Chapter 102: Slap Your Own Face

 

Translated by Gumihou

Please read this at kitchennovel dot com

 

“Last night, the crown prince fainted and I was ordered into the East Palace. I couldn’t come back home until this morning. When I thought about how I’d left you alone last night, I came over here as soon as I could to console you and was unexpectedly treated to this ugly scene. Are your refreshing and generous nature all a lie? It’s one thing to blame me, but must you take your temper out on the innocent?

Have you not considered the pain you might have caused Maoming if you’d actually thrown Mi’shi out? No matter how much Mi’shi loves Maoming, how could she compared to you, his own mother? To hit someone over such a petty matter, do you still have the dignity of a madam in charge of a large household?”

“What? You- you were called into… the East Palace?”

Xu Ran Yun’s face went white, then it turned purple and she snapped, “Then why did the maids at Spring Breeze said that my lord was so happy with the Snow Cream that he stayed overnight when I sent Feng Xian over to inquire this morning?”

Duan Tingxuan too was surprised by this. Feng Xian took the opportunity to chime in, “It’s true, master. When I saw Xiang Yun early this morning, she said that master enjoyed the Snow Cream so much that you decided to stay at Spring Breeze Court. She was really convincing, too.”

“How could you carelessly believe the word of mere maids? If you’re really concerned about me, why didn’t you ask Nuan Nuan directly?” Duan Tingxuan looked helplessly at Xu Ran Yun and Feng Xian: Aren’t you two pretty clever? Why are you acting so stupid now? It’s one thing to be stupid once, but to act so stupidly right in front of me so many times, this lord really don’t know what to say to you.

Xu Ran Yun and Feng Xian blushed fiercely at this. Perhaps they had been hanging on the edge of anxiousness too long and the stress was getting into them. There had hardly been a day they haven’t spent speculating and wondering and predicting bad outcomes. Now that they have essentially turned themselves into jokes in front of the lord, they really felt ashamed of themselves. On the other hand, Xu Ran Yun could not help but to rush over to Spring Breeze Court and throttle Su Nuan Nuan to death. Privately, she thought that Xiang Yun had been incited by Su Nuan Nuan to deliver false information to Feng Xian.

“Enough, now that you’ve aired things out, make sure to properly calm yourself and think things through. I’m heading over to Spring Breeze Court now. “Duan Tingxuan sighed, he knew that he should remain by Xu Ran Yun’s side to console her. However, he really wanted to consult with Su Nuan Nuan about the crown prince’s condition. Moreover, when he recalled how Xu Ran Yun had viciously kicked Mi’shi aside, it felt like he had accidentally swallowed a fly. Finally, without even sitting down for a cup of tea, he made to leave.

“My lord.”

Xu Ran Yun was frantic. She tugged at Duan Tingxuan’s sleeves and implored pathetically. “It’s this servant’s wrong today. But, old madam’s birthday is in four days and this one has made some arrangements. Would my lord please see if you have time to take a look? If there are anything displeasing, would my lord please advice this one?”

When Duan Tingxuan heard this, he halted his steps. After muttering to himself for a while, he turned to Xu Ran Yun’s beseeching face and sighed again. His heart grew tender again. Clasping Xu Ran Yun’s hands, he gently said, “Very well, I shall come over and help you look it over. As for other matters, this lord advice you to let it go. Also, you might consider restoring Ms. Xue back to her original position in the kitchen as soon as possible.”

“Why?”

Anger flared up within Xu Ran Yun again and she forgot her intention to appease her lord. With a sharp cry she shook off Duan Tingxuan’s hands and snarled, “I’ve already suffered for so many days, thinking that the lack of movement from the old madam and the lord marquis meant that you still remember to spare my face. To think that it was all my imagination. Each and everyone of you only care about the first madam. Even my lord, do you even care how much face I’d lose? Do you have any idea how even the lowliest servants are laughing at me behind my back?”

Duan Tingxuan’s sympathetic expression grew cold, until he finally said, “If I really don’t care about your face, Ms. Xue would have returned to her original position in the kitchens by now. Do you still remember the reason why she was sent to the laundry rooms? It was clear to everyone it was done as a retaliation against Nuan Nuan. You found fault with that woman and made up some excuses to transfer her, have I ever confronted you over that?

If not for your previous hard work managing the house, would I even give you face? In the end, what was the result? Old madam had been enduring all this while, as have I. Do you think that I haven’t tasted the food from the mansion kitchens since I’ve been dining at Spring Breeze Court? If this goes on, neither I nor Su Nuan Nuan need to do anything, old madam herself would not stand for it. When that time comes, where would you put your face?”

Angered by her husband confronting her with the question of transferring that wretched Ms. Xue, Xu Ran Yun grew frantic and defensive, she snarled, “Since it’s like this, fine, fine! After all, I have no face to look after this household anymore. Since there are so many people in this mansion, just pick anyone of them to manage it. The second lady had always been bothered by the lack of responsibility and was always looking to carry off half of my duties anyway.”

Duan Tingxuan said coldly, “If you think to threaten me with the branch house, you may save your breath. Naturally, I have no intention of handing the household duties over to the branch family. However, don’t think that main branch will be troubled without you around. The good thing about having plenty of wives and concubines is that even if Nuan Nuan has no interested in managing the household, there’s still Zhi Lan and Jing’er. Now, you decide for yourself, who’s at a disadvantage over here?”

