Chapter 183 - Competing for Favor

The road to Dongshan Village wasn’t very smooth, especially that section of the mountain road, which was very bumpy. Xia Furong felt as if she was about to puke out her guts due to the jolting. She had a grim expression and a lot of resentment within her heart, ‘Seriously, what is wrong with my aunt? She doesn’t want to live in a perfectly good house in town, but instead she decides to come to this poor, remote countryside. It’s all because of that damned wretch. If she hadn’t said that my uncle had been staying in Dongshan Village this whole time, my aunt might have settled in town already!’

Aiyo! Xia Furong didn’t pay attention for a moment and bumped her head on the window of the carriage, making a loud noise. The little girl covered her sore head and looked at her aunt, Lady Fang, with tears in her eyes.

After all, Lady Fang had practiced with her husband before. No matter how bumpy the carriage was, she still sat upright and was as motionless as a statue.

Yu Xiaocao swayed her body in the direction that the carriage jolted in, but she maintained a crossed-legs sitting position. The twisting and swaying of her waist made it look as if she was dancing.

Hearing the sound of Xia Furong hitting the window, Yu Xiaocao turned her head and looked at her with a slight smile. She said, “Older Cousin, we will arrive at Dongshan Village after crossing this mountain road. Be attentive and you won’t get hurt!”

In Xia Furong’s eyes, Xiaocao was mocking her with the faint smile on her face. She covered the bump on her head and angrily complained to Lady Fang, “Aunt, look at her! I already got hurt, yet she’s still making sarcastic remarks.”

Yu Xiaocao widened her big, black eyes and looked at her innocently, ‘This person really doesn’t know how to appreciate other people’s good intentions. I was comforting her, okay!’

Lady Fang patted her goddaughter’s thin shoulder and softly said to her niece, “Furong, your younger cousin is just concerned about you and reminding you to be more careful so that you don’t hurt yourself again.”

“Aunt! You’re too biased!! She obviously didn’t mean well, yet you’re still speaking up for her!! Aunt, now that you have a goddaughter, you don’t care about your niece anymore. Waahhh…” The little girl began to cry bitterly.

Yu Xiaocao’s mouth twitched, ‘She’s already so old, yet she’s still crying and competing for favor? What’s the point in doing that? I have my parents to spoil me at home, so I don’t lack love. I’m not going to be on the same level as that little lass!’

Lady Fang saw Xiaocao’s small movement, and felt that she seemed even more lovely the more she looked at her. Then she looked at her niece, who was crying with a runny nose. She was already thirteen or fourteen years old, which was a marriageable age. Yet, she was still competing for favor with a young girl who was under the age of ten. She was also at fault for pampering her niece, and thus raising her expectations. After having her wish destroyed, it was inevitable that there would be some disparity in her mentality.

“Stop crying. You’re already at an age when you can look for a husband, but you’re still fighting for favor with a little girl. Aren’t you afraid of being laughed at?” Lady Fang handed over her own handkerchief and consoled in a soft voice.  

After all, Xia Furong was a young maiden. After hearing this, she blushed and bowed her head. But she also didn’t forget to take this chance to give Xiaocao an angry glare. Then she said in a low voice, “Aunt, who would laugh at me here but her?”

Lady Fang helplessly said, “Xiaocao is my goddaughter, so you two are sisters now. You guys should get along well with each other. Don’t always fight and argue upon seeing each other…”

Xiaocao had an even more innocent expression on her face as she pouted and said, “Godmother, I didn’t ah!”

Lady Fang placated her with a smile, “Our Xiaocao is a good child… Your older cousin just arrived at an unfamiliar place, so she’s not used to it. You must do your best to help her as a host.”

“I will!” Yu Xiaocao looked at Xia Furong with a mischievous smile, while wondering whether she should take her to catch caterpillars in the mountains or dig for spoonworms and sea cucumbers by the sea.

Xia Furong glared at her fiercely, and then agreed aggrievedly, “Don’t worry, Aunt. I will yield to younger cousin!”

Just now, her aunt had personally mentioned her marriage. As long as she was obedient and didn’t make her angry, her aunt would naturally arrange a good marriage for her. First, she had to put up with this damned girl. It was best that they meet less in the future so that she could get some peace of mind!

While the two were deep in their own thoughts, the carriage had passed the most difficult mountain road and the outline of Dongshan Village could be seen from afar.

Xiaocao pointed to an area not too far away and grinned, “Godmother, that’s our watermelon field over there. It’s not very big and just a little more than three mu. But the watermelons have grown very well. We can harvest over a thousand catties in one mu of land!”

Lady Fang looked at the small fishing village, which seemed as if it was embraced by luxuriant mountains. It was surrounded by green trees, singing birds and fragrant flowers. The place that Xiaocao pointed at was an area of verdant green, which felt very comfortable to look at.   

“The crop that is planted on both sides of the road is…” Lady Fang had never seen this crop being planted in the rural estate from her dowry, so she asked with slight uncertainty.

Yu Xiaocao looked at the sweet potato sprouts on the roadside and said with a smile, “Dongshan Village is close to the sea, so most of the land here is sandy. There won’t be much yield if we plant crops like wheat and soybeans. Thus, most people plant crops like sweet potatoes, which can be grown in various environments.”

“Sweet potatoes? Is it the new crop that can produce thousands of catties in one mu of land?” When the emperor made his first voyage, he had brought back the high yielding crop, sweet potato, which was quickly popularized. With this high-yield crop, the early Great Ming Dynasty, which was stirred up by war and in a disastrous state, finally wouldn’t have even more people dying of hunger…

Yu Xiaocao nodded her head and said, “The yield of sweet potatoes is really good. If they are planted well, it’s possible to get a harvest of two to three thousand catties in one mu of land.”

