TL’ed by snowflake_obsidian
Translator’s Note: Some people, particularly in older times, believe that negative things said aloud are a curse or jinx. So, for them the English phrase “break a leg” which is meant to express well wishes for performers when going on-stage, is a curse or jinx. I’ve known older Chinese that believe this idea, who would get upset when asked in English “What’s wrong?” The operative word there is “wrong”. This idea of a verbal jinx or curse is important to understanding why Su Tang has been upset with Song Shi An.
 Lantern Festival Aka Spring Lantern Festival is a holiday that marks the end of the Chinese New Year.
 Making wishes on the river; Wishes can be written on the lantern shade.
Editor’s note: As a side note, there are a few different types of lanterns people use to celebrate the Lantern Festival. Aside from the lanterns on the river, there are also sky lanterns pictured below.
Translator’s Note: Taiwan during Lantern Festival has 3 locations where every year they release sky lanterns. I’ve seen mention of this being done in mainland China though it seems to be erratic. Releasing sky lanterns is also done in Thailand though it is for a different holiday there.
 10 zhang is about 36 yards or 33 meters.
Chapter 5: Starting Anew, Bridal Escort Party
Song Shi An sat on the horse looking at the woman who was still foolishly standing (there), somewhat at the end of his patience. “Are you going to get on or not?” Already his mood was not good.
Su Tang looked at that extended hand of his and rubbed her chin. “Your idea is that we ride the same horse together?”
“Otherwise?” Song Shi An’s patience was already near his limit.
Su Tang looked at the deserted valley save for one horse, (feeling) somewhat awkward. “It’s improper for men and women to touch each other…” She didn’t want cold noodles’ body touching hers. Uh-huh, her determined idea was to keep a proper distance from each other, must not take convenient advantage.
But Song Shi An couldn’t stand it anymore, “Then I’ll ride the horse and you can walk by yourself!” Speaking, his legs giddy-upped the horse which proceeded forward.
The horse’s perfectly round butt in Su Tang’s line of sight once again swayed from side to side. Quickly, she angrily discharged smoke. “Is it possible that you ought to go on foot while I ride the horse!”
Seeing that Song Shi An still proceeded straight ahead without reacting, Su Tang released her skirt and simply didn’t walk anymore, her derriere sitting on top of a rock which was on the side, snort, grumble, “This old woman won’t go. You return by yourself and get married! It will even save getting a divorce!”
Song Shi An hearing the word “divorce”, whoa’ed the horse’s reins and turned the horse’s head to take a look. That woman was just sitting leisurely and carefree on a rock, checking her messy hair.
Riding the horse forward, he stopped in front of her. Towering over he looked down and asked, “What did you say a moment ago?”
Su Tang raised her head, narrowed her eyes, and said with a smile, “You were pressured to get married. I also was pressured to get married. They say that if something is not meant to be then it’s no use forcing it to happen. At first, I prepared to get married and afterwards let you divorce (me). However, look, just this effort for a while and things are turned upside down as we both loathe each other. Therefore, we’d be better off taking advantage of the present opportunity and break up.”
Song Shi An narrowed his slender eyes, looking down, closely scrutinized this prattling woman who was still speaking plausibly and loudly defending herself. That he was forced to get married was not false. Why was she also forced to get married?! She didn’t wish to wed him? Things were topsy turvy as the other party involved detested him! She suddenly hated him? Song Shi An tightened his fists holding the horse’s reins, eyes boiling over with rage.
Su Tang was completely unafraid of this dangerous aura. On the contrary, she stood up and straightened her back to leave. “What are you looking at, I didn’t say anything wrong! I just don’t understand why you consented to this marriage. Your head was kicked by a donkey or was it that a donkey kicked your head! That year, which fellow hurled (at me) that if all the girls in the world died, you still wouldn’t marry me….” Thinking of the humiliation received that year, Su Tang began to gnash her teeth.
Huh? What situation? Su Tang (felt) somewhat dumbfounded looking at the clueless expression in Song Shi An eyes. Don’t tell me he forgot?
“You don’t know who I am? Didn’t know who you were going to marry?” Su Tang cautiously asked.
“Ping city in rural Liu He, the Su Ji Pastry shop’s owner Su Cang Shi, (his) di daughter, named Tang, right?” Su Tang was even more uncertain.
“Pop”, Su Tang’s heart tumbled on the ground shattering into pieces. Hearing this short sentence of Song Shi An’s, she knew what was going on. He actually didn’t remember her! Ah, ok, ok. What does the world still have that can be compared to a person hating for over ten years, however in the end discovering that this “foe” didn’t take you seriously, to the extent that he simply didn’t remember and even more drove that person crazy?
