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TL’ed by snowflake_obsidian
Edited by Xia
Translators' Comments; Sorry for the delay in getting translations out…. I've had less time and energy due to my job, prep'ing to move, and going through acupuncture treatments. In case anyone is wondering, the acupuncture is helping a lot though feeling like a pin cushion doesn't endear me to it.
 一棍子还不能打翻一船人; Usually 一棍子打翻一船人 is said. Anyhow the original is literally a stick still cannot knock over a boatman. It's equivalent to the English saying that you can't paint everyone with the same brush.
 is also called cellophane noodles, Chinese vermicelli, and mung bean starch noodles. This photo is shark’s fin.
 This seems to have a second meaning of brushing away the rebuke.
 小鞋; Tight shoes are a figure of speech. This refers to ill treatment and difficulties created by a superior aimed at someone who cannot be openly punished.
 红杏出墙; the red apricot tree that leans over the garden wall refers to having an affair.
 贞节牌坊; chastity arch for women which is a memorial arch in honor of a chaste widow. Unfortunately in historical practice, the life of such a widow was pretty miserable. She often had to fend against her husband's family as they wanted the property she inherited from her husband. This sometimes meant being forcibly remarried, often done through a bribed official. If that didn't happen, the family could find ways to sideline her to get control of the property. If the family did not use underhanded means, they would distrust her unless she assured them that she would not remarry using more than words. Remarrying to a person of her choice would take the property away from the husbands' family. Demonstrating her sincerity to remain a widow usually meant physically mutilating herself which generally consisted of cutting off a finger or disfiguring her face.
 下更漏; This is a replica of a Song dynasty water clock. There is another type of water clock but those were very large (40 feet/12+ meters tall) so the smaller one seen in the photo makes more sense in this context.
Ch 18 - Carelessly Run Outside the Wall
"It can't be said that way. People cannot be painted with the same brush !"
Su Tang was jolted. All along she didn't hear this voice, a moment ago she didn't hear this voice. Who would speak for her? The head inclined a tiny bit to one side to see, but only saw that green shirt woman who all along appeared to be on a mental journey, far, far away. She was absent-mindedly adjusting the fully open begonia flowers, admiring them.
"Ru Hua, what do you mean?" Ru Yi's eye expression penetrated.
The green shirted Ru Hua snapped a flowering crabapple. She looked, yet didn't see Ru Yi's glance, saying, "It's nothing. It's just that watching all of you chat is increasingly boring."
Ji Xiang and Ru Shi simultaneously glowered and said in unison, "How is this boring?"
Ru Hua handily stuck a flower in her hair bun, appearing dependable. Neither urgent, nor sluggish, she opened her mouth and said, "Ru Shi, you said we are from the palace and that our status is not common. Then you tell me, how are we not common?" She saw Ru Shi remain silent, laughed, and then continued to speak. "Perhaps in the palace our status was not ordinary because the emperor doted on us. We now have already been given as a present to General Song. How can we still not be ordinary? Don't forget, how many of us are renowned or have a share in fame. Even more, General Song doesn't look at or visit us. To say, older sister Ru Yi, you took advantage several times to run to the study delivering this and delivering that. And several times the guard at the doorway drove you away? That we nowadays live in the large courtyard and have people waiting upon us is owing to the emperors' blessing. However, you also shouldn't mistakenly think that lao furen and the general don't dare do anything to us. They don't attach any importance to us. To speak frankly, the few of us are not worth their trouble. But now things are different as the general has taken a wife. Furen has plenty of possibilities to deal with us. In the final analysis, lao furen opened her mouth and let furen take charge of the household!"
