One of the larger ginseng stores in the capital is the Zhang Guang. One day a young man tethered his horse outside and wandered in to buy some ginseng.
He placed a bag of silver on the counter and took out a hundred taels as deposit for some samples of ginseng. He explained himself thus: "My master is extremely fussy about the quality of his ginseng, and if I buy some that he's not happy with, he's sure to punish me. I loathe buying ginseng because I'm always worried about making a mistake.
"Would it be possible for me to leave this money as a deposit on a range of samples and have one of your more experienced salesmen bring them along to my master's house so that the master can examine it personally?"
The storekeeper thought this a reasonable proposition, so he accepted the deposit and instructed an experienced, middle-aged salesman to accompany the young man back to his master's with several pounds of ginseng. Just as the salesman was about to leave, the storekeeper advised him, "Be sure to keep an eye on this ginseng. Don't let anyone else get hold of it."
The young man and the salesman traveled out of the city through the Donghua Gate and eventually arrived at the steps of a mansion. The master of the house, a well-groomed man in fur whose hat bore a sapphire, was upstairs and did indeed look extremely ill.
Resting against his pillow, he addressed the salesman, "This ginseng you bear--is it of the best quality from the northeast?"
The salesman said that it was, whereupon two houseboys standing in attendance came forward and took the ginseng to the master for his perusal. He opened the bundle, packet by packet, apparently quite an expert in judging the quality of ginseng.
Before he had completed his inspection a horse-drawn carriage stopped outside. Someone obviously familiar with the household entered the