Chapter 224: Going Out (Part 1)
Author: White Pear Flower
Translated by Gumihou
Proofread by Pill Bug
Gumihou: I think this chapter was meant to be a brilliant jewel of how wonderfully well Jin Fengju and Jiang Qiuning got along with each other
Just as the maids were chattering brightly to each other, Jin Ming called from the outside to say, “Is the Madam ready? The Young Marquis sent this servant to fetch Madam. He said to wait by the door to the Drum Tower . He will come immediately after court.” Jian Feng hurriedly shouted back, “Madam is nearly ready! She will be out soon.” Then, she turned to Yu Jie and said, “You hurry and change too. I shall finish up here.”  Yu Jie cast a desperate eye at Fu Qiuning, who was looking dazely into the distance, before hurrying out. In her best cheerful voice, she said very loudly, “Goodness, our master is certainly too much. Since he is already coming back, why would he send you ahead?”
Jin Ming was non-plussed by this extra enthusiastic response, but said, “Master said that Madam rarely leaves the estate and since she is going to the market today, it is safer to send me to guide her. That is why I was sent back.” Yu Jie’s answering voice trilled through the beaded curtains, “Master must rely on you a lot, considering that he sent you over to escort our madam!” [2a] Behind the beaded curtain, Fu Qiuning had fallen into a daze the moment Jin Ming mentioned ‘Drum Tower’. That’s right, ancient China’s engineering was good enough that many old buildings remained even in the twenty-first century. She had even visited a Drum Tower herself, situated north of Beijing. These so-called towers were dwarfed by skyscrapers and huge apartment buildings in her time but back then, no, right now, they would be some of the tallest structures in this era’s skyline. [2b] It felt odd to think that this would not even be the same Drum Tower from her own world. After all, there was no such thing as a Great Ning dynasty as far as she knew. Therefore, leaving the timeline aside, she might not even be in her own world anymore…
She was still in a daze when Yu Jie returned after having quickly changed. When Yu Jie held out a trembling hand to escort Fu Qiuning out, she had to call her a few times before Fu Qiuning finally looked at her instead of through her and took her hand.
“Fine, let us go.”
There was already a carriage waiting to take them out right at the courtyard gate. Fu Qiuning stepped in first and sat down. The carriage clattered forward as an odd silence filled its interior.
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When the carriage finally stopped in front of the Drum Tower, they found Jin Fengju already standing there, waiting. [2b] Fu Qiuning was not looking at him. Instead, she looked past the beaming smile at the tall ‘tower’ beside him. To her modern eyes, this ‘tower’ looked squat and short from the distance. However, the closer they came to it, the more she understood why it was granted that title.[2b] It was clearly taller than any other structures around it. She could not remember just how tall the tower was supposed to be, but it looked tall enough that if someone were to fall from its windows, they would be badly hurt.
When the carriage door opened, Jin Fengju hurried forward, still all smiles to ‘personally’ escort her out. Vaguely, she had to wonder just how he would have acted if she had displayed feelings of infatuation early on. Would she have been left alone at Night Breeze Pavilion?
Jin Fengju leaned over to laugh and say, “Do slow down. There is a thin layer of ice on the ground, take care not to slip. Are you wearing soft-soled boots? Those are the most slippery.”[2b] It was only then that Fu Qiuning realised that she had been hurrying forward. She attempted to remove her hand and her mouth tightened when it was clear that he would not let go. Unable to move forward without his express permission, she said instead, “I have travelled back and forth from the estate to the palace to help with the rehearsals. This much is nothing.” Then, she added, “I want to see the Drum Tower.”
“Why? It’s just a Drum Tower, there are several of these all over the kingdom,” however, he still solicitously led her forward.[2b] Fu Qiuning touched the cool stone with her bare hand. It felt rough and solid. [2b] She looked at the grey stone wall and thought: When I die, you will still be here. I may not live to see the twenty-first century again, but heaven willing, you will. So, please take my blessing and stand tall until the twenty-first century.
Jin Fengju’s voice felt loud and intrusive when he said, “Take a look at that.”
Reluctantly, Fu Qiuning turned around to see a large archway with the words ‘Yun Clan’s Great Market’ written on it. Jin Fengju beamed and said, “This place was bought by Yun Clan to create a large marketplace. On regular days, it was rented out to various stalls and shop fronts. However, for 19 days, from the 10th to the 19th of the Twelfth Lunar Calender, stalls and shops that have nothing to do with the New Year Celebration will be closed. Aside from those few stalls, no others are allowed. Therefore, aside from a few small eateries, everything sold here is New Year-related. Although the rules are fairly strict, the market’s reputation is so great that even people from the nearby countryside with some spare money will travel here to purchase New Year goods. I have only ever heard of its name and reputation and never visited it. In fact, this would be my very first time.”
