Higher Level Wife – 185 – Displaying One’s Skills

Chapter 185: Displaying One’s Skills

Author: White Pear Flower

Raws: https://book.qidian.com/info/2386994/

Translated by Pill Bug

Edited by Gumihou


Fu Qiuning thought: Why is this guy being so annoying? Just pick anything.

Out loud, she said, “Does it even matter? Just pick whichever. However, if you want my opinion, it is better to start with Yue opera songs.”

Jin Fengju said, “Yue opera has a lingering charm and is deeply moving. However, I feel that Huangmei opera has a livelier tune. Perhaps the Empress Dowager would enjoy listening to something more charming. Think carefully, which pieces should we begin with?”

Fu Qiuning rolled her eyes, “Why bother asking me if you have already made the decision? I’m sure you also have a song in mind, so stop pretending to ask me for my opinion.”

Jin Fengju suddenly clapped his fan against his hand and said sternly, “Just so! I was just thinking that something was missing in your performance. Ah, I had been too foolish, it is the accompanying music! Without music, how can it be considered an opera? In that case, Qiuning, I will have to trouble you to train up a dedicated orchestra…”

Fu Qiuning’s foot stomped down against the carriage floor, “Excuse me? Train an orchestra? Lord Husband, please spare me.”

She wasn’t incapable of writing musical scores, but in order to slowly compose the scores for an entire play by herself, it would take at least a year and a half or more for an amateur like herself. To clarify, not only would she have to write the lyrics, but she would also have to recall or even recompose all the incidental music and transition music anew. Does this scum male even understand what an unbelievable amount of work this is? Not to mention four months, even if she had four years, how many plays could she compose?

Jin Fengju chuckled and said, “Indeed, you have only learned opera singing from that old lady, but did not learn about the musical scores for instruments. Not a problem, there are several exceptionally skilled musicians in the palace. When the time comes, you just need to focus on singing, and they can provide the accompaniment. It should not be too difficult.”

This asshole! Fu Qiuning was suddenly reminded of all the horrible bosses and superiors she had suffered under in her entire past life. “You-”

Suddenly, the coachman called from outside, “Young Marquis, we have arrived at the palace gates.”

The carriage slowly came to a stop while Fu Qiuning seethed, and Jin Fengju maintained a smug smile. After getting out of the carriage, they had to walk several li past the palace gates. If she had not been powered up by the seething anger, Fu Qiuning would have gotten tired partway through. They walked for close to half an hour before a majestic palace finally appeared in the distance.

Jin Fengju smiled and said, “That would be Clear Jade Palace. I believe the Emperor and the Empress Dowager are already waiting.” After saying that, he hurried them through the last few steps. A junior eunuch watching the palace gates had already flown into the palace long ago to report their arrival.

As Jin Fengju and Fu Qiuning stepped through the entrance, the singsong voices of the eunuchs called out, “Announcing Imperial Historian Jin Fengju and his wife, Fu’shi, arriving to pay respects.” The voices swelled and ebbed like waves, as though the guards were relaying messages from a distance. It reminded Fu Qiuning of the television dramas she had seen in modern times. However, such scenes would usually take place in the Heaven & Earth Hall or the Imperial Hall of Diligence. She never expected to encounter such a display of the Emperor summoning a minister from beyond the Meridian Gates to happen in an ordinary palace. Fu Qiuning’s lips curled as she thought: Being an emperor must be comfortable. Even a simple command requires so many people to relay it. No wonder everyone wants to be an emperor.

After the couple walked through the gates, they still had several hundred steps to go before reaching the grand hall when Fu Qiuning quietly asked Jin Fengju, “You are an Imperial Historian? How did I not know about this? Weren’t you just a casual errand runner at the Hanlin Academy?”

Jin Fengju glanced at her and gritted his teeth as he muttered under his breath, “Whenever it comes to anything related to me, you never pay any attention. How could a woman not remember their husband’s official position? It is a form of honour. Only you, aside from your children, have nothing and no one else in your eyes. I am afraid that in your heart, you care more about Aunt Yu than me, your own husband. I was promoted to Imperial Historian after the Lunar New Year, and I mentioned it to you before. But now, it seems like you have completely forgotten about it.”

Fu Qiuning smiled serenely and said, “Is that so? Perhaps you and I suffer from some sort of memory loss. Sadly, I could not recall anything of my Lord Husband, whilst my poor husband could not recall any of the promises he had made to me.”

