Chapter 225: Going Out (Part 2)
Author: White Pear Flower
Translated by Gumihou
Proofread by Pill Bug
Gumihou: Lalala~ It’s interesting how most of the dialogues and actions can still remain, but the feelings behind them could be, well.. I’m going to skip the footnotes for this chapter. Will only include some notes at the end~
Pulled out of her reminiscent by Jin Ming’s stage whisper, Fu Qiuning looked up to see Jin Fengju’s slightly stricken expression. Jin Ming was looking away, having done his job as his master’s aide. As expected, Jin Fengju immediately shook his head to sigh at his ‘insensitive’ servant by saying, “Qiuning had been sent to the farmstead with her mother when she was young. Naturally, her life would be difficult back then. I fear that after buying all the necessary New Year goods, it was considered lucky to have some money left over to purchase a pair of New Year paintings. That’s alright, you may buy all the New Year Paintings you like. In fact, let us buy up all the New Year paintings here!”
“What?” Jin Ming exclaimed, still not looking at her. “But there are dozens of them here. What are we-”
He was cut off by an impatient Jin Fengju, who said, “Enough of your nonsense, it’s just a few dozen paintings. Just bring them back and divide them up among the families. If there are any left, give them to the maids and servants.”
Jin Ming grimaced dramatically at his master as he took out the coin pouch. Fu Qiuning was busy admiring this servant’s performance when Jin Fengju leaned in too close to her ear to whisper, “I believe Jin Ming is scolding me in his heart.”
Fu Qiuning flinched away automatically, patted her ear and said blandly, “No, he would not dare.”
“…Oh, look! A snack stall!” Jin Fengju quickly pulled Fu Qiuning along to the stall and said with a smile, “Look at these. Although they are crudely made, we have never seen them in the estate before. Yi? These look like the little dumplings you made.”
Then, he turned to ask the proprietor what kind of stuffing was used for the dumplings.
The stall’s owner had frozen up at the sight of the nobleman and veiled lady in front of his stall. After hearing Jin Fengju speak, he was even more certain that this fellow was from a noble house. He quickly smiled and said, “This one has white sugar, peanut and sesame seed stuffing. All very ordinary things. My lord and lady are used to fine food and wine, perhaps you may not be used to them.”
Fu Qiuning glanced over the pastries and noticed that most of them looked like they were unique to the south, probably the Lingnan region. However, what caught everyone’s attention was Jin Fengju’s high-handed buying method, which was basically the ‘from here to there, I want them all’ method, which ended up causing the two servants, including Jin Ming, to have to carry several steaming hot parcels in their arms.
Jin Ming made a face and moaned, “Master, Madam, surely this is enough? I thought Master was here to look at the New Year goods today, and not shopping. Moreover, if it is about buying New Year goods, the housekeepers and stewards should have already prepared most of the things. I fear that…”
Jin Fengju laughed out loud and said, “No need to worry, have the boys bring our purchase back to the carriage. Just come and find us after that…”
Jin Ming cut it with a titter to say, “Ah, my master must have been too happy and completely forgotten that in this huge crowd, it is almost impossible to locate anyone. After we servants leave to put away the things, how would we find Master and Madam?”
“If that is the case, just take everything with you and wait at the carriage. It must be tiring to follow us around carrying all those things,” said Jin Fengju generously. Then, he turned to Fu Qiuning to say, “From now on, we must be more careful when buying things. We have to carry the shopping ourselves.”
Fu Qiuning said, “I don’t know about the Young Marquis, but I regularly carry two full buckets of water weighing over 40 to 50 catties by myself.”
“Ha ha ha! Do you doubt your husband’s strength? No matter what, I have some internal energy and can carry up to 100 catties!” he turned to Jin Ming and said, “Right, you may leave now. Don’t dawdle here.”
Jin Ming made a face, “Master, the two boys can go back to the carriage with the shopping. Miss Yu Jie and I can continue to help Master carry the shopping.”
“That’s right,” said Yu Jie. “I too can carry 40 to 50 catties without any problem!”
Jin Fengju gave the maid a pained smile and decided to not say anything but lead the way down to the other stalls. Fu Qiuning stopped by a stall selling pork trotters, hooves and skins while Jin Fengju fidgeted on the side. For a moment, Fu Qiuning seriously considered saying something to a sweating Yu Jie about how it had been a long time since they had eaten cheap cuts like these but managed to restrain herself in the end.
After the pork stall, they encountered a few beggars lying on the streets. Even in modern China, beggar scams were quite rampant, but that did not mean that no desperate people were resorting to begging to survive. After weighing the odds and considering how most of these individuals were old people and children, she took out a string of coins and gave it to Yu Jie, who distributed the coins among them.
