Last time on Zhui Xu: The business with the He Family is happening, the new year is coming, and Su Tan Er’s cousin comes calling.
This chapter has been brought to you by me and Smash10101.
Chapter 25 – Gather Clouds In One’s Hand
“In truth, before I reached Jiangning, I heard people speak of your abilities. I also hear, Tan Er, you say that you managed to win over the He Family a few days ago. You gather clouds in your hand and you flip your hand to make rain. You have astounding abilities. Father says that the product source of the He Family is not the most important thing. But he has been following the He Family for the last two years, and no one else has been able to change the situation. Tan Er, now that you managed to convince them, the flow of products next spring in those areas will be much more nimble.”
Su Tan Er’s cousin discussed these events with Su Tan Er as they walked. She was the daughter of a businessman, and her husband was one of the Su Family shopkeepers. She was familiar with these matters, and if it was an emergency, she could act as a shopkeeper. Su Tan Er laughed when she heard these things said.
“Sister Hong, do not say this. Even now, we do not know why the He Family changed their minds. Also, we are still discussing the He Family matters. I don’t know if this has been decided yet.”
“It has been decided. Just how, I saw Xi Jun Yu and Shopkeeper Luo, they came to give their congratulations.”
The two women entered the courtyard in front of them as they laughed. This was not the courtyard that Su Tan Er and Ning Yi lived in, but the one next to it. The courtyard was used to receive Su Tan Er’s guests. Occasionally, if there were any urgent matters, she would summon the stewards and talk strategy here. When Su Tan Er and Su Dan Hong walked in, Chan’er was already in the hall, holding a tea tray and talking with the two shopkeepers. Seeing Su Tan Er come in, she hurriedly ran over.
The older shopkeeper had the surname Luo, and could be considered an elder of the Su Family. He had been an apprentice of the Su Family back when Grandfather Su was young. Later, he followed Su Bo Yong before being sent over to help Su Tan Er. He was experienced and reliable in his actions, and was one of Su Tan Er’s best assistants. The younger man looked just a few years older than Su Tan Er. He had a scholarly aura, was handsome, and had a hidden confidence. He was Xi Jun Yu. He was extremely talented in business and had helped Su Tan Er make several major business transactions after he became a shopkeeper of the Su Family. The rumors said that the Wu Family had wanted to recruit him but he had not agreed. He was Su Tan Er’s most outstanding helper. No one would doubt that once Su Tan Er established herself, this Xi Jun Yu would become one of the major shopkeepers.
Su Tan Er’s cousin was familiar with these two people and had greeted them previously. The group was casual and sat down together in the guest hall. Xi Jun Yu took out a paper agreement from his sleeve, and told Su Tan Er the reason for his visit with a smile.
“We have finished our discussions with the He Family. Honestly speaking, I had not expected this would have been so smooth, and the He Family would be so straightforward. The price is basically based on this year. But next year, the price of raw silk will grow. So we are squeezing them slightly. The agreement has been signed and this matter is settled.”
“This is good. Shopkeeper Xi, Shopkeeper Luo, you worked hard.”
Xi Jun Yu shook his head with a smile and a sanguine expression.
“I do not dare to take the accomplishment. Miss is the one who obtained this business… Speaking of this, if Miss had not visited that day, maybe the He Family would have come to us. They had already suspected the Xue Family would be making moves a few days ago. I guess that Miss may have said something that day so they became so straightforward this time.”
The young woman in the silver white fox fur looked at the agreement. Then she shook her head and smiled, “If they had guessed so already, I wonder why they suddenly made the decision then.”
Xi Jun Yu smiled happily, waved his hand and said, “In reality, when we analyzed the Xue Family’s actions in these days, we came to some conclusions. The news that the Xue Family is going to abandon Lu Prefecture to move to the Shou Family… is likely false. They did make some adjustments recently to make it look like they did, but because they were not really doing so, they did not notify the He Family. But He Jun of the He Family is famed for his cautiousness in business. I do not know much about this matter. Old Luo knows it better.”
Shopkeeper Luo nodded. “It is so. The He Family had a hard time in business in the past. One time, the He Family rejected an order worth fifty thousand taels due to their worry about risk. Other people cursed them for not having bravery. Who knew that half a year later, all the businesses that accepted this offer were dragged down. If the He Family had accepted, I fear they would have gone bankrupt a long time ago. He Jun has such a personality. He is willing to profit less in order to minimize the risk. Due to this, while the He Family is not the richest, it is the most steady.”
The old man laughed as he spoke, “But this time, he has been too sensitive. If we talked with him a few days later, they may have already learned of the matter, and this agreement would have come to nothing.”
Xi Jun Yu added, “Due to this, I pretended to not know when negotiating. I acted as though I urgently wanted to complete the negotiation. I think that He Jun must have secretly rejoiced at benefiting off of us. Haha, after a few days, the Xue Family will probably be cursing.”
This matter was amusing. One business. Everyone thought they were the ones benefiting. The people in the room laughed happily at thinking what the Xue Family learned of the sequence of events. However, they were still confused about the cause of this matter.
After a few words, Shopkeeper Luo seemed to think of something and his smile was the fastest to fade. Su Tan Er noticed the change and asked about it. Shopkeeper Luo looked at Xi Jun Yu, and then at Su Tan Er. He hesitated but spoke a moment later with a small smile, “I heard something regarding this business yesterday.”
