Out of the remaining watermelons in the store, Xiaocao chose the two that had the highest concentration of spiritual energy within them. She carefully took them off of the shelf and personally brought them over to the counter. She needed to make a good impression on her godmother. Lady Fang, on the other hand, felt bad having such a small and fragile little girl moving the watermelon and commanded her maidservants, “Linglong, Zhenzhu, why aren’t you two going over to help?”
Yu Xiaocao was a bit embarrassed in front of Lady Fang and had a bashful smile on her face when she raised it up to look at the woman. She was usually chirpy and talkative but she didn’t quite know what to say to the woman in front of her.
Lady Fang lowered her head and gently looked at the shyly smiling little girl. She used the handkerchief in her hand to lightly clean a bit of dust that had inadvertently been smudged onto that cute little face. She then stroked the little girl’s glossy and dark hair. The little girl’s eyes, which had previously been a bit anxious, immediately brightened and looked as dazzling as a bunch of stars. It made her somewhat common looking face become lively and energetic.
“Little girl, how much would it be for these two watermelons?” After seeing the young girl’s sincerely smiling face, Lady Fang surreptitiously glanced at her niece’s gloomy expression and became much more cheerful. The older woman’s expression and mood clearly showed that she was trying to tease Xiaocao!
Yu Xiaocao came closer to the woman again as she kneaded at the corner of her clothes with a blush on her face. She quietly said, “We’re all family, there’s no need to talk about payment for the watermelons, right? I’m giving these two watermelons to you, Godmother, to show my filial respect to you.”
“Oh? You can’t just make an assumption that anyone is your godmother. Aren’t you afraid that you might have mistaken her identity?” Lady Fang teased the little girl as if she was the Perisan cat at home. Her expression and tone all held a hint of laughter.
Yu Xiaocao deliberately used an uncertain tone and hesitated before she asked, “May I ask...are you a part of the Fang Family?”
Lady Fang seemed to be smiling as she slowly replied, “There are many people surnamed Fang in this world, are you telling me that every Lady Fang is your godmother?”
“My godfather told me that my godmother is beautiful, magnanimous and has a sweet-tempered personality while being resolute. She’s kind but also courageous. Godfather also said that we are like two kindred spirits and would get along splendidly. At first glance I could tell that you are an amiable lady and my intuition told me that you are my godmother!” Yu Xiaocao cleverly flattered the older woman as she tried to please her.
Xia Furong, whose attention was still on Prince Jing’s second son, suddenly became alert after hearing Xiaocao say, “You are my godmother”. Her almond shaped eyes opened wide and she glared fiercely at Xiaocao. She instantly noticed that the little girl was dressed plainly, had an average looking appearance, and a shy manner that bespoke of her lowly birth.
She sneered and remarked drily, “Can you call anyone your godmother? Little girl, you already know how to try to climb the ladder at such a young age. You are truly too unscrupulous ah!”
Her aunt disliked people who schemed the most. If she could lead her aunt down the wrong line of thinking with her words, then it didn’t matter if her uncle recognized the little girl as his adopted daughter. The mistress of the General’s Estate was still her own blood aunt!
Yu Xiaocao could sense the pretty young maiden’s hostility towards her. She felt a bit puzzled inside, ‘We’re total strangers to each other, so why is she deliberately trying to discredit me?’
Lady Fang had never seen the harsh side of her niece before. Usually, her niece always seemed innocent, cheerful, and had a good understanding of others. The words she said today, why did they seem so mean? She started to recall that her niece often tried to please her and that the young girl also insinuated that she saw the general’s residence as her second home…
Lady Fang was familiar with inner yard politics and had also personally experienced the infighting and scheming of the Xia Family’s wife and concubines. Within a wink, she grasped what her niece was trying to do and immediately became unhappy. Apparently the simple and innocent appearance of her niece was a special act especially crafted for her ah!
Lady Fang’s gaze at Xia Furong became stricter and she mildly said, “Furong, this is the adopted daughter that your uncle personally recognized himself. Her name is Yu Xiaocao and she’s not quite ten this year. Yet, she can already support her family all on her own. Hasn’t our current emperor extolled that women should strive for self-improvement and independence? I believe Xiaocao is a shining example of that!”
When Yu Xiaocao heard her godmother supporting her and even complimenting her at such a high degree, she hurriedly interjected humbly, “Godmother, you praise me too much! Without the help of my parents and siblings, I wouldn’t be able to do anything! Godfather also helps me very much. For example, this store has such a good location. If it wasn’t for the previous owner regarding godfather so highly, we absolutely wouldn’t have been able to buy it…”
“What?!” Xia Furong raised her voice and a jealous expression twisted her face, “Uncle bought this store for you? Aunt, a store in such a good location must be at least a thousand taels! How could a country bumpkin like her possibly have enough money to buy something so expensive? When Uncle took up the imperial envoy post, he only took a couple thousand taels along with him. Is it possible that she took bribes from other people to pay for this?”
Xia Furong had accompanied her aunt for a full two years and naturally knew that her aunt hated officials who took bribes. She even constantly warned her uncle that he shouldn’t take small benefits and end up losing the emperor’s trust. If something like that truly occurred, this little panting dog would never be able to be liked by her aunt. Thus, wouldn’t she be one step closer to her dream of becoming a young lady of a general’s household?
However, Yu Xiaocao wasn’t actually a true nine year old little girl. She could clearly tell that the delicate young maiden had a boatload of schemes swimming behind her eyes. She couldn’t help but frown a bit, ‘I’m pretty sure I didn’t offend her ah, so why is she trying to trip me up? What is she up to?’
