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Liu Changgeng quickly called for Liu Shu to send his nainai back. He shi watched Liu Gao shi leave from the window, while Liu Shu followed along, scampering behind her. It was only then that she closed the window and asked Liu Changgeng, “Isn’t tomorrow Xiaonian? Why are they still meeting to discuss the wedding tomorrow?”
Liu Changgeng shook his head, “Who knows…. The Yuan family has no elders, so maybe they don’t know all the proper etiquette.”
He shi nodded in understanding. Then she sighed again at Liu Hong’s fortune. She watched as Liu Xu’er went to the courtyard door to await Liu Shu’s return before saying to Liu Changgeng, “If our Xu’er is able to marry as good a family as her xiaogu, that would be a dream come true.”
Liu Changgeng replied, “Xu’er is a clever little thing. She would definitely be able to find a good family. You don’t have to worry.”
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Into a bowl, she beat two eggs and added some water. After mixing it well, she steamed it along with the buns. Yesterday night, she had left some corn to soak. She now took it out and poured it into the boiling water. Mixing it, she made a thin gruel.
Steam started emerging from the pot with the egg and buns, so she banked the fire a little.
Just then, Liu Shu entered the kitchen. He had just come from drawing water in the courtyard. His face puzzled, he said, “Xu’er, Shi Cheng is here. He’s looking for you.”
Liu Xu’er was slightly surprised. “What? What could have happened so early in the morning?” Saying this, she hurried out, her heart pounding. Was something wrong?!
Liu Lin had opened the door for Shi Cheng. The two were standing around chatting with each other.
Dressed in silk, with flowers embroidered along its surface and wearing a cotton hat, Shi Cheng was laughing merrily. The sun had just started to rise – it was very early. In this cold morning, most would still be sleepy, but his face was alert and carried a huge smile. As Liu Xu’er neared him, she suddenly had a strangely familiar feeling. It was as though she had been transported back many years ago, when he would wait for her at the school entrance in the early morning.
After walking over, Shi Cheng gave her a big grin and said, “Xu’er, I have some good news to share with you,”
Liu Xu’er was having a little trouble processing. She could only blink and look at him.
Shi Cheng smiled at her expression. Waving his hand in front of her, he said, “What? Are you still asleep?”
It was Liu Lin who urgently asked, “What good news? What good news could there possibly be so early in the morning?”
Liu Xu’er was finally brought back to reality when he waved his hands in front of her. Shaking her head to clear her head, she too asked, “Yes. What good news could there possibly be?”
Shi Cheng took out a handkerchief. The handkerchief was wrapped around something. Proudly he waved it at her and said, “Report: The initial battle was victorious! You can continue to progress with your plans!”
Liu Shu and Liu Lin didn’t understand what he meant, but Liu Xu’er started to get an inkling. Joy started to seep in, but she resisted it. Looking at the handkerchief in his hand, she said, “Did…. Did my hand-warmers get sold?”
Shi Cheng smiled and heavily nodded. He passed her the handkerchief and said, “Each was three taels of silver, for a total of nine taels!”
Liu Shu and Liu Lin were both stunned! Liu Lin even shouted, “What?!” They opened up the handkerchief in Liu Xu’er’s hand. There were five silver ingots lying there! One of them was half the size of the other. Liu Lin jumped in shock!
“This, this….. Is this real?” Liu Xu’er’s voice trembled. After all, this was something that she had been hoping for for years. Even in her dreams, she dreamt about earning money for a better life!
Shi Cheng smiled and nodded.
Liu Lin couldn’t wait anymore. Grabbing the handkerchief along with the silver, he flew back into the house, shouting, “Dad! Mum! Quickly wake up! Xu’er has made money, she’s made a whole nine taels of silver!”
Liu Xu’er calmed herself. She couldn’t help getting a little suspicious about this. After all, she had personally seen that the Second Young Madam hadn’t been interested in her hand-warmers. Looking hard at Shi Cheng, she said, “Don’t lie to me. How did they manage to be sold?”
Liu Shu was initially also shocked. But hearing what Liu Xu’er asked, he too wondered. “That’s right Shi Cheng. We both saw that the wealthy lady didn’t want them that day….”
Shi Cheng smiled, “Just because she doesn’t want them doesn’t mean that others won’t? Do you remember that the shopkeeper once said that there were some ladies who liked to go out to shop and others who didn’t? For those that didn’t, the shop would bring their wares over for them to look at? A few days ago. The shopkeeper brought the new items over to two families and during those visits, he brought the hand-warmers along too. One of the family’s had a Young Madam who had just delivered a baby. The instant she saw the hand-warmers, she liked them. Initially, she only wanted to buy the two small pairs, but seeing that the larger pair was well made, she said she would keep it for the child to wear next year and bought all of them.”
