Chapter 33: Childish
Translated by Gumihou
Edited by Pill Bug
The Old Madam laughed at this, “Oh no, don’t say that. I liked these plants very much. They are all very lush and lovely, their bright green colour makes one feel at ease just looking at them, especially when you took such trouble to show your filial piety. While a potted plant might not cost much, to me it meant you must have been thinking of me and knew just how much I like them.”
She had barely finished speaking when the old servants and other older madams around her all began to chime in, “Isn’t it true? There’s no one as filial as Second Madam. Usually, she would send up a plate of snacks for Old Madam ever so often. Today, when she saw the potted plants, the first person she thought of was Old Madam. Though these are just some small things, it’s rare to see this kind of thoughtful filial piety from the younger generations, ah.”
The praises came in waves, causing Jiang Wanying’s heart to swell with elation. However, she feigned modesty and murmured, “The Madams overpraised me, how would I dare?”
Old Madam Jin immediately had people display the potted plants in the most conspicuous locations in the room. Because she considered them precious, she even ordered people to water the plants immediately. Seeing how much the Old Madam liked the potted plants, Jiang Wanying grew more and more proud of herself and chatted a bit more before happily taking her leave.  Not only did she successfully force that despicable Fu Qiuning to swallow a loss, but that woman’s plants made for excellent wedding clothes too.
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 Let’s leave that childish woman alone and return to Night Breeze Pavilion for now.
In fact, Fu Qiuning had quite a lot of plants and flowers in her garden. Therefore, she did not really feel the loss of those plants as there were plenty more duplicates growing in her courtyard. Still, she did not like Jiang Wanying or her snobbish attitude.
Right now, she was slaughtering a chicken in the backyard with Aunt Yu and Yu Jie. That was why she was not there to prevent Jin Fengju and Jin Ming from catching sight of Jin Changfeng and Jin Changjiao digging up plants with their little trowels. The men stepped in to find the pair of children squatting by a flower bed, a row of flower pots already half-filled with soil beside them. They appeared to be very focused on whatever they were doing.
Jin Fengju turned to Jin Ming, “Take these to Madam first.”
Jin Ming, who was carrying an armful of fish, meat, vegetables, ham and other assorted groceries, hurried off to the house at his master’s orders to look for Fu Qiuning. Jin Fengju approached the two children and saw they were carefully digging up a plant. Curious, he asked, “What are you doing? Are you not afraid of your mother scolding you when she finds out?”
The two children had been so immersed in their task that they had not noticed Jin Fengju until then. At the sound of his voice, both of them jumped. Jin Changjiao miss-stepped and nearly fell onto the flower bed. Jin Fengju quickly caught her and, supporting an equally surprised Jin Changfeng, he gave a little hehe chuckle, “Why so surprised? Have you already forgotten Father’s voice? To be startled to this point?”
When Jin Changjiao saw it was him, she gave a little cheer and hugged his waist but quickly quieted down with a blush after remembering her mother’s lecture. She let go of Jin Fengju and stood properly with Jin Changfeng, who had jumped out of the flower bed. The twins put their hands together and bowed neatly, “This child greets father.”
“En, no need to be so courteous. We are family after all, there’s no need for all this courteousness.” Jin Fengju went over to personally help the children up. He knew very well that although the two children were affectionate towards him, it was only through the indelible nature of a parent and their children. In fact, they were still wary of him and felt a sense of alienation against him. If not for the many things he had bestowed to this courtyard, things that these children liked, they would probably not even have achieved this level of intimacy.
It was perfectly normal, after all. These children were already seven or eight years old and, if it were not for Fu Qiuning, who knew whether they would still be alive or not. To achieve this level of intimacy after having only seen them a few times was already considered quite rare.
Each time Jin Fengju thought of this, his heart would be filled with equal parts guilt and gratefulness to Fu Qiuning. Naturally, he understood that the wariness felt by these children was not a product of hatred, but a fear of their father’s indifference. They were afraid to invest too much emotion only to be abandoned by him for another five or six years.
