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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.
3. No permission has been granted to use, publish, upload and/or copy this translation to any other site except for Second Life Translations.
Liu Xu’er went back and closed the courtyard door before re-entering the main house. Sure enough, both Liu Changgeng and He shi were now awake. He shi was coaxing a still-crying Liu Sen. As she was soothing him, she was staring wide-eyed at the silver in Liu Changgeng’s hand. Her face was painted with disbelief; it was clear she couldn’t trust her eyes.
Liu Lin stood at the side of the kang, shamefaced at having woken Senzi. He shuffled his feet sheepishly while Liu Shu explained the situation to their parents.
Seeing Liu Xu’er enter, Liu Changgeng immediately asked, “Xu’er! Is this silver really from the sale of your hand-warmers?!” His voice was reeling with shock. The wrapped silver was still in his hand. He had probably just checked it, to assure himself that this was really happening.
Senzi had just started to quiet when he heard his father’s sudden exclamation. In reaction, he let out two loud cries, as if to warn them that they were not to disturb him anymore!
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Liu Changgeng still found it strange and wanted to ask further, but Liu Xu’er pointed to a crying Liu Sen and said, “In any case dad, my hand-warmers have already been sold! Didn’t the doctor buy some too? We can talk about the rest later. Shouldn’t we settle Senzi back to sleep now?”
Liu Sen had obviously not had enough sleep. In frustration, he kept wailing, forcing Liu Changgeng and He shi to stop their conversation with Liu Xu’er to attend to him. So Liu Xu’er, Liu Shu and Liu Lin all headed back out to finish their morning chores.
In the room, Liu Changgeng was still holding onto the silver. He stared at it for a good long while, before carefully handing it over to He shi, “Have a look…. Who would have imagined that Xu’er would make so much money in an instant!”
He shi agreed, “Exactly! It’s like a dream…. Maybe I really am still dreaming….”
Liu Changgeng laughed.
He shi rocked Liu Sen till his eyelids started to droop. When he fell asleep again, she softly spoke to Liu Changgeng, “Maybe it’s because Xu’er heard what Ruyu said. Maybe that’s how she knew that embroidery could make money and thought of doing this…. My goodness, but how much money do you think those big families have? They just spend eight, 10 taels of silver without blinking. That’s enough money to stock food for our family for three to five years!”
Liu Changgeng nodded and said, “Our Xu’er is so smart! Her xiaoyi is able to embroider handkerchiefs, while she knows how to make these hand-warmers…. But I must say that these little things sure are able to sell for a lot.”
“It still needs the right opportunity. The women in the village are always sewing this and that, and selling them in town! And yet, you don’t see them earning all that much.”
Liu Changgeng nodded, “That’s true…. Oh, is Ruyu able to make a lot from those handkerchiefs?” He had only observed He Ruyu teaching Liu Xu’er and He shi her skills, but he actually wasn’t aware of the full situation. He had assumed that it was the same as those other women who embroidered shoe insoles, maybe making a few wen each time trip to town. But now that he saw the amount of silver it could bring, he couldn’t help taking it much more seriously.
He shi said, “Ruyu is also earning quite a sum! Last year, she didn’t make much. Something about the Old Madam interfering with someone…. Whatever the case, last year, she only made a few hundred wen. So she thought that it wouldn’t make much, but who knew that in the middle of this year, the household gave them seven to eight taels of silver! Although they were only paid once, this is a long-term business. My maiden family was able to settle all of their previous debts!”
Liu Changgeng went “Oh”. He was abruptly reminded, “This silver… Should we return the money owed to dad and mum?”
He shi thought about it for a moment before agreeing, “Of course…. However, do we need to ask Xu’er?”
Liu Changgeng laughed. “Now that your darling daughter has earned money, you don’t feel confident spending it?”
He shi also laughed. “That’s right…. Wouldn’t have expected it, but I really am not used to this.” She smiled and nodded, “We should return the money now that we have the silver! We shouldn’t worry dad and mum and ruin their New Year celebration.”
Liu Changgeng let out a breath.
While all this was happening, Liu Xu’er was in the kitchen busy preparing breakfast. She felt energized! This was so exciting! This sale boosted her confidence tremendously, and even as she worked, she was thinking furiously, planning ahead.
Since Shi Cheng had confirmed plans for a new shop, then there were two options open to them. One, they could opt to rent a counter and stock it with their own products. Two, they could opt to sell their handicrafts to Shi Cheng…. The second option gave more pressure to Shi Cheng. If the products didn’t sell well, it would be difficult for Shi Cheng to justify himself to his father.
After thinking it through, Liu Xu’er felt that it would be better for them to rent a counter. Although the risk would be greater, there would be greater leeway to expand. She wasn’t content to make only a few taels of silver, she wanted to slowly grow the business.
