Chapter 23: The ‘Majesty’ of Being a Father
Translated by Pill Bug
Edited by Gumihou
The two children were really intimidated. They timidly nodded, saying, “W-we know that… f-father is the one who brought them.”
“En, if father had not come, wouldn’t these things not be here?” Jin Fengju smiled slightly. The children quickly nodded, their heads bobbing like chickens pecking rice. He chuckled, “Then, should you not treat father well so that he comes by more often?”
The two children were young and thought that this made sense. However, they did not know how to please their father. In the end, they could only helplessly exchange looks with each other, but no idea came forth. From the doorway, Jin Ming stumbled, nearly hitting his face against the doorframe as his heart screamed: Aiyo, my heavens, ah! Did our master always have this shameless side to him? If so, this one has never seen it before. Master, ah, master, even if you wish to coax the children, that’s not the way, ah.
Suddenly, his eyes caught sight of Fu Qiuning just standing by the door that led from the study. He clapped a hand over his heart and thought: Master, to think you have even shown this shameful side to the Madam… Tsk, tsk, have you ever seen other fathers trying to trick their children this way?
Fu Qiuning arrived just in time to hear Jin Fengju ‘instructing’ the children. What a ridiculous situation. However, she knew that there was an 80% possibility that Jin Fengju would be embarrassed if caught by her… then again, his skin might be thicker than what she had imagined. She thought of backing off when Jin Ming caught sight of her. In the end, she decided to just brave whatever was coming. Deliberately, she gave a little cough before stepping boldly through the door.
When Jin Fengju saw her arrive, he did not continue with his ridiculous behaviour. Instead, he had reverted to his original austere form as he leaned back slightly in his chair and said to Fu Qiuning, “I noticed the children had been a little frugal with their writing equipment last time. The colour of the ink was not good either, which is bad for their eyes. Use the stationery I have sent to you for now. If you need more, have people inform me. I shall bring them on my next visit.”
Fu Qiuning thought: What? Do you still want to come? What is going on? Was it because you’ve seen how hardworking and promising Feng’er and Jiao’er are and suddenly this awakened an affection for your own flesh and blood? Ah, pei! Have you already forgotten how you treated them before? Why have you suddenly thought of them now?
However, no matter how much she cursed this man in her heart, she still had to live under the eave of his roof and could do nothing but bow her head in obedience. No matter what, she had to display a warm and agreeable attitude on the surface.
After saying a few more words to her, Jin Fengju turned to chat with the children, testing the two of them on their homework. He also ordered them to fetch the guqin and listened as the siblings took turns playing the qin. In short, he dawdled to the east, dawdled to the west until finally, with the red sun sinking into the west, Fu Quining finally realised he had no intention of leaving and could not help but feel anxious.
She cleared her throat delicately and reminded him, “My lord, I’m afraid the people from the front may be waiting for you to take your meal with them. The day is growing late, although it’s still light outside, the sun is already setting…”
Before she could continue, Jin Fengju raised a hand and calmly stated, “It’s fine, I shall take my meal here.” Then he smiled and said to the two children, “Today, Father shall accompany you at mealtime, what do you think?”
The bond between father and child naturally cannot be so easily broken. Moreover, Fu Qiuning never taught them to hate their wolf-hearted father either. Not to mention, the two children had chatted for half a day with Jin Fengju and have unconsciously grown closer to this absentee parent. When they heard that he wanted to stay for a meal, they threw up their hands and cheered, “Yes-” only to suddenly cut themselves off and looked at Fu Qiuning for direction.
Everything in this courtyard was strictly regulated. In order to stretch out their food and clothing, every cut of thread, every single egg was regulated so that there was enough for them to live a reasonably good life. Still, they could not help their expectant eyes as they stared timidly at their mother.
Fu Qiuning almost fainted, thinking: Really, the thickness of this person’s cheeks is beyond my imagination. How did that saying go again? Shameless people are invincible! I did not spend even a single coin from your marquisate and yet you still want to eat here for free? Just what kind of food do you eat? Can I even afford a fraction of the ingredients to make it? Whatever, I shall do my best to beat off this Great God of Pestilence. Let’s treat it as rent money for letting me stay in this courtyard for the past few years.
While she was busy thinking, she suddenly noticed Jin Fengju smiling mildly at her. Noticing her attention, he said, “What is it? Is Madam not willing?”
