TL’ed by snowflake_obsidian
Edited by Xia
 Osmanthus, Sweet Osmanthus, Tea Olive, Fragrant Olive, or Sweet Olive; These are from Asian trees particularly found in eastern and southern China. The flowers can be white, yellow, or orange. The dried flowers are about the size of rice kernels.
 The journey of life with its’ ups and downs, twists and turns.
 出水芙蓉; Idiom that prefers to the surpassing beauty of a poem or a young lady.
Ch 21 – Taking Advantage, Afraid to Speak Out
Su Tang looked at his appearance, merely felt now that he was awfully cute. She extended her hand wanting to touch his head and thought that he only allowed cold noodles to stroke it. Soon afterwards she switched to pinching his small face.
Xuan Zi quickly glared at her, but didn’t say anything because the mashed lotus seed bunny rabbit was excessively tasty. He took a bite and smooth sticky rice running like liquid filled his mouth. However bountifully eating, he discovered that this flavor was different from what other people prepared.
Xuan Zi finished munching. “What’s inside this?” he asked. “It’s not like what others make.”
“Of course it’s not the same, a little osmanthus flowers  were added inside to increase the sweet fragrance.”
Xuan Zi nodded his head and extended his small hand thinking to take the small duckling, but Su Tang blocked him.
“It’s not good for little children to eat too many sweets. You eat this.” Su Tang brought out the green colored round dumpling.
Xuan Zi thought a bit and heeded what was said. He gave up on the small duckling, picked up the green round ball, and bit into it. Not paying attention, the chicken broth inside completely poured out. Xuan Zi’s little mouth was preoccupied with licking, unwilling to waste anything.
Smiling, Su Tang brought out a handkerchief for him and said, “Eat slowly eat, there’s still more.”
Xuan Zi abruptly stopped and quickly glanced at Su Tang. Something inside his eye rose up and changed.
(Her) eyes watched Xuan Zi eat almost everything. The opportune moment had already arrived. With a crafty smile, Su Tang asked, “You followed me out today, right?”
Xuan Zi choked.
“Not saying anything is admitting it.” Su Tang again asked, “Ok, why did you want to follow me?”
Xuan Zi swallowed the last mouthful of pastry, his pursed lips motionless.
Su Tang said toward her fingers, “If you have something to say then say it. You’ve raised difficulties so I’m unable to act impartially, exploited matters so that I’m afraid to speak out. And you’ve accepted a favor, eaten my things. How can you not answer my question?”
Xuan Zi lifted his head, eyes opened wide. Wasn’t it you who insisted on giving me food to eat!
This woman is too cunning!
Su Tang continued with a genial smile on her face and said, “Still I understand. However, you told a fib. If great-grandmother and your daddy knew that you lied, would or would not….” Ai ya, she truly is too wicked!
Sure enough, Xuan Zi changed color and almost begging said, “You can’t tell them.”
Su Tang raised her eyebrows. “Then you must tell me the truth.”
Xuan Zi eyelids drooped, a long time he later said, “A man came looking for you. And you had him wait outside for you, so I followed you out.”
“So….” Su Tang thought for a while, a tad not knowing whether to laugh or cry. “As a result you mistakenly thought I was a red apricot tree leaning over the wall. You want to help your cold face Dad keep an eye (on me)?”
Cold faced Dad? With bottled-up bitterness, Xuan Zi looked sideways at Su Tang.
“Then afterwards, why tell a lie to help me cover things up?
Xuan Zi as before was silent for a good while until saying, “I got lost following you.”
Fundamentally thought he’d be able to keep up, but they walked too quickly. With the incessant stream of horses and carriages outside, all of a sudden he couldn’t find their shadow. At random he followed a section of the road but still didn’t catch sight of them. Soon afterwards he thought to return to the manor but who would have expected that he couldn’t find the way back. Ultimately, he went around in circles for quite a while and (then) groped the way (home).
Xuan Zi despondently said, “Don’t have real evidence, can’t carelessly speak, otherwise great-grandmother will be unhappy, will resent me for creating difficulties.”
So that’s what happened. He was afraid to provoke lao taitai’s displeasure and therefore concealed it, enduring punishment for nothing. Listening, it was somewhat absurd. But Su Tang was able to understand Xuan Zi’s thinking. This small brat both dreaded and was afraid of that lao taitai. Him being afraid to make a mistake yet again gave birth to her loathing. Su Tang secretly going out to amuse herself and him concocting a story making mischief were comparable. The latter obviously was more odious, and even more, both sides were accomplices.
Seeing Xuan Zi hang his head, Su Tang felt indescribably sorry for him. “Are you very afraid of grandma?”
Xuan Zi didn’t utter a sound.
Su Tang said, “Actually grandma was very concerned about you.”
Xuan Zi’s mouth deflated. “Daddy also said this.”
“But you feel the matter is actually not like that, right?”
Xuan Zi again didn’t utter a sound.
