Chapter 192: Tremble, Scumbag 1
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“Before he even gets up, he’s the only one in the family who’s eating for free. He’s saying something about being a lucky star, but I think it’s just the ramblings of a fraud.”
“Sister-in-law, you should keep quiet. Don’t let mother hear you. You know she dotes on our youngest brother the most. We can’t compare to him, even if we combine all of us together. Even if he causes trouble, we’ll still bear the consequences as a family.”
Two women stood outside the house, using shrill and piercing voices to express their dislike towards the people inside.
Bai Lan sat quietly by the bed, seemingly unaffected by the outside noise. A chipped tea bowl was beside her, with a nearly clear medicinal soup inside. It had long lost its warmth.
The Jiang family was of average means. This time, their youngest son, Jiang Liu, had caused big trouble outside and was beaten with twenty canes by the steward of a wealthy family. The head of the Jiang family, Madam Jiang, was heartbroken and sought a doctor despite their financial difficulties. However, they could only afford two packs of medicine due to their limited resources. These dregs had already been boiled several times and had lost their medicinal properties.
Bai Lan had been sitting by the bed for a long time, and the medicinal soup had already gone cold. She looked at her weak husband with a hateful gaze. After a while, she picked up a soft pillow and was about to smother him. As long as he died, all future tragedies would be avoided.
However, just as she was about to suffocate him, Bai Lan suddenly stopped.
She gave a cold snort. Why should this man be able to die so easily and peacefully in his sleep, while she had suffered so much in her previous life? What about her poor children, Zhu Hua and Da Hu? They had also suffered so much.
Bai Lan had been reborn twice. In her past life, she had been the wife of the youngest son of the Jiang family and had given birth to a son and a daughter. Ultimately, her husband treated her and their children worse than the illegitimate children he had with his mistress.
Bai Lan hated her husband for his betrayal and herself for being too weak to protect her children. She let the Jiang family mistreat her and her children, allowing the widow and her illegitimate son to bully them. In the end, her daughter was sold into slavery while her son became a servant to the illegitimate brother, obediently doing his bidding and supporting his education and marriage.
Her family did not have a peaceful end, and when she was on her deathbed, she saw her husband and the widow together with their child, happy and harmonious. Due to this, Bai Lan’s resentment almost reached the heavens.
Initially, Bai Lan thought that after she died, she would go to the underworld and be able to complain to the judge of the netherworld about the sins of Jiang’s family and ask for justice for her and her children. However, she neither crossed the Naihe Bridge nor drank the Meng Po soup. Instead, she opened her eyes again and reincarnated into the body of another 28-year-old girl working as a maid in a Marquis mansion.
Even though Bai Lan was inexperienced, she understood that her life would be dangerous if anyone discovered her situation akin to ghost possession. Therefore, she concealed her identity and acted with caution. Fortunately, the girl she possessed had no family or close friends, and it was easy for Bai Lan to hide her true self. No one knew that the girl’s soul had already been replaced.
Bai Lan became a helper in a noble family’s kitchen in that life. The original family had suffered hardships, and in the process of fleeing, she was sold to a tooth woman and later ended up in the noble family’s household. Initially, she was a maid serving the young lady, but because she was clumsy, the young lady sent her to the kitchen to work as a helper.
The luxurious life of the noble family fascinated Bai Lan, who had grown up in the countryside and had never seen such an extravagant style before. A simple dish like Qie Xian (stir-fried eggplant) required more than ten chickens to be stewed to make the soup to go with it. In contrast, a dish like Zhengyu Chun (stewed fish lips) required dozens of large fish to be killed, and only the lips were taken, and a small amount of meat was used to make fish balls, and the rest was thrown away…
In Bai Lan’s mind, such food wastage was akin to inviting divine punishment.
During the time she spent in the girl’s body, Bai Lan had the most satisfying meals she had ever had in her life. The kitchen was rich in oil; even as a small helper, she could have a bowl of white rice with every meal. The mistress’s disdain for greasy chicken, duck, and goose meat meant she could taste some of it.
Being a capable maid to the young lady or climbing into the bed of the master and young master to be a concubine could guarantee her status to soar into the sky. However, Bai Lan did not have such big ambitions. Being able to stay in the kitchen peacefully was immensely satisfying for her. In that life, apart from patiently and sincerely learning the skills of the kitchen masters, she spent the rest of her time thinking of her children and regretting her past weakness.
