Chapter 162: A Daring Frame Up

 

Translated by Gumihou

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“Hold on, I think you must have misunderstood something.” Su Nuan Nuan sighed exasperatedly. “When Chuan’er came to Spring Breeze Court. I wasn’t even there, that half a bowl of Snow Cream was not given to him by me. Nobody actually wish for such a thing to happen, it really was an unfortunate accident.”

“You lie!” Concubine Jiang’s voice was shrill, her face red with anger

Su Nuan Nuan looked about helplessly and finally settled her gaze on Duan Maochuan. In a gentle voice, she said, “Chuan’er, tell your mother, just how did you got hold of that half a bowl of Snow Cream?”

Duan Maochuan lowered his head and refused to speak. When Su Nuan Nuan prompted him again, the little child began to cry, but still said nothing. A sudden, terrible suspicion occurred to her: But of course, the must be a reason why Concubine Jiang would to dare come and accuse her in front of all these witnesses. She must have known what really happened, and yet she’s still here. Clearly, for the sake of harming Su Nuan Nuan, she must have convinced Chuan’er to lie.

What did such a small child know, after all?

When forced by his own mother to lie, he would have complied regardless of the reason. When Concubine Jiang charged into old madam’s room to kick up a fuss, she must have steeled her heart to harm Su Nuan Nuan to death.

Sure enough, when Concubine Jiang commanded Duan Maochuan to speak, the little guy sobbed out, “I… first madam gave me a h-half a bowl of Snow Cream… wu wu wu… I g-go home after eating and, and my stomach hurts… wu wu wu…”

“Impossible, our Missy was at Mei Yue Lou at that time, she did not even know when Little Master Chuan arrived at Spring Breeze Court. We only saw him when we got back.” Hong Lian felt anxious as she glared at Duan Maochuan with anger and detest in her eyes, “Little Master Chuan, you had better ‘pat your conscience and speak’[1] again. Just how did that Snow Cream ended up in your stomach?”

“I…” Duan Maochuan drooped even further and looked away from Hong Lian. His whole body shaking as he stubbornly repeated, “F-first mother… it’s first mother who gave me Snow Cream.”

“Well, first madam. Do you have anything else to say? Chuan’er is only four years old. Would a four year old child lie?” Concubine Jiang could finally ‘Tuck her heart into her stomach[2]’ as she glared triumphantly at Su Nuan Nuan. As long as Chuan’er continue to say this,‘The board will be firmly nailed up [3].’

“You slanderer. Our madam never even saw Little Master Chuan inside her house that day.” Hong Lian was getting more anxious. Concubine Jiang merely sneered. “You Spring Breeze Court people will naturally protect first madam. In fact, not just Spring Breeze Court, but who in this whole mansion won’t side with first madam? I am but a lowly concubine. My life and death is in first madam’s hands. I have no complaints if madam wishes to harm just me. However, you made the mistake of targeting my Chuan’er. This, I cannot tolerate. Even if I have to die without a corpse I will have justice for Chuan’er.”

“So, in order to do me harm, you have taught Chuan’er to lie? Have you ever considered what kind of lesson you’re instilling in him? As a mother, is this how you’re teaching him?” Su Nuan Nuan did not refute her accusations. She merely looked steadily at Concubine Jiang as she asked her questions. She really had no idea what kind of feelings she should have when looking at this woman. There was pity, of course; and disdain as well as pain. More than that, however, was anger. Anger that, for the sake of condemning others she would force her own child to tell lies. Did this stupid woman even know what kind of psychological impact it this would have on a four year old child?

“First madam may save her crocodile tears. How this concubine teaches her son is her business.” Concubine Jiang was slightly shaken by Su Nuan Nuan’s steady stare. She was suddenly reminded of her own mother’s fate, but then there was no going back now. She could only force her way forward. She could not lose heart at this junction, not only would she bring harm down herself. More importantly, her son’s future would be finished.

“Concubine’s word is not quite right.”

A clear, calm voice sounded, and all eyes swivelled over to see Concubine Jiang slowly rise from her seat. In a solemn voice, she said, “ Though Chuan’er is born from you, he is legally first madam’s mother. Because first madam is his di mother, and he’s her son. If madam wishes to, she has the right to take him in and raise him. Therefore, how could you say that the child’s education is your business?”

This was perfectly true. The customs of large residences had always been this way. However, because Su Meng Nuan had been a violent, malicious person, Duan Tingxuan would never have dared to let her take in the sons of Xu Ran Yun, Xue Zhi Lan or even Concubine Jiang. It was a common sense of the era, but hadn’t been really practised within the An Ping household. Now that Concubine Jiang had given voice to it, the faces of both Xu Ran Yun and Xue Zhi Lan changed. Concubine Jiang flushed red down her neck and said nothing.

Concubine Jing walked towards where Concubine Jiang was kneeling and stood beside her. She addressed Old Madam Fang, “Old madam, this concubine knows that the words of lowly people counts for little. By right, this one has no right to speak. However, Concubine Jiang’s menacing behaviour, convinced that madam wish to harm them only on Chuan’er’s word, grates against this concubine’s sense of fairness. If this was in the past, this concubine would not have dared to say anything. But ever since first madam came back from Mei Yue Lou, how she conducts herself and treats others everyone should know. Leaving everything else aside, how many people’s lives have been saved at the Pushan Temple? If she really is someone who would harm a child, why would she put herself in danger to save second young miss? This one begs old madam to investigate clearly.”

Concubine Jing’s words were vaguely spoken, but everyone clearly heard her true meaning: I have no standing to speak out, but since none of you would speak for first madam, I have no choice but to stand out.