“You’ve actually forgotten me!” Su Tang irritably whirled around. The fiery words were not orderly at all. “That year, 11 years ago, you were in Ping city. You were visiting your maternal grandfather. That year’s Lantern Festival , on the flowing river, we sat in the same boat. I, I was with my second elder sister releasing lanterns making wishes . My 2nd sister was allowed to get married. I didn’t know if I’d be allowed, and followed up by talking about wedding a husband in the future. Who knew. Who knew you and your pack of hoodlums were on the side eavesdropping. Even more you began to mock me, saying I’m this young (and already) beginning to harbor amorous thoughts! I was in huff, stepped forward and punched one of you scoundrels into the river! They asked you whether what they said was right or wrong. Asked whether you could marry me like this. You bastard went as far as to say, I by no means would marry this very ugly shameful person. Not only disgraceful, but also unlucky. Even if the girls in the world all died you also still wouldn’t marry me. Reckoned that nobody would be willing to marry me…. uhm uhm uhm. You thought you were that good-looking, just arrogant! At that time, you thought you’d become the emperor’s favorite, just amazing! Why would you!”
The more Su Tang spoke the more she seethed with anger. Heaven knows that year when she saw this pan of cold noodles that her heart went pitter-patter! Heaven knows at that time she together with her second elder sister made a wish to see that elegant face! What family’s young lady didn’t hanker for love. She merely yearned for love a little bit early, don’t tell me that’s not allowed! Humph! Who thought this pan of cold noodles would have said those words hurting her feelings and self-esteem! He was that cruel and heartless toward her sprouting “young peas” and took delight in ruthlessly pulverizing her—Oh no. She by no means can admit that this pan of cold noodles was her first love, that young brother Wang actually was!
Su Tang’s indiscriminate bomb took care of the surviving tiny fragments of memory inside Song Shi An’s head, enticing them out. After that, one managed with difficulty to see the clear picture.
It seemed like it was that thing. That year a chubby girl wearing weird clothes incited his friend to fight, punched his friend so that he went into the water—indeed thoroughly brave and persistent! But did he say those words? Song Shi An thought carefully. Nevertheless, he couldn’t remember. However, this woman also holds an extreme grudge, a matter over ten years old!
Su Tang can’t help but harbor resentment. From that time on her peach blossoms were all rotten, rotten through the last. She turned into an old maid who couldn’t get married and became a joke. She wiped her neck several times. If it weren’t for her firm and tenacious character, if it were other people they early on would have hang themselves several times!
This person made an inauspicious remark, a casual phrase which turned out to be prophetic. Tore open her miserable life, she felt wronged. How can she not hold a grudge!
Song Shi An still was looking Su Tang up and down. That year’s chubby girl now-a-days grew up to be tall slender and also unexpectedly very strange, anyways panting with rage and like that year equally — muddleheaded!
But Su Tang again unexpectedly started laughing, she crossed her arms on her waist, saying “Now you know who I am. Ha ha, now you know this was committing a sin. Ai ya, but that year who said that they wouldn’t marry me. Slapping your own face, painful isn’t it… now hurry up and divorce me!”
After Su Tang finished speaking she waited for Song Shi An to assume an annoyed expression. Who would have expected, suddenly there was air under her feet, confused, her body was gently going toward the cosmos. When she recovered from the shock, discovered herself already on the horse’s back, and behind her, that pan of cold noodles was looking ahead. He giddy upped the horse forward—as a matter of fact, Song Shi An just now lifted her, pulled her up onto the horse.
“Ah, you put me down!” Su Tang loudly ordered.
“Shut up!” Song Shi An loudly shouted.
“What are you doing!” Su Tang was completely unafraid.
“…” Song Shi An lost in thought uttered this one sentence, “You’re too noisy.”
“Then you put me down!” Resenting she quarreled and even more (he) pulled her onto the horse!
“It’s not early anymore, have to hurry back to get married.” Song Shi An focused on giddy-upping the horse and spared some time to reply.
Hearing, Su Tang was a mess. “Still want to get married?!” Shouldn’t we part company?
Song Shi An contrary to what one might expect, thought of withdrawing from this marriage. At present many people are waiting at (his) residence. He wouldn’t cast aside this individual, and even more if he didn’t marry then he’d have to shoulder resisting the imperial decree, not obeying would result in a criminal charge. By comparison, slapping his face and what not is still a small matter. First, finish the wedding and put off until sometime later, putting away one’s wife—Song Shi An cast a casual glance at the woman in his embrace—very likely quite easy, reckon able to write a good few pages for the justification.
“First you return with me and get married. After one month, I’ll issue a bill of divorce!” Disinclined to talk nonsense, Song Shi An immediately made a decision.
