By noon Su Nuo’s wild peaches had attracted a handful of buyers. This time of year there were peaches being picked in large quantities by fruit farmers, so one copper coin could buy a jin of peaches on the market.
Because of that, their wild peaches could not be sold at a very high price. In the end, they priced their peaches at one copper coin for four peaches and they sold almost all of them. After all, they were cheaper than the peaches raised by fruit farmers and on a hot day like this, when people were tired from studying all morning, who wouldn’t want to eat a peach or two as they took a rest?
When lunch time ended and the students all disappeared back to class, Jiang He gave his wife a look. Madam Qian nodded and walked over toward Su Tang, she pretended to clear a table while she quietly asked Su Tang to go talk to Jiang He alone.
Su Tang agreed and pulled Su Nuo over to the alley where she had met Jiang He just now. Jiang He was waiting for them there and he couldn’t hide the joy on his face. As soon as he saw Su Tang coming, he quickly thanked her. “Thank you for your advice. I’m Jiang He and you saw my wife, Madam Qian. I wonder what your name is?”
“My name is Su Tang.” Su Tang said.
“Here is the money for the thirty fish balls you gave me today, a total of twenty copper coins. Miss Su, see if it’s right.” The first thing Jiang He did was give her the money for the fish balls.
Su Tang counted quickly and found that the number was correct. She put the money away, then smiled and said, “It seems Brother Jiang has made up his mind.”
“Yes, because of your fish balls the business in our stall today was much better than before. According to Miss Su’s words before, can you continue to provide us with more fish balls?”
Earlier Jiang He had been frowning unhappily when Su Tang had pulled him aside but now that he had made some money he was all smiles. He even brought up the words Su Tang had said before about cooperation.
Su Tang nodded. “It’s settled then. How many fish balls do you want for tomorrow? I’ll bring them to you.”
When he heard Su Tang’s words, Jiang He remembered something, “I don’t know if Miss Su can make your delivery earlier in the day? Our stall also sells breakfast, so…”
“I’m afraid that wouldn’t be easy. If I wanted to bring them earlier I would have to stay up late to make the fish balls, but I don’t have a lamp. And if I rush to try to make them during the day and the bones don’t all get cleaned out that would be no good either, right?”
The fish balls were actually made in the processing plant in her space so bringing some for breakfast was not actually impossible. But Su Tang refused anyway because it was an unreasonable request when you considered various factors. After all, this was not the modern times where there were electric lights to use at night, so it would be strange if she could make fish balls at night.
Jiang He also felt lost when he heard her reason, he wished there was a way to get more fish balls, but there was nothing he could do about it.
Su Tang decided then and there she would never provide too many fish balls for them on any one day. Scarcity would just cause more discussion and attention, and the business of the other products in the stall would get better as well. That way Jiang He and his wife would be able to see the benefits of doing limited sales.
“Well, bring them to me before lunch time then.” Jiang He agreed. Then he discussed some specific terms of cooperation with Su Tang, after which they found someone nearby who could write out the contract for them, and then signed the contract.
Like this, Jiang He asked Su Tang to bring 60 more fish balls the next day and gave her half of the deposit up front. But, even though their cooperation had been formally established, he didn’t dare to ask for more than 60 at once because of their conversation.
They both took their own copies of the contract, then Su Tang put away the money, said goodbye to Jiang He, and left with Su Nuo in tow.
“Sister, we made money again.” Just now Su Nuo had been watching from the side a little dumbfoundedly. He had waited until they got a bit of distance away so he wouldn’t be overheard before he spoke excitedly to Su Tang.
Back when they had made money by selling apples and radishes he had been very happy and felt that his sister was a very clever person. He had known that he could not make delicious food to please the the River God way his sister did, but he thought that he could at least go up the mountain and pick a bit of fruit to sell for money, the same way she had sold those apples for money.
Today, he only made a few copper coins for the wild peaches he picked but he had been very happy with that result. Meanwhile, the fish balls his sister made had been sold for 20 copper coins, and she had established a contract to sell fish balls every day. Su Nuo could only look at his sister admiringly and think that his sister was really good at making money.
