Chapter 26: Banknotes
Translator: Translation Nation/chuchutrain Editor: - -
At that time, a voice could be heard behind him, "Wait a second, I have already brought the silver here. The item is mine."
A middle aged man walked over with some silver towards the crippled teenager. When he realized that the item had already been sold to Pei Zi Yun, his face went pale and he hurriedly said, "I saw this idol first. I just came back from fetching some silver to buy it. You can't take it away!"
He made a move to take hold of the package.
Seeing a situation like this unfold before him, Pei Zi Yun became absolutely certain that this was the idol in his memory. He snatched the package back before saying, "You left to fetch your money, I have already paid for it. You can't fight with me for it."
Pei Zi Yun glared at the crippled, "An exchange of silver for the goods has already been made. Since the goods are still in your hands while I have already paid for it, please hand over my item."
The crippled handed over the idol. Pei Zi Yun received it and turned around, in an attempt to leave. The middle aged man chased after him shouting, "Ten taels, I will pay ten silver taels for it and you can earn an additional five taels. Seeing this idol made me realize how much I like it, and that's why I am so keen on buying it. If it were another person, he wouldn't be willing to pay ten taels of silver for this."
Pei Zi Yun glared icily at this middle aged man whose eyes seemed to glow in anticipation as he finally caught up.
"Hey, are you a government official?" Pei Zi yun looked at him and asked.
How can this man ever dare to offend an official. He replied, "Little brother, you are kidding."
"Then are you an Elementary Scholar, or a scholar at least?" Pei Zi Yun asked, his eyes full of decisiveness, "Or are you the relative of an important person?"
Pei Zi Yun tapped his own outfit as he asked. This outfit could only be worn by someone who had attained Elementary Scholar status. The middle aged man paused as sweat trickled down his forehead, his legs trembled when he walked. Then, he tripped and fell.
Pei Zi Yun spun around once more and walked away. Everyone around saw how afraid this man was, and they started laughing at him. The man stood up pathetically, feeling extremely unhappy but he could do nothing except watch as Pei Zi Yun's shadow got smaller and smaller. He did not dare to chase further."
"A street thug, trying to steal this from me?"
Pei Zi Yun recalled that the original owner had obtained the golden pearls from a street thug. The street thug had probably heard the rumours of the golden pearls inside the idol and thus schemed to acquire it. However, he had not been able to keep the ruse up for long, he was quickly murdered by some officials on charges of "robbery".
Pei Zi Yun headed back to the inn and saw the innkeeper standing there. He smiled and asked, "Did you manage to visit the stalls?"
The innkeeper had rented several rooms on the east side of the door to some people. Pei Zi Yun had heard that one of the rented rooms was housing a family of five that has been infected with abdominal illnesses. He then hurriedly replied, "Yes, it was crowded, so I've returned early. I even bought a idol."
Once he returned to his room, he shut the door and unwrapped the idol. He observed it and noticed that the copper had been scratched several times. He laughed and said, "Who would have expected that there was something hiding beneath this ruined copper surface?"
Grabbing his dagger, he started to peel the layers of the idol. Once the copper layer had been scraped off, a wooden layer could be seen below. As soon as he cut past the wood, the shine of gold was visible, "This is real gold. And this layer of gold alone is worth ten gold."
He then peeled open the layer of gold to see a cavity hidden within. Inside the cavity were many precious stones. Pei Zi Yun turned the idol upside down and all the stones poured out onto the bed. There were more than ten of these.
Pei Zi Yun gathered them all together while they reflected light from the lamp. He smiled as he picked up one stone, "This is an emerald. Although it looks small, this alone is worth at least five hundred silver taels."
"The rest of the stones are not worth as much, but added up they're worth a total of four thousand taels of silver."
"This is a large fortune of money. Since I have the status of Elementary Scholar, it wouldn't be hard to sell these items. I can just say it was passed down from my ancestors. And that I only decided to sell them after I had acquired the Elementary Scholar status."
"Everyone would understand."
Inside the idol was a red piece of paper. Pei Zi Yun took it out and it read, "I have kept these gems inside this idol to prevent my descendents from harbouring thoughts of acquiring it. It was hard to find these gems, and even harder to keep them!"
