Chapter 142 - Heading Back

“The previous dynasty’s emperor was a stupid dog! Master was loyal and devoted to him yet he ended up getting chased by that man’s soldiers! Serves him right for getting killed by his trusted aides, that is true karmic retribution within one’s lifetime!!” Fang Zizhen seethed angrily. If the previous dynasty’s emperor hadn’t believed the slander, then his master would not have had to endure so much hardship, and he wouldn’t have been out of contact with him for so long.

Zhao Bufan smiled, “These are all old events, it’s best not to mention it! Older Martial Brother, it’s getting late. You should go and rest first, we can meet up again tomorrow.”

“It’s been so long since I’ve talked to you and I have so many things to discuss! I won’t leave tonight. Li Li, go check if there are any rooms open and reserve one for me. Tonight I want to talk to my younger martial brother by the candlelight!” Fang Zizhen felt as if he was in a dream and was afraid that if he left, he would wake up.

At this moment, Yu Xiaocao and her father had already returned to their own room and were talking quietly.

“Father, I never would have thought that Brother Han was the descendant of a general!” Yu Xiaocao had extracted the most important piece from Fang Zizhen’s words: Grandpa Zhao was a high-ranking general and was given a death sentence by the previous dynasty’s emperor after getting slandered.

Yu Hai slowly nodded his head, “I had found out a while ago that Older Brother Zhao’s family’s marital skills were exceptional. Now that I know he’s from a general’s family, it all makes sense now!”

“Father, Grandpa Zhao’s adopted son is a general of the current dynasty. Do you think Grandpa Zhao and Uncle Zhao will become generals now?” Yu Xiaocao’s eyes lit up. Brother Han was about to become a son of a general, so cool!  Yu Hai, on the other hand, was not so optimistic, “However, Uncle Zhao was a general of the previous dynasty, and he even faced off against the emperor emeritus before. No matter how magnanimous the emperor emeritus is, it’s impossible that he would give him a position. That being said, our current emperor is not like the emperor emeritus, who rewarded those with military talents only.”

Yu Xiaocao also thought that her conjecture was little past the realms of possibility and laughed, “That’s true! Earlier I was thinking that if Brother Han and his family were awarded a position at court, then they would definitely have to leave Dongshan Village. In the future, I wouldn’t have the chance to go hunting with him in the mountains. I even felt a little sad. But now it’s okay, I don’t have to worry anymore!”

Yu Hai suddenly thought of something and guffawed, “You want to go up into the mountains to go hunting! I’ve been told it’s forbidden for me, let alone you, right? With your mother watching us, the two of us shouldn’t even think about running into the mountains!”

Yu Xiaocao complained half jokingly and half seriously, “Ah, why is Mother so afraid? It’s like being afraid of a rope for ten years after being bitten by a snake! The areas around the West Mountains don’t have any vicious creatures, why is she being so strict with you and me?”

Yu Hai sighed heavily, “Your mother was truly frightened to death after my accident! In any case, we don’t rely on hunting anymore to make money! Cao’er, fortunately we have you. Otherwise, I don’t know how our family would have survived until spring without all of us dying of hunger!”

Xiaocao laid down and snuggled into the blankets. She rubbed her tired eyes and mumbled, “Father, we’re all one family, why are you saying such polite words? In the future, our family will continue to get better and better…”

The silvery moonlight shone through the windows and illuminated Xiaocao’s fair and peaceful face. Her long eyelashes left a shadow on her cheeks. Yu Hai quietly looked at his daughter’s face, which seemed to become more delicate with each passing day. He could still remember when she was first born; she was as skinny as a monkey then and cried pitifully without a lot of energy. His heart simultaneously felt sorrowful yet joyful that his youngest daughter had overcome the bitter part of life to enjoy the sweet part...  The two of them slept until Zhao Han’s knock on the door woke them up. Yu Xiaocao rubbed her eyes and managed to dress herself while still half-asleep. Zhao Han said with a bit of embarrassment, “Did I startle you two awake? I’m really sorry about that!”

“Brother Han, why are we waking up so early?” Yu Xiaocao used a hand to cover her mouth as she yawned greatly.

