Chapter 216 - Building a House

The shark’s dorsal fin, pectoral fins, and caudal fin could all be made into dried shark fin, so at least twenty to thirty catties of fins could be cut off from each shark. Of course, in order to turn them into dried shark fin, they need to be dried and dehydrated. Thus, only around ten catties of shark fin could be produced from each shark.

Yu Hai and Liu Shuanzhu felt that their moral character must be extremely good today; they had actually caught eight sharks in a day. In this way, the fins alone weighed over two hundred catties. The shark fins were equally divided between the two families. After they were made into dried shark fins, they would take them to the prefectural city to sell. They could definitely sell them for a good price. Yu Hai was very good at preparing shark fins, so Liu Shuanzhu left his portion of shark fins with Yu Hai and asked him to help make them into dried shark fins. As a result, Yu Hai was very busy for the next two days.

Yu Xiaocao had fallen in love with the feeling of underwater exploration, especially in the deep sea, which was definitely a mysterious area. There was a rich variety of marine creatures at the bottom of the sea. Her harvest from diving once was much higher than gathering seafood by the sea! Recently, she didn’t have any good ideas to make money, so she was thinking about doing something with the high-quality seafood like sea cucumber, abalone, and lobster. Weren’t abalone, sea cucumber, shark fin, and fish maw the favorite of the rich?

She had the support of Zhenxiu Restaurant, so she wasn’t worried about not being able to sell the marine goods she found from her underwater exploration. On the contrary, when Xiaocao first took out the sea cucumbers, abalones, and a fresh lobster that was half a meter long, the head manager of Zhenxiu Restaurant was completely stunned. After that, he was extremely elated!

It had been a long time since Zhenxiu Restaurant launched a new dish. In summer, greasy food like roasted chicken and braised meat weren’t as popular as they used to be. The chefs in the back kitchen were all scratching their heads trying to think of a new and refreshing dish.

With these high-quality seafood, did they still have to worry about not being able to retain their customers? After the head manager expressed his gratitude again, they agreed that if Yu Hai caught more of these high-quality seafood, he had to sell them to Zhenxiu Restaurant. The price was negotiable!

Xiaocao naturally couldn’t tell him that she got these high-quality seafood from diving, so she gave her father all the credit. Fortunately, the head manager of Zhenxiu Restaurant, also knew that Yu Hai wasn’t only a good hunter but also an excellent fisherman. Thus, he didn’t suspect anything at all! A few abalones, several sea cucumbers, and a large lobster was sold for two hundred taels. Xiaocao thought that this business was quite profitable and doable!

Every day, other than taking care of her pregnant godmother, Xiaocao spent at least half a day under the sea. The Yu Family had also noticed that Xiaocao seemed to be going to the sea quite frequently. With the thought that ‘his younger daughter had just learned how to swim, so she was still very interested in it’, Yu Hai didn’t hinder her from playing at the seaside. However, the family would always remind her not to swim too far away, to be careful, and so on.

As midsummer approached, a new batch of sweet potatoes had been planted. It was currently the most idle time for farmers. After experiencing several rainstorms, the Yu Family felt that building their house should be their top priority at the moment. The old residence was too old. Every time it rained, there would be heavy rain outside and light rain in the house. Almost all the household utensils had to be used to catch the rain. In particular, the Yu Family was really worried that the west room of the old house would collapse if there was another rainstorm.  

After selling the shark fins, Yu Hai decided to build three tiled-roofed rooms beside the old residence. After moving into those rooms, they could tear down the old residence and rebuild it. In total, they would have five black brick, tiled-roofed rooms. In addition, there were also the east and west wing-rooms. It was enough space for the entire family to live in!

No sooner said than done! Yu Hai went to the prefectural city several times to contact a brick kiln and ordered 150,000 black bricks and 30,000 tiles. These bricks and tiles, including the delivery fee, cost nearly two hundred taels. As for the stones used to lay the foundation, Dongshan Village was close to the mountains, so they just needed to find several strong workers from the village, and they would be able to get enough stones within two to three days.

