TL’ed by snowflake_obsidian
 冷面 can be translated as cold noodles or cold (emotionless) face.
 This can be understood in several ways, one concubine among many, the role of being a concubine whose identity is associated more with a chamber or house (emphasis is on her function and not her as a person), or the more positive understanding of a concubine who is an unofficial wife.
 奴婢; Nubi refers to being a slave or servant.
 公子; Gongzi, son of a feudal prince or high official
 Shi; here refers to the clan name of the aunt and is also a reminder that she is one of Su Tang’s kinsfolk.
 说曹操，曹操就到 ; Speak of Cáo Cāo and Cáo Cāo appears/arrives. Cáo Cāo is the main villain in the book Romance of the Three Kingdoms and is also a historical person. He seems to be viewed as much more treacherous than Machiavelli. Uttering Cao’s name is the equivalent of saying F**k!
 女流; a derogatory term for women, womenfolk. Given the context, I also considered using witch or chick.
 crimson person or big red person; there is a traditional idea that people who have a ruddy or rosy appearance have especially good fortune, the rosier the better.
 The idea is that the ML and the emperor were frequently together, probably during their younger years.
 8 characters; These are in four pairs indicating the year, month, day, and hour of a person’s birth. 八字 are used in fortune telling.
 Shu status; born from a concubine and not the official wife.
 Di status; born from the official wife
Chapter 2: Unwilling to Marry Cold Noodles 
“What? Someone wants to act as a matchmaker!” Su Tang stopped and moved (aside) the abacus. Finding it hard to believe, she looked towards Xi Que the servant girl.
Xi Que was a 14-15-year-old young housemaid who had been with Su Tang for three years now, and knew the latter’s unhappy peach flower history inside and out. She therefore watched Su Tang’s stunned appearance and didn’t find it strange. What’s more, Xi Que felt this matter was excessively odd too, but didn’t reveal it. “Yes, in the house right now discussing the matter.”
Su Tang still felt this was absurd. She was already 20 years old, a downright old maid. Those annoying matter of hers had early on given rise to much discussion. Her situation was well known to the people in every household, spread around to become ridiculed. Furthermore, the last year after that persons unexpected death before the prenuptials, her legend again grew to having a reputation of being fated to mourn for her husband. Early on those respectable families didn’t dare to marry her. The gongzi’s of those families with limited means and without connections, whom lacked sympathy and perspective, also alienated her. Now to ones’ surprise there is still someone dropping in to propose a marriage alliance…. they will not invite her to marry a widower or be a concubine , right?
Thinking about this, Su Tang raised her pretty eyebrows and asked, “Which family is this?”
Xi Que replied, “Nubi  on the side just heard probably, seems it’s a gongzi  from the capital…oh, that’s right, it’s elderly father Zhangs’ arrangement”.
“Elderly father Zhang?” Thinking about that good friend of her fathers, Su Tang was filled with anger. “That elderly father retired due to old age and returned his native place, unhealthily idle. Whole hearted wanting to be a matchmaker, impossible?! The first introduction to his grandson had the outcome that the person had long ago privately pledged himself to forever be with a girl. The second introduction he made for me, the result was that the marriage was backed off for the sake of an entertainer that the fellow ran off with! He still wants to introduce me to someone for a third time?! What sort of husband?!”
Xi Que saw that she was furious and hurriedly said “Miss, calm down. Elderly father Zhang means well, perhaps this reply…”
“Perhaps this reply my ass!” Su Tang slapped the table once. The writing brush on top of the ink-stone tumbled and made a sweeping black half circle mark on the table. Seeing this Su Tang was increasingly agitated, grabbed a cleaning rag and carelessly rubbed. After rubbing for a while she threw it aside. “This won’t do. I have to go back! I won’t marry in this lifetime. They want to as early as possible get me to admit failure, avoid each and every wave of pressing business! They’re not obliged to be inconvenienced, but I am!”
