The Feast – 253 – Memory

The Feast – 253 – Memory

Chapter 253: Memory

 

Translated by Gumihou

Edited by Onionpi

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“Well, at least we finally managed to hold ourselves together until First Madam returns. In the future, with her to back us up, we won’t have to worry about Madam Yun making waves anymore.”

As they returned to the side wing, Yang’shi commented as she watched Concubine Jiang quietly sat in her usual place and continued with her needlework as though nothing untoward had happened. She had opened the conversation with that provocative little remark, waiting to see whether Concubine Jiang would answer. When nothing came forth, she went over and sat down next to her, “Sister, just what is going on? In the past, you seemed quite happy and even said that you will stick with First Madam in the future. But now that First Madam is back, not only did you not pay her a personal visit, you hardly said anything to her. Why is that, ah?”

“Nothing, I was just thinking. If I immediately stick myself to First Madam, it would appear that I have no moral backbone. Other people would say that I’ve deserted Madam Yun, that I am inhuman and have no principle of my own. It’s better to not move than to move at this moment, and maintain the current status quo. After all, First Madam is not the type of person who would bear a grudge against me for not coming over to fawn on her. She’s not that kind of petty person.”

When Yang’shi heard this, she finally felt the tightness in her chest eased. Nodding in agreement, she said, “I’m relieved that you know how to differentiate what’s important. These past few days when I saw you getting closer to Madam Yun, I thought you must have been pulled over by her sweet talking. Lil’sis, if nothing else you must pay attention to my one piece of advice. Please don’t place your hopes on Madam Yun anymore. Rong’er has already told me everything that had happened at Old Madam Fang’s place. She’s basically a broken jar now, and you’re merely a concubine. If you try to lean against her for support, the two of you will eventually fall and smash to pieces together.”

Concubine Jiang nodded, then she smiled, “I understand. However, no matter what she’s still my mistress and therefore I must at least pay her some lip service respect. Even if it’s only for others to see.” Suddenly, the sound of Duan Maochuan’s voice reached them from outside and her smile widened. “That child must have gotten something good from First Madam. To hear him laugh like that… quick, you must go and have a look, make sure he doesn’t hurry too much and drop whatever he’s holding.”

Yang’shi agreed and went out. At this, Concubine Jiang finally lowered her needlework. Her gaze when she looked out the window was solemn. Unable to restrain herself, her mind began replaying the scene that happened a few days ago when Mrs. Mao had spoken to her.

“My loyalty towards Madam Yun is something that others might not know, but Madam Concubine surely understands. That day when Madam left us behind at Pushan Temple, I have no complaints. It’s only natural for a servant to sacrifice themselves for their masters after all. There was really no helping the situation at. Weren’t Qiu Ling [1] abandoned too? As for the First Madam, if I say that I am not the slightest bit touched, then I am the worst kind of ingrate. However, even I understood the difference between being grateful and being loyal.

In the end, I still have to rely on Madam Yun to obtain a good position. With a good position to manage, opportunities to rise would come on its own, right? Who would have thought that Madam Yun would suddenly grow suspicious of me? That hussy Feng Xian [2] must have collected some benefit from others to slander me before the Madam and secretly told Mrs. Fang the details of some small mistake I made. You of all people should know that no matter how carefully one plans, mistakes are bound to happen somewhere. It’s only a matter of time before my position is taken away.”

Concubine Jiang had heard the same story from several women who had been relieved of their position by Xu Ran Yun. However, this was the first time that news of Feng Xian receiving benefits to make things happen reached her ears. So she asked, “How do you know that Feng Xian had received benefits from others?”

Mrs. Mao sneered, “Others might not have known, but recently I have been particularly close to a few of Madam Lan’s servant girls, and one of these girls leaked out that hussy’s secret. She told me the reason that Fang woman could take over my position was that, under the directions of Long Yan [3], she made connections with Feng Xian and had her personally slander me before Madam Yun. Aside from myself, a few others also had their positions taken out from under them the same way.

Concubine Jiang, you tell me, am I right to feel wronged? Who should I speak to about this? The only thing I can do is pour out some of the bitter water in my heart before Madam Concubine. In short, that hussy Feng Xian is no good. Though you’re a dowry maid of Madam Yun and a concubine of this house, could you say that your position is better than hers? Do you think your relationship with the mistress is better than the hussy who’s beside her day and night? Let me advise you now, prevention is better than cure. You’d better hand over some benefit to that hussy before she takes it into her mind to make trouble for you. Otherwise, your days would be very hard to live.”