"Moreover, older sister Ji Xiang, your sentence about a small business family, and another sentence about being wretched and common, certainly I know that among the four of us, older sister Ru Yi has the status of being the daughter of an official while us remaining three are all from common families. Yet where is the grandeur. As a matter of fact, compared to us, she is used to much better! The clothes we wore when we entered the palace were respectable, with pearl hairpins, but they still were not good enough! Nowadays we eat and drink what's fragrant and tasty, wear gold and put on silver. Furthermore, in the palace we were taken care of for a few months. However, previously we could not distinguish between bean thread vermicelli  and fish bones. Still more we didn't know the distinction between silk and satin. We didn't know what was good or bad. Arriving at the general's manor, we followed our inclinations and drew money from the accounts at our leisure. However, the funds are arranged to give other people a good look at us who came from the palace. The others are respectable compared to them (the four)! In the final analysis, it's no more than us taking ourselves too seriously…."
Hiding in the rockery, Su Tang listened to every word and phrase spoken by Ru Hua. Su Tang just felt that this person was quite unordinary! Her bearing was neither haughty nor humble, voice neither hot nor cold, spoke spic and span, and clearly understood principles. Contrary to what one might expect, a person with a penetrating mind.
Looking once more at the other three people, both Ji Xiang and Ru Shi faces were green, white, red and then purple at being spoken to. A very nice-looking sight. One scowled with cheeks swelling, and one gnashed teeth. However, both had the appearance of suppressing extreme anger, stubborn opposition, not a word coming out. Contrarily that Ru Yi had a sleet of placidity on her face, only the sides of her mouth held a smeared on smiling expression, the implication of which was unknown.
Quite a while later, Ru Yi spoke. "Contrary to expectation, I cannot see younger sister Ru Hua being able to say these benevolent words. It may be assumed that the new furen will be well liked."
A phrase that was gentle as a breeze and light rain, mocked, brim full of ridicule.
Ru Hua nevertheless was absent-mindedly coiling a strand of hair. Her head also didn't raise as she responded, "I don't know whether furen will be liked or not. I also don't care about that. I merely know that self-awareness is required to behave with integrity. In the end, it is better than being disgraced and not even know." Saying this she raised her head and softly smiled. "I'm also fed up with strolling in this garden. I'll go back to my chamber now."
Finishing speaking, she left. Sure enough, her head also did not look back.
"This little slut, putting on airs!" Ji Xiang waited until Ru Hua was gone and had completely disappeared before hatefully spitting out a phrase. "In the palace, I couldn't bear the sight of her seeming to be aloof from politics and material pursuits. Who does she think she is!"
Ru Yi stood up and flicked away a flower which had fallen on her . She indifferently said, "Fine. Also, she was correct. People must have knowledge of themselves. Wait after furen's first return as a bride to her parental home. We'll rise especially early and pay respects to the new furen and put her in her place.
"Huh?" The remaining two people looked at each other in dismay, their faces unconvinced.
Su Tang waited until the four were completely gone. Her chest heaving, she came out from the crevice between the rocks. She saw the lithe and graceful silhouettes of the four beauties disappear in the distance. Incomparably vexed, she touched her chin.
Rise especially early to pay respects? Giggle, afraid it's not that simple!
However, uh, I also don't care. Speaking ill of me doesn't matter. Speaking ill of my elder second sister, that's very unfortunate! Ought to, I ought to return home and hurriedly make a few pairs of tight shoes !
Avenging personal wrongs in the name of the public interest and so on, be extremely friendly and close!
Su Tang returned to He Xi courtyard, sneaking back the entire way. She climbed into the bedroom from the window and saw Xi Que sitting at the side of the table, embroidering flowers while complainingly mumbling. Su Tang at first wanted to play a trick, but when she saw Xi Que's person in great disorder and in a horrible mood, she just said, "Don't be troublesome. I'm back! Hurry up, grab some clothing so I can change!"
Xi Que was startled. She turned her head to see Su Tang's clothes stained with food as if splashed with ink. Shocked, she said, "Young miss, how did you become this disgusting apparition!"
Su Tang recalled that pretty as a picture daren Xiao Zhan. Smiling, she said, "Today I encountered an odd and interesting man."
Xi Que eyes opened round. "Man?"
"En." Su Tang took off her clothes as she responded.
Xi Que would have nothing to do with that. "Young miss! You are now a woman with a husband, and have to guard your female virtue!"
