Chapter 175 - A Taste of Sweetness

With this, Wang Ergou, humming off tune, happily pushed his family’s wheelbarrow and soon arrived at the Yu Family’s melon field.

Looking at the pile of watermelons on the ground, Wang Ergou smiled so brightly that he showed his uneven teeth and happily said, “Oh my! I thought I came early, but it seems you guys came even earlier than me! If there is anything I can help with, just tell me…By the way, this is the money I made from selling the watermelons yesterday. The total is fifty-four taels, shouldn’t be wrong!”

Yu Xiaocao took the money from his hands and gave him his IOU back. Seeing that he was so happy that it looked like he couldn’t find his direction, she smiled and said, “Was yesterday’s business good? You look quite happy!”

Wang Ergou smiled and nodded his head, “Yesterday, I was pretty lucky. A boat that belonged to an official landed. The steward who came to pick them up basically bought twenty-some watermelons. Hehe! Just from them, I made more than thirty taels! The rest were sold out before the afternoon!”

After living for over thirty years, Wang Ergou did business for the first time in his life. His wife was anxious about it that she followed him to the pier with a slightly pregnant belly. 

At first, the pier was mostly docked with cargo ships. Other than a couple of stewards who were more experienced and had seen watermelons before, the rest mostly circled around looking curiously. Upon hearing that the watermelons cost a few taels each, they dispelled their notion of buying any.

After a while, there was still no buyers. Wang Ergou was a bit worried and was about to go into town to sell the watermelons. His wife stopped him and said, “How can you do business without the determination? Take a look at Xiaolian, isn’t it until noon that she gets busy? Wait a little longer. Xiaocao said, as long as you capture the opportunity there won’t be any worries in the future. What you are lacking in is precisely the patience!”

Wang Ergou didn’t want his wife to run around with him, so he forced himself to hold back his anxiety and shouted out to the passing travelers who were always moving, “Watermelon, big and sweet watermelons! If it's not sweet, then it’s free!!”

Good things come to those who wait. Not long afterward, they began doing business! The buyer was one of the head stewards of Qingyao Trading Company, one of the four major trading companies. This head steward had traveled all over the place and had more experience. Upon seeing watermelons being sold in this season, he was surprised and immediately bought one. He opened it on the spot to try it, and the sweetness of the watermelon stunned him.

Originally, he had decided to buy all the watermelons at a lowered price, but Wang Ergou was reluctant to give up profit. The steward had also brought back a lot of goods, so he couldn’t clear any space for the watermelons. He could only give up, but nevertheless, he still bought two more watermelons to take back for his master to try.

The first step was the hardest. After making his first watermelon sale, Wang Ergou held the fifteen taels in his hand and was very pleased with himself. He calculated, and, if they continued like this, then by selling ten or so watermelons, they could break even. The remaining watermelon sales would be pure profit….

Right at that moment, the ship of an official pulled onto shore. Allegedly, it was a high-ranking official returning to the capital with his family to report on his work. The Great Ming Dynasty’s attitudes towards women were less harsh. Thus, the women and children, who had been on the ship for a month, got off the boat as soon as it was ashore to walk around and breathe some fresh air.

The six-year-old daughter of the official heard Wang Ergou’s shouts and went to him accompanied by her maidservant. Curiously, she examined the big round watermelons on the wheelbarrow. She pouted and said, “You’re lying. Watermelons aren’t that big! The watermelons I’ve eaten watermelons are only this big!”

The adorable little girl used her hands to show the size. She stared at him with a pair of big round eyes, looking cute and innocent. Wang Ergou couldn’t help but think of the child in his wife’s belly. If it was a girl, would it be as beautiful as the child in front of him? (Author’s note: You’re overthinking it. With your looks, if your daughter looked like you, it would be the scene of a crime!)

Wang Ergou patiently bent down, squeezed out a kind and gentle smile, and softly said, “Young Lady, the watermelons I’m selling are big watermelons! They are big and sweet,I’m definitely not lying!”

The little girl carefully thought about it and said in a clear voice, “Then I have to try it first before paying. You said it earlier If it’s not sweet then. It’s at no cost”

Wang Ergou scratched his head and unwillingly chose one of the smallest watermelons in the wheelbarrow. He used a clean cloth to wipe the knife he brought over before chopping the watermelon. The maidservant, upon seeing the knife was clean, didn’t say anything.

The little girl took a bite of the watermelon gracefully and immediately exclaimed, “Wow! It really is really sweet! Xiaomei, pay him! You——can you help me take the watermelon over there? I want to let my mother and older brothers try too!”

“Of course!” Wang Ergou took the three taels, picked up the remaining watermelon and the leftover pieces that the little girl didn’t finish, and followed behind her towards the pier.

The little girl’s brothers were surprised and curious upon seeing the red pulp fruit. They all couldn’t help but grab a piece to try. The watermelons, which had been irrigated by the mystic stone water, had a delicious flavor that was indescribably good. Even the members of this official’s family, who had all eaten watermelons countless times, never had watermelon this good before.

The little girl’s father, upon seeing his wife and children eating so delightfully, waved his hands and bought fifteen watermelons from Wang Ergou. In this season, if he were to give them as a gift, then his reputation would increase greatly.

It was in this way that half the watermelons that Wang Ergou brought were sold. Afterward, several more ships came ashore and the remaining watermelons were sold. After careful calculation, he found out that over twenty watermelons had been sold for a total of one hundred and two taels, and his profit was more than forty-two taels.

