Chapter 157 - Sandworm

Early in the morning, a large red sun rose from the sea to the sky. The sea breeze gently blew on the waves, which softly beat against the golden beach. At this time, the tide had receded, so the hard-working villagers of the fishing village had brought along their tools to search for seafood by the sea with their friends and family.

In the spring, the sea water felt cool and refreshing as it brushed against the fishermen’s bare feet. The selfless sea had nurtured generations after generations of fishermen. At this time, there were countless gifts from the sea on the shore, waiting to be excavated by the fishermen like treasures.

“Xiaocao—Xiaocao—” Zhou Shanhu’s clear voice had crossed over the high wall and traveled into the Yu Family’s courtyard. The little girl’s slender figure quickly appeared at the entrance of the yard. Xiaocao and Xiaolian, who were busily working in the vegetable garden, looked at her at the same time.

Zhou Shanhu was slightly stunned as she looked at the two identical faces. She blinked her big eyes and laughed awkwardly and said, “Xiaolian is also at home ah! That’s even better!! I have good news for you guys!”

Xiaolian pursed her lips and asked, “What’s the good news that made you so happy? Did your mother also arrange a good marriage for you?”

Zhou Shanhu’s older sister Zhou Linglong had just gotten engaged last month. Her fiancé was the son of a general store owner. This general store owner also started out as a street peddler like Linglong’s father. He was a clever man, so he had quickly saved up a fortune and rented a shop in town to sell general goods.

The general store owner had a good relationship with Zhou Linglong’s father, so the two families had a close relationship. Right now, most of the goods sold by the Zhou Family were supplied by the general store. There was a son in that family who was around the same age as Zhou Linglong, and they had also met before when they were younger. He was a good-looking young man. It was almost a matter of course for the two families to become in-laws. Zhou Linglong was now embroidering her dowry at home and waiting to get married. Zhou Shanhu wasn’t someone who could stay idle, so she often came over to the Yu Residence to bother Xiaocao. Well, who knew what trifling matter she was going to exaggerate about now.

Zhou Shanhu was a year older than Xiaocao and her sister. The ten year old girl already knew when to feel embarrassed. She glared at Xiaolian with a flushed face and said, “Xiaocao, you’re always bullying me! I’m going to tell Auntie Yu!”

Xiaocao, who was bending over to gather vegetables, felt like she had been shot while lying down. She pursed her lips and said, “I say, Shanhu ah, before you go complain, shouldn’t you make sure who the other party is? I haven’t said a single word since you came in. How did I bully you?”

Madam Liu, who had put the vegetables into the basket, smiled warmly as she looked at the three flower-like young girls. She felt that, no matter how much she looked at them, they were pleasing to the eyes.

When Zhou Shanhu heard that, she realized that she had mixed up the two sisters again. She smiled embarrassingly and said, “Aiya! You guys look too similar, so I made a mistake again! Xiaolian, when did you learn to speak so recklessly?”

‘Okay! So what she means is that I usually speak without a filter ah!’ Xiaocao immediately retaliated, “Xiaolian and I are twins, but we’re not exactly the same. Your older sister has never mistaken us before! It seems like you have a worrisome IQ ah!”

“IQ? What is an IQ?” Zhou Shanhu widened her eyes and asked with a foolish expression.  

Xiaocao picked off a lettuce, gently shook off the soil, and said with peeved expression, “You won’t understand even if I told you! Anyways, you don’t have that thing, so what’s the point in asking about it?”

Xiaolian was laughing her head off beside them. Zhou Shanhu finally realized that Xiaocao must had said something bad about her. She puffed up her cheeks and said, “Xiaocao is always bullying people. Xiaolian, tell me, what exactly is an IQ ah?”

Xiaolian pointed at her own head and laughed, “Think about it yourself!”

Zhou Shanhu wrinkled her brows and thought hard about it. Then she suddenly revealed an angry and embarrassed expression and shouted, “Ok, Yu Xiaocao, you actually said that I’m brainless! I’m not stupid! I’m really smart!!”

Madam Liu watched as the girls made a racket. Though it was very lively, she was afraid that her daughter would actually anger Shanhu. So, she hastily said, “Xiaocao! You’re not allowed to bully Shanhu anymore, do you hear me? Shanhu ah, didn’t you say that you have some good news to tell us?”

Zhou Shanhu smacked her own forehead and shouted, “Aiya! I almost forgot about proper business! Xiaocao, Doctor Sun of Tongren Medicine Hall came to our village in person and said that he wanted to collect spoon worms for a high price!”

With a face full of doubts, Xiaolian asked, “Collect spoon worms? What does he need that for? Is spoon worm also a type of medicinal herb?”

Xiaocao had studied many books on medicine with Doctor You, so she immediately said, “Spoon worm is also known as sandworm. It is cold in nature, and has a sweet and salty taste. It has the effect of nourishing the yin, decreasing internal heat, and clearing the lungs and restoring deficiency. According to the medical books, sandworms are the most suitable food for symptoms such as hectic fever, night sweat due to yin deficiency, asthmatic cough, tightness in chest, phlegm, postpartum lactation insufficiency for women, and so on. For symptoms such as tuberculosis cough, neurasthenia, spleen deficiency or dryness in children, it is an effective treatment to drink soup brewed with sandworm, ginger slices, and lean meat. Sandworm can nourish the yin and kidney, so the consumption of sandworm congee will have good therapeutic effect for children with kidney deficiency and people who suffer from frequent nocturnal urination…”

“Aiya! So spoon worms are actually so useful. It’s no wonder Tongren Medicine Hall offered to buy them for one hundred copper coins per catty! Xiaocao, Xiaolian, let’s quickly go! Otherwise, all the good spots on the beach will be taken!” Before Zhou Shanhu had even finished speaking, she already ran home to get her tools like a gust of wind.