For a moment, both Xu Ran Yun and Xue Zhi Lan lowered their heads. Hatred brewing in their hearts. Shi Yurou was also battling between rage and hesitation: Because she had just been ‘cheated’ out of 3,000 teals, she had decided to stand aside and enjoy herself as this ‘vicious woman’ was prosecuted in front of her.

However, when Concubine Jing spoke up, a flash of understanding shot through her: Prosecuting Su Nuan Nuan cannot be this easy. Therefore, should she speak up? Though she and her husband had already discussed their course of actions , but… she really couldn’t bring herself to do it, ah. She had just been figuratively beaten black and blue by this woman, and you still want me to testify for her? This has gone beyond ‘Sticking a hot face to up a cold butt’, it’s ‘Sticking a hot face up a cold and thorny butt’. Aside from the cold, my poor face is also scratched to bits by thorns. Wuwuwu…

Duan Xinqi also stood up. The young miss was now more courageous than before and wished to speak up for Su Nuan Nuan earlier, but was desperately blocked Concubine Lin. Now that Concubine Jing had spoken out, she immediately stood up, pulling away from her mother’s weakened grip. She stepped up to Concubine Jiang and said, “I understand that you are worried for Chuan’er, but why would sister-in-law harm him? If she really wants to harm anyone, surely Ming’er, Fan’er or Sen’er would have been a better target compared to Chuan’er? Don’t you think it’s ridiculous to attack Chuan’er but leave the other boys alone?”

This was also vague spoken, but everyone understood the meaning behind it. Duan Maoming was Xu Ran Yun’s son, whereas Duan Maofan and Duan Maosen were Xue Zhi Lan’s. anyone of them were higher in terms of social status to Duan Maochuan. When it came to hatred, Su Meng Nuan’s abhorrence against these two were greater compared to Concubine Jiang. As for threats, the other three children had higher statuses than a concubine’s son. In short, it was ridiculous to imagine that one would put in effort to harm Duan Maochuan.

However, Concubine Jiang had already anticipated this question and was fully prepared with her answers. With a sneering laugh, she said, “Young miss’ brain must be lacking. If that shrew dares to harm either Ming’er, Fan’er or Sen’er, who in this room would let her get away with it? It’s because our status is the lowest that she decides to pick us off first. Once her plan succeeds, she can confidently kill off the rest on a later date. After all, even if she is exposed, we’re barely above slaves, so how could we even hope to shake first madam’s position? Who doesn’t know that first madam is the apple of the lord and old madam’s eyes?”

“You… just how does your brain come up with this ridiculous conspiracies?” Duan Xinqi stared at her with wide eyes.

Madam Yang finally couldn’t take it anymore, she stood up and scolded, “Disgraceful! Muddle headed! You… you’ve really gone crazy… someone, come and drag this woman out…”

She hadn’t finished speaking when Concubine Jiang slammed her head to the floor so hard that blood began to flow. As blood snaked down her dainty face, the impact was even more savage. Even the senior madams were shocked by this terrible sight. They had lived in the inner court for so many years, but this kind of savagery was the first for them.

“This lowly concubine came here with no thought for her life or death. If the madams wish to take my life for disrespecting the first madam, this one has no objection. Only, only, this one begs old madam and elder madam to protect my son. Though he is a shu son, he is still the lord’s flesh and blood, ah. At the very least, I beg madams to protect him until he has an opportunity to grow up, ah.”

As Concubine wailed, a stern voice interrupted her, “Since the boy is my son, I will definitely love and protect him, and let him grow up well. As for you? Look at you, howling and fussing in front of old madam to persecute the innocent. Have you forgotten the rules of An Ping house?”

Concubine Jiang trembled. She turned, and there was Duan Tingxuan striding in unhurriedly. The normally calm and smiling expression replaced by steel. He was clearly infuriated by Concubine Jiang’s huge performance today.

“Grandmother, this grandson of yours is poor at keeping his inner court in order, allowing this woman to bother your peace. This grandson is in the wrong, I will take her back and sternly discipline her.” Duan Tingxuan came forward to stand before Old Madam Fang. His expression was very warm and earnest as he gave his salutation. However, when he turned towards Concubine Jiang, his eyes suddenly became fierce. He was about to say something when Duan Maochuan suddenly rushed forward and put himself in front of Duan Tingxuan, his little arms spread out as if to chield Concubine Jiang. He cried loudly, “Don’t beat concubine mother… wu wu wu, father, please don’t beat concubine mother… don’t beat her to death, ah…”

Veins popped out on Duan Tingxuan’s forehead: His good little son, this straightforward and lively little fellow was not particularly clever, but has a good heart. For him to act like this, just what nonsense had his mother put into his head? Who said anything about beating her? And what’s all this talk about killing her? If a small child is exposed to this sort of evilness this early, what kind of adult would he turned into?

At that moment, Duan Tingxuan who had never raised a hand against a woman seriously wanted to grab Concubine Jiang by the neck and give her a few slaps. He sighed, and swept a gaze over his many wives and concubines before settling on Hong Lian.

Decision made, he said to her, “You, take Chuan’er away.”

 

 

[Gumihou: Some people… I swear… ]

 

 

[1] Pat your conscience and speak – Because apparently the conscience is something we can pat, lol

[2] Tuck her heart into her stomach – when something is ‘settled’, you can tuck it away safely (in your stomach) lol

[3] The board is firmly nailed up – That clinches it; The clincher; The closest English idiom is probably ‘The nail in the coffin’

 

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Translated by Gumihou from kitchennovel dot com.

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