Chapter 57: To Take Pity
Translated by Gumihou
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“It’s a visit to the older madam’s place, therefore I dare not appear in casual clothing.” Duan Xinqu said, her voice choking a little. It was her one and only new set of clothes. Kept especially for meeting with the elders, it’s not like she ever got to go out, so who cared what she was wearing? What’s more, though they did not short change her monthly allowance, it was all given over to her mother to help out her mother’s family. Naturally, these aren’t things they could just say to outsiders, what else could she do but swallow all her words down and just take the insults?
“You need to take care of yourself not just during visits to the old madam’s place. You’re already thirteen, two more years and it’s time to talk about your marriage prospects. Are you still going to be this unkempt?” Su Nuan Nuan stood up, pulling Duan Xinqu with her by the hands and smiling down at the girl’s doubtful face. “Your brother has given me some very nice cloth, unfortunately it’s now all gone in the Mei Yue Lou fire. Just thinking about it pains me to no end. However, your brother have given some more cloth, but there’s no way I can wear it all, right? You might as well just pick out a few and I’ll get the sewing ladies to make a couple of dresses for you. Also, this is something I’m doing for you so no one could say anything against it.”
“This… what… but why?” Duan Xinqu was completely stunned, she was never someone worthy of a second look from anyone of importance. For someone to actually treat her so warmly now, how could she not be suspicious?
Su Nuan Nuan also knew what Duan Xinqu was worrying about, but said nothing. She really wanted to help this poor girl, no matter what anyone thinks. Well, time will reveal even the deepest human heart in the end.
She really wasn’t some overly good-hearted person. It’s just, Duan Xinqu was such a sad character that she had this overwhelming desire to protect this miserable weakling against the male specie of this horribly backward world. To see this fragile little flower bullied and stomped down by life just did not sit right with her. It’s not easy to be born as a human, she just could not bear the thought that someone was born to be bullied, that’s just unacceptable!
Naturally, there would be some resistance. However, Su Nuan Nuan had already made up her mind and was now utilizing the force of her personality make ‘second young miss’ accept her ‘kind offer’. When the sewing people heard that the first madam had sent for them, how could any of them dare to drag their heels? The head sewing lady personally came over with two of her most efficient helpers. However, when she heard that she was to measure second young miss for a fitting, her face turned into 囧囧. Still, she kept her thoughts to herself and did her job quickly and efficiently, and left with the specified cloth.
After the fitting, the sisters-in-law retired to the sitting room and settled down with tea and snacks. When Su Nuan Nuan urged Duan Xinqu to try something, she shyly looked up and said, “I heard from mother that old madam really liked your snacks. Even elder madam and Madam Min have nothing but praises for them. I’ve always wondered what they might be like, I can’t believe I would have the good fortune to try some now.”
“Piffle, what’s all this talk about good fortune? You just pop by here every now and then whenever you like. In a few days I will be making cream snacks. You can come over and try those.”
“I… I can come over again?” Duan Xinqu couldn’t believe her ears, she stared fixedly at Su Nuan Nuan, hope brimming in her eyes. “Sister-in-law… you, you really don’t hate me?”
“In the past, I was the one with the bad attitude, and couldn’t get along with anyone around me. After my near death experience, I have learnt to let go of a lot of things. What’s a special aristocratic status worth? It’s all empty pride, the most important thing in life is to have enough food and clothing. Perhaps a few trustworthy friends for heart to heart chats. I really don’t care for those cloak and dagger scheming and would much prefer a free and easy life.”
This was a rare opportunity to test her cover story on someone new and Su Nuan Nuan was brimming with enthusiasm as she awaited Duan Xinqu’s reply. Before the girl could say anything however, Cong’er called out, “Missy, the master is here.”
“It’s not even noon yet, what is he doing here? How dare he plays hooky from work!” Su Nuan Nuan shot up in astonishment, Duan Xinqu also stood, the amazed look on her face draining into fear.
Duan Tingxuan pushed past the curtains and came in, pausing at the sight of Duan Xinqu. He stared for a moment and said, “Why is second sister here?”
“Yes, I… I, mean, I… I was just…”
Duan Xinqu was so nervous that her hands kept fluttering about, her voice stuttering non-stop. Finally, Su Nuan Nuan cut in, “Second sister is here for a chat with me. As for you, what are you dong here so early? Is this the attitude of a good government official? Leaving court early?”
“Hehe, you’re even more anxious than Lord Liu.” Duan Tingxuan laughed. Then, he narrowed his eyes at Duan Xinqu and frowned, “Why is a young lady of the house such a shrinking violet? And that dress, have Concubine Lin been neglecting lessons on how to dress properly?”
Duan Xinqu’s little face paled, Su Nuan Nuan was on the verge of losing her temper. She rushed over to hug the young girl and sneered at Duan Tingxuan. “You have great cheek to say such things. As the older brother, where is your sense of responsibility? All I see is you bullying your sister over her appearance. Never mind, I have already sent for the sewing house to come and take her measurements. She’ll have two sets of new clothes soon.”
Duan Tingxuan was taken aback and was about to make some smart retort when he noticed Duan Xinqu’s fearful face and couldn’t bring himself to say it. In the end, he merely looked away and muttered, “I was just making a random remark. Since you wish to take care of her, I have nothing to say.”
This was the first time Duan Xinqu saw someone go against her powerful brother so openly, what’s more, she had just seen her brother give in, and… was that a hint of fear she saw in his eyes? Stunned, she blinked huge eyes at her brother… who was currently staring greedily at the plate of Snow Soft Bean Paste Snacks. Her curiosity level increased, didn’t this elder brother of hers used to dislike sister-in-law most? However, seeing their interaction just now, no matter what angle you look at it, aren’t they a little intimate? This was really quite unbelievable.
“I heard you’ve taken one box of snacks away, who did you give it to?” Su Nuan Nuan already noticed Duan Tingxuan’s starving wolf stare at her precious snacks. That’s right, I know exactly what you’re thinking, thought Su Nuan Nuan sneeringly.
As expected, this tigress of his knew that he had taken a box of her snacks and was now prepared to stand guard over her remaining snacks. Chances of getting a share: Close to Zero.
“The last time I visited the fourth prince, I treated him to two pieces of of the Snow Soft Bean Paste snacks. He declared it delicious and have been pestering me for days to bring him more. Anyway, he’s the key person to speak to regarding your hairpin. I really had no choice but to bring him all the snacks we had from yesterday. When I checked the cupboard this morning, there was only one box left. Where did you get this second box from?”
[Gumihou: I just love how Duan Tingxuan managed to sound accusative even though he’s in the wrong.]