Elder Cen was happy to keep the three of them for lunch at the house, but stingily did not drink any goat’s milk wine. Old Cen’s wife was a woman, so she didn’t attend. The old man complimented Shao Yunan during the meal. It could be seen that he appreciated Shao Yunan very much and also said that Wang Shijing had married the right person. Wang Shijing felt honored. His wife was naturally unique and no one could compare to him.
The three of them returned to the Yamen after leaving Dean Cen’s house. Jiang Kangning gave the two of them some background information on Dean Cen. “Elder Cen and teacher studied under the same master and could be considered brothers. Before elder Cen resigned, he was a scholar at the Imperial College and a fourth rank official. He is a person who is very dedicated to learning. In the later years of the late emperor, he was very petty and after listening to some slander, Elder Cen’s family nearly suffered.
It was thanks to my teacher’s help that Elder Cen was able to keep his life, but he was discouraged, so he resigned and returned to his hometown. Later, the current emperor invited Elder Cen to return to the capital, but Elder Cen refused to do so because he was too old and his wife was not well. Many of Elder Cen’s students and friends were unjustly killed in the hands of traitors, so elder Cen is no longer willing to have an official position.
Although elder Cen resigned and returned to his hometown, there are still many of his friends and students who are officials in the imperial court. But since Elder Cen doesn’t want to publicize it, not many people in Yongxiu County know about it.”
Shao Yunan said, “Thank you for the advice. I just hope that in the future, tragedies like Elder Cen’s will not be repeated and the country will truly be at peace.”
“We all hope so.”
“So, doesn’t Elder Cen have any children?”
“He has a son and a daughter, but both of them live in the capital. Both son and son-in-law work in the Imperial College. They are both scholars.”
“Oh.” After chatting with Jiang Kangning for some time, Shao Yunan and Wang Shijing said goodbye to him and prepared to go home. Thinking that shopkeeper Xu wanted to speak about something with him, Shao Yunan asked Wang Shijing to go directly to Yizhang Xuan. When they arrived at the door of the restaurant, they saw that both stalls were already closed, so fourth aunt should have already gone back.
The carriage stopped outside Yizhang Xuan restaurant and shopkeeper Xu came out. Seeing Wang Shijing and Shao Yunan, shopkeeper Xu said, “Brother Shao, your two friends have gone back to the village with your fourth aunt.”
“Good, thanks a lot, Boss Xu.”
“Little brother Shao and I don’t need to be polite, come in and have a cup of hot tea.” Handing the carriage over to the waiter, Shao Yunan and Wang Shijing entered Yizhang Xuan and were guided to the elegant room on the second floor by the shopkeeper Xu. It was not yet time to eat so there weren’t many customers in the restaurant. Hot tea was served. It was a very ordinary tea as the shopkeeper said apologetically, “I sent all of the chrysanthemum tea I bought from little brother Shao to the capital to the owner, so I’m sorry about this tea.”
“It’s alright, I happened to be thirsty too.” Shao Yunan picked up the tea cup and drank two sips before putting it down and asking, “I don’t know what Shopkeeper Xu wants to discuss with me?” The shopkeeper first seemed to face some difficulty, but then he said, “Little brother Shao, you gave the recipe for the meat bun and the skewers to your fourth aunt’s family and Uncle Duoqiu’s family, right?”
“Yes.” Shao Yunan didn’t deny it, but still had some concerns in his heart. It must have something to do with this, so before shopkeeper Xu spoke, Shao Yunan said, “Fourth Aunt and Uncle Duoqiu were very kind to my family. Since the busy farming season ended, I gave them these two recipes, so they can earn some small money.”
Shopkeeper Xu immediately said, “Little brother Shao is modest. The people who come to eat it every day are endless. Even the customers in my store want to try it at least once.”
“Then what does Shopkeeper Xu mean?” Shopkeeper Xu said, “Yizhang Xuan wants to cooperate with your fourth aunt and Uncle Duoqiu’s family. I originally asked them to come to the store to sell since days are growing colder, but they didn’t want to. I thought that I might rent a store. Fourth aunt and Uncle Duoqiu can sell it in the store, while Yizhang Xuan restaurant will provide the ingredients. This way they won’t have to get up every day to prepare the ingredients. The profit earned can be split 3:7. Their cut will be 7, while Yizhang Xuan gets 3.”
Shao Yunan pretended to think deeply about it. “ I can’t decide this. Did you tell them?” Shopkeeper Xu said, “I mentioned it, but they refused. That’s why I wanted to discuss it with you.”
Shao Yunan said, “After I sold them these two recipes, I made it clear that I would not interfere with how they do business. Fourth Uncle and Uncle Duoqiu can’t just do business. They still have fields to work on. At first I also suggested that they open a store, but opening a store just to close it later on is not good. Farming season would be equivalent to losing money. But opening a simple stall does not pose these problems. I can go back to discuss it with them again, but it all depends on their intentions. I think I’ve pulled some business for Yizhang Xuan these days.”
