Chapter 114: The Great Change
Translated by Gumihou
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“What is it? Can’t it wait?”
While ridiculing his brother inwardly, the little marquis faked an expression of confusion, he even allowed Duan Tingye to pull him aside. As expected, after barely checking around for eavesdropper, second brother urgently whispered, “Elder brother, sister-in-law’s recipe for Cream hadn’t been leaked out, right? Also that Snow Cream, and the Birthday Cake this time, surely the recipes haven’t been leaked out?”
“What about it?”
Duan Tingxuan privately ridiculed Duan Tingye, wondering just what kind of excuse this treacherous brother of his was going to use in order to pry the recipe out of him. Humph! Well, what should he do to ruthlessly destroy this man’s ambition, hm? Now that opportunity had been sent to my front door, there’s no way I’m going to let you off easy. It’s fine if you call me cruel or ruthless, this lord will never allow you a chance to be cocky.
He was just pondering over this when Duan Tingxuan looked down at his feet again, this younger brother seemed to be struggling with himself. This went on for some time before he suddenly sighed, looked Duan Tingxuan in the eye and said in a low voice, “Brother, you are the most intelligent person I know. I trust you saw the business potential in these two dish’s value. It’s possible that in the future, birthday celebrations in aristocratic families will not be complete unless there’s a Birthday Cake. The women who came today spent most of their days racking their brains thinking up ways to win favours from their elders and husbands. How could they be willing to let this opportunity go?
Brother, you must tell sister-in-law to never let anyone have this recipe, no matter who asked for it. Just tell tell her to demure, and say that there will be a Cake shop in the capital soon, and they will be able to buy their Cakes there.”
Duan Tingxuan’s relationship with his brother in this past 20 years was a complicated exchange of mutual scheming and deception. However, this time Duan Tingye had changed his attack style. Not a single thread of dishonesty was used, he had basically bared himself and voluntarily spoke out his motives. The little marquis was so taken aback that he could only run on auto pilot and said stupidly, “Just… what are you talking about?”
Duan Tingxuan was also in shocked: Was this really his crafty wolf of a big brother? This violent brother who would kick him down for no good reason would actually… Why was this brother of his acting so shocked when spoken plainly to? Had he somehow hit his head? Or was it all faked?
However, he soon dismissed his weird guesses. It would not be an exaggeration to call the little marquis a genius. As expected, Duan Tingxuan soon recovered from his temporary bout of shock and smiled benignly at his brother, “Why? Is second brother interested in this business?”
Duan Tingye nodded eagerly. Though he haven’t yet worked out exactly how he was going to make money out of these recipes, there was no doubt that the potential was immense. In the past, no matter how he had schemed and plotted, he had never won against this brother of his. However, now that opportunity had dropped itself in front of him, Second Young Master Duan threw caution to the wind and decided to try one tactic he had never tried before. He basically laid himself bare in front of his brother and begged to be granted this business opportunity.
It turned out that being straightforward had actually threw Duan Tingxuan out of the loop. How was it put again? With opportunity one could be made used of. This was how he had always controlled Duan Tingye. He knew that Tingye would definitely approach him, and thought that the man would scheme for the recipes. He had planned to play with this brother of his, letting him taste some sweetness now and then before brutally cutting him off or taking the man’s profits away. What kind of brute was he to bully an earnest man looking at him with shining eyes like this?
“Hmm, it’s not that I can’t let you have the recipes, but your sister-in-law… well, you should know what her parent’s situation is like. I had planned to find a couple of shops for her so that she could have some money of her own. However, now that second brother has spoken to me… moreover, you are the business manager of our family, there’s no way I could deny you. But, your sister-in-law’s situation…”
“I understand. This venture would never happen without sister-in-law anyway. Therefore, I’d like to discuss this properly with brother first. Once the portion for the public coffer has been deducted, let’s split the remaining profits between ourselves, naturally, we should report this to father properly. Shall we say, a 70 – 30 split? Of course, brother and sister-in-law should have the 70% cut. Naturally, majority of the profits would go to the public coffers, since the Marquis of An Ping household have many clansmen aside from us.”
