Chapter 203: Mother & Son Reunion
Author: White Pear Flower
Translated by Pill Bug
Edited by Gumihou
Gumihou: So, I recently discovered that this Higher Level Wife, which I had thought to be a breakthrough novel after The Feast, was actually written 3-5 years before it. Which explained why there were so many weird inconsistencies and bad plot/characterisation that went nowhere. So, Gumi is now editing a fanfiction (of sorts) and will continue to make adjustments where needed. Author White Pear Flower was a new author back then, so, it’s no wonder the characters are a bit all over the place. All is explained. Gumi’s anger actually stemmed from expectations not meeting reality. However, my expectation is now rock bottom, so all is well. Ha ha ha
As soon as the maid was done speaking, rapid footsteps could be heard from inside the room. It sounded like someone was rushing very quickly without actually running. Suddenly, the door swung open and a dishevelled Concubine Xu stepped out. She looked exhausted as she stared at Jin Zhenyi and Jin Xiunan from the doorway. Tears flowed down her face as she murmured, “Heavens, ah. I am dreaming. I must be dreaming.”
Jin Zhenyi and Jin Xiunan could not hold back anymore. They rushed forward and hugged Concubine Xu’s legs as they, too, burst into tears. This finally convinced Concubine Xu that her children were truly here as she fell to her knees and embraced her children, the three of them crying loudly together.
“Madam Concubine, please don’t cry like this. The Young Master and Young Miss had been secretly allowed by the Second Madam to come. They must return by evening,” said Bai Lu anxiously.
Concubine Xu was sharp enough to realise the situation as she wiped her tears and forced a bitter smile to her lips. “Could that woman be so kind-hearted? I intended to harm her, yet she repays me with kindness? I do not believe it.”
Bai Lu led Jin Zhenyi and Jin Xiunan into the room and sighed, “Madam Concubine, this servant also didn’t believe it at first. But as they say, [a] actions speak louder than words, and this maid has no choice but to trust her own eyes and ears. This maid can only say that after the Young Master and Third Young Miss were taken under her care, this maid had every opportunity to observe her closely.[a] Thus far, she had treated the children responsibly without excessive show of affection or indifference. She is the same with the other wives and concubines, neither repelling nor embracing. She showed no interest in household affairs and… appeared indifferent to the Master’s affection…”
Concubine Xu frowned, but said nothing. After a while, Bai Lu removed a bundle from her person and handed it to Concubine Xu. “Madam Concubine, these are some clothes and silver fragments. No matter where one goes, silver is something that will make even the devil work for oneself. Therefore, please take these and exchange them for your daily necessities and comfort. Per Madam Concubine’s instructions, this maid has also delivered Madam Concubine’s properties and dowries to Second Madam Ning in hopes that she would not mistreat the Young Master and Young Miss…” [a]
“Is that why they are being so well treated now?” said Concubine Xu hoarsely. “My pittance means that much to her?”
Bai Lu hesitated, but continued, “The Madam refused to take Madam Concubine’s dowry. This maid had been instructed to manage the properties and… and to show the accounts to her once every three months.”
“And… nothing, Madam Concubine. Oh, and this maid is instructed to show the accounts to the Young Master and Young Miss too, and should the Young Master and Young Miss deem that this lowly maid did a good job, perhaps a reward may be bestowed…”
“That is all? She leaves the decision to the children?”
“That is all, Madam Concubine.” [a]
After a while, Concubine Xu accepted the bundle from Bai Lu and opened it. Within the bundle was a thin ledger, several new pieces of plain but warm and comfortable clothing, as well as a sum of at least thirty taels of silver in fragments and strings of coins. A mixture of emotions surged within her at the sight of the meagre wealth. After flipping through a few pages of the ledger, she sat for a while, lost in her thoughts.
Jin Zhenyi loudly said to Bai Lu, “Alright, you’ve informed Mother of everything. It is now time for me and my younger sister to speak with Mother.”
