The Feast – 270 – Return to Maternal Home

The Feast – 270 – Return to Maternal Home

Chapter 270: Return to Maternal Home

 

Translated by Gumihou

Edited by Vinisha

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Hong Lian nearly leapt into the air in shock before rushing to say, “How could she dare? Where did Missy hear this?”

Su Nuan Nuan frowned, “Humph! Are you speaking for her now? As expected, once a girl is about to be married off, she turns away from her maternal home. Do you think I wouldn’t know? Because I unexpectedly stayed away too long, you missed your opportunity to get married. Now, after managing to come back after going through so much hardship, I suddenly ended up pregnant and had to make you stay by my side to take care of me, delaying your marriage once more. Who in the world could endure this? You think just because they don’t complain before me, I won’t know how much they resent me?”

Hong Lian was terrified now, “They truly did not harbour any resentment, ah. Otherwise, I would be the first to scold them. Where did Missy hear this? Has some little hussy come to drive a wedge between us by telling such stories? Very good, I had no idea that we still have such clever people hiding within Spring Breeze Court.”

By the time she reached the end of her tirade, the air was filled with killing intent. Su Nuan Nuan’s eyes watered as she stared up at the harshly breathing Hong Lian. Suddenly, a soft [pu chi] escaped her and she began to laugh, “Alright, alright, don’t be angry anymore. It’s all a guess on my part. Nobody said anything to me. Since you’re so sure, I must have been mistaken. En, this Matron Liu is not bad, she knows how to keep her composure and behave with integrity.”

Hong Lian: … it appears that, after Missy became pregnant, she had gotten a lot more mischievous. Is this the legendary ‘Revelation of True Character’?

 

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Even though Su Meng Nuan was an extravagant, cruel, shrewish wife, the Duke of Ping, his wife, sons and their wives had already gone through a great catastrophe and had become much calmer and stronger than before.

Before his in-laws arrived, Duan Tingxuan had already bought a large mansion for them not far from the Marquis of Anping’s Estate. The mansion used to belong to an earl but had stood abandoned for years and required a lot of repair and renovations. Even without violating the law through the usage of rare and expensive building materials, once properly renovated, it would still be a grand and beautiful house. However, the whole family declined the house and had already made arrangements to move into a small residence much further away, refusing to allow Duan Tingxuan to spend even more money on them. This caused the little marquis to panic a little and wondered if he had somehow unwittingly offended his in-laws. Had he crossed some invisible lines? They were clearly warmer towards him back at Niu Tou Mountain, weren’t they?

Even Su Nuan Nuan could not understand their stubbornness. She took the initiative to speak to Madam Liu about this the next time the family gathered. Su Nuan Nuan asked, “Mother, why do you and father refuse to stay at the mansion prepared by My Lord? And just where did you find the excess funds to rent a house?”

Madam Liu sighed and said, “This child. Can you not understand our effort to live independently? Not only do we not want the house bought by Tingxuan. We’ve also rejected the accommodations arranged by your sisters. In the end, our family has been defeated. For me to be able to return to the Capital with your father, your brothers and their wives is good enough for us. Of course, we could live luxuriously if we depend on our daughters’ family. But what of you and your sisters? You have all married into other families. Even if they do not show it on their faces, they would not be happy to have us leeching off them.

If we started counting on the charity of our families, we lose whatever dignity and moral backbone we have left. It is one thing to let ourselves be looked down, but what if we bring down your husband’s family name? Our family have already discussed this before we came to the capital. We no longer have any power to assist you and cannot be your support, but at the very least, we would not let ourselves be your burdens.”

Initially, Su Nuan Nuan did not have much affection for these instant parents of hers, but after hearing Madam Liu’s explanation, she could not help but feel emotionally moved by these words: Pity all parents under the heavens, ah. These people would rather suffer than to risk making their daughters lose their statuses in their husbands’ house. Speaking of which, in this age where male chauvinism and filial piety was greater than the sky, not many parents would be so considerate.

