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Great Tang Idyll - Chapter 6


Erniu still had no way of appreciating the profound implications of this sort of bluff by Zhang Xiaobao. So his answer was not the three words of ’’I have confidence’’ and not even ’’I guarantee mission completion.’’ Instead, he vigorously nodded his head as he said: ’’Little Mister, please say so. Whatever you [honorific] say, I, Erniu will do it. Letting my [Older] Bro do it is fine, too.’’

’’What are you having Daniu do?’’ Wang Juan nervously asked.

’’Don't worry. Keep listening. I wouldn't actually let him commit murder or arson.’’ Zhang Xiaobao turned his head to continue talking to Erniu: ’’Over the next few days, have your [Older] Bro and [Younger] Sister go up the mountain to find some mountain chili sprouts. After gathering them, then...’’

’’Little Mister, what kind of thing is this mountain chili sprout that you [honorific] speak of?’’ Erniu didn't wait for Zhang Xiaobao to finish talking before he interrupted with a question.

’’Oh, it's like this. See my hand? It's a plant that's this big. Green like grass. Basically, the mountains here should all have them. When you chew it in your mouth, it's spicy. If you soak it in water and then eat it, it's not as spicy. Seen it before?’’ Zhang Xiaobao gestured as he spoke.

Erniu watched for a while and nodded: ’’In reply to Little Mister, I've seen it before even eaten it before.’’

’’That's good, then. Pick this thing pick lots of it. Have your parents go buy some fish for me. Try to get fish with as few bones as possible and buy lots of them. I'll get some money for you and give it to you tomorrow. Anything else...? Yes, there is. Go and find a blacksmith from our manor and have them make stuff for me. Like this. I'll draw it for you. You, look.’’

Zhang Xiaobao couldn't explain it well at the moment so he tightly gripped a little wooden stick in his hand to draw on the ground. Only now did he discover how inconvenient it was to do anything when so small. He clearly knew how it should be drawn in his mind. It was actually an iron case, the sort with a flap, that could be used to grill or bake things.

After drawing for a while, he finally finished. But upon seeing it, Erniu wrinkled his brow as he quietly said in a low voice: ’’Little Mister, this thing you [honorific] want is entirely iron? This won't be so easy to do. So much iron... It can't be kept hidden from people. I...’’

’’No matter what method you use, do this job for me. If you do it well, there'll be a reward. After money is made, your family can split it. If you do it poorly, I'll find someone else and you won't need to follow us anymore.’’ Zhang Xiaobao didn't listen to this kind of rationale at all. He didn't believe that such a clever person as Erniu could do poorly. There was some difficulty but that didn't mean that it couldn't be solved.

’’Little Mister, I'll go do it. I dare not split the money. Working for the master-family is what I should do. Just when the time comes, calculating my wages as rice grains will do.’’ Erniu still agreed. He wasn't prepared to ask for that rice at first. But he discovered that all of the people in his family had to work, meaning that they couldn't do any other jobs and that would lead to a huge difference. So he worked up the guts to say this.

’’I said for your family to get a cut so your family should get a cut. Refuting our words is not allowed. Understand?’’ Wang Juan, seeing that Zhang Xiaobao seemed to not be scamming for money and was expanding into business, spoke up as well. Don't just look at how small they were, they were naturally not lacking in airs.

Erniu nodded and, not caring that it was still drizzling outside, immediately ran out to go home to set this up. Wang Juan now had the time to interrogate Zhang Xiaobao.

’’What are your arrangements today for?’’

’’What else is it for? To make money, ~bei.2 In this world, the most fundamental is military power. Other than military power, it's money. Right now, military power is not doable. So let's get money.’’ Seeing that Erniu had left to do the job, Zhang Xiaobao also loosened up as he leisurely replied.

’’Order after order come out after just a brow wrinkle and an eye blink? The International Criminal Swindler definitely doesn't have an unearned reputation. Tell me, what kind of profit?’’ Looking at that cute face of Zhang Xiaobao's right now, Wang Juan felt that this person was all right as she asked, smiling.

’’Insulting people, ~ne?3 Don't keep saying swindler, Comrade Wang Juan. Right now, I must solemnly request of you to please respect me. At this moment, I am a good citizen, a good person.’’ Zhang Xiaobao looked at Wang Juan who was just as cute. But who let the two of them both be children? They were children of affluent families as well with no lack in their diet and were well-dressed so that they were white and plump.

Seeing the face full of disapproval on Wang Juan, he continued speaking: ’’Buying fish is for the sake of making grilled fish strips to sell to other people. No, to exchange with others. Things aren't easy to sell but bartering is simpler. That case is going to be used to dry the fish strips. It can be used as an oven later on, too to bake breads, cakes, whatever. It can also be used to exchange for things.’’

’’Don't grilled fish strips use filefish?4 You had them go buy it but where can they get that type of fish? Isn't that a marine fish? Then, what did you get the chili sprouts for? To rub on the fish strips?’’ Wang Juan still had this little bit of common sense as she knew the fish that grilled fish strips used.

’’Who am I? According to you, a big swindler. How can the idea I thought up be that simple? Even if other people don't know grilled fish strips are dried using an iron case, there are other methods to dry it with. As long as they find it good, they'll study it. There's no patent protection, either. The fish over here is cheap. We can buy quite a few with only a little money. But food grain5 is expensive. I can ask my mom [modern] for a little bit of money to use to buy fish but I have no way of using it to buy enough food grain.