Speaking to the point, Su Tang again and again urged the store clerks to keep an eye on the shop. After that she locked the cabinet, took the key and left her pastry store records.
All the seats in the Su household great hall was packed with people. Other than elderly father Zhang, everyone else was a Su family member.
Su Tang looked at them. Each and every one were all smiles. Her tightly knitted brows knitted more tightly. Perhaps again these helpers would be persuaded, just looking forward to her marrying out. With no way out she could only hold her head high with chest out as she strode into the door threshold, an attitude of unflinchingly facing death.
The second aunt Zhou Shi  looked at Su Tang returning. Her laughing eyes narrowed, “Speak of the devil and the devil appears . Come, number three, elderly father Zhang will talk to you about a good marriage!”
Su Tang is the daughter of the first wife, merely born relatively late so that her birth ranking was third. Older are two daughters from father’s concubine, younger are a brother and sister from another of father’s concubines. Also the younger sister was married at the start of this year. The younger brother was 13 this year and still studying at school.
Su Tang heard aunt Zhou on the verge of showing her joy, unable to hold herself back. Briefly sweeping a glance at her, neither cold nor cheerless but also not lively said, “Second aunt has really gone to a lot of bother. Needless to say elderly father Zhang has gone to a lot of bother, only that second aunt has gone to a lot bother. Su Tang somewhat pointed out this idea.
Father Su is aged and his son is young. There was no other alternative than to let the Su family pastry shops be managed by the husband of the eldest daughter. After Su Tang got involved, relying on this broad  the pastry shops expanded and even flourished. Father Su permitted her to be charge of the planning. This enormously worried Aunt Zhou as the husband of the eldest daughter benefited by running the stores. If Su Tang assumed control, then there would be stingy meticulous planning and careful accounting. (While) waiting for the time elderly father’s lifetime (to be over), one’s own house would be cold and hungry. For this reason, she had unparalleled zeal for Su Tang to get married.
Zhou Shi was not a stupid woman and didn’t hear the cold stabs in Su Tang’s words. But she also was unconcerned and continued smiling as if it were a caring one of a kind spring breeze. “What number three said, the whole family naturally would take a lot of trouble. Aunt is truly happy that General Song is an outstanding looking man. Also formerly that very red person  was in the company of His Imperial Majesty . Elderly father Zhang, what this concubine said is indeed correct?”
“Yes, yes, yes.” Ever since making those two extremely poor matches, elderly father Zhang really felt ashamed to face this honorable third young miss Su. Nowadays seeing her cold indifference, I feel there’s only have myself to blame. And yet he also didn’t want to be the matchmaker this third time. Who would have imagined this would happen? And so they were mutually intertwined due to this matter which flabbergasted people. The mission was difficult to perform. He also was unable to do anything about it!
Su Tang nevertheless heard the clues, “General Song? Which General Song?!”
Father Su, Su Cang Shi set down the tea cup in his hand. With a gentle chuckle he said, “Number three, you’ve met General Song. He originally lived in Zhen Dong where chief Li’s daughter’s son is. He (the general) is called Shi An….”
As Father Su spoke, (she exclaimed) “That’s him!” In Su Tang’s head an image appeared of a very stiff scowling face. The scene from that time, like an act from a play, rolled back into her mind. There upon rage about that matter, which was separated by more than 10 years, once again ignited. Su Tang drew out and emphasized each word, “I—will—not—marry—him!”
This sound of grinding teeth excessively jolted the ears!
Seeing the shocked faces on the crowd of people, Su Tang became conscious that she had forgotten her manners. She hurriedly inhaled a breath, put away her rage, and put on the appearance of nice weather. “Dad, elderly father, aunt, this year Su Tang is 20 years old. With regards to this matter of marriage I already have come to accept an unpleasant fact. I believe the young lamp was swept up long ago in this life. I thought of becoming a Buddhist nun which was not filial and soon afterwards dropped the idea. I also don’t want to again be a person (seeking) to tie interlocking branches with another to be on good terms for a lifetime. Do not say that my marriage road is abnormally rough, I’m just fated to be a woman who mourns for her husband which makes me unbearably flustered. General Song when all is said and done is a high-ranking military officer. If by chance he suffers a mishap or is hindered, don’t tell me that is my fault….”
