Chapter 138 - Plans Settled

Yu Xiaocao stealthily gave Zhou Zixu a look that said, ‘you’re doing it right!’, and continued to plead her case. Her large eyes seemed more innocent and pitiful than a little deer’s, so anyone looking at her would feel his or her heart soften. 

“Third Young Master, are you saying the truth? Then, does Jiang Siniang’s parents really allow her to go out and show her face in public?” Madam Liu had been somewhat persuaded by his words. 

Zhou Zixu raised an eyebrow at Zhao Han and then continued, “Our current emperor is in favor of raising women’s status in society ah! I heard that after Jiang Siniang became well known for her deeds, the emperor himself had even praised her with this line: ‘women are just as capable as men in all they do’. Jiang Siniang’s parents were also like Auntie in the beginning and didn’t support her. However, after she received the emperor’s approval, they slowly began to change and no longer tried to stop her. Now, Jiang Siniang’s mother will even help manage some tasks at her store when she has more work than she can get done!”

“But...if a young girl spends all her time out in the public, how could she possibly have any marriage prospects in the future ah!” This was the thing that Madam Liu worried about the most. 

Zhou Zixu chuckled, “You don’t need to worry about this. With Jiang Siniang’s current reputation, there are people lining out the door asking to marry her. I even heard that the current prime minister’s eldest son, who is also the eldest grandson of the town’s Rongxuan Academy’s founder, adores Jiang Siniang for her talents and abilities. He even found someone to act as a matchmaker and it’s rumored that they’re pretty close to announcing an engagement!”

“Someone who sells her work for a living is in talks about getting married to the prime minister’s son? Are you trying to deceive Auntie here?” Madam Liu felt as if she was listening to some mythical story and found it incredibly hard to believe. 

“If you don’t believe me, then go around and ask other people! Now all of the nobles in the capital no longer want to find a daughter-in-law who is from a wealthy family and follows the three morals and four virtues. Instead, they want to find a woman who is talented, confident, and strives for constant self-improvement. The emperor himself had said: ‘a truly beautiful woman is one who is confident and independent’!”

When Yu Xiaocao heard Zhou Zixu describe the current emperor’s mentality, she admired and felt extremely curious about this fellow transmigrator who was sitting at the top. In a country that had already experienced the Tang Dynasty’s Wu Zetian seizing the throne, the fact that he was willing to raise women’s status in society and advocate for women’s rights truly meant that he might encounter harsh opposition!

Zhou Zixu continued to persuade her, “Auntie, with Xiaocao’s abilities and a few more years, she absolutely can become one of the best culinary talents in the country! Jiang Siniang managed to conquer the country with her embroidery and designing abilities, but Xiaocao has enough talents to also become famous. Auntie, you absolutely cannot restrict Younger Sister Xiaocao in a little town like Tanggu. Wouldn’t that be ruining her potential to become a famous chef?”

Madam Liu couldn’t tell the north from the south after hearing Zhou Zixu’s convincing arguments. She hesitantly looked at her husband and then softly said, “Husband...how about you accompany Cao’er to go to the prefectural city tomorrow?”

“Thank you, Mother! Mother, you’re the best!! I love you the most!!!” Xiaocao became wild with joy. She threw herself at Madam Liu and kissed her mother’s face several times.

Madam Liu was caught off guard and fell onto ground into the vegetable field, crushing a few heads of leaf lettuce! She half-laughed and half-rebuked her daughter, “Child, what made so crazy? Quickly get up!!”

On the side, Yu Hai felt a burst of jealousy, “Only your mother is good? Then what about me, your father, am I no longer good? Don’t forget, your old man will be the one painstakingly accompanying you to the prefectural city tomorrow!”

Yu Xiaocao immediately changed her target and placated her jealous father, “Father is also the best! Xiaocao is really too fortunate to have the world’s best father and mother!”

“Such a toady!” Little Shitou sourly remarked. He only had two days of break, so he had lost his chance to go to the prefectural city. 

Yu Hang leisurely walked up to his little brother and rubbed his small head, “In the future when you have passed the county level exams and need to take the provincial level exams, then you’ll have your opportunity to go to the prefectural city. If you feel envious right now, then use your own efforts to achieve your goals!”

