Chapter 36: Support (1)
Translated by Gumihou
Edited by Pill Bug
Jin Fengju appeared to have anticipated Old Madam’s answer. He smiled slightly and said, “Perhaps Old Madam is unaware, but not long after Fu’shi married into the marquisate, the inner court washerwoman died from sickness, leaving the two children without support. Therefore, I sent them to be raised under her name. I was too much of a scoundrel back then. No matter who their mother was, I, as their father, should have taken care of them. Instead, I threw them into Night Breeze Pavilion and never thought of them for the past five years.
A few days ago I suddenly thought of Fu’shi, thinking that it was about time I should divorce her. After all,  most of the possible political backlash from divorcing her had all but disappeared by now. Unexpectedly, when I arrived, I heard one child playing the qin, and another the other reciting the writings of the sages out loud. Both were very well-mannered and sensibly greeted a  father they had barely seen. That Fu’shi was also very dignified and tranquil. She did not take credit for the children’s education, nor attempt to ingratiate herself to this grandson of yours.
Old Madam, what do you think would happen if I simply divorce her? This grandson admits to being ruthless and cruel, however, even I cannot bring myself to do such a shameful thing. Even if I were to  Destroy the Bridge after Crossing the River, what of the two children? No matter what, they are still my flesh and blood, and so promising too. Old Madam, who would raise them once Fu’shi is gone? Therefore, I gave up the idea of divorcing that woman in the end. Moreover, though I may have visited the Night Breeze Pavilion several times, it was not to see her but those two children.”
“Oh? Such a thing happened?” the Old Madam nodded and said in a low voice, “I vaguely remember those two children. That incident happened due to a drunken mistake. However, that washerwoman was really too ugly and coarse. Women like that aren’t even qualified as a bedroom mistress, let alone be admitted into the family registry. I know that you’re a strong one and did not interfere much over the matter.
I heard your mother say that a good amount of monthly allowance had been allocated to that person to support herself and the children. That should be a good enough compromise for everyone. I had no idea they had been sent to Fu’shi’s place. Are you saying those two children are even more promising than the ones raised in the inner court? I find this a little unbelievable.”
“Old Madam, it might be unbelievable but it’s the truth. I saw myself in them. Only seven or eight years old, but already so sensible and well-read. Moreover, they are a dragon and phoenix pair. When those two stand together, it is just too eye-catching.” At the mention of those two children, Jin Fengju appeared more animated and began to tell Old Madam some little stories about Jin Changfeng and Jin Changjiao. Old Madam enjoyed the stories very much and could not help but laugh laughed out loud at some parts.
Because the stories were told in such detail, a whole hour passed by with them barely noticing the passing of time. Old Madam was so pleased by the stories that her eyes turned into happy crescents. Finally catching on Jin Fengju’s little trick, she scolded, “You little fox. Now that you’ve brought those two children up, you must have that woman bring the children over for the Dragon Boat Festival. I wish to see just what kind of people they are to charm you into boasting about them like this.”
Jin Fengju laughed too, not at all sorry at being caught out. “I am not boasting at all. Old Madam is wise and your eyes are discerning. You will know with one glance that this grandson of yours is not lying. Speaking of which, this grandson ought to retire first. The Elder Madam had asked to speak with me. It’s rare for me to be at home, to think I’d still be so busy.”
Old Madam broke in and scolded with a laugh, “You already know that it’s rare for you to be at home, yet you still don’t cherish your time with your mother and have the cheek to complain instead.”
Jin Fengju laughed and said his goodbyes once more before leaving the Old Madam for Madam Jiang’s place.
Once he entered Madam Jiang’s house, a maid informed him that the Elder Madam was at the Buddhist Hall and asked Jin Fengju to wait for a while. So, he sat down in a chair and sipped at the tea served by the maid. Not long after that, Madam Jiang appeared from behind the screen. Jin Fengju got up to give his greetings but Madam Jiang bade him to sit back down.
“I have asked you to come today because I have something I wish you to do. In fact, this is something that should have been done long ago. It’s just that so many years have passed that I’ve forgotten about it.” Madam Jiang, said as she slowly sipped at her tea, making sure to study her son’s face carefully.
However, Jin Fengju’s face remained as still as water, which raised Madam Jiang’s suspicion even more. Privately, she thought: Had Jin Fengju already known what I wanted him to do? How can this be? It’s not like he’s a  parasite in my belly, with access to all my thoughts. That’s right, this child had always been indifferent to emotions and rarely showed anger or pleasure. It’s a matter of habit by now.
“If Mother has anything to say, please speak.” Jin Fengju prompted and took another sip of tea when it looked like Madam Jiang was not about to speak yet.
Madam Jiang pondered for a long while before saying in a solemn voice, “That Fu woman. Back then, Prince Hong and Prince Zhenjiang deliberately stuffed her at you to humiliate our marquisate and ruin our relationship with Prince Rong. Just what qualifications does a woman like her have to occupy the position of an official wife? Your cousin came from such prominent background, but for you, she lowered her expectations and married in as a secondary wife. How long do you plan to let her suffer?”
Jin Fengju smiled mildly, “And here I was wondering what great urgency mother has for calling me over? To think it turned out to be this. Surely my cousin had not suffered much? Though she married in as a secondary wife, in this marquisate, who doesn’t treat her like an official wife? Those who saw her all paid proper respects and addressed her as Madam. All the properties under my name are under her control. Aside from the formality of a mere title, have I neglected her in any way? What is this suffering that mother mentioned?”
When Madam Jiang heard this, her heart sank and her face grew unsightly. She set her cup down slowly and said, “What are you trying to say? Back then, we were humiliated because we lacked power. Later, we were unable to back down once we advanced into this mess. However, the situation is different now. Although your brother-in-law is not favoured, Prince Hong and Prince Lie are busy struggling against each other. Where would they find the time to bother with our marquisate? You are now someone the emperor favoured the most. Moreover, you have been the imperial envoy for three years, right?
It’s already too late for Prince Hong to try and pull us into his faction, so why are you still hesitating over whether to divorce that person? You say that Wanying is missing a mere title, but do you know just how important a title is to a woman’s status? I don’t care what your reasons are, no matter what, you must swear an oath to me. Swear to divorce that Fu woman.”
“Once I divorce Fu’shi, what will happen to the two children?”
“What two children?” For a moment, Madam Jiang was confused. However, she soon recalled the existence of the twins and snorted coldly, “Those two cheap bastards can be dumped into any random farmstead. You still want to keep them in the estate? Don’t forget, you used to get angry to the point of spitting up blood whenever that washerwoman and her brats were are mentioned. Why are you bringing them up now?”
[Gumihou: … yeah, no support from this side of the family for MC]
 Added Detail for Dramatic Purpose: Just small details for clarification, really.  Destroying the Bridge after Crossing the River – Abandoning a benefactor upon achieving one’s goal  A Parasite in One’s Stomach – in the ancient days, it is believed that one’s thoughts are contained in the belly. That is why there’s a saying ‘Belly full of ink’ meaning a scholarly person.
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