Thursday, 27 December 2018

VGAFH 67

67. Raising Fund

With the sixty liang, she can use it to buy land. An ordinary one is four liang per mu[mu, a traditional unit of area(1 mu=0.0667 hectare)]. So, they can buy fifteen mu, and all these are just for planting cotton! Although it is a difference from her original plan, she could only make do with this for now.

Next year, the whole family will have to suffer a bit. After that, they will be much better off.

When Lian Fang Zhou said she wants to put all of the money, including the earning that they have yet to receive from charcoal, to buy land to grow cotton, the whole family was shocked.

Third Aunt was the first to object. Full of anger and agitation, she spoke, "Fang Zhou, don't be silly! Everyone has been deliberating over this matter these few days. They wish to avoid it as much as possible, and none would step forward. If it were a worthwhile matter, the government would have already passed it to those big landlords and influential squire. How could us ordinary citizen have a chance? Hmph, I heard those wealthy landlords had already gone to negotiate with the county council. Some already planned to throw away the seeds through selling and pay the tax like usual during harvest, while others didn't even bother with selling. Hmph, the governments are just bullying us, ordinary citizens. Who told us not to have money or connections. Buying lands isn't a bad idea, but you can't plant whatever flower! How could flower possibly turn to clothes to wear! What a joke, are they treating people as a fool!"

"Sister, Third Aunt's words are reasonable. So why do you want to grow cotton?" Lian Ze questioned.

Lian Che and Lian Fang Qing were still young, so they only silently watch at the sideline.

Lian Fang Zhou responded, "I want to give it a try. I have a feeling that the government isn't trying to trick people! This isn't a small matter! Look how many common people have been dragged in, aren't they afraid of causing chaos? As for cotton can make clothes, even if they want to fool people they won't use this kind of lie, no? I believe its the truth. Hemp could be spun into yarn and turned into cloth. If you just look at the field of hemp, you can't connect it to cloth, right? Let's give it a try! Anyway, we need to buy the land and if we been fooled next year, then the year after we won't grow them anymore. The only problem is that we'll be poorly off next year."

As always, Lian Ze complied to his sister, and readily agreed. "I can see the logic in Sister's words. It won't hurt to give it a go. And also next year, when the weather is warm, we can go to Mount Xian Teng to pick mushrooms to sell! I can also go hunt! Big Brother Ah Jian said there's no time now with the charcoal business. When we have more free time, he'll take me to Mount Xian Teng."

"I heard that Mount Xian Teng was a bountiful place and want to go see for myself!" Ah Jian gave a faint laugh and explained. As to the cotton matter, he has no opinion as he isn't part of the family.

"Who's talking about that!" Third Aunt anxiously persuaded Lian Fang Zhou with all her might, but Lian Fang Zhou had settled on this plan and wouldn't change her mind. Lian Ze also supported her. At the end of her wits, Third Aunt pointed out, "Even if you want that many cotton plant, have you thought of the number of seeds? There aren't that many seeds!"

"That's simple! Look for Li Zheng, since there are so many people who don't want to plant them!" Lian Che answered. "Our sister did send charcoal to Li Zheng Uncle, so Li Zheng Uncle will definitely help!"

"Oh, you rugrat!" Third Aunt shot him a pointed glare at his words.

Lian Fang Zhou's eyes flashed and rushed to ask, "How did you know I sent charcoal to Li Zheng's home?"

Although that day she had brought the two little one with her to pack the charcoal, she hasn't told them it was for Mrs. Niu. There was no need to announce it everywhere as she only needed Mrs. Niu to remember her good point.

As well as that, if announced, it would turn bad instead. After all, her family consisted of orphans!

"I know! I know!" Lian Fang Qing snatched to say. "It was Zhang Yan who told someone else!"

Zhang Yan? Li Zheng's daughter? Lian Fang Zhou paused. Then there's nothing she can do about it.

After some contemplation, she instructed, "Qing-er, Che-er, in a bit pick a basketful of charcoal to send over to Uncle and Aunt!"

"Why? I don't want to!" Lian Fang Qing pouted. Lian Che also disagreed.

"It's okay. Our family had collected that many charcoal pieces back. It's more than enough for this winter. So it doesn't matter if we send down some to them! Be good! Lian Fang Zhou gently coaxed.

"I understand, Sister! In a while, I'll pack some with fourth sis!" Lian Che yielded.

Lian Fang Qing kept pouting and no longer spoke.

"You being so generous!" Third Aunt glowered at Lian Fang Zhou. As she was about to follow up with more, it came to her. Is Lian Fang Zou purposely changing the topic by giving this order? Third Aunt then threw away her currents stream of thoughts and continued moaning. "Fang Zhou ah, you really can't step up on the cotton matter! What if it failed? You'll waste the field and the money and also get laughed at by others! How about just trying with the amount requested and if it succeeds, then you can plant more the year after!"

