The Feast – 156 – Inconsolable Grief

The Feast – 156 – Inconsolable Grief

Chapter 156: Inconsolable Grief

 

Translated by Gumihou

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“If it’s Sweet Ginger Soup, it shouldn’t do any harm.” Imperial Physician Han stroked his beard. He turned to Duan Tingxuan, “Lord heir, the child’s body is weak. This one shall perform acupuncture to encourage blood flow and recommend some good ginseng for him. It doesn’t have to be in large pieces. Slices the size of a bronze coin would do.”

“I see, thank you Imperial Physician Han.” Duan Tingxuan nodded and was about to ordered the servants to prepare it when Xu Ran Yun jumped in to say, “I still have that hundred-year-old ginseng gifted to me by elder madam from my last birthday. I shall get my maids to slice it up and bring it over.”

“Thank you Madam Yun.” Concubine Jiang was gushing with gratefulness as she thanked her. She scrubbed her eyes with a handkerchief even as Madam Yun patted her hand gently and said, “We are a family, surely there’s no need for such formality? Now that our lord is here, you now have someone to lean on. Now, go and make yourself presentable. Now that the lord is here, we shall all be safe.”

Hong Lian and Xiang Yun were so angry that they were sorely tempted to drag this woman out and beat her up. Even under such circumstances, this woman still did not miss a chance to cast suspicions around. What is this ‘Now that the lord is here, we shall all be safe’? Did you not see how our Missy’s dress is all dirty from trying to save Little Master Chuan? Not even half a grateful word from any of you. Who was the one who made Little Master Chuan vomit up whatever dirty thing inside? Ungrateful, heartless!

Unfortunately, they were only maids. Moreover, both physicians were still in the room. No matter how angry they were, they could not open their mouths to say anything to Xu Ran Yun. Still, Xiang Yun could not resist casting an eye towards Duan Tingxuan. She saw that both her master and Missy were hovering by the bed, watching intently as Imperial Physician Han performed acupuncture on Duan Maochuan. Neither of them gave any indication of having heard Madam Yun.

Concubine Jiang was still fawning and heaping up thousands upon ten thousand thanks onto Madam Yun as she left. When she turned around, she was practically panting with rage as she glared at Su Nuan Nuan. She looked sorely tempted to swallow Su Nuan Nuan whole. The two maids sighed and cursed in their hearts. Your stupidity knew no bounds, you really can’t tell what’s right or wrong, good or bad anymore. Are your eyes for decoration only? Can you really not tell who is the one faking their goodwill even now? That person just left this room, you know?

Finally, unable to bear seeing her mistress treated so unjustly anymore. Hong Lian came forward to plead, “Missy, Little Master Chuan is well taken care of by master. How about you come back to Spring Breeze Court and change your clothes, and just… tidy up a little?”

At her words, Duan Tingxuan finally noticed Su Nuan Nuan’s dirty clothes and grasped her hands gently. “You go, ba. Refresh yourself a little. I will be here, you can be at ease. He is my son, so how could a little cold food take his life? It would be a waste of all those Snow Cream he had eaten to train up his little stomach.”

Su Nuan Nuan nodded, unable to speak. In this short time, her nerves had been stretched to its limits. Now that she had relaxed a little, she suddenly felt tired and allowed Hong Lian and Xiang Yun to escort her out of Autumn Rain Pavilion.

“Missy, the floor is rather slippery here, do be careful.” seeing her mistress so still and expressionless, Hong Lian could not help the tears in her eyes. She sobbed, “Missy, why did you even bother to come here? Have you not seen the looks Concubine Jiang give you even after you’ve helped little Chuan’er? Missy, ah. You’re not a doctor, and this is the inner court. The least valuable thing is kindness. If Little Master Chuan did not survive today, Concubine Jiang would not thank you for your help, but see it as you torturing her son before he dies. Missy, if you’re too soft and kind, ‘Kindness will only earn you donkey’s guts and lungs[1]’.

