Chapter 205: Feng Girls’ Scheme
Author: White Pear Flower
Translated by Gumihou
Proofread by Pill Bug
Gumihou: Deleted many ‘laughing’ and ‘loving’ AR Qiuning. Also, it is unclear how valid Feng Mingzhu’s existence is. The ‘scheming bitches’ arc started out with the Feng sisters and ended with Feng Zhenzu and Han Qixue.
Can’t remember who Han Qixue is? She’s the oft-forgotten ‘cousin sister’ that was sometimes included with the ‘Feng Sisters’ whenever the author needed foxy women for drama.
Jin Xiunan, however, sensed the odd tension in the air and quickly said, “Father! Sister Jiao’er showed me how to weave garlands. We sisters shall pick flowers and weave them together. Ah, but if Father thinks flowers are too colourful, we can weave garlands with grass too!”
Jin Fengju quickly seized this opportunity to change the subject and said, “Yes, yes, I still remember that big dragon boat made by Jiao’er and Feng’er for Old Madam during the last Dragon Boat Festival. Ah, how long ago that feels now. These two little fellows must have worked very hard on it!”
He was beaming so brightly at Jin Changfeng and Jin Changjiao that even Jiao’er finally realised that she must have accidentally said something wrong.
“… Father overpraises us, Yu Jie helped us make the dragon boat. We were only imitating her craftsmanship,” said Jin Changfeng politely.
Jin Changjiao nodded fervently on the side. She had no idea what she did, but she knew that something was wrong somehow. Best to just follow her brother’s lead.
Jin Fengju swivelled around to turn his beaming smile at Yu Jie, “Oh? It was I who was blind! I had no idea you were such a smart and capable girl! In other words, I did the right thing in matching you with Ling Yun.”
Yu Jie turned red. However, she dared not say anything to her master, only stomping her foot before running out followed by everyone’s laughter. Fu Qiuning had to admire the way everyone coordinated to cover up the faux pas.
Just like that, the meal ended on a joyous note with Jin Fengju promising his children to bring them there more often. His many concubines and one extra wife were happy to share a meal with him at the same table, while the official wife maintained a slightly cool expression throughout the entire performance.
When they were about to leave, he noticed Fu Qiuning taking one more look around the farmstead and was quick to say, “Do you like this place? Should we come here whenever we have some free time?”
Fu Qiuning said, “I like this kind of place. If I have to live without a shred of fine clothes or fine food, I believe I shall still be comfortable living like a wildflower in a place like this.”
Sweat immediately dripped down Jin Fengju’s neck at that, but he persevered and said, “What kind of paradise are you imagining? A place where you could be comfortable without fine food or clothing? Surely there is no such thing? Ah, are you saying that with the right person next to you, anywhere will be a paradise? Goodness, you are such a laid-backed person that others would be jealous of my great luck.”
“You are right, others should be jealous of your great luck,” said Fu Qiuning in a neutral voice. There is no need to bring up how he had forced her out of her paradise so that he could parade her around and gain even more influence with her talents. Not to mention, she had no interest in all the things he considered as ‘great rewards’ for women in this wretched era.
“… hah, hahahaha!” what could he do but laugh when his beloved wife teased him like that? The children sitting with them in the carriage also laughed. That’s right, all was well.
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The Old Madam was naturally happy to see them all back. She was especially happy to hear about all the game meat and wild crops they had gathered and insisted that the family dine with her that night. The kitchen worked hard and several exquisite dishes were set out: Braised Emerald Deer Tendon, Red Braised Matsutake , Three White Monkey Head , and Beggar’s Pheasant… there was much rejoicing as everyone ate.
Because Jin Fengju had to attend court the next day, he went to bed early. Fu Qiuning, who had to go and supervise the opera, was glad for that.
The next morning, Fu Qiuning found that Jin Fengju had already left. She thought: Looks like he could dress and groom himself without my help. If that is the case, why did he bother to make me wake up early and dress him?
Annoyed, she continued dressing and was about to leave when Jin Yanfang entered with Concubine Mei and the Feng sisters. Fu Qiuning privately sighed: Even Jin Zhenyi already saw through your actions, but I guess I should entertain you ladies until you explicitly state your point.
Jin Yanfang’s smile was as bright as Jin Fengju’s as she gave her greetings and said, “Sister-in-law and brother really know how to enjoy yourselves! I heard that some game meat had been sent to the small kitchen and that there was enough to make two more delicious meals. I now desperately regret not going with you to the farmstead.” 
