Chapter 84: Scammed to Death
Translated by Gumihou
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In the end, Su Nuan Nuan could only bite her lip and said nothing. Leaving Duan Tingxuan to continue, “Ever since you, Ran Yun, Zhi Lan and Jing’er married me, you of all people should know deep in your heart how I treated each of you. I freely admit to being a lusty romantic who loves a beautiful woman. As soon as a beauty crossed my path, I could not repress the desire to possess her. However, it’s been two years since I have had all of you, and with the Imperial Court keeping me busy, I did my best to curb this bad habit of mine and haven’t added to my harem.”
“Then, I shall thank my lord for his loyalty.”
Su Nuan Nuan still sounded quite sarcastic. However, Duan Tingxuan did not mind, instead he said, “I am really fond of all of my lovely wives, including you, my earliest darling. Though I dare not declare myself in love, as love is faithful, constant and unwavering in loyalty, all things I am not. However, the moment I brought any of you into my house, I was determined to treat you all well. However, the future is uncertain, the moment the woman I chose entered my house they somehow differ from the first impression. Therefore, Nuan Nuan, it’s not like I cast you out to Mei Yue Lou to perish because I became bored of you.
Today as well, I did not intent to curry favour with you and ruin Xu Ran Yun’s future. In the end, I only took action when you crossed certain lines. In the past, Nuan Nuan, you must admit that you were proud, arrogant, and too excessive with your spending. Though I am far from stingy, there was no way I could sustain your extravagance. That was the start of the time we gradually grew apart. Other reasons began to crop up, and I eventually lost my feelings for you. I suspect you might have been disappointed in me as well. If not for that fateful evening at Mei Yue Lou, I’m afraid we might really grow old without meeting one another.”
“What fateful meeting are you talking about?” Su Nuan Nuan was really confused now, she definitely didn’t have any impression of whatever nonsensical meeting, ah.
“The Leek Dumplings.” Duan Tingxuan’s voice held a grain of bitterness within them, clearly he was still holding a grudge over how much he’d suffered for so few of them.
“You sure like to remember your food.” Su Nuan Nuan had no words. Naturally she remembered the event. That fateful evening was the first time she encountered this Duan Tingxuan character.
“As for Ran Yun and Zhi Lan, it was during the time when we drifted apart that they treated me especially well. Which was why I grew closer to them. Moreover, ever since Ran Yun took up the household responsibility, her natural talent for organisation slowly revealed itself, to the point that she could influence mother to visit Mei Yue Lou in person. However, the way she had removed Ms. Xue over petty reasons showed just how narrow minded she was. This kind of petty manipulative behaviour showed her lacked the ability to managed a household justly. As for gentle Zhi Lan, she was just too gentle and agreeable, that kind of attitude would not suit a proper manager. If this gentle characteristic was actually faked, it brought up all kinds of other problems. I definitely can’t trust such an accomplished actress as household manager, can’t I?”
What a sneaky fox. Even these beauties can’t befuddle his brain. His self awareness was almost creepy, was this really intellectual intelligence or animal instinct?
Su Nuan Nuan resisted the urge to spit out her opinion, and continued to listen as Duan Tingxuan continued, “As for Concubine Jiang, she came as part of Ran Yun’s dowry and therefore perfectly devoted to Ran Yun. It was for Chuan’er’s sake that I closed one eye against their shady business. As long as no major crimes is committed, I am prepared to let things go, now however…” at this, he shook his head and smiled.
He went on softly, “Jing’er grew up in a brothel and saw too many schemes and in fightings to last her a life time. In her own words, if not for her looks which drew money like a honey drew flies, she would have died in a ditch long ago. She is very proud and considered such underhanded schemes beneath her. Though I brought her in as my concubine, she never develop much feelings for me, nor did she consider herself a rival for my affections.”
“Surely not? Even a lofty and accomplished little marquis like yourself could not touch Concubine Jing’s heart? Are you joking with me?”
Su Nuan Nuan was not being sarcastic right now, she was truly shocked by this revelation. Duan Tingxuan smiled self deprecatingly, “Why are you so surprised? Even the most beautiful and elegant man could not snag the hearts of all women around him. Moreover, I am far from the best man in the world. Not only Jing’er, even the you now hold me in disdain, do you not?”
“My heart has turned to dust from ghastly disappointments and would not beat for any man, including you.” Su Nuan Nuan humph coldly, once more having to reiterate her position on the matter.
Duan Tingxuan already knew that she would say something like that and continued after a sigh, “You are only disappointed by me, Jing’er had most probably been disappointed by all men in the world.”
“Are you sure? Didn’t she grew up in a brothel?” Su Nuan Nuan was curious now, after the words escaped her mouth did she realized how gossipy she sounded. How could she be so nosy over such a serious matter. She’s such a ninny!
