However, she had received half of the shares when she had only invested a little over ninety taels. Wasn’t this a little… like she was demanding an excessive price? She didn’t demand the price herself, but there would be more opportunities for cooperation between them in the future, so she should adopt a long-term plan for major returns.
“I don’t need half of the shares. I’ll just take 40% of the shares! First of all, let’s make an agreement that I only need to provide the recipes and won’t be responsible for anything else!” With 40% of the oyster sauce factory’s shares, she could earn money at home without having to do anything in the future. Was there anything better than this?
Steward Zhou inwardly nodded and approved of his young master’s good judgment. The little girl of the Yu Family wasn’t greedy despite coming from a poor background.
“Okay! Deal!” Zhou Zixu was extremely pleased, “I’ll draw up the contract when I get back. Do you know how to write your own name? For this business deal, will it be a cooperation with you only or with the Yu Family?”
“You have also seen our family’s situation! If the entire Yu Family gets involved, then our second branch won’t be able to even receive a single penny! So, I hope that nobody knows about this collaboration except you and me!” Yu Xiaocao had planned to depend on this cooperation to earn some private savings! She had to grasp the money within her own hands in order to prevent it from being taken away by the wicked old lady of the main branch!
“Alright! The factory will be a collaboration between you and me!” Zhou Zixu concluded.
The ‘Fresh and Delicious’ condiment series became famous throughout the Great Ming Dynasty several years later. However, no one would have expected that the brand was created after a brief discussion between a thirteen year old youth and a young eight year old girl…
“But… what are the other sauces? Can you tell me?” It was human nature for everyone to possess curiosity, let alone a thirteen year old youth.
“The first one is ‘black bean paste’, while the other is called ‘broad bean paste’. The black bean paste can be used to make delicious dishes like spareribs with black bean sauce, fried mud carp with salted black beans, braised chicken, duck, pork, and more. The broad bean paste is good for stir-frying eggplants, Chinese long beans, mushrooms, etc….”
As Zhou Zixu continued to listen to Yu Xiaocao’s description, he felt that he made the right choice by coming over. This trip not only resolved his problems, but he also received an extra surprise. At this moment, Zhou Zixu, Steward Zhou, and Yu Xiaocao were having a detailed discussion regarding the name and business operation of the condiments production factory.
Unbeknownst to them, time had quietly slipped away.
A strange sound rang out. Little Shitou, who had become drowsy as he listened to their discussion, suddenly sat up and exclaimed, “Ah! My second sister hasn’t eaten breakfast yet! She’s so hungry that even her stomach is growling!”
Zhou Zixu looked at Yu Xiaocao, who was covering her tummy with an embarrassed expression. He tried to refrain himself from laughing as he said, “I brought some pastries over, so fill your stomach first! I’ll visit again to discuss the details of the arrangements after I draw up the contract.”
“No need. A few days later, I’ll ask my father to take me to town to buy some things before the New Year. We can talk about the details at that time. Third Young Master, you can also see my family’s situation, so I’m not going to ask you to stay for a meal!” Yu Xiaocao was afraid that her grandmother would become suspicious if Zhou Zixu came to visit again.
“Okay! Then I shall take my leave now!” Third Young Master Zhou smiled from ear to ear as he came out of the west room. Yu Xiaocao wanted to personally lead him out of the courtyard.
However, right at this moment, Yu Hai returned from outside and saw the lavishly dressed Third Young Master Zhou. He was momentarily stunned at first, and then he smiled warmly and asked, “Third Young Master Zhou, why are you here?”
Seeing the people from the main room and east room popping their heads out to probe, Zhou Zixu made up a lie, “Did Uncle Yu just came back from town? The weather’s really good today, so I’m taking my attendants to the West Mountains to hunt. I came for a visit since I was passing by Dongshan Village.”
