Spring breeze of reform (2)
Su Tang was almost done. She then lowered her cup and said, “You have to keep in mind that if you do something wrong and get punished, no one can protect you! And I have never been soft-hearted with people who are found to have delusions about the private affairs between master and his son and his workings with the foreign government, or those who secretly create unrest in the house. Even if your fate doesn’t lead to your deaths, I’ll make sure to send you to the coal kiln to gain more experience!”
As soon as the words were said, the courtyard fell silent. The manservants weren’t that affected even though their faces were drained of colour, but the maidservants were the ones who were truly affected as they were already shivering and seemed as if they’d collapse any moment because of the schemes and conspiracies they had planned. The punishment of one hundred flogs by a cane was terrible enough as it is, but the coal pit was a place where serious offenders and criminals were sent. According to the rumours, once they were sent there they would’ve to work until their deaths. If they were really sent there, it would be tantamount to them being sent to Hell! Moreover, what the Young Lady was saying was right: if they really were caught for something, their original masters wouldn’t save them at all. Because losing one of them wouldn’t cost them much. This was the true attitude of their masters towards them. It also meant that there was no escaping death.
Regardless of their fear, Su Tang continued: “Remember, this will be the rule from today! I’d like to see who’d be the first to taste the one hundred lashes!”
Who’d dared to taste it? Everybody lowered their heads and had thoughts brewing in their hearts. Getting scolded as “waste” from their original masters was a trivial issue compared to them losing their lives. They decisively decided to work honestly in the General’s mansion.
This powerful lady was no less compared to their original masters.
After waving her stick for a long time, Su Tang was also tired. She watched everyone’s expressions turning from the initial panic to fear and then to relief. She understood that everyone had listened to her words, now it was time for some sweet dates.
“The so-called ugly words, I’ve placed them all before you. After this everyone has their responsibilities and work to do. Of course, although I’m a nonchalant person at times, I can also be a good person who abides by her words. Although I can’t see it with my own eyes, I have ears. As long as you work hard, I will certainly not treat you unfairly. Uncle Song!”
“Old slave is here.” Uncle Song stepped forward.
“Every month in the future, you will pick out the five most dedicated people and you will give five hundred taels as a reward to each. Those who are exceptional and are bestowed with the reward for six consecutive months will have their salaries increased by three hundred times.”
Uncle Song did not expect Su Tang to pull such a move. He then reacted quickly, and answered “Yes.” This move was too grand. He would never have thought of it!
The rest who heard Su Tang’s words had their shine with renewed light. Five hundred taels were not a small amount of money and some of them had a chance to earn that much in a month? However, wasn’t Uncle Song selected to finalize the candidates? Would he be partial to those who had children?
Su Tang saw through the thoughts of those people, and smiled, and said, “I am new here, you are all new to me, so everyone is the same, as long as you do well, I don’t care what or where you are from.”
This remark was for those who were listening to it, and also for Uncle Song. How could Uncle Song not understand, so he bowed his head respectfully and said, “The old slave will live up to the young lady’s trust!”
Su Tang nodded and said, “In addition, I have great achievements that need to be rewarded. Yesterday, Young Master fell into the water, and the pretty girl from Xiyuan rescued him. Her salary is to be raised to two silver taels a month. And some others had also come to his aid. They need to be rewarded too; you need to arrange all this Uncle Song.”
“Furthermore,” Su Tang glanced at Shao Yao and said, “I don’t have a head maid beside me, so I’ll give Shao Yao the same salary as Xi Que!”
Hearing about Shao Yao knelt quickly, “Mrs Xie.”
The others listened closely. Their hearts were filled with praise for her. Thinking how generous she was. They would definitely follow her later. For a moment, everyone had the same thought.
Su Tang looked at them and laughed endlessly in her heart. Money had the power to move people, if it couldn’t then one must rely on their heart—but thought was for the future. Money still had the power to stabilise people, at least for now.
Seeing that the rectification was almost completed, everyone was determined, and Su Tang thought it was time for her to tend to her own business.
With the clear cough the effect of the fine words disappeared immediately, Su Tang looked at everyone, very satisfied.
“One more thing, your life in the mansion is not short anymore, you should know that there is no need for so many people in the mansion …”
Everyone listened to this, and the joy just now was put away again. Madame Xiao wouldn’t throw people outright?!!
“Don’t worry, from today on you are all part of the general’s household. There is no reason for you to leave. But just letting you sit idly isn’t a way to go either and it just so happens that the people in my family wanted to open a pastry shop in the capital. The shop may be short-handed at the moment and if you are interested, you may go.”
Everyone had complicated expressions with this remark, and even Uncle Song couldn’t help but be surprised.
‘Although we are idle in the general’s mansion, we still get a hefty compensation at the end of the month. But it is different having to go out! Who wants to go out?’
Su Tang could easily choose a few among them and hand them over to Xiao Mo, but she always held the belief that the method wasn’t that popular. And pastry shops couldn’t tolerate internal confusion in the beginning, so it was best if they could volunteer and choose to go of their own volition.
And now Su Tang began to pull out the sweet dates.
“Even though you will attend the pastry shop, you still belong to the general’s mansion. Your monthly salary will be paid. And the reward system is in place now. Moreover, you can still receive monthly dividends when you work in the pastry shop. The more profit the shop has, the more your dividends. When the shop is newly opened, you will all be old employees as soon as you start. Later, you can learn a skill or two to redeem yourself, then you can open a shop and become a shopkeeper yourself. Go to the pastry shop, even though it’ll be hard work at first, but no one knows what the future holds. Everyone, think carefully.” Su Tang took a leisurely sip from her tea and continued, “I have shown you the way, you can go if you want, just that, don’t blame me if you regret it in the future.”
Many people were shaken by her speech.