TL’ed by snowflake_obsidian
Edited by Xia
 两撇小胡子; a mustache which looks like this 八.
 一枚黄金板戒; I think this is the type of ring referred to;
 The sentence is meant sarcastically.
 鸡鸭鱼肉; literally chicken, duck, fish, and meat. This can be understood as rich food or all kinds of meat.
 鲤鱼打挺; This is easily understood when seen but rather difficult to describe. Look at the initial 10 seconds of this video clip; Struggling, Jumping Carp
品官; There are 9 grades of officials.
 藏龙卧虎; This is literally hidden dragons and crouching tigers. Some readers may recognize the phrase as it’s also the name of a movie. The saying refers to people with unusual though unrecognized talents.
 pergola; a garden structure which provides a shaded walkway and/or sitting area using posts that support cross-beams. Vines can be trained to grow on the structure.
Ch 17 – Life Everywhere Has Nice Surprises
Su Tang and Xiao Mo chatted as they walked, so the journey didn’t feel long. As soon as Su Tang walked past the main street and arrived at that 3-forked crossroad at the east main street, she saw the incessant stream of horses, carriages, and people bustling about. Despite appearing to be composed, it was still difficult to conceal the astonishment in her eyes.
Su Tang was thinking, with her small abacus going ping, ping. With these many people, if each person buys a box of pastry, even if 1 box is 10 minted coins it’s sufficient for her to make an exorbitant profit!
Su Tang was throwing quite a few approving looks toward Xiao Mo. By the time she caught sight of the store that he mentioned, she threw him even more complimentary looks. Of course, her composed, capable and experienced head turned around to yet carry an indifferent appearance.
The store proprietor was a middle-aged man, round face, small eyes, growing a thin small mustache , with a rectangular gold ring  on his trembling hand. His smile revealed a yellow shaking golden tooth.
Su Tang felt trepidation toward this august countenance  which didn’t generate even half a good impression.
After Xiao Mo made introductions, proprietor Mu who was all smiles wanted to extend hands to shake. The corners of Su Tang’s mouth drew out and she hastily served the tea on the table. It also was not really hot, but she drank 2 mouthfuls and candidly said, “Good tea, good tea.”
Due to Xiao Mo having beforehand engaged in talks, Su Tang was very satisfied with this shop front. After seeing that fate wasn’t going to lower the price, she handed over a deposit of 32 which counted as rent. Merely hope that after the first visit by the bride to her parents’ home tomorrow, proprietor Mu will have the official papers in order, then the money can be delivered and the contract settled.
Everything was smooth sailing. Su Tang’s frame of mind was excellent. But seeing Xiao Mo’s thin face, distress again arose in her heart. She pulled him into an inn and spend some time ordering rich food .
Impeding her, Xiao Mo said, “Gongzi, you needn’t squander like this. I can go back and buy a little pot-stewed meat, and eat a baozi, which will also be the same.”
Su Tang’s eyes glared. “How can getting something into your stomach be called squandering!”
“We also don’t need to order this much!”
“No problem. What isn’t finished can be bagged to be brought back!”
Xiao Mo looked at the sign at the doorway, “Restricted to only eating-in, may not be taken-out” and silently began to eat.
Two people were in the midst of eating with gusto when unexpectedly there was a noisy din upstairs, then after that a “thump” sound and the appearance of something falling from the sky which smashed smack onto Su Tang’s table. In an instant they saw the table crack into pieces, fall to the floor, the food from every single plate and bowl splashed fully onto Su Tang’s body!
Every guest all around was alarmed, because it turned out to be a real living person falling onto that table!
That person from the 2nd floor fell down and unexpectedly had no injury at all. Like a carp laying on his back, he fully drew his legs over his body, sprung up onto his feet, straightened out his body , looked at the proper direction to escape, and forced his way to the door! When he rushed out the exit, 4-5 sturdy men from upstairs also rushed out in hot pursuit.
Everything happened in the time that it takes for a spark to ignite.
By the time that not even a shadow of those people could be seen, Su Tang was still sitting on the bench blankly staring, her hand still holding chopsticks with a shred of meat pressed between them….what just happened?
Xiao Mo saw Su Tang dumbstruck, her face a sheet of paper. “Gongzi!” Panicked, he hurriedly yelled, mistakenly believing she was terrified.
Su Tang came to, eyes blinked for a bit, stretched the chopsticks into her mouth, and swallowed the shredded meat. Murmuring she said, “Xiao Mo, life in all respects has surprises!”
“….” Xiao Mo was dumbfounded.
In the twinkling of an eye, a howling sound spread. “Who can tell me what actually happened. What’s going on! Who will compensate for my clothing! Who will compensate my meal money!
