Chapter 52: Revealing Feelings
Translated by Pill Bug
Edited by Gumihou
The family sat together and was just about to get started on the festive birthday lunch when Fu Qiuning said to Aunt Yu, “It’s the twins’ birthday today, so there’s no need for you to stand by and serve us. Get yourself a table and take a share of the food. Invite Steward Jin and bring out a small table for him. It would feel more like a celebration with more people eating together.”
Jin Fengju, who was in the middle of nibbling on a piece of Beggar’s Chicken, said “You’ve given voice to the thoughts right out of my heart. Normally whenever I eat, Jin Ming would stand behind me like a wooden general. With everything already on the table, do I still need him to serve me? No need to find a small table for him. The three can share a table and we shall all eat together. With you and I here, surely there’s no need to observe so many rules? It’s just a meal after all, not a private meeting.”
Yu Jie and Aunt Yu hurriedly agreed and set up another table. All of them ate at their leisure for close to an hour, nearly devouring the food clean off the table. By then, Fu Qiuning had lost some of her restraint in front of Jin Fengju as she shook her head and laughed at him, “You’ve eaten twice at my place, but why is it that each time you eat here, you’re like a storm that sweeps the area clean? If word gets out, who would believe that I had been entertaining the Young Marquis of Jinxiang Marquisate? A person who behaves as though he had been deprived of food for days?”
Jin Fengju took out a delicate handkerchief and dabbed at his mouth elegantly before laughing, “You were just unlucky. The first time was because I had been entertaining people for many days and was tired of palace banquet cuisine. Speaking of which, I’d been thinking of those Shepherd’s Purse Dumplings lately, when will you be making them again?  The Old Madam had also been thinking about those Rice Dumplings you sent to her last time.
No need to look at me like that, do not worry. I don’t plan to eat for free. I shall order Jin Ming to send you a few dozen pounds of ingredients in return. If that’s still not enough, you may write up a list and get him to fetch whatever you need.”
After she spoke, Jin Fengju swept his gaze over the leftovers on the table. [a] There was hardly anything left, merely some sauce and a bit of garnish here and there. He sighed and said, “Somehow, even though the food is not particularly outstanding, and the skills not quite up to a chef’s level, eating at your place feels comfortable. I cannot help but eat some more.”
Fu Qiuning thought: That’s probably because you have to put up with hidden battles, inuendos and words filled with layered meanings all the time. As a smart guy, you probably can’t even pretend not to understand them. So, how could you properly relax?
However, you also can’t just run to my place every two or three days just because it’s peaceful, you know? If you bestow us something small now and then, I can pass it off as gifts for the children or say that they’re for the children’s sake. On the other hand, if you come over to my place to eat and sleep every few days, who would turn a blind eye to this kind of behaviour? Won’t I become a favour competing vixen in the eyes of your wives and concubines? Even if I hide out in the pond in the backyard, no one would ever believe that my actions are pure, ah!
The more she thought about it, the greater her desire to beat up this Jin Fengju or at least give him a good rap on the head. After Yu Jie and Aunt Yu had cleared the table, the Jin twins ran off to study with their new paperweights. Jin Ming had already left to run errands at Jin Fengju’s order.
Thus, right then, there was no one else in the room aside from Fu Qiuning and Jin Fengju seated at either end of the couch when Fu Qiuning said in a grave ponderous tone, “As the emperor’s most favoured person, Lord Husband must receive great favour from the emperor. However, the more favoured one is, the greater the likelihood of being criticised by others. Has my lord been troubled by anyone recently?”
Jin Fengju raised an eyebrow and smiled, “It is rare for you to show such concern for me. Here I thought you would hate me and refuse to speak to me till we die of old age. Do not worry, I have taken measures against these matters. You may speak your mind.”
Hearing this, Fu Qiuning said resolutely, “With Lord Husband’s permission, this humble woman shall speak frankly. The reason behind this humble woman’s marriage and the reason why this humble woman had been left out in the cold is clear within both our hearts. Although this humble woman resides within the marquisate and is cut off from outside news, the relationship between Zhenjiang Palace and Jinxiang Marquisate could never be truly intimate. This humble woman still retains quite an impression of that very day. This humble woman’s father and grandfather are loyal to Prince Hong, yet the Young Marquis is the brother-in-law of Prince Rong. How could it be easy to unravel the problems between our two families? Young Marquis, has this humble woman spoken true?”
Jin Fengju nodded, his smile indifferent as he said, “That’s right, Zhenjiang Palace and Jinxiang Marquisate never bothered to pretend a close relationship even on the surface. Beneath that, we are like fire and water. In the future, once the victor is decided, the winner shall be king and the loser a thief. There is no room for other outcomes.”
Fu Qiuning had already expected that. Hearing Jin Fengju said it so seriously, she merely nodded and said, “If that’s the case, this humble woman believes that the Young Marquis should visit this place less to avoid drawing suspicion. Though this courtyard can be said to still be within the marquisate, the nobler the residence, the more gossip it attracts.
If rumours of the dignified Young Marquis getting close to the shu daughter of Zhenjiang Palace’s Prince, would it not hurt your face? On Prince Rong’s side, you’ll have to waste a lot of effort defending your actions and even drag this humble woman into harem battles. No matter what, this does not appear to be wise. Young Marquis, what do you think?”
Jin Fengju looked deeply at Fu Qiuning, only to see that within the pair of not-beautiful eyes, there was only clarity and honesty. Although there was not even half a point of love or other tender feelings displayed by his other wives or concubines, they were like two whirlpools that seemed to suck people’s souls in. He thought: Fortunately, the one here today is me. If it were anyone else, they would probably have lost their self-control by now.
He coughed gently, replying with a smile, “I married you into the household, but abandoned you in Night Breeze Pavilion, wasting six spring and autumn’s worth of your maidenhood. The best years of a woman were all wasted like a passing wind, do you not resent me in your heart? For what reason are you still so thoroughly considerate of me? Qiuning, I pride myself on being heartless and emotionless, but your love is so deep that even I can’t help but be touched by it. How can I bear to let you down and allow you, an official wife, live like a widow in this Night Breeze Pavilion?”
When Fu Qiuning heard this, her eyes became straight, thinking: What… what happened? My… my focus was clearly on the last sentence, not wanting to be involved in the inner court’s harem battles. Young Marquis, wake up ah! Those polite words of mine at the beginning are all foreshadowing ah, can you not muddle up the priority or miss the focus, okay? You just continue to be heartless and emotionless ah, that’s not a problem at all, don’t suddenly put up such a poetic line about being deeply moved by love. I just ate, I don’t want to vomit ah!
Howls resounded in her heart, but how could such disrespectful words be spat out? In the face of Jin Fengju’s romantic delusion, she actually did not know what to say.
Quite a long time passed before she coughed, trying her best to restrain her boiling emotions as she lowered her head and said, “Young Marquis, it is best if you do not misunderstand. From the moment this humble woman married into the marquisate, such as ending was to be expected. My heart is like stagnant water. I dare not entertain any delusions. This humble woman’s only hope is to live a peaceful life. This is enough to satisfy me. The considerations that this humble woman had spoken about earlier are not only for the Young Marquis’ sake, but for my own peaceful life as well. Otherwise, with my status, I shall surely die without an intact corpse from inner court battles. Thus, this humble woman begs Young Marquis to grant this consideration.”
[Gumihou: Like dude, get a clue and eff off]
Pill Bug TL Notes: This was made back in chapter 23.
Gumihou:[a] Some minor sentence adjustments for better flow
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