Concubine Xu snapped back to reality upon hearing her son. She quickly hugged her children to her and sat down. She smiled bitterly at Bai Lu, “What do properties matter at this point? Although I suppose it is good that I received back the few things that were already mine… so long as my dear Zhenyi and Third Young Miss are treated well…”
She paused and sniffed inelegantly.[b] “The Madam treats us adequately,” said Jin Zhenyi loudly. “Of course, my mother is the best, but she is still adequate. She is at least better than those other two-face, three-daggered vixens populating father’s harem…” [b1]
Concubine Xu laughed, partly in shock, partly in delight at her son’s foul mouth. She had been no less sweet in her speech after all, and one could see where he had gotten this nasty little habit from. Still, she had to curb that.
“You little wolf! How dare you speak so. I hope you never speak like this before your father, or, the Madam…”
“The Madam thinks I am funny,” said Jin Zhenyi smugly.
“No, she doesn’t!” said Concubine Xu in shock.
“No, she doesn’t,” Jin Xiunan confirmed. “She thinks he is immature and tolerates him half fondly.”
“She likes me!” Jin Zhenyi insisted.
“Fine, she thinks Brother is funny, like a three-legged dog.”
Concubine Xu watched as her two children quarrelled over the most absurd thing and her tears began to fall again, like pearls from a broken necklace.
This talk eventually grew less serious as the children chattered on about random things that happened to pop into their heads. Concubine Xu did her best to soak in their presence as they kept up the chatter. Eventually, when the children tired themselves out and fell asleep against her breast, she patted their backs and rocked her body back and forth a little.[c]
After some time, she turned to Bai Lu and said, “Ever since I was thrown in here, I was consumed by worry for Brother Yi and Third Young Miss’ fate. To think that they had fallen into the hands of the one I thought of as an enemy caused me no end of unrest. However, in the end, the only one who thought of us as enemies was only me. If what Brother Yi said was true, she had nothing but indifference in her heart. Perhaps it is because she cared for nothing that she could see things with more clarity. [d]
Now that things have come to this point, I have no other wishes. Bai Lu, please take good care of Brother Yi and Third Young Miss in my place. When they grow up, get married, and have their own families, use those properties as their dowries and marriage gifts. Everything depends on you.”
“Mother, there’s no need to lose hope. This son will study hard and personally escort Mother back to the estate in the future.”
It turned out that Jin Zhenyi had not fallen asleep after all.
“This silly child… silly child…”
“Mother, have you forgotten how powerful you were? How could a single setback grind away all your determination? Teacher often teaches us, telling us never to break even after being folded a hundred times. Mother still has this son to depend on, right?”
Being lectured by her son made Concubine Xu smile. She held Jin Zhenyi’s hand and said, “Our Brother Yi can already preach such profound wisdom. Just how old are you? It shows that you will definitely succeed in the future.”
Jin Zhenyi nodded vigorously and said, “Mother is right. This son will study hard, work diligently, practice martial arts, and will definitely succeed. Honoured Mother said that as long as I succeed, I can speak with Father to negotiate for Mother’s return to the estate. This son dares not hope for anything else, but will dare guarantee that our reunion will come true. Mother mustn’t lose hope. Honoured Mother has already promised to back me up too. One day, this son will personally come and welcome you back to the estate.”
Concubine Xu dismissed Jin Zhenyi’s announcement as something that Fu Qiuning had said just to comfort him. Even so, it cost nothing to nod and smile. On the side, Jin Xiunan also said, “I shall work hard too. Although a daughter’s effort pales in the eyes of a patriarch, I shall make it so that I do not appear like a thorn in Father’s eye.”
As Concubine Xu stroked her children’s heads, [e] she thought: At least, no matter what kind of person she was, that Fu woman appears to have a soft spot for children. After all, she did take in those two cheap seedlings and nurtured them to great success. She must have done the same for my children as well. I don’t care if it is all an act on her part to lure the lord’s affections, so long as she continues with this pretence and looks after my children well, I shall thank her for it.
