Chapter 229: Reminder (Part 2)
Author: White Pear Flower
Translated by Gumihou
Proofread by Pill Bug
Fu Qiuning [c] looked blankly at Jiang Wanying for a long moment before saying, “Having anything to eat at all is fine with me.” It was an honest opinion, but for some reason, Old Madam Jin and the rest of the ladies all laughed out loud as though she had told a grand joke.
Jiang Wanying smiled tightly and said, “In that case, I will send in the orders. Old Ancestor, after this granddaughter-in-law finishes the day’s work, I shall come again to pay proper respect to Old Ancestor.”
Madam Fang smiled gently and said, “Truly, this year has worn out Fengju’s wife. I see that you have become thinner around the face and figure. This is the first New Year since Elder Brother’s title has been elevated. Now, do not blame me for being nosy, but Fengju’s wife should really take care of your body.”
Then, she cast a speaking glance at Madam Jiang.
How could Madam Jiang miss the implication of that glance, [d] especially with Old Madam Jin also smiling benevolently at her? Avoiding Jiang Wanying’s panicked gaze, she said pensively, “Wanying, if you find it too much, perhaps you should have Qiuning assist you…”
As soon as those words came out of her mouth, Fu Qiuning set down her teacup so hard that it rattled on the table. [d] She looked up to see Jiang Wanying’s resentful eyes, Old Madam Jin and Madam Fang’s gleaming, anticipatory eyes and Madam Jiang… who was doing her best to communicate with Jiang Wanying to stay calm no matter what.
She thought: [d] These ladies truly have nothing to do but to create drama within the family just to entertain themselves, do they? How revolting. [d1]
“Please do not trouble me, Elder Madam,” said Fu Qiuning mildly. “Younger Sister Wanying is a reliable person, and everything has been well arranged until now. It is not as if she cannot handle a few busy days each year. There is no need for an inexperienced person to meddle in estate matters.”
Jiang Wanying gave everyone a tight smile. How could she not notice the elder ladies ganging up on her so blatantly? How ironic that the only person to defend her position would be the enemy? In a neutral voice, she said, “Elder Sister is right. Even if this was well-intentioned, this is not something that can be handled abruptly. I did think about having Sister-in-law help me, but unfortunately, Second Uncle and Second Aunt have moved to the new estate. I am afraid that Sister-in-law would already be busy with all those matters over there, and I also cannot bear to drag her over.”
Madam Fang nodded like a benevolent elder and said with a smile, “She is doing well there. With a few of Luanfeng’s more capable concubines and lesser concubines helping out, she would have gotten everything under control in that estate by now. Still, as Luanfeng’s official wife, she is bound to endure some hardships. Otherwise, wouldn’t that official wife title be a mere decoration? I simply admire Qiuning. Although it is said that women should abide by the three obediences and four virtues, a temperament like hers is truly rare. What do you think, Sister-in-law?”
Madam Jiang took a sip of tea and said vaguely, “A harmonious family leads to prosperity. In this household, brothers must work together, and wives and concubines must be harmonious for it to thrive. Isn’t that right, Old Ancestor?”
Old Madam Jin gave a non-committal smile and nod. [d] It was unclear what she was truly thinking. Jiang Wanying cast a brilliant smile around the room once more before taking her leave. Her swirling skirt was the only indication of her agitation. Fu Qiuning stared at the retreating figure of this so-called rival, feeling more sorry for her than anything else.
As for Madam Fang, although she had been something like a background character all this while, this would be the second time that she openly castigated Jiang Wanying. Was it truly because of the servant that Jiang Wanying had punished last time? Or was she just stirring things up out of boredom? With Jin Fengju paying all his attention to Fu Qiuning and ignoring the rest of his other women, what had once been an entertaining nest of chickens had become quite boring ever since Jin Fengju cast Concubine Xu out. By instigating Jiang Wanying, was she hoping for some inner court drama?
After sitting for a while longer, Fu Qiuning also stood up to bid farewell. [d] She had done her duty by coming here to be these elder ladies’ entertainment. Time to leave.
Once she had left, both Madam Jiang and Madam Fang also took their leave. Despite the occasional opportunistic conflicts between the two sisters-in-law over the years, their overall relationship was still relatively good. Madam Jiang turned to Madam Fang and asked, “What were you doing just now? You dropped Wanying’s face in front of so many people. That niece-in-law of yours has never offended you.”
Madam Fang laughed, “Just who in these two mansions would dare to offend us now? I was just venting on behalf of Qiuning. Think about it for yourself, isn’t Qiuning rather too patient? How much does Fengju favour her now? If she was a scheming woman, I fear that she would have seized control of the household long ago. If Wanying was someone who knew when to advance and step back, she should have relinquished part of her authority. In the end, no matter how noble her status is, she is merely a secondary wife. Qiuning is ultimately the legitimate official wife.”
Madam Jiang kept her voice neutral as she said, “What does this have to do with you? Fengju likes Qiuning precisely because Qiuning does not want to compete. Besides, I can see that Qiuning is not the type of person who enjoys conflict.”
Madam Fang sighed, “Even if Qiuning does not like conflicts, it does not mean that she should be taken advantage of. I know that you have never liked her, but think about it, has your daughter-in-law ever caused trouble for you or anyone? Even if you could not step off the stage for having openly targeted her and said things that should not have been said, were you not the one who provoked her first? Has she ever held a grudge against you for that?”
Madam Jiang shot Madam Fang a disdainful look, “Whether she holds a grudge or not, one can never be certain,” she began, but Madam Fang interrupted in a hushed voice to say, “Have you noticed the look on your niece’s face just now? Now that I think of it, I feel that she has become rather presumptuous lately. Still, how often do I see her? As her aunt, have you never noticed anything from her daily greetings at dawn and dusk?”
Madam Jiang said, “No, never. You should take care of your side of the estate. Wanying is my niece, is it possible for me to not know her well? She may have been a bit unruly lately, but it was Fengju who had neglected her first. Aih, they used to be cousins who got along well, just how did matters come to this? Isn’t it because of that Fu woman causing trouble?”
Madam Fang sneered, “Don’t always push everything onto others. You should also pat your conscience and think about it. Whatever Qiuning has done, wasn’t it worthy of pity, respect, and admiration? As for Wanying, as the saying goes, time reveals a person’s true nature. If she had a broader mind, things would not have come to this point. I heard from Yanfang that she almost pressed Yanfang to death after speaking on Qiuning’s behalf. That was also when Fengju started distancing himself from Clear Soft Pavilion.”
[Gumihou: Author is clearly trying to ruin Jiang Wanying, but you don’t have to be so blatant about it.]
[c] Replaced Jiang Qiuning’s ‘indeed, some of these dishes sounded edible’ per the long, looong list of food because, hello? You’ve been on the verge of starvation for five effing years?!
[d] Instead of having Madam Jiang suddenly on FQN’s side for no good reason, put in some realistic peer pressure
[d1] Also, deleted this revoltingly clumsy Jiang Wanying character assassination line: Although Jiang Wanying quickly lowered her head to conceal it, how could Madam Jiang not see it? Her heart dropped with a “thump” and a chill ran through her body, unable to continue with what she was about to say next.
[d2] Deleted: Considering Madam Fang’s usual behaviour and speech, she seemed to be a generous elder, so she would be unlikely to harbour thoughts of sitting back and watching the catfights, allowing Jin Fengju’s household to become chaotic, right?
Uh, she absolutely is trying to stir shit up.
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