Chapter 376: Cut, cut, cut
No matter who said it and how they spoke, Han Yunxi's starting price was now 100,000 dan for 10,000 taels-ten times cheaper than Wu Shu's scramble sale! She sat there calmly drinking her tea while waiting for Master Lin and Manager Qian to react to her offer.
Master Lin had never seen someone so ruthless with their haggling in all his years at the black market. She didn't even blush from her shamelessness, much less quicken her heartbeat. There were limits to pushing down the price. Anything outside those limits, and the shopkeeper would chase you out! Master Lin had fawned on Han Yunxi for so long before she gave him such a painful offer. If it were possible, he'd pick up that broom in the corner and sweep her out the door with his curses.
But he couldn't!
They were trying to find a way to sell off their grain, they had to remember that was more important than making sure their price offer was accepted He needed to beg her to buy his stock, not the other way around! Master Lin took deep breaths as he told himself to calm down. Business always needed careful planning before a deal was done. Compared to him, Manger Qian was much more levelheaded. He smiled and said, "Miss Helian, let's not take those drunken ramblings as truth, alright?"
In other words, you should make another offer, because that one doesn't count.
Han Yunxi pursed her lips before she said, "Then let's do 200,000 dan for 10,000 taels!"
Now even Manager Qian had lost his temper. "Miss Helian, this isn't a place for jokes!" he exclaimed furiously.
Han Yunxi grew unhappy in turn, her tone icy. "Who's joking with you? My price is precisely 200,000 dan for 10,000 taels. You all are the ones saying too much rubbish." As she spoke, she glanced at Master Lin impatiently. "Master Lin, I've already offered my price. Tell me how much grain you can sell at this price. If it's a done deal, then that's fine. Otherwise, let's forget about it! It's not like I'm in a rush to buy grain anyways."
If Master Lin and Manager Qian ever found out Han Yunxi's true identity, they'd probably spit blood upon recalling those words! Of course, they had no way to retreat right now. The two of them had already been at a loss when Han Yunxi offered 100,000 dan at 10,000 taels. If they sold for too low, they'd take too many losses, but if they sold for too high and the woman refused and left, they'd cry themselves to death. Both of them kept silent without saying a word. Han Yunxi didn't give a whit about what they thought. In any case, she didn't want to wait forever.
"Master Lin, it's extremely tiresome talking business with you!" she said, before tossing aside her teacup and rising to her feet.
"Miss Helian, hold on! Wait a moment!" Manager Qian quickly moved to keep her here. "Miss Helian, it's because we have both surplus grain from previous years and fresh grain in our stores, so we need time to determine an appropriate price!"
He was smart enough to bring up the types of grain as a talking point. But Han Yunxi didn't give him room for discussion as she axed that topic. "Of course this lady's here to talk about fresh grain. Forget about your surplus stock of old grain, just sell it at the same price! I'm not someone who's particular about details."
Manager Qian was so angered by these words that his nostrils nearly spewed steam! This woman...she's too much of a bully! Absolutely outrageous! I've never seen someone show off so much even after gaining an advantage! Her price offer had been ridiculously low, but she still spoke so brazenly. How impudent!
Fine, it was also Long Feiye's first time discovering exactly just how shameless Han Yunxi could be. Still, he quite liked this side of her. Master Lin had long fallen silent, but now Manager Qian didn't know how to deal with Han Yunxi, either. Finally, he said, "Miss Helian, I'll need to discuss with Master Lin before we can settle on a final price with you. I must trouble you to wait a bit longer."
So they're planning to avoid the question? Han Yunxi mused. Is there someone else who needs to make the final say in Manager Qian's place? Do they need to call in another superior?
"How much longer?" she asked him seriously.
"The time it takes to brew a cup of tea," Manager Qian replied straightforwardly.
"Sure! I'll wait," Han Yunxi agreed readily enough. She glanced at Long Feiye as the two came to a tacit understanding. Unless the master of the whole thing was right on the premises, it'd be impossible for Manager Qian to settle the deal and consult with his superiors in the time it took to brew a cup of tea. Long Feiye's guards naturally had followed them here when they arrived last night. They had gone over the entire shop and were probably tracing the secret missives back to their source at this moment. Manager Qian wasn't going to consult with his superior, but have a serious discussion with Master Lin. In other words, he had a high enough status to decide on the price for his master's sake. If they could find a clue with Manager Qian, it'd be simple enough to uncover evidence of the imperial uncle's embezzling ways!
While they were waiting, Han Yunxi intentionally switched to a fresh batch of tea and poured a cup for Long Feiye. "Your Highness, if you please," she murmured.
Long Feiye accepted the cup with both hands and replied in a professional tone, "Thank you, mistress!"
Han Yunxi nearly laughed out loud as her eyes danced with suppressed mirth. Fortune accumulated from three lifetimes would be an appropriate idiom for her mood right now. Whether it was the past or the future, she was probably the only person in the world to hear His Highness Duke of Qin hail her as his master.
