Chapter 285: Investigate the Inner Court (Part 6)
Translated by Gumihou
Edited by Vinisha
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“If Madam Lan did not harm Madam Yun, then no matter how this lowly one does her best, I would not be able to pour this dirty water over your head, right?” Concubine Jiang’s eyes were red as she stared at Xue Zhi Lan. Suddenly, she threw herself at Su Nuan Nuan’s feet and burst into tears, “First Madam is wise, this maid would never, ever dare to even think of hurting a master…”
Su Nuan Nuan privately thought: This Concubine Jiang is a Queen level actress, ah. Just how realistic are her words and emotions now? Regardless of how genuine they are, her emotional display was incredibly powerful and moving.
Naturally, her expression did not reflect her thoughts. However, her surprise did allow Concubine Jiang to carry on for a bit before Su Nuan Nuan was able to collect herself enough to pointedly cough and said, “Well then, why don’t you tell us why you mentioned Madam Yun’s inability to handle eating lotus roots before Madam Lan?”
Concubine Jiang was shaken out of her dramatic wailing by this question, but quickly recovered. Deliberately, she lowered her head and squeezed out her words through a choked voice, “This lowly one dare not hide anything before My Lord and Madam. Ever since this lowly one had left from Autumn Rain Pavilion, Madam Yun had deliberately come after me to humiliate and threaten me. This lowly one felt very upset and resentful. When this lowly one spoke to Madam Lan, it happened to be a time when this lowly one was especially angry and could not help venting my feelings.
All this lowly one said was Madam Yun nearly lost her life when she ate lotus root powder when she was very young. At that time this lowly one was only two years older than my mistress. Because this one had been so worried, I looked after her for two days and two nights, never leaving her side. From then on, we maintained that Madam Yun disliked lotus roots, and took great pains to make sure that none ended up to her lips. I kept this a secret, ever fearful that someone might use this knowledge to harm my mistress. However, after so many years of hard work and effort, what do I get?”
When she reached this point, Concubine Jiang paused, appeared to collect herself, and continued, “I was angry and was just venting unnecessarily. After the matter, this lowly one felt regretful. However, I had not been too worried either, sure that Madam Lan would not use this information to harm Madam Yun. Moreover, only a limited number of people knew of this secret. But, but, who would have thought… wuwuwu, it’s all this lowly one’s fault. It’s all because I could not keep my silly mouth shut…”
Behind the screen, Jiang’shi could not help but curse in a low voice. However, because Count’s Heir Xu was right next to her, she could not simply stand up and make a fuss. Endure, she had to endure while muttering and grinding her teeth through the narration. Su Nuan Nuan and Duan Tingxuan ignored the happenings behind the screen. A short while after Concubine Jiang’s story, Duan Tingxuan said, “I’m curious, you’ve always been very obedient Ran Yun. Why did you suddenly move out of Autumn Rain Pavilion?”
Concubine Jiang hesitated, then looked up at Feng Xian. The girl turned her head away guiltily, unable to meet her eyes. Concubine Jiang turned to face Duan Tingxuan and said sadly, “In answer to My Lord, that day when Chuan’er nearly died from his stomach troubles, this maid truly thought First Madam was the one who had harmed him. It was later when this lowly one got to know Madam better and realized that she is a good person. She even took the time to educate this humble one with pearls of wisdom no one ever shared with me. This lowly one could see that she was truly hurt by Chuan’er’s misfortunes.
While it reassured this lowly one to know that First Madam is such a good person, the question of who had harmed Chuan’er plagued my mind. It was long after this lowly one had calmed down that I was able to think clearly. Even if Snow Cream is bad for the stomach, surely it is still not poison that would take a person’s life? From then on, this lowly one began to investigate, and though there is no conclusive evidence, all leads led to Madam Yun’s direction.
On the day itself, Madam Yun had sent Feng Xian in with a bowl of Sweet Ginger Soup to calm his stomach. It was only after Chuan’er had drunk the soup that his condition worsened. If Chuan’er had died that day, this lowly one would have gone crazy and would never have let First Madam go, believing that she was the culprit. However, Chuan’er did not die. Since then, though it is subtle, this lowly one could feel hatred and resentment from Madam Yun’s eyes whenever she saw either of us. Though this maid had nothing to go on beyond feelings and instinct, I was afraid. Even Chuan’er is afraid of her. So afraid that he-”
She was interrupted by Duan Tingxuan’s loud cry of, “What? What is that you’re saying? That Chuan’er was harmed by Ran Yun?”
