Chapter 189 - Stalling for Time

Lady Fang became more and more displeased as she listened. She stepped forward and took Xiaocao, who has been sprayed by Madam Zhang’s saliva, into her arms. She frowned, glared at the old woman who was making a scene in front of her, and sneered, “I have never seen a grandmother like you, who would insult her young granddaughter with such vicious words. It’s really so sad for our Xiaocao to have such a vulgar and unreasonable grandmother!!”

Madam Zhang, who had gotten an adrenaline rush from scolding people, felt fury rush to the top of her head and she couldn’t care less about whether the other party was an official’s wife or not. She jumped three feet high, pointed at Lady Fang’s nose, and screamed, “Who do you think you are ah! I’m disciplining my ignorant and cocky granddaughter, so what does it have to do with you? Don’t think that just because your husband is an official that you can interfere in our family’s business!!”

Linglong’s face turned pale from anger. She rushed in front of her madam and shouted angrily as she faithfully protected her master, “Shut up!! Our madam is a third-rank noble madam, who even the imperial concubines in the palace had to be respectful to. You ignorant fool, who gave you the courage to point your finger at my madam’s nose and insult her!! Madam, this servant will take your message to the county yamen. This servant doesn’t believe that we can’t subdue this foolish woman!!”

When Madam Zhang heard that two words ‘county yamen’, she instantly panicked. The flesh on her face trembled, and she, who was like a balloon filled with air earlier, had immediately deflated now. Although she was panicking, her mind was swiftly turning. In the end, she couldn’t do anything, so she just sat on the ground and wailed while slapping her own thigh,

“Dear heavens ah! How am I supposed to live like this ah——This old woman is just disciplining my own son and granddaughter, yet I still have to dragged away to be flogged ah!! Officials can’t just look upon human lives as if they were grass ah… Dear gods ah, please open your eyes!! Give me, this old woman, a way to live——"

Not to mention Lady Fang, but even Linglong, who was a child of servants from the dowry that the Xia Family provided, had never seen such a scene. She was stunned by the sight of the vulgar old woman screaming while she rolled on the ground. To encounter such an unreasonable rural old woman, Lady Fang was like a scholar meeting a soldier—unable to reason with each other!

Yu Xiaocao saw that there were more and more people gathering over, and many of the people, who didn’t know the truth, were pointing their fingers at them. From deep within her heart, she felt extremely disgusted by Madam Zhang, who was clinging onto her family like a blood-sucking leech. If they didn’t properly deal with her, she would become the biggest obstacle to their family’s road to making a fortune. However, Madam Zhang kept using the words ‘filial piety’ to bully and control her father!

[What’s there to be troubled about? Just leave it up to this Divine Stone! I guarantee that I can help you get rid of that old witch without anyone knowing!] The little divine stone said such cold-blooded and gruesome words in a voice that was as tender as a child’s, yet it didn’t seem even a bit weird whatsoever.

Yu Xiaocao knew that the little divine stone was currently resting on top of the multi-colored stone on her wrist in its spiritual form, and thus it knew everything that was happening in front of her and all her feelings. She also knew that the little divine stone was thinking on her behalf and wanted to help her get rid of this trouble once and for all. But, after all, she had grown up in a peaceful era, so the concept of ‘a human life is bigger than the sky’ was deeply rooted within her. If someone lost their life because of her, she could never feel peaceful within her heart again.

[Psht—phoney benevolence! When handling a wicked old witch like her, we must use extreme means!! Since you’re unwilling to get involved in a case of murder, this Divine Stone can naturally use other methods to teach her a lesson. Don’t worry, just leave it up to me!!]

Recently, as a master, Xiaocao didn’t really need the little divine stone’s help that much. As a result, the progress of its cultivation had been very slow. If it continued to go on like this, then when could it recover its heydays, break through the void and return to Goddess Nuwa’s side ah?! Thus, when it noticed that Xiaocao was troubled, it immediately jumped out and eagerly requested to help out. Helping its master was the only way for its spiritual power to recover several times faster than usual!

