TL’ed by snowflake_obsidian
 Shaoye; Young master, or your son (honorific).
 Shao furen; Furen as mentioned in chapter 8 is a lady of high rank, generally the wife of a feudal lord or senior official. Here shao furen is the match to shaoye.
 Kowtow; a traditional greeting, especially to a superior, which involves kneeling and touching one’s forehead to the ground.
 赶巴巴 (gǎnbābā) is what the text has though I believe 干巴巴 (gānbābā) is meant.
 Xiao shaoye; xiao here means young or small, so small shaoye refers to the 4-5 year old son.
 借刀杀人; kill with a borrowed knife. This is one of the Thirty-Six Stratagems which are attributed to Sun Tzu (Sun Zi, 孫子) who is more well known for The Art of War. The idea is to inflict harm by having a third party act.
Ch 9 – Since Time Immemorial, All Experts Are Lonely
Su Tang followed Song Shi An and entered the main room of Fu Rui courtyard. Inside she saw the room was large, bright, and clean, with simple unadorned decorative objects though which appeared to be costly. And on a red scandal wood chair that was precisely in the middle, erectly sat a white haired old woman wearing plain and simple clothes, with maid servants standing on both sides, one of which she couldn’t make out the age. Nevertheless, there was an appearance of respectfully waiting a long time.
That maid servant seeing Su Tang enter, smiled and bent over, “You see, shaoye  and shao furen  have come.”
Su Tang looked at that maid servants’ completely dignified features and one kind of natural appearance, mulling that this ought to be that beautiful gugu, Jin Xiu.
Song Shi An kneeled down, “Grandson pays respect to grandmother.”
In response to seeing this, Su Tang without taking extra trouble kneeled down, “Granddaughter-in-law pays respect to grandmother.”
The sound “grandmother”, that sweet address, that obedient, Song Shi An couldn’t help but cast a sideways glance.
Su Tang then afterwards went to the teacups on the serving tray of the furthest maid servant, continued her sweet smile and said, “Grandmother please drink tea.”
Song Shi An quickly got goose bumps. This is still that arrogant unbridled fierce woman! Pretending! Truly able to act!
“Well-behaved.” Lao taitai smiled especially kindly, drank holding the cup with both hands then put it down and picked up a long and thin red wood box at the side. “This is our Song family possession passed down from generation to generation, only passed to the eldest branch’s daughter-in-law of the eldest son. It’s been grandmother’s these years to give away, now finally I can pass it to another.”
Hearing this, Su Tang immediately felt the box in her hand was weighty. She will be the eldest branch’s daughter-in-law of the oldest son for only one month. When the moment comes to return it won’t it be troublesome…. She instinctively considered passing it back but heard Song Shi An at her side say….
“Don’t mention it grandmother.”
This phrase simply was squeezed out from gritted teeth. Hearing it Su Tang became upset thinking when the time comes, at worst it will be inconvenient. As a result, she took it without further ado and said, “Thank you grandmother. Su Tang certainly will treasure and take care of it.”
Satisfied, lao taitai nodded her head. Letting them rise up and take a seat, she again with extreme affection asked some things. Su Tang carefully replied and in due course said a few amusing things. The mood shifted to be extremely harmonious.
Only between chatting and laughing together, Su Tang felt unavoidably unconvinced. This lao taitai has a benign appearance. This gugu Jin Xiu is also dignified, able, and virtuous. These two people seemed to be exceedingly satisfied towards her, why weren’t there arrangements for Xi Que? Could it be there was a mistake somewhere?
At this time lao taitai thought of something. Turning her head, she asked Jin Xiu, “Why hasn’t Xuan Zi come?”
Lao taitai spoke in a whisper but Su Tang’s sharp ears still clearly heard it. Thinking to herself, this Xuan Zi is which one? Erect ears continued to listen and heard a slight sound of footsteps come through.
