Chapter 24: The Coolie
Translated by Gumihou
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That rascal was still quite dignified.
Su Nuan Nuan gave Duan Tingxuan’s adaptable attitude a positive evaluation. Then, with a wide smile, she led the lot of people into the kitchen. There, she mixed a small tub of bean past with sugar, and expertly split 20 or so eggs into yolks and whites in two bowls.
She gave the Duan Tingxuan the extra large bowl of egg white with a smile: “From now on, we shall have to depend on your Lordship, otherwise we will not be able to achieve the desired results even with myself, Hong Lian, Xiang Yun and Si Ping working together.”
Duan Tingxuan frowned at the extra large bowl and the pair of chopsticks and muttered: “Surely you’re not telling me to beat egg whites?”
“Who doesn’t know this kind of simple work? Why must it be me? Nuan Nuan, even if it’s some kind of a revenge, can’t you come up with something less obvious? Can you not play games like this?”
“Naturally, everyone know how to beat eggs. However, I want these egg whites beaten until they turn into bubbles. Aside from you no one else has this kind of strength.” Su Nuan Nuan stared directly at Duan Tingxuan: “Also, your Lordship please don’t use common man’s eyes to guess at a noble person’s intention and imagined that I want any kind of revenge against you. As mentioned before, if I really wanted revenge, a bottle of rat poison is more than sufficient, why should I waste my effort like this?”
“You… a good man does quarrel s with women.” Duan Tingxuan fiercely pointed at Xu Nuan Nuan’s nose for a while, before shuffling off to the side to beat the egg whites with a depressed air.
As a long practising martial artist, he was already powerful. With a final huff, he unleashed his unspent temper on the hapless eggs whites. In an instant bubbles began to form, more and more bubbles kept on forming, rising higher and higher in the bowl. Su Nuan Nuan, Hong Lian, Xiang Yun and Si Ping all stared in awe at this performance.
“Is this fine?”
He unhappily proffered the large bowl towards Su Nuan Nuan, and watched as she placed some flour into the bowl. Hmm, should be flour, right? It’s all white powdery stuff anyway. As someone who could not tell one grain from another, the little marquis had actually guessed wrongly. What went into the egg whites wasn’t all flour, she had also added some starch as well. Naturally, this type of detail wasn’t something a little marquis would be interested in anyway.
When the oil in the pot heated up, even Hong Lian and Xiang Yun were surprised. Neither of them had ever eaten such a curious snack before.
They only saw Su Nuan Nuan scoop up a ladle full of the egg white, flour and starch paste, picked up one of the prepared balls of bean paste, covered it with the egg paste before lightly dropping the little ball into the pot of oil. A white dumpling swelled up to bob on the surface, slowly turning golden in colour.
Su Nuan Nuan’s movements were extraordinarily quick, rapidly filling the pot with over ten dumplings. Using a bamboo strainer, she stirred the dumplings, keeping a close eye on them. When she estimated that they were about done, she quickly scooped the lot out and transferred them into a large clean bowl. Then, she looked up at Duan Tingxuan’s creased brows and smiled. “Well, they’re done. Please try one, fragrant and sweet Snow Soft Bean Paste snacks. Guarantee you’ll love them.”
“Do you think I’m crazy? Are you trying to trick me into putting one in my mouth now? Only if I don’t want my tongue any more.” Duan Tingxuan rolled his eyes at Su Nuan Nuan. Would this woman die if she misses an opportunity to take a dig at him? Was there some kind of compulsiveness that made her turn against him at every point?
Now that he thought about it seriously, there’s a possibility that there’s an inner compulsiveness that made a woman’s resentment terrifying. Just a few days ago, a case in Shun Tian court came in, his wife up cut off her husband’s vital thing with a pair of scissors just because he kept a mistress on the side. The woman was found guilty and as punishment was banished from Shun Tian. However, the man was already disabled for life.
