Yu Xiaocao’s smile became a little more sincere. Although she had a decent impression of Brother Han’s martial uncle, she still firmly declined, “Uncle Fang, thank you for your affections. However, I still can’t accept your kindness…”
‘What? It’s the blessing of several generations for the general to think highly of a little peasant girl like you! Yet you actually dared to reject him?!’ Wu Yun instantly felt indignant for his lord, “Little girl, if you agreed, you will be the young miss of a third-ranked general’s family. You won’t have to sell braised food and farm anymore ah! You can just live a comfortable and leisurely life! In the future, you can also marry the son of an official… Not just anyone can get this lifestyle. You have to think carefully!”
Yu Xiaocao didn’t know whether she should laugh or cry as she looked at him and said, “This uncle, weren’t you just obscurely opposing this idea? Why are you suddenly trying to persuade me? You’re seriously so fickle!”
With a displeased expression, Wu Yun said, “It’s one thing whether my lord accepts you, but it’s another thing for you to decline… For what reason are you refusing? My lord is a brilliant master of martial arts, and has great merits in war. The madam is affable and kind, as well as gentle and refined. This is a good opportunity that only occurs once in a lifetime!”
Yu Xiaocao looked at him with a smile and said firmly, “My father is honest and kind. He loves and cherishes me and my siblings. Furthermore, he listens to me and does everything that I want. My mother is gentle and considerate, and she loves me to her bones. I am very glad to be born into this kind of a family, and I also feel very fortunate to have parents and siblings like them.”
Though Yu Xiaocao’s eyes were brimming with tears, she still had a smile on her little face, which appeared bright and graceful under the sunlight, “When I was young, I often fell ill. My parents were the ones who disregarded themselves and did their best to take care of me in every possible way. They devoted all their energy to me. If I abandoned my parents who loved and pampered me because I wanted to be rich, then am I still someone worthy of your attention, Uncle Fang?”
When Xiaolian heard Fang Zizhen say that he wanted Xiaocao to be his adopted daughter, she held her younger sister’s hand tightly, afraid that her younger sister would be snatched away if she loosened her grip. When she heard Wu Yun state the benefits of being the general’s goddaughter, she felt hesitant within her heart: She wanted her younger sister to have a good future, but she was also reluctant to part with her younger sister, whom she was accustomed to taking care of and protecting. Hot tears welled up in her eyes when she heard Xiaocao’s words of refusal and reason for declining. She felt proud to have such a younger sister! She didn’t pamper her in vain!
When Fang Zizhen heard Xiaocao’s words, he laughed even more heartily, “What a good child! I wasn’t wrong about you!! I just want to take you as my goddaughter, not snatch you away from your family! You can continue living with your family and your parents are still your parents. You will just have some adoptive relatives! Don’t overthink it!! Tonight, I will go to your house and talk to your parents about it, so prepare a good meal. I’ll bring the good wine that was awarded to me by the Emperor and have a good drink with your father.”
Xiaolian still had doubts, so she summoned her courage and asked, “Are you telling the truth? You won’t take away my parents’ daughter?”
“Of course! What kind of person do you guys take me as? I may look like a bandit, but I have never robbed or plundered anyone! Rest assured! Your younger sister will just have a new set of godparents!” Fang Zizhen was very touched by the affections between the sisters and felt even more impressed by how Yu Hai and his wife taught their children.
As long as she didn’t have to leave her parents and her whole family could live together happily, Yu Xiaocao didn’t oppose the idea of having a godfather. In the future, her family certainly wouldn’t be confined to this small village. Thus, it would probably somehow benefit them in the future if she had a powerful and influential godfather, right?
Yu Xiaocao put the last bit of braised food on a plate and gave it to Wu Yun, who had been staring at Uncle Fang’s braised food for a long time.
Wu Yun looked at her, swallowed his saliva as he looked at the dish of braised food, and then proudly said, “I won’t be bribed just because of a plate of braised food!”
“Who would want to bribe you? What are the benefits of bribing you? I’m just giving Uncle Fang face and expressing my concern and sympathy to his subordinates! It’s already noon. Aren’t you tired from running around? Uncle Li, quickly eat some food to fill your stomach!” Yu Xiaocao inwardly laughed at his difficult temperament, and waved her hand at Li Li, who was walking over from a distance.
Li Li helped maintain order at the recruitment site. He was so busy that his face was covered in sweat and his stomach was rumbling from hunger. At this time, Old Liu brought over a full bowl of green vegetables noodles. He took it conveniently and poured a small portion of the braised food into his bowl. He didn’t care that it was scalding and started slurping up the food.
Wu Yun frowned and yelled in exasperation, “That’s my noodles—Alright, Little Chestnut , you actually dared to steal your Older Brother Wu’s noodles and braised food. How irritating!!”
“Wuda , you’re too petty! I’ve been working for half of the day and was extremely busy! You’re just sitting here and chatting with the lord, so can’t you just let me eat first! Mhm, Mhm! This braised food tastes really good. Is this pork tripe? I like it!” Li Li put some more of the braised food into his bowl and ate with relish.
Wu Yun got irritated, and swiftly grabbed the plate that only had half a plate of braised food remaining. He angrily said, “How many times have I told you?! Stop calling me ‘Wuda’!! The little girl gave the braised food to me. Are you a bandit?”
“Don’t you call me Little Chestnut? Why can’t I call you Wuda? Hey, Wuda, you’re getting more and more stingy. I just ate a few pieces of your braised food, so why are you acting like I’m cutting your flesh?!” There wasn’t much noodles left in Li Li’s bowl. He gulped down everything, including the soup, in a few mouthfuls and burped in satisfaction.
