Chapter 256 - A Difficult Matter

There were people lining up in front of the fruit shop every day. It was not my turn today, nor tomorrow, but it would be my turn the day after tomorrow, right? For a while, it was hard to get a melon in the capital.

Those who had a good relationship with Prince Jing’s Estate tried everything possible to buy a watermelon. Fortunately, Princess Consort Jing wasn’t in the capital or there would’ve been more for her to be troubled by. She was hiding in Tanggu to avoid the disturbance, but it was bitter for Prince Jing. Imagine always being blocked at the entrance of the court hall after getting off court every day, even those incidental acquaintances all came up to try to exploit their connection with him by acting friendly. All so they could buy some stupid watermelon! When did so many of his colleagues turn into foodies?  

“Your Highness Imperial Prince Jing, please stay…” Prince Jing, who was rejoicing that there was no one waiting for him in front of the court, had decided to leave before the people behind him came out. Unexpectedly, a familiar voice stopped him. 

Looking back, it turned out to be the iron-faced prime minister, Yuan Mufan [1]. The two of them had no connection in the past. Due to a radical and steady difference in their political opinions, they often competed in court until their faces and ears were red. When meeting out of court, they kept up appearances of incidental acquaintances. Prime Minister Yuan wasn’t usually someone who paid attention to the desires of food, so why was he stopping him?

Yuan Mufan face was slightly red from Prince Jing's confused gaze. He coughed to cover up his embarrassment. If possible, he didn't want to ask others for help, moreover, it was for such an unspeakable reason. But, he had no other choice since filial piety was greater than the heavens. In order to get his father stay in the capital for a few more days, and let him,as a son, show filial piety, he was willing to risk being embarrassed!

"Let talk somewhere quieter!" Prime Minister Yuan took Imperial Prince Jing to a nearby teahouse. He asked for a private room and ordered a pot of quality tea.

Prince Jing took a sip of tea and dismissed the server making the tea. Seeing that Prime Minister Yuan wouldn't speak, he asked directly, "What is the problem, Prime Minister Yuan? If there is anything I can help you with, I definitely will!"

Imperial Prince Jing inherited the retired emperor's frank personality and hated the garrulous traits of the scholars.

Prime Minister Yuan gritted his teeth and said what he wanted in one breath. It turned out that the prime minister's father, the great scholar Yuan Sinian, was finally back in the capital. After living in his son's house for a short while, he insisted on returning to Tanggu Town, upon hearing that there wasn’t a place selling watermelons in the capital. He kept saying, "That lass Xiaocao's watermelons should be ripe now. I haven't had that girl's braised pig's head meat in so long. I wonder what kind of specialty she created for her brother this week..." The only thing he thought about was food!

The prime minister's youngest son, Yuan Yunxi, came back to the capital to prepare for the autumn examination. Our Headmaster Yuan originally agreed that he would wait until his grandson finished his exams before going back to Tanggu Town. Even so, he couldn’t sit still as soon as he heard about watermelon. He had already sent people to Tanggu Town to buy some, but the time it took to make the trip and come back was at least five or six days. However, his father was becoming more and more impatient. It was no wonder that people said one’s temper would become more like a child’s as one got older.

"Your Highness, can you… please give me two watermelons from your fruit shop?" His face was red with shame. It had never occurred to Prime Minister Yuan that he would have to go ask someone for watermelons one day.

For the sake of his beloved wife’s fruit shop, Prince Jing had been utterly exhausted recently. In his opinion, if he quickly sold all those troublesome watermelons, then he wouldn't have to think about it and he wouldn't be offending anyone. Prime Minister Yuan’s character had always been very upright and his filial piety for his father couldn't be more commendable. Imperial Prince Jing couldn't refuse him, so he readily agreed. With two watermelons, the iron faced prime minister would owe him a favor. It was a good deal ah!

"Go to the princess consort's fruit shop and take two watermelons to the Prime Minister's Estate. Remember, don't go in through the front and get it from the back of the store. Just say that it's this prince’s order!" He immediately ordered his bodyguard.

Prime Minister Yuan cupped his hands and bowed gratefully at him. Prince Jing lowered his head and took a sip of tea. Putting down his cup, he said, “Brother Yuan, if there isn’t anything else…”

"Thank you very much, Your Highness. I will prepare some good wine one day, please come then, Prince Jing." Prime Minister Yuan also was in a hurry to get back to his estate to see if his father throwing a tantrum about wanting to go back to Tanggu Town again.

After Imperial Prince Jing left, Prime Minister Yuan didn't stay for long before hurrying back to his estate. As expected, our Headmaster Yuan, who had a small baggage in his hand, was impatiently letting someone prepare a carriage to take him back to Tanggu Town, regardless of how others tried to stop him.

Seeing that his grandfather's stubborn temper was acting up again, Yuan Yunxi didn't dare to try too hard to stop him. He just said, "Grandfather, I have already sent people to line up to buy watermelons. If you leave today, you won't be able to eat the watermelons!"

"Once I get to Tanggu Town and tell the lass Xiaocao, I can eat as much watermelons as I want. Why do I wait in line for two days for one watermelon? It's not even my turn too!" Yuan Sinian heard that a batch of watermelons were shipped to the capital from Tanggu Town two days ago, so he happily sent people to go buy them. In the end, since the shop was backed by Imperial Prince Jing, they didn’t have to show respect to Prime Minister's Estate. After waiting for two days and not even getting a watermelon peel, Yuan Sinian was extremely angry. Once he was back in Tanggu Town, he would buy a lot of watermelons; one to eat, one to throw away, and one to use as a ball to kick!