“Stop bragging! At this time, the heads of wheat at the farmstead are already sprouting. Yet these sweet potatoes still only have leaves and nothing else. With just one to two months remaining, they can produce over two thousand catties? Who are you kidding!” Xia Furong smirked, and her tone was filled with the intention of finding fault.

Yu Xiaocao looked at her as if she had seen a weirdo. She asked in surprise, “Older Cousin, you don’t think that sweet potatoes are grown on vines, do you? Pffft… Don’t misunderstand, I’m not laughing at you… But, it’s really funny… The fruit of sweet potatoes are grown underground. Uncle coachman, please stop in front…”

Yu Xiaocao jumped off the carriage and picked up a dried branch from the roadside. She dug downwards along the vine of the sweet potato in the field beside them.

“Hey! How can you randomly dig other people’s sweet potatoes? Isn’t that the act of a thief? Quickly come up. It will be so shameful to be caught ah!” Xia Furong screamed as if she was afraid others wouldn’t hear her.

Yu Xiaocao ignored her and dug out a sweet potato that weighed over one catty from the sweet potato vine, as well as a few small sweet potatoes that were less than one catty. She removed the mud on top with her hand, took the sweet potatoes to the carriage, and flaunted to Lady Fang, “Godmother, look, these are sweet potatoes. Sweet potatoes can be cooked, steamed, and roasted! It tastes delicious and sweet. If you eat it once in a while, it’s pretty good!”

Xia Furong looked at her with disdain and said, “I didn’t expect you to be a such a person! Didn’t your mother ever tell you that taking something without asking is the act of thieves?”

The smile on Yu Xiaocao’s face gradually faded. Her big eyes stared at Xia Furong with dissatisfaction and she uttered one word at a time, “You can say anything about me! But please don’t drag in my parents!! What do you know? This land belongs to my eldest granduncle’s family!!”

Her staring caused Xia Furong to feel restless. She muttered in a low voice, “Even if it’s your eldest granduncle’s fields, you can’t just dig in it…”

“Eldest Granduncle, you’re taking a walk?” Before Xia Furong could finish speaking, her words were interrupted by Xiaocao. Xiaocao, who was sitting on the shaft of the carriage, greeted the figure in the distance with a smile.

Yu Lichun looked up and saw Xiaocao sitting on an unfamiliar horse carriage. He nodded at her first, and then said, “Yes, I didn’t have anything to do, so I came to check out the fields! Whose carriage did you come back in?”

“It’s my godmother’s, who came from the capital. I’ll take her home to rest first—Eldest Granduncle, I was craving roasted sweet potatoes, so I dug up several sweet potatoes from your fields just now…” Yu Xiaocao giggled without a trace of embarrassment.

Yu Lichun knew that before they had divided from the main family, the Yu Family ate two meals a day. But Xiaocao had a weak stomach and needed to eat an extra meal of sweet potatoes in between the two mealtimes every day. The little lass had eaten sweet potatoes for such a long time, and now that she was living a better life, she still couldn’t forget that taste ah!

He chuckled and said, “It’s something grown by your own family. If you want to eat it, then just dig for it yourself! Your family didn’t plant any sweet potatoes this spring, so when it’s time to harvest the crops, I’ll tell your third uncle to send a few sacks over.”

“Thank you, Eldest Granduncle! Later, I’ll get a watermelon from our field and send it to your house!” Yu Xiaocao understood the principle of ‘courtesy requires reciprocity’.

Yu Lichun hastily waved his hands and said repeatedly, “No, no need! A watermelon costs several taels. Eldest Granduncle can’t afford to accept it! You should keep it to sell for money…”

Yu Xiaocao smiled like a blossomed flower and said, “Eldest Granduncle, why can’t you accept it? It’s grown by family, so why can’t you eat it? Last winter, if you hadn’t lent me money to see a doctor, I might have… You have saved my life, so what’s wrong with eating a watermelon? Okay, it’s settled then. You haven’t tasted our watermelons yet!”

Yu Lichun wanted to say something, but Xiacoao waved her hands at him, jumped onto the carriage, and drove past him. Yu Lichun shook his head with a smile. To know how to be grateful, that little lass, Xiaocao, was really someone who deserved to be loved.

“That was your eldest granduncle? Your families seem pretty close ah! Why did your godfather write in his letter that your family doesn’t seem to have a good relationship with your grandparents’ family…” Lady Fang didn’t treat Xiaocao like an outsider and asked with slight concern, upon recalling the contents of the letter.

Yu Xiaocao also didn’t hide anything from her godmother. She avoided the serious matters and briefly explained, “We don’t have a good relationship with my grandmother. My grandmother is… As a younger member of the family, it’s not proper for me to comment on that. You will know in a few days. My eldest granduncle’s family are pretty good people. It was so difficult last winter, but they still gave us all their money in order for me to see a doctor!”

“What’s wrong? Your health isn’t good? Your godfather didn’t tell me that ah!” Lady Fang looked at the slightly thin, but rather spirited, girl in front of her and asked with concern.

Yu Xiaocao hugged Lady Fang’s arms and rubbed her face against her like a spoiled cat. She whispered, “My health wasn’t very good in the past. Last winter, I was seriously ill and almost died! But, I’m alright now! Don’t people always say: ‘If you survive a disaster, you will be blessed’. Sure enough, I need to thank the heavens for letting me meet Godfather and Godmother!”

Lady Fang pulled the little girl into her arms and said with a smile, “You ah, your little mouth is as sweet as honey. Godmother has a hundred-year-old ginseng. Just take it as a meeting gift. Tell your mother to make ginseng stewed chicken to nourish your body. You’re too thin!”

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Myst's Thoughts

Ginseng Stewed Chicken

another big slap in the face😏

Translator: Myst