Chapter 166 - Blazingly Popular

Anyone who had a pet would treat them well. Yu Xiaolian collected all of the melon peels and copied her little brother’s actions. She also used a knife to peel away the skin and used the remaining melon rind to feed Little Gray. Ever since the donkey arrived at their home, it had worked hard every day. Whenever they went to the docks to sell braised food or the town to buy things at the market, they no longer had to tire their own feet with the donkey around. As a result, Xiaolian took very good care of Little Gray. 

The current little donkey was like a completely different animal compared to its previous self. Who would have thought that the donkey, that had been so sick that it couldn’t stand up and had its ribs showing, would be able to grow into its current plump and strong self? Its fur was now very sleek and soft. Not only did the little donkey look very good but it also was full of energy.

The last time they went into town, they came home along with Uncle Ma, who was from a neighboring village, and his donkey cart. Uncle Ma’s cart didn’t have anything on it while the Yu Family’s donkey cart was filled with food and household supplies. Despite the obvious difference in loads, Little Gray managed to be faster than Uncle Ma’s donkey and left them behind in the dust.

That was also before they had switched cart wheels! Nowadays, all of the villagers who were going into town liked to sit on the Yu Family’s donkey cart. Why’s that? Well, the Yu Family’s donkey cart had rubber wheels. Not only did it travel quickly on the windy mountain roads but the cart also didn’t jostle a lot. Had the Yu Family decided to pull people into town for a living, then the Ma Family’s carting business would have long gone down!

It was said that, in town, only the Zhou Family and the county magistrate’s family, basically those who had connections, were able to buy rubber wheels. The Yu Family’s new donkey cart had been gifted to them by the Zhou Family’s third young master. Now, all of the villagers in Dongshan Village envied the Yu Family for being able to have a connection with the boss of Zhenxiu Restaurant. They clearly enjoyed his influence in their lives!

When Yu Xiaocao heard snippets of this gossip, she felt extremely indignant inside, ‘Who said that we were the ones benefiting from this relationship with Third Young Master Zhou? Without me, did they think that Third Young Master Zhou’s business would be so blazingly popular? Without me, could Zhenxiu Restaurant, the new restaurant on the block, be able to surpass Fulin Restaurant and some other older restaurant’s tricks? Without me, could Third Young Master Zhou enter his grandfather’s eye and become groomed as the family’s next head ah?’

Just who was benefiting from this relationship? Roasted chicken, osmanthus duck, oyster sauce vegetables, these three important dishes all allowed Zhenxiu Restaurant to make bank. Oyster sauce, MSG, and fermented bean curd were all the center products of the condiment factory that had many advance orders from various customers. Who gave him all of these recipes? Third Young Master Zhou was just expressing his gratitude by helping her buy a custom-made donkey cart, that was all, but, in the eyes of other people, it became them taking advantage of him! The next day, when Zhou Zixu rushed over hastily to their home, he unexpectedly received several glares and eye rolls from Yu Xiaocao.

“What’s wrong? When did I offend you?” Zhou Zixu asked in a puzzled tone as scratched his chin cluelessly.

Yu Xiaocao rolled her eyes at him again and replied, “Nothing, ok? I guess my eyes have a cramp alright? What kind of wind blew Third Young Master in today? It can’t be that you miss my family’s cooking, right?” 

After encountering her odd demeanor, Zhou Zixu carefully said, “Recently, I’ve been busy because of the factory so it’s been awhile since I last saw you. Could that possibly be the reason why you’re angry at me?”

Xiaocao almost rolled her eyes up into her skull——’Just who do you think you are? Do you really think you’re the main dish here, ah? I, this young girl, have been so busy that my feet have almost hit the back of my head, so why would I care how many times you come over? Be angry at you? Is that even worth it?’

After not seeing him for more than half a month, it seemed like Zhou Zixu had grown taller again and also got tanner. His previously bright and handsome face had almost become a healthy bronze color. ‘Tsk tsk, who said that pale skin could make up for ugly figures? This guy has a good foundation, so even when he got tanner, he didn’t get one iota uglier. Instead, he became even more manly! However, it does look like he’s also become a lot thinner too…’

“You’ve been very busy lately?” Yu Xiaocao decided to be merciful and inquired after him solicitously.

