Smiling inwardly, Cheng Yujin gently pushed away Qingfu Junzhu’s hand. Amidst Qingfu Junzhu’s shocked face and Ruan-shi’s joyful eyes, she gave a perfect and graceful curtsy: “Mother, second aunt. I was sick these past few days and lived outside. Asking mother’s forgiveness for being unable to pay respect to you.”
Qingfu Junzhu was a bit disappointed, but she was also proud. She hurriedly responded: “Eldest girl shouldn’t say that. We are mother and daughter. How can I feel angry at you over such a thing?”
“It’s good if mother doesn’t blame me.” Cheng Yujin said with a smile. Her manners were perfect and blameless, but she avoided Qingfu Junzhu’s reaching hand and stepped forward without looking back at the two women. Cheng Yujin then greeted Old Madam Cheng: “Granddaughter pays respect to grandmother.”
Old Madam Cheng, who had been aired dry for a long time, finally had her expression improved. She walked up to Cheng Yujin with the help of her cane and said: “It’s good that you are back. You are still sick and cannot stand the cold wind. Come in and talk.”
Qingfu Junzhu and Ruan-shi were stunned when they heard this. It was obvious that Old Madam Cheng was scolding them implicitly.
Cheng Yujin responded with a smile. The large group of people walked towards Shou’an Hall grandiosely. The servants in Shou’an Hall seemed to have been notified beforehand. They were all standing outside. The moment they saw Cheng Yujin, they scrambled to greet her.
The greetings came one after another, and even Old Madam Cheng was overlooked for a while. Cheng Yujin recalled the times when she came here before. Compared with the present, it was earth different.
After entering the main hall, the servant girls were busy pulling the curtain apart for Cheng Yujin, prepared a seat for her, and went to serve tea. Cheng Yujin saw it clearly when a first-rank servant girl was bringing in a set of hot tea with a smile on her face. When she was about to enter the door, she was stopped by an older servant woman, who took the tea tray from her.
Then, Cheng Yujin watched the servant woman came over with a bright smile and put a cup of tea in front of her flatteringly: “Eldest miss, this is this year’s freshest maojian tea. Please take a sip.”
And the first-rank servant girl whose credit was snatched was so frustrated that she twisted her handkerchief hard at the door.
Cheng Yujin didn’t touch the tea. She turned to Old Madam Cheng and said: “Grandmother, this time, this granddaughter has been unfilial and made my elders worry. This granddaughter is guilty.”
Amidst the “Eldest girl is too polite,” and “Eldest girl shouldn’t say that,” Old Madam Cheng shook her head and said: “It’s okay. You were sick, of course you should prioritize recuperating over anything else. You come back today. Does it mean that you have recovered?”
“Many thanks for grandmother’s concern. This granddaughter is much better now.”
“I know that eldest girl has a good fate. Heaven blesses those who do good deeds. Eldest girl’s selfless action of falling into water in order to save a child has spread throughout the capital.” As Ruan-shi spoke, she pushed Cheng Yuanhan a bit and winked hard at her two sons: “Your eldest sister is so good, why don’t you two ask her for some teaching?”
Cheng Enci and Cheng Enbi had been briefed thoroughly by Ruan-shi. Hearing the cue, they stepped forward and said to Cheng Yujin: “Eldest sister, how do you do? Eldest sister is both virtuous and intelligent. You are our role model.”
Cheng Yujin smiled and replied with a soft “Um.” Not receiving the expected humble platitudes, Cheng Enci and Cheng Enbi were stunned for a moment, as if they didn’t know how to continue. Qingfu Junzhu used this chance to take the lead. Taking advantage of her son Cheng Enbao’s young age, she put the child on the ground and gently pushed him towards Cheng Yujin: “Your eldest sister is back. Haven’t you been missing her for the last few days? Now she is here, why don’t you greet her?”
Cheng Enbao recalled his mother’s persuasion last night. He obediently called “Eldest sister” with a sweet voice and then used his limbs to climb on Cheng Yujin.
Cheng Yujin narrowed her eyes and smiled slightly: “Enbao.”
This one word had a magical effect. Hearing the familiar voice and familiar tone, Cheng Enbao paused in place. His hands were still grabbing Cheng Yujin’s clothes, but he didn’t dare climbing up anymore.
However, the adults didn’t see it. What they saw was Cheng Enbao stood beside Cheng Yujin, clutching on her clothes and obviously looking much closer than Cheng Enci and Cheng Enbi. Ruan-shi was angry and feeling hateful. The anger was towards her sons, who were as dull as wood. They only knew to say what she instructed them to say. The hatred was towards Qingfu Junzhu, this shameless woman who used her son’s young age to cling to Cheng Yujin.
Old Madam Cheng deliberately did not say anything, leaving space for her three grandsons. Although she didn’t know how Cheng Yujin suddenly became the Crown Princess or how long she could stay in that position, but now that the imperial edict had been issued, it was only proper for Cheng Yujin to support her natal family brothers. A thin camel was still bigger than a horse. Even after the Crown Princess was no longer favored, she was still much powerful than Cheng family. Promoting three younger brothers was no harder than moving her fingers.
What’s more, only if her brothers sat on good official posts could Cheng Yujin occupy the Crown Princess position more securely. Cheng family didn’t take advantage of Cheng Yujin one-sidedly; it was a mutual benefit of two parties.
Old Madam Cheng was very satisfied seeing the harmony between Cheng Yujin and her younger brothers. The Old Madam coughed and said: “Well, eldest girl has just returned. She needs to rest well. If you still have anything else to say, save it for later.”
Everyone in the room stood up and responded together: “Yes.”
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