Chapter 72: Overwhelming Favour
Translated by Gumihou
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“Whatever, since you’re generous enough to take this trouble off my hands, I shall send one to the elder madam as thanks.”
“Are you saying that if I don’t do anything about this matter, you still plan to help Ms. Xue gain justice?” Duan Tingxuan was truly surprised. When he had analysed Su Nuan Nuan’s temperament earlier, he had the impression that she was a rather indifferent person. Even if Ms. Xue had gotten into trouble because of her, she might not do anything that would rock her peaceful life, however… had he been mistaken in his analysis?
“Wu, even if she were to annoy me, as long as she doesn’t test my limits, I can’t be bothered to care. Ms. Xue did a good job taking care of the kitchen all this while and was a very dependable person according to Hong Lian and Xiang Yun. While at Mei Yue Lou, the kitchen never failed to send us food. I managed to claw back to life thanks to a bowl of red braised pork sent by them, I do believe that she’s a good and honest sort. When I went to the kitchen to appropriate ingredients, she cried and practically beat the floor in despair, but that’s mostly out of fear for Madam Yun’s power. I just can’t bear to see this kind and capable person struck down from mere association. At the very least, I intend to everything clear.”
As Su Nuan Nuan muttered to herself, Duan Tingxuan suddenly laughed, “That day you stormed the kitchens, are you sure the one Ms. Xue feared is Madam Yun? People still talked about it, you know. That day first madam marched into the the kitchens to snatch ingredients was like an incredible tornado had just past through.”
“Wei, men who love their wives would not bring up bad history.” Su Nuan Nuan said with some embarrassment, she kicked Duan Tingxuan’s ankle crossly. “Also, what’s all this talk about storming a place? The only people I brought with me was Hong Lian and Xiang Yun, hardly enough people to actually ‘storm’ a place. How shameful, as the lord heir, you should at least be able to use your words properly.”
“Yes, yes, yes, I shall stop now.” Duan Tingxuan playfully covered his mouth.
After a while, Si Ping and Hong Lian came trotting in. He was about to question Su Nuan Nuan further about the new cuisine when thumping sound of someone running towards the kitchen reached him and Cong’er popped her head in. “Master, Shuang Xi is outside with a message. There’s a Lord Long here with some urgent matter.”
Duan Tingxuan suddenly grew more dignified. He turned and said to Su Nuan Nuan, “I’m going to see what Lord Long wants, if I’m late you eat first. No need to wait for me.” and he was off.
“Who is this Lord Long?”
Si Ping had also gone off with his master, so the only person Su Nuan Nuan could ask was Hong Lian, who frowned and said, “This maid did not know, the master never spoken about court matters in front of us before. However, from the master’s urgency, it must be something serious. Aih, Missy, though the master might act carefree in front of us and laugh a lot, he is still a great man with great responsibility, he often end the day exhausted.”
“That’s right, ah. Otherwise why would I let him eat so much of my good things.” Su Nuan Nuan said with a sigh, however, it’s not like she can do anything to help Duan Tingxuan. The best she could do was feed him up when he came home exhausted.
Once the Beggar’s Chicken was done, Su Nuan Nuan kept three of them to be eaten at home and sent the rest away. One went to the old madam, of course, and one to Madam Yang. Liu Min was someone she had no great opinion of, but, thinking about Duan Tingxuan’s position as the heir, well, if she didn’t send one there, that woman might go to the old marquis’ place to make trouble. It’s not worth it to court this trouble, with him going around doing important stuff outside the mansion, there’s no need for him to be troubled by matters within the mansion. Moreover, her clothes, food and living expenses were all covered by him, no need to cause unnecessary trouble for her money tree.
On top of that, she had also sent one to Concubine Lin’s place. The little family of mother and two children were all but invisible within the marquis family’s social structure. For her to send something like this would be seen as showing them great favour. Duan Xinqu were not as shy and reserved in front of her own mother and elder brother. She happily peeled off the lotus leaf and hardened clay of the Beggar’s Chicken, proudly declaring, “Didn’t I tell you? Eldest sister-in-law has completely changed. Brother, I know you don’t believe me and thinks that she’s just trying to win people’s hearts, humph, well, what do you think now?”
Duan Tingfang had just reached 18, though his looks lost to his two elder brothers, he still had strong, sword like eyebrows and bright eyes. A handsome young man with straight white teeth and perfectly formed lips. The only thing that marred his looks was the stressed lines in the corner of his eyes and the stiff, expressionless, face, making it hard for anyone to approach.
At his sister’s remarks, he gave a cold sneer and said, “A single Beggar’s Chicken to buy your loyalty, how cheap. As someone who grew up in a marquis family, you still don’t know what evil looks like. How are you going to get on in the future I wonder.”
“Mother, brother’s trying to talk like an old man again. And who says I don’t know what evil looks like? Did you not see me avoid second sister-in-law and the rest? The only one I like is eldest sister-in-law. She treats me very well. As for trying to gain favours, what kind of favour could she get from us? Also, it’s not just this chicken, the lovely new clothes in my trunk are all from eldest sister-in-law. Not to mention those exclusive snacks we’ve been eating these past few days.”
“Fine, fine, that’s enough from you. Second young miss, you’ve certainly turned into a twittering little sparrow after first madam paid attention to you.”
