Chapter 170 - Selling Watermelons

However, Madam Li wasn’t the only one who wanted to get in through the back door! Xiaocao’s second maternal aunt was a shrewish woman, who fussed over everything. But she wasn’t someone who would pick the easy jobs and shirk on hard work. She had heard from her elder female cousin, who had married over to Dongshan Village, that the Zhou Family was recruiting workers in Dongshan Village first. She immediately felt alert within her heart—If all the positions at the Zhou Family’s factories were filled up by the villagers of Dongshan Village, wouldn’t that mean that she would have no chance at all?

Madam Hu forced Xiaocao’s honest second maternal uncle to accompany her to Dongshan Village behind her in-laws’ back. Why didn’t she go alone? Because she felt ashamed!

Xiaocao’s maternal grandmother had given Xiaocao’s family several taels when they first separated from the main family. This was something that she had grumbled about for a long while. Every time she saw Madam Liu and the Yu Family, she would mention this matter in a sarcastic manner.   

As the saying goes: ‘Don’t go overboard to ensure pleasant meetings in the future’. This was seriously such a wise phrase. She hadn’t expected that the Yu Family’s living conditions would be completely different within a few months.  Not only did they repay all the money, but they also became acquainted with a rich businessman in town. She wasn’t as thick-faced as Madam Li. With how she treated them in the past, how could she not be ashamed to come ask them for a favor now?

Madam Hu and her husband got up early in the morning, and it was already late in the morning by the time they reached Dongshan Village. However, when the two arrived at the Yu Family’s old residence, the person they were looking for wasn’t home! They asked Yu Hang, who was collecting marine goods on the side, and found out that the whole family had gone to work on the fields because the watermelons had ripened!

“Second Maternal Uncle, Second Maternal Aunt, go sit down and rest in the yard first. It’s almost noon, so my mother will come back to make lunch soon…” Yu Hang greeted them politely with a smile.

Madam Hu impatiently waved her hands and said, “No need, no need! We will just go help out in the fields. Xiaosha, you should continue with your work!”

Liu Han had come to help plow the fields before, so he knew where the Yu Family’s three mu of sandy land was. Without the need to be guided there, he brought his wife over to the watermelon fields.

Madam Hu whispered, “Husband, did you see the long line for selling seafood? I reckon that your younger sister probably earned quite a lot of money from doing this, right?”

“How much they earn is their own business! Our village isn’t near the sea, so we don’t have the luck to earn this kind of money even if we want to!” Liu Han was an honest man who spoke bluntly, so his words sometimes made people feel uncomfortable.  

Madam Hu glared at him and said, “We can’t collect seafood, but we can come help them when they’re busy ah! Just look at your younger brother-in-law’s younger male cousin. I don’t believe that he’s helping for free. He probably gets some sort of benefit?”

“Since he lives close by, it’s convenient for him to come over to help!! Yu Jiang is a good and honest man. Younger Brother-in-law didn’t choose the wrong person!” Liu Han still didn’t understand his wife’s intention, causing Madam Hu to be extremely angry.

“Humph! That younger sister of yours can’t even manage her own household! She doesn’t even think about her maternal family when there’s good opportunities…” Madam Hu finally expressed her inner thoughts.

Liu Han glared at her and said, “My family isn’t like your maternal family. Brothers not doing any proper work and always wanting to take advantage of their married sisters and daughters! Just look at your sisters. Your brothers have been causing so much trouble for them that they’re barely able to continue living! If it weren’t for my parents’ generosity, do you think that you would be able to have such a good life at home?”

Madam Hu’s voice immediately softened, “Weren’t we talking about your younger sister? Why did you mention my family? It’s not like I want those kinds of brothers either ah…”

Liu Han looked at her and said, “We all know what it was like when my younger sister’s family split from the main family. Her family’s living conditions had just improved a bit, so as her older brother and older sister-in-law, we shouldn’t cause more trouble for her! Just directly tell Muyun about the matter when we see her. She will help if she can. But if she really can’t help, remember not to say anything unpleasant, okay?”

Madam Hu was sharp-tongued and somewhat selfish, but she still listened to her husband’s words, “I will remember, after all, we did come to ask for their help! I will definitely control my own mouth!”

As they spoke, they had arrived at the watermelon fields. On the green vines were large watermelons with their bellies swelled up as they basked in the sun. The Yu Family, who were in the melon fields, were bending down and gently tapping on the watermelons to find the ripe watermelons. After picking out the ripe watermelons, they plucked them from their vines. In fact, the harvested watermelons had already been piled high on the ground.

“Oh my! So these are watermelons. They’re really big. Each one probably weighs at least ten to twenty catties, right? It’s seldom seen in town, let alone our small village, isn’t it? Husband, how much do you think cost for one catty?” Madam Hu curiously walked around the pile of watermelons, while clicking her tongue.

Yu Xiaocao struggled slightly to hold a big, ripe watermelon as she wobbled over. Seeing this, Liu Han quickly went forward to take the watermelon from her hands.

“Second Uncle, why did you come? This morning, my mother and I were just talking about you and Eldest Maternal Uncle!” Yu Xiaocao didn’t really like Madam Hu, but she didn’t have any bad feelings towards her slightly dull second maternal uncle.

Liu Han put the watermelon in his hands with the pile of watermelons. He rubbed his hands and smiled shyly, “Your second maternal aunt wants to work at the Zhou Family’s factory, but we’re not sure if they’re still recruiting people. So I came with her to ask about it.”

Yu Xiaocao looked at Madam Hu, who was staring at the watermelon, and said, “There are still a few vacant spots for drying vermicelli. It requires people who are meticulous and patient. Both men and women are allowed to apply…”

Liu Han laughed and said, “Although your second maternal aunt has a sharp tongue, she’s a very good worker!”

