The time, when the male flowers grew on the corn. was the most crucial part of land management. At this time, all of the leaves on the corn were loose and large and the stalks were thick and sturdy. Only by having that could the kernels grow as large as possible, leading to a good harvest later on.
Yu Xiaocao had her cheat device, the little divine stone, so none of this was a problem for her. The Yu Family’s fields were filled with healthy and mature corn stalks. Disease and lack of nutrients were not issues for them. All they were waiting for now was for the female flowers to recede and the male flowers to mature and let pollen loose.
Yu Xiaocao’s family’s six mu fields of watermelon were now completely sold out. In total, they managed to make more than fifteen thousand taels from those fields. Watermelon wholesalers were mostly the few families that had good relationships with them. There were other wholesalers that came from other parts of the country due to the Yu Family’s reputation, but because there was a limit to how many ripe watermelons there were in a day, they could only get one to two carts of watermelon.
Royal Prince Yang would send a few carts back every ten days to pick up melons. He didn’t take advantage of the Yu Family and bought the watermelons according to their regular wholesale price: large ones for five taels apiece and small ones for three taels a piece. He then hauled them back to the capital, where they could be sold for double their price there with plenty of people lining up to buy some. Prince Jing was being bombarded at every step by his colleagues, who were trying to enter through the back door to buy watermelons, so he took sick leave and went to Tanggu Town to ‘recuperate’.
When the emperor heard of this, he curled his lip and silently cursed the other man, ‘What is this being ‘annoyed by other people’ ah? More likely that he misses his wife too much, right?’
After more than a year’s work on it, the vast majority of basic construction on Prince Jing’s manor, which was on the West Mountain, had been completed. On the west side of Dongshan Village and in the vicinity to Yu Xiaocao’s home, there was a long stretch of stone steps that snaked up the West Mountain. Behind the trees in the forest, one could vaguely see the outlines of the red and green glazed roof tiles that glittered under the sunshine.
A tall and lofty figure slowly went down those steps. Gradually, the person’s appearance became more clear: a face that seemed to be perfectly carved, an exceptionally handsome figure, and a pair of strong eyebrows above a pair of aloof eyes that would occasionally flicker with the icy coldness from an ice age. The mountain breeze lightly lifted a few strands of his murky black hair and made his azure blue robes flutter. It was as if the God of War himself was descending from the heavens.
At the foot of the mountain was Xiaocao, who finally had some leisure time. Zhou Shanhu and some other village girls around her age had successfully pestered her into gathering wild mushrooms with them. It had rained the previous night and all of the wild mushrooms in the soil shot up through the soil. They resembled a glade of tiny umbrellas.
Zhou Shanhu raised her head and saw the azure figure walking down. She couldn’t help but quietly exclaim, “Oh look! His Highness the Royal Prince is descending the mountain!! He looks too handsome!!”
Zheng Xiaocui, another village girl, clasped her hands over her mouth to muffle a giggle. She teased the other girl, “I heard that the royal prince isn’t married yet and has no concubines. If you fancy him, then have Auntie Zhou send you over to become his concubine...”
“You silly lass, be careful that I don’t rip your mouth apart!!” Zhou Shanhu was older than Xiaocao by a year and was already eleven years old. After a few more years, she could get engaged. Xiaocui’s words made Shanhu feel simultaneously shy and angry, so she started tickling the other girl.
Liu Yingzi, who was the daughter of Liu Shuanzhu, a good friend of the Yu Family, quietly whispered into Xiaocao’s ears, “That Royal Prince looks so scary. He has a knife-like intensity in his eyes and it makes me tremble to see them! Whoever becomes his wife or concubine would have to stare at that frozen face all day. If they don’t get scared to death, then they’ll definitely freeze to death!”
“There’s one advantage to this. In the summer, he can decrease the temperature around you and cool the air down ah!” Qian Wen and Qian Wu’s younger sister, Yafang, blinked her eyes in a silly manner as she quipped with a grin.
Yu Xiaocao covered her mouth with her hands as a “pfffttt” inadvertently came out. In her eyes, the young royal prince was only a paper tiger. He looked fierce but wasn’t scary at all. However, it was only in her midst that Zhu Junyang was able to relax and tolerate her little antics.
