Chapter 182: Foresight
Author: White Pear Flower
Translated Pill Bug
Gumihou: Instead of making Jin Zhenyi a foil, make him into that shrewd boy that you, White Pear Flower, had been trying to show, but kept sabotaging for the romance plot. Please stop it. Please don’t make your own characters go OOC
“Then, what should I do?” Jin Zhenyi was naturally frustrated. He knew what Fu Qiuning said made sense, but could logic ever overpower feelings of being wronged?
“What can you do? You know as well as I do what are the things your father values. Conform and hope for the best. Even if Concubine Xu cannot return, you may still be allowed a visit. You should also know your mother well. Is she the type who would allow others to bully her?”
Jin Zhenyi nodded slowly. In fact, he was already doing all he could to improve his studies and be the son that he knew his father would want. After all, didn’t he have a role model in Jin Changfeng? Hadn’t his father abandoned all of them for this woman’s children? Even the so-called ‘cheap seedlings’ were favoured due to their ‘good behaviour’. Surely, he, as a proper concubine’s son, could also gain such favour in the future? Moreover, his father greatly favoured this woman. By following her, he stood a better chance of getting his mother back than, say, following Jin Xiuzhen’s mother.
“Speaking of which, does your maternal grandfather know about what happened here? Perhaps you could visit the village with your maternal grandfather./”
Jin Zhenyi lowered his head and said, “There’s no need. Grandfather once made several mistakes and Father had to cover for him so that he does not lose his Fourth Rank official position. He would not risk offending Father for a visit to Mother.” [a] He hesitated, “You would also have to plead with my father for this favour, right?”
Fu Qiuning nodded: It looked like this boy had not grown up in vain within a vicious harem. He knows his own limits, though he kept trying to push them through childish frustration. It was only natural after all. Concubine Xu was his mother, what could anyone realistically expect him to do? To immediately embrace this stepmother that his father forced on him after his own blood mother had been banished by said father? He was also shrewd enough to understand that favours needed to be paid, if not by him, then by someone else, and was considerate enough to not put her, this new stepmother, into a difficult position.
With that in mind, she sighed and said, “In that case, you can only rely on yourself. By the looks of it, it is already late summer, and soon it will be early autumn. Make a good showing and impress your teacher. On my side, I shall… entertain your father and appeal for a trip to the village one of these days.”[a] Jin Zhenyi found himself in a unique position where he had to take responsibility for his own actions. Before this, he had relied on his position as ‘the son of Jin Fengju’ to bully others and trusted his mother to back him up no matter what he did. Today, Fu Qiuning spoke to him seriously, not as a mother or an elder, but as a bystander to his plight. Sympathetic, but not overly so. Fu Qiuning was truly not all interested in his life beyond what she believed was her ‘duty’ to raise children. What Jin Changfeng got, he was given too. Jin Changfeng was also odd in his own way. Clearly, he honoured and trusted this woman as his mother, but there were no overt signs of indulgence on either side. Jin Changfeng would probably die for this mother of his, but he was not as open with his affections as Jin Changjiao. Then again, Jin Changjiao was a girl, so there was that.
Well, he had nothing against this arrangement. There was no pitfall to following her advice, which was why he patted his chest and made a show of saying loudly, “Rest assured, if you truly mean it, I will respect your feelings.” If there was anything he was better than Jin Changfeng, it was expressing his feelings.
Fu Qiuning suddenly laughed, [a] just as he had intended. She shook her head and said, “Don’t pretend to be an adult with me. Respect my feelings? Do I need you to respect my feelings?” As she spoke, she stood up, and that was when he took the opportunity to say, “That Concubine Huo? Don’t get too close to her.”