Shopkeeper Xu did not hide it and just nodded. “Yes… we now have more people coming to eat at Yizhang Xuan than in the past. I will not hide it from you, but from November to March is the coldest time to do business, but the boiled pork recipe you give me sells especially well, but when there is no cabbage, it is impossible to make.”
Shao Yunan was helpless. “There’s nothing I can do about it. I also had to ask some village aunt to help me with canning pickles and bacon. I can’t do it myself.” He had no intention of mentioning the warm room (greenhouse) in his new house.
Boss Xu said, “Then I’ll be grateful to Little Brother Shao for helping to ask.” Shao Yunan didn’t mention giving him a new recipe for the dish, so it was not good for shopkeeper Xu to ask, although he thought of it. “Okay.”
Boss Xu enthusiastically left Shao Yunan and Wang Shijing to eat dinner, but they refused since the children were still waiting for them. After they left the Yizhang Xuan, they bought cloth and a lot of cotton. They also directly bought Wang Qing and Nizi three sets of better clothes. After buying some more glutinous rice, they headed home.
Back in the village, Shao Yunan asked Wang Shijing to pick up the children, while he went to fourth aunt and Uncle Duoqiu’s house. Wang Shijing was not very happy as he spoke. “Why does Yizhang Xuan have to be involved in every business? If he makes such a request, how can they refuse?”
Shao Yunan said, “Businessmen are driven by profit, it’s normal. This is why I let fourth aunt and their stall stay ten feet in front of Yizhang Xuan restaurant. In any other place they would have already been targeted. You can see how good their business is. Shopkeeper Xu enduring until today to speak to me makes me really admire his patience. I am not a real businessman.”
“Just enough to eat and enough to live.” Wang Shijing doesn’t like this very much, but his wife could figure it out. He then asked, “What’s your plan?” Shao Yunan said, “That’s fourth Aunt and Uncle Duoqiu’s business. It depends on what they want.” Wang Shijing nodded and stopped asking.
The two of them parted ways at the halfway point and Shao Yunan instructed Wang Shijing not to say anything about studying at the White Moon Academy yet or else they might not be able to sleep tonight. Shao Yunan also admitted that it left a bad taste in his mouth.
Shao Yunan went to Uncle Duoqiu and uncle Yinzi’s house first, where they had just finished eating dinner with Wang Zhuanghua and uncle Duoqiu’s parents. The family was very enthusiastic when they saw Shao Yunan. They sold the meat sandwich buns for 35 copper coins and could sell more than 200 daily, since the meat and buns they could bring were limited. These days, they earned no less than the jam and chrysanthemum tea. Hearing that Shao Yunan hadn’t eaten yet, uncle Yinzi was about to go get him food, but was stopped by Shao Yunan.
Shao Yunan said that there were still things to be done at home, so he only came over to ask about the matter proposed by shopkeeper Xu. To tell the truth, shopkeeper Xu also mentioned it to them, but uncle Duoqiu and uncle Yinzi, as well as fourth aunt Wang’s family were not too willing. If they cooperate, with Yizhang Xuan restaurant in the background there is no guarantee that they will not be eaten by Yizhang Xuan. Their recipe also wouldn’t be safe, so they were afraid.
Shao Yunan then gave them an idea. Since both families needed a lot of pork, especially Uncle Duoqiu’s family, they planned to raise their own pigs. Why don’t both families buy pigs from the butcher’s house in other villages? Shao Yunan proposed that the two families leave the parts of the pork they need and then use their own ingredients to marinate all the leftover pork and together with spicy marinade and sell it Yizhang Xuan restaurant, as a return to the favor for Yizhang Xuan for giving them a shelter.
What would be left from the pig were, ribs, pig head, pig feet, pig ears, pig tail and many others parts. The two families could leave some for their own use, while the rest could be sold to a county restaurant after Yizhang Xuan restaurant received their part. According to Shao Yunan’s advice, they only needed to cook the base and stew the meat when they got more ingredients. The finished product could also be sold for more money. While Yizhang Xuan restaurant who received the meat would not want to mention the cooperation again.
Uncle Duoqiu and uncle Yinzi praised Shao Yunan for being smart and when they agreed Shao Yunan went to find Fourth Uncle and Fourth Aunt. Fourth uncle and fourth aunt also just finished dinner and their whole house was filled with the aroma of the skewer incense base. As soon as Shao Yunan entered the house, he saw two strange men, one of whom still had a dirty face, and then he instantly remembered who they were.
“Yunan, you’re back, have you eaten yet?”
“Not yet, I’ll go back to eat later, Shijing has already gone back. These two big brothers are Guo Ziyu and Guo Zimu?”
“… little brother Shao.”
This Guo Ziyu looked quite handsome. Not Wang Shijing’s kind of ruggedly handsome, but with this change of clothes and gis tied up hair, he gave off an air of elegance. Coupled with his appearance, he would absolutely be liked by women. Guo Zimu’s face was still dirty, but Shao Yunan guessed that his face would definitely not be just handsome.
The two men stood up and bowed. The fourth aunt said helplessly, “I asked little brother Zimu to wash his face, but he refused.”
Edited by: Jaisland