1. This is an unofficial translation and no permission has been obtained from the author/ official publisher. It may be taken down if the author/official publisher requests.
2. This is a fan work and the interpretation represents only the translator’s personal views without any input from the author.
3. No permission has been granted to use, publish, upload and/or copy this translation to any other site except for Second Life Translations.
The only reason Liu Xu’er knew all this was naturally due to the special relationship she shared with Shi Cheng. However, Liu Xu’er was also extremely aware of the seriousness of the issue. She very scrupulously kept these facts hidden in her heart, not even telling her parents about it.
She also knew that the reason Shi Cheng’s parents went to town so frequently was not to go to the market or to shop, but to check on their store.
After seeing the embroidered handkerchief that her xiaoyi had made, Liu Xu’er’s heart was truly moved. She also wanted to learn her skill. Even if she wasn’t able to learn, she definitely wanted to explore developing further in this area.
Speaking of – the Gu family was interesting. Even if nothing else was known about them, for a family of businessmen in town to make 10 lots of handkerchiefs per season was truly a show of extravagance.
The following parts of the text will be scrambled to prevent theft from aggregators and unauthorized epub making. Please support our translators by reading on secondlifetranslations (dot) com. If you are currently on the site and and you are seeing this, please clear your cache.
Gp pwnb, pbl bye lprlnkyzzu ypjle Fbk Ubldt – Ebyv oyp vbl Qw qyxkzu zkjl?
Fbk Ubldt oyp lmvalxlzu nzlya. Tl vsze bla vbyv vbl Qw Wyxkzu oyp y dswhlyw aknbl qyxkzu. Mblu swvoyaezu yrrlyale vs byhl xyel vblka qsavwdl plzzkdt vly kd vbl dsavbolpvlad altksd, cwv ynvwyzzu, vblal olal awxsap vbyv vblu olal osajkdt okvb vbl pyzv xkdlp. Mbkp oyp sq nswapl esdl okvb vbl nssrlayvksd sq vbl zsnyz ywvbsakvklp.&dcpr;
Tlyakdt vbkp, Nkw Dw’la wdelapvsse. Lswhlyw aknbl qyxkzklp ldfsule qzywdvkdt vblka olyzvb. Mblu olald’v yqayke sq lmvayhytydv prldekdt. Rdpvlye, vblka ckttlpv qlya oyp dsv byhkdt obyv svbla olyzvbu bswplbszep bye.&dcpr;
Ekvb vbkp, Nkw Dw’la pvyavle vs rzyd bla kdkvkyz pvlrp. Mseyu, sdl sq vbl alypsdp pbl kdpkpvle sd nsxkdt oyp vs xyjl psxl kdiwkaklp ycswv vbl Qw qyxkzu – vblka cwpkdlpplp yde ps sd.&dcpr;
Fbl pbyale bla vbswtbvp iwklvzu vs Fbk Ubldt yqvla vblu bye yaakhle kd vsod. Fbk Ubldt’p eye oydvle vs nblnj bkp pvsal yde lhld kq vbl nbkzeald olal uswdt, Fbk Ubldt’p eye oyp sq y nywvkswp dyvwal. Tl zlqv vbl nbkzeald kd vbl nsxrydu sq Bdnzl Cwyd vs cwu vbl dllele xleknkdlp, yde oldv cu bkxplzq vs vbl pvsal.&dcpr;&dcpr;
Ebld Nkw Fbw yde Nkw Nkd oldv okvb Bdnzl Cwyd kdvs vbl pbsr vs xyjl vblka rwanbyplp, Nkw Dw’la xyel bla aliwlpv vs Fbk Ubldt iwklvzu yv vbl essaoyu. Fbk Ubldt vbswtbv qsa y xsxldv. “Mbl xyeyxp qasx vbl Qw qyxkzu zshl tskdt vs xu qyxkzu’p flolzau pvsal. Ebldlhla ol’hl ydu dlo elpktdp, ol dlle vs zlv vblx jdso yv vbl lyazklpv srrsavwdkvu…. Ebu esd’v ol blye vblal kd y obkzl vs byhl y zssj?”
Nkw Dw’la oyp pzktbvzu blpkvydv. “Eswze uswa eye xkde?”
“Rv’p qkdl. Kwpv ralvlde vs jdso dsvbkdt, yde clbyhl zkjl usw’al ynnsxrydukdt xl vs byhl y zssj yaswde.” Fbk Ubldt pyke.&dcpr;
Liu Xu’er quickly nodded her head.
