In the Grand General’s Mansion, the Empress, who was also required to ‘rest after childbirth,’ was quite curious after hearing about King Rong’s report from Emperor Yongming. “What could be such a sensational matter?”
Emperor Yongming replied, “I’m curious too. When Jiang Kangning reports, I will definitely give him a piece of my mind.” The Empress chimed in, “If it’s not sensational enough, Your Majesty, you can dock his salary for a year. My ‘relief fund’ is running low on money.”
“Alright!” Back in Yongxiu County, Jiang Kangning, the County Magistrate, couldn’t help but sneeze twice. Mentioning the relief fund, Emperor Yongming asked, “How much money is currently in the fund?”
The Empress replied, “The current funds in the relief fund are all the dividends from Yunlong Pavilion. Yunan and Jiang Kangchen donated a thousand taels of silver and my uncle and the former imperial tutor each donated a thousand taels. Jiang Kangchen went to Tiger Pass and I allocated twenty thousand taels of silver to him to purchase food and supplies. I plan to entrust this fund to him once he returns to the capital, while Eunuch An will oversee the business of Yunlong Pavilion. At the moment, there’s only a thousand taels left.”
Most of the dividends from Yunlong Pavilion’s businesses couldn’t be entirely poured into the relief fund. The majority still needed to go into the emperor’s private treasury for emergencies. Emperor Yongming said, “The matters of the fund is under your jurisdiction. I won’t inquire further.”
The Empress continued, “In fact, regarding this fund, I also want to have a face-to-face discussion with Shao Yunan to figure out how to persuade those people to contribute willingly. I don’t have a good idea either.”
Emperor Yongming said, “Half of the wealth confiscated from the Hengyuan Marquis’ residence has gone into the national treasury and the rest has entered my private treasury. You can take half of it and put it into the relief fund.”
“Thank you, Your Majesty.” The Empress then smiled and said, “After the spring tea season, the fund should receive a considerable amount of money. Eunuch An came over the other day and mentioned that we should quickly open a bag house and jewelry store. Shao Yunan suggested we spread the word to everyone.”
“The noblewomen in the capital are now inquiring everywhere about where to buy Yunlong Pavilion’s Bead Bag and the jade jewelry from Yunlong’s Cosmetics division. The store hasn’t even opened and it’s already in high demand. Shao Yunan is truly adept at business. Compared to him, Wei Hongwen is far behind.”
Emperor Yongming said nonchalantly, “Wei Hongwen is an ordinary man, but Yunan is extraordinary. There’s no comparison.”
The Empress added, “Yingxiang mentioned that Tong Xin saw the granddaughter of the old Cen family with a beautiful bag, which they called a ‘Shell Bag.’ She liked it very much and inquired all over the city, but couldn’t find it for sale. It was a gift from Old Cen to his granddaughter and it was a limited edition from Yunlong Pavilion in Yongxiu County, with only one of its kind.”
“Among so many embroidery workshops and fabric stores in the capital, Tong Xin didn’t like any of them and was very eager to get that ‘Shell Bag.’ Yingxiang had someone make one for her, but she refused, saying that others had the genuine article, while hers would be just a counterfeit. She didn’t want to be laughed at for using counterfeit goods.”
“At first, I was worried that people would copy our style and snatch our business, but now I’m much more relieved. Shao Yunan calls Yunlong Pavilion’s bags ‘genuine,’ while all similar bags are considered ‘counterfeit.’ So, anyone with some status wouldn’t want to be seen carrying a counterfeit product and tarnishing their reputation. In the future, when our bag store opens in the capital, we’ll definitely have a rolling stream of income.”
Emperor Yongming shook his head. “His mindset is good, but he’s content to stay in Xiushui Village. I can’t fathom what he’s thinking. Could there really be someone so indifferent to fame and fortune?” The Empress, however, said, “He’s not indifferent to fame and fortune. Now, I feel that he’s just… lazy.”
“Lazy?” The Empress nodded. “The old imperial tutor once said that Shao Yunan suggested that Jiang Kangning recommend the tea and liquor business to the Emperor. If he were truly indifferent to fame and fortune, he wouldn’t proactively involve himself with the Emperor. At first, I had also guessed what he could be thinking, but after all these matters, I can’t help but think he’s just lazy. He wants to find the Emperor, me, or even the old imperial tutor as backers, but he’s too lazy to stand out. Whether I’m right or not, I’ll have to meet him in person to find out.”
Emperor Yongming pondered for a moment and said, “Regardless of his true intentions, I’m summoning him to the capital this time. Since Eunuch An has done well in business matters, I’ll entrust more of it to him. You shouldn’t wear yourself out, I still need you to give birth to my heir.” The Empress smiled and that smile made Emperor Yongming unable to resist pulling him close and giving him a kiss.
In Xiushui Village, Shao Yunan had just completed one phase of work. However, he hadn’t had a chance to catch his breath before Wang Shijing informed him about King Rong’s visit. Shao Yunan’s first reaction wasn’t anger. He went to Wang Qing and Jiang Moxi to understand the situation.
After Wang Qing conveyed King Rong’s intention to his father and Moxi, Shao Yunan ruffled the children’s heads. As he had always said, his children wouldn’t be ignorant. Moxi, this little guy, even thought of finding a powerful backer. Good, very good, he’s making progress.
Five days had passed since King Rong went to find Wang Shijing. During these five days, tea leaves kept arriving at the Wang residence. As a result, Wang Shijing and Shao Yunan had not made an appearance. Now that it was already dark outside, King Rong was playing chess in his own courtyard with Kang Rui.
After Kang Rui learned from Jiang Kangning that there were no casualties in Xiushui Village and that they could handle the troubles in the capital, even though Kang Rui didn’t want to talk about it, he put his mind at ease. In the last few days, they had completed their work at the school. After things became less busy, he resumed his habit of staying overnight at the Wang residence. It wouldn’t be long before he became busy again with examination matters, so having some leisure was a rare treat.
Edited by: Jaisland