Chapter 183: Sudden Summons
Author: White Pear Flower
Translated by Pill Bug
Edited by Gumihou
On the second day, as expected, slave dealers arrived, bringing dozens of men and women with them. The oldest was about fourteen or fifteen years old while the youngest was only about eleven or twelve. Fu Qiuning allowed Jin Changfeng and Jin Changjiao to choose their own maids. She was pleased to see that her son did not pick the more flirty and charming girls. Perhaps there was hope that this child would not take after his father or other men of this era. Even after making their choices, the twins sought her opinion. By the time the slave dealers were paid and the slave contracts handed over, the sun had reached the middle of the sky.
After lunch, the boys informed Fu Qiuning that they wanted to return to school to learn horseback riding and archery from some martial arts teacher. Since there was no reason to decline, she allowed it, but ordered the attendants to keep an eye on their little masters’ safety. As for the girls, Jin Xiunan and Jin Changjiao ended up staying with Fu Qiuning and chatted over some needlework.
Needlework was tiring on the eyes, and with the weather getting warm, everyone eventually felt sleepy. Finally, all three of them lay down on the kang bed for a short nap. Jin Xiunan curled up beside Fu Qiuning. She was the one who had [a] advised Jin Zhenyi to obey this woman, and she had every intention of following her own advice. It was just… she had not expected this woman to treat her and her brother so well. While it was true that Fu Qiuning was not especially affectionate towards them, which was to be expected, to be treated with the same courtesy on the surface as the twins were more than she had hoped for. Moreover, it was exhausting to try and keep up her wariness against retaliation that just… never happened.
Fu Qiuning allowed herself a short catnap before getting up, just in time to greet Jin Yanfang and the Feng family girls when they came over for a chat. A little while later, Jiang Wanying, Huo’shi, Cui’shi, and Lesser Concubine Yue Lan also arrived. Fu Qiuning was truly puzzled, wondering if that day happened to be some ‘visit the relative’ day that she had missed. Nevertheless, because of them, Elegant Mansion immediately became very lively. Although the women harboured hidden intentions, they were on someone else’s territory, and Fu Qiuning was not the type of person to look too deeply into something unless she had to. Therefore, everything appeared superficially peaceful and harmonious, creating a pretty scenery of joy and laughter.
Just as everyone was chattering and laughing happily, hurried footsteps were heard and a young maid exclaimed, “Young Marquis has returned-” However, before she could finish her announcement, the curtain door was parted and in rushed Jin Fengju.[b] Fu Qiuning could already feel the back of her head going numb. All of this man’s women and then some were there; it was the middle of the day, and instead of pretentiously stepping in with his fan flapping like a preening peacock, he had just rushed in. She kneaded her forehead. Just what is happening now…[b1]
True to her expectation, Jin Fengju ignored all of his other women to dramatically grab her hands and loudly declare, “Hurry, go freshen up. Follow me to the palace to meet the Empress Dowager and the Emperor.”
With this single statement, the faces of the other women in the room immediately changed. Fu Qiuning felt two places in her head throb. “The palace?” [b2]
“No time to explain, just know that it is a good thing. Hurry inside and dress up, wear the jewellery that I have sent you. Don’t look too plain or the Empress Dowager will accuse me of being stingy and not willing to spare coins for my wife’s appearance.” He hurriedly pushed her into the inner room before turning around to flash a glance around at all the other women. He smiled and said, “Why is everyone so free today? With all of you here, have you all received an invitation?”
Jiang Wanying’s gaze flickered, and for a moment, she felt both anger and hatred. This ball of anger felt like it was stuck in her chest, unable to rise or fall, almost suffocating her. Nevertheless, she still had to force a smile on her face and ask Jin Fengju, “Isn’t Lord Husband supposed to be in the palace today? This morning, Elder Madam seemed to have said that all the royal relatives, nobles, and ministers were to go to the palace to watch a performance. Even my uncle went there. Why are you here now?”
Jin Fengju laughed and replied, “You are well-informed indeed. I am in a hurry, let us talk about it another day.” With that, he turned his head and called to Fu Qiuning in the inner room, “Are you ready?”
