Chapter 277: A Lament
Translated by Gumihou
Edited by Vinisha
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“Something like this actually happened?”
Su Nuan Nuan was shocked. She had truly believed that Xu Ran Yun’s death was accidental. Could there be something off behind her death? However, the expression on her face soon grew ugly. The First Madam was also an exceptionally intelligent person: For Xue Zhi Lan to be the one to suddenly disclose this matter, the only reason could be was that she did it to throw suspicion off herself and muddy the waters. In fact, no one in the entire mansion except Feng Xian and Cui Bing should know about Xu Ran Yun’s food allergy. So who would be able to use this knowledge to harm her?
A sudden thought occurred to her. There was one other person who should know about this. Concubine Jiang, the woman who was now living at Spring Breeze Court, was once one of Xu Ran Yun’s personal maid and closest confidant. Concubine Jiang hated Xu Ran Yun with all her heart, if she was the one who had caused the death of her mistress, Su Nuan Nuan would also be implicated. Even if Concubine Jiang insisted that everything was her own doing, not even all the waters of the Yellow River could wash off Su Nuan Nuan guilt through association.
“These people had certainly gone through a lot of trouble to harm me, ah.”
For a moment, Su Nuan Nuan was so angry that she was nearly choked by the bitterness rising from her gall. Finally, she understood that her previous consideration of leaving those secondary wives and concubines alone to live a peaceful widow’s life was nothing but the stupid idea of a martyr. She forcefully suppressed her anger and said to Qiu Ling, “Old Madam would probably sleep a little longer, I am returning to Spring Breeze Court to take a look at Ming’er.”
“When Madam returns to Spring Breeze Court, perhaps it’s best not to come here anymore. As Madam is expecting, you must take care of yourself more.”
Qiu Ling was being sincere with her words, though she was not as sharp as Su Nuan Nuan, she had the feeling that the purpose behind Xue Zhi Lan bringing up this matter at such a time was no simple thing. Her counsel for Su Nuan Nuan was perfectly genuine. Su Nuan Nuan gave a little nod before leaving.
She stormed across the estate to Spring Breeze Court. Once she entered the gate, Su Nuan Nuan bade Cong’er over to say, “Go to the side wing, see if Concubine Jiang is there. If she is, send her to see me.”
A little while later, Concubine Jiang came in all flustered. As soon as she arrived, she threw herself at Su Nuan Nuan’s feet and cried tearfully, “Madam, save me! This maid didn’t do it, ah. This one has been wronged.”
Su Nuan Nuan sneered, “Oh? And what have you done? And why are you all flustered up like this when I haven’t even said a word yet? Do you have some guilt you wish to confess?”
Concubine Jiang dabbed her tears with a handkerchief and said, “Madam, though this one might be stupid, this one has lived long enough in this estate to understand how fierce inner court battles could be. Whether Madam Yun death was accidental or murder, Madam Lan has no right to say anything. Though we called ourselves sisters in a family, heheh, this maid has been with Madam Yun long enough to see them with their ‘Honeyed Mouths and Bladed Hearts’ performance.
As for that Madam Lan, assuming there’s a shred of sincerity in her words, she should have the discretion to understand that this was not the time to blurt out such matters. What was her purpose of stirring up discontent at such a critical time? Moreover, the fact that Madam Yun could not consume lotus root was something only known to this one, Feng Xian and Cui Bing. Both Feng Xian and Cui Bing are Madam Yun’s closest attendants. If either of them wished to harm her, they would not wait until this very moment to do so. As for Madam Lan, why, she is the heroine who had bravely uncovered the unpleasant matter, therefore her conscience is perfectly clear.
At the end, who else is left? Isn’t it this one? This one knew that my position within this house is precarious, but I did not expect people would be so daring as to scheme for my downfall like this. Unfortunately, this maid was grasping and sought shelter with madam. You were so kind as to move me and my son to Spring Breeze Court, but doesn’t this perfectly revealed Madam Lan’s intentions? Though this maid had never read The Three Kingdoms, this one knew the classical tale of ‘Xiang Zhuang Performs the Sword Dance, but His Mind is Set on Duke of Pei’ . Madam, they are clearly making use of this maid to harm you, ah.”
Su Nuan Nuan, who had been feeling incredibly angry, felt her anger recede at Concubine Jiang’s teary-eyed explanation. In fact, when she heard Concubine Jiang mentioned ‘Xiang Zhuang Performs the Sword Dance, but His Mind is Set on Duke of Pei’ in connections with The Three Kingdoms, she couldn’t help her snort of laughter. She glared sternly at Concubine Jiang, “What nonsense are you talking about? The ‘Xiang Zhuang Performs the Sword Dance, but His Mind is Set on Duke of Pei’ happened during the dispute between the Chu and Han era, just how did you connect it with The Three Kingdoms?”
