Chapter 275: Mercy
Translated by Gumihou
Edited by Vinisha
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Matron Zhou Ming could only bow her head several times and admit her guilt. Finally, Su Nuan Nuan waved a dismissive hand at the maid and said to Madam Liu, “Mother, I should return to the estate immediately. I shall send Hong Lian and Xiang Yun over to pack up my things later.” Then she turned to Matron Zhou Ming and asked, “Did you come in a carriage?”
“Yes, yes, yes,” Matron Zhou Ming nodded several times. “Elder Madam ordered for the best carriage to be sent to fetch First Madam. Now that Madam is expecting, we dare not be negligent.”
Su Nuan Nuan nodded and did not bother wasting any more words on nonsense. Under Madam Liu’s repeated calls to be careful and to watch over her health, she bustled out to the carriage.
After stepping through the gate, Su Nuan Nuan encountered the squatters still loitering about the Su Family house. At the sight of Su Nuan Nuan, a few of their eyes lit up. Too bad the target of their interest immediately got into the carriage, not sparing them even half a glance. The moment she got into the carriage, she began to interrogate Matron Zhou Ming.
“Just how did the sudden death happen? You had better tell me all you can about it.”
“This maid is not aware of the basic details. The only thing this one knows is that Madam Yun was perfectly fine in the morning. She came as usual to give Elder Madam her morning greetings and even went to Old Madam’s place to sit for a time. When the kitchen sent lunch over to Elder Madam, the maid who carried the food over even said that Madam Yun had sent her own maids over to the kitchen for some ginseng to make chicken soup with.
Who would have thought that before Elder Madam was done with her lunch, a low-level maid came rushing over crying out that Madam Yun is on her deathbed and begged for a physician to come? Elder Madam was so shocked that she immediately hurried over to Autumn Rain Pavilion. I was by her side the whole way and we arrived to see Madam Yun clutching at her neck, her entire face red and swollen. Before Elder Madam could say anything to her she… she stopped breathing. The situation was too shocking, however, the most pitiful person here was Ming’er. So young, but had to watch as his mother died before him, and in such a terrible way too. Aih!”
Su Nuan Nuan frowned but said nothing. Xu Ran Yun’s symptoms appeared similar to acute laryngitis, but surely even the most severe attack would not be so fast-acting and deadly, right?
Matron Zhou Ming continued, “That’s right when the imperial physician arrived, he found that Madam Yun’s hand and face were all covered in rashes similar to measles. The spots were very red and closely packed together. The imperial physician said that she must have eaten something that her body could not endure and had a bad reaction to it. However, normally, such reactions are quite mild and irritating at most. An attack such as Madam Yun’s was very rare.”
At this, Su Nuan Nuan finally understood. She blurted out, “It must be some sort of food allergy.” At Matron Zhou Ming’s suspicious expression, she cleared her throat and said, “That is, she must be especially sensitive to certain kinds of food. Do you know if there is any kind of food that Madam Yun would always avoid?”
Matron Zhou Ming shook her head, “This… I’ve never heard about this matter before… why? Has Madam thought of something?”
Su Nuan Nuan shook her head gravely, “Nothing much, but I did hear that there are some people who cannot eat certain things. Their body would immediately feel itchy and uncomfortable if they eat certain kinds of food. Extra sensitive people could even die from a severe reaction…”
Matron Zhou Ming clapped her hands once, as though experiencing a eureka moment, and declared, “Madam must be right! Madam Yun was found covered in rashes and even the imperial physician said that the cause of death must be from something she ate. The food must have disagreed with her body so much so that she died nearly instantly.”
Then, she sighed. The excitement of finding out the truth fading as she shook her head and said, “This calamity had certainly arrived on wings. She had been perfectly fine too.” At this, she looked up at Su Nuan Nuan, but then quickly withdrew her eyes again.
Su Nuan Nuan became gloomy. How could she not know what was going on in Matron Zhou Ming’s head? It’s possible that the entire estate, from the lowliest servants to the masters probably suspect her of being the culprit. After all, less than five days after the First Madam returned to her maternal home, a serious thing like this happened. Just what kind of coincidence is this? It certainly looked as though First Madam had gone to her maternal home to establish an alibi for herself after arranging for Madam Yun’s death. After all, now that her family was in dire straits, on what legitimate reason would she want to go and stay with them?
