Chapter 57

Translator’s notes:

Thank you anonymous supporter for your extremely generous donation and your appreciation. I know you said there’s no need to do chapters for it, but I want to do chapters for it. Along with purpleberrydoc’s donations it’s close enough to two chapters so I’ll round up. Everyone please join me in thanking them for the extra chapters.

***

Second Madam Shen was naturally doubtful about her son earning money via his business. However, she wouldn’t express her doubts in front of him.

Although the Zhenguo Duke Estate was a noble household, they were very strict in their upbringing. Shen Qi was good natured and innocent. As his mom, she was aware of this. There were plenty of hedonistic young masters from noble families in the capital, but Second Madam Shen firmly believed her son wouldn’t be one of them.

When her son said he wanted to start a business, Second Madam Shen had ordered her subordinates to help, but no longer paid attention afterwards. There were too many things she had to do so she didn’t inquire further. Since her son said the silver was earned through the business, she called over the manager for questioning before deciding anything else.

Second Madam Shen gave the orders and brought over the one in charge of daily matters.

Unexpectedly, this manager wasn’t aware of the details. He said that young master Shen’s business was managed by a low-ranked manager called Second Liu. Thus, Second Liu was called over.

When Second Liu arrived, he was covered in sweat. He was in the middle of work when he was pulled over, and didn’t even have time to change into clean clothes.

His mind wasn’t fully present, still thinking about all the things he had to finish up today. He even forgot that the one he was going to meet was the household manager Second Madam Shen, whom he had hoped to meet in the past but never could.

Hearing the madam ask about the young master’s business, Second Liu was a little puzzled. Did the “young master” not tell the madam?

Considering the young master’s age, Second Liu understood. Perhaps since it was his first venture, he was embarrassed to tout his own success in front of his elders.

Second Liu didn’t overthink things and excitedly described the current situation of their “come back if good” stands.

After listening, Second Madam Shen didn’t express anything and had Second Liu take his leave.

After he left, she couldn’t help but mutter: “Could it really be that profitable?”

Second Madam Shen was inexplicably excited and also a little restless. She ordered for her carriage to be prepared and planned to go take a look. She wanted to see if business was truly booming to such an extent.

Throughout the entire afternoon, Second Madam Shen sat in her carriage as she looked at various places in the capital.

She saw the tiny stands and the long lines in front of them. After going to various places and seeing business doing well everywhere, she couldn’t resist having a servant buy a few skewers to try it out.

The peddler was unexpectedly keen sighted. Seeing the servant’s clothing as well as the carriage close by, he didn’t even dare accept any money.

Second Madam Shen took a bite. The flavor was strange, but it was truly delicious.

…….

After seeing around ten stands, Second Madam Shen ordered the carriage back to the estate.

After returning, she still dealt with various matters in the estate. Only when she had some free time did she reveal a startled expression. During dinner, Second Madam Shen kept shooting weird glances at Shen Qi. It didn’t seem like she was actually looking at him, but rather through him as she pondered a question.

The brat was a little bashful. Could his mom be extremely happy due to his silver?

Otherwise, why would she be looking at him so weirdly?

Shen Ding didn’t think too much about it, but he could also tell his wife was a little strange.

That night, in bed.

Shen Ding couldn’t help but ask, “What’s up with you today?”

Second Madam Shen had just finished taking a bath. She wore a crimson undergarment embroidered with peony flowers on the inside. She randomly draped a pale blue thin garment over it, making her skin appear very fair and tender. Although she was a little over thirty, Second Madam Shen took good care of herself. She looked like she was in her twenties.

As he looked, Shen Ding’s gaze grew fiery.

“Nothing much. I was thinking about how our son knows to pay respects to his elders now.”

As she spoke, Second Madam Shen described the situation today where her son brought some silver back and grandly announced to “buy something for dad and mom, and also for grandparents using this money”.

How could Shen Ding have the mind to listen to these things? He pulled his wife over and got on top of her. He lowered the bed curtains with his free hand.

“Aiya, what are you doing. I’m trying to tell you something!”

“Oh. Let’s leave it until tomorrow…..”

“…..your beard is pricking me….”

The rest doesn’t need to be said.

