Husband, Wife, and Concubine
by Ghost Writer
"There!” the wife gave her best smile to her husband as she adjusted the tie again. “Now you are perfect.”
The husband laughed heartily and agreed. “True, now I am perfect!” His arms wrapped around his wife and he pulled her close. He gave her a kiss on the lips. When their lips parted, the wife sighed dramatically, drawing yet more laughter from her husband. If nothing else, the wife was a woman who knows how to make her husband a happy man.
“Have a good day today,” the husband said to her before turning to the other woman in the room. “Obey your mistress in all things.”
The concubine bowed her head low. “Yes Master.”
With the greetings over, the husband left the house for his first day of work as the new Chief Finance Officer at his company. A company owned by the family of his new wife.
As the door closed, the wife felt a wave of contentment and relief. Her husband had gone to work and now she has the whole house to herself. Well, except for her husband’s concubine, but a servant hardly counted. Still, having a concubine around meant she could have some fun.
Walking to the living room, the wife beckoned the concubine to follow her. The concubine clasped her hands in front of her, bowed her head and demurely followed the wife. When the wife sat on a chair, the concubine knelt in front of her and bowed her head to the ground. Her forehead hit the ground hard enough that the house echoed with the sound.
The wife smiled. The concubine only did what was proper, but it was still a joy to see she had a concubine who knew her place.
“Go to the kneeling position,” the wife sneered, “and state your position in this house.”
The concubine raised her head and went into a text-book kneeling position. Her head was looking down, her knees were apart, and her palms were placed on her knees. “This woman is the concubine of the house. Her role is to serve the master and obey the mistress of the house in all things.”
“You were once the mistress of this house, were you not?” the wife asked. “How do you feel now as the concubine?”
“It is my joy that my former husband, now my master, is successful enough to take a higher, more beautiful woman as a wife. It is heaven’s will that I am to be a concubine and I welcome my new, more fitting role in the house.”
“A more fitting role indeed,” the wife mocked. “Truly, with your lack of beauty, grace, and elegance, you are a woman undeserving of the role of a wife.”
The wife was pleased that the concubine’s voice was lower, a sign of her humiliation. Frankly, the wife was not truly more beautiful than the concubine and both of them knew it. However the wife was ten years younger and the concubine was showing her age after 7 years of marriage and 2 children, one of them a boy. When the wife first heard that the former wife had agreed to be a concubine, the wife had half-wondered whether it was because of her children or because she truly loved her husband.
Ultimately it didn’t matter. As the concubine, she was just the faceless servant of the family. It would be beneath the wife to worry about the concubine’s feelings.
The wife stood up and walked to a cupboard. She made a show of opening a drawer and taking out the bamboo cane within. She walked back to the concubine and gave her order. “I will now check on the cleanliness of the house. If I find any dirt, punishments will be issued.”
“You may crawl behind me as I inspect the house.”
The cane struck the concubine immediately. The strike hit the concubine on the shoulder and she flinched. However, she stayed on her knees and the wife was pleased by her reactions. The concubine was afraid of the cane but obedient enough to stay in position; the perfect combination.
“Bow and show your pleasure at the privilege of following your mistress, you stupid worm,” she shouted.
The concubine bowed her head to the ground and again the house echoed with the sound of her head hitting the floor. “Yes Mistress,” the concubine groveled. “Thank you for allowing this worthless worm the privilege of following in your glorious footsteps.”
With the concubine’s head bowed to the ground and her ass high in the air, the temptation was just too great for the wife. The cane flashed again, this time striking the concubine on her back.
With that order, the wife turned and went on her inspection. With no order to stand, the concubine crawled on her hands and knees behind the wife. The wife looked back and liked what she saw. She decided that from now on, she would always want the concubine to crawl behind her on her daily inspection.
For the wife, the inspection was disappointing. The house was spotless. The former wife of her husband seemed to be taking her new duties as a concubine very seriously. In theory this was good but on her first day as the wife of the house, the wife understood she needed to establish her power over the former wife with a heavy punishment.
“Stand up for an inspection.”
The concubine stood up and the wife took a good look at the attire of the concubine. She could find nothing wrong with it. The concubine’s head was covered with a black tudong with a veil covering the lower half of her face. A white long-sleeved tunic covered her body and a pair of black trousers covered her legs to her ankles. On her feet were a pair of white socks. Everything was a size too big for her.
This was only right as a woman’s body shape, especially a married woman's, must be hidden. The wife’s attire was similar to the concubine’s only she did not wear a veil to cover her face nor a pair of trousers. As the wife, she was allowed to show her face and to wear a feminine long black skirt instead.
It was then that the idea hit the wife. The wife smiled and asked, “Your attire looks good on the surface. Tell me, concubine, what are you wearing beneath your clothes?”
The concubine was slightly surprised by the question but dutifully answered. “This concubine is wearing normal cotton panties with a plain bra, mistress.”
