Chapter 10: You Win
Translated by Gumihou
“Duan Tingxuan, do you even want your face?”
Su Nuan Nuan stared at the rascal, who still had crumbs of red bean paste sticking to the corners of his lips, felt her anger surging up. She rushed into the kitchen with an angry face. “Helping yourself my food, such actions might as well be called stealing, are you even a nobleman any more? Your mother, how dare you come here and steal food from a woman you’ve abandoned, do you even want your face any more?”
Practically exploding with anger, curse words fell from Su Nuan Nuan’s lips like deadly lava. The previous Su Meng Nuan would never have resorted to such crude tactics, this behaviour actually horrified Si Ping, Hong Lian, and Xiang Yun to the point they were scared to move. Si Ping, who was hidden to one side, was shivering and muttering to himself. “I already said that first madam is no demon, she’s a monster.”
Compared to the sadly lacking Si Ping, Duan Tingxuan was a like general who had seen the tides of war turned, fully personifying the idiom ‘A man with no shame has nothing to lose’. He faced Su Nuan Nuan accusations with folded arms and a sinister laugh, “Who said I stole anything? This is my palace, this Mei Ye Lou is your lord’s Mei Yue Lou, how could I steal food from my own house? Su Meng Nuan, have you forgotten? I have not issued any divorce papers yet, you’re still my official wife, where is this abandoned wife you’re talking about?”
This rascal have definitely come prepared.
Su Nuan Nuan quickly calmed down. There’s no benefit in using hard tactics when facing down a shameless person. There’s no point of going down this path, this kind of feudal society would never back a woman up. The more she wanted to leave, the more this man would never let her go.
After considering it for a bit, she decided to abandon pointless argument and use action to convey her contempt against Duan Tingxuan. Decision made, she moved decisively towards the dishes that Duan Tingxuan had grabbed and started to spit at everything in sight.
“Su Nuan Nuan, you have guts.” Duan Tingxuan roared, his anger towering over everything, but only for a moment. He felt deflated as he stared at the spit covered food.
“Your mother, just because I want some of your dishes, must you be so poisonous? At the very least, you’re still getting an allowance from me, aren’t these dishes cooked using ingredients from my kitchen, you… you, how could you be so petty? What happened to your face?”
The trembling Si Ping, Hong Lian, and Xiang Yun stood stock still for a moment. The three of them quietly exchanged dumbfounded looks with each other, before carefully backing out from the kitchen which had somehow turned into a battle ground for these leading male and female actors. They had no choice, on such a small stage, by standers could easily be turned into cannon fodder if they are not careful.
“As long as I can protect my food, why should I bother with face? Can I even eat it?”
Su Nuan Nuan kept her face expressionless, her heart chortling with glee: Well? Ready to give up, damned rascal? You’ve never faced such a brazen woman before, have you? You really believe the idiom ‘A man with no shame has nothing to lose’ can only be applied to you? Pei! Open your eyes, there are many more experts outside of your little kingdom.
“Very good, you win this time.” Duan Tingxuan never expected Su Nuan Nuan to be this unreasonable. Although he had faced her anger before, he had thought of it as just a temporary storm that would blow over in a few days. He came especially today, thinking that even if the other party was still unhappy, they would not dare to be too full of themselves, and that she would perhaps be open to a reconciliation.
At this point, the little marquis had forgotten about his own ‘A body taken over by a different soul’ theory and was just busy being angry. He was angry that this damned wife of his had the cheek to disobey him, her great and dignified husband. Is she trying to revolt?
Nevertheless, no matter how angry he got, the little marquis’s eyes kept going back to the pile of green plants in Su Nuan Nuan’s arms. His anger was slowly being replaced by curiosity: I seemed to have seen these before. Aren’t these saplings? Can they be eaten? Perhaps starvation had made this woman crazy enough to try and eat saplings, tree barks and grass. Oh, wait, the kitchen actually has more good things…
Thinking about the good things in the kitchen, the anger in the little marquis’ heart began to froth up again. Duan Tingxuan gave Su Nuan Nuan a long and gloomy look, before finally nodding to her. “Very good.” Having said this mysterious phrase, he left.
Si Ping, Hong Lian, and Xiang Yun had never seen this proud and arrogant little marquis retreat like this, with his wings of pride thoroughly clipped off. All three gave a deep sigh of relief. Only Su Nuan Nuan had seen the gleam of danger in the little marquis’s eyes. The cheer of victory sank as she contemplated the meaning of that gleam.
“Missy, isn’t it a little wasteful to treat food like this?”
Once the last of Duan Tingxuan’s shadow left their courtyard, Hong Lian and Xiang Yun sidled up to the spit covered dishes, their hearts aching from the pain from seeing such delicious food wasted. These were supposed to be their lunch. In reality, master and servants all have rather economical habits, having to see all these food potentially rot away after defending them so fiercely from food snatchers made it even more unbearable. Especially that jar of pickled minced meat. Madam actually spat into the jar, which was rather extreme of her. That jar was supposed to last them a month of breakfast side dish.
