TL’ed by snowflake_obsidian
Edited by Xia
 一哭二闹三上吊; I translated this literally since the idiomatic meaning of making a terrible scene seems weak, in English.
 He spoke first which in a negotiating situation provides a weaker bargaining position.
 长袍; chang pao is a traditional long gown.
Ch 13 – Who Wants to Put Up With You?
Su Tang recovered with a nap and was in excellent spirits. Seeing Xi Que sitting on the side dozing off, she asked Shao Yao in a low whisper, “Has the general returned?”
“Yes, he’s probably in the study.” Thinking a bit, Shao Yao also added, “In peace time the general is mostly in the study.”
“Oh, then you lead me there.” Speaking, she quietly got up and walked on tip-toe lest Xi Que woke up.
Seeing her that way, Shao Yao couldn’t avoid finding it somewhat laughable. But catching sight of Su Tang again whose vision swept towards her, Shao Yao became frightened. She hurriedly lowered her head and pursed her lips.
In the study, Song Shi An was in the process of straightening out a register. Seeing Su Tang enter, his eyebrows wrinkled, frowning.
Originally Su Tang’s mood wasn’t bad but upon seeing that impatience of his, a tiny flame was successfully ignited. She put the red wood box in her hand on the table and straight forwardly said, “This thing from the outset is yours, save time and inconvenience. Rest assured, I haven’t even opened it! It’s untouched!”
The reason Song Shi An knit his brow was because he was thinking how could thoughts of desire for this woman in front of him emerge. A short while ago that longing abruptly arose and was again fierce. He drank mouthfuls of cold tea, a good number, to suppress it. Because he felt uncertain he knit his brow, not because of being unable to endure. However he now frowned due to being impatient — why was this woman completely unbridled, every time!
Su Tang sat down on the chair toward the side. After sweeping a glance at the room’s furnishings she again spoke, “I came to speak with you about some matters. Grandmother is allowing me to manage your general’s manor. Look, what do you think should be done!”
Song Shi An’s thoughts were completely stirred. She just came in the door and grandmother is letting her take charge of the household? Anyway, grandmother seems to really like her. Even this flying phoenix-shaped, gold inlaid, jade embedded, carved with flowers and clouds hair-pin, which has been passed from generation to generation, was given to her. Grandmother regards her as the future Song family mistress, however….
Actually, if it were not for the emperor planning this marriage, he intended to not marry. Or it could be said that he had no plans to get married this quickly. However, the monarch ordered this so it was difficult to go against. He had no alternative but to merely accept. And this was not due to his own fondness. What status does this female have, what sort of appearance, these things didn’t matter. Therefore, the emperor made him marry the Ping city Su family third young miss. He also didn’t care one way or the other about getting married. In any case it’s simply a woman, that’s all. When the time came for the marriage, enter the door, throw things to one side, and just let it pass.
Only he never expected that this third miss Su is truly not a typical woman. Not only did she previously celebrate holidays with him, he also didn’t know why she wants him to, no matter what, divorce her!
Issuing a bill of divorce is just issuing a bill of divorce. At any rate, this marriage was coerced and he also considers it a nuisance. To say it again, he actually doesn’t have the slightest favorable impression of this woman, Su Tang.
Therefore he just wishes to peacefully get along with each other for the one month. After that, he’ll comply with her and seek a pretext for a divorce. If worst comes to worst, at that time he’ll sincerely make some more material compensation. Who knew that the emperor would stick a foot in again, making him have the reality of being a married couple. Hence now all his plans are messed up.
He is a person who guards himself and leads an honest and clean life. Not a few women threw themselves at him, (though) as cold as ice, he shut the door leaving them outside. Only because of that person’s one sentence prank …. “Who said women should not marry. Wait for me to become successful and famous. I’ll order a big sedan chair carried by eight men for you to marry into the door. For the time being, just keep yourself pure for me!”
She was unbridled. She was uninhibited. Her yin and yang shockingly turned the universe upside down. On account of fondness and pampering, he along with all the others, wished to bear, support, and accommodate. Furthermore she said to continue to wait, only he never expected….
Song Shi An became conscious of himself again recalling things that he shouldn’t think about. He threw his head around and looked outside the window. Far, far away, bathed in a cloudless blue sky were spry and lively birds, free and at ease.
A long time afterward, he unenthusiastically said, “Then you go take care of things!”
Since they already have had intimate relations, in the same way she now is his, Song Shi An’s woman. It makes no sense to allow her to remarry. To say nothing of it, if a divorce is truly issued, he was afraid that afterwards there could be a huge pile of trouble. On that side, it was not easy for grandmother to hand things over. And on that side, he also didn’t know what bother the emperor would also produce.
