Mama Cui had someone bring the account books over; there were three thick books worth of it.

Hong Ying brought the account books to Shen Ziqiao and murmured unhappily, “What a blind servant. She even dares to send a maid over in her place to bring the account books. She dares to give us an attitude, especially in front of Third Miss!”

Lady Meng was just talking to Shen Ziqiao about choosing the right people to help her manage the household. If she chose to use someone, then she shouldn’t be suspicious of them. Even more, she needed to look ahead and be open-minded.

Shen Ziqiao laughed when she heard Hong Ying complain. “At least she brought it over.”

Thinking that Shen Ziqiao didn’t recognize words, Lady Meng hurriedly suggested, “Why not let this lady read the account book for Third Miss?”

“I can read it.” Shen Ziqiao smiled. After all, she was a college student. She recognized traditional words.

If she couldn’t even read account books, then the chances of her making a counterattack would probably be zero.

“Third Miss, why don’t you rest for a while?” After Shen Ziqiao finished listening to the housekeepers and mamas’ words, she listened to Lady Meng giving her tips on how to manage the household. Even more, she pointed out some specific servants.

She didn’t even get to drink a sip of water.

Shen Ziqiao nodded. “It is time to rest. Let’s go out and check on the stores.”

The two stores were on the east and west streets. One sold writing utensils and inks while the other one sold rice. Both were profiting businesses.  

With how much the Old Madam disliked her, she shouldn’t have given her two profiting businesses.

“The author must not be a researcher. Even officials know how to do businesses…” Shen Ziqiao murmured. She recalled a book that she read in the past, saying that officials weren’t allowed to do business.

People looked down on businessmen the most.

Besides this, the other aspects weren’t that strict. It might have to do with the author’s style. It made it easier for her, and she didn’t need to be careful the entire time.

“Third Miss, what are you saying?” Hong Yu had sharp ears and heard Shen Ziqiao’s mutter. However, she didn’t hear it clearly.

Shen Ziqiao snapped out of her trance and smiled. “Nothing. I just wondered why Old Madam was that nice and chose to give me the two stores.”

Lady Meng responded, “Just because it seems nice on the surface doesn’t mean it’s actually good. The two stores looked like it’d make a lot of profit, but we don’t know for sure.”

“Have someone investigate where Shopkeeper Pan was kicked to. Try to bring him back to the capital.” Shen Ziqiao remembered the person Pan Madam had left, Pan Duosan.

She had got information on that person before. Because he refused to listen to Old Madam Shen, he was kicked out. If she could find him back, Shen Ziqiao felt like she’d gain a helper in terms of managing businesses.

“This maid will let people secretly make inquiries about this.” Old Madam Shen couldn’t know about their plan of finding Pan Duosan yet.

They arrived at the east street’s store. It sold the essentials of calligraphy and scholarship.

It was almost afternoon, but there was only a crack to the door of the store. It was pitch-black inside.

“What’s the time now? How come the store still isn’t open yet?” Hong Ying knitted her brows and said.

Shen Ziqiao gave Hong Yu a gaze. “Go and see if the shopkeeper is there.”

Hong Yu knocked on the door but no one responded.

“It seems like they’re up to no good.” It wasn’t simple. She knew that old woman wouldn’t be that nice to her.

“Third Miss, what should we do?” Hong Yu looked back at Shen Ziqiao.

Shen Ziqiao humphed. “We can’t just hide the entire time. Hong Ying, go and open the door for this sister.”

The two sisters stopped hesitating and opened the cracked door.

“Who is it? What do you want this early morning?” An impatient voice finally rang from inside the store. A young man in a shop assistant’s attire yawned while he walked out.

Seeing the unfamiliar young ladies outside, he impatiently scolded, “What do you want? Even if you guys want to buy something, wait for us to open the store first!”

“Do you know what time it is now? You guys still aren’t opening the store and doing business!” Lady Meng said, unhappy.

“How is it your business when we decide to open the store and do business? Go, go. Go buy it from the store across.” The shop assistant waved his hands and shooed them off.

Shen Ziqiao smiled and glanced inside. “Where’s your shopkeeper?”

“He left.” The shop assistant said, wanting to close the door.

“Then you can go too.” Shen Ziqiao smiled as she said this, but her gaze was unusually indifferent.

The shop assistant shouted, “Who are you to make me leave?”

“Because our Third Miss is from the Shen Family.” Lady Meng said coldly.

Shen Family’s Third Miss? The shop assistant jumped. “You...you guys are from the Shen Family…”

Shen Ziqiao walked into the store and smiled. “Who’s your shopkeeper? How come no one told me that he left?”

The shop assistant’s expression changed from one of impatience to currying favor. He walked behind Shen Ziqiao and said, “This morning, Housekeeper Cui talked to Shopkeeper Chen. After the conversation, the shopkeeper angrily said that he quit.”

“Doesn’t Shopkeeper Chen work for the Shen Family?” If he was Shen Family’s servant, how dare they quit just like that?

“Housekeeper Chen hired him from outside.” The shop assistant honestly responded.

Shen Ziqiao’s smile grew. This must be why Old Madam Shen was quick to give her this store.

Lady Meng’s expression was unwell. “Why did he leave?”

“He said...rather than letting Third Miss...a girl who knows nothing criticize him, he’d rather go home and till the fields…” The shop assistant muttered, glancing at Shen Ziqiao’s expression as he said this.

“Tilling the fields, ah.” Shen Ziqiao acted as though she understood. “He has quite the future prospects.”

Lady Meng pitied Shen Ziqiao. She lost her mother at a young age and now she was schemed by her own grandmother for those dowries. Old Madam Shen didn’t even care about family love at all.

How bad must Third Miss feel?

Shen Ziqiao had already expected this, so she wasn’t too surprised. She didn’t feel upset that Old Madam Shen treated her like this because she never considered that old woman to be her grandmother.

No grandmother would treat their granddaughter like that.

She wasn’t the Virgin Mary nor was she a white lotus. She won’t pretend to be miserable in order to gain pity. She was just an ordinary person that wanted to survive and live a better life.

“Even if there was no shopkeeper, who allowed you to close the door?” Shen Ziqiao smiled and asked the shop assistant.

“I’ll open the door right away, right away.” The shop assistant hurriedly said. He just wanted to be lazy is all. He didn’t dare to talk back to Shen Ziqiao.

Shen Ziqiao said, “Where did the original shopkeeper leave his things?”

That person doesn’t know his manners at all. If he wanted to resign, he should at least let her know.

The shop assistant hurriedly went to the front desk and picked up the account books. “Third Miss, here.”

Hong Yu took it from him.

“What’s your name?” Shen Ziqiao glanced at the shop assistant trying to please her.

“Zhang Yaozu.”

Shen Ziqiao nodded. “Watch over the store. A shopkeeper will come tomorrow.”

Zhang Yaozu nodded and brought Shen Ziqiao over to the horse carriage. Up until the carriage disappeared at the end of the street did he spit. He acted like a rascal. “She really thinks that she is something? She definitely will quit before the Old Madam even does anything.” He scolded as he walked back into the store.