Zhu Junfan didn’t live like a prince in his previous life. He had eaten silkworm cocoons and also tried fried cicadas. Thus, unlike other officials or nobles, he didn’t reveal a disgusted expression when looking at the fried locusts. He picked up a locust that had its wings cut off and stared at it intently for a short period of time before he started to deliver it towards his mouth. Before he could, a pale, beardless, and handsome youth hurriedly stopped him and said, “Master, may this servant try it?”
Yu Xiaocao had read quite a few novels in her past life and knew that the emperor often had eunuchs test his food for poison prior to eating. Did the heir of Prince Jing also have a taste-tester eunuch as well? She regarded this young man with curiosity. He had skin that glowed with health and she couldn’t even see his pores. His face was delicately pretty. Although he didn’t have the masculine handsomeness of the heir of Prince Jing and the young royal prince, he was still the epitome of a delicately beautiful young man.
He had a tall, straight figure that did not resemble someone who was used to being an eunuch. Most eunuchs were always bowing and bending to people, so when they walked they seemed to be slightly hunchbacked. This person had an air of being neither too arrogant nor too servile, and he didn’t have the greasy flattering expression that most eunuchs had. The only thing that made her feel uncomfortable was that his voice sounded extremely gentle and mellow. However, it also didn’t resemble the shrill voices of the eunuchs she had seen in dramas.
Zhu Junyang noticed that the little girl was unabashedly studying Su Ran and he couldn’t help but frown. What did Su Ran have that made him so good to look at? This prince was also quite handsome, okay?
“Yu Xiaocao, just what are you looking at?!” Zhu Junyang felt a burst of irritation spark inside him and he couldn’t help but interject to interrupt her thoughts.
When they heard Zhu Junyang’s voice, both Zhu Junfan and Su Ran turned a bit to look at Yu Xiaocao. Caught off guard, Yu Xiaocao accidentally made eye contact with Su Ran’s clear and limpid eyes. She immediately flushed bright red and glared at the young royal prince. She smiled politely at Su Ran and said, “Sir, you have an aura about you that reminds me of a tall graceful glade of bamboo on a desolate mountain. I was entranced by it and lost my senses.”
Zhu Junfan guffawed, “Little girl, you have good taste. I also believe that Su Fan has an aura worthy of an elegant gentleman, so I think the metaphor of ‘tall bamboo’ is quite fitting. Su Ran, I’ll give you the nickname of ‘cultivate morality’ ah!”
“Cultivate oneself, govern one's family, organize the country, let peace abound to all! Master, Su Ran is a crippled person, so I absolutely cannot live up to such a name.” Which man didn’t harbor dreams of being a hero in his heart? Unfortunately, his dreams had all been shattered in his youth, when he had to sacrifice himself at the gates of the imperial palace to allow his family to survive a disastrous year.
Luckily, he had been given to an enlightened master who took him along to learn the classics, study martial arts, and discuss the governance of a country. His master never looked down upon him. Compared to the other eunuchs, who were firmly stepped upon by the older, more experienced eunuchs, or someone who had been used a scapegoat, he was truly quite fortunate compared to his other colleagues who had also had their dignities erased at the gates of the palace.
Zhu Junfan’s eyes opened wide and he slapped the table, “If this lord says you can live up to the name, then you can! Su Ran, what has this lord normally said to you? A deficiency in the body doesn’t mean much. A true man has self-confidence, self-love, and self-dignity!! Su Ran, with your talents and abilities, you absolutely would be able to govern and pacify the country if you left the palace. You’re not worse than other people! Whoever claims you can’t live up to this name, make them find me!”
Su Ran could only treat this master, who was simultaneously his teacher, friend, master, and confidant, with the utmost sincerity and return his kindness with all of his efforts. If the master required it, he would gladly sacrifice himself through all tortures without a single thought!
Yu Xiaocao felt a bit regretful inside. What a wonderful person yet he was a eunuch! Although he was quite eye catching, he couldn’t be considered a real man in this era! This old society was too hateful to have such palace customs abound!
