Chapter 4: Raising Children (Part 2)
Translated by Pill Bug
Edited by Gumihou
This Night Breeze Pavilion might be vast but it was very poorly maintained. From her borrowed memory, she knew that this place used to house the old marquis’ favourite concubine. The concubine was the quiet and obedient type, therefore the old marquis took great pains in creating such a luxuriously large courtyard in this out of place corner of the estate and called it Night Breeze Pavilion.
However, that same concubine was later caught committing adultery and was sentenced to 30 strokes of the cane right in this very courtyard. Barely clutching to life, she was then dragged to the pond and drowned. From that day onwards, the spacious front yard, backyard and over a dozen buildings within the Night Breeze Pavilion were left to fall into disrepair. No one even came to clean it until Fu Qiuning entered the Jin household.
The two children were quickly bathed and changed into clean clothes. Even so, they looked far from noble with their thin bodies and clothes covered in patches over patches. While Aunt Yu led the children off to pick out a suitable room, Yu Jie took the opportunity to speak to Fu Qiuning.
“Madam,” she began sorrowfully. “You have not seen it, but I swear those little children’s bodies are crisscrossed with wounds. It is a heartbreaking sight. Is their mother’s heart made of iron? How could anyone be so cruel? It is fortunate that she had died. Otherwise, how could two little children continue to endure beatings like that?”
Fu Qiuning smiled and said, “Yo, look at you wiping your eyes and sighing with distress. Who was it that called them ‘those nasty things’ in front of Xia Yue…”
Yu Jie stomped her foot and cried, “Madam even heard that! This maid… this maid did not know about their pitiful situation before. This maid thought that those shameless people deliberately sent them here to humiliate you and- and said all those things. Now that I know, even if they want those children back, this maid will stop them.”
Fu Qiuning laughed, “Yo, it looks like our Yu Jie is unexpectedly chivalrous…”
Before she could say anything more, Yu Jie stomped her foot again. Her face a brilliant red, she cried, “Madam, I shall not speak to you anymore. You only know how to tease this maid.”
“My, my, you call yourself ‘maid’ but words like ‘I’ and ‘me’ fly out of your mouth when you are excited. Enough, enough, what kind of situation are we in now? If you’re not used to being a maid, just use ‘I’ when speaking to me. There are only so many of us in this place. I’d like it if everyone is friendlier with each other. Inform Aunt Yu too.”
However, Yu Jie had recovered her poise and said with a prim expression, “Absolutely not. Though we live in a place where not even rats would patronize, etiquette should still be observed. Moreover, we have to guard against those who look down their noble nostrils at us. We must let them know that our dignity is no lower than theirs and will not bring shame to the marquisate. Perhaps there might be a slip of the tongue now and then. If Madam is tolerant and does not reprimand us, that is due to your good temper and generous grace. However, rules must still be maintained.”
Just then, Aunt Yu was seen leading the two children in, so maid and mistress stopped speaking to welcome the now clean and tidied up children.
Aunt Yu ventured to say, “Madam, if Madam would allow it, the children say they wished to stay in the room next to Madam. We promise that we will be quiet and not disturb your rest.”
Fu Qiuning laughed lightly, “That’s how it should be. I meant to have you live close by anyway. That way we can chat easily with each other. Otherwise, with so few people, if we disperse some to the west and others in the east, how can we grow intimate with each other?”
The children looked delighted. No matter how mature they might be, they were still children in the end. Both happily called out, “Thank you, Madam,” in their sweet voices.
Fu Qiuning’s heart twisted. She said, “Well now, since you have been sent to be raised under my name, enough with the ‘Madam this’, ‘Madam that’. Just call me mother.”
Never in her wildest dreams would Fu Qiuning have imagined that this normal request would result in two children bursting into tears. In the next instant, they threw themselves forward, as though they were throwing their lives away, towards Fu Qiuning’s feet and hugged her legs. Both children were crying and calling ‘Mother, mother’ endlessly, giving Fu Qiuning a big fright. She quickly helped them up and turned to Aunt Yu, “What’s wrong? Are they missing their blood mother?”
