1. This is an unofficial translation and no permission has been obtained from the author/ official publisher. It may be taken down if the author/official publisher requests.
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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After the Shi Family’s big banquet, Shi Cheng and the rest returned to town. The days passed peacefully.
When Liu Changgeng went to town, he deliberately sought Liu Changgui. Liu Changgui was willing to speak to him privately. They went to a street stall and sat down for some minced meat noodles. After their meal, they chatted.
No matter how Liu Changgeng asked, Liu Changgui refused to reveal his business. He only said that he was working with Jia shi’s xiaoshushu in Shandong. He would work for half a year, before resting for half a year.
Unable to pry any more information from him, Liu Changgeng was helpless. He just warned him to make sure he followed these two rules: One, he must make sure that he stays within the boundaries of the law, and two, he cannot do anything shameful.
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Everyday, He shi would come over to help Liu Gao shi to prepare the meals and take care of these people. Although they wouldn’t need to be paid, their meals would definitely need to be provided. And the meals couldn’t be too shabby either – every meal had meat and vegetables. Apart from their own brothers, everyone else was commenting that the old Liu Family was doing better and better.
Whenever Liu Hong had the time, she too would come by to help. It was just that as a newly wedded bride, she needed to be careful that others didn’t see her. If they did, she would be the butt of their jokes. Thankfully, everytime that happened, Yuan Hao would rush to her rescue and help get her out of the situation.
Liu Xu’er had come by once and witnessed an incident like that. Yuan Hao was, after all, older than her xiaogu by quite a few years. He really doted on his little wife.
From the time the house was raised, to the time that they finished laying out the interior of the house, it took a full month. On the day all work was done, Liu Gao shi and He shi made a huge spread, bought some wine and called all the workers over for a good meal.
Liu Changshi was naturally very thankful to everyone’s support. He assured them that if anyone needed any help, to just call on him.
Following that, it was time to plant the millet. It took more than half a month to sow, but after that, Liu Xu’er finally managed to get the chance to go over to her sishu’s new place with He shi. He hadn’t yet moved in, and the house was still being tidied. It was a single entry courtyard, with three large rooms in the main building, and two wings at either side of it. There was even a well dug up in the backyard.
When Liu Xu’er returned home, she continued to busy herself with her handicrafts. Although they had outsourced some of the work, their family was still rather busy, especially during the seventh and eighth month period. He shi spent the entirety of this period in a state of tension.
This year, Liu Xu’er again went to town to stay there for a few days over the Girl’s Festival. Business was excellent, and they had made over 10 strings of cash, which they converted into a single 10 tael ingot of silver. The remainder was kept in loose coins.
The busy days passed extremely quickly, and in the blink of an eye, it was again the 12th month. Liu Shu and Liu Lin had returned back to the village and started to calculate their income for the year. The accounts were tallied till the 31st day of the 11th month. Earnings in the 12th month would be accounted for in next years’ books.
Liu Shu sat in his rooms’ kang, warm and comfortable, with a thick mattress and warm blanket. He was leaning over a small table, calculating the year’s income.
Wearing a black cotton hat, dark green hand-warmers and dressed in a fine cotton jacket, Liu Sen came running over, calling, “Dage! Why are you back?”
Liu Shu’s head didn’t move. “I’m tallying our family’s accounts.”
Liu Sen then removed his hand-warmers and hat before moving toward the kang, frantically pumping his little legs, trying to get on. At this, Liu Lin, dressed in a dark blue outfit came in. Seeing that, he quickly gave Liu Sen a lift up. Then he swiftly took his shoes off before smiling and asking, “What are you doing, trying to climb up?”
Liu Sen started to roll around on the kang. Then he smiled and said, “Dage, erge, will I stay in this room next time? With you two?”
“No way!” Both brothers said simultaneously. Liu Sen stopped rolling. He sat up straight and directed a wronged glance at his two brothers. Liu Shu put his brush down and turned to him, “Dage and erge are frequently not at home. Do you dare to sleep here by yourself?”
“What if you wet the bed?” Liu Lin also asked.
Liu Lin pouted as he pondered the questions. What would he do if he wet the bed?
Wearing a goose yellow dress, Liu Xu’er came in. She saw Liu Sen’s expression, smiled and came over. Removing her shoes, she sat on the kang. “What’s wrong, Senzi?”
“Gege won’t let me sleep here.” Senzi immediately reported, pointing at the kang.
