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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 Xu’er was doing some swift mental calculations. With their current nine taels of silver, they would first return four taels leaving them five taels of silver to purchase raw materials. That should be more than sufficient for their needs. Of course, it was also best to put aside a tael of silver. After all, the family needed to have some savings! What if food ran out? They couldn’t just stop eating!
Liu Changgeng thought over her request. Since she wanted to do this, then he didn’t think it would be an issue for them to continue making these little knick knacks. In any case, she was using the money that she earned! Furthermore, he felt that it was good for children to take their own initiative. It was certainly better than having them just run wild.
He nodded his agreement, “Ok then. Why don’t we do as Xu’er suggests?” He looked at He shi.
He shi immediately agreed. She was more convinced than he that the suggestion would work. “Yes, let’s do that.”
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Fllkdt vbyv csvb sq bla ryaldvp bye ytalle, Nkw Dw’la oyp shla vbl xssd. Fbl pyke, “Fkdnl usw byhl ytalle, vbyv xlydp usw yal okzzkdt vs nssrlayvl okvb xu rzyd! Ywx, obu esd’v usw jllr vblpl qkhl vylzp. El okzz wpl qswa vylzp vs alvwad ryav sq obyv ol sol, yde vbld usw nyd pyhl vbl zypv vylz sq pkzhla qsa swa qyxkzu’p wpl. R okzz vyjl vbl alxykdkdt qswa vylzp. Ebld Fbk Ubldt tslp kdvs vsod, R okzz ts okvb vblx vs cwu obyv ol dlle.”
Gzvbswtb bla ryaldvp bye ytalle, vbl vos sq vblx bye nzlyazu dsv tkhld kv xwnb plakswp vbswtbv. Fs obld vblu blyae obyv pbl pyke, csvb sq vblx fwxrle, “Zsw oydv vs ts vs vsod ytykd?!”
Nkw Dwu’la vyrrle bla qkdtlavkrp vstlvbla yde pyke, “Xq nswapl. Mbl byde-oyaxlap osd’v fwpv yrrlya sd vblka sod. Nypv vkxl, R xyel vblx okvb vbl nzsvb yde vbalye vbyv mkysuk zlqv wp. Lso vbyv ol esd’v byhl ydu zlqv, esd’v ol dlle vs cwu psxl? Xvblaokpl, bso nyd ol xyjl xsal?”
Nkw Ubydttldt tyhl kv psxl vbswtbv. “Ebu esd’v ol ts yqvla vbl Llo Zlya. Mseyu kp yzalyeu Dkysdkyd…. Gqvla vbl Llo Zlya, uswa xwx’p zlt pbswze byhl alnshlale. Zsw nyd blye kdvs vsod okvb bla.”
Nkw Dw’la kxxlekyvlzu pbssj bla blye. “Mbl pbsrp okzz cl nzsple qsa iwkvl psxl vkxl yqvla vbl Llo Zlya. El oswze dlle vs oykv vkzz yqvla vbl 15vb qsa vblx vs alsrld! Sktbv dso, xwx byp vs pvyu sd vbl jydt vs alpv. Fbl nyd’v es xwnb lzpl.&dcpr; Eswzed’v kv cl&dcpr; rlaqlnv qsa bla vs byhl psxlvbkdt vs es okvb bla bydep ewakdt vbkp rlakse? Rq ol oykv vkzz yqvla vbl 15vb sq vbl qkapv xsdvb, vbyv oswze xlyd vbyv vblal oswze cl nzspl vs y xsdvb sq eskdt dsvbkdt. Ywx, dso vbyv uswa qssv kp kdfwale, kv’p dsv yp vbswtb usw yal cwpu ralryakdt qsa vbl Llo Zlya. Gzps,” pbl zssjle yv bla qyvbla yde tkttzle, “Pye, uswa zygu eyup yal ldekdt! R’hl vbswtbv ycswv kv. Zsw’al tskdt vs xyjl psxl pvwqq qsa xl vss!”
Nkw Ubydttldt lmnzykxle, “Ebyv? Ebyv nyd R xyjl?!”
Nkw Nkd zywtble qasx vbl pkel, “Rp eye tskdt vs lxcaskela qzsolap?”
Tl pbk pdkttlale.&dcpr;
Only Liu Shu didn’t laugh. He waited attentively to listen to Liu Xu’er’s next words.