Su Tang unfastened the plain white cloth which tightly bound her chest. She didn't know whether to laugh or cry. "How am I not guarding my female virtue. I merely encountered a man. Strangers meet by chance like patches of drifting duckweed, nothing more. Moreover, we didn't hold hands or kiss."
Xi Que's eyes completely opened wide, "My young miss, you still want to hold hands and kiss! You want to be a red apricot tree that leans over the garden wall !"
"What nonsense you're uttering!" Su Tang fiercely knocked Xi Que's head. "Your family's young miss has unwavering integrity and deep feeling, not regret. I am completely able to be on a women's chastity arch !"
"…Young miss, you're cursing guye…." Xi Que faintly said with a dark face.
"Eh…" Su Tang remained silent.
At this time Shao Yao at the doorway was yelling. "Shao furen, xiao shao ye's maid, Fu Rong, requests to see you. It seems to be an urgent matter."
Shao Yao was good, knew that Su Tang couldn't remember the people here, and each time added the name of the person when announcing someone.
Su Tang finished putting clothes in order and soon afterwards walked out. Contrary to what was normally expected, Fu Rong was anxiously standing at the doorway with swollen red eyes, disheveled clothing, fully dominated by a state of panic. She seemed like a lost soul. Upon seeing Su Tang come out, Fu Rong immediately kneeled down, tears rushed forward and trickled down.
"Shao furen! Not good. Xiao shao ye has disappeared!"
"Eh?!" Su Tang turned pale with fright, "How did this happen?"
Fu Rong replied, sniffling and sobbing. "After nubi brought xiao shao ye back to the room to sleep, nubi also dozed off. Originally xiao shao ye sleeps for the greater part of 2 hours, but when nubi awoke and looked, xiao shao ye unexpectedly was missing! Nubi mistakenly thought he woke up early and went to read and practice calligraphy, but going to the small study to look, there was nobody there at all! Nubi was worried and searched inside and outside, but was completely unable to find him!"
Su Tang looked at the water clock , thinking to herself that she was gone not quite 4 hours. If Fu Rong slept and after an hour discovered that Xuan Zi was missing, that yet is a matter which occurred 2 hours prior. Why didn't she report this earlier? Thoroughly thinking it through, she then understood and determined that this servant girl didn't dare to try to find her, and thought to first look for him herself.
Presently, it was certain that she couldn't find him. However, she looked for a period of 2 hours and must have searched the entire manor, high and low!
Su Tang's heart thoroughly sank. She spoke saying, "You shouldn't cry. It's important to find him without delay. He is a young kid and can't go anywhere. We again should carefully search. Shao Yao, you go find several quick-witted maids and young lads to look for him once again in the manor! For the moment, don't alarm lao taitai over there. First dispatch a person to check whether or not Xuan Zi went there! The people in Xi Yuan will also let someone go look. Take note, don't alarm people! Furthermore, send a person to ask the guards to take a look at who has gone in and out during this period of time!…"
After giving instructions, one item after another, Su Tang merely felt cold sweat continuously oozing down her back. The countenance of other people was extremely agitated. She had no other choice but to keep calm and take charge of the overall situation. But she was still disturbed in her heart. How could they say this living person just disappeared!
"Miss, where do you think xiao shao ye went? The general loves xiao shao ye very much. If even the slightest thing happens to xiao shao ye, then what's going to happen! The general entrusted xiao shao ye to you!" At the side, Xi Que spoke, frightened out of her wits.
Su Tang listened to these words and her heart sunk even more. Yes, she had nearly forgotten that she promised cold noodles to look after Xuan Zi. Supposing today that Xuan Zi encountered a mishap….Su Tang trembled, not daring to think about that again!
"Boo hoo, the general certainly is a little delayed returning! Xiao shao ye, you absolutely cannot meet with a mishap!"
