Chapter 39: Close to Dragon Boat Festival
Translated by Pill Bug
Edited by Gumihou
The three of them watched speechlessly as the children rushed towards the gate.
Suddenly Fu Qiuning laughed. Shaking her head she said, “You said those ducks betray the hands that fed them,  but look, see that? That’s a true-life example of betraying the hands that feed them. Their father had only been by a few times, and already they are this friendly with him. Whatever grudges they had held in the past six years of neglect were all but forgotten. Looking at them makes my heart a little sour.”
Aunt Yu smiled, “No matter what, he’s their natural father…” Suddenly recalling that Fu Qiuning was not the children’s ‘natural mother’, she quickly shut herself up. Hanging her head, she lamented: How embarrassing, ah. Could you make things more awkward for the mistress?
However, Fu Qiuning did not seem to have heard or noticed the faux pas. The three of them made their way into the house through the back door with their harvest when Jin Fengju came around a screen with the children.
Fu Qiuning, Yu Jie and Aunt Yu all had their arms full and could not greet this young master properly.
Today, Jin Fengju had a folding fan in one hand. Seeing their awkward faces, he gallantly waved his fan at them with a smile, “No need to greet me. Feng’er and Jiao’er told me that you had just returned with a great harvest, and I thought to have a look. So, these are your harvest? These leaves and grasses, what are they for? Have you been collecting Chinese Mugwort [b] for the Dragon Boat Festival? They look a little different.”
It turned out that although the Young Marquis had a bellyful of knowledge, he could not tell the Five Grains apart . Yu Jie had always been the most straightforward [a] and her attitude was rarely regulated within Night Breeze Pavilion. At the Young Marquis’ remark, a sudden burst of laughter escaped her before she could hold it back. Her face turned apple red from the effort.
Fu Qiuning also felt a little embarrassed on his behalf. Nevertheless, she pretended not to have seen or heard anything untoward and, after putting down their ‘harvest’, she explained, “The ones with wide leaves are water reeds and the thin leaf ones are Wall Iris. We plan to wrap rice dumplings with them.”
Only then did Jin Fengju realize that he had just made a fool of himself. Fortunately, he was fairly thick-skinned. With a slightly self-recriminating smile, he turned to make his way towards the living room, when the children suddenly seized a leg each and called out, “Father, father, we also collected duck eggs. The ducks laid their eggs in the pond and Yu Jie said they ‘betray the hands that feed them’ by laying their eggs outside.”
“What? Betray the hands that… what? Also, what ducks?
Unable to understand why ducks were suddenly mentioned, he turned to Fu Qiuning. “What’s this about? Do you have ducks here too? When did you get a pond?”
The three women blushed. If a crack were to appear in front of them, all three would not have hesitated to jump in. Aunt Yu and Yu Jie stammered, “M-madam, we… we need to clean the kitchen.” Without waiting for Fu Qiuning to say anything, they bobbed at Jin Fengju and fled so quickly that their feet barely touched the ground.
Abandoned by her subordinates, Fu Qiuning had no choice but to make the explanations. “The backyard of this place is quite wide and abundant with grasses and wild vegetables. Therefore, we decided to raise some chickens, ducks and geese. This way, we could get fresh eggs now and then. However, it’s mostly for pleasure, especially since we have a pond just beyond the few mu of land. It had been left in disrepair, but the ducks and geese like to splash in the pond every morning, only coming back for food and shelter at night.
Just now, while we were collecting the Water Reeds and Wall Iris at the pond, Feng’er and Jiao’er happened upon four duck eggs while playing in the pond. Yu Jie made a little joke about the ducks, but the children appeared to have taken it seriously.”
At this, Jin Fengju smiled [a] and made his way to a chair to sit down. He tapped his folded fan against his hand before saying, “I see, no wonder you are so reluctant to leave this place. Though your days are impoverished, there are some charms to it.
White feathers float atop jade waters
Red paddles stir clear ripples 
Is a verse that I read during my time of enlightenment, but to this day, I have only seen geese that have been plucked bare of their feathers, and have never seen a live goose.”
“A plucked goose?” Fu Qiuning frowned: Who on earth would dare order a Young Marquis to pluck goose in the kitchen, ah?
