Chapter 252 - Strategy

Perhaps it was the beauty of Yu Xiaocao’s description that moved the princess consort, or maybe the princess consort had finally given up on the idea of personally raising the flowers. The next time Imperial Prince Jing came to Tanggu Town, he was accompanied by two of the best gardeners in Prince Jing’s Estate.

After being moistened by mystic-stone water, the camellias finally survived. When the two gardeners arrived, they saw that the princess consort had casually planted the rare camellias, which would stun the world, in a corner of the garden.

To properly grow camellias, there must be suitable soil, proper temperature, proper amount of watering, adequate fertilizing, and regular pruning. But, one shall take a look at the camellias personally raised by the princess consort. There wasn’t enough fertilizer in the soil. At this time, the temperature was rather chilly in the morning and at night. It was better to grow the camellias in a flower pot and move them indoors in the morning and evening. Who watered the flowers today? Did they want to soak the roots until they rot? Looking at the messy branches, it seemed like they hadn’t trimmed them since transplanting them…

However, these ‘abused’ camellias bloomed in such a gorgeous and unrestrained way. There was a sense of unbridled wildness in their beauty. Although illogical, it seemed like Princess Consort Jing’s nickname of ‘flower killer’ should be removed!

After the two gardeners came, if the camellia plants had expressions, they would surely breathe a big sigh of relief—there’s finally an end to the endless torture! With the careful care of the gardeners, the camellias could finally display their beauty in their entirety to everyone. Princess Consort Jing lingered in the garden every day. She often stayed in the flower room for the entire morning, forgetting to eat and rest… This degree of obsessiveness caused Prince Jing, who finally had a break and came over, to be very jealous. He kept secretly grumbling to his two sons, ‘Find a chance and secretly destroy those floras. They take up too much of my beloved wife’s attention!’

In order to send Minister Liu, who came from the capital, back as soon as possible, the day after Xiaocao tended Princess Consort Jing’s flowers, she returned to Dongshan Village. Little Shitou also followed her back. So, with Yu Xiaocao dictating, Little Shitou writing, and Yu Hai supplementing additional information, they swiftly summed up the methods of cultivation for corn and potatoes.

That day, Minister Liu, who couldn’t wait any longer, didn’t notify the young royal prince and arrived at Dongshan Village with the county magistrate. Just after the cultivation method was bound into a thin booklet, Yu Xiaocao’s family had to go receive the high-ranking official from the capital—second-ranked official, Minister Liu.

Fortunately, Minister Liu had no official authority. He was just an ordinary old man dressed in plain clothes. Led by Yu Hai’s family, he inspected the growing environment of the corn. He seriously couldn’t believe that the corn, which had grown so well, was actually grown in such barren sand land. In the capital, he had used the best fertile farmland, the most adequate fertilizer, and meticulous care, yet that still wasn’t as good as their piece of sandy land?

Seeing the questions in Minister Liu’s eyes, Yu Xiaocao said in a soft voice, “After the trial planting, it is proven that the crop corn isn’t very picky with the type of land it is grown on and it also doesn’t need meticulous care. As long as you make sure that it’s not dehydrated and do a good job with weeding and fertilizing, it should grow very well!”

Minister Liu looked at the big gaps between the seedlings and couldn’t help but ask, “Why don’t you sow more densely? Wouldn’t there be a higher yield that way?”

He set his eyes on Yu Hai, who was the head of the household, while Yu Hai looked at his younger daughter. Minister Liu quickly shifted his gaze over. Yu Xiaocao thought about it, and then said, “Lord, look at this corn plant, it’s similar to the coarse grain sorghum that we eat. It should be able to grow very tall. If planted too densely, then they will affect each other. If it’s not exposed to enough sunlight, then it probably won’t grow very well!”

Seeing that Minister was like a curious child who wanted to say something, Yu Xiaocao quickly interrupted him, “Lord, it’s our first time seeing and growing corn, so we’re also still experimenting. It’s just that we have more farming experience. We’re mostly just using our previous experiences, so we can’t really explain the logics. Like these potatoes, they look somewhat similar to sweet potatoes, and there’s also some dirt on them. Thus, we tried to make it germinate, and then divided the sprouted potatoes into pieces and buried them in the soil. We also tried to grow them with the cultivation method of sweet potato seedlings, but we failed!”

Minister Liu was interrupted by her, but he wasn’t angry and nodded repeatedly after listening to her. They also used cultivation method of sweet potatoes to grow the potatoes, but the seedlings died very quickly. So it turned out that they needed to cut the potato into pieces and bury them in the soil ah!

“Young lady, can you tell me in detail about how the corn and potatoes are grown?” Seeing that Yu Xiaocao had a clear train of thought, spoke articulately, and didn’t show any sense of timidity in front of all these officials, Minister Liu looked at her with even more respect.  

At this time, Yu Xiaocao took out the prepared booklet, which had Strategies for Trial Planting of Corn and Potatoes written on the first page. Minister Liu glanced at it, immediately took the booklet in his hand, and began carefully reading it.

In order to save trouble, Yu Xiaocao wrote out almost every detail of planting corn and potatoes. It originally wasn’t hard to grow corn and potatoes, so as long as they weren’t too stupid, they should be able to grow them.