Su Ran was just about to say something when the expression on his gentle face changed. His whole body started to itch as if he had just been bitten by multitudes of mosquitos. He tried to endure for some time but finally couldn’t stop himself from using his hand to scratch his neck. His neck, right arm, and other parts of his body that were hidden by clothing all had large welts raised on it.
“Master, these locusts can’t be eaten!” Su Ran stopped Zhu Junfan from placing a locust in his mouth as the itchiness caused his face to flush a bright red.
Yu Xiaocao acutely spotted the large welts on his neck and exclaimed, “Sir Su, you’re allergic! Those who are sensitive often have allergic reactions to locusts! Let me go grab some prepared medicinal solution, just wait a moment ah!”
At first, when Zhu Junfan saw Su Ran’s uncomfortable expression, he felt quite nervous. After hearing Yu Xiaocao’s explanation, he immediately grinned, “So apparently Su Ran is allergic to locusts ah! I’m pretty sure that you also can’t eat foods like silkworm cocoons and other similar creatures! Fried cicadas are quite delicious ah! What a pity, what a pity!”
Yu Xiaocao retrieved a small bottle from her room. The bottle was filled mostly with mystic-stone water and the rest of the ingredients were some herbs that stopped itching and reduced inflammation. She handed the bottle over to Su Ran, “Use half of it to drink and half of it on your body. It should work very quickly. Little Shitou, bring Sir Su to your room. Help him treat the areas on his back that he can’t easily reach!”
After he saw Su Ran enter the west room with Little Shitou, Zhu Junyang picked up another fried locust and ate it noisily and with relish. He commented, “So delicate, he can even have problems from eating locusts! This prince has eaten so many, yet I don’t have any problems at all, right?”
Once Zhu Junfan found out that his eunuch wasn’t allergic to a medicinal ingredient, he knew that it wasn’t too serious. Furthermore, Su Ran only ate one locust too. He watched as his younger cousin eat the locusts with obvious delight and also grabbed a locust that was fat in the belly. He placed the food in his mouth and slowly tasted it. As expected, it was truly quite good. It was actually very similar to the fried butterfly shrimp from KFC and had a savory and addicting taste!
However, the dish that he liked the most still had to be that bowl full of savory and spicy river snails. He used his hands to pick up one and then placed it by as mouth as he sucked. All of the broth and meat was delivered into his mouth. After gently chewing a couple of times, the savory and spicy taste lingered in his mouth and could not be forgotten.
In one meal, almost half of the large basin of savory and spicy river snails had been eaten by him alone. He also ate a lot of fried locusts and pork stewed with vermicelli. Only after his stomach was so bloated that he couldn’t eat another bite did Zhu Junfan finally put his chopsticks down.
His eyes whirled around and then Zhu Junfan pointed at the plate of vermicelli to ask, “This vermicelli is quite delicious. Was it personally made by Xiaocao?”
At first, Little Shitou was a bit reserved when he first met the ‘heir of Prince Jing’ since the man had a noble identity. After spending time with the guest and noticing that he was quite easy to get along with, even easier than the young royal prince, he relaxed. He smiled in delight, “My second sister’s hand-made vermicelli isn’t even in thickness and is a bit ugly. This vermicelli is all from Third Young Master Zhou’s factory!”
“Eh? So what you’re saying is that Xiaocao truly knows how to make vermicelli?” Zhu Junfan continued to ask with an ulterior motive. Little Shitou proudly replied, “My second sister is too awesome!! Vermicelli is something that my second sister had taught Third Young Master Zhou’s factory workers to make ah! My second sister also knows how to make roasted chicken, salted duck, roasted duck, and they’re all more authentic than the ones made by Zhenxiu Restaurant! My lord, if you’re not in a hurry to go back to the capital, you can spend some time trying my second sister’s culinary talents. After my headmaster ate the food my second sister made, he said that he never wanted to eat the food at restaurants again. He stated all of the food was only ‘fit for pigs to eat’!”
Zhu Junfan was even more sure now that Yu Xiaocao was a transmigrator. He pouted and said, “From what you’re saying, I’ve eaten more than twenty-seven years worth of food ‘only fit for pigs to eat’ ah!”