“Master, looks like Miss Yu is over there…” Head Steward Liu had sharp eyes and was able to spot Yu Xiaocao within the group of girls around her age. He made sure to bring this up to his master.
Ever since Zhu Junyang was given the duty of monitoring the crops in Dongshan Village, his heartless second brother had escaped. He didn’t even say a word before he ran away to enlist in Old General Zhao’s army at the borders. Consequently, the responsibility of monitoring the construction of the West Mountain manor fell to Zhu Junyang.
Furthermore, Her Highness, the princess consort, had sobbed and complained to her youngest son, stating that all of them never cared about their parents’ feelings and only cared about themselves. Her complaints covered his second older brother secretly enlisting in the army as well as him going out to sea. All of these had caused a lot of pain and suffering for her...
Zhu Junyang, who was the unlucky recipient, felt so haggard from his lady mother’s nagging that he used the excuse of completing his official work and left early that morning to escape to Dongshan Village. After riding up the West Mountain, he did a quick look around to inspect the progress of the manor’s construction and then descended. As he climbed down, he was scheming, trying to figure out what difficult dishes he could order for lunch from that little lass, who was always posturing in front of him.
After hearing Steward Liu’s prompt, he looked towards the sound of giggles and laughter in the distance. Sure enough, that familiar skinny and weak-looking figure was currently bent over and looking for something in the grass.
“What are you looking for?” The dozen or so stone steps that were left were easily traversed by Zhu Junyang. The little girls, who were raucously talking, didn’t notice that the topic of their conversation, the young royal prince, was only a few feet away from them.
When they heard the sound of that hard, icy voice, the little girls were so scared that they all trembled. They even forgot about their own baskets as they all scampered off.
Yu Xiaocao straightened herself and looked at the young royal prince who had somehow crept up behind her. She laughed, “I thought that there was some ferocious beast coming, but apparently it was you ah! Look at you, scaring all of the other girls away.”
From the corner of his eye, Zhu Junyang faintly looked at the group of little girls who were hiding. Irritation bubbled up within his heart. He addressed Yu Xiaocao, who was ignoring him while she continued to pick mushrooms, “In the future, spend less time with them. All small-minded and petty, not worth the effort!”
Yu Xiaocao almost pelted the mushroom in her hand at his face. She looked displeased as she replied, “Young Royal Prince, you have a lofty status and position. Naturally, us wild commoners are nothing to you. Please keep your distance in order to avoid this commoner’s pettiness from sticking to your body.”
Even if Zhu Junyang didn’t have his special ability, he would be able to tell that Yu Xiaocao was quite angry. He asked in a puzzled voice, “This prince wasn’t talking about you, why are you throwing a temper tantrum ah?”
“They are all of my friends. If you don’t respect them, it’s the same as not respecting me!” Yu Xiaocao puffed up her face and angrily glared at him before she turned around and only let him look at the back of her head.
Zhu Junyang frowned and then looked in the direction of the little girls again. His ability told him that within that group of girls, there was at least one of them that didn’t have pure intentions. He was afraid that that girl would end up influencing or harming Xiaocao, so he wanted to warn her but he didn’t know how to explain.
Awkward silence prevailed for a bit and then he finally said, “You must be cautious when choosing your friends! If you’re not, you might end up harming yourself as well as causing problems for other people…”
When Yu Xiaocao noticed that he was being quite serious, she placed the mushroom in her hands into the basket and looked him in the eye, “Do you know something? Is there someone in that group who wants to hurt me?”
“Whether or not she’ll hurt you, I can’t tell at this moment. However, someone within that group of girls doesn’t have pure motives. You need to be careful…” Zhu Junyang was afraid she would end up getting hurt in the end, so he ended up giving her a warning.
“Them? One of them doesn’t have pure motives?” Within the group of four girls, three of them were all considered Xiaocao’s close friends. Zhou Shanhu had a bright and open personality and didn’t have any shrewdness. Qian Yafang was the youngest of the group, and she was sweet and adorable. Liu Yingzi had a straightforward personality and acted like their older sister. She was very good at taking care of others. The only girl she didn’t know well was Zheng Xiaocui. All she knew was that she was Liu Yingzi’s neighbor and that the other girl had tagged along once she found out Liu Yingzi wanted to gather wild mushrooms. All of them were young little girls around the age of ten, who among them could have ulterior motives such that word even got into the young royal prince’s ears?