“I know. Everything you’ve just said I know.” Su Nuan Nuan sighed. Hong Lian’s hand under hers felt cold, so she tightened her grip over her maid’s hand and said softly, “But, when I saw Little Chuan lying there, thinking that cute little fellow won’t be around to cling on my skirts and call me first mother anymore… how could I bear to even think about those people trying to harm me? All I could think of then is how to save this little child.

He’s just four years old, there are so many things he hadn’t seen or enjoyed yet. I don’t have it in me to just leave him alone. It’s just too unbearable, it’s unthinkable. I know, alright? I know, but even if they want to ‘Fish in troubled water’ how can I just stand there and watch him die?”

At this, tears came to her eyes, and she started sobbing. From the moment she had transmigrated to this place, she had never encountered such a painful situation. The troubles at Mei Yue Lou, the life threatening situation at Pushan Temple, those were all bore with good cheer and optimism. Cry? Hah, not even a single tear was shed.

Until now.

The little boy’s misfortune crashed through her so suddenly that she had no way of defending against the grief.

Xiang Yun was also shocked by her mistress’ tears. She quickly dabbed at Su Nuan Nuan’s eyes and said comfortingly, “Missy, please don’t be sad. Little Master Chuan is born under a lucky star. Nothing bad will happen to him. Let’s quickly go back and tidy you up so you can have a look at the little master. With Imperial Physician Han there, he’ll definitely be fine.”

Su Nuan Nuan nodded, the leftover tears on her face having frozen into ice. She reached up to brush the ice off her cheeks and said softly, “Let’s go.”

 

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“Imperial Physician Han said that Chuan’er’s condition has stabilized. He told me that it was lucky that the medicine was applied on time. I felt that he was looking at you when he said this. I believed that he was actually speaking about you forcing the boy to throw up, though I cannot be sure, of course.”

Dusk was approaching. Not even Concubine Jiang could stand the violent emotional upheaval of the day, finally, after exhausting herself, she was dragged away by Madam Yun to rest. Right now, the only people at the side wing were Duan Tingxuan and Su Nuan Nuan keeping vigil over Duan Maochuan. Seeing signs of liveliness on the little fellow’s face, the husband and wife duo could finally breathe a sigh of relief. Duan Tingxuan took the opportunity to voice out this observation.

“You’re probably imagining things. I was just out of options and basically grasping at straws, who knows whether it really worked or not.” Su Nuan Nuan smiled bitterly as she reached out to stroke Duan Maochuan’s face. “But, it’s good that Chuan’er manages to survive this. That’s the most important thing.”

“Not necessarily.” Duan Tingxuan adjusted his posture to lean back against the bedpost and said. “I can believe the earlier diagnosis of Chuan’er having a stomachache from eating Snow Cream. What I cannot accept is how eating Snow Cream would nearly cause the death of this little fellow. I’ve already consulted Imperial Physician Han. He, too, felt that it was too unlikely. The situation is just too suspicious. Nuan Nuan, there’s no need for you to be wary. You may tell me the reason why you actually induce Chuan’er to vomit. It’s not like there is anyone else here, surely you can trust me this much.”

Su Nuan Nuan’s voice was neutral, “I have nothing to hide. What you’re thinking, I’m thinking it as well. Chuan’er must have eaten the Snow Cream on the sly. I’ve asked around already. It just so happened that your half-finished bowl of Snow Cream was left behind when you suddenly left. I haven’t had time to order the maids to put it away when someone came in with news that there was a fire at Mei Yue Lou. I hurried over with my personal maids, leaving only Hua’er and Cong’er behind.

They probably haven’t been paying attention when that sly child of yours ate up the Snow Cream, and then must have drank hot tea. However, no matter how much of a stomachache you might get from these two things, you won’t die from it. Certainly not this fast. Someone must have stuck their oar in somewhere and fed Chuan’er something unclean.

At that time, the only thought I had was purging out the thing, no matter what. Ignoring everything else, I forced Chuan’er to vomit. Just thinking back now still makes me shiver, but back then, my heart really felt like it had frozen over. If I had ignored the matter and Chuan’er died, those people would still cry for my death and Concubine Jiang would be first to bite down on me.”