Neither swift nor slow Su Tang finished speaking. She was already frowning with a grieved expression, looking completely mournful. But nevertheless she thought to herself that this recounting definitely was untrue to her convictions, so annoying! Just to make them drop the matter so that she doesn’t marry that pan of cold noodles, simply feeling wronged, humph!
Seeing each and every person dumbstruck and unable to reply, Su Tang once again employed a cheap trick which was more than enough —she softly sighed with thoughtful meaning….
Elderly Zhang was the first to come back to his senses saying, “Third Miss, you cannot not marry.”
Huh? Su Tang raised her eyebrows. Could it be that they shouldn’t have first said a few consoling phrases?
Elderly Zhang stroked his beard in a downward motion, pondered the complete sequence of events for this matter and spoke clearly. Su Tang swept her eyes over everyone. Seeing each and every one wanting to say something but then hesitating, she thought to herself that this matter didn’t seem too clever.
Sure enough, elderly Zhang threw out a jarring sentence which made Su Tang shiver in her core—“Third young miss, this marriage is an edict from the emperor.”
What! She Su Tang was well known even in the capital?! Her laughing matter was passed on to His Majesty’s ear?! His Majesty the emperor again descended into the world and in the midst of numerous important pressing matters of state managed to find time to care about her huge matrimonial affairs? What really is this situation? Su Tang was thoroughly confused, dumbstruck like an imbecile.
Elderly father Zhang made a dry cough sound. This sort of thing is indeed graceless. Anyway should first finishing talking about proper business, “The matter is like this…”
At first, this honorable Song Shi An was away most years. He put off family matters for the sake of the country. This year it’s now been 20 years and he should turn his mind toward a fiancée and marriage, only he has a young 4-year-old illegitimate son. In the midst of the fighting this gossip floated around in two countries. An edict beckoned him to return and seeing that there were very few people in his manor, he soon afterward pondered that perhaps a good match (would help). But who would have thought that General Song would say that his bazi  was extremely resolute, easily being a jinx and fated to mourn the death of a wife. Hence he tactfully declined. His Majesty didn’t believe this and commanded a fortune teller. But everything General Song said was the truth. His Majesty’s spirits were dampened. Taking a step back though not being discouraged, the fortune teller thought of every possible way. The outcomes were getting his wishes fulfilled.
The fortune teller arrived at a conclusion, supposing that General Song married a woman born in a certain year in a certain month on a certain day at a certain moment, then everything would be just fine.
At that time father Zhang’s son was present at the scene. Hearing the bazi he felt it sounded familiar. Thinking about it he remembered that year having his own son and that young third miss’s bazi looked at. Daren Zhang was frank and outspoken. He on the spot tossed out Su Tang’s name. The emperor’s interest greatly increased and hurriedly gave an imperial decree to have Daren Zhang go be this matchmaker. Daren Zhang’s affairs were many and varied; this glorious mission was tossed to the elderly gentleman. In any case he already was familiar with the task so as to be able to do it with one hand tied behind his back…. this matter that way, and this day he dropped in to act as a matchmaker for this matter.
“The edict says, if miss is willing then she should be willing, if unwilling then should be willing…. therefore, this marriage must occur…” Father Zhang also felt this matter used excessive force to make someone do something, but who would disobey the emperor’s gesture of good will? He had no other choice but to summon up the courage needed to say what needed to be said.
Nowadays the profession of matchmaker was very well regarded, even his majesty was sticking his foot in it. And it also was coerced! Su Tang after hearing everything, couldn’t help but silently curse that person who was not in touch with reality. But unspoken criticism despite unspoken criticism, she also did not dare to speak bluntly. Not cold and not warm she only displayed a sound of one’s dissatisfaction. Then again said, “Consequently I must comply to marry Song An Shi, and after that be a stepmother to his illegitimate child?”
