Chapter 45 - Angry
After dinner, Meirin and Zhao were left alone in the room. While she was making some tea, Zhao asked, "Grandma Meirin, what do you think we should do about the slaves?
Meirin thought about it, then looked at Zhao in the eye. "Do you really want to listen to my advice, Master?"
"Of course, Grandma Meirin. You're the one that's been managing the slaves. I have never been in control of the Buda clan before we were exiled. So in that respect, you have a lot more experience than me."
"Thank you for the compliment, Master." Meirin smiled. "Here's my advice. I think that you have been too good to the slaves. You should crack down on them a little."
These words confused Zhao. "You're saying that I should be a little more harsh to the slaves? Why?"
"Master, you know, it's not bad to have a tough side. If you're too gentle, people would think that you could be bullied. Of course, the slaves would never do that to you, but if they think that you're too good to them, then they will feel sorry for you. This time it's because of you letting them learn literacy skills. In their view, learning to read is a reward. But they haven't been working, so giving them this reward makes them feel uneasy."
Zhao was surprised. He had been thinking that the slaves were the same as the students from his past life. To be honest, no student considers learning as a reward. They would only be happy when classes ended.
But it was different in this world. Almost all technology and knowledge has been closed off from the slaves. The slaves were just there to work. In the eyes of the nobility, slaves weren't even considered people.
"I understand," Zhao said. "Thank you, Grandma Meirin. Let me think about it."
Meirin nodded, pleased. It was undeniable that he had become a good person, but she recognized that he still had so much to learn.
Zhao sat there for a moment. He had been thinking about how to deal with this problem. To be honest, since this was the first time he had encountered something like this, he wasn't sure if he could handle it.
After he thought about it, Zhao stood up and took a deep breath. "Grandma Meirin, I want to meet the slaves."
Meirin nodded. The two left the hut and went to the slaves, who were now practicing their words on the ground, using the corn stalks to write in the dirt.
From what Zhao could see, the slaves seemed somewhat listless. This was a big difference from how excited they were when they first started to learn to read and write.
"Stop!" Zhao said.
When the slaves saw Zhao, they immediately dropped their corn stalks and knelt on the ground. But it wasn't like before because this time Zhao didn't ask them to stand back up. "I have heard that in the past few days, you haven't been very serious about learning to read and write?"
His voice wasn't very loud, but it had a disturbing calmness to it, making the slaves involuntarily shiver. In unison, they said, "Please, Master, punish us."
Zhao's words were like ice. "You still haven't figured it out? Learning how to read and write isn't a reward. It is to help you better serve the Buda clan. Even if you are stupid, you should be able to understand the situation that the clan is currently in. Except for manual labor, what else can you do? What can you make? What's your specialty? If I give you a book, would you be able to understand the words? No, you would not. You don't understand anything. Are you a horse? Can you do nothing but work like a horse? Remember that people can learn how to read, but a horse can not. If you don't learn, how can you better serve the Buda clan?
All the slaves were trembling on their knees. This was the first time Zhao had said such harsh words to them. They were scared.
Zhao took a few breaths to calm himself. "I'd told you that if you do well, I can free you from slavery. But if I give you a commoner status, do you think you will live out good days? Wrong! If you can not afford anything, at best you would be an inferior commoner. You have to remember that I need motivated people for the Buda clan, people that are bent on having a good life, not those who would settle for just eating and shitting until they die!"
He then looked over at Daisy. "You are probably wondering why I gave Daisy a commoner status even though all she did was weave weeds. A lot of you can now weave weeds, and even those of you that worked with Ann are not doing a bad job, so why didn't I restore you as a commoner? I'll tell you. It is because she stood up and tried to change her life. She wanted to be better, as well as save her brother. What I'm giving you is a fair chance at education, not a reward. I hope that you can learn from Daisy. Right now the Buda clan needs one hundred dedicated people, not one hundred slaves. Do you understand?"
Kneeling, the slaves loudly shouted, 'We understand, Master!"
The slaves were really excited. This was the first time a noble was trying to help them become something more. Although Zhao spoke to them with fire, there was no resentment in their hearts. On the contrary, they were full of gratitude and reverence towards Zhao.
After Zhao finished his speech, he said, "Stand up! I do not like it when people always kneel in front of me. Remember, learn to read and write well. This isn't a reward, it is my command!"
The slaves stood up in unison, "Yes, Master!"
Although the slaves had been kneeling on the ground for a long time, when they stood up, instead of wilting, their bodies were full of strength.
Meirin was standing behind Zhao, smiling with eyes full of joy. In her heart, she didn't expect that Zhao would do so well today, even better than she had imagined. Not only did he crack down on the slaves, he also made them feel gratitude towards him. She was extremely satisifed with Zhao's performance.
After looking at the slaves stretching their bodies, Zhao nodded, then turned to Meirin and said, "The rest is up to you, Grandma Meirin. But maybe this time we shouldn't teach them everyday, otherwise their heads would turn into wood, unable to remember anything."
Meirin smiled. "Master need not worry. I know what I'm doing. This isn't my first time teaching students."
Zhao laughed, then turned and walked into the hut, while Meg watched him with a look of worship.
Today, Meg thought that Zhao looked very handsome. When he gave that speech, his body seemed to glow with a strange force that attracted her eyes. She couldn't look away for one second.
When Zhao returned to the hut, he tried to remember if he did everything like he had planned. He went over the emotions he conveyed, the pauses in the appropriate places, and the right expressions on his face, all to make the performance more real. Thinking over his words, he didn't notice that Meg had followed him into the room.
Looking at Zhao, Meg couldn't help but smile. His strength settled her mind, giving her a serene feeling that was very reassuring.
Zhao then noticed that someone was standing behind him. Surprised, he looked back, but it was just Meg. Since Zhao was an otaku, he wasn't used to being in contact with girls. Now that Meg was standing behind him, he didn't know what to do.
Feeling helpless, Zhao said, "Ah, Meg, what can I do for you?"
"What? Can I not enter this room, Master?" Meg smiled.
"Yes, of course," Zhao quickly said. "You can always come in. Sit down, I'll make some tea."
Meg couldn't help but laugh. "Master, let me prepare the tea, otherwise Grandma will scold me."
"No, let me do it. I'm the one that offered you a drink," Zhao said.
Translator Notes: This chapter was edited from an MTL. Please leave a comment if you've spotted anything that looks wrong.