Besides them, Madam Hu picked up her ears and listened attentively, for fear that she would miss something. She nodded vigorously upon hearing his words.

Yu Xiaocao looked down and thought about it, and then said, “Alright. I’ll go with Second Maternal Aunt in the afternoon. However, to work at the vermicelli factory, you’ll need to sign a confidentiality agreement. If you leak the vermicelli formula, you will have to pay a compensation and also be sent to jail!”

Madam Hu quickly vowed, “Xiaocao, you can rest assured! I will never say a word about the factory to outsiders! …Earlier, you said that you were looking for your maternal uncles. What’s the matter?”

Madam Hu turned her gaze towards the pile of watermelons. At that side, Madam Liu was busy weighing watermelons for Wang Ergou.

Speaking of Wang Ergou, since Xiaocao agreed to let him sell watermelons on credit, he was especially concerned about the Yu Family’s watermelon fields. When he encountered Xiaocao and Yu Hai watering the fields, he would rush over to help carry a few loads of water. In the evening, he would also take the initiative to help watch the watermelons, substituting for Yu Hai so that he could go home and rest for a few days.  

These days, he had been visiting the melon fields nearly every day. Knowing that the Yu Family were harvesting watermelons today, he woke up before dawn to come help them. Although he didn’t know how to tell if the watermelons had ripened yet, he helped transport them to the edge of the field. Early in the morning, he was drenched in sweat and working even harder than when he worked on his own household chores!

He had already repaired his family’s handcart and prepared to push a cart of watermelons to the docks today to test the waters. He had planned to sell the melons in town, but when he found out that the Yu Family was going to open a watermelon store in town, he gave up on that idea. When it came to selling things, eight of him would still be incomparable to one Yu Xiaocao. There was a good flow of merchants and passenger ships at the wharf every day, so there should be quite a lot of wealthy people. Thus, he followed Xiaocao’s advice to open up a market at the docks.

“Xiaocao, I don’t really know how to read a scale. What if I lose money?” Wang Ergou used to be an ignorant and incompetent man, and had only gotten slightly better after he got married. His wife, on the other hand, was very capable and there was hardly anything that she couldn’t do. But his wife was pregnant right now. So how could he let her rush back and forth to the docks?

Yu Xiaocao smiled at him and said, “That’s easy! The bigger watermelons should be around twenty catties. Since you’re getting your melons from us, I’ll give you the wholesale price of a hundred fifty copper coins per catty, so it cost three taels. Sell them for five taels in town! Sell the smaller ones for four taels, and the even smaller ones that looks around ten catties for three taels! That should do it!”

Wang Ergou hadn’t even reacted when Madam Hu shouted in surprise, “What? A watermelon cost five taels? Five taels is enough for a whole family to eat for half a year. Can you really sell them?”

Liu Han quickly pulled on his wife and glared at her, “If you don’t have anything good to say, then don’t speak! No one will think that you’re a mute!!”

Wang Ergou smiled unconcernedly and said, “Liu Family’s daughter-in-law, people like us will definitely be unwilling to spend several taels to buy a watermelon. However, there are many rich noblemen at the docks. Our watermelons are juicy and sweet. Moreover, we’re the only ones selling them. They won’t be able to find them anywhere else! Even if it’s more expensive, I still wouldn’t be worried that it won’t sell, let alone five taels!! Xiaocao, your idea is really good. I’ll just do that!”

Madam Liu was almost done weighing the watermelons. Wang Ergou’s handcart wasn’t very big, and could hold twenty watermelons at most.   

“A total of three hundred sixty-eight catties. We’ll round it for you and make it three hundred sixty catties. Xiaocao, calculate the price for your Uncle Ergou!” Madam Liu’s math skills was a lot worse than her children’s. She didn’t have the confidence to figure out such a big number.

Yu Xiaocao silently calculated in her heart and quickly answered, “Uncle Ergou, it’s a total of fifty-four taels! I’ll write a you a promissory note. You can take the watermelons after you leave your fingerprint!”

The provisionary note had already been written and she just needed to fill in the total weight and money owed for the watermelons. Yu Xiaocao filled in the numbers with a quill pen, and then she carefully read it to the illiterate Wang Ergou.

Wang Ergou didn’t hesitate and quickly dipped his index finger into the ink, and then printed his fingerprint onto the note. He said, “You don’t have to read it. Even if I don’t trust others, how can I not trust you? Later, if my wife comes over, just tell her that I went to the docks.”

According to the size of the watermelons, Wang Ergou loaded the watermelons onto his handcart and pushed it away enthusiastically.

Yu Xiaocao’s shop in town would open for business tomorrow, so they needed to transport the watermelons to the shop for storage today. She pulled up her sleeves, laboriously picked up a watermelon, and struggled to put it onto the donkey cart. When Liu Han saw her, he quickly said, “Just leave it. I’ll load them onto the cart!”

Madam Hu also tactfully picked up a watermelon and said, “Xiaocao, can you carry them with your slender arms and legs? Don’t you just need to load them onto the cart? Just leave it to your uncle and aunt!”

Xiaocao also didn’t continue to be courteous with them. As she helped, she said to Liu Han, “Second Maternal Uncle, there’s not much in the fields right now, so why don’t you also take a cart of watermelons to sell in town?! As long as the watermelons don’t fall or get smashed, you can keep them for five to six days. If you can’t sell them all in a day, you can continue to sell them the next day…”

Liu Han quietly moved several watermelons, and then bluntly replied, “The prime cost for a watermelon is two to three taels. I’m afraid of messing it up… Moreover, we don’t have a cart to transport them.”

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Myst's Thoughts

It's good to see Xiaocao offering a opportunity for her maternal relatives so they can also benefit from her business ideas.

Translator: Myst