Xiaocao warned it, feeling slightly worried, [Then be careful and don’t get caught. Also, don’t kill anyone. Madam Zhang is abhorrent, but she doesn’t deserve to die!]

[Alright, stop nagging so much! With me handling this, you can rest assured. Don’t underestimate this Divine Stone’s abilities!!] The little divine stone guaranteed and patted its chest with confidence.

However, the most important thing right now was to send Madam Zhang away. But it seemed like there was no way that she would leave without getting the money!!

Xiaocao remembered that she was the most concerned about her younger son’s future, so she said in a calm and unhurried manner, “Grandmother, this is the town! Younger Uncle is a scholar after all, so his reputation is very important to him. If his classmates found out that he has a mother who rolls all over the floor being a disgrace to the educated class, I wonder how much he will be ridiculed! Even if he enters Rongxuan Academy in the future, Younger Uncle’s teachers will have a bad impression of him due to this matter. After all, the reason you’re doing such a dishonorable thing was because of him!!”

Lady Fang had a whole new level of respect for her goddaughter again. She didn’t expect that her daughter, who was young and lived in a rural village, would actually use ‘the tactic of psychological warfare’! It was excellent indeed!! This little girl was really to her liking!! Her husband was absolutely right in adopting this little girl as their daughter!!

Madam Zhang was currently rocking back and forth, and smacking her thigh while lamenting in a tone like she was acting in an opera. But, when she heard Xiaocao’s words, her crying suddenly stopped and there wasn’t even a trace of water on her face. The mouths of the onlookers, who had originally somewhat sympathized with her, all started twitching incessantly.

Madam Zhang stealthily looked around the crowd with her triangular eyes and noticed that there were indeed several youths, who were dressed like scholars. With their lips pursed, they shook their heads with a contemptuous expression on their faces. She was alarmed within her heart! The town was only this big, so gossip and rumors traveled really fast. If her younger son’s classmates, or teachers of Rongxuan Academy, were really within the crowd like what that wretch said, then wouldn’t her son’s reputation be ruined in her hands? But, if she couldn’t get the money today, her younger son’s future would be affected… For a moment, Madam Zhang didn’t know whether she should continue to make trouble, or stop and leave while covering her face.

In the midst of her hesitation, Xiaocao came to her side, bent down to support her arm, and then pulled up Madam Zhang, who was sitting on the ground. Xiaocao didn’t lower her voice as she said, “Grandmother, about the money, since you have asked, how can we, as junior members of the family, refuse to give you face? It’s just that five hundred taels isn’t a small number, after all. Moreover, it related to Younger Uncle’s future. So, we can’t be careless ah!! I think that you should go back first today and let us ask Rongxuan Academy about this matter. If it’s true, then we can have a more thorough discussion about this matter later. If there’s no such thing, then we definitely can’t let that swindler get away with it. Don’t you agree?”

Xiaocao provided her with a way out of this situation, and Madam Zhang smoothly took up this offer. She stared at Xiaocao with her slightly fierce-looking triangular eyes and asked with uncertainty, “Are you saying that you guys will provide the five hundred taels? You’re just a little girl, can you even make the decisions? Let your father say something and give me a confirmation!!”

“Grandmother! You’re directly demanding five hundred taels, but it’s not like we can make money fall from the sky ah! You need to let us prepare the money!! Besides, my father isn’t the only older brother that my younger uncle has. Since the family has already split up, shouldn’t the two older brothers and parents all share the burden for the money?” Yu Xiaocao’s words were reasonable, so even if Madam Zhang wanted to refute her, she couldn’t find any fault in her words.