The way he said ‘very first time’ along with that blatant eyebrow raise was nothing if not obvious. Fu Qiuning nodded vaguely and said, “Naturally, it is not the job of a young master to shop for New Year goods after all.”[1a] For a moment, Jin Fengju’s smile faltered and he flailed about for the best way to keep the conversation going. Since, she had not given the scripted reply he could not continue with his narrative. [1a] … or, could he?
With a sudden bout of laughter, he said, “You don’t believe me? There are many rules within a noble house, one of them being that sons and heirs are not allowed to visit places where commoners gather. It was not easy to finally grow old enough to make decisions for myself, but I was still being ordered around by the old master. It was only after many years of hardship that I finally managed to secure some leisure time for myself and quickly came out with you, so who knows when I’ll be able to come out again?”
Fu Qiuning, who had been nodding along with whatever was spewing out of his mouth, paused to say, “You have suffered much hardship.” 
Jin Fengju coughed and appeared to blush when he realised what he had said. He looked to Jin Ming and Yu Jie for help, but those two were not helpful at all. One was looking away in embarrassment while the other had a stricken expression on her face. He thought: These two are no help at all! How am I to salvage this situation?! There was nothing for it. The Drum Tower was obviously making my dear Qiuning uncomfortable. I should not have brought her here. Look at the way she is still attached to the stone walls as though pining for something.
Thus, he took a chance and lightly tapped her forehead and was gratified to see her startled eyes looking right at him. Shaking his head, he said, “What are you thinking about? You are finally outside today, so how about a stroll? Why are you still thinking so hard?” He took both of her hands, making sure that her back was to the Drum Tower and said in a low, charming voice, “I have never seen you in a veil before. You look more charming than ever.”
As a daughter of a noble family, Fu Qiuning could not expose herself to the general public. She was only out here because he, Jin Fengju, had especially granted her this favour. However, she still had to wear a hat and a veil. The veil was thin enough that she could see outside, but others could only see a hazy outline of her face.
He revelled in being looked at by Fu Qiuning until…
“This isn’t the first time you saw me in a veil.”
Jin Fengju was stumped for a moment until Yu Jie coughed on the side and…
“Hahaha! Indeed! Indeed! My dear Qiuning is right! Qiuning is absolutely right, of course! Goodness, I have not forgotten, of course! How could I? I would never… that is, goodness, we should have just dressed up as commoners and enjoy a freer time at the market! I was too short-sighted… ah, but, oh, no, no, how would you fare without this thick coat and cloak? Won’t you catch a chill? Fortunately, there are many noble women out and about in a veil at this time, so you won’t stand out even with a veil.”
Fu Qiuning laughed.
Jin Fengju felt gratified until she said, “If I were so fragile, I would have died long ago. Fortunately, my constitution is more robust than that.”
Behind Fu Qiuning, Yu Jie and Jin Ming covered their faces with their hands. 
Fortunately, Yu Jie saved the day by latching onto Fu Qiuning’s arm and said, “Look, Madam, aren’t those paper cuttings  pretty? Let us buy some!”
“Yes! How pretty, Madam. What do you think, Master?” Jin Ming hurriedly chimed in.
Jin Fengju cast a glance at the stall with a derisive laugh, “They are not as good as the ones cut by Bi Yu or Cai Lian, I believe even Yu Jie’s skills are no worse than this…”
He stopped speaking at the two servants giving him frantic signals with their eyes. He only realised his mistake when Fu Qiuning actually picked up a few of those crude-looking paper cuttings and began speaking kindly to the old man at the stall.
Jin Ming hurried over to whisper, “Master, think of Madam’s attitude. Madam has a benevolent heart and, above all, she is most concerned about the children and servants being warm during the winter, presumably because… anyway, look at what the proprietor is wearing!”
“Then… then what are you waiting for?” Jin Fengju thrust some money at Jin Ming and said, “Buy up everything!”
Jin Ming gave his master a pained look before passing the money to one of the lower-level servants. He had just instructed the boy to buy half of the paper cuttings but to pay double the price, because, what would other people buy if their master bought up everything? Also, where would they stick these crude things? Maybe he could have some people give them out, or-
“Jin Ming, come here!”