She lifted her head to look, and saw though a kid from the interior walk in. Su Tang saw that appearance of Xuan Zi’s and almost laughed. Clearly he was an innocent and unaffected 4-5-year-old. This kid actually stood straight and tall but looked cross. His pace conformed to propriety, soldiers’ uniform on his entire body, and also 100% on guard. He had the appearance of someone who was excessively concerned with minor details.
The kid walked to the middle of the hall, faced lao taitai and well-behaved touched his head (to the floor) , again a correct child-like voice as well as using the forever fixed etiquette, “Xuan Zi pays respect to great-grandmother.”
Su Tang finally understood who this “Xuan Zi” is, precisely that small child who let her be a mother without getting pregnant!
“Xuan Zi, pay respect to your father and mother.”
Lao taitai again opened her mouth. Su Tang however was unaware of what was the matter. That tone was not as kind and gentle as before, and on the contrary carried some estrangement. Su Tang couldn’t help but feel surprised. She slightly raised her head for a glimpse and saw lao taitai’s eyes drooping down. It turned out to that she did not care about Xuan Zi, to say nothing of affection or consideration.
In any case he is her great-grandson, why this indifference?
Su Tang turned it over in her mind. Xuan Zi already had come over to kowtow to Song Shi An. This sound of paying respect was not stiff which was unlike that sound a moment ago. On the contrary it seemed to be wholeheartedly joyful. And Song Shi An’s eye expression upon seeing the child also didn’t have the usual frosty ice-coldness. Even more the face, which was an iceberg year in and year, revealed a bit of an affectionate smile.
Good gracious! Seeing that smile of Song Shi An’s made Su Tang have the jitters. This drudge’s smile is that loving, like spring in the air, harmonious and happy! Why haven’t I ever seen you be like this toward other people! Thinking of this Su Tang again had a fit of dejection. She is also counted as “other people”. All “other people” are inferior, therefore this pan of cold noodles won’t smile this way towards her, this revolting behavior! Hence Su Tang looked at this scene in front of her eyes of loving father and filial son and felt scornful, snort.
This “snort” sound was extremely soft, but Xuan Zi who was still paying his respects heard it. Su Tang was too late to regret as she saw the young child pause his pace. Ah ah, my snort was not meant for you, my snort was meant for that pan of cold noodles!
Heaven knows that she wanted to be a kind and gentle stepmother, but who would have thought that one misstep would give rise to lifelong regret. Su Tang felt like weeping but had no tears, done for. She certainly caused a grave wound to his young and small spirit. Stepmothers all along were crowned with the title of “without virtue”. He unquestionably felt this stepmother in front of his eyes was not good. You see this small child’s retaliatory ice-cold expression. You see that handsome pair of sharply contrasting black and white eyes betray a harmed expression…uh, not right…injured?
Su Tang fixedly looked, but discovered that the “wounded” expression in Xuan Zi’s eyes disappeared, only a sheet of clear frostiness remained.
Su Tang still doubted whether just a moment ago it was her blurred vision. Xuan Zi already kneeled down kowtowing. Only, only waited a long time, Su Tang completely didn’t hear him say anything.
“Xuan Zi, address mother.” In a high position, lao taitai’s luke-warm voice floated over.
But Xuan Zi declined to hear, just kneeling, head hanging low, also couldn’t clearly see the expression on his face.
For a short while the atmosphere was stiff.
“Xuan Zi…” lao taitai lengthened out the final sound of the syllable, her voice mingled with a dignified imposing manner.
Xuan Zi still pursed tight his lips which were unwilling to open.
Su Tang’s heart gave birth to doubt, but she also didn’t feel awkward. Thinking again she felt his sort (like her) refused to budge. She didn’t want to embarrass other people and make the gathering awkward so then grinned and bent down to help the child get up. Her soft voice said, “won’t greet then won’t greet, it doesn’t matter….”
The words said at this point halted because her hand barely touched the child’s clothing when Xuan Zi quickly drew back. As a result, she didn’t finish speaking, her hand unexpectedly was extended, and words were stuck in the middle of her throat.
Xuan Zi straightened his short and small body, looked at Su Tang and said extending the words out, “I… won’t… greet… her! She… is… not… my… mother!”