With that, she took a deep breath and said, “Yes, I can only place my hopes on Brother Yi and your sister now. As long as Mother can return to the estate and be with you, Mother doesn’t wish for anything else, nothing at all…”
“Madam Concubine, the day is getting late. This maid, Young Master and Young Miss have to return. We have slipped out today, but the Young Marquis will not remain unaware for long. In fact, rather than escaping his eyes, it is more likely that he turned a blind eye for Second Madam. For now, we should leave. However, so long as we behave and do not cause trouble, surely there is no need to fear having no opportunity to visit Madam Concubine again?”
“You are right. I am already overjoyed that you came here today,” Concubine Xu said after wiping away her tears. She then looked at her two children and added, “When you go back, study hard, and don’t worry about me. Although the servants at the farmstead can be opportunistic, I am still Lord Husband’s concubine, and they wouldn’t dare go too far. Besides, is Mother the kind of person who lets others bully her? So, rest assured.”
After holding onto them again giving them many more instructions, Concubine Xu reluctantly let go of their hands. As the sun set, she watched the carriage disappear into the distance from her doorway. She stood there for a while, and as twilight descended, she slowly turned and walked back to her room.
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“It is rare for the children to have a chance to wander outside, and the countryside is good for them. They must be exhausted from playing today. Otherwise, how could they have gone to bed so early?” [f] Jin Fengju said with a grin as Fu Qiuning was removing her jewellery in front of the mirror.
Jin Fengju laid on the bed [f] looking at her, clearly hoping to get a rise out of her, so Fu Qiuning was equally determined not to give him one. When she did not answer, he continued, “This afternoon, Zhenyi and Xiunan must have gone to see their mother, right? Did you ask them about it after they returned?”
“Concubine Xu appears to be in good health, she is very relieved to see them,” said Fu Qiuning curtly.[f1] Jin Fenju continued to watch as the long black hair was released from its confinement and flowed down her back. Not wanting the dialogue to stop, he said, “Zhenyi appeared to have worked very hard and behaved himself extraordinarily well just to see his mother. Who knows that he could behave so?”
“A child mimics the adults around them,” said Fu Qiuning.
“Indeed! Their behaviour has certainly improved after living with you!” Jin Fengju praised. “I have definitely done the right thing placing them with you.”
Fu Qiuning stiffened, but said instead, “If Brother Yi’s behaviour continues to improve, we should consider bringing her back. Her life must be difficult on a farmstead, considering that she had grown up in a good household. Once she is back, she can witness Brother Yi’s marriage and the birth of his child, as well as Third Young Miss’ splendid wedding. Thus, Lord Husband and Concubine Xu wouldn’t have married in vain.”
[Gumihou: Deleted a lot of fragrant ass remarks]
[a] Have Maid Bai Lu speak more like a maid who tries to reassure her mistress and not a Qiuning ass polisher. Deleted close to 200 words of ‘wow, her ass so fragrant’ talk [b] Jin Zhenyi seems like the type who would be good at flattering people in the future. Have him use this skill here instead of more ‘wow, her ass so fragrant’ [b1] Have a proper dialogue between mother and children that was less ‘waah waah mom waah’ [c] Deleted 250 words of ‘wow regret, FQN and JFJ so great I’m so wrong, like super wow’ [d] Deleted 250 more words of ‘wow regret, FQN and JFJ so great I’m so wrong, like super wow’ [e] Instead of joining the ‘wow, fragrant ass’ train, have Concubine Xu retain her scepticism. [f] Switch dialogue tag from FQN to JFJ. Because that’s just bait for ‘aww, hubby’ talk [f1] I don’t know how, but I appeared to have made JFJ feel kind of slimy and creepy.
Pill Bug TL Notes:
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