Liu Xu’er smiled and said, “Don’t laugh erge! Dad, do you remember for Duanwujie1端午节/ Duanwujie – Also known as the Dragonboat Festival. The festival falls on the fifth day of the fifth month of the Chinese calendar. It was said to commemorate a statesman and poet who committed suicide by jumping into the river on the day. one year, you made us some little wooden fishes? They were around the size of our finger? Also some wooden beetles?”
Liu Changgeng thought for a while – it seemed that he really had made something like that before. He asked curiously, “Yes, what about them? Do you want me to make those?”
Liu Xu’er nodded heavily. She smiled and said, “That’s right! I’ve thought about it. You should make those little wooden fishes and beetles. I will tie them up with decorative knots. They should make very nice little ornaments that people can wear. After the New Year, there are lots of different festivals where people can wear them. Of course, we can’t wait till just before the festivals to make them; if we do, we won’t have enough time. So we need to start making them now. When it’s closer to time, we can take them out to sell. They should sell pretty well.”
Liu Changgeng was truly astonished by these words. He looked at Liu Xu’er and said, surprised, “Xu’er…. How did you think of all this?”
He shi was also very surprised. She nodded and said, “Yes! Who taught you all this? How did you think of all this?”
Liu Xu’er affected nonchalance. “Nobody taught me. I wanted to wear something like that last time, but knew that it would be too expensive. We wouldn’t be able to afford it. So when I went to learn handicrafts from Shi Cheng’s mother, I decided I would make myself one. Then I could wear it during Duanwujie…. That’s how I thought of it!”
Then she continue to address He shi, “Mum, during Lichun2立春/Lichun – Also known as the Beginning of Spring. As the name suggests, it heralds the beginning of spring and Duanwujie, doesn’t everyone usually wear five-coloured bands3 五彩丝线/ Wucaisisian – It quite literally means the five coloured thread. As the name suggests, five colored threads are pleated together and worn around the arm. It is considered an auspicious object. ? As talismans for protection and so on? I want to buy more thread for us to make them. Then we can stock them before the festivals…. Think about it, there are so many festivals in a year. Lots of them would have their own festival specific trinkets! We should start to prepare for the festivities in the spring and summer now. Then during the mid-year farming lull, we should start preparing for the festivals in autumn and winter. Wouldn’t that be great?!”
Examples of five-coloured bands. Source
Now everyone was staring at her in amazement! He shi murmured, “What…. How did you even think of all this?”
Liu Changgeng echoed that sentiment, “How does your brain work….”
Liu Xu’er smiled and mentally stuck out her tongue. She really didn’t want to say all this. It doesn’t at all sound like something a child would say. But now that her plans were pulling together, she needed her family to understand and get on board. Only after her parents agreed could she use the silver as she wanted and not have them just dismiss the expense as frivolous…. She couldn’t do this alone!
So again, she said lightly, “I was just thinking about it to myself. I’ve always wanted to wear five-coloured bands… After thinking about it for a while, I thought of a way to make them myself.”
He shi felt some heartache at that, while Liu Changgeng just nodded. There was no reason to suspect what she said. In any case, he couldn’t think of a better plan, so he nodded his agreement, “Great! Then let’s do as you suggest! After today, you will make the decisions for our family!”
Liu Xu’er laughed.
He shi smiled too and patted Liu Changgeng.
Liu Lin, who had been quiet throughout the entire conversation, finally had the chance to ask, “Xu’er, what about me?”
Liu Xu’er laughed, “You? Help plant!”
“What?!” Liu Lin wilted.
Liu Xu’er giggled, “You will definitely need to be involved, but I can’t think of how yet. But when we get busy, both you and dage would definitely also need to help.”
Liu Shu nodded, “That’s true. There’s no need to plan everything out. There is plenty that needs to be done around the house too.”
Discussion over breakfast stretched a full two hours until Liu Sen finally woke up. Rubbing his eyes, he called out. “Mum”. That finally spurred the family to conclude their discussion. Liu Xu’er returned all the leftovers back to the kitchen, before steaming an egg custard and dishing out some corn mush for Liu Sen.
Nobody came over to visit on Xiaonian, so the family didn’t know how the wedding discussion had gone. He shi got off the kang to help prepare the noon meal. It had already been made by Liu Gao shi the day before, so all that needed to be done was to heat it up.
The noon and evening meals were quite sumptuous by their standards. After everything that had happened, He shi was no longer anxiously watching their grain supplies go down and trying to think of ways to stretch their rations.
