Xiaocao discovered that she had already drifted far away from her original position. She grinned at her new friend and said, “Xiaobu, can you carry me along?” ‘Xiaobu’ was the name that she had given to the little dolphin.
With the little divine stone providing the directions and the little dolphin speeding her along, Xiaocao appeared in the line of Xiaolian’s sight just as the other girl was going to collapse from shock.
“Look! What’s that? It’s not a shark, right?” Zhou Shanhu shouted with surprise. She was the first to spot a dark shadow cruising along in the distance.
The extremely tan youth, Zhuang Xiaomo, gazed in that direction as he squinted his eyes to carefully look. He shook his head and replied, “That doesn’t look like a shark. In the water, sharks have a triangular shaped fin that pops out. That shadow...it looks like a person to me, however...the speed and the positioning of that shadow doesn’t resemble a person swimming. It’s quite strange!!”
Zhou Shanhu felt as if her mind was exploding as she exclaimed, “Then what you’re saying...could it be a mermaid? Don’t the legends all say that mermaids swim very fast in the ocean?”
Zhuang Xiaomo looked at her as if she was a crazy person and scoffed, “The legends also say that mermaids only appear in the moonlight, sing tantalizing songs to tempt people, and fog their minds…”
“Little...Little Sister!!” The sound of Yu Xiaolian’s gleeful shout suddenly interrupted the dispute between the two. They both looked over with astonishment at the figure that was speeding over. Sure enough, it was Yu Xiaocao, who had been missing for the past hour. She was still quite a distance away, so they couldn’t tell just what exactly she was lying on. However, the object was swimming quite quickly.
“Xiaolian! Shanhu——” The sound of her voice echoed from the distance. Yu Xiaocao had one arm around the little dolphin’s dorsal fin while the other arm was forcefully waving in the air.
Zhou Shanhu swam forward a few strokes and screamed in excitement, “Ah! Xiaocao is riding a fish!! Xiaolian, are you sure that your younger sister isn’t the daughter of the Dragon King of the ocean? Otherwise, how could a fish listen to her commands?”
Zhuang Xiaomo looked at the little girl, who was riding a dolphin through the choppy waves in the distance. He couldn’t help but be a bit stunned by the sight. Goodness gracious! This little girl absolutely wasn’t an ordinary little girl. Otherwise, how could she manage to tame a free and unconstrained dolphin?
Tears of gratitude pooled within Yu Xiaolian’s eyes. She swam forward towards her younger sister’s direction with great effort. The little dolphin’s speed was quite astonishing and, within moments, it arrived in front of the other three children. The creature was a bit timid and stopped outside touching distance of them as it opened its mouth to make a few whistling noises.
Yu Xiaocao softly stroked its slippery head and soothed, “Don’t be afraid, they won’t hurt you. Thank you, Xiaobu!”
She slid off the dolphin’s back and swam over to Xiaolian. Her sister firmly knocked a fist on her head. The other girl reprimanded her, “Who told you to swim so far? If something happened to you, how was I supposed to inform our parents and your godparents ah? In my opinion, bringing you along to swim in the ocean was the worst idea I’ve ever had!!”
When Yu Xiaocao noticed Xiaolian’s eyes were red with emotion and seemed quite angry, she hurriedly placated her sister, “Xiaolian, don’t be angry. In the future, I won’t dare to do this again. I was so busy having fun with Xiaobu that I lost track of time. I promise I won’t do this again. Just forgive me this one time ah!”
Zhou Shanhu glanced at the little dolphin again, who was gleefully swimming back and forth nearby. Her eyes glistened with excitement as she remarked somewhat enviously, “Xiaocao, is Xiaobu the name of that little dolphin? It’s so cute ah! You’re too amazing, you even know how to tame a small dolphin! Quickly teach me, just how did you manage to do it?”
Yu Xiaocao ignored her as she continued to soothe Xiaolian’s ruffled feathers. Finally, she managed to tease her sister into laughing. Xiaocao secretly wiped the invisible sweat that was on her forehead. Normally, Xiaolian also had a temper, but she usually never revealed it around her.