Concubine Lin smiled as she gently cut in. She cast a slightly worried eye at her son, in a soft voice she said, “Third young master, there’s some sense in second miss’ words. Though the inner court is rife with schemers, it’s not all evil people here. The second young master is not someone simple to deal with, so it’s right for you to avoid him. On the other hand, the lord heir is a great favourite of the emperor and the crown prince’s confidant. Surely there’s no need for me to tell you the kind of future you could have if you are to associate with him more.
With his support, the effort you put into your studies these past three or four years will be noticed. You know, people who wish to gain an official post would do everything they can to stick themselves to such a brother as yours. As for you, not only do you treat him as though he lives over a hundred thousand miles away, but you runaway whenever you see him, aren’t you just making trouble for yourself?”
“Since concubine mother knows that I am a scholar, you should also know that scholars are men who make their own destinies. In the future, I shall also strike out on my own without depending on my famous brother. He’s a great man with important things to do, what would he as as the heir, what could he want with a bastard brother like me? Also, why should I stick my hot face to his cold buttocks?”
“Oh, so you do know what a cold buttock is.” Duan Xinqu wrinkled her little nose and retorted, “I’ve only seen elder brother twice, but I think he’s really nice, nothing like what you said. He has his own reason for not liking second brother, but he won’t treat you warmly if you don’t approach him first. Eldest brother is really busy, so don’t bother sitting around hoping he’ll notice you.”
If anyone else had said this to him, Third Young Master Duan might have gotten angry. Since it was his beloved little sister, he merely stared at her for a moment and turned to his mother in mock despair, saying, “Concubine mother, look, little sister had been bought over.”
Concubine Lin smiled, “Your sister might be young, but what she said made sense. Even if she had been bought over, I’m grateful that first madam is willing to cast a second eye over us.” At Duan Tingfang’s dark expression, she sighed and said gently, “I know that third young master is a noble man, unfortunately, you are born of lowly me. It’s not wrong for you to maintain your pride, but third young master, you must also remember that to succeed in life you need comrades and companions. You must never treat other people’s good intentions like rubbish.”
Duan Tingfang was incredibly sensitive to criticism, but he was also very close to his mother and sister, at their remarks he lowered his head wordlessly. At this point, Concubine Lin suddenly produced a pair of cloth shoes, beautifully embroidered with cotton rose hibiscus. She smiled, “Recently at old madam’s place, the sewing house people happened to be there and the old madam granted two bolts of cloth for me, so I’ve made these for the first madam. It’s nothing much, and I’m sure she has plenty of shoes, but these are my way of showing my gratitude. The lord heir is always visiting Chun Feng Court these days. Tomorrow, you shall go with second young miss and bring these shoes and convey my thanks to her. If you happened to speak to the lord heir, that would be the best, in the end you’re both blood brothers. The lord heir won’t look down on you for depending on him.”
Duan Tingfang really did not want to go, the skin between his eyes brows were tightly wrinkled, but he also knew that his mother meant well, moreover, his sister was right next him thumping her chest and declaring, “Concubine mother, don’t worry. If brother doesn’t want to go, I will drag him by his clothes like a stubborn bull over there.”
Duan Tingfang glared at his sister and thought, very good, this little sister of his had only been to Chun Feng Court for a few days and turned into this chattering bird of a person with smart retorts. To the point that she dared to reprimand him, just who was the one who turned her into such a bold thing? Did that arrogant and wasteful elder sister-in-law of theirs have such charm? To the point that she had turned into such a vivacious person?
At this point mother and daughter started chatting with each other about the makeup they had received from Chun Feng Court. There was talk about how some buyers have been fired, perhaps others won’t be able as unscrupulous in the future. Mother and daughter duo really admired Su Nuan Nuan, to the point that even Duan Tingfang’s curiosity was piqued. Well, surely there’s no harm visiting Chun Feng Court for a bit. It’s not like he needed to really meet up with that elder brother of his, he was just curious about what kind of person that sister-in-law of his really was after having rumoured to have turned over a new leaf.
Members of the marquis family who have received a Beggar’s Chicken were all beaming with joy as they ate, unfortunately not even a scrap of it touched the lips of the little marquis. After departing from Chun Feng Court, he never came back. Even Su Nuan Nuan, replete with chicken and lying comfortably on the the bed, was a little bit concerned. While she couldn’t care less about the safety of the slag man, the fact that she, not to mention the fate of her parents, and herself were in his hands. So, it’s perfectly normal for her to worry, okay?
Now that the first madam had latched onto a most convenient excuse, she had even greater trouble falling asleep. Finally, she got up to get herself another bowl of rice dumpling in sweet rice wine soup. It was passed midnight before she finally got drowsy enough to try and sleep.
Though she had moved back to the inner court, Madam Yang still did not like her, so there’s no need for her to go and give her greetings. As for the old madam, well, that old lady had been bought over the delicious food a long time ago. As long as delicious food kept coming, she could not be bothered with minor matters like proper etiquette. Such was the special situation that the people of the Chun Feng Court enjoyed. Thus, when the sun rose the following day, the maids did not bother to wake their mistress. More often than not, their mistress tended to get out of bed with a bad temper.
 Stick one’s hot face to a cold buttock – Using other people’s fame to your own advantage.
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Translated by Gumihou from kitchennovel dot com.
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