The beggars kowtowed and thanked Fu Qiuning for her generosity, benevolence etc etc and for a moment, Fu Qiuning suspected that she had truly encountered a scamming ring when Jin Fengju suddenly said, “Qiuning, listen. Isn’t that the tune to a Huangmei opera?”
Fu Qiuning paused to listen and sure enough, the drumbeats and melody were consistent with the Huangmei opera style.
At that moment, one of the little beggars raised their head to say, “That’s right, the Yun Clan invited an opera troupe to perform at their place. however, they can’t be called an authentic Huangmei Opera. The one performed at the palace during the All Nations Cultural Festival was the true Huangmei Opera. However, when these people heard how nice the songs were, they made up some random songs following that famous style.”
Fu Qiuning was amused by this little beggar’s snobby appearance. She thought: I supposed you’re an expert of some sort? Why are you so proud when you’re begging on Yun Clan territory during a time when people are most worried about gathering good karma?
She leaned down to say, “So what if an opera is performed on imperial grounds? Only after the common folk embrace the music, imitate or make up their own performances will an opera continue to live on. Do not be too narrow-minded, child.”
Jin Fengju smiled and said flatteringly, “I have always known that you’re broad-minded. However, I never thought you’d be this broad-minded. When I heard them playing the songs, I felt a little indignant. After all, how dare these commoners have the guts to sing the Huangmei opera? Won’t that tarnish your precious reputation? I had not expected you to be so open-minded.”
Fu Qiuning, “That’s only because you are narrow-minded.”
Several of the beggars tittered before quickly looking away.
“M-madam! Would you like to have a look at this opera troupe? How long has it been since Madam last watched a performance purely as an audience member?” Yu Jie exclaimed quickly, desperate to cover up this awkward moment.
Fu Qiuning looked at Yu Jie and said, “Perhaps…”
“Then let us go! Come now,” Jin Fengju hurriedly propelled the group towards the theatre, too glad for the change of topic. There was already a sea of people surrounding the stage. Still, they were close enough for Fu Qiuning to see certain details. To her professional eye, she could tell that these people had been trained since young and adapted well to the new opera. Although the accent was not quite on point, it was melodic and beautiful. Their movements flowed smoothly according to the music.
“Their costumes are not as exquisite as the ones during the All Nations Cultural Festival performance,” said Jin Fengju critically. “I suppose their dancing and singing is good enough to fool the common folk.”
Several eyes turned around to stare at them. Fu Qiuning took one step away from Jin Fengju and stared at him too. When they saw that he was exquisitely dressed, looking like some important noble, most turned their backs to him to continue watching the opera. No sense in picking a fight with a noble. None of them could afford the fallout, so let’s just pretend he isn’t there.
Even so, one old man spoke up, “How can you compare this performance with the All Nations Cultural Festival? Imperial performers and musicians aside, they were all taught by a noble lady of high scholarly skills for several months. How can common stage performers compare?”
“That’s right,” someone else chimed in. “Not to mention, what a waste it is to have so much effort put into the play, and yet only nobles and imperial family members could watch it regularly. What about the common people? They want entertainment too! Right, everyone?”
A murmur of agreement floated up.
Jin Fengju maintained his smile but said nothing. Fu Qiuning had obviously aligned herself with the commoners around them and was not even looking his way as the people around began criticising him. The best thing he could do then was… not say anything and maintain his noble dignity. Instead, he used the time to watch Fu Qiuning’s face. She was… watching the mediocre performance with rapt attention.
For a moment, he regretted not taking her out to watch an opera, or inviting a theatre troupe to the estate. His dear Qiuning had no love for money, gold or jewellery and did not care for power. Thus far, he had only seen her pay attention to the children and… opera. Maybe, what she really wanted was to have her Huangmei Opera be sung throughout the entire world?
That’s it, right?
Well, he could help make that happen!
“Qiuning, how about meeting the performers? If you feel that they are talented enough, with a little guidance from you…”
Technically, bringing Qiuning out on a stroll among the commoners like this was already against the rules of convention, let alone down to mingle with the riff-raff like opera performers. However, seeing Fu Qiuning’s rapt face and how she had never paid such attention to anything as far as he knew, he could not miss this opportunity to make her happy.
Fu Qiuning never took her eyes off the stage until an interlude. She turned to him to say, “Meet the performers? Why? Didn’t you just say they are too mediocre?”
Jin Fengju wished he could go back in time and slap past him in the face. He beamed ingratiatingly at Qiuning and said, “I am mistaken, of course…”
“No, you are right. They lack training,” Fu Qiuning said with a shrug. “Even so, they did an excellent job without proper guidance, especially if their only reference was that one performance during the Festival.”
