Dream Life Chapter 32: “A Visit from a Merchant”

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 Mother, Polly, and Claire have successfully delivered their babies, and Castle Hill is abuzz with the sound of crying babies.


 Mel and Sharon were eager to take care of the baby, and I was smiling at the sight of the two girls.



 On the other hand, Liddy seemed to have a hard time with babies and wouldn’t hold the baby even when the mothers tried to make her hold it.


 When I asked her why, she replied, “She is so small that I am afraid of dropping her or putting too much pressure on her.”



 Children are seldom born in elven villages. In some small villages, a child is born once every ten years or so. Especially in Liddy’s case, she left her village at a young age and, since she leaned to distrust people, even more, she hardly socialized with anyone.



 She has become accustomed to small children through her traveling classroom, but as one would expect, he does not deal with newborn infants. For this reason, she has never touched a baby in her fifty years of living.



 Even so, she has held the baby a few times since Mother, and other mothers have always encouraged her to do so. Recently, she seems to have gotten used to it and is no longer so timid about interacting with one.


 Especially during the hot season, she does some surprisingly good tricks, such as using wind magic to send a gentle breeze to the babies.



 My brother Rod has also been training hard since my birthday, and now that he has a younger brother and sister, he seems to be putting even more effort into his training.


 It seems that my father has talked to my grandfather, and it has been decided that in three more years he will join the Knights of the Count of the Roswell territory in the northern part of the Caelum Empire.



 The demon folk that had attacked the Kingdom of Caum in May had gone into hiding, and peaceful days had returned to the village of Rathmore.





 Summer passed, and around the middle of September, a visitor arrived here at Castle Hill.


 While we were playing in the playground of the mansion, a two-horse cart with an escort of about 10 people came up the hill.


 It was around 11:00 a.m., just before lunch, and we were the first to spot them.


 I ran into the house to tell my grandfather and father that we had visitors.



“Grandfather, a carriage is coming up the hill. There is an escort, so it must be a person of rank or a wealthy merchant?” (Zack)



 Grandfather stopped his training at my words and headed toward the south side of the mansion.



“There is no family crest. The guards seem to be mercenaries. They are probably merchants. At last they have finally arrived…” (Govan)



 A few months ago, one of the peddlers had started buying soap from the Lockhart family after finding villagers using it.



(Knights and nobles don’t come to our house, and merchants don’t come if there’s nothing going on. The same would be true of Grandpa’s idea. It was probably a merchant who came to buy soap…) (Zack)



 He tells Father about it and sends him to call Nicholas immediately.


 The carriage took about ten minutes to climb the narrow path up the hill and arrived at the front of the house. An elderly man dressed in fine clothes got out from inside.


 Then, in a low, clear baritone voice, he said,



“I’m from Musgrave Trading Company. Could you please open the gate?” (Elderly Man)



 I thought that we don’t have a gate to be opened and almost burst out laughing.



(Well, they are not just suddenly going to start a business meeting, right? Well, we are a poor knight family, but it would be rude to come to a lord’s mansion without announcing your presence… Let’s let father and Nicholas work it out here…) (Zack)



 Walt, the head servant, goes to the gate and confirms his business.


 I go to my father and Nicholas and explain to them the plan to deal with the merchants.


 First, I ask, “Have you ever heard of the merchant company called the Musgrave Trading Company?” But neither my father nor Nicholas knew of it.



“If they have come for a business meeting, we will come out in a high-handed manner. Since it would be impolite to come to a lord’s mansion without warning.” (Zack)



 My father, who was not concerned about such things, said, “Our Lockhart family is not of that rank, because we were knighted during my father’s generation,” but I was going to use this as a bargaining chip.



“It doesn’t matter. It’s actually disrespectful. Besides, this was a tactic to see how the other side would respond. It is natural for a person of lower status to pay a visit, so it is only natural to give them a warning. The other party must have underestimated our family. They are probably thinking we are poor rural lords.” (Zack)



 Nicholas’s expression turned grim at these words, but I continued on regardless.



“I don’t care what he thinks, but we will continue with the talks. Besides, if we act aggressively, they will underestimate us even more. They will think we are fools who are not even peddlers, making enemies of merchants like themselves.” (Zack)



 My father couldn’t read my thoughts and gave me a look of confusion.



“It is good to make them think little of you? But isn’t that just what you want to happen?” (Matt)


“Yes, that’s what I’m trying to make them believe. Besides, we are going to ask them to come back again.” (Zack)



 My father said to me, “Are you sure about that? It’s a business negotiation that came to us.”



“I don’t care. If I leave it alone, more will come. I’ll just ask them what they want today and send them on their way. If that happens…” (Zack)



 They are beginning to be drawn into my plan, but a knock on the office door interrupts the conversation.


 Walt says, “A man named Edmond of the Musgrave Trading Company is here. What should I do with them?”


 Before my father could say anything else, I gave him the affirmative, “Send him to the reception room and tell him he’ll have to wait a little while.”


 Walt looked at my father as if wondering if he should do so, but when he saw my father nod, he left the room.


 I chuckled.



“Let’s make him wait about thirty minutes. It’s only natural since they didn’t consider the schedule of a busy lord.” (Zack)



 The two men didn’t seem to understand what I was trying to do and didn’t respond to my words.