Fu Qiuning thought: I really am not willing, but are you willing to leave?
Still, she quickly put on a smile and said, “What is the Young Marquis saying? This humble woman is overjoyed to have you here. However, this place lacks people and the food is simple. This humble woman hopes that you will not disdain our poor offering.”
Jin Fengju laughed, “Do not think that I have eaten nothing but mountain treasures and fresh seafood all my life. It’s not like I never had coarse tea or plain rice. Just prepare what you can.”
Since he had talked things up to that point, Fu Qiuning was also helpless to do anything about it. She could only nod and say, “Yes, then this humble woman will personally enter the kitchen and cook. May the Young Marquis please be patient and wait,” and with that, she slowly made her way out.
After she left, Jin Fengju called Jin Changfeng over to play chess with him. However, when the go board was brought over, he found that the ‘board’ was actually drawn on a piece of paper. Moreover, instead of proper chess pieces, jars filled with small black and white stones were brought over. When he picked the little stones up, they felt smooth against his palm. Clearly, these ‘go pieces’ had been well-loved, polished to the point that all the harsh angles had been worn away.
Jin Fengju stared silently at the little stones for a long time until Jin Changfeng said, “Has father never used these kinds of chess pieces before? These are mother’s. Sister and I spent a lot of effort looking for these little stones to make the board.”
“Yes, Feng’er and his sister are very capable.” Jin Fengju stroked his son’s little head. He had thought of getting Jin Ming to bring a chess set on his next visit but dismissed the idea after hearing this. He thought: Life springs from sorrow and calamity; death comes from ease and pleasure , it is not bad to let them hone their attitude through hardship. However, as their characteristics are not set yet, to suddenly give them luxurious clothing and food would ruin them. Perhaps, even turning them into first-class fops in the future.
At that thought, he gave a small smile and said, “This is indeed interesting. Very good, let’s have an interesting game. Father will let you have 20 pieces first. You must work hard,”
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Enough about Jin Fengju and Jin Changfeng’s game of chess. Let us see what was happening in the kitchen after Fu Qiuning arrived with a huff.
Indeed, she did not just huff. She also sighed, threw up her hands and shook her head, “How should I say this? Things had been going so well but he just had to suddenly stay for dinner. Yu Jie, go and fetch the pork we bought yesterday and those few remaining eggs. Aunt Yu, chop up the mustard leaf we collected this afternoon for stuffing. Ready some dough and make some dumplings with it. Really, what is this injustice, ah, what a great injustice…”
As she continued to give orders, Aunt Yu and Yu Jie rushed about the kitchen, scrambling to get the evening meal ready. Still, Yu Jie somehow found the time to sidle over and whisper with a little laugh, “Madam, do you think the Young Master will come over more often from now on?”
Fu Qiuning gave her a blank stare, “What? Are you looking forward to him coming over? Are you not afraid that he will eat us out of house and home? Don’t you know he has eaten your three embroideries’ worth of money with just this one meal?”
Yu Jie stuck out her tongue and whispered, “Madam often says that everyone has a love for beauty. The Young Marquis is so good looking, of course, this servant girl likes to look at him. Only, she doesn’t dare to look at him directly, but just lightly from the corner of the eye is enough, hihi…”
Huffing, Fu Qiuning said, “Since you love looking at him so much, let’s cover this meal with your personal silver. I’m afraid even if you embroider from dawn till dusk every day, you cannot earn enough to cover even one of his meals.”
Even she gave orders to the maids, Fu Qiuning’s hands were not idle. She quickly prepared the chopped scallions and sliced ginger and happened to drop them into the hot wok for a quick stir-fry when Aunt Yu laughed and said, “Madam should not think this way. Everyone says the Young Marquis is the smartest person in this era. Once he saw our situation here, surely he would have some plans? Even if he did not reward us, so long as we can start collecting the monthly allowance, all will be fine. In fact, even half of the monthly allowance would be enough for us.”
[Gumihou: … the maids sure are forgiving… how shameless]
Pill Bug TL Notes:
 生于忧患死于安乐 A line from 《孟子·告子下》, <<Gao Zi Part Two>> by Mencius
 便将葱花和姜放到锅里爆 Is this how you really cook ginger and onion? Not frying, but by popping them??
Gumihou: The 爆 is meant for ‘explosive’ cooking. Basically a very hot and fast stir-fry. Generally, the type where a fire would explode from the wok, lol.
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