Chapter 83: Put Forward Your Ideas
Translated by Gumihou
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The moment Cui Bing came out of her mistress’ rooms, the female servants stopped their gossiping. As female servants in charge of general housekeeping, what gossip escape their ears? The moment Cui Bing disappeared into the room, they’ve already sent in secret spies to find out what had blackened their mistress’ mood. It’s always important to know your master’s moods, ah!
When Xu Ran Yun noticed how much more respectful the bows from the female servants were, she knew that these people were of the same heart as her. They were all people in the same boat, fighting against those from from Spring Breeze Court. If Ms. Xue really returned to the kitchens, the respect and acknowledgement she had fought so hard for these past few months would plunge a thousand feet. She could not help but gritted her teeth, thinking: I don’t believe it, I can’t believe it. Even if the senior madams knew that I had deliberately nitpicked Ms. Xue’s work and sent her away, surely they would still allow me to keep my face? Would they really take that woman’s side? Impossible, impossible, not the elder madam!
With these thoughts occupying her, she could not bring herself to rest peacefully. Since there was nothing urgent for the female housekeepers to do, she sent them away and retreated into her room to pace nervously as she waited for news.
In the end, she waited in vain. No news came that day. Xu Ran Yun was too anxious to sleep and woke up with a headache. She had to struggle to put herself together into some semblance of dignity before setting out for her daily greeting at Madam Yang’s place. When she arrived at her mother-in-law’s place, Xue Zhi Lan and Concubine Jing were already there. The ladies were all laughing and chatting with each other most cheerfully.
For a moment, cold sweat popped out of Madam Yun’s skin and she shivered: How could she be so reckless as to lose her cool that day? She could have just waited a little longer, waited for that woman to show more of her hand before acting, right? Right now, by acting so obviously against that woman, hadn’t she just put herself in a Crane vs Crab Battle? With Xue Zhilan set to become the ultimate winner of this struggle?
While Xue Zhi Lan and Xu Ran Yun paid their filial respect to Madam Yang, Duan Tingxuan was currently advising Su Nuan Nuan on her campaign. If these two poor secondary wives knew what was going on, they would probably cried themselves to bits in the toilet.
“Naturally, I am not out to conquer anyone. I just felt that Ms. Xue had been unfairly treated just because she was associated with me. This just isn’t right. If I were to repress my feelings over this matter, who knows what kind of tricks Madam Yun might pull in the future. Would she bully my personal maids next? Furthermore, just because I regularly send food to them, these madam wives of yours now saw me as the resident cook.”
Thus was Su Nuan Nuan’s counter against Duan Tingxuan’s suggestion to ‘Conquer Old Madam Fang through her stomach’ at the breakfast table. She was not at all impressed by this lame idea. She had no intention of climbing the slippery social pole of harem politics nor did she want to conquer or coerce people. On the other hand, how could she willingly swallow true injustice? So, the mansion kitchen intended to pay mere lip service, is it? Very well, she will just put a stop to all her cooking. This lady is the heir’s wife and not your damn cook. This lady gave you her food out of a sense of comradeship and familial ties, I am not obligated to give you food.
“I know you have no intention of coercing people. However, others don’t know this. Right now, everyone in the mansion has their eyes on you. The moment Ms. Xue re-enters the kitchen, Xu Ran Yun would lose a lot of face. There is no way she could continue to manage the house after that. Furthermore, if old madam were to show favour to you over a mere kitchen hand, wouldn’t people accuse her of being a glutton and lose face? Even if everyone knows that Ms. Xue had been unfairly treated over her good relationship with you, she still cannot overtly favour you just like that.”
Duan Tingxuan did his best to explain everything thoroughly before swallowing a mouthful of milk. Next, he reached for a fruit pastry and stuffed the thing whole in his mouth.
Su Nuan Nuan continued to think as she ate. Without something like a [System] to guide or train her, there was only Duan Tingxuan to advice her. To be honest, what the man said was true. Her way of thinking had been absurdly simple. With a mulish expression, she said, “Surely you already knew about this? Why didn’t you say something earlier?”
Another mouthful of milk went down his throat before Duan Tingxuan gave a little hehe laugh, and said, “Actually, this problem is not that hard to deal with. I have a feeling that the old madam too had been waiting for this opportunity.”
“Well, what should do I do?” Su Nuan Nuan had a bad premonition. As expected, Duan Tingxuan spread out his hands and smiled, “It’s really simple. Why did grandmother, mother and I did not say anything when the Xue thing happened? That’s because Xu Ran Yun is the person in charge of housekeeping. No matter what, we still have to give face to the chair if not the person sitting on it. Once she no longer has a say on household matter, things will be different. Naturally, Ms. Xue will have a better chance of getting back into the kitchen.”
“You… what are you trying to say?” Su Nuan Nuan said challengingly, whole heartedly hoping that Duan Tingxuan was not suggesting what she thought he was suggesting.
“Do you really need to ask?” Duan Tingxuan had no intention of letting Su Nuan Nuan wriggle out of this. He deliberately looked towards the hills and said, “If you are willing to look after the household duties, what could Xu Ran Yun do? It is your right as the heir’s wife after all.”
Su Nuan Nuan sighed. She cast a sarcastic look at Duan Tingxuan, “My lord is certainly merciless, ah. That day you dump me in Mei Yue Lou, you handed housekeeping duties to Madam Yun. Now, for the sake of my cooking, you wrench that power away from her…”
Duan Tingxuan shook his head with a smile, “You sure like to cast me in the role of a good for nothing. Do you really think that I’d really hand over control of the house to you over food?”
“Are you saying you’re not?” scepticism was thick on Su Nuan Nuan’s face. Just because that Xu Ran Yun was a bad egg, it’s not like her reputation was any better.
Duan Tingxuan looked at Su Nuan Nuan with amusement, “Nuan Nuan, I do believed that you have become quite interesting after your near brush with death. You’ve gone against quite a lot of common sense practices, your casual treatment of the maids is one such prime examples. Not to mention your treatment of me.”
“Don’t change the subject.” An ominous thump resounded in Su Nuan Nuan’s chest. She sighed deeply. She also knew that she could not completely avoid the social obligations of this society. As Duan Tingxuan said, this was the type of thing that could not be changed no matter what. Now that he had a hold of her weakness, the best she could do is mitigate the damage.
“I’m not changing the subject.” the little marquis muttered under his breath as Su Nuan Nuan stared at him suspicious eyes. For a moment, nothing could be heard within the house.
After a long while, Duan Tingxuan looked up and said sternly, “Nuan Nuan, you know that heaven granted men the right to have three wives and four concubines, right? Even if it is not a right granted by the gods, the laws and customs have been in existence for years, has it not? As for women, it is their duty to obey Confucius’ Law for Women, to honour the three men in her life (Father, husband and son) and to faithfully follow the four virtues of women (physical charm, proper speech, needle work and housekeeping)?”
Su Nuan Nuan was tempted to scream no, no, no, hell no you dog shit. Men and women are supposed to be equal. Why is it that men could have three wives and four concubines while women had to obey three men and keep four virtues?
She could only swallow all her words down. Far from being stupid, she knew that these kind of earth shattering words could not be casually blurted out. Once they’re said, never mind a crafty fox like Duan Tingxuan, even an average village idiot would know view her as an evil spirit. Her transmigration status was a secret that she had to defend to death. Time, blood and tears of previous transmigrators had shown her that revealing her secret is folly, it is the one thing she must never divulge.
 Crane vs Crab Battle – A battle where both party suffer significant losses
[Gumihou: Er, Duan Tingxuan already realized that she was not the original goods though…]