Su Tang promptly stopped moving, her two eyes shining, a joyful look on her entire face. “A gentleman never goes back on his word!”
Song Shi An relieved, twitched. They still have not yet crossed over the threshold and are already of one mind wanting to get divorced. She’s this excited knowing they will get divorced …he’ll see (about) the next day. Thinking to himself, these many years, wasn’t he always away at the border waging war, (but) now completely didn’t understand the changes in this world?
Sigh. “Since this marriage is play acting then that must be done all the way through!” The bridal room, ornamental candles and so on must also be phony! Su Tang spoke uneasily.
“Um.” Song Shi An already was unwilling to acknowledge her. Thinking a bit, (he) still had better say something to make up, “Be a bit well-behaved for me within this one month.”
The joyful look on Su Tang’s whole face immediately retracted. (She) quickly turned her head and resolutely glared at him, “Where is this old woman restless!”
Song Shi An had the idea of throwing her (off the horse). He firmly controlled himself.
They did not talk the entire journey. The two-people returned to the site of the mishap which happened just a short while ago, but the people were all gone. Even the scattered dowry on the ground was all cleared away, not even one bit remained.
“Where are the people?” Su Tang sitting on the horse asked.
Song Shi An looked down at the vestiges all around (of what had happened) and replied “The bridal escort party already returned to the capital. They should be outside the city gate waiting for us. Additionally, some bodyguards ought to be searching everywhere (for us). It’s just that the place which Pei Rui He lured us to is excessively hidden so they weren’t able to find us.”
He again mounted the horse as he spoke, “We have to hurry back now.”
Thus, all the way through the journey the horse went fast as lightening. Su Tang miserably shrieked again and again—too bumpy, she was dizzy, her hips ached!
In his heart Song Shi An continuously ranted and raved, if she hadn’t dillydallied a short while ago, so now this hurry to get back! Anyway, he had better slow down the horse slightly —just a little bit, just a trifle that’s all.
Two people, one horse, traveling in the setting sun, each piece of red clothes seemed like fire, but one cold as ice and frost, one with a contorted face.
Su Tang’s facial features not only were distorted, her muscles furthermore were taut. This sensation of her body being pasted to another body is…too weird! This one ice-cold person’s body unexpectedly is nice and warm, however is still very hard, seems like a chunk of iron. Thinking this rubbish, Su Tang’s face started to burn.
Song Shi An swept a glance at the woman in his bosom whose earlobes abruptly flushed red. He was somewhat puzzled, didn’t know what this woman was doing again.
At this very moment, (they) only heard horse’s hoof, bursts of sound transmitted from a distant place. Su Tang lifted her head up, saw rolling black smoke ahead, countless horses dashed toward (them), rumbling like thunder, a magnificent sight!
“What, what’s going on?” Is it that young prince coming back to kill (more)? Su Tang’s face was bitter.
The fact is Song Shi An’s two eyes were shining. “These are my black riders. They certainly went back to report that I met with a mishap and therefore came out to look for me.”
My black riders! Song country’s General Song Shi An single-handedly formed the black riders! Yan country troops hearing of the black riders would be panic-stricken! Now speeding towards (them), overbearing, as though toppling mountains and overturning the seas. And didn’t know who but as soon as the order was given, a hundred black riders stopped their mad rush towards them, and uniformly stopped at 10 zhang  out.
“General!” 100 warriors cried out in unison, their energy shook the mountains and rivers. Su Tang thoroughly gaped, this is also too valiant!
Suddenly, from the front an order was issued—“about face!”
Suddenly, 100 superior war horses precisely turned around, neither a man nor a horse made a sound.
Su Tang looked at each and every perfectly round horses’ butt, however stunned. Why do they all have their backs to me?
As if Song Shi An remembered something, “Your head covering?” It’s not good for people to catch sight of the bride’s face—although a moment ago she already must have been seen once, however they need to go into town, had yet better do things well.
Su Tang understood though also put her outstretched hands in the air, “Don’t know where it was lost, probably inside the horse carriage.”
Song Shi An’s face again darkened. Could it be that all the people in the city must look at the general’s wife, this illustrious countenance, too embarrassing!
Su Tang’s eyes brightened, she actually thought of a way. She lifted her skirt, “rip”, tore the inside crimson petticoat. Inherently wanted to cover (her) head, yet once seeing this ragged edge, as expected given the options (she) flipped it over her head covering her face.
Outside the city gate after sunset, the bridegroom and bride sat on a horse. The bridegroom’s facial expression was calm and collected, the bride’s face covered. The valiant black riders lined up.
Heroic demeanor! Starting anew!
Records of the Grand Historian, Zhao He the 10th year, ninth month sixth day, the general took a wife, by means of the black riders acting as escort for the bride, caused a sensation in the entire city.