Had Xiaolian not waited to the ox cart from the neighbouring village, then she would have long gotten back after all of the braised food sold out!
With the addition of Xiaolian, their harvesting speed increased perceptibly. Before long, all of the baskets that Steward Yao brought with him had been stacked full with lush green vegetables that looked incredibly appetizing.
While the family was harvesting vegetables, Steward Yao had gone to Yu Residence’s back courtyard as well as the nearby pond. He saw that there were also vegetable fields in the back that spanned around three to four mu . There were cucumber and string bean vines climbing on vegetable frames. Eggplants and hot chili peppers were all growing vigorously in neatly laid out rows. There were also lettuce and carrots. However, he couldn’t see how large the carrots were as they were underground, but the carrot leaves were lush and vibrant green. On the fence surrounding the four sides of the garden, there were hyacinth bean vines and malabar spinach twisted around the wooden poles, which added a bluish-green color to the perimeter. Furthermore, there were still some other vegetables that he could not identify, but everywhere he looked was full of vegetables...
He was convinced that before long all of these vegetables would be ready to harvest. At that time, other people’s vegetables would only be tiny sprouts. Steward Yao was very well aware what it meant for Yu Family since they were able to sell vegetables more than a month out of the regular season!
He looked at their simple and crude looking residence as well as the unadorned rooms. As of now, the Yu Family looked destitute and poor. However, with their ability to grow vegetables, they were absolutely about to become rich very soon, right? Steward Yao now really didn’t have the guts to scorn the Yu Family.
At last, all of the baskets of vegetables were weighed and moved onto the Yao Family’s horse cart. In total, they had bought six hundred and eighty catties of vegetables. Steward Yao knew that Old Master Yao was very picky. If he found out about the Yu Family’s vegetables, then in the future they would definitely have many more dealings to come! Thus, he generously agreed to pay for all of the vegetables using the price for romaine lettuce——twenty-five copper coins per catty.
When Old Yu saw that the vegetables, which usually sold for around three to five copper coins a catty, being sold for five to eight times the normal price, his eyes opened wide in shock. He almost couldn’t believe his ears, “Dahai, are you not afraid that the rich folk will blame you guys for setting the price of vegetables at the price of pork?”
“Grandfather! We’re doing business fair and square. One is willing to buy and the other is willing to sell, why would anyone blame the other?” Yu Xiaocao held up a basin of water to let her grandfather wash his hands and then continued, “The Yao Family is a well-known rich family in town. They’ve eaten meat all winter and have long been tired of it! If you don’t believe me, go ask Steward Yao whether the patriarch of the Yao Family wants to eat meat or does he want to eat our family’s vegetables, okay?”
“But...these are merely green vegetables ah! If we’re selling it at such an expensive price, isn’t that overcharging other people?” Old Yu felt a bit uneasy about all of this.
Steward Yao counted the money as he interjected, “Old sir, this is obviously an example of: ‘the rarer a thing is, the greater its value’! Right now, at this season, if you want to eat green vegetables, even if you have money you might not be able to get any! Your family’s vegetables are the only ones on the market in town right now. Even at a more expensive price you guys wouldn’t have to worry about it not selling!”
As they talked, he took out two large ingots of shiny silver and placed them into Yu Hai’s hands. He then said, “Big Brother, this is twenty taels, make sure you keep them safe!”
Yu Hai waved his hand, “There’s no need to give us this much. Six hundred and eighty catties of vegetables only comes out to seventeen taels total. You’re taking such good care of us, how could we possibly take more of your money…”
“Just keep the extra money for now. Think of the additional three taels as a security deposit. Make sure you leave some of the vegetables in the back courtyard for me, your brother. Don’t sell it all to Zhenxiu Restaurant.” Steward Yao also knew the value of planning ahead for greater rewards. ‘If you guys take my security deposit, in the future it will obviously be very easy to buy vegetables from you!’
Yu Hai still hesitated a bit but Yu Xiaoao had already taken the money away. She grinned, “Since Steward Yao said so, in the future, if you need any vegetables, just give us a holler and we’ll deliver them to the Yao Residence!”