Actually, any fish is fine. Exchange the grilled fish strips for soybeans.6The real money-maker is in making soybean paste.7 Specifically, in making spicy soybean paste. Add in douban8 and diced meat. We'll sell the soybean paste. This soybean paste won't be used for bartering but sold for money. Or for silk textiles who let it be so that this stuff could be used just like money?9

After we have enough money, we can go forward with the next step. The more capital there is, the better deals I can make. First, clear up the matter of the land. Then, buy land, plant stuff, buy more things, make some more deals. Of course, if you don't object to my using a few little tricks, I can directly make currency exchange deals using money and silk textiles. You should get my meaning.’’ Zhang Xiaobao explained with the same slow leisure as before.

’’What do you mean, currency exchange deals? You want to swindle again? No, when you make currency exchanges, there's no resource generation. It's nothing more than to get your hands on money and it needs to be done with speed. I won't allow it. What if you get caught? Arresting you won't even need any legality. There's too much abuse of power in this time period. You can't even run to escape.’’ Wang Juan firmly opposed it.

Zhang Xiaobao thought Wang Juan didn't wish for him to run scams. Only now did he understand that Wang Juan was afraid he would get in trouble. His mood naturally not the same, he thought for a bit before speaking again: ’’Then, I won't do anything like that. In regards to the actual capital, I'll take care of it. Don't worry. I won't do anything that would harm others. When forbidden to accumulate capital through pure robbery, I, as an International Criminal Swindler, can think of a lot of ways to slowly earn it. This slowness is relative. I will work through the production and processing method.’’

In listening to Zhang Xiaobao's words, Wang Juan suddenly discovered that the attitude of this swindler who had violence and caring, brain and brawn that everything was all in his hands at this very moment was such a dazzling sight.

How could Zhang Xiaobao know Wang Juan what was thinking? Even if he had studied so much psychology, he had never come in contact with the field of female psychology. He was currently pondering how to ask for money from his mother as the funds were all controlled by Mrs. Zhang-Wang. He at last decided to bite the bullet10 and just ask.

The next day, the sky was clear. Erniu had already told everything to his family members and even stayed overnight at his house. Knowing that Little Mister was in a hurry over this matter, he rushed back. At this time, Zhang Xiaobao and Wang Juan usually got ready to go to sleep after having finished their milk.

Today, Zhang Xiaobao who normally readily went to sleep suddenly said to Mrs. Zhang-Wang: ’’Mom, Juan-Juan and I want to buy some things. We need 1 guan [string] of cash11 prepared to let Yingtao go buy it.’’

’’So much? Tell Mom, what does my Baolang want to buy? Mom will go buy it for you.’’ Upon hearing it was 1 guan [string] of cash, Mrs. Zhang-Wang was also a bit hesitant. Thinking that the children didn't know what to buy so they had just casually said 1 guan [string], she wanted to clarify so she could purchase it or maybe trade for it as there was basically no need to spend too much money.

Zhang Xiaobao certainly did not agree. He hoped to use this money to buy fish. One guan [string] of cash or 1,000 wen could buy several hundred fish. Southern fish, Northern sheep;12 the fish here had always been very cheap. He said: ’’Mom, we need to buy lots and lots of stuff. I can't think of it all for now. Give money for Yingtao to buy it.’’

Hearing this, Mrs. Zhang-Wang looked at Wang Juan as well. Wang Juan felt unable to ask for this. After all, this money wasn't being taken from her family. So she could only nod.

’’All right. Mom will give it. If Baolang wants to buy it, Mom will give it. Mom will come along and see then the things my Baolang buys will definitely be better than anyone else's.’’ Seeing her son speak like this, Mrs. Zhang-Wang didn't reject it, either. One guan [string] of cash was a bit much but who else had children that knew how to spend money when they were so small? So just let him spend it. Whatever things he bought back would be fine. It wasn't like that 1 guan [string] of cash would suddenly disappear.

Giving permission to her son on the one hand, she then called over Yingtao on the other hand. Removing a wooden piece that had 1 guan [string] written on it, she placed it in Yingtao's hand as she said: ’’Yingtao, take this money. Whatever you buy, remember to account for it. Remember, prices that should be bargained over still need to be negotiated.’’

’’I understand, Mistress.’’ Yingtao accepted the wooden piece. After glancing over at Zhang Xiaobao and Wang Juan and seeing the two of them nod slightly, she respectfully answered.

Having settled their concerns, Zhang Xiaobao and Wang Juan naturally wanted to sleep. Waiting until his mother had left, Zhang Xiaobao sighed as he said: ’’I keep feeling like I deceived my Mom.’’

’’No, it's not even deception. You really do need to use this money to buy things. You're not squandering it and you can even make money later on.’’ Wang Juan comforted him.

’’The deception I'm talking about isn't this. It's that I didn't tell my Mom the things that I want to do.’’

’’You stupid? If you really told your mom [modern], would she agree? You must know that deception can be divided into good and bad intentions. Your deception is for the sake of making money for the family to spend. This is a good intention. It's at least much better than how you were before. Over 30 billion, ~ah! And it's even U.S. dollars. All just stolen by you. Those officials all deserve to die.’’ Wang Juan continued reassuring him.

’’The total is over 200 billion. Your investigations are not detailed at all. Domestically, it's over 30 billion.’’ Zhang Xiaobao explained.

’’I have nothing to do with overseas. You should have the more, the better. Justice belongs to the whole of humanity but my citizenship has me belonging to my own homeland.’’ It looked like Wang Juan was not suited to work for Interpol as she was a bit radical.

Having gotten money, everything was easy to accomplish. Zhang Xiaobao had Yingtao take the money out and give it to Erniu. He told him that when buying in bulk, he could further lower the price and even to try credit billing13 after making two purchases. After letting Erniu go off to work, he and Wang Juan continued exercising their bodies as they considered their future development.

Ten days quietly passed. Something called grilled fish strips began getting popular in the surrounding manors. It used no currency but trading in soybeans or other things like millet, which was foxtail millet,14 wheat, meat, and eggs was possible.


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