Her words sounded practical. Lian Ze enquiringly turned to Lian Fang Zhou. If Lian Fang Zhou insist on doing that, he would also support her.

"Third Aunt, the matter is settled like this!" Lian Fang Zhou sighed. "What do you think I have been doing the last few days? I wanted to borrow money to buy more land to plant more. But sadly wasn't able to! So for now, we can only plant ten mu!"

Once her words were out, everyone was surprised.

"You really are-" Suddenly an idea came to Third Aunt. "You really want to borrow money?"

"Yes!" Lian Fang Zhou nodded, answering her last question.

Third Aunt continued. "Look, others aren't willing to lend. That means this matter isn't reliable! But you refuse to come to your sense! There is one person you can try asking. If that person is willing as well, then that clearly means this project isn't doable. Then how about getting rid of that idea?"

"Who do you have in mind, Third Aunt?" Lian Fang Zhou blocked out her persuasion, grabbed onto the part before it and urgently asked. Maybe she can really give it a try! As long as there's hope, she would fight for it.

Confound, Third Aunt replied, "You don't remember? You have a cousin called Fang Qing. Four years ago, she married into neighboring Shuang Liu county town's Su Family! That Su Family is very wealthy. In that family, there's one son, your cousin-in-law and one daughter. They have numerous amount of farmland and a countless number of shops! Completely overspilling with wealthy. Her mother and your mother were cousins. Your maternal grandmother and hers are blood-related!"

Lian Ze's expression shown sudden realization. "I kinda recall Mother telling us about it. She said that Aunt lived with her at Grandma's place for some time when they were young. Aunt and Mother were pretty close! However, she had already died from sickness a few years ago. Aunt only has one daughter, cousin Fang Qing. Mother had helped her out, but later on, her family has moved. Hear she supposedly married into Shuang Liu's rich family. Because they're quite a distance from us, we couldn't stay in contact."

Lian Fang Zhou was slightly confused from listening, but she did understand a part of it. One, the two households have a family connection but haven't got together for a long time. Two, this family connection is quite far away...

To borrow from a relative that they haven't connect with for a long time is quite tricky, even if there's some relationship with the previous generation.

Lian Fang Zhou's mind turned. She decided to give it a try--Maybe, by some tiny chance, it will work out?



Tuesday, 25 December 2018

VGAFH 66

Merry Xmas dear Readers!

66. Li Zheng has a big announcement (3)

 "Waste of saliva!" Zhang Li Zheng gave a pointed look at the direction of the voice. In reproaching manner, he spoke. "The seeds didn't just drop from the sky. So how could it not cost money? It's already at a low price! And also, when the harvest season arrives, these harvest tax would be half equal to half of the crop harvest tax. This also counts as the imperial court being generous."

When hearing that it cost money, everyone burst into a discussion. Now understanding the tax was halved, instead of being delighted, they became even more distressed. Distress is no small matter.

Think about it. Why would the imperial court collect less tax?

"Zhang Li Zheng, if there's someone who is willing to help others grow the plants, is it allowed?" Lian Fang Zhou raised her voice to shout out her question.

In the midst of the crowd, someone made a mocking sound which was then followed by laughter as he looked at Lian Fang Zhou with full of ridicule. In his mind, he wondered if the Lian Family's eldest has lost her mind. Who would actually be willing to help others grow these things? It's more likely that they would wish to throw all this onto someone else's shoulder!

Zhang Li Zheng was also taken by surprise. After a moment of consideration, he nodded. "There's no problem as long as both parties are willing!"

"Ok!" Lian Fang Zhou acknowledged. And continued questioning. "Then did the imperial court send anyone down to give guidance on how to grow these?"

"None!" Zhang Li Zheng replied. " It's just growing plants. Which farmer doesn't know how to? So there's no need for the imperial court to do something as troublesome as sending someone down to give pointers!"

 Lian Fang Zhou showed an expression as if it just dawned on her and no longer spoke.

 Actually, the truth is that the imperial court did plan to send someone to give pointers since these plants are rare and not many know how to grow them. However, the Southwest Governor took the initiative to handle this project to curry favor with the Crown Prince. And to show off his citizen's talents, he refused to let the imperial court send someone over. Isn't it just farming? The new plants are also plants. Just scatter it on the ground, give some care, and water and it'll be grand!

 And on top of that, it's just a trial project. If it didn't succeed, then he would have reasons to justify like unsuitable environment, inappropriate weather and the likes.

So rewording it, when unsuccessful, show a positive and sincere attitude. And if it's successful, then he would gain great merit!

"Alright! Alright! This matter is settled then! Later, don't forget to come over to my place to collect the seeds! Don't forget okay!" Zhang Li Zheng finished up and waved his hand toward below. "You can disperse now!"

Everyone started left while discussing.

"Only she could possibly do it. To ask such stupid questions; complete utter nonsense! Can't believe she's not afraid of being mocked!" Lian Fang Zhou heard Mrs. Qiao prattled on nearby in a disgruntled tone.

