Chapter 208: The Scheme
Author: White Pear Flower
Translated by Gumihou
Proofread by Pill Bug
Gumihou: Just… know that I did my best. Also, the author did Jiang Wanying dirty…
Husband and wife entered the hall and stepped around the screen to see Elder Madam Jiang, Madam Fang, Jiang Wanying, He’shi, Huo’shi and Cui’shi etc all seated together.
At the sight of them, Old Madam Jin burst out laughing and said, “We were just talking about you and here you are! We are all curious about how far have you gotten with your Huangmei Opera rehearsal, when you walked in . Ning girl has been so busy that your feet barely touch the floor. I even sent Luo Cui over to your place several times but not even a shadow of your person could be seen. To think that you are now here to grace your presence at my place and greet me?”
Fu Qiuning properly saluted the old woman and smiled winsomely, “As Old Madam said, regarding the rehearsal of the Huangmei Opera and the fact that I am busy to the point that my feet barely touch the ground, now that I am here, surely Old Madam could guess the reason?”
She had barely done speaking when the eyes of the older ladies immediately sparkled. Old Madam Jin laughed out loud and said, “Are you saying it is finished? Aiya, how excellent! I had been waiting and waiting until my eyeballs nearly fell out of my eyes from waiting.”
Fu Qiuning beamed along with the laughter that exploded around that atrocious joke. Everyone immediately started talking. Jin Fengju would bring the news to the Emperor and Empress Dowager first thing the next day. Family members who were allowed to enter the palace would watch this new play alongside the royalties. It was such a happy occasion that not even Madam Jiang could find fault with it.
When Luo Cui entered to ask about the arrangements for that night’s dinner, Old Madam Jin waved her back and said, “All of you have children in your courtyard, there is no need to attend to me. You may come again after dinner. It has been a while since I had last seen all my great-grandchildren. Studying is important, but we cannot let them ruin their little bodies from it.” She turned her attention to Jin Fengju and said, “You are a strict father. However, you must not just be a strict father who forgets to love his children. Back then, when your father wanted to beat you, I was there to pull him back. Now that I am older, and your poor mother is often unwell, it is difficult for us to advise you. You cannot simply show off your authority as a father and neglect your children.”
Jin Fengju was quick to agree. Anything to get out of that place and avoid a lecture. He wanted to spend more quality time with his beloved wife and not be lectured like that. Later, on their way back to Elegant Mansion, Jin Fengju sighed and said, “Here I thought I could spend some time with my beloved wife, but who knew that the Old Ancestor would want us to return after dinner? It is so rare for me to have a little free time that I wanted to spend it with my beloved Qiuning~”
Fu Qiuning could feel the goosebumps rising all over her body at the overly sweet tone. “Let us return and see the children. Old Madam did just advise you about paying more attention to your own children, didn’t she?”
“… …” Unable to refute her words, he returned to Elegant Mansion to pay some grudging attention to the children. All the while, he waited with bated breath for Fu Qiuning to bring up Cai Lian and Bi Yu, but alas, she never mentioned them. Finally, there was no choice but to bring up the matter himself.
He coughed and said, “Did Bi Yu and Cai Lian say anything to you at the study today?”
Fu Qiuning gave him the side-eye and said simply, “They did, it was nothing important.”
“… …” How could it not be important?! Ah, that’s right. Dear Qiuning must be angry with him! That’s right, his beloved Qiuning was not someone who would carelessly show her emotions. She must have been so hurt and disgusted by the news that random women were sniffing around her man that she became so incensed that it tipped over to emotionless. Therefore, it was clear what he should do right then!
“Qiuning, ah. You may not know this, but some of the Feng girls had been coming by the study to try and meet me ‘by chance’. Of course, I had my servants rebuff then, but you know how those desperate women are like. I hinted heavily through my words, but they did not seem to understand. I must say, the only intelligent one was probably Bingxue, but the rest did not seem to have half a brain inside their little heads and could not seem to understand my words.”
