In Dongshan Village, Third Young Master Zhou had solemnly entrusted Yu Hai to help him purchase those items. Of course, he would not let Yu Hai work for nothing. Zhenxiu Restaurant would give him ten percent of the profit as remuneration. Dongshan Village wasn’t the only fishing village around the area, so Zhenxiu Restaurants had also selected a staff member to be responsible for that task in the other fishing villages.
Seafood like oysters and spoon worms were too common in the coastal region, and there weren’t many people who eat it, so very few people would buy them. Even with occasional acquisition, it was hard to sell them for a high price. However, Zhenxiu Restaurant the price that Zhenxiu Restaurant offered for these goods was higher than the market price: ten copper coins for a catty of oysters and twenty copper coins for a catty of spoon worms.
Although offered a much higher price for spoon worms, it was only a temporary acquisition for the medicine hall. Zhenxiu Restaurant, on the other hand, were purchasing spoon worms all year round.
After the news came out, there was an endless stream of people who came to visit the Yu Family’s residence. They were all inquiring about the purchase and the prices of the oysters and spoon worms. After they received reliable information from Yu Hai, both the old and young villagers of Dongshan Village all began to dig for spoon worms and gather oysters.
The sea’s gift to the people was selfless. Every time the tide went out, people would flock to the beach and leave when the tide rises. Even during the low tide at night, people would still carry a lantern and work hard throughout the night.
As long as one was willing to work, there would definitely be a harvest. An average adult could dig at least ten catties of spoon worms in a day. The old, weak, women, and children could also harvest a few catties of oysters. In this way, as long as someone from each household in Dongshan Village was willing to contribute, they could earn a few hundred copper coins in a day without any problem.
There was a steady flow of oysters and spoon worms being purchased. Yu Hai had already taken in over a thousand catties of seafood. These seafood products were all transported to the workshops at the dock. The employees of the condiment factory were all servants who had signed a death contract with the Zhou Family. Whether it was the oyster sauce or MSG, the formulas must be kept a secret. So, the core employees must’ve served the Zhou Family for many generations. Fifty people were carefully selected from the servants to work in the workshop, but when faced with the endless orders, they still lacked manpower.
Cleaning the sandworms was a labor-intensive job. Thus, Third Young Master Zhou set down a new purchasing rule: the prices for cleaned oysters and spoon worms would be twice as high as those that hadn’t been cleaned. Of course, the seafood must still be fresh.
What did the villagers not lack the most? It was labor and time. Although the oysters wasn’t bad, there wasn’t much profit to be earned after the shell was removed. In contrast, the spoon worms wouldn’t lose much weight even after the sand was removed from it. The price of the spoon worm was more expensive than pork, so even if it took more time, the villagers were willing.
For a while, Yu Hai had more work than he could handle. All the cleaned seafood and the uncleaned seafood had to be separately weighed and paid for, and they must also be stored separately. The Yu Family had planted their entire courtyard with vegetables. In order to prevent the people who came to their house to sell seafood from damaging their garden, Yu Hai specially set up a wooden shed at the west side of the fence to be used for the purchase of seafood. It was too much work for just one person, so he asked Yu Hang to help out. The father and son were frantically busy and barely managed to handle everything.
Yu Hai had become stricter with the purchase of seafood ever since he found out that his daughter owned a part of the shares of the condiment factory. He didn’t accept spoon worms that weren’t cleaned properly, seafood that weren’t fresh, and also if they practice fraud by putting water inside the spoon worms to increase its weight… Although he offended some people who wanted to take advantage of him, Yu Hai’s reputation in the village was still pretty good.
No matter where Madam Zhang went these days, she would always hear: XX family earned XX amount of money from selling seafood; XX family was able to pay back their debt owed for several years from famine in just ten days; XX family didn’t have anything to eat or wear in the past, but now they can afford meat… Thus, the old lady’s heart began to waver.
Of course, she couldn’t go cause trouble at the old residence. The imperial envoy was now living in Old Zhao’s old house and would eat all of his three meals at the Yu Family’s house. With such a big Buddha there, even if Madam Zhang was given three times more courage, she still wouldn’t dare to look for trouble.
But at her house, Old Yu and his son had to go out to the sea every day. So, she put her mind on Madam Li and Yu Heizi. Yu Heizi would diligently run to the dock every day, but he wouldn’t even bring back one copper coin. If they are all as greedy as this grandson of hers, where would she get the money for her daughter’s dowry? Where would she get the money to pay for her younger son’s education?
She couldn’t bear to let her daughter, who was going to marry in the autumn, to go to the seaside under the sun and wind. So, she forced Madam Li and Yu Heizi to go to the seaside to dig for spoon worms. One catty of cleaned spoon worms was worth fifty copper coins. With both Madam Li and her son working, it shouldn’t be a problem for them to earn two or three hundred copper coins in a day!
Yu Heizi wasn’t someone who was obedient. Although he could earn money by digging spoon worms, he knew that he wasn’t going to receive any of the money he earned. So why did he have to waste so much effort to get them? After a month of physical exercise, Yu Heizi didn’t look like the short and fat Yu Heizi from the past. Although his skin was still dark, he was a lot stronger, and he didn’t have much body fat on him. He had also grown taller, so now he looked like he was full of vigor.
In order to hide from his grandmother, he would run away every day before the sky turned bright. Madam Zhang couldn’t catch Heizi who was as slippery as a mudfish, so she had strictly watched over Madam Li, forcing her to go to the beach every day. But with Madam Li’s gluttonous and lazy character, how could she be the type of person to work? After digging only a few times, she would start lamenting to the heavens while bawling with tears in her eyes and snot dripping from her nose.
