Chapter 89: Move, Countermove
Author: White Pear Flower
Translated by Pill Bug
Edited by Gumihou
Gumihou: You had better believe that Gumi looked at FQN’s dialogues and flexed it to be super mean. The information is essentially the same, but, heh, delivery counts for a lot.
“To reply to Old Ancestor, from the moment this humble woman entered Night Breeze Pavilion, no one had ever inquired after this humble woman’s well-being. Fortunately, allocations of rice and flour were still quite regular. Together with the clothes and cloth from this humble woman’s dowry, this humble woman managed to keep warm and stave off hunger. Even so, this humble woman’s resources were gradually dwindling.
This humble woman’s resources had already been stretched to the limits when Lord Husband suddenly tasked this humble woman to raise his two children. Perhaps it was the hunger, the cold, or the prospect of having married a husband who had uncaringly left this humble woman alone on her wedding night, or of having to raise two unwanted children on diminishing resources that was… [a] that was… when… when this humble woman resorted to… drastic measures. This humble woman thought that it must be better to just die than to take on more suffering and humiliation.”[b] As Fu Qiuning spoke, she grasped the children’s hands tightly. Her voice was tight with emotion as she continued, “Unexpectedly, when Aunt Yu brought the twins over, this humble woman… realised a terrible thing. Though this humble woman’s life was lonely and fraught with shame, it was still better, far better than the lives endured by the little children.
This humble woman can still recall that very day. It was not long after the beginning of spring, the chill was still in the air when this humble woman opened the door and two little children dressed in rags and covered in grime were standing at the doorstep. When this humble woman approached them, the little children threw themselves at this humble woman’s feet and begged to be given work, fearful of being scolded or beaten.
This humble woman was at first, too shocked to react. How could these beggarly-looking children belong to such a marquisate? There was no piece of intact skin on their stick-like arms. Old Madam, back then, they were barely three years old, ah. This humble woman could not believe the sight of old and new injuries on such tiny children. At times, I wondered how they had survived…”
Tears streamed down Fu Qiuning’s cheeks as she told her story. Beside her, the two children sobbed as they too were haunted by those miserable days.
The Old Ancestor aside, even Madam Jiang had not expected to hear that the twins had been living such terrible lives. The ladies’ faces had turned pale.
“This humble woman truly had no choice. The Young Marquis paid a visit on the day the children arrived, said a few words and simply left us to our devices. This humble woman understands that she will never have a place in this marquisate due to Grandfather and Father’s evil intentions. However, these children are innocent. They are even the Young Marquis’ own flesh and blood.
Though this humble woman had given up on life, how could I give up on the children’s lives? This humble woman feared the children might have suffered muscle and bone damage. If they had internal injuries, they might even die… This humble woman had no choice but to secretly pawn whatever dowry or jewellery for money to purchase internal and external medicine. Fortunately, though they had been beaten by sticks, the children were robust enough and there was no need to invite a doctor.”
“When the Young Marquis had condemned this humble woman to fend for herself, this humble woman had intended to live on the remaining grain and food before slowly starving to death. This could be regarded as this humble woman’s way of settling accounts with the marquisate. A way to atone for her Father’s and Grandfather’s sins. Unexpectedly, this woman was suddenly given responsibility over two little lives.
If this humble woman were to pass away, the children would be sent to the village. This humble woman had spent years in the village before and intimately knew what sort of hard life they would suffer. If Feng’er and Jiao’er were sent away, they would not even have a mother care for them. That very night, this humble woman stood looking at the children’s sleeping faces for a long time. Aunt Yu even said that they had never slept so soundly in their little lives. That was when this humble woman decided not to die.
I cannot die. I had to take care of the twins until they have grown up. In that time, perhaps Heaven would have mercy and Young Marquis would no longer dislike them for their birth mother. Even if the marquisate never acknowledges them, this humble woman would have considered her duty done once the children had grown up. Once that happened, this humble woman would no longer care whether she live or die.
