Chapter 59

Translator’s notes:

Final chapter of the week, and almost a third of the way through the novel!

*****

Manager Zhou brought the box back and it swiftly made its way to Second Madam Shen’s desk.

Actually, Luo Huai Yuan wasn’t asking for too much. He merely mentioned briefly the “come back if good secret recipe meat skewer” business model and philosophy. He asked for it to remain the same. Then he brought up the splitting of future profits.

Luo Huai Yuan was rather frank. He stated that since the Zhenguo Duke Estate was providing most of the effort in spreading the business, he naturally would be embarrassed if he took too much of the profits. For the sake of fairness, he wouldn’t insist on splitting it fifty-fifty. He would give up ten percent, and only take forty percent of the profits.

His tone sounded frank, but it was also a little shameless.

Manager Zhou had been prepared to discuss the agreement but the other side wasn’t willing to discuss with him. His attitude was astonishingly forthright. Since he stated he would “only take forty percent”, wouldn’t they be embarrassed if they refused?!

Second Madam Shen laughed in spite of herself.

At the same time, the Zhenguo Duke also learned about this matter.

This entire process proved that the other side had already made preparations and waited for him to come to the door.

This junior couldn’t be underestimated!

Although he was a little crafty, it truly made one unable to look down on him.

This won’t be mentioned for now.

For the sake of astonishing the little consort in one go, Luo Huai Yuan didn’t mention his business in his recent letters to Yan Yan.

Now that he had gotten some success, he naturally had to astound her and make her look up to him.

Along with superficially saying that business was going pretty well, he added a rather profound line: there was a “come back if good secret recipe meat skewers” stand down the street from the Weiyuan Marquis Estate. This was personally arranged by him so little sis Ah Yan could eat while it’s hot. This thing wasn’t like anything else, and wouldn’t be good if it was cold.

Apart from laughing in spite of herself, Yan Yan had Mei Xiang arrange someone to buy some.

Before long, hot and fragrant skewers were sent over.

Yan Mo’s eyes lit up at this novelty and he looked like he wanted a bite.

Yan Yan first tried one of them. The taste was very unique. If what they ate in the Zhenguo Duke Estate before was tasty, this was extremely delicious. Seeing her little brother also want some, she gave him two skewers and told him it was spicy. It wouldn’t be good for the stomach if he ate too much.

Yan Mo ate until his mouth was covered in grease. He wanted more but was afraid his big sis wouldn’t permit it. He could only continue to look pitifully at his sister.

Yan Yan was helpless and gave him another one while ordering Mei Xue to bring a bowl of sweetened pear water over.

She wasn’t being stingy in not letting her brother eat. It was because Ah Mo’s stomach had always been weak. Although his health had gotten better, he still needed to watch what he ate.

Yan Mo ate carefully and very slowly. After he was done, he no longer looked over. He held the porcelain bowl as he drank the pear water.

“Big sis, this is the barbecued skewer big bro Luo and big bro Qi came up with?”

Yan Yan nodded and wiped her mouth with her handkerchief. She gave the rest of the skewers for Mei Xiang to split amongst themselves.

The group of maids weren’t able to resist the fragrant smell and left the room to eat. They praised the taste while eating.

Yan Mo looked longingly when he heard them. “Sis—–”

Yan Yan sighed and stroked his head. “If your stomach doesn’t get upset today, I’ll buy some more for you tomorrow. But you can’t eat too much.”

“Ok.” Yan Mo was satisfied with this.

“Miss. This servant was the one who went to buy the skewers. When the peddler saw this servant, he asked if I belonged to the Weiyuan Marquis Estate’s third miss. When I answered yes, he didn’t accept any money. He said that the young master had ordered miss’s people doesn’t need to pay.” Yi Yun came in and said. She had gotten to eat one of the skewers earlier. After eating, the taste lingered and clawed at her heart.

“There was such a thing?”

This little fatty Luo always did the unexpected. But it felt very….satisfying.

“That’s right, that’s right.” Yi Yun continuously nodded.

Seeing her longing eyes and then seeing the group of maids peeking in from outside, Yan Yan laughed in spite of herself.

“Is it that tasty?”

It was so tasty that these usually steady maids all became unsteady.

