Chapter 68: What Happens When You Nitpick

 

Translated by Gumihou

Please read this at kitchennovel dot com

 

Long Yan said, “Madam, please don’t speak like this. The master isn’t that kind of person…”

She hadn’t finished when Xue Zhi Lan cut in with a sneer, “An overly passionate man might as well be heartless. You know your master is the lusty type, and therefore just as heartless. Though he might be protective of me, after the first, second, third or fourth blow, I shall still be the one who suffers a loss. Even if I were to complain to him, do you think he won’t be sick of my nagging one day? When that time comes, I shall really have no way of saving myself. Am I to lose favour even before my looks have faded to age? No, no matter what, I cannot allow this to happen.”

Cai Sang sighed, “Madam is right, because of this, you will have to step bravely into Madam Yun’s snare.”

Xue Zhi Lan’s emotionally twisted expression gradually cleared, leaving nothing but a weightless serenity. She said mildly, “So what if I were to act as her tool? This is a good opportunity for me to prevent first madam and elder madam from getting closer. I shall continue to play the dutiful daughter-in-law in front of elder madam, we should be able to cross this obstacle safely. Moreover, can a tigress really change its stripes?”

“The first madam can’t be doing all these acts of charity for nothing, she was trying to make people overlook her past. Madam Yun can’t see the truth from the grit in her eyes, when the time comes the fight for power, fame, profit and the lord’s heart will commence, we shall sit here and quietly enjoy the drama.”

Long Yan laughed as she clapped her hands, “What excellent points, in the end who was the one first madam hated most? The one she was in conflict with most? Who would believe that first madam really had no intention of taking back the housekeeping duties? It was the main reason she had been causing trouble all this while, after all.”

Xue Zhi Lan nodded solemnly, and said through clenched teeth, “You’re right. Though I lower my head now and endure this humiliation, as the saying goes, ‘Heaven would not overlook a laborious heart’. One day, the gods shall reward my patience.”

Leaving Xue Zhi Lan’s hopes for the future aside, which could only be termed as very positive, Xu Ran Yun too was feeling incredibly good. The moment they stepped out of Qiu Yun Pavilian, personal maid Feng Xian looked all for directions before smiling at her mistress, “Looks like Madam Lan also understood her position well, madam did a good job pushing her.”

“What’s the use?” Xu Ran Yun did not look even a little bit happy. “In the end, it’s not like we can ever banish first madam back into Mei Yue Lou. Moreover, her relationship with me is still the most fraught, if not for this, do you think your Madam Lan would ever agree to this scheme?”

“This maid was just wondering, could it be that madam is just over thinking things a bit? The master already said that first madam had no intention of interfering with the household matters…” Feng Xian prompted her mistress quietly, she was really worried that Xu Ran Yun would try and make trouble for Su Nuan Nuan over this matter. If the master caught wind of this, he’ll definitely reject her even more. Everyone knows just how much the master favoured the first madam right now.”

“Pei! If she has no interest in household matters, then what does she want with the warehouse key? The lord’s warehouse is not only the most valuable, it could even rival the public warehouse in terms of value. The second family had been salivating over it for a long time, thinking up wilder ways of getting their hands on it. If not for me, who knows what would happened to the warehouse? To see her just snatched it just like that, and still trying to say that she has no plans to take over the household responsibilities? Hehe, who are you trying to cheat? As the saying goes, A dog can’t help eating shit[1], you all just mark my words.”

Feng Xian dared not say anything else. Xu Ran Yun was already working herself up to an amazing state, especially since she could do nothing to change things. She was stomping off into some random direction, when she heard Xiang Yun called after her, asking where she was going. Xu Ran Yun sneered, “I’m going to have a look at the kitchen. I heard that Ms. Xue have been clinging tightly to first madam’s thigh. Humph! She certainly knows how to pick sides, if not for my intervention, would she have landed that choice job in the kitchen? What a bunch of white eyed wolves, biting the hand that feeds them.”

Feng Xian continued to listen, well, madam seemed to be bubbling over with anger. She had heard that Ms. Xue’s daughter-in-law had also became closer with the people at Chun Feng Court. Isn’t this a perfect target to spend her wrath on? To be honest, that Ms. Xue seemed to have muddled up her priorities, three quarters of the kitchen was under Madam Yun’s control. For her to ignore her true master and treated this matter as nothing, it served her right to be smashed down.

However, how could madam personally show her face over this kind of matter? Either she or Cui Bing will go and denounce these herd of betrayers, and send Ms. Xue and her family packing. Since the kitchen was such a juicy post, there will be no shortage of people vying to take over the position as head of kitchen. Feng Xian continued to make plans, but did not mention anything to her mistress. She knew that it would not do to provoke her mistress while Xu Ran Yun was still nursing the fire in her belly.

Mistress and maid soon arrived at the kitchen, and saw a dozen over ladies busily shuttling about with their own work. Xu Ran You cleared her throat, catching everyone’s attention. As expected, Ms. Xue was the one who came out to welcome them. Xu Ran Yun lifted her chin and said deliberately, “I have been very busy lately, and have not been visiting the kitchens as often as I should. Ms. Xue, you have always been a fairly reliable worker in the past, however, a person’s heart cannot easily be seen. Ms. Xue, let me ask you, it’s been some days since I last inspected your work. Tell me, just what kind of rotten matter have you been indulging in? The accounts showed that money allocated to the kitchen have risen like the tide, have you been shifting the silvers from the kitchens into your own house?”

