The Feast – 082 – Mutual Hatred

The Feast – 082 – Mutual Hatred

Chapter 82: Mutual Anger

 

Translated by Gumihou

Please read this at kitchennovel dot com

 

Qiu Ling looked up at the voice, when she saw Duan Tingxuan in the room she did not come into the house. Instead, she smiled and said, “As madam guessed, but isn’t this a little rude to old madam? As though the only thing she had in mind is food.”

“Oh? Are you saying I’m wrong?” Su Nuan Nuan frowned, before smiling. “Ah, maybe I was just being sensitive. What is Qiu Ling here for?”

“Eh…” Qiu Ling’s face flushed red as she muttered, “Old madam said that the Stuffed Eggplants were not bad. She had planned to leave some for dinner, but then who would have thought that a few of the little masters turned up for a visit. Naturally, old madam wouldn’t hide good things from her great-grandsons, right? Therefore… hehe, surely first madam understands?”

“In the end, isn’t it about food?” Su Nuan Nuan muttered. Still, she smiled and said, “Understand, of course I understand. Be at ease, old madam shall have a whole tray of fried Stuffed Eggplant, as well as a tray of Hawthorn Cakes[1].”

Qiu Ling smiled, “As expected, first madam is very filial. After eating greasy fried food, having some sweet and sour Hawthorn Cake is the best.” with this, she left them quite happily. Duan Tingxuan remarked, “Luckily I behave sensibly and did not offend you earlier. Even grandmother can’t live without your food now. Su Nuan Nuan, right now as long as you play your cards right, you can stick your hands out and open the heavens.”

“Is that so?” Su Nuan Nuan gave a little hehe laugh. “Since my lord says so, then I shall not fail to live up to your expectations. Xiang Yun, go to the kitchens and bring two women from there to be my assistant.”

“What is the meaning of this?”

Duan Tingxuan was a little surprised. As he understood it, Su Nuan Nuan was not someone who just simply say things for no reason. Just what was she planning now? Surely she was not really going to stick her hand out and open the heavens, right? Was she planning to flood the marquis palace?

“Nothing, nothing, no special meaning. It’s about the previous marquis, but, well, now that I think about it, perhaps it’s best not to trouble you about it. You’re a busy man after all, how could I bother you over inner court matter. It’s not something you should get involved in.” Su Nuan Nuan said mildly. Duan Tingxuan finally understood, this was actually a counter attack. While it might not necessary bring a flood of trouble into the marquis house, this was an indication that Su Nuan Nuan was slowly getting more involved with inner court politics.

“My thanks to dear wife for thinking of me. However, what brought this warm consideration into being?” Duan Tingxuan said.

Su Nuan Nuan said gloomily, “It’s not a warm consideration, it’s a sudden realization. Whatever, there’s no need for you to bother me. Hurry up and leave, go take a stroll or something.”

“What’s with this sudden change? I know every blade of grass and every tree in this place, there’s no need for me to go strolling.” The little marquis had no intention of leaving this place. However, his wife’s phoenix eyes flashed coldly. With a sneer she said, “Don’t think I don’t know your real reason for staying here. You just want to steal my food.”

“Fine, fine, fine, I’m leaving. I have something to speak to father about anyway.” Duan Tingxuan knew that the number of fried Stuffed Eggplant required was quite a lot, and that his wife would be quite tired from all the work and decided that now was not the best time to press his views.

 

“No matter what, first madam really went overboard this time. Madam Min is not someone who could take a loss easily. Do you really think that branch lady would leave matters alone just like that? Though daughter-in-law understands that first madam is in the right this time… only… does mother-in-law think that Madam Min would report the whole story properly to the Lord Marquis? This one is concerned that she would embellish the story and lay the blame at our lord’s feet.”

At Madam Yang’s place, Xu Ran Yun had made special effort pay her filial greetings in the afternoon. Without bothering to beat about the bush, she summarized Su Nuan Nuan’s cat issue with just a few words. When Madam Yang’s reply was a mild, “I see.” she realized that something was not right. She knew that grandmother-in-law and Liu Min had not gotten along for many years. Now that Su Nuan Nuan had acted out so overbearingly, grandmother-in-law would most probably back that woman up. After a while she grew agitated again, and began to re-analyse everything once more.

A crease finally appeared between Madam Yang’s brows. After a while, she sighed , “Whatever, what can we do about it? Let her say whatever she likes. Do you think if Nuan Nuan is not around she won’t say anything? However, you’re not wrong, Nuan Nuan should have thought things through properly. I’ll ask Xuan’er to reprimand her.”

Xu Ran Yun thought, you want the lord to reprimand her? In the end who reprimands who remains to be seen. Only, from the way Madam Yang spoke, she knew that it would be obvious if she were to embellish the story. Perhaps it would be better to drop the subject. She bowed and made to leave when she spotted Madam Yang’s personal maid trotting up the hallway, Mu Dan. She quickly and discreetly grabbed the maid aside and whispered, “The smoothie I sent yesterday, how did elder madam find it?”

Mu Dan smiled, “She liked it very much, ah. She said that there was not much difference between the one first madam made and knew Madam Yun put a lot of effort into it. Considering your housekeeping duties, the fact that you would trouble yourself so really touched her heart.”

Only then did Xu Ran Yun’s mood turned for the better. With a smile, she nodded, “What’s all this talk about trouble? This is nothing, elder madam’s happiness is of the utmost importance.” With that, she gleefully left her mother-in-law’s courtyard. Heheh! At least she had managed to please elder madam’s heart. Su Meng Nuan, you think that just because you know a few recipes you could buy people’s heart? Humph! Too short sighted. Right now the kitchen is all staffed by my people, whatever tricks you pull, I can match it too. Once good food is aplenty, there’s no reason for the lord to cling to you alone. Who wants to forever be stepped on just for a few morsels of food, ah!