Zhou Shanhu continued to pester her in an attempt to get the secrets to taming a little dolphin. Yu Xiaocao opened her eyes wide and looked at the other girl innocently. She vaguely replied, “What? We have to tame them? Ah, but Xiaobu came over itself to play with me. Xiaobu is a dolphin that likes humans, it’s very obedient and sweet!”
Zhuang Xiaomo and Zhou Shanhu both had a ‘you’re trying to trick us’ expression on their faces. Although dolphins had mild personalities, they were quite cautious and only watched ships in the sea from far away. Naturally, the older generation had once told stories of dolphins saving drowning people but they hadn’t heard of anyone actually having an encounter with them.
“If you don’t believe me, that’s okay! Xiaobu come over and greet everyone.” Yu Xiaocao waved her hand and the little dolphin, who was drifting about on the side, cheerfully swam over towards her. It used its snout to gently touch her wrist. As if it could understand what she was saying, it straightened up in the water and waved one flipper towards Zhou Shanhu and the others.
“Wow! Xiaobu is too cute!! I almost want to raise one for a pet!!” Zhou Shanhu carefully came closer to the dolphin and, when she saw that the creature didn’t reject her presence, she tried to gently use her hand to pet its back. The little dolphin cleverly stayed next to Xiaocao and allowed the other kids to touch it.
Yu Xiaocao gently rubbed the little fellow’s head with the hand that had the mystic stone and a bit of spiritual power slowly poured into the animal’s body. The little dolphin’s eyes lit up and became even more close with Xiaocao.
Xiaolian watched the interactions between her younger sister and the dolphin and felt even more certain that her younger sister wasn’t an ordinary person. Could it be...possible that she was the reincarnation of a little immortal girl?
Zhuang Xiaomo also came up to touch the dolphin. As he felt the animal’s glossy skin, he spoke to Zhou Shanhu, “Dolphins are considered creatures of the ocean, so they can only live freely in the deep waters. Keeping a dolphin as a pet isn’t necessarily a good thing for the animal…”
Xiaocao gave the tanned youngster a look of approval as she asked hesitantly, “Xiaolian, he is…”
Zhou Shanhu interjected talkatively, “He ah! His name is Zhuang Xiaomo and he lives in Wuliu Village. He’s one of the diving experts I was talking about earlier. He can hold his breath underwater for around seven to eight minutes and is quite famous in the nearby villages.”
Zhuang Xiaomo grinned at her honestly and replied, “I know of you two sisters. At the docks, your braised food is very famous. I haven’t seen you at the docks these past couple of days, are you not doing the business anymore?”
Whenever she spoke about her own business, Xiaolian couldn’t help but reveal a proud smile, “The weather’s gotten hot, so it’s hard to keep meat from spoiling. After the hottest day of the year passes, then we’ll decide! My little sister and I are both discussing whether there are any other opportunities we can take in the summer. Ideally we’d sell something that fills the stomach while cooling a person off…”
When Xiaocao noticed that there was a bit of exhaustion on Xiaolian’s face, she hurriedly smiled and said, “If there’s anything we need to talk about, we can do it on shore. What’s the point in bringing ourselves any longer in the water?”
The little dolphin lingered behind her reluctantly. Xiaocao turned her head around and waved a hand at it, “Xiaobu, go back home! In the future, I’ll frequently go into the water to find you!!”
The little dolphin rubbed its head on her a few times, flicked its tail, and swiftly swam back toward deeper waters. That little human girl had a smell on her that was just too irresistible. It really wanted to stay next to her forever. It was a pity that humans had to live on land and it couldn’t leave the water, so sad...
When they arrived on the nearby reef, Xiaolian’s clothes were completely wet and clung to her body. Zhuang Xiaomo turned around with a red face. Xiaocao pulled Xiaolian into a nearby area that was a bit more hidden and had her sister change into her clothes. She then wrung Xiaolian’s clothes dry and draped them over her swimsuit.
