A Leopard Cannot Change its Spots
Feng Yu Heng felt that she was truly too generous of a person. How could she be so foolish as to pity Feng Jin Yuan at a time like this? How could she feel that this person would change after his experiences?
A leopard cannot change its spots. This was the best way to describe someone like Feng Jin Yuan.
Zi Rui did not know what sort of situation had occurred at the imperial daughter’s manor in the morning and could not help but ask: “What girl?”
Feng Yu Heng said: “The one that you met earlier.”
“Oh.” Zi Rui nodded but was still puzzled, “What is father looking for them for?”
Feng Yu Heng snorted coldly, “What do you think?”
Feng Zi Rui was very smart and understood his father very well. Now that his sister had said this, he immediately understood; however, he also recalled what his elder sister had said earlier. Thus he said to Feng Jin Yuan: “Whether it’s people or situations, you must not look at just the surface. That girl that you are speaking of, for example. There is a possibility that it’s a man.”
These words could not possibly be any more normal. The original intent was to say that Feng Jin Yuan’s eyes were bad for viewing Feng Zhao Lian as a female. But when Feng Jin Yuan heard them, they had their meaning slightly change. He felt that this brat was taunting him and his body’s situation. Instead of saying “a woman might be a man” it was “a man might be a woman.”
Feng Jin Yuan immediately wanted to lose his temper. He felt that this son had truly been born for the sole purpose of humiliating him. It would be better to just strangle this sort of child to death.
But just as the anger began to burn, it was immediately quelled. In the end, he was still able to maintain a bit of reason. He knew the reason he had come today. It had been for the sake of asking for help. If he began to argue with Feng Zi Rui, perhaps he would have waited a night in vain.
Thus he forcefully suppressed his anger. He wanted to bring up the main topic with Feng Yu Heng; however, he heard Feng Yu Heng speak first: “Father, you waited in front of my imperial daughter’s manor for a night. There must be something that you need of me?”
“Hah!” Feng Jin Yuan subconsciously replied.
However, he heard Feng Yu Heng continue: “It shouldn’t be just for the sake of inquiring about that right?” While she said this, her face was filled with disdain.
Feng Jin Yuan repeatedly shook his head, “No, no, of course not.”
She nodded, “Then that’s good.” She then walked into the manor while saying: “Then come in. It happens that I have something to discuss with father too.”
Feng Jin Yuan was stunned. There was something that she wanted to discuss with him? This sounded good! Since Feng Yu Heng wanted to discuss something with him, it was the equivalent of giving him some room to negotiate. Of course, it could not truly be considered a negotiation. At least, he would not be too passive this time around.
Thinking like this, he became a bit more alert. He followed behind Feng Yu Heng and went to the main hall. They sat down, and the servants began pouring tea. Feng Jin Yuan felt anxious and rushed to ask: “What is there that you wanted to request of me?”
“Hm?” Feng Yu Heng was startled, “Request?” She then laughed, “Father, what sort of joke is that. What is there that I could ask of you? Also, even if I made a request, what could you accomplish?”
Feng Jin Yuan felt as though his tongue was tied. If she was not making a request, what did she mean by wanting to discuss something with him?
Before he could ask, Feng Yu Heng began speaking once more: “There is indeed a matter, but it’s not a request. I figure it should be considered a warning.” While speaking, she pulled Zi Rui slightly, who was seated on the same chair as her. She said to Feng Jin Yuan: “Zi Rui is the son of the first wife of the Feng family. Father hasn’t forgotten about that, right?”
Feng Jin Yuan was puzzled, “How could I forget about that?”
“Then that’s good.” She nodded and continued: “As a father, you have a responsibility to provide for the growth of your children. Father has no objections to this, right?”
Feng Jin Yuan still did not understand; however, he knew that Feng Yu Heng was correct, thus he said: “Naturally.”
“Un.” Feng Yu Heng was very satisfied and finally brought up the main topic: “Since that is the case, would father prepare the school fees to send Zi Rui to school from this Autumn until next Autumn. Zi Rui will be going back to Xiao Zhou to attend the academy.”
“Hm?” Feng Jin Yuan finally reacted, “What did you say?”
Feng Yu Heng repeated herself: “I said for father to prepare the school fees for Zi Rui.”
“School fees?” Feng Jin Yuan’s mind went “boom.” He finally understood what Feng Yu Heng’s words meant. Zi Rui was the son of the first wife of the Feng family, and he was the head of the Feng family. Preparing money for the son of the first wife could not be any more normal, but… but what money did he have?
Feng Jin Yuan had a very awkward expression on his face. At present, there was not a single cent in the Feng residence’s funds. They relied on money being sent each month by the fifth prince to survive. But who knew how the fifth prince calculated it. Aside from the cost of servants and usual expenses, not a single cent extra remained. It was often the case that just as one month’s allowance was used up, the next month’s would arrive. It was lined up perfectly. Now that he was asked to provide the school fees for Zi Rui, he was truly troubled.
Feng Yu Heng was clear on the situation and sneered to herself; however, she did not say anything else. But Feng Zi Rui was unhappy. Frowning, he asked: “Could it be that father doesn’t want to provide the school fees for Zi Rui? Does father feel that Zi Rui is holding the Feng family back?”
