You are currently viewing Higher Level Wife – 071 – Slip of a Tongue
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Higher Level Wife – 071 – Slip of a Tongue

Chapter 71: Slip of a Tongue

Translated by Gumihou

Edited by Pill Bug


“I heard that the Emperor had you stay back for a banquet once more?” Old Madam Jin looked lovingly at this grandson who had brought so much pride and glory to the family. “Why have you returned so soon?”

Jin Fengju lowered his cup and smiled, “There was really nothing much, the Emperor merely wished to have myself and brother-in-law accompany an elder for a meal. During the dinner, he praised Brother-in-law several times, even saying that, as today is the Mid-Autumn Festival and a day for family reunions, he permitted me and Brother-in-law to return early. After the banquet, Brother-in-law tried to drag me to his palace and I had to remind him that he still had to prepare himself to enter the imperial palace in the evening, and finally managed to return. Otherwise, how could I be here so early? If I had gone to his palace, I might have only returned when the moon rises.”

He smiled at the table of cakes and snacks in front of Old Madam Jin. “Isn’t this Osmanthus Cake? It looks quite fragrant.” Then, he picked up a piece and stuffed it into his mouth.

“Your wife brought them from Night Breeze Pavilion. I had to send Luo Cui over to urge her before getting a single plate back,” Old Madam Jin said with a laugh.

Jin Fengju laughed in return, “Looks like Sister Luo Cui doesn’t know her well and only asked for one plate. I have already asked her to make some Osmanthus Cakes just for Old Ancestor. If you had asked for more, she would not refuse.”

When he was done speaking, Jiang Wanying suddenly came forward to say with a smile, “What is this good thing you speak of? For Lord Husband to eat so happily when you have just returned from an imperial banquet? Goodness, it is as though Lord Husband had rushed back from the borders, half-starved from the lack of good food and all too happy to see real food being served. Osmanthus Cakes are something that I and other little sisters have in our courtyard. This morning, I even sent out two plates to Old Ancestor and Elder Madam. If you like them so much, I can feed you a whole plate of it.”

Jin Fengju smiled, “Each person makes it to their own taste. Naturally, the ones in our courtyard are good. I see that Old Ancestor has two Osmanthus trees in your backyard. The flowers here should make the most excellent cakes…”

Before he could finish speaking, Old Madam Jin spat and laughingly scolded him, “I have only eaten a bit of your cake and you dare have thoughts for my two Osmanthus trees? The flowers have just bloomed. No one is allowed to pick them. They shall stay in the trees until they fall to the ground naturally. I do not abide unsightly bald spots in my trees.”

Jin Fengju said, “You certainly know how to calculate. You dislike seeing bald spots on your trees but still wish us to pick our trees bald to make cakes and honour you. Old Ancestor, you’re getting more calculative with your years.”

Everyone laughed. [1]

Old Madam Jin pretended to be angry and snapped, “Why? Is that not allowed? Are you feeling sore from honouring me with a few cakes?”

As the atmosphere grew livelier, a servant girl from the outside announced, “Second Old Master is here.”

When the announcement was made, many of the women in the room stood up and made their way to the inner rooms. However, Madam Jiang, Jiang Wanying and those directly related to the family did not leave.

After a while, Jin Shi came in.

He was a spirited-looking older man who must have been quite handsome in his youth. Fu Qiuning cast a secret glance over him and thought: No wonder Jin Fengju is so good-looking. Looks like this family has good genes.

[1] When Jin Shi spotted Jin Fengju, he said, “Here I was wondering why you did not come and assist me in the front yard. Looks like you have been hiding here again.” He turned to Old Madam, “Prince Rong’s Palace has sent gifts over. I heard that this time, Prince Rong had personally accompanied the princess to choose the presents. This son dare not be careless and personally led the steward here. This is the list of gifts. Mother, please have a look. The steward is still outside, awaiting orders.”