Ms. Xue had always been an intelligent one, she realised that this matter had risen because Madam Yun was unhappy over her closeness with the first madam. However, the black pot[2] that Xu Ran Yun tried to shove on her head was too big. If she was not careful, she might actually be crushed to death by it. Ms. Xue smiled quickly, “Does Madam Yun not know? The budget increase was done at the order of old madam and the heir master. They said that first madam’s cooking is unusually delicious and novel, which is why the budget was increased a lot.”

“The masters basically gave first madam free reign on the budget. Everyone is on tenterhooks over what unexpected inspiration first madam might be inspired with. The masters were afraid that there won’t be enough ingredients, therefore we decided to err on the side of plenty instead. This one have been meaning to report to madam, however, old madam’s Rong’er informed me that the master will discuss this with madam. Perhaps the master has forgotten? This servant really have no intention of…”

Xu Ran Yun gave a cold laugh, Duan Tingxuan had in fact, informed her of this matter. Which was the maid reason why she had appeared to make trouble. Even so, how could she just let the matter go like this?

She drawled, “I know of the matter you speak of, however, there is no escaping the fact that the kitchen expenses have gone overboard. I suspect you’ve conveniently made used of old madam and the lord’s word as a cover for your reckless spending. Not only that, the kitchen had been spewing smoke everywhere. Surely there’s no need to for me to say more — you’re a senior staff member, it would be a pity to drive you out just like this. I see your face lacks colour, well, perhaps I was a bit harsh. Whatever, pack your things. Remove yourself to the laundry room right now. Ms. Wu has been feeling unwell lately, there are times she can’t move well. You go and lend her a hand, perhaps you might even take over the laundry department one day.”

A cold shiver stabbed through Ms. Xue’s heart, just when did this Ms. Wu become unwell? That woman is as strong as an ox, just how long am I supposed to wait before I could become the head of anything there, ah? This Madam Yun was just too poisonous. The reason why I’ve gotten closer to first madam is because I sensed that she’s a good person, a woman without arrogance, who treated me and the ones below her station with kindness. Moreover, she treated me well even though I haven’t given her any incentive to do so, ah. The master only have eyes for first madam, no matter how you bully me, the master probably won’t even notice, ba?

Though Ms. Xue’s heart nearly bled with hatred, she dared not let any of her feelings leak across her face. The moment she saw Xu Ran Yun, she knew that something like this would happen. Therefore, she quietly bowed her head, and went to her rooms to pack up her things. As she enter the kitchens, she could hear Xu Ran Yun’s arrogant voice berating the women. The more she scold, the more vehement she sounded. When nobody present themselves to be shouted at, she grew even more resentful.

As she tried to ignore the strident voice, Ms. Xue’s eyes suddenly caught sight of a brilliant red rooster, its feathers were glossy and bright, with long green tail feathers. It was glowering at her with beady black eyes. Ms. Xue didn’t know what came over her at that moment. She casually walked closer and unlatched the cage door, letting the bewildered cock out. She then gave it a firm little kick, making the rooster bounced towards the door. As she had expected, gave a loud ‘wuwuwuwu’ cry of joy. The large cock was sharp enough to grasp the fact that it had been granted a golden opportunity to escape with it’s life and began to flap it’s large wings and dashed out the door.

Xu Ran Yun was in the middle of lecturing the maids before her. It gave her great thrill to be above all these lowly people. The act of lecturing was like a balm to the soul that had been hurt by Duan Tingxuan. It was at this moment that the rooster roared its battle cry, all of the maids turned to look, dread falling over them: Hey, it’s that rooster everyone had spend half the day chasing after. Weren’t they suppose to put him into a stew later? Who was the idiot who let it out?

With this new distraction, no one could really pay attention to Xu Ran Yun’s lectures anymore. With a battle cry of their own, the maids rushed over to capture the rooster. Over a dozen older women ran about, chasing and intercepting the rooster, displaying amazing teamwork to capture a superior enemy. At this moment, the rooster who was ‘facing impossible odds’, could only cry out ‘wuwuwuwu’ while leaping and flapping about. The group of running people, the brilliant cock dancing and flapping about, it was like watching some kind of elaborated play.

Somehow, there was a crack in the trap that was closing in on the rooster. Spotting the weakness, it made a break for freedom.

A high pitched scream rang out, piercing their ears, making all the maids jump in fright. Just what was that sound? The rooster was similarly shocked. He increased his speed, spread his wings and stabbed his claws into the threat.

“Aaah! Stupid beast!”

The most unlucky Madam Yun was still screaming as she tried to protect her face from the knives stabbing at her body. The rooster’s claws actually managed to rend her skin, causing her to bleed. Though, she was more shocked than hurt, she could no longer maintain her madam like dignity. She could only point at the flapping rooster, and screamed. “Catch it, stab that thing, stab it a thousand times, ah!!”

Her final scream was filled with dread. Unfortunately, when the maids renewed their efforts to catch the rooster, it turned, and fled back towards Madam Yun. Xu Ran Yun was so shocked that she took a step back and nearly fell over. Fortunately, Feng Xian was there to catch her. Mistress and servant cried out, flapping their arms and screaming, trying to make the rooster go away.

In the end, it was still a chicken, no matter how strong it was, it still wasn’t an eagle. Under everyone’s collective effort, the rooster was finally captured. Once it was shut inside a cage, the maids finally slumped to the floor, panting. Xu Ran Yun and her maid were both covered in sweat, their fine and colourful silks all scratched to ribbons.

It was all extremely embarrassing.

 

 

[1] A dog can’t help eating shit – bad habits are hard to change

[2] black pot – wrong doing, sin

 

 

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Translated by Gumihou from kitchennovel dot com.

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