Eating food that was ‘only fit for pigs to eat’, didn’t that also mean he was a pig? Little Shitou didn’t dare to reply and stared imploringly at his second sister.
Yu Xiaocao received her younger brother’s gaze asking for help and glared at him. ‘Are you still proud now? The more you talk, the more likely you’ll make a mistake. You can’t offend someone by not talking. What was the point of studying so much?’
She smiled at the ‘heir of Prince Jing’ and said, “There are many famous chefs in the world. Any one of them would be able to bypass me, a commoner girl. My younger brother is only boasting because I am his family, you know, just trying to sell me up! My lord, don’t take these words to heart and lower yourself to this little boy!”
At this point, Su Ran had just come out of the west room. Although he still had some welts on his neck, it looked like it wasn’t as itchy as before. The expression on his face had also become gentle and elegant again.
Zhu Junfan made fun of him, “Su Ran, fried locusts are quite delicious, it’s such a pity that you can’t have any! Luckily, I’m not allergic to locusts so I can eat my fill.”
Yu Xiaocao smiled, “It’s not that he can’t eat any! I’ve made a few jars of grasshopper sauce. After fermenting, it won’t cause an allergic reaction! If Sir Su is interested, I can give you a jar when you head back to the capital. When you’re eating it, make sure to stir-fry it in some oil and it’ll really make the food go down!”
After Zhu Junyang heard this, he grumbled sourly from the side, “You’re so cruel! The last time I was here, how come you didn’t give me a jar to bring back to the capital? Those two carts of grain were used to feed an ungrateful dog!”
Yu Xiaocao placed her hands on her hips and retorted with quite a bit of heat, “What are you saying ah?! If you don’t feel happy about sending us the grain, then pull them back to the capital! It’s not as if we’ll starve to death without your two carts of grain, right? The last time you left, the jars of grasshopper sauce hadn’t finished fermenting yet. How could I let you bring some back?”
Zhu Junyang felt the knot in his heart relax when he found out that she hadn’t given him any grasshopper sauce because it wasn’t ready, not because she was treating him differently. He looked up at Yu Xiaocao, who still had her hands indignantly on her hips, and quietly muttered, “You only show your temper around me! You’re always gentle and accommodating to other people, with a smile on your face. However, when it comes to me, it’s like you want to strangle me!”
Yu Xiaocao let out a laugh to relieve her temper, “Isn’t it because I treat you like one of my own family members that I’m this impolite to you? That being said, it’s only because you, Young Royal Prince, have an easy-going temper that I can be this unrestrained in front of you!”
Zhu Junfan watched the two of them squabble with great interest. The only thing he was missing was a plate full of roasted melon seeds for him to snack on. After hearing Yu Xiaocao’s last sentence, he almost choked on his own saliva.
Royal Prince Yang had a good temper? That was the most unbelievable lie he had ever heard! Did she think his nickname of ‘cold faced death god’ was just for giggles? When this guy lost his temper, he didn’t recognize any of his family members and would even beat up the Heavenly Emperor himself if he came down. All of the rich playboys who tried to mess with him had all been beaten until they cried for their parents. His younger cousin had caused a lot of trouble for him ever since his childhood. This fellow gave him such a headache, yet there was someone praising him for having a good temper? ‘Yu Xiaocao, are you blind?’
As for Zhu Junyang, who had just been called ‘one of my own family members’ by Yu Xiaocao, he was feeling quite good now. All of the resentment he had earlier had immediately dissipated. Everything this little girl said was right. People generally treated the people closest to them with their truest natures. The little girl was as clever as a fox, so she naturally knew who truly treated her well and thus treated them back with the same sincerity!
Zhu Junfan inspected his younger cousin with renewed interest. His cousin was smiling like a fool after being flattered by a little girl. Zhu Junfan couldn’t help but shake his head and let out a sigh!Previous Chapter Next Chapter
Sanguine’s Thoughts: I love the emperor’s antics and inner thoughts. He’s such a fun character!
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