"Grandfather, it's our turn to eat in the private room of Zhenxiu Restaurant. If you leave, you won't be able to eat the food there!" Yuan Yunxi, who grew up beside his grandfather, naturally understood his foodie nature. If he wanted him to stay, he had to use food as the offensive!

Yuan Sinian became even angrier at the mention of the capital's Zhenxiu Restuarant. His beard was blowing as he said, "The kid from the Zhou Family isn't very loyal! To go so far as to not leave me a personal private room, and I have to wait in line to eat in the private room!! In Tanggu Town, as long as the lassie Xiaocao says something, I can go eat whenever I want, what need is there for me to line up?"

Yu Xiaocao's position in Tanggu's Zhenxiu Restuarant was equivalent to that of half a boss. Thus, she had her own private room. She didn’t need to wait in line to eat or to entertain guests. However, there were very few opportunities for her to go eat, and she didn’t have many friends who could make her treat them at Zhenxiu Restaurant, so the room was usually left unused. 

When Yu Xiaocao went to deliver food to her younger brother, she would always give his benefactor, Headmaster Yuan, a share. Once, she heard the cute old foodie complain that he couldn't get a place to eat in the Zhenxiu Restaurant, so she generously lent her private room to him.

In other words, Headmaster Yuan could freely use Xiaocao’s private room in Zhenxiu Restaurant whenever she wasn’t using it, which was the same as Headmaster Yuan having an appointment-free private room in Zhenxiu Restaurant. This allowed the little old man to show off in front of his friends for a while.

At Zhenxiu Restaurant, besides the Zhou Family, only Xiaocao had an exclusive private room. How enviable was it to be able to eat at Zhenxiu Restaurant without having to wait in line and without reservation? Headmaster Yuan felt smug for a while due to the envious gazes of his friends.

After arriving in the capital, all the preferential treatment disappeared. Headmaster Yuan felt disappointed...

Just when Yuan Sinian was persistent on leaving, Prime Minister Yuan arrived with the man who was delivering the watermelons.

"Father! The watermelons have been bought! I must try the watermelons that Father has been praising. How would it taste?" With a gentle smile on his face, Prime Minister Yuan didn't seem to see the small baggage in his father's hand and had someone carry the watermelons into the reception hall of outer courtyard.

Yuan Sinian recognized that the watermelons in the servants’ hands were planted by the Yu family with a glance. The watermelons in the capital were small and unpalatable. For watermelons, he still had to eat those of Tanggu's Yu Family’s.

Upon seeing the watermelons, he seemed to have forgotten he was going back to Tanggu. His feet were automatically and spontaneously attracted to the watermelons.

When Yuan Sinian heard his son's words, he hummed and said, "When you eat it, you will understand! At that time, you can't steal mine!"

Prime Minister Yuan's mind was at a loss whether to cry or laugh, ‘'Do you think I'm the same as you!'

In the capital, watermelons were cut from the middle and eaten with a spoon. Yuan Sinian was instructing the servants in high spirits on how to cut the watermelons into triangular pieces. Unable to hold himself back, he took a piece and bit into it. ‘Yes, that's the taste! Sweet to the heart!’

From the corner of his eye, he saw his son's surprised expression. He said nonchalantly, "Unfortunately, the watermelon isn't as fresh! If it was just picked from the ground, it's crisper and sweeter."

After finishing one piece, he saw that his son was taking another piece and hurriedly stopped him. "Didn't you say you wouldn't steal mine? Trying one piece is enough. How can you be addicted already?”

Prime Minister Yuan looked at the watermelon that weighed at least fifteen or sixteen catties and replied in a helpless manner, "Father, you can't eat such a big watermelon alone! If you eat watermelon that has been left out for a long time after being cut, you will get a stomachache!”

Yuan Sinian glares at him and said to Yuan Yunxi, "Yunxi, send half to your mother and sisters-in-law in the back courtyard and let them taste it. Watermelons are cooled in nature, so tell your sisters-in-law to be careful and don’t let the children eat too much."

Yuan Yunxi was the youngest son in the family. He had just turned seventeen years old this year. He had two older brothers and two older sisters. Both of his brothers were married and had children, and both sisters had also gotten married. His eldest brother's child had just turned three, and was especially cute at this time. Headmaster Yuan, being a great-grandfather, would think about the little guy whenever he had some delicious food.

Yuan Yunxi's brothers had jokingly said that only this little guy, whose hair hadn't even grown in yet, could snatch food from the ‘lion's mouth’!

Because of these two watermelons, the Prime Minister's Household managed to keep the old urchin, who had been crying to go back to Tanggu Town, from leaving.

However, Royal Prince Yang, who was in Tanggu Town, didn't realize the trouble he had caused his father just because he wanted to make some convenient pocket money. Later, Prince Jing wrote a letter to Princess Consort Jing and ruthlessly complained about his youngest son.

Royal Prince Yang, at this moment, was sitting in a garden full of vegetables, drinking tea and enjoying the sight of new greenery. In contrast to his leisure, poor Yu Xiaocao was working hard in the kitchen due to the ‘great buddha’ in the yard. 

"Yu Xiaocao, this prince wants to eat tomatoes!" At the end of spring, there weren’t many fruits to eat. The Yu Family's tomatoes were sour, sweet and juicy, which tasted better than many of the fruits that Zhu Junyang had eaten.

These days, Zhu Junyang used the excuse of official business to come to the Yu’s house to eat every day. This guy’s mouth was very picky, if Yu Xiaocao didn’t personally cook, then he would always find something wrong with the food. The village head, who wished he could put up offerings for this guy, repeatedly asked her to treat the royal prince well.


[1] Yuan Mufan - Author changed his name; previously Yuan Guoan (袁国安)

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Translator: Elaine