Chapter 101: Exchange
Translator: Translation Nation Editor: - -
Capital City, Scenic Pride Bank
First thing in the morning, Pei Zi Yun went to purchase an ox-cart. He then used the ox-cart to transport the gold. During the lantern festival, the clouds held. Today however, it started raining. Many droplets of rain assaulted the tarpaulin draped over the ox-cart.
From afar, Pei Zi Yun could see an entire street coming to life, where merchants were selling their trade. The shops had just opened for the day. Pei Zi Yun reached the bank and noticed that it was huge. Many people were coming and out, exchanging money.
Pei Zi Yun pulled the ox-cart to a halt, right outside the doors. He then jumped off and called for an assistant, "Call your boss out. I have business to discuss."
"Sir, you are?" The assistant welcomed him with a smile before bowing.
Seeing this assistant come out of the bank, Pei Zi Yun threw him a piece of silver, to which he caught with some agility. Pei Zi Yun waved a hand and said, "This is for you, go in and ask your boss to come out. I shall bear responsibility from here on."
When he heard Pei Zi Yun, he smiled and replied, "Thank you for your tips. Wait here please."
The assistant then rushed into the shop. He had just been given a tael of silver. Even if the boss came out for nothing and scolded him, it would have been worth it.
Pei Zi Yun stood beside the ox-cart and waited. Before long, the footsteps of someone could be heard. He was dressed in the traditional robes and wore a cap. He was about forty years old, and held a burning iron pot to keep himself warm. When he walked out of the bank, his eyes fell onto Pei Zi Yun. The assistant was following closely behind him, and pointed Pei Zi Yun out to his boss, "Boss, this Young Master has business for us."
The banker then scrutinized Pei Zi Yun, who was wearing a white silk robe, with a sash around his waist. He carried a sword too. The banker felt that Pei Zi Yun looked very impressive and imposing, and very young too. He was wondering deep down which rich house did this young master come from?
The banker then snapped out of his thoughts and smiled, before taking a step forward and bowing, "Young Master, I wonder what business you have for me. Do you wish to save money?"
As he spoke, he glanced into the ox-cart, wondering what was within. The banker noticed that the muddy ground beneath the ox-cart had sunk in, thereby indicating that the ox-cart was carrying something very heavy.
"Haha, Banker Boss, I am a High Scholar from Ying Prefecture. Naturally I've come to do business with you. Take a look." Pei Zi Yun then led him to the ox-cart, where he pulled the curtains apart to reveal ten wooden chests.
The banker stuck his neck into the carriage and observed the number of chests, thinking deep down, "Could this be silver? If it is, there's plenty of them in here."
Pei Zi Yun then stretched a hand out to pry open a chest. It gleamed a bright and glorious gold. When the banker looked at the number of gold bars within the chest, he inhaled deeply and sighed.
Pei Zi Yun then opened another chest, once again, it was all gold.
The banker took in another gasp of cold air, and looked around warily, "Cover it up young master, do not let anyone see it."
Pei Zi Yun closed the chests, allowing the banker to relax, "Young Master, all this gold..."
His voice was trembling, as if he didn't know how to react to so much money.
Pei Zi Yun laughed and replied calmly, "There are a total of ten chests here. Every chest is the same. There are thirty gold bars within a chest. They are 98% pure, a total of 300 gold taels per box.
"What? Do you not have the means to change it? That means that your bank is small. You don't dare to take it?" Pei Zi Yun said half-jokingly, watching the expression of this banker.
The banker paused for sometime, before biting his lips and replying, "Naturally we will be able to take it. However, you have to tell us of the origins of this gold. If not, we would not dare to accept it."
Pei Zi Yun laughed coldly, "This is three thousand taels of gold, not three hundred and not thirty. Tell me if you've heard of any prefecture who has lost this much gold? Surely when someone loses this much money everyone around would know. Clearly this money is clean."