Just thinking about the case made the little marquis broke out in cold sweat. He gave Su Nuan Nuan, who was busily making more Snow Soft Bean Paste snacks, a complicated look. Now that he had something to compare to, Nuan Nuan was still not quite the level of a resentful wife.
That man had kept a single solitary mistress outside the house, while I have so many beauties beside me, ugh! Speaking of which, should I thank her for not bringing out the scissors?
As he continued to think, his gaze misted over with complex thoughts. Su Nuan Nuan was too busy to notice his gaze. It was Hong Lian who accidentally saw this look and the maid’s heart skipped a beat. Oh, Amitabha, this is good. They no longer need to fear being kicked out of the palace any more.
A few dozens of Snow Soft Bean Paste snacks rolled in the clean bowl. The ones that were out first could already be eaten. Although they were still a little hot, they could be safely eaten. The little marquis ate one, then another one, and another, and another, and one after another the snacks disappeared down his gullet. He kept making noises of happiness and deliciousness as he swallowed the snacks
At this point, whatever dissatisfaction he had against Su Nuan Nuan was lost. Truly the power of delicious food was too strong.
When there were less than 20 pieces of the Snow Soft Bean Paste snacks in the bowl, Su Nuan Nuan, seeing that Duan Tingxuan showed no signs of stopping his starving wolf performance, couldn’t take it any more. She grabbed the wolf’s paw, gritted her teeth and snapped. “Still eating? Is your stomach a black hole? Not afraid of exploding? Hong Lian, Xiang Yun and Si Ping combined didn’t even eat as much as you did. How shameful it is to call yourself a little marquis when you can’t even understand basic etiquette? Do you want to be the first little marquis in history who ate himself to death?”
It was only when Su Nuan Nuan said this that Duan Tingxuan felt the fullness of his stomach. Just now he was only concerned about satisfying his tongue. Not at all bothered about what was happening with his stomach. Satisfied to see that he had stopped, Su Nuan Nuan turned to Si Ping. “It’s dark now, take a few home for your old mother. Having an old parent waiting for their son to come home and eat is really pitiful. It’s really a misfortune for you poor mother-son pair to be stuck with such a terrible master who did not know basic human kindness, ”
After the initial shock, Si Ping felt a strange heat prickle his eyes. He was but a mere servant. Though his various masters always gave him rewards in the form of money and things, in the end, aside from the little marquis, who else would care about him beyond his usefulness as a servant?
Unbelievably, first madam really had changed into a better person after her brush with death.
When he nodded quickly in response, Hong Lian took out some brown parchment paper to create some makeshift takeaway packets for the snacks. During all this time, Duan Tingxuan’s voice had been howling wrathfully in the background:
“What do you mean I don’t know basic human kindness? You want to know how well I treat Si Ping? Just ask him, are there any other servants as well treated as he is? How many servants had to wait on their masters hand and foot, day and night? Si Ping’s mother was a servant who had once served the old madam, nowadays she is still given some odd jobs from the needlework house. How could they even be as pitiful as you said? You wish to bribe Si Ping over? Hmph! I’ll ask you to give up this idea as soon as possible.”
“Is that so? So it turns out I’ve mistaken the situation?” Su Nuan Nuan creased her brows with a cold smile. “In that case, Si Ping, there’s no need for you to bring those things home. Leave it all here.”
“Master,” Si Ping gave Duan Tingxuan a resentful gaze. Oh master, ah, master. What kind of face are you trying to fight for? Though my old mother’s situation is not pitiful, I still wish to bring such good things back for her to taste. Why are you spoiling your servant’s good thing?
Duan Tingxuan finally paused to examine his reaction. He was annoyed. Ah. I am so stupid, too foolish. Si Ping is my servant, ah. The moment we step past the threshold of this place, wouldn’t at least half of those Snow Soft Bean Paste snacks be mine?
Miscalculation, this is a foolish miscalculation, ah.