There was a date to it as well. Pei Zi Yun smiled and said, "It's a pity his descendents were a disappointment and he did not want to pass these gems to them. Instead, outsiders heard a rumour and tried to acquire it."
Pei Zi Yun counted the gemstones and made a mental note. Looking at the time, he noted that it was not late yet. He put them all inside his bag, "This layer of ten gold does not need to be exchanged, it can be used directly."
"As for the gemstones, I can find a pawnshop to sell to."
He walked down the streets again, heading towards the nearest pawnshop. He found one that was already almost closing for the day. Since there was nobody there to welcome guests, Pei Zi Yun strolled in .
He noticed that this was a wealthy pawnshop, and it had three levels. The backyard was very big as well and had about ten rooms which were all along the river.
Once he stepped into the shop, a middle aged man welcomed him, "Sorry guest, this shop has already closed for the day."
"You have not closed yet. I am big business for you." Pei Zi Yun walked in with a confident smile, "Are you the broker?"
The middle aged man looked at him before smiling, "Looks like it's a young master. I am the broker here. And since there is business, I have to do it. Please take a sit, tea will be served."
Approximately seven hundred years ago, brokers were all court officials and military people. After the first and second dynasty, the riches and bosses were also referred to as brokers. Of course, the boss of a pawnshop would also be referred to as broker. The origins of this word was similar to that of "Elementary Scholar", as it gradually became a symbol of status over the years.
Pei Zi Yun smiled and said, "I am Pei Zi Yun, and my father was a court official in the previous dynasty. My ancestors were county magistrates as well. However, we were forced to flee due to some conflicts with the bandits back then. I have kept our family treasure and had been afraid to pawn it away. However, now that I am an Elementary Scholar, and have attained the tenth position in this examination, I am bold enough to take my family heirloom and pawn it off. Please give a price."
These words were frank and showed Pei Zi Yun's level of critical thinking. Had he kept the gemstones in his house, he could potentially cause people to rob or steal his jewels and cause problems.
The middle aged man was shocked and quickly said, "Please come into the one of the rooms inside."
The room that he was being led into was indeed the prime room for pawning jewels. Pei Zi Yun then retrieved his jewels and the layer of gold from his bag and placed them on the counter. The middle aged man scurried off to inform the owner of the pawnshop. The jewels glowed under the light and were spectacular.
Soon after, someone else entered the room. It was a man who was about 50 years old, with a steady pace. He walked in and smiled, "This must be the young master Pei who has attained Elementary Scholar status at the age of fifteen years old. Many officials around the capital and the county have been singing praises of your literary skills and essays, your name has been spreading around."
"For you to choose this pawnshop, it is my honour." This was obviously the boss of the pawnshop. The middle aged man whispered into his ears and the boss smiled, "This gold is 98% pure gold and is worth eleven gold pieces. Since the pawnshop needs to earn too, shall we price it at ten gold pieces?"
"These are precious jewels. The emerald is worth four hundred taels of silver!"The boss pointed at the rest of the gemstones and said, "The rest of the jewels are worth about three thousand five hundred silver taels. I shall give you a total of four thousand silvers taels. What do you say?"
This was indeed a businessman. The total worth of these jewels were about five thousand taels of silver, but he managed to quote four thousand silver taels and made a profit of one thousand silver taels. However since this man was very honest, Pei Zi Yun clapped his hand and said, "Boss Tang does business with integrity and honesty. Your reputation is indeed fully justified. I am consenting to this price."
Boss Tang was full of smiles, "Doing business with young master Pei was indeed pleasurable. Would you like your money in gold, silver or banknotes? If you choose gold, you might need to wait for a few days."
"Banknotes is the main currency for the sales of gemstones."
Boss Tang was surprised that he was aware of this fact. These banknotes were not cash notes. Banknotes were used by the richer population of people who were involved in business deals and wished to trade over large sums of money. The person would deposit their money into the banks, and the banks would give them a banknote indicating the amount of money it was worth. However, before the withdrawal, the person would have to pay 3% of the total amount as a fee.
However, in this current dynasty, there were many more people with spending power and hence more banknotes were being used. The banknotes have been stamped, given a serial number and were handwritten by a particular banker thus making it difficult to counterfeit. The banks then gradually realized that they could use this money to make profits. Hence they have stopped requesting the 3% fee. It was now a 1 to 1 exchange rate.
