"Bu yao! Bu yao!"
Xin Pu Shi, the reclamation merchant, waved both hands in front of his face, glancing sourly at Wer's haul of salvage—corroded copper pipes, some salt-crusted window blinds, two small filing cabinets and a mesh bag bulging with various metal odds and ends.
Wer tried to winch the sack lower, but the old man used a pole to fend it away from his boat. "I don't want any of that garbage! Save it for the scrap barge. Or dump it back into the sea."
"You know I can't do that," Wer complained, squeezing the calloused soles of both feet against one of the rusty poles that propped his home above the sloshing sea. One hand gripped the rope, tugging at pulleys, causing the mesh-bag to sway toward Xin. "There are cam-eyes on that buoy over there. They know I raised ninety kilos. If I dump, I'll be fined! I could lose my stake."
"Cry to the north wind," the merchant scolded, using his pole to push away from the ruined building. His flat-bottom vessel shifted, sluggishly, while eels grazed along its mossy hull. "Call me if you salvage something good. Or sell that trash to someone who can use it!"