Chapter 250: A Strategic Decision (II)
"Simple." Qin Yining smiled purely. "I'll just tell them that I've already told Your Majesty the plan and that you will make your own decision. That way, no matter what Your Majesty does will be the will of the heavens. The people won't object to anything you do."
Weichi Yan was at a loss for words once again. The problem had been thrown right back into his lap!
But he couldn't find it within himself to be angry at her. "Then it turns out We should thank you instead?"
"This is what your subject should be doing, there's no need to be so polite, Your Majesty." Qin Yining lowered her head.
Weichi Yan stared silently at her. She's the daughter of Grand Preceptor Qin alright! Their tempers and personalities are exactly alike.
"Beloved subject Qin, your daughter refuses to help Us, so the burden will land on your shoulders."
Qin Huaiyuan assented lowly. "Your subject will naturally do his best. But I'm sure Your Majesty must already have an idea in mind."
When the second and third elder master noted that the emperor wanted to discuss business with Qin Huaiyuan, they didn't dare eavesdrop and quietly took their leave. Qin Yining wanted to as well, but Weichi Yan objected, "Xuan Su stays."
Goosebumps popped into existence from the saccharine tones. However, Qin Yining couldn't defy an imperial order. She took a few steps to stand behind her father.
"Now that the national treasury is empty, we must have silver if we wish to restock the warehouses," the emperor continued. "Thankfully, our nation's founder put the practice of treasury notes into place. We were thinking of having the Plate Engraving Service print another batch of bills. We have the power to and can just create more money. That will be enough to purchase some more grain and resolve the current crisis at hand."
Weichi Yan brimmed with confidence and was very pleased with himself.
He'd had his father grounded and spent many hours a day trying to convince the emperor emeritus to spit out where the enormous sum of wealth was. But his father's lips were as tight as a clam's. Nothing was forthcoming, and he only greeted his son with two expression: closed eye repose or jeering smiles.
Weichi Yan was well acquainted with his father's personality. Such complete lack of cooperation meant that his father was firmly decided on retaining that treasure for private use. Therefore, Weichi Yan split his days between trying to play the emotional card and frantically brainstorming another plan.
The only thing that'd struck him after days of furious brain wracking was to print more money!
Though he knew this wasn't a long term solution, and that it could very well devalue Great Yan's currency so much that it became worthless, that didn't really matter as long as it resolved the current crisis at hand. It was unlikely that wiser people would have any better ideas.
But on the contrary, the anticipated wonder and admiration didn't dawn on Qin Huaiyuan and Qin Yining's face after he offered his proposal.
"Beloved subject Qin? Do you think Our idea is feasible?"
Qin Huaiyuan was silent for a moment. "Your Majesty is wise. This can be a solution."
Her eyes looking downwards, Qin Yining was silently surprised by her father's reaction. However, understanding was quick to dawn.
Her father was well versed in the art of being a subject. The foremost of priorities was to be agreeable and complimentary when talking to the emperor. Succeeding suggestions would be successful only when the emperor was in a good mood.
There was no need to immediately rebut with a better idea and keenly demonstrate the difference in their intelligence. It was never a good thing to make the emperor feel inferior.
Qin Huaiyuan had to slowly guide the emperor onto the correct path, and not force his own opinions onto his liege.
There really is a never-ending amount of things I can learn from father!
Weichi Yan could make out the tactful intentions behind the marquis' words and ducked his head rather dejectedly. "We tried our best to think of a plan. The nation's matters are simply too much of a mess these days. The Prince of Ning is also heavily injured, so Our thoughts are all jumbled. Our beloved subject is wise and has many stratagems. You must have a good idea in mind?"
Qin Huaiyuan smiled faintly and, before the emperor lifted his head, flung a quick look at Qin Yining. He then lowered his eyes and frowned slightly, as if in deep thought.
The emperor only saw his grand preceptor wracking his brains out for an idea.
Qin Yining blinked before understanding what her father wanted. Father wants me to suggest something.
Father and daughter might not have had the chance to discuss beforehand, but with her father's wits, he would surely think of whatever she could as well. They were father and daughter, after all! They had to mind their speaking order in front of the emperor, so that one of them didn't offer a good plan only to accidentally stop the other in their tracks.