“Truly, grandma knew you disappeared this afternoon and hastily rushed over. The anxious look in her eyes when she came through the door was clearly genuine. By the time you returned, even though she kept a straight face, I nevertheless noticed she breathed a sigh of relief. And although she is a little stern about punishment, but as a matter of fact it’s all for your own good.”
“Is that true?” Xuan Zi lifted his head and earnestly asked.
Su Tang kept nodding her head. “I have no reason to lie to you.”
That’s a wonder, just now you conned me into eating your pastries!
Su Tang said, “And also, I want to explain to you that that man you saw today is my original store partner. He’s come to the capital to set up a shop. Uh, a shop exactly for those pastries you ate a moment ago. I am helping him look at stores. I’m regarded as the general’s furen and can’t easily go out in the open, therefore I secretly slipped away.”
Su Tang didn’t know why she wanted to explain these (things) to Xuan Zi, and didn’t also know whether he believed her words. But seeing his clear eyes, she simply thought that she’d better say a little something. Even though she concocted a story, saying something was better than nothing, right?
Even though Xuan Zi was young, he however was extremely sensible.
“Actually Xuan Zi, you also wanted to go out to play. Next time we go out, (how about) taking you with, OK?” Sigh, heard the small door on that side was completely sealed. It will be inconvenient the next time she wants to go out, and though a way which would work. However that’s using Xuan Zi, an offense that she felt sorry about.
Feeling wronged, Xuan Zi’s gaze kept dodging. He said, “Daddy won’t let me go out to play.”
“No matter, I’ll convince your daddy!” It goes without saying that little children just want to go out and have fun. Why be cooped up in a cage! This cold noodles is genuinely unqualified to be a father!
Having been indulged, Xuan Zi promptly nodded his head in agreement. Anyway, he didn’t respond grudgingly. Soon afterwards he merely agreed in a wizened manner, “Oh.”
“Then tell me now, do you still detest me? You see, I’m generous. I gave you things to eat and also want to take you out to play. In friendship, we’ll together indeed sneak food to eat!”
Xuan Zi blushed in shame.
Su Tang continued to speak. “Actually you’ve really misunderstood me, I like you very much. That day I snorted wasn’t regarding you, it was regarding your cold faced dad. However, you in fact don’t like me. That day you paid respects properly when facing me. Was it only due to the snort that you changed your mind?” That time, Xuan Zi had a wounded eye expression. He was an awkward sensitive little kid. If you give me the cold shoulder, then I will treat you even more coldly!
Xuan Zi shifted his body about, unwilling to reply.
Actually everything Su Tang said was correct. Ru Yi in front of Xuan Zi always said that Su Tang was bad. Although Ru Yi said Su Tang would not be good towards him after marrying Song Shi An, Xuan Zi didn’t like Ru Yi and therefore didn’t have faith in her words. He kept in mind that as long as he was well-behaved, he’d always able to make people like him. Only he never thought that he still wouldn’t be at ease. Su Tang faced him and felt it beneath her dignity to harrumph. Accordingly, that small heart immediately broke into pieces and as a result he forced himself.
“I’m really the same as you. When very small my mother also passed away, therefore I understand your mind very much. Would like to have other people completely like (me), therefore speak and do things gently and cautiously. However, you don’t need to be this way towards me. Perhaps I won’t dote on you the same as your mother, nevertheless I will always treat you fairly.”
Hearing the word “mother”, Xuan Zi’s pair of eyes hung down. He already didn’t have the slightest impression about his mother. He also didn’t know how much his mother really cared about him. The (earliest) he could remember, he simply followed daddy and followed deputy general Liu, living life.
The 2 people were still speaking one minute and quiet the next, entirely unaware that someone had arrived and was behind them.
Song Shi An saw two people next to each other, one large, one small, one sitting, one kneeling. It created a faint feeling in his heart … that woman’s reaction a short while ago seemed to be not very tolerant towards Xuan Zi, he didn’t expect….
He was somewhat dumbfounded seeing that slightly revealed corner of the empty food container. He understood Xuan Zi’s temper. Great-grandmother said to let him not eat, so he absolutely wouldn’t eat a grain of rice. Then what methods did this woman have to make him eat?
Song Shi An was rather curious.
At this time Su Tang perceived something and turned her head to look back. She saw Song Shi An merely standing at the doorway and was involuntarily startled. “When did you get here!”
Seeing his own father, Xuan Zi also was astounded. He recalled that the food box at the side still was displayed and knew they had been caught. He was very uneasy.
Song Shi An ignored Su Tang and merely talked Xuan Zi. “It’s almost time. I’ll take you back to your house.”
Xuan Zi heard what was said and simply wanted to stand. But he had kneeled for too long so getting up was difficult. Upon seeing this, Su Tang quite naturally supported him, hugging him. A warm onslaught, Xuan Zi sniffed the scent on Su Tang’s body and unexpectedly was reluctant to depart.
