Among the five carts of cured meat, one cart was reserved for the Cai family, Zhao family, and Boss Liu. Yu Qingze set it aside for them.
Today, there was no rush to start cooking. They quickly set up their stalls and began selling.
According to the two individuals who came from the other side of the river, they owned a restaurant in the city across the river. Yesterday, two customers at their restaurant mentioned how delicious their newly bought cured meat and sausages were. Unable to resist, they took out a piece of cured sausage and asked the staff at their restaurant to steam it. The aroma of the sausage caught their attention.
They shamelessly asked the customers for a taste and, after trying it, they hurriedly inquired where it was bought. It turned out to be from the city on this side of the river. They keenly felt that if they could bring this food to sell at their restaurant, it would definitely sell well. So, early in the morning, they took the earliest boat and came over.
The two expressed their desire to establish a long-term partnership with Yu Qingze, ensuring a continuous supply of cured meat.
“Sorry, both of you. I would also love to have a long-term partnership, but we can’t guarantee a continuous supply of cured meat as the weather gets hotter. We estimate that we can only sell until the end of the first month of next year,” Yu Qingze regretfully explained.
Upon hearing this, the two individuals immediately bought all the cured meat they had brought with them. They planned to come back tomorrow to stock up some more, just in case they run out in the future. They couldn’t afford to miss out!
In the morning, people from the Cai and Zhao families also came to pick up their reserved cured meat. Yu Qingze sold it to them at the purchase price without charging extra.
In the afternoon, when Boss Liu had some free time, he also came by. Standing at the entrance with Yu Qingze, he tilted his chin towards the shop on the left and said, “I heard they’ll open for business after the New Year.”
Yu Qingze glanced at the original Wang’s shop, where people were coming in and out, and renovations were taking place. He asked, “I heard it will be a restaurant?”
After the incident with Boss Wang, their shop closed down completely not long after. Later, someone rented the place, and within a few days, they started making noises inside, doing renovations. Until now, they still haven’t opened for business.
Boss Liu nodded and said, “Yeah, not sure where they’re from. New faces.”
Yu Qingze replied, “No matter where they’re from, as long as they’re dedicated to running their business, it’s good.”
The two chatted for a while, and then Boss Liu used his newly purchased cart to pull his cured meat back home.
In the following days, the cured meats sold very smoothly, and the villagers were enthusiastic about making sweet potato noodles and cured meats. Everything was developing in a positive direction.
In the eyes of Yu Qingze, it seemed that way.
However, Yu Qingze didn’t know that while he was unaware, the village secretly dealt with two households.
The reason was that some villagers noticed that Yu Qingze was selling cured meats for twenty wén more per jin than they were. This immediately sparked some scheming in their minds.
One household went directly to the seldom-visited Chengdong Market to sell, but they were discovered by a villager who was squatting there collecting sweet potatoes. The other household, being more clever, secretly transported their goods to a neighboring town to sell. Unfortunately, that day, they were discovered by a villager who happened to be returning home for personal matters.
They didn’t dare to directly inform Yu Qingze about the two households’ actions, so they told the village chief.
Upon hearing about this, the village chief became furious and extremely angry. He called the men from the two households to his home and scolded them, saying, “Do you have no brains?! Huh? Now you can earn twenty wén more for every jin of cured meat, and you still find it insufficient? Yu Qingze only earns twenty wén per jin, and he still has to pay for labor and rent. He earns even less than you. How can you be so greedy? Without someone like Yu Qingze, can you earn this money? Has your conscience been eaten by dogs?”
One of the men from the household whispered, “We just wanted to make some extra money before the New Year.”
“Make some extra money? You made a few hundred wén more now, but when Yu Qingze finds out, will you be able to earn this money in the future? If he finds other ways to make money, do you think he’ll tell you or not? Have you forgotten the rules he set? You’re blinded by money! You have pig brains! Even calling you pig-brained is an insult to pigs!”
Upon hearing this, the two households immediately remembered the requirements Yu Qingze had mentioned, and they deeply regretted their actions.
A villager nearby said, “Village chief, should we tell Aze about this?”
The two households who had done wrong immediately pleaded, “Please don’t tell him, please don’t tell him. We promise we won’t go out to sell anymore, Village chief, please don’t tell him…”
The village chief looked at the two households, who were indeed poor, and sighed. He said, “I can’t make this decision. If one day you commit another offense, both the village chief and they,” he pointed to the men who had discovered them, “will be implicated because of you.”
