Chapter 172: Mercy
Translated by Gumihou
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Hong Lian gave a simple bob of acceptance and went off to fetch the completed mittens. Su Nuan Nuan personally handed them to Duan Maochuan with a smile, “I’ve already done with it ages ago. I tried to get your second brother to give this to you, but he kept running off before I can bring it out for him.”
Duan Maochuan laughed happily as he put on the mittens, “It’s lucky that first mother did not hand these to second brother. These days, he kept a lot of things from me. If first mother had given these to him, I might never see it.” He waved his two little hands happily, “It’s really comfortable, really soft and warm, ah. With my fingers like this, I can write and paint with no problem. First mother, you’re really skilful.”
“If you’re talking about sewing and making clothes, your mother is the true artist in this house. Once you get home, show her these and have her make a few more pairs in this design.” Su Nuan Nuan said with a smile. Then, she picked up her little portable hand stove, checked its heat, and handed it to Duan Maochuan before sending him and Yang’shi off.
Once the last shadow of those two were gone, Xiang Yun could no longer hold herself back. She angrily said, “Missy, why do you bother whether those people live or die? That boy is clearly a little white-eyed wolf, if you’re not careful, he might be instigated by Concubine Jiang to harm you again. What then?”
“Concubine Jiang can’t harm me the first time, do you think she’ll have a second opportunity to try? Who do you think would believe her?” Su Nuan Nuan stared straight at Xiang Yun. In a gentle voice, she said, “You little brat. You’re barely more than a child and still don’t understand the world. Have you not noticed how I did not investigate Concubine Jiang? Do you know why? Have pity on parents’ hearts. One day when you are a mother yourself, you will understand.”
“But… Concubine Jiang framed you…”Xiang Yun was still angry, but Hong Lian understood Su Nuan Nuan’s meaning. In the end, the first to harm Duan Maochuan was her mistress, though it happened in the past, it drove Concubine Jiang’s suspicion into overdrive and sent her into panic mode. This was the true reason why she went over the top with her action against Su Nuan Nuan.
Finally, she could only smile and chided Xiang Yun, “Enough. You just keep your thoughts to yourself. Missy, there’s no need to mind this shameless hussy’s words. The days where she will experience motherhood is still quite far away. As for understanding your mind soon, you might as well be ‘Playing the lute to a cow’.”
“That’s right, I still have lots of time before I’m a mother. But, Elder Sister Hong Lian, if you’re lucky, you might have a bun in the oven next year and be a mother a year after that.” Xiang Yun snickered, causing Hong Lian to blink for quite a while before suddenly flushing red. She stamped her feet and snapped, “You… don’t move. You dare plan my future for me? Is your skin itchy? If it’s itchy, I can help you strip it off!” with that, she began to chase after Xiang Yun.
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Meanwhile, Yang’shi managed to safely bring Duan Maochuan back to Autumn Rain Pavilion. As they stepped into the courtyard, harsh scolding voices reached their ears. She knew it had to be Xu Ran Yun taking out her temper on some low level maids again. Her grip tightened on Duan Maochuan’s hand and quietly pulled him into a side door towards Concubine Jiang’s wing. They happened upon Concubine Jiang, who was sitting on a kang bed, making use of the fading daylight to sew on the sole of a shoe. Yang’shi greeted her by saying, “Madam concubine, Chuan’er is back.”
“You’re finally back?” Concubine Jiang placed the shoe on the bed and rubbed her eyes, asking, “Where have you been? Why are you back so late? It’s been freezing lately, what if you catch a cold?”
Duan Maochuan happily waved his hands in front of his mother, intending to show off his mittens when he suddenly recalled his mother’s enmity against first mother. His bright little face rapidly paled and he muttered, “No… nowhere, we didn’t go anywhere.”
Concubine Jiang’s expression changed. She was about to pull his hands forward when Duan Maochuan quickly hid his hands behind his back and moved away, stammering, “I… I’m thirsty, so, I’m going to get a drink.” and ran off without looking back.
“Stop right there. Who gave you that thing?” Concubine Jiang was about to give chase when she was stopped by Yang’shi. The nursemaid’s voice was pained, “Lil’ sis, if you really love Chuan’er and want him to be happy, you should give him a way out, ba.”
Yang’shi was actually Concubine Jiang cousin’s wife. It was because of this close relationship that she was able to obtain the lucrative job of being Duan Maochuan’s nursemaid when his original nursemaid fell ill. Therefore, compared to other maids, she still has the ability to speak more firmly with Concubine Jiang.
Sure enough, Concubine Jiang immediately got up at her words. For a long moment, she just stood there expressionlessly before sitting back down. In a low voice she said, “You went to Spring Breeze Court?”
“Yes,” Yang’shi did not bother to hide anything and told her everything that had happened, including Chuan’er’s bullying. Concubine Jiang actually shook in horror at this, “Chuan’er was actually treated that badly at school? Why didn’t you tell me earlier? No matter what he’s the lord’s blood. I don’t believe that the lord would ignore this.”
Yang’shi cried, “Sis, can you still not understand even now? The little masters aside, if the servants really recognise Chuan’er as the lord’s child, who would so obviously step on the two of you? In the past, Madam Yun had been kind to you, but now? Has she even spoke to you lately?”
“It’s not like that. Now that Madam Yun has lost her House Manager position, she is feeling quite upset.” Concubine Jiang frowned.
At her defence of Xu Ran Yun, Yang’shi began to laugh coldly, “You, ah. The person involved really can’t see things clearly. I, on the other hand, can see everything. It’s true that Madam Yun’s authority as a House Manager has been taken away. But, no matter what, she’s still a count’s daughter. In that half a year as House Manager, she must have increased her personal savings quite a bit. So, what kind of hardship could she be facing?
