Old Madam Cheng was forced to painfully ‘enjoy’ her granddaughter’s filial piety. Fortunately, after a while, a servant came in to report that Cheng Min was back.
Old Madam Cheng’s spirit instantly refreshed. Cheng Min sent a message yesterday, saying that she would take her daughter to visit Cheng family today. Old Madam Cheng had been looking forward since yesterday.
Old Madam Cheng was Cheng Min’s mother. There was no reason for a mother to go out to greet her daughter. In the past, Cheng Yujin was just a junior. In order to please Old Madam Cheng, she often waited for Cheng Min’s carriage at the second gate early in the morning. But now, even after hearing that Cheng Min had arrived, she merely leaned her body slightly and nodded in greeting when Cheng Min’s group entered the door: “Aunt, biao younger sister.” 1
It was rare for Cheng Min to return to her natal home. She was delighted upon seeing Cheng Yujin and was about to come forward to talk to her when she saw four women, dressed in senior female officials’ attire, stood inside the room. The smile on Cheng Min’s face stiffened, and her steps immediately paused.
Right. Cheng Yujin had been engaged to the Crown Prince as the Crown Princess, and there were naturally female officials by her side to teach her etiquettes and rules.
Because of the presence of the female officials, the originally warm family reunion instantly became rigid and restrained. Cheng Min had been living comfortably as the second madam of a duke manor for so many years. Her muscles and bones had long been relaxed, not at all could be compared to young girls fresh from etiquette lessons. After Cheng Min said some awkward greetings, she didn’t know what more to say. With female officials standing menacingly in front, even if she wanted to say a few words to Cheng Yujin in private, she was unable to.
Even Cheng Min and Old Madam Cheng couldn’t have a comfortable chat between mother and daughter. How could they dare to talk about trivial household matters in front of people from the palace? Cheng Min said a few words dryly, but soon fell silent again, unsure what topic she could start. She pondered for a while before turning at the group of girls she brought from Chang Duke Manor: “Quickly come here. I always told you girls to learn more from eldest girl, didn’t I? Now your cousin has become the Crown Princess. Her manner and etiquette are first-class. Why don’t you hurry to come here and learn from her?”
This was the real reason for Cheng Min’s visit today. When news came out that Yichun Marquis Manor’s eldest daughter had become the crown princess, Chang Duke Manor’s people almost dropped their jaws in shock. But the close in-law relationship between the two families couldn’t be left unused. As soon as they found an opportunity, Xu family hurriedly sent Cheng Min back to visit her natal home, bringing with her a handful of Xu daughters so they could get acquainted with their Crown Princess cousin.
Besides Cheng Min’s biological daughter Xu Nianchun, there was also her shu daughter Xu Wanchun and the eldest branch’s shu daughter Xu Guchun; all tagged along.
The girls had been briefed beforehand. Once given the cue, Xu Nianchun led her sisters, and they greeted Cheng Yujin one by one. Although Xu Nianchun was spoiled by her family, she was still a decent miss of a duke manor. She was frequently taken by her elders to attend various social events. Basic etiquettes like paying respect and giving a greeting were second nature to her. Even so, at this moment, she stood speechless in front of Cheng Yujin, stammered after just one sentence of greeting.
Xu Nianchun was relatively better. Her two shu sisters weren’t even half as good as her. Their voices were getting smaller and smaller, and in the end, disappeared completely.
The girls couldn’t be blamed for being rude. The present scene was merely too scary for them. Zheng Gugu and her three colleagues had mean faces and looked difficult to get along with. With their stern-looking appearance, they were even scarier than the strictest mamas in charge of discipline. Just by standing in their line of sight, Xu Nianchun was so nervous that her body stiffened and her tongue-tied. It was as if a ruler would hit her palm at any moment.
Seeing this, Cheng Yujin sighed secretly. These young misses were indeed pretty squeamish. Fortunately, these female officials came to ‘educate’ her. If they were assigned to Xu Nianchun and her sisters, how much would they suffer?
Cheng Yujin took Xu Nianchun’s hand and said with a smile: “I also missed my biao sisters. Unfortunately, I can’t go out and visit you. I’m very happy that you’re here today. How is Old Madam Xu’s health recently?”
With Cheng Yujin’s lead, Xu Nianchun relaxed a lot. She replied: “My grandmother is doing well. But the weather changed fast these few days, and she is coughing a little.”
“It’s easy to get cold during the change of season. Last time, I made some loquat paste to clear heat and resolve toxins. The effect is pretty good. I gave some to my grandmother, and there is still one can left. Later, biao sister can bring it back to Old Madam Xu to try.”
Xu Nianchun sighed in relief. She grasped the topic and asked Cheng Yujin about how to make the loquat paste. Cheng Yujin didn’t hide anything and explained the method in detail. By talking about handiwork, the distance between the two cousins suddenly became very close. Even if the listener didn’t understand this topic, they could always ask one or two questions. The other two shu daughters listened from the side and occasionally inserted one sentence or two.
The atmosphere in the room finally thawed, no longer as frigid as before. Xu Nianchun also regained her usual self and occasionally commented with witty words. Inward, the girl thought silently: it turned out that this was the gap between her and biao sister Jin.
Xu Nianchun could often say some clever and witty words that made the elders laugh, and she had always been complacent with this. But now, she realized that although she could say something witty, Cheng Yujin could make others do so.
Cheng Yujin’s ability to control the flow, which she had polished for so many years, was very strong. As long as Cheng Yujin was willing, she could make any guest happy and complacent.
Xu Nianchun sighed. No wonder Cheng Yujin could be appointed as the Crown Princess. Their age was not much different, but their difference in ability was like earth and sky. Cheng Min used to praise Cheng Yujin in front of her children. Before, Xu Nianchun didn’t care. But now, seeing a huge gap with her own eyes, she was thoroughly convinced.
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