Old Madam Jin glanced over at Jin Fengju [1], “Still need me to look? Fengju, read it to me.”

With that, she leaned back in her chair as the list was read out. To her secret shock, the value of the items on the list was more than twice the value of the items presented during the Dragon Boat Festival. Moreover, Prince Rong had personally chosen them. This was a clear indication of great favour, therefore, the marquisate dared not be careless.

Fu Qiuning listened from her corner, her eyes on Jin Fengju. She thought back to what Jin Ming had said and knew that Prince Rong must have been relying on his brother-in-law more and more. No wonder the Old Madam and Jin Shi’s eyes were all upon Jin Fengju’s person. They knew that these heavy gifts were chosen due to Jin Fengju. It was just… from what Jin Ming had said, these days, Prince Rong appeared to be very pleased with himself and from these actions, might have forgotten himself a little?

Once the list was read, Old Madam Jin personally ordered someone to serve tea to Prince Rong’s steward. After inquiring into the princess and her daughters, she ordered people to generously reward this steward and sent him off with great fanfare. Then, she turned to Jin Fengju and said, “Enough, go with your Second Uncle and assist him. Do not worry about us. After dinner, we shall go and enjoy some music and dancing.”

Jin Fengju accepted the suggestion and left.

Madam Jiang turned to Jiang Wanying, “Are the opera troupes and musical groups ready? We had better not disappoint the Old Madam.”

Jiang Wanying smiled, “It has long been prepared. Elder Madam, please be at ease.”

Just then, the door curtain lifted and the children filed in. Jin Changfeng and Jin Changjiao were at the back. A fierce light flashed through her eyes until Jiang Wanying noted Jin Zhenyi’s gleeful expression. She smiled to herself and thought: Looks like this Yi boy has done exactly as his vulgar mother had instructed him, ah. Only, why have those cheap bastards not done anything? Are they really as dull as mud balls? No, that cannot be the case. Could it be that Fu woman had taught them something? Has she seen through my schemes? How can that be? Even Lord Husband has no idea, therefore, how could she know? Well, that’s fine. If the fire is not strong enough, I just have to fan it a little more.

After a lively dinner, the people in the room neatened their clothes, put on brocade cloaks and followed after Old Madam Jin to the Autumn Moon Pavilion. The Autumn Moon Pavilion had been designed to celebrate Mid-Autumn Festival. From there, one could view the moon as it slowly rose from behind the mountains. Below were planted all kinds of flowering trees and various chrysanthemums. When the breeze blew, a lovely fragrance floated to the viewers. It was truly a magnificent place to view the moon.

It was the first time Fu Qiuning entered Health & Longevity Court’s backyard, and the first time she climbed up the Autumn Moon Pavilion. Unlike other pavilions, this one was half-built into a hill with a naturally raised seating position. It covered a fairly large area overlooking a stage where songs, dances and operas were performed. There were open seats and walled-in rooms in the pavilion.

As the sky darkened, the moon had not yet risen, but the pavilion and the stage were bright as day thanks to the hundreds of lanterns hung around the place. Old Madam turned to Madam Jiang, “Since the moon has yet to rise, let us enjoy a few operas first. Also, I like Missus Zhu’s singing very much and have invited her to sing a few songs for us.”

Madam Jiang nodded agreeably.

This would be Fu Qiuning’s first time hearing a performance in this era. She was curious about what kind of songs would be sung. In the end, as she had expected, most of the performance consisted of the Kunqu Opera. It was likely that Beijing Opera did not exist yet. As for Yue or Huangmei Opera, the seeds of it may have started in the Jiangnan area, but should not have matured yet.

The songs being sung on stage were the Kunqu singing that had not existed in Fu Qiuning’s time. She listened intently, fascinated to discover this unexpected facet of opera when Jin Changjiao pouted and exclaimed, “What’s this, ah? It’s all yiyi yaya sounds and not nice at all. It takes them so long just to sing one word, mother’s singing is so much nicer.”