In addition, in the Marquis Mansion, where there was much scheming and manoeuvring, Bai Lan also learned skills other than cooking, such as manipulation and acting… These were things that Bai Lan had not known before but were small tactics that any woman in the Marquis Mansion’s backyard could use.
She was like a transparent person, quietly curled up in a corner, observing everyone around her with her eyes, learning the abilities of each and every person.
Unfortunately, Bai Lan still did not have a good ending in that world. The second family’s concubine drank a bowl of bird’s nest soup from the kitchen and miscarried, but the mastermind behind it could not be punished. As a result, the kitchen staff suffered from this calamity. The angry second master took it out on the servants, and Bai Lan was unlucky. The bird’s nest porridge was cooked by a maid who shared the same room with her. The maid’s mother was the gatekeeper of the second family and had some connections in the Marquis’s mansion.
Since she is a lonely person without many friends in the Marquis Mansion, Bai Lan is naturally accused of making the soup and is punished as the culprit. The second master did not care about the truth. He just wanted to vent his anger. Therefore, Bai Lan did not have time to explain and was beaten to death with a hundred strikes.
Bai Lan thought she was going to hell, missing her children and longing for revenge and justice. But unexpectedly, when she opened her eyes again, she was back in her body. At this time, her husband had not yet taken up the widow outside, her son Jiang Dahu was already two years old, and her daughter should have also been in her womb.
Bai Lan speculated that it was probably because God had taken pity on her and knew of her grievances, so he sent her back to seek revenge.
She took a deep breath and looked at the handsome man on the bed, who still had a charming face even after being in a coma for several days. In her past life, she was deeply in love with him because of this face, but it was also because of this face that the widow had an illicit affair with him.
Although she didn’t want Jiang Liu to die easily, Bai Lan became even angrier as she looked at his face.
She decisively threw the pillow aside and slapped his face hard.
It was at this moment that Jiang Liu woke up.
His cheeks were hot, and he was utterly stunned. For a while, his head buzzed, and it took him some time to come to his senses and look at the woman who had just slapped him.
He had been slapped!
He had been slapped by the woman who was supposed to be a softie, according to the original memories!
Jiang Liu felt that there must be something wrong with the memories left by his original self.
“My, my husband, I saw a mosquito on your face. I, I didn’t use any force,” Bai Lan stammered.
Bai Lan did not expect Jiang Liu to wake up at this moment. In her memory, Jiang Liu had been in a coma for a long time in their past life. As a result, their mother-in-law had to call in a doctor again, and the family’s resources were depleted entirely. Her eldest and second sister-in-law were unwilling to support the third family endlessly. Eventually, the eldest sister-in-law, Xu Xiaocao, stood up and demanded a separation, leading to a complete break from the third family.
Therefore, Bai Lan had a profound impression of this memory in her mind. According to her memory, Jiang Liu would not wake up until two days later. If she had known he would wake up now, she should have slapped him a few more times earlier instead of doing it now and getting caught red-handed.
However, Bai Lan was not afraid. She learned a few tricks in the Marquis’s mansion from a rough old servant who loved to drink. This kind of aristocratic mansion had many ways to torture people, such as using a cane to hit people in a way that would leave no external wounds but shatter the internal muscles; or hitting people in a way that looked terrible on the outside but left only shallow wounds inside. These were all skills that required practice.
Of course, Bai Lan could not learn such advanced skills. It required hitting thousands of blocks of tofu covered in cloth to perfect the technique. But she did learn a little trick from those rough old servants on slapping someone without leaving a mark.
After all, her husband was her mother-in-law’s beloved son, and now that he was lying on the bed, her mother-in-law usually visited him several times a day. Bai Lan feared being discovered by her mother-in-law, so she used such a clever trick.
Now Jiang Liu only felt a burning sensation on his face, but there was not even a finger mark on the surface, making it incredibly smooth.
Facing such a face, who dares to say that she used force when swatting mosquitoes?
Bai Lan clenched her fists, lowered her head and hunched her shoulders, looking extremely fearful and timid. Her voice was buzzing, not much louder than the buzzing of mosquitoes.
This image was exactly the same as the wife of the original body in his memory.
Having been lying down for several days, this body had not drunk much water during these days. Jiang Liu only felt dry and thirsty when he woke up now. His throat was extremely rough when he spoke.
He didn’t care about being slapped in the face just now and went straight to ask for water.
“My husband, I’ll get some water for you.”
