Chapter 189: The Dao of Couples (Edited)
Author: White Pear Flower
Translated by Pill Bug
Edited by Gumihou
The four children knew that their father was taking out his temper on them in some way. After all, they were sons and daughters who grew up in a treacherous noble house filled with vicious schemers. Even if they didn’t know exactly how they were being mistreated, they could sense when someone had hostile intent against them. Jin Zhenyi was the only one who puffed up his chest rebelliously. After all, no matter what he did, he knew that this father of his would not look at him favourably. Well, come and scold me!
Jin Fengju was not truly angry. He was currently trying to suppress the amusement in his heart seeing the children as quiet as obedient little ducklings. Their frightened little faces amused him to the point that he laughed out loud and said, “Alright, I understand that today, you were just too concerned about your mother, so you had no mood to focus on your studies. That is fine, Father has come here today specifically to answer your questions. Once everything is clear, put your worries aside and go to school diligently tomorrow. Understood?”
If Fu Qiuning were there, she would have rolled her eyes at the audacity of this man. He was the one who had run away from reality when she started speaking of the past, but now he took joy in bullying his own children on the pretence of being a ‘stern’ and ‘good’ father. The children all knew this subconsciously, however, at the same time, they also craved their father’s approval. Even Jin Zhenyi.
The children exchanged looks with each other for a moment, uncertain how to proceed. Finally, the bold Jin Zhenyi was the first to step forward to say, “Is Second Mother really going to sing at the palace?”
“Of course! There’s no doubt about it!” Jin Fengju laughed heartily at the thought of Fu Qiuning being graced by this great honour. A great honour which he had worked very hard to gain for her, in fact.
Another short silence. It was followed by Jin Changjiao cautiously asking, “What song did Mother sing?”
Jin Fengju answered quickly.
“…will Mother be very busy from now on? Can we help her in any way?”
Jin Fengju answered the questions one by one. After an hour of answering questions, he decided that he had spent enough time fulfilling his role as a father and stood up to say, “Your mother will be very busy from now on, so all of you had better be on your best behaviour. Don’t bother her and don’t make unnecessary noise.”
From the side, Jin Zhenyi muttered, “If only everyone would follow those instructions…”
Jin Fengju cast a sharp gaze at the impudent boy, but Jin Zhenyi continued to look to the side while the rest of the three children looked at him with large, apprehensive eyes. Finally, he coughed and said, “Alright, alright, we have played around far too long, yet all of you are still not bothered by the heat. Yu Jie, bring them downstairs to rest. Tomorrow, you still have to get up early to go to the clan school.”
After giving out the order, several maids walked in, but Yu Jie wasn’t among them. There were even two maids he didn’t recognize. They all saluted gracefully. Jin Fengju rubbed his forehead, finally recalling that his wife had just selected more maids for Jin Changfeng and Jin Changjiao. After carefully observing them he asked casually, “Are you the head maids for Feng’er and Jiao’er? What are your names?”
“This servant is called Qiu Yan, and this one is Lian Ye. We greet the Young Marquis.” Both maids performed another wanfu salute. Lian Ye served Jin Changfeng, while Qiu Yan served Jin Changjiao. Jin Fengju noted that although they did not possess exceptional looks, they exuded a sense of stability and composure, which pleased him greatly. He nodded and said, “Not bad. Serve them well. If you serve well and take good care of the young master and young miss, your madam will naturally not treat you badly.”
The maids thanked him and led the children away. As he watched them leave, he recalled the slightly stilted interaction with his children and felt something twinge in his chest. He suddenly thought of Jin Zhenxuan and Jin Xiuzhen. It had been quite some time since he had last visited Clear Soft Pavilion. It was about time he visited them, otherwise, his relationship with the children would all become stilted, especially since those two were so similar to their mother, sensitive with a tendency to overthink. There was also Xiuru and Xiufen.