She and Lian Ze exchanged a glance and directed a faint smile at Lian Ze. They left together without bothering with Mrs. Qiao.

Gradually they have gone far, and nobody else was around, Aunt Zhang reassuringly told Lian Fang Zhou, "You don't have to worry about this matter yet. In a few days, we'll watch how the other guys handle it first, then we'll follow!"

Lian Fang Zhou halted for a second. She wasn't able to catch on her meaning, but she did understand Aunt Zhang would never harm them, so she obediently nodded for now. Then they parted way.

Only then did Lian Ze spoke up. "Sister, Aunt Zhang is right. Though Zhang Li Zheng explained it very serious just now, he also has his own headache. Not many people would willingly take the initiative to go collect the seeds! So we'll just sit and watch for now. If everyone doesn't collect it, then we'll do the same!"

This is ...law can't hold everyone responsible [1]

After a short contemplation, Lian Fang Zhou was at ease. It's not like other matters. This matter means taking up everyone's field! It's a matter that is close to taking their life, so who wouldn't go against it if they can.

However, this also clearly says her opportunity has come! After all, she didn't ask those few questions for no reason.

Others might not know what potatoes and cotton are, but she knows. These are useful stuff!

Leaving potato aside, as long as they have grown one batch, they can make high-quality cotton cloth and cotton gauze. Just using these to make clothes and quilt, they can earn a fortune!

There's more to sowing the cotton into the soil and looking after it diligently. The most critical part is handling the topsoil. If they didn't know about it, most farmers wouldn't think about doing this.

Apart from this, it is also very particular on how to care for it during the planting period, when is the best time to pick the cotton and the handling of it after it was plucked.

Lian Fang Zhou returned home in high spirit. But it gradually died down and became somewhat disheartened.

The reason for this is lack of money.

Such a hard to come by opportunity. And she was confident that that next year everyone will find out about cotton's benefit. And at that time what can she use to contest those rich people? She must grab the first-mover opportunity!

With just first-mover opportunity, seeds and skills, it's still not enough. The most essential components are land and human resources.

And money is needed to buy land and hire labor force.

In her opinion, hiring people isn't very safe. The best method is to buy few honest and capable ones from the slave trader. This way she can prevent the skills from being stolen away.

However, this means there's more mouth to feed and need more space to shelter...

Without adding up the expenses, she wouldn't have known how shocking the cost is.

Anyway, Lian Fang Zhou understood that no matter how much they diligently sell charcoal, they won't be able to gather enough fund.

Lian Fang Zhou gave a long gentle sigh. Should she give up? But she was unwilling as once she passes this point, she can't turn back!

There's only one opportunity!

Initially, she wanted to try borrowing money. But now thinking about, she can only cast aside this idea.

Nobody would be willing to lend over hundred thousand silver to her. As for mortgaging... Her family condition is like this, so there's nothing to put on the stake.

What about trying to partner with someone? Within this region, only Shang village's landlord, Zhu Manor's Official (Yuan Wai [2]) Zhu, Shi Wan's wealthy Mr. Li, and our village's Official[2] Wang.

Lian Fang Zhou knows her hopes are uncertain, but she definitely doesn't want to lose this once in a million chance. So even with the slightest possibility, she wants to give it a try.

The outcome was terrible. When these officials and the rich man are polite, they tactfully refuse. If not, they had outright shooed away before she even get a chance to speak and some didn't meet her.

All of them without exception, looked at her like she was some fool and wondered if the Lian Family's eldest has gone mad.

Lian Fang Zhou had also gone to the town's Zhao Family to seek for Zhao Ru Jun. In her opinion, Zhao Ru Jun must be a genius to be able to handle the family business without breaking a sweat. Chances are she could be different from the others!

Unfortunately, she wasn't able to meet Zhao Ru Jun. At the time, Xi Que caught a glimpse of her when she arrived. Xi Que halted the gatekeeper who was going to report to Young Miss and ordered the gatekeeper to send her out. She also spat toward the retreating figure. "What do you think you are? She should take a look at a mirror. With just her, she dares to come here to seek Young Miss boldly! Our Young Miss isn't someone she wants to meet just because she wants to. Utterly without shame!"

Without any other ideas, Lian Fang Zhou could only use what money at hand for this matter.
She briefly calculated. This winter's charcoal earned sixty-seventy liang, the leftover of Yang Family's dissolving engagement compensation was around ten liang and from selling mushrooms came up to ten liang. Meaning it adds up to around ninety liang.

Leaving thirty liang aside for all of next year's expenses and Lian Che's study use, only sixty liang could be used.


 [1]- because everyone is doing it, you can't punish everyone. refer to https://dict.naver.com/linedict/zhendict/dict.html#/cnen/entry/4148e6bc53d84bae945f0659a7953d91
[2]Yuan Wai- an official position second only to the Assistant Minister