Su Tang, not being in a relaxed mood, said prayers. It's serious when having to look for someone without delay. In the same way she entered Xuan Zi's Chang Xin house, and very carefully searched in a circle, even underneath the bed, and in the big closet. She searched high and low, but ended up with nothing. Again, she searched all over the place, the mouth of the well, the side of the pond, in crevices between rocks, and in corners, and still didn't see even a shadow. The maid servants afterwards one by one came over to report back that Xuan Zi had not gone to lao taitai, nor over there to Xi Yuan. The doorway guards also replied that in the afternoon no one passed in nor out …. One by one tidings were passed on, but the more Su Tang heard, the more frightened she became. The color of her face became more and more grave.
Yet at this moment, a person also arrived to reported…. "The general has returned!"
Truly when it rains it pours. In addition to the snow, there's frost on top. For a long time already, several maid servants had the appearance of the sky falling on them. Drums were also beating in Su Tang's heart, but she still summoned up her energy and moved forward to greet him, meeting the situation head-on.
Song Shi An walked in the door and right away saw the agitated young lads running back and forth. He inquired with an unpleasant expression on his face. In an instant, his complexion became extremely ugly. He caught sight of Su Tang coming towards him and with thunder-like rage, "This is your care and consideration!"
Su Tang was in the wrong and also not talkative. She merely said, "Leave your lesson. It's urgent to find the child first!"
"Xuan Zi had better be alright, otherwise you'll soon find yourself on the spot!" Song Shi An's face was ominous. Finished speaking, he soon afterwards shook his sleeves in anger and departed.
Su Tang stood in the same place and merely felt a cool burst in her heart.
This matter could not be bottled up again. Song Shi An used what appeared to be excessive means to search. He commanded people to very carefully scout around the garden, disturbing Fu Rui courtyard and Liu Yun courtyard. The entire family all began to get caught up in looking for the missing person, the atmosphere keyed up. He ordered a group of people to then exit the manor and hunt all around.
The area surrounding Song Shi An already reached freezing point. No one was brave enough to step forward. Even more, no one dared to make a loud racket. Only the faint sound of servant maids could be heard calling out, looking for someone.
Lao taitai arrived, supported by the hands of Jin Xiu. However lao taitai had an obvious expression of it doesn't matter, whereas Jin Xiu's face was completely anxious. Still upon careful observation, a flash of nervousness could still be seen in lao taitai's eyes.
Entering the door, lao taitai swept a glance at Su Tang, saw her uneasy expression, tiny shakes of the head that she was unaware of. But even she herself didn't know that this head shaking was discontentment, her calm was inadequate. Still encountering this matter, she heaved a sigh as she entered the door.
Xi Yuan's four young ladies followed closely behind. Upon first seeing Song Shi An, Ji Xiang and Ru Shi threw themselves at him to hurriedly convey their surprise and nervousness about the matter of Xuan Zi going missing, as well as they longed to again see the person of the general. And Ru Yi and Ru Hua respectfully and cautiously curtsied, and soon afterwards stood on the side keeping silent. But the former's face betrayed fake concern, but the latter looked indifferent, an appearance of the matter being of no concern to her.
Song Shi An wasn't bothered at all. He rebuked, saying, "Shut up!"
Suddenly the two women didn't utter a sound. The corners of Ru Yi's mouth washed with ridicule, while Ru Hua was on a mental journey as before.
Lao taitai opened her mouth and said, "Seems topsy turvy. We're supporting you, not begging you to help, and also not letting you come to cause trouble!"
The four young ladies' complexion didn't look well hearing these words as this was their first time observing lao taitai say these severe words since arriving at the manor. Previously no matter what they did, it was always an appearance of being amiable, very personal and kindhearted.
Ru Yi looked at the other two who didn't dare say anything. She took a step forward, faced lao furen curtsied and said "Lao furen, the few of us are also concerned about Xuan Zi. That's all. Who would have thought without rhyme or reason, he would go missing. Formerly, everything was very good."
Finishing talking, she shot a quick glance at Su Tang. Nevertheless, the emotions in her eyes showed that she took joy in the disaster. It was more than blame… something bad happened to Xuan Zi while in your care. This aspect is huge, pretty good to make an issue of it.
The motive of these words was to expose Su Tang to censure. Everyone heard and soon afterwards the line of sight was aimed at her.
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