Su Tang had never done anything like setting up a roadside stall during her previous life, but even if she had never eaten pork, she had at least seen a pig run*, and she had no scruples about losing face. She immediately began to shout as if nothing was more important to her than making money.
“Selling apples, fresh apples! An apple a day keeps the doctor away! Delicious apples!” Su Tang took out one of the shiny red apples from the basket and continued to shout loudly.
Su Nuo was also a smart child. As soon as he saw his sister like this, he hurriedly took a radish and shouted, “Selling radishes, delicious, juicy, radishes, one copper coin for one!”
Both siblings’ had young voices that sounded crisp and clear. Plus, the apples in the basket were bright red and looked juicy, so they immediately attracted attention.
Qinghe Town was at the center of many small nearby villages. So although there were some rich families living in the town, most of the people around were the type who raised their own livestock and grew some common vegetables and so on themselves. There were not many families who needed to come out and buy vegetables.
But fruits were different because, right now, it was right at the end of the summer months, so it wasn’t the best season for ripe apples. The streetside sellers did have some fruits but they were mostly things like watermelons or peaches, there were no apples.
So as soon as people noticed the siblings selling apples, someone came over and asked, “Are apples already ripe at this time of year?”
The one who spoke was a well-dressed woman who was carrying a basket that had eggs and vegetables in it. It was easy to tell with a glance that she came out to buy vegetables, so Su Tang immediately started explaining.
“It’s not time for apples to ripen yet. It’s just that coincidentally my brother and I went up to the mountain and found these apples that were all red and sweet already. So we plucked them to sell in town. Auntie, try one. They’re all crispy, sweet, and delicious.”
Su Tang gave a neat explanation for why they had apples even though they were out of season. She knew that in a month or so, there would be many apples released on the market but right now apples were still rare.
The woman watched the well-dressed little girl pick up a bowl of cut apples slices and offer it up. She picked a slice up and ate it and, sure enough, it was crisp and sweet. Although the things grown inside the space could not be said to be truly magical, they at least tasted very good.
Even though it was only a common red apple, it was absolutely delicious. The woman was reluctant to stop after taking one bite, so she took another, “Are they all so sweet? How much are they?”
“Don’t worry, ma’am. When my brother and I were picking the fruit we noticed that all of them were red and ripe. After tasting a few, they were all sweet and ripe. They must all be delicious. They are a copper coin a piece, how many do you want?” Seeing the opportunity for business, Su Tang’s face was just like her name**, syrupy sweet.
“That’s not very cheap.” When she heard that an apple cost a copper coin the woman hesitated. Su Tang had the orange cat inquire about prices before they had come to town, and she knew that one copper coin could buy a vegetarian steamed bun in the town. Although they were not very big, two buns were enough for an adult’s meal, and two copper coins could buy a meat stuffed steam bun.
Also, people from the surrounding villages often came into town to sell eggs during this time of year. Because as summer ended eggs became somewhat rare and precious, they could be sold for a copper coin per egg. When the chickens laid their eggs more diligently and there were more of them on the market a single copper coin could buy two eggs.
With these points of comparison, Su Tang’s apples really weren’t very cheap. But Su Tang didn’t want to sell her apples cheaply. After all, they were at least fruits grown in her space, and she thought one copper for such good tasting fruit was plenty cheap.
When she heard the woman saying it was expensive, Su Tang hurriedly interjected, “It’s hard to see an apple this time of year so it wouldn’t be strange for them to cost six or seven times more and, besides, these apples are all really delicious. But auntie, look, my brother and I are both honest people, we just want to earn a little money.”
The woman had clean clothes with no patches so she was probably living a pretty good life. When she heard Su Tang’s words, she smiled. “Little girl you can really talk, go ahead and give me ten apples!”
This time of year, it was rare to have any fresh fruit to eat. If she bought it and brought it back to her husband he would be pleased. For such fresh fruit, although a copper coin for one was not that cheap, her family could still afford it.
After hearing her say that, Su Tang hurriedly took out ten apples with Su Nuo’s help and gave them to the woman. And with that she made her first money since coming to this time and space.
The woman took the apples then turned and saw the white radishes in the other bamboo basket, and seemed shocked, “How did you get these radishes?”
This kind of white radish usually only came out in May or June, and although they could be stored for a while, stored radishes were certainly not as fresh as the ones that were newly dug up. This woman had worked for years as a cook, so she used to go out and buy ingredients every day, and she knew that radishes like this were not in season…?
There were plenty of vegetables during the summer but they were mostly just spinach or cabbage. She had already cooked dishes with those vegetables so many times that her husband was already getting bored of them, so she was excited to see such fresh radishes and asked about them immediately.
“My brother and I dug these up from the mountain. The place was relatively high up and it was much cooler there than down that at the foot of the mountain. But there were only a few radishes in all, probably I am the only one in the town who has such fresh radishes for sale. Auntie you can try one. My radishes are all sweet and delicious.”
While she spoke, Su Tang gave Su Nuo a look. Su Nuo immediately grabbed the small bowl of radish pieces and offered them up. There was only one kitchen knife at home and Su Tang could not bring it into town. So before she came to town, she had cut up an apple and a radish at home to give to customers as a sample.
The woman saw at a glance that the radish was indeed fresh, and since it didn’t cost anything to try the sample, she took a piece to eat it. Sure enough, it was crisp and juicy, and her tastebuds were overwhelmed by the sweet taste of the radish.
“This really is fresh… are they a copper coin? Give me two of them!” The white radishes Su Tang were selling were not small, and a copper coin was not that expensive. Even though radishes were not as rare as apples this time of year.
Hearing her say so, Su Nuo quickly handed two white radishes to her. The woman weighed a few of them by hand and found that they were all about the same weight. Then she left carrying her basket with satisfaction after she saw how fresh they were.
All of a sudden, Su Nuo had made 12 copper coins. When Su Nuo saw that he could earn his own money his eyes brightened and he cried out even more vigorously to advertise. The siblings didn’t have many things for sale but their red apples looked tasty and their turnips were fresh.
Soon a few more groups of people came and they sold four more and more apples and radishes. The sister and brother both had sweat on their bodies as they continued to hawk their wares joyful faces.
While Su Tang was making money with a joyful expression, a carriage passed by not far away. There was a young man riding a horse beside the carriage and after hearing the siblings voices he could not help but turn his head to look over.
*chinese idiom that basically means ‘even if they’ve never personally done it doesn’t mean that they don’t know how to do it’. It can be used sincerely (ie: they actually are able to do whatever it is) or as a joke (ie: they’re just being overconfident and they can’t really do it)
**her name uses the ‘糖’ character which means sweet basically