“Yesterday, at the wine shop in the eastern part of the city, I encountered Shopkeeper Liu of White Silk Workshop. I chatted with him, and we talked about the He Family.”
Hearing him mention Shopkeeper Liu of White Silk Workshop, Su Tan Er nodded and said, “Yes, he was present at the He Family that day. However, he left with the shopkeeper of Prosperity Workshop. What does he know about this matter?”
“This is strange to speak of. This old man doesn’t know if it is true. This Shopkeeper Liu said yesterday that Miss was visiting with Guye that day. When Miss went to the garden to admire the snow scenery, He Ting Guang had disrespected Guye in speech and insulted him …”
When he said this, Su Tan Er frowned. “I did not notice this…”
“Ha, He Ting Guang would not dare to do so in front of Miss. But Guye had a good temper and was composed in his actions. That He Ting Guang did not find any opportunities in his words and continued to chat. Guye casually said something asking whether the He Family had business in the Shou Prefecture…”
“Ah…” Su Tan Er stilled. She exchanged a doubtful look with her cousin. Xi Jun Yu, who had been smiling at the side, shifted in his seat and his gaze focused.
“He said that Guye just mentioned the Xue Family and asked about the matter of the Shou Prefecture. He Ting Guang insulted him for being ignorant of the cloth business, and said that the family business was not in the Shou Prefecture but the Lu Prefecture. Then Guye said in realization that he did not understand this and was mistaken. According to Shopkeeper Liu, Guye‘s speech and tone did not seem to be fake. I think he must have just mentioned it by accident. But after he spoke of the Shou Prefecture and the Xue Family, He Jun’s expression grew complicated. He then said some things to the steward … if this is true, this old man feels that Guye accidentally caused the success of this business …”
The people in the room were silent. Only Xiao Chan, who was holding her tray, had a calm expression. A moment later, Xi Jun Yu slowly spoke, “Do you mean … Guye saw this clearly … and did it deliberately?” As he spoke, he paid attention to everyone’s expression.
Su Tan Er frowned even more. Then she looked towards Shopkeeper Luo. She and her cousin were young people in their twenties, and could not compare to Elder Luo’s decades of experience. But Shopkeeper Luo shook his head.
“I think … this is not so. Jun Yu has said just now that the Xue Family replacing the Lu Prefecture with the Shou Prefecture is false news. This puts an end to the possibility that the news came from other people. Also, even if this news is true, the entire matter has been concealed, and we were unable to detect anything wrong. The He Family was within the matter and more sensitive. That, and He Jun’s own wariness caused the occurrence of this matter. I heard Guye was not interested in business. In these days that he has accompanied Miss on visits, he has just heard scattered things from other people. If someone was able to grasp this matter from outside the situation just from scattered things, and was able to detect He Jun’s thoughts to coincidentally say those words, that person …”
He thought, and then shook his head, “This is hard to believe.”
The group was familiar with business and naturally knew this possibility was a fantasy. If everything had been done purposefully, that person was inhuman. Of course, they would never think that Ning Yi had just spoken irresponsibly during that situation. After thinking for a moment, Su Tan Er laughed. “It will be good if coincidences like this will occur a few more times.”
Everyone laughed as well. They then thought that this kind of understanding was the most reliable. After chatting a while about other details regarding the merging of yearly accounts and the checking of ledges, Old Luo asked about Su Yun Song’s situation. They were making their farewells when Juan’er ran into the courtyard panting. She almost tripped on the snow when she came close.
Juan’er appeared to have ran too quickly due to an urgent matter. She leaned against a pillar by the doorway and panted. She didn’t even have the time to bow. She had a smile on her face but she was disappointed slightly when she looked at the people in the room. “Mi–Miss .. … Xiao Chan, where is Guye …”
Su Tan Er walked with a smile to the doorway. She patted Juan’er’s back and smoothed her breathing. Su Tang Er said with a smile, “What is it? Guye… I think he must be in the library right now. Isn’t Prefect Song testing them right now? He should be there.”
“No, no he isn’t…” Juan’er shook her head. “Juan’er just came from over there. Old Master, Old Master wants Guye to go over…”
“Ah…” Su Tan Er’s expression froze. “What is it?”
“Is it so he can be scolded…”
Cousin followed and laughed softly. On the way here, she heard Su Tan Er describe Ning Yi’s teaching method. He would spend half the time telling stories. This was clearly to win over the children’s hearts. Good students only ever came from strict teachers. By teaching like this, there would not be any good results.
Juan’er shook her head emphatically, her chest moving up and down in her green dress. “No, no… the Prefect said that Xiao Hei Zi and the others are knowledgeable. Miss, Miss, no…”
Su Tan Er had thought some things many times in her mind. So when Su Tan Er hadn’t even heard the servant girl’s words, she was already thinking what she should do or if she should say he was not present. After a long moment, the information finally seeped in. The young girl pulled her and shook her head furiously.
Editor’s ramblings: does anyone else always read Juan’er as the Spanish name Juan? I’m now imagining someone dressed like a Chinese servant girl wearing a sombrero.
Translator Ramblings: Smash is very good at reminding me of things I have to update.