“Miss, these performers are called the Cloud Stage Group, they are some of the best. Otherwise, they would not dare to be on such a large stage now,” said one of the women disapprovingly.
“Even the best could use some guidance!” Jin Fengju cut in abruptly. Then, he turned a sweet face towards Fu Qiuning to say, “What do you say, wife? How about giving those… people some guidance?”
“Master, maybe it’s better to return…” Jin Ming suggested a little nervously, but Yu Jie piped up, “Why not? I always wanted to see the actors behind the stage!”
Finally, all three stared at Fu Qiuning, awaiting her decision. Fu Qiuning kneaded her forehead. She was having deja vu of that one field trip where she had to lead 30 children around. Fortunately, most of them were quite obedient, but there were these three rascals…
“Fine, let us go,” she finally said. No matter what, this was an opportunity to influence some grassroots performers. If she could establish some connections here, in the future, if she ever had to escape from the noble estate for whatever reason… this could be the key…
As they left, the people behind them converged and started whispering to each other.
“Hey, who is that arrogant handsome man?”
“Who knows, must be another waste of space who only knows soft rice.”
“Humph, that had to be his wife…”
“Or his sister,”
“Would anyone treat their sister like that? No, it must be a new wife, or even a fresh concubine!”
“That’s right, that’s right, a man out to impress his new concubine!”
“Or, it could be a mistress!”
Titters rose up among the commoners as they continued to speculate upon that mysterious arrogant young nobleman and the veiled woman by his side.
Please read this at kitchennovel dot com ~
Unfortunately, Jin Fengju had not quite moved them fast enough to avoid the commoners’ gossip. Face flushed red, he hurriedly pushed his way towards the backstage. The so-called backstage was just a temporary shed filled with costumes and small bronze mirrors on tables. There were already several people in the room, some dressing up and others taking their costumes off. Makeup was being put on or wiped off. There was much laughter and noise.
Jin Fengju had just stuck his head in when a girl came out. She looked them up and down and snapped, “Who are you? More dogs running errands for your master? Let me tell you, Fifth Brother won’t go. No matter how much money you pay us!”
Jin Ming was about to reply when a furious Jin Fengju stepped forward to say, “How dare a girl like you talk that way? Do we look like hired help? What family could afford servants like us? You have eyes but you cannot tell gold and jade from rocks. Call your leader forward, I have something to say to him. I will say this now, today is a great opportunity for you. My companion is here to bless you with some guidance that could change your life!”
Fu Qiuning coughed into her hand. She looked away, already regretting going there. As expected, Jin Fengju’s sweet action was all an act to catch the woman he was currently obsessed with. This was his true self. This young master was selfish, arrogant and disdainful towards those he deemed below his station. After all, wasn’t that his greatest grievance with original!Fu Qiuning? He looked down on her because she was the shu-born daughter of Zhenjiang King. Nevermind her royal bloodline, she was too dirty and common to be matched with the heir apparent of a marquis family, which was why he never even slept with her on their wedding date, left her alone for a year, foisted his two abandoned children with her and married in several women as secondary wives and concubines just to spite her.
How nice to know that he had never really changed.
The girl did not back down. Instead, she sneered and said, “Yo~ You are quite a daring one. Our Cloud Stage Group had been in the Capital for so long and has never seen anyone like you. Who do you think you are to advise us? The Marquis?”
“… …” Right, those two deserved each other.
[Gumihou: … I had… so many issues with this chapter. ]
 Yu Jie’s non-existent existence. Jin Ming had also disappeared, leaving them in a two-people world.  They look over the pork stall ‘uninterestedly’… like bro, if you have been on the verge of starvation for 5 years, even the lizards on the wall would look mighty tasty to you. My grandparents lived through 1 year of war, living on the edge of starvation and they still could not bear to waste food 50 years later.  The scene where Qiuning was ‘worrying’ about her ‘unusual’ past being exposed was just so fake  Qiuning thinking that beggar scams don’t exist now, like, dude? Films of beggars forming their own groups etc and having a special weapon called Dog Beating Staff make them pretty organised, you know?  Deleted landmark scene where Fu Qiuning called Jin Fengju ‘Fengju’ for the first time, like kyaaa~
But, yeah. Maybe wait five years for that. Also, deleted the scene where the people were all ‘wow, Fengju? THAT Fengju! Whose wife trained that opera troupe?!’ wowow amazeballs wowow.
Deleted a total of 350 words.
Come join kitchennovel’s subscription!
Or, you can still support us through Patreon or tip us via Kofi~!
Although… it’s, um, you only get half the benefits… but, the decision is in your hands!
Do also comment at Novelupdates and raise our ratings!