Bai Lan’s eyes flickered slightly. This man was a difficult person to deal with. He was notoriously rude and difficult to please. She had prepared herself to be scolded or even beaten by him, but he just asked for a bowl of water.
Was he confused from sleeping too long? Jiang Liu had been lying in bed for three or four days and might still not be fully awake. Therefore, Bai Lan didn’t delve too much into it.
She got up, poured the tea, and prepared to tell her mother-in-law about the news of Jiang Liu waking up.
“My lucky, lucky star, you finally woke up. You’ve made your mother worry these days.”
[T/N: Jiang Liu’s mother addressed him as Fusheng, roughly translated as blessing/fortune]
Jiang Miaoshi, the old lady of the Jiang family, was in good health. The slightly small and thin old lady ran into her son’s room like a gust of wind and hugged her precious son tightly.
“You little troublemaker, don’t scare your mother like this again in the future.”
Tears streamed down the old lady’s face. She was both sad and happy to see her son wake up yet suffer such a great ordeal. She hoped that her precious son would remember his lesson after this disaster and stop causing trouble.
“Mom, it’s not just me saying this, but lao san (T/N – old third – referring to Jiang Liu) should also manage himself properly.”
Xu Xiaocao and Liu Cui, the eldest and second daughter-in-law, followed Bai Lan into the room. They saw the old lady hugging her son, who had already become a father, and cooing at him like a child. They raised their eyebrows disdainfully, their faces full of sarcasm and jealousy.
Why is it always the sons who get favoured? And why is it that this most useless Jiang Liu becomes the old lady’s favourite?
Jiang Miaoshi heard the dissatisfaction in the words of her eldest daughter-in-law, but she had been biased for more than twenty years. She could not change her mind even if she knew this son was useless. Moreover, Jiang Miaoshi had always felt that her favouritism was justified.
Jiang Miaoshi’s mother-in-law was challenging to get along with. When Jiang Miaoshi had just married into the Jiang family, she was tortured by the widowed mother-in-law. When her eldest son, Jiang Hai, was born, the mother-in-law always held him. During the day, Jiang Miaoshi worked in the fields with her husband while the mother-in-law whispered in Jiang Hai’s ear, saying that his mother was no good, causing him to distance himself from his biological mother.
When she gave birth to her second child, a natural disaster struck, and the harvest in the fields was poor. To ensure she had enough food to produce milk, Jiang Desan, her husband, ventured into the mountains. However, it rained heavily that night, and Jiang Desan accidentally fell down the hill, breaking one of his legs.
At that time, the mother-in-law said this second grandson was a disaster. Since his birth, there had been one problem after another in the family. Jiang Miaoshi also couldn’t help but listen to her mother-in-law’s words and held a grudge against this second son.
But things were different when the third son was born. The head mother-in-law had passed away, and Jiang Miaoshi finally became the woman who could make decisions in the Jiang family. That year, the Jiang family had many happy events. Firstly, the pig they raised at home gave birth to 14 piglets at once. Then, the new emperor ascended the throne and granted a six-month tax exemption. The weather was also good that year, and the crops in the fields were harvested abundantly. The family also repaid the old debt they had owed to help Jiang Desan treat his leg.
Moreover, it was coincidental that an old Taoist passed by the Jiang family’s door on the night of Jiang’s full moon and asked for water. When the old Taoist saw Jiang’s face, he said that he would have a prosperous life, not worry about food or drink and that his wealth would be abundant.
After Jiang Desan passed away, Jiang Miaoshi became the decision-maker in the family. Whenever there was something good, it was always given to the youngest son; even the eldest son and grandson had to wait their turn.
Because of Jiang Miaoshi’s indulgence, her youngest son, born in the countryside, grew up arrogant and selfish. Except for Jiang Miaoshi, no one in the village liked him.
Now Jiang Liu is already 22 years old. When it’s time to work, he’s nowhere to be found. However, when it’s time to eat, he’s the first to run back home. There no trace of wealth could be seen on him. Jiang Miaoshi realized that she had raised this child poorly, but she had already indulged him for many years, and it had become a habit. To make up for her mistake, she deliberately arranged for her son to marry a kind and hardworking daughter-in-law, hoping that after she died, her son would at least have someone to rely on.
Now it seems she has made another mistake because her daughter-in-law is too capable, and her temper is too weak to control Jiang Liu, making him even more idle.
“What’s wrong with my third child? He’s your brother. He’s suffered so much this time, but you blame him instead of feeling sorry for him. Is this the attitude that a brother and sister-in-law should have?”
