Xianggong, Please Divorce Me!

Ch. 15: Everyone Says Being a Step-Mother Is Tough

TL’ed by snowflake_obsidian

Edited by Xia


[1] 包子; Traditional baozi are white steamed buns with stuffing inside.

Given the context, I thought these baozi fit.

[2] tongue clicking sounds

[3] 帮人帮到底,送佛送到西; When you help someone, completely help them. When seeing off a Buddha, escort him to the Western Paradise. The meaning is that you should help someone until help is no longer needed.

[4] 坐墩; drum shaped stool

[5] However, it seems you don’t like me.

[6] 穿花拂柳; The idiomatic meaning is the beautiful demeanor and appearance of a woman as she walks. I translated this literally due to the imagery.

[7] 滴水之恩当以涌泉相报; A drop of water shall be returned with a burst of spring. The meaning is that even if it was just a little help from others, you should return the favor with all that you can when others are in need.

[8] 门口两尊门神; These are guardian deities at the doorway which can be statues or paintings. 

 


Ch 15 – Everyone Says Being a Step-Mother Is Tough

Done for, those words were certainly overheard by this flunky!

Su Tang hurriedly pulled out a smiling face, “I was babbling nonsense.  Don’t take it to heart!”

Song Shi An’s face became darker.  He didn’t want to be long-winded with her and strode in. Su Tang discovered that behind him was a small child.

Su Tang looked at Xuan Zi, that small, dead earnest appearance. She again thought to burst into laughter, but who would have expected that Xuan Zi again flung at her a well-executed roll of his eyes.

Ah, little rascal!

Xuan Zi finished throwing the contemptuous look, hesitated, and still facing Su Tang kneeled down.  He knocked his forehead on the ground. His child-like voice said, “Xuan Zi pays respect to Mother.”

Startled, Su Tang halted! Xuan Zi kneeling like this, and again this voice of his saying “Mother.”

Although still hearing that insensitivity and unwillingness, yet he nevertheless greeted her. Shriek, shriek. This however was the first time in her entire life someone called her “mother”.  Su Tang just felt her heart spinning in a thousand circles, beyond description.  She also didn’t fuss about the rolling eyes a moment ago, beaming, merely said, “Well behaved.”

Saying this she also went over to help him get up. Without much effort she still thought to, using her hand, affectionately comb a strand of hair on his head.

Who would have expected, Xuan Zi slightly leaned his body to one side, avoiding her.

“Xuan Zi….” Song Shi An’s dissatisfied voice came from higher up on the side.

Xuan Zi’s entire face was grieved. He miserably looked at Song Shi An and said, “Xuan Zi only gives his head to Daddy to be stroked.”

Song Shi An didn’t say anything, his eyes immediately filled with tenderness.

Su Tang also didn’t take offense. As before, she smiled at Xuan Zi with half-closed eyes. After that, her hand shifted, and pinched his white delicate little face. “Your head is for your daddy to stroke, here after this little face is just for me to pinch.” Uh-huh, she early on just wanted to pinch his baozi face [1].

Xuan Zi didn’t anticipate Su Tang would do this and reacted late. Forcibly holding an advantage and afraid that she again would extend her claws, he hastily dodged behind Song Shi An’s body. She merely caught watery eyes attentively watching her.

But Song Shi An pulled him out, and with a soft voice said, “Daddy’s going to the Ministry of War, you stay here. Don’t forget what daddy taught you.” He looked toward Su Tang as he spoke. “The past few days Xuan Zi has been with grandmother, now I leave it to you to take care of him!”

Huh? She also has a responsibility to look after children? Su Tang looked at Song Shi An’s cold as ice insufferably arrogant manner. She coldly said, “Have me watch children for you, really.  Also, request that you put forward a cordial attitude!”

Song Shi Ani’s eye expression was completely frosty. Nevertheless, he again swallowed his fury. Easing up his tone, he said, “Please take good care of Xuan Zi.”

Su Tang blinked and blinked.  This is cold noodles first time to use this sort of tone when speaking with her! For Xuan Zi’s sake he went so far so to put down his stinking nauseating airs, to the extent that he swallowed an insult. Click click click [2], father and son affections are deep!

“Don’t tell me you aren’t afraid that I will act as the evil stepmother and mistreat him?”  Su Tang asked.

“You dare!” in an instant Song Shi An’s face was pitch-black. He waited and saw Su Tang’s mischievous eyes and smiling expression. His clenched fists loosened, and also said, “I believe you are not that kind of person.”

Even though this woman is a little arrogant and unbridled, her intentions still are not harmful. Additionally, her disposition is slightly jubilant. Following her, Xuan Zi may yet change to be somewhat optimistic. After all, Xuan Zi doesn’t have a person inside this general’s manor that he’s close to.  Even though I would very much like to keep him company, regretfully, I also am unable to do so.

