The Feast

Chapter 13

> > The Feast – Chapter 13 Greed

Chapter 13: Greed

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By now, Duan Tingxuan himself had realised that going over the matter again will bring no benefit to himself or his proud, dignified image as a prince. After all, it's just food, And eating. And eating food. Thinking too deeply about this topic would just waste his energy. Only, he knew that from the look of his wife's eye that meal-time will be a battleground with her, he must fight hard for the right to eat delicious food.

At this moment, Su Nuan Nuan was entertaining some really evil options, she really did not want to let that rascal eat the breakfast she had laboured over so much. However, the rascal was too clever and had realised the trick of bargaining for food with raw ingredients. For the sake of fresh ingredients, she may have to tolerate the anger in her belly a bit longer. It felt like she had swallowed a knife when she pressed that anger down, but for the sake of delicious food, she could swallow ten more such knives.

Duan Tingxuan's expected epic confrontation never came. All the way up to the time when he sat down, when he picked up a stick of You Tiao and took the first bite, felt the soft, fragrant, chewy sensation flood his mouth, when he swallowed, Duan Tingxuan kept his guard up. He could still remember that unexpected flying kick from that time he ate her large dumplings.

One fried bread stick down, Duan Tingxuan flexed his muscles and tensed up his limbs. Giving Su Nuan Nuan a neutral look, he said serenely, "If you're waiting until my guard is down before attacking me, I suggest you drop that kind of thinking immediately."

Su Nuan Nuan was a little surprised, it took her a while to realize what he was talking about. When she finally got it, she sneered. "You're overthinking things. Surely you don't expect me to get into a fight with you over soy milk and fried bread? If you die, I'll be buried alive next to you, it's just not worth it."

Although this did not go in line with his imagined breakfast scene, Duan Tingxuan was not angry, he was actually feeling very lucky. Immediately however, he felt upset about his lack of negative feelings. When did this prince become like this? Isn't this just a simple meal? What's so great about food? Fine, fine, for the common people food is liken unto the heavens, food is actually very sacred and precious, he is part of the people, and therefore there's nothing embarra.s.sing about wanting food.

This prince unknowingly learnt, in a very short time, the ways of Ah Q** as he comforted himself with this logic to explain his obsession, otherwise he would have been even more bitter about it. In short, he felt very fortunate as he ate at this bountiful table of delicious food. His good mood seemed endless as he swallowed two You Ping at once, and found himself falling in love with the taste.

Perhaps, his palace kitchen could also produce these snacks, then he would not have to come here and endure her cold face.

As he strolled out of Mei Yue Lou, Duan Tingxuan was busily making plans in his heart for his next attack. He could not resist a final look at the place, but did not see Su Nuan Nuan or her two maids. He felt pained at being neglected by these people and vow to never step inside Mei Yue Lou again. Let those three horrible women starve!

However, that bud of thought withered very quickly when he thought about that Chinese toon with salted meat dish mentioned by that hateful woman.

Actually, regarding Su Nuan Nuan's lack of temper before the prince, Hong Lian and Xiang Yun were both very surprised too. Naturally, they know that this was probably due to the offering of beans brought by the prince. However could mere beans really sooth Big Madam's terrible hatred against their master, a hate that was like the curse of ten thousand knives, to simply vanish? This matter really made them nervous about what's going to happen next.

In the face of these two maids of hers, Su Nuan Nuan sadly lowered her head, wiped her eyes and said in a very depressed tone, "People who live in in the edges of life, though our hearts are as lofty as the heavens, our lives are thin as papers, aih! Even if we do not wish to, we must accept our fate."

"Big Madam…"

Hong Lian and Xiang Yun were shocked by Big Madam's behaviour, but soon they saw her lift her head up, smacked the table and announced. "Since this rascal is determined to eat here and I don't have an excuse to drive him away. Also, our martial strengths are almost at par, so a physical fight would not benefit us. Therefore, for the sake of long-term benefit, I must suffer in silence. For now."

Hong Lian and Xian Yun's heads are full of black lines. An Dao's Big Madam, ah, you should stop gilding your face with gold, what 'our martial strengths are almost at par'? With the master's true strength, just one little finger is enough to destroy you.

Of course, these were words they could never say for fear of provoking Big Madam, otherwise, she might just become enthusiastic and challenge the master into a fight to prove their strength…the two maids tried to imagine the scene with their minds, and found the imagined battle so exquisite that they were afraid to look too directly at it.

Su Nuan Nuan was not bothered by the two maid's epic internal battle with their imagination, instead she had taken up a brush and was busy putting things in order, all the while muttering under her breath. "Hm, that rascal will definitely come again, will just have to make a list for him, let's see, what else do we need for the kitchen? Pork is all gone, must get him to bring us a whole leg or something, and at least ten jin (half kg) of streaky pork, with the skin on. Hm, asking for a rack of ribs won't be too excessive, right? How about large bones for soups? The best soups are made from large bones…"

Hong Lian and Xiang Yun both felt like they had been struck by lightning. They stood behind their mistress, stunned. Though they were both loyal to their mistress, seeing that piece of paper being filled up with neat tiny words, they felt that the level of greed in their mistress was just asking for the heavens to punish her. Mistress, are you asking the master to empty out the palace kitchen?

As they were pondering this, Su Nuan Nuan suddenly lifted her head to look at them and said. "Oh, yes, I almost forgot. Those beans and rice your master brought in, it looks like they're from a hamlet or something, so should be from last year's crops. The rain had been quite relentless the past few weeks, who knows whether the damp has gotten into the goods. Since the sun has been shining these past two days, let's spread it out to dry, hmm, put in in front of the courtyard entrance. That's where the best sunlight is."

The courtyard entrance has the best sunlight?

The two maids could only exchange helpless looks, Big Madam sure was full of obscure knowledge. At least, neither of them had noticed anything special about the sunlight near the entrance. However, Big Madam has spoken, as maids, it is their job to obey. Thus, the two of them wordlessly left to carry out the order.

While Su Nuan Nuan was busy doing her best to squeeze out even more ingredients from Duan Tingxuan to put onto her increasingly crowded paper, thereby exposing her gluttonous nature that could only be compared to a snake spirit trying to swallow the world, a perfectly happy Duan Tingxuan with a stomach stuffed full of You Tiao, You Ping, and soy milk, was feeling very smug as he returned to his study. Because there's no official business at the imperial palace today, he paid a casual visit to Madam Yang's courtyard, greeted his mother properly and began to chat with her.

Madam Yang smiled. "What made you get up so early today? Even your two wives haven't greeted me yet."

Duan Tingxuan smiled. "I wake up this early every day, even though the court is closed today I can't bear to sleep in, so I thought I'd take this chance to chat with you."

Madam Yang smiled. "I have your wives to keep me company, so you don't have to drag yourself here. If you wish to show filial piety, do so before your father. My child, you are very gifted, otherwise, the emperor would not shown his favour on you. However, you are too stubborn. You have a younger brother who's good at schemes and acts the filial son well before your father. Sooner or later your father's heart will feel that you are too proud and looked down on others. Even though you are the heir, your father favours your brother and may look for ways to make him the heir instead. Don't think that this is an impossible matter."


** Ah Q is a character from a book called The True Story of Ah Q, published in 1921

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