Chapter 2 – Things Don’t Look Good 

 

Translated by Prosperousfood dot com

Edited by Gumihou

Re-Host at kitchennovel dot com

 

The woman whose body she had taken over was called Su Meng Nuan, but everyone here called her by a nickname, Nuan Nuan. Since the nickname was the same as her real name, it really made it easier for her to adapt to this world.

Su Meng Nuan was the daughter of a prominent and powerful Minister Ping. As the youngest legal daughter of Duke of Ping she was a noble, cool and elegant beauty, which was why she could actually marry into the An Ping Palace to the eldest son, Little Marquis Duan Tingxuan.

The current Lord of An Ping was the younger blood-brother of the current empress, and Duan Tingxuan was the son eldest son of the first wife. From the time he was a child, Duan Tingxuan was loved by both emperor and empress, and had good relationships with the crown prince as well as the other princes.

In terms of siblings, Duan Tingxuan had two younger brothers and one younger sister. One of his brother was born from the second wife, the woman was An Ping Lord’s cousin and their marriage was one of true love, resulting in Duan Tingye. Therefore this brother of his received most of the love from his father. However, Duan Tingye was the gloomy type and had married a rather scheming wife.

His other brother was Duan Tingfang, an illegal son born from Concubine Lin, rather weak in character and quite unsociable, still unmarried. His only sister was also born of this Concubine Lin, this little sister had always been weak since birth. This year she would be 13 years old, however, instead being a girl in the prime of her youth, a better description would be a medicine pot.

The An Ping family tree looked something like this:

 

Marquis An Ping (Duan Yu)

+ Marchioness An Ping = Duan Tingxuan + Su Nuan Nuan

+Second Wife (Cousin) = Duan Tingye(younger brother) + Scheming Wife

+ Concubine Lin = Duan Tingfang (younger brother), Duan ?? (younger sister)

 

The relationship between Duan Tingxuan and Su Meng Nuan was not good. Su Meng Nuan grew up as a pampered girl used to a life of luxury and attention. When she married into the family, she insisted on using only gold and silver bowls and chopsticks for all her meals. Which drew dislike from the Marquis and Marchioness of An Ping. Only Old Lady Fang still liked her and attributed all her troublesome ways as just part of her being a noble aristocrat.

As for Duan Tingxuan himself, Su Nuan Nuan’s objective and unbiased view of her ‘husband’ was this: A complicated man capable of steeling his heart and yet be gentle when it suits him.

One might also describe him as a passionate man, a very, very passionate and lustful man indeed. In this matter he was similar to his father, Duan Yu. Aside from being good in the literary and martial arts, the man possessed a great liking for beautiful women. If he were to collect all the women he ‘fell in love’, he might not even have enough space for all these beauties even if he were to build another mansion just for them. However, he had to restrain his lust in the face of his own reputation and social status. Even so, in addition to an official wife, he also had two secondary wives, two concubines and still fooled around with the female bed companions in the manor.

It was also accurate to describe the man as callous and unfeeling. He was able to endure having Su Meng Nuan lording her status and noble birth within the Inner Court for over three years, before suddenly flipping out overnight and putting her under house arrest in this run down house. Whatever tenderness and sweet feeling he might have treated her in those early months of marriage had all but disappeared.

Of course, many people thought that Ding Tingxuan dared to ‘favour the concubines and dispose of the wife’ because the Ping Family had lost all power just three months before. Somehow Duke of Ping who was in charge of the army provisions failed to deliver the supplies at a critical time, nearly causing the defeat of a large scale battle against the Northern Huns.

The emperor was furious by this near disaster and stripped Duke Ping of his status and power, sending his entire family, men, women, young and old as slaves to the Ox-Head Mountain. Only a few married women, Su Meng Nuan included, that escaped this fate.

However, as Su Nuan Nuan studied Su Meng Nuan’s memories of this slag male Duan Tingxuan, the theory that he had used the fall of Official Ping’s family to kick her out was questionable. After all, that man was famous for being prideful and arrogant, moreover he had the favour of the royal family, to the point that he even dared to smack table and quarrel the crown prince when he lost his temper.

