Chapter 201: A Favourable Turn of Events
Author: White Pear Flower
Translated by Pill Bug
Edited by Gumihou
[a] #SadforJiangWanying #YeetJiangQiuning
The next day, Jin Fengju reported his upcoming plans for a farmstead visit to Old Madam Jin. Seeing her grandson so enthusiastic, there was no reason for Old Madam Jin to stop him, nor did she have any intention of stopping him. The only remark she made was that anyone who wished could go with him, but that she was old and would prefer not to make the journey.
Madam Jiang was indifferent to all the matters that did not coincide with her interest, electing to ‘not join in the fun’. Instead, she generously encouraged the younger maids and servants to accompany him for a nice and relaxing trip. Madam Fang and He’shi also did not wish to join. In the end, ‘only’ Fu Qiuning, Jiang Wanying, Concubine Huo, Concubine Huo, Yue Lan, and more than twenty maids and servants, young and grown, ended up going for the farmstead trip.
Jiang Wanying knew the true purpose of that trip and took advantage of the lack of attention to approach Fu Qiuning. She coldly snarked, “Elder Sister, you truly are a most virtuous and kind-hearted person. Despite how Concubine Xu treated you, you remain benevolent and generous with your favours. But I, your younger sister, do not believe that you are truly so magnanimous. In this day and age, it seems that hypocrites and villains are the most favoured. By feigning such a virtuous appearance, Elder Sister appears to have captured Lord Husband’s heart, no? Nowadays, aside from Elder Sister, does he still recall anyone else?”
Fu Qiuning [a] looked at Jiang Wanying with a pitying gaze which made her squirm with discomfort. Finally, Fu Qiuning could only say, “[a1] It is as you say. A person’s motive is difficult to discern. If one’s actions determine one’s behaviour, a virtuously acting person could still be considered virtuous. That is all I have to say.”[a] She meant everything she said with all her heart, however, it looked like Jiang Wanying took her words the wrong way, because instead of looking relieved, she looked even angrier. In fact, she was almost green-faced with anger.
Later, Jiang Wanying became [a] even more angry because the duty of arranging the trip to the village which should have fallen to her, the housekeeper of the family, [a2] was taken up by Jin Fengju. Who would have thought that a simple task like planning for a trip to the village would be done by the head of the household and not the woman in charge of the housekeeping? If anyone were to hear that, who knows what kind of expression they would make?
On the other hand, Fu Qiuning was too lazy to concern herself with the drama addicts of this Jin family. She had no idea how well Jin Fengju could organise the trip, but she should at least give some orders to her maids to pack certain food and supplies for the children. If [a2] Jiang Wanying had been the one to organise it, she could at least feel a little more at ease. As for the children, she decided not to tell them yet, otherwise, Jin Zhenyi might act out too much and get himself into trouble before they even set out.
Instead, she made her way over to the former Marquis of Xianyang’s mansion, now the Jin Mansion, to meet with the performers and musicians. She would have to make some arrangements here too before she set out for the farmstead trip.
Before she even stepped into the garden, the sound of sizhu  tickled her ears, accompanied by beautiful singing. After going through another door and rounding a corner into a wide courtyard, she was met with performers flitting about the stage in their beautiful billowing sleeves and flight-like dances that made them look like fluttering butterflies. Their movements were elegant and gorgeous, and their beautiful figures and supple bodies made for an enchanting sight. Even though she was the one who taught them these movements, it was quite a sight to see actual performers carrying out the actions on stage.
Knowing that she had taught and passed down those skills herself, Fu Qiuning couldn’t help feeling a sense of pride and satisfaction.
“Goodness, Madam has arrived?”
A few sharp-eyed performers noticed her and, hearing this comment, everyone immediately stopped what they were doing to gather around Fu Qiuning. After all, this person was their great benefactor, it would do well for them to curry favour with her. Not to mention, she was a strict but fair person who valued only their talents and did not put on airs when around them. [a3] A rarity indeed.
When Official Lin approached, Fu Qiuning smiled and said, “I shall be leaving the estate tomorrow. I will most likely be back the day after tomorrow at the earliest, perhaps late afternoon. Continue to practice diligently. I shall come and teach everyone the final parts of this opera once I return. After that, we may petition to perform before the Empress Dowager and the Emperor after everyone has mastered it.”