People from noble houses tend to enjoy stepping on the lowly while praising the strong. Therefore, he had to carefully pick out some gifts for those children to prevent those grubby little sycophants from looking down on their masters. It would be quite troublesome if those servants thought his daughters had lost his favour.
He sighed again as he rubbed his forehead in distress. He thought: Others only have to deal with mundane matters , while I am the one who is constantly bothered with state affairs, family matters, and everything else. Sigh, even if I am divided into eight pieces, it still wouldn’t be enough. If I had known it would be like this, I wouldn’t have listened to my parents back then and taken on these concubines. Aside from adding to my growing pile of problems, what else do they do?
However, it was too late for regrets. The only thing he could do at this point was to find a way to manage the problem the best he could. While thinking over the matter, he made his way to the bedroom. That was when he noticed a silhouette at the window, backlit by candlelight. It was dancing gracefully, yet not in any kind of dances he was familiar with. Jin Fengju realised that it must be his beloved Qiuning acting out part of the opera. However, to call her performance an opera was almost an insult. Her very steps, gestures and facial expressions were all extraordinarily beautiful and captivating. How much more enchanting it would be when accompanied by music and song?
As he watched in silence, Jin Fengju finally realised that he had only heard Fu Qiuning’s clear voice singing without any accompanying music and had never seen her dance before. Fascinated, he stayed by the door and continued to watch until she stopped before he entered the room, her familiar voice singing the verse, “Walking forward with sorrow and tears…”
“Yi? What song is this verse from? I have never heard you sing this before,” Jin Fengju said in surprise.
Fu Qiuning turned around to see the man with one eyebrow raised and leaning roguishly by her door. Instead of answering him, she asked, “Have the children gone to sleep?” After getting an affirmative answer, she said, “I have plenty of songs you have not heard before, what is so shocking about it?” When he pushed off from the door frame with deliberate intent, she yawned pointedly and said, “It is late, I have to enter the palace tomorrow.”
Instead of taking the hint and letting her rest, the rogue caught her in his arms and with his chin resting on her head, forlornly said, “I really have bashed my own foot with a stone. If it weren’t for my loose mouth, how could you be so busy until we cannot even enjoy some intimacy?”
Fu Qiuning said, “Yes, it is all your fault.”
Jin Fengju, “… …”
She thought: What? Does he think I’m going to refute this?
Jin Fengju grinned playfully, “If I said that in the past, you would have sent me to another courtyard. Why aren’t you saying anything like that now?” He was only joking, hoping to provoke Fu Qiuning into a little tantrum. Fu Qiuning’s answer was a flat, “You are right, why haven’t you gone to another courtyard? At the very least, the children must miss you.”
If it had been anyone else, even Jiang Wanying, they might have playfully suggested going to another courtyard but only meant it half-jokingly. Only, Qiuning never sounded like she was joking or being playful whenever she suggested he go to another courtyard. In fact, it sounded a lot like she could not wait for him to leave.
He also remembered those heartfelt words she had told him before: ‘Jealousy is one of the Seven Divorcing Offences, but if you truly love someone, how can jealousy not exist?’ [a] Thinking about that, he regretted his careless words even more. Thus, he quickly expressed his affection, trying to comfort and please Qiuning. How could he be such a fool as to risk causing the loose connection between himself and Qiuning to fray even more?
Fu Qiuning [b] already knew that it was common for men of that era to have multiple wives, especially those from the so-called noble families. Look at the smart and independent Jin Yanqiu, no matter how much power she had or how much her husband ‘loved’ her, the moment he decided to cheat on her, she had no choice but to gracefully accept his pregnant mistress into her house with open arms. When the princess consort tried to exert her authority, the one who kicked her in the knees was none other than the Empress Dowager.[b] She has no illusion about Jin Fengju’s obsession with her. Her value lies in her ability to raise intelligent and well-behaved children as well as her knowledge of opera. However, who knows what would happen five or ten years later? Once the children had grown up and the duchy had squeezed out her usefulness, he would conveniently ‘discover’ another love of his life. For now, she could string him along by being cold to him. Her cool indifference must have stimulated the interest of this handsome and talented man who was bored of his harem of clingy and loving women. Who knew how long this kind of perverted interest would last?