Zhou Zixu had tears of gratitude in his eyes——well, actually, to be exact, it was that his eyes were brimming with tears of excitement, “Xiaocao, you probably don’t know just how popular our condiment factory has become! When we first started selling our products, I was afraid that the MSG and fermented bean curd wouldn’t sell, so I invited a few owners of some large restaurants from the capital and prefectural city over to Zhenxiu Restaurant in the capital. My motive was to have them try dishes that had been seasoned with MSG. Although they were all quite common dishes, their taste was much more tasty and savory than before. I also had some dishes with fermented bean curd in it...as expected, those restaurant owners all asked me what the secret was. I seized the opportunity to promote our ‘Haitian’ brand of condiments. At the end of the event, I even gave them each a small pouch of MSG and bottle of fermented bean curd. What do you think happened next?”

“What could happen? Obviously, they all sent in orders like it cost nothing…” Yu Xiaocao calmly recited the outcome.

Compared to her calm and collected expression, Third Young Master Zhou seemed even more excited as he exclaimed, “Xiaocao, you truly have a mind that jumps to the right conclusion, your guess is too correct!”

“Psh! Everything went as expected, what are you all excited for?” Yu Xiaocao loftily replied, “The goods that I produce are all quality goods! If you follow this big sister, you’ll definitely have plenty of meat to eat!”

Pffftt——Third Young Master Zhou thought her arrogant expression was too funny. He rubbed her head, which didn't even reach the height of his shoulder, and sighed in admiration, “Just what kind of brain do you have in your head? How could it possibly have such crazy and bizarre ideas in there? Tsk tsk, everyone always says that people who think too much are unable to grow due to the pressure, surely enough that’s right…”

“Zhou! Zi! Xu!” Yu Xiaocao exploded in anger, “Are you blind? Who said that I haven’t grown in height? In the past, I was shorter than Xiaolian by half a head and now I’ve already caught up to her!! Do you think everyone is like you, only grow in height but nothing develops in your brain? To grow a handspan (Author’s note: the distance between the thumb and middle finger when the fingers are spread wide open in a hand) in a month, are you being fertilized by a bunch of manure ah?”

“Okay, Okay! It was me that said it wrong, okay?” Zhou Zixu gently rubbed her hair and chuckled loudly before he continued to share his joy, “Since our condiment factory has opened and started selling to the market, we not only cleared out our stock, which was over a thousand catties worth of condiments, but we also owe a bunch of other orders now. I also transferred a bunch of servants from my family’s residence over to the factory, so we now have enough workers to work both night and day shifts. Even with that, we still can’t keep up with the orders. From the orders we’ve received in this month, there are some who have to wait until half a year later to be fulfilled! Just from counting money alone, my hands have become cramped.”

“After getting the riches, you still act like you’re losing!” When she thought of all of that shiny silver from the factory and that she had thirty-percent of the profits, Yu Xiaocao couldn’t help but have her mouth slightly curl up in a smile.

Zhou Zixu sullenly grumbled at her, “This is our factory, but you, as the second owner, only earn the money without doing anything. Ever since our factory has started producing, you haven’t even gone over once to look it over. You have such great trust in me!”

“Third Young Master, let me tell you this common saying, it goes: ‘the capable people are the ones who do the most work’! Didn’t we already come to an agreement in the beginning? I was only responsible for the recipes and you, Third Young Master Zhou, were in charge of everything else. You’re so capable, and you’re one of the rare talented people in the Zhou Family, so how could I not trust you?” Yu Xiaocao gave him a high evaluation.

Zhou Zixu deliberately acted as he heavily sighed, “Ay! You have it good, all you have to do is to wait to get your money, but it’s so hard for me! I’ve spent so much time at the factory. In fact, once I spent over ten days there. My mother thought that I was missing and even ran over to the docks to find me!”

Yu Xiaocao didn’t believe his act and retorted, “Are all of the subordinates under you incompetent? What about Steward Zhou and that little assistant, Simo ah? Having assistants but not using them, are you stupid?”