This brat really has completely changed, ah.
Duan Tingxuan stroked his chin thoughtfully: The terms Duan Tingye had mentioned were all pretty clear cut. Aside from splitting the money, he also planned to properly report the matter to the marquis. In other words, he had no intention of hiding it from father and hoarding the money. Could it be possible? That, for the sake of this business venture he’d decided to abandon all petty schemes and tricks? Just when did making money become something so important to him?
“If elder brother feels that it’s not enough, I’m willing to go 80-20. I’ll also personally report the matter to father.” nervous at Duan Tingxuan’s silence, Duan Tingye compromised even more, and took another huge step back, anxious about losing this business venture.
Duan Tingxuan’s eyes narrowed as he stare wordlessly down at his brother. His heart was beyond shocked when Duan Tingye pulled a bitter face and said, “Elder brother, I really can’t go any lower than this. Surely you realise that a business require more than just recipes? Aside from setting up the shops, hiring people and arranging for supplies, there are many other things to consider. I am only asking for a percentage. Any less than 20% won’t even cover my initial capital. Surely even you won’t slaughter me that badly?”
“You little brat, it certainly is rare to see you like this.”
Duan Tingxuan suddenly smiled. Seeing Duan Tingye sighed with relief, he said mildly, “How about you tell me the truth? Why are you being so frank today? Is this business venture really that important to you? Though it is certainly a curious product, the profits can’t be all that amazing to sink to this level, right? At the very least, the shipping venture wouldn’t lose to this in terms of profit, as long as all your ships arrived safely, that is.”
Duan Tingye was caught off guard by this remark, after a long while, he laughed bitterly and said, “What else could I do but be frank? Can I actually pull wool over your eyes? Until now I still haven’t managed to get my hands on the Snow Cream recipes, at this rate, what if sister-in-law accidentally revealed her priceless recipes to some outsiders? What do I do then? As for the profits, of course I know the value of both businesses. But for some reason, I really want to try my hand at this venture. It is as though I’ve been bewitched, I just can’t stop thinking about it.
I’ve been in charge of the family businesses for so long but have never pioneered any kind of venture before. Just imagine, how grand it would be to have thousands of people from all over the country visit our Cake shops in the Capital? No, not only within the country, people from outside will travel far and wide just to come and taste this unique treats.
As long as we can maintain keep the recipes a secret, our profits will be assured for a good dozen years at least. Just thinking about it send shivers down my back. So what if the shipping business brings in huge profits? It has never touched my soul like this. Perhaps every man has their own dream, a desire to do something unique that only they can do.”
“What are you going on about? The real unique person here is your sister-in-law, the recipes are all hers.” Duan Tingxuan laughed as he playfully tapped Duan Tingye on the head with his fan. Duan Tingye gave him dark look and said, “What about it? As long as I manage to build this business up, wouldn’t that make it unique? What’s the harm of basking in sister-in-law’s reflection?”
“Enough, looks like you know yourself well enough. I won’t tease you anymore. Let’s split the profit at 50-50. Also I suggest you open up a few restaurants as well. You’ll know what I mean once you’ve tasted this banquet’s Steamed Lion Head. I’ll warn you now, you might just be overwhelmed by emotions when you eat that.”
Duan Tingxuan gave a final laugh and turned to enter the hall, leaving Duan Tingye to stand there like an idiot. It was a long time before he turned his face up to look at the sun, which was still shining brightly overhead. It hasn’t turned green or blue or purple, ah. Next, he bit his thumb, ‘Aiya!’ So painful, so it really isn’t a dream, ah. But… but, that fellow just now, did he just displayed some elder brotherly consideration towards him?
