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Liu Xu’er by now was very surprised and excited. Wide-eyed, she saw his smile, “Exactly how much did we sell?!”
Shi Cheng smiled and pointed at the counter, “At the end of the sixth month, we sold two scent sachets.”
Liu Xu’er was delighted! She let out a little scream, “Really?!” Before running over to take a look. Sure enough the previous four sachets were down to two. Excitedly she ran back, “Then why didn’t you tell my dad? He would have been so happy!”
“I wanted to surprise you! Besides, if you were the one to break the news, your parents would surely be impressed with you! How could I steal your thunder? Hahahah!” Shi Cheng laughed.
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“Tso eke ol xydytl vs plzz vos pnldv pynblvp ps iwknjzu?” Nkw Dw’la oyp shlaoblzxle, cwv nwakswp, “”Rv’p clld plhlayz xsdvbp, yde clqsal vbkp, ol eked’v xydytl vs plzz ydu! Ebu olal ol pweeldzu yczl vs plzz vos?”&dcpr;
Rv eked’v iwkvl xyjl pldpl – pnldv pynblvp olal dsv alyzzu dllele vs nlzlcayvl lkvbla Qkaz’p Wlpvkhyz sa Qbspv Wlpvkhyz.&dcpr;
Fbk Ubldt lmrzykdle, “Mseyu, eked’v usw fwpv okvdlpp bso rlsrzl oydvle vs cwu uswa rswnblp? Mbyv’p obyv vblu oydv – rswnblp! Gqvla yzz, kv’p pwxxla – vblu nyd rwv psxl pollv pletl sa rlrrlaxkdv sa buppsr sa obyv dsv kdvs vbl pnldv pynblvp yde rswnblp vs oyae sqq kdplnvp. Wwavblaxsal, kq vblu rwv y qzsola kd kv, zkjl yd sanbke sa spxydvbwp, kv oswze zssj ayvbla lzltydv. Gzz vbl tkazp zshl vblx.” Tl zsolale bkp hsknl, “R clv vbyv sd Ckmk, vblu yal yzz sqq vs qzkav okvb vblka clywp….”&dcpr;
Nkw Dw’la pxynjle bkx clqsal wdelapvydekdt. Fbl bye clld vss oayrrle wr kd rzyddkdt kvlxp qsa ekqqlaldv qlpvkhyzp, yde qsatsv vs vyjl dsvl sq bso vbl plypsdp oswze yzps yqqlnv elxyde. Rv oyp dso pwxxla. Omynvzu yp Fbk Ubldt bye pyke, vbspl rswnblp yde pnldv pynblvp yal plzzkdt olzz dso clnywpl vblu nswze cl wple vs bsze blacp vbyv oswze oyae sqq kdplnvp.&dcpr;
Fbl oyp pzktbvzu altalvqwz, “R eked’v lxcaskela xydu rswnblp vbkp vkxl. Mbl pnldv pynblvp eked’v plzz yv yzz clqsal, ps R eked’v xyjl ydu…. R yzps vbswtbv vbyv vblu olal vss vaswczlpsxl. Rv vyjlp y tsse vos, vball eyup vs xyjl y rswnb. Mbl pnldv pynblvp yal lhld osapl – kv vyjlp yv zlypv plhld sa lktbv eyup vs xyjl sdl.”
Fbk Ubldt pyke, “Mblal’p ds dlle vs qllz altalvqwz. El okzz fwpv pvsr plzzkdt kv sdnl kv’p psze swv! Ohld kq vblal’p ds xsal pvsnj, vblal’p dsvbkdt vbyv nyd cl esdl. Kwpv vyjl kv yp y zlyadkdt lmrlakldnl – y vakyz awd. Llmv ulya, usw okzz jdso obyv vs es.” Tl ytykd pxkzle, “R yzps nyaau psxl rswnblp, cwv vblu’al dsv yp olzz xyel yp uswap. Mbl bydekosaj kp xwnb osapl vbyd uswap yde ps kv’p xwnb nblyrla. R yx plzzkdt xkdl qsa 300 old y cyt. Mblpl rypv qlo eyup, xu rswnblp byhl yzps psze ayvbla olzz.”