The more she thought, the happier she became. When she got back to Autumn Rain Pavilion, Cui Bing, one of her maids rushed over to whisper, “Madam, the kitchen just sent a message over. They said first madam wanted two servants to help her fry Stuffed Eggplants. Surname Qin knows your aim and sent two quick witted maids over to help. This way we can steal all of first madam’s skills without expanding any of our own effort.”

Xu Ran Yun hehe-d, “Looks like this Qin is pretty tactful, I’m glad to see she did not waste her promotion. She had always been a sharp one, unlike that stupid Ms. Xue who ended up as a labourer at the laundry house.” She was feeling very pleased with herself as she sailed into her living room. She bade her maids to bring in the good tea and settled down to wait for good news. Xu Ran Yun only sat up from her lazy sprawl when several female servants in charge of housekeeping came in and stood in a line before her. Xu Ran Yun sat erect and proper in her chair facing the row of house maids with their bent waist and lowered eyes. When nobody said anything, she inquired mildly, “It’s almost sunset now, if you have anything to say spit it out. What’s so important that you have to bother me at this time?”

One of the housekeepers, surname Chang, smiled ingratiatingly up at her, “With respect, when the master found an excuse to cast out Liu San, the poor man spent a whole day trying to drink his problems away and had his leg broken due to a carriage running over his foot. The physician said he’ll probably go lame from this injury. His wife came and knelt in before of this servant and cried the whole afternoon begging this servant plead leniency with madam. They begged to remain in the mansion and were willing to take up any odd jobs as madam saw fit. This servant took pity on them and only dared to plead their case knowing madam’s merciful heart, and how old madam and elder madam often fast to show their sincerity to great merciful Buddha.”

Liu San was that scheming servant who lined his pockets by selling those bad make-up products to the servants and less favoured family members. Which was why Duan Tingxuan had cast him out. Now that she thought about it, this matter had its roots with Su Nuan Nuan. Naturally, Xu Ran Yun did not want to go against her husband, moreover, that Liu San acted on his own. However, when she thought of Su Nuan Nuan, a fire ignited in her heart. She said indifferently, “Oh, if it’s like that, clearly we cannot be too merciful. When his injuries have healed and could walk without pain, ask him come to the manager’s room and have him do some minor odd jobs to learn the ropes. However, if he does anything to embarrass me, I shall not hesitate to throw him out.”

Surname Chang immediately gushed her thanks with many bows and flattering words.  Xu Ran Yun allowed her to go on a bit before saying, “Now that he’s injured, isn’t it difficult for him to make a living? I understand his wife is with the laundry house. That job is tiring and earned very little. Whatever, take her with you and make sure to train her properly. Give her some simple duties first, and let her…”

She hadn’t managed to finish her speech when Cui Bing appeared suddenly. Xu Ran Yun had sent this maid of hers to investigate the Su Nuan Nuan situation, and the expression on the maid’s face made here heart go ‘thump’. Without waiting for a proper greeting, she bade Cui Bing in and asked, “What happened?”

Cui Bing looked left, then right, and the rest of the servants took the hint to back out of the room. When they were alone, she said indignantly, “Madam, first madam threw a huge tantrum at Spring Breeze Court[2]. She claimed hat the servants sent by the kitchen were lazy and foolish and demanded them to sent Ms. Xue over, but when they told her that Ms. Xue no longer work in the kitchen, first madam grew even more angry and dumped flour onto the floor, declaring that she refuses to cook.”

Xu Ran Yun shot up, anger turning her face red as she gritted her teeth, “What is she trying to do? Want to challenge me? Hehe! Who does she think she is?”

Cui Bing sighed, clearly this mistress of hers hadn’t caught on to the actual situation. In a low voice, she reminded her, “Madam, of course we all know who and what kind of person she is. She’s not a cook, she’s the first madam, however… right now old madam cannot seem to live without her cooking.”

“And so she dares to challenge me?” Xu Ran Yun sneered. “She already stormed the branch house and now wants to handle us as well? In the future, is she going to use the same method against everyone who goes against her? Hehe! What kind of place did she think the marquis mansion is? There are rules here, rules specially created to curb unruly behaviour like this.

No matter how unreasonable she acts, the kitchen is still under my command and I refuse to let that Xue woman back in. What is she going to do about it? If the lord is too greedy to maintain his face, let him tell me so himself. I wish to see just how low this lord heir will stoop.”

“Madam, surely this is unnecessary? Just for sake of the kitchen head…”

Cui Bing knew that her mistress was really pissed off. From where she stood, she could clearly perceive that her mistress was making a mountain out of a molehill. She was about to advice her when Xu Ran Yun said sharply, “Enough from you. I want to see just how the wind blows in this wretched mansion. It’s already weird enough when no one seems to care when she picked a fight with the branch house over a dirty cat. Right now I want to see just how her cooking had bought over the people in this mansion.

Are the people in the mansion really going to side against me just because of her cooking skills? If that’s the case I don’t want to care about the mansion business anymore. If I have to go through the first madam over every little thing in the mansion, is there any meaning to being her puppet?”

When Bing Cui heard this, she knew that Xu Ran Yun had had enough. It’s not like her mistress’ arguments were unreasonable. Without a word, she backed out of the room.

 

 

[1] Hawthorn Cake – 山楂糕

 

[2] I’ve decided to use Spring Breeze Court instead of Chun Feng Court

 

[Gumihou: Ohohohoho… though I feel somewhat sad for this cannon fodder, we really can’t have drama without anyone volunteering their necks for sacrifice.]

 

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Translated by Gumihou from kitchennovel dot com.

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