Even so, this humble woman was confined within Night Breeze Pavilion. We were not even allowed to set foot into Yong Cui Garden. Even if we were to reach out for assistance, who within the marquisate would lend a hand to a mother and children from Night Breeze Pavilion? Helpless and desperate, this humble woman had little choice but to… to… take a desperate risk…”
Tears continued to flow as Fu Qiuning sobbed out her explanation until even Old Madam Jin’s eyes were shining with moisture. Seeing the children’s trembling figure, she choked out, “My poor children. How you must have suffered. It is all the fault of your arrogant and self-important father back then. You just wait, Great-grandmother will punish him.”[Gumi: *rolls eyes*]
“Old Ancestor, your honourable self has heard this humble woman’s explanation. This humble woman had given the Young Marquis the same answer. It is fine to beat or kill this humble woman, so long as the children… this humble woman begs Old Ancestor to shield them and treat them well. They are the Young Marquis’ flesh and blood. Old Ancestor only needs to look after them until they have grown up. There is no need to confer riches or treasures to them, only peace and safety. So long as this promise is fulfilled, this humble woman is willing to peacefully descend to the nine springs.”
After speaking, she suddenly rushed for the sewing basket and seized up a pair of scissors. Fu Qiuning aimed the sharp end at her neck, shocking Old Madam Jin to the point of shouting, “Quick! Quick! Someone snatch those away!”
“What is happening? [d] What’s all this crying and screaming?” Jin Fengju stepped through the curtains just in time to see Fu Qiuning about to stab her throat with a pair of scissors. He quickly grabbed the scissors and threw them back into the sewing basket. He continued to hold her as he said, “[d] What is going on? Why are you seeking death? Yesterday you were still so steady, so why are you trying to kill yourself today?”
Fu Qiuning suddenly ‘collapsed into tears’. “It was true that Young Marquis had confronted this humble woman yesterday. However, that was before this humble woman realised that Elder Madam, Old Ancestor and all the sisters know my shame. What face does this humble woman have to live on? Fortunately, fortunately, the children have received Lord Husband’s favour. Thus, this humble woman can now leave the world peacefully.”
How could Jin Fengju not know that Fu Qiuning was merely play-acting? [d] While he secretly laughed at her excellent performance, he played his part and said righteously, “How could you die over such a small matter? What happened to the courage that brought you through the many years of raising these children with limited resources? Moreover, doesn’t the root of the problem lie with me, the despicable man who abandoned you and the children? If you were to die, would the children even recognise me as their father?
Do you wish them to continue living while carrying hatred for the marquisate for the rest of their lives? [d] Besides, last night, I clearly told you that I would naturally solve this on my own and you do not need to let it weigh on your heart. Yet now, you are crying to death again, don’t you trust your husband? If such a small matter is beyond me, would I not have died long ago from one of the emperor’s mandated missions?
It sounded as though Jin Fengju was criticising Fu Qiuning, but he was really criticising her for ‘distrusting’ him and not for ‘shaming’ him. The sharp and intelligent Madam Jiang and Jiang Wanying immediately caught the implications as their faces turned white.
Fu Qiuning appeared to have ‘recovered her composure’ at this. She stopped wailing to say, “This humble woman had lost her composure.” She looked like she had lost all animation as she moved to the side, still in shock. Luo Cui quickly led her to a chair, helped straighten her hair and clothes and even personally fetched water for Fu Qiuning to wash her face.
“You’re back early today, was there no court business this morning?” Old Madam Jin said after studying her grandson’s face. He looked as composed and steady as ever, which settled her own heart.
“Yes, there was nothing going on during morning court, so this grandson came back early.” Jin Fengju replied respectfully.
Old Madam Jin nodded and ponderously, “Earlier, your mother informed me that the matter of Qiuning selling her embroidery is already public knowledge and that the marquisate’s reputation has been seriously tarnished. You appear to know about this and already have a solution in mind. Could this be true?”
