Chapter 59: Treacherous Thoughts
Translated by Gumihou
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“Oh, there’s no need for my to wife to be so considerate. These days I find myself busy all day, and in truth that has really tired me out. So if my lovely wife wishes to let me freeload, I’d be more than happy do so.” Duan Tingxuan said hopefully as he stared up at Su Nuan Nuan, slapping on a puppy dog expression over his thick face.
“If that’s the case, I can only offer you pickled radishes. This one has been making her meals all by herself, and her arms are really tired.” Su Nuan Nuan said sweetly as she settled back into her chair. Humph, do you think I’d really let you off so easily?
“Mincing meat, is it? Let’s go, we might as well mince a bit more so that old madam and the Lord marquis could try it too.” Duan Tingxuan snapped his fan closed and stood up smartly. Since he could not sit and enjoy himself, he might as well let his parents and grandmother benefit, consider it his filial consideration, ba.
“Fine with me.” Su Nuan Nuan smirked, the one who had to do the mincing was the man slut after all. Mince up as much as you like, in fact, the more the better. I have close to 20 jin (nearly 10 kg) of beef, mince until you die.
Next to them, Hong Lian and Xiang Yun groped the floor for their jaws, just what were they hearing, ah? It’s just beef ball and Chinese cabbage soup, how many bowls of it have you had, ah, master? Do you really need let yourself be needled by Missy over this? Surely this was a pitiful attitude for their brilliant and charismatic master, right?
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“That elder brother of yours is difficult enough to deal with even with his over stuffed inner court scheming and fighting against each other. It was the only thing that marquis was dissatisfied about him since those women tend to scheme and quarrel over the smallest thing. I’ve even heard from his lips that elder brother has no business trying to run a country when he could not even deal with his own backyard squabble. This was his main complaint about elder brother.”
“However, now that elder sister-in-law has suddenly changed, even the old madam could not leave her snacks and food alone. That time we met was not the first time old madam had praised her. That woman even dared to move back to the inner court, well that has nothing much to do with us, really. However, the moment she took that cat in, I just know that she has no intention of giving me face, what is my life going to be like from now on?”
Within Chun Yu Court, the second master of the Duan family let his wife nag on and on, before remarking, “Since you already know she has changed, you better watch your steps. Look after that cat of yours, don’t go and annoy her over that cat. Otherwise, she’ll have been bitten for nothing. That elder brother of mine knows everyone’s secret, I’ve never been able to pull wool over his eyes. Perhaps he already know everything in my heart, but is just playing cat and mouse with me. We have to bide our time, keep our strength up, endure and not show our hand, alright?”
Ms. Shi stroked her Persian cat and sneered, “Endure, endure, endure, that’s all you know how to do. We’ve endured up till now, for what? I don’t believe that the little marquis have turned into spirit who could see into your heart. You’re just careless, how could you just let him catch you? That man just took a thousand silver liang from us, a thousand liang, ah. That’s enough money to support ten mid size families for three or four years.”
“Isn’t it because of your rotten idea in the first place? You’re the one who kept insisting that I go out looking for his non-existing mistress. It was a waste of my time and what pissed him off in the first place.” anger rumbled in Duan Tingye’s stomach every time he thought about this. How could Ms. Shi be happy to have this laid upon her feet? Husband and wife began to quarrel in earnest when someone cleared their throat. It was Gui Zhi, Madam Liu Min’s personal maid, she came trotting in with a smile, “Second young madam, our madam mentioned that the lord marquis will be dining at her place tonight, and invited you to dine there as well.”
“Oh, very well,” delight appeared on Duan Tingye’s face. It’s so convenient to have a well favoured mother, this gave him plenty of opportunity to curry favour and please his father. He and Ms. Shi quickly changed their clothes and left for Liu Min’s courtyard, as expected, the lord marquis soon arrived.
Father and son exchanged some gossip with each other. When the marquis inquired after his son’s activities, he heard that his son had been going around making connections of several dignitary families, and frowned. “There are no outstanding individuals among the next generation Beijing noble families, no good will come out of associating with these people. Does your brother knows you’re doing this? What did he say about it?”
Duan Tingye’s heart shook, then he looked up helplessly: That’s right, no matter how much his father loved his mother, no matter how he might disapprove of his brother’s lusty ways, deep down in his heart, Duan Tingxuan was his pride and joy. From the very beginning, that older brother of his was the favoured son. No matter how much effort his mother put into pleasing his father, in the end he could not measure up against that brother of his. He may be his mother’s favoured child, but he certainly not his father’s. The marquis clearly had no intention of making him the heir.
When he thought of Duan Tingxuan’s ability to deal with the wily foxes that populated the imperial court, Duan Tingye became disheartened. A short while later, he heard his father’s sombre voice saying, “Never mind, that’s what you’re good at after all. Even your brother can’t beat you at this. It’s good that you’re doing business with these people. They’re all young masters with rich parents, as long as you don’t get roped into their drinking and whoring habits, it’s all fine.”
This single remark raised the hopes in Duan Tingye’s heart, he felt, perhaps his father did not entirely favour his older brother, and that he was being encouraged to engage in trade and make business connections. Was this true? Was the marquis subtly telling him to prepare himself? That instead of facing his older brother head on, he should continue making business deals, amass money and eventually replace his brother as the heir?
As soon as the thought occurred to him, his chest grew hot with excitement. Marquis Duan Ni never would have thought that his offhanded remark would have inspired all these expectations in his son. The marquis eyed the sky and said to Liu Min, “Sister Liu, tell them to serve us, ba. I’m feeling a little hungry now.”
Liu Min smiled and sent Gui Zhi to the kitchen. After a short while, three maids came in bearing food boxes. They set down four cold dishes, eight warm dishes and two soups before withdrawing. Here, Duan Ni lead Liu Min and the rest over to the table. Of the four cold dishes, there was sliced cucumber mixed with pigs trotters, pork liver with garlic sauce, cold pork skin and preserved eggs with tofu. Of the warm dishes, there’s a whole roasted chicken, grilled pork ribs, stir fried pork, steamed fish et cetera. There was also a large bowl of really strong chicken soup, and a bowl of meat and tofu soup.
The old marquis frowned, but he smiled when Liu Min said with a laugh, “My Lord always says that meat makes a proper meal, so I had the kitchen make these. How about some wine?”
Duan Ni gave a bitter smile, “I overindulged at Old Zhang’s place a couple of days ago and have been nursing a headache since. I shall be abstaining from wine for a few days. In this kind of weather, it’s better to have some light soup instead.”
Ms. Shi quickly jumped in to say, “Oh, since my lord likes soup, do let second young master ladle some of this chicken soup for you. This soup contain quite a few whole ginseng and is quite nutritious.”
Duan Ni shook his head and said, “No need, the kitchen staff here really seems to get more ignorant each day. On such a hot weather who wants nourishing? It’ll all turn into a bonfire in my belly. Also, what’s all these horribly greasy things on the table, just looking at them makes me lose my appetite. Where’s Gui Zhi, tell her to find some white fungus in the kitchen and make something light for me.”
The entire room was stunned. Just when did this meat loving Duan Ni turned into this heat sensitive person? They had no way of knowing that the marquis and his friends had been feasting and drinking heavily on huge sea fish and roasted meat for days. Just looking at meat made him sick, right now he had a strange craving for light and crisp vegetarian food.
[Gumihou: Haha, Duan Ni reminded me of that time I manned a grilled chicken wing stall for one day. Had to wash, marinate and grill almost 400 pieces of chicken wings. I could not even look at meat for a whole week without throwing up after that…]