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Cousin from Youzhou

Yu Shuangbai, who was nine years old and a month younger than Yu Youyao, went up to Old Madam Yu. “Grandmother, do you remember who I am?”

Madam Yao scowled at her. “Don’t speak nonsense in front of Grandmother.”

Ignoring Madam Yao’s rebuke, Old Madam Yu laughed and pulled her second eldest granddaughter to sit down beside her. “How could I forget you? You’re as mischievous as your big sister.”

She turned around and took a palm-sized sandalwood box from Nanny Liu and put it into Yu Shuangbai’s hands.

Yu Shuangbai stuck out her tongue cheekily and handed the box to her maidservant. She smiled and blinked at Yu Youyao.

She had a lively personality and was very similar to Yu Youyao. In the past, when the two of them were together, they would climb trees, dig bird nests, play with soil, and catch crickets with each other.

Yu Youyao blinked back at her.

After greeting the Old Madam, Madam Yao held Yu Youyou’s hand affectionately. “You’re looking quite energetic, and yourplexion is good. It seems that you’ve recovered, although you’ve lost a lot of weight. You have to nourish and take good care of yourself.”

With that, she instructed her maidservant to hand over a stack of medicinal herbs and supplements to Chun Xiao.

Yu Youyao quickly thanked her.

Even Old Madam Yu also nodded. “You’re very thoughtful.”

Her second daughter-in-law was a magnanimous and proper person, and she’d managed to raise such well behaved and mannered children. With such a good and virtuous wife, it was no wonder that her second son was so successful, and continued to rise in the ranks.

Old Madam Yu glanced at Yang Shuwan and placed her teacup down.

Although the position of Imperial Censor sounded glamorous, it did not have much prospect for promotion. Actually, it would be almost impossible unless the emperor was exceptionally gracious. He probably would not rise any further for the rest of this lifetime.

As daughters-in-law, they inevitably felt somepetition with each other. After receiving Old Madam Yu’s praise, Yang Shuwan’s expression did not look too good. She looked like she was about to tear her handkerchief apart.

Even Yu Jianjia couldn’t help but think to herself that Second Aunt was really great in every way, and she couldn’t help but feel a little envious.

At this moment, Yu Zongzheng and Yu Zongshen entered together.

Yu Zongzheng was in his thirties and looked decent. He exuded a strong and imposing aura. Inparison, the second uncle seemed more refined and sophisticated.

The two of them greeted Old Madam Yu respectfully. Then, Yu Zongzheng’s gaze landed on Yu Youyao. “Yaoyao, you’re not young anymore. How can you stay in your grandmother’s room all day? How many days do you study? ‘Women’s Analects’, ‘Lessons for Women’, ‘Female Virtue’, needlework, and the four arts. How much have you learned?”

Yu Youyao stared in a daze.

The Yu Residence had hired a female teacher to teach the young ladies in the residence, and Yu Youyao had started studying at the age of seven. However, she had such a lively and active personality, and was not someone who could study calmly. She was always busy climbing or running about. In the past three years, she hadn’t really learned anything seriously.

This also gave her grandmother quite a headache, who, for a long time, had tried forcing Yu Youyao to learn properly, but without much success. Seeing that her Yao Yao indeed wasn’t material to be a “gifted female scholar”, she no longer tried to force her.

Therefore, ever since she had fallen sick previously, she had not studied for a long time.

Old Madam Yu’s heart hurt for her granddaughter. Her expression darkened. “What are you saying? It’s rare that you’re having some free time right now, but you only know how to lecture your daughter. Is this how a father should behave? I didn’t see you show any concern when Yao Yao was seriously ill a few days ago. Don’t act so officious at home.”

After being reprimanded in public, Yu Zongzheng felt a little embarrassed and said disapprovingly, “Mother, don’t spoil her too much. She’s growing to be more and more unbing…”

His words were clearly referring to something else.

Anyone present who wasn’t stupid would understand that this was a reference to Yu Jianjia’s fall.

“Pa—” Before he could finish speaking, Old Madam Yu slapped the table harshly. The teacup on it clanged with a clear, crisp sound.

Yu Zongzheng was shocked. Just as he was about to continue saying something, Yang Shuwan tugged at him in fear, preventing him from continuing.

Old Madam Yu stared at Yang Shuwan with a sharp gaze and said coldly, “Speak, let him speak. I want to hear what you’ve been telling him, such that even an Imperial Censor who’s in charge of being the Emperor’s eyes and ears can be so mistaken and confused.”

Yang Shuwan’s expression changed instantly. She quickly shook her head and said, “Mother, you’ve misunderstood. I…”

Yu Jianjia tugged at her mother’s sleeve, hinting for her to stop explaining in case she made things worse and embarrassed themselves in front of the people of the Second Mansion.

Yang Shuwan came to her senses and lowered her head, not daring to say anything more.

The atmosphere in the room became very somber.

Yu Youyao sat beside her grandmother dejectedly. Her father had always been very strict with her while he doted on her third sister, Yu Jianjia.

Although she was used to it, it still made her a little sad.

In her dream, she was locked in the small courtyard of the Marquis Residence of Zhen. Her father had not cared about her, and it was as if she wasn’t even his daughter. She started to feel even more upset, and tears streamed down her face.

At this moment, Yu Zongshen smiled and said, “Yao Yao has just recovered from a serious illness, and her body is still weak. She can go to school when the weather gets warmer. She’s a girl, and she doesn’t have to take the imperial examination, nor to carve a career for herself. There’s no need to be so strict.”

“Jia Jia has also just recovered from a major illness, but she’s been schooling at home right from the first few days of recovery…” Yu Zongzheng frowned. Jia Jia was a year younger than Yao Yao and had been suffering from heart disease since she was young, but she had already resumed homeschooling shortly after her illness.

Both were his daughters, but Jia Jia had always been smart, obedient, and understanding since she was young.

On the other hand, Yao Yao was stubborn by nature and never learned. Although it was the servant’s fault that Jia Jia had fallen and was startled badly, it was still Yao Yao’s fault for acting haughtily.

These words made Old Madam Yu frown. Just as she was about to reprimand him, Yu Zongshen changed the topic. “It’s getting late. Ling Huai should be here soon.”

Just as he finished speaking, Nanny Liu led the two men into the house.

Yu Youyao quickly lowered her head and dabbed her face all over with her handkerchief, trying to wipe the tears off her face. Then, she quickly lifted her head, and immediately, she met a pair of dark eyes.

Their eyes met, and Yu Youyao was suddenly stunned.

The fourteen or fifteen-year-old youth had a pale face and a gloomy, sickly expression. He was dressed in a green jacket with dark patterns. He was skinny and looked rather scrawny, but his back was like a broad mountain, tall and striking, revealing a hint of danger and ruggedness.

He was sitting on a bentwood chair, being pushed by a tall, skinny teenager in a gray suit. The two big wheels rumbled softly as he was being pushed.

This cousin of hers was really good-looking. He was even better-looking than her brothers at home. It was just that… Yu Youyao looked at his legs with curiosity in her eyes.

The house was silent for a moment.

All eyes had landed on the young man who had just entered the house, and upon noticing his legs, had inadvertently revealed their looks of curiosity, scrutiny, sympathy, pity, and regret.

The young man lowered his eyelids. His hands, which were rested on the arms of his wheelchair, trembled slightly and clenched up gradually.

It was here that he heard a soft, pleasant voice ask, “Grandmother, is this boy my cousin?”

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