Old Madame Sheng’s mind drifted to memories of her tender and tough youth, feeling a little dispirited. Flinging it to the back of her mind again, she changed the subject. “Alright, let’s speak of this no more, now what do you honestly think of my family?”
Governess Kong rolled her eyes “A total mess, there’s no rules and the first person with no rules is you!” It seemed like she was suppressed for a long time in the capital and finally seized this opportunity to loosen her tongue. Old Madame Sheng was helpless and could only allow her to continue.
“Your family’s Old Master was really something, he strove to acquire a big piece of family property and among his three sons, two have made a name for themselves. Nearing the end of his life, he personally divided the household but unfortunately not long after he passed away, your husband also died. If it wasn’t for you, a concubine-born son like ‘His Excellency’ Sheng would have already had his bones chewed dry by that black-hearted Third Uncle of his. Only this piece of property could remain untouched. At the time you were wealthy and still young, Old Marquis Yongyi and his wife were still influential so remarriage would be a very real possibility. Even if you could not stay in Jinling and the capital, the skies are tall and seas wide, all you had to do was find a distant land to quietly pass your days. Marry a man, bear his sons, live your own little peaceful days, would that not be satisfactory! Yet you just had to be faithful to that heartless one and record the concubine-born son under your name. Supporting the entire Sheng household single handedly, finding a scholar master for him, helping him achieve scholarly honours and marry a good wife to bear and raise children. What happened after that, now that you have succeed and your health in decline? You withdraw to a corner of the world and become the living dead? It is all an unfathomable mystery!” Governess Kong was just short of shoving her fingers in Old Madame Sheng’s face.
“Although you are not his biological mother but you are still his legitimate mother. You have treated him with a mountain of kindness, you have qualifications to hold your head high, what do you have to be worried about? Let me impart you a wisdom, sons are all worthless ingrates, once they marry a wife they forget their mother in the next breath. If you do not treat yourself properly, he will joyfully cast you aside! Our dynasty has uses filial piety to rule and if there is a least bit rumour of him being disobedient, he can forget about staying in officialdom! You ought to make your days a little more comfortable, even if not for yourself, then for the sake of that precious little girl of yours.” Governess Kong spoke and inclined her chin towards Lihua Cabinet.
Old Madame Sheng who was sprayed with salivary tirade couldn’t refute. However that reminded her of a topic to be discussed and hurriedly asked “Right, what do you think of that Ming yatou of mine?”
Governess Kong tilted her face, muttering to herself for a while and finally said “Pretty good.”
Seeing the look of anticipation on Old Madame Sheng’s eyes, she then added a few more lines “The child is born with a good pair of eyes, she wants to live a simple life is bright, clean and open-minded. It seems like she understands everything while still not being totally clear but she is still happy and earnestly abides by etiquette. She knows how not to provoke someone even better than you. You treating her as your darling is not in vain.”
Old Madame Sheng rolled her eyes and blushed “What darling? I treat all of the granddaughters the same.”
Governess Kong impatiently waved her hands “Stop playing dumb, how many times have you filled her bowl to the brim with dishes during dinner just now? Even now I can still hear you nagging ‘Ming yatou, eat more’ and mere moments later, ‘you’re not allowed to be picky’. Whenever she stretches her chopsticks towards a dish a second time, Mama Fang at your side will secretly take note, do you think I am blind! Before she went to bed, you left me alone for quite a while, insisting on watching her take her medicine and go to sleep. I suspect that you waited until she completely fell asleep before leaving her.”
Old Madame Sheng had no way out and confessed “That child sleeps a lot yet her dreams are not always peaceful. In a mere night she would wake up several times, sometimes in tears. I know her heart must still be suffering but she cannot voice her grievances. Tormented persistently through the night yet acting fine during the day, diligently reading her books and learning her letters, obediently listening to this old woman reminisce about the past. Speaking of which, it is strange. She is not as cultured as Concubine Lin who can write and draw well nor is she like Hua yatou who is clever and likeable but I feel she makes me happy and is the most considerate of them all.” Speaking of this she suddenly felt disappointed.
“That is because you yourself have made progress, being treated unjustly for half your lifetime, you have finally learnt how to evaluate inner worth. No matter how pretty they are, it is still not as important as one’s character and sincerity. That or maybe you just have been lonely for so long and that now having a child for a companion everyday, no matter what she’s like you cannot help but make her your darling.” Governess Kong’s gaze was sharp and her words were on point.
Old Madame Sheng pointed at her and scolded cheekily “You! This old weathered goods! This strict prune mouth! Why did you not die in the palace? Releasing you into the world only brings harm to others!”
Governess Kong glared “That is only natural, have you not heard that the good never live long and the bad live on for a millennium?”
The two old ones laughter echoed through the night.
Holding onto her stomach laughing, Old Madame Sheng wiped her tears from her eyes and worriedly stretched her neck towards Lihua Cabinet to steal a peek but was caught by Governess Kong “Stop looking! The noise would not have woken your precious little granddaughter. Did she not drink a bowl of soup to calm her nerves? If she is awake, we would’ve heard. Quickly, there is more I have to say to you.”
Old Madame Sheng thought about it and it rang true, she then turned back. Governess Kong sternly said “I am just an ordinary girl from Shandong, you were the marquis daughter from Nanjing. Due to Empress Jing’an, it was fate that we got to know each other, still I have some words of advice.”
Old Madame Sheng sternly nodded her head. Governess Kong continued “I know that you have been treated unfairly for half your lifetime, sparing no effort to struggle yet people merely die around you and feelings fade with time. Because your heart has turned cold you are not willing to remarry and merely reside in the Sheng family to pass the rest of your days. Let me ask you this, how many more days do you think you can you live like this?”
Governess Kong saw that Old Madame Sheng wore a sorrowful expression, she continued “Empress Jing’an said something before she died, I will now gift it to you today ‘The world is such that man proposes, heavens disposes. We as women do not have it easy but if you can do something, do it and whatever happens next depends on the heavens. It was difficult for our parents to raise us and no matter what we should not waste this life. However we want to live, that is how we should live. One day the days will inevitably turn better. Since you still have breath in your chest, you ought to live properly, speak out when you see unfairness, scold when you see wrongs.’ You should take after Nanjing Xu family’s Eldest Young Miss and shake up the rules in the household. Furthermore you can live more comfortably and leave a good precedent for your Sheng family’s descendants. Do you not think this is logical?”
Old Madame Sheng was on the verge of tears and she took out her handkerchief to softly dab the corners of her eyes “Ultimately, we are still old sisters. Only you remain who will speak these heartfelt words to me today. Your kind intentions, I as an older sister receive it humbly… … In any case, I have to at least hold on until Ming yatou marries.”
Governess Kong consoled immediately, satisfied her intentions achieved “This line of thought is correct, Sixth Young Lady is still young. She only has you to rely on in the future, you don’t have to hope that she becomes a millionaire, simply finding a good family to marry into is good enough.”
These two women really know the realities and cruelties of life very well. There is no such thing as a dream for them, everything has to be realistic. I believe this is maturity in a way. Next up, studying under Governess Kong