Edited by Halley
Chapter 8: Business
On this fine weathered day, there were a number of people praying in the temple.
Upon knowing that the new bride of the Prime Minister’s residence was coming over to pray, the temple acolyte quickly came over to greet. I politely exchanged some greeting words before following him in.
After making some offerings and reading some prayers, One then invited the temple acolyte to preside over the ceremony. When all of it was completed, it was past WuShi (modern timing: 11am – 1pm).
I said my goodbyes to the temple acolyte and boarded the carriage to leave. The temple acolyte let Ah Yuan guide the carriage and it headed towards the south of the city and only stopped when Ah Yuan said, “We have arrived.”
Upon getting off the carriage, one saw that this was a quiet street and the houses were not big. It seemed that those who lived here were civilians.
Li Shang’s house was in front of the carriage and the doors were wide open. Li Shang was supported by Ah Huan as they stood by the door and upon seeing me approach, he quickly knelt down with clasped hands.
“Steward, do get up quickly.” I hurried forward to help him as Father had never let his children receive Li Shang’s greetings.
“Furen has saved us, three people, from calamity. Li Shang would not be able return ten thousandth of it even upon death!” Li Shang was choked with emotions as he spoke.
I blushed with shame, “What talk of death. Why does Steward speak of such things? If Stewards want to give thanks, I appreciate it in my heart. There is no need to be like this!” Upon finishing, I stared at the Li siblings standing beside. They understood and quickly helped Li Shang up and soothed him softly.
After a long time, Li Shang looked up with traces of tears on his face. Upon seeing that I was looking at him, he was somewhat embarrassed and wiped the ends of his eyes before sighing, “It is difficult for Furen to come here. One had forgotten one’s manners.”
I smiled gently, “One heard that Steward’s health has taken a turn for the better. Upon seeing this, it is indeed true.”
Li Shang was startled upon hearing it and smiled bitterly as he shook his head.
After exchanging conventional greetings, everyone was delighted. I let my people wait outside the house, brought Ah Yuan along and followed Li Shang and his son into the house.
This house was not big and the hall was not considered spacious but it was clean and tidy.
After sitting down, Li Shang personally brewed some tea and placed it on the desk in front of me before speaking in shame, “This one is simple and crude and can only offer coarse tea for Furen.”
I thankfully replied, “The tea is sufficient.”
Looking at Li Shang, one could see that he was a totally different person compared to when he was ill. Not only were his spirits good, he also did not look wane. If not for his thin figure, it was impossible to see that this was a person who was seriously ill.
“How is Steward lately?” I took a sip of tea and asked with a light smile.
Li Shang said, “This one’s health is no longer a problem and this house is also very comfortable. Everything is due to Furen’s kindness.”
I shook my head and smiled, “It is only a lift of a finger, Steward must not mention it again.” After that, one went straight to the point, “Steward had mentioned in the letter that there are a few types of businesses. One does not know how they are?”
Li Shang nodded his head and he took a glance at the courtyard before seriously speaking, “It is indeed so.” He then took out a piece of paper, on which there were a few lines, listing the type of businesses.
“First, clothing material. Currently, summer is approaching and thus clothing material for winter is cheap. It can be bought to stock up. “Li Shang explained each line, “Second, meat products. There are a lot of people rearing domestic animals and there are many rich people who are newly arrived, thus do not know where to purchase or sell it. If one were to be a vendor, it would be a lucrative business. Third, alcohol. Yong Province was once the hometown for alcohol and almost every household knew how to brew wine. Even if it’s wartime, there would still be some remaining and they can be bought to be sold everywhere else. Fourth, jewels and valuable weapons…”
Speaking about this business, I frowned, “Jewels and valuable weapons, if this was a period of prosperity then it would be a rare commodity. However the world is currently in chaos and the wealthy ones would dump it to exchange for rice and staples, thus this is not ideal.” I then asked, “Is there any business on food products or feed?”
Li Shang shook his head, “Feed is a commodity in shortage and each area’s checkpoint is very stringent. Even if there are supplies for feeds, the investment would be huge and in addition to the chaotic logistics during the journey, the risks are high.”