Zhao Han twitched his lips and replied, “It’s my martial uncle’s fault! Last night he talked with my father until the middle of the night. This morning, he knocked on the door to come in before the sun got up. If I had known earlier, I would have had my martial uncle and my father sleep in one room, then I could have slept in my martial uncle’s room!”

“Your martial uncle and your father haven’t seen each other for more than thirty years, so it’s natural that they have a lot of things to say to each other! How about we deliver the geese today, so we don’t disturb Uncle Zhao and your martial uncle while they’re reminiscing?” Yu Xiaocao carefully dipped the toothbrush she had bought yesterday into some salt and attentively brushed her teeth. 

After she transmigrated over, she found out that her family used willow twigs to brush their teeth. She had believed that toothbrushes hadn’t been invented in this time period. If you weren’t careful when you used a willow twig while brushing your teeth, you could end up jabbing yourself in the gums, causing bleeding. She was very unused to this technique.

Yesterday night, when they were strolling around the night market, she found a place selling toothbrushes made with the bristles from a pig. After scalding the bristles with some hot water, it was actually pretty easy to use as a toothbrush. She also bought some teeth cleaning salt from the same booth, and she was told that the people living the prefectural city all used this type of salt to brush their teeth.

Yu Hai had also been browbeaten by his daughter to brush his teeth. He rinsed his mouth as he said, “Older Brother Zhao doesn’t have the time today. However, I don’t have much to do. The nobility in the prefectural city have a lot of customs. You both are also half-grown children, so be careful not to cause any trouble.”

Yu Xiaocao giggled, “Father, you’re really underestimating us! We’re just delivering a pair of wild geese, what kind of trouble can we get into? That being said, right now we have a powerful supporter behind us! Brother Han’s martial uncle is titled as the Zhaoyong General [1] and is a third-rank official at court! For the sake of his face, the prefectural magistrate won’t try to make things difficult for us!”

“Stop taking advantage of other people’s power! You, ah, your courage has always been larger than the sky. The prefectural city has deeper waters than you can swim, so don’t cause any trouble!” Yu Hai pulled on his daughter’s pigtails and seriously warned her.

 Yu Xiaocao stuck out her tongue at her father and wrinkled her nose, “I know, your daughter knows the severity of the issue! Stop pulling on my pigtails, it took me a while to braid them up!”

Normally at home, Yu Xiaocao would only braid her hair into simple pigtails and leave it that way. She never tried to wind it into more complicated styles. Earlier, she only managed to add some hair ornaments at the top of her braided pigtails after spending more than half the morning staring into her reflection in the washing water.

Yu Hai teased, “You don’t even know how to style hair, are you still considered a girl? Are you sure that your soul didn’t go into the wrong body and that our family was supposed to have another silly boy instead?”

Yu Xiaocao rolled her eyes at him. ‘Am I really your biological daughter, you silly man?’

Fang Zizhen’s assistant went to the prefectural city’s most famous breakfast stand in the morning and took back some takeout for them. Xiaocao and her father also benefited from this. They both got to eat Jinwei Prefectural City’s most famous soup dumplings and Erduoyan fried rice cakes. Xiaocao felt extremely satisfied afterwards. This trip was worth it in her mind as she had gotten try a lot of snacks that were hard to find in Tanggu Town!

When he found out that Zhao Han needed to go to the prefectural magistrate’s residence to deliver the wild geese, Fang Zizhen instructed his subordinate, Li Li, to go with them.

With someone with them, it was easier to finish the errand. The prefectural magistrate had recognized Li Li as an attendant of the Zhaoyong General, so he personally received them. When he saw the two sleek and plump, large geese, he was extremely pleased. In addition, the two people in front of him were recommended by the Zhaoyong General himself, so he naturally wouldn’t treat them unfairly. He ended up buying the two geese for around a hundred taels total!

Zhao Han went according to the deal he had struck at the time with Xiaocao and gave her half of the money he received. Xiaocao didn’t need these fifty taels at this time and graciously said, “Brother Han, you were the one who contacted the buyer and found the geese. I only helped you with some minor tasks, so how could I possibly take your money?”

Zhao Han adamantly refused to take back the money and added, “If it wasn’t for your secret bait, I would not have been able to trap these two geese so easily. Let me tell you, capturing a live goose is many times more difficult than killing one. Although my archery skills are quite good, I can’t guarantee that I would be able to take down a goose completely intact! That being said, you were the one who helped raise the geese at home. After being there for so many days, I doubt anyone besides you could take such good care of these geese. You deserve this money! If you don’t take it, then I’ll take it as you looking down on your Brother Han!”