Fu Qiuning smiled politely at her overwhelming enthusiasm, “I’m sure there will be other opportunities. The farmstead belonged to your family after all.” She extended her smile towards the Feng sisters (and cousin), “This kind of family event should be safe as we are only travelling half a day out of the city.” 
 The women all turned a little pale, reminded of their unfortunate past. Unsure what to say, all three women nodded and murmured something about how they would definitely live a good life in the future.
Then, as though finally realising that Fu Qiuning was dressed to go out, Jin Yanfang dramatically slapped her forehead and said, “Sister-in-law must be in a hurry to go out. We shall stay here for a little while and have a chat with the Madam Concubines. Since they rarely go out, I believe they must be happy to have someone to talk about their latest experience with. We are all ears to hear their stories.”
Fu Qiuning nodded absently, “Very well, I shall depend on you to entertain my mother.”
Then, she left the courtyard with Jian Feng for the Jin estate garden where the performers had gathered. The performers and musicians had all come over to give their thanks, and that was when Fu Qiuning found out that the Duke of Jing estate had played the considerate host to their guests. Apparently, Old Madam Jin had ordered someone to bestow game meat to the singers and performers. Considering that their guests were singers and performers from the palace who would appear at the All Cultural Festival, these people could not be dismissed as regular commoners.
Fu Qiuning smiled and said, “I’m glad to hear that you have enjoyed the game meat. I wanted to visit yesterday, but things had been a little busy. At any rate, how was practice these past two days? Do you have any questions?”
All answered in the negative and Fu Qiuning trusted in their abilities enough to take their answer at face value. “If that’s the case, let us rehearse the final part. Official Lin, any comments from the musicians?”
 “The scores have been written and the head musicians have selected the instruments for the song. Madam, please have a listen and let us know if there is anything lacking.”
 Fu Qiuning nodded, and after some final instructions for the performers, went with Official Lin to meet with the musicians.
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In the meantime, Jin Fengju returned to Health & Longevity Court after early morning court. Since the children were at school, he did not feel like he had anywhere to go and found himself going to Elegant Mansion. As soon as he arrived, he heard lively voices from the living room.
He paused to listen and found that the ones speaking were Concubines Luo and Yu, as well as Jin Yanfang. When it was obvious that Fu Qiuning was not there, he hesitated for a moment before turning to leave. Since his beloved wife was not there, he might as well go to his study and read a few books.
Unexpectedly, the moment he turned around, he found himself staring at two girls. It looked like the girls were about to enter the room but found him blocking the way. The girls blushed and shuffled in place. Suddenly, one of them appeared to stiffen her spine and stepped forward to say, “Since the Young Marquis has arrived, why not go in and sit for a while? We sisters came here to meet with Sister-in-law, but were tempted by the beautiful garden scenery. We have just returned from a walk outside.”
Jin Fengju was a little surprised by their invitation.  According to the rules, young unmarried girls should step aside upon meeting any man in the family, especially men they were not related to. The Feng sisters occupied an awkward position within the Jing estate. Yes, they were related, but they were not close relatives. Certainly not enough for such a warm greeting.
Since the girls spoke to him, it would be impolite for him to ignore them. He stepped aside with a smile and said, “No, I suddenly remembered that I have some things to do.”
He walked past them and was about to leave when he heard one of the girls call out, “Young Marquis, please wait.” There was a pattering of steps and Feng Zhenzu came forward to sink into a deep salute as she said in a melancholic manner, “Zhenzu and my sister have suffered great disaster and were helpless in the winds of disaster. We are very grateful to Young Marquis for his righteous assistance and willingness to take us in. We have never properly thanked Young Marquis for this great favour. Even now, though we have nothing to our name and the expression of our gratitude may invite ridicule, this girl Zhenzu still understands the words ‘repaying favour with kindness’. Therefore, should the Young Marquis have a task that requires our assistance, we… we are willing.”
Jin Fengju’s expression changed. His brows furrowed as he stared coldly at Feng Zhenzu. After suppressing his dissatisfaction, he said neutrally, “You exaggerated too much. As Yanfang’s younger sister-in-law, it is only right for the estate to lend a hand. There is no need to overthink anything.”
