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The exchange firm?

Old Lady Fang opened her eyes wide and shook in her chair.

"What is she playing at?" came Fang Jinxiu's voice from the other room. It was followed by the sound of the beaded curtains being brushed aside and someone walking in. "Tormenting people all day is not enough, so now she wants to torment our family's business too?"

"How could that be? Zhenzhen dislikes business the most," said Lady Fang.

The proud and lofty government official family's young miss hated merchants implicating her social status the most.

Fang Jinxiu snorted.

"So what does she think she's doing?" she asked.

Miss Jun did hadn't specially sought out information about the exchange firm; she had only accidentally encountered some managerial issues.

She was in her courtyard, bored, so she took a walk. On her way out she did not see a single maidservant or maid. She didn't know whether there had been no one assigned to wait on her or if they were hiding when they saw her.

It had to be the latter.

Miss Jun was close to the second gate when she saw two maidservants, who had been sweeping behind the lattice wall, quickly run away.

"Good thing they ran away quick so they wouldn't block Young Miss' view," said Liu'er derisively.

Miss Jun couldn't help but laugh.

This kid. Who was a young miss of a noble family? She was just a spoiled child of rich parents that everyone wanted to avoid.

"But, Young Miss, do you have something you want to ask?" asked Liu'er after some consideration. "I will go call them back, so you can ask them straight about the filthy things that the Fang Family has tucked away."

Miss Jun shook her head.

There was nothing for her to ask; the curse and subsequent unfortunate events with male heirs made her very clear on the situation of the Fang Family.

The two had already reached the outer courtyard when they saw a white and chubby man getting the maidservants to open the door. The man servants, maid servants, and servant girls were all very respectful toward him.

Three generations of the elder Fang Family had died; the sole heir of the house was a cripple; the brothers of Old Master had been sent back to Shandong; Old Lady's maiden family, the Cao Family, were likely not close because of the fighting over the property. So, who could this man be?

Miss Jun opened her mouth without thinking, and Liu'er used a chicken feather like a token of authority [1] and called him over directly.

The manager, who was surnamed Gao and close to fifty years old, was not a manager of the family, but of the exchange firm.

"Does Miss Jun have any instructions?" he asked respectfully. He obviously knew the rule of the Fang Family to not call the maternal granddaughter young miss but Miss Jun like everyone else.

Miss Jun didn't have anything to ask of him until he said that he was De Sheng Chang's manager. That attracted her attention shifted.

"De Sheng Chang has businesses in the north and south?" she asked.

{Miss Jun is actually showing interest in businesses; this isn't like what was alleged}, thought Manager Gao. Naturally, his thoughts did not show on his face.

"Yes," he said respectfully, choosing his answer carefully. "Exchange firms are convenient for trading… so our businesses can be established anywhere."

Manager Gao looked at Miss Jun for the first time; he had almost broken the rule.

Although many people would love to be included in the 'we" of De Sheng Chang, Miss Jun was definitely not one of them. If she were to be regarded as one of them, she would definitely take it as losing face.

Miss Jun seemed to be pensive, not paying attention to his slip of the tongue.

"Then there is one in the capital?" she asked.

"Of course there would be," said Manager Gao with a smile.

He did not dare look directly at Miss Jun; he kept his line of sight half directed downward. He was looking at Miss Jun's hands which she held in front of herself. Although, they were obstructed from view by her wide sleeves, so he couldn't see the movements they were making. That's why he only heard Young Miss' soft voice with a hint of curiosity with his ears.

"Is there anything fun close to the capital?"

The two maidservants had stopped; the maid in front pointed in a direction.

"Miss Jun and Manger Gao are standing over there," she whispered.

Between the outer courtyard and inner courtyard was a small garden with a strip of shallow water and a pavilion. It was decorated with all manners of vegetation and animals, though there weren't any right now since it was winter. The small pavilion was equipped for warmth. It was shielded from its surroundings, with fire burning in the earth dragon [2] and a servant prepared to welcome any guests.

At the moment, Miss Jun and Manager Gao sat there, talking.

"Aiyo, I must be seeing things; Miss Jun is smiling," said one maid in surprise.

Miss Jun had never spared the Fang Family more than a glance; Manager Gao, as a steward of the exchange form, was a lowly wretch in her eyes.

"Manager Gao must be really capable to actually get Miss Jun this excited," said another maidservant.

The two people continued to walk in the same direction.

Manager Gao picked up the tea several times, moistening his throat.

"And then?" prompted Liu'er, who was standing behind Miss Jun. "They really wrote that?"

Manager Gao swallowed his tea.

"They wrote it, brought four scholars with them," he said while laughing. "Filled two pages worth of the pleasure the butcher gained from his snow-covered stove."

Liu'er chuckled, then maid a peh sound.

"A real insult to their refinedness," she said.

"Selling such vulgar words," said Miss Jun with a smile. "Everyone has their own pleasure."

"Miss Jun spoke well, that is what it's called," praised Manager Gao, his eyes flashing with a hint of surprise.

