Chapter 45: Blackmail Succeed
Translated by Gumihou
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It had to be said, though Duan Tingxuan’s social standing was not at the level of these grand princes, his name still held weight among the imperial brothers. It was through the use of his name that this matter was finally settled. He had thought that with this matter being a verbal thing, Duan Tingxuan would have no way of knowing what he had done, no matter how good his connections, but it looked like he had been too optimistic about this.
Duan Tingye’s expression changed a few times, before finally concluded that he had to pay out this 1,000 liang of blood money. Only, he was still reluctant to pay and tried one last struggle. “Elder brother have always been generous, I understand this, but 1,000 liang is too much, I’ll have to check the account books…”
“Second brother why are you still saying these meaningless words?” Duan Tingxuan struck his folded fan against his palm a few times. “If I really want access to the accounts, do you really think you can resist? Also, please don’t say there’s no cash in the coffers. There’s a good position in Jing Cheng that went to Third Master Yu, surely he would be clever enough to show you some filial respect? If not for you putting in a good word with father, he would never be able to sit in that chair.”
“Since you are so clear on the matter of the palace, you might as well take responsibility for them.” Duan Tingye was getting frustrated, it was like someone was tugging at his braid all the time, no, tugging at all of his braids.
“Surely you’re joking, ba?” Duan Tingxuan once again revealed that smile that was not really a smile. As such, Duan Tingye could only gnashed his teeth and lowered his head, and muttered. “Yes, I was just joking. Elder brother, aren’t you on the way to the early court? Please give me a day, I’ll have the money ready by this evening.”
“I knew that my beloved second brother really respects his eldest brother, I really did not waste my effort cherishing you.” Duan Tingxuan laughed heartily while smacking Duan Tingye’s shoulder. “Very well, you may go. It’s not easy spending all day doing business on behalf of the palace, do take care of yourself, ah.”
If you are not around, I will surely live till a hundred.
Duan Tingye screamed over the breaking of his heart, then, clutching at his wound, he limped away. Si Ping waited until they could no longer see his figure. “Master, that’s a bit too cruel. It’s 1,000 liang of silver, ah. You don’t even allow him a path to escape, no wonder his hatred for you reached deep into the bones.”
“Even without extorting this 1,000 liang from him, do you think he won’t hate me? Though it is indeed cruel, more importantly I have the money now.” Duan Tingxuan gave a cold laugh. “Who told him to provoke me with bad intentions? Though he’s in a bad state, he still dares to investigate my whereabouts, trying to find an outside mistress in order to cast my inner court into chaos. Merely extorting 1,000 liang from him is considered cheap.”
There’s another reason that Duan Tingxuan did not inform Si Ping. Duan Tingye’s mother spent all her time fawning over his father while slandering him and his mother. You think he did not know? How many tears had his mother shed thanks to that woman? They were the heartless ones, so don’t even bother to cry injustice. To think they would even dare to covet his position as heir, do you think you could do all this and not expect to pay compensation? Normally, he would show a confused face and to act out an intimate brotherly love in front of the family. However, this marquis was no saint. Though it could be said that he had a generous heart, that same heart could also be very, very petty.
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“Miss Hong Lian, old madam have just sent word this morning. The fresh seafood that just came in today should not be touched. Since it’s rare to get such good things, they want us to create some new recipes from these seafood and not waste it by cooking it the usual way. So, though the instructions came from the master, we still dare not to let you take them away in case the old madam gets angry.”
In the kitchen, Ms. Xue smiled at Hong Lian as she made her explanations, her attitude perfectly respectful, to the point that Hong Lian could not help but sigh in defeat: a month ago when she tried to get the food portion for Mei Yue Lou, this woman actually dared to refuse them point blank, citing Madam Yun as an excuse to kick them out.
Today this woman did not even dare to breath too deeply as she respectfully refused their request. This has nothing to do with their own first madam’s power, it was in fact, thanks to Duan Tingxuan’s backing. Those who worked as servants in large houses must be mindful of where the wind blows, those who could not see how the little marquis favour Mei Yue Lou were just asking to be sacked.
Hong Lian was a sincere and generous person, and was not one to carry grudges. Hearing how Ms. Xue phrase her words, she smiled, “If that’s the case, then I would not trouble Ms. Xue, I will return and inform our Madam.”
At the mention of first madam, a sudden image appeared before Ms. Xue’s eyes. A beautiful woman squatting in front of a chopping board, a kitchen knife in hand smilingly whacking away at some pixelated object. Ms. Xue’s body trembled controllably as she seized Hong Lian’s hands. “Will miss please help us to properly explain everything, though we cannot defy old madam’s words, we do not wish to neglect first madam’s request either.”
“Ms. Xue please be at ease, our Missy is not someone without reason.” Hong Lian started to sweat, and did her best to put in a few ‘good words’ for Su Nuan Nuan. In her heart, she lamented: Missy, just look at the disaster you’ve caused, even such a strong lady like Ms. Xue trembled at the mere mentioned of your name…you’ve definitely caused some mental scars there.
Back at Mei Yue Lou, the moment Hong Lian finished with her explanation, Su Nuan Nuan was immediately suspicious. She kneaded the side of her face and frowned, “Why would that old madam hand down such a weird order? Hong Lian, are you sure you haven’t been cheated by that Ms. Xue, ba? No, I shall personally go and see.”
She was about to take off her apron when Hong Lian quickly stopped her, the maid said hurriedly, “Missy, how could this maid be cheated? Also, unless Ms. Xue had eaten leopard gall how could she dare? Still dare to cheat us? The lot of them still tremble at the memory of Missy’s last visit to the kitchen. Would Missy please calm down and not scare them any more. There are young children and old people there.”
“Are you still my maid? What kind of talk is this? What freaking them out till they tremble? Am I such a scary person? Am I a tigress?”
Su Nuan Nuan was angered to the point of poking Hong Lian on her forehead, but did not take off her apron. From her other side, Xiang Yun suddenly laughed. “Well, the master seemed to have mentioned this before and this maid felt it was a very good comparison. Missy is as powerful and grand as a tigress, ah.”
Su Nuan Nuan looked left, then looked right, when the punch line did not come she finally realised that this Xiang Yun was actually sincere. She sighed, and smacked the girl lightly by the hair, and muttered. “Forget it, the brat is still young, no sense on that head, only hair.”
She had barely finished speaking when a warm and melodious voice called from outside. “Is first madam here?”
“Who is it?”
Su Nuan Nuan was a little stunned. Aside from that rascal popping by regularly to scrounge for food and drink, very few women would voluntarily come over. Those who came never did carry any good intentions. Moreover, this voice was quite young, could it be possible that Duan Tingxuan’s little sister actually came to her door?
Hm, her courage was not bad. She could understand those two second wives coming over, they were practically official wives in all but name after all, right? As for the concubines, would any actually come over to the official wife’s domain and bully her? You think you are Si’er?[Translator’s Note: Si’er, one of the concubine of an emperor in the Qing Dynasty, she was about to achieve the impressive feat of being the favoured concubine over the actual empress when she met with a miserable end.]