“Actually, my young master said that I should give you any of the leftover fabric, but because of how Mrs. Wang was acting just now, I decided to go along with your words.”
As it turned out, even before the fabric was given to Su Tang, Pei Xuan hadn’t really thought that she would be able to make the clothes properly, which was why he especially gave her too much fabric, saying that she could use the extra to practice a bit first.
How could he have known that he was vastly underestimating Su Tang’s strength? After all, Su Tang not only made the clothes properly, she even did it with a lot of fabric left over. That was why Pengmo hadn’t even thought to ask Su Tang to return any extra fabric – he just assumed there wasn’t any extra.
Of course, both he and Pei Xuan had made that assumption. But even now that he found out that there was some extra, Pengmo didn’t plan to take it back with him. After all, though this satin could be considered a precious thing in Qinghe Town, he knew that it was nothing to the young master of his family.
Which was why he thought of giving it to Su Tang. He had heard his master say that Su Tang was clever, and the young master seemed somewhat fond of her, so he was willing to help her a little if he could.
He had only taken the fabric with him just now because of the way Mrs. Wang had been looking at them, as if she desperately wanted the fabric for herself. But after that he decided to just wait outside and give the fabric to Su Tang himself.
Su Tang wasn’t really a child, so as soon as she heard Pengmo’s words, she understood what he meant. She gave Pengmo a shallow bow and said gratefully. “Thank you for thinking of me, but this fabric is too precious of a gift. I can’t accept it.”
She more or less understood Pengmo’s thought process here, and she was grateful for it, but since it was such a precious material she had to refuse. After all, it was her principle not to receive rewards without making contributions, so she couldn’t take it.
When Pengmo saw Su Tang’s bow, he quickly avoided it and said, “I dare not accept Miss Tang’s bow.”
After that, he said, “This fabric is nothing to the young master of my household. Even if I take it back with me, it will only end up accumulating dust. However, I also want to state that I’m not just giving it to you for free Mrs. Tang. You see, after the Mid-Autumn Festival, I was thinking about asking you to make two sets of cotton-padded clothes for my household’s master.”
When she heard Pengmo’s request, Su Tang hesitated before replying, “Brother Pengmo, I hadn’t intended to continue making clothes for money.”
“Miss Tang, listen to me. I just said it was a possibility. You see, my master’s* clothes have always been made by his wife during all his years of marriage. However, last year his wife suddenly died of illness…”
Pengmo carefully continued explaining, “I just thought that maybe you could come and have a try. If you can satisfy my master, you will be able to name whatever price you like.”
Su Tang really couldn’t refuse after she heard his explanation. Hearing about an old man who was so still affectionate to his late wife moved her heart a bit, so she replied, “But there are many embroiderers in this town, so why me?”
Su Tang felt like she needed to ask this question. After all, she was just an ordinary little girl, so why was Pengmo thinking to ask her not someone else?
Pengmo smiled and said, “Miss Tang, you may not know but you’ve actually met my master before. Back then we had just moved into town and we saw you and your brother selling apples by the side of the road, I even bought some from you. On that day my master saw you and said that you seemed clever. Also, back when his wife was still alive, my master used to always say that she had been clever when she was young.”
“Erm…” Su Tang took a slight step back. Why did listening to this topic give her a strange sense of danger?
Pengmo didn’t notice her recoiling at all, he continued happily, “Actually, my master’s wife used to live in Qinghe Town more than 40 years ago, so I thought that maybe if the one making his clothes was a village girl from the same place, he might be able to accept it.”
As a matter of fact, Pengmo was also feeling very helpless. Ever since his master’s wife had died, he had been acting listless and completely without spirit, so they had especially come back to Qinghe Town to recuperate. When they did, they hadn’t brought many people along at all. In fact, there was only him and Pei Xuan, the small ancestor who had forced his way in.
*He’s called ‘老爷’ / laoye again and previously I translated it as ‘old sir’ but that translation becomes clunky and impossible to use when Su Tang meets him face to face so… now it’s master