Daren Zhang’s aged face was stiff, just a moment ago he was a bit tactful and soft, who would have imagined that Su Tang would fling out the words “illegitimate child”. Hey, why did he feel that year that she was vivaciousness and cute? This girl changed and is too….
Zhou Shi upon seeing this hurriedly interrupted, “You can’t speak like this, that child after all is still young. He also doesn’t have a mother. After you marry you shall be his mother. What’s more, when the time comes you will give birth to a child who nevertheless will be the son of the first wife….”
Su Cang Shi’s first wife passed away early, and all along he did not raise Zhou Shi’s status from a concubine to being an official wife. The two daughters she gave birth to plainly had the identity of being shu . Zhou Shi consequently was rather concerned about these two words, di  and shu. However, she now to convince Su Tang also unexpected disregarded this matter and was really extraordinarily enthusiastic.
Su Tang stepped back without having time to comprehend because her thoughts were totally focused on the words “illegitimate child”. For no reason at all, she had a fit of viciousness and then afterwards was full of goose bumps. A flash of understanding came to mind, and she again asked, “Then what does Song Shi An mean by this?”
A moment ago it was reasonable to say that he declined.
Even though, Elderly father Song smiled, “Naturally he agreed, otherwise this old man would not have come back here.”
Following this Su Tang was astounded, “Does he know who he’s going to marry?!”
“Naturally he knows.”
Su Tang again was stumped for words. What shenanigans was this Song Shi An engaged in. That year repeatedly said over and over again, said…said…groan, now is not the time to be angry, actually should refuse without delay. She already made up her mind to not marry and wholeheartedly develop the Su family brand. To say nothing of her marrying, moreover she also did not want to wed that pan of cold noodles! However, the emperor was forcing this relationship, and what would happen if she resists obeying the imperial edict?
Su Tang secretly schemed in her heart, afterwards said, “Does he know about my rotten peach flower history?”
Elderly father Zhang was resolute and nodded his head. It appeared that his son was laughing at the time he told His Majesty. It appeared that General Song at that time was also present….it appeared that except for General Song there was no other reaction. The other people at first were all dumbstruck and after that burst out laughing like thunder? The eldest said this?
Su Tang again asked, “Does he know about my reputation as a widow who is fated to mourn her husband?”
Reputation? Elderly father Zhang opened wide both his muddy eyes, coughing, “This just was a coincident. And what’s more, your two bazi are an auspicious match, in short there will be no problems.”
It’s not a problem, one husband, one wife, a pair who counterbalances each other, unequalled on earth — eh, this edict of jade words from the golden mouth.
Su Tang swept the surroundings. Seeing the crowd of people have no objections, she inwardly thought that she was afraid this situation had no way of changing from strained to being relaxed. The emperor bestowed an edict, her parents are alive, the matchmaker has good words, she again is unwilling and also afraid this will be all just for nothing, but to really marry?
Su Tang’s fingers knocked on the tabletop, narrowing her eyes as she pondered. On the last rap on the table she resolutely said, “Ok, I will marry that pan of cold noodles!”
That pan of cold noodles….
That pan of cold noodles….
A long distance away that pan of cold noodles was in the midst of eating a dish of cold noodles. The consequence was that after eating half he suddenly realized the flavor was off…
Translator’s Comments; I previously mentioned that this book uses poetic language. That was said that based on a western understanding of what is considered poetic. A native Mandarin speaker told me that writings have to be based on or make use of the poems from 唐诗 三百首 to be considered poetic. He also added this book uses some 文言文 (Classical Chinese). I purchased additional dictionaries and am trying to get a feel as to when to switch from a modern reading of the text to using say the 汉语大词典. As an example, using the mentioned dictionary, the husband of the eldest daughter (Zhou Shi’s son-in-law) can be understood to be benefiting from his position managing the pastry shops using corrupt means.