Chapter 25 (V2): Teaching Literacy
But at the very least, Wang Shi would have known that the fault was not just on Sang Wan alone but was a result of another factor should she still be angry towards her.
“Mistress, you’re back!” Liu Ya had already finished writing the characters and was glancing at the door once in a while as she quietly read the literary work which was taught to her yesterday. Seeing Sang Wan enter, she placed the book down and immediately went to fetch a cup of tea.
“Not able to sit still?” After receiving the cup of tea, Sang Wan gave Liu Ya a glare.
Liu Ya rubbed her hands together nervously and smiled at Sang Wan foolishly.
Sang Wan understood that she could not be too hasty. Changing a behavior was not something that can be accomplished overnight. With that in mind, Sang Wan shook her head, “Enough. Let’s call it a day! You may keep the book, but let me take a look at the characters you’ve written!”
“Ai!” Liu Ya’s eyes glistened and she nodded gleefully. Immediately taking out a paper which was once blank, she showed it to Sang Wan in fear of her going back on her words. “Mistress, have a look at them! This servant’s writing isn’t too bad, right? This servant isn’t lazy and has written every single stroke!”
Hearing her serious tone, Sang Wan could not help but giggle before taking a quick glance at the characters. There were some that were crooked, some that were big and some that were small, and some that were thick and some that were thin, but for those that were too rigid, the strokes looked like branches. The more Sang Wan looked, the funnier it was.
“How is it? This servant isn’t lying, right?” Seeing the smile on Sang Wan’s face, Liu Ya could not help but grin and asked complacently.
“Better than yesterday and the day before!” Sang Wan contained her laughter and placed the paper aside. Smiling, she praised, “Very good! You’re getting better and better with each passing day.”
After hearing a compliment, Liu Ya’s grin broadened. “Then, please have a rest, Mistress. As for what Mistress would like to have for dinner tonight, this servant will go to the kitchen and ask for them to be prepared!”
Sang Wan could not help but sigh. Truly, a landscape is easily changed but the behavior is not. Even in the Sang household, Liu Ya could not stay put. To have her remain in the Shi household’s Ning Garden would nevertheless prove to be difficult for her! Just like this, the moment she placed her books down, she was eager to go elsewhere.
“Go then!” Sang Wan smiled helplessly. “Do not stray from the task and do not delay. Return early once you’re done!”
“Yes, this servant understands!” Liu Ya promised before rushing off excitedly.
Sang Wan lifted her gaze and saw Zhide staring at Liu Ya’s masterpiece that was left at a side with a vague smile on her face.
Aware that her behavior was ill-mannered, she immediately retracted her gaze and smiled. “Mistress.”
“Can you read?” Sang Wan asked.
Zhide’s eyes turned gloomy and she shook her head before forcing a laugh. “I am nothing but a servant whose life isn’t good enough to learn how to read!”
Sang Wan laughed, “Reading isn’t something extraordinary. Aren’t you and Liu Ya similar? Keke, although she may not be as fortunate as you!”
A sudden jolt of desire ran through Zhide and her eyes glistened. Nervously, she stammered, “Mistress…if possible, Mistress, could you maybe…”
“Would you like to learn to read too?” Sang Wan finished on her behalf.
“Yes! This servant is uneducated and hopes Mistress would teach this servant too!” Zhide immediately fell on her knees in front of Sang Wan and lowered her head onto the floor.
She was a maidservant who had more insights compared to the lower classed maidservants. In the past, she had witnessed the power of literacy after seeing Gu Fangzi providing lots of help to Shi Fengju as a result of knowing how to read. She could not help but have a thought that if she were able to read, she might have greater opportunities to be in a relationship in the future. And after marriage, she might be of help to her husband and would gain even more of her husband’s respect.
However, she was just a servant in the end. There was no way she could take the initiative to request being taught how to read. Otherwise, others might think she was harboring evil intentions especially since she was tasked to serve by Young Master Shi’s side. If a string of selfishness were to even be exposed and cause suspicions among others, Miss Gu would definitely not let her off.
“Quickly, get up!” Sang Wan hurriedly leaned forward to help Zhide up and smiled, “There’s no need for you to kneel! Teaching a student is just about the same as teaching many. If you’re willing, why don’t you learn together with Liu Ya?”
Hearing so, Zhide was overjoyed and nodded eagerly. “Thank you, Mistress, for your kindness! Thank you, Mistress!”
“Good, good!” Sang Wan smiled and waved. Seeing Hong Ye standing restlessly at a side, she laughed, “Would you like to learn too? One more wouldn’t matter, but any more may be too large of a group for me to handle myself!”
This was an opportunity that could not be missed! Hong Ye’s eyes glistened. Following after Zhide, she kneeled in front of Sang Wan and lowered her head onto the floor before thanking her.
Sang Wan nodded and smiled, “Then it is said! From tomorrow onward, the two of you will learn together with Liu Ya! Knowing how to read a few words, or even how to write your own name would be good enough. Otherwise, someday in the future, you may be exploited by someone without even knowing it!”
The two could not help but giggle.
“That’s enough.” Sang Wan continued, “In any case, there isn’t anything that needs to be done at this time, so I’ll give you both half a day off. The both of you will have to get a scholar set prepared by then! But if that is not possible, then tomorrow, you’ll first begin learning how to read instead of write!”
The two maidservants were daughters of their family which had been serving the household for over three generations already——otherwise, Gu Fangzi would never have let them serve Shi Fengju. But on a whole, daughters were much easier to control as they would always have to put their family first while at the same time taking into account their own reputation.
