The Feast – 232 – Aim High

The Feast – 232 – Aim High

Chapter 232: Aim High

 

Translated by Gumihou

Please read this at kitchennovel dot com

 

That night, Long Pingzhang and Xiu’er came rushing back to the inn.

Duan Tingxuan stared at the two of them in aghast, muttering, “You two… why didn’t you stay one more night at home? It will be at least two or three months before you could even think about coming back here.”

Long Pingzhang said, “I wanted to stay another night, but Xiu’er’s father refused to let us. He was worried that we would delay your travels and made us hurry over. Well? Did you reserve a room for us? This room is too crowded for four people.”

Su Nuan Nuan quickly turned to Si Ping and said, “Isn’t the room next to us still empty? Go and speak to the proprietor and get it ready for us.”

After Si Ping left to make the arrangements, Su Nuan Nuan smiled at Xiu’er, “Your father is certainly big-hearted, is he not at all worried about handing you over to the care of a man? For so many days?”

Xiu’er blushed, and lowered her head, not daring to speak up. Su Nuan Nuan was immediately puzzled by her unusual behaviour. She thought: This young girl was very brave and firm earlier, but why is she so shy now?

She was just puzzling over this when Long Pingzhang said with a smile, “Madam is not aware of my father-in-law’s temper. He is actually quite unhappy about Xiu’er being with me, but is unable to wear down Xiu’er’s insistence. Today when we went back and informed him that I am actually a Rank Three Official, he immediately became ecstatic. He was a little concerned when he heard that we had to travel abroad for a bit, but when we told him that the person escorting us is Tingxuan, a marquis’ heir, he became at ease immediately. Then, he became worried about delaying Tingxuan’s important journey and shooed us over here without even letting us pack any luggage or rations.”

“Tcheh, looks like your father-in-law is a great opportunist, ah.” Duan Tingxuan suddenly realized the truth behind ‘…worried that we would delay your travels and make us hurry over’, and here he thought that this was a good-hearted old man who knows how to think for others. It turned out that he was just afraid of missing out on the opportunity to latch on to a good thing.

At this remark, Xiu’er’s head lowered even more. Su Nuan Nuan quickly held her hand and glared at the little marquis. She struck the table irritably and snapped, “Hey, can’t you word things nicely? What’s that about an opportunist? Have pity on all parents under the heaven. Which parent did not wish for a better future for their children? Is this really being opportunistic? When Pingzhang fell from the cliff and nearly died, who was the one who took out their savings and invited a physician to heal him? If Xiu’er’s father is really an opportunist, would he take those money out? If this kind of person is an opportunist, then fine, I am an opportunist too.”

Duan Tingxuan knew that he had said the wrong thing and immediately nodded obediently, “Nuan Nuan is right, my words were improper. Would Miss Xiu’er please not take it to heart.”

Xiu’er looked up at Su Nuan Nuan with gratefulness in her eyes. She raised her head and smiled, “To be fair, young master is not wrong. My father was being a little opportunistic. That day when we rescued Brother A-Niu, it was I who really wanted to rescue him. To be honest, I am the one with the final say in our house.”

“He’s a good father. This kind of father, no matter how opportunistic he might be, he would never cross over to become overly opportunistic.” Su Nuan Nuan said warmly. Then, she sighed, “Little sister, you haven’t seen truly opportunistic people yet. In these people’s eyes, daughters are nothing but tools which could be traded for money. The only thing they want is to marry off their daughter to the highest bidder. Once married off, they do not care whether their daughter lives or die.”

At this heavy remark, Long Pingzhang and Xiu’er suddenly laughed. Long Pingzhang said, “That last remark actually fits father perfectly, right? However, because Xiu’er learnt Chinese boxing from her mother as a child, her father was unable to defeat her since she was 10 years old. Since he could not force her, he could only use flattery and persuasion.”

