Song Yi had gotten up early that morning to wait for the little girl to come to his door but, in the end, it was almost noon before the person in question finally arrived. Because she had been so late he had spent the better part of the morning worrying about whether he had made the little girl too angry yesterday, to the point that now she wouldn’t want to come back because she had lost her temper.
After all, although it was something that he said himself, he didn’t actually want to go to his disciple’s door to find her. He would rather save his face of course.
So when he heard the knock at the door and then Pengmo announced that Su Tang had arrived, Song Yi had breathed a surreptitious sigh of relief. Then he quickly sat down in his chair and put a serious expression on his face. He waited like that for a while before he saw Pengmo leading someone into the room.
“When it comes to learning, a person needs to work hard to stick to it. Why are you only arriving now, so late in the day? In the future…” Song Yi put on the face of a stern teacher, stroked his beard, and began to lecture Su Tang the moment she entered the room.
But then, Su Tang pulled her younger brother through the door after her and said. “Xiao Nuo, this is the master that your sister acknowledged yesterday. From now on, I’ll be here studying with Mr. Song every day. Remember his face well.”
Ever since they had set out from their home, Su Nuo had felt that something about this whole thing didn’t seem quite right, and the little guy was actually very confused, but now that his sister gave him an instruction he threw his worries to the back of his mind and stared at Song Yi’s face carefully. After a moment he said firmly: “Sister, rest assured, I promise to properly remember his face.”
Song Yi felt his eyebrow twitch, and quickly understood that this little girl still didn’t feel very convinced about what had happened yesterday, which was why she was stirring trouble today. For her part, when Su Tang saw that her younger brother’s performance seemed to be pretty good, she smiled and greeted Song Yi, “Su Tang pays her respects to master. Master, what were you saying just now?”
Song Yi snorted, “When studying, you need to be diligent. Tomorrow, come earlier. The day begins when the sun rises…”
“Master!” When Su Tang heard Song Yi’s words, she directly reddened her eyes and put on a pitiful expression.
“This disciple has to get up every day before dawn to make fish balls so that she can deliver them into town to earn money to live. I really can’t come any earlier. Also, I wonder if it’s possible for master to provide this disciple with ink, inkstones, paper, and writing utensils here… If master will not provide them, then this disciple boldly asks master to give her a few months’ time, and this disciple will certainly try her best to earn enough money those things.”
As she spoke, Su Tang clenched her small hands into fists and put on a serious expression, profoundly expressing her firm determination and willingness to persevere.
From the side, Pengmo saw the amused glint in his master’s eye and silently mourned for Su Tang in his heart.
Song Yi wasn’t surprised to hear Su Tang’s request. After all, he had already noticed that this little girl was quite quick-witted. And just yesterday he had deliberately asked her to make his clothes and cook for him without offering to pay her any money in exchange. Clearly she wouldn’t just quietly agree to that, so wasn’t there pretty much no doubt that she would definitely come and try to play some tricks today?
Song Yi glanced down at the little girl, who was so mischievous that she even wanted to calculate against her own master, and smile wryly in his heart. After she finished speaking Song Yi stroked his beard and replied. “It’s just some writing utensils, ink, paper, inkstones.”
Aft first Su Tang thought that he was agreeing to just give those things to her and she was overjoyed. After all, all those tools for writing were quite expensive and if he gave her more than one more set then she would probably be able to sell the extra for money. If that happened then she wouldn’t mind her master fooling her as much as he wanted.
“You can just owe me for now, and you can slowly make clothes and cook to cover the bill. After all, as your master, how can I let you delay your studies?” Song Yi secretly smiled when he saw the complacent expression that flashed across the little girl’s face, but then tutted in his mind: She was still a little too young.
After she heard that, Su Tang looked up at Song Yi, and her big eyes seemed to have five words written inside them: You sure are thick-skinned.
Song Yi, as an imperial preceptor who had argued endlessly with the ministers of the imperial court for many years, only felt that this much couldn’t really be called thick-skinned when compared to those imperial officials.
When she saw Song Yi’s expression that didn’t seem likely to recant his words with just that much, Su Tang quickly changed tack and said sarcastically, “Master is really so gracious and generous to his disciples!”
On the side, Pengmo quickly lowered his head while silently telling himself that he didn’t hear anything. At the same time, Song Yi choked uncomfortably. Then he looked over at Su Tang to see what else she wanted to say.
“However, this disciple still has to work hard to save money to send her brother to school, and to go retrieve her family members who sadly died outside of town. If this disciple owes her master money on top of all that, then her conscience will be disturbed. I won’t even be able to sleep at night because I’ll always be trying to think of ways to get the money needed, so how could I feel at ease enough to do something like studying?”