If this woman had even half a brain in her head, she would already have her guard up against that woman. However, it didn’t hurt him to say those words to win some favour from her. Indeed, after a short pause, the woman turned around to say, “You child, what nonsense are you spouting? How would you understand adult matters? You don’t need to concern yourself with these things.”[a] On cue, he jumped off his chair, face already flushed red as his mouth ran from him in sudden anger, “Why would I not understand adult matters? That Concubine Huo, on the surface, she and my mother were on the same side, but even my mother says she has been manipulated by her behind the scenes countless times. In front of my mother, she confronts Second Madam head-on, but as soon as my mother’s head is turned and no one else is around, just how close she is to Second Madam Ying? I have seen with my own eyes when they were together in the inner court, I can’t even describe how harmonious they were.”
After that, he ran off. [a]
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Jin Fengju only arrived when it was time for dinner, and Fu Qiuning brought him the cream rolls brought by Concubine Huo. He smiled and said, “I already ate some at the Old Ancestor’s place, I did not expect these barbarians’ things to be quite this unique. It seems that from now on, we cannot view them with the old standards. In the past, our family looked down on them, thinking that their things were just a result of some clever ideas. But now, when I think about it, they must have their own strengths.”
Fu Qiuning finally understood why there were so few Western items in the estate. It turns out the sense of superiority within this family was very strong, and they considered those European countries to be barbarians. This was quite arrogant. So, she smiled and said, “As the saying goes, a foot has places where it is short, and an inch has places where it is long.  Even if they are barbarians, they must have their own strengths. Moreover, I’ve heard that those people have golden hair and blue eyes, completely different from us. It must be a heritage of thousands of years. How could we dare to say they don’t have anything remarkable? Leaving everything else aside, the grand self-ringing clock is more useful than our hourglasses. And these snacks, although they cannot compare to the delicate ones made by our chefs, they have a unique taste. Lord Husband, do you think so?”
Jin Fengju nodded and smiled, “Exactly. In a few months, there will be the All Nations Cultural Festival.  The Ministry of Rites has been so busy since last year that their feet don’t even touch the ground, and now they have finally selected some talents from various regions after much difficulty. Tomorrow, the Emperor will join the officials to see what unique skills these people have. I heard that several countries from across the sea will also participate this year. Their seafaring technology has been improving. Just in the past six months, we occasionally see men and women with golden hair and blue eyes on the streets. The other day, I even told the Emperor that we should step up our preparations in this regard. We must not let those foreign barbarians surpass us.”
Fu Qiuning felt a stir in her heart, realizing that as the era developed, control over the seas would become increasingly important. Although it seemed like a matter of competitiveness on the surface, with Jin Fengju’s character, his ability to propose such a suggestion was not simply due to his desire to outdo others. He must have his own insights on the matter. However, not being a modern person and not having experienced the painful history of Greater China, he wouldn’t have been able to have a profound understanding of this issue. Nevertheless, the fact that he could see this and make a proposal already demonstrated his far-sightedness.
“Then, what did the Emperor respond with?” Fu Qiuning got up and served a bowl of rice to Jin Zhenyi. Jin Fengju smiled and ruffled Jin Zhenyi’s head, saying, “Ever since Yi’er came to you, it seems that he eats more and is not as picky as before.”
Fu Qiuning smiled and replied, “Yes, he is right in the growth spurt, so naturally, he eats more.” But then she saw Jin Fengju shake his head and say, “The growth spurt is around twelve or thirteen years old.  He is still young.” Then he shifted the topic back and said, “The Emperor shares the same idea, so he has already allocated funds. There are two dragon shipyards in Suzhou, and this year, they will build more large-scale shipyards in Yangzhou, Ningbo, and other places. Training of naval forces is also on the agenda at the Ministry of War.”
Fu Qiuning stopped asking further. Those were all national affairs, and it was already remarkable that Jin Fengju would discuss such matters with a miserable woman like her. If it were another man, where would he have the patience for it? Although she was curious, she knew that it was enough to know that the Great Ning Dynasty valued maritime affairs at this time. As for the future, whether history would repeat the mistakes of the late Qing Dynasty was not something she could predict or change. Asking more at that point would be fruitless.