After Xiaonian passed, they cleaned the house on the 24th. Liu Xu’er went to look for Shi Cheng on that day and he said that since the next day was the last market day for the year, his mother would definitely want to go. Liu Xu’er asked to tag along. She explained the discussion she had with her family and said that she wanted to go to buy their raw materials.
Of course Shi Cheng was only too happy to oblige. On the 25th, both Liu Shu and Liu Xu’er went, bright and early, to his house.
By now, both of them were familiar with the routine of going to town. They greeted Shi Cheng’s mother and father, clambered aboard the carriage and headed off with them.
Shi Cheng’s mother had heard about the hand-warmers. She too was quite surprised, so she kept asking Liu Xu’er about it during their journey. Liu Xu’er had to explain the situation with her xiaoyi. Then she again thanked Shi Cheng, pretending that she wasn’t aware that the store was owned by their family. She only explained that Shi Cheng had spoken to the shopkeeper and had used his mother’s name to help her out. She hoped that Uncle and Aunt Shi wouldn’t mind?
Shi Cheng’s parents didn’t mind at all. But Shi Cheng’s mother wanted to find out more about her xiaoyi. When she heard that it was the Gu family who commissioned He Ruyu to embroider handkerchiefs for then, she smiled and didn’t ask anything further.
Once they got to town, Shi Cheng’s father again asked Uncle Quan to bring Liu Shu and Liu Xu’er around. He instructed him to watch over them carefully, while he would bring his own family of three elsewhere.
Of course, Shi Cheng was completely unwilling. He badly wanted to see what Liu Xu’er was going to purchase, and he wanted to give his own suggestions. Furthermore, there were many other things he needed to discuss with Liu Xu’er. So he pestered his parents non-stop. Initially Shi Cheng’s mother was unwilling, but she couldn’t withstand his relentless on-slaught.
Shi Cheng then went to talk to his father. He said that since he would be expected to open a store next year, he should go and look around to scout out rival shops! Since Liu Xu’er was going to be visiting such shops, it was ideal for him to go and see what their business was like and what they had to offer!
Shi Cheng’s father felt that this was reasonable, so he spoke to Shi Cheng’s mother. Since they were there to buy things like cloth, dried fruits or melon seeds for the New Year, then Shi Cheng would definitely be bored tagging along. Wouldn’t it be better for him to go and have fun with the Liu siblings?
Shi Cheng’s mother could only agree. But she insisted on having one of her older servants accompany him. She could assist Uncle Quan in watching over all of them.
With that, they went their separate ways to do their shopping.
Yesterday night, Liu Xu’er had carefully thought of everything she needed to buy. Terrified she would forget an item, she had even specially taken a burnt piece of wood and written down a list of items on the back of the book Shi Cheng had passed her. If she forgot anything, they would have to wait till after the 15th of the first month to purchase them. And even then, the shops might be poorly stocked.
They first headed to a shop selling coarse thread. Coarse thread was so named not because the thread itself was thick, but because it was not of good quality. It was spun from low grade materials. She bought five liang each of red, green, yellow, pink and blue thread. This type of thread was not expensive at all. A liang cost only 10 wen each… Then she bought another five liang of maroon thread, for a total of 30 liang of thread. She spent 280 wen.
This type of thread was not suitable for embroidery. It could only be used to make a few of the more delicate types of decorative knots or tassels. As such, the large purchase came as a surprise to the shop owner. When Shi Cheng went to discuss the price with him, he was quite happy to discount the purchase 20 wen. He even threw in some black thread that Liu Xu’er wanted.
After they exited the shop, they walked toward the centre of town to look for a shop which sold a more comprehensive range of cloth, such as silks for the handkerchiefs, medium grade thread meant for braided cords and decorative knots, as well as needles. A shop like this could only be found in the heart of town.
They found a larger store and managed to buy all their supplies including some ordinary cloth and satin. This time, they spent over 2 taels of silver. Liu Shu’s brow was tightly furrowed and his face was quite dark. Liu Xu’er was also feeling rather diffident. It was the first time she had spent so much money. And it was for something that she wasn’t sure would pan out…. No matter, even if it couldn’t be sold, it would just land her back in the same position as if her hand-warmers had never been sold!
She could only comfort herself with that thought.
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Thanks for the chapter! Aiyaa~~~ our little Liu Shu already feel distressed for the money spent. Hope their plan goes well. I