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2. This is a fan work and the interpretation represents only the translator’s personal views without any input from the author.
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Liu Lin was feeling a little embarrassed, so once the first rabbit had been groomed, Liu Xu’er asked him to carry it back. Switching it for the next one, she continued similarly grooming its fur till it was equally neat. Again she managed to comb out a lot of fine, soft rabbit fur, all of which was stored in the box.
When Liu Lin delightedly brought the box of rabbit fur to Liu Changgeng and He shi, both of them were glad. “My my, there’s really quite a fair amount!”
“This is just from combing them; we haven’t actually started shearing them. Xu’er said, we need to wait till their fur has grown very long before we can shear them.” Liu Lin quickly said.
Liu Changgeng and He shi both smiled and nodded. Liu Xu’er saw that although her parents were smiling, they didn’t think too much of the matter. She also knew that this little bit of rabbit fur wouldn’t even weigh two liang1两/liang – A unit of measurement for weight. It is the same unit of measurement used for silver (as in a tael of silver). However, the translator has decided to leave it in pinyin when used as a unit of measurement for other (non-money) items as usually people think of taels specifically as money, and might get confused if it’s used as a weight reference.. No place would accept this small bit of fur. Without a large supply of rabbit fur, others wouldn’t want it as they couldn’t do anything with small amounts. So if they wanted to make it big, they would need to scale up production.
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Tl pbk alvaklhle y rklnl sq ryrla qasx wdela vbl czydjlvp yde rypple kv vs Nkw Fbw. “Fbw, vyjl vbkp yde ts vs Fbk Ubldt’p rzynl. Mblka qyxkzu pbswze cl tskdt vs vsod kd y qlo eyup. Gpj vblx kq vblu nswze blzr wp tlv psxl xsal xleknkdl.” Fyukdt vbkp, pbl vssj swv y nzsvb bydejlanbklq qasx vbl blye sq vbl jydt. Xrldkdt kv, pbl vssj swv 500 old sq nsrrla nskdp yde tyhl kv vs Nkw Fbw.
Nkw Dw’la pdyvnble vbl rynjytl clqsal Nkw Fbw nswze tlv kv. “Ywx, R’zz ts!” Fyukdt vbkp, pbl vssj csvb vbl xsdlu yde vbl ralpnakrvksd, vwadle yde ayd swv vbl essa.
Tl pbk pxkzle. “Fbl alyzzu tlvp yzsdt olzz okvb Fbk Ubldt.”
Nkw Ubydttldt byed’v lhld dsvknle obyv bye byrrldle. Tl dseele yde pyke, “Mblu yal vbl pyxl ytl yqvla yzz….” Tl bye fwpv plld vbyv vbl csm bl’e xyel qsa Nkw Dw’la bye yzalyeu clld wple yde ps oyp ralryakdt vs xyjl bla ydsvbla.
Nkw Dw’la bsolhla, bye bla sod vbswtbvp. Nkw Fbw oyp osaakle pbl oswzed’v cl yczl vs ts wr vbl pzsrl cu blaplzq, ps bye nbyple bla vs ynnsxrydu bla. Tsolhla, yqvla pldekdt bla yzz vbl oyu wr, Nkw Dw’la qzyvzu kdpkpvle vbyv Nkw Fbw ts bsxl, alqwpkdt vs yzzso bkx vs ynnsxrydu bla qwavbla. Nkw Fbw pxkzle yde tyhl kd.
Ebld Nkw Dw’la tsv vs Fbk Ubldt’p alpkeldnl, pbl pyo vbyv Fbk Ubldt’p eye oyp oyzjkdt yaswde vbl nswavuyae, bydep nzyprle clbkde bkp cynj, tkhkdt kdpvawnvksdp vs vbl rlsrzl obs olal nzlyakdt swv vbl nyav. Fbl iwknjzu oldv wr vs tallv bkx. “Tlzzs, Bdnzl Fbk.”
Fbk Ckyd pxkzle yde dseele. “Tlzzs, Dw’la. Tyhl usw nsxl vs zssj qsa Fbk Ubldt?”
Nkw Dw’la byed’v xydytle vs ydpola obld pbl pyo Fbk Ubldt blye swv qasx clbkde vbl bswpl, awddkdt vsoyae vblx. Fbl ralvldele pbl eked’v pll bkx, yde iwknjzu vkzvle bla qynl vsoyae Fbk Ckyd pyukdt, “Bdnzl Fbk, yal usw tskdt vs vsod kd vbl dlmv qlo eyup? Uswze usw blzr xu ryaldvp cwu vblpl xleknkdlp? Tlal’p vbl xsdlu.” Fyukdt vbkp, pbl nzyprle bla bydep vstlvbla yde ralpldvle vbl ralpnakrvksd yde xsdlu vs Fbk Ckyd.