Little Shitou wrapped his hands into tight fists and firmly asserted, “Older Brother! The prefectural exam is not my ultimate goal. My ultimate goal is——to reach the imperial court examinations! I will certainly make my parents and second sister proud of me!”

“Yes, Older Brother believes in you! Don’t give yourself too much pressure, as long as you do your best, then you won’t have any regrets!” Yu Hang didn’t want his little brother to lose his innocent heart due to throwing himself into his schoolwork. In addition to raising his confidence, Yu Hang also wanted to give the little fellow some warmth.

This was the first time that Zhou Zixu and Zhao Han saw Yu Xiaocao reveal her childish side. They both thought that it was cute and refreshing and couldn’t help but simultaneously reveal gentle smiles. 

Zhou Zixu took the lead, “Xiaocao, Uncle Yu, are you guys really going into the prefectural city on foot tomorrow? Even if you walk for the whole day without rest, you may not be able to get there by dark. Can Younger Sister Xiaocao endure a journey like that?”

 Xiaocao was afraid that her father would get the idea, again, that she shouldn’t go, and hastily replied, “We have Little Gray ah! It shouldn’t be a problem for it to pull the four of us in the cart!”

Zhao Han couldn’t help but chuckle at the eager expression Xiaocao had on her face, “My family has two horses at home. If Uncle Yu knows how to ride a horse, then my father and I can take one while Uncle Yu and Xiaocao ride the other.” “Wow! Brother Han has horses at home? And two of them? Brother Han’s family is really rich ah!” Because the start of dynasty occurred after a long and lengthy battle, the price for a horse had risen without stopping. This meant that, for an average family, buying a horse was similar to buying a new car in the modern times. The cheapest and most ordinary horse on the market would cost at least a hundred or so taels to purchase. 

Yu Hang gently knocked on his little brother’s head and smiled, “Why are you feeling envious? It’s not like our family can’t afford to buy a horse now, but it’s more like we don’t need one! After you pass the county level exams, we’ll buy you one!” 

Perhaps it was due to a boy’s temperament, but Little Shitou had always liked horses, even when he was very young. After he heard his brother’s suggestion, his eyes lit up, “Older Brother, is that a promise? But isn’t our family’s money all in Second Sister’s hands right now?”

Yu Hang pinched the little boy’s face and discovered that it felt quite nice. No wonder his little sister liked abusing this little fellow’s face so much! He stopped pinching after the Little Shitou protested and confidently replied, “After I completely recover, I will also help the family earn money. Do you really think that your eldest brother won’t be able to save enough money to buy you a horse by the time you pass the county examinations?”

Little Shitou remembered that his oldest brother was always reliable and never promised more than he could provide. He nodded his head eagerly, “Eldest Brother, I believe in you! I will just wait until you buy me a horse then!!”  

On the other hand, Yu Xiaocao was still negotiating the way they should travel to the prefectural city. Zhou Zixu looked somewhat worriedly at Yu Hai and said, “Uncle Yu says he knows how to ride a horse, but because he doesn’t do it often, he’s out of practice. If Xiaocao is also riding pillion with him, it won’t be very safe, especially for such a long journey, right?”

Zhao Han apparently also had some misgivings. He thought for a bit before he suggested, “How about we get up earlier and ride the horses to town. Aren’t there always horse carts in town in the morning that are going to the prefectural city? The carts all have rubber wheels, so Xiaocao would also be more comfortable sitting on one.”

“I could also ride Little Gray too! Little Gray is very well-behaved and is also fast on his feet!” Usually when there wasn’t anything important going on, Xiaocao and Little Shitou would climb onto Little Gray’s back and let the donkey run around the mountain roads a couple of times.

Although Zhou Zixu wasn’t entirely happy with the idea, he still honored Xiaocao’s choice. He spoke to Yu Hai, “Uncle Yu, you should ride my horse there! My mother had especially chosen a more docile horse for me to ride. Thus, you can all have one person per animal, and it’ll be easier that way.”

