Higher Level Wife – 001 – First Encounter with this Noble Land

Chapter 1: First Encounter with this Noble Land

 

Translated by Pill Bug

Edited by Gumihou

 

Gumihou: Actually, rather than a strict Translator/Editor relationship, we have a more collaborative arrangement

Pill Bug: From what I have skimmed earlier, the whole thing looked like it has been rewritten, lol

Gumihou: Gumi could explain! This is in keeping with the later tone in the novel. Trust Gumi, this version is more correct!

Pill Bug: Your writing tone is more playful compared to the original arrangement.

Gumihou: Gumi could explain! It’s because the original exposition text is very boring. (Psst, Gumi skipped a lot of exposition stuff when reading the raw). It is also in keeping with the tone of the opening and ending paragraphs! This version is correct!

Pill Bug: So, basically, you’ve rewritten-

Gumihou: Onwards to the story!

 

 

 

So, the god of transmigration exists after all.[1]

The god of transmigration exists after all

The god of transmigration exists…

This same line repeated itself over and over again in Fang Chuyu’s mind from the moment she opened her eyes and realised where she was. By this point, the number of countless repeated words were enough to circle the earth twice or three times.

“Madam [2], please say something. Say something, ah… wuwuwuwu, don’t frighten this maid, ah. This maid knows you are very sad, but… but madam, you should not seek death, ah, ah, ah…”

This noisy person next to her has incredible endurance. The words that spilt out of her mouth was probably enough to twirl around the earth eight or ten times after half a day of wailing. Was this her maid? Should she compliment this girl on her endurance?

Ignoring the background noise, Fang Chuyu slowly chewed over the memories left in her head. Once she deemed herself properly informed of this strange new world, she let out a long shuddering breath.

“Madam… madam…”

“Enough with your wailing,” Fang Chuyu sat up effortlessly. “Can’t your eyes see that I am not dead?”

The soul within this body must have yielded her mortal coils quite willingly. Not only did the original graciously left her memories for the next occupant, Fang Chuyu also found herself fitting very nicely into this mortal container. In fact, she felt so comfortable that she could probably pull off some of the more difficult yoga poses with no problem.

“No, I am no longer Fang Chuyu,” she whispered to herself. “I am Fu Qiuning. I must remember this.”

The wailing girl, her maid, stared at Fang Chuyu, no, Fu Qiuning with frightened eyes. Fu Qiuning smiled, “What is it? Since you do not want me to die, I have woken up. Have you changed your mind? Was the crying and wailing just a show?”

Fu Qiuning paused. Her words sounded oddly formal, dignified and fitting with her current surroundings. Was this a blessing left by the previous owner? Or was her adaptability just that good? Fu Qiuning’s smile widened, good, very good. Personally, she had never liked <<Dream of Red Chamber>> much and would be hard-pressed to try and speak like an ancient Chinese noble lady.

“N, no…” the maid, Yu Jie, hastily wiped her tears. Her mouth stretched into a smile, Madam, would madam like something to eat? This maid will make it for you, is that alright?”

“Hmm, I am a little hungry,” Fu Qiuning nodded to herself. “Go make some noodles.”

Yu Jie leapt to her feet and ran off happily.

As she stared at the disappearing figure, a bitter smile graced Fu Qiuning’s lips.

Then, she shook her head and stared into the space. The original Fu Qiuning was seventeen years old. This girl’s character could be described with three words, cowardly, self-abasing and, oddly enough, talented. If one had to describe this girl with just one word it would be ‘wimpy’. Taking her character into consideration as well as the situation she found herself in, this girl’s condition could be described as ‘miserable’. Tied all of this with her identity as a [4] shu-born daughter, her situation could well be described as ‘doomed’.

The newly assigned Fu Qiuning glanced around the very spacious room. It did not look like the room of a doomed person, at first. A second glance revealed the very simple, almost austere architectural designs did not match a woman of her status. Moreover, although the shelves were made of beautiful antique wood, there was almost nothing on them.

It was… very empty.

It looked nothing like the room of an official wife. If she was forced to guess from appearance alone, she would have thought she had transmigrated into the body of a concubine at best.