“Scoundrel!” Su Tang hadn’t yet responded, lao taitai’s rage already came through.
Xuan Zi remained unmoved, turned his head around and raised his chin, out-and-out arrogant and stubborn.
Su Tang seeing that the circumstances were not good, hastily thought of some words for social occasions but still didn’t open her mouth in time. Xuan Zi’s clear and melodious tender young voice again came through…. “She is not my mother! My mother isn’t that ugly!”
These words said, tiny flames in Su Tang’s heart again rushed about…OK, not only will (this) old mother be the stepmother without virtue! (You) also are making (me) out to be the wicked stepmother! Stinking kid, you just wait!
Groan, this life’s most vexing thing is to be called ugly by people!
Flowing tears in Su Tang’s heart bubbled forth thinking about when she was young, a little plump and a little ugly. Father didn’t love and dote on mother. Kids also ridiculed her and still more that pan of cold noodles humiliated her. In this way her childhood shadow was formidable. But she also didn’t expect today that this brat would …. would…groan!
In the final analysis where is your old mother ugly! At any rate she nowadays is an attractive face slim-waisted beauty!
After a brief silence lao taitai angrily shouted, “Kneel down!”
Xuan Zi dejectedly shrunk his mouth, unwillingly kneeled down facing lao taitai, heart still not resigned to the circumstance …. He faced lao taitai, but not towards Su Tang.
“Who actually taught him this, ah!” Lao taitai was already angry to the point of trembling.
A room full of people were by now kneeling. Su Tang saw that cold noodles also kneeled down, tolerating to the point of being out of sorts and also kneeling…. Ok, this matter has become even more serious!
Song Shi An consolingly said, “grandmother please cool down your anger. Xuan Zi is young and doesn’t understand”.
“Doesn’t understand? Humph, does not understand, that person by his side also doesn’t understand! Fu Rong!” (To) the maid servant kneeling by the side of lao taitai who kept close to Xuan Zi, “Speak, who taught him to say these things!”
Fu Rong who was extremely good-looking, right now was a fair flower that turned pale. “Lao taitai, nubi did not teach (this). Nubi did not teach (this), (it) was….”
“Who was it?” seeing her hem and haw, Song Shi An also knit his brows. All along the matter of Xuan Zi’s birth mother was a Song family secret. Furthermore, it was lao taitai’s taboo to speak of it. Who really raised this matter with Xuan Zi? And who knew Xuan Zi’s biological mother was better looking than Su Tang?
Song Shi An casually glanced at Su Tang who was kneeling by his side, surprised to see that this woman who was hanging her head low was absolutely leisurely and carefreely wiping a crease on her skirt. His eyebrows completely knitted…a moment ago when Xuan Zi spoke, he saw her fly into a rage. This return to an appearance of calm and not caring in the least, was unexpected.
Without a doubt Su Tang wanted to be indifferent. Seeing things, she reckoned that this family has something fishy going on. Someone outright  wanted to let her have a good look! Ha, what a joke. All along a strong enemy makes me Su Tang stronger, while a weak one makes me weaker. It’s not that I don’t have schemes and intrigues, am able to make use of laziness, jockeying for power will always happen. I haven’t yet found a well matched adversary. Otherwise, how did Su Ji seize a foothold in Ping city expanding to great heights that year the family relied on her, a 16-year-old girl? Also in the circumstance of mothers’ untimely death, how did dad without brothers assistance and without pain, curb (our) shrewd aunt obtaining maximum benefits for me?
The most beautiful thing is to live in harmony, something to look forward to. But you want to provoke me. We can’t stand motionless waiting to suffer, right? Now, the enemy is hidden while I’m exposed, must still keep calm and wait and see, even more to say nothing of her being a newcomer and still not knowing what actually happened. Therefore, Su Tang put forth an appearance of indifference, simply watched this farce in front of her eyes, or say…a good play!