“To continue where we left off, what do you think they will think if we just ask them what they want today and tell them to come back next time?” (Zack)



 Nicholas replies, “Wouldn’t they think that we are not interested in selling them the soap formula?”


 I chuckled at his words, “That’s a good try, you have to think more as if you were the other party.”



“He thinks we are a knight who doesn’t know how to do business. They think that if we don’t want to sell, we won’t even ask them to come back. And then they’ll wonder why we’re being so unaccommodating… ” (Zack)




 I continue talking, making sure they’re both following the conversation.



“…They will wonder if some of the merchants knew of this. Perhaps they might think that there are other inquiries coming in besides their own?” (Zack)



 Father and Nicholas nodded at my words.



“We have time, so let’s talk about it after they come back. We will sell it for at least 10,000 C (10M Yen) just as originally planned. However, this cannot be acted on without seeing how the other party will react…” (Zack)



 I’m pretty sure I can sell it for at least 10,000 C, but I don’t know about the actual value. Chances are it’s worth more than I think it is.


 I’m hoping to find out what a fair price is by watching the merchant’s reaction this time.



“…We will also tell them that we will sell it to other merchants and that we will continue to make some for consumption in this village. But at first, please just listen to what they have to say.” (Zack)



 I cut off my words and check their level of understanding of the situation.



(They both understand up to this point. Now, I hope they understand the rest of the plan…) (Zack)



“And if the conditions offered by the other side is so bad, say 1,000 C, but if we sell them for 2 C apiece, we can make a profit in just six hundred. Tell them that we won’t talk to them with such ridiculous terms.” (Zack)



 The two men don’t seem to understand the purpose of this. Nicholas questioned,



“The other party doesn’t know the cost of the soap. Therefore, they don’t know if they will make a profit, do they?” (Nicholas)



 I grinned at that question and nodded, “That’s right.”



“Then, we will let the other party know that even if we sell 600 units at 2 C apiece in our current conversation, we will make a profit of 1000 C. Then wait to see what figure they come up with.” (Zack)



 Nicholas nodded with a smile, as he now understood.


 We will risk telling the merchant the cost so that they can easily give us a fair price.



 If they don’t know the cost of goods, they need to estimate their profit based on that assumption. I am sure they have a good idea of the sales channels, so they will be able to calculate the number of units they can sell. Then, if we let them play the profit per unit, they should be able to tell us the value of the manufacturing method we want to know.


 Nicholas seemed to understand my intentions.



“I finally understood. You are going to make it look like we are ignorant, and that we are giving them information for no apparent reason.” (Nicholas)



 I grinned at Nicholas, “That’s right,” and turned to them.



“Nicholas plays the role of the bureaucrat who doesn’t know business management, while my father plays the role of the stubborn lord who is obsessed with money. The reason we are being so unaccommodating is that we don’t know how to do business, and if the other side can’t negotiate properly, they will come up with a compromise.” (Zack)



 My father looked somewhat uncomfortable, but he nodded, “Okay. I’ll leave it to you.”



“As for me, it is unnatural for a five-year-old to go to the negotiating table. But if the son of a curious country lord wants to see a merchant, I don’t think it would be so strange.” (Zack)


“Even if you get into the negotiations, you won’t be able to say anything.” (Matt)


“Of course not directly… I have no intention of speaking directly, but I suppose I could send signals…” (Zack)



 I was thinking of having Nicholas negotiate and send him signs.



“We should let Nicholas negotiate, while I’ll signal Nicholas. I would sit on the side facing Nicholas, with my father in front of the merchant and Nicholas beside him. In this way, the merchant will not be able to see my movements, so to some extent, he will not be able to detect my signals. Of course, I will make my movements in such a way that I can deceive them even if they see me…” (Zack)



 My father and Nicholas don’t seem to understand my ideas very well. I used the example of a battle to make it easier to understand.



“Nicholas, don’t you ever give orders to your allies on the battlefield? For example, do you use drums or flags to give orders to soldiers at a distance?” (Zack)



 Nicholas tilted his head and said, “Yes. Drums, gongs, flags, smoke, etc…” and then, clapping his hands, he said, “Yes! So this is also a battle but against merchants.” his face lit up.



“The enemy is a skilled negotiator, whereas we are all amateurs, including me. Then we’ll have to go at them together.” (Zack)



 My father’s face lit up in agreement.


 I then explained the signals.



“The basics are ‘Yes’ and ‘No’, but since this is a battle, we also need ‘Attack’ and ‘Retreat’. For ‘Yes’ a swing of my foot for ‘No’ would be me stretching my legs…” (Zack)



 I also set up a few other signals for my father and Nicholas to memorize.



“…It is quite possible that an unexpected question or situation will arise. …when that happens, I’ll have Nicholas act with some flexibility.” (Zack)



 Nicholas looks anxious, “Will I be able to do this?”


 I smile at him and say, “Don’t worry.” My father nodded his head in agreement.



 Thirty minutes later, a merchant comes in, As we had agreed, we make him leave the room, just to hear what he has to say.


 After that, the three of us decided on the actual negotiations for tomorrow’s negotiations, including the division of roles between my father and Nicholas and how to negotiate the sale price.



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