This doomed girl’s story was very complicated. In fact, if one looked at her story through written text alone, one would have thought that this Fu Qiuning was quite fortunate. After all, though she was a shu-born daughter, how many could compete with the shu-born daughter of the King Zhenjiang’s Heir?

Moreover, she was the official wife, the main wife of the Young Marquis of Jinxiang Marquisate.

One could only blame politics for her fate. Ah yes, that dirty thing called politics was to be blamed.

 

The reason why it took Fu Qiuning a long time to parse out her inherited memories was because of how very complicated it was. Let’s split it into four parts:

Part 1: Fu Qiuning is a shu-born daughter of the heir of King Zhenjiang. She and her mother were bullied and driven out of the royal palace when Fu Qiuning was three years old to live in some random village. When little Fu Qiuning grew a little older, she was presented to dear old dad, who finally took notice of her talent and assigned a female tutor to train her up. Don’t see this as a kindness, she was really being groomed to become a concubine candidate for the Marquisate of Jinxiang. Oh, that was when she was summoned to live in a palace too. How nice.

 

Part 2: Who were the Marquisate of Jinxiang?

Nobody ordinary, that’s for sure.

Old man Marquis of Jinxiang died before he was 50 years old. Boo hoo.

Luckily, he left two sons behind him, Jin Yu and Jin Shi. Both were pretty decent men with their own official positions. Elder son Jin Yu inherited the title of Marquis and had one daughter, Jin Yanqiu, who married Prince Rong as a succeeding wife. Prince Rong was the sixth son of the current emperor and was known to be witty and benevolent. More importantly, he was highly favoured by the emperor and was a popular candidate for the Crown Prince position.

Good daughter Jin Yanqiu also worked hard and gave birth to a son, which pleased Prince Rong so much that he installed her as the Crown Princess last year. Thus, the status of the Marquis of Jinxing rose with the tide.

So, how did the Heir of King Zhenjiang manage to get the Young Marquis to marry his shu-born daughter as the official wife?

 

This brings us to Part 3: of this long and involved story.

It’s all Prince Rong’s fault. This young prince was coddled by the emperor since he was young and developed an arrogant behaviour. One day, this arrogant prince openly offended the emperor and was harshly reprimanded. He even nearly lost his ‘Prince Rong’ title and was placed under house arrest for a year to reflect upon his wrongdoing.

Because of this unfortunate event, Prince Rong’s reputation in the court plummeted. Before this, both Prince Rong and Prince Hong’s influences had been at par. However, with Prince Rong locked away, Prince Hong now had the upper hand. He showed his capability as prince and became the new apple of the emperor’s eye. With the emperor’s favour upon him, courtiers and princes who had once supported Prince Rong turned around to support this new rising star.

 

Part 4: What does all this have to do with Fu Qiuning?

Well, [3] jumping ship to shift support from one prince to another was easy except for the House of the Marquis of Jinxiang. They were bound by marriage to Prince Rong via Jin Yanqiu, who had been elevated to Crown Princess status thanks to her smart womb. The Marquis of Jinxiang could do nothing but cautiously guard his back and grit his teeth while others bullied them.

Again, this should have nothing to do with Fu Qining. In the end, it was all Prince Hong’s fault. The prince was petty and narrow-minded and enjoyed kicking people when they were down. Now that Prince Rong was put under house arrest, he could not lay his hands on that brother of his. Therefore, Prince Hong decided to make trouble for the Marquisate of Jinxiang instead.

What was supposed to be a good year for the House of the Marquis of Jinxiang turned into something very disastrous indeed. That year, the second son of the marquis, Jin Fengju, had just reached marriageable age and was supposed to welcome his cousin into the family in marriage when he was forced to marry the shu-born daughter of the Heir of King Zhenjiang [5]!

This was basically slapping the Marquisate of Jinxiang in the face! This second son was a rising star in the scholarly world. Even the emperor once praised his talent and grace, naming him ‘A peerless talent with no equal’. The emperor even bestowed the title of ‘Young Marquis’ to him, making him the heir to the Marquisate which would have gone to his elder brother, Jin Pengzhan.