However, for these two maidservants, preparing a scholar set was not a difficult task. As such, the two agreed to have the sets be prepared by today. Hurriedly, the two withdrew and went to discuss with their family members.
Soon after, Liu Ya returned from the kitchen. Having heard that Sang Wan had found herself two more students made Liu Ya happy. Finally, there were others to suffer alongside her!
The kitchen was truly a very well-informed place and was beyond Sang Wan’s expectations. No wonder Liu Ya kept thinking of going to the kitchen! Old Mistress Zhuang’s visit and the incident that happened in the courtyard, the kitchen staff were wildly discussing it. Thus, it was natural for Liu Ya to have returned with an ear full of information. Once she had returned, she passed everything that she had heard to Sang Wan, including what had happened after Sang Wan had left the courtyard: Gu Fangzi plead for a favor, Xiao Que’er was punished with a month without allowance.
Sure enough, it was Gu Fangzi again! Sang Wan thought to herself.
“Miss Gu’s mouth sure is capable! It was already clear that Xiao Que’er’s action was deliberate, but that mouth sure was able to persuade to Old Mistress Wang to let that maidservant off so lightly!” Liu Ya praised sarcastically. But upon seeing Sang Wan glaring at her, Liu Ya immediately apologized, “Yes, yes. This servant has spoken too much! This servant will not speak of it, and will stop!”
Zhide and Hong Ye were both very efficient, or was it their family members that were efficient? But right before dinner, the two had returned with a scholar set each.
As such, Sang Wan smiled and placed out two tables before instructing them to rearrange their scholar set neatly on it.
Zhide and Hong Ye understood and placed the brush, ink, paper, and ink slab neatly onto their table. Eyeing the set on the tables, the two developed a deep satisfaction and could not help but grin. The glisten in their eyes shone brightly which made Sang Wan feel somewhat embarrassed.
“Mistress, why don’t we begin tonight?” From the sight of the brand new set and the blank white paper, Hong Ye’s hands were itching to try them out.
Liu Ya sneered and scolded, “What ‘we’, ‘we’? Mistress is good to you and you now bring along a pole to get above her head? Why don’t you look at what time it is now? Instead of bringing the dinner over, you ask to start learning tonight? Do you think our Mistress is made out of steel and doesn’t need rest?”
The young mistress and young master were both newlyweds! Together with Liu Ya’s words, there was actually no reason for Sang Wan to pay any attention to the two servants.
In that instant, Hong Ye regretted her words. Her face flushed red and she hurriedly sought for forgiveness. “This servant was careless, this servant was careless! Mistress, please forgive this servant! This servant dare not make the same mistake again!”
“Enough, Liu Ya was only speaking her mind! But come to think of it, I’m a little hungry. Bring the dishes over then!” Sang Wan gestured with a grin.
What Hong Ye said just then was definitely a little too arrogant. Even though that was not a reason to have Sang Wan punish her, it was also not one where she could be too overly kind with. A master is a master and a servant is a servant, there must be a clear line between these two titles to prevent any undesired outcomes between them. Having been reborn, she could never become too generous.
“Yes, this servant will go and inform the kitchen staff!” Hong Ye felt relieved seeing that Sang Wan did not blame her. With an opportunity in front of her to atone, she hurriedly accepted the task and left.
Zhide and Liu Ya helped Sang Wan with washing her hands before the three left for the small flower pavilion that was recently changed to a dining pavilion. “Young Mistress, should you——not wait for Young Master? Although he may be busy and return a little later than usual.” Surely, he wouldn’t deliberately not return to accompany Young Mistress?
Having done a favor sure is different. Sang Wan thought. In the past, having Zhide take the initiative was as difficult as ascending the heavens, let alone saying those precious words.
“No need. Just have my portion be served. We’ll see how when Lord returns!” Sang Wan smiled.
In any case, she and Shi Fengju were just a fake couple. Since he was not her day, there was no need to treat him as if he truly were her day.
On further thought, even if she were to have her meal first, Shi Fengju would definitely not mind.
Zhide and Liu Ya looked at each other subconsciously before agreeing in unison. They arranged her plate and utensils in front of her, and once Hong Ye returned with the dishes, they were served one after another.
In total, there were four dishes and a soup; Glutinous pumpkin rice with steamed pork slices, sautéed shrimps with broccoli, omelette, stir-fried lettuce, chicken with lotus and yam soup, and a bowl of fragrant white rice.
Even though Sang Wan was eating alone, she did not feel downcast or gloomy. Her behavior and expression were calm, and with a good appetite, she finished half a bowl of rice and drank half a bowl of soup.
Secretly, Zhide admired Sang Wan. If she were not open-minded and generous, she would not have been able to behave the way she was now. Young Mistress truly is incomparable! Unfortunately, Young Master had already given his heart to Miss Gu. What a disappointment that was!
After all, even if it were others, who would be able to handle their husband treating them so coldly right after the wedding? Many would probably have to force themselves to endure, but their expression would have definitely exposed it all.
“These dishes taste good! Have someone send your rice in and have your meal here! If these dishes aren’t enough, have all your dishes be brought in then!” Sang Wan smiled and got up.
The three maidservants quickly said their thanks. Hong Ye went out and returned with three food boxes and the three enjoyed their meal as they stood at the side of the table.
After a while, the master and servants had finished their dinner. But by then, the darkness had enveloped the sky and a candle was lit in the chamber. With a task that binds all four of them, they could not help but agree that the atmosphere today was exceptionally great; a warm atmosphere that none of them could bear to destroy.