Chapter 35: A Clever Hint
Translated by Pill Bug
Edited by Gumihou
Jin Fengju actually wanted to move her and the children to the inner court!? If he moved them there, what would happen to the leisurely life she had been living until now? [a]
An unfavoured woman who had never shared a room with her husband, yet still carrying the title of Official Wife and dragging two bastard children born of a lowly laundress… even if Jin Fengju had every intention of taking care of them, how long could it last? The hidden battles of the inner court were never something that men could stop.
If he was truly intent on moving her to the inner court, she would rather be divorced, and flee the marquisate with the children, Aunt Yu and Yu Jie and try their luck with whatever theatre troupe they happened to come across. That way, she could at least guarantee that her skills would protect them from being bullied.
“Young Marquis, please hear this humble woman’s plea.”
Doing her best to hold back the surging emotions in her heart, Fu Qiuning strived to sound calm and reasonable. [a] This was not the time to be hysterical. He would probably dismiss her arguments if she sounded like a spoilt wailing female.
When Jin Fengju turned to look at her, she kept her expression serious and said, “This humble woman does not wish to move to the inner court for reasons that Young Marquis must realise. This humble woman also does not believe that a pampered lifestyle would be good for the children either. In the words of  a great sage: Life Springs from Sorrow and Calamity, Death Comes from Ease and Pleasure.
I believe the Young Marquis should understand this truth as well. Feng’er and Jiao’er became what they are due to the hardships they have faced. However, alongside these hardships, their lives here had been relatively carefree and unrestricted by the plots and schemes of other people. There is no need for them to develop trickery to protect themselves. The children are still young and their ways of thinking are not yet set. This humble woman believes that it is not yet time to return to the inner court and respectfully implores the Young Marquis to think thrice.”
Jin Fengju fully turned to look at this woman seriously. It was the first time he saw such resolution on her face. Her eyes were clear and honest. This… did not look like a scheme of ‘To loosen the reins only to grasp them better’ or some other blackmail tactic. That’s right, it had already been six years. What kind of woman could carry out a ‘To loosen the reins only to grasp them better’ scheme so patiently for six years? The fact that this thought occurred to him made him feel like a villain in the face of those honest eyes.
Jin Fengju continued to stand before Fu Qiuning. Their eyes met in the air as her resolve clashed against a searching gaze. A long time later, he nodded and said lightly, “Since you insist, very well, it shall be done as you say.”
Fu Qiuning exhaled a long breath. She gave Jin Fengju, who was already stepping through the backdoor into the house, another salute, saying, “This humble woman gives thanks to the Young Marquis for granting this favour.”
Jin Fengju’s footsteps paused slightly. The corners of the mouth pulled into a faint smile, thinking: Thank me? It is too early to say this.
After taking lunch at Fu Qiuning’s place, Jin Fengju had no plans to take naps, but seeing Fu Qiuning’s tense face, clearly eager to give him the eviction notice as soon as possible, he leisurely laid down on the kang bed and crossed his legs. “I’m a little tired, so I may as well rest here. Feng’er, Jiao’er, come accompany your father for a nap. You should combine rest and study, be sure not to overly tire yourself.”
Fu Qiuning clenched her teeth so hard that she nearly cracked them. From the side, Jin Ming was also staring at the spectacle with a bitter face. He thought: Master, ah, master. Why are you becoming more and more childish? Are you really not aware of how much you have to do? Therefore, he cautiously stepped forward and said, “Master, before you arrive, didn’t Miss Ling Long from Elder Madam’s place come with the message that the Elder Madam wishes to see you? You also mentioned that you ought to stop by Old Madam’s place today.”
Jin Fengju glared at Jin Ming, thinking: Why are you in such a hurry? This master of yours still wants to play around a bit, but you just have to spoil my mood. The next time you decide to act so insensitively, I will make sure to kick you out to the farmstead and never let you return for the rest of your life.
While he was cursing this manservant Jin Fengju still got up to dust off his sleeves and said, “Yes, to think I actually forgot about that. Very well, I shall go now. In the future, if you encounter any difficulty, have someone let me know. If I’m not at the marquisate, you may look for… the Elder Madam,” he wanted to say ‘Madam’ but after some thought, with Fu Qiuning still holding the official title of Official Wife and therefore the actual ‘Madam’ of the house, it would be quite humiliating for her to go looking for the Secondary Wife for any kind of assistance. Therefore, in the end, he changed ‘Madam’ to ‘Elder Madam’.
As he passed through the garden, Jin Fengju’s thoughts kept on spinning as his steps took him towards Health & Longevity Court. When Jin Ming noticed, he whispered, “Master, the Elder Madam appears to have something important to speak to you about. Perhaps you should head towards that side first?”