To see this peerless Young Marquis forced into the terrible situation of marrying a lowly shu-born… So what if she’s a prince’s daughter? A shu-born concubine’s daughter was practically a nobody! Such atrocity! Such shame!

The Marquis of Jinxiang ended up bedridden for several months, feverish and ill, barely clinging to life. Luckily, he was able to recover, but how could he look fondly upon this terrible shame forced into his household?!

 

Thus began the miserable life of one Fu Qiuning.

 

Young Marquis Jin Fengjiu wanted to marry his childhood sweetheart, his cousin and granddaughter of the Duke of Lu. They had grown up together until the age of ten before they separated, each waiting for the moment when they would reunite in marriage as a heaven matched couple, the envy of all around. But now… An obstacle had been thrust between their happiness. Who was this lowly plain-faced woman to dare force herself in as his main wife?! How could he stomach it?!

Due to the tragedy of having to take a shu-born as a wife, the Marquis of Jinxiang allowed Jin Fengju to take in a second wife immediately. In anger, Jin Fengju took in Jiang Wanying, the sweetheart cousin and granddaughter of the Duke of Lu as his secondary wife. Still not quite appeased, he also took in Jiang Wanying’s two dowry maids as his concubines. Then, in a strange fit, he also married two fourth-rank city official’s daughters as concubines. Not long after that, a lot of women entered the angry Jin Fengju’s room as various ‘chambermaids’ and bed warmers. It was all done to humiliate this main wife, Fu Qiuning.

 

The current Fu Qiuning with the newly imported soul rubbed her forehead.

Wei, this was obviously the fault of Prince Hong and the Zhenjiang household, you could even be generous and say it was the fault of Prince Rong. Moreover, would hurting Fu Qiuning do anything to those two rogues?

Obviously, there was something wrong with everyone’s head in this marquisate. They could not attack the royal household and took their anger out on Fu Qiuning instead. As for the rogue prince and his partner in crime? After landing a slap on the Marquisate’s household, they are probably toasting each other over their cleverness now. Who cares what happened to Fu Qiuning? What happened to her had nothing to do with them!

Would they intervene as Fu Qiuning’s maternal family and insist that the Marquisate of Jinxiang treat her as a proper official wife? Not a chance! They just wanted to give the Jinxiang Marquisate a little slap, then hurry away and watch the drama. They had no intention of sticking their hands into the wasp nest that was Jin Fengju’s inner courtyard.

Just like that, Fu Qiuning’s life was ruined while the men in power played their political games.

 

Letting out a long sigh, Fu Qiuning the Second rubbed her forehead again.

 

It has been nearly a year since Fu Qiuning the First married into this Marquis’ household, living in the very remote Night Breeze Pavilion. For the first few months, people would often drop by to criticise her. Now, not even the shadow of these critics could be seen. On the night of their wedding, Jin Fengju kept drinking until he ended up dead drunk. Fu Qiuning the First took care of him the whole night until dawn, only to be rewarded with these cold words from her husband: “Just you wait, I will definitely divorce you.” After that, this peerless and praiseworthy Young Marquis left with a flick of his sleeves.

It was under this miserable situation that Fu Qiuning lived a difficult ten months as an abandoned wife despite holding the title of the main wife. She had been bullied since childhood and was used to it. Therefore, although she was very much aggrieved, she did not have any suicidal thoughts.

Until yesterday.

A young maid of Jin Fengju’s secondary wife, the cousin, came over and said something that triggered Fu Qiuning. The poor girl cried all night and hung herself this morning. Fortunately, Yu Jie came to her rescue. Unfortunately, she did not manage to rescue her mistress and thus, allowed a strange spirit to enter her body.

So.

What was the terrible thing that triggered the original Fu Qiuning into committing suicide?

Time to introduce the ‘extra’ episode of the story of The Unfortunate Fu Qiuning.

 

This Jin Fengju guy, though was famous for being a gifted scholar, a lover of beauty and a peerless scholar. This peerless guy has some very strict standards. He was a pure and untainted young man until his marriage. This pure and untainted mindset was shattered when he drank himself silly one day and wandered into the laundry room by mistake. It was unclear whether it was by accident or design, he encountered the washerwoman there and they proceeded to, ahem, together. This gruff and vulgar widow of advanced years was robust enough to give birth to a pair of boy and girl children ten months later. Living evidence of his ‘special night’ with that horrible woman.

