Liu Miantang sat in the shop every day. In addition to driving flies away, she began to learn to play the abacus with the accountant.
After learning a little, she began to calculate the cost of hiring a waiter.
After careful accounting, a pair of arch eyebrows were tied.
She felt that it was not a long-term plan to use money every day without making money.
Occasionally, when a customer comes in, she always glances at them till the customer walks out. Liu Miantang politely stopped several customers and asked them why they were dissatisfied with the shop.
One or two customers told the truth. They only said that the porcelain in the shop was nothing new. They were all street goods, but they were sold at a higher price than others. So they had to go to another house to have a look and that they had no intention of buying it at her house.
After listening to the customers’ words, Liu Miantang thought for a night. The next day, she took Servant Li out to visit the supply of other stores to see if she could think of a good way to improve business.
Most of the porcelain in the town was made in the scattered kilns in Sixia village. Like those imperial gifts, they will not circulate among the people at all. The more exquisite ones are designed for old shops. Ordinary shops can’t even get hold of the supply.
Although the price of the coarser porcelain is cheap, its gross profit is very small. It is sold at a small profit but quick turnover. Most of the porcelain is sold by the load-carrying street vendor near the houses in the streets and villages. They can’t even share the expenses of the store.
Liu Miantang walked for several days. The more she walked, the more confused she became. She wondered why her husband had to leave his hometown to operate here? Moreover, the business is to operate porcelain that has no advantages. In the long run, the shop will lose money. Fortunately, the internal river construction will make the shops business soar. By then, taking advantage of the appreciation of the shop price, it is also good to rent it out to maintain their living.
Although rental money is certainly not as much as doing business, if they are frugal, they can barely maintain the family’s expenses. However, she’s afraid that they can’t keep a few servants.
Her husband is used to having a servant. She wonders if she can adapt. And the two senior servants in the family are also old. If the Cui family doesn’t use them, She’s afraid it will be difficult for them to find a good family to continue to work.
She had just boasted with Servant Li that they could eat meat every day in the future, but she violates her promise and wanted to send them back home. It was difficult to even think about it.
Therefore, she did not give up looking around, hoping to figure out what to do, but she walked until her legs are aching and limping, and her skirt was stained with the wet mud of the village road, and she hasn’t thought of any perfect solution.
If there’s no other way, she can only give the senior servants like Servant Li more retirement fees for their old age, so that they won’t have to make a living in the future. It’s just that, there won’t be much money left in her dowry box. Fortunately, the Cui family has a shop, and they can always survive with it.
After thinking this way, Miantang was not very happy too. She was unwilling to spend more time walking, so she planned to return to Lingquan town first.
But before taking a few steps, she heard someone shouting behind her, “Madam, please stay put!”
Miantang looked back at the sound, and it turned out that it was Zhao Quan, the highly skilled doctor who had not seen her for a long time.
Speaking of it, Zhao Quan is an expert in locating hermits in the world of mortals.
In addition to his excellent medical skills, Zhao Jiayu was also proficient in calligraphy and painting. However, he lacks interest in calligraphy and painting done by famous artists. He likes to be a bole who understands people and a noble man of the poor scholars.
If he can find an unappreciated piece of painting and calligraphy in the calligraphy and painting shop and points out the uniqueness of the piece, it will appear that the Marquis is good at sourcing talent.
Today, in the calligraphy and painting shop in Linxian County, Marquis Zhennan found a picture of a summer lotus. The picture was painted by a scholar who had failed an imperial examination, and was nicknamed “The hermit that hates pen”.
Painting doesn’t worth a lot of money. Even if the painting shop framed it up later, it would be only half a copper of money for the arty-crafty squire to buy and decorate the bare walls of the house.
However, Zhao Quan thought that this seemingly inconspicuous painting was elegant and unique in color. If the painter got the chance, he must be a master in calligraphy and painting.
So he came looking for the place in high spirits according to the address left by the scholar.
Unexpectedly, although he could not find the scholar who painted the lotus, he saw a beautiful lotus in his heart and immediately called upon Liu Miantang with great interest.
Liu Miantang is secretly alert now when she sees Zhao Quan again. Her husband reminded her that the highly skilled doctor was not a gentleman. He liked to flirt with his friend’s women. Naturally, she had to avoid suspicion.
So this time, Liu Miantang no longer greeted him with the same smile, but only gave a little salute with a stiff face according to the etiquette, and then said to Servant Li, “You can pass the message to the highly skilled Doctor Zhao that we have something else to do, so we won’t delay any longer, and we’ll say goodbye now.”
Zhao Quan thought it was strange that he was clearly in front of Lady Liu. Why did she bother to let Servant Li deliver a message?
However, he had just seen talent and found a piece of jade buried in the countryside. Naturally, he was excited and inexplicable. He just wanted to show off his high taste in front of the beauty, and he didn’t care about her sudden cold attitude. He hurriedly said: “I’m here to visit a master of painting today. I’m worried that no one will judge whether I’ve picked on a bad painting. Madam is just in time. Please have a look at this painting.”
With that, he ordered his servant boy, Shu Mo, who followed him to take down the painting scroll from the carriage to show it to Liu Miantang like a treasure.
Liu Miantang had no interest at all. She just glanced at the painting, but when her eyes fell on the painting, she stopped.
Although she practiced martial arts, she dabbled in antique calligraphy and painting because her father and brother loved them. Although she could not say that she understands everything about calligraphy and painting, she could still appreciate them.
The lotus painting is light in color, but it can show the elegance of the lotus. In particular, the dragonfly’s tail touches the lake water, which makes the lake surface ripple layer by layer, static and dynamic, full of interest.
Liu Miantang looked at it for a while, then suddenly bent down and looked at the dragonfly carefully.