Wu Yun’s noodles was just served at this time. He slowly picked up a few strands of noodles and carefully blew on them before he stuffed them into his mouth. He bit off the longer noodle strands and then carefully chewed. After that, he picked up a piece of pig head meat and hesitated for a moment before he placed it into his mouth. When the pig head meat entered his mouth, he paused for a second, and then he chewed a little faster.
Beside him, Li Li’s mouth twitched and said, “Watching you eat seriously makes me anxious. You’re eating like a little lady!”
“Then should I eat like you, who acts like you’re the reincarnation of a hungry ghost, in order to be considered a man? That’s called being boorish, okay? This little lord is a cultivated general, so I won’t lower myself to be the same level as a rude person like you!” Wu Yun glared at him, and then continued to eat the delicious braised food. Although he didn’t say anything, it was obvious that he was very satisfied with the braised food.
Fang Zizhen laughed merrily as he watched his two subordinates bickering. These two fellows had liked to quarrel with each other since they were young soldiers. It had been nearly two decades, but they still liked to argue whenever they got the chance. But he was also aware that if one of them was bullied, then the other would risk his life to help him. It seemed that bickering was just a way for them to improve their friendship.
With a hint of a smile in his gaze, he looked towards Xiaocao and her sister, who were currently packing up their pots and dishes, and asked, “Xiaocao, are you getting ready to go back?”
“I’m going to the small market on that side of the docks to see if there’s any huangdan powder. I also need to go to the construction site over there to see if I can find some quicklime!” Yu Xiaocao packed up the small mud stove, and then put all the dishes and whatnot into Old Liu’s noodles stall. In this way, they wouldn’t have to bring them back and forth, and thus saved them a lot of trouble.
Old Liu and his wife were good-natured people. They had gotten a lot more business since Xiaocao’s family started selling braised food beside them. Right now, dockworkers earned a decent daily salary. On a good day, they could earn over a hundred copper coins. On the docks, they could eat until their bellies were round with just a few copper coins. Most of the dockworkers didn’t mind spending a couple of coins, and there were fewer and fewer people bringing dried rations to the docks.
The taste of Xiaocao’s family’s braised food was universally acknowledged to be good. After buying the braised food, they would also conveniently order a bowl of noodles and enjoy their meal while sitting. As a result, it also boosted the business of Old Liu’s noodles stall, and Old Liu became one of the most popular food vendors at the docks.
The lady boss of another noodles stall on the docks was full of regret. Had she not driven Xiaocao away from her stall at that time, she would have been the one who sold dozens of bowls of noodles every day! She had also quietly gone to find Xiaolian and asked her to sell braised food next to her stall. However, she had been rejected by Xiaolian with the excuse that she was afraid the dockworkers wouldn’t be able to find them and that they would lose their customers! The lady boss’s husband had also quarreled with her a few times for this reason!
When Fang Zizhen heard that Xiaocao wanted to buy huangdan powder, he curiously asked, “Why are you buying huangdan powder? Do you need to use huangdan powder as a seasoning when making braised food?”
Yu Xiaocao shook her head and said, “Although huangdan powder can be used to reduce phlegm, relieve convulsion, and treat mouth ulcer, dysentery, and other illnesses, but it can’t be used as a seasoning. It’s easy to get lead poisoning if one consumes too much huangdan powder!”
“Uh-huh, Uh-huh! Those Taoist priests also use huangdan powder to make pills. The emperor once said that the pills made by Taoist priests are inedible because there’s lead in it! Xiaocao’s viewpoint coincides perfectly with the emperor’s ah!” Fang Zizhen immediately felt that Xiaocao was very smart, to know the same things as the emperor.
The corner of Yu Xiaocao’s mouth twitched slightly. It was seriously very stressful to have such a powerful and high-ranking fellow transmigrator ah!
“If it’s not a seasoning, then what do you need huangdan powder for? To treat an illness?” Fang Zizhen seemed very relaxed as he chatted leisurely with the little girl.
“To make century eggs.” Yu Xiaocao answered nonchalantly.
Fang Zifeng sat up with great interest and asked, “Songhua eggs ? I have heard of chicken eggs, duck eggs, goose eggs… what kind of egg is a songhua egg? Eggs laid by a songhua? Is there a bird called songhua?”
“Uncle Fang, you have such a wild imagination ah! Century eggs are duck eggs made with a special process. There are pine-like patterns on it, so it was named ‘songhua eggs’.” Yu Xiaocao finished packing up and patted the dust on her body. She picked up the basket and prepared to try her luck at the small market.
Fang Zizhen also stood up and said to Wu Yun, “Go help Miss Yu find the quicklime. I’ll go inspect the small market.”
Wu Yun grumbled in his heart, ‘Inspect? What high-sounding words. You just want to follow the little girl and find out what kind of a delicacy century eggs are.’
Wu Yun followed his order and went to look for quicklime. Xiaocao, Xiaolian, and a huge tagalong—General Fang Zizhen—slowly headed towards the small market.
The small market on the wharf was a little market formed spontaneously in an open space. There were low shacks on both sides, which were shops at the market. There were also many stalls selling small goods. Due to a lack of management, the whole market looked dirty and chaotic, and had piles of debris and rubbish on the ground.
Yu Xiaocao shook her head inwardly. There really needed to be some regulations. After the construction of the harbor was completed, there would definitely be proper roads, stores, and a marketplace. There would be people specially assigned to manage this place. It seemed like the construction of the port was indeed a matter that benefited the country and the people!
 Little Chestnut (小栗子) - pun on Li Li's (李力) name since 栗 = li
 Wuda (武大) - da (大) = big
 Songhua (松花) = pine flowerPrevious Chapter Next Chapter
Xiaocao has just gotten herself a strong backing!