Jian Feng and Yu Jie were helping Fu Qiuning change clothes and picked out a Five Phoenixes Rising Sun hairpin set with beautiful pearls  and several pretty pearl flowers to adorn her hair. Fu Qiuning looked at herself in the mirror and couldn’t help but self-mockingly say, “Wow, this head of mine has never looked so presentable before. Such a pity that this hairpiece is set upon the head of an ignorant person. I cannot tell whether it looks good or not, only that it is heavy enough to crush me to death.”
Both Jian Feng and Yu Jie laughed ingratiatingly, praising their Madam for her exceptional composure. [c] Fu Qiuning flattened her lips. She already had some inkling of what was to happen. She thought: As expected, that untrustworthy man is here to break another promise. All his claims about lying low are lies. The only reason why he would suddenly rush over must have something to do with the All Nations Cultural Festival. He must want to force me to perform like a monkey so that he can show off his resources and gain even more power for himself.
However, what was she to do? The only things she had of value were her body and her voice. She had rent to pay and children to protect. It looked like just letting him have his way with her body was not enough, and she now had to be paraded before others and sing for them as well. The grim look on her face must have been hidden by the makeup because those who were favourable to her had nothing but good things to say about her looks.
What disturbed her more was Jin Fengju’s intense gaze, because it triggered scorn and jealousy in the eyes of his other women. She could certainly do without having Jiang Wanying, Huo’shi and the rest of those women’s barely hidden looks of resentment. [c1]
“This is so unexpected. Sister-in-law’s makeup today has really opened our eyes,” Jin Yanfang exclaimed as she clapped her hands, the one beaming face in a room full of piercing gazes. She then turned to Jin Fengju and said, “It’s all because of Second Brother. You never let Sister-in-law dress up nicely most days. Are you afraid that someone will snatch her away?”
Jin Fengju laughed and replied, “These words are simply false accusations. Ask your sister-in-law yourself. How many pieces of jewellery have I given her? How many times have I privately pleaded with her to at least give me some face? Just dress up once, what is so bad about it? But she simply refuses. Since you said that, I will delegate this task to you in the future. Get up early every morning and supervise her dressing up. How about that?”
Jin Yanfang chuckled and said, “Second Brother, you are as cunning as ever. You always push your tasks to others. Sister-in-law must serve you before you go to court. Who knows how early she has to wake up every day? I would still be soundly asleep at that time. Why should I come to work for you?”
After a few more teasing phrases, Jin Fengju dragged Fu Qiuning away with a smile. For a while, everyone in the Elegant Mansion was left behind. Then, Jin Yanfang laughed at the Feng sisters and said, “Let us depart too. The main characters have all left. Why are we still frozen here?” As she spoke, she looked at Jiang Wanying and said, “Second Sister-in-law, aren’t you going back? It seems like dusk will be upon us soon, and there might still be some family matters for you to handle. Don’t you need to be there?”
Jiang Wanying bit her lip, unable to understand why Fu Qiuning would be summoned by the Emperor and the Empress Dowager. Such a heavenly-spanning amount of face had never even fallen onto her, the granddaughter of the Duke of Lu. How could that inconspicuous woman steal the limelight? She had no idea what sweet words her Lord Husband had said to elevate that woman to such heavenly heights to the point that she could enjoy such privileges. Jiang Wanying didn’t know the ins and outs of the situation. She only thought that Jin Fengju’s affection for Fu Qiuning and his help in speaking such words of praise for her was what caused her to gain this prominence.
Filled with a mix of resentment, jealousy and unwillingness, and also realising that standing there was pointless, Jiang Wanying glanced at Huo’shi, Cui’shi, and Yue Lan before saying irritably, “Return. Why are we still sitting here? Are we waiting for Second Madam to return and reward us?” With those words, she left in a huff.
Just then, Jin Changfeng and Jin Zhenyi returned. Upon hearing that Fu Qiuning had been dragged away urgently by their old man to meet the Empress Dowager and the Emperor, they couldn’t help but worry. Jin Xiunan and Jin Changjiao were also at a loss. What could a few children do? Just as they were anxiously pondering, Jin Zhenyi coughed and said, “Alright, don’t worry. Father dotes on Mother so much, he wouldn’t let her be dragged to the palace just to be executed.”
