Chapter 5: Fickle
Translated by Prosperousfood dot com
Edited by Gumihou
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“Tingxuan, ah. Mother really can’t understand you, ah. You’ve been with that arrogant, lavish, excessive, poisonous, and scheming witch for three years already. It’s fine if you endured her for the sake of Duke of Ping’s face. However, the Duke’s family have already fallen out of favour. In order to preserve their life, you’ve spent over 10,000 teals of silver. This… this have gone beyond mere generosity and into excessive benevolence, hasn’t it? Why are you still keeping that witch around? Just look at what shameful thing she did today.”
Once they have left the old madam’s courtyard, the marchioness immediately tugged her son towards her own room to advise him, “Your father’s heart have always favoured that second brother of yours. That mother and child pair are sneaky, scheming, cunning people. Luckily you’re the capable type, and favoured by both emperor and empress, otherwise, mother really fear that you cannot protect your position as heir.
If you allow that woman to run wild and attract your father’s displeasure, mother is really afraid for your future. Dear child, listen to mother and just divorce her, ba. Whatever obligations you might have as a husband, you have already more than fulfil them.”
“Mother, matters are not as simple as it looks.” Duan Tingxuan peeled an orange, threw a piece into his mouth and said while chewing, “The Duke of Ping was really unlucky, the Duke did not actually have much to do with the matter that he had supposedly masterminded. Somebody is clearly working behind the shadows. The reason your son helped them out is because I could not bear to see them made into scapegoat for something they did not do. It has nothing to do with Su Nuan Nuan.
As for that woman, your son dare not simply drive her out, you’ve seen yourself what kind of trouble she made in the kitchen. If I really did kick her out, can you just imagine the kind of scene she’ll make outside? What if she threw herself at some random men in order to sully my reputation, am I supposed to kill those people to preserve my name?
There’s really no need to go to prison for this kind of woman, when the time comes I shall know how to deal with her. I know that mother prefers smart Ran Yun and gentle Zhi Lan, however, now is not the time to talk about divorce or deciding who should be the next official wife.”
Madam Yang was brought up in an old fashion household, when her son said this, she let the matter go. After the visit with his mother, Duan Tingxuan left her room and looked up at the setting sun. With a cold sneer, he muttered, “Go ahead, ah. Just go ahead create as much trouble as you like. But, Su Meng Nuan, you better know your limits, otherwise this lord will personally send you on your way. You think I don’t know how He Xiang and that child in her belly died?”
As the sky grew dark, shadows passed over the sinisterly smiling face of the little marquis. However, he never imagined that Su Meng Nuan really would subside from all sinister activities from that day onwards. It was like she had vanished from the mansion without a trace, giving him no opportunity to unleash his wrath on her.
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“Missy, I’ve collected the leeks. Look, look, just one row of plants give us about 3 or 4 catty of leeks.”
Xiang Yun rushed in excitedly with her basket to present her harvest to Su Nuan Nuan who was busily rendering down some fatty pork to make lard.
“En, you and Hong Lian go wash these first. Once you’ve washed them we can use them to make cabbage dumplings. Do you know? Dumplings made with fresh leeks and pork will turn out really delicious if you fry them with just a little oil.”
Su Nuan Nuan stopped stirring the chopped up fatty pork, which had turned golden from being fried in its own oil. She bent down to sniff the sizzling meat and a smile of pure happiness bloomed on her face.
“Please do take a rest, Missy. Let this one continue with the work.” Hong Lian came in with two apples in hand, “These are the apples we took from the kitchens last time, we only have two left. Yesterday, when I went to the kitchen for some meat, I couldn’t see any fruits, so would Missy please eat these first. Perhaps we’ll see more fruits in a couple of days.”
“Silly girl, they must have hidden them. You probably got lucky with the meat and eggs.” Su Nuan Nuan gave a cold laugh, and continued. “Looks like the hard times are upon us now. Don’t bother going there in the future. Just look around you, aside from rice, flour and condiments, what do we not have?
Oh yes, we must find time to visit the pig pen and grab a couple of piglets over to raise to complete our meals. As for the fruits, half of the cherry trees behind our house have ripened, we can take a stick and knock some down. We’ll eat the ripe ones and cook the less ripe ones into a sweet cherry soup. The best thing after a meal of piping hot dumpling is something sweet and sour to get rid of the greasy feel in one’s mouth.”
“Yes, if Missy says so, it must be true.” Hong Lian smiled as she glanced over Su Meng Nuan’s bright red face. That beautiful face was now overheated from being too close to the fire, beads of sweat have popped all over her nose and was in danger of dripping down. She sighed privately in her heart, heaven only knows that this Missy now is not the Missy of old, ba? She was much, much better than the previous bossy arrogant, spend drift mistress of old. Hong Lian quietly rejoiced, as she continued to pretend ignorance, no beatings, no scoldings, delicious food everyday, just who would refuse this kind of life, ah.
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“Master, if you continued down this road you’ll reach Mei Yue Lou. How about we return, ba. Didn’t Madam Yun said that she’s making your favourite chives dumplings tonight?”
“No matter how good the food is, if you eat it too often, you will be sick of it.” Duan Tingxuan sighed, and shook his head. “Perhaps I am being too picky, but I do feel that the coarse dishes and rice I had in that last rural town was especially delicious. Duck soup, chive dumplings, it’s almost like a punishment since I have to eat those at least once every three days, ah.”
Si Ping gave a little hehe laugh, “Since master did not feel like eating those, how about visiting old madam? I heard she’s having lamb today.”
“Who cares about lamb? I’ve already had lamb at the Eastern Palace, it’s the same old steamed lamb, nothing special about it.” Duan Tingxuan sneered, and thought for a while. “Luckily this lord is not a foodie, otherwise just the thought of having to eat all these exotic luxuries might make me sick. That’s right, what happened to that woman after that ruckus in the kitchen? Why haven’t I heard anything from her at all?
Si Ping smiled, “This servant also heard nothing. It’s possible that madam is satisfied after getting the foodstuff and decided not to create trouble. Moreover, she’s a young lady from a noble family, and ought to know how to properly behave herself.”
Duan Tingxuan gave a cold laugh, “Proper behaviour? Just how many times have she misbehaved? Didn’t she make trouble just quite a few times just last month? If she hadn’t bothered me to the point I couldn’t stand it anymore, I would not have thrown her into Mei Yue Lou, if only for her poor father’s sake.”
As he said this, he tapped a paper fan against his palm. After some thought he said, “Whatever, since I’ve come this far let’s go and visit Mei Yue Lou. I wonder if those three have died yet? If they’ve really died, I should at least give them a proper burial, in the end she’s still my wife after all.”
Si Ping secretly thought, “Aiyo, master, you still admit that you’re husband and wife? You’re certainly a fickle one.” However, he merely agreed with his master and trailed after Duan Tingxuan into Mei Yue Lou.
 Catty – about 500g, can be 600g or 604g