Old Lady Huang has always relied on her bit of luck to make her money but she didn’t really have any ability. And this time she was just cooperating with Madam Wu to make some money, so she didn’t really feel anything about it. But when she saw the look in the eyes of the girl who ‘volunteered’ to sacrifice herself to the River God, Old Lady Huang felt a cold shiver run up her spine.
“Auntie Huang, since you said so, we’ll just wait for the good news. Why don’t you come in and have something to eat first. You don’t have to worry that we’ll be late and delay the auspicious hour.” When Madam Wu and Madam Zhang, the wife from the third branch, heard what Old Lady Huang said, they exchanged glances, and then opened their mouths together to invite Old Lady Huang inside for a meal.
When Old Lady Huang looked inside and saw that there was chicken on the table, she forgot all about Su Tang’s eyes. The Su family was so generous that they even prepared a chicken for her! As soon as Old Lady Huang came to the table she wasn’t polite at all and immediately began to eat.
As soon as Old Lady Huang sat down, all the people from the three branches sat down after her. When Su Dafu came out, he glanced briefly at Su Tang and her brother, then looked away and stood beside Madam Wu.
Su Sani, Madam Wu’s daughter, was only four years old this year. When she saw her father coming, she held out her arms for a hug. Su Dafu quickly picked her up and Su Sani giggled and grabbed at Su Dafu’s beard.
When Dalang saw the interaction between his half-sister and his father, he tightened his grip on his sister’s hand. Then he lowered his head so he didn’t have to watch.
On the other hand, Su Tang coldly looked at how Madam Wu and Su Dafu stood together and coaxed their daughter, and she only felt it was ironic that they were also his children, but they could not even get a single glance when they were about to die. Meanwhile, Madam Wu’s daughter could get such fatherly love.
The seemingly harmonious family was actually just a joke.
Su Tang’s lips arced in a cold smile and she bowed her head and said nothing. Since she did not regard them as her family members, she didn’t feel hurt at all.
Old Lady Huang ate and drank until she was stuffed. While she ate she bragged that she knew that the Su family had a bright future, and that their family fortunes would soon change, and even talked about how they would have a high-ranking official in the family soon.
Even the Old Master of the Su family was coaxed into smiling a bit. Although he was usually very reserved it was clear that he had kept the words she was saying in his heart. When Old Lady Huang saw the old couple was so happy, she felt very proud in her heart, she really had the ability to coax people!
The sun slowly rose and many people from the village gathered around the Su family to watch the hustle and bustle. Although Sujia Village* was a fairly big village, nothing could be hidden. Before today the people in the village heard that the Su family were going to send their children as sacrifices to the River God so naturally, they came out to join the fun.
“This family has such cruel hearts. A good child is being sent as a sacrifice to the River God. It’s really a sin!” Some sensible people saw the thin and pitiful brother and sister standing in the yard and could not help but feel distressed.
“I think it’s because of Madam Wu’s ruthlessness, she just doesn’t like raising another woman’s children. I guess she’s not afraid to be put in the frying pan for doing such a thing after she dies.” Some people directly blamed Madam Wu. After all, who did not know that Su Dani and Su Dalang did not have a good life at home? But now it was so bad that they were even going to be sent away as sacrifices to the River God? There were so many children in the Su family but they happened to send the two whose mother died? Who would believe it wasn’t because the stepmother was vicious?
The people who spoke were all married women with sharp eyes, they could tell at a glance that it was Madam Wu who was scheming something evil.
“You’d better be more careful about what you two say. Madam Wu is very kind. She has been married into our village for so many years and has never done anything wrong. Moreover, she is not the one charge of offering sacrifices to the River God. Her family hasn’t separated, Old Master Su and Madam Zhao are both still there, right? It is not up to others to make arrangements for their grandchildren. Could a daughter-in-law not listen to the arrangements of her parents?”
There were also some young daughter-in-laws who heard what the others were saying and spoke up for Madam Wu.
When the woman who said there was something wrong with Madam Wu heard them defending Madam Wu, she just pursed her lips and said. “She is a person with a sweet mouth and a ruthless heart, if you think she is good, you can just keep making nice with her.”
Madam Wu looked very kind from the outside and she never showed a bad face to anyone. But these old village women were at least somewhat accurate in judging other people after they had lived to such an age. Madam Wu was obviously not a good person and they knew not to come into contact with people like that, otherwise they would not even know when they were calculated against.
Madam Wu could hear the people saying that she was a vicious woman outside. She gritted her teeth. She told herself that she only had this one chance so it was okay to lose some of her reputation. As long as the two children died today, everything else could wait. Her reputation would recover with time.
Thinking about it this way, Madam Wu stood quietly beside Su Dafu, bowing her head and saying nothing, as if it were none of her business. Madam Zhang, the third wife, saw Madam Wu standing behind Madam Zhao with her head down, pretending to be a good person, and sneered.
Old Lady Huang looked at the sky. “It’s the auspicious hour, let’s go to the riverside!”
Sujia Village was right next to the Qing River, and some families with no land in the village made their living by fishing, so it was very convenient to go to the Qing River.
When the elderly Su couple heard Old Lady Huang say that it was time, they wanted to take Su Tang’s brother and sister to the river right away but after only a few steps, they saw a group of people gathering not far away.
“Su Yonggui, are you really going to kill your own grandson and granddaughter like this?” The man who spoke looked to be in his fifties. Although he was dressed in plain clothes, they had no patches or mends. He walked over with a serious face.
The newcomer was Su Yongqiang, the patriarch of the Su family. He had heard before that Su Yonggui’s family was going to use their children as sacrifices to the River God but back when he first heard the news he only thought that it was some random nonsense. The villagers of Sujia Village had all lived by the river for generations and while they would occasionally offer some fruits, snacks, or the like to the River God, they all knew there was no real point to using living people as sacrifices.
So when he received the news early this morning that Su Yonggui was really going to give up his two grandchildren. Su Yongqiang immediately brought some people over to try to stop it.
When Madam Zhao saw Su Yongqiang coming, she immediately got aggressive. “What does the patriarch mean by that? What do you mean by ‘killing our grandchildren’? These two stars of misfortune have made our family get worse and worse ever since we had them.
When their mother gave birth to Dalong she almost died and then later she really did die. Now my son finally got another wife, if she dies again, who would still dare to marry him? Those two are destined to destroy our family, even now our third son is lying sick in bed, but you don’t want to let them go and serve the River God? What are we doing wrong? Should we just watch our third son die?”
Madam Zhao spoke with conviction, as if her words were sensible, and she seemed to think that she was being very reasonable.
Su Yongqiang ignored Madam Zhao and looked at his brother Su Yonggui. “Yonggui, I’m asking you, do you really want to do this? I won’t listen to a woman. You, the head of the family, answer me yourself.”
When Su Yonggui heard the patriarch questioning him in front of so many people, he felt ashamed. He hated Su Yongqiang for asking him this in front of so many people but he had already come this far so he said in a dull voice, “Brother Qiang, this is my family’s business, so leave it alone!”
“Well, Su Yonggui, to think you don’t treat your own grandchildren as human beings. I’ll just see what will happen to your family in the future.” Su Yongqiang had come to show his concern using his position as the Su family patriarch but if Su Yonggui told him to leave he really couldn’t interfere.
He took a final look at the pitiful Su Tang and her brother, then turned his head and left.
*‘苏家屯’ i got nothing so I just sounded it out phonetically wew
tl note: As the ‘patriarch’ I think that just means he’s the oldest inheritor of the ‘main branch’ or the su family