Chapter 49: Assessment
Translated by Gumihou
Edited by Pill Bug
Even though Fu Qiuning had always known the saying ‘Wealth will never last three generations’, She had always thought that this saying was too exaggerated. After all, if a rich family has many children, surely there would be at least one good shoot among the many weeds to take over the family business?
It was only now that she understood that children raised in the laps of luxury by parents who themselves grew up knowing nothing but luxury could not escape being spoilt to ruination. If the children observed their parents and only learned how to scheme and undermine others to get ahead, how could they grow up to be good and moral people?
While the banquet was happening around her, Fu Qiuning kept herself distracted by turning over various philosophical thoughts in her head. As for the many  mermaids and orioles crowding the table, no matter how much they looked down on Fu Qiuning, she still held the title of Jin Fengju’s official wife and was given the seat next to Madam Jiang. Naturally, this position attracted a lot of eye rolls and scorn, but she pretended to be blind to everything.
After all, she had zero expectations from these people. Moreover, if she were to cower before these  spoilt brats, not only would she lose her dignity, Jin Changfeng and Jin Changjiao would not be able to lift their heads in this family either.
Naturally, there were a lot of cold remarks being thrown around but Fu Qiuning was quite capable of pretending to be deaf too. Whenever a pointed question was posed to her, she would answer with a calm smile without a hint of aggression. However, she refused to show weakness either and kept her tone quiet, but firm.
Once the banquet was over, Fu Qiuning only sat for a little while longer before taking the children’s hands and bowing before the Old Madam for permission to leave. She had no intention to stay any longer. If etiquette had not prevented it, she would have left immediately after the last dish was served. Why should she sit around and let those spoilt, bratty women take potshots at her?
The Old Madam seemed to understand her situation, nodded and smiled, “Well, since your health is not good, it’s better to return and rest. If you encounter any difficulties in the future, send someone over to let me know. You live so far away. If you don’t say something to anyone, things might be omitted as your mother-in-law and Wanying have such a large family to look after.”
Fu Qiuning  was too happy with the permission to leave to add anything else. She quickly said some agreeable words, heaved a sigh of relief and gracefully fled the place with Jin Changfeng and Jin Changjiao in hand. Old Madam Jin kept her eyes on Fu Qiuning until she disappeared around a screen before looking away. She turned to a few old ladies about the same age as herself and said, “I dare not take afternoon naps these days, otherwise I cannot sleep at night. Why don’t we play a few rounds?”
Hearing that the Old Madam wished to play mahjong, Madam Jiang, Jiang Wanying and the other younger ladies retired first. Jin Fengju accompanied Jin Shi and the other sons to watch the dragon boat race outside the marquisate and did not return until late. Even then, he stood at the gate of Clear Soft Pavilion for some time before entering the gates.
The moment she saw Jin Fengju, Jiang Wanying could not help but started to complain. Jin Fengju had no choice but to soothe her with gentle words even as he privately sighed: The abandoned official wife is able to maintain her poise and dignity in the face of great adversity and poverty. Why are the rest of you so hostile against her? Furthermore, the cousin in my memory was so docile and gentle, why did she transform into a mean and calculating shrew after marrying in? She cannot even educate her children well. Could it really be my fault? But, I have already given her everything that could be given. If this much is considered shaming her, won’t I have to die to apologise for my offences against Fu’shi?
When he thought of this, Jin Fengju suddenly felt very irritated. The entire Clear Soft Pavilion suddenly felt hostile, not the least bit peaceful. As a man, he felt helpless against the demands of a woman. Thus, after a restless night, he got up early, tidied himself up and set out for court as soon as possible. After morning court, he put in some hours at the Hanlin Academy before finally returning to the marquisate.
However, he did not go to Clear Soft Pavilion, but headed straight for Health & Longevity Court instead.
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The Old Madam did not have much to do at the moment and was feeling a little bored. She was currently chatting with an elderly maid of hers, pointing out the pots of lush aromatic plants at the window sill, “Just look at them. Look how cheerful they are. After they entered the house, the air is so refreshing that I wanted to breathe more just to enjoy their scent.”
The elderly maid was called Ming Yu. She came into the marquisate with Old Madam Jin as a dowry maid. After the death of her husband, and with her son all grown up and working as a steward in the marquisate, she returned to the marquisate to accompany Old Madam Jin. She did not have any fixed jobs to do; her main responsibility was to accompany the Old Madam and play cards or gossip with her. Because of her seniority, all the servants respected her. Even Madam Jiang had to pay her 3 points of respect.
When she heard Old Madam Jin comment about the plants, she smiled and said, “Isn’t that right? The fragrance from these aromatic plants is very good. It’s one thing for Fu’shi to offer such things when she must be hard up, but a person’s heart is revealed by
the care she must have lavished on these plants. Speaking of which, after this old servant saw Fu’shi yesterday, I found that she has a very pleasant countenance.
I used to think that the people from the Zhenjiang Palace would all be proud to the point that their noses touch the sky. Her plain and simple clothes, along with her clear eyes and the lack of black eyebrow paint gave off a very refreshing feel. Her demeanour was very dignified and steady. If anyone were to meet her without knowing her background, wouldn’t they think that they were looking at a well-bred girl from a great noble house?”
Old Madam Jin nodded slowly. She smiled, “Both her manners and dress sense are good. Right now, the current trend is to dress as extravagantly as possible, the more accessories, the better. No one leaves their house without a pile of gold sticking out of their heads. Seeing her yesterday reminded me of the time when the Old Marquis had just been bestowed with the marquis rank. We all dressed very carefully lest we attract the attention of others, unlike the juniors now who spend money like water.
These young people barely blink when they spend money on a single hairpin. Last time, I heard that Fengju spent a few hundred silver just to celebrate a concubine’s birthday. Aih! I’m old and don’t wish to quarrel with them. Let them do as they like. I believe that Fengju should have a good grasp of what’s going on. Moreover, our marquisate is rich now.
Unlike back then when we have to be frugal, why should we stop them from spending?
When I look at Fu’shi, I can see that though her clothes and accessories were secondary, she has everything that a good woman should have: her dignity, manners and forbearance are top-notch. More importantly, she was not weak against bullying. You could feel the edges around her words when the others tried to look down on her.
She had married in for six years, but though she is the official wife in name, how is she different from an abandoned wife? Moreover, she is a shu born girl. If it had been any other girl, who knows what would have happened to them? To suddenly be called to attend a family banquet, I thought she would be extremely aggrieved or put on a domineering act, or perhaps be a weak little mouse who dare not say anything.
Who would have thought that she would be so composed, displaying no hint of grievance? Every action, every word was calm, dignified, and unruffled with a ring of benevolent energy about her. This is something very few women could do.”
Luo Cui, who had been listening from the side, smiled and said, “ Granny, just listen. I’ve served Old Madam for so long but have never heard her praise anyone so much. Who would have thought that Second Madam would be left out in the cold by the Old Madam? Personally, I find her a little gloomy, not at all like our cheerful Second Madam.”
Granny Ming Yu laughed, “What do you know? Our Second Madam is certainly not bad but each lady has their own merits.”
She had just finished speaking when a maid from the outside called, “The Young Marquis has arrived.”
[Gumihou: Ahah, I wonder what the Young Marquis wants to say to the old lady]
 Some small adjustments for a smoother passage  mermaids and orioles – the many random women  嬷嬷Official term for elderly maids. (Should we use momo or granny?)
If it’s placed with name like 明玉嬷嬷, we’ll use Granny Ming Yu
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