***

Second Madam Shen was born in one of the Shandong Province’s influential large clans, the Shi household. Although they weren’t renowned in the capital, they still had significant accumulations over the years. The Shi household was raised on the literary teachings of Mencius and Confucius, but didn’t avoid things to do with business and commerce. Only those inflexible people would feel the stink of coins wasn’t compatible with the fragrance of ink. Those who were slightly intelligent wouldn’t think this way at all.

Where did the fragrance of ink come from? Didn’t ink cost money to buy?

As the Shi household’s true-blooded miss, Second Madam Shen was raised as a classical woman. A qualified woman not only had to learn the roles of a wife and take control of the household and various affairs, but also had to learn to do business.

Most of the men in the family were scholars, and after passing the imperial exam they became officials in various places. While the men were busy with official affairs, the household’s businesses were taken care of by the women. Therefore, the women in the Shi household had an additional specialty. They all had a good eye for business.

Second Madam Shen had started helping her mom manage the household when she was eleven years old. When she was thirteen, she used her own savings to start a small cosmetics store. This was thanks to her mom’s teachings. Second Madam Shen always remembered what her mom had told her: silver doesn’t grow when it’s just sitting there. But when used to do business, there’s the possibility of the chicken laying an egg, and the egg hatching into another chicken.

After marrying into the Shen household, her older sister-in-law was stationed at the border. Second Madam Shen was given the responsibility of managing the household finances. At the same time, she was also involved in various businesses under the Zhenguo Duke Estate. After marrying in for several years, Second Madam Shen was also more or less aware most of the Zhenguo Duke Estate’s secret sources of dubious income.

This was a sort of accumulation of experience and development of insight.

Therefore, after Second Madam Shen understood the general situation of her son’s business, she quickly saw its potential.

As of today, the “come again if good secret recipe meat skewers” business had stabilized. It wasn’t as bursting compared to when it first started up. However, it could still be counted as extremely good. According to the current situation, they could steadily earn around ten thousand taels a month.

Second Madam Shen wasn’t surprised about the amount of money, but rather the speed they raised the money and the amount of profit. Doing business required investment, and the initial investment was proportional to the profit obtained. Furthermore, it required some time to break even.

But this business, according to Second Liu, barely required two hundred taels to start up. The biggest investment was the manpower, and basically nothing else. Two hundred taels was turned into an income of ten thousand taels a month. How many times was that!? Furthermore, this ten thousand taels wasn’t just a one-time thing. It was a steady source of income.

A large organization like the Zhenguo Duke Estate needed to be supported by its businesses on the surface as well as some ambiguous sources of income. Only this way did the estate not have to worry about money.

But the income for these businesses came in waves that couldn’t be replicated. These businesses required the right opportunities. Although they earned a good amount, it lacked any stability and sustainability.

A larger business only earned around two to three thousand taels of profit in a year. But why did all the wealthy households have so many businesses?

It was for the sake of stability and sustainability.

Why could they accumulate businesses over time?

One year got them several thousand taels, but what about after ten years? It could also be passed onto the later generations!

In ancient times there was a saying: might as well make food instead of doing business a thousand times.

This was because clothing could be skimped on, jewelry can be lacking, tea didn’t need to be drunk…but people couldn’t go without food. It was the most basic necessity.

There were also a few restaurants under the Zhenguo Duke Estate. Although a large restaurant seemed to earn quite a lot every month, once the cost of labor and ingredients were subtracted, it was quite impressive if they could earn a few thousand taels a month.

But who would have thought that a small food stand with minimal investment could earn more than several of those large restaurants combined?

This was what Second Madam Shen was excited about. She could see the opportunity therein.

***

Second Madam Shen always planned carefully before taking action. She summoned Second Liu over to the estate once again.

She spent an entire hour understanding the details before having the servants send the confused Second Liu out.

She no longer delayed. After checking with the servants that her father-in-law was in the estate, she asked for an audience with the Zhenguo Duke.

She first used an amused tone to describe Shen Qi that brat’s actions making the Zhenguo Duke laugh in spite of himself. She also summarized what that manager had told her during her questioning.

She seemed to have some underlying motives in her words. This was because she had gotten a thorough understanding from Second Liu of the “come back if good” business model.

Included in this was the “commission system”, which made her gasp in amazement again. An intelligent person never failed to analyze things from the smallest details. This “commission system” was also a reason their business was doing so well.

