Chapter 152: Evil Plan
Translated by Gumihou
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“Who could say? Also, we have no idea what’s the situation like at Mei Yue Lou right now.” Cong’er sighed as she left to put away the mittens. When she saw Duan Maochuan reaching for his teacup, she said, “When I poured the tea just now, it was still boiling hot. Young Master Chuan, please be careful.”
“I can still take it,” said Duan Maochuan. He sipped the tea and immediately felt his cold stomach grew comfortably warm. When Hua’er came in with a plate of assorted snacks, he spotted his favourite little cakes and immediately ate two of them.
Just then, a noise came in from outside. Knowing that Su Nuan Nuan was back, Duan Maochuan glanced at the empty bowl, slithered off the kang bed and rushed out to greet Su Nuan Nuan to prevent her from seeing the evidence of his crime. In a sweet voice, he called out, “First mother.”
“Yi? When did Little Chuan’er arrive? Is it just you? Where are your brothers?” Su Nuan Nuan immediately picked up the little boy. Though he was a shu son, Concubine Jiang has Xu Ran Yun as a backer and did not lack for food or clothing. Therefore, four-year-old Duan Maochuan grew into a plump and fluffy child. Right now, he looked like a little koala as he pressed his cheek against Su Nuan Nuan’s shoulder.
When Cong’er and Hua’er both heard about the situation at Mei Yue Lou, how could they not be anxious? The hot house was crucial to their winter meals after all. However, before they could ask anything about it, a large group of people spilled into their courtyard. At the magnificent sight, the two maids’ jaw nearly hit the floor. They glanced at each other and looked at the unbelievable sight again: Has the sun rose from the west today? Why is the branch lady at their gates? Wait, was Sister Xiang Yun’s story this morning actually true? It must be, it’s been a couple of hours and the branch lady really did come over here.
Su Nuan Nuan was confused by this crowd of people too. Thankfully, as someone who had to adapt to new and unusual situations quickly, she soon found her groove and gave them a smile, “Oh, sister-in-law really came! You’ve finished with your visit at old madam?”
Shi Yurou smiled, “Oh, yes. After leaving old madam, I remembered sister-in-law’s invitation and came over, but… are you just going out again?”
Su Nuan Nuan snorted, “Don’t even talk about it. It’s not even noon yet, but I’m already sick of this day. This morning the lord suddenly came home in the morning, said a few words and was called off to the palace again. He didn’t even finish eating his Snow Cream. I had just sent him off when someone came running in with news that Mei Yue Lou was on fire and rushed over to investigate. When I came back, I found Little Chuan all alone here. I’d just picked him up when sister-in-law arrived. No wonder the lantern lights threw out so many sparks last night, it’s an omen for today.”
Shi Yurou looked shocked, she hurriedly asked, “Mei Yue Lou caught on fire? How? Is the hot house still fine?”
“Fine, the servants were in a panic when they came here, told me that half the hot house was gone. I can’t tell you how much my heart hurts when they told me that, I just had to go over and have a look. It turns out that only the outer wall of one hot house was burnt. Part of the roof had fallen in and damaged some of the spinach and celery, but that’s it. Luckily the fire was spotted quickly, otherwise, if the fire had spread to the second hot house, the roses would have been damaged. I planned to make Fresh Rose Pastries with them. Second brother mentioned that he really wanted me to introduce some new snacks for the new year, and these Fresh Rose Pastries are delicious and the fresh flowers give them a beautiful brocade pattern that people considered lucky. More importantly, how wonderful it is to be able to eat fresh flowers in the middle of winter? That’s my main feature for the new year’s feast, thank heavens that the fire didn’t get to it.”
When Shi Yurou heard her wax on about Fresh Rose Pastries, her eyes actually sparkled. Hong Lian laughed and suggested, “Why don’t madams continue your talk inside? It’s still snowing out here.”
