An example would be now. If it were Gu Fangzi asking the questions, the maidservants would have definitely scrambled to answer her questions so as to receive praise. If that were so, Zhide would not attempt to answer as receiving praise was not something she needed. However, the one asking the questions in the chamber wasn’t Gu Fangzi, but Sang Wan, thus no one answered. Being the eldest, Zhide without a choice answered; and her answer was very simple. Who is Li Mama? Where did she go? If Sang Wan did not ask, she had no reason to answer.
“Li Mama?” Sang Wan asked deliberately even though she knew who the housekeeper was. She gently gazed at Zhide, motioning her to answer.
Again, without a choice, Zhide answered, “Li Mama is Sir’s wet nurse, and has always managed the chambers and everything else within the garden. A few days ago, her lower back and legs felt sore so she went home to recuperate. Thus, I’m afraid she won’t be around for the next few days.”
“I see!” Sang Wan smiled and nodded, before chuckling, “Before Li Mama left to recuperate, did she discuss with Sir who will be in charge of the chambers while she is gone?”
Zhide replied, “That would be me! Maidservant Zhide at your service!”
“That’s good. May I trouble you?” Sang Wan smiled and thought for a while, “I would like to have some rest first. When it is lunchtime, do give me a call. Also, I’d like to see all the staff who manages the small garden after lunch. It isn’t much, really, I just want to have a glimpse of their faces that’s all.”
“Yes Ma’am!” Zhide bowed before taking a quick glance at Sang Wan. She was secretly surprised. Never had she imagined that her new Ma’am would be so generous and decent. She may not have come from a wealthy family, but definitely the daughter of a literary family!
“Ma’am, please have some rest, your humble maidservant will do as instructed.” As she thought for a brief moment, Zhide couldn’t help but take the initiative to add an additional sentence, instructing the other maidservants to fetch some water for Sang Wan to wash her face.
The maidservants are accustomed to serving people and their actions were all systematic. One placed a large napkin on her lap; the other folded her sleeves; the third maidservant kneeled and placed a chiseled copper basin in front of her; and the fourth washed her hands at the side, in a basin carried by the fifth maidservant. After washing her hands, she retrieved the soft clean towel soaked in warm water from the chiseled copper basin and gave it a gentle twist before handing it carefully to Sang Wan. Soap, balsam and other facial cleansers were all placed neatly beside her for her to use…
After Sang Wan washed her face, the maidservants continued to get Sang Wan ready for bed. They removed her jewelry and hairpin before helping her change into her nightgown. With that, Sang Wan proceeded to lay on the bed while the maidservants left the chamber. Only Liu Ya was left in the chamber with Sang Wan to answer to further requests.
The room was quiet now. On the circular window, behind the red gauze curtain that hung on the wall, was a bronze tripod incense burner. A thin curl of smoke can be seen, rising from the incense burner and giving the chamber a sweet fragrance. The sapphire blue vase, decorated with jade… almost all the furnishings within the chamber are exquisite and valuable. The wealth of the Shi household is not something the Sang family can easily attain.
With no one else inside the chamber except the two of them, the cramped feeling gradually disappeared and Liu Ya regained her curious nature. Gazing at the interior furnishings of the chamber, Liu Ya’s eyes shone brightly, brightly enough to show how shocked and amazed she was.
She slurped a praise.
“Miss… I mean… Ma’am, the Shi family household really are rich! All these things are definitely worth a great deal of money!” Liu Ya exclaimed while her eyes remained fixed on a two feet tall gold painted statue.
Sang Wan smiled and squinted to look at Liu Ya, “How do you know these stuff are worth a great deal of money?”
Liu Ya explained, “Gee, one look and anyone can tell! They’re so beautiful…definitely very expensive! Ma’am, don’t you think so?”
Seeing Liu Ya’s shiny eyes staring at her, in hopes of receiving a definite answer, Sang Wan couldn’t help but laugh. She nodded and replied, “Yes, of course, they are definitely valuable!”
“Hmm, how much?” Liu Ya’s eyes shone and became even more interested. “How many eggs do I have to sell before I can buy one of these? Two hundred? No, three hundred? Four hundred?”
Sang Wan smiled. Looking around, she pointed at the tripod incense burner and said, “That one is worth around ninety cows! The rest might be worth even more. However, I’m not sure how many eggs they are worth.”
‘Ah! So…so expensive!” Startled, Liu Ya’s eyes widened and her mouth dropped open. Her lady wasn’t kidding! Subconsciously, she clenched her fists and said, “The worth of your humble maidservant isn’t as much as that! Miss…Ma’am, Liu Ya will take a few steps back…a few steps back.”
Depressed, Liu Ya hung her head low and the light in her eyes vanished. The items in the chamber were worth even more than her! If she were to accidentally break one, selling her wouldn’t even be enough to compensate! Due to her having many siblings and her family being poor, her parents were forced to sell her off at a cheap price. With that, she was assigned to serve Sang Wan. Although the life of serving a lady wasn’t rich, her stomach would never be empty; and she had never been reprimanded before. The thought of committing a grave mistake and resulting to her master selling her away made her shudder. To Liu Ya, that would be the most miserable thing that can happen!
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