However, the woman’s greed is endless. After experiencing power and authority, the lack of it must have left a vacuum inside her, which she is now filling by beating and screaming at low level maids. This incident basically shows what kind of person Madam Yun really is. A heartless, power-hungry woman.”
Concubine Jiang quickly waved her hands in front of her, “Sister-in-law, you should never say these things out loud.” Then, she sneered, “You called Madam Yun heartless, are you saying that first madam is a sweetheart? Heheh! Just what kind of vicious things she did in the past, you’re the only one who did not know.”
Yang’shi said, “Indeed, I only entered this household spring of this year. At that time, first madam had already entered Mei Yue Lou. What happened in the past, I do not know. However, I have seen with my own eyes how she treats Chuan’er and felt that first madam is not at all a vicious person.”
“Not a vicious person? Not a vicious person who nearly caused my Chuan’er’s death?” Concubine Jiang fine brows seemed to sharpen like twin swords, her eyes widened. This thorn in her heart was not something that she could easily overcome, every time the thought occurred to her, fear and pain would overwhelm her senses.
“Lil’ sis is very sure, that Chuan’er was harmed by first madam this time?”
Yang’shi was a cautious person by nature. She had never expressed her opinion of the matter in front of Concubine Jiang, because she knew it would not be well received. However, it’s been two months now, and Concubine Jiang should have calmed down enough to at least consider her words. Moreover, for Duan Maochuan’s position to improve, he had to depend on Su Nuan Nuan’s grace. Otherwise, the mother and son pair’s situation would be just like Concubine Lin and third master in the past. Even though Yang’shi had not grown up in a large house, she was a quick and intelligent woman. She had spent most of her time listening to rumours and speaking to other maids and servants, and naturally came to her own quiet conclusions.
“What do you mean?”
Sure enough, Concubine Jiang’s face was turning white. But Yang’shi merely said, “Nothing much. Only, I just find that it is all very odd. Leaving everything aside, when first madam burst in that day and forced Chuan’er to expel his stomach, everyone began to heap accusations on her person. Even if no one had been accusing her, if Chuan’er happened to die that day, don’t you think that the biggest suspect would be first madam? If so, why do you think she would involve herself that day?”
“She clearly came in with evil intentions, but was just keeping up appearance.” Concubine Jiang snorted.
Yang’shi said, “Don’t be so pig-headed, lil’ sis. Even you don’t believe your own words, don’t bother trying to trick me with it.”
Concubine Jiang fell silent. Indeed, even if that woman wanted to keep up appearance, that was the worst time to do it. The moment Chuan’er died, even if Su Nuan Nuan jumped into the Yellow River, she would never be washed clean.
“At any rate, it wouldn’t harm lil’ sis to think over this whenever you have the time. Though I have not been working in such a large and noble household for a year, I have ears, you know? I have spoken to the people within the house, and have heard that the inner court struggle here is incredibly frightening. People who welcome you with a smile often hid a knife behind their back. Though the madams and missus of this place are all graceful beauties, they tend to ‘Kill People with Borrowed Knives’, sow dissensions and then enjoy the disaster from far away. These graceful ladies are even more frightening than shrewish wives who scream their dissatisfaction at people.”
Concubine Jiang said nothing. Behind her, Rong’er gave Yang’shi a shocked look, but then lowered her gaze. It was not clear what she was thinking.
“As for Chuan’er, madam concubine need not worry. I shall stay by his side and not allow him to go beyond what is proper. Though madam concubine has not seen it, first madam’s love for Chuan’er is real. I have already lived this long, these eyes of mine can’t be wrong. Moreover, we must be prudent under these circumstances. At this moment, Chuan’er needs first madam’s favour and protection. Otherwise, he would be bullied to death by the other little masters. You must admit, Chuan’er has never been the type to just give in quietly.”
As Yang’shi continued to persuade Concubine Jiang, though the woman mutter and curse under her breath, she did not actually contradict whatever Yang’shi was suggesting. Yang’shi sighed with relief. Thankfully, though Concubine Jiang had suffered great stress and fear, she’s still clear-minded enough to understand the pros and cons of a given situation. This was good.
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That night, Concubine Jiang tossed and turned in her bed. She did not sleep a wink at all.
The next day, she got up to give her greetings to Xu Ran Yun first. Knowing that this person’s mood was not good, she did not stay long before leaving. Back in her room, she was having a cup of tea when word came to her that Su Nuan Nuan wanted to see her.
As someone with a guilty conscience, a shiver ran through her body. Anxious, Concubine Jiang immediately stood up and began to prowl about the room for a long time. Finally, she gritted her teeth, dressed in her formal clothes, and began to head towards Spring Breeze Court.
Dread filled her heart as she tried to prepare herself for the worst news.
When she reached Spring Breeze Court, a young maid raised the door curtain for her. Concubine Jiang did not immediately enter. Instead she stood there and bit her lip. Finally, she gritted her teeth and forced herself to step forward.
She was shown into the outer room, where Su Nuan Nuan was seated on the warm kang bed, picking through a large jade white plate filled with different kinds of snacks. The colour and pattern on the snacks were all incredibly pretty and attractive to the eyes. However, how could Concubine Jiang have the heart to admire snacks of all things?
The moment her eyes clapped upon Su Nuan Nuan, a deep hatred reserved for sworn enemies bubbled up inside her. However, too bad she was still too cowardly to let this hatred show on her face, and could only properly give the greeting of a lower status woman to someone of much greater status.
 Playing the Lute to a Cow – Speaking over people’s heads, cast pearls before swine  Kill People with Borrowed Knives – Attack with using the strength of others
Translated by Gumihou from kitchennovel dot com.
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