Shi Qian nodded his agreement. “We were planning to head in tomorrow actually. Of course we will help!” Saying this, he took the prescription and money.
This was the way things were in the village. It was not possible for folk to head to town for every single small matter, so it was often the case that whenever people would go in, they would announce it to everyone in the village. That way, if anyone needed things done, they could help out. It all worked out; after all, one good turn deserved another, and if you helped someone out this time, the next time, they would help you.
Shi Cheng ran out. Smiling, he called out. “Xu’er, you’ve come!”
Liu Xu’er snuck a glance at Shi Cheng’s dad. Seeing that he was still looking at the prescription, she quickly signaled Shi Cheng with her eyes and mouthed the words, “I want to go too.”
Shi Cheng immediately understood, and quickly shouted out, “Why don’t you come along too! I am going to town tomorrow! Why don’t you and Liu Shu come along? When I went to town last, I saw them selling rabbits. Didn’t you say you wanted to buy another pair?!” He lifted his head and looked at Shi Qian. “Dad, since our carriage is spacious, let’s get Liu Xu’er and Liu Shu to come along with us!”
Shi Qian quickly shook his head, “How is that alright? Your Uncle and Aunt Liu need to agree! It’s not up to me!”
Shi Cheng swiveled his head to ask Liu Xu’er. “Do you want to go? If you do, then go and ask Aunt and Uncle! My dad’s already agreed!”
Without waiting for Shi Qian to say anything, Liu Xu’er happily nodded her head. “Great! My parents will definitely agree! Tomorrow morning, I will come by.” Saying this, she happily turned to leave.
Shi Qian started to call out, “Ah…..” Then his sound stopped. He dipped his head to look at Shi Cheng, “Why didn’t you ask dad before making the decision on your own?”
Shi Cheng looked at him quizzically, “Dad, didn’t you agree?”
Shi Qian waved his hands exasperatedly at the back of his head, and lightly exhaled. “You just wanted them along so that they could play with you, right?! This brat sure is too clever for his own good!”
Shi Cheng giggled.
Liu Xu’er stuck her tongue out. Seeing that Liu Shu was still waiting for her at the slope, she quickly joined him and they returned home together. Once she entered the house, she hurriedly went to Liu Changgeng and He shi.
“Dad, mum! Uncle Shi asked me and dage to go with them to town!” She said the instant she entered the door.
Liu Changgeng and He shi froze for a second. He shi immediately said, “No way! What are you going there for? You would just be a burden if you go. They’re going there to handle their affairs, we can’t ask them to split their attention just to look after you?! You’re not allowed to go!”
Liu Xu’er’s little brow wrinkled. With an injured expression, she said, “ Mum, isn’t Shi Cheng the same age as me? He doesn’t need supervision from Uncle Shi? It’s not as if we don’t know how to behave and would run about. We don’t need to be looked after. Furthermore, Uncle Shi has already agreed. Mummmmm….” The last syllable was dragged out.
He shi didn’t budge an inch. She resolutely shook her head. “No! Absolutely not! What would happen if you got lost?”
“Dad! Talk to mum – let us go. Anyway, Uncle Shi has already agreed! I still want to go and look. The last time, we didn’t manage to see everything before we had to come back…. I promise that I will definitely stay with Uncle Shi, and won’t budge an inch from his side!”
She added a final sentence. “Also, their family still has Uncle Quan whose only job is to watch Shi Cheng. So long as Shi Cheng doesn’t get lost, neither would we!”
Initially, Liu Changgeng was also unwilling, but he was unable to withstand Liu Xu’er who had climbed on the kang to beg, wheedle and plead. His will ground down, he finally agreed, but he sternly warned her that she needed to stay close to Shi Cheng!
At the side, Liu Lin was listening impatiently. But when he heard that he wouldn’t be brought along, he sadly lowered his head.
Seeing his disappointed look, Liu Shu told He shi, “Mum, let Liu Lin go, I will stay here.”
But He shi didn’t feel at ease. She felt that Liu Shu was more sensible. Also if Liu Lin went, he might not be able to control Liu Xu’er. In the end, it was finally decided that Liu Shu, Liu Lin and Liu Xu’er would all go.
Early the next day, Liu Xu’er rose very early. Steaming a few buns, she placed it at the side of the kang, so that if nobody came by from the old home to check in at noon, her parents and Senzi would still be able to have these few buns.
