We Workers Have Power (1)
A timid young man said, “But Madam, what if we don’t know how to make pastries?”
Su Tang smiled and said, “Who is born with the know-how of it? When you go to the pastry shop, naturally, someone will teach you. In fact, making pastry is very simple. You can learn the steps in almost three days, but it would still cost you money to learn the essence. I spent a lot of time and put in a lot of hard work when I learnt It. And if you don’t learn anything in a month, then you can return to the mansion. You should give it more thought.
When that she spoke of “return [ in January]” she meant it as a foreshadowing for the future.
Everyone’s hearts eased at her words. Then the courageous man who had spoken up took the lead and stepped up, “Young lady, this one shall leave straight away.” Anyhow, he was idle and without work, after he was sent here, as he did not have much to do, he might as well take this opportunity to create a way out for himself. What’s more, he had a perfect reason to not send out reports to his original master if he went out to the pastry shop.
With the first person taking the lead, other ambitious and flexible-minded people or those who had experience making pastries before stood up one after another. Some household members were excited about the notion of “dividends” but were hesitant to express their wishes also stood up with the rest. By the last count, a total of 38 people had volunteered, which far exceeded Su Tang’s initial estimates.
She had calculated the numbers beforehand. Now that the store was relatively small, it only had vacancies for a handful of people: There was one steward to man the store, four people to greet the customers, one to manage the counter, one manager at the back and two for chores, five people to wrap the noodles, four for filling and dressing, two for materials, and one for deliveries. … But there were more volunteers and not enough openings. Naturally, she needed to cut down on the number.
So, Su Tang took her good time trimming down the numbers …
And at this moment, a young lady came in and said, “Mrs. Song (Su Tang), Uncle Song, Yang Shilang’s family belonging to the Ministry of War has sent two girls.”
As soon as Uncle Song heard it, his brows frowned, and he looked at Su Tang with some embarrassment—what did Madam Song say last time? Reject them all, again? And cite the reason, “The general’s mansion doesn’t have leftovers,” But how could he say that?!
Uncle Song was troubled, but Su Tang forwardly replied, “Send them back.”
“Ah?” Xiao Yan hadn’t expected Madam Song to reply, leaving her slack-jawed, while everyone else had their doubts and thoughts.
Su Tang waved her hand and said, “Just tell them that there is no shortage of people in the household and wouldn’t be for a while; ask them to go somewhere with shortage and require people.”
Uncle Song felt ashamed! Fortunately, Madam Song did not drive them off saying, “There aren’t any leftovers.”
After Xiao Yan accepted the order, Su Tang addressed the spectating people and said, “I decided that there is no need for more people in the household, as it is, I’ll have to rely on you all.”
Everybody immediately felt the burden of her words press down their shoulders and they all responded in unison.
It was almost noon by the time the staff had all been sorted out; Su Tang was famished. But seeing the servants retreat (some in joy, while others were at loss) she was glad—she could feel that they were no longer as scattered, and were full of confidence and cheerful for the monthly reward or were enthusiastic in working for the pastry shop, which, of course, naturally, was what she wished for.
And when Song Shi’an came back, he saw Su Tang smirking while holding a pen and scribbling something on her book.
“You’re back? Did you eat?” Su Tang asked him casually when she saw him enter.
“No.” Song Shian responded, taking off his court uniform to change into comfortable clothes.
Su Tang suddenly stopped writing, a little surprised—Why, this sounds so natural and so awkward, as if … as if … we were an old pair of husband and wife.
Shivering at the thought, Su Tang said, “Your emperor is really cheap, it’s noon and he let you leave without inviting you to a meal.”
Song Shian’s mouth twitched. Today, when the emperor was going for lunch, he asked him to head back when he learned that he (Song Shian) ate two bowls of rice for each meal. His reason being “Two bowls of rice is enough to fill my stomach for the entire day!”
After Song Shian was done changing his clothes and was about to go out to eat, he heard a slap and a yellow leather-bound notebook fell in front of Su Tang.
“What’s this?” Su Tang looked curiously at the brightly coloured cover and leaned over to pick it up. Colour drained from Song Shian’s face as he saw her reach towards it.
Su Tang opened it and her face immediately turned bright red. In it she saw images of a lot of men and women; some snuggled up on the couch, some laid down on the bamboo bed. All of the depicted men and women were so scantily dressed that she could even see their private parts. They had vivid expressions showing joy and utmost bliss. Additional to these pictures there were a few descriptive words like, “Old man pushing the cart”, “Goddess sitting on the lotus” … and so on. 1Lovemaking positions
Su Tang felt as if her hands were burning. Annoyed, she said, “You, you, why do you have this disgusting thing with you!!”
Song Shian’s face turned beet red when he was asked that. It was embarrassing to carry the book as it is, and even more so with the thing being discovered by his wife. Finally, he told her that the emperor had made him take it to ‘make up’ for not having lunch with him.
At the time, the emperor had squinted his eyes like a thief and sneaked up beside him and shoved it into his arms quickly, and whispered, “This is a treasure from my private collection. I don’t usually show it to others, Xiao Song. I show it to you because it is you. I’ll lend this to you; you should study it.”
And when he had seen it, he knew what it was and immediately handed it back, but who knew the emperor would just stare and tell him, “Do you want to defy my orders, Xiao Song?”