Chapter 11: Promise
Translated by Pill Bug
Edited by Gumihou
Fu Qiuning got up very early the next morning.
Or so she thought.
After getting off the kang bed and stretching the sleep out of her body, she looked into the room where Changfeng and Changjiao were supposed to be staying and found that they had disappeared. Heart in her throat, Fu Qiuning did not bother to put on a coat and hurried off to look for the children. After the incident yesterday, she could not bear to have the children out of her sight. What if those scummy people make trouble for them in the middle of the night, ah?
“Changjiao? Changfeng? Where are you?” Fu Qiuning called as soon as she stepped into the yard.
Thankfully, she heard someone answer and soon, a pair of bright-eyed children came running over, hand in hand calling, “Mother, mother, we wanted to sweep the yard but couldn’t find a broom. Aunt Yu says we won’t need to sweep the yard in the future, is this true?”
“S-sweep the… yard?” Fu Qiuning frowned. Suddenly, she burst out, “Don’t tell me you’ve been sweeping yards all this while? What kind of joke is this? A single broom is taller than both of you. Your little arms and legs… can you even lift the broom?”
“Aunty Yu made us special little brooms…” their voices petered off when they noticed Fu Qiuning’s red, furious face. The children trembled, unsure what they had done wrong.
Just then, Aunt Yu came out of the kitchen. Seeing Fu Qiuning in the yard, she quickly came over to say, “Madam, why are you up so early? It’s fine for Madam to sleep in a little since there’s no need to greet the Old Madam in the morning. No one comes to our courtyard either and we slept so late last night…” Finally, Aunt Yu noticed Fu Qiuning’s flushed face and angry silence. She cast an anxious look at the two children but they looked back with equal confusion.
“Who made them sweep yards? If you tell strangers that children barely three years old are sweeping yards outside would they believe it? Even beasts of burden like cattle and horses are allowed to grow up before they are put into the field. And you, I heard you’re the one who made ‘special brooms’ for them?”
Only then did Aunt Yu realise the source of Fu Qiuning’s anger. She gave a placating smile and said, “Oh, so it’s this? Madam is angry because of this matter? There’s really no need to anger yourself over such a little matter.
Yesterday, this maid told Madam about Xie’shi, the widow. Because she did not rise in status as the mother of the Young Marquis’ children, she held great hatred against the children she carried with much hardship and little help for ten months. She hated them but dared not directly harm them. Otherwise, she would have strangled them a long time ago.
Even so, she spent her time thinking up ways to bully them. After all, even if the children were a little older, they were still too young to sweep the yard properly. Ordering them to sweep the yard is just her way of tormenting them, looking for an excuse to scold and beat them.
I noticed that Young Master and Young Miss could barely hold up a proper broom and made two small brooms for them to prevent Xie’shi from scolding them. I never expect them to do a proper job of sweeping. To make sure Xie’shi would not have any reason to scold them, I made sure to clean up after them. The brooms are made to reduce their punishments.”
After hearing the whole story, Fu Qiuning sighed: That surname Xie woman must have been really psychologically disturbed.
With tears falling down her face, she squatted down and touched Jin Changfeng and Jin Changjiao’s little heads, “You have never experienced it, so no wonder you don’t know, ah. In this world, a parent’s most precious treasures are their children. Children should be pampered and spoiled, and be the joy and happiness for their parents.
Rich or poor, all the best should be given to the children. Sometimes, you see children throw tantrums and act spoiled. This is evidence that the child is blessed with love. Sadly, your unfortunate circumstances meant that you have never enjoyed a single day of blessing that should have been yours as a child.
Still, since you have acknowledged me as your mother, you are now my children. I cannot promise you many things. However, I can promise to be a parent to you and give you the best I can. You should not grow up to be a useless waste of space, but you should not work like horses or cattle either.
As children, your job is to play and have fun. You should read, write, play the qin with me and not worry about anything else. Sleep as much as you like, wake up when you like. Not too late, of course, because otherwise, Grandpa Sun will laugh at you.”