Jin Ming hurried over to his master, who was standing next to Fu Qiuning in front of a Tanghulu [a] stall. Fu Qiuning gave him a nod. He recognised this nod. It should not be a nod from someone as noble as the official wife of the lord’s heir. It was the nod of acknowledgement from one harassed worker to another serving a difficult master.
Jin Ming ducked his head and smiled inquiringly at them.
Jin Fengju said, “Buy a dozen of these. Qiuning said the children like these, but they cannot be wrapped, so you must have someone hold it or bring them back-”
He was still speaking when Fu Qiuning removed a long piece of silk from her sleeves. It was fine white silk, about three feet long. Jin Ming felt the hair stood on his head. What-
Jin Fengju also panicked, “Qiuning, what is the meaning of this?!”
Fu Qiuning gave the two of them a non-plussed look. “This is pure silk. Since the weather is cold, the sugar from the Tanghulu will not melt, which means they can be wrapped to prevent dust from sticking to them. I brought this length of silk since it is one of the clean ones without any embroidery or dye on it.”
“Ah,” said Jin Fengju faintly. “I see, that is… how clever of you.” Then, he grabbed the cloth and immediately passed it to Jin Ming, “Indeed, women are more attentive than men. Jin Ming, you take care of the Tanghulu.” Then, he ushered her away, saying, “Look, aren’t those fireworks? Why don’t we have a look?” “They sell fireworks?” said Fu Qiuning doubtfully. As far as she knew, fireworks were heavily regulated, especially in ancient times, due to the use of gunpowder and other volatile ingredients.
“Indeed! Although fireworks are regulated, they can still be bought around this time. Why don’t we have a look here?” He purposely propelled her towards a stall manned by a little girl with a runny nose and a slightly blue face. In a loud voice, he ordered Jin Ming to purchase some of the fireworks and pay more than the asking price.
Unfortunately, when he turned to receive Fu Qiuning’s approval for this act of great benevolence, she had already left. A quick look around showed that she was now at the New Year Painting’s stall.
“Goodness, this really is her first time going out,” said Jin Fengju indulgently as he made his way towards Fu Qiuning. He was shaking his head and smiling as he said to Jin Ming, “She is generally quite steady and poised. Look at her acting like a little girl now.”
Jin Ming managed not to cast a side eye at his master as he thought: Madam acting like a little girl? Master, are you sure you’re not the one acting like a little boy trying to get his crush to speak to you? “Does Madam like this one?” Asked the proprietor. “We have many paintings of auspicious pines and longevity cranes. Or does Madam prefer paintings of scholars and beauties?”  Fu Qiuning smiled as she examined a painting of a child holding a fish, “These are certainly beautiful. We never really had much money after shopping for New Year goods, but Mother would often purchase at least two cheap paintings for our door…”
Jin Ming, catching Jin Fengju staring at Fu Qiuning as she looked completely immersed in her memories, stage whispered, “Master, isn’t madam from Prince Zhenjiang’s palace? Why would her mother buy cheap paintings…?”
[Gumihou: Frankly, I’m not sure why Yu Jie was included in their outing, she might as well be the dust under their shoes. If there was any mention of Yu Jie after Fu Qiuning had left her courtyard, it’s because Gumi put her back there. Also, Jin Ming taking one for team Jin]
 Axed the Jiang Qiuning. [1a] Point out weird ‘romantic’ flags  Drum Tower – is an actual place that you visit! The Drum Tower was used to keep time during the night hours Hearing his words, Fu Qiuning seemed to realize that Prince Lieqing couldn’t cause much trouble. Come to think of it, although the emperor gave the position of crown prince to Prince Lieqing, the high-ranking officials who were close to Prince Rongqing in the court didn’t budge at all. It would be fine if it was just others, but even Jin Fengju hadn’t done anything, and there were even rumors that the emperor intended to let Jin Fengju enter the Ministry of War after the New Year. This was worth pondering.
Just where did this come from? I know I said many times that many words do not equal many IQ points, but this thought fart just came out of nowhere. Deleted 450 words about JFJ’s clothing decision and Jiangnan’s weather, because that final bit is an excellent end to their ridiculous dialogue  Chinese paper cuttings – a type of folk art in China that cuts out pretty patterns from red paper. They are also called ‘Window paper cutting’ because you’d stick these at your windows as decorations.
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