“Let Mom hug you.”
It was a very fulfilling day, but it was also a busy one.
Song Yuan now admired kindergarten teachers.
When there was only Rong Ting, this one child, in the house, she didn’t feel that raising a child was stressful. With several little boys here at this moment, things had become too noisy. Kindergarten teachers were simply the most patient people in the world! She got a headache just imagining herself standing in front of a class of children.
Just cleaning and tidying up the house took nearly an hour with Song Yuan and the auntie’s combined efforts.
After they finished, Song Yuan wrapped up the slice of cake that she had set aside in advance and sent the auntie off at the door with Rong Ting. “Auntie, take this cake back for your granddaughter.”
The auntie was extremely happy. She loved working in this house. Although there was a child at home, he was very clever and didn’t make trouble. The adults were also easy to get along with.
After the auntie left, the house was left with only Rong Ting and Song Yuan. After the mother-son pair washed up, they sat on the couch and watched TV like usual. This was an activity reserved just for their daily parent-child bonding.
Rong Ting didn’t like watching cartoons, nor did he enjoy watching TV shows.
What did he like to watch? Song Yuan had been caught by surprise. He liked to watch Animal Planet1 and documentaries. His taste was quite simple.
“How does it feel to have friends?” Song Yuan asked Rong Ting.
The children had had a great time and played until they were exhausted.
The corners of his lips curled up, but Rong Ting still said: “Gu does not have friends.”
Song Yuan gave him a glance. “Aren’t they already your friends? They’re very good to you, and they share their toys with you. That’s a friend.”
That was a friend?
Rong Ting grunted. “It’s not bad. While living in the palace, gu did not have friends.”
Song Yuan had guessed that the ancient imperial palace was strict with its hierarchy, but hearing Rong Ting say this in a serene tone, as his mother, her heart ached. “There was no one to accompany you to play?”
“There was.” Rong Ting continued to speak in a light tone. “Emperor Father found two playmates for gu. Both were the sons of ministers in court. One was the same age as gu and another was two years older than gu, but they only had fearful respect for gu. Perhaps it was that they were berated by their elders at home, but they yielded to gu in everything. Does Empress Mother consider this a friend?”
Song Yuan thought a bit, then very honestly shook her head. “That wouldn’t be considered a friend.”
“Gugu, you’re so pitiful.” Song Yuan couldn’t bear it and gave Rong Ting a hug. “Let Mom hug you.”
Rong Ting looked puzzled. “Pitiful?”
Song Yuan didn’t know what to say. Since young, Rong Ting had lived in an environment where it was difficult for him to make friends. Others feared him, and even if they got close, it was in order to gain benefits.
“I misspoke. I shouldn’t have judged your situation like that.” Song Yuan stroked his head. “Ok, let’s not talk about this. We’re leaving for B City in two days. The two cities aren’t that far, so for convenience, I bought tickets for a high-speed rail. I’ll take you by plane the next time we get the chance.”
“An airplane, is that the thing on TV that can fly?”
“En.” Song Yuan thought for a bit. “The high-speed rail is also very fast. Our country’s high-speed rails are the fastest in the world, and they’re very convenient. For example, last time you and your grandpa drove on the highway to B City, but it took more than six hours to get there. If you take the high-speed rail, you can get there in about two hours.”
Rong Ting was shocked. He was looking forward to the next high-speed rail trip.
He was extremely curious about everything here, and he wanted to go expand his horizons.
Rong Heng returned to the Xie residence. By now, he had gotten a feel for the Xie family’s current situation. When he came back this time, he didn’t need to live in the main residence, as he had villas and apartments under his name. It was just that he’d been gone for so long, so the Xie family had called and asked to have a meal together.
The Xie residence was located halfway up the mountain, where the air was fresh. The main building housed the Xie family’s head, Xie Yanjun, and his wife. The auxiliary buildings were equivalent to the staff dormitories; they were where the drivers, security staff, nannies, and aunties lived.
The entire Xie family, including Xie Yanjun, was happy today.
The elder generation of the upper class, especially from a family like theirs, greatly valued their heirs. Although nobody spoke of the di and shu wives2 of the feudal era, in their hearts they still agreed that an illegitimate son was naturally less important than the son born from one’s original partner.
Xie Yanjun recalled his lingering fears from that day he had received a call from his wife. She had said, in a choked-up voice, that their son had been found, but he had been seriously injured, and he was still being resuscitated and could die at any time. He didn’t dare to believe it, and he had asked her on the phone, was it really their son A’Heng? His wife said that when he had been found, she had gone to identify whether he was their son. To be on the safe side, she had also done a DNA test, and he was indeed their son.
He had had a headache for quite a while now. His wife had injured her body that year she gave birth to A’Heng and essentially had no possibility of giving birth again. She wasn’t getting any younger and was nearly fifty years old–how could she give birth? If A’Heng were truly gone, it would be an earth-shattering3 disaster for the Xie family.
The Xie family needed an heir, after all. He and his wife only had one son–if his son was gone, who was he supposed to find?
Fortunately, A’Heng was back. He barely escaped from death, but he was still fine!
This allowed Xie Yanjun to let out a sigh of relief.
In his heart of hearts, he was also unwilling to give the position of heir to his younger son. The younger son’s status was not suitable; if they really allowed an illegitimate child to inherit the Xie family, wouldn’t they become a joke in B City?
