The Proprietress’ Radishes
“A white radish?!”
Wang Lu widened his eyes with surprise, looking at the food in his bowl.
As an unrivalled, second generation man from the rich Wang Family Village who completed the ‘Twelve Incredibly Arduous Tasks’, he could not believe that he only got a boiled white radish for dinner.
His eyes glared at the pageboy, “Could you be any cheaper?”
Wang Zhong felt deeply sorry. “It wasn’t my fault, young master. Just have a look by yourself. The prices at this inn are crazy! One boiled white radish costs ten liang of silver!”
Wang Lu was bewildered for a while. “Ten Liang it is then! We rich people have loads of money to spend anyways.”
“What’s more is that the proprietress has even limited the white radishes to one per person!”
“Have you told her that we’re distinguished guests living in a premium room?”
Wang Zhong nodded. “Yes, otherwise it would have been five hundred liang for one radish!”
“That’s even heavier than the radish! Did the price of silver drop that much lately?”
“That proprietress was a bit delusional, thinking everyone’s an idiot! Even the people starving in the lobby don’t buy her radishes. She isn’t the only food vendor in the town.”
“Then why did you buy this ten liang radish then? Did you really think we’re rich?”
Wang Zhong continued complained, “The prices in the other shops had also been bumped up ages ago. Gold and silver are like dirt now. Ten liang for a radish is actually a fairly good price.”
“But a good price doesn’t equal good food. I don’t like radishes at all,” Wang Lu said with knitted brows.
“I’ll eat it if the young master doesn’t want to eat it. I’m still hungry.”
Wang Lu ignored his pageboy’s bad mood and complaining. “I want to have some meat.”
“If a white radish costs five hundred liang, a portion of meat would probably cost five thousand liang. We could afford half a portion if you wish.”
“Oh I see…” Wang Lu thought for a while and glanced at the radish, and then suddenly asked, “Was there anyone buying her radishes?”
Wang Zhong shrugged and said, “Of course not. Only idiots would buy her radishes.”
“If that’s the case, we wouldn’t need to worry about our dinner.” Wang Lu’s eyes lit up, while his fingers kept knocking on the table as he was getting more and more excited.
“Young master?” Wang Zhong did not understand.
“We will have meat tonight,” Wang Lu said. Then he grabbed his travelling bag and headed out.
In the lobby, the proprietress held an impatient look behind the counter. More than one hundred white radishes were cooked in the kitchen, but none of them were sold except for the one sold for ten liang. Although those princelings were good-for-nothings, they were not that brainless to buy those overpriced radishes. The radishes didn’t cost the proprietress a lot, and the losses would be next to nothing. But her reputation as the proprietress of the Ru Family Inn would be tarnished. More importantly, she was probably going to lose the bet.
“Ahhh… so tired.” The proprietress gave a long stretch, sweeping the lobby with her narrowed eyes. “Shame that squanderer from the Azure Wave Kingdom isn’t here, or I could’ve sold him a couple hundred radishes.”
While the proprietress was considering whether she should promote her radishes to those princelings in the lobby, she heard someone descending the stairs.
The person who came downstairs caught her attention immediately – Wang Lu, the man who completed the twelve tasks.
The proprietress would laugh every time she saw him. Especially when she started to think about how he had completed the twelve tasks, which was described with confidence as ‘unsolvable’ by a particular person, she would laugh even harder.
It was obvious Wang Lu had some plans in mind as he came downstairs. But unfortunately, there were no more tasks to be completed anymore.
“I’d like some radishes.”
The proprietress smiled, “That was a one-time offer.”
“I don’t mind. I’ll buy at the original price.”
Buy at the original price? The proprietress’s smile faded a little.
“I want five big ones.”
“Big ones are more expensive.”
“Don’t worry. I have money.”
“Good. Three thousand and five hundred liang of silver. Pay first.”
Wang Lu did not say anything, and put all the money he had – more than ten bank drafts of the Great Ming Kingdom – on the counter.
The proprietress waved at Wang Lu and said, “I’ll bring your radishes to your room later. You can go now.”
Wang Lu did not say anything and went upstairs straight away. Then the proprietress collected all the bank drafts and started counting them close to her chest.
“Such an interesting person. No wonder he completed the twelve tasks. He thinks in a completely different way to those noble idlers in the lobby. That heretic can finally find a person of his kind.”
The proprietress counted calmly. After she finished counting, there were already several people standing in front of the counter. They were all stewards or bodyguards of the young nobles. They were all bearing forced smiles on their faces.
“Proprietress, I would like to buy…”
“Proprietress, your radishes…”
“Our young master wants…”
The proprietress didn’t bother raising her head, “One thousand liang for one radish. How many do you want?”