“Do you think I don’t know this? Cease with your nonsense. Just how much effort do you think is needed to pay respects to Old Madam? How much time would be taken if Elder Madam wished to discuss something?” with that, he kept walking forward.
Jin Ming thought: Surely the matter is not as simple as that? Perhaps the Master already knew what Elder Madam wished to speak to him about and… was deliberately avoided her?
While he was still speculating, they soon arrived at Health & Longevity Court. When one of the maids saw the Young Master, she quickly smiled and said, “The Old Madam was just thinking about Second Master and look, Master has arrived. Please come in.” Then, she stretched out her neck and called, “The Young Marquis has arrived.”
When Old Madam Jin heard that her favourite grandson had come over, she was so happy that she called out joyfully, “Let him in, quick!” When she saw Jin Fengju, her smile grew even wider and she said, “You’ve lost some weight these days, did you not let your wife stew something good to nourish you?”
Jin Fengju laughed and said, “I’m being nourished every day, no need to worry. If this grandson of yours is overly nourished into a fatty, I could break sedan chairs with a ‘kacha’ one day.”
Old Madam laughed heartily and lightly tapped him before he could continue with his nonsense, “You already have so many children and yet you still like to tease me like this.”
Jin Fengju gave the plants around the house a seemingly casual glance and let out a sudden laugh, “And here I was wondering where all the flowers and plants at Night Breeze Pavilion went. To think they had all come to Old Madam’s place. How strange, the children and their mother never set foot outside their courtyard, so why would they suddenly think of sending gifts to Old Madam?”
“Night Breeze Pavilion?” Old Madam Jin looked at the pots of flowers and plants with a puzzled face. “These were sent over by your wife this morning. She said that she knew I would like them and had specially bought them for me. The fragrance is very good too. But… you, you said they are from Night Breeze Pavilion? Isn’t that just a broken down courtyard? I remember that once Hong Xiang was gone, no one lived there anymore.”
Jin Fengju laughed again, “Did Old Madam forget? Six years ago, when this grandson got married, Wanying came in as a secondary wife. The official wife was a shu daughter of Prince Zhenjiang. Old Madam should also be clear on why this happened. However, because of these circumstances, I never paid any attention to her after arranging for her to stay inside Night Breeze Pavilion the moment she married in. Aside from arranging for basic needs, this grandson of yours never bothered with her anymore.
A few days ago, I went to her place and noticed the aromatic potted plants and flowers decorating the place. Though they were nothing exotic or precious, the plants were uncommonly lush and lovely, giving the house a vibrant and refreshing feel and thought of Old Madam who likes these things in particular.
I thought to ask for them before the Dragon Boat Festival, but to think that Wanying would be even more thoughtful than I and stole the limelight away from this unworthy grandson of yours. When I return, I must settle accounts with her later.”
“Pei, to think such shameless words would leave your mouth. That is your wife you are speaking about. Isn’t her filial piety the same as your filial piety? To even think of quarrelling with a woman, are you not afraid of outsiders making fun of you?” Amused and a little angry, Old Madam slapped Jin Fengju lightly on the shoulder. Then, she straightened up and said, “However, now that you’ve mentioned her, I do have some impression of this woman. I thought you’d long since divorced her. How is she still within the marquisate?
To be fair, her fate is not good. I know she did not choose this life, but we had no choice either. Child, you always did have a sense of propriety. It is already a great kindness on your part to keep her in the marquisate and not force her to return and throw away her life. Why would you go and visit her? If outsiders found out how you are unable to turn your back on even the shu daughter of Prince Zhenjiang, wouldn’t they laugh and make fun of you? As for Prince Rong’s side, I’m afraid they too would slight you for this.”
[Gumihou: This sounds like rich people going ‘aww but too bad’ over the plight of a poor person while not really understanding what they had really experienced. Which, under this context, is wonderfully executed. Nice job White Pear Blossom!]
Pill Bug TL Notes:
 《生于忧患，死于安乐》From Mencius《孟子·告子下》  欲擒故纵 A tactic where you deliberately let an enemy go first, make him relaxed and fully exposed, and then catch him. From 《二十年目睹之怪现状》<<Bizarre Happenings Eye-witnessed over Two Decades>>, and also one of the 36 stratagems.
Gumihou’s Notes:[a] Some small, random fixes for dramatic purposes
If you love my translations, do consider dropping a comment at novelupdates!
Gumihou loves reading your comments, so gimme, gimme ~
( ´ ▽ ` )ﾉ