In keeping with her cool and indifferent character, she added, “Not to mention, Brother Xuan and the Second Young Miss have not seen you in a while too. Take this opportunity to spend time with them. Otherwise, you would gain a reputation for being a biased father.”
Hearing her dismissive words, Jin Fengju felt a sense of fear creeping into his heart. If he couldn’t appease her, he wouldn’t even have rice to swallow. At that moment, only then did he understand why some men feared their wives like tigers. It must be because they love their wives more than anything in the world and are afraid of losing her love above all else. For many of them, their love must be so deep that their love goes beyond resentment. Wasn’t he the same?
The couple went to bed in silence, each occupied with their own thoughts.
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Early the next morning, after assisting Jin Fengju with his grooming and seeing him off to court, she sat down for the inevitable dolling up for a palace visit. The children got themselves ready with the maids’ help and were eating their breakfast when she stopped by to say, “I won’t be home all day today. Behave at school, have each other’s back and pay attention to your studies.”[c] There was really no need to say anything else. Noble house children were already too sharp for their own good. While she would love to coddle them a bit more, one pair of children already suffered from abandonment issues while the other two saw how their father drove their mother out of the house. What could she say to them? The only thing she could do was make sure their needs were met, their instincts for danger honed but not too sensitive and that they developed a good mind for solving problems. Above all, the best thing she could do was make sure they had a safe haven to return to if anything happened to them outside the walls of her courtyard.
Speaking of caring for them…
“Yu Jie, have you packed savoury snacks for the children? Make sure they have plenty of water to drink in this hot weather.” The savoury snacks would encourage the children to drink more. She had noticed that Jin Zhenyi drank too little water, but she knew that stubborn little brat would not take her advice. Therefore, she had no choice but to revert to modern cinema tricks and give them salty food to make them thirsty.
She checked the boxes of snacks and found that in addition to the savoury snacks, each child was also given a boiled egg and two vegetable rolls. She sat down for a simple meal as the servants organised themselves and accompanied the children to school. After that, all that was left to do was to hurry over to Health & Longevity Courty with Yu Jie and Jian Feng.
She arrived to find Old Madam Jin and Madam Jiang already dressed in their palace visit finery, ready and waiting for her to leave together. Aside from these two elders, there was only Madam Fang and He’shi. Perhaps Jiang Wanying did not want to see her face so early in the morning.
She smiled and said, “I am late. I was sending the children off to school.”
[Gumihou: Why are you shitting all over Jiang Wanying? #SadforJiangWanying]
[a] Deleted close to 200 words of flashback TED talk, like what is this shit? [b] Replace scum apologist words from AR Qiuning with objective observation [c] Replace long-winded nagging disguised as a way to make JFJ look good to the readers and the kids with actual motherly worries. Seriously, the author just steamrolled the issues into the ground and poured bitumen over it. Gumihou was stubborn enough to dig up all those skeletons and shake them all over the place
Pill Bug TL Notes:
The original Chinese couplet is 风声雨声读书声声声入耳，家事国事天下事事事关心 (The sound of the wind and rain, the sound of reading, the sound of reading enter the ear; family affairs, state affairs, world affairs, and everything need to be heeded), used to educate people to not only to devote themselves to studying, but also to the need to care about politics. The two should be closely integrated to apply what they have learned.
Jin Fengju was experiencing 我这是国事家事天下事事事操心 instead of 关心, meaning he was getting annoyingly bothered by all the affairs instead of merely being concerned with them.
Gumihou: Because he’s a selfish ass and though the author wants us to see it as him being ‘more human-like’, I can only see his 操心 as more evidence of selfishness and hypocritical self-delusion. 河东狮 Chinese idiom, means a jealous woman or a shrew. The original idiom is 河东狮吼, The Hedong Lion roars, describing a jealous wife making a commotion about her husband.