Yan Buba was smiling as he fiddled with the abacus. "Boss, you've earned several thousand silver taels in one morning because of the actions of the various major rice merchants. We have enough money to fulfill all of these tenant farmer contracts. After the imperial court takes their share of the autumn harvest, the rest of the grains can all enter Ji Store's granary. In addition, contracts had been signed with other rice merchants, and the rice will be sold wholesale to them at a below market price.
Ji Man felt very grateful towards Ning Yuxuan for helping her so much. It was about time for her to send a gift his way.
After thinking it over, Ji Man stood up and said, "I'm going out for a bit. Watch the store for me. Also, invite the other rice shopkeepers to have dinner with me."
"Understood." Yan Buba nodded.
The weather was pretty good today, so Ji Man wanted to go out for a stroll and buy Ning Yuxuan a gift in the passing. Participating in gift giving to those above her was simply how the world worked. Marquis Moyu was such a high-ranking official. It was only natural that she should send him a gift.
However, she didn't need to put too much thought into this gift. She simply went inside a jade store and decided any expensive item would do. Ji Man lowered her head to carefully look at the top-quality jade pieces. From the corner of her eyes, she saw a pair of purple jade.
Purple jade was truly rarely seen, and this jade was a half-finished good without any engravings.
"Young Sir, you have good eyes. Purple jade is a rare item, and this store only has this pair as its treasure." The shopkeeper solicitously came over and said, "You can have whatever you want engraved on the surface."
"How much is it?" Ji Man picked up a piece. It's smooth surface felt slightly cold.
The shopkeeper rubbed his fingers together and said, "The piece that you're holding is a thousand taels. If you buy both, this one will give you a discount and only charge one thousand and five hundred taels."
Ji Man almost dropped the piece of jade.
A thousand taels? For a lousy piece of jade? This was highway robbery.
"Please be careful with it." The shopkeeper hurriedly took the jade from her and murmured, "This is a rare piece of jade. Selling it for this price is already very low."
Ji Man slowly breathed out and wanted to look at something else. However, after seeing that purple jade, nothing else looked good enough in comparison.
Agonizing, Ji Man asked, "If two pieces are a thousand and five hundred taels, shouldn't one piece by itself be only seven or eight hundred taels?"
The shopkeeper shook his head and said, "No. The price for one piece is a thousand taels."
"It's not like this is matching pair!" Ji Man gritted her teeth.
"It's store policy," the shopkeeper said, "If you buy more, we'll be willing to sell the items at a cheaper unit price."
Ji Man felt very hesitant. The cost for buying one piece was too expensive, but buying two pieces would be even more expensive. Even though he had control over the Six Ministries, she wasn't willing to give something so expensive to Ning Yuxuan!
"I'll buy the other piece," said the person that had been standing in the doorway for a long time.
Startled to hear this voice, Ji Man turned her head to look. Ning Mingjie was wearing a formal robe and slowly walking into the store with Changshan following after him.
The shopkeeper smiled when he heard those words. "Ah, that's okay too. The two of you can make the purchase together and buy the pair for a thousand and five hundred taels."
Ji Man hadn't quite recovered from her surprise yet, but Ning Mingjie had already reached her side and was looking at the jade. "Since these are half-finished items, something should be engraved onto them. What do you want it to be?"
"No need for Sir to worry about this." Ji Man took a slight step back. "This is going be a gift for someone, so there's no need to put too much though into it."
A gift? Ning Mingjie slightly pursed his lips. "It wouldn't be right to give someone a half-finished piece of jade either.
"En." Ji Man nodded. She looked at the shopkeeper and said, "It'll be enough to engrave the jade with the word, "Ning."
After that, she decisively went over to pay her share of the cost.
While Changshan also went over to pay, Ning Mingjie looked at the shopkeeper and said, "My piece doesn't need to be engraved."
As the shopkeeper was accepting the banknotes, he was smiling so widely that his eyes seemed to disappear. Naturally, anything a customer said was good. The store had a skillful engraver. Ji Man only had to wait an hour to get the finished engraved item.
"I heard that you've been doing well lately." Ning Mingjie didn't seem as if he was going to leave after Changshan took the piece of jade for him. Instead, he deeply looked at her. "We haven't seen each other in a long time since last time."
Ji Man's lips were twitching as she smiled and said, "Yeah."
After that, the two of them didn't have anything to say.
Changshan, who was holding the box with the jade and standing behind Ning Mingjie, quietly asked, "Master, do still want to look for something to buy for Madam?"
Ning Mingjie nodded. "You can go choose the items for me."
Ji Man raised her eyebrows. "General, you came here to buy something for your wife?"
"En, it's going to be for her birthday." Ning Mingjie lightly said, "Even though she wants to spend her birthday in the palace, it works out well. Something has come up in the Ministry of War, so I won't be able to accompany her anyways. That's why I'm buying her a few presents."
Why would Kangyuan Junzhu go to the palace for her birthday? Ji Man thought this was a bit strange. But, she had heard that Kangyuan Junzhu had a close, almost sibling-like relationship, with the emperor. Anyways, it was none of her business.
Ji Man continued to wait for engraving to be done, and Ning Mingjie continued to silently wait with her while Changshan selected items to be bought as gifts.
When a carriage was about to pass by the store, it surprisingly stopped. Xiao Tianyi looked through the store’s doorway from the carriage's window and smiled at the person behind him. "Look, isn't that your Mister Ji?"
They had just been talking about her, and now they happened to meet. Ning Yuxuan switched spots with Xiao Tianyi in order to look out the window. Sure enough, it was Ji Man inside that store.
But, why was Ning Mingjie also there?
"This is certainly interesting." Xiao Tianyi chuckled. "There's going to be a good show in the palace. How about using your Mister Ji to invite General Ning to the palace to have a look?"
Translator Ramblings: I guess it works out nicely that Ning Mingjie and his wife haven't been in love with each other from the very beginning.