Chapter 288: Excellent Retribution
Translated by Gumihou
Edited by Vinisha
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“Yes, those two matters are done by me. Since I have done it, I will admit to it. However, Xu Ran Yun’s death has nothing to do with me. I shall not swallow this crime no matter what.” Xue Zhi Lan screamed as she lurched to her feet and made to throw herself at Su Nuan Nuan. However, before she could reach her target, she was held down by several sturdy women and dragged out without further instructions from Su Nuan Nuan.
The women had arrived at Duan Tingxuan’s orders. However, while the First Madam was still speaking to Xue Zhi Lan, they dared not act yet. They could only stand aside and watch as the drama unfold until Xue Zhi Lan went crazy and tried to attack Su Nuan Nuan. For all her cleverness and social status, Xue Zhi Lan was a weak and slender woman and was quickly overpowered by the strong matrons who pulled her hair without mercy.
Once the hall was quiet and Xue Zhi Lan’s screaming could no longer be heard, Su Nuan Nuan slumped in her chair and muttered, “How could anyone say that men with three wives and four concubines are a blessing when this kind of thing happens all the time? We women are so much weaker than men and should help and support each other. Why do we spend our time scheming each other’s death and even the deaths of our own children?”
“Madam, please don’t be upset. They all brought it on themselves. If you become upset for their sake, it would affect the baby in your womb. It’s not worth it.” Concubine Jiang said gently as she stepped forward to help Su Nuan Nuan to her feet. Just then, a voice came from behind the screen, “Wan Fang is right. It’s not worth getting upset over a few poison hearted women.”
“Ah!” Su Nuan Nuan literally jumped up from her chair at the unexpected voice. When Madam Yang stepped out from behind the screen, she said, “Why did Elder Madam suddenly speak when you’re still behind the screen? You nearly scared me, ah.”
Black lines appeared on Madam Yang’s forehead. She glared hatefully at this impertinent daughter-in-law of hers and snapped, “You saw me go behind the screen with Jiang’shi and Count’s Heir Xu. Don’t tell me you did not see that only the two of them left? Is your memory so poor that you have completely forgotten that I am still here?”
“Ahahahahaha. I’ve really completely forgotten that Elder Madam is still behind the screen, ah. Ahahahaha.” Su Nuan Nuan laughed heartily.
The black lines on Madam Yang’s forehead burst into flames, her face was completely black as she glared at this impertinent daughter-in-law. However, Su Nuan Nuan was too preoccupied with her own amusement to notice. Soon a little [pu chi] escaped Madam Yang’s lips and she had to force herself into some semblance of composure and scolded, “Pei! To think that a shrew like you could still show this kind of childish behaviour. And here I thought there’s nothing on heaven or earth that could frighten you.”
“Elder Madam, I was just very surprised. Please don’t poke fun at me anymore. I’m still carrying your grandson or granddaughter in my tummy you know?”
Madam Yang sniffed, she was about to scold Su Nuan Nuan more but the hangdog expression on her daughter-in-law’s face softened her heart. She sighed and said, “In the past, when you were particularly vicious and barbaric against those women, they were all as quiet as mice. However, ever since you came back from Mei Yue Lou and gained an understanding of the world, they were the ones who suddenly took the initiative to come after you one after another. They only have themselves to be blamed for their fate, bringing trouble through their own actions.
Now that I thought back to it, Liu Min and I have engaged in battles for half our life now. We fought each other for the love of our husband and opportunities for our children. Nothing we ever did were as vicious as Ran Yun or Zhi Lan, who actually endangered human lives through their actions. Both of them are daughters of noble families, however, while they may appear to obey the Four Virtues on the surface, both harboured vicious hearts. Aih! Clearly, we are ‘Too Rich to be Good Matches ’, ah.”
Privately, Su Nuan Nuan thought that the idiom of ‘Too Rich to be Good Matches’ had nothing to do with the Four Virtues . What does noble birth had to do with a person’s virtue? If you judge me by my birth, I can only be a slave girl in this estate, ah. If you do away with the habit of letting men have three wives and four concubines, this problem would disappear, you know? There would be no need for any inner court battles. Battles for love, money and power would only cause trouble in a family. The best family dynamic is to have one doting husband and one loving wife together.