Steward Yao nodded his head repeatedly, “That’s what I wanted to hear! I know you guys are short staffed, so in the future I will have people bring a cart over to your place to buy vegetables! Xiaosi, remember the route. In the future, you will be in charge of buying vegetables. Make sure you do well and not let me, your adoptive father, lose any face!”
Steward Yao had directed the last part to the little assistant who was driving the cart. That little assistant was also a clever and nimble fellow, so he nodded his head as if he was pounding garlic paste with it. A joyful smile tinged with admiration crossed his face. Going from an assistant who took care of the horses to a person in charge of purchasing was a big change. It not only was a large promotion but also his future treatment and pay would be vastly different.
That was because the purchasing position was one that had a lot of profit involved in it. In the future, he really needed to show his filial respect to his adoptive father. Without his adoptive father promoting him, how else could he, Xiaosi, possibly get such a position with the multitudes of other servants at the residence?
“Thank you, Godfather! Thank you, Godfather!” Xiaosi continuously thanked Steward Yao as if this was the only way he could truly express the depths of his gratitude.
“Do your job well! In the future, when you have more contact with the Yu Family, make sure to treat them with more courtesy. Especially that little girl. She has a lot of ideas and you absolutely cannot slight her!” On the way back home, Steward Yao gave him some words of advice to help Xiaosi develop properly.
Later on, Xiaosi repeatedly went back and forth between Dongshan Village and Tanggu Town. He always kept his adoptive father’s advice close to heart and warmly called Yu Hai and his wife ‘uncle and auntie’. In addition, he also helped them to do some work around the house. He had an almost brotherly relationship with Yu Hang, who was about the same age as him. Furthermore, he took care of Xiaolian and Little Shitou as if they were his own younger siblings. Every time he came to buy vegetables and produce, he would always bring some pastries and cakes for them. As for Xiaocao, who looked almost exactly the same as Xiaolian, he had unconsciously developed deep feelings of respect for her.
By nurturing these relationships, Xiaosi never came back to the Yao residence empty-handed, even in rougher times when the harvest was not as good. By successfully managing his tasks, he naturally received more promotions. He rose from a purchasing assistant to an assistant steward in the purchasing department, and then to the head steward in charge of the purchasing department. By the time his adoptive father became the chief steward, he, at the age of twenty, had become the residence’s youngest head steward.
At that time, he was still unmarried, and so, the maidservants in the residence all saw him as an ideal marriage prospect. The first ranked maidservants, who had previously disdained him, now all looked at him with a different expression in their eyes. As for himself, he finally had enough courage to request to marry the maidservant he had secretly admired for a long time, Luxiu. She was the personal maidservant of the matriarch. As a favor, the matriarch betrothed Luxiu, who had already reached a marriageable age, to him. After his adoptive father retired, Xiaosi replaced his father to become the chief steward of the Yao residence...
All of these changes started during that fateful bright and brilliant afternoon, when he had gone with his adoptive father to go to Dongshan Village and met the noble person who would transform his destiny for a lifetime...
Of course, these were all future events. Right now Xiaocao was sitting on a small stool and staring at her family’s courtyard vegetable fields as if she was caught in a spell. Yu Hang looked at his little sister staring blankly and quietly asked, “Little Sister, what are you thinking about? Why are you so focused right now?”
Yu Xiaocao twisted her head around and looked at him. She arranged the blanket to cover his legs more securely and then turned around to look at the fields again. She exclaimed somewhat excitedly, “Older Brother, have you noticed it too? We’ve gotten a decent harvest from our fields!”
“Eh? What do you mean by ‘decent’?” Previously their family had also planted some vegetables in the front and back of their rooms. The soil there was poor, and they had only planted the most common types of vegetables for their own use. Had they ever bothered to calculate the output from those small stretches of land?
However, in Xiaocao’s previous life, her parents had been vegetable farmers before they passed away. At that time, she was already in middle school and often helped them calculate the output of their fields and the amount of profits they made.