In reality, he was also filled with apprehension. He intended to comfort Jin Changfeng and his sibling with those words, but unexpectedly, when he actually spoke his words of concern, the feelings did not carry through his original intent. Jin Changfeng glared at him. Jin Changjiao furrowed her brows and scolded in a teary voice, “Pei, you crow’s mouth!  Mother will naturally be fine, I know that much. You’re just hoping something bad happens to her. Why can’t you think for a bit? If something really happened to Mother, you’ll be the first one to suffer. At that time, they will send you to Clear Soft Pavilion and let you taste the feeling of being in the hands of another woman.”
Jin Zhenyi had originally meant well, but he received such a retort, which instantly made him furious. Just then, the door curtain was lifted, and Jian Feng walked in, smiling and saying, “Why are the young masters and young misses all looking downcast? Be at ease, Master said that Madam was brought into the palace because of good news. No need to be concerned.”
Upon hearing that, the younger ones finally felt relieved. Jin Zhenyi grumbled, “I did say there was nothing to worry about, but you still spoke to me like that. Truly, it’s like the saying ‘a dog bites Lu Dongbin without knowing how good their heart is. Tsk, you pretend to be knowledgeable and reasonable in front of Mother, but without her around, you become this senseless. What ‘another woman’? That is also Second Mother, Father’s secondary wife. Address her as such.”
Only then did Jin Changjiao realise her slip of the tongue. Her pretty face turned red when she realised she had spoken out of turn. Due to several incidents, she held no favourable feelings towards Jiang Wanying. On the surface, she was respectful towards her, but she had never regarded her as family in her heart. In her impatience, she had been impolite. Therefore, despite her sharp tongue, she was rendered speechless by Jin Zhenyi’s retort.
[Gumihou: Eh, I expected this.]
[a] Give Jin Xiunan a bit more depth aside from ‘wow, this lady better than mom’ [b] Replace ‘kyaa~~’ with ‘…shit’ [b1] Deleted the ‘Feng sisters going doki doki~~’ because, yes, we already know, you bash this information into our faces many times already [b2] Delete ‘kyaa~ kyun~’ moments [c] Deleted ‘humph’ moment, which is just bait to be soothed by JFJ. Instead, put in bitter resignation.
That damn Jin Fengju, I told him so many times, but he still leaked out my bottom line. Hearing what Jiang Wanying just said, it’s clear. He also mentioned last night that he wanted to watch the performances of the All Nations Cultural Festival today. Could it be that among all those talents, there wasn’t a standout performer, and that’s why this guy pushed me out?
Deleted this too, it’s just a repeat of the above, to emphasise just how much JFJ lurves and depends on AR Qiuning kyaa~~:
It was only after hearing Jiang Wanying’s words outside that Fu Qiuning suddenly realized that Jin Fengju had indeed mentioned it last night. He said that if the All Nations Cultural Festival didn’t have good performances, he would personally spread the news about this play and train people and perform it in order to win the competition. At that time, Fu Qiuning thought it was just a joke, but she never expected that this joke would come true.[c1] Naturally, it’s all the other women’s fault, nothing to do with JFJ. Deleted the details below because it just makes the women look bad, while the true culprit of the situation smells like roses.
Jin Fengju’s gaze intensified as he stared unblinkingly at his wife, who was dressed in finery. When Jiang Wanying, Huo’shi, and the others noticed his gaze, their jealousy and resentment grew. They were frustrated because they had no way to deal with this woman. She seemed quiet, calm and easy to bully, but every time they tried, they simply ended up kicking a metal plate. After so many tries, Jiang Wanying, Huo’shi, and the others had no choice but to restrain themselves.
Pill Bug TL Notes:
 A fancy headdress
Image taken from https://k.sina.cn/article_5864380259_15d8b576300100k57a.html Chinese metaphor, means an unlucky speaker or a jinx.
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