Chapter 281: Investigate the Inner Court (Part 2)
Translated by Gumihou
Edited by Vinisha
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However, not even a grieving mother could expect them to just stand there and let her defame them. Otherwise, instead of seeing the people from the An Ping Estate as gracious and polite, she would think they were just easily bullied weaklings. So, of course, Su Nuan Nuan was not going to let her get away with it.
Su Nuan Nuan smiled coolly at Jiang’shi and said arrogantly, “You’re very right, ah. Well, I’d say that the one in the wrong is you. Why did you let Sister Yun marry out as a secondary wife? Secondary wives would, of course, receive secondary affections. If you had married her into a different family as a first wife, surely we could have avoided all of this unpleasantness?”
Xu Ran Yun’s mother’s face suddenly flushed red with anger. However, the anger was rooted by shame and she was unable to counterattack. After all, they were the ones who insisted on letting their daughter enter a man’s house as a secondary wife. A secondary wife no matter how talented, beautiful or good at bearing children, would remain a secondary wife so long as there is a first wife in place. Want the same level of favour as the first wife? What kind of daydream is this?
“Madam, my daughter-in-law is expecting and her temper has been a little eccentric lately. I’d appreciate it if you would overlook this matter and not quarrel with her over trivial matters.”
Madam Yang sounded very neutral, but inside she was smirking with glee. Looks like there were good points to having a prideful and arrogant daughter-in-law. This Jiang’shi is merely an old concubine of Count Cheng Ming, what right did she have to be so haughty? How dare she just run over here and act all uppity just because her daughter died in their place? It’s not like I have anything to do with that woman’s death.
Fire burned within Jiang’shi’s belly, but she dared not act too impudently now that her actions had been called out. After a cold harrumph she said nothing else. Duan Tingxuan said, “Elder Madam, please sit behind the screen with mother-in-law and brother-in-law. Nuan Nuan and I shall handle everything.”
Madam Yang said, “Very good.” Then, she turned to Jiang’shi and the count’s heir, “Shall we go and sit behind the screen?”
“Let’s. I, for one, am very interested to see just how you plan to handle this matter. No matter what, Yun’er is still the daughter of a count. You must give us an answer for her death.” Jiang’shi stood up, flashed her eyes towards Duan Tingxuan and Su Nuan Nuan once, before snapping her handkerchief and followed Madam Yang and Count Xu’s Heir to the seating area behind the screen.
“Just what’s with that attitude, ah?” Su Nuan Nuan felt like she had just encountered some inexplicable person. Shaking her head, she and Duan Tingxuan settled down on two chairs set side by side on the slightly raised dais. Once the other chairs and furniture were cleared away, Duan Tingxuan nodded at one of the maids standing at attention, “Call Feng Xian and Cui Bing over.”
Not long after that, Feng Xian and Cui Bing came stumbling in. They were clutching at each other for comfort and support, both had eyes like swollen peaches from crying. They knelt before Duan Tingxuan and Su Nuan Nuan, their hearts pounding non-stop as they shivered in fear. After kneeling for a long time and not hearing either master or mistress speak, they grew even more fearful and were beginning to regret their rash actions from the day before.
“I know that the two of you are very loyal to Madam Yun.”
Per their agreement, Duan Tingxuan said nothing, letting Su Nuan Nuan take the lead. At first, he was a little concerned when all the wife did was sip her tea calmly before these two maids. It was a long time before she actually opened her mouth, and her inconspicuous remark actually caused both girls to jump in fear. He silently raised both thumbs up for her interrogation technique. It was too bad that Su Nuan Nuan was not involved in matters of the court. This way of psychologically attacking people was just too amazing, ah.
As expected, Cui Bing and Feng Xian immediately begin to protest, “Oh no, we dare not accept Madam’s praise…”
They had not finished speaking when Su Nuan Nuan suddenly sneered, “Dare not accept my praise? What is it? Are you saying that your loyalty to Madam Yun is nothing?”
The two maids shrieked at the sudden attack, and for a moment, did not know how to answer. The First Madam set her teacup down and looked straight at them, her gaze like knives as she coldly said, “The two of you are certainly loyal to Madam Yun, but I’m afraid that loyalty does not extend towards the Marquis of An Ping’s estate. For the sake of avenging your mistress, you’ve entrapped the Marquis Estate. What excellent loyal slaves you are to your madam. However, to our estate, you are nothing but white-eyed wolves, ah.”
