Chapter 190 - Inquire

For the time being, her atrocious grandmother, Madam Zhang, had been pacified. Xiaocao felt that there was something weird about this matter, so she decided to go to Rongxuan Academy to ask about whether they had this additional enrollment quota for their school. If she could encounter the headmaster, then that would be even better.

Lady Fang had originally wanted to accompany her goddaughter for this trip, for fear that the people at the academy would slight a young girl who was under ten years old. However, unbeknownst to her, Headmaster Yuan, who was usually had a stern and scholarly demeanor, was a complete glutton.

Yu Xiaocao would visit her younger brother at the academy several times every month, and she would bring some food that she made every time she went. A portion was left for her younger brother’s roommates to eat, while the other was specially prepared for the old foodie, Yuan Sinian.

Thus, Headmaster Yuan had specially instructed the academy’s gatekeeper to immediately notify him when Yu Fan’s older sister came to visit him. If he wasn’t at the school, then he must remember to inform his manservant, Shishu. For the headmaster to regard her with such high esteem, the gatekeeper was extremely enthusiastic every time he saw Xiaocao and didn’t dare to slight her at all.

Xiaocao politely declined her godmother’s kindness. After that, she went across the street to the back kitchen of Zhenxiu Restaurant and packed two roasted chickens and two osmanthus ducks. At Zhenxiu Restaurant, these two kinds of braised food and the oyster sauce dishes could almost be considered the treasures of the restaurant. Even though they had launched dishes with vermicelli and century eggs, they still couldn’t compete with those dishes.

Even though these two dishes were sold in limited quantities every day, the queue for reservations were already full for the next three days. However, they would make a few extras every day in preparation for the unexpected needs of their boss and his friends and relatives. Yu Xiaocao was naturally classified as a close friend of their boss. No matter if she came to eat or get take-out, it would all be put on Third Young Master Zhou’s credit.  

If her bill was directly waived, then Xiaocao would really be embarrassed to take advantage of the restaurant. However, since Third Young Master Zhou had instructed to put the bill on his account, she was able to accept it with ease. She had helped Third Young Master Zhou earn so much money, so it was natural that he should treat her to meals.

The commercial street where the watermelon shop was located was in the east market of Tanggu Town, while Rongxuan Academy was in the south side of the town. Fortunately, Tanggu Town wasn’t very big. With a large bag of chickens and ducks in her hands, Xiaocao quickly reached the entrance of Rongxuan Academy.

When the gatekeeper, who was leaning against the door and lazily basking in the sun, looked up and saw a slender and short figure, he suddenly stood up in excitement. Seeing the basket in Xiaocao’s hands, the gatekeeper immediately smiled like a blossoming flower, “Aiyo! Miss Xiaocao, it has been a while since you have visited!! Our headmaster has often mentioned you!!”

The gatekeeper could tell that the headmaster really had high regards for this little farmer girl with a pair of big eyes. Even for his precious grandson, he had never been this concerned.

The Yu Family was preparing for the opening of their watermelon shop, so they had been busy for several days. Yu Xiaocao really did come by less often, but the gatekeeper had exaggerated. Moreover, didn’t Headmaster Yuan just eat a feast with them when the shop opened several days ago? It had only been three days, yet he was already craving for food? Had she nurtured that glutton to have a picky appetite?

However, she knew that Headmaster Yuan often gave her younger brother extra lessons on the sly. At present, Yuan Sinian’s position as the headmaster was only a nominal title. He seldom managed the school affairs. Apart from occasionally giving a lecture to the class that was preparing for the examination when he was in a good mood, he was usually traveling, visiting friends, playing go, and drinking tea. He was enjoying a free and leisurely lifestyle.

As a famous scholar of his generation, to be able to listen to one of his lectures was even better than studying for ten years ah! If he had open lectures, one might not be able to get a seat even after fighting with the crowd. Such a great scholar was actually giving extra lessons to a young child who had just begun studying not too long ago. If this news got spread out, it would definitely make people green with envy ah! Even Headmaster Yuan’s grandson didn’t receive such treatment! For the sake of her younger brother’s future, Xiaocao was very willing to send these ‘gifts’!

In fact, the reason that Headmaster Yuan was willing to teach Little Shitou wasn’t only due to Xiaocao’s delicious food, but also because of his love for talent. During the past year, Xiaocao had added mystic-stone water in everything that the Yu Family ate and drank. Not only could the mystic-stone water improve their health, but it could also unwittingly improve their intelligence.  

Little Shitou was originally a smart child, but after being nurtured by the mystic-stone water, his intelligence had gone up another level, almost to the point of remembering everything with one look. With someone who had so much potential in front of him, could Headmaster Yuan not be burning with eagerness to teach? Had he not been afraid of messing up the generation hierarchy, he would have taken Yu Fan in as his last disciple.

However, he took his disciples into consideration. The youngest was even older than Little Shitou’s father, while the oldest could be Little Shitou’s grandfather. If they found out that their respected teacher took in a student who was even younger than their own children and grandchildren, it would be hard to say what expressions they would have on their faces.

Although he didn’t formally take him in as his disciple, Yuan Sinian still made an exception and taught him personally. The little fellow had only been studying for half a year, but he could already keep up with the level of the intermediate class. If he hadn’t been afraid of spoiling things with his excessive enthusiasm, he was about to help him apply to skip a grade!

He also knew that there were already certain people who were extremely envious of his special treatment towards Little Shitou. If he made another exception and let him skip a grade, it wouldn’t be a good thing for Little Shitou. Thus, he told Little Shitou to study with the primary class in the morning and come to his study in the afternoon so that he could explain deeper knowledge to him. Now they were just had to wait for the placement test after summer vacation. He trusted his own judgement and believed that this little fellow could definitely pass the exam to enter the intermediate class!