Still burning with anger, Su Tang suddenly heard a sweet-sounding voice from above. She looked up and caught sight of a fine-featured man wearing moonlight color clothes. He was situated on the balustrade looking at her, a genial smile on his face.
Su Tang gaped.
A ribbon bound his hair, confident and at ease, very elegant, with a vivid pair of eyes. He laughed, water shimmering in the sunlight, a good sort of overflowing waves.
Su Tang was still affected by an upsurge of emotion when that person lightly descended the stairs and already arrived in front of her. He was just about to speak when the proprietor of the inn already hurried over wearing a woebegone face.
“I say daren Xiao Zhan, this is the 3rd time you’ve returned this month. Can’t you switch places to catch a thief. My small business can’t afford you coming back to break things!”
“Pop”, Zhan Yi Zhi unfurled a fan. His entire face forced a smile. “Proprietor Wang, look at these words of yours. Earlier I spoke with you and explained about turning over the price of damaged items to the judicial officers government office. Inform them about all the odds and ends. Where did they not give you compensation?”
“Compensation is compensation, but this influence is not good. You see here, my customers all received a fright. Afterwards who still will dare to come back, eh!”
Zhan Yi Zhi put away the fan and shook his head. “Not good, not good, these words are not good. Proprietor Wang, your awareness and thinking hasn’t improved. To speak about large matters, I do this for our great glorious flourishing Song country. To speak about smaller matters, I do this for the common people living in peace and happily working. You see how much I toil, running back and forth every day to catch a thief, is it easy for me to apprehend evil! You, the conduct of one fellow Song countryman, the conduct of one person in the capital, could it be that there isn’t even a tiny sense of responsibility? You to the contrary say, to capture one thief is good, yet to drop and break your few tables? People in ancient times said that’s good, for the nation, for the people, to go through fire and tread on water. This still didn’t call you to do anything, but yet you take advantage and put on a face as if wailing for the departed…..”
Ok, after a little conversation, proprietor Wang turned into a selfish narrow-minded person who doesn’t love his own country and doesn’t love the populace. He was incomparably gloomy and had no alternative but to finally oblige and walk away with a face as if yowling at funeral.
Su Tang somewhat understood this venting. This daren Xiao Zhan is a government judicial officer, but they don’t all investigate legal cases. Yet why run out all over the place to catch a thief? Also that appearance of his does not resemble a bailiff who is responsible for catching criminals!
Su Tang still had misgivings. Zhan Yi Zhi again opened a fan and beaming looked at her. “Seeing this brothers’ expression, it seems the gut has a lot of things which you don’t understand, but there’s no harm in speaking. A certain person called Zhan is not hiding anything he knows.”
“What government official are you?” Since you’re letting me inquire, I’m asking now!
“So-and-so Zhan of the Imperial Court of Justice, middle deputy to chief Yi!”
Middle deputy? Doesn’t that only have left and right? Su Tang glanced high and low at him, and again asked, “What grade official  are you?”
“Eh, grade 7.” When asked, must be very direct!
Su Tang nodded her head. Grade 7 is a tiny bit less than the official position of that pan of cold noodles. The sense of fear in her heart lessened and naturally her face also recovered. “Since you are a deputy, shouldn’t you be at the Imperial Court of Justice examining a legal case? Why run around to catch a thief?
Zhan Yi Zhi leisurely laughed. “The proverbs say it well, a dog capturing a mouse meddles in other people’s business. The proverbs also say, even if bored, being idle is a terrible idea!”
“Pfff….” Su Tang couldn’t refrain from laughing.
Zhan Yi Zhi wasn’t conscious of the slightest degree of impropriety. Seeing Su Tang cut a sorry figure from head to toe, he again spoke, “Ai ya, ruined all the clothes on brothers’ body and ruined the shopkeepers table of good food. Let’s do it this way, return with me to the Imperial Court of Justice and I’ll pay for your losses.” Uh, even more must use public funds to pay for the damage caused to others!
Su Tang made haste to shake her head, “No, my family has matters to attend to so I still need to go back as soon as possible.”
“That being the case, I won’t say more than is necessary. Whatever day brother is free, give priority to come to my Imperial Court of Justice to claim damages. Supposing by chance I’m there then certainly must pour a pot of fine tea for brother.” He paused a bit and again cheekily smiled. “Naturally, you also shouldn’t count on the Imperial Court of Justice having any good tea.”
Su Tang couldn’t help laughing. She straight-forwardly thought that unexpectedly this person is a 7th grade official. He really is the royal court’s crouching tiger, hidden dragon ! She unexpectedly tarried too long, cupped a fist in the other hand, in front of her chest, then took her leave.
Xiao Mo brought Su Tang back to that big fig tree on the main street outside the general’s manor. She again said a few sentences of instruction and soon afterwards took her leave.
