No matter what, He Changdi was Matriarch He’s favourite grandson. She couldn’t bear to blame him despite what he had done. Furthermore, he had already come of age; he was supposed to strike out on his own and make something of himself anyway. The Jing’an Estate could not afford to keep any lazy masters around.
Though, Matriarch He did blame He Changdi for leaving so hurriedly without speaking with his family first.
As for Chu Lian’s reputation, He Changdi didn’t seem to care much for his new wife anyway, so how could he have possibly made any considerations for her good name?
“Ey… Let’s not talk about that now. Let’s try out the desserts my granddaughter-in-law made.”
Old Duchess Zheng smiled and graciously accepted a silver spoon that one of the maidservants passed to her. She then scooped up a small bite of the shaved ice and carefully tasted it.
The taste of fruits soaked in honey, sweetened lotus, fresh water chestnut, and fragrant milk mixed in her mouth. It was ice-cold, refreshing, and carried the lovely taste of fruit; it was the best dessert you could have in this blistering summer heat.
Old Duchess Zheng immediately nodded her appreciation after only tasting a single bite. “After living for so many years, I’ve never had such a delicious dessert before! Old sister, you’re quite fortunate, aren’t you?”
Matriarch He hadn’t really had any expectations towards Chu Lian, but her culinary skills had earned her old friend’s praise and had given her something to be proud of. She immediately smiled from ear to ear, temporarily forgetting all about the melancholy and worry that He Changdi’s sudden departure had brought about.
The two old duchesses were both getting on in age, so they didn’t dare to eat much more of the cold desserts, delicious as they were. In the end, they held themselves back and only ate half a bowl each. The servants by their sides also relaxed upon seeing this.
“I can’t just partake in a gift from a junior for nothing. Here, help me give this bracelet to that granddaughter-in-law of yours. You’ll have to let me take a look at her one of these days.” Old Duchess Zheng took off the emerald jade bracelet on her wrist as she spoke.
The bracelet was clearly one of high quality, judging from the way the emerald streaked through the jade.
Matriarch He understood the personality of her old friend well, so she didn’t reject the gift and let Senior Servant Liu accept it.
“I heard your grandson, Mister Cheng, likes eating interesting desserts like these. Why don’t you take the rest of it home with you?”
“I won’t stand on ceremony with you then. Little Cheng does love new desserts.”
Mister Cheng’s full name was Zheng Tiancheng, and he was Duke Zheng’s heir. He was the same age as He Changdi and was also a young master born from the main branch of the family. However, he was the only legitimate son in his generation living in the Zheng Estate, so Old Duchess Zheng doted on him very much.
Heir Zheng liked to eat good food, especially the snacks from the Jing’an Esate. Old Duchess Zheng would always bring some back for her grandson every time she visited Matriarch He.
She was still lamenting Cook Zhou’s loss, but now that Matriarch He had given her the snacks made by her granddaughter-in-law, she was happy again.
Senior Servant Liu remembered the advice that Xiyan had given her when she had brought the desserts over. “Third Young Madam said that this dessert can’t be kept for more than half a day. Otherwise, it’ll spoil.”
Old Duchess Zheng laughed out loud. “Alright, I understand. It’s getting late, so I’ll return now. Old Sister, don’t worry too much about your Sanlang. I’ll ask my husband to keep an ear out for news in a few days.”
After exchanging some courtesies, Matriarch He sent her old friend away.
When Old Duchess Zheng returned home, she coincidentally encountered her grandson returning home, too.
He was dressed in a round-necked sapphire blue robe with a jade crown on his head. Although he had an average figure, his eyes would slightly crinkle whenever he smiled, making him appear quite warm and friendly.
“Grandmother, where did you go today?”
Old Duchess Zheng chuckled. “You little monkey! Are you trying to mind your grandmother’s business now? Grandmother went to the Jing’an Estate to visit an old friend; this is for you.”
The personal maidservant standing behind the duchess passed over a small container with some cool vapour rising from it.
“The signature snacks of the the Jing’an Estate?”
“No, not at all. The new Third Young Madam of the Jing’an Estate made this. Go and try them quickly; they can’t keep for long. Grandmother’s tired now, so Grandmother will head back and rest. Don’t disturb me.”
Heir Zheng took the snacks. He remembered that his senior brother from the Imperial College, Senior Xiao, had just come to visit him, so he hurried to the outer court.