Fu Qiuning nearly jumped out of her skin.

Jin Fengju was seated between Madam Jiang and the Old Madam, while she was right next to Madam Jiang as per her status. Jiang Wanying, the secondary wife was seated just on her other side. She shifted uneasily, Fu Qiuning had not expected her daughter to utter such a deadly sentence. If any one of these terrible people heard her and started asking questions, who knows what would come of it?

Luckily, Jin Fengju did not seem to have heard Jin Changjiao. He looked as though he was listening intently to the opera. Looks like he enjoyed these kinds of entertainment very much. Fu Qiuning had just breathed a sigh of relief when Jiang Wanying laughed softly and said, “What’s this? To think that Elder Sister could also sing opera? From what Jiao girl said, Elder Sister’s skill appears to be quite capable too.” Her voice was neither carrying nor soft, just enough for the people around them to hear.

In a flash, all eyes turned toward Fu Qiuning. Fu Qiuning looked down awkwardly, if there was a crack in the ground, she would have squirmed inside to hide from their eyes. Right then, Jin Changjiao seemed to have understood that she had caused trouble and quickly lowered her head, not daring to say anything else.

“Little Sister jokes, how could I? When the children were much younger and could not sleep, I sometimes hum some little songs to help them sleep. Even so, I have no idea what I had been singing then. Unexpectedly, they remember it to this day.” While she privately wailed and cried in her heart, Fu Qiuning was still able to maintain a calm tone. In this way, she could be said to match Jin Fengju in temperament.

“Surely there’s no need for Elder Sister to humble yourself and hide your talent? If you are capable, then you should sing a song to liven up the atmosphere, hmm? Old Madam happens to love operas. Of the 24 Filial Exemplars [2], one of them is ‘Dressed up to Amuse His Parents’, could it be that Elder Sister is unwilling to do this much? Are your claims of filial piety towards the Old Ancestor false?” Jiang Wanying continued to press on. She had finally caught the opportunity to humiliate Fu Qiuning and let others despise her. How could she let it go?

“It cannot be considered filial piety as I am truly not good at it. I dare not contaminate the ears of Old Ancestor with my poor skills.” Fu Qiuning’s hands had clenched into fists under the table as she tried to stay calm and indifferent. She realised that it was crucial for her to remain calm at all costs right now.

“Surely there’s no need for Elder Sister to be so rigid? Even if you cannot sing well, you can still amuse the Old Ancestor…” Jiang Wanying still wanted to force her out, but just then, Jin Fengju said, “Enough, Qiuning is the daughter of Prince Zhenjiang, where would she pick up performance arts? Wanying, don’t force her anymore.”

If he had not said anything, it would have still been fine. However, the moment he spoke, hatred bubbled within Jiang Wanying. Fu Qiuning also knew this but what had struck her even more was that only Jin Fengju had stepped forward to help her out.

The Old Madam had remained motionless in her chair and never even look her way, as though she was fully absorbed by the drama happening on the stage. There was no way this old vixen had not noticed the drama happening right next to her. [1] All this time, Fu Qiuning had never lowered her guard against this Old Madam. She had her suspicions about this old woman’s previous actions, but now she was certain.

The Old Madam is scheming something.


[Gumihou: Yup, the biggest vixen of them all is the Old Madam. There’s an element of ‘fuoh, fuoh, fuoh, I’m so clever’ that Gumi despises a lot]


[1] Some minor sentence adjustments for better flow. This includes deleting things like ‘when she saw’ that were totally unnecessary. Deleted a few ‘laughed’ too.

[2] The 24 Filial Exemplars – the 7th exemplar is ‘He dressed up to amuse his parents’


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This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Eiri Tezuka

    This whole family are a bunch of schemers. That’s why they can get along with Imperial family

    1. Gumihou

      The imperial family are basically schemers of all kinds and creeds. Those who aren’t schemers are all dead.

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