“It’s not a good day for hunting! If Third Young Master is interested, you can come back in the fall. There will be a lot of game at that time. Moreover, they’re fat!” Yu Hai wasn’t a dull person either. He had noticed that the three people didn’t bring any hunting tools. Thus, he knew that Zhou Zixu had made up an excuse because it was inconvenient for him to speak.
Zhou Zixu spoke up again, “Uncle Yu haven’t been sending a lot of game to us recently. The manager of our Zhenxiu Restaurant has complained to me several times already!”
Yu Hai apologetically said, “It’s difficult to hunt since the snow hasn’t completely melted in the mountains. So I can only set traps outside the forest. It was still alright a few days ago and I was able to catch quite a lot of game every day. However, I’m not sure what happened in these two days. The quantity of game caught in the traps has been greatly reduced. I’m really sorry for any inconvenience this has caused the restaurant.”
“It’s not Uncle Yu’s fault. Zhenxiu Restaurant is the only restaurant in town with wild game now. This is all thanks to Uncle Yu for taking care of us!” Since Yu Hai was Yu Xiaocao’s father, Zhou Zixu’s attitude was quite amiable. If it was another hunter, he wouldn’t even be able to meet Third Young Master Zhou.
Yu Xiaocao also felt anxious as she listened. Other people didn’t know what was wrong, but she did! Without her mystic-stone water, it would be weird if the animals came out during such freezing weather! If they couldn’t catch any game, then they wouldn’t be able to earn any money. Third Young Master Zhou had already taken all the money she had! Would her few dozens of taels really make a difference for such a big factory? That guy must have done it intentionally. Absolutely!
It seemed like she really had to find a chance to sneak out and sprinkle some mystic-stone water around the traps!
“Oh? This little roe deer is quite fat! Its meat must be very tender. The rich people in town really likes eating young lambs and suckling pigs. Why don’t you sell it to me!” Zhou Zixu’s attention was drawn by the little roe deer frolicking in the yard.
As if it understood Zhou Zixu’s words, the little roe deer, who had been running around the courtyard, suddenly stopped in its tracks and anxiously hid behind Yu Xiaocao for protection. From time to time, it stretched out its head and peeked at Third Young Master Zhou with its big, dark eyes. When it saw Third Young Master Zhou looking at it, it would tremble and hastily retract its head.
“Interesting! This little roe deer seems very intelligent, so it’s also pretty good as a pet! If I take it to the capital, those noble ladies will definitely like it. I can sell it for a good price!” Zhou Zixu was quite surprised by the little roe deer’s closeness and dependence on Xiaocao.
Her younger brother treasured the little roe deer from the bottom of his heart. Furthermore, they had already become emotionally attached. Thus, Yu Xiaocao naturally wouldn’t sell it for a few pieces of silver. She bent down and caressed the little roe deer’s head, and then smiled, “Its name is ‘Tiny’. Someone has entrusted our family to take care of it, so our family can’t make the decision about selling it.”
Zhou Zixu didn’t take it seriously either and casually said, “If you guys want to sell it for a good price, I can help you contact a buyer when I go to the capital later. Alright! You haven’t completely recovered yet, so hurry back into the room.”
Zhou Zixu was going to the capital to attend a business meeting with his nominally eldest uncle, who was actually his biological father. The current head of the Zhou Family had two legitimate sons. In terms of talent in business, his second son was somewhat better. Even before he had come-of-age, the second son was already quite successful in the business industry. In a way, without the second son, the Zhou Family wouldn’t have gotten the position of an imperial merchant.
Unfortunately, his second son was killed by bandits during a business trip at a young age. Otherwise, it would be hard to say who would become the next head of the household.
His second son had died early, so he didn’t even get the chance to get married, let alone leave a descendant! People of ancient times placed great importance on the afterlife. The patriarch of the Zhou Family was afraid that, after he passed away, there wouldn’t be anyone to pay respects to his second son. So he decided to let his eldest son shoulder the responsibility of two branches and had him marry a declining businessman’s daughter to carry on the family line of the second branch.
