Chapter 271 - Battle of Words

"Don't exaggerate so much, ok? If Zhenxiu Restaurant collapsed because of one dish, then it's better to just close it down earlier!" Could Yu Xiaocao still not understand him? One point was exaggerated into ten by him, wasn't it just to get recipes from her? 

Third Young Master Zhou laughed and smiled, "Some of the older stores in the capital have started joining hands to go against Zhenxiu Restuarant. If we don't show some creativity, we will be dragged down by those old crafty guys one day! Xiaocao, you said that you know how to make floral-scented flaky roasted duck and vegetal crispy roasted duck. Teach Yang Feng how to make them!" 

Yu Xiaocao hesitated slightly but she didn't persist. She also taught Yang Feng how to make two kinds of roasted duck, reminding Third Young Master Zhou that he could launch them later on to keep the novel feelings and attract customers. Third Young Master Zhou had a talent in business that surpassed a lot of people. Even without the reminder from Xiaocao, he would've done as she said. 

When they came out of the Zhenxiu Restaurant, Zhu Junyang, who had kept silent and pretended to be cool, suddenly said to Third Young Master Zhou, "There are still a few roast ducks made by Yu Xiaocao in the kitchen, pack all of them and have them taken with us. Put it on Yu Xiaocao's tab!" 

Yu Xiaocao yelled on one side, "Young Royal Prince, aren't you being unfair? Let's not talk about how these two days, you've been freeloading off of me. Why are you packing the roast duck and letting me pay for it? How much money is the third young master of Imperial Prince Jing's estate and the favorite of the emperor, Royal Prince Yang, lacking?"

Third Young Master Zhou was surprised at Yu Xiaocao's manner of speaking in front of Royal Prince Yang. The cold-faced prince was young but he had a strong atmosphere. Even he had to be careful in front of him in fear of saying the wrong word. The other party gave him a look and he immediately became as quiet as cicadas in the winter. This lass was really brave, treating the cold faced prince like she treated him, becoming angry and yelling whenever she wanted. 

What surprised him the most was that although the cold faced prince’s voice was still cold, he didn't seem to be getting angry.  He just glanced at Yu Xiaocao, who was hopping around full of vigor and expressionlessly said, "Just think of it as payment for my company today!"

Yu Xiaocao immediately rolled her eyes in an exaggerated manner, 'Who let you follow me? Wasn't it you who was bored at home and insisted on following me? You ate quite a bit of the food at Zhenxiu Restaurant, and you even ate most of the roast duck. What do you mean you are accompanying me? Young Royal Prince, can you confuse right and wrong anymore and be any more shameless?’

"Alright! I'll pay, I'll just think of it as showing filial respect to the Princess Consort!" Yu Xiaocao knew that Princess Consort Jing liked osmanthus duck. The fruit-scented roasted duck was fatty but not greasy, crispy and delicious; Princess Consort Jing should like it too, right? 

After leaving Third Young Master Zhou, on the way back to the compound, Zhu Junyang, who had nothing to do, quarreled with Yu Xiaocao, "The roasted duck is in this prince's hands now. If someone's going to show filial piety then it would be me, what does it have to do with you?" 

Yu Xiaocao rolled her eyes again and said, "If I didn't make the fruit-scented roasted duck, what would you use to show filial piety to the Princess Consort?"

"The fruit-scented roasted duck you made wasn't for my lady mother! Do you want my mother to accept your love? No way!" Where was the cold-faced prince character? If any of the rich playboys saw Zhu Junyang now, their chins would drop to the ground.

 Head Steward Liu, who was carrying the roast duck behind them, was very pleased. His master finally acted like a seventeen year old. Only when he was in front of Miss Yu did the master take off his protective shell and show his human side. 

That evening, Princess Consort Jing, who had delicious duck in three different ways, was very happy and excited when she heard Head Steward Liu's report. Her decision to let the little girl from the Yu Family stay was right. Yu Xiaocao was a girl that could give people warmth and happiness. Princess Consort Jing believed with her company, her young son's icy appearance and heart will fade layer by layer. 

Time passed slowly between Zhu Junyang and Yu Xiaocao's squabbles and battle of wits. In a blink of an eye, it was the middle of June and the middle of summer. The corn had been planted for three months and has entered the grouting stage. On each corn stalk, there were at least two corn cobs. Some had three but not many, and even fewer have four. 

This was very good already. On ordinary corn plants, there were only one or two corn cobs. As long as there weren't any unforeseen accidents, the corn yield of the Yu Family’s fields would be more than the previous yield of 1500 catties per mu. A conservative estimate would be that 2000 catties should be no problem.

To Princess Consort Jing's relief, her little son's arms had almost recovered. It had only been a little longer than a month. After the imperial physician's diagnosis, he was full of praise for Yu Xiaocao's ointment.

Zhu Junyang's arms, apart from not being able to use martial arts, was no different from ordinary people’s arms at this point in time. The ointment originally was changed three times a day and now it only needed to be changed once a day. Every day Yu Xiaocao massaged him with the ointment and used the little divine stone's power to help him heal his muscles and tendons. She believed it wouldn't be long before he recovered and be back to normal!

Just when Zhu Junyang was enjoying his leisurely life of shopping, eating delicious food, and squabbling with Yu Xiaocao in Tanggu Town, the emperor decided to call him back to the capital. Yu Xiaocao was the happiest out of all of them. Her dark days of enslavement and oppression were finally over! The day after the young prince left Tanggu Town, she said farewell to the Princess Consort Jing and happily returned to Dongshan Village. 

