Chapter 287: Too Calculative
Translated by Gumihou
Edited by Vinisha
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Duan Tingxuan’s eyes were devoid of feelings as he looked down at her. Suddenly, he said, “Just now, Cai Sang said that you’re the one who urged Ran Yun to harm Chuan’er. How long ago was that matter now? Was there something you should tell me? Or are you still going to keep lying about it?”
“My Lord, this lowly one… this lowly one would never…” although Xue Zhi Lan was flustered, a glimmer of reason held her in check. She knew that this was something that she must never admit to even if they beat her to death. She knew that her husband was emotionally invested in the First Wife. As an out of favour second wife, how could she be compared to his own flesh and blood in terms of importance? If he knew that she had instigated Xu Ran Yun into harming that concubine born brat, even if she managed to escape from the crime of Xu Ran Yun’s death, her life would no longer be worth living.
As soon as she thought of this, several pleas on how to defend herself formed and she was about to voice them out when Duan Tingxuan raised his voice, “Someone come, drag Feng Xian and Long Yan and beat them hard. If they still would not confess, take them to the Ministry of Criminal Investigation. See if they’ll confess then.”
At this, Feng Xian collapsed to the floor.
Right now, with Xu Ran Yun dead, and the people of the Count’s Estate having abandoned them. They would not even be able to die peacefully if they kept any secrets for their dead mistress. How could she not be frightened? Before the sturdy female servants even touched her, she had crawled forward to kneel before Duan Tingxuan and cried, “Master, this maid will confess. This maid will confess everything, only, please, please let this maid die a peaceful death… this maid had no choice, this maid acted under the orders of mistress, ah.”
Duan Tingxuan snapped, unmoved by Feng Xian’s pitiful appearance. His killing intent was so strong that the people before him actually flinched. Su Nuan Nuan turned to face her husband and quickly touched his hand. In a soft voice, she said, “Do cool your temper a little, this kind of thing is not good for the body.”
“Yes, this maid will speak, this maid will speak…”
Feng Xian immediately recounted the words spoken by Xue Zhi Lan to Xu Ran Yun. How they had thrown her mistress into a state of anxiety. How Xue Zhi Lan later insidiously suggested that she make use of Duan Maochuan’s life to frame Su Nuan Nuan. How Xu Ran Yun later arranged for her to leave the estate in disguise to purchase rhubarb . How she had boiled it down to mix with the Sweet Ginger Soup. How she had brought the soup to Duan Maochuan and let Concubine Jiang feed her son with the deadly concoction.
When he heard just how much rhubarb went into the Sweet Ginger Soup, Duan Tingxuan had an urge to whip Xu Ran Yun’s corpse. Concubine Jiang had been sitting beside Su Nuan Nuan all this while, trembling non-stop as the tale went on. Though she had known that Xu Ran Yun was the one who had harmed her son, she had not known the specifics of it. Just listening to the intricately planned scheme sent her head spinning.
She thought back again to what she had done that day, the panic, the absolute surety that Su Nuan Nuan was at fault… If the First Madam had not acted promptly that day without regard to her own reputation, if she had not had those matrons yank Concubine Jiang away; if she had somehow been annoyed and frustrated by Concubine Jiang’s endless howling and pestering and had not forced Chuan’er to vomit up the poison in his stomach, her son might have been dead by now. The more she thought of it, the more frightened and regretful she became. Tears began to wet her cheeks as she thought of how close she was to losing her son, how it was only First Madam’s aggressive perseverance that had actually preserved his life.
When Feng Xian finished, Concubine Jiang did not wait for Duan Tingxuan to say anything. She quickly dropped to her knees before Su Nuan Nuan and grabbed her skirts crying, “Madam, Madam is the one who saved Chuan’er’s life. Just how stupid had this lowly one been? For Madam to overlook all this lowly one’s stupid behaviour, please accept this lowly one’s gratefulness… this one give thanks to Madam…” she knocked her head against the floor and kept on knocking, crying and sobbing endlessly.
“Get up now, I’m expecting you know? Where would I find the strength to pull you up now?” Su Nuan Nuan quickly helped Concubine Jiang up, while the women were occupied, Duan Tingxuan said, “Drag this cheap slave out. Beat her to death.”
“Hold it.” Su Nuan Nuan immediately cut in. Then she turned to Concubine Jiang, “I remember something you told me. Rong’er said when she looked into Feng Xian’s eyes, she saw pity there, as though she knew that Chuan’er is already dead, is this true?”
When she said this, Concubine Jiang had already discerned her train of thought. She considered the matter, and decided that though she did not care to have that girl stay alive after harming her child, she still truthfully nodded and said, “Yes.”
Su Nuan Nuan turned to Duan Tingxuan and said, “Frankly speaking, Feng Xian is also a maid. It is her mistress who harboured evil thoughts. If she did not assist her mistress, do you think Madam Yun would let her live? She was helpless under such circumstances. Considering that I am now expecting, how about we accumulate some good karma and spare this girl’s life?”