He then pointed, "Besides, I do not wish to convert all ten chests. These four chests should not be converted. Of these four chests, a thousand gold taels must be delivered to the Grand Princess, and a hundred taels must be given to Minister Li's Mansion. Go ahead and convert my gold!"
All three thousand gold taels had been dug out from his mansion. Thankfully the lazy Zhang Cheng did not discover the gold being dug out, for it would cause plenty of problems. Furthermore killing him after he found out would compound those problems. Now that Pei Zi Yun was a High Scholar who had taken on a mission given by the Governor, and was going to give some of these gold to the Grand Princess, he was hiding behind very powerful people. As long as he doesn't reveal the origins of the gold, and these people investigate, what can they find out?
At this point, it was beneficial for Pei Zi Yun to "stroll with the tiger" and intimidate the banker with his powerful connections.
Besides, should the Grand Princess decide to investigate the origins of the gold, she would think that this money was being contributed by the sect to achieve their purpose.
After hearing Pei Zi Yun mention all these people, his face turned pale. He knew that this person's connections within the capital ran deep. Not any other banker would be able to investigate this person. As long as no crime had been committed, whoever was behind this person, there was no need to know. The banker smiled, "Sir, I've been rude. Please enter."
The banker led Pei Zi Yun into the bank as Pei Zi Yun laughed, "Banker Boss, get some men to carry these chests in. We shall go in and examine the quality of the gold together. If not, you might tell me the sum isn't correct after giving me the banknotes. When that happens it will be troublesome."
"Yes, yes, I've been impolite."
The banker then snapped back, realizing that Pei Zi Yun was genuine and sincere. Smiling, he ordered some men to carry the chests in. It took four people to carry on the chests in.
The people who were in the bank all stopped and stared. Their faces had strange expressions on them. To require four men to carry the boxes, even if it were just silver, that would be a couple of thousand taels. They all looked up and glanced at Pei Zi Yun.
The few men finally carried the boxes into the room before placing them down. Pei Zi Yun walked into the room together with the banker boss. He then instructed the assistant to get the accountant to measure and assess the gold. The rest of the men retreated. The banker boss then ordered several guards to defend the perimeter of the bank in case something happens.
Before long, the accountant hurriedly entered the room. Behind him was a man who carried the scales and a burning iron pot to keep warm. The accountant and the other men came into the room and were shocked when they saw the amount of gold in the room.
"Measure it!" The banker boss ordered. The two men then started assessing the quality and weight of the gold. They even opened up several gold bars.
The accountant was calculating and recording the quality and weight of each gold bar. After sometime, he shouted, "Boss, these are all 98% pure gold."
"Bring the tea!" Seeing the dazzling and shiny gold in his bank, the banker's temperature rose. This was a huge accomplishment for the bank, to be able to handle so much gold. Pei Zi Yun did not drink the tea, but watched the accountant at work by the side.
Time past quickly as the sun was almost at it's peak of ascent. It shone through the windows, lighting up the entire room. When the accountant was done, he announced, "Boss, I've finished my calculations. The amount to convert to banknotes would be 1,900 gold taels.
The banker then nodded his head and counted the banknotes. The banker then said, "Converting the gold, you will receive 20,900 taels of silver. Is that correct?"
"Yes that is correct. 20,000 taels of silver, convert them for me in 100 taels notes. The other 900 taels, change them into 5 and 10 taels of notes."
"Not a problem!" The banker replied. Before long, a thick wad of notes were delivered. Pei Zi Yun counted the notes and calculated the sum. When everything was correct, he then placed the money into the folds of his clothes, "Place the other four chests back into my ox-cart, I have to give it to people!"
The banker then shouted for his men, and ordered them to place the chests into his ox-cart. He was smiling every step along the way.
Seeing that the ox-cart had long departed, the accountant stepped forward and stood beside the banker, "Boss this is rather strange, why did he have to come all the way to the capital to change gold to notes?"