They had just finished their discussion when Uncle Quan brought Liu Shu and Liu Lin out of the store. Holding the medicine, Uncle Quan asked, “Where else would you like to go?”
Liu Xu’er smiled and said, “I want to go back to the street I bought my rabbits from. I want to buy another pair.”
Uncle Quan nodded his head. As he was leading the group of children, a shocked Liu Shu asked Liu Xu’er quietly, “Did you ask dad and mum about buying rabbits?”
Liu Xu’er shook her head. “No.”
Liu Shu stared at her wide-eyed. “You didn’t ask, but you dare to… spend 500 wen to buy rabbits?!”
“If I were to ask, mum definitely would not agree. So I didn’t bother asking.” Liu Xu’er again reminded Liu Shu. “Dage, have you forgotten what I told you before? No matter what we do, no matter how we save, we still won’t have enough. So we need to quickly think of a plan. If not, even if we spend the 500 wen completely on grain, that’s still only enough for our family to eat for another 10 days to half a month. Wouldn’t our situation remain the same? Instead, why don’t we buy some rabbits and sell their fur. You’ve seen it too. The fur from those rabbits was both clean and soft. People would definitely want it.”
Liu Shu still wasn’t completely convinced. “But that is still not something certain. How can you be so sure it would work out?”
“Since we are in this no-win situation, we need to do something drastic to try and turn things around. If not, what other solutions do you have?”
Liu Shu couldn’t argue against that, so after a long while, he let out a sigh.
“Mum said, this money was for us to get food and drink. If we don’t get any food, then couldn’t we use the money we saved to buy those rabbits? In any case, I think it’s better to use the money to buy rabbits than to use the money for us to get a meal.” For once, Liu Lin managed to prioritize other things than food.
Liu Shu thought about it for a moment. That was true – mum did give this money for them to spend on food. With that thought in mind, he calmed down.
During the previous trip to town, Liu Xu’er had to maintain a low-key profile because she was accompanied by her parents. This time was different. Everything she saw, she would inquire about price – from the price of a handkerchief, to a box of rouge, to glutinous rice cakes, to pastries – everything she caught sight of was included.
Of course Shi Cheng knew that she was searching for a business opportunity, and so he cooperatively followed. Uncle Quan was only concerned about his family’s young master – as long as the other few children didn’t go missing, he didn’t need to keep a tight watch on them.
When Liu Lin heard that just a single pastry cost 10 wen, he was silenced.
“It is fried with oil. The oil is expensive.” Liu Xu’er explained.
After meandering and looking around, they finally arrived at the street selling animals. When they were at the stall selling rabbits, they found that it was, coincidentally, the same person selling it as before.
All the children went forward before smilingly squatting down. Even the rabbit seller was pleasantly surprised. Smiling, he called out, “Hey, aren’t you the little girl who bought rabbits before?!” He asked, “How are they? Have they grown yet?”
Liu Xu’er nodded. “Yes, they’ve definitely grown big.” Saying this, she puffed out her cheeks and looked at him. “Uncle, how could you lie to a little girl like me?!”
The rabbit seller was stunned. “How did I lie to you?”
“At that time, you made it sound so wonderful when you spoke to my dad! How easy it would be to sell rabbit fur – that people would accept it no matter how much we had. I’ve been going around for a few days, and none of the stores would accept it! When I went to a middleman to try and sell the fur, never mind that the price they offered was low, they wouldn’t even accept the small amount that I had!”
The rabbit seller quickly nodded. “Of course! Even if I didn’t say that…. Surely you would know this….”
“How would I know?! The way you made it sound, it seemed as though the two rabbits would be able to produce eight or 10 jins of fur! Both my father and I thought that!” Liu Xu’er suddenly raised her voice.
The rabbit seller blinked. “But surely you can’t blame me for that….”
“Enough already. My uncle scolded my meimei after that incident! Now there’s no other choice, we need to buy another two to try and produce the amount of fur the middleman needs. So here we are…. But you cannot ask for 400 wen again! That would be too much. How about 300 wen for a pair!” Shi Cheng clamored from the side.
Even Liu Shu and Liu Liu went wide-eyed at that, to say nothing of the rabbit seller.