“Eh? What’s this?” Yu Xiaocao noticed that there was a lot of red-purple vegetation floating in the nearby water by the reefs. To her, it somewhat resembled a type of seaweed she had eaten in her previous life at a restaurant. But that couldn’t be right, wasn’t this type of seaweed only found growing on rocks deep in the ocean? How did it end up floating all the way up to the surface?
Xiaolian bent over to scoop some up and looked at it herself. She shook her head, “I don’t know what this is but I’m sure it’s some type of sea vegetation. Not sure if it’s edible or not…”
They didn’t know when Zhuang Xiaomo came over to look but he also looked at the vegetation and said, “That should be red marine algae. It’s edible! You can season it with some salt and vinegar, and it tastes pretty good that way! However, you rarely see it in shallow waters. Having so much here is a bit weird!”
Yu Xiaocao was already definitively sure that this dark purple seaweed was Gelidium amansii, also known as red marine algae. Her eyes lit up and an idea immediately popped into her head. In her previous life, she had sold starch jelly in her shop and had especially looked for recipes online to make it from scratch.
Among all of the recipes she found, there was one type that used red marine algae as its raw ingredient. The process was quite simple. The algae had to be simmered over low heat for a few hours until all of the seaweed melted into a liquid. After it cooled, the mixture would solidify into a semi-transparent jelly consistency. However, red marine algae only grew in the deep sea, and it was quite troublesome to harvest. Thus, it commanded a high price at the markets, so she ended up renouncing her idea to make marine starch jelly and decided to use sweet potato starch and mung bean starch as the raw ingredients instead.
She also felt that it was somewhat strange to see so much red marine algae out on the open water. It grew in deep waters, so how could so much appear near the shoreline? In the past, she had also never seen such a phenomenon either. In the end, it didn’t matter. All of this was the raw ingredients for her to make a lot of money, and it was all free. If she didn’t take advantage of it, she’d be silly!
“Xiaolian, I have a use for this red marine algae. Let’s gather as much as we can before we go home ah! Shanhu, could you help us get a few baskets?” Yu Xiaocao’s eyes sparkled as she stared at the red marine algae.
Zhou Shanhu readily agreed and bolted off quickly. Since Xiaocao said that there was a use for the red marine algae, then she absolutely had thought of another method to create something new to eat. If she helped Xiaocao to harvest more, then Xiaocao would definitely treat her fairly as she had a generous personality. Once the thought of eating a new delicacy surfaced in her mind, Zhou Shanhu ran even faster.
Harvesting red marine algae wasn’t difficult at all. That was because in the shallow waters, it was quite easy to recognize and all they needed to do was to bend down and pick it up. The red marine algae had a deep purple color and glistened gently in the light. Although it was a ‘vegetable’, it looked more like a shiny, beautiful coral specimen instead. It also resembled a shrunken version of tree canopies as the tiny branches intertwined with each other. The resulting pattern didn’t look at all messy and instead resembled a mane of beautiful hair.
Once someone grabbed a handful, it seemed to shimmer gently in the air. The algae was flexible yet strong. If you cut off a ‘branch’ it felt very tender and soft, as if you could probably hear it ‘tinkle’ as it fractured. A careful look at the cut part would reveal that the inside was a milky white color. The nutritious colloids of red marine algae were all hidden within the pure milky centers.
When Zhou Shanhu came back with a few baskets, Fang Zizhen and Yu Hang had also followed her from behind. Fang Zizhen had come back from the docks earlier and noticed that his goddaughter wasn’t at home at noon. He was just about to go out and find her when he ran into Shanhu, who was carrying a few baskets from home. For Yu Hang, noon was also the most leisurely time of the seafood wholesale business, so he also came over to bring the baskets to his sister.Previous Chapter Next Chapter
Sanguine’s Thoughts: Starch jelly sounds weird but it’s quite good!