Humph, as for all those little brats under my care, I am going to keep a strict eye on them and not let them develop the habit of having bed companions at a young age. Only when they’re proper adults would I introduce them to good girls. No such thing as enjoying the blessings of ‘The Happy Fate of the Man from Qi ’. What shitty happiness is this? It’s really just ‘Disastrous Fate of the Man from Qi’. I must make sure they all keep their things in their pants until marriage.
Naturally, this was not the time to give voice to her plans. Madam Yang and the rest of the women were all urging her to go back to her court and rest. Personally, Su Nuan Nuan was quite happy to get away from this chilly place too. Concubine Jiang escorted her back to Spring Breeze Court. They made their way slowly and arrived to see Concubine Jing pacing back and forth anxiously just inside the gate entrance.
The moment she saw them, Concubine Jing hurried over and asked, “Well? What happened? I heard that this all happened because Madam Lan had been pulling strings in the dark. How can this be? She had always been as gentle as water.”
Su Nuan Nuan rolled her eyes and sniffed, “What do you mean gentle as water? Haven’t you heard the saying ‘Honey in Mouth, Sword in Heart ’? Even if I wanted to help her, I can’t. She had done too many evil deeds and the consequences are now coming to bite her.”
Concubine Jing said, “It’s not that I don’t believe Madam, I am just too surprised. Aih, in the past I used to get along with her quite well, even if it was all on the surface.”
Concubine Jiang was fuming from the side, “You did not see it earlier, but Madam Lan was still trying to say it was not her fault, her bleak face just now was almost demonic, like something that had risen from hell itself to devour us. She still refused to admit her wrong and wanted to attack Madam. Luckily the matrons managed to grab her before she did any harm.”
Su Nuan Nuan nodded. Then she sighed and said, “To be honest, I still feel that it was odd for her to deny her crime so vehemently. The reasoning had reached such a point that it was undeniable anymore. She even confessed that she had incited Xu Ran Yun to harm Chuan’er and plotted to have people harm me at the Su House. So, why did she still refuse to admit that she had harmed Xu Ran Yun?”
A loud [Thump!] sounded in Concubine Jiang’s heart. She and Rong’er exchanged a look and saw the shock in each other’s eyes. Concubine Jiang covered up her worry by raising her voice and snapped, “Perhaps she dared to admit to the other crimes because those were never fully carried out? After all, Madam and Chuan’er are still fine, and all she had to face was internal punishment from the Marquis Estate. However, if she admits that she had Madam Yun killed, the people from the Count’s Estate will probably demand her life.”
“Probably. However, I really don’t think that’s the case. Ah, whatever, I don’t want to think about it anymore. After going through all that trouble, I just want to sleep, sleep and not think about anything. Do you know how awful it was to sit in that chair? That little brat kept kicking me in the bladder. For some reason, he seemed to know that I can’t do anything about him kicking me from the inside.”[Pu chi!] Concubine Jing burst into giggles. She shook her head and said, “Madam, you’re still speaking in such a childish way. Are you saying you can do something to him if he were to kick you now?”
“What do you mean I can’t do anything? At the very least, I can slap my stomach whenever he makes trouble.” Su Nuan Nuan laughed heartily. Then, she pulled Concubine Jing and Jiang by the hands and sighed. “Luckily I still have the two of you with me. Otherwise, what would people say, ah? People are going to say that the An Ping Heir’s side has now been cleared away by a vicious First Madam who only knows how to bring trouble on other people’s head. Don’t you think I’m even more wronged than Dou’e ?”
Another round of laughter came at that and the heavy atmosphere was finally cleared up.
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“Cai Sang, I believe that there is no way for us to escape this trial alive. There is no one here aside from you, me and Long Yan. Long Yan and I are in the same group, so there is no way the people from the estate are going to believe her. Therefore, why don’t you at least tell me the reason why you harmed me? Is it because you are unwilling to become my brother’s concubine that you colluded with outsiders to harm me?”
Behind the kitchens of the An Ping Estate were a few firewood sheds. Xue Zhi Lan, Long Yan and Cai Sang were shut up in one while the other two maids were shut up in a different shed. Their surroundings were silent and the night was falling. Xue Zhi Lan’s piercing eyes never left Cai Sang who looked more like a dead fish than a living person.