Su Nuan Nuan slapped her forehead, “Oh, just look at me chattering on like this. Come in, come in, Sister-in-law. By the way, where’s your Persian cat? Why didn’t you bring it with you?” Su Nuan Nuan had no intention of inviting Shi Yurou in. It’s best to stay far away from this kind of woman. But, after chatting for so long outside, this woman did not seem to have any intention of leaving. Hey, did you not hear Hong Lian’s hint? No matter, let’s stab her with this line, humph, let’s see if you can still keep a straight face after this. Just go away and don’t come here anymore.
However, this Shi Yurou seemed to have eaten some powerful calming pill. Though her face twitched a few times, she still managed to force a smile onto her face and tittered, “That little beast came over to Spring Breeze Court more often than I do, so there’s no reason for me to especially bring her here, no? Since she got along so well with Zhao Cai, I often joked with my lord how even animals are better than us when it came to burying the hatchet. Since they got on so well, we’ve decided not to bother them.”
Has… has a person with a thicker face than Duan Tingxuan appeared? Su Nuan Nuan wordlessly asked god. Shi Yurou, this woman who had once lost so badly to Su Nuan Nuan now shamelessly came over to her enemy’s place to play nice. The branch lady’s outlook was simple: I don’t care if I had to ‘Stick my hot face up your cold butt’. No matter how cold your butt is, I’m going to stick my face to it. Well? What can you do about it? The only way Su Nuan Nuan can get rid of her now was to fiercely chase her away. But can she do it? To be honest, Su Nuan Nuan really doesn’t have the heart to do such a shameful thing.
“First mother, I’m going to go home first. Concubine mother will be waiting for me.” Duan Maochuan was feeling the guilt of having stolen from Su Nuan Nuan, and decided to attempt the method of running away from his feelings. Poor Su Nuan Nuan, who had originally intended to use this little brat to make Shi Yurou go away, could only watch as her last hope attempted to run off.
She muttered in her heart, curse those blasted children.
You all swarm this place when you know there are good things to eat, but when I restrict the flow of Snow Cream, humph, not even a shadow was left. Ungrateful brats the lot of you, now the only child that came have slithered away at the first sight of trouble. He must have inherited that slippery attitude from his slimy father. Well, go on then, slip away at the first sight of trouble. See if I care the next time you come crying to me about how cold your hand is from writing your letters. To think I even made mittens for this little white eyed wolf, humph.
However, in the end she still could not bring herself to force the little brat to stay. Helplessly, she called Xiang Yun over, “You go and make sure Little Chuan gets home safely, don’t let him slip and fall.”
Xiang Yun bobbed her agreement, chased after Duan Maochuan and caught hold of his little hand. Finally, Su Nuan Nuan and Shi Yurou entered her house. Su Nuan Nuan girded her loins and prepared to spend the afternoon in false cheer and fake friendship.
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“You managed to get all the necessary items?”
Within the warm room of Autumn Rain Pavilion, Xu Ran Yun, who had been staring at the heavily blocked up window asked the moment Feng Xian entered the room.
“Yes, as madam has instructed, it has been crushed into powder form. It is ready to be used at any time.” Feng Xian said softly. She was still speaking when Duan Maoming’s voice came from outside. It sounded as though the little master was taking out his temper at someone. She quickly went outside to smile at the boy, “My little master, who has provoked you this time? The madam is resting inside, please be a little more quiet.”
Duan Maoming ignored Feng Xian as he dashed indignantly into the house. It was only when he spotted Xu Ran Yun’s upright figure in her chair that this little tyrant restrained himself a little. He sat his little bottom onto a chair and pouted. “Mother, you’re the one who ordered my nursemaid to force me home and not let me into Spring Breeze Court, right?”
Xu Ran Yun frowned, then she said coldly, “Has that good nursemaid of yours been telling tales again?”
“Nothing to do with my nursemaid. I can guess things on my own, I’m no longer a little child. Do you really think you can trick me so easily?”