After finishing their meal, Yu Jie and Jian Feng instructed the young maids to clear away the dishes. Jin Fengju and Fu Qiuning reclined opposite each other on the couch, and the pair of husband and wife engaged in idle conversation. Jin Fengju asked, “Are Yi’er and Xiunan doing well under your care? Were they naughty? They haven’t given you a hard time, have they?”
Fu Qiuning shrugged and said, “As the saying goes, ‘eat some loss, gain some wisdom’.  Even so, both of them have been very well-behaved. As their father, rewarding them should only be proper.”
Jin Fengju laughed in reply, “Those belongings of mine are all with you now. You can pick whatever you think is good and give it to the two of them. Isn’t it a simple thing to just gift them something and tell them it is from me? Give something Feng’er and Jiao’er as well.”
Fu Qiuning gave him a disdainful look and sneered, “Lord Husband is so skilled in socializing outside, you truly can be said to be nimble in all eight directions and able to find resources anywhere. But now that you are with your own children, you suddenly forget how to spare a little more thought for them? What Brother Yi and Third Young Miss looking forward to, are they truly your gifts? When you brought them here, remember what I told you? To make them listen to me, you should give them some sweet rewards to make up for their loss. Now, what do they desire most? It is none other than Concubine Xu…”
Before she could finish her sentence, Jin Fengju interrupted decisively, “That will not do, hasn’t she only been sent to the village for a few days? The lesson has not even sunk in yet. Bringing her back so soon? No, just no.”
Fu Qiuning sighed and said, “It is not like I am forcing you to bring her back right now. The children simply miss Concubine Xu. We should find an opportunity to let them see her. This shouldn’t be too difficult, right? Besides, it doesn’t have to be immediate. The weather is getting hotter day by day, and I am concerned about them getting heatstroke. Even if we bring them, we should wait until around the time of the Mid-Autumn Festival when the weather is more suitable.”
After hearing her words, Jin Fengju pondered for a moment and felt that it was acceptable. He nodded in agreement. Just then, Yu Jie brought them tea, and Jin Fengju looked at her and said, “Right, Yu Jie must be twenty years old now, right? At her age, it is about time to consider arranging a marriage for her. Jian Feng, Qiu Yu and Qiu Shuang, you can still serve for a few more years. By the time they are married off, these junior maids under them will have grown up. Tomorrow, when the matchmaker comes, you should pick a few more maids and servants for Feng’er and Jiao’er. Look, even Yi’er has quite a few servants by him. The two of them are slowly growing up, and they should be accompanied by a tutor, matron and maids.”
Fu Qiuning agreed and said, “Now that Aunt Yu and Zhang San’s marriage has proven to be harmonious, a load has been lifted off my thoughts. Yu Jie has been with me for so many years. Although officially, we are mistress and servant, since we have gone through hardships together, my heart has long viewed her as a younger sister. I request that Lord Husband be her backer and find a good family for her.”
Jin Fengju smiled and said, “Your subordinates must be outstanding. Very well, I will pay attention and make sure Yu Jie is not treated unfairly.” After chatting for a while longer, the couple settled down and didn’t mention it again.
[Gumihou: All scenes that were obviously nationalistic will be ignored by Gumi, since it has nothing to do with plot development or character growth.]
[a] Rearrange matters and have certain scenes done in Jin Zhenyi’s POV. This serves 2 purposes.
- Show the thoughts going on in his head, that he’s not just a blow-up doll for Fu Qiuning to practice her butt-polishing lines on
- Remove AR Qiuning’s overt ‘Your dad is great’ thoughts.
Pill Bug TL Notes:
 Chinese idiom, means: everything has its own advantages. Measuring a road in feet would be tiresome because feet are too short, and measuring the thickness of hair in inches would also be too tiresome because inches are too long.
 Previously mentioned in chapter 74.
 Not completely true. There are multiple growth spurts before adulthood.
Gumihou: So he’s talking out of his ass, what’s new?
 Chinese idiom, means: Experience is gained through setbacks
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