Wang Ergou has never seen so much money in his life! In the past, his wife had always pushed him to do odd jobs. After a hard and tiring day working, he would only get ten copper coins. After a month, the most he could save was one or two taels. Today, however, he just shouted a few words and it was enough to earn forty-two taels, which was previously worth several years of savings!

“Wife, wife! Quick, pinch me, am I dreaming?” Wang Ergou was so excited that tears had welled up in his eyes. With shaking hands he carefully took the money and put it away in his chest pocket. He then pulled on his wife’s hand and placed it on his arm.

Ergou’s wife’s heart was also pounding. With tears in her eyes, she gently patted the man next to her and caressed her inconspicuous pregnant belly. With this source of income, they wouldn’t have to worry about not being able to raise their children in the future. 

Ergou’s wife was from a poor family. Otherwise, she wouldn’t have married a man like Ergou. Being hungry was a shadow from her childhood. She had eight siblings, but only she and her two older brothers survived.

After her marriage, although her husband wasn’t outstanding, he dearly loved his wife. Although their days were a bit rough, it was much better than her maiden home. Originally she thought that such bitter and rough days would never end, but unexpectedly they met Yu Hai’s family, who helped them out many times and even gave them a chance to earn money.

Her child wouldn’t have to be like her when she was young. When she was hungry, she used to drink water and hope it would pass, and when she was sick she could only suffer through it.

“Wife! I’m going to go buy half a catty of meat to supplement your body!” With money in his hands, Wang Ergou’s back was straighter than before.

Wang Ergou’s wife glared at him, confiscated all the money, and softly rebuked, “We still owe Brother Hai money for his melons! The rest isn’t enough for tomorrow’s batch of melons! Could it be that you have the conscience to put it on credit again tomorrow?”

Wang Ergou laughed and said, “I planned to push over more watermelons tomorrow. I’m afraid that the rest of the money isn’t enough to pay for the melons...how about we put it on credit once more?”

Ergou’s wife shook her head and said, “Today, we met a customer that bought a lot. Otherwise, I don’t know how long it would’ve taken us to sell all of these watermelons. In my opinion, how about you buy the number of watermelons you can afford with the money earned today? Earning less is ok!”

Wang Ergou knew the ‘you eat rice bite by bite, and make money little by little’ philosophy. Listening to his wife, he said, “Brother Dahai, I will take forty taels worth of watermelons today. I want to spend twenty taels on the big ones, ten taels on the medium and small ones...”

“Okay!” Yu Hai helped by handing him the already weighed watermelons. When he saw Ergou handing over the money, he smiled and whispered, “Hey! Yesterday’s business must’ve been pretty good, you earned quite a bit!”

“Hehe! It’s only forty-some taels. It’s nothing compared to Brother Hai! You pulled two carts full of watermelon over yesterday!” Wang Ergou hid his pride but he couldn’t stop his smile from appearing.

Liu Pei, who was helping load the wheelbarrow, upon seeing that a wheelbarrow full of watermelon could earn a profit forty-two taels, realized that if they took one cart full to the prefectural city, then wouldn’t they earn more than 100 taels? His heart raced at such a figure.

At that moment, the carriage that Xiaocao borrowed from the Zhou’s was brought over. After talking it over, Liu Pei and Liu Han decided to immediately depart and transport the watermelon to the prefectural city overnight.

Xiaocao also felt that a cart transporting watermelons wouldn’t be faster than her godfather galloping quickly down the road. So, she let her two uncles depart first after setting a meeting point with her godfather tomorrow.

With multiple people helping, the watermelon cart was quickly filled up. They first had to take the cart to Tanggu Town, and then take the imperial highway before they could get to the prefectural city. If they set off now, then it would still be hard for them to arrive at the prefectural city before they closed the city gates. 

Xiaocao prepared rations, water and warm clothing for her two uncles. Even though it was near the end of spring, the nights were still chilly in the north. Her uncles might be sleeping out in the open, how could they stand the cold?

Xiaocao’s family’s two carts set off with the Liu Pei brothers. Xiaocao took the donkey cart and Yu Hai took the cart that they had bought a few days ago. Thankfully, the horse chosen by Third Young Master Zhou had a good temperament, so even a stranger could control him.

Yu Hai had stayed back in the fields yesterday, so he missed the melon store’s first raucous open day of business. When Xiaocao told them what had happened, he wanted to see the scene. He regretted not being able to see it with his own eyes. Today, no matter what, he had to go to town with her.

No matter what, he was still the father of the store owner, so didn’t that make him at least half an owner? Besides, if he didn’t help his daughter, he would feel bad. As such, Madam Liu stayed behind to watch the field in the morning and he was going to take over in the evening.

There were two other people who came along with them. One of them was Eldest Aunt, Madam Han, who came along to help. The other was Xiaocao’s maternal grandmother, Madam Yao, who was fooled by Xiaocao into coming to widen her knowledge.

When they arrived in town, they found that the melon shop was surrounded by people and thought something had happened! After the store closed yesterday, Li Li was left alone to keep an eye on it. Fang Zizhen and Wu Yun had gone to the pier and Xiaocao have gone back to Dongshan Village. Was yesterday’s business so good that it caught the attention of some people so they came today to look for trouble? 

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Myst's Thoughts

Translator: Elaine