Everyone hastily gave their thanks. [a3] After all, who were they to criticise a noblewoman who was willing to teach them her secret skills for taking a few days’ leave after coming here so diligently? Nothing but gratitude and good wishes such as ‘Safe travels’ and ‘Godspeed’ filled their lips as they saluted her with reverence. Fu Qiuning had no idea whether to laugh or cry at their earnest wishes.
How to put it?
It felt like they were sending her off for college or something, perhaps even to a foreign university where neither would meet for years and years… [a4]
Back at Elegant Mansion, Fu Qiuning spoke briefly with Concubine Luo and Concubine Yu about the farmstead trip to see if they were interested in going since they rarely got to see anywhere outside of their own courtyard. Concubine Yu was neutral about the trip since she had spent part of her life living a hard life in one, but Concubine Luo was more excited about that unexpected trip outside of a noble estate.
The ladies were just discussing the matter when a maid came in to report that Concubine Huo had arrived. [b] Concubine Luo commented, “Goodness, that person has been here bearing gifts so many times that one has to wonder just what her intentions are.” She slid a gaze towards Fu Qiuning, but said nothing when Fu Qiuning did not answer.
Instead, it was [b] Concubine Yu who timidly said, “The Madam has returned her gifts with jewellery, therefore, there is no debt between the sisters. Hence, there should be no expectations.”
Fu Qiuning [b] sighed, “There is no doubt that she comes here with ulterior motives. Just let her in and let us see what she brings us today.”
Concubine Huo had arrived with a delicate-looking jewellery box on the living room table. She smiled at Fu Qiuning and said “These are some trinkets my family sent me the other day. I know Elder Sister doesn’t lack these now, and I don’t even know how many valuable gifts Lord Husband has given you. However, though they might not be worth much, the designs are unique. The other day, I was deeply moved when Elder Sister gave me that pair of jade bracelets. I simply felt uneasy about it, so I hope Elder Sister can accept these trinkets as a token of my gratitude. This is just a small gesture from me.”
Fu Qiuning nodded for
Yu Jie to accept the gifts.
Then, the two of them sat down to start yet another roundabout chat that was mainly about her lack of interest in snatching authority from Jiang Wanying. She thought: Are you kidding me? Do you want me to die from overwork looking after this chicken coop and the random hens fighting over one cock on top of my opera teaching? Go die.
As usual, Concubine Huo eventually took the hint and excused herself after sitting around for a little while longer.
Back inside, Yu Jie and Jian Feng carried the jewellery box into the inner room and laughed, “Madam, the way you spoke just now, it is as if you almost directly told Concubine Huo that she has hugged the wrong thigh. Looking at her expression, we maids couldn’t help but laugh until our bellies hurt.” As they spoke, the maids opened the box, and indeed, they found several pieces of unique jewellery such as hairpins, hair clasps, rings, and others. However, they were all made from materials like gold, silver, and jade, nothing too extraordinary.[c] Fu Qiuning blinked at the nasty words spewing out of those maids’ mouths. No matter what, Concubine Huo’s position was still higher than theirs…
“Yi? Are these a pair of coral earrings?”
Suddenly, Yu Jie snatched up two small items. When Fu Qiuning looked over, she laughed and said, “Believe it or not, these items are still quite uncommon. Only, it is a shame that Madam doesn’t have the fortune to enjoy them. A few days ago, Master gave you a string of coral bead necklace, and Madam liked them indeed, but after wearing them for less than three days, your neck turned red and itchy. It turns out Madam’s skin is a bit sensitive. Tsk tsk, this Concubine Huo’s kindness is about to go to waste.”[c] If that wasn’t a hint, she did not know what it was. [c] Casting a side eye at the maid, Fu Qiuning smiled and said, “Though I can’t use these coral items, they suit you just fine. Coincidentally, your Master needs you for something, and I find these earrings exquisite. Why don’t you wear them when we go to the village this time?”
However, Yu Jie rolled her eyes and pouted, “Forget it, forget it. This maid is not fortunate enough to enjoy Concubine Huo’s good things. Besides, when she turns around and finds out, who knows what she will mutter about Madam. Why would I make Madam suffer by inviting the curses of such a scheming person?” She then placed the jewellery back into the box.
But Jian Feng took them out again, saying, “Since Madam is sensitive against these, it is better not to put them with the other jewellery. What if one day a maid put these on Madam while Madam is absorbed in thinking about opera? Wouldn’t Madam suffer?”