A man like him would not try to curry favour or mistreat someone when they’re down. Therefore for Su Meng Nuan must have brought misfortune upon her own head thanks to her own haughty behaviour.

As she surveyed this woman’s short life, Su Nuan Nuan, she noticed that in addition to being being arrogant, jealous and a spend drift, she was also full of schemes. So what if she had a nice mouth and face? Once her noble family had been stripped of its title she had nothing to her name and no friends at all.

Luckily, her personal maids Hong Lian and Xiang Yun, remained loyal and devoted to their mistress. When Su Meng Nuan first come to this household, she brought four maids with her, but only two still stuck with her all the way into this run down house, which showed just how much of a failure Su Meng Nuan was.

Therefore, Su Nuan Nuan only has this to say to this ‘Fated Pair’. A slag man and a poisonous wife, a matter of a pot calling the kettle black.

Of course, now that the ‘poisonous wife’ had died off, leaving a modern day ‘Big Eater Woman’ behind, her impression on Duan Tingxuan could be sum up to this: What’s that thing? Can I eat it? If I can’t eat it, throw it out.

I walk on this road of survival on my own, you slag man need not send me. Yi, that’s right, that useless man never comes here anyway.

 

“I heard that woman committed suicide?”

“Yes, master. But I also heard that they were able to revive her.” Duan Tingxuan’s trusted aide, Si Ping sneaked a look at his master. When he saw now change in his master’s expression, he gave an ingratiating smile and said, “It seems like Hong Lian got into a lot of trouble getting a physician to look at her and did not find anything wrong.”

“So, she still likes to create trouble.”

Duan Tingxuan sneered. He looked over the scroll he planned to submit to the emperor tomorrow, and then placed it on the table. “All right, just let her do as a she pleased. If she’s so eager to die, let her be, ba.”

 

“First she starved herself and refused to eat, now she tried to hang herself. She is certainly full of tricks. Oh yes, please inform Ran Yun not to deduct her monthly allowance. I want to see what else could she do. If she can come up with 108 different kinds of way to die, I will accord her due respect. Isn’t the second prince looking for some new materials for his book? This looked like it would fit his [Weird & Wonderful Records].”

“Yes, master.”

Si Ping dared not to say another word. That Su Nuan Nuan really offended the master this time. Her maiden family already gotten into so much trouble, so why did she choose to create trouble right now? If she had admitted her wrongdoings and changed, perhaps the master would even forgive her in light of their past relationship, if you continue to make trouble, even this small hope would disappear.

These thoughts ran through his head, but no matter what she’s still the First Madam. Though a fallen phoenix was but a fancy chicken, no matter what she’s still a phoenix, right? Therefore, it was not his place to comment on the lives of his betters, not even a trusted aide could badmouth their master.

 

“These are the lord’s exact words?” seated at her table, a vague smile crossed Su Ran Yun’s face as she studied an ingratiating Si Ping, “allowances to be continued as usual, is that right?”

“Yes, Madam Yun. Such is the instruction of the master.” Si Ping smiled back ingratiatingly. Madam Yun was the legal daughter of Count Cheng Ming, a high ranking official, her social status was no less impressive than the First Madam. Furthermore, she was more talented when it came to schemes and manipulating people, only, with her status as a secondary wife, Si Ping could only address her as Madam Yun and not First Madam.

Si Ping was very clear that Madam Yun controls things well within the mansion. She had a lot of eyes and ears within the mansion, and she had set her sights on being the first wife for a long time. Now that Su Nuan Nuan had fallen, and she would not let go of this opportunity to force Su Nuan Nuan to death and be promoted to the First Wife position. After all, the other contender for the position, Madam Lan, was a concubine daughter of Duke Zheng, and was in position to contend against her.

“Very well, I understand. The Lord still cares much for his reputation, that woman have already crossed the line time and again, he still worries that people will accuse him of throwing rocks down a well[1]?” Su Yan Yun sighed dramatically, “fine, you go back and tell the Lord and pass on this message. I will be making his favourite duck soup, it would be nice if he time to come over for a sip.”

“Yes, Madam Yun. This one would inform the master immediately. The master really loves your handmade duck soup most, and would surely come over.” Si Ping gave a her a flattering smile. As expected, Madam Yun suddenly looked a bit more cheerful, she scolded playfully, “You’re certainly a sweet lipped monkey, very well, you may leave. Ah… hold on, Feng Xian, bring a string of coins for this little monkey, for his trouble.”