Zhou Zixu glared at her for a second and said, “Those two are even more busy than me. For the sake of the factory, Steward Zhou hasn’t even gone back to the residence ever since it started producing. His wife even packed up all of their things and took the children with her to live in the staff housing! Simo is in charge of the transport of the products, especially the oyster sauce. It’s not easy to store the sauce so he needs to produce ice when he transports it to a long distance! He’s the same as the steward and has been on the road for more than a month. In fact, we had just loaded a ship full of goods for Jiangnan and Simo also went along!”

“In the future, our business will absolutely get larger and larger, so you need to take the opportunity to train more trusted subordinates. If you only rely on Steward Zhou and Simo, the two of them might die from exhaustion!” Yu Xiaocao sank into contemplation.

Third Young Master Zhou sighed, “It’s not that easy to find trusted servants ah! The most important thing of our factory is our recipes. It’s hard to find loyal servants and also prevent the first branch from…”

Yu Xiaocao suddenly interrupted, “You can give a share of the profits as a year-end bonus to the workers. You can give more to the supervisors and less to the regular workers. This way, the success of the factory is tightly bound to the workers’ integrity and ethics. I am sure that no one would try to damage their own income…”

Third Young Master Zhou felt as if he could suddenly see the light at the end of the tunnel. He slapped his thigh and exclaimed, “That’s a good idea! I need to go back and discuss with Steward Zhou to figure out the best way to implement this——Xiaocao, you are truly my lucky mascot. That brain of yours, just how did it develop in you?”

“How did your brain develop this way? Without a comparison, there wouldn’t be faults. With you around, it makes me seem a lot smarter than I actually am!” Yu Xiaocao’s method of interacting with Third Young Master Zhou sometimes made her seem like a bad friend. Before he could feel unhappy, she continued, “Sit down quickly and rest a bit. I will make you something good to eat for lunch!”

“Heh heh!” Zhou Zixu, who had just been insulted, wasn’t angry and was in fact giggling foolishly. “Even if I’m conservative in my estimate, it’s probably still been half a month since I’ve eaten the food that Xiaocao made. Makes me feel a bit at a loss…”

“Psht! Graceful words and a flowery speech often hide bad intentions!!” As soon as Fang Zizhen stepped into the courtyard, he overheard that stinky brat from the Zhou Family flattering his daughter. He rushed over furiously. 

Zhou Zixu grimaced as he quietly said, “Lord Fang, when did I ever offend you? You’re a high-ranking official, please don’t bring yourself down to my level!”

Fang Zizhen glared fiercely at him, “In the future, stay farther from my daughter! My daughter is still young, so she’s not someone that you can dally with!”

Zhou Zixu’s face immediately turned a dark liver color as he stammered, “Lord…Lord Fang, you...you misunderstand me! I regard Xiaocao like she’s my biological younger sister. I don’t...don’t have any other intentions!” Eh, why did it sound like he wasn’t very confident when he said this?

“Having no other intentions is good!” Only now did Fang Zizhen regard Third Young Master Zhou with a more favorable look in his eye, “If I, this old man, find out you have some kind of cunning plot going around, I swear I’ll beat you up until you’re bruised from head to toe, otherwise I’ll no longer be surnamed Fang!”

“Godfather!” Yu Xiaocao had been in the kitchen during this entire time and hadn’t heard their conversation. She stuck out her head with a sweet smile on her face and said, “What do you want to eat for lunch today?”

“Pork stewed with vermicelli! Is the new batch of century eggs ready to eat? Then also make some century egg and lean meat congee and slice a plate of century eggs...it’s pretty hot today at noon, not sure if there’s any watermelons available. I’ll go ask Brother Yu to help me choose some to quench our thirst later!”

Fang Zizhen wasn’t a freeloader. Ever since he started coming to the Yu Family to bum meals to eat, the Yu Family hadn’t needed to buy any meat, vegetables, or grain anymore. All of these were paid for by Fang Zizhen!

Originally, he wanted to give half of his salary to Xiaocao. Xiaocao not only didn’t take the money but she also threw a temper tantrum and didn’t talk to him for a few days. It frightened Fang Zizhen so much that he never mentioned money again to her. Thus, he only bought more things for the family instead.

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Myst's Thoughts

Food Pic

Sanguine’s Thoughts: Ahahaha, General Fang is so protective.

Translator: Sanguine