Seeing that she was interested, Zhao Quan was very pleased and said: “How about it? Is it very fresh and elegant? I’m sure that if this person is recommended by a noble person, he will certainly be able to ascend the hall of elegance and become famous all over the world… Madam, would you like to go with me and witness the moment when this expert gets a bosom friend?”
Liu Miantang slowly straightened up and said to Servant Li, “Ask the highly skilled doctor where the painter lives and how far away is the painter from here.”
Knowing why Liu Miantang was so estranged from the highly skilled doctor, Servant Li secretly sighed for the Marquis Zhennan, who had carried the blame, and then followed Liu Miantang’s words.
Zhao Quan was very glad to see that Liu Miantang wanted to go with him. He hurried to say, “It’s not far away at all! It’s in the village ahead. If we pace up a little, we can go back to the town before sunset, and it won’t delay your dinner… Of course, if it’s too late, I know that there is a restaurant near the river with good dishes. I can treat you there and enjoy the lake by the railing, and then have a good taste of the foods and drinks.”
Hearing this, Liu Miantang frowned secretly. She thought that the highly skilled doctor had a problem with his character. Otherwise, how could he rashly ask his friend’s wife for dinner alone?
She didn’t want to get on Zhao Quan’s carriage, so she just turned around and got on her donkey cart, slowly following behind Zhao Quan’s horse and carriage.
Zhao Quan knew that Liu Miantang thought she was Cui Jiu’s wife. It’s not surprising for her to avoid suspicion when a woman’s out alone.
But in his heart, he loves this woman’s elegance and prettiness even more. He wishes that they could always keep each other’s company like the Mandarin duck as soon as possible, walk in the mountains and rivers, look for good paintings, and live a life of conjugal bliss.
After walking along the wild path in the field, he saw the simple thatched house.
It seems that this scholar lives here.
After Zhao Quan got off the carriage, he ordered his servant boy to knock at the firewood gate to visit the owner.
The owner of the firewood room has already appeared without waiting for the boy to knock.
That is a scholar in a shabby gown whose color can’t be told. He looked almost in his forties, with a messy beard and slightly white hair at the temples. He was hoeing in the yard with his clothes up. The vines in the field had just sprouted in the spring wind and were swaying constantly.
At the call of the door, the scholar half raised his eyes, glanced at the outsiders in the room, and continued to dig the ground silently.
For such geeks, bole Zhao Quan was not surprised with his behavior. He only politely called out at the door, “Are you the “Hate Pen Hermit”, who sold the masterpiece to the ink studio in Linxian county?”
When he asked, the old scholar who was hoeing the ground flipped half of his eyelids and answered.
Seeing that he had found the right person, Zhao Quan immediately indicated his intention and said that he had come to visit him in person because he appreciated his masterful work.
After hearing what he said, the scholar looked at him up and down before he put down his hoe and opened the firewood door.
It can be seen that the man with the name of “hate pen” is not well off. There are no decent tables and chairs for guests at home. He simply put a mat on the flat place in the yard for guests to sit cross-legged.
Miantang, as a woman, was naturally not able to sit with them, so she took Servant Li and stood aside in silence.
As for the tea, the scholar didn’t bring it. It was Zhao Quan’s servant who sees that the mat is too empty, fearing that his master will be thirsty and hungry, so he brought his cake box and put it on the mat. Then, he went on to brew the tea with the charcoal stove on the carriage.
The old scholar was not polite. He opened his big mouth and ate most of the cakes in the food box. It seems that his three meals are uncertain.
When he was half full, the scholar’s face softened a lot. Instead, he could comment on the painting with Zhao Quan in a friendly manner.
However, when Zhao Quan unfolded the lotus painting and told his personal views on the painting, the scholar’s expression became more and more disappointed.
After Zhao Quan finished, he pondered for a while and said, “Thank you for your appreciation, but you don’t understand my painting. It’s not early now. Please return!”
Zhao Quan was talking so enthusiastically that when he was thrown with cold water by the Hate Pen Hermit, it dampened his spirit.
If it were ordinary days, he would just take it as he is a grumpy old scholar. But today, he was told off by the hermit in front of the beauty. He had no face. At that moment, his temper as a prince’s descendants flared up and he stared at him and said, “What’s wrong with my understanding? Please correct me. How can you say that I don’t understand calligraphy and painting without any reasons?”
At this time, Liu Miantang, who had been standing silently aside after entering the yard, suddenly said, “Sir, I also have some understanding about this painting. I wonder if you would like to listen to it?”
The scholar was used to being aloof. He didn’t look at the beauty that everyone admired. Until Miantang spoke, he shook off the cake residue on his shirt and said, “Please hurry and speak up, madam. I will need to go chop firewood and cook later.”
Liu Miantang went to the painting, pointed to the dragonfly, and said, “It seems that I saw a beautiful shadow in the dragonfly’s eyes… It was a woman enjoying the lotus at the bridgehead, and the beautiful shadow happened to be reflected in the dragonfly’s eyes.”
As soon as she said this, Zhao Quan was stunned and stared at the painting. Suddenly, he called his young servant to bring the magnifying glass that the vassal countries paid tribute to.
The magnifying glass is a royal gift from the emperor in the palace. It can enlarge the font and is suitable for old people with dim eyes. Although Zhao Quan was young, he used it occasionally when carving seals, so he kept it in the box on the carriage for leisure.
Now after hearing Liu Miantang’s words, he quickly took the magnifying glass from his servant boy’s hand and looked into the dragonfly’s eyes. That’s it! In the eyes of the dragonfly that is as big as soybean grains, there is a weeping willow bridge and a beautiful lady with an umbrella!