Nkw Dw’la typrle. Fbl iwknjzu ypjle bkx vs zlv bla pll sdl. Ebu pbswze vbl raknl cl ps ekqqlaldv! Rq cwulap olal vs nsxryal, obu oswze vblu nbsspl vs cwu blap?!
Jwv pbl wdelapvsse vbl kdpvydv Fbk Ubldt caswtbv sdl shla qsa bla vs pll. Mblpl rswnblp olal nzlyazu dsv yp qkdlzu esdl yp blap. Mbl xyvlakyz oyp rssala yde vbl lxcaskelau oyp hlau saekdyau. Tla sod rswnblp bye lxcaskelau yzz yzsdt vbl letlp yp olzz yp yv vbl nldval, yde vbl ryvvladp olal lmiwkpkvl cwv vblkap sdzu bye y qzsola plod sd kv, yde vblu olal yzz vbl pyxl ryvvlad. Mblal oypd’v y nbsknl sq elpktdp. Mawzu, vblal oyp y hlau zyatl tyr clvolld vbl vos rasewnvp. Gzvbswtb vblkap oyp psze yv 300 old yde blap yv 800, blap olal dsv shlaraknle.
Liu Xu’er nodded, “It’s really quite different…. The products you sell here – where do you go to buy your stock? Do you also find people in nearby villages to make them?”
Shi Cheng shook his head, “How could that be, how much could we make that way? Some of these things, like the pouches and handkerchiefs, come from the south. The South has looms, and these things are mass produced. Even if there are embroidered flowers on them, they are all the same pattern and are made by their workshop staff. So of course they wouldn’t be nearly as detailed or fine as yours.”
He said, “If people want more elaborate work, the workshops would need to be commissioned to add further detail to their work. That’s why your products are not on the same level as mine. There’s no competition between us.”
Liu Xu’er smiled and nodded, “I don’t have the guts to compete with you! So long as we can enjoy some of the crumbs you leave behind, I would be content!” Shi Cheng laughed. She asked, “Then how about the rest of your items?”
“They’re all doing pretty well. I asked you to stay over tonight, because I wanted to let you witness what it means to have customers spilling out the door!” Shi Cheng smiled and said, “I’ve realised that in this town, people enjoy going out on the day of the festival to shop. The more people there are, the more they want to spend their money.”
Liu Xu’er smiled. This was true no matter the time period! People enjoy a crowd.
The two of them chatted and laughed for a while, while Shi Cheng tallied the morning’s accounts. When Liu Shu and Liu Lin had arrived, Liu Shu brought out their own account books. Then everyone pored over them, helping to calculate how much was made thus far. The two scent sachets sold had fetched four taels of silver. Added up to the rest of the sales, they had made an additional 3000 plus wen. Before the festival proper, they had already made over 7000 wen.
By now, Liu Xu’er had calmed down. She first settled the counter rental fees – she paid three months rent and sorted out their rental till the end of the month.
The remaining four taels of silver would all be brought back to mum. They would return the money owed to nai, and they would save the remaining 1000 or so wen. Because she had already given her mother 1000 wen for expenditure, this time, she would convert the coins into a single silver tael ingot. After settling everything, the seven taels of silver had again dissipated, leaving only a single tael of savings.
But this was money they had made before the start of the festival season! In the seventh and eighth month, there were so many festivals, so lots of people would be out shopping. Of course business would be booming in this period.
Everyone was full of confidence. When Uncle Xiaochen was done with his meal, he told them all to go for their own. This time, without any adults to accompany them, Shi Cheng offered to treat them to a meal.
Liu Shu was still hesitant, while Liu Lin had clearly gotten addicted to being a shop assistant. Now, he couldn’t be bothered about his food, all he thought about was whether the store had been busy? With the two of them nagging, one unwilling to go too far, the other unwilling to have anything too expensive, Shi Cheng had to settle for inviting them to the nearby minced meat noodle stall. After everyone had a bowl, they went back to the store.
When Uncle Xiaochen saw all of them return, he softly checked in with Shi Cheng. Shi Cheng agreed for him to go back to the jewelry store to help out. After all, there were now enough people here to manage. That was what Uncle Xiaochen was expecting, so he quickly went back over.
In the afternoon, these few people watched the shop. By now, even Liu Lin was extremely experienced – he greeted customers like an old hand.
Liu Shu was at the side managing the accounts. He had already bought a ledger for the purpose and when Liu Xu’er leaned over to have a look, she saw that his accounts were neat and tidy.