All of the banknotes were regulated and were based on the credibility of the issuing banks. Since the current exchange rate for banknotes and cash was 1 to 1, a capable bank was able to issue up to a hundred thousand pieces without having more than a hundred taels of silver in his bank.
(TN : The rest of it would be invested)
Banknotes that were worth more than ten thousand per note were usually used by government officials for country affairs. However, the dynasty only uses a maximum of a few hundred thousand of those notes per year. Clearly the private banks would use considerably less.
Pei Zi Yun then replied, "I am fine with using banknotes. I shall take fifty taels in silver and the rest in banknotes"
Boss Tang clapped his hands and said, "That would be easy!"
Without wasting much time, he received the silver in denominations of five silver taels each, and he had about ten of these. He also had banknotes, each one was worth fifty silver taels.
When the transaction had been complete, Pei Zi Yun walked across to get an oxcart.
When Pei Zi Yun was far away, the middle aged man seemed slightly unhappy and he said, "Boss!"
"It was only four thousand silvers taels, not worth trying to scam an Elementary Scholar." Boss Tang kept his smile as his eyes looked fiercely cold.
"Master where are you going to?" asked the oxcart coachman.
"Patrol office." Pei Zi Yun replied.
Since the country was developing, the Patrol Officer had better equipment and was more decisive. However, he was also greedy for wealth. As long as Pei Zi Yun were to offer him some silver and ask to borrow some of his troops, he would go and defeat the Black Wind bandits.
When he had reached the patrol office, Pei Zi Yun met the patrol officer. They then had a lengthy discussion. The next time Pei Zi Yun came out, he was laughing and said, "I just had to fork out a mere fifty taels of silver, and the matter is half resolved. But as for today's affair, I have yet to settle it."
Pei Zi Yun then ordered the oxcart, "To the next location."
It was April, almost May and the oxcart was gradually pulling him to his destination. At the end of the street was an entrance and a man was sitted there with a frown on his face. He was looking at his accounts book and calculating. He raised his head and saw Pei Zi Yun in front of him. He immediately smiled and said, "Would you like to buy something?"
Pei Zi Yun looked at his items and saw that he had some books. Although these books were old, Pei Zi Yun flipped some of them and asked, "Do you have other books?"
The stall owner said, "Customer, whichever book you want, I will be able to find. These books here are only a small part of them. I have other types of books as well, I am sure you will like them."
He then revealed a hidden section and pulled out a book from that section. When he flipped open that book it showed a drawing of a woman's exposed body on it.
Pei Zi Yun saw and laughed heartily, "I do not want books like that. Do you think you can find books written by scholars from the previous dynasty? Especially books written by Elementary Scholars or High Scholars."
The stall owner thought for sometime before thinking, "Customer, what do you want those books for?"
He looked curious and suspicious as he asked.
"Tell me if you can find those or cannot. Whatever I do, it's none of your business."
"The works written by scholars from the past dynasty are very expensive!" the stall keeper turned around and faced a box, his face was full of suspicion.
"There will definitely be some that had been sold."
"Customer, thus far I have not seen anyone looking for books like that. I can look, but whether there are any available I cannot be sure." the stall keeper raised his head and pondered before saying.
"Good, what is your name?"
"I am Chen Yuan!"
"Chen Yuan, since you have a way, find those books for me and you will be rewarded." as he said this, he tossed a tael of silver towards him. The stall owner picked it up from the floor and weighed it before realizing it was real silver. This customer was generous.
"If you happen to find any, come to Snail Village and say that you are looking for Elementary Scholar Pei, you will be able to find me. If the book you have found is suitable, I will reward you handsomely." Pei Zi Yun turned around and began to leave.
The stall keeper looked at Pei Zi Yun who was walking away and felt surprised, "This youth is an Elementary Scholar?"
This stall keeper Chen Yuan was also not randomly chosen. He would make it rich in five years time. Although it was not a big fortune, he was able to earn a reputation of being capable and intelligent.
Since this man competent, Pei Zi Yun decided to use him.
He headed towards his inn in the dark of the night, without a word. The next day he left for his village.