Chapter 294 - Plan

Zhu Junyang endured the faint pain in his arms and simply said, “She barely has any meat on her body, and isn’t even as heavy as a little chick. She can’t be considered a heavy load!”

"I may look thin, but I have meat on my bones, okay?” Yu Xiaocao was most annoyed at people who said that she was skinny. She clearly ate a lot of food for every meal and even had a better appetite than Xiaolian, but she still couldn’t gain much weight. However, she thought that she was very well-proportioned. She wasn’t emaciated with just bones and skin. As long as she was healthy, wasn’t it better to be thin than fat? At least she didn’t have to worry about losing weight. 

Yu Xiaocao touched the young royal prince’s arm, and then widened her eyes and fiercely said, “No matter what, I’m considered half a doctor. You must apply half a month more of medication on your arms. Don’t speak! If you don’t want to practice martial arts and draw a bow anymore, then you don’t have to apply it.” 

Zhu Junyang felt that the injury on his arms were not as serious as Yu Xiaocao said, but when he heard that there was a possibility that he couldn’t practice martial arts and use a bow in the future, he immediately closed his mouth in cooperation. Wasn’t it just applying ointment? It wouldn’t hurt or itch, but it was just somewhat troublesome.

Zhu Junfan was also worried about his younger cousin’s arms, but seeing that his beast-like younger cousin behaved like an obedient and gentle cat in front of the lass, he couldn’t help but sigh in his heart, ‘It’s true that there is always one thing to overcome another ah!’ 

The purpose of this trip was to hunt for wild boars. Since they had caught the boars, they should go down the mountains now! The youngest son of the Yu Family said that this Yu Xiaocao’s culinary skills was even better than those at Zhenxiu Restaurant. When would he finally be able to eat the authentic roasted chicken and roasted duck?! 

Zhu Junfan and his brother walked in front, while Yu Hai held his daughter’s hands and followed closely behind them. The scene of the wild boar chasing his daughter just now had scared Yu Hai. He wished that it was him instead. However, he was too far from her and he couldn’t run as fast as the boar. Thus, he could only stand there without doing anything. Fortunately, the young royal prince was beside his daughter and saved her. Yu Hai secretly vowed in his heart that he would never bring his daughter hunting in the mountains again.

The imperial bodyguards carried the wild boars and young boars back. The bodyguard, who managed to escape punishment, followed the emperor faithfully. He occasionally looked at Yu Xiaocao with complex feelings of gratitude and shame.

When the group came down the mountains, they happened to meet the Yu Family’s neighbor, Madam Mao. She widened her eyes and had a stunned expression on her face, “Oh my god! You guys actually managed to catch two big wild boars! Oh, oh, oh! There are also three young boars! Ah, it’s true that there are no weak soldiers under strong generals ah. The subordinates of the heir of Prince Jing are really outstanding.” 

Yu Xiaocao warmly greeted Madam Mao, “Auntie Qian, you’re wrong! The heir was the one who killed the boars! The lord is amazing. He can shoot with great precision; killing one with each shot!” 

Madam Mao quickly smiled and fawned on him, “As expected of the heir of Prince Jing. Amazing! Amazing!” 

Zhu Junfan smiled faintly at her, and then walked past her. Madam Mao murmured, “My god, are all the noblemen from the capital so good-looking? He looked like an immortal from the heavens. My heart is thumping because of his smile.” 

Except for Yu Xiaocao and her father, everyone in the group practiced martial arts and had keen ears and eyes. So, although her voice was low, they all heard everything she said. Zhu Junfan’s mouth twitched, and he took a few steps forwards, pretending that he didn’t hear her. With a trace of smile in his eyes, Su Ran couldn’t help but glance at the emperor. 

“What are you looking at! You’re also one of the noblemen from the capital!” Zhu Junfan had always liked to squabble with this childhood friend of his. 

Su Ran chuckled and said solemnly, “The matron is right. Master is indeed good-looking. I’m sincerely praising you ah!” 

Zhu Junfan was quite satisfied with his delicately beautiful man appearance in this lifetime. Had it been in his previous life, there would definitely be a lot of talent scouts chasing after him. Being an actor was much more interesting than being an emperor. Ay, he was born in the wrong time period ah! 

When they got back to the Yu Residence, it was quite laborious to tidy the two wild boars. Fortunately, Old Yu was skilled in slaughtering pigs when he was younger. He borrowed a butcher knife from Li Dazhu and skillfully handled the wild boars.

The two wild boars looked thin, but they must have added up to a total of five to six hundred catties. The weather was hot, so it wasn’t easy to preserve meat. Fortunately, the Yu Family had an icehouse. The meat was divided into pieces and stored in the icehouse. 

While the Yu Family were handling the pig head and offal,   Zhu Junfan went to take a look at the icehouse. Little Shitou warmly introduced the origin of their icehouse and showed him the place where his second sister made ice. 

Zhu Junfan had heard about making ice with saltpeter in his past life, but he didn’t know the specific ratio that was needed. He couldn’t help but admire this fellow transmigrator of his. Zhu Junfan made a piece of ice by himself with great interest and transported it into the icehouse. He decided to ask about the method of making ice, and then teach it to the Ministry of Internal Affairs. If they didn’t have enough ice in the future, they could make it themselves! 

At noon, they ate a pig feast. There were the fresh and tender ‘pig blood soup’, refreshing and tasty ‘stir-fried intestines’, rich and fragrant ‘red braised intestines’, exceptionally fragrant ‘stewed pork tripe’, ‘marinated pig tongue’ with a crispy mouthfeel, and the chewy ‘braised pig trotters’… They had over ten dishes that were mostly made of pig’s offal and odds and ends of a pig. When eaten, the taste was even more memorable than regular pork. 