Was that really the evil fellow who always found joy in pushing him down? No, it can’t be, there must be something wrong with his eyes. But… the 50-50 split… was there something wrong with his ears too? But, but his ears and eyes can’t be broken at the same time, right? Then… then just what is going on, ah?
Still in a muddle, Second Young Master Duan sat down for the banquet and absently accepted a plate of Steamed Lion Head. One bite and he was thrown into a befuddled ecstasy for the second time that day. Should he go into the restaurant business too? Of course he should, ah.
Only… only, why was big brother suddenly so nice to him? Is there really no traps in this? How could it be? But, how could he just ignore this opportunity out of fear? Could such a wonderful opportunity strike twice? Ah, ah, ah, ah! Whatever, whatever, let’s give up on thinking. If I can’t be the heir, perhaps this is a chance to make something of myself. In the future, a hundred, no, a thousand years later people will associate Second Young Master Duan with Steamed Lion Head and Cream Cake. My business sense won’t lose to brother anyway… So, heavens, should he do it? Should he?
Aside from Shi Yurou, the distress Duan Tingye was suffering from was unknown by others. Duan Tingxuan and Su Nuan Nuan couldn’t care less about his feelings. As far as the little marquis was concerned, once the recipes were handed over, they would split the profits when the time comes. Duan Tingye wouldn’t dare to mess with the account books anyway, since he never knew when Duan Tingxuan would check them.
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Back at Spring Breeze Court, the little marquis was like a wild, untamed horse bounding for the kitchen. In an instant, howls of ‘Miao-oo’ and ‘Dratted Cat!’ punctuated the air. Su Nuan Nuan sighed bitterly, head in her hands. She mumbled through her hands and asked Hong Lian, “What’s the possibility that Zhao Cai, that dratted creature born with too much guts, have eaten our last two pieces of Cake? The lord might well beat him to death.”
“Why don’t Missy hurry over to take a look?” Hong Lian’s lips trembled from holding back a smile. Su Nuan Nuan rolled her eyes and declared, “What’s there to see? One is a giant rat, the other a greedy cat. Just let them battle it out.”
To be honest, though Zhao Cai was a gluttonous creature, he still knew enough to preserve his cat lives. He had indeed snatched one of the two pieces of Cakes, leaving the last one for the little marquis. Thus, he was able to preserve all nine (maybe seven or less) lives, for the moment.
“You’re too much, isn’t it just a piece of Cake?” Su Nuan Nuan stroked the utterly defeated cat tenderly. Though her eyes held no blame as she looked at the little marquis, who was currently (finally) eating his piece of Cake in a very satisfied manner.
“This cat ought to be taught some manners. Otherwise, he wouldn’t know the Horse Lord has three eyes” Duan Tingxuan sniffed, absolutely secure in his righteousness. “But, I say, Nuan Nuan. This cat is so much more talented than you, I have to spend quite the effort to catch him.”
“What is that supposed to mean? More talent in what?” Su Nuan Nuan was suspicious. Her husband sniggered, “More talent in martial arts, ah. This cat’s ability to dodge and run is nearly at par with the standard martial artist. So, please don’t say I haven’t been training you properly. It’s clear that you’re the one who lacks talent. Look, Chai Cai had even learned up to level five, as for yourself, you haven’t even reached level one… Aiya…”
The final cry was caused by Su Nuan Nuan suddenly throwing a peach at the still talking little marquis. Caught off guard, and seated on a rocking chair, the little marquis’ reaction had slowed down just enough that he was unable to doge the fruity missile.
[Gumihou: … wut… Duan Tingxuan, you never learn, do you?]
 Literally 馬王爺 or Horse Lord. Not sure of English name, possibly originated from Lord Shiva (Hinduism) and later assimilated into Buddhism culture. Lord Shiva and the Horse Lord looked really different though.
The original idiom is simply ‘The Horse Lord has three eyes’, meaning ‘If I don’t show them my greatness, I’ll be looked down’. Chinese idioms are so cool.
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Translated by Gumihou from kitchennovel dot com.
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