“Her attitude is too unreasonable, I shall speak to her about it.” said Duan Tingxuan with a frown. But, Su Nuan Nuan said, “No need, she is Chuan’er’s blood mother after all. For her to stay this strong is already admirable. If it had been my own child at his death bed, I really don’t know what I will do.”

Duan Tingxuan said nothing. He gently took Su Nuan Nuan’s hand into his and said softly, “It’s been hard on you. To think that you would be so considerate of her. Also, you said that someone must have given Chuan’er something bad to eat, have you noticed some ‘Spider’s thread or horse’s tracks’?”

“Do we even need to look for ‘Spider’s thread or horse’s tracks’?” Su Nuan Nuan sighed, “Hong Lian is right. This is the inner court. Anything could happen here, it’s not like I’ve never experienced it before. I also have a bad track record, so it’s only natural for people to suspect me.”

“Nuan Nuan,” Duan Tingxuan’s hands tightened over hers, he said seriously. “Please don’t be unhappy, I will believe you no matter what.”

“I know.” Su Nuan Nuan nodded, her eyes still slightly red. Suddenly she smiled, “It’s still too early to draw any conclusions now. Chuan’er is still so little, no matter how hard-hearted someone is, surely they won’t do such a terrible thing? Moreover, it’s entirely possible that it was the Snow Cream that had upset his stomach so. According to Hua’er, when she brought the assorted plates of snacks over, the bowl was already empty. She just hadn’t thought much of it then. That little brat just had to drink hot tea afterwards, no wonder he’s in such a bad shape.”

Duan Tingxuan nodded but said nothing. He really doesn’t know how to believe this weak excuse. If the boy really had only suffered from the hot and cold food only, there’s no need to force the boy to throw up, since the soup he had later should been digested. If the vomiting had not been necessary, Imperial Physician Han would not have made that enigmatic remark earlier.

However, he did not give voice to his doubts. Because he, too, did not want to believe that someone within his inner court would actually gamble with a four-year-old child’s life to entrap his wife. The thought that there was someone so bitterly evil and poisonous right next to him caused him to shiver involuntarily.

They both sank into their own gloomy contemplation for who knows how long, when a maid called out, “Sister Qiu Ling has arrived.”

Next, they heard Qiu Ling’s voice saying, “Old madam has sent me to check on Little Master Chuan’s situation. Who is inside now?”

“The master and first madam. Our concubine mistress is mentally and physically exhausted, so the master had sent her out to rest.” Answered the little maid in a low voice, causing Qiu Ling to hesitate at the door. Then, Duan Tingxuan called out, “Is that Qiu Ling? Just come in.”

Qiu Ling quickly entered and bobbed a greeting to both Duan Tingxuan and Su Nuan Nuan, before explaining, “The old madam was so worried about Little Master Chuan’s illness that she could hardly eat her dinner. She would have personally come to see him, but the roads are too slippery, therefore sent me over to have a look instead.”

Both husband and wife stood up, Duan Tingxuan said, “You go back and thank my grandmother for her kind concern. Tell her also that Chuan’er is lucky and managed to escape the jaws of death. He already had two bowls of medicine and is now much better than before. I’ve also invited Imperial Physician Han to stay and look after him. I will also stay the night to watch over him, so please inform grandmother not to worry.”

Qiu Ling put hands together in prayer, “Amitabha, as long as he’s fine, all is well. To think that the little child would suffer so much… this one shall make our report to the madam right away, otherwise the old lady won’t be able to sleep at night.”

After Qiu Ling left, representatives from Madam Yang, Liu Min, Xue Zhi Lan and others came by to ask after the child. Most of these people had personally visited during the afternoon and had stayed for a long time before leaving. However, since they were still worried over the boy, maids and servants were sent over to check out the situation.

How many of these people were faking their concerns, and how many were truly worried, no one could really know.

 

Author White Pear Flower: Everyone, please don’t be angry. The person who made Su Nuan Nuan will not have a good ending!

 

[Gumihou: The calm before the storm. Things can’t be over just like that, right?]

 

[1] Kindness earns you donkey’s guts and lungs – Kindness will earn you nothing. Because donkey’s guts and lungs are worthless.

 

 

 

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Translated by Gumihou from kitchennovel dot com.

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