Since Yu Hai had a good relationship with Zhenxiu Restaurant, the Zhou Family’s two factories prioritized recruiting workers from Dongshan Village and provided them with good benefits. Moreover, Yu Hai was usually a warm-hearted person. If other families needed help, he had never refused them as long as he was capable of helping out. As a result, Yu Hai became the most respected person, who also had the best interpersonal relationships, in Dongshan Village besides the village chief.

Originally, Yu Hai had planned to hire around a dozen people from town to help build the house. The daily wage would be fifty copper coins and two meals. Unexpectedly, when several families, who had good relations with Yu Hai’s family heard that they were going to build a new house, they pushed off their work and all rushed over to help.

The first one to come over was Liu Shuanzhu, who had a very close relationship with Yu Hai. As soon as he entered the gates, he shouted, “Brother Dahai, are you looking down on us, your brothers? Or are you afraid that we’re not skilled enough to build a house, and thus waste the bricks and tiles that you bought?”

Yu Hai punched his shoulder lightly and said, “Look at you. What are you saying? I’m just afraid that I will delay your work!”

The present Dongshan Village wasn’t the same as it was in the past. Except for the old, weak, women and children, there were very few people who were idle. Not to mention those who worked in the Zhou Family’s factories, but they could earn a few hundred copper coins a day by gathering sandworms and oysters during low tide! If that wasn’t enough, they could also go work at the docks and earn several dozen copper coins in a day.

According to the usual practice of Dongshan Village, if someone wanted to build a house, the young and strong laborers of the village would come to help, and the host just needed to provide two meals for them! Yu Hai was afraid of hindering the villagers from making money ah!

Liu Shuanzhu glared at him and angrily said, “My brother is building a house, even if I can earn a mountain of gold in a day, I still need to help my brother first!”

“Brother Shuanzhu is right! Brother Dahai, you’re speaking like we’re strangers! As the saying goes: ‘a close neighbor is better than a distant relative’! When are you laying the foundation? I’ll tell your Older Brother Zhou and oldest nephew to come help!” Madam Fang, who was carrying a basket of eggs, came in the gates and said.

Seeing Madam Fang enter the Yu Family’s main entrance, Madam Mao thought about it and also came over. In recent days, the bricks and tiles that Yu Hai ordered had been delivered one after another. The Qian Family lived very close, so it was impossible for them to not know that the Yu Family was building a house. Since the beginning of spring, there had been an excessive demand for the Qian Family’s ducks and duck eggs, and thus they had earned a small fortunate. Madam Mao had deep gratitude for the Yu Family’s friendly sentiments, so she naturally couldn’t just sit by idly and act indifferent.

“The wife of the Zhou Family is right! Had it not been for your family’s Xiaocao, my family’s ducks and Madam Fang’s chickens, we might not have been able to sell them! My family’s Old Qian can’t earn much money at the docks, moreover, he’s working himself to death. I have long wanted him to quit! This is perfect. I can take this opportunity to get him to rest for a few days and come help you guys out!” Madam Mao was quite an articulate speaker.

Yu Hai, on the other hand, wasn’t a very good speaker. He muttered, “That won’t do…”

Liu Shuanzhu’s loud voice sounded again, “Why not! In these past few years, the children have grown up and they will probably start looking for a wife in two years. I’m thinking about building a new three-room house next year to make it easier for my son to get married in the future! As you know, I’m not very knowledgeable and don’t understand a lot of things, so I’m counting on Brother Dahai to give me some pointers at that time! Brother Dahai, you won’t refuse to help, right?!”

“Of course I won’t! Nothing is as important as brothers!!” Yu Hai placed great importance in friendship, so he had several good friends in the village!

Liu Shuanzhu clapped and said, “That’s right! What are brothers? If a friend needs help, they will stab two ribs into a knife…”

Yu Xiaocao, who had returned from outside, chuckled, “Uncle Shuanzhu, it’s ‘when a friend is in need, one will be willing to be stabbed on both sides for him’! It means that one would be willing to sacrifice anything for a friend, including his life!”

“Hehe, my dear niece is quite knowledgeable. That’s exactly what I meant! I can even give my life to you, let alone a few stinky coins? It’s decided then! I have heard that my niece is an excellent cook. I will be able to eat a delicious meal at that time ah!” As Liu Shuanzhu spoke, he went out the door and prepared to go find their other close friends to discuss about the matter of working together to help Brother Dahai build his house.

