Chapter 253 - Going Out to the Sea

The multicolored stone on her wrist exuded a soft, golden light, and gradually became a golden kitten with a proud appearance. It scorned, [If you’re afraid of the cold, then look for the almighty Divine Stone ah! This Divine Stone can help you isolate the sea water, aren’t you going to hurry up and thank me?]

When Yu Xiaocao heard this, she felt elated. She didn’t need to suffer. ‘Almighty Little Glutinous Dumpling! Long live Little Glutinous Dumpling!’

The little divine stone was connected with her heart. Hearing her heartfelt cheers, it was extremely pleased. It immediately emitted a faint golden smoke from the multicolored stone and enclosed Yu Xiaocao inside it. Fortunately, other people couldn’t see this, or they would think that they saw a huge golden silkworm cocoon!

Yu Xiaocao tried to put her feet into the water again! Oh! As expected, she couldn’t feel the slightest sense of coldness. When she took her feet out, there wasn’t a single drop of water on it. Feeling delighted, Yu Xiaocao praised the little divine stone endlessly in her heart. The golden kitten, which the little divine stone transformed into, had an even more haughty expression and its head was nearly lifted up to the sky!

“Xiaobu——Xiaobu——” Yu Xiaocao called for her marine friend. This little dolphin seemed to have recognized her as its friend. As soon as she came to the sea, the little fellow would quickly swim over from the deep sea, shake its head, and wag its tail to greet her. At times, it would even perform ‘jumping in the water’ and ‘singing’ for her.

Sure enough, Yu Xiaocao didn’t have to wait long for the cute little fellow. She hadn’t seen it for the entire winter, and the little dolphin was a lot bigger than last year. If it was about the same size of a big dog last year, it was now about the size of a half-grown calf.

The little dolphin seemed to be very enthusiastic to see an old friend. It swam happily to the reef and left a ‘kiss mark’ on Yu Xiaocao’s face with its long snout. Yu Xiaocao fed it the present that she brought for it—fish and shrimp raised with mystic-stone water. The little dolphin ate it with relish, ‘This friend is really good. She brings delicious food for me every time. The fish and shrimp she brings are more delicious than everything in the ocean!

After eating to its heart’s content, the little dolphin quickly swam to the bottom of the sea with Xiaocao, who had jumped on its back.

“Eh? There’s someone diving and gathering seafood this early?” In the distance, Zhuang Xiaomo, who was diving in the sea, saw a figure in the sea and muttered to himself. He watched from afar and found that the person, who dived into the sea, didn’t come up for a long time. He couldn’t help but furrow his eyebrows, ‘Did something go wrong?’

Zhuang Xiaomo hastily dropped his harvest and agilely jumped into the cold water. In the nearby villages, there were only a few people who were better swimmers than him. But, it was somewhat hard for him to endure swimming in the cold water.

When he reached the area where he saw the person, Zhuang Xiaomo plunged into the water and searched around. After coming up several times to breathe, he still didn’t find anyone. Did he see incorrectly? Or did that person get caught in the deep sea?

Zhuang Xiaomo didn’t give up. He searched for a long time until his body couldn’t bear it any longer and had to give up. He went back to the shore, picked up his tools and harvests from the sea, and jogged home to change his clothes. On the way, he encountered his fellow villagers, and they all thought that the child had gone crazy for money. To go diving without a diving suit during this time of the year, that was almost the same as looking for death!

Zhuang Xiaomo lived in Nanyuan Village, and was raised by his paternal grandfather. When he was nine, his grandfather passed away and he became an orphan. Fortunately, he was a skilled swimmer, and could support himself by gathering seafood at the beach and fishing.  

Yu Xiaocao, who had dived into the deep sea with the help of the little dolphin, had no idea that someone had dived into the sea to search for her in concern. At this time, she had arrived at a cluster of coral reefs, where many abalones were perched on.  

Yu Xiaocao got off the dolphin, quietly swam closer to the coral reef, and measured them with her hands. She wasn’t satisfied with the size of the abalones and shook her head in disappointment. Just when she was about to leave and look for other reefs, she suddenly saw, from the corner of her eye, an abalone about the size of her palm, which was over twenty centimeters long ah!

In comparison, weren’t those one-head abalones and two-head abalones too inferior? (Author’s notes: One-headed abalones are abalones that weigh one catty and two-headed abalones refers to two abalones per catty. Both are rare, high-quality abalones.) It was the best of the best ah!

With the tool for prying abalones (a blunt shovel), Yu Xiaocao carefully pried the abalone from the reef. She put it into the bamboo basket on her waist, and then carefully tied the mouth of the bamboo basket. After that, she searched thoroughly again and found a one-headed abalone.

Leaving that cluster of reefs, Yu Xiaocao swam slowly at the bottom of the sea, and from time to time, she picked up a sluggishly squirming sea cucumber. It was also the bigger the better for sea cucumbers. Dried sea cucumbers within thirty heads would be rated excellent, which meant that the weight of thirty-something dried sea cucumbers was one catty.

The ancient fishing techniques were backwards. The seabed was like an undeveloped virgin land, with abundant marine life everywhere. Yu Xiaocao felt as if she had arrived at a huge seafood market. She had a wide range of ‘products’ to choose from, and they were free!