The question came suddenly, breaking the silence.
“It’s not just this. Madam might not know, but my sister-in-law has caught the young master’s eye. Now and then, he would find excuses to have her serve him. He would call her again and again to rape her. To make it more convenient to force his bestial attention on her, he had my elder brother transferred to the village working on the hardest and most dangerous jobs. When my brother was attacked by wolves, he refused to even pay for the medical treatment. In the end, I had to find a way to get money just to preserve his life.”
“Why didn’t you tell me when something like this happened? What does it have to do with colluding with others to harm me?” Xue Zhi Lan was becoming agitated, she really had no idea that Cai Sang had betrayed her over such a trivial reason. She was clearly the innocent party here, ah.
“Heheh,” Cai Sang’s laughter was cold. “Is there any use in telling you these things, Madam Lan? Would you have done anything to intervene on my brother and sister-in-law’s behalf? You wouldn’t, you can’t. You were even planning to hand me over to him, knowing what a beast he is. I am nothing but a tool for you. You treat me just like Madam Yun treats Concubine Jiang, isn’t that right?”
This shocked Xue Zhi Lan to her core. It was a long time before a sudden [Ha!] escaped her. It was followed by loud laughter that grew even more hysterical by the moment. She laughed until tears were streaming down her eyes and she shouted, “How stupid! I’m really too stupid! Hahahaha! I’ve even said it myself, if Xu Ran Yun didn’t take care of her personal maids, they would one day turn around and bite her in the back. Hahaha! I never thought that I would follow in her footsteps. Hahahaha! Retribution, this is the most excellent retribution, ah! Hahaha!”
The laughter gradually ceased and she began to cry. The crying eventually changed to howling screams…
Duan Tingxuan stood at the door of the woodshed in silence, letting the screams echoed around. After some thought, he took two steps back and left.
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“Now that all my grievances are gone, I shall live my life quietly with Chuan’er and follow First Madam for life. Madam is a good and compassionate person, and the Lord is not an unfeeling man and righteous. As long as I don’t make trouble, they would not mistreat me or Chuan’er.”
In their little room, with only one small light between them, Concubine Jiang and Rong’er were seated together. Yang’shi and Duan Maochuan were already asleep in their room, but Concubine Jiang was too excited to sleep. She leaned companionably against Rong’er as they chatted quietly together.
Rong’er giggled, “Madam Concubine, it sounds like you’ve resigned yourself to a widow’s life.”
“Now that matters have come to this point, what is there to not be happy about? First Madam is right, it’s better to be contented with one’s situation and find my own small happiness. I was just thinking, with my low birth, for me to be bedded by such a noble and highborn heir in bed and bore a son for him is already considered a great blessing. Even noble daughters like Madam Lan and Madam Yun had fallen to my level. For me to still be able to watch Chuan’er grow up and do a few things I love to pass the time is enough for me.
If I am ever unhappy, nobody would condemn me if I were to stay in bed for a few days to recover. I don’t have to fawn over a mistress, nor do I need to make a big show of flattering anyone. If I can’t be satisfied with what I have now, I should be struck by lightning for my greed.”
Author White Pear Flower: Xue Zhi Lan had always looked down on Xu Ran Yun. Even in her dreams she never thought that she would make the same mistake that would drag Xu Ran Yun down.
[Gumihou: En, yes. It’s better to be contented and not be too greedy…]
 Too Rich to be Good Matches – When something is too good to be true
 Four Virtues – From the Three Obedience and Four Virtues set by Confucius. Very patriarchal and feudal society-ish.
- A maiden must obey her father as his daughter
- Obey her husband as wife
- Obey her sons
- Proper Speech
- Modest manner/appearance
- Diligent work
As you can see, Xue Zhi Lan perfectly proved herself to be very warm, gentle, beautiful, has lots of children etc.
 The Happy Fate of the Man from Qi – Having lots of wives and lovers
 Honey in Mouth, Sword in Heart – Hypocritical person
I translated 腹 as heart even though it was really ‘belly’ or ‘stomach’, because in that era, ancient people believe that emotions came from the belly.
 Dou’e – One of the saddest, most wronged woman in Chinese literature. Please check the notes at Chapter 214 for details
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