The wife’s smile widened and asked, “Traditionally a concubine may wear nothing beneath her clothes. Do you not know that, worm?”
The concubine lowered her head slightly and answered. “Yes Mistress. Nowadays, it is normal for a concubine to wear underclothes and this concubine foolishly believed she was allowed to do so as well. Please punish this concubine for her mistake.”
“Yes, I will,” the wife said. “But first you will take off the offending garments.”
The concubine hesitated for the first time today and the wife seized the chance to use the cane again. “Right now worm!” the wife shouted as the cane hit the concubine on the arm.
The concubine knew she had no choice but to obey. This is the way of life in Songhan since ancient times. The concubine must always obey the orders of the wife.
The concubine quickly took off her tunic and trousers, leaving only her tudong and veil on. She then took off her bra and panties, knowing that except for her bleeding period, this would be the last time she would ever wear them. The concubine offered her bra and panties to the wife with both hands. The wife did not take them.
“Place the panties on top of your head, then kneel and bow. Place your bra on the ground, and I want your head touching it while punishment is given.”
The concubine knelt and placed the bra on the ground before her. She then took her panties and wore them over her head. Bowing her head to the ground, the concubine placed her forehead on the bra. “Mistress, this worthless worm is ready. Please punish this worm so that she may serve the family properly in the future.”
The wife took a position behind the concubine and smiled at the naked body before her. The cane went up and down, striking the concubine on her ass. For both of them, this was but the first of many punishment sessions between the two of them.
Shuang Mei closed the book and hugged her two daughters closer to her. "So what do you two think of the story?" she asked.
Xiao Fung, the younger one at 4, answered first. "That was a terrible story, mummy. That wife was so bad."
"No, she wasn't." Xiao Lan, the older one at 5, replied. "She is a wife. She didn't do anything wrong."
"You two are both right." Shuang Mei answered. "She was bad to the concubine but she didn't do anything wrong." Her two daughters looked at her with unknowing looks and Shuang Mei explained, “The wife played her role, just as the concubine played hers. And both of them did so under the orders of their husband."
"But the husband in the story is wrong." Xiao Fung complained. "When a man takes a new woman, she should be the concubine, not the wife. The husband did something wrong."
"Xiao Fung, you are the one who is wrong." The young mother patiently told her youngest daughter. "The husband is never wrong. Remember this always, we are women. We are last and the least of Heaven’s children. Our role in the Celestial Order is to serve men, and no matter what decision he makes, we must obey.”
Both her daughters looked at her expectantly and Shuang Mei continued, “In the future, when you two grow up, whether you are a wife or a concubine, you must always accept and play your part because it is a role given to you by your husband. Whatever position you are given, you must accept it and strive to do your best in that role."
Shuang Mei put her hands on the book and continued. "In the story, the wife was harsh to the concubine but only because she needed to be. She has a role to play in the house. She needed to ensure the smooth running of the household and that's what she did. She checked the house for cleanliness and punished the concubine if she made a mistake. That's what she did."
"So... the wife did nothing wrong?" Xiao Lan asked timidly.
"No, she did not, little one." Shuang Mei said. "So, what's the moral of the story?"
"To obey your husband." Xiao Fung said.
"To know your role." Xiao Lan said.
"You are both correct!" Shuang Mei said. "The moral of the story is that a woman's position is based on her relationship with her husband and no matter what position he gives you, you must accept it."
The young mother kissed both girls on their foreheads and said, "Time for bed now."
She tucked both girls into bed and said her goodnights. After making sure everything was in order, Shuang Mei closed the door to the girl's bedroom. She stood there in the hallway looking at the book she had in her hands.
"Husband, Wife, and Concubine" was an ancient Songhan tale that had been adapted countless times to fit the time period. It was a tale Shuang Mei first heard as a little girl and now she was telling it to her daughters. Shuang Mei was amazed at how timeless the story was.
Although it was bedtime for the girls, her husband still wasn't home yet. Shuang Mei knew he was at a marriage meeting, negotiating with a family to take their daughter as a second wife. Her husband hasn't told her yet if she would continue to be the wife of the house when the new woman come into the household. But with only two daughters in six years of marriage, Shuang Mei had no illusions.
Shuang Mei knew there was a good chance her husband would require her to be a concubine if she wish to stay in the family. If not, Shuang Mei would be given a chance to leave, either back to her father's house or to a nunnery to live out her life.
Neither was possible. There was no way Shuang Mei would ever leave her daughters at such a young age. Shuang Mei held the book to her chest. "Husband, Wife, and Concubine" was a story that reminded people that for good or bad, they must play the role they were given by the Celestial Order. Shuang Mei wasn't just reading the story to her daughters; she was also reading it to herself.
Whatever role her husband gave her, she would play it. No, she would do more than that; as the concubine in the story said, "She would welcome her role”. Shuang Mei smiled sadly. Whatever decision her husband made, it would be her destiny.
Copyright© 2014 by Ghost Writer. All rights reserved.