Chapter 160 - Deliberately Making Things Difficult

Under his adoptive daughter’s admiring gaze, Fang Zizhen said in a somewhat smug manner, “I got back last night. It was too late, so I rested in town. I went to the docks this morning and got hungry from smelling your family’s braised food. After I hastily listened to the reports, I hurriedly rushed over. During the past few days when I was at the capital, I really missed my daughter’s cooking!”

Yu Xiaocao feigned a troubled expression and sighed, “Godfather, I didn’t know that you were going to come back early, so I didn’t prepare enough ingredients. What should I do?”

Fang Zizhen couldn’t stand seeing his goddaughter being unhappy, so he quickly said, “Good daughter, Godfather loves to eat anything that you make! Like lettuce with oyster sauce ah, braised eggplants ah, stir-fried eggs and tomatoes ah… Just casually pick some vegetables from the fields, and my daughter can make the most delicious dishes.”

Yu Hai’s heart felt slightly sour as he looked at their benevolent father and filial daughter appearance, as if his most beloved treasure had been robbed from him. Actually, it was also pretty good that Brother Fang became his daughter’s godfather. There would be another person to dote on her and protect her. Ay… It seemed like his daughter had rarely enjoyed a day of happiness with him. He was really useless; he couldn’t even protect his own daughter!

Xiaocao seemed to have sensed her father’s depressed mood. She turned around, smiled brightly at him, and said, “Father, why did you come back so late today? Did the braised food not sell well today?”

Yu Hai hastily sorted out his emotions and smiled at his daughter, “The braised food sold out very quickly. Didn’t I just happened to meet Brother Fang at the docks? Considering that there was nothing good to eat at home, I went to the market to buy a few catties of pork belly, as well as your favorite spare ribs.”

During this era, people usually chose the area with more fat when buying pork. Spare ribs were mostly bone and didn’t have much meat. If it weren’t for Yu Xiaocao, who liked spare ribs, Yu Hai wouldn’t have bought them. Fortunately, spare ribs weren’t expensive. With the money for one catty of meat, he could get more than two catties of spare ribs!

“There’s spare ribs ah! That’s great, we can have spoon worms and spare ribs soup for lunch! The delicious soup will definitely make you guys want second servings!” Yu Xiaocao pretended to be very happy in order to lift her father’s dejected mood.

Yu Hai’s expression slightly relaxed and he asked in a soft voice, “Spoon worms? Oh right, you guys went to dig spoon worms today. How was it? Xiaocao has never dug for spoon worms before. It wasn’t easy, right?”

Xiaolian, who was next to him, laughed, “Father, you’re looking down on Younger Sister. She dug out more than me. We dug out the most in the entire village and got over two taels from selling them! We earned more than you, who had been working all morning at the docks!”

Yu Hai looked at his pair of daughters approvingly and said with a smile, “My daughters are really capable!”

“That’s right! Just look at whose daughter I am!!” Yu Xiaocao raised her head with her nose pointed towards that sky as if unbeatable.

Fang Zizhen guffawed and said, “Yes, that’s right! You’re definitely worthy of being Fang Zizhen’s daughter! You take after me!”

Yu Xiaocao deliberately feigned a look of disdain. She looked at his beard filled face and said with a scrunched-up face, “Godfather, why do I have this feeling that you’re not praising me? If I take after you, will I still be presentable?” As she spoke, she touched her own face with a worried expression.

Her funny expression and humorous words amused everyone. Fang Zizhen laughed the loudest and refused to concede, “Daughter! Do you know why your godfather, I, grew out a beard? When I was young, I was also a very handsome and good-looking man, and had the nickname ‘Jade Face Young General’ on the battlefield. I felt that it was too feminine, and my face didn’t look intimidating enough, so I grew out a beard. Once your godfather, I, shave my beard, I definitely won’t look inferior to that of your Uncle Zhao!”

“I don’t believe you! You’re just saying it and there’s no proof. You can only prove it by shaving off your beard!” Yu Xiaocao’s disbelieving expression of ‘you’re bluffing’ caused Fang Zizhen to nearly have the urge to shave his beard on the spot!

They laughed and chatted all the way back to the Yu Residence. Yu Hang, who had just finished watering the melon fields, put down the carrying pole in his hands and heard the sound of laughter coming from behind him. He said with a gentle smile, “Uncle Fang is back ah! Quickly come sit and have a drink.”

Xiaocao carried the basket of sandworms to the well in the backyard and prepared to make lunch after cleaning them. Madam Liu, who was washing clothes beside the well, saw the fat and fleshy worms inside the basket, and the fine hair on her body nearly stood up. She chided in a low voice, “What did you dig these worms for? It looks so creepy!”

Xiaocao stirred the basket of squirming sandworms, like it was a treasure, and excitedly said, “Mother, these sandworms might look disgusting, but they’re very tasty. In addition to cooking, it can also be dried and grinded into powder, which can enhance the taste of food! I’ll go find some bamboo sticks and teach you how to clean the sandworms!”

Yu Xiaocao ran back into the front yard and asked her father to cut a few bamboo sticks that were half the thickness of chopsticks. Then she pulled Xiaolian and ran back to the rear yard. Yu Hai cried behind her, “Do you want me to help?”

“No need! You should go and drink tea with Godfather!” Yu Xiaoao’s crisp voice could be heard from the backyard.

Madam Liu looked at the sandworms, resisted the discomfort in her heart, picked one up and asked, “What do I do with this thing? Just wash it in the water?”