Feng Jin Yuan quickly said: “No, no, how should I say it.”
“Since that’s not the case, why is it that when elder sister brings up the school fees, father looks so troubled? You are someone that has been a prime minister, and you have been the top-scoring scholar. Could it be that father doesn’t know what it means to study? Could it be that father doesn’t want for the Feng family to make a recovery? Oh.” As he spoke, he suddenly realized something, “I forgot that father’s hopes for the Feng family have never been with the males. As father sees it, boys that become the top scholars will only be officials. But girls are different. Girls can climb to the highest positions. It’s such that countless people will need make considerations for them. Their maternal family will also rise along with them to be below one and above all else. Father, my analysis is correct, right?”
These few words had completely summarized what Feng Jin Yuan had thought of Feng Chen Yu in the past. It was such that Feng Jin Yuan felt a little dazed. Since when had this young son begun to understand such reasoning?
Thinking like this, he immediately thought of Feng Yu Heng. Right, it must have been Feng Yu Heng that had taught Zi Rui about these concepts. Otherwise, based on Zi Rui’s age and him not being at home, how could he have analyzed it so thoroughly?
When he thought of this, he could not stop himself from looking toward Feng Yu Heng. His attitude also became antagonistic.
Feng Yu Heng did not think much of it, but Zi Rui was very angry. He asked Feng Jin Yuan: “Father, what are you looking at elder sister for? There’s something that Zi Rui has always found rather strange. Since father has always wanted to use daughters to accomplish his goals, why do you treat elder sister so poorly? Not to mention that eldest sister having already passed away, but even if she was still alive, based on eldest sister’s abilities, she cannot possibly compare to elder sister in terms of merit. Moreover, could father really not clearly see the situation back then? Precisely who it is that the Emperor wants to give the world to, did father really not know? Zi Rui really cannot understand how the Feng family could treat my elder sister like this, despite her merits.”
Feng Jin Yuan truly wanted to find a crack to crawl into from being scolded by this son; however, he heard Feng Yu Heng sneered. He then saw her pat Zi Rui’s head and say: “There’s no point in bringing this up with father. He doesn’t even want to pay for your school fees. With this sort of father, no matter how bright our futures are, we cannot favor him in the slightest. Just treat him like a stranger.”
“No, no! You must not!” Feng Jin Yuan became anxious, “A-Heng, what sort of thing are you saying? Blood relations must not be cut off. How can we treat each other like strangers?”
Feng Yu Heng asked him: “You even view us as enemies. Isn’t treating you as a stranger intimate enough? What more do you want?”
Zi Rui also said: “That’s right! For the sake of getting rid of me and elder sister, you spent quite a bit of money. All of this money added together, it’s enough for the school fees, right? Father really is generous.”
Feng Jin Yuan refuted it directly, “There is no such thing! Those are unfounded accusations. They’re all unfounded accusations!”
Feng Zi Rui’s little face puffed up in anger; however, Feng Yu Heng had become accustomed to Feng Jin Yuan’s actions. She just pulled Zi Rui into her embrace to calm him down. Only then did she ask: “Then father’s meaning is?”
“Zi Rui is my Feng family’s son of the first wife. Father will definitely need to pay for the school fees. I wonder how much a year of school fees at Yun Lu Academy is?”
Feng Yu Heng laughed to herself. This was not the first time that Zi Rui went to school. The previous time, it was the matriarch that had withdrawn money from the communal funds, and she had supplemented a large portion. This way, Zi Rui’s first time going out would not be shabby. But Feng Jin Yuan did not understand this. Now that she asked for school fees, he ended up agreeing; however, she did not know what sort of reaction he would have after hearing the amount.
“150 taels.” Feng Yu Heng calmly said: “That is just the school fees. If we add in food, living accommodation and daily necessities, 200 taels would be the bare minimum for a year. But we know that the Feng residence is no longer doing as well as it did in the past. That’s why we will not ask father for too much. Father only needs to provide the 150 taels for the school fees. I will handle the remainder.”
She spoke casually; however, Feng Jin Yuan inhaled sharply.
It had to be said that the fifth prince provided no more than 50 taels each month. Those 50 taels, put plainly, were for the servants and for his own daily needs. It was not even enough for the Cheng shi sisters, An shi, Xiang Rong or Fen Dai. Fen Dai would naturally be taken care of by the fifth prince. An shi and Xiang Rong had a shop. the Cheng shi sisters spent most of their time in the palace, taking care of the Empress.
But even if that was the case, how could he bring out 150 taels even if he did not eat or drink?
Sweat appeared on Feng Jin Yuan’s brow. The money provided by the fifth prince came each month. He wouldn’t be able to save enough if he started now, right? In truth, 150 taels was not a large sum of money. If this was in the past, he would not have paid close attention to it. He would have just gone and taken it out of the communal funds.
However, the current Feng residence was no longer thriving as it had before. How should he acquire 150 taels?
TN: The title of this chapter uses the Chinese version of the idiom: “Can’t stop a dog from eating poop.”