Feng Xian and Cui Bing were so shocked by the verbal attacks that they fell to their bottoms. Su Nuan Nuan’s stern face caused them to shiver even more, “What did you think would happen? Did you think that you would be hailed as heroines for revealing how she died in our estate? That after Madam Yun’s funeral, you can return to the Count’s Estate with a badge of honour and be treated well? Do you think that we of the Marquis of An Ping would just shrug our shoulders and give you up?”
“N… no, Madam, please. We… we never had such thoughts…”
Feng Xian and Cui Bing had gotten up from their sprawl and were now nearly flat on their bellies with how low they were bowing. Suddenly, Su Nuan Nuan slapped the table beside her, making them jumped. “Enough with your howling and crying. Don’t tell me you don’t know I’m expecting? Tactics like this won’t work on me. If you do not have such thoughts, then let me ask you, why, when you suspect that your mistress had died under suspicious circumstances, did you not inform your master? Instead, you waited until the representatives from the Count of Cheng Ming to come before howling your grievances at them. If this is not done with bad intentions, then what is it? Two servants, treating the Marquis Estate as an enemy’s nests, still dare to say that you did not harbour such thoughts? Still dare to say that you are not white-eyed wolves?”
Feng Xian and Cui Bing did not know how to answer these questions. They could only sob and cry for mercy when Su Nuan Nuan raised her voice, “Someone come. Drag these two white-eyed wolves out. Make sure to beat them to death with sticks as a lesson to all the servants in this estate.”
The moment the words left her lips, not only Feng Xian and Cui Bing, but even Duan Tingxuan jumped in shock. In fact, Jiang’shi’s voice screamed from behind the screen, “Just what is this? Did you not say that you will gain justice for my daughter? You’re just beating her maids…”
Before she could complete her sentence, Su Nuan Nuan said coldly, “Madam Concubine, keep calm and don’t be impatient. Aren’t you here to find out the truth about Madam Yun’s death? I shall give you the truth, but these two girls who benefited from one side and secretly serve others and set out to destroy the reputation of the An Ping Estate. This is something I will never forgive. Punishment should fit the crime, don’t you think so? Madam Concubine, surely you’re not going to tell me how to manage the inner court of the An Ping Estate?”
That last line from Su Nuan Nuan silenced Jiang’shi. As for the Count Xu’s Heir, nothing was heard from him aside from a soft sigh, and a gentle, indistinct murmur. It was not clear what he had said to Jiang’shi, but he must have managed to appease her as no other sound came from behind the screen.
Su Nuan Nuan waited until she was sure that Jiang’shi would not complain before turning her gaze at Feng Xian and Cui Bing again. A cold smile slashed across her face and she said, “The two of you have really become muddle-headed. Even though Madam Yun had died, she is still a ghost of the Marquis Estate, and the two of you are maids of this estate. You still believe yourselves to be the maids of the Count’s Estate?
Thinking that you can scurry back to the Count’s Estate after entrapping the people of the Marquis’ inner court is your first mistake. From ancient times till now women who married out, she and her maids all belong to her husband’s family. Really, do you have water in your brain? To come up with an audacious plan like this, do you imagine yourselves to be masters now that your mistress has passed on?”
Then, she raised her voice again, “Someone come. Drag these two out. Unless these two hussies begin to talk, just beat them to death. When Madam Yun was alive, they served her most diligently. I’m sure Madam Yun would be most happy to have two very loyal maids with her on the way down to the Nine Springs .”
What Su Nuan Nuan was currently talking about was for the maids to be buried along with the dead. Jiang’shi, who was still puffing with anger, felt her ire recede at this suggestion. She thought to herself: Although this Su Meng Nuan has a terrible attitude, her suggestion was not bad. My daughter will be so alone underground, it would be good if she has two maids to accompany her to the afterlife. At the very least, she would still have a pair of attendants to see to her needs.
Thinking of this, she wiped her eyes with her handkerchief and did not protest when the maids were dragged out by sturdy female servants. As they were being dragged past the screen, not a single sound was heard from the count’s side and the two maids knew that there will be no help from them. Duan Tingxuan’s face remained expressionless and they were suddenly reminded of First Madam’s formerly vicious and merciless actions and knew that death loomed before their futures.
Fear and anxiety crushing her reasoning, Feng Xian yelled, “Madam spare this one, ah. This one’s loyalties has never wavered, ah. This maid has been instigated by others-”
Su Nuan Nuan privately heaved a sigh of relief. She had been waiting for these very words from Feng Xian.
[Gumihou: … … *slow claps*]
 Nine Springs – The afterworld
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