Chapter 173 - Sold Out

“Miss Yu, if it weren’t for Zhenxiu Restaurant’s Little Brother Qian, we wouldn’t have known about the opening of your store! When our old master heard about it, he insisted on coming to congratulate you in person! Official Fang, Miss Yu, congratulations ah!” Steward Yao cupped his hands together and grinned from ear to ear. People who didn’t know might think that he was the one who was opening a store!

“Second Sister, Second Sister!!” A crisp and familiar voice passed through the crowd and entered Xiaocao’s ears. A moment later, a small figure, who was dressed in a sea-blue colored student’s robe and had a scholar ribbon tied in his hair, pushed through the crowd and plunged into Yu Xiaocao’s embrace like a cannonball.

“Shitou? I thought it wasn’t a break today. What are you doing here? Did you skip class?” Yu Xiaocao hugged the little guy’s shoulders and asked in surprise.

Little Shitou pouted his mouth and got out of her embrace. With a wronged expression, he said, “Second Sister is falsely accusing me! Our headmaster heard about the opening of our shop, so he brought me and Senior Brother Yunxi over to congratulate the happy occasion. Then again, I’m also considered a partial owner of the shop, so why can’t I come?”

Yu Xiaocao looked in the direction that her younger brother came from. Sure enough, she saw Headmaster Yuan’s dashing and scholarly figure. Behind him was Yuan Yunxi, an elegant and handsome young man. The corner of Xiaocao’s eyes twitched—This old man was a classic example of two-faced person. He looked normal in front of people, but he was actually a complete foodie.

“Teacher Yuan, you’re here? Please come in!” Although Yu Xiaocao grumbled in her heart, she still warmly welcomed Headmaster Yuan.

Yuan Sinian stroked his beautiful beard and leisurely strolled inside. He said with a slight smile, “Xiaocao, I heard that the free fruit trays given out at Zhenxiu Restaurant uses your family’s watermelons? It’s sweet and juicy, and tastes very good. It’s a pity that Little Brat Zhou is too stingy. Each table only gets one plate…”

Yu Xiaocao almost couldn’t suppress the smile on her face. There was free watermelon to eat, but he was still dissatisfied that there wasn’t enough to eat! Surely, this was something that only Headmaster Yuan would do!

“Teacher Yuan, I guarantee that there will be more than enough watermelons for you to eat today!” Yu Xiaocao told her godfather to accompany Headmaster Yuan to the inner courtyard for a little rest. She was unprepared for the arrival of these important guests. Fortunately, she had bought some good tea for her godfather yesterday. Otherwise, it would be so embarrassing if she couldn’t even provide some drinks for the guests!

‘Oh right! When people come to congratulate the start of a business, it’s necessary to treat them to a meal!’ Yu Xiaocao greeted the guests with a smile as she moved closer to Zhou Zixu, who was helping to entertain the guests, and whispered, “Are there any private rooms available at your restaurant? I didn’t know that there would be so many guests today, so I didn’t prepare anything…”

Zhou Zixu also moved closer to her ear and whispered, “Rest assured! What’s our relationship? Your business is my business! I have already reserved it for you, and there would be enough room no matter how many guests come!”

Fortunately, the Yu Family didn’t know many people in the town. Apart from a table for the people from the yamen, who came to give Official Fang face, there was only Headmaster Yuan and several households who bought vegetables from their family. Most of those households just sent a steward over, and Patriarch Yao was the only one who personally came. Two private rooms were enough!

Headmaster Yuan and Patriarch Yao were arranged to sit at the same table as County Magistrate Wu, and Fang Zizhen would be responsible for entertaining them. As for those stewards, Li Li and Wu Yun personally entertained them.

For the opening of a small watermelon shop, they actually invited the parental official, Country Magistrate Wu, Headmaster Yuan of the renowned Rongxuan Academy, and several well-known figures in Tanggu Town. It instantly attracted a lot of people’s attention.

When the noble and prestigious Headmaster Yuan personally uncovered the red silk on the plaque, the gilded lettering on top—Tanggu Watermelon Shop—caused the corner of his lips to twitch. It was such a straightforward and easy to understand name.

There were a lot of people in the shop, and the rear courtyard was relatively simple. So Fang Zizhen took the guests, who came to congratulate them, to Zhenxiu Restaurant, which was located diagonally across from the store. The crowd of onlookers entered the shop out of curiosity. Yu Xiaocao, Li Li, and Wu Yun were so busy in the shop that they wished that they had three heads, six arms, and ten mouths!

Not many of the townspeople of the little town of Tanggu had seen watermelon before. At this time, there were a lot of people looking and asking questions, but there weren’t many people actually buying the watermelons!

Yu Xiaocao had already foreseen this situation. She took out several trays full of small pieces of watermelon and put them at the entrance of the shop. She shouted loudly, “Special event for the opening of Tanggu Watermelon Shop. All the customers who enter the shop can try a piece of watermelon free of charge! Everyone, please stand in line to avoid crowding. If you think it tastes good, you’re welcome to make a purchase. The bigger ones cost five taels, while the smaller ones are only three taels!”

Such a good thing like free food tasting had never happened in Tanggu Town before. Everyone in the shop just looked at one another and no one dared to be the first person to try.

“Wow! There’s such a good thing like free tasting? Me, I’ll do it!” Miss Wang’s voice was still so energetic. Disregarding the hindrance of the embarrassed young man behind her, she took the lead and arrived in front of the free watermelon samples. She carefully picked up a piece and savored it in small mouthfuls with her eyes closed.