Seeing the radiant look of adoration on the little guy’s face, Su Tang felt amused. She nodded to him happily, “That’s right, the fish balls made by your sister are delicious and the River God likes them, so he’s going to give us fish to make into fish balls and if we have any extra we can sell them to make money. Do you remember when your sister said she wants to make money and send you to study and take the imperial examination? If you work hard you can certainly become a big official. Xiao Nuo, will you work hard and take the imperial examination in the future?”
Su Tang was not worried that Su Nuo wouldn’t be able to pass the exam in the future. She had already seen that the little guy was pretty smart despite his young age and, in fact, he was actually able to figure out a lot of things going on around him.
So there was clearly no problem with his IQ. Despite his young age, he could think of the idea to go up to the mountain to pick fruits to earn money and, on top of that, he was willing to work hard. Even if he couldn’t be a high-ranking official straight away, it wouldn’t be hard for him to pass the examinations to become a student.
It was good motivation for her to work hard because as long as she had a lot of good things in her hands, wouldn’t it be easy for her to find a good wife for the little guy? As long as she had a goal and was willing to put in the effort, anything was possible.
When Su Nuo heard his sister’s words, he nodded firmly. “Sister, Xiao Nuo will work hard to protect you.”
The little guy knew that he could only live the good life he was living now thanks to his sister, who was favored by the River God. He knew that his sister was the only person in the world who was kind to him and also the only real relative he had, so every day he thought about how to grow stronger and protect his sister.
When Su Tang heard that she patted him on the head and smiled wryly. Then she took him over to the grocery store they had gone to last time. There happened to be a customer inside when they arrived so Su Tang did not disturb them. After the shopkeeper sent the customer away, he looked over at the siblings, “It’s you two. What do you need to buy this time?”
He still remembered Su Tang and her brother. When she heard his question, Su Tang smiled and took something out of her basket. “Before I buy anything today, I wanted to talk about some business with you. I did some research and was able to make some soap at home. I wonder if you have any interest?”
When the shopkeeper saw the small bar of soap in Su Tang’s hand, he was in disbelief “That color… that’s soap?”
The pale yellow color of the bar in Su Tang’s hand looked very different from the soap he sold that was made from acacia.
Su Tang nodded. “This is a sample. If you’re interested, you can try it out first.”
The shopkeeper of this grocery store, whose name was Yang Fude*, had been running his grocery store for a long time. This was the first time he had seen soap that looked so fresh and clean though so, when he heard Su Tang’s offer, he immediately called his wife out and asked her to take out some dirty laundry, fetch some water, and try using this new soap.
Sure enough, Yang Fude’s wife was very surprised when she saw how much better Su Tang’s soap washed the clothes when compared with the soap that they sold.
“Even this big oil stain was washed clean when we used the little girl’s soap.” She exclaimed.
Yang Fude looked at Su Tang, “Girl, did you say you made this soap yourself?”
Before he was treating her like a little girl and coaxing her with ‘ni’er’** but now he treated her more seriously. Su Tang nodded. “Yes, that’s right. I don’t know if you’re interested in buying my soap?”
“I’ll buy your recipe for ten taels of silver!” Yang Fude instantly threw out ten taels of silver. That was a big number – for an average peasant family they might not be able to save ten taels of silver even after ten years.
Su Tang smiled. “Shopkeeper, your offer is really generous but, I’m sorry, I don’t want to sell the recipe. I made 13 pieces of this soap and I’m willing to sell them to you for ten copper coins a piece. I don’t care how much you sell them for after that, I wonder if that sounds good to you?
Su Tang didn’t lack the ability to earn ten taels of silver, so she wouldn’t sell her recipe.
*hmm the name is “杨福德” which a lot of MTLs just spit out as Yang Ford but would probably be a bit more accurate as Yang Fu De / Yang Fude
**again it’s that ni’er vs niang split (妮儿 vs 姑娘). An annoyingly high proportion of characters call her with that ‘ni’er’ and it’s hard to translate properly