Awkwardness filled Aunt Yu’s face and she leaned over to whisper, “Perhaps Madam does not know, but three years ago when that surname Xie person got involved with a drunken Young Marquis and had a spring evening with him that resulted in pregnancy, she harboured ambitions of being the mother of a noble lineage. Who would have thought that even after the two children were born, the Young Marquis never gave her a second look? With hatred in her heart, she took out her anger against the Young Marquis on the two children and forbade them from calling her mother. They could only call her ‘Madam’. That shameless woman secretly borrowed this title and lived out a fantasy life.”
Fu Qiuning trembled with rage. She pounded one fist on the table and hissed, “For a mother to harbour such hatred, unheard of! Unheard of! Yu Jie is right, she’s lucky to be dead. Otherwise, these two children would have died in her hands. Her conscience has long since been clouded by greed. A person with such a perverted mind is destined to go to hell!”
Aunt Yu had no idea what ‘perverted mind’ meant and could only stand by and keep quiet. After a long time, Fu Qiuning sighed and said softly, “Enough, take the children away and let them rest. They have dark circles under their eyes. Perhaps they haven’t had a good night’s sleep for many days, ba? What sort of worries could a child carry? Isn’t it too tiring? You take them for an afternoon nap.”
Aunt Yu accepted the order and left. Fu Qiuning sat in the room for a long time before suddenly getting up, saying, “Yu Jie, I’m bored, let’s go out for a walk together.”
Yu Jie acknowledged the order and hurried forward to support her. Fu Qiuning laughed and shook her off, “What is that for? I am not a 70 or 80 years old lady. If you want to talk about a Madam’s dignity, well, no need for that. After dying once, I’ve finally realised that there’s more to life than vanity and arrogance. I used to think of myself as the Madam of a marquisate and could not bring myself to swallow any kind of injustice.
Now that I’ve snatched my life back from the jaws of death, I understand that dignity, nobility and pride are all hollow things. The best thing in life is to live well. I am a Madam in title but not in life. I know that now. So why bother chasing the life of a Madam? Look at that Xie person. That woman fell so far in her daydreams until even her children became her enemies. Truly, delusions are too harmful to a person.”
“Madam…” Yu Jie murmured, tears pooling in her eyes: “That’s only because the Young Marquis did not know your good sides, otherwise… otherwise no matter what, he would not treat you like this.”
Fu Qiuning sneered. The words in her heart never crossing her lips: My good side? What’s good about ‘me’? In this era, women are judged most by appearance. Although I am not like some ugly swamp witch , this appearance can barely pass as beautiful. If there is a family banquet or some small gathering, I would belong to the group looking onto the stage rather than on it. If we talk about talent, I do have some to my name. But can being good at qin, chess, calligraphy and painting fill my belly? Needlework is a more practical talent compared to those artsy hobbies .
Now then, the old Fu Qiuning has generously left her memories in her body. Surely she should also know the art of making clothes, embroidery and so forth? With those two households still slinging mud at each other, it would be easier for the sun to rise from the west than for me to take control of the inner court. Moreover, that scum man Jin whatever, so what if he has a handsome face or is a man praised by the emperor? Slag men like that are useless. She didn’t want one even if you hand him over for free. Right now he had better just stay away and not make trouble for me.
Yes, the best thing that a slag man could do is just keep staying away.
[Gumihou: Yup, stay away from that weird guy.]
Pill Bug TL Notes:
 无盐夜叉 “Saltless Yaksha” – saltless as in ugly woman. Reworded into a similar English analogy.
Gumihou: lol, that’s savage. 女红，as in womanly arts, needlework, making clothes, embroidery, sewing, those kinds of jobs and skills.
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