjing looked at Cheng Yujin deeply. For some reason, that kind of look made Cheng Yujin scared, as if containing invisible coercion. She felt a little embarrassed now and didn’t dare to properly face this ninth uncle. But she had just threatened the other party fiercely. It would be too humiliating to show weakness now. Cheng Yujin glanced back provocatively, then pretended to have another urgent matter and left quickly.
She had just taken several steps and almost sighed in relief when she heard the man’s voice: “You took the wrong direction.”
“That is the way to my courtyard.”
In Jingyong marquis manor, Huo Xue-shi was sitting on a wooden chair carved with yellow pear flower decoration. It had been a long time since the last time she felt this angry.
She slammed the teacup. The tea splashed on the corner of the table, leaving several water stains on the red embroidered cushion. “They bullied too much. Their own home has so many disgusting things, how can they still have the face to take the initiative to cancel my son’s engagement? More annoying is that eldest miss, unable to differ the good from bad, dare to tear Changyuan’s marriage contract in public!”
Huo Xue-shi was so angry at Yichun marquis manor, yet unable to vent. Huo Changyuan simply wanted to cancel the engagement and didn’t want to prolong the trouble, so he stopped his mother from making a ruckus with the Cheng family. Huo Xue-shi had been supported the family alone for more than one decade. She was very though in front of outsiders. But faced with her only son, she was utterly docile, always listening to his words.
For example, today’s matter. Since Huo Changyuan said that he disliked the engagement and wanted to cancel it, then just cancel; Then, Cheng Yujin tore up the marriage contract, yet Huo Changyuan told her to not pursue the matter. Even if Huo Xue-shi was so angry that she almost exploded, she still said nothing.
Huo Xue-shi personal servant girl Qin Xin wiped the water stains with a handkerchief. She then knelt down to massage Huo Xue-shi’s back: “Old Madam, what is your identity, what is Cheng family’s identity? You shouldn’t lower yourself to their level. The Cheng family hasn’t held important posts in the court for two or three generations. They only hung on an empty title, eating and drinking on the stipend. Our Marquis is very talented, so young and already had military merit. He even already showed his face in front of the emperor. Everyone knows his name. Those scholars work hard for so many decades, studying strenuously just for a chance of getting the luck to have an audience. Even if one of them got chosen as a jinshi and wanted to show a good face in front of the emperor, he still has to struggle for another twenty or thirty years. Marquis is only 20 years old this year, but the holy one already remembered his name, asked him questions, and even specially cared for his marquis title. This kind of grace, who else got it in the capital? Totally incomparable with an empty skin like Yichun marquis manor.”
After she heard Qin Xin praised Huo Changyuan, Huo Xue-shi’s complexion was obviously much more pleasant. The only focus on her long-widowed life was Huo Changyuan. Whenever others praised her son, she became happier than getting praised herself.
Huo Xue-shi said: “Exactly. Last year, Changyuan suddenly said that he wanted to marry the eldest miss of Yichun marquis manor. At that time, I felt that the Cheng family was not good enough for Changyuan. But since their eldest miss’s reputation in the capital was so good, I accept it. Who would have thought that their family was simply a broken down clan in golden attire? None of their daughters were conforming to the rule. Such a person, even if Changyuan didn’t ask me to cancel the marriage, I cannot let her enter my Huo family’s gate.”
Qin Xin naturally nodded in agreement. She had been serving at Huo Xue-shi’s side for many years. She was three years older than Huo Changyuan and personally watched him grew from a small boy into an outstanding young man. Huo Xue-shi had casually talked about releasing Qin Xin from the servitude, but the girl tactfully refused. Her heart has always been on Huo Changyuan.
Qin Xin and Huo Xueshi busily mocked Yichun marquis manor while at the same time praised Huo Changyuan to the heaven. Both were very happy. Huo Xueshi turned her head and suddenly recalled another thing: “Today, after Cheng family’s eldest miss tore up her wedding contract, who knows what getting in his mind, but Changyuan chased after her. Really, what good is that kind of cunning woman? Why he deliberately need to chase after her?”
“Eh, the Marquis still chases the eldest miss Cheng outside?” A sense of crisis inexplicably rose inside Qin Xin’s mind. A woman’s sixth sense was always very accurate. She faintly felt that Huo Changyuan might have a different feeling to the eldest miss Cheng.
(1) Wangfei : Lit. princess consort. Legal wife of a Wang (prince).
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