The maids didn’t dare say it, but of the twenty skewers earlier, the miss had eaten around ten and the young master had eaten three. They had divided the rest amongst themselves, but it was at most one per person. Some didn’t even get any and could only watch them eat.

“Fine. Go send someone to buy some more. Mei Xiang, bring some silver for them. We can’t just not give money even if they say it’s not necessary.”

She paused and said to Yan Mo: “You can eat another skewer.” She then said to Yi Yun who was rushing off with the money: “I want five skewers. You can decide how much you want for the rest.”

Yan Mo looked at his fingers. Why could his sister eat five when he could only eat one?

Why?

Child, this question is a difficult one to answer.

***

The weather gradually turned cold. Matron Zou said it might snow soon, and it truly started snowing around midnight.

Looking outside the next day, everything was covered in a white layer.

Yan Yan awoke very early and didn’t delay her morning training due to the snow. After she finished her training, Yan Mo had gotten up as well. He was already properly dressed and came to the living room to eat breakfast with Yan Yan.

After eating, the two of them left.

Yan Yan wore a red buttoned jacket embroidered with butterflies and a tawny skirt embroidered with orchids. She wore a silver fox fur cloak on the outside. Yan Mo was dressed in a silver grey little jacket embroidered with ingot patterns. He wore a fur hat and looked extremely cute.

Yan Mo never went out in such weather in the past. Even when he did, he would be wrapped in a cloak and held by his wet nurse. Today, however, he walked by himself in the snow, holding Yan Yan’s hand.

The snow under his feet made crunching sounds.

Yan Mo’s little face was red from the cold, his eyes shining from excitement. He would let go of his sister’s hand every once in a while and run around stepping on the snow before running back. Matron Qin’s group who was following behind lost their voices in fear. He flashed everyone a mischievous smile.

“Fourth young master, be careful you don’t fall. The ground is slippery.”

“It’s fine. I’m wearing a lot.”

Seeing her usually introverted younger brother show a rare mischievous side, Yan Yan couldn’t bear to stop him. She could only keep an eye on him. If he accidentally fell, she could catch him.

Speaking of the devil.

Yan Mo’s foot accidentally slipped and he was about to fall. Matron Qin’s group’s startled cries had just sounded when a shadow streaked by. Yan Mo’s fall was halted.

When they refocused their eyes, they saw a whip wrapped around Yan Mo’s waist. Yan Yan looked sternly at him. “Even if you’re wearing a lot, it’ll still hurt if you fall.”

Yan Mo avoided the subject. “Big sis is getting better and better with the whip.”

Yan Yan was helpless and retracted her whip around her waist.

“Disobedient.” However, she couldn’t keep a stern face and revealed a smile.

Yan Mo also smiled and obediently held his sisters hand as they walked onwards.

The group arrived at the Jinse Pavilion. There were a few little maids sweeping the accumulated snow. Seeing the miss and the fourth master come over, the all stopped what they were doing and called out “morning, third miss and fourth master” while bowing.

During these days, the maids at the Jinse Pavilion had been switched out several times. They gradually realized the third miss wasn’t easy to provoke and was more obedient than rabbits in front of a tiger when they saw her. Especially with Fang Cao and Fang Cui as examples, even Shen Yi Yao’s personal maids didn’t dare to be rash.

As a matter of fact, several maids were waiting at the entrance. When they saw the third miss and the fourth young master, they called out their greetings in an intimate manner and helped raise the curtains for them.

“Why is the third miss so early today? The madam is already awake. The second miss arrived earlier than you and is speaking with the madam.”

This maids was called Cui Qiao. As her name implied, she was a clever person. She had just been assigned to Shen Yi Yao’s side and didn’t interact much with the Ningxiang Chambers. However, she was extremely warm whenever Yan Yan came over.

She merely welcomed them with a smile, and there wasn’t anything out of the ordinary. At most, she spoke a little more than necessary at times. For example, she wouldn’t have mentioned second miss Yan Qian normally. Since she brought it up, it was clear Yan Qian was up to something.

Yan Yan had already arrived early today, but Yan Qian was even earlier. How meaningful!

Yan Yan looked at Cui Qiao with praise and walked inside.

The moment she entered, she saw Yan Qian dressed in a yellow jacket crying towards Shen Yi Yao, who had a complicated expression. Yan Yan heard the tail end of her words—-

“…..the weather is cold and daughter is worried about her concubine mom. Her body has always been frail….”