“No! Sandworms have sand sacs and sand in their stomach. If they’re not cleaned properly, then you can’t eat them. I know one of the most convenient ways to clean sandworms. Look, first put the sandworm inside the water, insert the bamboo stick from one end, and poke it out from the middle. Then, slowly invert half of the sandworm. After that, insert another stick inside the other end and poke the stick out from the same place, and then flip the other half inside out. See, this is the guts and sand in the sandworm. You just need to wash them in water!” Yu Xiaocao demonstrated while explaining. She worked skillfully with her little hands, and swiftly cleaned a sandworm.   

Xiaolian had already picked up one in her hands and followed Xiaocao as she demonstrated. Although her movements were a little clumsy, she still completed the task of turning out the internal organs of the sandworm and washing it carefully in water.  

Madam Liu wasn’t an unreasonable person either, so she swiftly overcame the obstacles in her heart and skillfully flipped the sandworms inside out. The three of them were all swift workers, so they quickly finished cleaning the three catties of sandworms. Yu Xiaocao was afraid that the sand inside had not been completely cleaned, and rinsed it several times with clean water.

When she appeared in the front yard again, she noticed that there was an extra person in the courtyard. After looking closely, she realized that it was Zhou Zixu, Third Young Master Zhou, who she hadn’t seen for a long time. During the past month or so, he had been staying at the site of the harbor construction, and had even gotten a shade tanner. However, his hard work and efforts weren’t in vain because the construction of the oyster sauce factory had finally been completed. After being simply furnished, it should be ready for use next month.

“Third Young Master, such a rare guest! What sort of wind blew you over today?” Yu Xiaocao joked with him.

As if he was guarding against a thief, Fang Zizhen examined Third Young Master Zhou from head to toe. What kind of relationship did this youngster have with his goddaughter? Why did his daughter sound so familiar with him?

Third Young Master Zhou chuckled and said with a smile, “The authentic northwest wind! I just came back from the docks. Our factory should be able to start operating soon. I must share this good news with you as soon as possible. What delicious food did you make today? I specially came at this time ah!”

‘Stinky brat! Talking so familiarly with my daughter, he wouldn’t have some improper intentions, right? No! Such a good daughter, I must keep an eye on her!’

General Fang, you think too much. Xiaocao was only ten years old. What kind of inappropriate thoughts would a little kid like her arouse? He wasn’t a pedophile!

Fang Zizhen raised his composure as a government official, coughed twice, and said, “You are the third young master of the Zhou Family, who built a factory at the docks? Have you been approved to build a factory at the docks? The harbor is being reconstructed right now, so everything must be properly arranged…”

Third Young Master Zhou was able to obtain his present achievements in the business industry at such a young age, so he naturally had his own connections. Knowing that the person in front of him was in charge of the harbor constructions, he hastily bowed and greeted him, “The location of this youngster’s factory is still a certain distance away from the harbor, so it won’t interfere with the construction of the port.”

“Oh? How do you know that your factory won’t interfere with the planning of the new harbor?” Fang Zizhen didn’t like this weak-looking youth and decided to make things difficult for him.

Third Young Master Zhou was puzzled about when he had offended this lord, the imperial envoy. He seemed to be picking on him on purpose. He continued to speak in a humble and respectful manner, “Before this youngster prepared to build the factory, I have made several confirmations with the county magistrate, so…”

Fang Zizhen frowned and said, “You started to prepare for the construction of your factory several months ago, right? At that time, the detailed regulations for the harbor construction hadn’t come out yet. So, who gave you the confidence that your factory won’t affect the construction of the harbor?”

Just as Third Young Master Zhou was drenched in sweat from being interrogated by the imperial envoy, Yu Xiaocao, who had heard a few words in the kitchen, poked her head out and asked, “Godfather, our factory affects the planning of the port construction? What should we do? It wasn’t easy to build it. Do we have to wait a few months and rebuild the factory again?”

‘Our factory? What does that mean?’ This was a sign that his daughter was helping the outsider ah! No, he had to nip that thought in the bud!

Fang Zizhen moved closer and whispered to Yu Xiaocao, “Daughter, what do other people building a factory have to do with us? You don’t have to worry about this matter!”

“How can it be none of my business? I have twenty percent of the shares in the oyster sauce factory! Delaying the operation by a day means that I will get my dividends a day later! Godfather, quickly think of a solution!” Yu Xiaocao actually wasn’t short on money these days. Zhenxiu Restaurant’s osmanthus duck was selling very well, so she received at least a thousand taels every month. But who would dislike earning more money? Of course, it would be better to get more of the shiny, white silver ah!

Fang Zizhen widened his eyes in anger, ‘This good brat is giving my daughter twenty percent dividends for no reason at all. Who the heck would believe that he doesn’t have any malicious intentions?! He wants to deceive my precious daughter with a mere twenty percent bonus! Don’t even think about it [1]! Not only is there no door, there won’t even be a window!!’

Fang Zizhen glared fiercely at Third Young Master Zhou, and then bent down and did his best to advise, “Daughter, we shouldn’t take shares that some weird people randomly give you for free! If you need money, Godfather has it ah! When the harbor construction is completed, Godfather will buy several stores for you in the best locations. It’s up to you if you want to open a shop yourself or rent it out. Let’s not take those shares, okay?”


[1] He literally said that there won’t be a door, which means that he won't have any chance to do whatever he's planning on doing. Hence the next line about no door and window.

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Myst's Thoughts

Spoon Worms and Spare Ribs Soup 

lol I feel sorry for Third Young Master Zhou  

Translator: Myst