“Yes, this maid is stupid. She has made a fool of herself before madam and deserves to be laughed at.” On Concubine Jiang’s side, she was secretly amazed, not necessarily in a good way, at Su Nuan Nuan’s generous heart. Privately, she thought: Just what situation are you under now, ah? To still have the frame of mind to pick on this kind error. Regardless whether that classical tale came from the Chu and Han period or The Three Kingdoms, does it have anything to do with us now?
“So, it really isn’t you?”
Su Nuan Nuan said after a long moment of silence. She was still a little suspicious, but when Concubine Jiang quickly reassured here, “No, no, of course, it has nothing to do with this maid.” Suddenly, Su Nuan Nuan’s eyes sharpened like knives and she lowered her head with a squeak. After a while, her spine straightened and there was a look of undeniable unresolved on her face. She stood up and walked towards the door. After making sure there was no other maid but Hong Lian around, she went over to the maid and said humbly, “I shall trouble miss to please keep an eye on our surroundings. I have something important to report to madam.”
Hong Lian eyed her coldly for a moment before nodding and leaving the room. The door closed and Concubine Jiang once more knelt before Su Nuan Nuan. She raised a hand to the heavens and said, “This maid does not dare to lie to Madam. Ever since Madam Yun tried to harm Chuan’er and later make trouble for this maid. This maid has harboured a lot of hate and resentment against her. This maid also understands that as long as Madam Yun is alive, she would not let this one go easily. When Madam was around, this maid was afraid that she would use this opportunity to get rid of us when you’re not around.
Unable to keep calm, a bad idea entered this maid’s head. How do you think Madam Lan got hold of Madam Yun’s secret? It… it’s because this maid purposely revealed it to her. This maid was hoping that Madam Lan would be able to… take care of Madam Yun one day and allow this maid to rest easy. However, this maid never thought that Madam Lan would move so suddenly and, and… to use this opportunity to attack First Madam.”
When she reached this part, she slammed her head twice on the floor and began to cry again, “Madam is wise, this maid was just looking for an opportunity to… but, but this one really… really did not expect that Madam would be implicated, ah. This maid is not someone who does not know the difference good and bad. It is only because of Madam’s benevolence and protection that Chuan’er is still alive today. This maid knew quite well that if Madam is implicated, this maid would be killed as well. Therefore, this maid would never have such thoughts, ah.”
Su Nuan Nuan’s face changed a few times through this explanation. Finally, she said, “Enough, stand up.”
Concubine Jiang raised her head in shock, as though she could not quite believe that Su Nuan Nuan had forgiven her so quickly. She blinked her eyes a few times, not daring to actually stand up. Finally, she cautiously said, “This maid really did have thoughts of harming the mistress. Though Madam Yun was not harmed by this maid, but she… her death was most likely this maid’s fault. Madam… are… you not going to punish this maid? A sin like this normally means, death by s-submersion.”
“If you knew this, why do it?”
Su Nuan Nuan snorted coldly. She stood up and paced about twice before sitting back down to say mildly, “You should know my character best. Though I have done my best to change after Mei Yue Lou, however, no matter how much I change, I can never be a truly good person. How Madam Yun had coerced you, of course, I know. If I had been in your position, I would also try to think of a way to live peacefully. So, I will not blame you.
However, know this, a person should live with a virtuous heart and do good deeds. Xu Ran Yun had harmed Chuan’er to the point that he nearly lost his life. Later, she feigned madness and tried to kill you to shut you up. She was clearly the one taking the initiative to instigate a feud against you and failed in the attempt. We may consider this as her retribution. However, don’t let this success get into your head and try scheming again. In the future, if anyone dares to quarrel with you, do your best to report it to someone. Don’t resort to harming human lives…”
[Gumihou: Oh dear, Concubine Jiang is scary too…]
 Honeyed Mouths and Bladed Hearts – Sweet words hiding a resentful heart. Similar to Dagger Hidden in Smiles
 Xiang Zhuang Performs the Sword Dance, but His Mind is Set on Duke of Pei – an elaborated deception to hide malicious intent. This idiom came from a 206 BC plot to murder Liu Bang aka the Duke of Pei and future Han emperor during a sword dance feast.
 Death by submersion – death by drowning, usually they stuff an adulterous or treacherous woman in a pig’s cage and chuck them into the nearest river, alternatively, they would tie the woman onto a ladder, place her in the river on low tide where the water reaches her chest and wait for the high tide to come in and drown her…
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