Yu Xiaocao sidled along closer to Zhu Junyang and beckoned to him with her hand to have him place his ear closer to her. She quietly whispered into Zhu Junyang’s ear, “Did you hear something from somewhere?”
“No!” Zhu Junyang felt like his ear was itchy and hurriedly straightened up. He shifted a bit to the side and pasted an icy expression on his face. If someone looked closely at his face, he or she would notice that the tips this handsome youth’s ears were slightly red now.
Yu Xiaocao leveled a glare at him and said, “If no one told you anything, then how do you know that one of them doesn’t have pure motives?”
Zhu Junyang naturally couldn’t tell her about his own strange ability as he was afraid that she would regard him as a freak in the future. He could only earnestly say, “Intuition!”
“Pfft——” Yu Xiaocao almost choked on her own saliva. She laughed as she said, “Young Royal Prince, when did your gender change?”
“Gender change? What do you mean?” Zhu Junyang had a feeling that this wasn’t a good term so he looked at her alertly.
“Female intuition, female intuition. Naturally, only women will believe their own intuitions. Young Royal Prince, when did you also become so irrational?” Yu Xiaocao didn’t quite know what to say at this point.
When Zhu Junyang saw that she didn’t take this to heart, he didn’t pursue this topic of womanly feelings. He cautiously warned her, “If you don’t take this to heart, I have to tell you that this prince’s intuition has always been very good. By relying on my innate intuition, I’ve been able to avoid a lot of plots against me! This prince is warning you out of the kindness of my own heart, it’s up to you whether you want to believe me or not!”
Zhu Junyang glanced at the group of little girls not far from them. He didn’t know what those girls were doing but he could tell that they were gesturing and talking about something! Just who was the culprit that wanted to scheme against Yu Xiaocao? He needed to keep a close eye on that unruly little brat! However, he would have never expected that the girl’s target wasn’t Yu Xiaocao but was him instead…
Yu Xiaocao didn’t think she had anything that was worth someone else plotting against her. When she noticed that the young royal prince’s mood seemed to be a bit down, she hurriedly interjected, “In a moment, I’ll go buy a rooster from Auntie Zhou’s house. For lunch, I’ll make you some chicken stewed with mushrooms along with some flat bread. Although these dishes are examples of country cooking, they taste quite good!”
“Okay! I also want to eat some ‘sour and spicy pig intestines with vermicelli’!” Zhu Junyang liked strongly flavored foods, so last time he ate a plate of sour and spicy pig intestines with vermicelli. The dish had numbing, spicy, savory, aromatic, sour and a fatty without being greasy taste. It hit all of his favorite points and since then, he could never forget that dish.
Earlier he had warned this little lass out of the kindness of his own heart, yet she laughed it off. Therefore, for lunch, he needed to make things difficult for her, so he ordered a Zhenxiu Restaurant speciality dish, ‘sour and spicy pig intestines with vermicelli’. When she wasn’t able to make it, then he would laugh at her.
However, he would have never expected that sour and spicy pig intestines with vermicelli was a dish that Zhenxiu Restaurant had spent five hundred taels to get ahold of the recipe. And it was from Yu Xiaocao herself!
At lunch, he devoured the authentic and incredibly delicious sour and spicy pig intestines with vermicelli. Only then did a thought pop up, ‘What sort of relationship does this lass have with Zhenxiu Restaurant? How come she knows how to make almost all of their special dishes, and make it even more tasty than them?’
Zhu Junyang, who had been unable to trouble Yu Xiaocao with his requests, started to be picky again, “This chicken stewed with mushrooms is such a commonplace dish. If you could switch it for a wild pheasant instead, I’m sure it will taste much better. Tomorrow, this prince will give you a hand and hunt some delicious game for you to make into food!”
When Yu Hai heard this, how could he possibly let the royal prince get into a possibly dangerous situation? What if Royal Prince Yang had an accident in the vicinity of Dongshan Village? Other than himself, even the entire Dongshan Village would be implicated by this ah!Previous Chapter Next Chapter
Sanguine’s Thoughts: Oh man, Zhu Junyang totally went to the West Mountain not only to escape from his mother’s nagging but also to bum meals off of our Xiaocao!