Living Our Lives Well is More Important Than Anything – Chapter 11

Publish Time: 2024-05-27 04:11:49 242 views
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Chapter 11:

Qian Chaoxin nodded in agreement a few times, Li Chunzhou smiled, hugged the chicken in her arms, and left. Mi Hongbao walked beside her, while Qian Chaoxin sat alone in the room, staring blankly at her retreating figure.

While walking down the stairs, Mi Hongbao asked Li Chunzhou, "Lady Chun, there's a glass lantern festival in the East Market tomorrow, would you like to go together?"

Li Chunzhou shook her head and refused, "I have something to do tomorrow, A'bao, you go by yourself."

Mi Hongbao pursed his lips in displeasure and asked, "What's the matter? Is it very important?"

Li Chunzhou stopped in her tracks, gently stroking the warm feathers of the little chicken in her arms, and said with a smile, "It's very important, after all... this might be the last time."

It was unclear whether she said this for Mi Hongbao to hear or for Li Li in her arms.

Mi Hongbao was puzzled and asked again, "What do you mean?"

Li Chunzhou did not answer further. She just mysteriously smiled at him, opened a few curtains, turned around several corners, finally entered the hall, found Mama Li, and asked, "Mom, what about the person who has been sending you invitations for the past few days? I would like to meet him."

Mama Li was a bit surprised, but she didn't ask more. She was busy socializing, glanced outside, casually pointed to a maid, and asked her to show Li Chunzhou the way.

The maid brought them to a table not far away where a guest was sitting alone, helped Li Chunzhou pull out a chair, and then silently left.

Looking at the man in front of her who couldn't hide his surprise, Li Chunzhou straightforwardly asked, "I heard that you come to the Spring Flowers Tower every day and specifically asked to see me. Is there something you need?"

She calmly stroked the small chicken in her arms, her movements relaxed. If someone didn't know, they would think she was holding a cat.

The middle-aged man, initially puzzled upon seeing her, regained his composure upon hearing her words. He quickly took out a bag of silver coins, pushed it towards Li Chunzhou, and earnestly said, "I came to see you this time without bringing any gifts. Please accept this small token of appreciation."

He clearly didn't know the rules of the Spring Flowers Tower, unaware that giving silver coins directly to the ladies wouldn't make the coins stay with them.

Li Chunzhou smiled, didn't say anything, which made Mi Hongbao angry. He angrily threw the money bag back, saying, "Who cares about your little money, take it back!"

After Mi Hongbao showed his attitude, Li Chunzhou smiled and kindly said, "If you don't have anything to discuss with me, I can't accept this money."

The middle-aged man nervously rubbed his knees with sweaty hands, took a couple of sips of tea to calm his nerves, and then hesitantly said, "My name is Jia. I came to ask if you could help me arrange a meeting with the Second Prince."

Among all the guests who came to see Li Chunzhou, besides Qian Chaoxin who is a bit clueless, there were many merchants like this. These people had no connection with the Second Prince, but they still wanted to get close to him. That's why they took the risk to come to Spring Flowers Tower, hoping to make a connection through Li Chunzhou to the Second Prince's circle.

Pleased with his honesty, Li Chunzhou's smile became more genuine. She said, "Just tell me what kind of business you are in."

Seeing her relax a bit, the middle-aged man also spoke more cheerfully. He wiped the sweat off his forehead and said, "My family has been in the flower business for generations. It has always been a struggling business, and in recent years, it has become even more difficult. Our family's precious flowers haven't found suitable buyers yet. I heard that the Second Prince may be interested..."

Before he could finish speaking, Li Chunzhou interrupted him, saying, "I understand your point. The matter is easy to handle, but what makes your family's flowers so special that the Second Master should condescend to use your products?"

The history of growing and selling flowers in Daliang is long. In the village at the southern outskirts of Shengjing City, many flower farmers make a living this way. Every morning, they pick fresh flowers and pack them in bamboo baskets to sell in the city. These flowers are used for daughters' makeup, decoration, and offerings. They are placed in vases or on plates to worship Guanyin Bodhisattva with the fragrance of incense.

In Shengjing City, flowers are not rare at all. There are flower markets in both the east and west cities, and flower trading is common. The person in front of them dared to approach the royal family proactively, indicating that their family business is not small. However, with the treasury of the court in a precarious state in recent years, the business may not be doing very well.

After the prince moved out of the palace and established his own residence, apart from the initial construction work, most furniture in the residence was transferred from the palace storerooms. The landscaping involving plants and flowers each year was often contracted out by the household steward. The contracts specify the types of flowers, the number of pots, the size specifications, the landscape design, placement instructions, maintenance requirements, etc., all decided beforehand, and the profits are considerable.

However, there are rules to be followed, and if the Second Prince wants to buy flowers from outside, it's as simple as him saying the word.

The middle-aged man's lips trembled at the words. He said, "I only hope that my family can support themselves, that our ancestral business can thrive, not fail in my hands, so as not to be ashamed when facing our ancestors. We used to make a modest profit of three thousand taels of silver a year. I am willing to give this amount to the young lady and the prince as a gift..."

"Silly!" Li Chunzhou furrowed her brow to stop him, it was not easy to say such words in the hall, "Do you think the Second Master is such a cruel and greedy person intentionally stealing from the people?"

The man opposite was even more nervous, not daring to speak, Mi Hongbao turned his head to look at Li Chunzhou with interest.

Li Chunzhou, however, was not convinced. She knew the middle-aged man in front had been a merchant for many years, how could he be scared by the words of a young girl like her. The way he was acting was just a deliberate act to please her.

As one gets closer to the center of power, people's desire for recognition and vanity grows stronger. People like Li Chunzhou, who are young and have close relationships with important figures, tend to mistakenly treat the power of those they associate with as their own.

The middle-aged merchant saw this point clearly, that's why he treated her words and actions like those of a role model.

Li Chunzhou knew what he was thinking, but she didn't expose him. Changing the subject, she said, "I know your family's nursery and garden produce a lot of flowers daily, and you have to go around selling them. You must have seen and heard a lot, with everyone in Shengjing City knowing so much... As long as you're willing to tell me some interesting things you hear while selling flowers every day, this won't be difficult."

This was asking him to be Li Chunzhou's informant, with Li Chunzhou acting on behalf of the Second Prince at the end of the day.

After hesitating for a moment, the middle-aged merchant agreed under the cheerful gaze of Li Chunzhou.

By the time everything was settled, it was almost midnight. Li Chunzhou gave the middle-aged merchant a small Token she carried with her, instructing him to directly talk to the Second Prince's men with the Token the next day. She then called a maid to escort this guest to an empty room to rest, and deducted the accommodation fee from her monthly allowance.

There was a curfew in the city, so Mi Hongbao couldn't leave. He decided to stay in a room at the Spring Flowers Tower.

On the way back to the backyard, Mi Hongbao suddenly asked, "Lady Chun, did you help him make a connection like that?"

"If it helps to keep His Highness informed and makes me a regular customer, why not? It's just going with the flow," she replied.

Mi Hongbao frowned and looked skeptical, "Getting involved in royal business can earn more than just three thousand taels. He was clearly trying to deceive you by mentioning past profits."

Walking alongside Mi Hongbao, Li Chunzhou looked up at the twinkling stars in the sky and smiled, "That guest must have a lot of debts at home... In today's world, it's already difficult to survive. There's no need to force people to show their hardships."

Mi Hongbao turned to look at her, staying silent for a while.