Yan Qian was too engrossed in crying. Only when Yan Yan came in did she react. She gave Yan Yan a startled glance, her gaze a complicated mixture of resentment and timidity. She stopped speaking.

Shen Yi Yao’s expression became even more complicated when she saw Yan Yan walk in on this situation.

Yan Yan pretended not to have heard and stepped up to pay respects. Yan Mo did the same.

Shen Yi Yao saw Yan Yan’s indifferent attitude and could only pull Yan Mo over, asking him if he was cold. Yan Mo responded to all her questions with a bashful smile. His attitude didn’t seem any different, but there seemed to be a hint of distance.

Ever since Yan Mo moved out of the Jinse Pavilion, he wasn’t as reliant on her. Shen Yi Yao was a little disappointed.

It was still early so Concubine Wu and Yan Chan hadn’t arrived yet. Yan Hong lived in the Rongan Hall. The old madam couldn’t bear to see him make a pointless trip every day and used the excuse that a child needed more sleep to spare him from paying respects at the Jinse Pavilion.

The maids brought over some chairs. Yan Yan and Yan Mo took a seat.

Yan Yan sat with her head lowered and Yan Mo followed his sister’s silent example. Only Yan Qian still stood there, her expression a little awkward. She still had tears on her pale face.

Yan Qian really hated Yan Yan for coming at an inopportune moment, making it hard for her to keep speaking but also hard to not speak. Thinking of that person’s words, she gritted her teeth and knelt.

“Mother, I beg you to release my concubine mom. Daughter is afraid she cannot endure the cold of winter.”

Shen Yi Yao hurriedly glanced at Yan Yan, deeply afraid her daughter would lose her temper again. She looked at the kneeling Yan Qian and her emotions were a mess.

“Lass Qian, hurry and stand.”

“Mother, if you don’t release my concubine mother, I won’t get up…..”

Yan Yan didn’t want to say anything, but this was truly forcing her hand!

She stood up with a swish. “Yan Qian, are you trying to disgust people so bright and early? If I remember correctly, my mom is your principal mother. What are you crying about Concubine Pei at the Jinse Pavilion for? What’s wrong with Concubine Pei for you to make such a fuss? Is she sick or is she dead?”

Yan Qian didn’t expect Yan Yan’s words to be so malicious. “You—–”

“What? Who permitted you to be so gross this early in the morning? You won’t let others say anything? Who taught you to kneel and pressure the principal mother for the sake of a concubine mom?!”

“Yan Yan. Don’t you forget I’m your second sister.” Yan Qian said resentfully while tearing up from anger.

“Why don’t I remember having someone like you as a second sister? Aren’t you only related to Yan Hong? What? Now that Concubine Pei is locked up, you’re running over to the Jinse Pavilion to get adopted? Concubine Pei’s punishment was ordered by dad. If you want to beg, go beg him. Trying to kneel and pressure my mom due to her good nature? I’m impressed you could think of it.”

“You—–”

Yan Qian let out a wail and ran out crying.

As she ran out, she happened to run into Concubine Wu. Yan Qian didn’t stop. Concubine Wu let out an “aiya” and clutched her side. The fifth miss looked worriedly at her. “Concubine mom, are you ok?”

Concubine Wu’s face was a little pale. She smiled comfortingly, “It’s fine.”

Shen Yi Yao frowned and wanted to speak, but seeing her daughter appearing extremely distant, she wasn’t able to say anything. She could only order her maids to keep an eye out in case anything happened to the second miss. She then asked Concubine Wu in concern, “Lass Qian was too impetuous. Did she run into you?”

Concubine Wu shook her head. “What’s wrong with the second miss? Why was she crying so heavily?”

Shen Yi Yao sighed. “She came bright and early to beg me to release Concubine Pei. Yan Yan overheard and argued a little with her.”

“This second miss is too insensible.”

“Forget it, don’t mention it. Let’s go to the Rongan Hall in case we’re late.”

Shen Yi Yao put on her cloak and led the way out. Yan Yan and Yan Mo followed behind.

As they walked down the steps, Cui Qiao whispered by Yan Yan’s ear, “Concubine Wu had gotten here a while ago, and was standing in the hallway for a while.”

Yan Yan’s eyes flashed and she nodded slightly.

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