Yu Jiang, who was collecting marine good nearby, heard Liu Shuanzhu’s shouting, so he poked his head inside door and shouted, “Second Brother! Count me and my eldest brother in on helping with the house construction!”

Before Yu Hai could reply, his head had already retracted. There were still several people waiting to sell their marine goods ah! It was hot in the summer, so it was easy for seafood to go bad. He must check them carefully. If the color wasn’t right or it smelled weird, then he absolutely couldn’t accept them! The Zhou Family’s factories trusted his second brother and handed this business to him, so he couldn’t ruin his second brother’s reputation!!

Around twenty people came on the day they were laying the foundation. Most of them were villagers who had a good relationship with the Yu Family. There were also people who wanted to improve their relationship with the Yu Family with the thought that if there was something good in the future, Yu Hai would take care of them. Four members of the Liu Family came over, which were Xiaocao’s maternal grandparents, eldest uncle, and second uncle.

Xiaocao’s maternal grandfather, Liu Cunjin, was over fifty years old, but since he worked throughout the year, he was very strong and healthy. Ordinary youngsters might not necessarily be able to surpass him when doing physical labor. His only daughter’s family was building a house, so no matter what, he had to come and make sure everything was going smoothly.

Xiaocao’s second maternal uncle, Liu Han, didn’t go out to work and stayed at home to take care of the fields. There was nothing to do in the fields at this time, so of course, he had to come help out. Even her eldest maternal uncle had taken a few days off at the docks to come help his younger sister and younger brother-in-law.  

During the construction of the house, it was necessary to provide meals for the workers. Her maternal grandmother was worried about her own daughter, so she packed her bags and prepared to stay at her daughter’s house for the time being in order to help her daughter with the cooking.

Looking at these friends and relatives and seeing the sincere smiles on their faces, Xiaocao’s heart warmed up. The simplicity, kindness, and enthusiasm of the ancient people enhanced the sense of belonging within her heart. Perhaps, she was more suited for this type of lifestyle!

Many hands made light work. With over a dozen young and strong workers, the foundation of the Yu Family’s three principal rooms and two side rooms were almost completed in a day!

It was blazing hot in the middle of the summer. Although these people were accustomed to working under the hot sun, Xiaocao was still afraid that they would get heat stroke. So she took out the mung beans that they keep at home to reduce heat and made a pot of sweet mung bean soup. She put it in the cold water of the well, and then added some rock sugar inside. It was especially refreshing to drink it when one was very tired and hot!

It was a spectacular sight to see seventeen or eighteen young and strong men eating. For just rice alone, they had to cook two large pots. Fearing that it wasn’t enough to eat, the Yu Family especially steamed several pans of white and plump plain steamed buns. The rice was white rice, while the steamed buns were made of wheat flour. Even though the current living conditions of Dongshan Village was much better than before, there were still families who ate coarse grains for every meal.

Not to mention the food that the Yu Family ate, which were all high-quality dishes ah! Stewed chicken with mushroom, salted duck, braised pork with vermicelli, and braised pig head meat were all served in pots! The vegetables were also stir-fried with oyster sauce and MSG, which was allegedly only available in the famous restaurants in town! Between the two meals, Xiaocao had also prepared the heat reducing and tasty starch jelly!

Disregarding everything else, they had to work hard in order to eat these dishes which were even better than the food they had during the New Year ah! Otherwise, would they be worthy of all the delicious food on the table?

Originally, Yu Xiaocao and her parents had wanted to pay them every day. However, as soon as they mentioned it, they were scolded by her father’s friends. They questioned if they were looking down on old friends after becoming rich. To mention money between friends would hurt the relationship!

They gave up on this thought after hearing Xiaocao’s maternal grandfather’s words, “We know that you guys have good intentions, but once you start doing this, how can the villagers ask for help when building houses in the future? Relatives and neighbors get along with each other due to mutual affection!” The wise words of the elder had enlightened them. After that, the Yu Family never mentioned money again!

Previous Chapter Next Chapter

Myst's Thoughts

Yay! They are finally getting a new house!

Food pic

Translator: Myst