After he said that, Yu Xiaocao really couldn’t refuse anymore. She had no choice but to take the money and said, “Alright, then I’ll take the money!”

A simple stroll to the prefectural magistrate’s home meant that she made all the money she needed to go shopping in the city! Yu Xiaocao shopped around like a fiend for the rest of the day. At noon, she ate at a pretty good tavern for lunch and tried several dishes that were specialties of Jinwei City. After one day in the city, she managed to buy a lot of things. If she wasn’t afraid that she wouldn’t be able to haul more stuff home, Xiaocao likely would have spent all fifty taels in one day!

The next day, early in the morning, the group of people proceeded to go back home. They had arrived in the city with four but they were going home with three additional people——Fang Zizhen and his two subordinates. 

On the whole way there, Fang Zizhen was antsy, wishing that they could immediately appear in Dongshan Village. His equestrian skills were quite good, and he was riding a horse that was one of the finest steeds available. When he saw Xiaocao and the others not in a hurry, he couldn’t help but propose, “Xiaofan! How about...the two of us head off first. With Li Li and the other assistant staying with them, we don’t need to worry about Xiaohan’s and the others’ safety.”

Zhao Bufan laughed brightly, “Okay! Older Martial Brother Zizhen, let’s see who’s better at riding! On behalf of my father, I’ll check to see if you’ve been slacking on your horsemanship all these years, alright?”

Fang Zizhen felt like he was back in the past, with a ten year old Little Bufan. The youth loved to compete horsemanship skills with him and would even snivel when he lost!

“Haha...okay! Xiaofan, your martial brother is not going to go easy on you ah! If you lose, you’re not allowed to cry!!” Fang Zizhen laughed in a teasing manner. 

Zhao Bufan felt his old face flush red and caught sight of his son sniggering at him. He spoke to his martial brother, “No need to bring back old events of the past! People often say: a soldier can change a lot in three days, enough to change your perspective! Almost thirty years have passed and your younger martial brother has never slacked on his archery and horsemanship skills!”

“With Master around, even if you wanted to slack you wouldn’t be able to!! A strict teacher will have brilliant students, I firmly believe, Xiaofan, that you will be able to astonish me with your skills. Let’s go!” Fang Zizhen made sure to leave him some face and didn’t bring up all of his awkward childhood incidents of the past.

The two of them bolted off, leaving dust in their trail. Yu Xiaocao watched their strong and healthy figures rapidly disappearing in the distance and felt extremely envious. Galloping swiftly on horseback looked extremely carefree, and she also wanted to experience it for herself. However, with her tiny body and poor riding skills, it was likely that she would never be able to try.

Zhao Han had a gentle smile on his face as he looked at her, as if he could tell what she was harboring in her heart. He proposed, “How about this, I could bring you along on a gallop?”

Yu Xiaocao was just about to accept the offer when her father pitilessly stopped her, “Not okay! Men and women should not have physical contact! Cao’er, if you want to ride a horse, Father can take you along!”

Yu Xiaocao pouted and shook her head sulkily. Her father’s equestrianism was not much better than her own. He couldn’t go faster than Little Gray!

“Little Gray, go faster! Father, if you can keep up with me, then you can bring up riding with you again!” Xiaocao gently squeezed the little donkey’s abdomen with her legs, and Little Gray immediately stretched out its legs and started to run.

Xiaocao could hear the wind rushing by her ears as the trees on the sides of the road whipped by. Her clothing, with its wide sleeves and fluttering pant legs, fluttered in the wind...a peel of silvery laughter came out of her and colored the surroundings.

“Eh? This little donkey’s speed is actually not bad.” Li Li exclaimed in admiration as his eyes opened wide in astonishment. An ordinary donkey would not be able to run so fast. But no matter how hard he looked, this drably gray donkey didn’t have any distinguishing features ah! 


[1] Zhaoyong General (昭勇将军) - Zhaoyong means bright and courageous.

Previous Chapter Next Chapter

Myst's Thoughts

Food Pic

Sanguine’s Thoughts: Wonder what’s in store for Zhao Han’s family now...