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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 could only stay in her position. Shi Cheng’s father saw her difficulty so he smiled and signaled her to continue with her work. Liu Xu’er had no choice but to leave him and continue on.
By the time she had completed the latest wave of work, there was no one outside.
That was how they spent the entire morning – they didn’t even have time to have a drink of water, but at least the money box was full. Shi Cheng dug out about 10 hemp strings from a corner and tossed it to her. “When you’ve the time, start stringing the coins on these!”
Each of these hemp strings could be sold for two wen each, but they weren’t for sale today. There may not even be enough for their use today!
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Nkw Dw’la nswze sdzu pvyav pvakdtkdt vbl nskdp obldlhla pbl bye vbl pryal vkxl. Ebld pbl bye pvawdt 1000 nskdp, pbl oswze vkl kv sqq. Ebld pbl bye esdl vos pvakdtp, pbl dsvknle psxl uswvbp, ycswv 13 sa 14, poyttla kd vbl essa. Wasx vbl zssjp sq vblx, kv oyp nzlya vblu olal blal vs xyjl vaswczl.&dcpr;
Nkw Dw’la typrle, yde oydvle vs nyzz qsa Fbk Ubldt, cwv Fbk Ubldt oyp iwknjla, “Eykv y xsxldv!” yde eypble swv.&dcpr;
Mbl kdpvydv vbl uswvbp nyxl kd, vblu pvyavle vs nyzz swv nbyzzldtkdtzu, “Fbsrjllrla! Eblal’p vbl pbsrjllrla?!”
Fvyavzle, Nkw Dw’la&dcpr; bypvkzu rzynle vbl xsdlu csm sd vbl qzssa yde jknjle kv wdela vbl nswdvla. Mbl uswvbp yehydnle vsoyae vbl nswdvla. Fllkdt y zkvvzl nbkze pvydekdt vblal, vblu qklanlzu rswdele sd vbl nswdvla yde pbswvle, “Ebu kp vblal y nbkze blal? Eblal’p uswa pbsrjllrla? Mlzz bkx vs nsxl swv!”
Nkw Nkd iwknjzu awpble wr yde pxkzle, “Tsdsale twlpvp yal zssjkdt qsa swa pbsrjllrla? Tl’p nsxkdt, bl’p nsxkdt! Tl fwpv pvlrrle swv!”
Mblka zlyela zlydle ytykdpv vbl nswdvla yde vssj y tzydnl yaswde vbl pvsal, clqsal tkhkdt vbl alpv sq vbl tydt y pktdyz. Mbl vbwtp vbld pvyavle vs xshl ycswv vbl pvsal, rknjkdt wr y bydejlanbklq vs zssj, pdkqq, yde tkhl y ekavu pxkzl.&dcpr;
Lsv yzz sq vbl nwpvsxlap olal yoyal sq vblka ralpldnl. Mbspl vbyv olald’v nsdvkdwle pbsrrkdt yp rla wpwyz. Nkw Fbw nsdvkdwle vs wpbla rlsrzl kdvs vbl pbsr, yzz obkzl rlakseknyzzu tzydnkdt shla. Mbl nwpvsxlap obs dsvknle vblx, tsv dlahswp yde pvyavle vs letl swv.
Kwpv yp vos sq vbl uswvbp blyele vsoyae vbl essa vs nblnj sd oblal vbl pbsrjllrla xktbv cl, Bdnzl Dkysnbld fwpv rsrrle wr yzsdt okvb vball 20kpb ulya-sze xld. Mbl kdpvydv vblu ldvlale, vblu tayccle vbl vaswczlxyjlap cu vbl pnawqq yde eayttle vblx swv.
The leader hadn’t even started to make trouble before he too was dragged out by Uncle Xiaochen, “What, are you trying to pull something? Why don’t you look and see what kind of place this is first!”
The youth was still full of fight. Even after being tossed out, he roared, “What kind of place is this?! Are you telling me that this place is the Emperor’s? This lord here wants to….”
“Who are you calling a lord? Please check to see if your head is still on your shoulders! Brat, try again when you’re older! Quickly scram while this lord is still in a good mood. If I have to tell you again, don’t blame us for dragging you to the government office!”
These few youths were well known troublemakers. They often took advantage of their numbers to bully others. But seeing this fierce response, they too started to feel a bit nervous. Although they continued to talk big, they had started to retreat backwards, “Let’s wait and see! One day I will settle accounts with you!”
One of the fellows with Uncle Xiaochen took a threatening step forward, “Why aren’t you scramming? Are you waiting for the New Year?!”
That scared the youths into a terrified squeal as they turned tail and ran! Everyone who had stopped to watch, roared out laughing.
It was only now that Liu Xu’er managed to recover. She glanced and saw her brothers and Shi Cheng act as if nothing out of the ordinary had happened. While some obtuse customers didn’t even seem to have noticed that anything had happened!
Liu Xu’er was a bit embarrassed. These people… Aren’t they just too calm! Also, Shi Cheng’s reaction sure was quick! Did situations like these happen often?
As her imagination ran wild, business started to pick up again. In came a gaggle of little girls chatting at each other. They were around Liu Xu’er’s age, and each was dressed very prettily. It was like a flock of butterflies had come into the shop. All of them were talking and asking one after the other, “Are there still five-coloured bands?”
“The last time I came, I saw strings of crocheted cows and prawns, how much for a string of them?”
Liu Shu was an honest sort – he didn’t know how to deal with this many little girls at once! He retreated backward. Shi Cheng and Liu Lin quickly stepped forward to lend their assistance, “There are no more five-coloured bands.”
“Miss, I will look for what you want!” Shi Cheng reached across the counter and pulled out a large wooden chest from under it. He started to root around, while Liu Shu came forward to help him. After digging around for a while, he found a string. It was clear that the little girl desperately wanted it. She stood at the side, eyes hopeful, waiting patiently.
