“No! The port construction is at a crucial stage, so there can’t be any problems. Godfather, you need to go and look over it! Moreover, you have never farmed before, so you will probably be a hindrance if you came!” Yu Xiaocao rejected her godfather’s suggestion, and then said, “Maybe… Tomorrow, Mother can dig the pits in front while I scatter the seeds. Is that okay?”
Fang Zizhen continued to refuse, “You hand is injured. What if it got dirty and caused an infection? At that time, you wouldn’t be helping out, but causing more problems!”
Xiaolian and Yu Hang rushed to say, “Tomorrow, I won’t go to the docks (I won’t collect seafood) and will go help out in the fields instead!”
“Alright! Everyone stop talking!! It’s merely ten or so mu of land, yet you’re all fretting so much. In the future, if we buy a hundred or so mu of good farmland, wouldn’t you guys worry so much that you can’t even sleep at night? It’s decided. Tomorrow, your mother and I, along with Cao’er, will continue to work in the fields. Cao’er will watch on the side to ensure that nothing goes wrong and won’t need to do anything at all! Everyone else should do what you need to do!” At this time, Yu Hai brought forth his weight as the head of the household and made the final decision.
Before sleeping, Xiaocao went to the west courtyard next door as usual, and took her godmother’s pulse with her bandaged little hand. Although her godmother was pregnant, with a proper diet and the nourishment of the mystic-stone water, her health was much better than when she first came to Tanggu Town. Yu Xiaocao took off her hand, feeling relieved.
Lady Fang gently grabbed her small hand, which was wrapped like a pig’s hoof. Her heart slightly ached as she teased her, “Oh! Our Eldest Young Miss has just worked for a day, yet your little hand has already turned out like this ah?”
Yu Xiaocao pouted and grumbled, “It’s just Godfather making a fuss over a small matter. I merely got a few blisters, but he wrapped my hand as if it was fractured.”
Fang Zizhen came in and touched his wife’s belly. He looked at Xiaocao’s hand and said to Lady Fang, “You didn’t see it. On her fair and tender palm, there were several peanut sized blisters. It bled quite a lot after being popped. Ay! It’s just ten or so mu of land. It’s not like we can’t afford to hire people! If worst comes to worst, we can pick out a few strong ones among the refugees and hire them. Why do you need to do everything yourself?”
Yu Xiaocao laughed, “We’re already attracting too much attention in the village. We just bought over ten mu of farmland, if we also hire people to work in the fields, wouldn’t people talk about us behind our backs?”
“Just let them talk. If they have the ability, they can also buy land and hire workers!” Fang Zizhen said angrily.
Yu Xiaocao knew that her godfather was worried about her, so she smiled and changed the topic, “Godfather, Godmother will probably go into labor next month at the latest. The conditions in the countryside aren’t very good and the midwives aren’t very professional. I reckon that she should go back to the town tomorrow and wait for delivery?”
Speaking of the unborn child, Fang Zizhen immediately revealed a silly smile and giggled, “I have already discussed this matter with your godmother. We’ll go back to town when your family’s corn and potatoes are planted.”
Fang Zizhen now firmly believed in his goddaughter’s medical skills. His wife wasn’t young anymore, and this was her first child, so they didn’t have any experience whatsoever. Without his goddaughter around, he would feel uneasy! However, his daughter had signed a military writ with Royal Prince Yang for the cultivation of corn and potatoes. So it couldn’t be delayed. Fortunately, there were still a couple of months before his wife’s due date. He had learned the term ‘due date’ from Xiaocao!
Looked at her madam’s big, round tummy, Linglong though that it was more safe to return to town earlier. She said in a low voice, “Madam, let Zhenzhu accompany you at home tomorrow. This servant will go help out in the field. With an extra worker, things will get done faster!”
Lady Fang looked up with smiling eyes and glanced at her most trusted handmaid. She smiled at Fang Zizhen and said, “These two maidservants, Linglong and Zhenzhu, have suffered a lot since we arrived in Tanggu Town! Usually, handmaids like them are like daughters of a humble family, who won’t need to do any chores. They all have several maidservants who work under them. However, since coming to Dongshan Village, they have to make a fire for cooking, plant vegetables, and gather vegetables. It really has been hard on them ah!”
Zhenzhu hurriedly said, “Madam, you’re overpraising us! Madam is tolerant, magnanimous, kind, and benevolent. When this servant went back to the Xia Household, my sisters all envied me for having such a good master!”
Linglong gently massaged Lady Fang’s shoulders and said with a faint smile, “That’s right! There are advantages to living in the capital, but there are also advantages in staying in Dongshan Village. Our Dongshan Village has a picturesque scenery that relaxes one’s mood just by looking at it. We can eat delicacies from the land and the sea every day. This servant’s face has gotten rounder ah. In my opinion, although the capital is big, it’s more comfortable living in Dongshan Village!”
Lady Fang patted Linglong’s hand and said with a smile, “You two are both clever and lovely. I, your madam, knows this very clearly! Alright, tomorrow, Linglong will take Wangfu and his wife to see if there’s anything you guys can help with in the fields.”
Early in the morning of the next day, the three members of the Yu Family went to the fields with Linglong and two servants of the Fang Household. After working for the entire day yesterday, they had already planted nearly two mu of land. Madam Liu had nearly mastered the technique of digging the pits. Under Xiaocao’s guidance, she swiftly got the hang of it.