There was chemical fertilizer in her past life, so one mu of land planted with vegetables could produce around 2500 catties of harvest. In their courtyard, they had around seventy to eighty percent of a mu of land, and they had already sold around a thousand catties worth of vegetables. From her rough estimate, they had only picked less than half of what was available. In other words, they could probably get at least 3000 catties of vegetables for each mu planted. Perhaps they could even get four thousand catties!! This truly was considered a very high yield!!
After calculating up to this much, she figured that they could get around seventy to eighty taels total for the vegetables grown in the front courtyard alone. The back courtyard was growing vegetables that had a longer life cycle, so they could likely be sold for a higher price. They could easily get around a hundred taels for each mu of vegetables. Thus, this meant that they could get around five hundred taels alone from this early spring harvest!
The more Yu Xiaocao calculated, the more excited she felt. Her eyes seemed to glitter with an internal light and she wished she could kiss the little divine stone a few times in happiness.
The little golden kitten was lying on Yu Hang’s knee, enjoying the pleasure of getting pets when it suddenly felt chills run through its body. The fur on its back immediately stood up——something’s not right, there’s danger approaching!
Just as Yu Xiaocao was staring at their vegetable fields fixedly, as if she had just seen a giant lump of gold, suddenly the sound of a voice no one wanted to hear came through the gate, “Where is everyone? Did you all disappear into thin air? Why is the gate closed in the middle of the day ah? Is it because you guys did something that set off your guilty consciences and are afraid people will come find you?”
Xiaocao quivered and then leapt off of her stool. She rushed towards the gate, pulled open the heavy door, and saw Madam Zhang standing oddly there. The old woman’s face was as unpleasant as before.
“Grandmother, why did you come over?” Yu Xiaocao barely restrained the feeling of disgust in her heart and managed to squeeze out a smile.
“What? Did you guys make your door too high that your own grandmother can’t come over anymore?” Li Guihua had a self-satisfied look on her face. The copious amount of fat on her face squeezed her eyes until they were a thin line, very similar to a rat’s eyes. Her eyes flickered around as if she was a thief.
Madam Zhang pushed Xiaocao aside with an arm and marched into the courtyard. She gloomily looked all around at the stone walls around the courtyard and sinisterly remarked, “You guys don’t have money yet you built your walls so high. Are you trying to discourage thieves or are you trying to keep me out?”
‘Is there a difference? You’re the biggest thieving threat around! Other people are cultivating fortune, meanwhile, you’re such a miserly old hag that you would even scrape off whatever profit you could get from the ground full of dirt!’ Yu Xiaocao silently roasted the old woman in her heart as she replied, “Our old residence is a bit too close to the West Mountain. In the winter, we’re afraid of wild animals searching for food. Won’t they come down from the mountain and harm people? Grandmother, don’t be so sensitive, these walls are to protect us from wolves! Just look, when we first moved out, we weren’t sure if we could save my father’s leg. My older brother had been sold off to be an apprentice, so it was only Mother and us weak little girls around. If there really were some vicious wolves around, what were we supposed to do?! So we didn’t bother trying to fix the house much and instead used the money my maternal grandmother sent us to lay a taller wall!”
This seemingly simple explanation actually held a lot of hidden nuggets: first of all, you made us split off from the main family with pretty much nothing when my father was seriously injured. In addition, you almost pushed my older brother to a situation where he would lose his life. If this was someone with thinner skin, she wouldn’t even have the face to come to their gate. Next, not a single copper coin out of the money used to build these walls came from you. Thus, do you have any qualifications to voice your unnecessary opinions?
However, was there anyone else in the world who could even compete with Madam Zhang’s shamelessness? It was hard to tell whether the old woman really didn’t catch on to Xiaocao’s silent implications or whether she was pretending, but she only glanced briefly at Yu Hang, who was lying helplessly on the deck chair in the courtyard. She then turned her attention to the wide expanse of vegetables growing in the courtyard.
Madam Li immediately understood her role in this play and stated, “Second Brother-in-law truly has a filial heart ah! He planted so many vegetables but he doesn’t know how to properly show his respect to his elders. He’s only preoccupied with earning money!”
 1 mu (亩) = ~0.16474 acres = ~666.7 square metersPrevious Chapter Next Chapter
Sanguine’s Thoughts: Uh ohhhh, why did these two calamities have to come again?