Then she realised – she needed to start preparations now! After all, it took a long time to complete each embroidered piece. There was no time to delay! No matter how things progressed from here, whether or not they would eventually hire others to do the work, this first batch of goods still needed to be made!
Then she thought, if they were to rent a counter, she needed to ensure that the counter was full of a variety of items! They definitely couldn’t only stock a single type of good….
Her thoughts continued to churn. First, she needed to determine what kind of items they would sell. Then, she needed to quickly prepare all the raw material. For example, the hand-warmers. Although there was enough rabbit fur, they still needed to purchase more good quality cloth to make them. Of course, they shouldn’t make too many more of those, mainly because winter was more than half gone! But there were still many uses for the rabbit fur, for example, forehead bands1抹额/ Mo’e – A traditional decorative band worn around the forehead. There are many different styles available. For those familiar with the novel “The Grandmaster of Demonic Cultivation” – the Gusulan sect members all wear a type of mo’e/ forehead band., scent sachets etc.
Examples of a forehead band. There are many different styles available. Source
The ideas kept flowing fast and furious. So Liu Xu’er started to sort through all her thoughts. By the time breakfast was done, she had decided on the next steps.
After making three trips to bring out the meal, Liu Changgeng and He shi had finished washing up with the water that Liu Shu had brought them.
Picking up a bun, He shi looked at Liu Xu’er and said, “Xu’er, since we’ve the silver now, dad and I were thinking that we should return the money we owe to your ye and nai….”
Although she wanted to say this confidently, He shi still felt a little unsure of herself. So by the end of the statement, her tone had turned questioning.
Liu Xu’er paused for a moment before she recalled. Of course! She should return the money – after all, her grandparents had probably emptied everything for her parents to see the doctor. After giving it a little thought, she asked, “Mum, can we just return a portion first? We owe ye and nai six taels? Can we return three taels first? Then for jiujiu – we owe them two taels, could we first return one?”
He shi paused. She looked toward Liu Changgeng. Liu Changgeng asked, “Don’t we have enough money? We owe about eight taels of silver, why don’t we return everything? Wouldn’t we be relieved to have no debt? Why should we continue to owe others?”
Liu Shu could roughly guess what was going on. He quickly said, “Dad! Xu’er and Shi Cheng are still discussing how they can continue to make those hand-warmers!”
“What?!”” Liu Changgeng and He shi’s surprised shouts filled the room. Liu Changgeng said, “Then wouldn’t we need to keep troubling that shopkeeper? We can’t do that! Once or twice is fine, but we can’t keep doing that. How would the shopkeeper be able to justify himself to the shop owner?”
This was just the opening Liu Xu’er wanted! Mentally preparing herself, she smiled and said, “Dad, mum. I’ve thought about this. I can do embroidery as well as many other handicrafts. The hand-warmers I made were able to sell. We can tell from this, that this is something that would make us money…. Didn’t xiaoyi also make money from embroidering handkerchiefs? I can do it too.”
Liu Changgeng then said, “It’s not that you can’t make them but that you can’t keep troubling that shopkeeper. Surely you can’t expect Shi Cheng to keep asking him for favours right? Your xiaoyi has a long-standing order from someone, that’s why it’s possible for her to make money that way!”
Liu Xu’er nodded, “Of course. But Shi Cheng has already told me that after the New Year, he will be going to a relative’s shop to be a shop assistant. That shop will be selling these types of little items. Items like hand-warmers, embroidered handkerchiefs, decorative knots, braided cords and so on. Since he is a shop assistant, he can help me sell the things I make in their store.” She didn’t mention the matter of renting a counter yet, mostly because that really didn’t seem to be something a kid would know about. Even the plans that she mentioned before would have raised eyebrows if she hadn’t had her xiaoyi’s example.
He shi uttered a simple, “Oh”. Then she asked, “Shi Cheng is going there to be an apprentice? I say, his family is so wealthy, why do they need to send him out to suffer?”
Liu Changgeng ignored that – wasn’t that just a pointless diversion! He continued to ask Liu Xu’er, “Then can Shi Cheng make these kinds of decisions?”
“Their shop already sells these things, so naturally they would have to buy it from somewhere, otherwise, they would have nothing to sell?” Liu Xu’er scratched her head. Blinking her eyes innocently, she looked at her father, “If I make it for him and he sells it in the shop, isn’t that ok? After all, even the doctor wanted my hand-warmers, and a Young Madam bought a few pairs from me too! It should be good enough to sell!” She asked He shi, “Mum, don’t you think so too? My handicrafts…. They should be decent.”
He shi nodded. “That’s true!” Saying this, she looked at Liu Changgeng. The two didn’t say anything further. They were buried deep in thought.