Wangfu had come over from the estate in town. Before selling himself into the Fang Estate, he was also an experienced farmer. When doing farm work, the Wangfu couple was even faster than the Yu Hai couple. As if it had a life, the hoe in his hands dug quickly and well. Wangfu’s wife followed behind her husband and skillfully scattered the seeds and buried them with soil. The two worked very well together.
As a child of servants of the Xia Family, Linglong had grown up the estate of a wealthy family, so she had never done farm work before. Fortunately, dibbling wasn’t hard. At the beginning, she was still relatively unfamiliar with how to do it, but she gradually learned how to do it.
Yu Hai carried a bucket of water and followed behind them and sprinkled some water on the buried seed. There couldn’t be too much water because the seed might go bad from being soaked in too much water. But there couldn’t be too little water either because that might reduce the rate of germination. However, seeds that had been washed by mystic-stone water didn’t have these concerns.
With three extra people, who were skilled workers, they worked much more efficiently today! By evening, there were only about two mu of land that needed to be worked on from the remaining eight mu of land.
On the way back, Madam Liu said with a smile, “We should be able to finish planting all the corn by tomorrow. Many thanks to Linglong, Older Brother Wangfu, and Older Brother Wangfu’s wife, otherwise, we would have to work a few more days.”
Wangfu smiled in a good-natured manner, while his wife said quick-wittedly, “We don’t deserve to be called in that way by Madam Yu. Madam Yu is a relative of our general, so you’re considered half of a master for us servants. You’re already giving us servants face by directly calling our names!”
Linglong saw that Madam Liu still wanted to say something, so she quickly changed the topic, “Tomorrow, we will be able to finish planting the corn in the morning. When are we going to plant the remaining one mu of potatoes?”
Yu Xiaocao replied, “The potato seeds has already sprouted. It can be planted by the day after tomorrow. Older Sister Linglong, you must be exhausted today, right? When you get back, take a hot bath and have a good rest. My hand should be better tomorrow, so it’s fine with just me and my parents!”
Seeing that Linglong wanted to say something, she continued, “It has been a long time since anyone has lived in the estate in town. Several servants stayed back to guard the house, but if you guys are moving back, it’s better to have people properly clean the place. Also, you guys should find a midwife in advance…Sister Linglong, you’re someone who serves Godmother. Now that Godmother is pregnant, you must stay by her side ah!”
In a slightly flattering manner, Wangfu’s wife said, “Miss Linglong don’t have to come tomorrow. My husband and I will come over to help, so it should be fine!”
After thinking about it, Linglong felt that Miss Cao’er was right. Tomorrow, she should go to town and make sure everything was going smoothly. Madam and her unborn child were the most important!
In this way, they worked busily for another two days and finally finished planting on the Yu Family’s over ten mu of land. Without a chance to rest, Xiaocao was taken to town by Fang Zizhen and his wife. Linglong was also a very capable person. In two days, she had straightened out everything in the Fang Estate. She had also invited the two famous midwives in town to the estate, serving them with good food and drinks.
These two midwives mostly helped wealthy families in town to deliver babies, so the highest ranking official they had seen were low-ranked officials like the head bailiff of the county yamen and the magistrate’s secretary. Their legs had gone limp as soon as they heard about the lord imperial envoy’s invitation. They didn’t even dare to fart and obediently followed the servant of the Fang Estate over.
After staying in the estate for a day, they gradually recovered their strength and a burst of joy emerged in their hearts: It was their first time delivering the child of the imperial envoy’s wife ah! If everything went smoothly, not only would they become famous, but they would also get rich! They had heard that the imperial envoy had gotten a child at an old age, so he would definitely give them a lot of money at that time!
When Xiaocao arrived in town, she didn’t idle around. After some inquiry, she found a broker with a decent reputation in town, Li Da.
Li Da felt slightly uneasy as he was taken to the Fang Estate. With his social connections, how could he not know about the residence of the imperial envoy? Why was the imperial envoy looking for him? Could it be that he wanted to buy more servants?
It was a little girl under the age of ten who came to receive him. Although she was dressed plainly, she appeared comfortable and exquisite in all respects. Such a young girl probably wasn’t a handmaid in the estate. Perhaps… she was the imperial envoy’s goddaughter?
Li Da didn’t dare slight her and solemnly went forward to greet her. Yu Xiaocao smiled and said, “Broker Li doesn’t need to be so courteous. Let sit down and talk!”
Being influenced by Lady Fang, who had come from a noble family, Yu Xiaocao already had a somewhat imposing manner in the way she dealt with people. She waited for Li Da to sit down, and with a gentle smile, she said in a soft voice, “Broker Li, I heard that you have grasped most of Tanggu Town’s middleman businesses in your hands! Is there a large piece of farmland nearby for sale?”
Li Da quickly straightened his body and thought for a moment before asking, “In reply to Young Miss, do you want to buy a plantation or just farmland?”
“Plantation? Are there plantations for sale?” Yu Xiaocao had learned that plantations were generally owned by rich people. Not only did they have a large piece of fertile farmland, but it was also sold together with the tenant farmers. If she could buy a plantation, it would save her a lot of work!
Li Da quickly said, “In town, there is a wealthy family with the surname Ma who had failed in their business and are in an urgent need for money. Thus, the Ma Family have decided to sell one of their plantations, which has sixty mu of superior farmland, thirty mu of average farmland, and eighty mu of inferior farmland. This plantation is located east of town, and it is less than ten kilometers away from town.”
A total of one hundred and seventy mu, and it was located in between Tanggu Town and Dongshan Village. This was exactly what Xiaocao wanted. If the price wasn’t too outrageous, Xiaocao was prepared to buy it!
“May I ask the price…”Previous Chapter Next Chapter