Liu Xu’er laughed and said, “Why do you want to sleep here? Dage, erge snore at night – you wouldn’t be able to sleep! Also erge’s feet are so smelly, and he moves a lot at night. He might even put his feet on you! What if he kicks you to the side when he sleeps? While the both of them sleep soundly, warm under the covers, you would have to sleep in the cold… Wouldn’t that be awful?”
Senzi shuddered, and immediately gave up on the idea. The two older boys could only rub their faces sheepishly.
“Has everything been tallied? How much money did we make this year?” Liu Xu’er asked.
Liu Shu nodded, “It’s done. Slightly over 41 strings of cash. After deducting 12 strings for rent, as well as over 7 taels to buy raw materials, the profit remaining was about 22-23 taels.”
Liu Lin smiled and said, “We did pretty well, but even mum’s family – the two jiuma made about two or three taels each. Xiaoyi as well.”
Liu Xu’er nodded, this was just the ballpark figure. There was no need to go into detail. Instead, she mentally calculated – this year her family had spent over four strings of cash and saved well over 10 taels. Added to the amount saved last year, the family had about 30 taels of cash saved up. Should they continue to save the money, or think of ways to grow it?
Of course, Liu Xu’er wanted to grow it, but she wasn’t sure how. That still required some discussion with Shi Cheng. Shi Cheng’s father had already handed the store’s reins over to him. This year, business was doing pretty well, so Shi Cheng should be thinking of ways to expand it as well.
Just as she was thinking that, Liu Shu said, “Added to last year’s 10 plus taels, we have about 30 taels saved? Should we just leave it at home? Or should we think about what else we can do with it?”
Liu Xu’er’s eyes brightened, “Dage, what are you suggesting?”
“Use it to bring more goods in! If we just save it, the money is dead, it’s only when it’s used that the money will bring in more money. Of course, we cannot blindly bring goods in. We need to check out the surrounding stores….” Liu Lin started to say. Then he stopped, “Hanzhong and Xianyang city – we should visit them sometime and check them out.”
Both Liu Shu and Liu Xu’er agreed with his point, it was just that it was too early for that. Although 30 taels of silver seemed like a lot to them, it wasn’t enough to bring in more goods. Furthermore, if they go out to try and transport goods over, there would be many other costs involved, for example, the traveling fees, the road tolls, the freight fee etc. Right now, all their costs revolved only around rental and buying raw materials. But it’s would not be the case if they were to go out and transport goods back.
Liu Xu’er was out of ideas. A few days after the New Year, Shi Cheng came over and discussed the matter with her.
On the 10th day of the New Year, Shi Cheng came over with a basket of apples, before looking for Liu Xu’er in her room to talk.
Sitting on the kang, Shi Cheng started to eat an apple as he spoke, “In spring…. Well, by the fourth or fifth month latest, my family will be moving. Last year, after my mother came out of confinement, she kept mentioning moving. If Shi Qing didn’t get a rash, and the doctor didn’t advise them to stay in the village with its refreshing air, we would have moved long ago!”
Shi Qing was his didi.
Liu Xu’er nodded – she had long been aware of their plans. Furthermore, Shi Cheng had spent the majority of the past two years in town, so it wasn’t too difficult for her to accept their move.
“How much savings does your family have now?”
“About 30 strings of cash.” Liu Xu’er immediately knew why he was asking. She shook her head and said, “We definitely don’t have enough money to move to town. The family definitely cannot just stay in an empty house right? Furthermore, the family is quite large, so we certainly would need a house with a courtyard. And, we need the cash on hand for our business. It’s just too early to consider moving.”
Shi Cheng smiled and said, “I didn’t ask you to get your parents to buy a house. I only feel that you can’t just leave the money alone.”
Liu Xu’er quickly said, “I’ve already discussed it with my ge. But,” She said a bit tearfully, “We didn’t manage to come up with anything.”
Shi Cheng nodded and said, “Don’t worry. We can continue to monitor the situation at the store. That shop was only intended to train me. My family’s main business is still in the restaurant and jewelry lines. Before, my dad also dabbled in tea. This year, my dad has started to build up his businesses again in Feng town. It may be that after a while, he would stop me from running this shop and get me to return to learn how to run the family business….”
Liu Xu’er immediately understood. Shocked, she said, “Do you mean to ask me to rent the store?!”