At the bottom of the sea, Yu Xiaocao chose the seafood that she wanted, and the bamboo basket around her waist soon became full. She somewhat regretted that she didn’t bring a big sack to hold the abalones and sea cucumbers.

Suddenly, the little dolphin swimming happily beside Xiaocao made a warning sound that as filled with unease and fear.

“What’s wrong? Is there danger?” Yu Xiaocao swam vigorously towards the little dolphin. She believed the instinct of animals.

[Not really? It’s just a big shark coming over!] The little divine stone’s lazy voice emerged in Xiaocao’s mind. From the corner of her eyes, Yu Xiaocao saw a golden figure. After getting a closer look, she didn’t know whether she should laugh or cry. She had seen dogs swimming, but she had never seen a cat diving. ‘Little Divine Stone, what are you doing?’

The great white sharks were quite fierce among the marine creatures, but since the little divine stone didn’t have any sense of urgency, she didn’t really need to worry about anything.

However, that wasn’t what the little dolphin thought. It quickly swam towards Xiaocao. At this time, the great white shark’s huge figure has appeared, and two rows of sharp teeth were exposed in its wide opened mouth.

The little dolphin screamed with fear and anxiety, but instead of leaving his good friend, Xiaocao, it swam even faster towards her. The shark had already noticed its ‘prey’ and swam towards them in a threatening manner, as if it was a school bully.

The little dolphin had already arrived next to Xiaocao. With its back pushing her, it worked hard to sway its tail and desperately swam towards the distance. The great white shark swam very fast and the little dolphin had to take a person with it, so how could it out swim the shark? Seeing that the shark was going to catch up to it, the little dolphin made a desperate cry, but didn’t give up on saving Xiaocao. One must admit that the loyalty of animals was sometimes much higher than that of people!

At this critical moment, a fist sized golden kitten blocked the shark’s path. With its haughty expression and gorgeous hair, it was obviously the little divine stone!

It seemed like the great white shark had never met such a creature in the ocean. At first, it was stunned and swam around the little golden kitten for a moment. Staring at the tiny golden kitten with its fierce eyes, it seemed as if it wanted to figure out what kind of creature was in front of it and whether it was edible!

In the end, it gave up on the inquiry, opened it large, fierce-looking mouth, and swallowed the little golden kitten. A flash of disdain appeared within its eyes, ‘The prey is so small that it’s not even enough to fill the gaps between my teeth!’

Seeing the little golden kitten being swallowed by the shark, Yu Xiaocao pacified the little dolphin by patting it—don’t worry, we’re safe now!

The shark was quite pitiful! After a while, a big hole was ripped in its belly and a bloody kitten strutted out of it. It walked to Yu Xiaocao on its four paws and requested her to wash the blood on its hair.

Looking at the shark, who had flipped over and was completely dead, Yu Xiaocao felt she couldn’t just let it go to waste. So, she cut off all the fins with a knife. The shark was very big, like a submarine. If all the fins were cut off, there would be at least ten or so catties of shark fin!

By the time Yu Xiaocao got on shore, it was already the evening. After the ebb tide period, the people who were gathering seafood beside the sea had already gone home. Therefore, no one saw Yu Xiaocao when she came on shore. She went back to the concealed area on the reef and changed her clothes.  

Today’s harvest was quite good. She got at least five catties of abalones, and even more of sea cucumbers. After making them into dried seafood, that should be enough for the Zhou Family to pay tribute to the imperial court next month! Shark fin and fish maw were things that only experienced fishermen could catch, so Yu Xiaocao wasn’t responsible for providing them.

With one hand holding the shark fins and the basket of abalones and sea cucumbers in the other hand, Yu Xiaocao sneaked into the yard. In her heart, she thought about how she should explain to her parents…

“Cao’er? Your mother said that you’ve been out for the entire afternoon. What were you doing?” Yu Hai had already returned from the town and was helping his wife cook in the kitchen! He, who loved his wife dearly, didn’t care about the fallacy of ‘men should stay away from the kitchen’ at all!

Yu Xiaocao’s eyes darted around, and then she immediately showed Yu Hai her harvest with a smile. She had an expression that said, ‘Guess where I got these from?’

Yu Hai helped his daughter pour the abalones and sea cucumbers in the bamboo basket into a basin. He was shocked when he saw the marine goods in the basin! Yu Hai was a famous fishing expert in the nearby villages, so he was naturally also a good diver. However, he didn’t think that he would be capable of catching so many top-notch seafood at once. Where exactly did this little lass get these from?

“Cao’er, stop trying to create suspense. Tell me, where did these come from?” Yu Hai couldn’t help asking.

Yu Xiaocao blinked her eyes and had a smile on her face as she lied skillfully, “I met Third Young Master Zhou’s subordinates at the village entrance. They told me to bring them back and ask Father to help make them into dried seafood.”

The matter of the Zhou Family becoming imperial merchants who supplied the imperial court with dried seafood had been widely spread throughout Tanggu Town. Yu Hai was one of the best at making dried seafood in Dongshan Village. Thinking that the Zhou Family had collected seafood nearby and conveniently brought it over to ask for his help to make dried seafood, he didn’t inquire any further.

However, Yu Hai was very curious in his heart, ‘Who is so capable as to catch so many premium quality sea cucumbers and abalones? Why didn’t I hear anything about there being such as expert nearby?’

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Myst's Thoughts

Translator: Myst