Cousin Zhou Linghuai
Patting her granddaughter’s hand, Old Madam Yu looked at the young man evenly.
The young man raised his head again and said respectfully, “I’m the son of the Zhou family in Youzhou, named Linghuai by my father. Nice to meet you, Grandmother. It’s inconvenient to move with my legs, please understand and forgive me.”
With that, he handed the palm-sized ebony box that was resting on his knees to Nanny Liu.
Nanny Liu received it and turned around to hand it to Old Madam Yu.
Old Madam Yu gently stroked the embossed peony on the box with inlaid gold and jade. She looked full of nostalgia. “This was the box I had given to Miaofu when she had gotten married far away in Youzhou. I didn’t expect that she’d still kept it after so many years.”
The atmosphere in the house was a little heavy, and everyone felt a little anxious.
Yu Miaofu was Old Master Yu’s biological sister. When Old Madam Yu was younger, she had a good relationship with her eldest sister-in-law.
Later, Yu Miaofu got married to a Guard Commander in Youzhou.
Youzhou was a little far from Jingzhao, so she had returned to her maiden home less than five times since she married there. Although the two families had always maintained contact, their relationship inevitably became distant over time.
Thinking about the past, Old Madam Yu’s eyes were a little moist. She pinched her handkerchief and dabbed the corners of her eyes. “The last time I saw her was more than 30 years ago. I didn’t expect that that farewell would actually be…” Separation forever!
Three years ago, when The North was invaded, the King of the You prefecture had failed to defend, and they lost three cities in a row, with countless deaths.
Later, the Imperial Court uncovered that the You King had been corrupted, colluded with The South, and plotted a rebellion. The Emperor was furious, and the You King’s entire family was executed. All the officials in the You Prefecture were either killed or exiled.
The Zhou family was stripped of their official positions, and their relatives and friends avoided them like the plague. Not long after, only Yu Miaofu and Zhou Linghuai were left at home.
Not long ago, even Yu Miaofu had passed away.
Yu Youyao glanced curiously at Zhou Linghuai. Seeing that his head was lowered and she didn’t know what he was thinking, she moved closer to her grandmother to see what was in the box.
Old Madam Yu opened it. There was a letter inside and a vivid red bloodstone seal that was the size of a thumb. It was exquisite and looked very elegant.
The word “Yu” was engraved on the seal. When she flipped open the bottom of the seal, there was a light red ink pad with the word “Miao” engraved on it.
It was Yu Miaofu’s private stamp.
It was given to Yu Miaofu by her father, Old Master Yu, when she got married. His daughter was marrying far away, and he was worried for her. He had engraved the seal for her personally, and in the process, he also put in all the love and affection that the Yu family had for her.
Old Madam Yu was stunned for a long while, then she sighed faintly. Without even reading the letter, she closed the box. “Miaofu had really suffered all these years.”
The Zhou family had been discharged from all their official positions. In fact, the reason they weren’t imprisoned, beheaded, or exiled was because of mediation from the Yu family, and it was already the best oue they could help mediate for them.
Even then, Yu Miaofu’s life in Youzhou was not easy.
The Emperor was very bothered about the Youzhou situation. Even if the Yu family wanted to help, they couldn’t do much. As a result, in the past three years, contact had bepletely cut off with Yu Miaofu, and they had bepletely unaware of the situation on the other side.
It was only yesterday that the gatekeeper had received Zhou Linghuai’s greeting card. The Yu family then sent someone to the inn to find out more. Only then did they learn that Yu Miaofu had passed away a few months ago due to an illness. Her grandson, Zhou Linghuai, had yet to reach the age of adulthood and was not of high status. He could only bring his servants into the capital to seek refuge with the Yu family.
This was also why the entire Yu family had gathered together—for Zhou Linghuai’s visit.
Fortunately, three years had passed since the incident, and the situation in Youzhou had stabilized a little. Furthermore, nobody was too bothered about an orphan in a wheelchair.
Old Madam Yu looked truly emotional. It wasn’t just a polite look of sympathy. Zhou Linghuai looked down. “Grandmother left very peacefully. Grandaunt, you don’t have to take it to heart.”
After weighing it in her mind, Old Madam Yu said to Zhou Linghuai, “Just stay with us, don’t worry.”
Zhou Linghuai replied softly, “Thank you, Grandaunt.”
He was calm andposed, his demeanor was refined, his words were neither servile nor overbearing, and he knew when to speak and when to recede. Seeing this, Old Madam Yu felt yet a stronger sincerity toward Zhou Linghuai.
Next, Nanny Liu brought Zhou Linghuai around to greet everyone properly. As elders, Yu Zongzheng and the others couldn’t help but say a few words of encouragement.
This scene was so boring that Yu Youyao started feeling a little sleepy.
After he had finally finished acknowledging his elders, it was time to greet his cousins.
Nanny Liu looked up in Yu Youyao’s direction. “This is the Eldest Miss of the residence. Her name is Youyao, and her nickname is Yao Yao. She’s nine years old this year. Her biological mother is Madam Xie from the Xie family of Quanzhou Prefecture.”
Yu Youyao, who happened to be covering her mouth and yawning, shot up from the couch at once. She touched the corner of her mouth and heaved a sigh of relief—thankfully, she hadn’t drooled.
Zhou Linghuai noticed this small action of hers and nodded slightly at her. “Hello, cousin.”
This little girl in front of him was a little chubby, but she had decent proportions, and she looked healthy and vibrant. Her small round face was charming and adorable, and she had attractive eyes. They were the perfect size, and they resembled phoenix eyes, with corners that were slightly raised, like the tail of a phoenix. Her eyes looked smoky while her gaze looked sentimental, like she was brooding and happy at the same time.
She was a natural beauty, and her charm was already beginning to shine through.
Yu Youyao bowed and said gently, “Hello, Cousin.”
The little girl tilted her head and beamed brightly, her smile clean and clear. Zhou Linghuai handed over the gift he had prepared. “I don’t have anything much. I can only express my sincerity by personally penning some calligraphy. I hope you don’t mind.”
“No, no,” Yu Youyao said. She could not wait to receive the calligraphy, and opened it on the spot.
Beside her, Old Madam Yu’s eyes couldn’t help but widen and stare.
On the quality white paper, there were rows of small words written in Chinese characters. They cascaded like flowing water, with strokes that looked natural and elegant, yet strong and bold at the same time.
Just this handwriting alone was simply outstanding, and showed that he was most likely very learned and educated.
On it was written the “Sutra of the Medicine Buddha”. There were elders in this household who paid respects to Buddha, so it was definitely a right move to gift these scriptures.
Before Zhou Linghuai prepared the gift, he must have inquired a little about the Yu Residence.
From this, it could be seen that not only was he a stunning talent, but he was also meticulous and thoughtful.
It was a pity that people with a disability were not allowed to be officials. Old Madam Yu looked at his leg and felt a sense of regret.
Yu Youyao saw that one of the scriptures looked very familiar, so she couldn’t help but read it immediately. “May the body be clear as lapis lazuli, bright inside and out, clean of impurities, bright and boundless, majestic with virtue. May it live in peace, stay in good health.”
It was the same scripture that she had seen in her dreams. She loved this passage.
Zhou Linghuai couldn’t help but look up at the little girl, a trace of surprise flashing across his eyes.
“Cousin’s handwriting is really beautiful.” Yu Youyou held the piece of calligraphy preciously. Even though she didn’t know much about calligraphy, she could tell that the handwriting was wonderful. Thinking of her own handwriting, she couldn’t help but blush sheepishly. “Get someone to hang it in the room tomorrow.”
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