Su Tang purposefully let her voice trail off meaningfully, paused, and then turned to look at Chen Xiuxiu. “In the end, I happened to notice that the bottoms of the grain bags at home were all worn out. I thought that the satin looked strong, so I took it and used it to mend the insides of the bags. After being patched this way, the bags were much stronger than before.”
Now the onlookers all understood why Su Tang had suddenly brought up that strange story. She had actually used the satin to mend her grain bags! When they realized, they all sucked in a breath of cold air and looked over at the grain bags that Chen Xiuxiu had tossed aside with speculative eyes. Could it be…
At the same time, Chen Xiuxiu started to panic. “No way, that’s impossible. What kind of noblewoman do you think you are? What kind of material is satin? How many taels of silver does each yard cost? You…”
Before she could even articulate her arguments, Su Tang smiled at her ‘kindly’ and cut in: “Why are you so eager to spout denials? Isn’t it very easy to check and see if I’m talking nonsense?”
Then she looked at Wang Changhe, “Uncle Wang, you’re the village head, and everyone knows that you are very fair. I think everyone should have seen that my brother and I haven’t been close to those two bags of grain that Chen Xiuxiu threw down since we all gathered here, right?”
Su Tang appealed to the crowd around her, trying to establish that there was no lie in her words. And, everyone really had seen Su Tang and Su Nuo had arrived at the scene a little late with Su Yongqiang where, after they arrived, they both just stood around and didn’t move very much. Of course, neither of them had touched the grain bags in Chen Xiuxiu’s hands, so the onlookers quickly gave some words of agreement.
“They never touched them.”
After allowing the crowd to speak, Su Tang nodded and continued. “Then I would please ask the village head to go and open those two bags of grain and see if they have been patched with satin.”
As she spoke, Su Tang sent a wink at the orange cat, who had been lolling around on one side. Seeing her wink, he gave a faint meow and then quickly moved over to the side of the grain bags, where he made some strange furtive movements
After a moment, he was done and, seeing that the orange cat was finished working, Su Tang smiled and urged Wang Changhe to open the bags again.
Of course, because there was still some grain in the bags, Wang Changhe had some other bags prepared and then carefully picked up the first bag and transferred all the brown rice inside into the new bag. Then he opened the rice bag and turned it out, revealing to everyone that there really was a piece of white material patched to the bottom of the bag. After snowing so heavily the night before, the sky was now very clear, and the white patch of satin shone and glistened in the sun.
Most of the villagers had never even seen such an expensive fabric before, so the crowd just gawped at it and made foolish remarks.
“Huh, so this is satin.”
“It’s really beautiful!”
Chen Xiuxiu was struck dumb and didn’t know what to say.
Wang Changhe quickly moved on to the next bag and turned it out as well and, sure enough, there was another nearly identical patch of the same satin inside.
“The facts speak for themselves.” Su Tang turned her piercing gaze on Chen Xiuxiu and smiled coldly. “So why don’t you explain this to me, Madam Chen, why do your family’s bags have the same satin patches in them as mine?”
“I…” Chen Xiuxiu was about to argue that, while it was true that satin was expensive, it wasn’t as if she couldn’t afford it.
However, she then heard Su Tang add another line that instantly destroyed that desperate thought, “By the way, back when I was patching those bags, in order to amuse myself and pass the time I actually especially embroidered my own name, Tang, on the back side of the satin. I wonder if Madam Chen’s bags also have characters written inside the way mine do? I wonder whose name is written? Will it say ‘Sun’?”
Chen Xiuxiu finally realized that it was useless to argue any further at this point. And, as if to cement her crimes, Wang Changhe carefully tore out the stitches of a small corner of the satin patch to reveal the writing inside. Even though some of the villagers couldn’t read or recognize the ‘Tang’ character on the satin, by now there was no doubt in anyone’s minds.
Wang Changhe secretly breathed a sigh of relief. It seemed that Chen Xiuxiu wouldn’t be able to escape the reputation of a thief this time. He really wanted to see if she would still let her daughter pester his son now that she had such a reputation. Even if she did, it would be fine to just let that girl enter the side door as a concubine now. After all, with such a mother, she would only ever be a concubine.
“Madam Chen, do you have anything to say?” Wang Changhe looked up and asked solemnly.