Fu Rong was already quickly scared into crying. Lao taitai was usually kindly and her inspired awe was not diminished. Fu Rong even more knew that these words stirred up lightening for xiao shaoye , otherwise how would lao taitai be so provoked. Being implicated, she was just afraid (things) would blow up and she’d die a cruel death. So she hastily kowtowed and said, “Answering lao taitai, these words, these words were said by young Lady Ru Yi  of Xi Yuan (court).”
These words said, the entire hall was silent.
Su Tang felt the atmosphere was strange. She raised her head and glanced, just in time to see lao taitai and Jin Xiu facing each other, both slightly wrinkling their eyebrows. Su Tang’s curiosity became even more intense, after all what is this young Lady Ru Yi?
Under lao taitai’s awe-inspiring presence, Fu Rong began to reveal the entire sequence of events. “3 months ago this young Lady Ru Yi entered the manor and continuously teased xiao shaoye. She asked around everywhere about the matter of xiao shaoye’s mother. All the nubi’s didn’t know and didn’t dare bring it up. Young Lady Ru Yi inquired but couldn’t find anything out and stopped asking…. afterward, afterward (I) don’t know what happened but young Lady Ru Yi knew. Because she always bought it up, it more or less went in, but xiao shaoye disliked her. Young Lady Ru Yi was quite angry during the period prior to the general marrying furen. She again looked for xiao shaoye to talk and said the general was going to find a stepmother for xiao shaoye, thereafter xiao shaoye days were not good ….”
Fu Rong trembled uncontrollably as she spoke. Su Tang very carefully listened, guessing while listening. She pretty much understood what was going on. This young Lady Ru Yi was instigating Xuan Zi to give Su Tang a display of tactical power. This is the legendary kill using a borrowed knife , that is trick someone else into attacking! Aunt Zhou had said that Song Shi An was extremely fond of this illegitimate child. Young Lady Ru Yi let Xuan Zi give her a good look; she wanted Su Tang to get angry and lose her cool. In everybody’s opinion fell a petty suspicion that they didn’t say (aloud). Song Shi An buried some ideas in his mind…mumble, really was a good scheme, this young Lady Ru Yi is not simple!
Su Tang’s eyes sparkled, a dignified fighting spirit was evoked!
At all times each and every expert is lonely. Young Lady Ru Yi, don’t let me be disappointed!
However, however in using the brat to serve as a sword she also erred on the poison. How can you do that and not also be afraid about falling down stabbing a hole in your instep!
It was said that this Xuan Zi was born on the battlefield. At 2 years of age he had no mother, just followed the life of dad in military camp and suffered not a small amount of hardship. At 3 years of age he was sent back and from that time on followed great-grandmother. Again seeing lao taitai being that indifferent toward him, his days in the manor presumably were also not that smooth and easy. This young Lady Ru Yi said these good words about his birth mother and some malicious remarks about stepmothers, again inciting him. The brat’s heart was afraid so he was even more disrespectful, lacking in manners.
Su Tang inwardly sighed. Seeing that tiny body kneeling on the front left side, her heart had pity and tender affection. She didn’t fuss again about that matter which occurred just a moment ago. In the final analysis this is a child!
After considering a moment ago, who would expect that her feelings toward Xuan Zi were a little better. Her heart beat as one with his, identifying with that child, and inclined her head to one side. He rolled his eyes, flaring up towards her.
Su Tang’s temper became muddled!
Uhm, uhm, uhm stinky kid, don’t press me!
Su Tang’s head straightened and assumed a comic face glaring at him. On the side, she abruptly sensed a stern look which was in fact that pan of cold noodles. On the other hand, earlier Xuan Zi had already turned his head around and again assumed a bowed head with stupefied face.
I’m done for. That pan of cold noodles will certainly interpret my expression a moment ago as an evil stepmother who is full of fiendish resentment! Ah, ah, ah, I never again will believe that children are innocent and artless!
Eh, not right. What does it have to do with him! Exhaustively thinking about this, Su Tang rolled her eyes at Song Shi An the same as Xuan Zi had ….