Walking, she detoured and reached the small door. Looking all around she saw that there were no people and inwardly rejoiced. She quickened the pace and hurried away towards He Xi courtyard. But who would have expected, when she got to the rockery on the side of Yuan court, there were several people on the narrow blue-stone path walking towards her. Su Tang was in a state of panic and agilely dodged into a crack between the rockery boulders.
Isn’t the chest bundled up completely flat!
Altogether 8 people came, each and every one appeared to be female! From the apparel and lined up sequence she knew these 4 masters and 4 servants! Again personnel emerged from the manor and came to the spot where the 8 were….these exactly are the legendary 4 beauties of Xi Yuan!
Su Tang inwardly pondered about what appeared through the small crevice.
Which one is that legendary young lady Ru Yi?
This one with the blue-green blouse, silk skirt, and arched eyebrows ought not to be her, has the appearance of someone who lives tranquilly without seeking fame and fortune, eye expression drifts from place to place, unlike a fierce person. This one with the purple clothes, tall coiffure, whose entire face has no patience also ought to not be her, someone happy to look angry would not have strategies. This younger sister with red clothes as a matter of fact could be her, ah no, young lady Ru Yi was born in Southern Jiang and shouldn’t be this tall. In that case, the remaining one ought to be her, this one with white clothes floating in the breeze, cunning, pretty facial features, beautiful young lady….it’s nothing for her to wear white clothing garments. Ah, harder to launder!
At this time, the 4 people already drew near. Good opportunity, unfortunately they sat on the side of the pergola . Su Tang couldn’t help spitting blood. Please, why must you insist on compelling me to be an ear on the wall that separates us!
“Older sister Ru Yi, we really don’t need go pay respects to furen?” The purple clothed young lady spoke to the white clothed lady.
Su Tang inwardly gave a thumbs-up to herself…a more reasonable speculation!
Ru Yi leaned body and neither hot nor cold said, “What furen, pay what respects! Just say that our bodies are not well. I still believe she can’t do anything to us! I say Ru Shi, is it possible that you want to go curry favor with her this urgently?
The purple clothed Ru Shi promptly overruled. “Certainly not! In any case we came from the palace, our status is not ordinary. What’s more, I heard last night that the general slept in the study. It can also be assumed that he’s not fond of her. What use would there be in fawning over her?”
Ru Yi sneered. “Like a willow withering with the approach of autumn, announcing her refined taste is ludicrous. How can it be possible to obtain (the general’s) favor once more?”
The red clothed Ji Xiang agreed saying, “Precisely, merely a daughter from a tiny business family. Her appearance is unlike ours. Her clothing style is also wretched. I heard that the design of her bestowed garments are all from last year. The material also is not exquisite to the utmost. Moreover, ha, ha, I heard that she wears on her wrist a gold bracelet that is both common and small ….”
Su Tang blinked and blinked. Wretched? Common? Looking and seeing costly silks and satins on the bodies of those 4 people, she again thought about the suits and suits of clothes in her dowry. Ok. She all along was not particular about her dressing style. Dressing functionally and comfortably was just fine…. She was completely occupied with making money. Where was there spare time to dress up!
However, Su Tang recalled an item recorded in the account book and couldn’t help but laugh some. These 4 individuals nowadays dressed up this vibrant, immaculate, and beautiful. How are you getting by so comfortably, yet not all are stacks of money!
Each month all want to draw several tens of silvers which is not a matter of frequently eating shark fin and bird nest, it’s buying jewelry and face powder. And even more, it’s demanding to choose good material to make clothes, completely routing the people with husband’s mother! When she saw those accounts, she truly physically hurt for cold noodles. So the embarrassment about the pocket money turned into that sort of thing, providing for 4 vermin, truly pathetic. Naturally, her aching is by no means regret. When all is said and done, this is all cold noodles money and has nothing to do with her. Supposing these 4 individuals used her money that she strived and worked hard to acquire, she possibly would be totally angry and vomit blood!
That aspect incited Su Tang to repudiate and satirize high and low. Some while afterward they again spoke, (now) about Su Tang’s family members.
Ru Yi said, “You don’t know. She has an elder second sister who indeed eloped with a school teacher. So far they still haven’t returned home. The family principles are truly ethically and morally corrupt with no sense of shame. The older sister is like that. Being the younger sister, again where can she be good?”
It seemed that Su Tang refused to be drawn into matters despite what was just said, as if listening to them wagging their tongues, not in the least concerned. But hearing these words, now she simply wanted to bristle in anger!
Hey, curse people but don’t bring family members into it! This already is not pure gossip but rather rising more to the level of vilifying!
Su Tang’s body jolted, and wanted to get out!
At this time, a sentence circulated into her ears, stopping her movement.