Chapter 112: When Joy Turns to Sorrow
Translated by Gumihou
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Su Nuan Nuan hurriedly said, “Old madam, please don’t misunderstand. Granddaughter-in-law is just speaking the truth. I have no intention of bragging about our lord’s contribution. The ones who have truly contributed are here.”
With that, she turned and pulled Concubine Jing and Duan Xinqi forward, with a sigh she said, “This granddaughter-in-law originally intended to just make the cake, and depended on the cake frame surprise you with sheer size. The painting of blossoms was all done by Sister Jing and second sister. The painting of the cranes on the biggest Cake is done by Sister Jing. Second sister is even more amazing, she carved the miniature God of Longevity, as well as the exquisitely detailed immortal peach and dragon headed staff.
I saw it myself, how second miss had, with just a few swift strokes of a knife created the outlines, a few more strokes later details are seen and then further refined. It’s really too bad we don’t have more time, otherwise, I’d have her carve a pair of male and female immortal attendants for the God of Longevity.”
Concubine Jing and Duan Xinqi really hadn’t expected to be singled out by Su Nuan Nuan in front of so many important and aristocratic people. Their cheeks flushed red, and Duan Xinqi did her best to hide behind her sister-in-law. Finally, it was Concubine Jing, no stranger to being in the centre of attention, who stepped forward with a refreshing smile to say, “First madam is really modest, without her cake, how would we get to show off our skills? I must say, second miss have certainly surprised me, I must admit defeat when it comes to a comparison of skills. I never thought she has such talent.”
Su Nuan Nuan smiled, “That’s why people say that talent is god given. She must have taken after Concubine Lin, whose embroidery skill is without par. I heard that she drew paintings for her concubine mother to embroider, and would occasionally carve flowers out of wood when bored. Who would have thought that she’d display these skills today? Well, what does old madam think? Isn’t the God of Longevity exquisitely made?”
As a sophisticated old madam of an aristocratic family, how could Old Madam Fang not know what Su Nuan Nuan was up to? Sigh… what a goodhearted, attentive and generous child. Her lips opened to agree when her sharp eyes caught sight of several noble ladies lingering at the corridor paying close attention to Duan Xinqi. Quite a few of them were whispering to friends and relatives next to them.
Madam Yang eyed Concubine Lin hovering in the background, that weak and beautiful woman kept dabbing her eyes with her handkerchief, beads of tears kept dripping from her eyes. Finally, the elder madam said mildly, “Enough, now that Nuan Nuan had stuck out for that child, you don’t have to worry about her future. It’s not that I wish to say anything, but, don’t you think you should pay more attention to your daughter? Look brilliant she is today. I never knew that she is such a beauty. Normally you won’t even let her wear make-up, but have you considered how old she is now? In a blink of an eye, she’ll reached marriageable age. To think that you’d just let Nuan Nuan do all this for her.”
Madam Yang was the type to stand around and judge people without doing anything about it. However, it was not like she was being hypocritical. It’s been many years since she last bothered herself about the household matters. Towards the two women, Liu Min and Concubine Lin, who had snatched her husband from her, she could only show an indifferent face. How could she have known what kind of life Concubine Lin and her two children was like? Therefore, when she saw Duan Xinqi sparkling next to Su Nuan Nuan, the conclusion she came to was that Concubine Lin had been neglecting her daughter or even actively preventing her from using make-up. She never thought that even if Concubine Lin wished to dress her daughter well, how was she to get her hands on make-up, accessories and good cloth?
Concubine Lin did not resent Madam Yang for her careless remarks. As a weak willed woman with little power, she conversely felt honoured to be spoken to by the official wife. She nodded repeatedly and said, “Yes. Madam is right. Second miss really… owes a lot to first madam…”
She hadn’t finished speaking when Liu Min laughed lightly, “Now, now, look how emotional you are. Those in the know will realise that those are tears of joy, those who didn’t know better will wonder why you’re crying on such an auspicious day. Who knows what people might think.”
This shocked Concubine Lin so much that she immediately shut up and muttered, “Madam Min is right, this one has forgotten her manners.”
Madam Yang eyed Liu Min for awhile before saying mildly, “It’s rare for her to see her daughter shine so brightly, what’s the harm of letting her forgot her manners? Who in this place is not currently staring at that big Cake? Must you frighten her like this?”
Liu Min’s lips pursed up into a smile, and said nothing. The resentment in her heart overflowing enough to block the sky. The moment she knew that Su Nuan Nuan was making a Birthday Cake for Old Madam Fang’s birthday, she knew that the limelight will be on the main house couple today. She had resigned herself to the reality that there would be no way for her own son and daughter-in-law to shine during this banquet, however, she never thought that gift would be so exquisitely beautiful, snatching the eyes of everyone around. Leaving no breathing room for her own son to even show off a little.
As she thought of this, her gaze travelled irresistibly towards Marquis Duan Ni. He was surrounded by important nobles, and they all looked like they were having some kind of cheerful talk. Two of the men even held up their thumbs. As for her husband, he was casting broad smiles at the huge Cake and stroking his beard in a satisfied manner. No matter what, he looked incredibly pleased by this development.
Liu Min’s eyes cast into shadows. Could it be? All her efforts this past 20 years had been flipped aside by a single food item? Ever since that woman came back to the inner court, not a single thing have gone smoothly for her. Why couldn’t that woman just die at Mei Yue Lou?
Why did she have to come back?
What happen to your backbone?
Didn’t you say you’re going to oppose Duan Tingxuan forever?
Just when did you turn into this loving wife?
Just when did a descendent of the Duke of Ping turn out to be such a jellyfish?
