As long as it was beautiful and attractive, and most importantly, that the price was right, they’d be willing to make a purchase.
Hua Jin and Tan Yuan were well aware of the current situation, so, to ensure the store’s identity remains intact and also that they remain profitable, they had to toe the line of being abreast on current trends, while maintaining their signature Shu Embroidery roots. 

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Tan Yuan’s parents were fairly traditional craftsmen that didn’t know the phrase ‘in line with the times’.
In fact, they really had no plans at all with regard to their growing young customer base. 

Hua Jin sat on her workstation busy embroidering the ‘fame and wealth’ order she still needed to finish, while Tan Yuan burned a few incense sticks to add to the shop’s mystique.  

The samples on display weren’t just there to attract customers, but were purposefully put there to display the fact that the store takes custom orders that were all hand-embroidered.
No machines were involved in the making of the final product so they could charge a higher price of them.

Recently, as traditional art forms got popular with the younger generation, some unscrupulous businessmen began selling goods produced by machines en masse as hand-made products, deceiving their customers and giving them a wrong impression on what authentic hand-embroidered goods really are.

Tan Yuan’s mother and Hua Jin’s master, Gao Shu Lan, would often sigh helplessly because of news like these.
There weren’t a lot of things in this world that one could change just by wishing it so.
The only thing they could do is to keep their intentions pure, so that every object they make with their hands has their own unique characteristics. 

At eight or nine in the morning, there were basically no guests.
So Hua Jin continued to do her embroidery work when she heard footsteps from the door.
She looked up and saw a middle-aged man in a gray and white coat standing just outside.
He was looking peering inside the shop, with his head a bit bowed and with his arms positioned awkwardly at his back.
He definitely looked uneasy.

Hua Jin put down the needle and got up to walk to the door.
“Welcome! We’re already open so you’re free to enter and browse our wares.
If you need anything, please don’t hesitate to talk to us.” 

The man squeezed out a smile.
Hua Jin noticed that he had secretly tried to wipe his hand on his trousers twice, before lightly pushing the door open.
His movements suggested that he was still uncomfortable, like he was afraid that he would dirty the shop just by stepping in. 

His eyes wandered around the store, before glancing at Hua Jin, who wasn’t paying attention to him purposefully, so his mood improved and continued to look.
There were both classic and trendy handbags on display, together with some beautifully embroidered high-heels, fans, ornaments, capes, hats, etc.
They had almost everything.
They even had mini-phoenix coronet and ceremonial robes! 

“Do you sell… quilts here?” The man’s accent suggested he wasn’t around here, but he turned towards Hua Jin and asked, “A red quilt with a dragon and phoenix design on it?” 

In this day and age, the possibilities are endless when it comes to designs because of machine manufacturing, but for hand-embroidered quilts, designs like the dragon and phoenix were not only excessively labor intensive, it was also not popular.
Even newlyweds were reluctant to buy such quilts for their wedding bed, so it was only natural that shops wouldn’t have such a product at hand.
“I’m sorry.
We don’t have any dragon and phoenix quilts in our store.”

The middle-aged man didn’t seem to be surprised at Hua Jin’s reply, so he just nodded and was just about to leave.

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“Please wait a moment!” Hua Jin saw that the man was sweating even though it was a cold day in March.
She turned to get him a glass of water, and asked, “Do you really need to buy a dragon and phoenix quilt specifically?”

The man had felt out of place from the moment he entered the shop, as his attire was a bit too shabby for a stylish place like this.
But when he saw the beautiful shopkeeper kindly giving him a glass of water, he embarrassingly thanked her.
His brows betrayed his sadness, and gullies of wrinkles had formed on forehead.
A slight trembling could also be noticed while he held the paper cup. 

Perhaps, this person had been depressed for a long time, and at the little act of kindness from an unfamiliar girl, he felt he could confide in her. 

“More than 20 years ago, I married Wa Er’s mother.
At the time, I told her that if we got rich in the future, I’d buy her a big red dragon and phoenix quilt.
But all these years, with my work needing me to go all around, with Wa Er’s school fees, the money we used to renovate our house, and the fees we needed to pay for our parents’ maintenance medication, and even now that my wife’s seriously ill… I haven’t been able to fulfill many of the promises I gave her.” The man, already in his forties, knelt on the ground and tried to cover his face as he cried bitterly.
His crying had also exposed the dilapidated condition of his shirt underneath his coat.

“I’m nothing.
I’m useless and stupid…” cried the man hoarsely.
“I finally managed to scrape some money together to send her to a big city to see a doctor, but then she got diagnosed with advanced cancer… It was all over before we started.”

Obviously exhausted, he continued to recount how good his wife is and how useless he was.
He mentioned that he had searched many places in the city, but none had the dragon and phoenix quilt he promised his wife.

Seeing a grown man cry like this, Tan Yuan was at a loss.
She tried to communicate with Hua Jin, but unfortunately, she wasn’t looking at her, so she couldn’t see what Hua Jin was thinking.

“Hearing your accent, you should be from the southwest, right? We might even be from the same town!” Hua Jin tried to console him as she gave him some tissues.
“If you really need one, I can make you one myself.”

Red dragon and phoenix quilts were once a favorite of Shu embroidery customers. 

It might have been common sense for someone who lived in a big city to send someone sick to the doctor, but the world was large and different people had different circumstances.
The sacrifice required for a poor family to send someone seriously ill to the big city for treatment, isn’t something normal city dwellers could easily understand. 

Sometimes, even our feelings and humanity takes a back seat when it comes to money.
But the irony of it all is that this unfortunate situation highlights the importance of simple emotions. 

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