As Su Ran gnawed on a trotter, he joked, “Our master brought two wild boars to your house, but Xiaocao, you’re only treating our master to these unpresentable things?” 

“No matter what the food is, only its taste matters! How are these dishes unpresentable? Zhenxiu Restaurant’s pig head meat and pig ears are very popular! Sir Su, could you please not eat so happily when making that comment?” Yu Xiaocao loved gnawing on pig’s tails. She stewed pig’s tails with the pig snouts. It had a rich taste that didn’t feel greasy. She could finish the two pig tails by herself. 

However, Zhu Junfan didn’t let her do as she wished. Seeing that she was eating with relish, he picked up a piece of pig tail and started gnawing on it like her. As soon as he bit into it, his eyes lit up. It didn’t matter whether or not he looked refined while eating. In front of delicious food, he needed to eat first and think later. He swiftly finished gnawing on a pig’s tail, leaving only the bones. After that, he reached out his chopsticks towards the pig’s snout… 

It seemed like Zhu Junyang liked to eat the stir-fried intestines the most. For this dish, she used the small part that connected the small intestines and large intestines, which wasn’t much in quantity. It had a crispy texture when eaten, and it also had a lot of nutrients. The plate of stir-fried intestines was mostly devoured by him. 

The imperial bodyguards sat at one table, and thus ate in an unreserved manner. These men all liked to eat meat, so pig feast was just right for them. They enjoyed their food even more because of Yu Xiaocao’s cooking skills. They completely devoured a table of nearly twenty dishes. Their stomachs were full, but they still wanted more. The imperial bodyguards really looked forward to their master staying in Dongshan Village for a few more days. In this way, they could eat delicious food every day.

The emperor was still the emperor after all, and thus had numerous affairs to attend to every day. It was already very good that he was able to secretly come out for a trip. During the few days that Zhu Junfan stayed in Tanggu Town, he had seen that the relief work was carried out in a timely manner and there wasn’t a serious famine like he expected. Hence, he reluctantly left. Ay! The occupation of an emperor wasn’t something that just anyone could do. There must be a large pile of imperial memorials for him to look through when he returns! 

Zhu Junyang, on the other hand, stayed because he needed to apply medication for an extra half a month! In actuality, his arms weren’t really affected by his use of strength this time. However, for sake of being cautious, Yu Xiaocao insisted that he use the ointment for a little longer. 

In order to prevent the young royal prince from traveling between town and Dongshan Village, Yu Xiaocao had even offered them to stay at her godfather’s house on the hillside. This house originally belonged to the Zhao Family. After the Zhao Family was bestowed the position of a general and returned to the capital, Fang Zizhen lived there. After Lady Fang came, she carefully cleaned up the house. The residence appeared simple and crude on the outside, but it was very warm and comfortable inside. 

The young royal prince settled down in the guest room of the house. Head Steward Liu transferred some maidservants and servants from the residence in town over. Although the master didn’t like being closely served by others, he still needed people to do the chores around him. He couldn’t let him, a head steward, sweep the floor, boil water, and wipe the table, right? 

In a blink of an eye, the fleet transporting food had already been gone for over a month. If the people ate frugally, the food from the disaster relief could at most last them for two months. In other words, if the average-priced grain couldn’t be delivered back in two months, the common people would starve. 

Even if they received food from the relief, the villagers of Dongshan Village still needed to plan the portions of their meals. They ate two meals a day. They had to work in the morning, so they filled their stomachs with flatbread made with a mixture of bran and coarse grain. At night, they just drank a bowl of porridge, and then lay on the bed to endure the hunger.

Due to the locust plague and drought, the cost of living in the prefectural city had increased by a dozen fold. The academy that Yu Bo attended had already increased its tuition. Yu Bo kept spending money during the few days that he stayed in the prefectural city, but there wasn’t enough money and food to support him. He had no choice but to pack his bags and go home. 

His wife’s, Madam Zhao, maternal family wasn’t very well-off either. In a disaster year, they barely had enough to eat, so who would have the spare money to study? The school opened by Madam Zhao’s father, Scholar Zhao, had been closed for a long time. The family didn’t have any farmland and food, so if they relied on buying expensive grain to live, they would quickly use up all their money and resources. 

Madam Zhao’s mother suggested to her daughter, “Isn’t your older brother-in-law very capable? They made a lot of money from planting watermelons and vegetables, so their family must have food. I reckon you should bring Doudou back to Dongshan Village. Your mother-in-law always fawns on you, so if she has something good to eat, there’s no way that she would be unwilling to give them to you.” 

“Mother, are you telling us to leave?” Madam Zhao was Scholar Zhao’s only child, so her parents had doted on her since she was a child. She had never thought that her mother would drive her back to Dongshan Village. 

Her mother sighed and said, “It’s not that Mother is being cruel and telling you to leave. As you can see, our family is short on food! The price of food is increasing day by day, and no one knows when it will stop. Mother doesn’t have any other choice ah!” 

Madam Zhao knew that her mother was telling the truth. Her eyes gradually reddened, and she said, “Mother, you’re talking about Second Brother-in-law, who had already separated from the family. My mother-in-law is someone who never knows to leave a leeway when doing things. At their most difficult times, she made Second Brother-in-law’s family leave home with barely anything. Think about it, would they still care about our lives after getting rich?” 

“But filial piety is the most important ah! Your mother-in-law isn’t your second brother-in-law’s real mother, but your father-in-law is still his biological father, right? He can’t eat and live well himself and not even care if his father can fill his stomach, right? You guys haven’t separated from the family, so it’s natural for you guys to eat together. If Old Yu has something to eat, then you guys will surely have a share, right?” Scholar Zhao’s wife was very shrewd, and also very good at making meticulous plans.  

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Translator: Myst