The Feast – 252 – Material Benefit

The Feast – 252 – Material Benefit

Chapter 252: Material Benefit

 

Translated by Gumihou

Edited by Vinisha

Please read this at kitchennovel dot com

 

The little marquis was really confused by Old Madam Fang’s unexpected censure. He had no idea how his grandmother could have known about Manager Li or how this manager from an out of the way branch restaurant could have attracted her ire.

Therefore, he could only blink twice and cautiously said, “Grandmother, matters of the business are… all handled by Tingye. It’s not good for me to meddle or take things into my own hands without consulting him. Moreover, I must say that Manager Li’s character is pretty shrewd and resourceful. Moreover, he’s very good with relationships, how would he dare to simply offend you? Just what happened here?”

Su Nuan Nuan quickly stepped forward with a smile, “Grandmother, no need for haste. Why should you bother yourself with a little shrimp like Manager Li? By the time we make him sorry for offending you and force him to send the senior chefs over, it would take at least 10 days or half a month to get the true recipe over, right? In the first place, I am the one who invented Buddha Jumps over the Wall, so surely it’s much better to depend on resources close to you and give up on that troublesome thing far away?

Moreover, being too excited is not good for your health. Buddha Jumps over the Wall must be made with a hundred year old Shaoxing wine jar to achieve the best taste. That Manager Li managed to somehow find not one, but two large Shaoxing wine jars that are hundreds of years old and gave us one. Before leaving Lin Qing, the lord ordered him to send the wine jar to the Capital. It must be at An Le Lou now. I shall get some people to fetch it today. This granddaughter-in-law of yours shall personally make you Buddha Jumps over the Wall, so that everyone could enjoy the taste of this soup with grandmother tomorrow, how about it?”

Old Madam Fang laughed heartily and said, “Looks like you still know how to show your filial consideration to this old lady. Very well, I have enough of all the excitement for today. I’m tired. You and Xuan’er go and have a good rest. Once you’re well enough, you can make that Buddha… whatever thing tomorrow.”

“Grandmother, it’s called Buddha Jumps over the Wall.” Duan Xinqi finally gathered the courage to speak.

Old Madam Fang smiled, “That’s right, but why is the name so odd? The thing I really can’t accept is: Why only the Buddha Jumps over the Wall? Why can’t the Daoist Jump over the wall?”

Everyone laughed again. At this, Shi Yurou said, “Well, from old madam’s considerate behaviour, I can tell that she has been bought over by sister-in-law’s Buddha Jumps over the Wall. As for the rest of us, let’s make ourselves scarce and not stay around anymore. Otherwise, how could elder brother and sister-in-law have the face to make themselves leave before us?”

Su Nuan Nuan smiled, “Little sister underestimate just how thick our faces are. Now that old madam has given us permission, I have no qualms about leaving right away.”

After a final round of laughter, everyone dispersed.

 

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They made it back to Spring Breeze Court just when the little kids were let out of classes. Therefore, Xue Zhi Lan, Xu Ran Yun, Concubine Jian and Concubine Jing came over with the children to pay their respects to Duan Tingxuan and Su Nuan Nuan as the Lord and First Wife of the main family.

Su Nuan Nuan and Duan Tingxuan immediately picked up a girl-child each and set them upon their laps. Su Nuan Nuan smiled, “When I left the estate, this little one was just taking her first step, but look how well she walks now. I must say, girls are definitely sweeter and more obedient than boys. Look at our little princesses, they are so pretty. Just wait, first mother will make a doll for each of you.”

The little girls’ soft and milky voice chorus together, “Thank you first mother.”

Su Nuan Nuan was so enchanted that she kissed them a few more times before handing the girls back to their wet nurses. Then, she addressed Xu Ran Yun and the other ladies, “Enough, you can all go back if you like. I know some of you find this place a little stifling. Since little children are interested in new things, they must all be impatient to see the souvenirs we brought back from Liaodong. You may leave them here to play with the gifts.”

Xu Ran Yun and the rest murmured something agreeably and filed out properly from the official wife’s house. When the last of them were gone, Su Nuan Nuan finally stretched and said to a smiling Duan Tingxuan, “We’re finally home. After rushing on the road for so long, my waist is all sore, my thighs all numbed. Luckily I tied some soft padding on, otherwise, my skin would have been rubbed raw by now.”

She had just finished speaking when Duan Maochuan came over with a smile, “First mother is tired, do let me massage your shoulder. When concubine mother is tired, I’d tap on her shoulder before she sleeps. I’m very good.”

