Su Tang replied with a smile, “No matter who instructs whom, we’ll have to wait for next year anyway!”
Pengmo bowed and said: “En, you’re right. Then thanking the young miss for this reward!”
After he spoke he accepted the pouch Su Tang was offering, nodded, and then picked the plates back up to bring breakfast to the table. After all the food was served and Pengmo had gone to eat his own meal, he opened the pouch and found that there were five silver taels inside.
Pengmo’s monthly stipend was two taels of silver, and now Su Tang had given him five all at once. Seeing that she had been willing to give him so much money, Pengmo smiled happily. Although Su Tang always acted like she loved money more than life, in reality, she was actually quite generous with her money, even though she didn’t have much money to begin with. Pengmo happily put away the five taels of silver and began to eat his meal.
The first day of the Lunar New year was usually when people would go and visit relatives, so there were already many people walking around on the roads outside heading to visit their families. Because Su Tang still had the servants back at her house to think of, she took Su Nuo and left together with him a bit after breakfast.
Seeing the two of them coming back, Zhang Cuilan, Yu Caihe, and the girls hurriedly went forward to welcome them. As soon as the two siblings stepped inside, they kneeled and saluted together. “Happy new year, young miss, young master!”
Su Tang smile and told them, “Alright, stand up!”
Then she handed out a pouch to each of them, “This is my brother and I’s gift to you. Continue to work hard in the new year!”
“This servant thanks the young miss for this reward!” The four people chorused as they accepted the pouched, and then they saluted again.
Baohe was still very young, so she couldn’t contain herself when she heard the jingle of copper inside her pouch and couldn’t wait to open it. She immediately ran off to open it up and count out what was inside, leaving a speechless Zhang Cuilan apologizing to Su Tang.
Su Tang didn’t make a fuss over it, after all, Baohe was still a child, so it was understandable.
Then she announced some good news: “Starting from the beginning of this year, everyone will now begin to receive monthly stipends. Every person will receive a hundred copper coins each month, and if you perform well, there will be other rewards. Everyone, continue to do a good job during the new year!”
Back when Su Tang had bought all of her servants she still didn’t really have any money in her hands, so she had never provided a monthly stipend at all. However, even slaves who were owned according to a slave contract should still receive some sort of stipend, no matter how little.
Thus, now that Su Tang finally had a bit more money coming in, she finally settled this matter of their monthly stipends.
When Yu Caihe and the rest all heard this they rushed to salute and give thanks again. After all, although they had already been sold, they were still women! With a fixed income they would finally be able to buy the things they needed to maintain themselves, like simple fabrics, perfumes, powders, and so on.
Of course, probably they still wouldn’t be able to change anything in the near future since their masters, the two siblings, were still in their mourning period and always wearing plain clothes. That being the case, it certainly wouldn’t be appropriate for them, the servants, to dress themselves up flamboyantly.
Looking at their happy faces, Su Tang nodded with satisfaction. After a moment, she asked them to make tea while she dragged Su Nuo off to the main room. Once they were there, she produced another small pouch, this one for Su Nuo.
“Sister?” The little guy had been watching his sister handing out red packets to all the servants and feeling a little torn. After all, he was also one of the masters in the family, so he felt that maybe he should have prepared something too. But now, unexpectedly, his sister had something for him as well?
This pouch was also gray, but there was a finely embroidered stalk of black bamboo on one side and it seemed a little more decorated than the ones Su Tang had been handing out earlier. Still, the little guy is a little confused why his sister was giving it to him.
“It’s good luck money. Today marks the start of the first new year that we two sister and brother will spend together with only the two of us. From now on, whether it’s our home, our relationship, all of it… it’s a new beginning for everything. Your sister here will be by your side for many years to come, so don’t worry and don’t be afraid. We’ll work hard together and continue making our lives better and better, okay?”
Su Tang pinched the little guy’s face.
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