Not only did it motivate the workers, it also managed to bind them together under a common goal.

For the sake of silver, the workers would do their best while reaping the most benefits.

The Zhenguo Duke quickly understood his daughter-in-law’s meaning.

Old two’s wife was an intelligent person. The men of the household were all busy. His eldest daughter-in-law was at the border. The old woman was already elderly and he wasn’t willing to let her do hard work. Therefore, the businesses and finances of the household were all left to second daughter-in-law.

As someone in charge of the household and responsible for the general direction of the Zhenguo Duke Estate, the Zhenguo Duke also had extremely keen insight.

Major clans and wealthy households alike all needed silver. Without silver, they would encounter obstacles everywhere. Although the Zhenguo Duke Estate wasn’t lacking silver at the moment, it didn’t mean they wouldn’t lack silver in the future. Especially since no one would object to having more of it.

“You should be aware that this business isn’t Qi’er’s doing, but rather that side’s…..”

Second Madam Shen naturally knew. From the moment her son said he needed manpower to start a business, she knew.

But she had merely assumed it was a couple of children playing together. Second Madam Shen was open-minded regarding a child’s upbringing. Shen Qi was at an age where he would be curious about many things and have his own opinions. She would never prevent her children from doing things, and would let him try it out. Adults could just supervise on the side.

If the results were good, everyone was happy. If they weren’t she would tell him where he went wrong.

Who knew that two children playing around would be able to reach this degree, moving even her adult heart?

Second Madam Shen no longer dared underestimate “children”. What child would be able to develop two hundred taels to this degree?

“Your daughter-in-law isn’t coveting the children’s money. I just think this business has a lot of potential. If developed well, there’s a lot to be obtained. You also know “that side” is remaining low-key for various reasons. Shen Qi is still a child. It’s clear if this business carries on this way, it’ll at most be a small-scale venture. But thinking of it from a different perspective, our Shen Qi is already involved. Outsiders would assume our household is involved behind the scenes. Since this is the case, we might as well make it reality. The Grand Xi Dynasty has many cities after all.”

The Zhenguo Duke’s fierce body trembled as he muttered: “Food is something that cannot withstand competition. If you’re able to make it, others can as well.”

Second Madam Shen seemed to be confident in being able to persuade her father in law. She smiled and said, “I’ve already asked the manager about this. That food is rare due to that “secret recipe”. It should be something that side came up with himself. Remember how Shen Qi’s group hung out together roasting meat back then?”

“You also know that it was something that side came up with. Perhaps he doesn’t have such intentions.”

As the Zhenguo Duke spoke, he already realized this wasn’t the case.

From what he saw, that person was extremely cautious and wasn’t bad at strategy. Considering the plan he came up with that day, and the fact he kept himself hidden for so many years, would he carelessly reveal his presence in this matter? Why did he openly form connections with the Zhenguo Duke Estate? In this business venture, from the manager to the workers, everyone was chosen from the Zhenguo Duke Estate.

Was he so assured that the Zhenguo Duke Estate wouldn’t reveal his involvement?

Was he too stupid, or too resourceful?

It probably wasn’t the former. Therefore, his intent was clear. By roping Shen Qi in, he was expressing goodwill towards the Zhenguo Duke Estate. Perhaps being able to develop further was something that person would be happy to see.

But, that person was only twelve!

The Zhenguo Duke’s mind was shaken. He then considered how the children in the royal family all matured quickly. Those foolish ones wouldn’t survive for too long either.

“Since his identity is special, let me consider it properly.”

Author’s words:

Cooperating with the Zhenguo Duke Estate is very important to the little fatty. Not only does it involve putting his plans into motion, it also involves the matter of his future marriage. Therefore, he’s putting a lot of effort into it. Of course, it’s not quite so simple. There’s also another goal.

3 thoughts on “Chapter 57

  1. I thankyou the translator for the hardwork and perseverance. Hope you can translate this novel to the end as soon as possible. Thankyou for donaturs for helping it happened. And to my fellow readers, let’s keep our support to our beloved story and translator. Wish you all well

  2. Though he does need a backer, it’s only to get his wife. From beginning to end he’s just trying to set himself up for success, so that when he proposes (or has someone do it for him) they’ll have a good impression of him already 😂

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