With that, he stormed off. Xu Ran Yun shivered in place for a long time before she groped her way onto a bench. Feng Xian watched franticly as her mistress gasped in great gulps of air and knew that the matter had gone beyond serious. “Mistress, you’ve always been calm and collected, why is it when you’re in front of the master you can’t restrain your words? There are certain things that must never be said …”

“You think I don’t know that? But… but just now, well, he said it himself. I was just, so, so angry and couldn’t help myself.” Xu Ran Yun cut off Feng Xian’s impatiently. Scrubbing her face with a handkerchief, she sat down on the bench for a long time. Feng Xian too, did not say anything. After a long time, her mistress suddenly stood up and snapped, “No, I can’t let things go just like that, I cannot lose this household management duty, I can’t.”

“Does mistress have any orders for this one?” Feng Xian’s eyes brightened, thinking that her mistress must have thought up some solution.

Xu Ran Yun gritted her teeth, and said,“You’ve already heard what your master said. He gave me a chance to do my job properly, the thing with Ms. Xue was a test, which I had failed. The moment he stepped in I have lost all power. I had been wondering why that woman gave in so easily, and even got closer to Concubine Jing. Looks like the person she intends to back as the household manager is not Xue Zhi Lan but Concubine Jing. Heheh!

How clever, she knew that Xue Zhi Lan is closed to elder madam and ran the risk of that woman climbing over her head. Concubine Jing is different, not only did she not have any family backing, her background was cheaper than dirt. There was no way a dirty woman like her could ever go over an official wife’s head. Obviously, she wants to oppress myself and Xue Zhi Lan. This tactic is too clever. No, I can’t let her win just like that. Feng Xian, tomorrow you go and transfer Ms. Xue back to the kitchen. Say it’s under my orders and that the matter from before had been properly investigated. Make something up and install her back as the kitchen manager.”

“Madam, is it possible that you might have over thought the matter? If first madam really wants to oppress you and Madam Lan, she could just take over the household management duties herself. Why would she involve Concubine Jing?” Feng Xian felt that her mistress must have suffered too many shocks. She was the one who banished Ms. Xue, if she were to personally ordered Ms. Xue to transfer back to the kitchens, isn’t it just like slapping her own face? Feng Xian tried to advice her mistress, unwilling to let that first madam grow too powerful.

“What do you know? Do you know why she was an abandoned wife before? That’s because she was too arrogant and prideful. Who in this court did not hate her? She has learned her lesson well, and look, how many days has she been back to Spring Breeze Court? How many people are on her side now? Concubine Lin and second miss, and now that Concubine Jing. Feng Xian, she is becoming too clever. She already said to the lord’s face that she didn’t want to manage the household. If she were to go back on her word, what would the lord think That she had just ‘Loosened the Reins Only to Grasp Them Better[1]?

In order to protect her reputation, she can’t be seen wanting control over the household. Even if she were to take control over it, it had to happen slowly and gradually. It’s true that by letting Ms. Xue back to the kitchen is basically slapping my own face, but it’s better than letting her slap me in both cheeks. By doing this, old madam and the lord would see it as me turning over a new leaf. As long as I have the authority over the household, she can’t stomp me to death. If the servants are disobedient, I can still order them around. I can even have them beaten or thrown out. I can snatch my face back. Without the authority over the household, I’ll be finished.”

”Madam, you are most far sighted. Now that madam understand what’s happening, we should arrange our movements carefully in the future. Like King Gou Jian lying on firewood and Han Xin enduring humiliation as part of a vital mission, we shall turned the tides of fortune and snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. Madam must not be downhearted over this minor setback.”

Xu Ran Yun eyed Feng Xian for a moment, and said gratefully, “Right now, the person closest to me is you. There’s no need for you to console me. If I am really downhearted, I would not have chosen to move this way. It was my own fault that the woman managed to change her fortunes and established her castle so quickly. I will learn from this mistake. One day I will pull her down from her high horse and stamp her into the abyss, never to have any way of redeeming herself. Only this will appease the resentment in my heart.”

Feng Xian sighed gratefully at this. She said, “If that’s the case, this maid shall go and order Ms. Xue back to the kitchen. Only… what should we do about Ms. Qin? For the sake of the kitchen manager position, she had shown madam great filial respect.”

Disgust coloured Xu Ran Yun’s face, “If she had shown half the attention fawning over me to properly manage the kitchen, would today happen? In the end, it was because of her poor management skills that I have been scolded by the lord and have to slap my own face. Even I have to lower my pride, does she want me to give her face too? Whatever, just send her to the sewing room, she can manage the purchase and collection of cloth there.”

“Yes, this maid understands.” Feng Xian said gently, and backed out of the room.

please read this at kitchennovel dot com

As he had mentioned before, Duan Tingxuan left the Autumn Rain Pavilion to make his way towards Spring Breeze Court. The moment he entered the court, he spotted Xiang Yun watering some plants in a corner and called out, “Xiang Yun, come over here.”

“Kya!” Xiang Yun nearly jumped out of her skin. She came forward shiftily. She had been nervous ever since she had told Hong Lian how she had teased Feng Xian that morning. Hong Lian had scolded her soundly for making trouble out of nothing. If it was found out by either the master or Missy, she’d definitely be punished. Therefore, when she heard Duan Tingxuan called out for her, Xiang Yun’s heart nearly leapt out of her mouth. She froze in place, wishing she could run, but didn’t dare to actually do it.

“Why have you mislead Feng Xian this morning?”

 

[Gumihou: So much backstabbing, ya’ll need a hobby.]

 

[1] Loosened the Reigns Only To Grasp Them Better – Pretend refuse something in order to better tightened your hold on something

 

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Translated by Gumihou from kitchennovel dot com.

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