This shameful incident was known to the whole family, but no one ever brings it up. Jin Fengju had always been proud of his image as a pure and elegant scholar who prize beauty and intelligence. Therefore, how could he be willing to accept this incident where he ‘did stuff’ with a vulgar and coarse widow that resulted in children? Even if he was drunk, this was not acceptable, ah. That vulgar woman was greedy and expected to rise in status as the mother of the lord’s children. However, after the children were born, she and the children were placed under house arrest in a storehouse in a little corner of the inner court. Even after Jin Fengju got married, and started taking secondary wives, concubines and random bedmates, she was given neither face nor recognition.

The widow held the anger in her heart and took it out on her children every day. However, the Jin family did not care. When the widow finally died and the children had no one to rely on, Jin Fengju still could not bear the sight of them. However, since they were still of his flesh and blood and it would not look good to just throw them away. While he was fretting over what to do with them, Jiang Wanying proposed a most wonderful idea: why not let Fu Qiuning raise them as the main wife’s children?

Technically, this was too good for a pair of children born of a vulgar washerwoman. It was the equivalent of giving the shu-born pair the status of di-born children. Nevertheless, it was clear to everyone in the Jin Estate that Fu Qiuning’s days were as short-lived as a grasshopper in autumn. She was bound to be divorced after three to five years. Therefore, nobody held any jealousy in their heart. Instead, everyone agreed with Jiang Wanying’s brilliant idea even as they gloated internally. Jin Fengju also thought this was a good idea. By the time he divorce Fu Qiuning, those two children would be old enough to be moved into some random farm out there to take care of themselves. Out of sight, out of mind.

When this ‘wonderful’ news was sent to her, how could the heart of the original Fu Qiuning take it? She had been married for nearly a year and was still a virgin. She struggled to feed and clothe herself and yet this heartless slag husband still wanted to send a pair of children with no status, born of a vulgar washerwoman to her care?

How could she bear this humiliation?

Nevertheless, though she could not bear it, she was unable to voice her thoughts. Cowardly and timid, she dared not quarrel with anyone. Instead, after a night of washing her face with tears, she found a length of white silk and hung herself. Let’s just die. Die and leave this wretched marquisate where life is worse than death.

 

The current Fu Qiuning was a music teacher in her past life. She loves children and specializes in teaching opera-style singing. Therefore, she could not understand original Fu Qiuning’s thoughts. Privately, she thought: Though you were abandoned into a place where birds don’t even come and poop, those two children are still so young and lived a bitter life. If you treat them well, won’t they bring some joy and pleasure into your life? Why would you just die in a fit of anger?

She just could not understand original Fu Qiuning’s thinking.

However, one thing was clear. The Young Marquis Jin Fengju was a peerless scum. A giant scum from a sewer filled with all kinds of scummy debris swimming in their own filth. Unfortunately, as a helpless woman, she could do nothing against this scum man and his scum family. Besides, isn’t King Zhenjiang’s house filled with a variety of scum as well? Scumbags, filth and garbage, all of them! Men, women, servants, noblemen, all scum!

 

Her increasingly emotional thoughts were suddenly interrupted by the fragrant aroma of noodles. Fu Qiuning sat up and found herself staring as Yu Jie came in with two steaming bowls of noodles. Her fingers twitched. This body must not have eaten since yesterday after it was triggered by that news, so, of course, it would be hungry. Fu Qiuning accepted one bowl of noodles with both hands and grabbed a pair of chopsticks. She stabbed the chopsticks into the noodles and was about to haul up a large mouthful when she caught sight of Yu Jie sitting on a small mat and sipping at her own portion slowly.

Fu Qiuning coughed and proceeded to imitate Yu Jie’s eating style. One. Tiny. Bite. At a time.

No matter what, she has now transmigrated to this hell-like era for women. To survive till a ripe old age in peace, she must be sensible and play by the local rules.

Under the tenets of “low-profile behaviour”, she must also follow along and never let anyone know that the soul of the owner of this body has changed.