Father was raising her like a son! He would back her up no matter what she said.
Deeply moved, Qin Yining put on a very thoughtful expression and suddenly smiled. "Your Majesty, this subject has thought of something, but I don't know if I should speak of it."
Weichi Yan's heart melted at the sound of the girl's soft voice. He quickly pivoted to her, eyes creasing in a smile, and leaned forward. "What marvelous plan has Xuan Su thought of?"
It was a marvelous plan before she'd said anything.
Qin Yining clenched her teeth against the irritation and responded with a lowered head, "In response to Your Majesty, this subject feels that printing more treasury bills is indeed a quick way to solve the problem, but for the long term stability of the country, why don't we think of a way to have the merchants offer up the grain themselves?"
A sharp light flashed through Qin Huaiyuan's lowered eyes and an approving smile blossomed at the corner of his lips.
The suggestion elicited Weichi Yan's interest. "Oh? Do tell, how should we have the merchants offer up grain themselves?"
The Qin fourth miss smiled. "Your Majesty, the hierarchy goes from nobles and officials, to farmers, artisans, and to merchants. The merchants may have silver, but their status is lower than even impoverished farmers. They resent it even more when the poor scholar is placed ahead of a wealthy merchant family. This seems like something we can make use of."
She was imitating her father's gradual approach, in which she didn't immediately offer up the idea to avoid sticking her neck out. Instead, she led Weichi Yan to the correct answer instead.
When Qin Huaiyuan saw how smart his daughter was, the hint of a smile on his lips deepened much further.
The emperor however, frowned and murmured to himself, "Use the merchants' social standing? They naturally want to enhance their position. Who wants to humble themselves and be lower status when they have great amounts of silver in hand... You say that they'll give up the grain themselves if they can increase their social standing?"
The girl had to redouble her efforts when she saw that enlightenment hadn't struck. "Yes, think about it, Your Majesty. What if you decree that they have a chance to enhance their stature - won't they fight each other for the chance?"
Weichi Yan nodded. "Naturally."
"Therefore, I think that Your Majesty can list some ceremonial positions for auction and accept only grain for the bids. With this, not only will our local merchants participate enthusiastically, so will merchants in other cities. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity for them! We wouldn't have to worry about the chaos that comes with printing additional bills, and just need to keep the ceremonial officials in check afterwards."
"Marvelous, marvelous!" Weichi Yan applauded loudly with fervor. "This is a wonderful plan! We wouldn't have to worry about the troubles that creating more currency creates. We just need to keep the newly promoted officials in line!" He turned to the marquis. "Beloved subject Qin, what do you say?"
"This subject thinks it is an excellent idea and would like to add something further. As opposed to making several positions available for auction, Your Majesty might as well price positions differently according to their rank. The merchants can vie with each other, with each position going to the highest bidder. We'll all get what we need this way: the merchants will happily donate and the national warehouses will receive more replenishment."
Weichi Yan nodded repeatedly. "Fantastic, absolutely wonderful! You're called 'Wise Pan An' alright!"
Qin Yining looked at her father with sparkling eyes of worship. Father is the best! He thought of a plan a long time ago!
The marquis smiled at his daughter and added on, "There's another benefit to our plan."
"What is it?" Weichi Yan was already excitedly on his feet.
"When the merchants were ordinary citizens, they were most concerned with their own profit and loss. They only worried about whether they would be robbed of their fortunes. The prosperity of the nation was never much on their minds. To be frank, it didn't matter to them who sat on the throne. But once they become officials, they're no longer just ordinary citizens. The stability of the government has a direct tie to whether or not they can continue to enjoy their positions. Thus, this plan will also bind many very wealth people on the same side as court."
Weichi Yan was stunned by this revelation and thought for a long moment. "Then, then they'll be concerned about whether the capital and country can withstand our enemies, right? If we lack silver at any time of the war, they'll donate of their own accord, right? I no longer have to prevail upon their sense of duty?"
Qin Huaiyuan bowed with a smile. "Your Majesty is wise."