“Is that so,” said Fu Qiuning indifferently.
“Naturally, naturally!” Jin Fengju hurried to say. “Sometimes, when one is determined to pursue a dangerous path, it’s like being blinded by pig fat. Goodness, I must speed up my search for suitable young men for these ladies. These girls may be beautiful, but they are not getting any younger. So long as they are willing to marry into a family for wealth and comfort, it would not be difficult to find candidates for them. However, Qiuning should also do your part and properly crush their futile dreams and not raise their eyes to view upon what is yours.”
“I believe I have spoken to the Young Marquis about this,” said Fu Qiuning. She paused to look at him directly, “I have no interest in the power play that happens within your inner court. Therefore, those who wish to vie for the Young Marquis’ interest have nothing to do with me. Especially not when I am now busy with the opera.”
She made to move away, only to be chased down by Jin Fengju who said a little desperately, “Of course, of course, if my Qiuning is too busy, you may give Yanfang a little hint. She regards me as her brother and will have the respect of those girls as their sister-in-law. There is no need to trouble yourself in any way.”
“See that it is so, your harem is your business. Whoever you shower your favour on has nothing to do with me,”
“Qiuning, ah, surely not, I have even moved my personal wealth into your Elegant Mansion…”
“I am perfectly happy to move out of the Elegant Mansion filled with the Young Marquis’ wealth into a quieter place. After all, Night Breeze Pavilion’s gardens and ponds have served me well for over six years.”
What could Jin Fengju do but laugh out loud at this absurd suggestion and trot around her like a servant out to flatter their master? “Yes, yes, yes, I know you are a strong woman who would not be moved by such things. You may kick me out of Elegant Mansion if you like, and forget me as soon as I am out of your sight, right?”
How absurd. Just who was Jin Fengju? He was a man greatly favoured by the Emperor, whose ability to figure out other people’s inner thoughts was second to none. After being with Fu Qiuning for a while, how could he not understand her true nature? As expected, she must have been touched by his heartfelt declaration.
“Speaking of which, when was the last time you visited Clear Soft Pavilion or your other women? At the very least, you should go and see your other children,” said Fu Qiuning. “You should heed Old Madam’s words and be a loving father to all of your children.”
“Oh, indeed, indeed, my Qiuning is right! Haha, speaking of which, Wanying has been unusually quiet over this matter. Perhaps she has given up on me. She used to like me, but alas, I cannot split my heart into two. Back when she married me despite her status, we had some affection as husband and wife, but, her morally questionable actions disgusted me. However, she is still my cousin…”
“And the mother of your children,” Fu Qiuning reminded him.
“…and the mother of my children. Now, however, it looks like she desires the stewardship position over the household, so let her have it. She is the type who enjoys having power in her hands anyway, so long as she does not go too far, it is fine to let her manage it.”
“… hasn’t she always had the position? Also, she had always been very competent in managing the household according to your wishes.”
“Not… not always according to my wishes! No, how can that be?! Come to think of it, perhaps it is better for someone else to share the responsibilities…” Jin Fengju paused meaningfully. Hopefully.
“No, don’t take anything else away from Second Madam Ying,” said Fu Qiuning, not bothering to give face by gently demuring on this matter.
Jin Fengju shifted awkwardly in place. Obviously, that was the wrong matter to bring up, ah. He had hoped to coax Qiuning into a little debate over this, but… why was he even more nervous in front of his beloved wife than the emperor? Let’s change the subject.
Jin Changfeng and the rest of the children came out to greet them. Jin Fengju was immediately relieved. He thought: Ahh, my children came to my rescue!
Fortunately, there were no awkward conversations during the rest of the evening. The family had dinner, with Jin Zhenyi being as cheeky as usual. After that, the family made their way back to Health & Longevity Court to sit and talk for a little while longer before returning to Elegant Mansion.