Feeling very touched, she said earnestly, “Mother, father, please don’t be like this. I have no idea what the situation is like at my sisters’ house, but ever since you’ve declined the mansion My Lord had prepared, he had been suffering from sleepless nights and kept asking me if he had somehow accidentally offended you. Look, just take the mansion and let My Lord have his peace of mind, he’s driving ME out of my mind with his constant worrying.”

Madam Liu and the two sisters-in-law burst out laughing. Su Nuan Nuan’s second sister-in-law said, “Sister, I’ve never seen you look happy when living at the marquis’ estate before this. Things have certainly changed for you. We’ve even heard the people talking about you on our way to the Capital. They say that the Little Marquis of An Ping is a man who guards his wife like a mad demon. I hadn’t quite believed it at first, but hearing you say this reassures me that the rumours are true. Now that you carry his flesh and blood, wouldn’t he value you even more?”

Su Nuan Nuan laughed arrogantly, “Naturally, but enough about that. Even before my pregnancy, he dared not even offend me in his speech.”

At this, her elder brother laughed heartily and said, “Sister, perhaps you might want to ease up on your husband a bit. I heard that you’ve really offended the whole estate in the past with your fierce and arrogant behaviour, now that you’ve managed to change and gain your husband’s favour. You shouldn’t misbehave again, ah.”

This remark had a sobering effect on the entire room. The Duke of Ping said, “Enough, you ladies stay here and chat together for a while. Your brothers and I shall go and see if we can find some small jobs to do. Since Nuan Nuan would be coming over to stay with us, dear wife, you must make sure we have a few extra dishes on the table.”

Su Nuan Nuan smiled, “Be at ease, father. Now that you are back, I must show you some tricks I’ve learned. Don’t you know that your daughter is now famous for her culinary skills? Adding a few dishes to the table is no problem for me. The estate will deliver the ingredients later. By the way, please don’t reject them, ah. Those are all sent especially for me, and has nothing to do with you.”

Of course, the Duke of Ping realised that this was his daughter’s way of making sure that her maternal family’s life fared a little better. Since she was so sincere, it was not easy to reject her kindness. Instead, he nodded gravely and said, “Very well, discuss it with your mother. Your brothers and I will go out now.” With that, the men left the hall. Madam Liu led her daughter and daughters-in-law to the back rooms so that they could chat more freely together.

After some small talk, Su Nuan Nuan’s elder sister-in-law said curiously, “Little sister, I’ve never heard of you being particularly good at cooking before this. Just how did you gain this skill all of a sudden? Even at Niu Tou Mountain, we heard talk about the culinary skill of the Heir’s Wife of the Marquis of An Ping. When mother heard, she even cried, sure that sister must have been divorced and replaced by some new woman skilled in cooking.”

Su Nuan Nuan had long since anticipated this question. The moment she realised that she had to face her instant family, she had been pondering over some plausible excuse to explain her cooking ability. After some discussion with Duan Tingxuan, they came up with an improbable, but still plausible story. The question served as the cue for her opening act, to which Su Nuan Nuan began by staring out the window with an air of melancholic mystery. When Hong Lian and Xiang Yun noticed this, like professional extras, they quietly left the room and closed the door behind them.

When the door shut, Su Nuan Nuan flattened her lips, squeezed out two perfect tears and said faintly, “How my life had been while in this estate, I believe mother and sisters-in-law knew all too well. Husband and I quarrelled and because of this we were estranged and the Lord put me under house arrest at Mei Yue Lou, leaving me to fend for myself…”

At this, Madam Liu sighed and shook her head, “This child, we’ve spoilt you too much. To think that it came to this point… no wonder the Lord Heir… aih!”

Su Nuan Nuan went rigid and nearly broke character. Wei, she thought, is this something you as a mother should say? Mother, ah. The one placed under house arrest is your own daughter, you know? Aren’t you supposed to get angry at a certain little marquis for abandoning the wife for his concubines? Even if your daughter was the one at fault, you should still be on her side purely on blood relations, right?

Rendered wordless with indignation for a moment, Su Nuan Nuan was eventually prompted by her elder sister-in-law, who said gently, “What happened next? Something must have happened, right? Why did the little marquis’ feelings for sister change so drastically?”

Good question.