He smiled and said. “The silver is well and truly here, how could it be a lie? It couldn’t possibly be my gift to you? I haven’t got the courage to steal my family’s silver….”
Liu Xu’er felt that what he said rang true. She had managed to calm down somewhat but she was still feeling happy and her mood was light. Ideas about what to do next started to churn in her mind.
Liu Shu looked at Shi Cheng, “You didn’t steal your family’s silver did you?”
Shi Cheng laughed, “I wouldn’t dare! Furthermore, my dad knows about this. Yesterday, the shopkeeper sent people to send the money over, so my dad found out…. That’s right, Xu’er. I took the opportunity to discuss that matter with my dad. My dad thought about it, and thinks that it is doable. He said that at the start, it shouldn’t be too big. A small shop would be fine. After all, it’s only meant to train me. So you can just prepare more handicrafts to sell, My dad said, we are all neighbors and should help one another. So long as the handicrafts are of good quality, we would accept them.”
Liu Shu was curious, “What are you talking about?”
Liu Xu’er delightedly said, “Is that true?!”
Right at that moment, Liu Lin was also saying, “It’s true! Shi Cheng brought it over, he’s at the doorway now! If you don’t believe me, open the window to look!”
Probably because it had gotten too loud, Liu Sen was finally woken up. Unhappy, he started to cry, his voice getting increasingly louder. Early in the morning, four or five voices started ringing out, filling the little courtyard with excitement.
The window was finally pushed open. Still a bit bleary, He shi called out, “Has Shi Cheng come? Please come in, Xu’er…. What’s happening?”
Shi Cheng quickly said, “There’s no need, Aunt! I need to get back!” Saying this, he again told Liu Xu’er in a rushed whisper, “I’m off! I purposely waited till this morning to come, so that you could have a nice surprise over Xiaonian!” Saying this, he turned and ran off.
Liu Shu watched him go, still stunned.
Liu Xu’er suddenly thought of something. Calling, she ran after him, “Hey, hey! Wait a moment….” Hearing her call, Shi Cheng stopped to wait.
“What else do you want to know? Do you still not believe me?” Shi Cheng asked jokingly.
Liu Xu’er quickly asked, “When the silver was sent to your home, your dad found out that we used your store to sell the items? Was your dad….. How do I put this? Was he angry? Also about the new store, you need to explain it to me in more detail! Does this mean that I should prepare to rent a counter in your new store?”
Shi Cheng replied, “My dad wasn’t angry. When he knew that the town doctor had also bought your hand-warmers, he was rather impressed! He said that you had a good head on your shoulders!” He smiled and said, “So you don’t have to worry. My dad is a businessman. He’s not so petty he would mind these small matters. Instead, he felt that you were smart and really liked that about you. About the new store, we have already confirmed that we will be opening one. But for you, you can choose to rent a counter or to sell us the things you make…. Basically, that would mean that we would buy your handicrafts and sell them as part of our inventory. You won’t have to worry about selling them.”
Liu Xu’er felt that something was amiss, but everything had happened too suddenly and she couldn’t quite put her finger on what.
Shi Cheng however, had thought of something. He quickly said, “Although the store we are opening is a very very small one, we are still not letting anyone know that it is owned by my family. Instead, we are telling everyone that I am only going there to be a shop assistant. Maybe in another year or two, when the magistrate has completed his term of service and left, things will change.”
With that, Liu Xu’er was reminded of what she needed to check! She asked, “How am I going to explain to my family why the shop accepts our handicrafts?”
“The shop is nominally under my mother’s distant relative’s name, while I am there to work. Your hand-warmers sold well, surely you can….”
With that reminder, Liu Xu’er understood. She nodded and said, “Ok, I got it…. My thoughts were too scattered.” She mumbled something to herself, before reminding him, “Alright, bye then. Be careful on the slope!”
Shi Cheng agreed. Waving his goodbyes, he left.
Translator: This is one of my favourite chapters in the novel – when plans finally start seeing fruit. 🙂
It’s been about two months since I’ve started posting and I hope everyone has been enjoying the story so far! I really need to thank everyone who has been liking/hearting/commenting/reviewing the story both here and on novelupdates! I was also really touched that someone enjoyed the work enough to donate a ko-fi. Thank you all so much for the support.
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