“It’s true that she grew up in a brothel, however, according to her, from the moment she understood the world, she knew that she was destined to hold out her arms to a thousand men and feared for her future. Since then, she had always paid close attention to her surroundings and kept looking for a way out of this dead end life. She was able to press on for ten years in the brothel, selling all her skills, her smiles and her voice for money, somehow managing to keep her chastity thanks to this conviction. All in the name of making enough money to redeem herself. However, no matter how much money she made, she could not get the amount needed. Though there were many men who wished to redeem her, she refused, knowing their reason for redeeming her.”
“Surely it’s because those men were inferior goods, right? If an outstanding man like a certain little marquis, graceful, confident and easy on the eyes were to appear, I trust Concubine Jing would have jumped ship early on.” Su Nuan Nuan sneered, only to catch a condescending glare from her husband. “Did I just not say that Jing’er had given up on all men? How could I stand out among those men as a man? Do you really think there were no outstanding men trying to bid for her?”
“Then how did she fall into your sticky hands?” Su Nuan Nuan was even more intrigued, to the point that she hardly noticed that Duan Tingxuan had sat down next to her.
“That’s because… ahem, your husband has developed a bit of a reputation in the capital.” Duan Tingxuan coughed a little shame facedly. “Word has it that I worship Jing’er as a celestial being, and spent a great deal of money to redeem her for her golden presence. In truth, I had only met her once, and that was when Second Prince dragged me to the brothel.”
“So you went to the brothel with the second prince? Then, how did Concubine Jing fall into your hands?” Su Nuan Nuan looked at Duan Tingxuan with suspicion. “Are you trying to say that second prince is made of wood, and not the fun kind?”
“Heheh! He might as well be made of wood. The only thing he lusted after are books. You think he went to the brothel for carnal delights? Nonsense! He’s just there to collect data on brothels. That man is in the middle of making a book of records for all the things he sees and hears. Only, he was still self conscious about going to that place alone which was how I was dragged into it. It was a terribly tedious experience, which was why I introduced him to another friend. That guy is also incredibly intelligent and analytical, though he was not some high minded scholar, his worldly experience was great and the two had a fine time together collecting data and compiling their little book of experiences. That friendship is still going strong now, and second prince have yet to disturb me after a whole year.”
“So the prince likes the new and hates the old?”
Su Nuan Nuan’s nose for gossip scented another interesting subject. Luckily the little marquis was able to maintain his cool and gently steered the subject back on track with a mild, “That day we met up with Jing’er and spent the evening chatting and drinking together. We were about to leave, Jing’er suddenly knelt before me and implored me to redeem her, saying things like ‘If you don’t redeem me there is only death in my future.’ That… ahem, well, you should know this as well. If a great beauty were to suddenly beg you for favours with tears in her eyes… moreover, I could tell that she was truly desperate, so how could I harden my heart against her?
In the end, I moved half content of my personal warehouse to redeem her. The total was 20,000 liangs of silver, ah. It’s… I cried tears of blood that fateful day, I only managed to revive the fortunes of that warehouse recently…”
Su Nuan Nuan’s face turned 囧囧. 20,000 liangs of silver? What kind of fictional historical China was she in that such an expensive flower exist? Author? Where are you author? Do you actually know your ancient money denomination? Even a fictional world should not be so exaggerated. Didn’t you previously mentioned that 1,000 liang of silver could support the lives of several tens of families for three or four years, ah.[Comment from Ben Jiu (Not sure who this is): Silly woman, the lovely Miss Jing is a beauty akin to an immortal, ah. In Europe didn’t someone wage war with a country for ten years over a woman called Helen? What’s 20,000 liangs of silver?]
“I guess, since Concubine Jing is really beautiful, 20,000 liangs of silver is… not a loss.” Su Nuan Nuan said, even as she tried to calculate just how much ingredients she could buy with this kind of money. The final conclusion was… how could this be a loss? It’s a scam, ah. Did that brothel have the emperor as a backer? How daring of them to scam Duan Tingxuan.
“Heheh!” Duan Tingxuan let out another stiff laugh. “How could it not be a loss, it’s a great loss for me! Nuan Nuan, let me tell you something. It’s something I’ve said before but you refused to believe me, perhaps you’ll believe me now. Jing’er has entered the family for over two years now, she and I… we… the times we, ah… ahem, could be counted on one hand.”
“Pu!” Su Nuan Nuan spat, though she had no tea in her mouth, several drops of saliva sprayed from her lips: This… this scummy male was the type who like to get his own way… surely this scam was a little too excessive? No, this was beyond the word ‘scam’ this was cheating people to death, ah.
“Go ahead and laugh, make fun of my misery.” Duan Tingxuan had no need to save his face. If this had been in the past, the little marquis would not have let this information leave his lips on the pain of death. Now, for some reason he felt much closer and more intimate with Su Nuan Nuan. So what was a man’s face when it came to the closest and dearest? The most important matter now was to slowly reduce those sharp thorns in Nuan Nuan’s heart.
[Gumihou: …. hahaha, this chapter is hilarious.]