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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 nodded. Since the store was attended by six, seven year-olds, women could come in freely. However, she was also slightly disappointed when she heard that Shi Cheng said that he didn’t need Uncle Xiaochen’s help. She had taken that to mean that business was slow.
The two customers didn’t purchase the necklace in the end, but did walk away with a couple of handkerchiefs. Liu Lin handed over their payment before turning to smile at Liu Xu’er. “Xu’er, why did you only just come.”
Liu Xu’er said, “I left first thing in the morning, and even came here by donkey-cart. It’s faster than an ox-cart by far! Why are all of you saying that I came late?”
Liu Shu finally put down his abacus. He smiled and said, “That’s because you didn’t see what happened this morning when we just opened up! If you had seen it, you would be shocked!”
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“Ebyv?” Nkw Dw’la kxxlekyvlzu wdelapvsse vbyv vblal xktbv byhl clld y zsv sq nwpvsxlap. Fbl kxxlekyvlzu ypjle, “Ebyv byrrldle? Elal vblal y zsv sq rlsrzl?”
Fbk Ubldt pxkzle yde pyke, “Nlv xl vlzz usw! Mbkp xsadkdt, vbl vball sq wp psze nzspl vs 2000 old sq tssep! Pked’v usw pll vbyv uswa alhszhkdt osseld qayxl kp lxrvu?”
Nkw Dw’la oyp pbsnjle! Fbl kxxlekyvlzu obkrrle bla blye vs zssj. Fwal ldswtb vbl qayxl oyp lxrvu. Fvwddle, pbl ypjle, “Ebu kp kv lxrvu, pwalzu kv nyd’v… Eyp lhlauvbkdt psze?!”
Nkw Fbw yde Nkw Nkd pkxwzvydlswpzu dseele, “Mbyv’p aktbv!”
“Rv oyp yzz psze swv!” Nkw Nkd zswezu alrlyvle.
Nkw Dw’la oyp vbwdelapvawnj! Fbl bwaakle shla vs bla nswdvla vs byhl y zssj yde dsvknle vbyv vblal rsvldvkyzzu oyp y alewnle dwxcla sq tssep? Fbl nswzed’v iwkvl alnyzz lmynv dwxclap yv vbl xsxldv. Wwavblaxsal, kv oswze cl ekqqknwzv vs vlzz fwpv cu zssjkdt kq ydu sq vbl elnsayvkhl jdsvp, dlnjzynlp yde ps sd olal psze. Mblu oswze dlle vs cl vyzzkle qkapv. Fbl pvyavle vs nswdv lynb sq vblx….
Fbl pweeldzu dsvknle psxlvbkdt yde zlv swv y pbswv, “Mblal’p sdl zlpp qsalblye cyde!” Fbl kxxlekyvlzu ayd shla yde pbssj Fbk Ubldt. Fxkzkdt, pbl ypjle, “Cwknjzu vlzz xl! Pke ol alyzzu xydytl vs plzz yzz vbl zkvvzl sadyxldvp?! Pke ol yzps xydytl vs plzz y qsalblye cyde?! Pke ol?!”
Fbk Ubldt oyp asnjle cynj yde qsavb qasx vbl qsanl sq bla ynvksdp. Tl pxkzle yde vssj bsze sq vbl zletla vbyv Nkw Fbw bye fwpv rypple shla. “Nlv xl alye kv swv qsa bla!” Fyukdt vbkp, bl iwknjzu pvyavle vs alye yzswe. “Wsalblye cyde, sdl. 3 vylzp. Nkvvzl osseld qkpb sadyxldvp…. Eykv, ol byhld’v pwxxle vblx yzz wr ulv! Nlv xl nswdv vblx wr qkapv!” pyukdt vbkp, bl iwknjzu pvyavle vs yee vblx wr.
Liu Xu’er’s heart nearly leaped from her chest! She quickly hurried over to look at the accounts book with him. Shi Cheng had already flipped past quite a few pages. Anxious that Shi Cheng would miscount, she flipped back to the very first page again to have a look, only to see “Hand-warmers” written on that first page. Three was written on the first line, representing the initial stock given, and after that, nothing else was mentioned. This meant that they hadn’t managed to sell any.
The second page was “Forehead Bands”. On the first line, three was again written, but below that was a note that one had been sold for three taels of silver.