Suddenly, Jin Fengju laughed, “Roast goose is commonly seen in banquets, some even served the goose whole. Why? Have you never seen one before?”
“Oh, y-yes, I’ve seen it…” Fu Qiuning privately rolled her eyes: What the heck? It’s just a roasted goose, ah. What’s with all that extra remark about a plucked goose? Are you trying to be clever? Can’t you just say ‘Roast Goose’ and save me the trouble of puzzling over nothing?
Just then, the children asked curiously, “Father, what is a ‘Roast Goose’? Aren’t geese meant to be stewed? Or wrapped in dumplings for New Year?”
At the children’s curious eyes, Jin Fengju felt a sudden burst of sourness in his heart. He cursed at his young and frivolous self, brimming with resentment at the past him that had mistreated these children so. Swallowing down these feelings, he smiled and patted their heads, “No problem, in a few days, Father will treat you to some Roast Goose. Roasted goose is delicious, you know? It’s very different from stewed goose and goose dumplings.”
He raised his eyes towards Fu Qiuning, “The Dragon Boat Festival will be here in a few days. Each year, family members who happened to be in the city will gather at the Health & Longevity Court. The Old Madam has granted you the privilege of bringing the two children over for a visit. See to it that you prepare a set of clothes for the children. Do you have enough cloth and satin fabric? If not, I shall have Jin Ming select a few bolts for you.”
Fu Qiuning froze in place for a long time. Jin Fengju was not at all surprised by her reaction. After living in isolation for six years, to be told to attend a family gathering would certainly be a great shock. Look at how she stood in place as though struck black by lightning. Anyone else would not react so calmly, ah.
He took a leisurely sip of tea and privately sighed.
“Young Marquis, have you… passed on the message to the wrong person? Surely you should be saying this to the Second Madam?” said Fu Qiuning tentatively.
She thought: There was no way that Old Madam, the most important and most powerful woman within the marquisate would ask for her, not even if Jin Fengju asked for it. This Plague Bringer must have said something to stimulate the Old Ancestor, but just what?
Surely he could have nothing good to say about a wife that was so ignored that she might as well be abandoned? Is he not afraid of being humiliated for bringing said abandoned wife to a family gathering?
“What nonsense. Why would I need to invite the Second Madam when she’s in charge of organising the event?” Jin Fengju snapped open his fan as he leaned back to better show off his dashing posture. However, after just waving the fan a couple of times, he noticed the children’s gaze following the fan. He immediately smiled and handed the fan to Jin Changfeng. “Take this and play with your sister. One day, when you manage to paint a good picture on the fan, you may return it to father.”
Jin Changfeng received his father’s fan and happily pulled his sister out to play. Here, Fu Qiuning finally calmed down enough to frown at Jin Fengju and say in a grim voice, “Forgive this humble woman for not understanding Young Marquis’ intention. This humble woman is not suited for this kind of gathering. If Old Madam wishes to see the children, perhaps Lord Husband should bring them instead. It’s not suitable for this humble woman to show her face.”
Jin Fengju smiled and said, “It’s not a question of whether you’re suitable or not. A few days ago, I visited Old Madam’s room. When I saw her room decorated with aromatic plants taken from your place, I said something in passing about how you were the one who raised those plants and how well you educated the children. When Old Madam heard this, she instruct me to have you bring the children before her.
There’s nothing to it. With so many people in attendance, you are only meant to appear and let her have a look at you. Otherwise, are you truly fine letting the children go without you? Do you not care if they are bullied? Even if I wish to go with them and look after them myself, I am obliged to entertain any male guests that appear that day.”
[Gumihou: … what.]
Pill Bug TL Notes:
 吃里扒外 Relying on the group members to survive, yet giving out the wealth to other people. Meaning: disloyal to the group.
Well, this chapter explains the idiom well enough… :>
 满腹经纶，五谷不分 A mix of two idioms. 满腹经纶 a full belly of books, meaning well-read. 五谷不分 from 四体不勤，五谷不分, ‘four limbs without labour, can’t tell apart the five grains’ A scholar who is detached from work and practice.
 白毛浮绿水红掌拨清波 part of a classical Chinese poem written by 骆宾王 luò bīn wáng during the Tang dynasty. Translation from
Notes from Gumi:
[a] Some small changes to make the text flow better.
[b] Chinese Mugwort
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