Su Nuan Nuan shouted privately. On the surface, she sniffed and wiped her eyes, waited for a beat before saying solemnly. “While I was at Mei Yue Lou, there was not much difference between living and dying. Father and mother are both far away, I have no son and no daughter beside me. The only person I could depend on was this cold and heartless husband of mine, so what’s the use of living? It’s better to just die. Depression must have overwhelmed me and my soul floated down to the netherworld…”

When she reached this part, Su Nuan Nuan pretended to look around in horror, as though reliving the sights she had seen in the netherworld. Madam Liu and her sisters-in-law shivered. They all lowered their voices, “Have you really died? Did you see the Fengdu City [1]? Did you see the King of Hell?”

Su Nuan Nuan nodded slightly, she too spoke in whispers, “I’ve seen it. The Fengdu City is… but for some reason, I was not made to cross the Naihe Bridge, nor drink Old Lady Meng’s soup [3]. In hell, I had no body, I was only a soul. My soul drifted across the 18 levels of hell, passing the tongue pullers, the huge wok with its bubbling oil, I even passed by a large throne and caught a glimpse of the shadow sitting there. I had no ears but the screams of those souls who did evil during their living days pierced through me, nearly scattering my soul to bits. Ironically, it was the thought of all the evil I did during my lifetime that held my soul together. I knew that if I falter now, this would be my fate.

Suddenly, a ghostly official pulled me to stand before the Magistrate of Hell and they questioned me. Asked me if I know and understood the wrongs I did. Of course, I confessed. I cried bitterly and only regretted the fact that I understood my sins after my death.

Unexpectedly, the Magistrate informed me that my lifeline has yet to exhaust itself. Some little demon had messed up and pulled my soul too early to hell and I was to be sent back. The Magistrate was kind enough to remind me of my second chance at life and told me to become an upright and moral person to make up for all the sins I had committed in the past. That I must help the poor and needy and uphold justice. At that time, I- I did not know where I got the courage, but I began to complain and cried about how I had no skills, no family background and no support from anyone. I could barely help myself, so how could I help others?

The Magistrate smiled at me and said that it would all be fine. When I next woke up, I was back at the estate. The first thing I saw was a bowl of rice with braised pork, and suddenly all kinds of cooking skills and techniques flooded my mind. It sounds ridiculous, I know, but it’s true. At first, I thought that this was a gift for me to survive when the Lord cast me out to fend for myself. I never thought of using it to gain favour from the Lord or the Senior Madams but, that was what happened. The Magistrate of Hell was really too kind and knowledgeable. I am determined to live this second life to the fullest and use this gift for good.”

Thus endeth her performance.

Su Nuan Nuan fell silent and waited to see the fruits of her acting skills. The nice thing about telling a story to a group of people was that she could see their expression change as they followed her story. First frightened, then shock, followed by rejoicing. At the end of the tale, Madam Liu and her sisters-in-law were left speechless. It took them a long time to recover, and when they did, Wang’shi, the elder sister-in-law was the first to speak, “Sure enough, supernatural beings really do exist in this world, and our little sister had personally experienced all of it. For sure, people should do good and accumulate good karma for a better afterlife.”

Second sister-in-law Hua’shi nodded repeatedly at this. Madam Liu pressed her hands together and began to chant the sutra. “Buddha blesses us, Buddha blesses us, bless my child for having experienced this and waking her conscience to become a good person, ah.”

 

 [Gumihou: This chapter is quite interesting to translate, I want to visit Fengdu City one day!]

 

[1] Fengdu City or Fengdu Ghost City – Is a place that exists in China!!

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fengdu_Ghost_City

 

[2] Naihe Bridge – Legend has it that if you’re a bad person, you’ll fall while crossing the bridge into the pool where a bloody future awaits you.

https://www.tripchinaguide.com/photo-p154-9288-the-naihe-bridge-in-fengdu-ghost-city.html

[3] Old Lady Meng’s Soup – Before you are reincarnated, you have to drink the soup of forgetfulness. From the number of people who transmigrated nowadays, I guess a lot of people had sneaked past Old Lady Meng and her soup.

https://hannahmtalk.wordpress.com/2017/04/12/meng-po-soup-ill-pass/

 

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