Not that she could blame others for being suspicious. If it was the other way round, even Su Nuan Nuan would be plagued by an army of doubts as to that person’s character. There was no point saying anything now, she had better return first and find out for herself the details of Xu Ran Yun’s death. If that woman had really choked and died from an accident, it could be thought of as karma catching up with her, right? There’s also the possibility that someone might use this as an opportunity to harm Su Nuan Nuan, so in the end, she had better find out everything and get to the bottom of the matter.
She was still pondering over the incident when they finally reached the An Ping Estate. Su Nuan Nuan quickly got off the carriage and was immediately greeted by the matron looking after the gate. She asked, “Has the little marquis returned?”
“He has, about half an hour ago. The master’s government office was closer than Madam’s maternal home.” Was the door-keeping matron’s quick reply. She quickly had the specially prepared sedan chair brought over for Su Nuan Nuan. As they hurried over to Autumn Rain Pavilion, the matron shook her head and muttered, “After a few days of peace another huge wave appeared. I’m afraid we will have a lot of drama from today onwards.”
Su Nuan Nuan said nothing to that, merely sat in her sedan chair, lost in thought until they reached the entrance of Autumn Rain Pavilion. They found Duan Maoming seated at the stairs to the entrance, his knees pulled up to his chest, head buried in his arms. Around him were his wet nurse, as well as a few other maids and older female servants, all of them trying to coax him out of his misery.
“Little master, you must go back to your room. It’s nearly winter now, if you continue to sit here you’ll catch a chill. If you fall sick, we can’t bear the consequences, ah. So please, look at it as pitying our fate…”
None of their pleas reached his ears. Suddenly a warm voice called out, “Ming’er.”
He looked up in shock and saw Su Nuan Nuan just a little way away from him. He suddenly stood up and ran towards her, throwing his arms around her thigh and sobbed, “First mother, my, my mother is dead… wuwuwu… first mother, I’m scared. Will mother never speak to me again? Wuwuwu…”
Normally, Duan Maoming was like a little despot within the estate, for him to cry until tears and snot mixed together, even Su Nuan Nuan felt grief-stricken by the boy’s pitiful appearance. So much so that she quickly picked him up in her arms and soothed, “Even though Ming’er’s mother can’t speak to Ming’er anymore, she has just gone to a faraway place, ah. Now and then, she can still see you, so Ming’er, you must study well and grow up to be a successful person. Once your mother knows that you’re all grown up, she will feel at ease.” By then, even Su Nuan Nuan’s tears began to fall. The tears were all for this unfortunate child who had lost his mother.
“Madam, please put the child down. You’re still expecting and should not be carrying anything heavy.”
The maids and servants all gathered around Su Nuan Nuan, but she ignored them and continued to pat Duan Maoming’s head and let him cry for a long while before handing him over to Mi’shi. In a soft voice, she said, “Ming’er has suffered a great shock and must be tired. Once you bring him to rest, give him a bowl of calming soup to repair his constitution. Let him sleep.”
“Yes.” Mi’shi answered. She was about to leave when Su Nuan Nuan said, “I’m afraid Autumn Rain Pavilion would not be peaceful from now on. You had better bring him to Spring Breeze Court. Have Hong Lian look after the both of you.”
“Yes.” Mi’shi had meant to suggest the very same thing but dared not say anything to her. She was beyond grateful that Su Nuan Nuan had suggested it herself and sighed with relief.
Just then, Duan Maoming cried out, “I- I won’t go… I still need to guard mother…”
“Ming’er, be good and listen. Father and I will be here.” Su Nuan Nuan dabbed the tears on the little fellow’s face and forced a smile, “Once everything has been settled, I promise… you can still see your mother one last time…”
She had hardly finished the sentence when her nose became stuffy, and more tears ran down her face.
Author White Pear Flower: Even though Xu Ran Yun’s ending was deserved, Ming’er is still very pitiful, ah. Aih! Therefore, as parents, you must think of your children and not do bad things, ah.
[Gumihou: I have mixed feelings about this chapter.]
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