Xiaolian pouted and didn’t seem very optimistic, “It’s not that easy to find spoon worms. They’re all hiding in the sand, and as soon as there’s any movement, they would swiftly hide in an even deeper place. Even after digging for a long time, we still might not necessarily be able to find even one of them!”

Madam Liu looked at her pair of daughters with a smile and said, “Go and take a look with Shanhu! Just think of it as getting some fresh air.”

Her two daughters, one usually stayed at home to tend the vegetable gardens and watermelon fields, while the other one was always selling braised food at the docks. They seldom had the chance to interact and play with their peers. Madam Liu felt pleased, yet her heart also ached, to have two sensible daughters. Fortunately, her husband’s leg had recovered now, and her eldest son had also recuperated from his injuries. Their family wasn’t like before when they wished that each person could split in half and work like two people. It was time for her daughters to relax and make some friends.

Yu Xiaocao was quite interested in the sandworms. She knew that, in addition to its medicinal value, sandworm also had high nutritional value. If they were cooked well, they would definitely taste very good. Although sandworms weren’t as valuable as sea cucumbers, shark fins, and abalones, they tasted delicious and tender. They weren’t inferior to sea cucumbers and shark fins.

She enthusiastically took the little spade from her father, picked up a little bucket, and called Xiaolian to go to the seaside with her. Xiaolian decided to accompany her upon seeing her younger sister’s rare sense of excitement.

Zhou Shanhu had been waiting with a basket near her house. Her older brother, Zhou Shaohua [1] who was usually out selling goods and rarely home, was standing beside her. Zhou Shaohua was around the same age as Qian Wen and Third Young Master Zhou. It might be due to him following his father around throughout the year, but his skin was slightly tanner than the other two. Also, with the Zhou Family’s more prominent facial features, he looked a little older than his actual age and had a slight feeling of a young man. But of course, he was still slightly lacking when compared to Zhao Han!

Ay! It had been over ten days since Brother Han returned to the capital. She really did somewhat miss the days when he was around!

“Quickly, quickly! If Tongren Medicine Hall collected enough, then all our efforts will be in vain!” Zhou Shanhu had a slightly eccentric personality. She talked in a noisy and bustling manner, like a little sparrow.

Under the little girl Shanhu’s urging, the four people quickly reached the seaside. There were many busy figures on the beach along the coast.

“Aiya! It’s so cold!!” Zhou Shanhu frowned and complained. She was wearing straw sandals, so her feet quickly got wet from the seawater.

Xiaocao was wearing the deerskin boots that she asked Third Young Master Zhou to get for her. The boots were well-made and completely waterproof. However, the deerskin boots being soaked in the seawater was seriously a little distressing. Xiaolian wore boots made of shark skin, which were also quite water resistant.

Zhou Shanhu looked at the sisters enviously and whispered to her older brother, “It would be great if our father can also catch a shark and make a pair of boots for me!”

Zhou Shaohua chuckled and said, “Stop dreaming! There are less people over there. Let’s go there!”

Yu Xiaocao had never dug for sandworms before, so she took a shovel and randomly dug in the sand. Xiaolian didn’t know whether she should laugh or cry as she stopped her, “There’s a trick in digging for spoon worms. You can’t dig so recklessly. When looking for spoon worm, you need to find the small holes caused by the worms first. Look, those tufts on the beach are the holes made by the spoon worms. When digging, walk lightly and dig fast. Otherwise, the spoon worms will swiftly hide even deeper at the slightest movement. Also, don’t dig straight down. You should dig at a large angle from the surface of the beach.”

Xiaocao picked up the shovel and worked hard to dig into the worm hole. She had to dig very deep before she managed to dig out a plump sandworm. The sandworm had a slippery body, like a fatter version of an earthworm, and looked quite creepy.

“We were too loud earlier, so this spoon worm hid very deeply. Let’s spread out. Be careful when digging!” Xiaolian put the sandworm into Xiaocao’s little bucket, picked up another basket, and walked towards another direction.

Xiaocao continued to walk along the seaside, and soon found another hole in the sand. She put down her bucket and dug hard. After dug a very deep hole, she prone on the beach with her face against the sand and stretched her hand to search inside the deep hole. Her body and face were covered in sand when she finally caught the sandworm that was trying to slip deeper into the sand.

‘So hungry! If only the sandworms could come out by themselves… Wait! Don’t I have a cheat—the little divine stone—in my hands?’

[Humph! You’re giving me such a low-level task again! It’s such an insult to my dignity as a god!!] A golden light shone from the multicolored stone on Xiaocao’s wrist, and it slowly transformed into a cute miniature kitten. It held its head high as it paced on the beach in a haughty manner.

Xiaocao touched its head with her sand-covered hands, but her hand was slapped away in disgust. Its golden pupils were widened as it screamed, [So dirty! You actually touched my holy and pure fur with such dirty hands. You’re seriously looking down on this Divine Stone!!]

“Dirty? Mhm, it is a little dirty. Wouldn’t it be clean after taking a bath?” Yu Xiaocao grinned mischievously. While the little golden cat wasn’t paying attention, she picked it up by the back of its neck and threw it into the sea.   

[Yu! Xiao! Cao!! This Divine Stone will make you regret what you did to me today!!] The little golden kitten couldn’t use its power in front of so many people, so it flew in a parabola and fell into the sea. 


[1] He was named Zhou Wenhua in earlier chapters, but the author changed his name to Zhou Shaohua.

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Myst's Thoughts

Sandworm Congee

hahaha poor little divine stone  

Translator: Myst