No one knew whether that bailiff really asked his superior.
In the end, “come back if good” continued to operate grandiosely throughout the city.
The outer city was mostly composed of commoners, merchants, scholars or workers who didn’t have the qualifications to live in the inner city. These people all had limited experience, and were very accepting of snacks.
It wasn’t expensive so it was fine to buy a few for the flavor. Adults and children alike enjoyed it.
Some stands were set up near restaurants. Some people who were drinking alcohol inside bought some skewers to go along with their drinks for the novelty. They didn’t realize it before, but after trying it they realized this thing went along extremely well with alcohol. They ate and drank and ate and drank. Not only did they drink more alcohol than usual, they also ate quite a few skewers.
Therefore, those who love alcohol, from elegant scholars to working servants, all liked to accompany a couple of glasses with a few skewers.
The assumption was that those lords with noble statuses wouldn’t enjoy eating such crude food which made their appearance look vulgar when eating. Unexpectedly, they were selling pretty well in the inner city also!
Often times many servants would come and buy dozens of skewers before hurriedly rushing off. Some even complained that they didn’t sell any at night. Their lords (young masters) often felt like eating it late at night, but they weren’t sold anywhere. This made the servants lose out on rewards.
The peddlers actually wanted to sell them overnight, but the city had a curfew!
All this won’t be mentioned for now.
These days, Shen Qi’s movements in and out of the estate have been rather suspicious.
The Zhenguo Duke was strict towards the younger generation, but never stopped them from going outside.
According to the Zhenguo Duke, boys shouldn’t be babied into never going out! Although Shen Qi was still young, he was accompanied by servants whenever he went out. There were also people protecting him secretly. Therefore, he was allowed to go wherever he pleased.
On this day, Shen Qi snuck back into the estate after being gone for half the day.
He had thought himself subtle but didn’t realize his movements had long since been observed. The Zhenguo Duke happened to be idle today and ordered for him to be brought over.
As previously mentioned, little second Shen, this brat, wasn’t afraid of anything. He wasn’t even afraid of his dad, who often gave him a beating. The only one he feared was….
His grandfather, the Zhenguo Duke.
Let’s clear things up a bit. The Zhenguo Duke has never sorted out this brat Shen Qi before. He would merely use his mouth. The sorting out would be left to Shen Ding.
But the brat didn’t understand when he was younger. All he knew was that whenever his “grandfather” spoke a few words, his dad would let him eat bamboo shoot with minced meat back home.1 As time passed, he learned to be afraid. He knew he should never anger his grandfather. Otherwise, no one could save him.
Therefore, when he was brought over, the brat felt he had definitely done something wrong.
But after racking his brains, he felt he hadn’t done anything recently. He didn’t climb onto the roof and lift the tiles, he didn’t prank the maids, and he didn’t get into any fights outside. The only thing out of the ordinary….
But his grandfather wouldn’t call him over without reason.
This brat was also honest. The moment he entered the room, he found a place to kneel and cried out: “Grandfather, Qi’er knows he was wrong.”
The Zhenguo Duke was stunned. What wrong?
He reacted quickly. This child was rather smart.
He nodded. “What did you do wrong?”
Shen Qi choked, and mumbled: “Qi’er shouldn’t have let Uncle Peng send a message to the five cities military department.”
This was the only thing he did recently that was slightly out of bounds.
From Shen Qi’s perspective, this wasn’t a big deal. Weren’t they just setting up some small stands? He ate happily and everyone else ate happily too. It was convenient and delicious. Wasn’t it a good thing?
What did little fatty Luo say?
Right, this was for the common good!
He mustered up his courage and continued speaking: “This, err, your grandson felt that he was freeloading off the household every day without any contributions to the estate. Big bro isn’t home, and although I’m young I still have to show some filial piety. I should buy dad a sword, mom some jewelry and also get grandfather and grandmother some good things. This could be counted as your grandson’s expression of respect. But buying these things cost silver and your grandson doesn’t have any. Although we have silver back home, it wouldn’t count as filial piety. Therefore, I started doing some small business.”
He had actually already used these words before. For the sake of getting enough helpers, he had borrowed some from his mom. He had coaxed Second Madam Shen this way, making her beam with joy.
There were many servants that belonged to the Zhenguo Duke Estate. Some were born within the estate and others were purchased from the outside. There was an assortment of people. Boys, for example, started off as servant boys when they were young. After they grew up, they became errand runners. But the Zhenguo Duke Estate was only so big, and the number of servant spots were limited. Those who weren’t that outstanding were thus relocated to various businesses or stores under the Zhenguo Duke Estate.