Liu Xu’er was aware that there should be someone at home since her parents couldn’t move about. And she also knew that she shouldn’t be pushing to go to town, but there was genuine reason for her to want to head in.
She did indeed want to buy another pair of rabbits. The fur produced by this pair was very clean and soft, and gave her a lot of confidence. But one pair was too few. Even if they birthed more rabbits, it wasn’t ideal for them to continue to interbreed that way. The rabbits would be too closely related. It was best to buy another pair.
Increasing one’s debt wouldn’t add any more pressure. Liu Xu’er comforted herself with the sentence.
With the three of them heading to town, He shi had to give them some spending money. After all, they were children. If they saw something to eat that they couldn’t resist, surely they couldn’t impose on Shi Cheng’s father to treat them? So she took out another 500 wen. Giving it to Liu Shu, “Take this money. If didi or meimei see something they want to eat, buy it for them…. But if it’s too expensive, don’t let them buy it. You definitely cannot allow Shi Cheng’s dad to pay for them, do you understand?”
Liu Shu nodded. “Understood mum!”
Liu Changgeng had just finished making another little box yesterday. He smoothly passed it to Liu Shu, “Shu, put the money into the box.” Liu Shu happily went to take it and placed the money in it.
Liu Xu’er carried along the box with the rabbit fur. The three siblings said their goodbyes to their parents. Senzi was still too little and didn’t understand that gege and jiejie were all going to leave him at home while they went to town. He was giggling and drooling as he waved goodbye to them.
At Shi Cheng’s home, the carriage was already at their doorway and Shi Cheng was waiting for them. Seeing them arrive, he was delighted, and went to hold Liu Xu’er’s hand, while they clambered aboard the carriage one by one.
When Shi Cheng’s dad came out and saw four little people sitting in the carriage, he laughed in spite of himself. “I’m going to say this clearly – you are not to run about! If I were to lose any of you, there is no way I can compensate for the loss!”
Liu Xu’er quickly said, “Uncle Shi, you can rest assured! We will definitely not run about!”
Shi Qian laughed and sat down. Uncle Quan sat with the carriage driver outside, and the carriage headed into town.
Shi Cheng’s family still had two stores remaining in town. Their family had previously offended Hanzhong’s prefectural magistrate, Liu Zhe. Magistrate Liu Zhe had a xiaojiuzi, who had opened a restaurant in Hanzhong city. Coincidentally, the restaurant happened to be directly opposite the one owned by Shi Cheng’s family. At the time, Shi Cheng’s father was an up and coming businessman. Without having done a detailed investigation of who owned the new restaurant, he struck back at the restaurant with a few tactics.
When the magistrate’s xiaojiuzi’s restaurant had just opened, Shi Cheng’s family restaurant offered discounts, with two of their dishes being offered as a buy one, get one free. Basically, he used common tactics seen on the business battleground. But that xiaojiuzi was not cut out for business, and so couldn’t hope to compete. As such, he went to complain to his elder sister, the magistrate’s wife.
With his wife sweet talking him in bed, and added to the fact that the magistrate had been extorting these businessmen for many years; Shi Cheng’s dad who had once loyally been paying his dues, was now more openly showing his discontent. As a result, the official was determined to make an example of him.
it would be extremely easy for an official to crush a businessman. The instant Shi Cheng’s father noticed that the situation was turning south, he knew he couldn’t directly confront him. Otherwise, not only would the business be lost, he may even lose his life in the process! As such, he closed the restaurant in Hanzhong city, and returned to his ancestral village.
Outwardly, it was reported that he had decided to stop being a businessman. The magistrate had even sent people to investigate that they had no other family businesses. The investigation had showed that apart from owning a few tens of mu of farmland, they had nothing else. There clearly was not much profit to be made from this, so they let the family off.
However, Shi Qian had been doing business for a long time. How could it be that he didn’t leave a way out for himself? He had moved his two most profitable businesses to Feng County’s town – one a restaurant, the other a jewelry shop. He even had a five entry courtyard dwelling in town! However, all these businesses and properties were held in Shi Cheng’s nainai’s name.
In these times, it was not unusual for even family members to not know the names of married women. For example, up till now, Liu Xu’er didn’t know her nainai’s Liu Gao shi’s name. Therefore, even if the magistrates’ people were to check, they wouldn’t be able to discover anything.
Moreover, the Shi family was extremely tight lipped about all these things. They maintained a low-key front and usually presented themselves as no different from other villagers. The only difference between them and others was merely that they had a few more mu of farmland!