"It is indeed quite strange. But what do you think we can do about this High Scholar?" The banker looked into the eyes of the accountant. The accountant smiled and replied, "Why don't I search up on him? The origins of these two thousand gold taels are rather sketchy. I am afraid...."
"Check it out. Order some people to follow him and determine where he's going. Do not let him discover you. Get someone who is familiar and close to the constables of the capital to follow him. We must not intervene until we discover something is wrong. If they money came from dirty sources, we will let the constables handle it. If it's clean we do not have to do anything. Only clean and legal business will be able to substantiate itself in the long run."
To fight to the death with a High Scholar over three thousand taels of silver would still be fine in normal times. But since the examination period is near, it might cause complications if this High Scholar informs the Ministers that the bankers were harassing him.
However, the banker would not be able to be at peace if he didn't investigate. He could even be a big fish.
The ox-cart continued travelling, as a bailiff tailed it closely. He saw that the ox-cart was indeed approaching the Grand Princess's Mansion. It did not stop at the main gate but at the small gate nearby. A person welcomed him.
The bailiff opened his eyes wide and sighed, "This is indeed the Grand Princess' residence."
The bailiff watched them both in discussion. Soon after, the butler waved his hands and an Imperial Guard emerged. He then carried the chest into the mansion. After half an hour, the young master then came back out.
"He's heading in the direction of Li Mansion." The bailiff was local to the capital and knew the roads very well. He then followed the ox-cart as it reached Li Mansion. The young master knocked on the door and was welcomed by the butler. However this butler did not recognize him. After sometime, another person came out. They spoke to each other before bursting out in laughter. The young master saluted him before leaving.
"Even Minister Li had come out to personally welcome him. It seems like this man is indeed legitimate and not a shady character." The bailiff inhaled some cold air and turned around to leave. People in the capital all have deep connections, almost as if it was this easy to make friends with important people. Having bumped into a dead end, he decided to report the matter so that nobody else would have to waste their time on this case.
After Pei Zi Yun had dropped off the gold, he realized that it was rather uneventful. However, he was completely oblivious to the fact that he just escaped some big trouble. The ox-cart then halted at the broker, as the woman broker welcomed him once more.
Pei Zi Yun had 20,000 taels of silver on him, and was naturally generous. He tossed a tael of silver over, "For you, for the ride. I wish to hire a serving maid and a kitchen maid. However, I do not want them for long. Just to clean up and prepare meals."
Pei Zi Yun had something to hide previously and thus didn't want any strangers in his house. Now that it was all gone, he didn't mind hiring some help.
The granny broker smiled till her eyes were non-existent, "That's going to be easy. The Bai house has a mother and daughter looking for work. They've worked with an official before and are of good standards. They are older than you, but are very good with their hands. They are used to working at restaurants and waiting tables as well and are happy workers. The only thing is that their asking wage is somewhat high. A normal worker asks for 10 copper coins a day, they are asking for 30 copper coins for both of them. What do you think?'
"Let's give it a shot!"
It sounded like this mother and daughter pair would make decent meals and be able to prepare a banquet when needed. Clearly it wouldn't match up to the standards of restaurants, and yet was good enough for Pei Zi Yun. He then said, "Granny broker, I see that you handle things well, and thus I have not gone searching for another broker. The house you sold me was a good buy. However it's been a long time since someone has cleaned it up."
"Apart from the kitchen maid and serving maid, I would need you to get someone to clean up the house for me. The old household equipment, you can throw them away I have no use for them. Help me purchase some new household equipment. As long as it's not extravagant, buy it."
"Ai ya, thank you young master." The broker then opened her mouth and smiled, "Don't worry young master I have many men at my disposal. I promise that before it gets late, your entire house will be clean and tidy, and you shall have all the necessary household items."
This business was extremely good for her, such that she could make at least ten taels of silver from him.
"Then carry on. I shall go to a restaurant to have my meals and rest. I hope that it will be done before evening." As he spoke, he turned to leave.