At that moment, the rabbit seller panicked. “Who said that it was 400 wen, it was previously sold for 450 wen, 450 wen!”
When Shi Cheng heard that, his face was stunned. He looked at Liu Xu’er, “Xu’er was it 450 wen?”
Liu Xu’er face was also very suspicious, “Why did I remember it to be 400 wen?”
“450 wen, it was definitely 450 wen!” The rabbit seller exclaimed. “The cost price of these rabbits are 400 wen a pair, why would I sell them to you at 400 wen?!”
“That can’t be!” Shi Cheng grinned. “Your rabbits should only have cost you 300 wen! No mistake, they should be 300 wen!”
The rabbit seller became even more urgent. Angrily he said, “That’s impossible! 350 wen….”
Shi Cheng and Liu Xu’er both snickered. The rabbit seller broke off. His face went red, then purple. Rolling his eyes at them, he asked, “Do you want to buy them or not?”
Shi Cheng smiled and said, “380 wen for a pair. Last time you earned 100 wen! Do you know how much a villager can buy with 100 wen?!”
Uncle Quan was listening to the endless prattle between the two children and the seller. Getting a little impatient, he interrupted, “That’s true, with 380 wen, you’ve made 30 wen! That’s a decent profit! I must say you are really quite ruthless, asking for 450 wen previously. Do you know how long it takes for a villager to make 100 wen? In some years, they don’t even make that much! Furthermore, your rabbits have been sitting here since then with no takers. In another two days, it would be the 12th month. Who would buy these then? All the money people have will go into buying supplies for their New Year celebrations!”
The rabbit seller pondered that for a moment. He felt that what Uncle Quan said made some sense. Furthermore, he was embarrassed over his slip letting them know he had previously earned 100 wen. After all, there was a code of honesty amongst villagers, and having been exposed, he felt a little ashamed. Also, a 30 wen profit was decent. As such, he helplessly agreed.
Liu Shu and Liu Lin were quiet throughout the process. They could only look amazed at both Liu Xu’er and Shi Cheng.
With the 380 wen, they selected a male/female pair of rabbits and even managed to prise a handmade bamboo basket from the rabbit seller. Uncle Quan picked it up and they carried on their way,
Liu Xu’er had already planned things out. With the remaining money, she hurried over to the neighboring booth that was selling chicks.
“Have a look, little lady! These are chicks that have just hatched. The hen in my family loves to brood them during winter, and the chicks that are hatched are healthy, grow quickly and start laying eggs early. By the second or third month next year, they will start to lay!”
When they were buying the rabbits, this seller was also eyeing them eagerly. Seeing that they were truly willing to spend money to buy these, he didn’t even wait for them to come before advertising his wares.
Liu Xu’er asked about the price. Again it was Shi Cheng who negotiated – originally the seller wanted 10 wen per chick, but he managed to bargain it down to six wen. As such, Liu Xu’er spent 60 wen and bought 10 chicks. It was only that the chicks were too young to differentiate between male and female, so they could only blindly pick.
Liu Xu’er handed the remaining 60 wen to Liu Shu to save. She didn’t plan on buying anything more.
Uncle Quan picked up the two baskets, one with the two rabbits, and the other with the 10 chicks, before following Shi Cheng as they continued to browse.
Shi Cheng’s family’s jewelry shop was split into two, front and back. The truly precious items, for example the diamonds and rubies that were brought via sea route, were placed at the back. However, in this town, there were few who could afford such items, and so they were never out on display, only placed in the back courtyard of the store. Whenever there were wealthy customers, they would be invited to the inner courtyard and served tea and light refreshments while making their selections, completely different from the average goods which would all be displayed in a counter.
The store in the front was divided into two levels. The upper floor carried the more expensive items, such as pearls, gold and jade. On that level, they had custom made glass counters transported from the outskirts of the capital to display these items. Similarly, those who could purchase such items were only from big, wealthy families. As such, when customers went upstairs, they were also invited to sit down and have tea while making their selections.
The floor below, on the other hand, was catered more to the general public. They carried silver jewelry, handkerchiefs, head pieces, decorative knots, braided cords, cotton hand-warmers1 The actual term for this in Chinese is “hand covering”. It can therefore be used to encompass any style of glove/ muff/mitten etc. I have opted to use the more general term of “hand-warmer” as the chapters beyond will mention different more specific types. etc. Basically anything a lady’s boudoir required could be found here.