Seeing that Minister Liu focused all his attention on the booklet, Yu Xiaocao couldn’t help adding, “The spring crops have just been sown, so it shouldn’t be too late to plant the corn and potatoes now…”

Before she finished speaking, Minister Liu immediately rolled up the booklet and carefully put it away, and then said the Yu Family, “This old man will return to the capital now so as not to delay the farming! If corn and potatoes can really be grown and there’s a high-yield like the emperor said, your family has done a great deed for the world! Rest assured, this old man will definitely put in a good word for you in front of the emperor at that time!”

After he said that, he said to County Magistrate Zhao, who came with him, “County Magistrate Zhao, let me borrow your horse carriage and bailiff. This old man isn’t going back to Tanggu Town! Please help me bid my farewells to Royal Prince Yang!”

As he spoke, he got into the carriage that he had come in and urged the bailiff to drive directly to the capital. County Magistrate Zhao, who had been left in Dongshan Village, was completely dumbfounded. In order to increase his chances of interacting with the Minister of Revenue, he had only brought along one horse carriage, and now that horse carriage had been taken by Minister Liu. Dongshan Village was over a dozen kilometers away from Tanggu Town. He… How was he supposed to return to town ah!

“Official Zhao, if you don’t mind, you can ride this commoner’s carriage back!” Seeing Official Zhao’s predicament, the kind Yu Hai offered to give him a ride. Due to his tact, County Magistrate Zhao’s impression of the Yu Family improved.

He looked at Yu Xiaocao with admiration and asked, “How did you guys know that Minister Liu will come over to ask about the methods of cultivation, and make the preparations for it?”

Yu Xiaocao said with a smile, “Yesterday, when I went to Princess Consort Jing’s residence, I saw the young royal prince. He spoke briefly with this commoner and mentioned the reason of Minister Liu’s visit to Tanggu Town.”

County Magistrate Zhao’s originally slightly relaxed expression became solemn. She was able to freely go in and out of Princess Consort Jing’s residence and speak with Royal Prince Yang, who cherished his words like gold and looked at people with an icy expression. It seemed like this little girl wasn’t just simply Official Fang’s goddaughter. It seemed like this Yu Family shouldn’t be underestimated ah!

Yu Xiaocao didn’t expect that her casual comment would cause the parental official of Tanggu Town to view her family in a new light. It was considered an unexpected gain!

While her father sent County Magistrate Zhao back, Yu Xiaocao quietly returned to her room and dug out her newly made sharkskin diving suit from the bottom of her wardrobe. After thinking about it, she wrapped it in a piece of cloth, held it in her arms and walked outside. Madam Liu, who was tending the garden in the adjacent courtyard, called her from afar, “Cao’er? You’re not going back to town today? How many days can you stay at home?”

Hearing the anticipation within Madam Liu’s voice, Yu Xiaocao’s nose was slightly sour. She loudly answered, “Mother, I will stay at home for a few days this time! I will stay at home to spend some quality time with you and Father!”

Hearing that, Madam Liu felt elated in her heart. However, she also had to think for her daughter, “Cao’er, we’re your parents, so there’s no need to especially spend time with us! There needs to be people around your godmother, so I reckon that you should go back earlier.”

Yu Xiaocao stood at the moon-shaped door connecting the two courtyards. Hiding the cloth bag that held the diving suit behind her back, she looked at Madam Liu, who was working hard in the vegetable field, with a grin and said, “Mother, don’t worry. I have already prepped the medicinal meals. Lanxiang[1] has almost mastered how to cook the medicinal cuisine. It was Godmother who told me to stay at home for a few more days!”

“Alright, if it won’t delay matters, then stay at home for a few more days! Shanhu asked me many times when you will come back. If you’re free, go next door and play with her! That girl Linglong[2] will get married in winter. In the future, it won’t be so easy to see each other!”

Time had passed by very quickly. It had been a year and a half since they separated from the main family. The wedding date for Linglong, who had been engaged for a long time, was quickly approaching. These days, the wife of the Zhou Family showed a reluctant expression from time to time. A daughter who one had raised for over a decade was going to be someone else’s soon, so it was evitable that the mother would feel unwilling to part.

Fortunately, her daughters were still young. There were still several years before they had to look for a husband! But, now that she thought about it, there were only five to six years left. If her two daughters got married at the same time, that would be asking for her old life ah! How could grown daughters not get married? Wouldn’t people talk behind their backs? Ay! If she could choose, she would rather only have sons and not daughters!

Yu Xiaocao couldn’t understand Madam Liu’s feelings at all. She spoke briefly with Madam Liu, and then made an excuse to go out. She chose a path with few people and arrived at the area that was best for gathering seafood, which only the Yu Family knew about. It was also the reef where they saved the young royal prince.

She found a concealed place and changed into the sharkskin diving suit. She put all her hair inside something that was made of sharkskin and was similar to a swimming cap. The waterproofing of the diving suit made of sharkskin was quite good, and it had a certain degree of warmth retention. However, it was still April after all. The sea water was still somewhat cool even in the afternoon.

After Yu Xiaocao changed into a diving suit on the reef, she carefully put her feet into the sea, and then took it out instantly. The sea water was really cold ah! What should she do?


[1] The author has it as 'Lanxiang' but I think she meant either Linglong or Zhenzhu because Lanxiang is one of Princess Consort Jing's maidservants.

[2] Don't confuse her with Lady Fang maidservant, Linglong. This is Shanhu's older sister, Zhou Linglong. 

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Myst's Thoughts

Good thing Xiaocao was prepared, otherwise, she might have to answer a thousand questions. xD

Translator: Myst