By the time she was done speaking, they had already arrived in front of the grand palace. For some reason, instead of entering the main hall, Jin Fengju led her around the corridor towards the inner court. Within the exquisite courtyard, there were tall and handsome guards at every three steps. It did not take long for Fu Qiuning to notice that the Empress Dowager and the Emperor were in the main hall of the inner court.

Although Fu Qiuning was from the modern era and had even met the Emperor before, her heart still beat like a drum now that she was inside the imperial palace. No matter what, she was still a citizen of China and the thought of meeting the Emperor in his natural setting would only be exciting. She followed Jin Fengju into the room and paid her respects as per etiquette. While she kept her eyes down, a familiar voice said, “No need for such courtesies, this is neither the grand palace nor the study hall, why bother with so many formalities?”

Jin Fengju responded and stood up with Fu Qiuning. Fu Qiuning still kept her eyes on the floor. After all, she had painted herself as a dullard before the Emperor the last time they met, so it only made sense to maintain her character. Aside from the Emperor and Empress Dowager, there were also the ‘old ministers’ on good terms with the emperor who also sang to entertain their monarch. Privately, she thought: It’s like everyone here’s to entertain their old father-in-law to win his approval.

A short while later, a gentle voice said, “This is Fengju’s official wife? I have only seen his secondary wife before. If I am not mistaken, she was once a girl in the Zhenjiang Palace, yes? I have never seen her in person before. Lift your head, let Us have a look.”

Fu Qiuning raised her head gracefully. She used the moment to sweep her eyes around the periphery of the room. To her surprise, she discovered that her grandfather and father were also present. Additionally, the faint breathing and coughing that she could hear from the adjacent hall indicated that others were around, probably from the desperate Ministry of Rites officials that Jin Fengju was planning to show off to.

The Empress Dowager examined her for a moment, then nodded and smiled. “You have a dignified and elegant demeanour, worthy of being with Fengju. I heard that your health used to be poor. How are you now? Have you recovered?”

Fu Qiuning thought to herself: Looks like the mistreatment of the past six or seven years is going to be swept under the rug of ‘weak health’. Just how did everyone come to insist on using this same lame excuse? Did they talk about this before? Or is ‘weak health’ the universal excuse that these noble aristocrats use to excuse all their actions?

Naturally, she did not reveal her thoughts as she lowered her eyes and respectfully replied, “In response to Empress Dowager, this humble woman’s body has always been frail. So frail that this humble woman never left the house since marriage. It is only thanks to the Young Marquis’ tender care and attention in recent year that colour has finally returned to this weak woman’s body.”

Jin Fengju smiled bitterly in his heart and thought: Qiuning, ah Qiuning, I have been completely open and honest with you. Why do you have to mock me at a time like this? Do not assume that my face is that thick, because I can blush too, ah.

While feeling wronged, he heard the Emperor chuckle and said, “We have summoned you today for a reason. Your husband must have explained everything to you. Once you have paid respects to your father and grandfather, come and give us a song. Fengju does not praise anyone easily, but he has praised your abilities to the high heavens. The officials from the Ministry of Rites are also in the outer hall. Let them listen as well and see if your play is worthy of being the centrepiece of the All Nations Cultural Festival.”

Fu Qiuning lowered her head, thinking: As expected, the reason I am here is because this man could not help but show off. After knowing of my special skill, how much effort has he spent singing and praising my abilities at every opportunity to finally have me dragged out here?

Fortunately, she was not very close to her ‘father and grandfather’. The three relatives smiled at each other on the surface. Fu Qiuning maintained her modest and reserved attitude even as the two men showed uneasy smiles.

Fu Qiuning had once aspired to be an opera performer and had even involved herself with a theatre troupe before. She was good, good enough to appear on stage before a large audience, though her role was not very big. Therefore, although she had to appear before royalties to perform, she only had to recall the moment she stepped on stage in her past life to place herself in the correct mindset. She had loved the stage.

Anyone who aspired to learn opera would have a natural love to perform before an audience. Though she had resigned herself to being a teacher, it was the same for her. Thus, as she stood in the centre of the room, she cleared her throat and sang a section of the celestial pairing song, <<The Couple Returns Home Together>>. [1]

At the end of the cheerful song, both the Emperor’s and the Empress Dowager’s eyes were shining brightly. The Empress Dowager clapped her hands and smiled with satisfaction, “I have always loved operas. From childhood till now, I cannot recall just how many I have heard and enjoyed. I even believed that I had heard all the plays in the world, but now, I realise just how lacking my knowledge is. Otherwise, how could I have never heard of such a beautiful song? No wonder Fengju is so full of confidence in his praise. Indeed, what a melodious and delightful song. As the ancients say, it is a performance that lingers in one’s mind for three days. Now, I can say that I have personally experienced this sensation.”