Si Ping mouth repeated, “No need, no need…” even as he tucked the money away before withdrawing from their presence.

After he had long disappeared, Feng Xian bowed and asked, “Madam, what should we do? It seems that Master is still thinking of First Madam…”

Before she could finish, Xu Ran Yun sneered, “What do you know? If he truly has any feelings for her, he would never have left her to rot in that place. Basic allowance? Hehe, I shall not be stingy just give her two strings of coins each month. As a woman who is kept under house arrest, do you think she deserved more?”

Feng Xian understood her mistress’s character. These two strings of coins was also a test of the master’s true intention. If the master did not ask after that woman after a month or two, it’s likely that the First Madam would not even receive two coins per month.

 

These were all things that happened without Su Nuan Nuan’s knowledge.

However, after looking at her poor living condition and terrible treatment, she already made some mental preparation. A modern woman had no concept of merely relying on a man to provide for her, therefore she never expected to be given anything like allowances or cloth for making clothes and things. The only thought she had was: Since I’m it’s like this, I shall have to rely on myself.

The moment this thought cross her mind, Su Nuan Nuan would looked around her large courtyard gladly. From now on, this will be her little kingdom. She’s confident with this little kingdom in hand she will be able to eat well and taste food even more delicious than the ones from the future.

 

“Missy, you’ve wondered around this courtyard for two days, the kitchen is there, but we still haven’t gotten anything from them since morning. How could you still have the mood to just walk around?”

Xiang Yun was trailing after Su Nuan Nuan, curiosity clear on her face. Even the ever tempered elder Sister Hong Lian was worried sick, so how could her spoiled mistress be so at eased? In the past, her Missy would be so annoyed she’d probably run into a wall to knock her head against it.

“How could I not?” Su Nuan Nuan gave a little laugh, she touched a little plant growing out from the ground, “do you know what is this?”

“I guess it’s… leek…?”

Xian Yun was a little uncertain, before being sold to the duke’s mansion, she had seen this plant before, she vaguely recalled that it was called ‘leek’.

“That’s right. This is a leek. Do you know how delicious this thing is? Whether it’s Chinese Chives Pockets[2] or Fried Eggplant Box[3], this thing will make it even more delicious. We can also make Three Stuffing Dumpling[4], it’s also delicious mixed with mince meat and stuff it between slices of eggplants and steamed…”

Su Nuan Nuan enthusiastically listed the virtues of leeks for quite awhile before noticing Xiang Yun’s dumbfounded expression, she suddenly broke off her spiel and and shook her head, “It’s fine, what’s the point of speaking with a little maid like you? It’s not like you’d understand. The only thing you’ll need to know is that we’ll definitely not starve here.”

Su Nuan Nuan was absolutely confident about this, after inspecting the place for two days, she determined that this 7-8 mu[5] abandoned courtyard had once been used for experimental crop growing. It was probably a pet project of some ancestor which was later abandoned. Therefore, aside from this patch of leeks, she also found things like lettuces sprouts, spinach sprouts, radish sprouts, these were probably all vegetables that had gone to seed and grew wild here. It’s now the beginning of spring, once the weather grew warmer, she was sure that she’ll find bak choi sprouts, carrot sprouts and eggplants in the future.

Never give up hope, heaven always provides a way. For a foodie like her, as long as she doesn’t starve, other problems will solve itself.

 

[1] Throwing rocks down a well – To heap misfortune or insults on someone who’s already down on their luck

[2] Chinese Chives Pockets – 韭菜盒子- Kind of like flatbread stuffed with chives and onions

https://redhousespice.com/chinese-chive-pockets/

[3] Fried Eggplant Pockets – 炸茄盒

 

[4] Three Stuffing Dumpling – 三鲜馅儿的饺子

 

[5] mu – measurements, about 1/15 of a hectare. So Su Nuan Nuan’s abandoned courtyard is about half a hectare wide. That’s pretty large for an ‘abandoned’ area, which gives one an idea just how large the palace was.

 

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Translated by Gumihou

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