GNU sponsored chapters (3/4) by risa and anonymous sponsors at ko-fi. Thank you for your support!
The first part of today’s sponsored chapters is Ch.40 Part 1.
Early in the morning, the bird chirping crisply, the low-ranked servant girl in charge of sweeping had just sprinkled water on the ground, and the walkways had also been cleaned. When Cheng Yujin walked under the roofed corridor, she breathed in the refreshing air unique to the morning. Her figure, walking slowly in her plain white dress, was also part of this beautiful scenery.
People in the Chenming Courtyard were already familiar with Cheng Yujin. When they saw her from afar, they came to greet her. Cheng Yujin smiled and nodded back. Liu Yi, who had just returned from outside, saw her, and immediately stopped to give her a bow: “Eldest Miss.”
“Steward Liu.” Cheng Yujin replied. She knew Liu Yi’s real identity and was eighty percent sure that he was a eunuch from the palace. Since he was now following Cheng Yuanjing using a domestic servant identity, calling him ‘steward’ was appropriate.
Liu Yi hurriedly declined: “Eldest Miss is scaring this servant. How is this servant worthy…”
“Steward is too polite.” Cheng Yujin smiled. “Steward Liu is Ninth Uncle’s most trusted serving person. You often run outside under Ninth Uncle’s order, and can be considered his right-hand man. If you are not worthy to be called steward, then who is?”
Although Liu Yi looked very humble, he was delighted. What made him proud was not the amount of power in his hand, nor the achievements he had made, but how much the crown prince used his service. Cheng Yujin’s words were precisely on the line of Liu Yi’s mind.
When Cheng Yujin looked at Liu Yi’s expression, she knew that she got it right. She made a gesture at Du Ruo, who brought out a food box. Cheng Yujin said, “Ninth Uncle has taken care of this little girl so much, and steward Liu has also helped me a lot. I have nothing to pay back, so I can only prepare a few pastries for Steward Liu. I hope you won’t dislike it.”
Liu Yi waved his hand: “Of course not. Running errands for eldest Miss is a blessing for this servant. How can I still accept eldest Miss’ things?”
“Steward Liu, please accept. This is just a bit of sincerity from our Miss.” Du Ruo put the food box in the hands of a servant boy behind Liu Yi. Liu Yi’s refusal was just a matter of courtesy, so after seeing Cheng Yujin’s insistence, he accepted after showing a bit more reluctance: “Then, this servant thanks eldest Miss.”
“Steward is too polite.” Cheng Yujin smiled back.
There were principles in accepting bribes and receiving favors. Since Liu Yi accepted Cheng Yujin’s food, he spoke to her a lot more attentively. Liu Yi asked: “Miss comes to Chenming Courtyard this early in the morning. Are you going to find Ninth Master for something?”
“It’s not a big deal.” Cheng Yujin paused, then said casually: “However, I indeed have some message to deliver outside. Hope Steward Liu can help me pass it.”
“So it’s this.” Hearing Cheng Yujin’s words, Liu Yi waved his hand and said: “Miss can come to this servant anytime. Just write your message on the paper, and this servant will help you send it out as soon as possible.”
Cheng Yujin smiled more sincerely: “I will trouble Steward Liu.”
Today, Cheng Yujin had come prepared. She went out early, and hurriedly asked Liu Yi’s help before he left. She also brought out the drawings with her. Cheng Yujin sat inside the tea room and took out a stack of papers.
“These are the clothes patterns I draw, and I will trouble Steward Liu to bring it to Yunyi Shop. The profit from selling fabrics is limited, but if the fabrics are made into ready to wear clothes, the same pieces of fabric can produce several times higher profit. Furthermore, fabrics are flat. Just stacking them into piles looks bland. If there are ready-made clothes next to it, it will look much better. Customers will also be more interested in buying the fabric if they see how good it is after being made into clothes. If customers aren’t going to make the clothes themselves, Yunyi Shop can also help them cut the fabrics and sew it into a garment. By selling the fabrics and accepting clothes-making orders, the materials come from our own, and the workers are also ours, which is more profitable than selling fabrics as it is.”
Cheng Yujin asked Du Ruo to take out a bundle. She then freed up one corner of the table and showed a jacket to Liu Yi: “This is the short jacket I made using Yunyi Shop’s brocade I saw that day. The cloud motif on the cyan fabric is very nice. In the past two days, I made this jacket with my servant girls. The result really looks good on the body. I remember that this brocade, in addition to cyan color and cloud motif, there are also magnolia, phoenix tails, and lotus motifs, with various colors ranging from red to white. When Steward Liu goes to Yunyi Shop today, please tell them to put together brocades of different colors and patterns, and put this jacket next to the fabrics. If a customer fancies the clothes but wants another color, they can choose from other fabrics. This paper is the design drawing of this jacket. I will bother Steward Liu to bring it to the shopkeeper. But be sure to remind him to keep the design confidential. If a customer likes it, they can leave a fabric to Yunyi Shop to make the clothes, but the detail of the design shouldn’t be disclosed.”
While listening to Cheng Yujin, Liu Yi kept nodding. After receiving the paper in Cheng Yujin’s hand, he was even more surprised. Liu Yi unfolded the paper and took a glance, then secretly sighed. This Miss truly knew how to do business. The profit of selling raw materials was much worse than selling processed items. Like this, Cheng Yujin owed everything, from the fabric to the tailoring process to finished products. Customers saved time and effort, while the shop earned more.
Moreover, even if it looked similar at a glance, Cheng Yujin’s design was much more intricate and beautiful. Judging from the eyes Liu Yi had honed when he worked among the pile of imperial concubines and court ladies, he could see that Cheng Yujin had made the sleeves and waist area smaller, so the clothes would be tight and curved, which was very charming.
However, Cheng Yujin only had limited time after all. Except for this jacket, she only managed to make one skirt. This skirt was made of muslin. The inner part was lined with white silk fabric, while the outer part was made of soft muslin. The two fabrics were lined together such that the end product looked so slender and elegant, floating like a fairy garment.
It was summer now. This kind of skirt surely would gather much attention.
After Cheng Yujin pointed out some crucial points to Liu Yi, she let Du Ruo took out all the clothes they brought and handed them to Liu Yi together with the design pattern. Liu Yi was experienced in walking through the inner palace, and his errands ability was top-notch. Cheng Yujin could let him handle things with ease. Her mood was very good now. She got up and took her servant girls out of the tea room.
When the sun rose high, Cheng Yujin left another batch of pastries for Cheng Yuanjing. After brushing up favorability points, she left with satisfaction.
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