Xiu’er grinned unrepentantly, “That’s right. Today when we got home, father even praised me for being clever and fortunate. In the past, just how many old landowners and merchant bosses have I beaten up? If I hadn’t beaten them away, how would I have the good fortune to marry an official one day? Only…” here, she suddenly grew depressed. “It never crossed his mind that even with the protection of Brother A-Niu, I might still not be able to get along with family members with high social status, let alone mingle with aristocratic people.”

“Why do you keep calling him Brother A-Niu?” Duan Tingxuan was bewildered.

Xiu’er smiled, “It’s Brother A-Niu who asked me to call him this way. I, too, feel that it is so much more intimate. Anyway, I’m used to it, so it’s a bit difficult for me to change now.”

Long Pingzhang said resolutely, “That’s right. Though I might be Long Pingzhang, but I am also A-Niu now. Even once I recovered my memories, this whole experience will stay in my heart forever. Since that is the case, why not keep the name? Also, I rather like having Xiu’er call me Brother A-Niu.” 

Duan Tingxuan gave a smile that was not quite a smile at this good friend of his and said mildly, “You might have lost your memory, but your method of pleasing girls is still the same. What’s all this talk about an experience that will ‘stay in your heart forever’? It’s because you noticed Xiu’er’s hesitation about accepting a relationship with someone of a higher status that you dared not embrace your identity as an imperial official.

That is the real reason why you decide to maintain your Brother A-Niu identity. To make her feel at ease and as a guarantee not to lose her. Heheh, still dare to say all these high sounding nonsense in front of me. Have you forgotten about my ‘Golden Fire Eyes [1]’? Regardless whether it’s you, Qing Hu, or even that Shi Dan, which of you have ever managed to deceive me?”

Long Pingzhang’s eyes widened in shock and he muttered, “From the way you speak, we appeared to have been close friends for a long time? Even I never dared to give voice to this thought, but you’re right. Though Xiu’er could vaguely guess at my thoughts, but she would never be able to discern my mind so clearly. Wu! Now that I think about it, I might have some impression of something… we are all seated together at one table… why are we seated at one table? En… I seemed to have… lost? I lost something and you’re all there to laugh at me, and wanted me to treat everyone…”

He suddenly clutched at his head, “Ah, how painful! My head…”

Su Nuan Nuan immediately said, “Enough, don’t think about it anymore. If your head hurts, you won’t be able to think of anything. Just calm down and maybe your memory will come to you naturally. Quick, stop thinking now or you’ll just suffer!”

“I have to… to… treat everyone and then… there were some people… we… we are at an exam? But what was it about? I can’t remember…”

Long Pingzhang seemed to have not heard Su Nuan Nuan. He kept muttering to himself as he clutched his head desperately. An increasingly anxious Xiu’er attempted to pull his hands away when Duan Tingxuan said, “Miss Xiu’er, Nuan Nuan, don’t bother speaking to him anymore. He’s always been like this, whenever he encounters a problem he couldn’t solve immediately, he would try and crash through it by sheer force.

But, that is not to say he would not eventually find a way to go around the problem, just leave him alone. If he really can’t solve it in the end, he’ll eventually give up without our help. However, as long as there’s a shred of chance to solve the issue, he will continue to think through the problem even if it pains him.”

At Duan Tingxuan’s explanation, Su Nuan Nuan and Xiu’er could only give up their attempts to help Long Pingzhang. Xiu’er said in a soft voice, “Little marquis, madam, I… I, my surname is Chu, in the future, please just call me Chu Xiu. There’s no need for all the Miss This or Miss That, it’s too alienating.”

Duan Tingxuan could not help but admire this Chu Xiu once more: When this woman first found out about Long Pingzhang’s identity, her initial reaction was to make a strategic withdrawal. She was self-aware enough to understand the difference in social status and decided to back out of the relationship without attempting to latch onto this potential money tree. However, after she and Long Pingzhang went back to her house, she returned with renewed determination to cultivate better feelings not only with her future spouse, but also with the people around him.

