Chapter 173: Stern Criticism
Translated by Gumihou
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Su Nuan Nuan acted as though she did not see Concubine Jiang, leaving her to kneel there as she leisurely shifted through the snacks, eating quite a few before waving Xiang Yun over to take the plate away. “These should be enough. You take these to North Court yourself and get the old madam to pick a few for the new year.”
“Madam, what if old madam says she wants all of them? Could you make that many?” Xiang Yun asked with a laugh. Su Nuan Nuan thought for a while. It’s entirely possible that the gluttonous old woman would do this.
After some thought, she said, “Then, limit her to five kinds. Even if she wants more it just can’t be done since we still have to send some to the palace. Not to mention other noble houses we’re close to. I might die from exhaustion if it’s more than five. Tell her not to kill the chicken to get the eggs.”
Xiang Yun frantically shook her head, “Missy, how could I say that? How about you personally tell old madam?”
Su Nuan Nuan gave her a look, “You just tell her I told you to say that. Old madam is the most reasonable person in this mansion. She won’t blame you. Of course, it’s up to you to use sweeter words to get her to understand that my time and strength are both limited. If there’s any that she would like to eat later, I can still make them some time. Tell her I’ve also prepared Sweet Rice Dumplings with all kinds of filling for the Lantern Festival.”
Xiang Yun laughed again, “Yes, this one shall go now. If I have something to compensate the old madam, she might not make things too difficult for me.” With that, she picked up the plate of snacks and left. Not once did she look at Concubine Jiang’s direction.
Su Nuan Nuan finally sat up, patted her mouth with a handkerchief and looked at Concubine Jiang, who was still kneeling. In a mild voice, she said, “Get up. There’s a chair over there. You can fetch it yourself.”
Concubine Jiang stood up, shame filling her. She hated herself for not having the guts to just turn around and leave. Instead, she had to force herself to endure more humiliation and say, “No need. This one shall stand. May this one know what orders first madam has for me?”
She thought of forcing a smile, but no matter how hard she tried, she could not make the corners of her lips go up. Eventually, she abandoned the attempt.
“Yesterday Chuan’er went home wearing a pair of mittens made by me. Did you lecture him?” Su Nuan Nuan’s voice was incredibly mild, she could not tell whether she was being subtly criticized, or that Su Nuan Nuan was really just chatting casually with her.
“This one doesn’t dare. Chuan’er was incredibly happy when he came home. How would this one dare to break his happiness?” when Concubine Jiang thought of Duan Maochuan’s happy behaviour yesterday, she felt that her entire effort had been wasted. So what if she put in so much effort to protect her child? It was all nothing compared to this horrible woman’s fake benevolence. That her son was bought over by a few snacks and trinkets really crushed her, her voice actually shook under all that pressure.
Su Nuan Nuan eyed her for a moment, and smiled. “There’s no need for you to worry, all the other boys have received mittens from me too. It’s not like I’m particularly good at needlework. I can only make simple things. When you have the time, you can make a few more pairs for him. As for why I made these for them, since the boys can’t play outside much, I felt that it’s better for them to spend their time studying at home.
Chuan’er is especially eager to study, especially since Sen’er is now starting to learn to write as well. I have a feeling that he could not bear to be surpassed by his little brother. Since it’s really too cold to write or paint for such young boys I decided to make these mittens for them and protect their hands from freezing. Also, I have asked the lord to fetch some supplements to protect against the cold from the imperial physician for Chuan’er. He will send them to you tonight.”
Su Nuan Nuan said that Chuan’er was too young, and did not want him to freeze his hands while practising his writing. This really struck Concubine Jiang in the heart. Her son really was this kind of stubborn person. She hadn’t gotten over the shock of how well this woman knew her son when the next shock came. For Duan Tingxuan to personally come to her place just to send a prescription… She finally could not resist lifting her head. Her lips flapped open and shut several times before saying in a thin voice, “For… for my child to receive madam’s care is… is his blessing… a great blessing of a lifetime…”
“Don’t be anxious. I have no particular design on Chuan’er. The reason why I call you here is to reassure you. Though there isn’t even half a child at Spring Breeze Court, it’s still beneath my dignity to snatch other people’s children to raise. Though I really like those children, the like I felt is merely a common ‘like’ one felt for children in general. If someone were to make me take them in and treat them like my own, I shall be honest with you, it’s too much of an impossibility for me.”
Finally, finally, Concubine Jiang could take a proper breathe ever since speaking to Yang’shi yesterday. She blinked, and looked straight at Su Nuan Nuan again. Her feelings were incredibly complicated. There was hate, and fear, but for the moment, there was also gratitude. The reason why Duan Tingxuan would be ‘sending a prescription’ to her room was not to take her child, but to show those people who enjoyed stepping on the lowly that she, Concubine Jiang, had not lost all favour from her lord. It was to remind everyone that Chuan’er was the lord’s son, and has his favour too.
Su Nuan Nuan continued to question Concubine Jiang: How was Chuan’er’s health these days? What kind of games he likes?
As Concubine Jiang continued to answer, her neutral expression changed, and she said, “Hearing you speak, you still talk with sense, unlike someone who has gone mad. Then, why do you always lose your head when it comes to Chuan’er? Also, do you realize just how much hurt your careless words could cause your child? That kind of mental hurt could stay with him for the rest of his life, you know? If you truly love him, how could you be so careless?”
Concubine Jiang, who had begun to relax, was shocked silly by Su Nuan Nuan’s stern criticism. She quickly said, “Madam, why do you say that? This one dare not say anything disgraceful to Chuan’er. The last time this one instigated the boy, this one ought to die. This one knows her wrong. This one pleads with madam to just punish this one.” Concubine Jiang thought that Su Nuan Nuan was bringing up old grudges.
In answer, Su Nuan Nuan began to tell her what Duan Maochuan had told her yesterday while crying his heart out. Sure enough, Concubine Jiang’s face grew deathly pale, sweat began to flow down her forehead and she began to shake. Su Nuan Nuan continued, “There are many words that we adults might say, just for the sake of saying it. Things like: ‘How would we live in the future’ or ‘How we might just die soon’ were all randomly said and not taken seriously. However, children are different. After going through a traumatic event, his heart was already insecure. Add to all that, he had to endure you hugging him and crying: ‘We should just die together, after all no one will miss us’ or other such similar things.
Do you know how much fear and sadness you could carve into a child’s heart? Luckily, Chuan’er is the simple, straightforward type. If he had been the sensitive type, he might really have been frightened half-mad and grow up to be a cheerless, friendless adult. At that time, you might lament against heaven for tormenting your son. Not knowing that heaven had no hand in this, and that you have brought this harm onto his head yourself.”
“Madam, this one… this one really, really had no intention of saying such things. Really never want to harm Chuan’er. He is this one’s precious flesh and blood, the babe that this one carried for 10 months. How could this one harm him…” Concubine Jiang fell to her knees with an audible [Pu tong]. Tears falling like rain.
[Gumihou: As expected, Concubine Jiang was actually just as straightforward as her son in most ways.]
 Sweet Rice Dumplings (Tang Yuan = Sugar Balls, lol!) & Lantern Festival
Fortunecookiemom has a very nice site on Lantern Festival and a simple recipe for Sweet Rice Dumplings – I used to make these with my grandmother, and we usually roast the peanuts and crush them with sugar to make the filling. A lot of it was eaten before they actually ended up in the dumpling, lol!
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Translated by Gumihou from kitchennovel dot com.
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