 

[Gumihou: I noticed that in the novelupdates review, some readers say that they hated modern FQN for looking down on original FQN for committing suicide. Personally, I don’t think that’s what happened. As someone who enjoys a measure of success in spite of adversity (modern FQN is a teacher of opera singing, a creative who defies the patriarchy and reached a compromise), she lives in a world where success is possible so long as you work on it (part of it is Communist China brainwashing, let’s not forget that happened. Women hold up half th sky mentality is the one good thing Chairman Mao promoted). Original FQN live in a world where you are screwed the moment your gender is decided at birth and had her confidence bashed up left and right as she grows up. These two Fu Qiunings can’t understand each other because they came from too different circumstances.]

 

Pill Bug TL Notes:

 

[1] Decided to use italics to denote internal thoughts for better text flow.

[2] 奶奶 = Madam, a form of address that could be translated as ‘granny’ but…

[3] Changed the idiom a bit in English to make sense.

[4] Shu-born – Illegal or not born by wives. Children of concubines and others (prostitutes, washerwomen, some farmer’s daughter they took a liking to etc.

All wives’ offspring are 嫡子嫡女 ‘di-born’ direct son and direct daughter, and have higher status than shu-born concubine’s offspring.

[5] I’m sure you’re wondering how this happens. Basically, in ancient China you can’t say no to your boss. Boss says: here’s a nice girl, why don’t you marry her? (even if that girl was an obvious trap, like being a whore’s daughter.) Refusing would make your boss lose face, and petty royalty can do bad things like strip your title or even execute you on a whim.

 

Wife Ranking Chart 妻 :

正妻 (Official wife, aka 嫡妻 direct wife)

填房 (Succeeding Wife) if Official Wife dies or was divorced, she would rank higher than all wives/concubines except for Official Wife. Her children would have similar ranking too.

平妻 (Secondary Wife) generally daughters of officials who are married in for political reason. Or in the case of Jin Fengju, he married Official Wife for political reason and Secondary Wife for love

Children from this category are all di-born

 

Concubine Ranking Chart 妾:

二房 (Second Room Concubine) generally dowry maids of wives, they are given rooms close to the wife so that they can still serve their mistress. They are also close confidants and serve as the hands and feet of the wives in their schemes.

姨娘 aka 偏房, 侧室 (Side Room Concubine) given small rooms on the side, out sight out of mind, but still have their own servants. Generally, maids that have given birth to the nobleman’s children and thus were granted status.

通房丫头 (Common Room Girls) maids that the master has taken a liking to are given their own rooms (no need to sleep in dormitories with other girls). Highest ranking personal servants. Their job was to warm the master’s bed. They still have some jobs, bringing tea, massaging shoulders etc, but their main purpose was to be pretty and agreeable.

Children from this category are all shu-born

 

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This Post Has 6 Comments

  1. zetnnik

    Who is Prince Hong and how is he related to the FL? It says he’s brother to Prince Rong. If what I understood it correctly, he’s the FL’s grandfather. Does that mean he’s a lot older than Prince Rong? The FL’s father sounds like he’s around the age of the ML’s parents.

    1. Gumihou

      Prince Hong (4th Prince) is Prince Rong (6th Prince)’s brother, Prince Hong (4th Prince) is the one in the same faction as Prince Zhenjiang (1st prince?) aka Fu Qiuning’s dad. It’s not unusual for princes to have wide age gaps.

      It is unclear whether Prince Zhenjiang is really the first prince (Prince Hong & Rong’s brother) or the emperor’s brother. From all indications, probably one of the princes’ brother, but the fact that his title is a two character word ‘Zhenjiang’ instead of one letter word ‘Rong, Hong and Lie’ is messing with my head…

      Not enough information yet, which is why we don’t have a family tree for the imperial family.

  2. kawaii1234567

    Hmmmmm, I am always surprised at this point in these novels, knives and poisons don’t make an appearance.

    1. Gumihou

      Their knives and poisons are all verbal at this point

  3. Skuttles Dormouse

    Thanks for the new series! It sounds interesting so far, I look forward to updates 🙂

    1. Gumihou

      Thank you~

      It’s from the same author who wrote The Feast.

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