The third page was of decorative knots. More detail was written down on this page, specifying the special types of decorative knots. Below that was blank, indicating that nothing had been sold.
As she flipped on, she noted that none of the necklaces had been sold, but two braided cords had been. 14 handkerchiefs had been sold, but none of the scent sachets. One embroidered pouch had also been sold. As to the little hanging ornaments, those needed to be tallied up carefully. There were 40 wooden fish ornaments that Liu Xu’er had supplied, but Shi Cheng mentioned that he had given four of them to the customer who had purchased the forehead band, and two to the customer who had purchased the pouch. The remainder would have sold for about 300 wen or so….
Liu Xu’er had started to swiftly calculate how much they had earned. Amongst her handicrafts, apart from the forehead band and hand-warmers which cost three taels each, and the scent sachet which cost two taels, all other items were priced under a tael of silver.
10 wen, 20 wen, 100 wen, 200 wen, after adding them up roughly, it seemed that they had managed to sell more than five taels worth of goods! The forehead band and pouch would have fetched about 4000 wen, the two braided cords would have sold for a total of 800 wen, the handkerchiefs were 70 wen, while the little wooden fish ornaments would have fetched about 300wen. The five-coloured bands had brought in a similar amount, about 500wen….
“In total, we made four taels of silver, one string of cash and 610 wen!” Liu Shu had swiftly calculated.
“Over five taels then.” Shi Cheng smiled and said.
Liu Xu’er was both shocked and delighted. She smiled and asked, “Is that for real?! Is that really true?! We managed to sell so much? Good heavens!”
Shi Cheng, Liu Shu and Liu Lin smiled as they saw her. Liu Shu and Liu Lin came by daily and had become as calm about the situation as Shi Cheng. When they had just started selling goods, they were also giddy with happiness, but after doing this for some time, they had learnt to calm down and accept the situation.
Liu Xu’er was overjoyed. Just then, another few young girls came in. They were about the same age as Liu Shu and Liu Lin. Liu Lin went to greet them. They were here to look for five-coloured bands. Liu Lin dug through the counter before finding a few, “There are only these left I’m afraid.”
Liu Xu’er softly asked, “Has everyone who’s been here just been buying those?”
Shi Cheng nodded and smiled. “Today is Duanwu and it’s a market day. During last month’s QIngming, these little ornaments actually sold quite well as well, but I figured that everyone would be too busy with farming and wouldn’t be able to do anything about it. So I didn’t try to let you know then.”
Liu Xu’er smiled. She watched as Liu Shu kept flicking the beads of his abacus, all while referencing Shi Cheng’s account books to practise his arithmetic. He looked so comfortable doing it that Liu Xu’er found it funny. Wasn’t this something of a trade secret? Can ledgers be so easily accessed by outsiders?
After the little girls bought their bands, they left. Liu Lin came over to help them settle their accounts. “There are no more five-coloured bands…. At that time, we shouldn’t have given them away with the handkerchiefs. We must’ve given away a dozen bands or so.”
Shi Cheng just laughed, “It’s alright to give them away. Who knows, it may have been because they saw others receive them with their handkerchiefs that they knew to come here to buy them.”
Liu Lin nodded, “That’s true. However, after this, we shouldn’t make them any more. We should do others…. What’s the next major festival?”
Liu Xu’er thought for a moment and said, “We won’t make it in time for the sixth month festivals. We can only start to prepare for the seventh month. There are a lot of them in the seventh month though, Girl’s Festival 1女儿节/ Nverjie – Also known as Girls’ Festival. It falls on the seventh day of the seventh month. It is also known as 七夕/ Qixi as well as the Cowherd and Weaver Girl ( A Chinese Valentine day when the two lovers are allowed their annual meeting)… That’s right! Girl’s Festival is a big festive occasion! After that is Ghost Festival 2中元鬼节/ Zhongyuanguijie – Also known as Ghost Festival, it falls on the 15th day of the 7th month when offerings are made to the deceased and then after that is Mid Autumn Festival 3 中秋节/ Zhongqiujie – Also known as the Mid Autumn Festival, it falls on the 15th of the 8th lunar month…. Oh no! We need to hurry and prepare!”
The instant she said that, everyone nodded their agreement. Liu Xu’er started to think about what was needed for Girl’s Festival, mentally preparing what she needed to buy.
