However, the second son still withstood that hard-pressed situation. The second son’s family now lived more comfortably than they had before they separated from the main branch. This made his mood unbalanced again.
Especially at the beginning of the spring when they went out to the sea, the amount of fish he caught was less than that of Yu Hai. The amount of money he earned was much less, at least half of what Yu Hai earned before. His mother always complained that he had no ability and that he couldn’t even compare with half of Yu Hai. These iron-like facts made him recognize the gap between himself and Yu Hai. The boulder that he had put down for a while once again pressed against his heart.
He went out fishing early in the morning, and he gathered seafood at the sea in the afternoon. Sometimes, he would go out in the middle of the night to dig for sandworms. He worked himself tirelessly to prove to his family that he wasn’t worse than Yu Hai.
However, reality still made him feel dejected. He had worked tirelessly without a moment of rest, yet he was only able to earn two to three hundred copper coins a day. Yu Hai didn’t have to go out to the sea or dig in the sand, but he was able to earn two to three times the amount he earned… If Yu Dashan could read, he would surely have the feeling, ‘there’s always someone better than you.’
Yu Hai, who didn’t know that he was envied and hated by his older brother, was currently anxiously discussing some matters with his family. They were discussing whether or not he should give the job of purchasing seafood to someone else.
Fang Zizhen patted Yu Hai’s shoulder. Using a loud and clear voice, he said, “Why are you hesitating? If you want to do it, then do it. If you don’t want to do it, then throw it at someone else. What’s so complicated about that?”
Yu Hai’s mood was currently very complicated. The family only had a lot of the businesses due to his youngest daughter’s effort. He was only a supporting role in all her efforts. He had allowed a child younger than ten to work busily every day for the family’s livelihood. As a father, he felt guilty and distressed.
Through a stroke of luck, Zhenxiu Restaurant gave him an opportunity to increase the income for the family. Even if he was busy, bitter, and tired, he was happy in his heart. However, the three mu of watermelon in the fields were about to ripen. In order to look after the melons, harvest the melons, or sell the melons, he wouldn’t be able to leave the fields. Therefore, he was struggling to decide whether he should continue the job of purchasing seafood or manage all the matters regarding the melon fields.
When Yu Hai heard that, he bitterly smiled and said, “Brother Mingzhe, it’s easy for you to say that, but I earn three taels of silver from that in just a day. In one month, I can earn 100 taels of silver, so how I can just toss it away? However, we need people to tend to the melon fields at home right now...”
Yu Xiaocao finally understood why her father had a worried frown on his face these past few days. She softly laughed and said, “Father, the melon fields and the purchase of seafood won’t clash with each other. I know that you must feel that we need more people to work at home, yet you can’t balance both jobs simultaneously. I have an idea; I don’t know if you will think it’s feasible or not!”
Yu Hai had a whole new level of respect for his youngest daughter after the first half of the year. He never dared to treat her as a child. Yu Hai was full of hope as he said, “Cao’er, tell me what good idea you have.”
Xiaocao organized her speaking points, and, after thinking about it, she said, “Our family’s watermelons are about to ripen, so we really need someone to look after them. Although it’s fine in the morning, the watermelon fields definitely need someone to tend to during the night. I don’t think anyone else is as qualified as you to look after the melons!”
Fang Zizhen smacked his lips, making his existence known, and said, “It’s just looking after melons! I can call Li Li or Wu Yun back to look after the melons, won’t that solve everything?”
Yu Xiaocao smiled sweetly at her godfather and said, “Godfather, both big brothers are already very busy on the dock. How can I trouble them with my family’s personal matters? Besides, it takes more than one or two days to watch after the melons and sell them. Your idea is not going to work!”
Fang Zizhen glared at her and said, “They should be honored to manage personal matters for this old man. In the past, these two new and young recruits were rescued by me from a mass of dead people.”
“Godfather, I know you’re amazing. However, we shouldn’t coerce them to do things in return for your kindness. Even if Brother Li and Brother Wu take the initiative to come here and help me, I still wouldn’t agree!” Yu Xiaocao definitely didn’t want her godfather suffer from other people’s criticism.
Fang Zizhen was also aware of this point, and he felt very touched by her thoughtfulness. It was a blessing to have a daughter like her.
Yu Hai wanted to say something, but he stopped himself. Yu Xiaocao said to her biological father, “I know that my big brother won’t be able to handle the purchasing of seafood by himself.”
Yu Hang opened his mouth, but he unwillingly closed it. What his younger sister said was the truth. He was only eleven to twelve years old. Besides, the problem was that people in the village might not trust him as he also needed to weigh the goods and collect money when it came to purchasing seafood. He would also need to put the collected goods in the correct places. It was definitely not a one-man job.
Yu Xiaocao gave him a soothing glance and continued, “There’s more work than we can deal with, but we can hire someone to help us! It’s not the harvesting season right now, so the villagers have plenty of free time! We can find someone trustworthy to help father do his job. We won’t make him work for free either. If he works for a day, then we’ll pay him a day’s pay.”
“Do you mean you want to hire someone to work for us? However, we’re all villagers, so it might not be appropriate…” Yu Hai felt like hiring someone to help him do his job would make him the same as those wealthy old landlords exploiting poor farmers. It didn’t feel good at all!
“Father, why would it be inappropriate? It’s the same as when we hire people to build our house. Feeding someone for helping you is the same as giving someone wages! Plus, we aren’t making him work for free.” Yu Xiaocao was very puzzled by her father’s reaction.
Yu Hai thought about it and her reasoning seemed to make sense. He replied hesitantly, “Then...who do you think we should hire? How much should we pay him in a day?”