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“The intentions of the Feng girls are very clear, even the servants are talking about it, so why is Madam not doing anything about it?”
Sweet-scented osmanthus flowers were blooming just outside the window. Each gust of wind carried with it the fresh fragrance of the blooming flowers. Behind closed doors, voices could be heard speaking in hushed tones. “Since he is heartless, I can only give up on my feelings. I have only one goal now, and I shall not allow anything to deter me from this road. I ask you again, did you not find anything useful?”
“Surely Madam knows just how cautious the Master is? I risked a lot on that one visit and count it my fortune to have returned unscathed. Unfortunately, I left behind a risky item. If someone were to discover it…”
“Did I not tell you to be careful?”
“Of course, I have done as Madam said. Do not worry, I behaved very naturally and no one was suspicious. It was done. The spy did her best to search for the item, but as she was not a highly placed maid, she could not move freely into the master’s rooms. This matter cannot be rushed, no one has caught wind of it yet. Otherwise, who knows what kind of terrible consequences…”
“It is natural to risk for more a bigger gain. It’s fine, return first. Be sure to take care of the matter quickly but cleanly. Do not blame me for not siding with you should anything happen.”
“Of course,” the maid said, before leaving the room.[1a] Silence reigned for a long time. Then a sigh was heard, “On one side is my father, on the other my husband. Yet, the scale tips too easily with your cruelty. Matron Wang was right, only one’s parents can be counted on in this world. Childhood friends, 10 years of affection, none of it could be compared to an abandoned wife. Cousin, you brought this on yourself.”
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Elsewhere, the sweet scent of Osmanthus flowers swirled with the autumn breeze and into a room where nothing was heard aside from the occasional sighs.
“The cool dew silently moistens the petals of Osmanthus blossoms. With Mid-Autumn fast approaching, the Osmanthus has bloomed most beautifully. Pots of chrysanthemums have also bloomed. How about a walk, sister?” Feng Zhenzu suggested with a winsome smile.
Within the embroidery room of Tranquil Garden, Feng Zhenzu and her elder sister Feng Mingzhu were seated side by side before a large window overlooking the plantains and chrysanthemums in the garden.
“No need, haven’t we gone out many times these past few days? One should know when to keep a low profile and not overstep ourselves. Surely Zhenzu understands? We are now living under someone else’s roof. If rumours abound, could we still stay here with dignity?”
Feng Zhenzu bit her lip. It was a long time before she finally sobbed out, “Sister, I still cannot accept it. With our looks and talents, why should we continue to rely on others? Once we become the masters ourselves, others will look at us differently. I… I wish to take a gamble and win it all.”
“Who on earth is looking down on you? In my eyes, you are the ones who are looking down on yourselves. Want to take a gamble? Who are you betting against? Is it against our benevolent Second Sister-in-law?”
An infuriated voice scolded from the door, causing the two sisters to jump and turn pale. They whirled around to see Jin Yanfang striding in with her face stern and her eyes flashing with anger. She swept a fierce glare over them before taking a seat.
Gumihou: barely bothered with the original since that one looked more like a new fanfic writer busting out their latest fantasy trope… is what I like to say, but in reality, most of the deranged bits were carefully studied by Gumi and preserved in some form or other, mostly as Jin Fengju’s self-deluded fantasies, so… yeah.
In other words, Jin Fengju is the deranged fanfic writer misinterpreting Fu Qiuning’s reactions and rewriting them to fit into his deluded narrative.
 It was like suuuuper obvious that Jiang Wanying was the one speaking. Jiang Wanying’s original dialogue was a humph, humph, to make her look like an unreasonable shrew…?
Anyway, gave her the atmosphere of a resolute woman out to burn herself just to make others feel bad.[1a] Give her monologue an impression of a woman who had given up everything instead of ‘hump humph, I ebil~ Mwahahaha~!’
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