"Beans?" Jacklyn said, not bothering to mask her skepticism.
"Magic beans!" the merchant said. Though perhaps calling this man a merchant was a bit generous. He appeared to be in his late forties or early fifties. He was of a tall and willowy build, and his clothes were rather plain and worn out looking. He appeared to have no wares other than the sack beans, although it was possible they were just hidden away in his cloak as the beans had been.
"Ah," she said, making a show of seeming unconvinced.
"Really, child, you think you'll find a better offer?" he leered.
She frowned, inwardly admitting he had a point. She glanced at the old dairy cow whose tether she held in her hand. She had provided well when she was young, but now she was far too old to be supplying milk. She was thin and gaunt, and no doubt any meat harvested from her would be... lacking, to say the least. In more prosperous villages, people would not have the audacity to even try to give such a pathetic creature away, much less ask for money in exchange. But times were hard in Revelle, and it was possible that there was someone desperate enough to try to get some meat out of the poor creature.
"I suppose we'll find out," she said with a shrug.
And so it was, Jacklyn spent the rest of the day leading the tired old cow around the market. Reactions to her offer ranged from pity to outright laughter, but nobody would buy the old thing. She sighed, watching several of the stalls in the market place beginning to close down. She had realized selling the old cow would be a challenge, but she had expected a bit more than beans. Wait, magic beans. Right. As if magic actually existed anymore. If it did, perhaps Revelle would not be in the slump it was in now.
Jacklyn leaned against a signpost just outside the market, the cow tiredly laying next to her. The poor thing could barely stand to be on its feet all day, so she was trying to give it some time to rest before beginning the walk back to the farm.
She turned, seeing the merchant standing next to her. She sighed heavily. "So... how many beans were you offering?"
"Just this," he said, holding the small sack up.
She gaped at him, insulted despite having no better offers. When he'd shown the sack to her before, she had assumed it was meant as a sample, not the entire offer. She chewed her lip in thought before saying, "Very well." She held out the cow's tether. He took it and handed her the sack. She opened it, glancing at the beans inside. "What the- These aren't beans!" she protested. She set the sack down, removing one of the "beans" with both hands. It was huge, larger than her head. The entire sack only contained three.
"I did say magic," he said, smiling patiently.
"I think the word you're looking for is 'massive'!"
"In this case, both are adequate. I assure you, they are quite edible."
"Hm," she grunted doubtfully.
"Would you prefer the cow?" he asked, offering the tether.
She sighed dismally. "No," she admitted.
"In that case... It has been a pleasure doing business with you," the merchant grinned, bowing.
"Quite," she said shortly. With that, she turned on her heel and began the trek home. At least there would be one less mouth to feed. She knew her father would be displeased with the beans, but he wouldn't be any more forgiving if she'd come home with the cow.
It was dark when Jacklyn arrived at the farm. Like much of Revelle, it was in poor shape. Crops rarely grew here with any success, and for years her family had been barely scraping by. When her mother left years ago, things had quickly gone even more downhill. Her father's drinking had worsened, something Jacklyn hadn't even thought possible until it happened. Jacklyn had become the main caretaker of the farm, and all things considered she had handled it well. Of course, even with the crops doing poorly and the farm being rather small to begin with, it was still too much work for one person, and now things were falling more and more into disrepair.
It was depressing, because one could see from the nice architecture and furnishings of the farmhouse that it had once been a lovely home. That was before Jacklyn's time, of course. When she was born nineteen years ago, Revelle's downward spiral was already well under way. She stared up at the once-beautiful home her great-grandfather had built. No doubt the poor man would turn in his grave to see it now.
Of course, the house's former glory was not what concerned her now. Rather, the light coming from the living room window, signaling that her father was still awake. She would have to tell him about the cow and the beans, something she had been hoping to put off until morning.
Jacklyn paused at the door, nerving herself before going in. She hadn't even made it fully into the living room when she heard her father drunkenly yell, "How much?!"
"Hello, Father," she mumbled.
"How. Much?!" he said again, making as if to get up. He immediately lost his balance and fell back onto the sofa.
"Well... I couldn't get any money for her," she began. "I traded her for some beans."
"Beans?!" he demanded incredulously.
"The guy tried to tell me they were magic, but I-"
"MAGIC BEANS?" he roared. This time he did get up. He staggered towards her, an empty bottle still in his hand.
"No, he just said they were-"
"There ain't no magic! Ain't been magic in years! Why'ya think this place is such a dump?!"
Jacklyn decided not to cite his drinking and neglect as possible reasons, instead shoving the sack into his hands, hoping to distract him long enough to duck around him. He dropped the sack, and one of the beans rolled out. "Wha..." he mumbled, squinting at it. He picked it up. "Ya dumb girl, these ain't even beans! Wha' the'ell are they?" he cried, his slur worsening along with his temper.
"I think they are beans, just... huge."
"Y'idiot! They're NOTHING!" he cried, hurling the bean away. Unfortunately for both of them, it crashed through the window, landing somewhere outside. Her father stared at the shattered window, his fogged brain trying to process what just happened. "Y'broke the window..." he mumbled. Suddenly, he whirled on her.
"OUT! And don' come back!" he roared, throwing a bottle in her general direction. She knew from experience how bad his aim was, and so didn't even bother to dodge. Without arguing, she strode out the door, scooping up the remaining two beans as she did so. It was hardly the first time her father had "kicked her out". Usually it resulted in her spending the night in the barn. By the next morning he will have forgotten, and life would go on as usual.
Once inside the barn, she flopped down on a pile of straw. The barn felt unusually quiet without the old cow around. She had been their last piece of livestock, and so now the barn lay empty. Except for Jacklyn, that is.
She opened the sack, staring at the two beans inside. Maybe they could be planted. She might as well she wasn't quite sure if they were as edible as the merchant claimed. Even if they were, she had no idea how to go about preparing a bean that size. She shoved the sack under a pile of straw for safekeeping. In the morning she would decide what to do with them.
Satisfied- or at least as satisfied as she could be, given how the day had gone- she lay back, closed her eyes, and was soon asleep.