Jiang Miaoshi glared at her eldest daughter-in-law. She knew she had spoiled this son but wouldn’t allow her daughter-in-law to look down on her precious baby.
“Just spoil him, Mother.”
Xu Xiaocao sneered. Her husband was already unhappy with spending money on Jiang Liu’s medical treatment. If it weren’t for the fact that his mother was still alive and there was a saying in the village that the family couldn’t be split, they would have asked for a separation long ago.
But rules are made by people. Although the elders in the village didn’t allow splitting the family, there have been cases where siblings split after the mother passed away.
If it comes to that, she would rather lose face and separate from the drag-along Jiang third family.
Xu Xiaocao saw that Jiang Liu had recovered well and had lost interest in watching the show. She snorted, twisted her waist and left. Liu Cui, who was a fence-sitter, glanced at her sister-in-law and then at her mother-in-law and pretended to be a wooden person on the side.
Xu Xiaocao’s attitude represented her husband’s attitude. Jiang Miaoshi felt that her eldest son was not close to her and he was unreliable. She will have to rely on her youngest son when she grows old. Although he has become more arrogant, he respects her, his mother.
Now the first and second families are becoming more and more restless. Jiang Miaoshi felt that she should plan more for her youngest son. Even if they split the family in the future, she wouldn’t let her youngest son suffer.
“My blessed baby, rest well. I won’t disturb you anymore.”
As the baby boy recovered from his serious illness, his mother, Jiang Miaoshi, could see the fatigue in his eyes and didn’t want to bother him anymore. She signalled to her second daughter-in-law and youngest daughter-in-law, who was standing nearby, to quickly come out and not disturb her precious son’s rest.
“Lan’er, please make a bowl of porridge for my lucky star. He just woke up and needs something easy to digest.”
Jiang Miaoshi took Bai Lan to her room and pulled out a key to open her cupboard. Jiang Miaoshi distributed everything in the Jiang family, as she was afraid that her daughters-in-law and grandsons would steal food. Rice and other things were locked in the cupboard, and every time they cooked, Jiang Miaoshi would take out a portion of rice and other ingredients according to the number of people eating that day. The amount of food for each person was fixed, thanks to Jiang Miaoshi’s careful budgeting. The family had saved some money over the years, but unfortunately, it was mainly depleted due to Jiang Liu’s serious illness.
Getting medical treatment has always been expensive, regardless of which era. The prescription given by the doctor to Jiang Liu required ginseng, which was costly. Fortunately, Jiang Liu had woken up, and Jiang Miaoshi could breathe a sigh of relief.
“Never mind, make more and make it thicker.”
Jiang Miaoshi had a small rice scoop that could hold two Liang of rice (around 100g), and she scooped out almost half a scoop of rice. Because she pitied her son, she reluctantly added another handful of rice to the scoop and handed it to Bai Lan.
“Don’t steal and eat this. It’s for your husband’s health.”
Jiang Miaoshi reminded her daughter-in-law, even though she knew that this honest daughter-in-law would never steal her husband’s porridge.
Bai Lan obediently replied.
She had been back for several days, and they only had watery rice soup that barely cast a shadow every day. She could endure it, but her husband and the baby in her belly could not.
She was not so foolish now to let Jiang Liu benefit at the expense of herself and her children.
“Hmph, why is she favouring him again!”
Xu Xiaocao saw Bai Lan carrying the rice scoop into the kitchen through the window and guessed that the old lady had opened the cupboard and given her rice.
The old woman was so biased. Although her husband and second son worked in the fields, the one who enjoyed the most at home was the third son, Jiang Liu. Moreover, Jiang Liu was not a peaceful person, and this time he caused big trouble outside, causing the family to spend a lot of money to save him. Xu Xiaocao didn’t know how much money the old lady had, but she knew that if things continued like this, Jiang Liu would eventually empty the good things in the old lady’s hands.
Xu Xiaocao angrily pulled at her clothes, and the idea of splitting the family became stronger and stronger.
The burning firewood made a lot of pops and crackles. Along with the smell of burning wood, the sweet aroma of rice porridge filled the kitchen.
Bai Lan’s stomach couldn’t help but grumble. A skinny young child ran into the kitchen and tightly wrapped their arms around her leg as she was ready to raise the lid to check on the porridge.
Jiang Dahu sobbed bitter tears. He was back, and this time he would not let his mother suffer ever again.
T/N: This chapter is too long, OTL… we are finally down to the last three arcs~
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