Within the stores, the capable and experienced ones could be appointed store manager or vice-manager. Those who were incapable could only help the store do manual labor and earn a living. One level below that would be those who took care of the property and lived in it. This way, the elderly and children also had something to do. If someone of the younger generation was outstanding, they would be sent to the estate to serve the masters. Perhaps they may end up flourishing.
Servants born within the household have always lived this way.
Therefore, there were many people that could be used under the Zhenguo Duke Estate. Especially since this matter didn’t need too much ability. As long as they were clean, not too dense and quick with their actions, it was sufficient.
Second Madam Shen saw her son in high spirits wanting to try his hand at running a small business, and didn’t say anything before giving out the instructions. The subordinates selected people based on the “standards” and sent over forty to fifty people.
Of course Second Madam Shen had asked her son what he wanted to sell. Shen Qi didn’t explain in detail. He merely said it was something yummy and that he wanted to use it to earn some pocket money to offer his elders. Hearing this, Second Madam Shen no longer asked. She just assumed it was her son’s temporary interest.
Shen Qi also said this venture wouldn’t require a lot of starting capital. The money his elders gave him normally along with his own savings was enough. Therefore, he didn’t need his mom to “invest” anything.
It also helped the Zhenguo Duke Estate alleviate some burden. They had to raise all these people. Even servants had to eat. Of course, they wouldn’t just let them freeload, and had to come up with work for them. But the amount of work was limited, and as of today everything was mostly filled up. There would naturally be quite a few idle people.
Since her son could use them, so be it. It wasn’t a big deal.
Therefore, Luo Huai Yuan and Shen Qi’s first business started up.
Luo Huai Yuan had given this a lot of thought. Firstly, it didn’t require too large of an investment. At most they needed to buy the meat and the seasoning. Oh, and also the metal boxes used to roast the meat. Things made of metal weren’t cheap. One cost around one silver tael. Forty to fifty meant forty to fifty silver taels. Along with the miscellaneous things, it only cost two hundred taels to get started.
For commoners, two hundred taels was a large number. But for a noble household’s young master, it truly wasn’t much. Any old rock that caught their eye may be worth more than that. Even Luo Huai Yuan could come up with this amount, let alone that brat Shen Qi, who had several times more.
Luo Huai Yuan roping in the brat little second Shen wasn’t for the sake of his wealth. It was for the manpower as well as his connections.
It wasn’t convenient for him to go out at the moment but he still had to accumulate funds. Businesses in the capital that were even slightly successful all had major backing.
The Zhenguo Duke Estate was a pretty good backer. Little second Shen was still young, and it wasn’t a big deal for him to play around with a small business out of interest. The elders wouldn’t pay attention to such minor details. They would just allow the child to play around, and wouldn’t think of it as forming factions or what not.
In this business, those with influence couldn’t be bothered with them and those without would be scared off by the Zhenguo Duke Estate’s young master’s name.
Why not use the reputation of the fourth prince?
Sorry, but the fourth prince was a legendary figure too far removed from the commoners. Even if he already moved out of the palace, those without the status wouldn’t know about it.
Therefore, Luo Huai Yuan’s contribution was the technical knowledge. Shen Qi was responsible for the manpower, the property and the money.
There may be some who are wondering: isn’t Shen Qi getting the short end of the stick?
According to what Luo Huai Yuan told little second Shen, what he contributed wasn’t a big deal. Big bro has manpower as well. Don’t you see how many people are in the estate? There was even less need to mention the property. Look how large this prince’s estate is. As for silver, forget it. Big bro letting you participate is because our relationship is good. If it were anyone else, I wouldn’t even be bothered!
Furthermore, little fatty Luo described it as being able to eat whenever and wherever he wanted. This enticement was very effective against the brat little second Shen!
This was also why “come back if good” stands were set up throughout the inner city as well, despite stands being forbidden there.
The Zhenguo Duke Estate was in the inner city after all. See? There was a stand right down the street from the estate. It was doing pretty well!
The Zhenguo Duke looked at his grandson’s greasy mouth as he spoke. There was even some left over seasoning around his lips. He couldn’t help but laugh in spite of himself, and waved his hand allowing him to leave.
That brat rapidly got up, saluted his grandfather and happily ran off.
Hey, it turns out little fatty Luo’s explanation was really quite effective. Even his grandfather was led along!
Uncle Peng walked in and coughed lightly, “Lord duke, do you….”
The Zhenguo Duke laughed. “If he enjoys it then let him play.”
“But that side…..”
“This duke is busy every day. There’s a lot of work to do. I don’t have time to take notice of juniors. It’s just a couple of children messing around.”
Uncle Peng bowed. “Yes.”