When his thoughts moved past this point, he thickened his face and back-peddled: “Nn, you’re not wrong, I just…that, hem, hem! I was just a little troubled. Your consideration for Si Ping’s mother is worthy of praise, but why have you not spare a thought for the old madam and elder madam? They’ve never eaten anything like this either, ah. So why no mention of about taking some of this bone soup or these Snow Soft Bean Paste whatever and show some filial consideration to your elders?”
Su Nuan Nuan kept her gaze away as she pretended to watch Hong Lian and Xiang Yun lit the doorway lantern. Finally, she sneered, “On that fateful day of my banishment, elder madam never said anything. Which was fine, since she despises me anyway. Think I don’t know that? The less I show my face, the more comfortable she’ll be. If I were to suddenly appear, elder madam would surely suffer from mental distress. So why should I bother?”
Duan Tingxuan sighed, and said in a gentler voice. “You say that mother dislikes you, but did you ever thought about the things you did in the past? Anyone would dislike a person with such terrible behaviour. Mother is not an unreasonable person, if you’ve truly have a change of heart, she would slowly notice your good points. Do you know why she likes Xue Zi Lan? Isn’t it because Xue Zi Lan is a warm, generous and thoughtful? As long as you…”
Su Nuan Nuan crossed her arms, shivering from the goosebumps brought on by this weird gentleness. She shook her head hard and declared, “Just give up, ba. Even if you beat me to death, I will never turn into that warm, generous and thoughtful little woman. Ever since my near death experience, I have had a great realisation. A person’s life can be summed up with two words. Eat and drink. Nothing is above delicious food. I am a proud gluttonous foodie, you do your filial thing, if there are good things to eat, I’ll come. This will be how we get along in the future. I trust you have no objections to this?”
“You…” Duan Tingxuan felt like there’s a fistful of air stuck in his chest. Unable to swallow or spit out, his face turned red from the pressure. After a long while, he smacked the table and glared. “A couple one night, a hundred day’s grace, a woman cannot be too fussy.”
“It was once grace, but once broken there’s only disgrace. At best, I shall address you once as lord.” Su Nuan Nuan’s lips curled. Want to do battle with idioms? Bring it.
“You want to debate verses with me?” Duan Tingxuan gritted his teeth. “I mean it. Ever since you married me, we are joined as one body. Since I have already lowered my head, what else do you want?”
Su Nuan Nuan laughed coldly: “Don’t, my Lordship, your harem has more than just little me. If we’re going to talk about joined as one body, then just how many times can you split that body of yours? You talk about a couple one night, a hundred day’s grace? That day you tossed me into this Mei Yue Lou, where were these words? A dog ate it, I presume?”
“Shouldn’t you know best why you’re sent here? Even the people outside the palace said I was dropping stones into a well due to your father’s matter, that I was favouring the concubines and looking to banish the wife.”
“However, you knew why, don’t you?”
“How did He Xiang and the child in her belly lost their lives?
“Yue Ya’er was sold to a brothel was under who’s orders?”
“When your father got into trouble, I spared no effort running around trying to fix the situation. Not only did you not show any understanding, but stirred up trouble within the Inner Court instead.”
“You betrothed Yu Fu to a disabled man, annoyed elder madam until she faints.”
“Even the children weren’t spared. Mao Ming falling into a pond was under who’s scheme? Who frightened Mao Chuan until he fell sick? Do you really want me to lay out all these matter before you?”
Author’s Note: Come, come, come, collect recommendation tickets!
Translator’s Note: Dude, most of past Su Nuan Nuan’s crimes could be linked to your extreme lustiness, ah. I think she just went crazy from you spreading your rain and dew all over the place…
- Duan Tingxuan’s mother – I’ve decided to use first madam for Su Nuan Nuan, elder madam for the upper generation, and Old elder madam for the grandmother.
- The seven paragraphs was originally one whole chunk, but I took creative licence and split them for dramatic purposes.
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Translated by Gumihou at kitchennovel dot com
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