“Aiya, no need. Just how big are you? I’m sure I’ll be fine, but your little hands will be sore later.” Su Nuan Nuan captured Duan Maochuan into her arms and kissed him soundly. She praised him, “Knowing that you’re thinking of me makes me feel better already.”

Duan Maosen looked up enviously. He rushed over to say, “First mother, I can be filial too. But third brother said it before me, we can share the job together. First mother just sit down and let us massage you.”

Before Su Nuan Nuan could say anything, Duan Tingxuan said, “Since the children are so eager to show their filial appreciation, why don’t you let them massage you? Look, though I, their father am here, no one showed me any attention.”

At this, Duan Moafan and Duan Maoming also came forward with grins on their faces. The four boys struck their little fists on their parents’ shoulders, the effect was actually more ticklish than anything, but both Duan Tingxuan and Su Nuan Nuan made a little noises of appreciation. After all, since the children were sincere, how could they simply reject their filial appreciation?

Su Nuan Nuan hugged Duan Maochuan closer and said, “How is your mother lately? Did she say any more nonsense in front of you?”

Duan Maochuan shook his head, “No, but I can see that concubine mother is not very happy. I don’t know what happened, but about half a month ago she suddenly hugged me and cried all night long. She didn’t say anything at all, just cried. I was really worried too, but then the next day she’s fine again. Aih! First mother, when will I grow up, ah? I think, if I can grow big, concubine mother will be very happy.”

“It’s fine to grow up slowly, there’s no need to hurry. When you’re all grown up, you’ll realize that the happiest time of your life is in your childhood. Your mother should be fine, I shall speak to her one of these days.” Su Nuan Nuan said as she stroked Duan Maochuan’s head.

Anxious about them tripping and falling on their faces, Su Nuan Nuan called out. “Be careful you lot and don’t mess things up. Hong Lian, you make sure to watch them.” She ended up going to the room to inspect the gifts and souvenirs one last time before letting the servants carried them out. Then, she picked out some small gifts and shooed the boys out to play with them in the courtyard.

Finally, she entered her room and spotted Hong Lian placing a tray of snacks onto the table. She smiled and said, “That Matron Liu must have complained about me one too many times, hasn’t she? Humph! Humph! I don’t need you to tell me, I know. It’s all fine, just wait, I’ll definitely arrange a good dowry for you. We’ll make that woman eat her words once she sees how much I favour you.”

Hong Lian said, “Missy, please don’t wrongly accuse people. She hasn’t spoken a single word before me…”

She had barely started her explanation when Si Ping’s voice called through the courtyard, “Xiang Yun, is the master there? Please inform the master that the second and fourth princes have arrived. They are now with the Lord Marquis in the front living room. The Lord Marquis has sent for master.”

“I understand.” Duan Tingxuan’s voice called out. He stood up and met Su Nuan Nuan’s eyes.

The fourth prince’s background was something of a thorn in their hearts. Afraid that her husband would act recklessly, she rushed over and, in a pretence of fixing his clothes whispered, “Keep your calm and be sure not to reveal anything. Even His Excellency Long knew nothing about this, we can keep this a secret so long as you don’t reveal anything. Otherwise, with how shrewd that fourth prince is, he would surely sense something wrong.”

“Be at ease, I understand.” Duan Tingxuan patted Su Nuan Nuan’s hand and turned to leave. The moment he left, the maids, Xiang Yun, Xing’er, Cong’er and Hua’er all trooped in. Su Nuan Nuan smiled at them, reached into her bosom, withdrew a small pouch and handed it to Hong Lian. “Why don’t you take a look at what’s inside? When you get married, the thing inside will be part of your dowry. See if you like it?”

“As long as Missy is the one who gives it to me, this maid will surely like it. How could this maid not trust in Missy’s vision?” Hong Lian said cheerfully. Still, she could not resist opening the little pouch. 12 round pearls rolled into her palm. Of the 12, 6 of them were as large as the tip of her thumb, the rest were at least as large as the tip of her middle finger. As the maid of a noble household, she would of course know the value of these precious things. The sight of these pearls nearly sent her into a daze. “These pearls are perfectly round and are as beautiful as the highest quality Hepu Pearls [1]. Just where did Missy get these? And how could this maid receive them? Th- this maid dared not take them.”