Mrs. Mao’s words were specifically designed to instigate disharmony. Concubine Jiang knew this. However, at the time when she heard this, she was in too much shock to react properly. Though this matter did not seem to have anything to do with Duan Maochuan’s runny tummy, from what Concubine Jiang understood of Xue Zhi Lan and Feng Xian’s character as well as that Xu Ran Yun, she had a feeling that everything was somehow all connected.

Concubine Jiang knew this because she understood Xu Ran Yun and Feng Xiang’s attitude very well. Also, because Xu Ran Yun had always been in an overt and covert struggle against Xue Zhi Lan, she inadvertently gained a deep understanding of that devastatingly beautiful woman as well. After pondering over the matter for a long time, she deduced that Xue Zhi Lan must have somehow made used of Feng Xian to instigate Xu Ran Yun into punishing many of her own loyal subordinates. Causing her to become even more isolated and hated. This, in turn, caused Xu Ran Yun to hate Su Nuan Nuan even more, to the point that she would make use of Duan Maochuan to entrap Su Nuan Nuan. It took Concubine Jiang a long time, but she was finally able to more or less deduce what had happened.

However, what’s the use of knowing all of this? In the end, it was all speculation. So what if Concubine Jiang was convinced that her speculation was correct? Not even the little marquis could dig up conclusive evidence against these treacherous women, what could you expect a helpless concubine like her do? It was because of her deep understanding of Xue Zhi Lan and Xu Ran Yun that she was able to guess what had happened more accurately than Duan Tingxuan.

Sighing lightly, Concubine Jiang blinked and withdrew herself from her memories just in time to see the curtain flaps flutter open and in came Duan Maochuan with Yang’shi. At the sight of her son’s bright and innocent smile, she could not help the sudden throb of confusion in her heart. The resolve she had made earlier wavered, and she became hesitant once again.

After playing with her son for a while, midday came and Rong’er came in with two low-level maids bearing food boxes. The boxes were placed on the kang table and Concubine Jiang immediately took note of the one unfamiliar plate of green noodles. Curious and puzzled, she said, “What is that thing?”

Rong’er smiled at her, “Mrs. Liang from the kitchen said that this is something that the First Madam had gone through a lot of effort to bring back from Liaodong. The amount of ice used to preserve this thing was incalculable. It is called kelp, a very highly nutritious and good sea vegetable for maintaining health. She especially said that Chuan’er should eat some as it could also protect against various kinds of diseases. This morning, when Madam finally arrived at the estate still covered in road dust, the first thing she did was have people move a large bucket of kelp to the kitchen and showed the cooks how to properly handle this new vegetable. Madam Concubine, please try some. Though it is not particularly fragrant, it must taste good, right?”

Concubine Jiang smiled, “First Madam is indeed considerate, even if it doesn’t taste good, it must be good for health. No matter what, I should try some.” With that, she had people call Duan Maochuan in and together, mother and son began their midday meal.

Not everyone enjoyed the peculiar taste of kelp, but not many would hate it either. After a few mouthfuls, Concubine Jiang commented, “I don’t find it particularly tasty, but with the help of the garlic and sesame oil it is acceptable. How do you like it, Chuan’er?”

Duan Maochuan grinned, “I think it’s very delicious. Though it’s not as fishy as seafood, it still has the taste of the sea. I like it very much.”

Concubine Jiang smiled warmly at him, “Then you should eat more. Your First Mother made it especially for you after all.”

Once they were done with lunch, the rest of the kelp was given to Yang’shi and the rest of the maids to try. As expected, Rong’er was the only one who really liked it, while Yang’shi found it barely acceptable. It made sense, everyone’s taste was different after all. Concubine Jiang said, “It’s rare for First Madam to be so busy, to think that she would still keep us in mind and give us all those presents while rushing home, and even made sure to prepare this special kelp dish for us on top of everything. I must go over to her court and personally thank her later this afternoon.”

 

[Gumihou: Ooooh, stay strong Concubine Jiang]

 

[1] Qiu Ling – Old Madam’s personal maid

[2] Feng Xian – One of Xue Zhi Lan’s personal maids, possibly most trusted maid

[3] Long Yan is one of Xue Zhi Lan’s personal maids, first appearance at Chapter 66, played more of a role at Chapter 143

 

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253 – Memory

 

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255 – Gag Performance

 

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258.1 – Tiring

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260 – Show of Power

261 – Complete Break

 

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