“Okay! Let’s just do it that way!” Yu Xiaocao cheerfully decided on the arrangements. Then she immediately started to plan what she needed to bring on the trip. ‘We need to take some water ah, dried rations and other stuff like it. We absolutely need to bring some money for traveling expenses, and it cannot be too little…’

“Xiaocao, do you plan on bringing that ginseng to sell?” The ginseng that Little Glutinous Dumpling found had to be at least five hundred years old and was worth quite a lot.

There were a lot of wealthy people in the prefectural city, so it wouldn’t be difficult to find a buyer. However, it was possible to become a target for some of the more unscrupulous people. Although Zhao Han had confidence in his and his father’s abilities to fight off some small thieves, he was afraid that Xiaocao might become scared from such a situation. Her body had always been weak. Receiving a fright would only cause problems for her. 

“Ginseng? What sort of ginseng?” Zhou Zixu couldn’t help but ask after seeing the solemn expression on Zhao Han’s face.

Xiaocao carelessly replied, “The last time I was in the mountains, I managed to dig up a ginseng that is on the older side. I’m planning on selling it for money.”

“If it’s a very old ginseng and you’re not hurting for money, I advise you to keep ahold of it. In the future, it’ll act as a guarantee against a bad situation. After all, old ginseng are objects that can only be discovered but cannot be bought in a place like Tanggu Town.” Zhou Zixu liked to prepare for the far-off future. Xiaocao and her mother had weak constitutions. With an old ginseng at home, if anything bad happened, it could be the difference between life and death.

Zhao Han nodded his head in approval, “I also believe that’s the best way! After all, it’s a ginseng that’s over five hundred years old…”

“A ginseng that’s at least five hundred years old? You want to sell it? Are you stupid or crazy?? Keep it, you have to keep it!! Did you know that Tongren Medicine Hall in town, which is a very large pharmacy, rarely sees a hundred year old ginseng, let alone ginseng that’s at least five hundred years? If you need money, then come to me first! You absolutely cannot sell that ginseng!!”

When Zhou Zixu heard how old the ginseng was, he almost exploded in astonishment. For a family like his, which had been accumulating treasures for several hundred years, their storeroom only had one ginseng that was over five hundred years old. If they didn’t cut a few pieces off of the ginseng to simmer into medication for the most recent illness that his grandfather had, then the elderly man might not have survived! Ginseng that was at least five hundred years old...those who had money couldn’t find any on the market, and they wanted to sell it? That would truly be an astronomical waste!

“We’re not going to sell it, okay! Why are being all agitated now?” Yu Xiaocao rolled her eyes inwardly. However, it was better to keep it! Although she currently had the little divine stone as her ace in the hole, it would likely restore all of its spiritual energy one day and leave. Without her godly cheat item, that old ginseng may be the item that could save her entire family.

After confirming the departure time for tomorrow with Xiaocao and her father, Zhao Han said his farewells and left. He also needed to go home to prepare for the journey to the prefectural city. 

As for Third Young Master Zhou, after eating a simple yet delicious breakfast at the Yu Residence, he sat on the donkey cart with Yu Hai, who was on his way to the docks to sell braised food. When they got to the docks, he went directly to the oyster sauce factory construction site at the docks. At the most crucial moment, he absolutely would not feel relieved if he wasn’t there to supervise everything himself!

At this time, the Yao Family’s and Zhenxiu Restaurant’s horse carts had arrived at the Yu Family Residence. The tomatoes that everyone had once rejected were now their most popular produce.

Tomatoes that had been watered with mystic-stone water were incredible. No matter if they were eaten raw, stir-fried, stewed in soups, they all tasted amazing. When eaten raw, they were refreshingly sweet and sour, with lots of juice. They not only quenched the thirst but also had a delicious texture. When cooked, they were very versatile and could be used in a multitude of dishes. Some examples included: stir-fried tomatoes with scrambled eggs, tomatoes stir-fried with tofu, tomatoes stir-fried with rice cakes, tomatoes stewed with brisket...Yu Xiaocao could make over ten dishes with tomatoes that all had different flavors.  

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Myst's Thoughts

Tomato feast

Sanguine’s Thoughts: Mmmm tomatoes. Nothing beats a ripe tomato fresh off the vine!

Translator: Sanguine