The Feast – 276 – Misfortune

The Feast – 276 – Misfortune

Chapter 276: Misfortune

 

Translated by Gumihou

Edited by Vinisha

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Duan Maoming was very obedient to Su Nuan Nuan. The main reason being that he felt that first mother was nothing like the maids and servants around him who were always lying or flattering him. Other people might think he was too young to understand, but he was aware when others lied or flattered him. Therefore he did not trust people easily. However, first mother was different. Since first mother had promised that he could still see mother one last time, he would most likely be able to see mother again.

With this soothing thought in mind, added to the fact that he had been up playing all night and this afternoon’s shock, to say nothing of the crying just now, Duan Maoming was completely exhausted. When Mi’shi picked him up, he did not protest, merely watched silently as Autumn Rain Pavilion grew further and further from his view. Finally, when the courtyard was out of sight, fresh tears flowed from his eyes. Mi’shi felt her shoulders growing damp but maintained her silence as she made her way towards Spring Breeze Court.

Su Nuan Nuan stayed in place until Duan Maoming had left her sight before entering the courtyard. She found Madam Yang, Liu Min, Shi Yurou, Duan Tingxuan and Duan Ni seated together at Autumn Rain Pavilion’s receiving hall. When they noticed her, Liu Min stood up and stepped forward to say, “Why have you come here? A place where death has happened is very unlucky for an expecting woman. Go back now.”

Su Nuan Nuan cast her eyes around the courtyard, as though she had not heard her at all. Duan Tingxuan, who understood her intention, stood up to say, “Second mother, is this the time to observe such taboo? No matter what, Nuan Nuan and Ran Yun are considered sisters. At least let her send Ran Yun off.”

Liu Min s. Madam Yang frowned, but in the end merely gave a short cautionary, “You may go in for a brief send-off. But come out quickly and go to the North Court to sit with Old Madam. You know how the servants get excited over nothing and make a big issue out of nothing. You go and make sure to keep Old Madam calm and reassured.”

Su Nuan Nuan nodded, she also wished to stay out of the matter as much as possible. Promise made, she entered Xu Ran Yun’s room with Duan Tingxuan. There, she found that someone had dressed Xu Ran Yun in a gorgeous dress and laid her out on her bed. Both Feng Xiang and Cui Bing were crying their eyes out over their dead mistress. When they noticed Duan Tingxuan, the two maids quickly straightened themselves up to bob a greeting. Then, Cui Bing burst into fresh tears and cried, “Master, our mistress has died most grievously, ah. Master, you must seek justice for her…”

“I know, I will investigate the matter.”

Duan Tingxuan sighed. At the sight of Xu Ran Yun’s greenish-blue face, Su Nuan Nuan whispered, “Is she poisoned? Why is her face so discoloured?”

Duan Tingxuan shook his head and sighed, “The imperial physician said that death by choking would result in this kind of reaction. It’s such a pity, Ran Yun had always been very proud of her looks. To think that at the end… aih!” He turned to Cui Bing and said, “After this, bring some water and clean your mistress’ face and do up her makeup properly. Don’t let her go with this kind of face, otherwise, she would not be happy even when she entered the afterlife.”

“Yes.”

Feng Xian and Cui Bing answered in unison. Duan Tingxuan turned to Su Nuan Nuan, “Now that you’ve sent her off, you had better return and rest. I shall take care of matters here. Be sure to not let the present situation influence your spirit adversely.”

Su Nuan Nuan nodded and left the room with Duan Tingxuan. When Madam Yang saw her, she reminded Su Nuan Nuan to go to the North Court again. To which Su Nuan Nuan said, “I’ve had someone send Ming’er to Spring Breeze Court to rest. I would like to take a look at him first to see if he is asleep. If he isn’t, I will stay and reassure him a little before leaving for Old Madam’s place.” 

Gratified, Madam Yang said, “Very well done. Just now, that child refused to leave the house and remained standing here until Xuan’er came back and coaxed him to leave. He should be removed from Autumn Rain Pavilion for the time being. Your thoughtfulness in the past must have made him more obedient towards you.”

Su Nuan Nuan was very emotional as she said, “I just pity that poor child. He’s too young to see his mother die before his eyes… how could his spirit take it?”