In came another few young men. This time, a youth wanted to buy a silk flower. Liu Xu’er didn’t sell any at her counter, but it was still Liu Lin who went up to greet them and bring them to a counter further in. Shi Cheng’s range of goods was quite comprehensive and it seemed that he was doing quite well.
Liu Xu’er was overcome with joy earlier, but now that she had calmed down, she realised that this five taels of silver were earned over three months. After paying rent, they had actually only made a few hundred wen each month. It really couldn’t be considered good. Especially since Shi Cheng was managing the store, and had given them preferential treatment. Their counter was the most prominent one, and he had clearly been showing her goods first whenever customers came. For them to only make a few hundred wen per month really wasn’t all that.
If it weren’t Shi Cheng’s store, then despite all her efforts, they would still be losing money. When she realised this, she realised she still needed to give the business more thought! They need to keep thinking of products that would sell well.
Of course, to her family, the current situation was already pretty decent.
She turned to Shi Cheng, “Should we settle the past three months rent?” Then she asked Liu Shu, “After we’ve given the rent, we will use the rest of the money to buy raw materials… We need to prepare for Girl’s Festival and Ghost Festival.”
Liu Shu nodded. However, Shi Cheng smiled and said, “I’ve discussed it with my father. We will only charge two months rent. The second month isn’t included. At that time, we were only just starting out the business and can’t be considered to have formally opened during that time. So you don’t need to pay rent for that month.”
Liu Shu asked suspiciously, “Did you really discuss it with your dad?” After the previous episode, when Shi Cheng lied about the doctors’ fees, Liu Shu didn’t dare trust everything he said anymore.
Shi Cheng rubbed his nose, “I really did…. What? Don’t you believe me? Would anyone refuse to accept money?”
Liu Shu scratched his head, “It’s nothing… Although your dad said that, is it really ok not to give rent for the second month?” The last sentence was directed at Liu Xu’er.
Liu Xu’er looked at Shi Cheng. Shi Cheng sighed and said, “There’s really no need! Liu Shu, you were around during the second month as well. At that time, wasn’t the shop frequently closed? There were times we needed to go and collect stock, and there was no one around, so we had to close the shop?”
Liu Shu thought for a moment before nodding, “That’s true…. Alright then.”
It was only then that Liu Xu’er finally nodded her head. “That’s fine, then we will give two months’ rent.” She mentally recalculated everything before saying, “Dage, let’s give mum a tael. With the remaining money, we will go and buy more raw materials. What do you think?”
Liu Shu naturally agreed. “That would be good… However, do you have enough to purchase everything you need? Isn’t Girl’s Festival a big festival? Added to that there’s Ghost Festival and Mid Autumn Festival. We would definitely need to prepare a lot of items.”
Liu Xu’er replied, “Today, we will buy some of the materials we need first. Early next month, I will come down again. At that time, I will use all the money we make to buy more raw materials…. Also, I am still thinking of other things we can do.”
“What are you thinking of?” The two asked.
Liu Xu’er said, “Now, we have a lot of rabbit fur. I am trying to think of where else we can use it? If I really can’t then should we go to the middlemen to sell the fur? However, if we do that, we still don’t have enough fur.”
Shi Cheng immediately shook his head. “Now that you’ve opened the counter in this shop, then don’t bother selling fur to the middlemen. Rabbit fur is a good item. When my family was still in Hanzhong City, my mum once wore a pleated brocade cloak made of soft fur. She also had a cape made of fur for winter. Each item was over 80 taels of silver.”
He looked at Liu Xu’er’s pout. He knew that what he was saying was a stretch for her, so he continued. “I know that you think that’s beyond your grasp right now. But think about the hand-warmers. The hand-warmers I sell here are muff-like. They use silk to make them, but the inside is stuffed with cotton, and so they are only worth about two to three taels of silver. But look at how large it is?! Can it compare to the amount you used to make your mittens? But yours were also sold for three taels of silver each…. Don’t think that it’s just because the family who bought them are newly rich and want to show off their wealth. That’s not true! The patriarch in their family is a scholar from Hanlin 4 翰林/ Hanlin – Refers to the academics employed as imperial secretaries from the Tang Dynasty onwards, forming the Hanlin Imperial Academy who has retired and returned home. How could they not know the value of goods? For them to feel that it was worth three taels of silver each was entirely because you used rabbit fur in them.”
Liu Xu’er blinked at him.