Song Shi An is a person who quite dreads inconvenience. Even though this woman in front of his eyes seems like a lot of trouble, she was the lesser of two evils. He had better endure this woman, because when all is said and done, she’s just a woman, which also was not an earth-shattering matter.
“What?” Su Tang however didn’t expect this sentence from Song Shi An and was momentarily muddled. A short while ago after finishing asking, she waited a long time without seeing Song Shi An respond and still mistakenly thought he was thinking of a way to settle the issue. Later she saw his facial expression become increasingly odder and finally to her surprise his face had a disappointed and frustrated look all over. She still was extremely puzzled and didn’t know what he was thinking inside his head. She didn’t expect in the end that he would actually say this one sentence.
“You go take care of things in the general’s manor.” Song Shi An, with a patient disposition, said it once again.
Su Tang was convinced that she misheard the reply, blinking her eyes, very uncertain. “What is called “go take care of things”. I’m only staying this one month, what rules and regulations?
Song Shi An shot a glance at her, wanted to say something and then hesitated.
Su Tang saw his frightening look, frowned and said, “What are you thinking?”
Song Shi An lay down the writing brush, stared at the woman in front of his face, and asked, “Why do you unstintingly desire to divorce?”
Su Tang was stumped, mind turned over for a long time, and then murmured, “Don’t tell me this is not inevitable?”
“Inevitable?” Song Shi An frowned.
Su Tang smoothed down her skirt, lowered her head and said, “Of course, you were wronged and had the misfortune of being commanded by the monarch to marry the unworthy me, whom you loathe. Of course you earnestly wish to divorce me. This young lady knows herself and was only trying to avail oneself of an opportunity before you spoke. That is all. To say nothing of it, you dislike me and even more so, I dislike you! Not every person wishes to claim connections with you, this pan of cold noodles!” And thinking of the humiliation, Su Tang again had a fit of teeth gnashing. However, eh, looks like that phrase “this young lady” should not be said again?
This pan of cold noodles? Song Shi An was distracted, his face turned dark. This woman already gave him a married nickname! Look at her smoothly calling it out, pointing a finger behind his back and yelling it out a few times!
Song Shi An surpressed his rage and said, “Rest at ease, I will not divorce you!”
Su Tang casually swept a quick glance at him and sneeringly said, “You’ve already said these words twice! I most look down on your appearance of must not do this. Not divorcing me seems like you are bestowing a reward as large as the heavens! If it were not for women being unable to divorce men, then early on I would have repeatedly divorced you about a hundred times!”
Extreme fury reversed to calm, Song Shi An eyes were a sheet of cold ice. “Do you have somebody in your heart?” If not that reason, he honestly could not think of what else would be a more suitable justification. He by no means believed that just because of these past trivial matters, along with his ice-cold manner, that this woman simply did not cherish reputation and integrity, and unswervingly wanted a divorce.
Song Shi An suddenly and unexpectedly asked. Initially Su Tang blankly stared, in a flash after that, “Ah ha ha, you mistakenly think that I have someone in my heart and want a divorce. You really can think! If there was someone in my heart then upon learning that I had to marry you I’d first cry, second throw a fit, third hang myself ! Sigh, your brains are truly disappointing! To be clear, we are two people who mutually each hate each other. We’d be better off with each side going our own way!”
Song Shi An looked at Su Tang all over from top to bottom. His prolonged scrutiny didn’t make out the slightest clue, so he then coldly said, “Since you don’t have anyone in your heart then remain in the manor!” He truly wasn’t in the mood to talk rubbish with her!
Eh? Why hasn’t this woman responded for a long time? Song Shi An raised his head but saw Su Tang’s completely astounded face looking at him.
“You’re letting me stay in the manor?”
“En.” Song Shi An grumpily replied.
Su Tang looked at him and didn’t blink for a short while. Her expression could be said to be transfixed with amazement. She recalled the words Song Shi An said just now, to early on let her manage the household, afterwards brought up again the matter of not divorcing her, and now straight forwardly let her stay in the manor…. Su Tang thoroughly was now in a mess. “You, you want to pass the days with me making do in a bad situation?”
“En!” Song Shi An’s voice was louder, adding emphasis. This woman goes on without end!
“Ah ha ha ha!” A peal of laughter very quickly burst from Su Tang. “To one’s surprise, you want me to make do with you! Ai you, ai you, this joke is genuinely ridiculous! It makes me think again, why are you willing to just get by with me. Is it because you so conveniently took me? Is it because you’re afraid that you can’t give other people a good justification? Ah ha ha ha!”