Hearing that, Yu Jie also remembered the times when Fu Qiuning recited opera lines while looking into the bronze mirror, her eyes staring into a distance, completely ignoring her appearance. They both laughed at the thought and wrapped the coral earrings in a piece of cloth. Seeing a box filled with expensive silk and new clothing, they placed it at the bottom of the box of clothes and locked it up again. Jian Feng said, “Actually, there is no need to be this cautious either. In any case, Madam already has more jewellery than she can wear. Why would she even bother using Concubine Huo’s?”[c] Look at these maids being both condescending and prideful at the same time, thought Fu Qiuning. Though she did not quite approve of this back-talking, there was no harm in letting them boast a little.
Just then, footsteps were heard, and Jin Changfeng rushed in with the rest of the children. Jin Zhenyi was walking in with sedate steps, but even that could not disguise his excitement. [d] After all, their father just came back from work yesterday, had spent a night with their Honourable Mother, coupled with the news they heard at school today…[d] “I heard that we will be going on a trip to the farmstead?”
Fu Qiuning smiled and said, “Indeed, you heard right.”
Suddenly, Jin Zhenyi jumped up, punched the air, and wriggled about in excitement before throwing himself to the floor in front of Fu Qiuning, nearly bouncing his forehead off the floor as he exclaimed, “Mother, you kept your promises! I am convinced today. I promise I will behave and never say anything bad about you again. I…”
“Yes,” said Fu Qiuning vaguely. “I kept my promises.” [e] She smiled and said, “As a man, no, as a person of integrity, you should strive to do your best to keep your promises as much as possible and not go back on your word just because it inconveniences you. Remember also that your mother’s fate depends on your behaviour, alright?”
Jin Zhenyi naturally agreed to everything Fu Qiuning said at that moment. He nodded vigorously as Fu Qiuning continued, “Alright, Zhenyi and Third Young Miss, go and have your maids prepare your clothes for tomorrow. You too, Changfeng, Changjiao. Yu Jie, stay behind.”
After the children acknowledged her instructions, they each went their separate ways. Yu Jie stared in the direction where Jin Zhenyi and Jin Xiunan disappeared off to, waiting until they had disappeared from sight before muttering, “This maid really doesn’t understand Madam. Concubine Xu never showed any kindness to Madam and even tried to frame you. Why are you so benevolent to her? While it is said that benevolent people beget no enemies, Madam’s kindness seems almost too virtuous. This maid can’t help but feel that Madam’s kindness is wasted on them.”
[Gumihou: Yeah, lots of nope here. The maids were a particular trial]
[a] Sad for Jiang Wanying – Have Fu Qiuning genuinely pity poor Jiang Wanying instead of transforming into this weird Jiang Qiuning caricature [a1] Deleted an over 200-word condescending speech from Jiang Qiuning [a2] Casual readers may not know but ‘Head of House’ aka distinguished men like JFJ did not do something like arranging for trips to the farmstead for the family because their time was too valuable. They are either engaged in politicking, climbing the social ladder, making money, whoring, drinking or anything else but taking care of the family. He was doing this to please FQN, which would of course piss off poor JWY. However, it was never mentioned here. Author only mentioned how pissed she was by the over 200-word speech made by OOC Fu Wanying. [a3] Delete the ‘nostril in the air’ thing since that’s just a trick to make FQN look better after making her look like a Jiang Wanying reject. [a4] Deleted a ‘sigh… my past life’ because Gumi has been scattering bits of this through the previous chapters. There is no need to shove them in like this. [b] There’s really no need for FQN to be cleverer than she already is, the scenes were just more of ‘wow FQN is so, so clever like, so wow der der’. Anyway, create a more realistic harem infighting with implied meanings rather than long speeches. [c] Nasty maids are nasty, regardless of who their masters are. Point this out. [d] Children actually have a brain of their own, you know? [e] Replace ‘don’t be a typical child, Jin Zhenyi’ lecture with ‘don’t break promises easily, Jin Zhenyi’
Pill Bug TL Notes:
 This Chinese idiom comes from one of its stories, 《玉芝堂谈荟·龙生九子》
Sizhu, literally “silk and bamboo,” refers to string and wind musical instruments, silk being the traditional material from which strings have historically been made in China, and bamboo being the material from which the Chinese flutes such as the dizi and xiao are made. The term sizhu by extension also came to refer to instrumental music in general, especially that played indoors.
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