A moment later, a servant woman guarding the door came in and reported: “Old Madam, Madams, Second Young Lady is here.”
Because Cheng Min was visiting, Qingfu Junzhu and Ruan-shi rushed over to entertain the guests. Hearing that Cheng Yumo was also here, Ruan-shi’s eyes brightened, and she couldn’t wait to go out and welcome her daughter as soon as possible.
Cheng Min said with a smile: “Mother, Mo’er and I made an appointment to go home together today. After all, more people are more lively. Considering that her husband’s house is nearer, I didn’t expect her to arrive later than me. Don’t spare her today, alright?”
The rest of womenfolks laughed softly, but Zheng Gugu.
Accompanied by her personal servant girls, Cheng Yumo came in. Everyone turned their eyes to the door, preparing to welcome her. But Zheng Gugu stood in front of Cheng Yujin and said, “Eldest Miss, you haven’t finished copying today’s Domestic Lesson.”
The laughter in the room suddenly stopped. Cheng Yumo had just entered the room, but upon seeing the frozen atmosphere, she stopped by the door and stared at the people inside.
Cheng Yujin was a little annoyed. Urging her to leave in front of so many people, this Zheng Gugu apparently wanted to make her lose her face on purpose. If she, the future Crown Princess, stood up and left the family gathering with just one word from a female official, what would the rest of the Cheng family think? After Cheng Min and Cheng Yumo returned to their homes, what would Xu family and Huo family think?
If it was normal time, it wasn’t impossible for Cheng Yujin to follow the current and push the boat with the water. Anyway, it was true that she had to finish the copy sooner or later, and there was no need to deliberately confront the female officials sent by the palace. But there were so many eyes here, and Cheng Yujin must fight back for her face.
She could lose anything but the face. She was the model of high-ranking family daughters in the capital and also the role model for her clan brothers and sisters. How could she allow herself to be toppled from the pedestal and be oppressed like a mere mortal? Even if she had to fight by tooth and nail, she must live up to her reputation.
Cheng Yujin did not move. She folded her hands in front of her abdomen and said, “Filial piety is the root of all virtues. Serve your in-laws as you serve your own parents. Similarly, how I treat my younger siblings is also how I will treat my future husband’s younger siblings. Today, my aunt and second sister are visiting their natal home. If I go back without properly entertaining them, how would I treat the princesses in the palace after I got married?”
This again. Zheng Gugu had a nauseous reflex when she heard these words again. The saying of ‘A woman must serve her parents-in-law as she serves her parents’ was originally meant to control women, but now Cheng Yujin used it to her own advantage. It was the first time Zheng Gugu knew that the Four Books for Women could be used this way, and she was very angry at Cheng Yujin. However, none of Cheng Yujin’s words were incorrect. Cheng Yujin cited old classics to support her cause, and rebutting her was equal to disproving the wisdom of the great sage. Even if Chang Yujin’s opponents were angered to death, they could do nothing to her.
Zheng Gugu held back her anger and said, “Cheng family’s second young lady is Marchioness Jingyong. It’s not proper for Eldest Miss to see her.”
Once this sentence came out, almost all people in the room had their complexions changed. What Zheng Gugu alluded was that Cheng Yujin had once engaged to Marquis Jingyong. Imperial family women naturally had to be careful of their image, but it was not forbidden for them to see their ex-fiance’s family. However, this matter was very delicate. Said nicely, and the Crown Princess just happened to see a family member of a court official. Said badly, and the Crown Princess could be accused of promiscuousness.
None of Cheng family’s people had a good face. This was not a joke, but a serious crime involving the whole family. It was very vicious for Zheng Gugu to bring it up.
Cheng Yujin didn’t even look flustered as she replied: “Yes. My second sister is married to the Huo family, who holds the title of Marquis Jingyong. I’m going to see my own younger sister, is there any problem?”
Zheng Gugu increased her tone: “Eldest Miss, that’s Huo family.”
“Yes. My second sister’s husband, and also my brother-in-law.” Cheng Yujin stared straight into Zheng Gugu’s eyes. “Is there any problem with Huo family?”
Xu family’s three girls were too scared to speak. Xu Nianchun held her breath subconsciously. She looked at Cheng Yujin’s calm face, then secretly glanced at the Gugu whose face was as dark as the bottom of a pot. At this moment, her admiration of Cheng Yujin reached its peak, almost to the point of worship.
Zheng Gugu was furious. The implied meaning of her words was apparent. Cheng Yujin had once engaged to Huo family, and it wasn’t proper for her to see a member of the Huo family again. However, relying on the fact that Zheng Gugu didn’t dare to speak openly, Cheng Yujin pretended to not understand, and kept talking about younger sister this and brother-in-law that. Zheng Gugu was fuming with anger, but she truly didn’t dare to speak openly about Cheng Yujin’s past engagement.
Cheng Yujin straightened her back. Her eyes looked straight into Zheng Gugu, who stood with a gloomy face and locked in a stalemate with her.
Seeing this situation, another female official silently glanced at Cheng Yujin before stepping forward and pulled Zheng Gugu’s sleeve. “Since Miss Cheng said so, we can only obey. As servants, following the master’s orders is our top priority. Although we are here to teach Miss Cheng, we shouldn’t violate a servant’s taboo.”
This Gugu’s meaning was obvious. Cheng Yujin was the Crown Princess appointed by the Emperor. No matter what reason the Crown Prince had to marry the daughter of Cheng family, as long as Cheng Yujin was not abandoned, she would enjoy the rights and respect a crown princess had. No mere female officials dared to talk about the personal affairs of an imperial family member, unless they were seeking death. If this matter reached the Crown Prince’s ears, none of them would survive.
Having been suppressed by her colleague’s warning, Zheng Gugu was forced to bow her head and apologized: “This servant has overstepped. Please give me a punishment.”
Cheng Yujin replied: “Gugu, the four of you made a special trip from the palace to teach me etiquette and rules. I am extremely grateful. How can I punish you? Besides, you are also people sent by Her Majesty the Empress. Her Majesty is in charge of the six palaces1 and its personnel, with clear rules for rewards and punishments. Since you are people by Her Majesty’s side, Gugu naturally knows what you can and cannot say.”
The corner of Zheng Gugu’s mouth tightened, but she lowered her head and said, “Miss is right.”
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