Song Shi An clenched his fists tight. This woman takes advantage of people’s weaknesses!
Suddenly Su Tang wasn’t laughing. A pair of pitch-black pupils nevertheless were shining. She looked at Song Shi An and said with a pause between each word, “But…I…do…not…agree!”
“What are you really thinking!” At last Song Shi An was provoked to anger! He freely spoke his mind first !
Su Tang grimly laughed, “Still those words. Better not put on a frosty expression for me. I don’t owe you anything! Even though our marriage was properly contracted through our parents, it was said we’d be each other’s sunshine in this marriage destined by fate!”
Each other’s sunshine? Song Shi An was dumbfounded.
If it was necessary to marry, he also would want to be deeply attracted and attached to each other, and spend a life-time together. Supposing that they detested and rejected each other, then why also bother to pass the days putting up with one another. It would be better to make a clean break!
Su Tang keenly watched his eyes and saw he didn’t say anything. His vision dodged from side to side, the implication was difficult to understand. After that, she stood up and took leave. When she arrived at the doorway, her head turned again and said with a smile, “However since you opened your mouth to let me manage this household, I will reluctantly only do this for a short while. Anyway it’s just one month. Oh, right, also this evening you will switch rooms to sleep.”
After those words there was again another engaging smile. Then her head didn’t turn around again and she left.
Seeing the woman grant things like this and then walk out the door, Song Shi An lowered his head to continue to tidy up the register. But he discovered that no matter what, this heart would not calm down!
What evil did he do to marry this woman!
But turning around and blinking, he again raised his head and saw the empty doorway. His eyes betrayed frustration, be each other’s sunshine?
That same night, Song Shi An as expected slept in the study.
Because she caught up on sleep in the afternoon, Su Tang had not yet fallen asleep. She tossed and turned on the new bed for a long time. And thinking of last nights’ affairs, she couldn’t help but have a burning hot body and some redness in her face. She also unavoidably had some vexation when again considering the afternoon talk with Song Shi An. At last the body spread out, altogether gave up!
Different situations call for different measures, this is just the way things are!
The next day, Su Tang rose up in the evening. Getting out of the bed and looking, she saw the family butler, Uncle Song, already outside the door respectfully waiting for a long time.
Su Tang looked up and down at this body in front of her wearing a navy blue chang pao , the complete face, the stout butler. She looked again to see that a pile of books had been placed on the table. She uncertainly asked “What is this?”
Beaming from ear to ear, Uncle Song replied, “Answering shao furen, these are all the journal and ledger account books for the manor. Lao taitai allowed me to deliver these and invite you to look them over.”
Whaaaa, this fast! Su Tang’s body sat upright. Without much thought, she took one volume and flipped through …. as a matter of fact, she merely was going through the motions. Who would have thought that upon looking, she would ask a question.
“This, this, this is the general ledger?” Su Tang’s face was completely stunned.
Uncle Song’s face had a serious expression, “Answering shao furen, yes.”
Su Tang almost bit her tongue. Oh, my heavens. This imposing, this large general’s manor, the total account balance to one’s surprise only has 343 taels!
Su Tang was unable to stop doubting and asked, “There’s no calculation error?” She again looked very carefully through another volume.
In January, Song Shi An’s government salary was 52 taels of silver in addition to a certain amount of grain and cloth. Under his name were a few real estate properties. Last month 1,227 taels were collected as rent… Eh? The emperor bestowed one tael?
Su Tang was flabbergasted. “What’s this reward of one tael?” Was this an incorrect notation?
“Indeed, there was only one tael.” Uncle Song said, embarrassed. “Shao ye fought victoriously so the emperor wanted to bestow a reward, but said that the national treasury is empty. Then (he) pulled out one silver tael from a small loose change bag, as a token.”
This really was too generous!
Translator’s Comments; Song Shi An’s attitude of “making do” in this marriage probably seems odd to some of us. Older Chinese culture placed a very high value on “face”, status, and position to the extent that these were generally more important than an individual, and sometimes more important than the truth. So any one person, or smaller subgroup, generally was seen as less important than the over-all group. In this framework, arranged marriages are a social economic agreement regardless that the man and woman’s affections may lie elsewhere. Hence, Song Shi An will for the honor of his family, stable relationships, and the face of the emperor, put up with the situation and stay married to Su Tang. It also becomes a little easier to understand why, in this type of context, there is a delineation between love and bodily gratification. Please note that I am not advocating this view.