“Yes, Old Ancestor, please be at ease. This grandson had already set things in motion. A reliable family has been found and paid off. An official from the Ning Government Office has also been found. The official story is that this grandson had asked the Ning Government Office to investigate the rumours that have been spreading recently, tarnishing the reputation of the marquisate. Today, the investigator found the family who had admitted to spreading these rumours in order to sell more of their embroidery.
They have since been imprisoned and found guilty. Naturally, the imprisonment was merely a show. This grandson has already arranged for them to live abroad and had even given them money for the trouble. This grandson believes that word about this matter should start spreading tomorrow, preserving our marquisate’s reputation.”
Old Madam Jin nodded, “That is all very good. How well do you know that family? Have you investigated them thoroughly? Are they truly reliable? Don’t let people bite you back at the end.”
Jin Fengju laughed, “Old Madam, no need to worry, how could your grandson not understand this danger? The family had no way to live because their fields had been seized, cutting off their means of survival. This grandson happened upon them while hunting, took care of them secretly and even helped them get their fields back. They recognise this grandson as their saviour, but do not know my true identity, nor do they know how to repay this gratitude.
Today, when this grandson came to their door, they recognized me as their saviour and happily agreed to shoulder this blame. This grandson has also ordered Jin Ming to investigate this family’s character and found them to be good. In fact, they have truly been selling Qiuning’s embroidery from their shop for a long time, thus, their circumstances fit this matter perfectly.”
Jin Fengju continued, “What’s more, the whole matter was merely a rumour. It became a serious matter when people grew curious and gossiped over it. Now that a perfectly ordinary reason has been found, it should soon die down. Within two days, the original rumour will be buried and disappear soon after.”
“You are right. Very well, help your wife up and escort her back safely. She has suffered a lot of grievances over the years. I am a little tired now, you are all dismissed. Fengju, after you have sent your wife back, go visit your mother. I’m afraid she must have some words for you. That should keep you busy enough, no need to come by my place.” Old Madam Jin said as she supported her forehead in her hand. Granny Ming Yu hurried over to support her and helped her to lie back down onto the quilt behind her.
It could be said that Madam Jiang and Jiang Wanying had marched over brimming with smug ambition. Who could have imagined that the outcome would turn out like this? Not only did Fu Qiuning escape unharmed, those cunning little brats even took advantage of the situation to earn a bottomless well of sympathy from Old Madam.
That alone was bad enough. More important was the way they were dismissed from Old Madam’s courtyard. From Old Madam’s final two sentences, it was obvious there were more meanings underlying the words. Madam Jiang and Jiang Wanying knew in their heart of hearts that Old Madam was not stupid, Jin Fengju even less so. If the pair of old and young foxes decided not to let the matter rest, the two of them might have to suffer more loss of face in the future.
[Gumihou: *sarcastically* All hail the conquering hero. Gumi made it a point to delete Obvious JFJ Ass Polishing, but make an exception when he polishes his own ass. *sneer*]
[a] Additional Details for Extra Guilt Tripping: Like, isn’t this the perfect time to bring up your suicide? Let them understand you’re almost not here. Hurting grandma is the same as hurting JFJ, you don’t even have to say it out loud, just hint at it~ We’re all clever people here, aren’t we~? [b] Prevention of OOC: Overdramatic is bad drama. So, delete: As Fu Qiuning told her tale, she hugged her children tightly, beads of tears flowing into streams as she whimpered,
You made your debut as a dignified and benevolent woman, what’s with the ‘hugging’, ‘beads of tears’ and ‘whimpered’? Did you exchange spirit with one of the concubines?[c] Prevention of Obvious JFJ Ass Polishing, Deleted: blah, blah, informed Young Marquis last night, blah, blah, this humble woman is prepared to die, blah [d] Prevention of More Obvious JFJ Ass Polishing, Deleted: Jin Fengju’s mocking ‘clear headed’ behaviour. Shortened the sentence to create more immediacy.
Pill Bug: Mmm, drama!
Gumihou: So much drama =_=;;
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