“Alright. Normally when I build a stove for someone the pot alone will cost a hundred copper coins. Of course, it seems that you don’t need a pot, but building the stove is still a lot of work, so I charge three hundred copper coins for the labor. Also, if you want me to find the materials to build the stove, that will cost another hundred copper coins, for a total of four hundred copper coins.” Chen Shuisheng directly stated his price.
Su Tang simply said, “Understood, we’ll use that price then. When do you think you can start work?”
The price wasn’t cheap, but Su Tang knew that this was something she would have to have built no matter what, so she didn’t plan to quibble about the price and just directly agreed.
“At the earliest, I can start tomorrow. I’ll need to spend today gathering all the materials and bringing them over.” Chen Shuisheng had built many stoves before so he was familiar with the whole process and knew he would need to rent a cart to go to the nearby mountain in order to gather the needed stone.
Su Tang gave him a deposit of two hundred copper coins, told him the address of her shop, and asked him to go straight to work as soon as he could tomorrow. Then she gave a brief farewell and left Chen Shuisheng’s house.
Su Tang was very simple and direct and easily handed over the money so, even until she was saying her farewells and leaving, Chen Shuisheng was feeling a little lost. Even with the money firmly in his hands, that feeling of unreality persisted, and all he could think was that he had really taken up a strange job this time.
However, no matter how strange or unreal it felt, Chen Shuisheng had been paid so he had no intentions to delay. All else aside, he was very happy to have landed such a big job during the winter months. Thanks to that, it seemed he would be able to earn a bit more and add a few more big meat dishes to his family’s table during the Spring Festival, so he was in a good mood. Thus, as soon as Su Tang left, Chen Shuisheng immediately headed out as well to gather the necessary materials.
Meanwhile, after leaving Chen Shuisheng’s place, Su Tang headed over to the next stop on her list of errands, Mrs. Li’s place.
Mrs. Li heard a knock and was surprised to see Su Tang there when she opened the door. But she quickly put on a smile and invited her in. “Oh, it’s Miss Su. It’s such a cold day, please come in and warm yourself a bit.”
After that, she graciously poured Su Tang some hot water before sitting down and probing, “I wonder what brings the young miss here this time?”
“I came to see Mrs. Li so, of course, it’s to buy people. I want to buy two more people, preferably women… well, you should know my requirements.”
Su Tang didn’t bother beating around the bush and directly stated her purpose.
In fact, Mrs. Li could remember Su Tang from the last time she had visited. Back then she had also been fairly well-dressed, but now she was looking even more neat and tidy than before. Although her clothes were a little simple due to being mourning clothes, she looked very good, just like one of those little rich girls from the big families.
Of course, when she discovered Su Tang was looking for her Mrs. Li had guessed that maybe the girl wanted to buy some more people, but she could hardly believe it, which was why she had asked. After all, it was only a little more than two months since Su Tang had bought the mother and daughter pair from her, so how could she not have enough servants already?
Mrs. Li was a bit curious about what Su Tang needed so many people for, but she had been in this business for a long time so she didn’t say anything about it. She knew it was okay to be curious, but it was not okay to ask. Anyway, since Su Tang said she wanted to buy more people, Mrs. Li, of course, wouldn’t turn her business away.
“It seems that Miss Su’s business is booming… however, I’m afraid that I don’t have many people here these days, only four women in total I think. And last time you took a look at that Miss Bai but didn’t take a fancy to her, so leaving her out there’s only three. Other than her, there’s a mother and daughter and a young widow, I’ll bring them all out and you can take a look.”
Mrs. Li started out by congratulating Su Tang on her business in order to probe a little bit. When the little girl didn’t refute her, she felt a bit shocked in her heart, but then quickly pressed on.
When Su Tang heard that the Bai girl still hadn’t been sold yet, she raised a curious eyebrow. But other than that she didn’t do anything and just agreed to Mrs. Li’s arrangements, “En.”
Mrs. Li secretly sighed when she saw Su Tang’s reaction. If the Bai girl didn’t sell soon then she would have no choice but to sell her far away. Because of that, she had decided to take a chance and feel Su Tang out a bit to see if maybe her opinion had changed, but the little girl obviously still didn’t like her. Of course, she didn’t want to upset Su Tang, so when she saw it was hopeless she tucked away her small thoughts and went to bring out the other three women.
Among them, there was a new mother and daughter pair, and the daughter was about the same size as Su Tang. When she was brought out, she trembled faintly and looked very small and weak.
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