After leaving the back kitchen, they were just about to go up to the second floor when they encountered a group of well-dressed people. They were all clustered around an old man, who had a healthy glow and wore a bright yellow belt around his waist, and they were also about to go up the stairs.
“Ah-Xu! You’re back?” County Magistrate Wu’s son greeted him and looked towards Yu Xiaocao who was behind him. He frowned slightly and whispered, “Ah-Xu, didn’t I ask you in advance to clear out the restaurant? Why are there other people here?”
Before Zhou Zixu could answer, he heard a resonant voice saying, “Oh? Isn’t this the little demon who patrols the mountains? What? Did you also come to eat?”
Yu Xiaocao felt as if she had heard this voice somewhere before, so she looked over. The fat old man wore an ivory headdress, a dark brown brocade gown, and had a bright yellow belt with jade inlays fastened on his waist. Wasn’t he the white-bearded grandfather who had talked with her about the Eight Immortals Cross the Sea all the way to town this morning?
So, he was the honored guest of the county magistrate! She had guessed that he had an extraordinary background, but she hadn’t expected that he was a member of the imperial family from the capital! It would be a foolish question to ask how she knew that he was part of the imperial family. Other than members of the imperial family, who would dare to wear a bright yellow belt on his waist? Wouldn’t that be like starting a rebellion?
County Magistrate Wu was a middle-aged man with elegant features and refined manners. He was slightly stunned as he looked at the little girl who was dressed in coarse cloth. She had a young appearance and was short in stature. It was inevitable that he had some doubt within his heart: ‘How did the emperor emeritus know someone from the countryside?’
However, his confusion was resolved when he recalled how the emperor emeritus and his entourage were dressed this morning. The emperor emeritus was born and raised in poverty, so he had always been friendly to the commoners from the same poverty-stricken backgrounds. Thus, it wasn’t surprising for him to become acquainted with a few commoners when he travelled incognito.
“Oh? Aren’t you the old grandfather who rode the donkey backwards this morning?” Yu Xiaocao feigned surprise and asked.
The retired emperor walked forward with a laugh and stopped two steps away from her. He nodded and said, “That’s right! We just parted this morning and met here again; we really have a predestined relationship!”
He looked around with his big, bell-like eyes and clicked his tongue, “County Magistrate Wu, this restaurant that you recommended doesn’t seem that great ah! It’s already lunch time, but there’s no other customers beside us and this little girl. It seems that their food doesn’t taste very good! Should we go to another restaurant?”
Third Young Master Zhou and Yu Xiaocao exchanged eye contact and had imaginary black lines on their heads: County Magistrate Wu had already reserved the entire restaurant, so how would there be other customers?
County Magistrate Wu couldn’t just say that he had reserved the entire restaurant in order to entertain him, the emperor emeritus. The retired emperor hated being treated with the extravagant bureaucratic style the most when he travelled incognito. Thus, Magistrate Wu didn’t know how to respond for a moment.
At this time, Yu Xiaocao spoke up to defend Zhenxiu Restaurant, “Old grandpa, the food here tastes delicious. You will know after trying it!”
The imperial guards and servants of the emperor emeritus inwardly sneered and thought: ‘You’re just an ignorant and inexperienced little girl. Do you really think that your words will sound convincing? It’s better to not say anything at all.’
The emperor emeritus was in a good mood and wanted to tease the little girl, “Oh? Then tell me, what delicious food do they have here?”
Yu Xiaocao didn’t think and immediately listed, “There’s a lot! Listen to me… steamed lamb, steamed bear’s paw, steamed deer’s tail, roasted duck, roasted, chicken, roasted goose, braised salted duck, marinated chicken, cured pork, preserved eggs, smoked pork belly, deep-fried dried pork, sausage, assorted meat, smoked chicken, boiled pig tripe, steamed eight treasure pig, glutinous rice stuffed duck, pheasant in clay pot, pot cooked quail, assorted braised food, braised duck, stewed shrimp, braised prawn, fried shrimp…”
She counted her fingers and recited the tongue-twister that she used to enjoy all in one breath. She listed them one by one without taking a breath. Third Young Master Zhou widened his eyes and wondered if there were that many dishes in his restaurant. How come he didn’t know?
“Oh my! You’re quite an articulate speaker! You have practiced the “Announcing the Names of Dishes ” very well. Little girl, are you a staff of the restaurant?” When the emperor emeritus heard the familiar tongue-twister, he had to conceal the elation within his heart. He had never thought that there would be another transmigrator in this world besides him and the little brat in his family!
‘Calm down. I have to calm down. I can’t slip up and reveal myself, lest this clever little bunny gets startled and runs away!’
But Yu Xiaocao was already shocked by what he said: ‘How did he know that I was reciting the tongue-twister, “Announcing the Names of Dishes”? Could it be that the old grandfather in front of me is also a transmigrator? Shit, what’s wrong with this world? This world is being penetrated so much that it’s going to turn into a sieve!! Calm down, I must be calm! Whether the other party is a transmigrator or not, I still can’t let him notice anything!!’
She showed an innocent and pure expression and replied with a smile, “Old grandpa, didn’t you ask me what tasty dishes they have? I just listed the names of the dishes for you! Well, is there any that you like?”
‘This kid! Pretend, just keep pretending!!’ The emperor emeritus scolded her as a ‘little fox’ in his heart but didn’t expose her. He continued to cooperate with her and said, “Well… you listed too many dishes earlier. This old man doesn’t have a good memory, so I couldn’t remember most of them! How about this? Just pick several of the best dishes in the restaurant and serve them!”