Concubine Jiang’s smile was more bitter than tears, “This lowly one has been with Madam Yun for a long time and understood her more than anyone. However, there is no evidence, and no reason to go over old debts on a day like this. No matter what, now that Madam Yun is no longer around, My Lord may pursue the matter with Miss Feng Xian. Madam Yun could not have done everything on her own, moreover, the person who sent the Ginger Soup was Feng Xian. I believe the matter is more complicated than it appears.”
Duan Tingxuan’s face was ashen. He was about to speak again when Su Nuan Nuan said, “My Lord, do be calm. Concubine Jiang is right. Let’s settle the matter at hand first and find out the reason behind Sister Yun’s sudden death.”
The little marquis paused and nodded. Suddenly, Xue Zhi Lan cried out, “Not going to ask? Isn’t it clear? Clearly, Concubine Jiang harboured deep resentment and hatred against Sister Yun. She deliberately set me up by telling me that Sister Yun could not eat lotus. When I did nothing, you personally acted and caused her death. Still have the cheek to say that you did not harbour resentment against your mistress. Heheh, however, you alone would never have acted. There must be someone pushing you from behind. The question now is who that person is?”
“Madam Lan, accusations must be backed by evidence. You say that I harmed Madam Yun. However, ever since I left Autumn Rain Pavilion, I have never set foot there. Just how did I do it? When? How? Just how did I put grounded lotus root into Madam Yun’s food? You tell me, ah. As the person who points me out as the murderer, where is your evidence? Your witness?”
While Xue Zhi Lan was at a loss for words, Concubine Jiang continued aggressively. “As for yourself, Madam Lan, the last time the farmstead gave us rabbits for tribute, the boys all wanted to have one as pets. While they were there, they saw Miss Fei Yan with a plate of Sliced Lotus Root Salad . When the boys noticed it, they all wanted a piece, so she gave them a slice each. Isn’t this correct?”
Su Nuan Nuan, leaned over to sip her tea, her gaze quietly travelled over to Xue Zhi Lan. Again, she saw the maid behind her, Cai Sang, suddenly began to shake. Beads of sweat began to slide down from her forehead. At this point, Xue Zhi Lan was still yelling, “Shameless, you dare accuse me? So it’s a crime to eat a few slices of lotus roots now? In this season, just how many people are eating lotus roots? Are we to be suspicious of them too?”
Concubine Jiang had spent years suffering grievances and holding in her temper, she did not falter as she answered calmly, “Though there are many in this estate who had eaten lotus, the number of people who knew that Madam Yun could not eat lotus are not many, right?
“So what? Are you telling me that you haven’t had lotus this past few days?” Anxiety was rushing through Xue Zhi Lan’s heart: How could things have turned out this way? The only person who could have harmed Xu Ran Yun was Concubine Jiang, right? But why is she so calm? Right now, the person who is losing her cool is… me? Surely that’s not right, ah? I’ve never done anything against Madam Yun, not yet, but why are all the evidence against me?
While she was frantically trying to calm herself down and take the initiative to defend herself, Su Nuan Nuan suddenly said, “I see that one of your maids looked like she wished to say something. Why don’t sister let Cai Sang say a few words?”
Cai Sang raised her head, her eyes fearful at being directly addressed. She shook her head and waved her hand frantically, “N… no, this maid has nothing to say…”
“First Madam wants you to come out and speak, why are you still hiding back there?”
Duan Tingxuan’s gaze was heavy on Cai Sang. It was clear that the maid was reluctant to come out. He turned to his wife for further instructions. Instead of forcing the issue, Su Nuan Nuan said, “Don’t lose your head. I just want to ask you a few questions. All you need to do is answer me honestly. Well?”
“This… this maid… this…” Cai Sang glanced at Xue Zhi Lan again.
Xue Zhi Lan glared at her, “Since First Madam has something to ask you, just answer. What’s with that dead-looking face?”
[Gumihou: Um, I never like it when clever characters suddenly turned stupid. However, this is quite well done, Concubine Jiang clearly did her homework and Su Nuan Nuan clearly watched a lot of crime drama to be able to pull off this kind of interrogation]
 Sliced Lotus Root Salad – well, this is new. Never had lotus root in anything but soups before.
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