“This person must have a good and honest character as well as be steady and capable!” Yu Xiaocao said with a smile. She already had a candidate in her mind.
Yu Hang pursed his lips. He hadn’t said anything throughout the exchange but now he finally spoke up, “I think Third Uncle is a suitable candidate for this job. Whenever our family is busy, he would always come over to help. We all know about his honesty and good character! Father, if you still feel guilty about it, you can just pay Third Uncle a little more money!”
Yu Hai thought about it. His younger cousin, Yu Jiang, had a flexible mind and he was a great friend to the family. He was indeed a good candidate for the job, so he nodded his head in agreement.
It was a sunny day the next day. The sun shone warmly on their bodies. Yu Hai went to his uncle’s house early in the morning and told his uncle’s family that he hoped that Yu Jiang could help him out. He was a little embarrassed when he briefly mentioned that he was planning on paying him.
Yu Hai’s eldest uncle, Yu Lichun, was very angry in the beginning. He felt that since they were relatives, it would hurt their relationship if one party paid the other party for just helping out. Yu Jiang also repeatedly stressed that he would go help them, but he won’t accept any money for the work.
Yu Hai’s heart was very touched by them. He received the family love that was missing back home from his eldest uncle’s family. He stood up to his uncle’s preaching and explained everything patiently.
“Eldest Uncle, I’m not inviting Little Jiang over to help out for a day or two. Instead, I’m planning on working with him for a long time. Let me tell you the truth, I receive a 10% profit by helping Zhenxiu Restaurant purchase seafood. How can I make my little brother work for free while I take the money all for myself? Don’t get angry yet, let me finish explaining first! Zhenxiu Restaurant’s condiment factory requires a long-term supply of seafood. Having one person from each family working on it can be considered as two families cooperating together to do business. I’m also taking advantage of your family because our Xiaosha is still half a child…”
Yu Jiang thought that it was a feasible idea for the two families to cooperate together to do business because his cousin’s family couldn’t deal with all the work they had. When he heard this, he quickly helped Yu Hang get some justice and said, “Older Cousin, although Yu Hang is young, he can do an adult’s work. Even if Yu Hang didn’t use an abacus, none of the accountants in town can beat Yu Hang when it comes to calculating accounts!”
Of course, Xiaocao already taught the multiplication tables to her brothers and sisters, so it wasn’t difficult for them to calculate using their heads.
Yu Lichun finally agreed after Yu Hai’s repeated his request sincerely. However, no matter what, he didn’t agree with Yu Hai about splitting the earnings equally between the two families. Yu Lichun understood in his heart that Yu Hai was able to get a profitable job because of his friendship with Zhenxiu Restaurant.
In the end, they agreed on a forty-sixty percent split. Yu Jiang was going to receive forty percent of the earnings and Yu Hai was going to receive sixty percent of the earnings. Yu Hai felt very embarrassed by this as he felt like he took advantage of his uncle’s family.
Yu Jiang showed up early in the morning. It coincided with the time the tide receded today, which was early this morning. There were already villagers coming to sell their oysters and non-processed sandworms. Yu Jiang had helped out a few times before, so he was able to deal with them very quickly.
He was in charge of weighing and placing the seafood they purchase, while Yu Hang was responsible for bookkeeping and settling the bill. Yu Hang had followed his younger brother for several months, learning how to read and write characters. Now, he could read and write most of the commonly used words. The two people worked together very well.
Yu Hai family’s purchase of seafood had always been honest; they never gave people less for what their seafood was worth. They also weren’t like the people in charge in the other villages where they would lower the purchasing price of the seafood. Therefore, not only did the villagers in Dongshan Village sell to them but also some of the fishermen in several nearby villages would walk a little more to sell their seafood.
As a result, the amount of seafood the Yu Family purchased steadily increased each day. Although it was hard work, their income had increased a lot. At night, when they calculated their earnings, Yu Jiang was surprised when he found that he had earned one to two taels of silver. An able-bodied man’s labor in town was only worth ten or so copper coins.
He didn’t have to do any heavy labor, and, when there were fewer people, he was able to rest for a while. However, in one day, he was able to earn more than one tael of silver… Yu Jiang wasn’t convinced and even suspected that his cousin had given him more money.
Yu Hang explained the accounts to him, and Yu Jiang couldn’t help but become speechless. He thought that he was only going to earn a little money by helping out his cousin with his business. But who would’ve thought that he would be able to earn forty to fifty taels of silver in a month? This was something he never dared to think about before!
He didn’t have a skilled trade, so if he worked all year round by doing unskilled labor, he would be able to earn five to six taels of silver in a year if he worked tirelessly. That was already considered to be quite a sum of money. Now, he didn’t need to do any heavy labor and was able to earn forty to fifty taels of silver in a month doing light labor. He would be able to earn five hundred to six hundred taels of silver in a year… Yu Jiang suddenly felt dizzy as if he was in a dream.
On his way home, Yu Jiang held the broken silver bits that added up to one tael and three hundred copper coins in his hand tightly. The skin on the palm of his hand had red marks from gripping the money too hard. Yu Lichun was tending the vegetable garden, and, his older brother, Yu Xi, who was chopping firewood, noticed his restless appearance. They stopped what they were doing and looked at him with concern.
“What happened? Didn’t you go help your second brother out? Why did you come back so early? Is your body feeling uncomfortable?” Yu Lichun wanted to touch his palm, but he realized that Yu Jiang had his hand in a tight fist.
Yu Jiang finally recovered his wits and spread his fist out in excitement, revealing the pieces of silver inside.Previous Chapter Next Chapter
Sanguine’s Thoughts: I’m glad that Yu Hai’s uncle’s family gets to benefit from their better circumstances. They were also better to him than his main family.