Seeing him go so far as to say it this sort of thing, Su Tang’s heart was somewhat indescribably moved. But to not make things awkward again, the path of her finger adjusted. She said, “OK then, when helping people, then really help them. If helping someone, then do so as long as help is needed [3].  I’m once again reluctantly tackling a difficult task.”

Reluctantly tackling a difficult task?!

Song Shi An brandished his sleeves as he left.

Xuan Zi continued to watch the rear view of Song Shi An leaving, until there was nothing to see anymore. He was one tiny person inside the spacious hall, standing in the very center, unable to say anything.

Su Tang looked at his lonely expression and her heart softened.  She called out, “Xuan Zi.”

Hearing what was said, Xuan Zi turned around. A listless sweep,  he straightened his back and also changed to an appearance of chilly indifference.

Su Tang’s heart felt apprehensive. Originally seeing their appearance, she felt that the father and son weren’t even a little like each other. But this cold as ice manner was practically the same!  A pan of old cold noodles gave birth to a pan of young cold noodles!

However, a quarter hour ago the child seemed like an adult. The moment afterward it seemed like he raised a high wall around himself, still faintly hostile, just like a little hedgehog.

Su Tang sat down and ordered Shao Yao to move a drum-shaped stool [4] to give Xuan Zi.  After that, in a mood to enjoy herself, she looked at him sitting erectly on the block.

Xuan Zi hang his head, frowning. “Attentively listening for Mother to instruct.”

Hearing again this sound, “Mother”, Su Tang smiled, and said, “Was it your dad who taught you that?”

“Hmm.” Xuan Zi’s reply was a low sound.

“Then you really listen to your dad!”

“….” Nonsense!

“However, it seems you don’t like me.

“….”

“What are you muttering?”

“You can get rid of it seems, 2 words [5].

“You….” Hah, good kid! Almost forgot that he is a hard nut to crack! Putting on an obedient manner when in front of your old man, which of course is an act!

Very good, very good, the child is teachable!

“Then why do you dislike me? I haven’t wronged you.” Su Tang wouldn’t argue with him. A great man does not remember the trespasses of a petty person!

A little sensitive, Xuan Zi did not reply.  His sunken mouth said, “You also do not like me. Why should I like you.”

“Uh….” Su Tang was too surprised to utter a word. Quite a while later she choked out a sentence, “You have personality! I like that! My son, you have your father’s demeanor and way of handling things!”  She found that cold noodles repulsive and it wasn’t because cold noodles found her repulsive.

Xuan Zi’s long eyelashes opened and closed ….my son?

Su Tang continued to speak, “However, I never said that I don’t like you.”

That would be a wonder! Don’t think that I didn’t hear that sound, snort! Just a moment ago Daddy gave me to you to take care of, but you were totally unwilling!  Still saying you like me, lying monster!  Xuan Zi’s heart roared in rage, his expression stupefied.

Su Tang saw that Xuan Zi didn’t answer. She again kissed up saying, “Really, I like little children.  Those young children in our Ping city all loved to play with me.”

“….” That’s because they had no eyes to see!

“Though it would be good for you to not put on a sour face like your emotionless face dad. Xuan Zi, you’re just 4 years old.  Why be this deadpan.  Young children should be optimistic, a little lively.  Look at you, being rather sophisticated for your age. Yesterday saw you dressed in jet-black clothes, today again pitch-black. Your skin is fair and clear, wearing apricot color, pale grey-pink, off-white would be better looking….”

“….” Too ordinary!

Su Tang was taking great pains to draw him in, of course she was deliberate. The colder little Xuan Zi became, the more her fighting spirit was stirred up. She simply didn’t believe that her abilities couldn’t win over this brat!

Oh Xuan Zi, your mother died early, your father also is usually not by your side, and your grandmother previously was not close. This general’s manor is so big, making it lonely.  Su Tang reckoned this frosty manner of his was no more than a way to protect himself. Naturally, even more probable is that he learned it from father. Without a doubt it’s not totally established. How can a good small child go astray and successfully learn to be another cold noodles, that’s too tragic!  As a result, uh-huh, Su Tang pledged to pull back Xuan Zi to the correct path!

Little Xuan Zi, I’ll rescue you!

However, in spite of Su Tang’s seemingly fiery zeal, what could be done as Xuan Zi was absolutely still. Wooden-faced, he just listened to her long-winded snare .

Su Tang saw his unperturbed cold appearance, very baffled, “You can’t give a tiny response?”

Xuan Zi thought and thought, then earnestly said, “Are you thirsty?”

Are you thirsty?

Are you thirsty?

You spoke that much, aren’t you thirsty?

Su Tang’s rock melted.

“Ok, I was overly hasty. It doesn’t matter, there’s still a lot of time!” Su Tang dejectedly said. “Anyway, if you don’t want pay your respects to me then don’t pay respects, don’t wish to call me mother then don’t need to force yourself. We don’t need to stick to these trifles…. Who doesn’t want to call someone who isn’t their birth mother, mother?”