Third Young Master Zhou instructed the manager, “Go, serve all the specialty dishes of the restaurant! I hope you, our honored guest, will give us more valuable advice!”
“Little girl, you should stay and introduce the dishes to us!” The retired emperor smiled like a big gray wolf who was luring a little white bunny.
Yu Xiaocao rubbed her nose and apologized, “Sorry, I’m not a server in this restaurant, so…”
“This girl! You just recited so many alluring dishes and aroused this old man’s appetite, yet you’re suddenly taking back your words… Are you making fun of me, Fifth Lord?” The emperor emeritus performed his special face-changing skill. In an instant, the originally friendly and childish old man had turned into a powerful and domineering superior. His companions couldn’t help but be covered in cold sweat due to his formidable aura.
Yu Xiaocao was alarmed in her heart and suddenly realized that the dignity of the imperial family was inviolable. She recalled that the mood of the royals and high officials in the novels were always uncertain. They could be laughing happily a second ago but take someone’s life in the next. In an instant, her little face turned ghastly pale with fear and her eyes reddened.
Zhou Zixu, in the face of the esteemed guest’s force, opened his mouth to plead for her, “Fifth Lord, please take into consideration that Xiaocao is still a child and spare her! I’m willing to guarantee with my honor that Xiaocao has no intention of making fun of or being disrespectful to you…”
“Haha… You’re the third son of the Zhou Family, right? You’re quite a sentimental one and much better than that eldest uncle of yours!” The emperor emeritus couldn’t maintain his grim expression for more than three minutes and smiled broadly again. He softly said to Xiaocao, “Little fellow, you must have been terribly frightened, right? You must remember this lesson in the future. There are some people that you can’t offend!”
Yu Xiaocao’s anxious feelings suddenly relaxed and she couldn’t help but feel sad: No matter if it was in ancient or modern times, a little commoner like her could never live free and happy life. There would be privileged classes everywhere.
Seeing that the little lass had tears in her eyes, the emperor emeritus couldn’t help but touch her head. His voice became even more gentle, “Ay! You’re crying. It seems like you’re really still a child who gets easily frightened. Zhou Xiaosan , serve the little girl a few good dishes and remember to put them on my bill!! Stroking your hair, so don’t be afraid anymore…”
County Magistrate Wu and his son were stunned by the emperor emeritus’s ever-changing attitude. The emperor emeritus was usually smiling and very approachable, but once he showed his authority, even he, a county magistrate, nearly wet his pants, let alone a little girl. The little girl was already very brave for not crying on the spot from the fright.
In the next moment, he saw the emperor emeritus turn back into a kind old man. He was caressing the little country girl’s head and comforting her. If it weren’t for the great disparity of their attire, they could almost be considered grandfather and granddaughter!
Yu Xiaocao tried to force back her tears and forced a smile, “Old grandpa, you were really scary just now. It’s even worse than when my grandfather gets angry… I won’t delay your meal anymore. Xiaocao shall leave now…”
As she spoke, she bent her knees slightly and took a few steps backwards. After that, she swiftly returned to the back courtyard as if she was being chased by a wolf. She finally breathed a sigh of relief—oh my god, that was so scary! In the future, she should obediently stay at home and try her best to avoid interacting with influential officials!
Zhou Zixu stayed to personally entertain the esteemed guest. After the manager arranged for the distinguished guest to sit in the private room, he instructed the kitchen to serve the food. When he saw Yu Xiaocao, who still had a lingering fear, in the middle of the yard, he lightly tapped her head a few times and said, “You, you! In the future, be careful with what you say. If you offend someone that you shouldn’t offend, nobody can save you!!”
The manager was several years older than Yu Hai. He really liked this clever little girl and treated her like a junior in his family. As for what happened earlier, he also broke out in cold sweat for her. It was fortunate that the noble lord wasn’t someone who was picky and vengeful. Otherwise, even this little girl’s family would have to suffer with her.
Yu Xiaocao obediently nodded her head and asked in a low voice, “If I go up now, would I run into them?”
“No, the honored guests are already seated. Quickly go back upstairs. Brother Yu is probably anxious from the wait!” After the manager replied, he entered the kitchen.
Yu Xiaocao, like a little mouse avoiding a cat, crept up to the second floor. But she ended up being shocked by the county magistrate’s son, who pushed open the door and came out.
“What are you doing? You’re acting like a thief.” Young Master Wu was quite impressed by this little girl who had good cooking skills. Last time, even that picky fellow, Yuan Yunxi, drank two big bowls of the fish stew that this little girl made. Earlier, if Third Young Master Zhou hadn’t plead for her, he almost couldn’t resist speaking up for her.
Yu Xiaocao was somewhat embarrassed as she awkwardly touched the back of her head. She cautiously looked at the closed door behind Young Master Wu. She placed her index finger in front of her mouth and made a silent gesture, and then she pointed at the private room that she was going to. After that, she waved at Young Master Wu and continued to creep towards her destination. When she arrived at the door, she rapidly opened the door and went in, as if she was driven out by a burglar.
Young Master Wu, who watched her series of movements, felt that the little girl was very interesting. She was a lot more interesting than those pretentious noble ladies! He shook his head with a smile on his face.
 Announcing the Names of Dishes (报菜名) - a basic skill in Chinese crosstalk, a long tongue-twister in which a long list of dish are listed
 Zhou Xiaosan (周小三儿) - xiaosan = little three, so he's calling him the third son of the Zhou FamilyPrevious Chapter Next Chapter
oops Xiaocao just exposed herself🤭