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First Meeting with Song Mingzhao (1)

Old Madam Song was a little plump. When she smiled, her round face looked kind. She looked at Yu Youyao with clear fondness.

The nine-year-old girl had looked rounder and more adorable than other girls her age. Now, she seemed less like a little girl and more like a sweet, delicate young lady, bright-eyed and charming. In another two years, she would grow to become even more of a beautiful young lady.

Old Madam Yu also smiled. “She has lost quite some weight and looks quite different.”

“I see,” The more Old Madam Song looked at her, the more pleased she was. She took off the suet jade bracelet on her wrist and put it on Yu Youyao instead. “I heard from your grandmother that recently, you have been learning from a nanny who had just come out from the palace. What have you learned?”

“I have not only learned etiquette and the rules, but I’ve also learned a little needlework, cooking, and tea preparation.” Yu Youyao did not mention pharmacology, perfume, or anything else. Nanny Xu had said that a proper young lady should never reveal too much about herself, but just the right amount.

These were all things that young ladies should learn and know. The delight in Old Madam Song’s eyes deepened. She patted Yu Youyao’s hand. “Hui’er often talks about you. In future, come to my house often to play.”

A ten-year-old girl was already old enough to be allowed to visit and play at a close family friend’s place.

Yu Youyao nodded and agreed obediently.

The Marquis Zhen’s Residence was regal and stately. The family had not been divided into separate houses yet. The four families lived together, and the eldest son had already inherited the title of Lord.

The Young Mistress Hui that Old Madam Song was talking about was Song Wanhui, the seventh daughter of the first wife in the Marquis Zhen’s Estate. She was Song Mingzhao’s younger sister and was the same age as Yu Youyao. Whenever the two families interacted, she always got along well with Yu Youyao.

After saying so much, Old Madam Song felt her chest tighten and couldn’t help coughing a little.

Standing right in front of her, Yu Youyao reacted quickly, passing the copper sputum box from the servant girl to Old Madam Song.

However, Old Madam Song refused to use it, only glancing at the maidservant in front of her.

The maidservant retrieved the box from Yu Youyao. Only then did Old Madam Song lower her head and spit. She then dabbed the corner of her mouth with her handkerchief, and a cup of warm tea was already prepared and brought to her.

When Old Madam Song saw that it was Yu Youyao who was serving her the tea, she reached out to take a sip, rinsing her mouth with it before spitting into the container.

Yu Youyao handed the teacup to the maidservant and helped Old Madam Song lean against the pillow.

Old Madam Yu looked at Old Madam Song worriedly. “This cough of yours always becomes worse when the seasons change. Why are you still out and about?” With that, she sighed. “You’re getting old. You have to take care of your health.”

Old Madam Song shook her head. “This happens with age, it can’t be helped.” As she spoke, she glanced at Yu Youyao, who had already sat down beside Old Madam Yu, looking obedient and cute. “On the other hand, you old thing, with such a bright and lovable girl like Yao Yao by your side, you look more energetic than before; like you’re three years younger than me.”

Old Madam Yu was actually two years older than her, but her face had fewer wrinkles, and she was also more robust. It was impossible not to be envious.

There were more than a dozen young mistresses in her residence, who often spent time with her too. In the past, she used to think that a few of them were pretty outstanding. But now that she compared them to Yu Youyao, she could not help but shake her head.

Old Madam Yu also glanced at Yu Youyao with a smile in her eyes, thinking, “I didn’t raise her for nothing.”

She was indeed so filial to her grandmother! At that moment, Yu Youyao was seated on the small stool. She puffed her cheeks, feeling a little bored, and couldn’t help but glance into one of the cubicles.

There was a golden bodhisattva consecrated inside. Yu Youyao didn’t recognize which bodhisattva it was. There was also an old monk and six young monks sitting on meditation cushions, chanting scriptures.

As if sensing her gaze, the old monk opened his drooping eyelids and glanced at her. His turbid gaze settled on her forehead for an instant before he closed his eyes again.

Yu Youyao’s breathing stopped for a moment. His gaze made her forehead burn and her back perspire. She hurriedly looked away, not daring to look at him anymore.

She felt that this old monk seemed to be able to see the blood jade lotus that was on her forehead. It made her feel uneasy and nervous.

Old Madam Yu turned around. “Yao Yao, if you are feeling bored, get a maidservant to accompany you for a walk.”

Yu Youyao did not want to stay inside either. Just as she was about to get up, footsteps came from outside. Old Madam Yu’s personal maidservant, Bai Kui, entered the room. “First Madam and Second Madam have arrived with the young mistresses.”

Qing Xiu led them into the meditation room. Yang Shuwan and Madam Yao led the few young mistresses to greet Old Madam Yu and Old Madam Song.

Old Madam Yu had a neutral expression, not revealing if she was happy or angry. On the other hand, Old Madam Song had a smile on her face as she complimented that all the young ladies looked lovely. Her gaze remained the same as she looked at each of them, one by one, but paused on Yu Jianjia for a moment before moving on to Yu Qingning. When she saw Yu Shuangbai in her pink outfit, her smile became warmer.

Yang Shuwan wanted to say something to please Old Madam Song, but the old madam was coughing continuously, so the maidservants had rushed forward to serve and soothe her. After a while, Old Madam Song’s cough finally eased a little, but it was no longer the appropriate timing for Yang Shuwan to ingratiate herself with the old madam. For a moment, she looked disappointed.

Seeing this situation, Yu Jianjia moved from standing beside her mother to the small stool beside Yu Youyao. Her eyes flickered and she noticed the suet jade bracelet on Yu Youyao’s wrist, as pearly white as suet and as smooth as jade, emitting a delicate glow.

She had not seen Yu Youyao wearing this bracelet in the morning.

Yu Jianjia received the tea from a servant girl and took a sip. From the corner of her eye, she saw that Old Madam Song’s wrist was empty.

When a gathering was arranged, it was common practice to present gifts as long as both parties were on good terms. However, gifting something during a coincidental meeting showed a sincere fondness from the heart.

By giving something she kept close to herself, she showed her affection and highlighted their special affinity.

In that instant, Yu Jianjia felt suffocated. Her throat itched, as if it had been filled with a gust of cold wind. She could not help but cover her mouth with her handkerchief and cough heavily.

Old Madam Yu grew even more expressionless. She turned to Bai Kui and said, “Bring over the pink embroidered cloak that Yao Yao had brought along as a spare change of clothes. Put it on Jia Jia.”

Bai Kui hurriedly left the meditation room. Not long after, she brought a cloak over for Yu Jianjia.

Yu Jianjia thanked Old Madam Yu and had Hui Xiang help her put it on. Upon putting on the cloak, her body was protected from the cold winds that were blowing in from the outside.

After a long while, the heir of the Marquis Zhen Residence, Song Mingzhao, had personally come to greet Old Madam Yu. The young mistresses in the room were still very young, so there was no need to avoid them.

Song Mingzhao was tall and lean, and he wore a long, sapphire-blue overcoat that was embroidered with bamboo. He came through the entrance, walking in against the light.

Although he was still young, his gentle face was already looking handsome and strong. The way he had looked calm and imposing as a fully-grown adult in her dream was already vaguely noticeable.

Yu Youyao’s breathing stopped. She felt a knot of pain in her heart, as if a needle had pierced through it. Her pink face turned pale instantly.

The moment Song Mingzhao stepped into the room, everything became clear.

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