Su Nuan Nuan laughed, “Since I’ve given them to you, just take them, ba. I, your mistress have earned them all after two days of shucking mussels at Liaodong. I have kept some for myself, of course, and they are no worse than yours in terms of quality and lustre. These are meant for your Phoenix Crown. There are 12 pearls all together, so you can split them into 6 per set. Therefore, it is my wish that you will have ‘A Major Smooth Sailing [2]’ life in the future.”

Xiang Yun and the rest of the girls rushed over to admire the pearls and cooed over the gift. Xiang Yun smiled, “For Hong Lian’s life goes smoothly do we really need to use any special lucky numbers? All will be well as long as she give birth to a son, and everything will be smooth from birth…”

She hadn’t finished speaking when Hong Lian slapped her on the mouth, scolding her with a laugh, “At least watch your mouth in front of your juniors. Are you trying to catch your death by saying this to me?”

Su Nuan Nuan smiled warmly at them, “Xiang Yun, there’s no need for you to be jealous. Next year when you get married to Shuang Xi, I shall give you the exact same type of and number of pearls. For now, I will save it for you.” After speaking, she took out another pouch and opened it to show Cong’er and the other low-level maids, “I know that all of you girls have a sharp tongue on you. I have to be fair in order to prevent any bad rumours from leaving this place.

Well, here you go, everyone will have their share. However, the day of your marriage is far yet, so you can amuse yourselves with these little ones first. You can make them into accessories or gift them to your friends or relatives. However, don’t look down on them as inferior things, these are true Eastern Pearls. You won’t find it easy to buy Eastern Pearls with this level of lustre and roundness.”

Seeing that even they have a share of the souvenirs, Cong’er and the others were ecstatic beyond words. They all came up to receive three pearls each. Xiang Yun said, “Missy, could it be that you’ve actually travelled all the way to the Ussuri River? I heard that there are a few Eastern Pearl farms there and that these pearls could only be found at the Ussuri River. But, considering the time constrain, I don’t think you could’ve actually made it all the way there?”

Su Nuan Nuan smiled, “En, we managed to hit a stroke of good luck this time. We intercepted a batch of smuggled Eastern Pearl Mussels. Miss Chu and I have been shucking them for two days straight. It was quite fun. Once we pry apart the mussel, we’ll prod the soft flesh within. To be honest, the majority of the mussels had no pearl at all, therefore, when we finally found one it’s such a great feeling! When a round and perfect pearl popped out of the flesh, the sight of the lustrous pearl shining under the soft light… Aiya, the feeling is like, like having a fish biting at the end of your line…”

As the maids sat around her, Su Nuan Nuan waxed on about her adventures at the Liaodong Peninsular. After they heard her stirring talk about finding kelp to help the Jinzhou province stave off starvation, the accidental discovery of Eastern Pearl smuggling as well as her trip to the Jiang Nan as a spy, the girls all became fascinated by her adventures. Xiang Yun slapped her head in annoyance and cried, “If I knew it was going to be this interesting, this maid would have dressed up in men’s clothes and followed Missy in her adventures.”

Hong Lian sniffed coldly. “You are too stupid. Teacher Lu would have discovered you in three days.”

Su Nuan Nuan had told these maids that their reason for going undercover was to find evidence to prove the innocence of the Duke of Ping at Lu Fengyu’s office. Everything else went unmentioned. After all, these things would be revealed at the imperial court soon, so there was no reason to hide from them.

As the group chattered happily together, they heard someone announced the arrival of Concubine Jing. The maids all quickly retreated with their loot, knowing that their mistress must have a lot to talk about with Concubine Jing. Moreover, those were probably things they were not supposed to be privy to.

 

[Gumihou: Woohoo, presents for everyone ~]

 

[1] Hepu Pearls – Also known as Southern Pearls, are some of the best pearls from China. It is said that “Eastern Pearls are not as good as Western Pearls, and Western Pearls are not as good as Southern Pearls”

Therefore, for Su Nuan Nuan’s Eastern Pearls to be compared equally to Southern Pearls is a great compliment indeed.

http://en.chinaculture.org/library/2008-01/08/content_21919.htm

[2] The 12 pearls represent Six Six Big Smooth or Major Smooth Sailing. The 66 is supposed to represent good luck from the word 顺顺利利, Shun Shun Li Li, In Chinese, 6 is pronounced as ‘liu’. How the ‘liu’ came to represent ‘li’ is a bit of a stretch in imagination, but it’s culturally traditional.

Kind of like the now popular 521 for I love you

5 2 1 = Wu Er Yi = 我爱你 = Wo Ai Ni = I Love You

It’s a thing.

 

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