After the allocated amount of time passed, Master Lin and Manager Qian returned. Manager Qian had been personally sent here by the imperial uncle, so he could represent him to decide the price and quantity of grain sold. He had withdrawn with Master Lin just so they could make a clear calculation of their reserves. The total that the imperial uncle owed to the Ministry of Revenue, plus the compound interest from his usury loans meant that they needed at least 1,500,000 taels in ready silver. However, there were only 3,000,000 dan of grain in stock. Of that stock, one-third of it was surplus grain from previous years, while two-thirds of it was fresh grain. Not all of it had come from embezzling the national stores. Because of Tianning's poor harvests this year, the imperial uncle had gotten scant payments of grain. Moreover, the national treasury had limits to how much grain it could offer to the disaster areas as well. In the end, the imperial uncle's estate had forcibly bought bumper harvests from local tyrants in well-off regions to raise grain prices.
If they went by Han Yunxi's offer of 100,000 dan for 10,000 taels, then they'd only get about 300,000 taels after selling off all their grain. How could that be enough for the imperial uncle to give the Ministry of Revenue?! After some further calculations, Manager Qian grew more clearheaded. Miss Helian's offer had been unusually low. How could he have even gotten into such straits when discussing the prices? In the end, he and Master Lin agreed on the lowest possible price of 100,000 dan for 50,000 taels. If they sold off all the grain they had, then they'd make enough to get 1,500,000 taels and break even with the imperial uncle's debts. That was already the lowest price they could go. Any more and it'd be pointless to sell at all. Naturally, Manager Qian hoped that the price would be a bit higher so they could make a profit.
Of course, 'profit' in this case meant taels left over after the debts were paid. It wasn't a true profit per se, because they'd need to sell the grain for at least 3,000,000 taels to make it worthwhile under normal circumstances! Aside from the grain they'd purchased with real silver, even the embezzled stores needed people to move and guard them, all of which cost money. There were people who did big business and looked wealthy on the surface, but they didn't have much ready money to spare. The bigger the business, the more hidden costs it had.
Naturally, even if they turned a profit with this sale, Manager Qian wouldn't want the extra silver, but prefer to keep the extra grain instead. Then they could sold those off when the prices rose again and minimize their losses.
Han Yunxi only looked impatiently upon Master Lin and Manager Qian as she asked, "Master Lin, can you give me a price now?"
Master Lin didn't even have time to sit down. "Miss Helian, the price you offered really is too low. We'll suffer a lot of losses that way."
"If that's the case, then don't sell your grain! We can't let you suffer any losses," Han Yunxi was so kind with her words!
Master Lin and Manager Qian were both crying in their hearts! Master Lin didn't even know how to explain to Han Yunxi why they needed to sell their grain. He simply avoided the topic with a sigh. "Miss Helian, 100,000 dan for 70,000 taels is already a low price. We have around 2,000,000 dan of grain in our stores. You'll find it impossible to get an equal amount anywhere else." Then he added, "Of course, the same goes for the low prices."
At this, Han Yunxi knew at once that 70,000 taels wasn't their lowest limit. Long Feiye had looked into what the imperial uncle owed already. They had an approximate estimate of the costs. If the shop was selling them 100,000 dan for 70,000 taels for a total of 2,000,000 or so dan, then it would be close to covering the imperial uncle's debts. The price they were suggesting would definitely leave them a surplus. It didn't make sense for them to lead with the lowest possible price first.
If that's the case, Han Yunxi mused, They must have more than just 2,000,000 dan of grain.
She and Long Feiye hadn't come to save on silver today, but instead to collect grain and evidence. Their number one priority was to dig out all the grain from the imperial uncle's stores until they were empty! It took a wily character to be a merchant, but even merchants needed ethics and morality. Right now, countless people were starving to death from the famine, but the imperial uncle's estate still held on to so much grain. Wasn't that the same as murdering for money? If they tried to hold back a single grain, she'd be sure to wrest it from them!
"Master Lin, aren't you're too much of a bargain hunter?" Han Yunxi said as her lips curved up mockingly. "No, that's not right. You simply aren't planning to seal this deal at all! Since there's no good faith between us, I think there's no need for further discussion." After that, she simply stood up and prepared to leave.
Master Lin grew anxious, but Manager Qian beat him to it and said, "Miss Helian, the price you offered was far too low. How about you add a bit while we take a bit until we come to an agreement?"
"How much can you guys take off?" Han Yunxi stilled her steps.
"How much can Miss Helian add on?" Master Lin hastened to ask.
Han Yunxi broke into a cold laugh. "Could Master Lin bear it if I add too much?"
Master Lin was rendered mute as he sought to find a reply.
"Master Lin, I don't care how much I add to the price. The crucial point is how much you're willing to take off. I already said, it doesn't matter whether I finish this deal or not," Han Yunxi was no longer holding back.
Master Lin looked towards Manager Qian without saying a word. The latter felt weary at heart as well, but he still wanted to make one last effort. Even a difference of one or two taels would add up in the long run with so much grain at stake.