Fu Qiuning was quick to express her humble thanks, but the Empress Dowager merely waved her hand and said, “I did not speak this for Fengju’s face. What does the Emperor think?”

The Emperor smiled and said, “We also find it most excellent to listen to. Such a song should only exist in the heavens, how could it exist in the mortal realm? It is no exaggeration to say that it should certainly perform well in a play.” Then he turned to the side hall and asked, “Have all of you dear ministers heard it? What do you think? Can this play trample upon all the other competitors at the All Nations Cultural Festival?”

Beyond the curtains, a background of whispering sounds could be heard. Then, a booming voice spoke up, “In response to the Emperor, this play is melodious and touching. This minister has never heard of it before. Obtaining the top spot at the All Nations Cultural Festival should not be difficult. However, there is one issue. It is really short. If a play is to be performed at the All Nations Cultural Festival, it should last at least half an hour. But currently, it does not last even a quarter of an hour. This minister feels that it is such a pity.”

“Woo, that’s true,” nodded the Emperor. However, Jin Fengju stepped forward and said, “In response to the Emperor, such a short segment naturally cannot be considered a play. That is because it is merely one song of a complete play. Qiuning has merely sung one part of this one song. When the time comes, musicians can be called to provide the musical accompaniment, and the Royal Academy singers can also rehearse the full play. With that, suppressing the competition will not be difficult.”

The Emperor’s eyes sparkled as he stared at Fu Qiuning and asked, “Fu’shi, is it as your husband said, that this is part of a complete play?” When Fu Qiuning nodded, he smiled and said, “Good, then sing another piece.”

Resigned, Fu Qiuning thought: As expected, look at how that man just sold me off. As expected, the selfishness of an ambitious man knows no bounds. Jiang Wanying was once favoured because she was the granddaughter of a duke, but now that the Jin household has become dukes themselves, her status has become inferior. As for myself, although I do not have the bloodline to back me up, I have a mysterious skill which he could exploit and thus further gain him face. No wonder I am so favoured now.

To the people outside, it looked like she was just thinking of which song to sing, but in fact, dark thoughts continued to run through her mind when she reached the line, “To understand astronomy and geography, a man’s ambition extends to all directions, to all directions ah…” even as she sang the lines from <<The Fishermen Reside in the Center of the Water>> as if it was a perfectly natural thing for her to do. [2]

When the Emperor applauded, cheers could be heard from outside. In that era, men’s ambitions and aspirations were highly valued, and the line “ambitions extends to all directions” resonated with the thoughts of all the men present. Fu Qiuning refused to turn around and look at the man who had made use of her talents to further his own ambitions. It was despicable. Especially more so, since he insisted on pretending and imagining himself a virtuous and loving man to the world.

Immediately, the Emperor asked a few questions to the officials from the Ministry of Rites and decided on the grand finale for the All Nations Cultural Festival. Jin Fengju stepped forward again and said, “In that case, as Qiuning’s husband, it is this minister’s duty from tomorrow to assist the officials from the Ministry of Rites in supervising Qiuning’s rehearsal of this play. However, it is almost dusk today, and this minister had hastily brought Qiuning to see Your Majesty. The people at the estate must all be perplexed, so this minister should return and put their minds at ease. Your Majesty, please allow this minister to take his leave.”

Before the Emperor could respond, the Empress Dowager laughed and said, “Why the rush? I confess I am simply obsessed with the songs now. We have only heard two pieces of the songs and did not even know what the entire play is about. It’s not like the palace is some dragon’s pond or tiger’s then, is your family afraid that we shall swallow your wife whole? If you wish to go back, then go. Tell them that I will keep Fu’shi for the night, and I simply must listen to the entire play before she leaves.”


[Gumihou: I didn’t bother to note things down since it’s futile anyway. Suffice it to say, whatever that was out of whack was returned where it ought to be.]


Pill Bug TL Notes:


[1]       《夫妻双双把家还》            You can watch it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0bMulZqmqvk&ab_channel=nantahpg

It’s Huangmei opera by the way, as you can tell from its cheerful tunes

[2]       《渔家住在水中央》https://haokan.baidu.com/v?vid=10180450050972549302


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This Post Has One Comment

  1. Kuno

    Hi. The 186th chapter is still locked for omekase subscription. Is Monday the day for new chapter additions ? Also, when is the renewal for subscription? Is it exactly one month from the date of purchase or is it every 1st of the month like patreon? Thank you for clarifying.

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