In other words, although Third Young Master Zhou was the biological child of the eldest son, he was considered a child of the second branch. Thus, Zhou Zixu could only call him ‘eldest uncle’. Every time the eldest son of the Zhou Family saw Third Young Master Zhou, his mood would be very complicated. One of his sons wasn’t interested in doing business, while the other one was ambitious but lacked talent.
On the other hand, Zhou Zixu, who inherited the second branch, already had such talent for business at such a young age. The restaurant that he managed was flourishing with business. Moreover, he was also planning to establish a condiment production factory. It seemed like the position of the next head of the household would end up with the second branch. He seriously resented this situation!
Zhou Zixu didn’t know that his eldest uncle had such mixed feelings regarding his own talent in business. He followed the first branch to attend the business meeting in the capital and received an unexpected result.
The owners of the restaurants in the capital had long coveted the oyster sauce recipe in Third Young Master Zhou’s hands. However, since the Zhou Family were imperial merchants, no one dared to forcibly seize the recipe. During this gathering, there were many people who were planning to stealthily inquire about the recipe. Within the Zhou Family, Third Young Master Zhou was the only one who knew the recipe for the oyster sauce. As a result, Third Young Master Zhou ended up being the main focus of this meeting.
The eldest master of the Zhou Family felt anxious inwardly. His ‘nephew’ was still so young, would he be able to manage these crafty old foxes?
However, no one would have expected that Zhou Zixu was just waiting for this group of old foxes to bring up the topic!
When another uncle , intentionally or unintentionally, mentioned the ‘oyster sauce’, Zhou Zixu used this opportunity to raise his voice,
“Uncle Fang, the recipe for the oyster sauce belongs to my friend and this nephew has promised that I won’t disclose the recipe. But, after the New Year, I’m planning on establishing a condiments factory with the oyster sauce as the main product. Other than oyster sauce, there’s also two new condiments. If uncles are interested, please give a lot of support to my condiments factory!”
When the group of business tycoons heard the news, they were stunned at first. However, someone immediately asked, “Nephew, do you mean that you’re going to produce oyster sauce and sell them?”
“Yes!” Zhou Zixu disregarded his eldest uncle, who was anxiously trying to stop him, and nodded his head in affirmation.
Zhou Zixu’s eldest uncle felt extremely angry within his heart! He had prepared to open a big restaurant in the capital with oyster sauce as the main theme. He believed that with the oyster sauce, which was their exclusive recipe, his restaurant would surely occupy a stable place in the capital.
He had only learned of his nephew’s plans for an oyster sauce factory today. If he had found out earlier, he would definitely do everything possible to stop him. But the news had already been spread out, so there was nothing he could do now!
“That’s great! You definitely take after your father! In those days, the second son of the Zhou Family was daring and insightful. I didn’t expect for his son to also have such courage at a young age! My dear nephew, when your factory opens, this uncle will definitely support you!” Boss Fang of Juxian Restaurant patted Zhou Zixu’s shoulder and smiled until his eyes narrowed.
“I heard that there are two more condiment recipes. Is it also from the same person?” After receiving a confirmation, Boss Fang proudly said, “There absolutely will not be any problems then! As for our cooperation for these three condiments, let’s talk in detail later!”
The other merchants who owned restaurants naturally wouldn’t let Boss Fang dominate in this business. Hence, they all swiftly expressed their desire to cooperate with Zhou Zixu. Even before it was out in the market, the ‘Fresh and Delicious’ brand of condiments had already become a hot trend within the capital.
The eldest master of the Zhou Family watched as the second branch’s Zhou Zixu become the center of attention for this gathering. He was both proud and vexed. His heart was filled with complicated and mixed emotions.
 Uncle/Nephew (世伯/世侄) – non-blood related uncle/nephew, family friendsPrevious Chapter Next Chapter
heh noble families and their complicated relationships