Their daughter, who had been staying in town for more than a month, finally came home. Madam Liu and Yu Hai were very happy, so they killed some chickens and geese to fill her up. 

"My dear daughter, how could Princess Consort Jing's compound be more comfortable than staying at home? Look, you've become so thin!" Madam Liu wiped her tears and held her little daughter in her arms. She was only ten years old and had lived alone with an unfamiliar and influential family. That royal prince didn't seem like an easy master to serve, so her daughter must've suffered a lot. 

Yu Xiaocao wiped the tears from her mother's eyes. With a smile, she explained, "Mother, I was asked by Princess Consort Jing to help with the young royal prince's arm. It's not hard labor. She provided delicious food and drinks every day. I also had servants waiting on me, and the courtyard I stayed in was bigger than our East Courtyard. I don't have to do anything except make the ointment. Touch my waist, it has gotten rounder!"

Madam Liu stopped crying and smiled. She pinched her daughter and said, "You're a child, how can you have a waist?" 

Yu Xiaocao took out Lao Laizi's [1] entertainment skills and pointed to her side waist, "Who said children don't have a waist? What's this?" 

"That's the belly!" Madam Liu teased with a smile. 

Yu Xiaocao patted her back and said, "What about here? Isn't this the waist?" 

"That's the back!" Madam Liu continued.  

Yu Xiaocao pouted, "Then where's my waist?" 

“Children don’t have a waist!” Madam Liu chuckled.

Looking at the unhappy face of the little girl, Yu Hai said, "Alright, don't bully our daughter anymore. Make some more delicious food for lunch to give her a reception!"

Cao'er what do you want to eat? Mother will make it for you!" Madam Liu smiled as she looked at her daughter as if she couldn't see enough of her.

Yu Xiaocao went to the Zhenxiu Restaurant early in the morning. She took the fruit-scented roasted duck from the first batch of the roasted ducks. With a smile, she said, "For lunch, I'll make duck three ways for everyone. I saw that there were clams in the water basin, so let's add spicy stir-fried clams and two random vegetable dishes.”

At this time, the sandworm and oyster collection business wasn’t busy. Yu Jiang could handle the business by himself. Yu Hang had come over with a moment of leisure and looked at his little sister with a smile. He watched her take out a roasted duck from the oiled paper bag and a strong fragrance floated out.

"It smells so good! Isn't this the new fruit-scented roasted duck from Zhenxiu Restaurant? It’s rumored that it's even more popular than when roasted chicken first came on the market. It's gotten to the point where it's hard to find a duck. Little Sister, was this fruit-scented roasted duck your recipe again?" Yu Hang sniffled and said in surprise. 

Yu Xiaocao gave him a thumbs up and, with a proud expression, she said, "Big Brother, you have good eyes! Correct, I taught them how to make fruit-scented roasted duck. We can earn five taels for each duck sold! When the end of the year bonus comes, just see!" 

Yu Hang rubbed her head and said with a smile, "Little Sister, you're just like a golden egg-laying hen in the stories. It makes me want to open your head and see what's in it." 

Yu Xiaocao pushed aside her big brother's hand on her head. She rolled her eyes and said, "The result is the same as the story. It's not worth the loss!! Eh? Where's Oldest Paternal Aunt and Uncle?"

Yu Xiaocao had been back for a while, and it was quiet next door as if no one was there. There wasn't any need to ask about the corn now. In the original watermelon field, sweet potatoes were also planted. There wasn't any work in the fields, so what was Oldest Paternal Aunt's family doing?

Yu Hai took the roasted duck from his little daughter and took it to the kitchen. Hearing her question, he said, "The village head has allocated a homestead for your aunt. Your uncle has found some people from the village. They are digging the foundation and making the sun-dried dirt bricks to get ready to build the house before the autumn harvest.”

After selling watermelon for more than a month, Liu Hu had also earned dozens of taels of silver. As soon as he and his wife thought it over, they decided to first build a two-roomed adobe houses to live in first. The rest of the money was saved to see if they could rent a shop in the town and do some small business. Liu Hu went to do odd jobs again, so his annual income was also enough to cover his family's food and daily expenditures. 

After living at his brother-in-law's house for a few months, bad rumors were spread by someone in the village. The rumors said that Liu Hu's family relied on his younger brother-in-law to live and Yu Hai was supporting his elder sister's family, a family with a different surname. Yet, he didn't ask after the elderly in his family. It was clear who spread the rumor without any questions! 

Liu Hu didn't want to cause his younger brother-in-law any trouble. As soon as he had some money, he decided to quickly build a house. 

Yu Xiaocao listened and angrily said, "Those rumors must've been spread by Madam Zhang or Li Guihua. Besides the two of them, who else has the free time to gossip about our family? They really do have a short memory. I think it's necessary to give Madam Zhang a reminder. We still have material on her on hand!"

Yu Hai sighed and said, "Forget it! A young couple is each other's company in old age. For your grandfather's sake, don't get on the same level as Madam Zhang... By the way, your grandfather is sick, take a roast duck over and take a look at him!"

Yu Xiaocao wasn't happy. Grandfather was sick, and greasy things like a roasted duck shouldn't be eaten. If she took it over, it would just be given to Madam Zhang. She pouted and asked, "What sickness does Grandfather have? Is it serious?" 


[1] Lao Laizi (老莱子) or Old Master Lai is a character from the 'The Twenty-Four Examples of Filial Piety'. He was known for being very filial to his parents. Even in middle age, he still dressed up in bright coloured clothes, played with toys, and behaved in a childish manner to amuse his parents and keep them happy.

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Myst's Thoughts

spicy stir-fried clams

Translator: Elaine