Although no one spoke during the dinner, the atmosphere was relaxed.
After the meal, Madam Xie asked Rong Heng to accompany her for a walk.
Madam Xie would be fifty-five this year, but she maintained herself well. Graceful and elegant, her every movement gave off a sense of character. Donning a qipao4 and a knee-length coat and her long hair drawn up, she looked like a noble lady from the old Shanghai.
The two of them walked along the path outside the residence. Although it was winter, the weather today was rather good, and the sunlight was warm.
Rong Heng wore an ash-grey coat, and he stood with his back straight.
Madam Xie’s voice was soft, and when she spoke, her brows were gently curved, giving her a mild appearance. “A’Heng, you used to ask about me and your father when you were young, and I always felt that I had nothing to say. Now that these things have happened, Mom has something to tell you. What I want to say is this–you are very good. Everyone says that the son resembles the mother and the daughter resembles the father. I don’t know if this saying is true, but you don’t resemble me, nor do you resemble him.
“My entire life, I was never in control of my own life. Born into an old and noble family, I could only choose a partner from within our circle. However, I may have had terrible insight. I did not choose the one chosen by your grandfather and grandmother, but your father. Your grandfather and grandmother didn’t say anything. After all, the Xie family is also a respectable family in B City.” Her gaze was calm, but one could faintly make out the signs of crying. “When I was young, everyone said that he and I were a good match. I was very happy. My sister said that couples in the circle were formed through mutual benefits, and it was enough to respect each other, but I didn’t believe it. People’s hearts are made of flesh; how could a husband and wife continue on without feelings?”
Rong Heng didn’t speak and only quietly listened. The mother and son looked very comfortable as they walked along the path.
He had witnessed much enmity in the rear palace.
The Xie couple’s complicated affair was nothing new, but his mother-in-name seemed to have the urge to confide in him.
Fortunately, he was now mute and didn’t need to speak.
“I overestimated myself. Him, a good husband? I don’t know anymore. Every year he would remember my birthday, and every year we would celebrate the important holidays together. I used to think that I was different. Later, your father started to be with other women. He told me that it was a business social, but he was just playing along5, and he wasn’t being serious. He said,” Madam Xie laughed, “he said that my father was like this, and so was my grandfather. How was I supposed to respond? How was I supposed to answer? Was I supposed to tell him that I thought he was different?”
Rong Heng’s expression was faint. His hands were casually placed in his coat pockets.
Madam Xie also didn’t seem to mind that he didn’t respond.
“He was ‘just playing along,’ but in the end, there came a child. I was actually the first to find out. A’Heng, do you also think that Mom is foolish? I don’t regret marrying him. I have gained much from marrying him and becoming part of the Xie family. But I am too greedy, and he’s the same. I am greedy in thinking that I would have a husband who was different from my father and grandfather. He is greedy in thinking that, after being betrayed, I would be as foolish as before. When all is said and done, he and I are not on the same path. I don’t blame him.”
Madam Xie had started out with a soft tone, one that held no traces of personal sentiment. But she was silent for a moment, and when she raised her head, her eyes carried undisguised hatred. “He shouldn’t have indulged so much. He made me lose my most precious son. I continue to struggle in the Xie family, not for the Lu family, nor for myself. I remember this saying from when I was a child: a mother is strong6. If it should be my son’s, I won’t let go. If my son won’t fight, I will fight for him!”
Rong Heng had originally been indifferent. After all, he had seen and heard too many instances of grievances between husband and wife. But when he heard Madam Xie say this, his expression grew cold, and the fingers in his coat pocket quietly curled up into fists.
Low pressure surrounded his body, and the look in his eyes wasn’t as dull as before.
Not seeming to notice it, Madam Xie continued, “Look at me, getting carried away. A’Heng, you dislike hearing Mom say this, don’t you?”
She stopped and raised her head to look at Rong Heng. Tears fell as she looked at his face. She reached up to touch him, but her hand stopped and fell halfway. “A’Heng, can Mom trust you in the future? In this world and lifetime, Mom would never hurt you. The things you want, Mom will fight for it for you. Can you believe in Mom?”
Rong Heng looked at her, not even a ripple in his gaze.
He didn’t answer, neither nodding nor shaking his head.
The two remained like this for a while. Madam Xie raised a hand and tucked a strand of hair behind her ear. When she raised her head again, she had regained her grace and elegance. “A’Heng, it’s great that you’re alive. Mom thanks you.”
 动物世界: animal + world. Probably a wildlife documentary show, as the name suggests
 The di (嫡) wife is the main/primary/official wife. All other women married in are known as shu (庶) wives
 翻天覆地: overturn the heaven and earth
 旗袍: also known as the cheongsam. A tight, form-fitting dress with a short collar and (typically) short sleeves. A fashion icon of Shanghai of the 1920s, much like how flapper dresses are associated with the Roaring 20s of America.
 逢场作戏: lit. to find a stage, put on a comedy; fig. to join in the fun; to play along according to local conditions
 The general saying is a woman is weak, but a mother is strong; a mother would do anything for her children
Cheese: I think I previously translated Madam and Master Xie as Xie Heng’s grandparents? But it looks like the titles are referring to the parents. Oopsssss i will make the appropriate changes on other chapters whenever i find the time