“That’s very true.” Madam Yang also wiped her eyes as she nodded. This time, she urged Su Nuan Nuan to quickly return to Spring Breeze Court and have a look at the child. Duan Tingxuan escorted her to the gate of Autumn Rain Pavilion and whispered, “I can only escort you until here. There’s still Xu Ran Yun’s funeral matters to be discussed and the Count of Cheng Ming would probably send representatives over as well.”

“Would they look for trouble with us? After all, a daughter of their house died at our estate. If the cause of death is too ambiguous, they might use this opportunity to blackmail or extort us…” Su Nuan Nuan said worriedly. She had not forgotten the scene in <<A Dream of Red Chamber>> Xia Jingui died trying to harm Xiang Ling, the whole of Xia family went over to the Xue house to make trouble. She was a little worried that the Cheng Ming Estate would also come over to make trouble and cause another headache for them all.

Duan Tingxuan was a little flabbergasted, he said, “Why worry about this? We have done nothing wrong, therefore, even if the Cheng Ming people come over, we can just explain things properly as we know them. Of course, the matter has to be investigated, but I don’t believe that anyone would deliberately harm Xu Ran Yun. Now that she had lost her social standing, what’s the use of harming her?

Moreover, there was no evidence of poisoning, even I have no idea what kind of food Xu Ran Yun could not bear. I’m afraid even Xu Ran Yun herself might not even be aware of her condition. So how could others know? It must all be a series of unfortunate events. An accident at worse. So, be at ease and don’t overthink things and just focus on looking after yourself and little Ming’er.”

Su Nuan Nuan breathed a sigh of relief. She must be suffering from some kind of excess paranoia. The reason why the Xia family went over to make trouble for the Xue family was because they had the backing of the Jia Clan. Considering the An Ping Estate’s position and connection with the imperial family, even if Xue Zhi Lan suddenly died under ambiguous circumstances today not even Duke Zhen Guo’s people would dare to raise a complaint. A count’s family with limited connection was nothing to them.

Since Duan Tingxuan told her to look after herself and not to worry, she decided to do just so and made her way back to Spring Breeze Court. Once there, she checked on Duan Maoming’s situation and found him sleeping, though it was clearly not a peaceful sleep. Mi’shi came out to quietly report, “He just had a bowl of calming soup and fell asleep not long ago. It is not a peaceful sleep, so this one shall stay here to monitor his condition.”

Su Nuan Nuan nodded and asked Mi’shi to properly care for Duan Maoming. Once that was done, she finally went over to her rooms to freshen up before making her way towards the North Court.

Old Madam Fang had been worrying over matters at Autumn Rain Pavilion. Therefore, when she saw Su Nuan Nuan came in, she quickly beckoned her over to explain the situation over there. After listening to Su Nuan Nuan’s explanation, she said, “Of all Tingxuan’s wives and concubines, she’s the one I disliked most. Too scheming and ambitious. Though she acted all respectful and deferential on the surface, she was no less arrogant than the you from before.

However, since she had given birth to one son and one daughter to Tingxuan, she had at least contributed hard work if not merit. Life would have been very good for her as the second wife of the heir apparent. Who would have thought she would just leave at such a young age? Casting aside Ming’er and that girl-child of hers, aih! Just thinking about it pains my heart. If I had known that she would leave us so quickly, I would have done more to get closer to her.”

Su Nuan Nuan quickly soothed, “Old Madam, you should not blame yourself for anything. People’s life and fortunes are all in the hands of fate. Ming’er and Qin’er still have their father and me in their lives. As children of this estate, they would not suffer any grievances just because their blood mother is gone. In fact, right now Ming’er is resting at my place. Qin’er had been playing at second sister’s place when the tragedy happened.

Someone had already sent word to Concubine Lin and she had already taken the initiative to keep Qin’er overnight at her place. Unlike Ming’er who had personally witnessed his mother’s death, she should be fine. The one I’m most worried about is Ming’er, he must have suffered a lot from the trauma of her death, but I shall do my best to console him.”

Old Madam Fang nodded, “With you taking action, I am relieved. The children all love you very much and are very obedient to you. Therefore, it would be good to give a little more attention to both Ming’er and Qin’er. To have lost their mother at such a young age, those two children are too pitiful, ah.”