She exclaimed, “Older sister! What you said is incorrect! What do you mean I’m just a country bumpkin? You clearly are discriminating against farmers! Out of the four classes of people, farmers are only second to scholars. Without farmers working hard day in and day out, older sister can become an immortal instead——”
Yu Xiaocao absolutely couldn’t allow this girl to discredit her, right? If her godmother believed this girl’s lies, what was she to do? She didn’t rely on the Fang Family for sustenance or shelter, so why did she have to take this beating lying down? In any case, this godfather of hers just showed up. If he wanted to treat her well, that was definitely good but she never had to force him to do any of this. Thus, she could easily and confidently defend herself without any qualms.
When Lady Fang saw the little child in front of her defend herself, with a straight back and large eyes, she thought the girl resembled a proud and spirited little rooster. It was quite a rare sight!
“What did you mean by what you just said?” Lady Fang thought that the term ‘immortal’ wasn’t necessarily a compliment in this case.
“In legends, immortals only need to sup from the wind and drink dew, so they have no need for the mundane food of mortals! Without farmers who till the land, we wouldn’t have any crops. Without crops, what would people eat then? Drink the northwest wind?” Yu Xiaocao slanted her eyes at Xia Furong and looked incredibly adorable.
However, Xia Furong didn’t think she was cute at all because this lowly farmer’s daughter made her lose face in front of her aunt. She immediately flew into a rage and shrieked, “Do you dare to say that this store wasn’t bought from you by Uncle? A few thousand taels isn’t a small number. You’re so young, yet you have such a scheming mind, what will happen when you get older?”
Zhu Junxi had just finished picking out his watermelon and was suddenly shocked by Xia Furong’s shrill voice and malevolent expression. He never would have thought that a young maiden from a noble family could also have such a shrewish side too. The vast majority of gently-raised maidens would protest injustice at his assumption...
“Enough!!” Lady Fang had naturally noticed the surprised expression that flickered on Prince Jing’s second son’s face. She had even less patience towards her niece now, “Furong, your uncle had already explained the matter with the store to me in his letter! The money to buy the store came from Xiaocao, who earned it all herself. The store was originally owned by County Magistrate Wu. Your uncle would never take a bribe, and he only helped with contacting the seller…”
“Aunt!” Xia Furong had also seen Zhu Junxi’s expression and quickly controlled herself. She somewhat impatiently tried to explain, “Don’t be deceived by this crafty peasant! An ordinary farmer’s daughter, even if she had a lot ability, still wouldn’t have enough skill to make enough money to buy this store. That’s not a small number ah, a thousand or so taels! From my perspective, let’s not even talk about earning, I bet she would have a hard time even seeing that much money!”
All she could think about was what her life would be like if she was adopted into her aunt’s family. All of the glory, splendor and wealth associated with the general’s residence would be considered hers alone, including the thousand or so taels used to buy the store...In the Xia Family, she was only a daughter who wasn’t favored. Her monthly pocket money wasn’t much more than what a head maidservant could earn. How many clothes and jewelry could she buy with a thousand taels? The more she thought about it, the more bitter she became.
When Lady Fang saw that her niece was going to continue to harp about this topic, her face darkened and she remarked, “Why couldn’t she earn it herself? Xiaocao is very talented at cooking. Zhenxiu Restaurant’s roasted chicken, osmanthus duck, braised food, and oyster sauce vegetables were all recipes created by her. She earned several thousand taels in the past two months from her share of the profits from the osmanthus duck alone! In addition, Xiaocao also has shares in the capital’s newest ‘Haitian’ brand of seasonings too! Having enough money to buy this store isn’t something difficult for her.”
“Oh? Osmanthus duck was created by this little girl? My roy...mother really likes it. However, every time we buy it we need to stand in line and we still may not be able to get any!” Zhu Junxi inspected the skinny and tiny little girl in front of him with great interest. He had never thought that the capital’s most popular dishes were all created by her ah! It was truly an example of not judging a book by its cover!
When Xia Furong saw Prince Jing’s second son, who had never given her a second glance, smiling at that lowly girl, her last hold on logic and reasoning snapped, “Nonsense!! Aunt, you can’t believe everything she says! She’s a poor and petty little farmer’s girl. How often can she eat chicken in a year? Can she afford to buy duck? Are menus and recipes that easy to come up with and are famous chefs crowding the streets?”
“Older sister, we are total strangers to each other, so why are you always targeting me? You claim that I didn’t come up with roasted chicken, osmanthus duck or any of the other recipes. So who do you think came up with them? If you haven’t investigated properly, then you don’t have the right to make claims. Do you really think it’s okay for you to smear my reputation so easily?” Since this girl was her godmother’s niece, Yu Xiaocao couldn’t say things more bluntly. However, she still had to defend herself. Did that girl think she was easy to push around and bully?
She didn’t wait for Xia Furong to retort and turned over toward that handsome youth and reminded him, “Although osmanthus duck is delicious, able to reduce swelling and aging and strengthen the blood vessels, it’s still a food with cold properties. Women shouldn’t eat it too frequently. Instead, they should only have some every few days or so.”
Zhu Junxi didn’t expect that a little girl who didn’t even reach his chest would be able to describe osmanthus duck’s properties so well. Thus, he somewhat believed Lady Fang’s claims. He smiled, “Thank you for your kind reminder. I will make sure to tell my mother about this. Let me pay for the watermelon now, to avoid having my mother wait for too long!”
“Altogether, it comes out to ten taels.” Yu Xiaocao swiftly took the money and warmly said, “Thank you for your business, hope you come back again next time——”
Xia Furong felt incensed and resentful that the youth she liked completely ignored her. She blurted out, “It’s obvious you’re a farmer’s brat, so petty! Second Young Master is also like aunt’s nephew, so how can you take his money so easily?”Previous Chapter Next Chapter
Sanguine’s Thoughts: Xia Furong is just digging a hole for herself...