Wang Chenyang seriously wished that there was a crack in the ground that he could hide in. He shouldn’t have listened to his mother and accompanied his quirky younger sister here. He had never imagined that his younger sister would take advantage of a free tasting opportunity in the eyes of the public.  

What made him unable to lift his head was that the little girl, Wang Yanran, was still unsatisfied after finishing the piece of watermelon and asked, “Can each person only taste one piece?”

‘How many pieces do you want to try? Is the whole tray enough for you?’ Wang Chenyang seriously wanted to immediately block his younger sister’s mouth and take the disgraceful fellow out of the watermelon shop.

After Xiaocao told her that each person could only try a piece, Little Miss Wang Yanran pouted with a disappointed expression. Suddenly, she turned to look at her older brother, who was covering his face. Her eyes lit up and she exclaimed, “Can my older brother also try one? Eldest Brother, if you’re too embarrassed, then I can try it for you!” With that, she picked up the second piece with a smile.

Wang Chenyang endured all the probing gazes around him pulled his younger sister, and almost gnashed his teeth as he said, “Didn’t you come to pick up the watermelon that you ordered yesterday? I still have something else to do, so let’s hurry back after retrieving it!”

Yu Xiaocao took the watermelon that she tied up yesterday and carried it over with difficulty. She handed it to Young Master Wang and said with a smile, “Miss Wang, this is the watermelon that you ordered yesterday. Please take out the receipt that I gave you yesterday. Give me the receipt in exchange for the watermelon.”

Wang Yanran looked at the paper on the watermelon and saw the marking that she secretly made with her nails yesterday. With a smile, she took the receipt out of her embroidered purse and loudly said, “Miss Yu, your shop’s watermelons are the best watermelons that I have ever eaten. Even the watermelons from the capital aren’t as good as yours! When I get my monthly allowance in a few days, I will come back to buy another one!”

Wang Chenyang came out of the watermelon shop with a heavy watermelon in one hand and his younger sister in his other hand. After getting on the horse carriage, he harshly scolded the young girl Wang Yanran. However, when the little girl thought about being able to eat the sweet watermelon at home, she wasn’t annoyed even after getting scolded. Wang Chenyang felt really helpless upon seeing the happy smile on her face.

But, when he had his first bite of the watermelon, he could understand why his gluttonous younger sister was so fond of the Yu Family’s watermelons. He had followed his father to do business all over the country since he was a young child. He had also eaten watermelons before, but this was the first time he had eaten such a fresh, sweet, and juicy watermelon! Moreover, it was very cheap. In the capital, even twenty taels might not be enough to buy such a large watermelon, let alone five taels.

The Wang Family consisted of a dozen or so people, which included the head of the household, his wife and concubines, and his children. The children of the legitimate wife received two slices each, while the concubines and their children only got to try one slice. No one would dislike the sweet and juicy watermelon, so everyone still wanted more after eating.

The little lady Wang Yanran, in particular, was pouting so much that she could almost hang an oil bottle on her lips. If she had known that her mother would use the watermelon that she bought to please her father, then she wouldn’t have told her mother about it. She would have secretly picked it up and ate it alone, which would have definitely satisfied her cravings. Two slices of watermelons weren’t even enough to fill the gaps between her teeth! Luckily, her father reimbursed her for the cost of the watermelon. ‘Humph! I’m going to secretly buy one tomorrow and eat it alone!’

As for Yu Xiaocao’s watermelon shop, after Wang Yanran took the lead and tried the free sample, other people began to taste it one after another. The enjoyment on their faces and their endless praises led even more people to join in on the free tasting.

The first group of people who came in were mostly shopkeepers and owners of neighboring businesses. The people who could afford to rent a shop on the street naturally had some money. After tasting the watermelon, most of these people were satisfied and willing to buy some for their families to try.

The second group were people shopping nearby. This commercial street in Tanggu Town was equivalent to the streets that sold luxury goods in the future, which was seldom visited by ordinary people. Even if they went, they wouldn’t be able to afford the products. Furthermore, they also had to endure the contemptuous look of certain merchants. Who would be so thick faced to go back again?

It should also be mentioned that Yu Xiaocao had certainly selected a good location. There were very few people who left the shop empty-handed. However, there weren’t many who would buy ten watermelons at once like Eldest Young Miss Zhuang. Thus, when the steward of the Zhuang Family, with several servants, handed in the receipt and moved a bunch of watermelons out of the store one by one, they helped attract more consumers for Xiaocao’s watermelon shop.

Yu Xiaocao had finally experienced the painful and happy feelings of ‘counting money until your hands cramp up’. Her watermelon shop was similar to the modern-day supermarkets; the consumers would personally select the goods and pay at the door. Yu Xiaocao, who sat on the tall chair at the entrance, kept receiving money and giving out change. She also had to maintain a smile on her face while sweetly saying, “Looking forward to your next visit!”

The patrons felt that the little girl, who collected the money, had a sweet smile, crisp voice, and good arithmetic skills. No matter how many watermelons they bought and the different prices of the watermelons, she could quickly calculate the total with one look, and she was never wrong.

In fact, this kind of first or second grade level math skills might be slightly difficult for the people in ancient times. However, it was absolutely a piece of cake for Xiaocao, who had learned the multiplication table.

The two carts of watermelons that they hauled to the store yesterday were completely sold out before noon. Later, people who came to the store, after hearing about the delicious and cheap watermelons at ‘Tanggu Watermelon Shop’, only ended up seeing empty shelves. 

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Myst's Thoughts

hahaha Miss Wang in front of free food = me

Translator: Myst