Therefore, he was truly grateful to Fu Qiuning. Grateful that she did not sow seeds of hatred in these children’s young hearts for the cruel and unjust treatment all those years. Grateful that he could still stand beside these two children as a father, to hear them laugh and chat with him instead of retreating at the sight of him.
“Father, won’t you stay for lunch today?” Whatever sense of alienation the children might have felt earlier had disappeared and they were as intimate as before. In the end, they were still little children who craved the love and attention of their father. Moreover, they had no idea that their mother wished with all her heart to avoid this ‘Plague Bringer’ and instinctively tried to coax him to stay. If Fu Qiuning knew what these two had been doing behind her back, she would probably spit up blood in anger.
“Why?” Of course, Jin Fengju already had plans to stay for lunch. However, when his children pleaded so prettily with him today, he could not help feeling a little curious. He knew that the children had not seen what Jin Ming carried with him today and therefore would have no idea that their cupboards would soon be supplemented. Since Changjiao had specifically invited him for lunch, there must be a reason.
“Because Jiao’er performed very well today, so Mother is very pleased and promised to make Stewed Chicken with Mushrooms for Jiao’er. Father, you must stay and try it.” Jin Changjiao sat on Jin Fengju’s lap and tugged at his sleeves. “Brother also did very well and made mother so happy that she promised to make him Braised Pork but we don’t have a lot of meat at home so brother gave up his turn and let me have my Stewed Chicken with Mushrooms instead. Brother means to indulge me but I won’t let him lose out either. Jiao’er will give my chicken legs for brother tonight.”
“En, Jiao’er and your elder brother are very sensible,” Jin Fengju touched their little heads with relief. Then he said, “Tell me, what did you do that made mother praise you so?”
Excited to tell their story, Jin Changfeng and Jin Changjiao scrambled over each other to tell him what had happened today. As the story went on, the lines between Jin Fengju’s brows grew deeper and their voices lowered out of wariness. When they finally came to the point where Fu Qiuning instructed them on the fine points of patience and endurance as well as how to tell what should be endured and what ought never to be endured, Jin Fengju nodded lightly. At their father’s apparent approval, the brother and sister grew more courageous and Jin Changjiao finally told Jin Fengju about her ‘performance’.
 “I told mother that today’s visitors were like ‘Locusts Passing By,” said Jin Changjiao, obviously very pleased with her own wit.
“Locusts… Passing By?” Jin Fengju was stunned. He turned towards the window sill where rows of little potted plants had once sat but were now completely empty. He could not help the sudden burst of laughter as he touched Jin Changjiao’s head. “Jiao’er is right, aren’t they similar to a swarm of locusts? No wonder your mother wants to reward you with Stewed Chicken with Mushrooms. Of course, Feng’er’s performance is very good too. Therefore, we should also have Braised Pork for lunch today.”
“That won’t do, Feng’er already said that Feng’er will yield to little sister,” Jin Changfeng cried out loudly.
Jin Fengju laughed, “Be at ease. Father had Jin Ming bring some fresh meat over, as well as authentic Jinhua ham . You must try it today.” He looked over at the dazzling flower garden and said, “You’re here to dig up aromatic plants for the flower pots?”
“Yes, yes,” Jin Changfeng and Jin Changjiao both nodded eagerly.
Jin Fengju pushed up his sleeves and picked up one of the small shovels. “Very well, father will help you. Now speak, which one should we dig up?”
Jin Changfeng and Jin Changjiao naturally pointed out the desired plants. Jin Fengju dug up the plants under the supervision and instruction of his son and daughter. Together, they transferred several aromatic plants into pots. After transferring a few plants, the children said, “Enough, that’s enough. We don’t have to dig anymore.”
[Gumihou: Bestowed Jiang Wanying with ‘No.1 Most Virtuous Wife’ award. Many thanks for helping your husband deepen his relationship with his neglected children]
 Reference to some Chinese idiom about being cheated and having to make wedding clothes for the enemy or something. Can’t seem to find the source
 Added transition.
 Adjusted for dramatic purpose via dialogue instead of summary.
 Jinhua Ham – very selected, very expensive.
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