TL’ed by snowflake_obsidian
Edited by Xia
 一朵鲜花插在牛粪上; a fresh flower planted on cow dung. The saying refers to a relationship where the woman is considered to have great qualities whereas the man is considered to be significantly inferior, especially in regards to appearance.
 一拳打在棉花上; a fist punching cotton. The idea is that the attack was useless.
Ch 23 – The Bride’s First Visit Home is a Boring Matter
The next day was precisely the day for the bride to return to her parental home. Su Tang tossed and turned for a long time the prior night before finally falling asleep. Therefore, she felt somewhat giddy being awoken early in the morning. Song Shi An also (finally) fell asleep in the middle of the night, and nevertheless was still reckoned as having the ideal countenance with a relaxed mind.
Lao taitai had long ago prepared the brides’ presents for her parents. On the left was one chest and on the right a basket of very sumptuous food. Su Tang secretly stuck out her tongue and thought to herself that this must be lao taitai spending excessive money again.
Because of xiao wang ye’s assassination (attempt) the previous time, Song Shi An added an excessive number of guards. He entered the carriage prepared with all sorts of contingencies. Su Tang originally planned to catch up on her sleep in the carriage, (but) seeing Song Shi An also make his way in, she promptly sat upright and at the same time stared daggers at him with a stern face….she still bore a grudge for yesterdays’ matter about a small cold noodles!
When the carriage abruptly launched, Su Tang suddenly recalled something and urgently said, “Wait a moment!” Looking at Song Shi An, she asked, “Can we take Xuan Zi along?”
She had told Xuan Zi, afterwards when going out, she’d take him with.
Song Shi An wrinkled his brows in a frown, and looked at Su Tang with concentrated attention. He didn’t know why she raised this proposal.
Su Tang started saying, “You, I don’t feel like speaking with you. Xuan Zi is still a small child and at an age where he loves to go everywhere to play. What do you mean by confining him to the manor? You see, because he stays cooped up in the manor for so long, he yesterday wanted to run out and play!” ….uh, this counts as she being the villain who defends by attacking the critic?
Regarding Xuan Zi’s mishap, Song Shi An all along felt he handled things very poorly and had a small feeling of not knowing where to start. Owing to hearing Su Tang say this, he truly felt there was some grains of logic (in it). Soon afterwards he said to the maid servant who was outside, “Go get shao xiao ye.”
Upon hearing this Su Tang, hurriedly got off the carriage saying, “I’ll do it. I’ll do it!”
This way is a good opportunity to win over Xuan Zi. How could she allow it to slip away for nothing!
Xuan Zi was sleepy and in a daze. When he heard Su Tang say that she wanted to bring him with to return to her parents residence, his small eyes promptly became round. But he still didn’t dare to believe and asked, “Can I go?”
Su Tang poked his small head. Smiling she said, “How could you not! I remember a certain person intimately preferring to my mother. Then isn’t my parents your grandparents!
Hearing these words, Xuan Zi smiled, 2 small dimples arose on his cheeks. Su Tang seeing this was extremely happy. Her arms embraced him, and brought him over to her. She suppressed a kiss. Xuan Zi kept blinking, silently lowered his head and didn’t let her see his smile. His lips quickly drew back, arriving at the back of his head.
In getting Xuan Zi clothing (to wear), he again wanted to take dark clothing. Upon seeing that, Su Tang immediately stopped him and drew out apricot colored clothing from the wardrobe closet. Motioning, she gave no explanation and simply put the clothing on him. Contentedly she said, “This color isn’t bad, particularly sets off your skin (tone), very adorable.”
Xuan Zi lowered his head and looked at his dressing style. He didn’t say anything. He actually was also fond of good-looking clothing. Daddy said that manly men need to be somewhat steady. He saw daddy always wore dark colored clothing and therefore also followed suit.
Su Tang gave Xuan Zi a small pin for his hair. After waiting for him to finish washing up, she smeared a little skin powder on him. Thinking for a bit, a spice bag was hung on his small girdle. Actually by the time everything was properly done, what originally was an indifferent calm Xuan Zi had been swiftly changed into a delicately featured happy inviting doll.
Su Tang couldn’t help herself and again thought of stroking his small head, but thinking again she restrained herself. Seeing this, Xuan Zi hesitated and then extended his neck so his head was in front of her. He said, “Ok, go ahead and rub.”
Upon hearing this, a stormy gale of joyous tears quickly came out of Su Tang!
By the time the carriage arrived at the Su family home, it was already close to noon.
Through the window, Su Tang saw the excitement of the people on the street. She didn’t know how, but unexpectedly a little feeling arose of “returning home in glory”.
As well, a crowd of people jostled at the Su family doorway. They watched the horse carriage come from a distance, all had one or another kind of smiling expression on their faces. Song Shi An merely exited the carriage. They smiled. Su Tang exited the carriage. They smiled. When Su Tang carried out a little kid in her arms, they somewhat couldn’t smile.
This…what’s up with this?
They knew that the general had a child born out of wedlock, but to bring him along on the jolly occasion of returning home after the wedding?
