Ink was very expensive, so Su Erya could not use it. There was a sand table for setting up war games in the study. Su Qingtan used that to teach her to write.
Su Qingtan was surprised to find that the second sister was very smart. She could understand simple words after he taught her once. It took him less than an hour to teach her all the basic rhymes.
So Su Qingtan let Su Erya practice basic calligraphy in the study. One of them read books in front of the table, and the other drew on the sand table. It was very quiet in the study. Instead of being distracted, the rustles of the sand allowed him to concentrate more.
The servant girl, Zhu’er, who had been serving Su Qingtan, saw Su Erya go into the study of the first young master every day. She stamped her feet in anger and muttered:
“How dare she disturb the young master’s reading! I’ll go and tell the Second Madam!”
When the Second Madam heard Zhu’er’s words, she rushed to the Eastern Courtyard at once.
“Young Master, the Second Madam has come to visit you.”
Hearing the message of the servant girl outside the house, Su Erya immediately erased the words on the sand table, drew a big smiling face, while hiding the calligraphy under the sand table. Su Qingtan opened the door and saw that it was his mother. He got out of the way and asked,
“Mother, what are you doing here?”
“I just come for a look.”
The Second Madam looked at her son with a loving look on her face. She turned her head and saw that Su Erya was in the study. Her face immediately turned cold. “Erya, why are you so oblivious? Your brother’s recommendation is just around the corner. He needs to concentrate on reading. Now that you are in good health, hurry up and go back to the western courtyard.”
Su Erya came over. Her big black eyes looked pure. She graciously saluted and whispered, “Second mother, please don’t be angry. I’ll leave now.”
The Second Madam was surprised. She had heard that Erya was eccentric and impolite. Now it seemed that those rumors didn’t match the facts.
Before Su Qingtan reacted, Su Erya had disappeared out the door of the study. He could not help complaining, “Mother, why did you drive second sister away? She was so good that she just played on the sand table and didn’t talk. With her here, I can read better.”
The Second Madam made a face and grew angry. “What? You can’t be this careless before you get into the school of the province. I’m doing all these things for you, yet you blame me for Erya?”
Su Qingtan shook his head hurriedly and made amends: “Mother, you know that’s not what I meant.”
Second Madam’s expression was much better. “I will let Zhu’er keep an eye on it. While you are reading, no one will be allowed to come in and disturb you, not even Hao. Got it?”
Su Qingtan smiled bitterly. He had just promised his second sister to teach her to read, but now he was about to break that promise.
“By the way, how is Erya doing now?” The Second Madam, Madam Cui, asked with feigned concern.
“Mother, the injuries on the second sister have been going on for years, and she can’t be well after just one month. Though she can get out of bed now, it will probably take months for her to recover.”
At this point, Su Qingtan showed a trace of hesitation.
How could Madam Cui know her son’s thoughts? She simply said, “What do you want to ask? You don’t need to hesitate before your own mother.”
Su Qingtan grew flushed and said, “Mother, I would like to ask. Do you know…the reason for second sister’s injury?”
The Second Madam’s heart was immediately filled with fury. Su Erya was not as beautiful as Su Zipei. How could she fascinate her son in just a month?
The Madam Cui was now much more disgusted with Su Erya. But she didn’t show her anger. Instead, she laughed and said, “Why? You’re worried about her? Do you suspect that I would fold my hands and watch her die?”
“No!” said Su Qingtan. “Why would I think that? I just wanted to ask who hurt her.”
The Second Madam sighed, pretending to be helpless, “Your First Mother is in charge of the back room. I never saw what happened to Erya. I never knew she had gone through such a hard time.”
“Isn’t the second sister the first daughter of the First Mother? How could she be so cruel? Why doesn’t father do something about it?” Su Qingtan asked in disbelief. He really did not want to believe that the Su family was such a cruel family.
“I don’t know the details. I heard that it was because Erya made a big mistake when she was very young. Well, forget about the old things. All you have to do now is to study hard and live up to my expectations.”
“Don’t worry, Mother. I will.”
Su Qingtan believed his mother’s words and breathed a sigh of relief.
Madam Cui left the study with Zhu’er after giving advice. As she walked away, her fiery eyes squinted. That little girl, though she was not so good-looking, was as good at seducing men as her mother.
“Keep an eye on Erya! Don’t let her get to Tan.”