Su Tang cuddled Xuan Zi. She stuffed him towards Song Shi An’s chest and said, “Hurry up, carry him back. It’s too late, (he) should have gone to sleep earlier.”
Song Shi An didn’t know how to carry Xuan Zi in his arms and unexpectedly (found that he) was to take over. He was somewhat bewildered.
Su Tang saw this body language of his and had some misgivings. “Don’t say that you don’t know how to hold a child!”
Song Shi An was speechless. He often was busy in the military and indeed embraced Xuan Zi very little. By the time Xuan Zi grew large enough to walk, Song Shi An never had the experience of hugging him.
Su Tang flung a scornful glance at him and said, “I don’t despise you. I despise you from the bottom of my heart! You completely don’t know how to hold close your own son!”
Saying this, she scooped up Xuan Zi and walked out.
Xuan Zi also rarely had been carried in someone’s arms, to say nothing of being hugged by a woman, therefore being embraced like this seemed extremely unnatural. But he again hated to part with this soft warm sensation, and uncomfortably endured, not struggling. After a while he additionally extended his small hands and embraced Su Tang’s neck.
Song Shi An followed in the back. Seeing Su Tang walk as if getting a fortune, he considered saying something, but again didn’t know what should be said.
It seemed like Xuan Zi ought to be made to get down to walk by himself. Xuan Zi already was big enough and furthermore really shouldn’t let someone carry him. But seeing that contented expression on Xuan Zi, no matter what (Song Shi An) just couldn’t say those words.
When Xuan Zi returned to Chang Xin house, Su Tang watched the elderly maid servant come out to meet them. Already realizing that she didn’t have any matters (to induce her to stay), she called out to Xuan Zi to take care and then left.
Song Shi An had some things to say to Xuan Zi and remained there.
Xuan Zi saw his daddy looking odd and in a small voice said, “Daddy, just now I ate things, but not rice, ate pastries. Mother said this way it wouldn’t be going against great-grandmother.”
Song Shi An was taken aback. Realized, to his surprise that woman dug into a loophole in grandmothers’ words. Fortunately, she thought through this, how to coax Xuan Zi to eat.
“Never mind, if you ate you ate.” Song Shi An stroked Xuan Zi’s head, speaking in a soft voice. As a matter of fact he also felt sorry for Xuan Zi, only he didn’t dare run counter to lao taitai, nothing more. When all was said and done he understood, lao taitai all along wasn’t too keen on Xuan Zi because of the zigzags in the path due to the mountains and rivers .
Xuan Zi saw that Song Shi An didn’t fault him. Relaxing a breath, he said, “The pastries mother made were delicious. Next time Daddy you can also eat.”
Song Shi An didn’t say anything. Make that woman prepare pastries for him? Reckon that will be very difficult.
“Do you like her?” Song Shi An couldn’t refrain from asking. He recollected that not too long ago he lied prostrate on Su Tang’s gentle and agreeable body.
Xuan Zi thought a bit and replied, “She’s really a little troublesome.”
Then the rest however wasn’t bad. Song Shi An understood, though he was still somewhat astonished. Xuan Zi was relatively sensitive. In the general’s manor, he ordinarily was reticent except for the part about slightly glorifying his own parents, completely frosty and disinclined to pay attention to anyone. Granted that when Ru Yi came and had nothing to do, she’d always tease Xi Yuan to amuse herself. He also gave her the cold shoulder. Then for what reason did he have a favorable impression towards Su Tang?
Song Shi An kept in mind that Su Tang was guilty of taking liberties, and wrinkled his brow. Anyway, he again very quickly felt relieved. He merely wanted Xuan Zi’s impression towards her to not be bad, that was sufficient.
Once more, he and Xuan Zi said a few things. (After) seeing him go to sleep, Song Shi An returned to the bedroom. Originally, he wanted to wash up but saw that the sound of a person came through from the inner room, it was Su Tang taking a bath. Song Shi An turned, walked to the side of the desk, picked up a book and leafed though, waiting for her to finish washing so he could go in.
As a result, when Su Tang came out she saw Song Shi An sitting erectly. The candle flame set off as a foil his elegant facial features, that indescribable plucky serene beauty. Su Tang couldn’t help gaping somewhat.
Although it wasn’t acknowledged, that pan of cold noodles indeed could be regarded as a feast for the eyes!
Song Shi An raised his head and saw Su Tang. He also was dumbfounded. Just out of the bath, Su Tang was dressed in a plain white sleeping gown, a pale blue-green robe draped over her shoulders. A jade hairpin was stuck in her gathered together fine loose black hair. A little bit of charm was also carried in the stupor. Indescribable, he merely recalled the words “as a lotus flower appearing just above the water ”. And as well, the steam rendered her face even more gorgeous, rosy cheeks, moistened red lips, making him want to take a bite of what was seen.
He called to mind, that evening a sound spilled from this mouth, an overwhelmed feeling of joy. Song Shi An clearly sensed that plaything down there again started indomitably growing….