“Even if she had been intimidated into action, she could still choose to report the matter to me. However, in the end, she had chosen to assist Ran Yun to end Chuan’er’s life. How is this different from being an accomplice? She deserves death.”
Feng Xian, who had thought that her life had already been forfeited, suddenly saw a stray glimpse of light in the darkness at Su Nuan Nuan’s unexpected intervention. She sprang forward and grabbed the opportunity with both hands, crying, “Master, this maid is wrong. This maid truly knows that she’s in the wrong. This maid will know better in the future. Please, please spare this one’s life. This maid will reveal everything. This maid knows that our mistress and Madam Lan had joined hands to make trouble for First Madam. They had arranged for people to come to the Su House to gain entrance there to make trouble. Who would have thought that before any of their schemes could be put into action, our madam was killed and First Madam was called back into the estate? They would never have dared anything within the estate due to its security…”
Even with Duan Tingxuan’s inner strength of character, he could no longer suppress his fury. Flames were practically shooting from his eyes as he glared at Xue Zhi Lan who was still clinging to his clothes. She quickly lowered her white face not daring to say anything. He knew, right then and there, that what Feng Xian had said was true. Unable to suppress his anger anymore, he kicked Xue Zhi Lan away from him. Not bothering to see where the woman had landed, he got up and began to stride out of the room.
“Duan Tingxuan, where are you going?”
Su Nuan Nuan blinked at the inexplicable actions of her husband: Just what is going on with his head now? I’ve just heard that someone plans to kill me you know? That person is still here and you got so angry that you’re just going to stomp away and forget about me?
“Someone come. Take Xue Zhi Lan, Long Yan, Cai Sang, Cui Bing, and Feng Xian away and lock them together. I shall deal with them when I come back later.” Duan Tingxuan yelled into the courtyard. Then, he turned to Su Nuan Nuan and said, “Count Xu’s carriage should still be here, I shall go and speak to Xu Yunxiu and accompany him back to the Xu Estate. I shall let him know just what kind of good deeds his precious little sister had done within my estate. He, of all people, should know that it is not we who are unable to protect our own, but that his own sister had only herself to blame for all her evil deeds.”
“Oh, yes, yes, that’s true. Well, go on then.”
Su Nuan Nuan sighed and thought: Matters had gone beyond just inner court business. It’s a good thing that Duan Tingxuan thought of using this as leverage to keep matters quiet with Count Xu’s side. Otherwise, from the Lord Heir Xu’s attitude just now, he looked determined to bring shame upon the Marquis of An Ping’s name. Therefore, it is imperative that Duan Tingxuan catch up with the man first.
Moreover, Su Nuan Nuan was a grown woman who did not need a husband to hold her hand when supervising matters of the inner court. She certainly didn’t need him around to soothe any sensitive feelings for her. Now that everything had been exposed, all she had to do was wrap things up. She glanced around the women kneeling about in various state of misery and sighed, “Those who are too clever and calculative for their own good ended up miscalculating in the end. Aih! What a bitter end.”
“Heheh, First Madam compliments me too much, how could I be considered too clever? I only have some cleverness in me, how could I be compared to First Madam? You overflowed with wisdom and without even making a single move, I have lost. I was too careless, and this carelessness resulted in my crushing defeat. More importantly, I was framed for something I have never done and was completely beaten by you. If I die, I would die an injustice death.”
At Xue Zhi Lan’s self-deprecating laugh, Su Nuan Nuan looked on at the woman with some dissatisfaction in her eyes and said through gritted teeth. “Oh? You felt that you’ve been wronged? Are you saying that the one who incited Xu Ran Yun to kill Chuan’er is not you? Or that you’re not the one who sent people to the Su House to harm me? Injustice this, injustice that, that’s all you know how to cry about, but do you even know what it means?”
Su Nuan Nuan really could not muster up any sympathy for a femme fatale like Xue Zhi Lan. Seeing her still wallowing in self-pity like this caused Su Nuan Nuan to lose her temper and curse this poisonous woman.
Author White Pear Flower: Those who are too calculative for their own good ended up miscalculating in the end. Xue Zhi Lan basically brought all the bad fortunes to herself in the end.
[Gumihou: Life is too short to be calculative. Live and let live, ba]
 Rhubarb – While it is perfectly safe to consume rhubarb stems, its leaves are quite poisonous. The Chinese used rhubarb as medicine, a laxative in fact. No one even considered eating rhubarb as food for a long time until a British plant breeder, Joseph Myatt, diced, stewed and sugared up the stems and turned them into a dessert. Goodness knows why he would do that though, lol!
The rhubarb bought by Feng Xian were probably dried leaves, rehydrated and boiled with the ginger soup to make a deadly concoction. The dose makes the poison in this case.
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