His words caused Xu Ran Yun to laugh out loud. She shook her head and said to Feng Xian, “Did you hear that? How funny our little boy is? A barely five-year-old little man telling me that he’s no longer a little child.”
Feng Xian quickly laughed along. Duan Maoming grew angry, “I’m already five years old. Father said that he’s already learning his letters and martial arts at five, and went to all sorts of social gatherings with grandpa. Everyone said that he’s no different from a proper adult. A proper prodigy.”
“Then you must learn more from your dear father, ah. If you’re half as good as your father, I, your mother, must thank Buddha for his grace.” Xu Ran Yun shook her head. None knew a child better than a mother. Though she doted on him, she also knew what kind of bratty child he was. Leaving his father aside, if he can be anything like his grandfather, she would thank Buddha for it.
“You all talk only.” Duan Maoming said furiously, “when father was five no one would dare to talk down to him, but me? I’ve only been to Spring Breeze Court a few times, but you refuse to let me go anymore. Father said that first mother is my di mother, and it is right for me to get close to her. So why won’t you…”
How could Xu Ran Yun bear to hear these words? Her expression abruptly changed and she slammed the table, causing the tea things to scatter. She pointed a finger at Duan Maoming and scolded, “Everyone in this house bullies me, to think that even my own child has become a bully as well. Di mother, di mother, do you only recognise that woman as your mother now? You want to throw away this blood mother of yours, you disgraceful, shameful, unfilial…” her shouting eventually collapsed into sobs.
Duan Maoming really did not expect his words to cause his mother to cry like this. For a moment, he grew frightened, and stood up to… well, he was still unsure what to do when Feng Xian said gently, “Little Master Ming, you should apologize to madam, ah. Just what happened today? Why did you suddenly say such hurtful things to madam?”
Duan Maoming pouted, “Mother, please don’t cry. I really don’t want to hurt you. It’s just, I was angry because third brother told me he just ate half a bowl of Snow Cream at Spring Breeze Court. Usually, first mother doesn’t let us eat more than a mouthful. To think that on the day that none of us could go but him, and to get to eat so well, I just… I was just upset, and said things without thinking.”
Xu Ran Yun waved her hand, and Feng Xian said, “It’s alright, Young Master Ming please leave first. This maid shall sooth madam now.” And with that, she escorted Duan Maoming to the door and handed him to the waiting Mi’shi and gestured for some servants to send them to their rooms before turning back to say, “Madam, there’s no need to be angry or hurt. Little Master Ming is still young and fond of sweets. First madam’s culinary skill is a force to be reckoned with. If she wants to win over the little master, wouldn’t it just take a plate of snacks? Even the brilliant master was taken down this way.”
Xu Ran Yun wiped the tears off her face with a handkerchief, her expression slowly went back to its cold expression. After a long while, she said, “Did you hear what the Little Master Ming just said? Little Chuan ate half a bowl of Snow Cream at Spring Breeze Court. He even said that woman refused to let them eat much. I wonder, how did he manage to get over this rule.”
“Yes, this one understands.” Feng Xian was feeling wary. Why would madam suddenly pay attention to this little detail? But soon, she understood. When she thought of the things that Xu Ran Yun had her secretly bought from outside, sweat popped out from her hands.
“You just pay attention to the situation at the side wing. If something unusual happens, inform me immediately. Send someone to find out matters at Spring Breeze Court as well, but make sure not to ‘Startle the snakes in the grass’. It’s fine if you don’t find out anything, we don’t have anyone stationed within Spring Breeze Court anyway. Even if we had any spies there, it’s not like they could spend 24 hours watching their every move.”
[Gumihou: Nooo, Xu Ran Yun, what the heck? Also, branch lady, you’re too shameless. I like you more and more!]
 shu son – illegitimate son. Any child not of the official wife, or adopted by the official wife are all ‘illegitimate’ and usually can’t inherit the estate  Fresh Rose Pastries –
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Translated by Gumihou from kitchennovel dot com.
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