When the gathered people heard Su Tang say this, they all turned to look at the iron pot that was currently laying in the snow. In fact, for farming families like theirs, the usual practice was to build the stove at the same time that you built the house and, normally, a durable iron pot like this one which could be expected to be used for many years would be fixed inside the stove at the same time when the stove was being built.
Because of that, when the pot broke or wore out it actually wasn’t all that simple of a task to replace it. In order to get Su Tang’s pot out of her stove, Madam Zhang and Chen Xiuxiu had worked together for a long time and really struggled before finally managing to dig it out of the stove. Of course, because they both had their own small ideas, as soon as the pot was removed they turned on each other and began to fight.
“So I would like to ask, Sanshou’s wife, you said that you just wanted to watch the pot for me, right? If that was the case, why not just stand by and keep watch? Did the pot come out of the stove on its own?” Su Tang asked Madam Zhang sarcastically.
Madam Zhang desperately tried to explain, “The pot was taken out by Tiezhu’s wife, and she is very strong so there was nothing I could do about it. Only after struggling with her for a long time was I able to finally snatched it back from her hands.”
“Really?” Su Tang only said that single word as she let her piercing gaze rove over the two women in front of her.
In fact, all of the people gathered had just watched Madam Zhang beating Chen Xiuxiu up just now, and Chen Xiuxiu had just been getting one-sidedly beaten and not retaliating at all. So now when Madam Zhang said Chen Xiuxiu was ‘too strong’ and that she wasn’t able to stop her from stealing the pot, her words didn’t seem very convincing.
As she asked her question, Su Tang turned her eyes toward Chen Xiuxiu and, sensing the little girl’s gaze, Chen Xiuxiu began defending herself, “Tang girl, you need to have evidence for the words that you say. Why did my family’s food suddenly become yours? I know that it isn’t easy for you, and that you and your brother are living a difficult life, but you can’t just be greedy for other people’s things because of that. I can give this food to you if you want, but you can’t just go around telling other people that my things are yours. Do you think lying like that is the right thing to do?”
Actually, Chen Xiuxiu had carefully examined the sacks of grains in her hands just now in the midst of all the bustle, and she saw that the sacks were very plain and common, so was confident that there was no way to tell who the grain had originally belonged to. She felt that if she just insisted that the grain was hers from the beginning and never backed down no matter what, then there would be nothing anyone could do about it.
Su Tang smiled coldly, “Tiezhu’s wife, you say that this grain is yours?”
“Of course it is. My family has always used these kinds of sacks to store our grain, so naturally, it belongs to us. But you’re really ‘good’, aren’t you? Even though I kindly came out to send you some grain, you want to turn around and accuse me of being a thief? I certainly won’t ever dare to try to help you again in the future.” Chen Xiuxiu launched another volley of words defending herself.
However, Su Tang still looked very at ease. She said, “Actually, earlier this fall, a wealthy man in town happened to take a fancy to my needlework and commissioned me to make him two sets of clothing. In the end, because of my excellent craftsmanship and my sparing use of the materials he provided, there ended up being a certain amount of fabric leftover after his order was completed, and he specially allowed me to keep the extra for my own use.”
“In the end, I got a few taels of silver and the leftover fabric for doing the job. However, seeing that the fabric seemed very precious, it wasn’t appropriate for me to make it into clothing for myself or my brother because we are still in mourning… “
Whether it was Chen Xiuxiu, Wang Changhe, or any of the onlookers, none of them expected Su Tang to suddenly bring up this seemingly irrelevant topic, and they all looked a bit confused. However, Madam Zhao picked out a few key words and looked at Su Tang with shock, “Wait, you were paid in taels of silver?!”
How could two little brats make so much money? Madam Zhao squinted at her suspiciously, “With just your skills?”
There was no way she could believe that Su Tang’s craftsmanship was at a level where she should be paid in silver taels. Su Tang glanced at Madam Zhao and hooked her lips up into a sarcastic smile, “No way, how could my skills be so good? But who let that wealthy man take a fancy to my craftsmanship?”
Wang Changhe felt that Su Tang probably had some sort of reason to be bringing this all up now, so he asked, “Tang girl, where are you going with all this?”
“Hmph, what I’m trying to say is that my brother and I don’t really need any help. Right now, I have money. In fact, I’m even considered pretty rich, and I’m planning to build a new house and also head out to bring back my brother and his family for a proper burial in the spring.” Su Tang purposefully said her plans for the spring out for everyone to hear and, as expected, many of the onlookers looked at her with shock, and many of them quickly tried to suppress the jealousy in their eyes.
All of a sudden, Su Tang was at the center of a whirlpool of eyes that carried varying degrees of jealousy and resentment.
Su Tang raised an eyebrow and curled her lips into a wicked smile before saying, “And my other point was that, because of that rich man, I still had some of that satin left in my house after the job was done. As a material, satin is very good, it’s smooth on the outside and also very thick. Of course, I couldn’t use it to make clothes, so for a while, I was troubled with what to do with it…”