With that, he turned around and left. As he was striding away, he thought: I don’t know how these two sisters would have such thoughts in their heads. Looks like I must marry them out as soon as possible to eliminate their troubling thoughts. Otherwise, their continuous presence within the garden would only threaten the peace within. After working so hard to win Qiuning’s love, I cannot have them destroy my effort like that.
Naturally, [5a] as a man coveted by many women, Jin Fengju was sensitive to these kinds of covert hints from women. Feeling both annoyed and helpless, he grimly vowed to get these two girls out of Yong Cui Garden as soon as possible.
After Jin Fengju had left, Feng Zhenzu and Han Qixue continued to stare as his back disappeared behind the trees and flowers. Han Qixue said, “Second Sister, why are you like this today? To be so reckless? You… as a lady, how could you say such things? Aiya, even I am shamed just standing next to you. Who knows what the Young Marquis thinks of us now?”
Feng Zhenzu glanced at her cousin and sneered, “Enough, stop pretending in front of me. Do you think I can’t see through your true intentions? Aren’t you and Elder Sister thinking the same thing? This much is nothing. You know as I do that we cannot keep staying here on other people’s pity. When it comes to marriage, is there a better family than this? The people of the Jing Dukedom may not care about our marriages, but as we grow older, are we to continue living in the Jin estate on their charity?
Although the Young Marquis has wives, concubines and children, in terms of character, looks, talent, lineage, and future, is there any man within the Capital who could be compared to him? If we can foster a relationship with such a person, would we have to worry about anything for the rest of our lives? We cannot stay in this estate without justification. Once married, there is no need to worry about justification, and we also do not have to watch our words so carefully anymore.”
Han Qixue bit her lip and said, “But… but the Young Marquis is clearly devoted only to Second Madam Ning. He does not even have eyes for his other wives and concubines. If you were to do this and fail to touch the Young Marquis’ heart, you would have also offended Second Madam Ning. What would you do after that?”
Feng Zhenzu paused for a moment. Then, she shook her head and said, “I cannot worry about that. I never had an opportunity to meet with him alone. Now that the opportunity has arrived, I must seize it and make a gamble. Think about it, the three of us are not just beautiful, we are some of the top beauties of the Capital. While Concubine Huo and Concubine Cui are beauties, they are also getting older. How could their looks compare to our fresh youth? As for Second Madam Ning, her looks are just ordinary, so why is the Young Marquis so infatuated with her?
Aside from her kindness in raising two unwanted children, she is a generous and benevolent person. Just look at her, every action speaks of generosity and kindness. In my opinion, if we continue to act coy and shy away, we could end up in a poorer position and be even less pleasing to the Young Marquis’ eyes. Instead, why not boldly learn from Second Madam Ning? Who knows, our gamble could bring about an unexpected surprise.
Furthermore, everyone in this estate praises her for being virtuous and kind-hearted. She comes from a humble background, a mere shu-born daughter from the Zhenjiang Prince’s Palace. I believe that she must have climbed to this position with great difficulty. I am sure that she would tolerate us. If she truly is a jealous woman, wouldn’t her jealousy already push the Young Marquis into someone else’s arms?”
Gumihou: Feng Zhenzu’s three-paragraph speech is entirely canon. Although the author wanted to make her look like a deluded bitch, her argument is fatally sound. Especially the ending bit:
If she truly is a jealous woman, wouldn’t her jealousy already push the Young Marquis into someone else’s arms?
That’s right, the girl hit the nail in the head. She is NOT jealous. Because she has NO FEELINGS for that man. We are talking about Fu Qiuning and not AR Qiuning now.
To be honest, I am not looking forward to the ‘face-slapping’ moment.
 Red Braised Matsutake – is actually red braised pork with diced matsutake mushrooms scattered in the last minute and simmered with the sauce for the final 15 minutes.
 Three White Monkey Head – does not contain any monkey head or any part of a monkey. It actually refers to the Lion’s Head Mushroom cooked in some way.
The above dishes were probably made with mushrooms they had found in the forest near the farmstead.
 Deleted many, many, many, words of how clever der der our AR Qiuning is.
 Change music-related information, since the author knows shit about that.
 Give a more realistic ‘encounter’ between the ‘scheming beetches’ and the ‘handsome, awesome, shiny, like ohmygawd hubby of the sparkling mc’
[5a] Give a reasonable explanation in place of JFJ is sooooo naturally cleverrr
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