Changfeng and Changjiao looked at each other, then at the sun in the sky. Why is the sun their grandfather? Fu Qiuning saw their confused look and quickly improvised a story about Grandpa Sun for them. The two children listened to her silly little story with sparkling eyes until Yu Jie called them for breakfast.
They headed towards the dining room and found that breakfast consisting of congee, sliced pickled radish, pickled tofu and two hard-boiled eggs had been placed on the small table on the kang bed. On another table was a similar spread, minus the two eggs.
Yu Jie smiled at them, “Everyone got up early today, so this maid could only prepare these. We only have these two eggs left. I have already entrusted someone to buy more. Madam usually eats two hard-boiled eggs every morning.”
Yu Jie was incredibly tactful. As servants, it would not do to be seen to openly pity the Young Master and Young Miss. She also could not say that these were the only eggs left in the entire courtyard without mentioning their ability (or inability) to buy more. Hopefully, Madam would get her hint.
As expected, Fu Qiuning smoothly said, “Eggs every day? That’s too excessive for me. Here, one for Feng’er and one for Jiao’er.” She personally peeled the eggs and matter-of-factly placed them into the children’s bowls.
Aunt Yu wiped her tears and said, “Truly, these two children have fallen into fortune’s nest. Later, we shall also make clothes for you. Remember to thank Madam…”
“Really?” the children’s eyes lit up. “We’ll have new clothes? Will it be like Er Gouzi’s  clothes with only a few patches? He likes to laugh at how many patches we have on our clothes.”
“Nothing like that. Your new clothes will not have even a single patch,” said Fu Qiuning with a smile. “Eat up now, it takes time to make clothes, so focus on your meal first. It’s bad manners to chatter endlessly when eating.”
Even though it was only their second meal together, Fu Qiuning thought she should teach Changfeng and Changjiao some semblance of good manners before moving on to proper dining etiquette for rich and noble families. As the children of their scum father and adopted children of the official wife, they might be called to attend banquets or something. She did not want the children to make a fool of themselves and suffer the ridicule of others.
Changfeng and Changjiao must somehow be innately gifted. They ate their meal quietly and were very well behaved. After breakfast, Fu Qiuning saw that the sun was very bright and there was very little wind that morning. She checked their clothes again and decided that though the clothes were thin, they should protect the children adequately enough and send them out to play.
Then, she beckoned Aunt Yu over and said, “In the future, don’t make the children thank me for every little thing. I am their mother now. I have taken them as my children and I will treat them as such. Have you ever seen children thank their parents for basic food and clothing? It will only create awkwardness and distance between myself and the children. I know you mean well, but refrain from doing it again.”
Aunt Yu hastily agreed, all the doubts in her mind were gone. Seeing the children in such good hands also eased her heart. She was very grateful to Fu Qiuning and could not help wanting to thank her at every opportunity.
Just then, Yu Jie came in with six rolls of brocade cloth. These were all that was left of the brocades that came with Fu Qiuning’s dowry. They were the absolute best pieces which was why they have not been pawned out yet.
“Madam, what do you think of this one? It has the best colour and pattern suitable for Young Master and Young Miss.”
[Gumihou: Boohoo… these poor kids…]
Pill Bug TL Notes
 二狗子 Poor guy, who names their kid Second Doggy?
Gumihou: It’s actually pretty normal for ordinary households to name their children Dog Two, Big Cow, or even Girl One, Girl Two or Child Two, Child Three maybe even Little Onion, lol. For more affluent families, children will have childhood nicknames like Little Butterfly, Precious Jade or other more valuable and delicate animals or objects.
This practice comes from avoiding the usage of a child’s ‘true name’ to avoid evil spirits. In Japan, in addition to nicknames like xx-maru, boys will be dressed up in girl clothing to avoid the eyes of evil spirits.
If you love my translations, do consider dropping a comment at novelupdates!
Gumihou loves reading your comments, so gimme, gimme ~
( ´ ▽ ` )ﾉ