Xuan Zi lifted his small face and fixed his eyes on the woman in front of his face. He looked and looked.  A slightly different sentiment flowed from the middle of his glossy pair of black eyes, but very quickly his head lowered again. Long eyelashes as if butterfly wings moved and moved, but nothing was said.

At this moment, a maid servant entered the room saying, “Shao furen, outside the door is a person called Xiao Mo who is asking to see you.”

Su Tang’s eyes brightened. “He’s here!”

Xuan Zi caught sight of Su Tang jogging all the way out with a joyful look on her entire face.  He couldn’t help knitting his eyebrows.  Thinking a bit, he got up, smoothed down his clothes, and followed her out.

The entire way to the main hall, Su Tang fluttered in and out of the flowers, and stroked the willows [6]. Arriving and noticing Xiao Mo who stood outside the main door, her eyes shone.

Xiao Mo was going on 15 years old, height not tall, wearing white which was discolored by washing, and a dark grey traditional outer gown, but nevertheless, very neat and tidy.  His skin color leaned toward being dark, well-proportioned features, a smile revealed pure white even teeth, eyes squinted into half- moons.  He looked especially clever. Originally, he was a little beggar.  Several years previous he almost froze to death in the winter. Su Tang ordered someone to deliver to him a half body, old not new cotton-padded jacket. This allowed him to continue to live.

At that time, although Xiao Mo hadn’t attended school, he yet knew that a drop of water shall be returned with a burst of spring [7]. That’s why one time when Su Tang was walking by herself outside at night and met a degenerate, he picked up a stick and charged forward. In the end he was beat up, nose bloodied, face swollen, but also Su Tang’s purity was preserved. Then after that, he tidied up neat and clean and entered Su Ji, becoming a partner.

Entering Su Ji, he was hardworking and endured hardships. He learned and made progress.  In his spare time, he entreated an educated old shop assistant to teach him to read. Several years later, he learned a handful of skills and became Su Tang’s right-hand man. His distress was not small during the prior period knowing that his family’s young lady would marry in the capital.  A smiling face didn’t reappear until after Su Tang talked with him in private about some matters.

Su Tang saw a weary expression all over his face.  She hastily asked, “At this time, are you often put to a lot of trouble?” and drew him to a place on the side where other people couldn’t hear. They’ve gotten along with each other for several years.  Long ago, Su Tang took in this adolescent as a younger half-brother.

Xiao Mo listened to these words with a burst of emotion.  She didn’t ask yet about how the matter was proceeding, but first inquired whether he was fatigued. It was good fortune following this type of boss, really difficult to separate from.  After relieving thirst by pouring tea, he hurriedly said, “Not tired, not even a little tired.  Heard your instructions, so these 10 days I checked everywhere in the capital and picked out several good places.  Among them is one that especially conforms to your requirements, just on the main east street at the junction of 3 roads. To the south side is Four Seasons Lane, with places selling antiques, curios, and calligraphy paintings. To the east side is Scholars Road, the students and teachers there are not few.  The west side is Treasure Street, the capital’s most lively main street.  Therefore, that spot has an especially high number of people going back and forth.  A shop opened there would exceedingly catch the eye.”

Extremely pleased, Su Tang nodded. Since learning that she would be married in the capital, she began to plan the future. Most feasible would be to, in the same fashion, open a pastry shop in the capital.  But what’s to be done since she’s not at all well acquainted with this locality, the capital. In that case, first let Xiao Mo go to get a feel.

“That shop is like this,” Xiao Mo continued to speak.  “The outside 2 rooms are open access, After putting in shelves for goods, we still can arrange 2 square tables to seat 8. This will let customers eat pastries and drink tea. Inside are 4 large rooms, 3 can be used for making pastries, 1 can accommodate people. Also, in the rear there is a small courtyard where things can be set up.”

“How much money is this shop?” This is very crucial!

Xiao Mo smiled saying, “I already inquired. Because that shop is said to be large, but not large and small, but not small, it was really difficult to deal with. Business proprietor Mu put it aside for a good amount of time and couldn’t rent it out. I pestered again and again. He set one year’s rent at 620.”

“620!” Su Tang was astonished. She knew the shops in the capital were not cheap, but never expected they were this expensive!

Xiao Mo was somewhat awkward.  “This store’s rent still is moderate, others are yet over 1,000.  There are also inexpensive ones, but the section of town is not very good. I estimate, that if we have good turn-around then we’ll get back the rent money in half a year.”

Xiao Mo’s mind was nimble, and was clear about profit and loss. As they said this, Su Tang had a list.  Thinking, she narrowed her eyes and said, “I have to go see. If it’s alright then we must hastily set the agreement.” Time does not wait for people. When cold noodles divorces her, she doesn’t want to return to Ping city.  Must hurriedly find a good retreat route!

Xiao Mo looked at the two gods at the doorway [8], lowered his voice and said, “How can you get out?”


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