“That magistrate has already been moved away, but my dad has said that there’s no hurry. Although he’s moved, he may still have some remnant factions here. So we plan to wait another year or two. Also, since my dad had such a harsh lesson, he’s now much more prudent. He feels that even when doing business, it’s best not to be too high profile. Otherwise it may draw unwanted attention….” Shi Cheng whispered to Liu Xu’er. Whenever the two of them spoke, his words dropped their childish facade. “His intention is that we shouldn’t neglect what we’ve been doing in the village. We need to continue to maintain our fields and the orchard, and probably even expand this area.”
Liu Xu’er asked, “Is your mum unhappy?”
Shi Cheng nodded, “Of course she’s unhappy. My mum wanted to move to town yesterday! Even now, she’s telling people to tidy up the place. If it weren’t for my father insisting that everything must wait till past the New Year… My dad feels that if we were to move immediately, it would be too obvious and sudden. One day, we are normal villagers and the next, we are people with a town courtyard dwelling and stores. Wouldn’t it make it awkward for us to interact with our fellow villagers in future?”
“Then where will your mother deliver? She probably wants to give birth in town right?”
Shi Cheng nodded, “She’s due sometime in the first or second month of next year. So it should be in town.” He paused and said, “Even now, we’re not being as quiet as we were before. Uncle Xiaochen has already mostly returned to the jewelry store to continue to work as a shop assistant, and the store here is mostly being run by me. Also, the courtyard dwelling that I’m staying in right now has already been bought by my family. It’s just that we only recently bought it, and the right and left wings that were previously rented out to others are still being cleared out. My mum’s plan is to renovate them anew, but my father feels that’s being too obvious… They are still discussing the matter.”
He told Liu Xu’er, “So you can stop worrying. Your brothers are very safe staying with me. Even the courtyard entrance is being watched by my family’s servants.”
Liu Xu’er nodded, and sighed, “Perhaps you will move to town this year…. From being a normal village family, your family has suddenly become a big, wealthy household with many servants. Wonders never cease!”
Shi Cheng snorted, “So what about it? How is it different from what is happening now? Aren’t I also staying in town now? If you want to visit, then just hop on by! Furthermore, it’s not so hard for all of you to move to town. The house I am staying in has a total of 13 rooms, including the main building, side wings and all the side rooms. It only cost 80 taels of silver. If you really want to move to town, there are many houses sold without a courtyard. It would still be a proper dwelling with a main room and side rooms. There should be no problem accommodating a family. Those should only cost about 30 to 40 taels. If you are not too fussy about location, you may even be able to get it for 20 taels of silver.”
Liu Xu’er tsked, “20 taels is still too much! My family doesn’t have the capability….”
Shi Cheng cut her off, “That’s right! Did you know? Your sanshu and sanshen stay to the north of town. They’ve bought one of those houses I mentioned, and share a courtyard with another family. Since they still have access to a courtyard, I think they probably spent around 30 to 40 taels.”
It was only now that Liu Xu’er recalled those two people. She shook her heads dn said, “I nearly forgot all about them.” 30 to 40 taels for a house. Did they spend all of the money that sanshen had brought back? However, after thinking about it, that didn’t seem likely. Even if sanshen’s family was willing to help, surely they couldn’t have just given them 40 taels of silver like that! This matter…. Seemed a little off. She shook her head; she couldn’t be bothered to waste time on those two.
Shi Cheng smiled.
Liu Xu’er sighed and said, “I understand what you mean, but in the end, my family is still a poor one. Right now, we have barely managed to start making money – before this, we had never even seen a whole silver ingot before. It’s already a huge step forward for us to start bringing whole taels of silver home. But my parents would definitely not be able to accept moving to town right now, or the idea of spending a few tens of taels to buy a house…. For the next while, this isn’t something we can consider. Besides which, we first need to have the ability to move! We would at least need to save up enough to buy a house, while maintaining a business. Only then can we consider it…. Therefore, it’s still too early! Let’s not talk about this for now.”
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Wow! The 3rd family indeed came to town to squander off their money. Let’s see how long they can go on like that. I’m waiting for Xu’er rabbit fur business to take place.
Heh, well, at least we get to read about what happening to the business in the chapter! 😊