Xuan Zi was very perceptive. Seeing the expressions on the crowd of people, his expression was somewhat dismal. He instinctively shrank back and wanted to tightly grip Su Tang’s hand, but she was a step ahead of him and grasped his hand.
“Dad, 2nd aunt, eldest sister, sister’s husband….” Su Tang called the ring of people and pulled Xuan Zi close in front of her. Smiling she said, “This is Xuan Zi. Come, Xuan Zi, give greetings to grandfather, 2nd aunt and the great aunts.”
Xuan Zi awkwardly bit his lip. He extremely respectfully executed the rite and said, “Xuan Zi gives greetings to grandfather, 2nd aunt, great aunt, mother’s eldest sister’s husband, 4th aunt, and young uncle.”
Su Tang merely successively called out and Xuan Zi was able to greet the assigned person. This made everyone rather astonished. Su Ming clearly was extremely excited. He was the youngest and frequently subjected to not a small amount of intimidation. Now seeing a small kid call him young uncle, immediately his position in the family hierarchy rose, his body straight as a (wooden) board.
He stepped forward and grabbed Xuan Zi’s small hand. Happily smiling he said, “such a good-looking kid. Ha, ha, I’m your uncle!”
Aunt Zhou took a quick glance at Song Shi An. Seeing that his face was expressionless, she couldn’t help chiding Su Ming. “Little Five, don’t make a fuss.” Although normally speaking, she was able to stand hearing little five being called “uncle”, but when all’s said and done this is the general’s son!
Su Ming curled his lip, reluctant to let go of Xuan Zi’s hand.
Father Su at long last regained his senses, “What are you all doing standing here. Hurry up and go inside. The meal is all ready.” Seeing that group of imperial bodyguards behind Song Shi An, he also ordered people to quickly move over a table, chairs, and bring more chopsticks.
Heavens, how could there be this many people!
While eating, Song Shi An’s manner was imposing, cold, and sedate. His every move carried the demeanor of a senior general. Although he was the son-in-law and of the younger generation, nevertheless everyone merely felt they should present offerings as if he was an honorable god. Each and every person was trembling with fear. Father Su did not have the airs of the older generation. Aunt Zhou even more just was able to apologetically smile. Several sisters and their husbands were silently eating. Xuan Zi merely ate without talking….as a result, the entire hall was oddly quiet.
The more Su Tang ate the more tasteless things were. Finally, she truly was unable to stand it any longer and ferociously stomped on Song Shi An’s foot. Fuming with rage, in a low voice through gritted teeth she said, “Could I trouble you to smile? Don’t think that everybody owes you 2 silver liangs!” Really doesn’t acknowledge people, doesn’t give face! Runs over to my parents’ home and yet this act which makes people loathe the situation, as well as reprimands their moral integrity!
Song Shi An blankly stared. After realizing what was meant, he made great efforts to ease his facial expression. He squeezed out the thread of a smile and looked around.
He looked at everybody, and in every case the skin on their scalp went numb. After that he straightened his back, sat upright and still ….there was nothing to be done. The important general with this beautiful smile, but what they felt underneath let them recall the phrase about hiding a dagger behind a smile. Moreover, they detected cold sweat dripping down their back!
So after he swept his eyes around once and saw that they weren’t saying anything, his line of sight soon afterwards fell on Su Tang. Recalling that day she referred to him as “Xianggong” in front of lao taitai, he then reciprocated with a soft voice, “Niangzi, eat some more.”
“Pffft….” Su Tang was in the midst of drinking hot soup. Upon hearing these words, she sprayed out a mouthful.
Everyone’s expression was different.
Father Su was distressed. These 3 girls are married now, how could they still have this moral conduct!
The 4 sisters glared at the 4 husbands. You see, the general dearly dotes on her!
Aunt Zhou felt scorn, truly a fresh flower planted in cow dung !
Xuan Zi quietly wiped the soup on his clothes, all of it was spurted on me.
Song Shi An had a black face….black face….black face…
Returning to the brides’ home is boring, had Song Shi An known in advance, he absolutely would not have come.
Finishing eating lunch, the Su family men and women gathered around forming 2 circles. The women were still able to continuously chatter on. The men were obligated to offer cup after cup of tea as if liquor. Naturally they also talked, but it was very unfortunate (as) Song Shi An was unable to make sense of the topics. And yet even if he understood, he wasn’t too interested. To be polite, they looked for some subjects that were interesting to him, (but) he simply was silent and didn’t utter a sound, for instance….
“General Song, I heard that our Song country has peace talks with Yan and that those are going well. This all day fighting back and forth is really not well looked upon! This war makes the common peoples’ days very difficult….” 4th younger sister said.
Song Shi An shot a glance at her and didn’t say anything. Don’t tell me she doesn’t know that I’m the biggest advocate of the war!
Eldest sister’s husband spoke switching the conversation topic. “3rd younger sisters’ husband is a middle level court minister. A close friend of mine is also a government official alongside 3rd sisters’ husband. Huang Zheng who is in the Ministry of Rites doesn’t know 3rd sister’s husband though recognizes him. Every time we’re together he brings that up. He profusely praises 3rd sister’s husband!”