I understood and continued looking down the list. Upon seeing the last one ‘medicinal herbs’, my eyes became fixated.
“Medicinal herbs?” I was astounded.
Li Shang blushed and smiled, “This was what I thought of when I was sick, thus it was added at the end. With the chaos under Heavens, people from all over the place are pouring into the Yong Capital. The sick and injured ones all require medicinal herbs. Currently in Yong Capital, even the costs of ordinary medicinal herbs have risen by twenty times of the original price. Thus by trading medicine, there would be considerable benefits.”
I muttered to myself and looked at him, “I remembered that Father once mentioned that Steward used to be in charge of a medicine shop?”
Li Shang said, “It is exactly so.”
“Is the route for the medical herbs still viable?”
Li Shang frowned, “If it was a few years ago, the route would still be smooth but if one were to utilize it now, one would need some time to inquire discretely.”
I nodded my head, “I think that medicinal herbs is workable but at the moment, there is no need to rush so Steward can start to scout it out. As there is demand in the market for meat products, it is also workable. It is just that for clothing materials, it would take time and effort to store it, thus I think that this can be temporarily let go. What are Steward’s thoughts on this?”
Li Shang smiled gently, “This one also has similar thoughts.”
I took a breath secretly and made up my mind before taking out two gold ingots from my sleeves and placed them on the table.
“This is my last bit of wealth. May Steward take it. Three tenths of the profit will be split to Steward and I will be accountable for the losses.”
Li Shang’s expression changed and he quickly said, “It is already a big grace for Furen to fund, how would I dare to have a split of profits? This matter cannot be done!”
I smiled, “There might not necessarily be any profits so Steward should just listen to my words. It is already difficult to pedal products and in the future, there would not be just these few things, how can Steward gain nothing in return?”
Li Shang no longer spoke. His expression became solemn and he kept the gold ingots and bowed to me, “May Furen rest assured.”
Since the matters were settled, I should return.
Li Shang got up to send me out but after taking two steps, he suddenly said, “Furen, this one feels that there are some words that need to be said. Furen is currently not short of money so it is inappropriate for these things to be done.”
“It is indeed inappropriate.” I smiled, “So one have to borrow Steward’s hand.”
Li Shang shook his head, “One does not mean that. Furen is the daughter-in-law of the Wei family so what is the use of having money? Matters of trading and peddling are always of lower class. Furen has a noble background and one feared that it would bury one’s identity.”
I did not accept his words, “Who said that I will keep on staying in the Wei family?”
Li Shang was shocked and stunned.
I saw his expression and knew that I had gone overboard with my words, “Steward, so what about having a noble background? Wealth is loved by the world and it is something that one would not dislike to have more.”
Li Shang’s expression changed and after a few moments, he nodded his head silently.
“There is still one more thing.” Upon sending me to the front doors, Li Shang spoke earnestly, “One is no longer a Steward, thus am unable to claim that title. Furen can call one by the name.”
I smiled as I looked at him, “You are the Steward that my Father had appointed. As long as there is still one person in the Fu residence, you are worthy of the title.”
Li Shang looked at me and his deep eyes became filled with moisture.
He no longer spoke as he bowed to me deeply.
The carriage started rumbling as it headed towards the direction of the streets.
Through the swaying bamboo curtains, I saw Li Shang and son still standing at the front of the doors as they watched the carriage leave. Only when those figures disappeared from the corner, I then turned my head back. After completing a big task, my heart felt heavy yet smug and satisfied.
Those two gold ingots from today were the last of my wealth. If there was still a need to use money in future, one will have to sell the jewelleries from my dowry. Despite that, I wasn’t in the least regretful.
I had to admit that my intentions were impure and I had exploited the friendship between Father and Li Shang.
However I had no ill intentions. I needed money and Li Shang and family also needed money hence there were no conflicts. If friendship could make this relationship tighter, why not use it?
The carriage quickly returned to the Wei residence and when one entered the gates, one saw Wei Rong heading towards me.
“Eldest Sao, have you heard it?” She said cheerfully, “Father and Eldest Brother will be returning tomorrow!”