Su Nuan Nuan nodded wordlessly, clearly agreeing with her. Then, Old Madam frowned and shook her head, “No, this would not do. You’ll be giving birth in four months and have to look after your own little child. Now, let’s see, I think that Jing’er child is not bad, she did a very good job managing the inner court this past year so it’s clear that she has a good sense of responsibility. Since she is doomed to have no children in this lifetime, perhaps having the brother and sister pair to look after will give her some fulfilment in her life.”

To be honest, Su Nuan Nuan had been pondering over the same matter as well. Though she liked children, raising them by herself was completely different from occasionally giving them treats and sending them home. Fortunately, the children of the estate were all provided with wet nurses and servants to look after all their needs. So, at the very least she did not have to concern herself with their meals or the clothes they wear. 

Moreover, as a brothel girl, Concubine Jing had been given a drug that had destroyed her fertility as soon as she reached puberty. She had confided this to Su Nuan Nuan when their friendship grew closer and would occasionally express her regret for not being able to have children. In fact, when children started popping by Su Nuan Nuan’s place, Concubine Jing would usually make sure to come over whenever she had no errands to run.

Su Nuan Nuan thought: It would not be a bad thing for her to raise Duan Maoming and Duan Caiqin. In fact, in her heart of hearts, Su Nuan Nuan felt that Concubine Jing was more qualified to raise children than Xu Ran Yun. The only thing she loses out on was not being their blood mother.

After speaking over the matter with Old Madam Fang and soothing the Old Madam’s agitated nerves, Su Nuan Nuan also felt a little tired. She leaned against the chair and closed her eyes to rest them a little. A short while later, she was sound asleep.

 

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In a half-dreaming, half-awake state, Su Nuan Nuan thought she heard voices at the edge of her consciousness. The voices were very low and sounded more like the buzzing of an annoying fly. With some effort, she shook herself awake, got up slowly from her chair and made her way out of the living room.

She saw two young maids sitting together and whispering at each other. Qiu Ling happened to walk in that very moment with a pot of hot water. The head maid frowned and hissed at the girls, “Xiao Miao, I told you to look after Old Madam and First Madam, how dare you sit and whisper there? Is this your first time working as a maid?”

Xiao Miao was so frightened that she bolted upright and then lowered her head, not daring to say anything. The other girl, Qiu’er, said timidly, “Sister Qiu Ling, it’s all my fault. Now that the situation at Autumn Rain Pavilion has changed again, we… we can’t help but talk about it.”

“No matter what happens at Autumn Rain Pavilion, surely that has nothing to do with you? How dare you waste time gossiping over those matters? Just make sure to do your own work properly.” Old Madam Fang was getting on in age and her hearing was not what it used to be. Which was why Qiu Ling dared to scold these maids without worrying about raising the old woman’s anxiety.

Suddenly, they heard Su Nuan Nuan’s voice said, “What has changed at the Autumn Rain Pavilion?”

Qiu’er glanced at Qiu Ling, but when the other woman did not say anything she answered, “When the Count of Cheng Ming came just now, Feng Xian and Cui Bing suddenly rushed over to them and threw themselves at their feet crying about seeking justice for Madam Yun. They claimed that when Master and Old Master were talking about Madam Yun’s posthumous arrangements, Madam Lan suddenly mentioned that two days ago Madam Yun had told that she could not eat lotus roots.

In fact, this was something that both Cui Bing and Feng Xian knew all along, which was why they never let Madam Yun eat lotus roots. Right now, everyone was discussing whether Madam Yun’s sudden death had anything to do with lotus roots. Both Feng Xian and Cui Bing swore they never allowed a single bite of lotus root pass Madam Yun’s lips, but they had found traces of lotus roots in the soup she drank. They claimed they mentioned this to the Master, but he told them to keep the matter quiet.

When the people from the Count’s family came, the two of them actually rushed over to blurt everything out. These two maids clearly have no loyalty towards the An Ping Estate. Because of this sudden revelation, everyone is still discussing now. This maid has no idea how the argument at Autumn Rain Pavilion is going to end.”

 

 

[Gumihou: Uh oh, the plot thickens. By the way, lotus root allergy? That’s new to me.]

 

 

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