“That’s right! How can you guarantee that you won’t do it again? If you do it again, both the village chief and us will know about it. Then, well, we’ll be protecting you. By that time, Aze definitely won’t be willing to teach us anymore. It’s not easy to find a way to make money, and you’ve ruined it. Village chief, I think it’s better to tell Aze,” said the man who was collecting sweet potatoes on the street.
The two households became anxious and said, “We promise we won’t go out to sell anymore! We just had a moment of madness to commit such a foolish act. Village chief, how about this? We can write a written guarantee, promising not to do it again.”
Another man asked, “What if they do it again?”
“If they do it again… we… we…” The two households stumbled and couldn’t come up with an answer.
The man who was collecting sweet potatoes became angry and immediately said, “Fine them! Each household should be fined ten yuan, no, at least twenty yuan of silver to Aze. Additionally, if we are implicated as well, they should compensate for our and the village chief’s losses!”
“That’s too much! Daniu, you’re just being greedy!” one of the men stared at him.
“What else guarantees that you won’t do it again?” Daniu retorted.
The village chief nodded and said, “That’s a good idea! Let’s do it this way. If you agree, I’ll write the guarantee letter for you to sign and affix your seal. If you don’t agree, I’ll immediately go and tell Aze!”
The two households had no choice and eventually agreed to sign and seal the guarantee letter.
After two days, the village chief contemplated the matter and finally found an opportunity to tell Yu Qingze.
Upon hearing this, Yu Qingze fell silent for a moment and then sighed, saying, “My intention was to help everyone make some extra money, increase their income. But with more people involved, it’s inevitable that various schemes would arise. I anticipated this and warned them beforehand. Village chief, I appreciate your handling of the situation. You can pretend that I don’t know about it. Having something to restrain them, making them tremble in fear and dare not go out to sell anymore, is quite good.”
The village chief also sighed, feeling somewhat frustrated.
After thinking for a moment, Yu Qingze continued, “Village chief, here’s what you can do. Pretend that I’m unaware of this matter, but quietly inform the other villagers, especially those households who might have similar intentions. Treat it as your advice to them, reminding them not to commit the same mistake.”
Greed is something that everyone can fall prey to, and such incidents are indeed difficult to avoid. Moreover, Yu Qingze himself didn’t have a good way to handle it. He could choose not to teach them any other methods in the future, but if they became dissatisfied and exposed these two methods, it would create even more trouble. It was better to handle it through the village chief’s intervention.
The village chief pondered for a moment and nodded, saying, “Alright, I’ll go back and talk to them.”
After the village chief spoke to them, those in the village who had similar intentions but hadn’t taken action yet immediately gave up the idea.
A fine of twenty yuan? How long would they have to work to earn that much!
In mid-December, the first snow fell in Tongshan City, and the weather became even colder. At this time, every household began preparing for the New Year, stocking up on goods and getting ready for the festivities.
The atmosphere of the upcoming New Year could already be felt on the streets. Shops had hung up red lanterns in advance, and various fried and dried goods, as well as festive gifts, were displayed throughout the streets. There were more people on the streets than usual, creating a lively atmosphere.
The school had already started its winter break, and during this period, Chang Hao came to the shop every day to help. The mischievous child had a way with words and made everyone laugh with his witty remarks about their snacks.
Grandpa Chang went out for a stroll every day, buying New Year goods, and Yu Qingze accompanied him, selecting a variety of items for consumption and gifts.
At the snack shop, after discussing with Brother Le, Yu Qingze decided to keep it open until the twenty-seventh of the twelfth lunar month and give everyone a holiday starting on the twenty-eighth. They would resume work on the eighth day of the first lunar month.
On the last day of business before the New Year, Yu Qingze distributed everyone’s wages and gave each person an additional three hundred wen as a festival allowance.
The workers were delighted to receive their wages and festival allowance. Boss Yu always paid their wages on time every month without any delays. And during festivals, they even received extra allowances. Recently, their families had also earned a good sum of money from the sweet potato flour and cured meats.
This year, the entire village will be able to have a great New Year.
Everyone cleaned up the shop, wiped the tables and chairs, turned them upside down, and stored any unused ingredients such as flour in the storeroom. The remaining fresh vegetables were taken home by Boss Yu. The stove and firewood were extinguished with water, and the garbage was disposed of properly. All the doors and windows were securely closed and locked. After thoroughly tidying up, everyone finally went home together.
The Lunar New Year is just around the corner!
Thandar: I wonder where Boss Wang is and what he is doing now. Better not show up in the novel later, Mr. Wang.