The customers were surprised. “Wasn’t it five hundred liang each?”
“Price’s been raised. You don’t need to buy it if you don’t want to.”
The stewards and bodyguards all went back and asked their masters awkwardly, but they all received the same replies.
If it was simply a con, every penny spent would have been a waste. However, if it could increase one’s affinity with the Xiuxian world by even a little, one million liang of silver would be worth it. This strange inn must have had its reasons to price their radishes at such a ridiculous price, just like the fantastical tasks at the entrance of the town.
“Chances are everywhere in Spirit River Town.” The princelings in the lobby had taken a wait-and-see attitude. As someone had taken the lead, everyone swarmed towards the counter.
Even that rustic countryman could afford thousands of liang of silver, let alone the other people.
“How about… two?”
“I want five!”
“Shit. Our young master is buying all the radishes!”
Bank drafts of different kingdoms soon heaped on the counter. Even the next several batches had been reserved. The one thing that the princelings didn’t lack was money. It was always a jubilant occasion for businessmen when they made tonnes of money. However, while the proprietress was counting tens of thousands of silver liang in front of a bunch of customers with an infinite level of consumption, there was an obvious lack of sincerity in her smile.
“A bunch of idiots.”
This time, she said it very brazenly.
Accompanied by a breeze through the window, the rumblings of hunger were extremely obvious.
“Are you hungry, young master?” Wang Zhong said under his breath on one side of the room. On the other side, Wang Lu snorted. “No.”
“I only ate half of the radish. If you’re still hungry…”
“I’d rather die than eat the radish.”
“But young master, bread is the staff of life…”
“If you really care about me, why don’t you dig up some wild herbs or hunt a boar for me?”
“How would I even be able to do that?”
“Then shut up.”
Wang Lu turned over and did not say anything anymore. The pageboy wanted to say something, but went quiet. There was always something that you couldn’t say.
Young master staked all of his money on the radishes, but apparently it did not end up well. They did not get the five radishes they bought, let alone meat. This novel experience did not seem pleasant to the ambitious young master, whose life had always been plain sailing. After all, he was not an immortal, so obstacles were inevitable anyways.
The pageboy shrugged on his bed, thinking that it would not be a bad thing for his young master to experience a setback. Otherwise, he would actually think he was naturally talented and different from ordinary people.
While he was thinking, someone knocked at their door.
The young master went to the door, with Wang Zhong still in a daze.
Wang Lu saw the beautiful face of the proprietress as he opened the door, as well as an unusually large lunch box in her hands.
Standing in front of the door, Wang Lu laughed, “You finally came.”
The proprietress also laughed, “I felt awful for letting you wait. But I really couldn’t come. Those idiots reserved almost a hundred batches of radishes. I just finished cooking, so your dinner had to be delayed.”
While they were talking, the proprietress walked into their room and put the lunch box on the table. The box was not open, but everyone could smell the delicious aroma of meat. Wang Lu could not wait to open the lunch box. Although the glow of the candle was dim, the oil on the food was very shiny.
Wang Lu drooled. “You are such an honest person. An honest person with amazing cooking skills.”
“You helped me make millions of liang of silver. These cooking skills are nothing.”
Although the lunch box was large, the food in the box was really common: braised pork, pork with starch noodles, shredded pork with eggs and black fungus and chicken wings. However, this box of food would probably have cost more than ten million liang of silver.
Wang Lu put the food on the table one by one, and told his pageboy to eat together. They were both in the midst of puberty, so they had very big appetites. One third of the food had been finished within moments.
Wang Lu put down his bowl and chopsticks. He felt very satisfied despite a slight upset in his stomach. “You can take the leftovers. Don’t waste it.”
“What are you talking about?” the proprietress said. “This is your food for the whole week. The way you ate your food just now should be considered a waste, in my opinion.”
“…wait, wait, wait… a whole week?”
The proprietress explained, “There are still six days from the Celestial Gathering, but I guess you’ve already run out of money? You won’t have anything to eat if you don’t save some food.”
Wang Lu was completely dumbfounded. After a while, he asked, “What do you mean? Aren’t you supposed to cover all my boarding and lodging costs over the next few days?”
“Ha ha, how is that even possible? You expected way too much.”
“…Okay, let’s put aside the money that you made with my help. At least I paid you three thousand and five hundred liang, right?”
The proprietress laughed, “Can you even buy a box of food like that at three and a half thousand now? Stop complaining. Save some food. The rest should be enough for you for the next six days. Just think about those idiots who spent tens of thousands and never got to fill their stomachs. At least you have meat to eat.”
The proprietress suddenly recalled something. “Oh wait, actually, I did have some money left for you. Here’s the change.”
Then she left. Wang Lu got lost in thought while looking at the old copper coin on the table.