Madam Min sunk into deep resentment against the whole world. Her displeased expression, even if no one else saw it, how could Madam Yang not see it? Secretly gleeful, she thought: The heavens have eyes, I cannot win against you for our husband’s favour, and my son’s heir status is unstable thanks to your interference. How I’ve suffered these 20 years, but, fortune rises and falls. A river that flowed east for 30 years might flow west 30 years later. Now that your son and daughter-in-law have been suppressed to death by MY son and daughter-in-law, how does it feel , ah?
How does it feel like to have all your hopes dashed to pieces, ah?
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Compared to the old marquis’ wives, Xu Ran Yun and Xue Zhi Lan were the ones who were suffering from even more resentment. However, who has the time to bother with their tender feelings now? Everyone was busy wondering when they would get to eat this huge Cake.
Old Madam Fang was excited too. Finally, she figured that everyone had admired the cake enough and cleared her throat. She said to Su Nuan Nuan, “Alright, now, how do we eat this? We should let everyone have a taste, ba. Since everyone is so kind to visit this old lady on her birthday, we can’t let them leave without at least a taste.”
Su Nuan Nuan smiled, “That is simple. My lord, since you’re so tall, please go and fetch the topmost Cake down.”
Duan Tingxuan nodded, “No problem. Qiu Ling, get someone fetch a table here. I expect we’ll be splitting the cake here, right?” the last question was directed at the old madam. When the old lady nodded, he took a watermelon knife from Su Nuan Nuan and spotted servants carrying a table over. Then, he stood on tiptoe and carefully eased the topmost cake off the frame.
He quickly brought over cakes number two to six to the tables prepared by the servants. The six cakes filled two large square tables that seated eight people each. Duan Tingxuan turned to Su Nuan Nuan, “Let’s split these first. We can cut the last one later.”
“Very well, you do it.” first madam is only in charge of making cake. Honourable husband can take over the responsibility of splitting them. Hong Lian, quick on her feet as usual, had prepared a white apron for her master the moment she saw him took the knife from Su Nuan Nuan. He cut the first piece, and personally brought it over to Old Madam Fang and knelt before her. “May your happiness be as vast as the Eastern Seas, may you live as long as Mt Zhongnan. Grandmother, this is your grandson and Nuan Nuan’s filial consideration, please taste it.”
“Good! Very good! Very good!” Old Madam Fang nodded many times and took the plate. She picked up her spoon and paused, ahem, it would probably not good to take big mouthfuls in front of so many people, right? She reluctantly reigned herself in and cut a small piece of Cake and tasted it carefully. After a reasonable time has passed, she nodded abruptly, “Very delicious, Nuan Nuan, ah. This Cake won’t lose to the Snow Cream in terms of taste. Very delicious, it’s too delicious. Xuan’er, ah, quick, cut a piece for everyone to try. This taste is clearly something unique and novel, let their highnesses and the honourable guests here all have a taste.”
Duan Tingxuan nodded in agreement, but before that he handed the entire first tier cake, along with its carved figurine to Qiu Ling. With a little ‘ hei-hei’ laugh, he said, “Since it’s grandmother’s birthday, this Cake with its auspicious God of Longevity is all yours.”
Thus scum certainly knows how to manoeuvre things to his advantage, no wonder his political career was so smooth sailing, to the point that even the emperor treated him as one of his own people. Su Nuan Nuan silently curse this scum husband of hers. As expected, Old Madam Fang was smiling so widely that her eyes could not be seen. She nodded gravely and said, “Good, very good, as expected, my beloved grandson loves me best.”
Finally, the cake was cut and shared out among the guests. It turned out that the little marquis was quite deft with the knife. He was able to calculate the size of the cake against the number of guests and within an hour everyone soon had a piece. Though it was quite a small piece, it was a small miracle that everyone managed to get a share, considering that there were about 200 over guests in attendance. Everyone treated their piece of Cake like it was a cherished goods, and there was no lack of praises for it.
As the day continued on, the courtyard grew cooler as the sun moved west. However, it was still the height of summer, so it was still quite hot. Duan Tingxuan wiped his brows, and looked across the table now empty of cakes. Somehow, he had a feeling that something was not right. He looked at the cheerful guests enjoying the birthday banquet and wondered what could be wrong.
He was still pondering over this mystery when his wife came over. Su Nuan Nuan stretched her face over, as though about to whisper some secrets into his ear. The little marquis was delighted, all thoughts about this odd feeling was thrown to the back of his head. Could it be? For Nuan Nuan to be so close to him and speak secretly in public, could it be possible that she no longer hate me as much as before?
His heart thumped loudly, he felt like he was floating among the clouds. The plump lips approached him as though in slow motion and began to form words, wait, he had to hear what she was saying. The little marquis strained his ears and heard, “Idiot, you forgot to cut yourself a piece of the Cake.” 
A crack of thunder deflated his cloud and the little marquis was sent wailing back to earth.
The little marquis was an accomplished martial artist, and his hands were essential to him. No matter whether it was a piece of paper, a goose feather or imperial weapons such as the few hundred jin Black Shooting Star Hammer, they were as stable as Mt. Tai. However, right now, the slender watermelon knife trembled within his hands. His hands trembled so much that it was shaking like crab caught in net. His originally cheerful face collapsed into utter despair.
“Calm down, Duan Tingxuan you must calm down now. Don’t forget, this is your grandmother’s birthday. Are you really going to lose your dignity as the heir over Cake?”
[Gumihou: I’m starting to feel a little sorry for the little marquis… not!]
 watermelon knife or 西瓜刀 – is a straight blade knife with a flat tip. It’s actually called watermelon knife in English or straight blade knife. You can buy it at Alibaba, lol!
 I rearranged the sentence for more impact. The original sentence doomed DTX even before Su Nuan Nuan said anything.
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Translated by Gumihou from kitchennovel dot com.
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