Chu Lian nodded obediently. Her cute appearance gave Matriarch He the urge to pinch her little cheeks.
She had to admit that Sanlang’s wife was rather pretty. Even in the sizeable capital, Chu Lian’s appearance stood out as one of the top beauties around. In the past few days of observing her, Matriarch He had also realised that Chu Lian was of a kind and innocent nature — nothing like the arrogant, scheming personalities that most noble ladies had. Thus, she tried to spoil her granddaughter-in-law as much as she could, and gave her advice whenever possible, afraid that she would be taken advantage of.
Matriarch He had simply been aiming for a fertile bride from the Ying Estate. She hadn’t thought that she would get a hidden gem.
It was also due to her understanding of Chu Lian’s personality that Matriarch He found it strange that He Changdi had left home so suddenly, just to join the army.
How could Sanlang leave behind such a beautiful, good-natured wife, just like that?
Chu Lian was submerged in worries of her own, so she didn’t notice Matriarch He’s momentary distraction.
After thinking it over, Chu Lian still decided to remain low-key today. She also had to avoid going to the Dingbo Pavilion in the Dingyuan Estate at all costs!
Allowing the servants to support her as she got off the carriage, she saw that Madam Zou was already waiting outside with her two nieces.
He Dalang sent them off to the inner court before he followed a manservant to the outer court, where the guests were being received in the parlour.
Madam Zou handed Little An and Little Lin over to their nursemaids and gave them orders. “Take the young ladies to play with their cousins.”
It was clear that Madam Zou returned to her maiden home often. Little An and Little Lin were probably used to playing with the children in the Dingyuan Estate too. On Madam Zou’s command, the two nursemaids and a few of her personal maidservants led the two girls away.
Madam Zou watched until her children disappeared from sight. Then, she turned back to Chu Lian with a smile. “Third Sister-in-Law, come with me. Don’t be nervous. Perhaps we’ll bump into your relatives from your maiden family here!”
Chu Lian couldn’t help but be a little nervous. No one would be able to relax in a strange, new environment, especially since it was her first time here.
Madam Zou walked with Chu Lian for about ten minutes, introducing the various interesting sights in the estate on the way. When they reached a large pond covered in lotus plants, Madam Zou stopped. She pointed over to the opposite side of the pond. “Third Sister-in-Law, look over there. That’s Mei Court, where the young madams and ladies are gathering.”
Chu Lian looked in the direction that Madam Zou pointed out. As expected, she saw a few women who clearly looked like noble madams sitting on sofas along the corridor, laughing as they chatted. Maidservants and older servants were bustling in and out of the parlour next to the water. The whole place looked lively.
She swept her gaze over the group of young madams, but she didn’t recognise a single one…
With her sharp eyes, Madam Zou singled out one of the ladies to her. “Third Sister-in-Law, look, isn’t that your eldest sister-in-law from the Ying Estate?”
Chu Lian opened her shiny, black eyes wide, and spotted Madam Rong walking out of the parlour with another middle-aged woman. They were clearly laughing as they spoke together.
“Ah, yes, that’s my eldest sister-in-law,” Chu Lian replied.
Madam Zou pulled Chu Lian, “Let’s go over there too.”
Since they were already here, there was no way for Chu Lian to hide. She could only gather up her courage and follow behind Madam Zou. However, her heart was beating wildly in her chest. She secretly decided to find a place with fewer people around to hide in.
From far away, the noble madams noticed Heir Jing’an’s wife, Madam Zou, and greeted her one by one.
Madam Zou smiled as she replied to their greetings. “Alright, alright, you don’t have to stand on ceremony with me. It’s my grandfather’s longevity feast today. I should be thanking you for attending the celebrations!”
The madams replied appropriately, “Not at all, not at all.”
Madam Zou then retreated a step to reveal Chu Lian standing behind her. “You probably don’t know her yet, but this is my Third Sister-in-Law, the Sixth Miss from House Ying.”
Chu Lian bobbed in greeting.
All the noble madams returned her greeting. However, when Chu Lian quickly glanced at them, she noticed contempt and scorn in their eyes. Her expression stiffened a little, and she instantly realised why these people seemed to look down on her.
However, she wasn’t the original ‘Chu Lian’, so she didn’t take it to heart. Although their stares made her feel a little uncomfortable, her usual brand of carefree personality stopped it from bothering her too much.
She didn’t need to rely on their help to survive, so why should she care about what they thought of her? All she had to do was live happily without any regrets.
After sorting through her thoughts, the nervous tension on her face disappeared, and her bright, sunny nature shone through.
Chu Lian was in the best time of her youth right now. With her natural beauty, and with how Xiyan had specially dressed her up this morning, she looked like a stunning young lady. The relaxed and open expression on her face only highlighted her pretty looks.
She calmly and generously greeted all the noble madams. This time, the madams were the ones who felt uncomfortable. However, they could only bear with it on account of Madam Zou watching them.
Madam Zou brought Chu Lian over to pay her respects to Madam Huang, the wife of Heir Dingyuan.
Although Madam Zou was the eldest legitimate granddaughter of House Dingyuan, she was born from the second branch instead of the main branch. Heir Dingyuan was the eldest son of the main branch and his wife was thus her eldest aunt.
After greeting the wife of Heir Dingyuan, Madam Zou kept Chu Lian by her side and brought her around to meet some of the capital’s other noble ladies.
‘Meeting’ the ladies was simply a matter of showing them her face and then giving them a formal greeting. This wasn’t too hard for Chu Lian. She only had to stand quietly behind Madam Zou like a flower vase after giving her greetings.