“How much is it?” The little girl asked.
After money exchanged hands, the requests started to come in thick and fast from the other girls. Some asked if they had head ornaments, others whether they sold goose soap!
They lingered for some time in the shop before buying a few things and leaving. Shi Cheng and Liu Lin came over to settle the accounts, while Liu Shu quickly straightened out their display. The wooden frame had few ornaments remaining, and quite a few of the hooks were empty. He replenished them from the wooden box Shi Cheng had just opened.
It was only now that Liu Xu’er noticed that there were different designs of wooden ornaments! They were no longer just of little fish or beetles, there were little gourds, peanuts and many others. She picked one up to have a look before smiling in surprise, “Dad sure is creative!”
After passing the money over, Shi Cheng and Liu Lin went back to help tidy up the counter and checked the more expensive items to make sure that none had gone missing in the earlier chaos.
With that sudden burst of activity, noon had come and gone. By the time the few of them were done, and had started to gather at the counter to discuss, Uncle Xiaochen came back smiling, “Shi Cheng, what do you want to do for lunch? It’s already this late, do you want to eat out, or stay here and eat?”
Shi Cheng asked Liu Xu’er, “What do you want? Do you still want minced meat noodles? We can ask them to deliver?”
Liu Xu’er was a bit uneasy. She said quietly, “I don’t think…. We… Our food and lodgings, can we really do this? Your dad was by this morning, we should have gone out to speak to him about this….”
Shi Cheng couldn’t make heads or tails of what she was trying to say. It was Uncle Xiaochen who understood. He said, “Little Xu’er, don’t worry! Your two brothers are always here to help out. As employers, we should be giving them a salary! In any case, they provide company to the young master here, and as for their food – how much do they eat?”
Shi Cheng understood when he heard that, “That’s right! Liu Shu and Liu Lin are both busy helping out at the shop all day! I didn’t even mention anything about giving them salaries.” Saying this, he told Uncle Xiaochen, “Then we will have minced meat noodles, four bowls!”
Uncle Xiaochen agreed before heading off, while Liu Xu’er anxiously tried to argue, “My two brothers weren’t hired by your father. It was us who came here of our own accord…. Honestly, if they were to become apprentices here, we should be giving you apprenticeship fees….”
Shi Cheng smiled at her and said, “Why are you so worried? Your two brothers were invited by me. I told my dad that I wanted to have two more helpers around the same age as me to help. It isn’t convenient for Uncle Xiaochen to be helping women customers. Since your brothers are here, and they have a good relationship with me…. That’s what I told my dad. At that time, he raised the matter of salaries, so I told him that since we were staying together, and that we often ate together, there’s no need to pay them.”
Liu Xu’er blinked. No matter how you sliced it, they were the ones taking advantage of Shi Cheng’s family. Her brothers had a place to stay and were being taught how to manage business for free…. But alright, since Shi Cheng insisted that this was helping him, she would let it go…..
The minced meat noodles had just arrived and everyone had a bowl before things started to get busy again. When they were eating, Uncle Xiaochen came in to tidy up the main counter and checked with Shi Cheng, “The morning looked very busy. Do you need help in the afternoon?”
Shi Cheng again shook his head, “No need, we can manage. At any rate, I suspect that in the afternoon, our main customers would be the young ladies and older married women.”
Uncle Xiaochen agreed and told Shi Cheng to look for him if they needed his help before taking his leave.
The afternoon was even busier than morning. There was a period that Liu Xu’er couldn’t even lift her head off to look around. Even when her counter managed to sell quite a few decorative knots and braided cords in quick succession she didn’t have time to feel happy. Hurriedly, she scribbled the transactions down. By now, she wasn’t even bothering to try and record it in the proper books. Instead, she was scribbling it on a sheet of paper to be transcribed later into the ledger.
By the time she had done with that and looked up, she let out a shocked gasp, “Oh!” The sky had already turned dark! She quickly asked, “What time is it?”
An older lady was just looking through their selection of necklaces. She heard her question and said, “When I left the house, it was already around 7 pm.” Then she picked up a necklace and asked, “Little girl, since you stand there, are you the shopkeeper? Can you make this any cheaper for me? The short ones are only 8 wen a piece, 80 wen is too expensive.”
Liu Xu’er knew that you needed to be flexible in business so she thought for a moment and said, “75 wen. It can’t be any cheaper. Jiejie, these necklaces use the best quality thread, and all the decorative knots are of the latest style. And look, there are at least 4 or 5 decorative knots on each. The short ones only have one. Also, this necklace came from Jiangnan! The styles from there are even trendier than the ones from the capital! After all, the capital copies Jiangnan’s fashion….”
The woman was already closing in on 30. She was thrilled to hear Xu’er refer to her as “jiejie”. Smiling broadly, she took out 75 wen and placed it on the counter. She patted Liu Xu’er on the head and said, “Your mouth is so sweet! You are so good at doing business, so clever!” Saying that, she took the necklace and went off.
Liu Xu’er stuck her tongue out, while Shi Cheng let out a peal of laughter after the woman left. Liu Shu only smiled, while Liu Lin rubbed his head and said, “That’s right! I’m so dumb!”
He had obviously learnt another technique.
A few people trickled in, but after that, no one else came in. Uncle Xiaochen called for a few bowls of wonton to be delivered. The few of them were half starved. After a while, Uncle Xiaochen discussed with Shi Cheng if it was time to close? Otherwise, it would be very late.
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So happy to read about these little kids doing business. And how can they all do so much better better gene I was a salesperson? 😂😂😂
Well, if it makes you feel any better, this is Shi Cheng’s second go at it! Hehehehe