Rongxuan Academy had two advancement exams every year. One was after the winter vacation, while the other was after summer break. The students of the primary class and intermediate class could advance to the next level class as long as they could pass the examination of the higher class. If they couldn’t advance to the next class two years in a row, then they would have to leave Rongxuan Academy. To be able to pass the examination to enter the academy, they definitely didn’t lack intelligence and wisdom. Thus, one could only say that those who couldn’t advance to the next class just hadn’t made enough effort.

However, the students considered it an honor to be able to enter Rongxuan Academy and especially cherished the chance to continue studying in the academy. Since the establishment of the school, very few had been asked to withdraw from the academy.  

Back to the present. The news of Yu Xiaocao’s arrival at Rongxuan Academy had swiftly entered Yuan Sinian’s ears. He knew that the little girl would go to the primary class to look for her younger brother first. He was impatient and couldn’t wait any longer, so he pretended to patrol the academy without even bringing his manservant and went to the primary class’s courtyard by himself.

The primary class was currently taking a break. When Little Shitou’s roommates saw Xiaocao, they were even more excited than her younger brother, Little Shitou. With the speed of a 100-meter sprint, they rushed towards Xiaocao and surrounded her, chattering incessantly.

“Older Sister! What tasty food did you bring for Shitou today?” There were four people in Little Shitou’s dorm. The person who spoke was a dumpy child around the age of eight or nine, whose real name was Sun Runze. He was from the prefectural city and was the youngest son of the prefectural magistrate’s secretary.

Little Shitou tried his best to push him aside, rolled his eyes at him, and said, “Little Fatty Sun, you’re two months older than my second sister ah! Aren’t you ashamed to call her ‘older sister’?”

Sun Runze was obviously a good-tempered person; he didn’t get angry even after being called little fatty. He wrapped his strong arm around Little Shitou’s neck, as if they were very close brothers, and grinned, “We’re as close as real brothers, so your second sister is naturally also my second sister! Second Sister, what delicious food did you make this time? I’m about to drool just from smelling it!”

Liu Jinye, who was the oldest in the dorm, was the only son of the boss of the largest silk and satin store in the prefectural city. He had a rather gentle personality, and just stood on the side with a gentle smile. Situ Qing, who was not that much older than Little Shitou, jumped over like a monkey, blinked his eyes, and stared at the food box in Xiaocao’s hands with a salivating expression on his face. The little fellow’s grandfather was a third-rank official in court ah!

Thanks to Xiaocao’s delicacy attack, her younger brother, who was born from a poor fishing family, never experienced the agony of being discriminated. Though Rongxuan Academy didn’t care about one’s identity and just cared about talent, there was still a darker side in private.

It was said that a student of poor origin had left the academy regrettably because of being ostracized by his roommates, which caused his grades to plummet sharply. Fortunately, Little Shitou’s roommates were mostly simple and kind children. Even their slight arrogance had been thrown beyond the clouds by the delicacies that Xiaocao brought over from time to time.

Xiaocao touched Situ Qing’s hair, which was very neatly combed, and said with a gentle smile, “The shop is busy today, so I didn’t have time to personally cook…”

When the three of them heard that it wasn’t food personally made by Xiaocao, their instantly dimmed. However, their eyes swiftly brightened up again——

“…So I packed roasted chicken and osmanthus duck from Zhenxiu Restaurant. I don’t know if you guys will like them.” Seeing the constant change in their expressions, Yu Xiaocao snickered incessantly within her heart.

Situ Qing instantly jumped up, turned around excitedly, and shouted, “Like! Of course, we like them!! Last time, when my mother and older brother came to visit me, they took me to Zhenxiu Restaurant for a meal. Roasted chicken was among the dishes, and it was very, very, very delicious!! But I didn’t get to eat osmanthus duck!”

“Wow! Second Sister is so amazing!! You’ll have to make a reservation three days in advance in order to eat the roasted chicken and osmanthus duck of Zhenxiu Restaurant!! You actually got both of them at the same time! I have so much admiration for you ah!!” The little fatty’s eyes were glowing, and there was an unknown liquid on the corner of his mouth.

Even the oldest Liu Jinye couldn’t stay calm and had an even wider smile on his face as he said, “Today, thanks to Little Shitou, we can taste the two most famous dishes of Zhenxiu Restaurant! Thank you very much, Miss Yu.”

“You guys—why are you huddling around here?” Headmaster Yuan’s voice sounded from outside the door of the courtyard. The kids, like a mouse seeing a cat, had to disregard the delicacy in front of them and dejectedly ran back to the classroom.

As he ran, Little Fatty Sun turned his head and said, “Second Sister, remember to bring the food back to our dorm ah! We’ll get some rice and go back after class…”

With a smile on his face, Yuan Sinian looked at the energetic appearance of the children of the primary class and said with a chuckle, “These boys, they may look like a group of monkeys right not, but in a decade or so later, they might become one of the three most important officials in court! In his childhood, my son, who is the current prime minister, did a lot of those things like climbing trees to get eggs and catching fish and shrimp in the river.”

Lord Headmaster, was it really alright for you to expose the prime minister like this?

Yu Xiaocao took out two oil-paper bags from inside the basket. Headmaster Yuan gently sniffled and laughed, “Only you, this little lass, can get Zhenxiu Restaurant’s roasted chicken and osmanthus duck whenever you want. That little brat of the Zhou Family is seriously too stingy. I have talked to him several times already, but he still didn’t give me this privilege!” 

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Myst's Thoughts

It's nice that we get to know a little more about Little Shitou's life in the academy, and Xiaocao continues to conquer everyone with her delicious food.

Translator: Myst