Madam Zhang lowered her head and thought about it. With their family’s savings, they only needed around a hundred taels more. Based on what Xiaocao said, Second Son would at least provide two hundred taels, which would be enough at that time. But, she was still unsatisfied and said, “Other than fishing, your eldest uncle doesn’t have any other methods of making money, so where is he supposed to get the money? The money that your family makes from selling watermelons for a day is something that he wouldn’t be able to earn even if he fishes for his entire life. They’re all brothers, so why do you have to haggle over every ounce?”

She was demanding an older brother, who had separated from the family, to financially support his younger brother’s studies, yet she still complained that they were haggling over every ounce. Madam Zhang was seriously full of nonsense!! However, Yu Xiaocao wasn’t going to a fool and be deceived by her. Who didn’t know to complain about being poor?

“Grandmother, you just see that our business is doing well. But there’s also our business expenses!! Not to mention how hard it was to find a fine breed of watermelons, but Third Young Master Zhou had worked hard to help us get the watermelon seeds. We still owe him money for the watermelon seeds ah! Now let’s talk about the rent for this shop! You can ask the merchants around here, how much is the monthly rent of the stores in this location? Their stores are rented on an annual basis, so it costs over a thousand taels of silver for a year! Moreover, our shop was leased on a short-term rent, which is even more expensive!! If we earn less than two hundred taels a month, then we will be losing money!! Coupled with the monthly tax, we’re really not earning that much money!!” Yu Xiaocao immediately said, without even needing to prepare a draft.

Madam Zhang didn’t know anything about business. When she heard that the monthly rent was two hundred taels, she harshly scolded them as ‘spendthrifts’ within her heart. If they had set up a stall at the market, it would only cost a few copper coins a day. Even if they sold the watermelons for a cheaper price, it would still be better than earning money for others.

It seemed like it was impossible to get Second Son to take full responsibility of the money today! Thus, she could only settle for the next best thing and said to Yu Hai, “Then… for the five hundred taels, you and Eldest Son will each be responsible for two hundred taels, and your father and I will provide a hundred taels! Your eldest brother hasn’t separated from the family yet, so his share will be provided together with mine. Let me know when you’re going to give me the money!!”

When Madam Zhang thought about three hundred taels flying out of her hands, she could feel blood dripping from her heart, which was throbbing with pain!

Yu Hai was about to agree, but his younger daughter interjected, “Grandmother, do you really have to talk about this here? Is it really alright to let everyone know that you’re demanding such a large sum of money from your son, who has separated from the family, in order to let Younger Uncle get in from the back door? As the saying goes: ‘don’t air your dirty laundry in public’. Let’s talk about it in detail when we get home!! Grandmother, you go rest in the inner courtyard and eat some watermelon to quench your thirst. In the evening, take our cart back. Don’t worry, we won’t run away!!”

Madam Zhang thought about it and agree with what she said! With her watching them, they wouldn’t be able to run away. She knew that this little brat Xiaocao could make half the decisions in the family. Since Second Son didn’t object to what she said, this matter was about to succeed!

She had been stirring up trouble for a while now, crying and screaming. So, her throat had long been dry, thirsty, and uncomfortable. Thinking of the sweet watermelons, she couldn’t help but swallow her saliva hard, and then she slowly walked towards the inner courtyard.

Lady Fang and Linglong breathed a sigh of relief: They really didn’t know how to handle such an unreasonable and boorish old woman, so they would only end up losing against her! Nevertheless, her daughter (Miss Cao’er) knew how to resolve the problem and was able to appease that old woman.

But were they really going to give her two hundred taels? Lady Fang wasn’t distressed about the money but felt that it wasn’t worth it!! In her husband’s letter, he mentioned a lot about how this old woman bullied Xiaocao’s family. She had felt very angry about it when she was still in the capital. Her heart wouldn’t ache even if this two hundred taels were given to beggars, but that Madam Zhang was the only person that she was not willing to give it to at all!!

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Myst's Thoughts

If only Xiaocao had taken up the little divine stone's offer...

Translator: Myst