Naturally, Long Pingzhang’s own effort to cultivate this relationship and his promises of protection was important. However, this young girl, after making up her mind to follow Long Pingzhang, has decided on her own to do her part to gradually narrow the distance between herself and the couple closest to her fiancé. She especially tried to get on better with Su Nuan Nuan. For Chu Xiu, a farmer’s daughter of a tiny village who could only recognise a few basic words, she would need every support she could muster once she enters the Long Clan. Thus, she became more deferential, respectful and just a little bit pitiful in front of this woman, allowing herself to be taken under the wing of this meddlesome ‘sister-in-law’. After all, it was in her best interest to cultivate good relationship with this couple for a future less fraught with obstacles.

Kind-hearted, resolute, intelligent and courageous, if not for her low social status and lack of education, Xiu’er would have been a good match for Pingzhang. As for the Long Clan, though Duan Tingxuan had repeatedly brought up their high status and reminded Long Pingzhang of his marriage agreement, this fellow also knew that Long Pingzhang’s parents would be beyond ecstatic to have their precious son back. So much so that had his rescuer been a prostitute, they would have received her into their home as a secondary wife with open arms. If the parents have not experienced the pain of losing their son, they would probably never accept a marriage to a farmer’s daughter. However, since they already had a taste of what it was like to lose their precious son, they would not become hostile over the match.

Moreover…

When his thoughts reached this point, he saw Long Pingzhang slowly lifting his head from his hands. With a regretful huff, the fellow said, “Whatever, since I can’t remember it, there’s no need to waste any more effort on it. If I really can’t remember it, I can just relearn it eventually.” At this, he suddenly glared at Duan Tingxuan, “What? What’s that smug look on your face?”

“Nothing, I just remembered something. I have a piece of news that could be either good or bad.”

“What’s that? I’ve only ever heard about news that are either good or bad, never about a piece of news that could be good or bad.” Long Pingzhang sneered.

Even Su Nuan Nuan and Chu Xiu’s curiosity were piqued by Duan Tingxuang’s odd wording. Finally, first madam used her position as the official wife to put pressure on her husband and urged, “Well? Speak up, stop trying to keep us in suspense. Otherwise don’t expect me to personally make anything for you to eat in this lifetime.”

After being with this wife for a year and a half, the little marquis had been blackmailed by the very same threat countless of times. However, despite its many use, this threat was as effective as the first time it was made. Frightened by his wife’s words, the little marquis knew that he should not make things difficult for this good friend of his anymore… Duan Tingxuan grinned forcefully and said, “That is… ah, I suddenly had a thought. You’ve already been declared dead for a good half-year already. The family that had been negotiating the marriage contract should have been dealt with by now…”

Before he could finish speaking, Long Pingzhang interrupted excitedly, “Wait, wait, does that mean… the female side had most likely pulled out of the marriage?” He nodded sharply to himself, “That’s right, that’s right, what prestigious family would allow their daughter to marry into widowhood? Now that I’m dead, those who would use their daughters to climb the social ladder for power and influence would not sacrifice their daughters if it doesn’t benefit them. It’s only natural that they would want their daughter to marry people that would help their family too.”

He excitedly slammed a fist onto the table and seized Chu Xiu’s hand, “Xiu’er, did you hear that? There’s no need to worry now, right? You are my wife, my official wife. I want to properly wed you into the family. Nothing could stop us now, there’s no need for you to worry about the fights and schemes of the inner court…”

He had just finished speaking when Su Nuan Nuan said coolly, “Hold it just a moment. Pingzhang, you’re already at this age, surely you would at least have two bed companions, am I right?”

 

 

[Gumihou: This Long Pingzhang is quite hilarious, though I must say Chu Xiu is my next favourite female character after Su Nuan Nuan. So, plucky!]

 

 

[1] Golden Fire Eyes – Super piercing eyes that could see through lies and schemes. I think Son Wukong is famous for having Golden Fire Eyes that could tell whether the person in front of him is human or a youkai in disguise. How cool is that?

 

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Translated by Gumihou from kitchennovel dot com.

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