However, Madam Zhang wasn’t a soft-hearted person. What’s more, she had also taken tools and gone to dig for spoon worms at the beach with her head lowered. How could she allow Madam Li to slack off? Seeing that her mother-in-law was also working, she couldn’t find any reason to slack off, so she could only accept her misfortune and dig a little here and there. Both the mother-in-law and the daughter-in-law had no experience in digging for sandworms. Furthermore, Madam Li wasn’t very reliable since she would take every chance she could to slack off. In a day, other people were able to dig about ten catties of spoon worms, but it would already be considered pretty good if the mother-in-law and daughter-in-law pair could dig up two to three catties of spoon worms.
When Madam Zhang saw that other people had harvested a lot compared to them, she felt extremely unhappy in her heart. When she got home, she scolded Madam Li for being worthless, Old Yu for having no abilities, and Yu Dashan for being a good-for-nothing who couldn’t even control his wife… The entire Yu Family was shrouded in her shadow of rage.
Yu Dashan was wedged between his mother and wife, and he was also bad at conveying his feelings. To return peace to the family, he would take the initiative to dig sandworms with Madam Zhang when the tide recedes after he returned from the sea.
There was a strange phenomenon in the Yu Family. The more they worked, the less they got in return. In Madam Zhang’s eyes, this was all right and proper. Yu Hai was like this in the past, and now Yu Dashan was also experiencing the same thing. They worked more, but they also received more complaints!
Madam Li wasn’t like Madam Liu, who was willing to bear hardships without any complaints and watch as all the hard-earned money that she and her husband earned went into her mother-in-law’s pocket. It would’ve been fine if the money was used for them ah! They now earned at least a few hundred copper coins from fishing and gathering seafood at the sea, which should be about three to five taels of silver a month. Yet, they were still eating dark and coarse flatbread and boiled vegetables without oil.
Madam Li soon became discontented with this situation. She looked at her suffering husband and touched her big tanned face. She complained to Yu Dashan who was behind her, “Heizi’s father, we worked ourselves to death, but none of the money we earned is spent on us! It’s all spent on Caidie and Xiaobo! What is the point of us doing all this hard work?”
Yu Dashan didn’t have any strength remaining in his body as he lay on the kang bed. His eyes were half-closed, and he looked like he was about to fall asleep. He was an honest man, so in a low muffled voice, he responded, “You can’t talk like that! Isn’t my younger sister about to get married? The condition of my future brother-in-law’s family is not bad, so if the dowry is too unsightly, she would be mistreated after she gets married. My third brother needs to take the exams during these two years, so he can’t be delayed in his studies…”
Madam Li was so angry that she pinched his arm and said, “Well, good for you, only thinking about your younger siblings. But have you thought about our child? Heizi is fourteen this year, it’s about time for him to start looking around for a suitable wife. However, your mother hasn’t mention this at all! She even wants Heizi to hand over the money he earned! As their older brother, you’re earning money to raise your younger siblings, but it makes no sense for the nephew to earn money to support them!”
Yu Dashan rubbed the arm that got pinched and turned around, “Heizi is still young! It’s not too late for him to start looking for a wife next year. Besides, when Heizi marries, the betrothal gifts will be taken out from the public account. Don’t worry about it! Go to sleep, I still have to go to the sea early tomorrow morning!”
Madam Li had numerous thoughts on her mind, so how could she fall asleep? She said resentfully, “I won’t say anything about your brother since he has to study every day. But your younger sister has arms and legs, so why can’t she work? Your mother treats her like a noble young lady! When she enters her husband’s household, she won’t know how to do anything. It would be a wonder if she doesn’t get beaten!”
Yu Dashan couldn’t fall asleep from the noisiness, so his tone wasn’t good as he said, “You don’t know how to do anything, but did anyone beat you?”
“You dare?! I have a few brothers at home who will support me. Over the years, my maternal family has subsidized our family a lot. With just the food we eat at home, it would’ve been a miracle that we didn’t starve to death. How did you think we were able to stay so plump and healthy?” When Madam Li talked about her maternal family, her waist and back would straighten.
Yu Dashan looked at the fat that had accumulated on her body and snorted, “I don’t think it’s bad for you if you lose some weight! Look at our son, Heizi. After he slimmed down, he looked more and more like me, like a real man!”
Madam Li touched the fat on her waist (Author’s note: Where’s the waist? Do you have a waist?) and sighed. She said, “Looking at it now, it seems like it wasn’t a bad idea for the second branch to move out. Look at how they’re living! I heard that he earns at least a few hundred copper coins in a day just by helping Zhenxiu Restaurant's owner purchase seafood! If our branch had also moved out at that time…”
“Don’t even think about it! Mother won’t allow us to move out!! It’s not like you don’t know about the situation when Second Brother moved out; they were driven out and abandoned. Second Brother was able to endure it because of his fate… He is also someone with a good fortunate ah!”
Yu Dashan’s mood was very complicated when he thought of his younger stepbrother, who was only a few months younger than him. Yu Hai’s capabilities made him look mediocre. He had also worked very hard, but he could never catch up to Yu Hai’s footsteps.
At one point, when Yu Hai was injured and the doctor said that Yu Hai wasn’t going to survive the injury, he had felt relieved for a long time. He thought that the large mountain that was pressed against his head would finally fall down.Previous Chapter Next Chapter
It's a good thing that Heizi knows his grandmother so well and isn't an obedient kid, or else he might become the next Yu Hai...