This Miss Jun could actually name what people from the capital would call this kind of situation. Moreover, she wasn't like the little servant girl who made a fuss about nothing. It seemed like she really knew what it was.

Miss Jun liked to associate with the functionary families' young misses in the city, so she had probably heard it from them.

"Has anything else strange happened to you?" asked Miss Jun, picking up a cup of tea, unconsciously. "For example, has anything new happened in the imperial palace?"

The imperial palace?

These young misses liked to get together and discuss the matters of the imperial family. However, it was a mystery how the emperor had ascended to the throne three years ago, and it, definitely, could not be discussed lightly.

This Miss Jun's brain was short a few strings; she stirred up quite a bit of trouble.

Manager Gao assumed a thoughtful look.

"Does the imperial family have something new..." He made a face like he couldn't think of anything. "Anyway, this is something the officials deal with. A business family like us would not mind it. The officials would never have dealings with us."

Doing business and not coming in contact with government officials was very hard to arrange, no?

Miss Jun pursed her lips and drank her tea, but did not expose Manager Gao.

"Then Prince Huai's mansion…" she said slowly.

Her tone dropped. Manager Gao's hands couldn't help but tremble as he put the teacup back down. Fortunately, he had drank all the tea, so it did not spill.

Miss Jun had just stopped speaking when the two maidservants came to stand outside the pavilion.

"Miss Jun, Old Lady is waiting for Manager Gao to verify the account records," said one of the maidservants.

Manager Gao got to his feet in a hurry.

"Miss Jun, you see, I must go speak with Old Lady," he said with a smile.

Miss Jun nodded as she smiled.

"It must be pressing, so go ahead," she said.

A sliver of astonishment passed over the maids and Manager Gao's face. But nothing more was said as he left after paying his respects.

After walking a short period, Manager Gao could not help but look back to see Miss Jun still sitting at the pavilion.

"Miss Jun's personality is very good," he couldn't help but say.

The two maid servants snorted.

"Just wait till you meet her a few more times," they said ill humoredly.

Manager Gao hehe'd.

"Although it is said that it takes many days to see someone's heart, there are some people whose personality you can tell in one meeting," he said. "Leaving aside everything else, Miss Jun is very calm."


A truly calm person would not make a trick out of hanging herself.

The maidservants scoffed.

"We are not in front Miss Jun, no need to say such pleasantries," they said. "Hurry up. Old Lady and Lady are awaiting you."

Old Lady Fang originally had wanted to talk business with Manager Gao, but right now the first sentence that came out of her mouth was about what he and Miss Jun had talked about.

Manager Gao dutifully relayed the dialogue between him and the young miss.

"She wanted to hear about strange things in the capital?" asked Lady Fang, looking at Old Lady Fang. "Is she bored here?"

Old Lady Fang frowned, while Fang Jinxiu next to her snorted.

"So it was like that. She plans to show off in front of those young misses," she said. "I really have to admire her thick skin."

The noble young misses of Yangcheng had nothing to do, so there were many who understood poetry and art. When they gathered together, they were supposed to discuss poetry and art, but in reality the majority of them just gossiped. Miss Jun was always an unsatisfied person. In her heart, she wanted to be matched with Tenth Noble Son Ning. She tried to be the first place in everything. She definitely would ask around for topics of interest so she wouldn't be inferior to others.

"If she really leaves again, then,"said Lady Fang, "this is very good. She won't spend her lifetime depressed here."

Fang Yuxiu also nodded.

"Yes, Miss Jun can meet losses and gains with such calmness. She really has my lifetime respect," she said softly.

Fang Yunxiao smiled, but immediately schooled herself, poking her sister with an elbow.

Old Lady Fang opened her eyes and looked at Manager Gao. She hesitated before speaking.

"Did she ask anything else?" she asked.

Manager Gao looked around the room. Lady Fang ordered the maidservants to lead the servant girls out.

"Young misses discussing novel things is not strange," he said after a moment of deliberation. "It's just that they don't know that some things can be talked about and others can't. And if someone finds out, it may be too late for regrets."

"Grandpa Gao, if you have something to say, then just say it. No need to lecture us," said Fang Jinxiu. "What did she ask that she shouldn't?"

"I think that Miss Jun wanted to ask about interesting stories; not just things that happened in the capital, but she actually wanted to know about things in the imperial family," said Manager Gao. His ever smiling face was somewhat serious. "As a big family, you also know that stories about the imperial family can't be discussed these days."

The great Zhou dynasty was established one hundred years ago and has been passed down to the emperor today. It was the first time a prince had replaced the crown prince who had an heir and ascended the throne. Three years ago, the Jinyiwei [3] had killed the cabinet ministers who had been discussing the matters of the imperial family. The blood that had stained the ground could not be washed clean to this day.

[1] Use a chicken's feather as a sign of authority: to assume undue authority

[2] Earth dragon: a stove under the floor/walls that can be fired to heat the room

[3] Jinyiwei: secret police of the Ming dynasty.

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