Song Shi An shot a quick glance and didn’t utter a word. Could it be that you don’t know that this Huang Zheng ratted me out the day before?
Father Su saw that the expression on 3rd sister’s husband face was getting worse and worse and hurriedly smoothed things over, “Today’s weather is really pretty good. Uh, ha ha ha….”
Here Song Shi An’s exterior was composed while agitated in his inward most being, yet there Su Tang was not much better. She didn’t get along at all with these few women in the family. Eldest sister was delicate, 4th sister aloof from politics and material pursuits, to say nothing of Aunt Zhou. Furthermore the mother and 3 daughters were all around (her) chatting together, so why did she feel that she was superfluous.
At this moment they were talking again about the question of why eldest sister was wed for many years but didn’t yet have an heir.
Aunt Zhou had 2 daughters, Su Qin and Su Yuan, ranked in the family as eldest and fourth.
Eldest sister Su Qin married the di son from the family of Aunt Zhou’s older male cousin, surnamed Zhu, named Mao Fu. The Zhu family also were in business, and also formerly were substantially well-off.
The occasion of eldest sister’s wedding was also considered impressive, but unfortunately a half year afterward, the Zhu familys’ 2nd son caused a murder case. Zhu lao ye was exceedingly infuriated. From that time on the Zhu family suffered a drastic decline, and fell into pieces not even a year later. Aunt Zhou felt sorry for her son-in-law. Soon afterwards they were brought back and a way was thought of to allow eldest daughter’s husband to take control of the Su family pastry shop. Afterwards the simple life of a young couple was flipped to be pretty good. It was just that they had been married many years and still didn’t have any children. This produced an endlessly anxious and extremely worried Aunt Zhou.
“This also is not to blame eldest sister. It’s all a matter of fate. What use is you prattling away back and forth?” 4th sister Su Yuan spoke neither hastily nor slowly. Holding a plum between her finger and thumb, she put it into her mouth.
Aunt Zhou looked angry, “How can I not be annoyed, your eldest sister is 26! Gu ye is almost 30! Now I’m pressing, but otherwise she’d be swapped out for someone else, earlier would have been divorced on several occasions, and there’d be buckets of concubines!” Speaking, she was flustered and exasperatedly pinched the flesh on eldest sister’s arm. She furiously said, “How can you be this disappointing!”
Eldest sister’s temper was weak. Being pinched like this, originally she’d felt very wronged though now-a-days tears just flowed out.
Not being able to stand seeing her this way, Aunt Zhou didn’t scold and didn’t not scold. In the end she faced the side toward 4th sister and spread fire. “And you, married more than half a year now. Why doesn’t your belly have some movement! Really worries people to death!”
4th sister Su Yuan was neither as sweet tempered nor as good-looking as eldest sister. Her forehead revealed some pride. She married a businessman from Lin Cheng county, surnamed Li, named Guang Sheng. The property of her husband’s family was pretty good and because she got married before Su Tang, there was a lot of mocking and ridiculing at that time. Nowadays Su Tang was viewed as having married better than her. This was difficult to bear. It rather seemed that she was handed layers upon layers of fire which wrung her heart. Therefore watching Aunt Zhou target herself, with the chilly sound of a humph she said, “What is there to be anxious about. At the beginning you didn’t let me get married. If I had, I’d already have several sons. And now conveniently, you’re permitting me to be a mother?”
Su Tang in the process of being bored tapped on a melon. Hearing these words, she lifted her head and look towards this 4th sister who found her disagreeable. (After) watching a while, she smiled. “What sister said is right.”
Finished speaking, she lowered her head and continued to tap on the melon.
4th sister angrily gnashed her teeth, her vigorous attack was useless . From the corner of her eye, Su Tang caught a glimpse of 4th sister. When completely angry she was fond of merely twisting a handkerchief. Her smiling eyes had completely become a narrow slit…oh, ha, ha. Old mother occupied with tapping on the melon, you go ahead and take offense at your leisure!
After tapping the pile of melons, she drank several cups of tea. Su Tang truly couldn’t sit still and soon afterwards had to agilely exit to go to the washroom. When leaving, she didn’t forget to lob a sentence at 4th sister. “My darling son ought to wake up. Being a mother, I should go look.”
Delicately and gracefully exiting the door of the main hall, Su Tang was filled with joy, her smile like the spring breeze. Entering the rear court, she hadn’t even gone a few steps when she caught sight of Aunt Sun’s maid servant Du Juan walking over to her.
“3rd miss, nubi was just about to go looking for you!”
“What’s the matter?” Su Tang asked.
“Aunt Sun would like to see you.” Du Juan answered.
Aunt Sun? Why does she want to see me? Su Tang thought and thought as she followed (the maid servant).
The author wants to say:
Father Su has 1 wife and 2 concubines.
The wife is Su Tang’s mother, who already has gone to the western paradise.
The 1st concubine Aunt Zhou, had the eldest daughter Su Qin and the 4th daughter Su Yuan.
The 2nd concubine Aunt Sun, had the 2nd daughter Su Chu (who eloped, that one) and 5th brother Su Ming.
Naturally, I have to mention these. Also, not anything needs to be born in mind, chuckle.