Chapter 149: News of a Death
Translated by Gumihou
Please read this at kitchennovel dot com
It’s just too bad that masters never heed a lowly maid’s opinion. Aside from conveying her concerns and observations to Hong Lian, Cong’er, Hua’er and the rest, and getting them on board to be more vigilant, there was nothing else she could do to protect her mistress. Among the maids, the only one who could be considered smart was Hong Lian, and maybe Xing’er. As for Cong’er and Hua’er, both were originally highly qualified maids, but after a few months of Missy’s influence, both were slowly converted into foodies. Right now their brains might as well be made of tofu, and while they still carry out their duties well, thinking outside the box was a bit beyond them.
Since it was the middle of winter, the Snow Cream was easily made. Su Nuan Nuan prepared herself a little bowl before leaving the locusts, ahem, the maids to help themselves. Xiang Yun nearly spat up blood when Cong’er and Hua’er, whom she had finally gotten to sit down and attempt critical thinking, abandoned her to rush for the kitchens. Even Hong Lian appeared unconcerned as she stood up and stretched, “En, we should keep an eye on the matter. Ah, but let’s sooth the stomach first. Once the stomach is full, we can think more clearly.”
Now that even Hong Lian had been corrupted to this extent, Xiang Yun lost all strength to think. In the end, she comforted herself with this thought: Since everyone has followed in master and Missy’s lead to become foodies, I should also ‘Follow the customs of the village.’ As Missy once said, ‘The great is greatly envied, the overly virtuous greatly hated,’ I must make sure to not be that idiot who caused everyone to hate me.
As the little group enjoyed their meal, Concubine Jing arrived. At the sight of the Snow Cream, her eyes brightened. She urged Hong Lian, saying, “Get some for me too. I’ve been roasted by the brazier fire since this morning and am feeling rather heaty now.”
She was actively seeking out Su Nuan Nuan even as she spoke. Not long after that, Hong Lian came in with a bowl of Snow Cream, and the two ladies began chatting together on different matters. When the topic landed on Xu Ran Yun’s recent trouble making, Concubine Jing remarked, “Not only you were troubled. Quite a few women came to my place in tears. While I understand what Madam Yun must be thinking, her way of doing things was just too pointless. The only thing she accomplished is angering others. While I was at elder madam’s place, I knew from her tone of voice that someone had complained to her as well. She was clearly unhappy with the situation.”
Su Nuan Nuan said fretfully, “To be honest, whether she makes trouble or not I can’t be bothered and refused to be bothered. Only, now that she has caused such a big racket, the old madam has been hinting very strongly for me to do something. I’ve been called over there a few times now, she wants me use my title as the heir’s wife to do something about the matter. Kept telling me that I had a duty and responsibility to keep the peace or something.
I’ve been deflecting her all this while, but, you know how crafty that old madam is. I probably won’t be able to last past new year. In fact, I might have to make use of your lord’s plan and take up the House Manager title in name and have you do the legwork for me.”
Concubine Jing smiled, “That’s fine with me. When that time comes, I shall do my best. To be honest, it’s quite fun to manage a big household like this. The respect and authority aside, there is a certain satisfaction in sorting out minor details cleanly. It’s almost like playing dominoes. What could be more satisfying than laying the grounds in a certain way and seeing the ending panned out just the way you’ve imagined it? Also, when unexpected mishaps and accidents are dealt with beautifully, that sort of feeling is just…”
“Didn’t I say that you’re a natural at this?” Su Nuan Nuan held up a hand to stop Concubine Jing from going on. She smiled, “I am different from you. I enjoy sitting around enjoying the fruits sown by others’ hard work. I don’t like worrying about things. The most conflict I’d take on is what to eat next. My greatest happiness is cooking and eating delicious things, if my cooking is praised by others, that’s a bonus. Whatever, let’s just forget about it. Whatever will be will be, since you have the skill to become the most amazing Concubine House Manager, I have nothing to worry about.”
As the two chatter over their Snow Cream, they heard the maids greet Duan Tingxuan. Both looked at each other with surprise, when Duan Tingxuan walked in, Su Nuan Nuan got up to ask, “It’s not yet noon, why are you here?”
She could see that her husband’s expression was not good, and knew that Duan Tingxuan must be bothered by something at work.
Concubine Jing could also tell that something was not right, and stood to give her farewells and left the two to themselves. Once she left, Su Nuan Nuan had the maids bring in another bowl of Snow Cream. Duan Tingxuan immediately wolfed it down like a starving creature, shocking Su Nuan Nuan to say, “Slow down, you. Who eats Snow Cream like this during the middle of winter? If you eat too much you’ll get a stomach-ache you know?”
Even as she scolded this man-child, she flapped her hand to dismiss all the maids.
Duan Tingxuan ignored here and continued to eat as though possessed. He action was so abnormal that even Warrior Cat Zhao Cai was frightened. The large calico cat curled up inside his nest and dared not come out. Once Duan Tingxuan licked his bowl clean, Su Nuan Nuan snatched it away and asked, “Well? What’s going on? I’ve never seen you like this.”
“After getting that news at this morning’s court, I’ve been nursing a fire in my belly since then. Luckily this bowl of Snow Cream manage to diffuse the fire a little, otherwise I really don’t know what I’ll do.” Duan Tingxuan flopped back in his chair, arms and legs akimbo as he finally began to revealed made him come home early.
“What happened? Has something happened at the East Palace or the crown prince?” Su Nuan Nuan spotted Duan Tingxuan reaching for his tea she shot forward to slap his hand, “Don’t drink hot tea directly after eating Snow Cream. The hot and cold food will react with each other and you’ll get a stomachache.”
Duan Tingxuan nodded. When Su Nuan Nuan saw that he understood, she began to pull back her hand, only to have it grasped by by her husband. Since the grip was quite strong, Su Nuan Nuan did not bother trying to pull away. She merely looked at her husband and saw that the high spirited and proud little marquis looked back at her with reddened eyes and her heart sank. Somewhat anxious now, she said, “What happened? Did something happen to someone?”
“Lord Long is… dead.”
Duan Tingxuan sighed. It was as though these four words drew out his spirit, and for a long time he could not say another word. It looked like this news really hit him hard.
Su Nuan Nuan searched her memory desperately and finally caught a faint impression of this name, but she could not really remember any details. It was a long time before she suddenly gasped, “Lord Long? I remember now, I think Si Ping came in one day to say that he was looking for you. Some urgent thing. That was a few months ago now, right? I remember it’s still summer and then… you never mentioned him after that. So, he’s just… gone?”
Duan Tingxuan said nothing, he clenched his fist and gritted his teeth. From his expression she could tell that this Lord Long’s death was complicated. In a soft voice, she said, “Was he… killed?”
Duan Tingxuan nodded, and when he spoke, it was as though every word was dragged out of him, “Half a year ago, Lord Long was appointed as the Imperial Censor of Jiang Nan. The news I’d gotten today was that he had been killed by bandits while travelling incognito.”
“Ah!” Su Nuan Nuan cried out. When she calmed down she whispered, “If it was just an unfortunate matter, surely you won’t be so angry. There should be something else going on behind this, right?”
[Gumihou: Oooh, who is this Lord Long? I don’t know either, lol!]
 Follow the customs of the village – When in Rome, do as the Romans do  The great is greatly envied, the overly virtuous greatly hated – a quote from A Dream of Red Chambers.  ‘heaty’ – a body condition similar to hot flush, but experienced by everyone
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Translated by Gumihou from kitchennovel dot com.
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