“It’s better to suffer a short term pain and avoid long term suffering.” Su Nuan Nuan looked at the food gloomily, gritting her teeth. “If we did not do this today, that rascal will develop a habit and keep turning up like an unwanted fly. Think you can just swat him away? It’s only with such decisive moves that we can make him understand that that fighting us would not benefit him. That we are willing to burn bridges to make him give up. This is all so that we could return to those tranquil days, ignored by his greatness.”
Hong Lian and Xiang Yun could not understand Su Nuan Nuan’s bone deep hatred for her own husband, but realised they could not change her mind. They carried the spit covered food to the yard to feed the chickens, quietly thinking that their master was not one to cringe from a challenge just because obstacles were thrown his way. Madam, if you think thank these tactics could get rid of the master, isn’t it just too naive of you?
Actually, Su Nuan Nuan also realised that Duan Tingxuan would not be so easy to get rid of, which was why she spent the day cracking her brains trying to think up ways to deal with him. However, lunch time passed, followed by dinner, and no great idea present themselves for inspection. She could only blame what happened today on Hong Lian’s inauspicious mouth, and proceeded to conduct a ‘May only speak auspicious words’ training for her maids, and throw this matter to the back of her mind. They have to prepare for future invasion, and to deal with the challenges the best they could under the circumstances.
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“Master, first madam is getting more and more out of hand…this…this one doesn’t know what she’s thinking.”
As they strolled on the small path through the garden, Si Ping sneaked a look at his master’s expression. He had deliberately used the ‘Denounce the Mistress’ tactic to gauge the lord’s real opinions, and waited expectantly for the usual bitter words to fall from that noble mouth, hoping to use a common enemy to build a rapport with his master and perhaps get over the weird incident that had happened just now.
Duan Tingxuan said nothing, still keeping his head lowered as he walked, looking like a defeated rooster: Shameful, this was just too shameful, what that woman did was nothing, but the way the master reacted, failing to achieve his goal, not finding the the large dumplings, failing to bring the pickled minced pork home. To the little marquis, this was the most critical defeat he had ever suffered in his whole life.
“Master, actually you…did not really suffer a complete defeat.” Si Ping swallowed, and continued. “That, did you not managed to eat quite a few of her snacks? You…still have red bean crumbs on your lips.”
He had hardly finished speaking, when Duan Tingxuan perked up quickly, clapping his hands once. “You’re right, your master did not loss his rice while trying to steal chickens, I’ve actually managed to eat some of those snacks, also, I did not bring any rice over…”
So saying, he suddenly turned back and glared at Si Ping with hateful realisation. “Your mother, you useless thing, how dare you bring this up? You’re already cowering at a mere sight of Mei Yue Lou, what happens if we go to an actual battle field? Can I still count on your loyalty and protection? Or should I count my lucky stars so long as you don’t sell me out to the highest bidder?”
Si Ping hastily pasted on his most ingratiating smile. “Master, you’re the one who most understand this servant. At Mei Yue Lou, this… this one is just trying to tease first madam into a better mood, yes? This one was just thinking, once first madam laugh, she’ll be distracted, giving master an opening to say something. Who would have thought that first madam would be so angry, this one’s great performance failed just like that. If this was truly a battle field, this on would have deserved to die in front of great master.”
“Scram, scram, scram! You think your master will believe this nonsense?” Duan Tingxuan let out a kick, which Si Ping avoided, face still full of smiles, confident that this counted as getting away with bad behaviour.
At the entrance of the garden, his master stood there, hesitating about where to go. Afraid that this was about to bring up bad memories, he quietly said. “Where does master wish to go? The study or Madam Yun’s place? Or perhaps a visit to Madam Lan’s place since it has been several days since master’s last visit, Madam Lan never said anything, but she always asks after master whenever she saw this one…”
“Yes, yes, I know, just how much money did you received from them?” Duan Tingxuan rolled his eyes. “I’m not going anywhere, let’s just go back to the study.”
“Master, you have not had dinner yet, you only had a few snacks earlier, how could that be enough? Why not visit Madam Yun and try some of her duck soup…” Si Ping did his best, money can’t just taken without putting an effort, it did not matter on whose behalf he’s persuading for, the most important thing was that he’s doing his best in his persuasion work.
“Tell the kitchens to send food over.” Duan Tingxuan mood was still a little edgy, without letting Si Ping say anything else, he took the path that lead to his study.
Si Ping had no choice, he could only rush to the kitchen with his master’s order. At this point, Duan Tingxuan had reached his study. He dropped into his chair with a huff, and then started to sulk. Finally, even he found the whole situation a little strange. Since he did not want to credit Su Nuan Nuan with his mood swings, he randomly took out one of his books and began to slowly calm down.
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Shuangxi, who was in charge of taking the study, dared not show himself at the random sighs and huffs coming from the room. When he finally spotted Si Ping, he seized the onto the other servant and began a whispered conference. Just why is master like this? What happened exactly?
Si Ping waved his hands and whispered back, “Listen to me, no matter what, absolutely do not go in there. Master had just suffered a terrible defeat in the hands of first madam. Whoever goes in there will probably suffer backlash from his temper. I am going to just hide here with for a while.”
Shuang Xi’s eyes almost popped out, he stared off in a daze. “Wh-what did you say? F-first madam…she…she who was thrown into Mei Yue court, actually made master suffer a defeat? You…you sure you don’t have a fever?”