Chapter 315 - Brave the Snows to Come Back

Because some of the children were injured and others had fallen ill from being frightened, the authorities invited Doctor Sun from Tongren Medicine Hall over. His youngest grandson also came along to help him. Yu Xiaocao already knew Doctor Sun’s youngest grandson. He was the same child who had stopped LIttle Black halfway and tried to take the puppy as his own. After recognizing his wrongs, he had sincerely apologized to her.

Doctor Sun had already diagnosed and treated the other children. The one who was most heavily injured was the child who had tried to escape and ended up getting beaten up by the slavers. The child had two broken ribs but luckily none of his internal organs were harmed. Commander Sun’s son, Sun Yaoyang, only had some superficial wounds. Because Little Shitou and some other loyal kids were there, his injuries were not very serious.

When he heard that Yu Xiaocao had gotten injured, Doctor Sun hurriedly rushed over with his box full of medicines. All she had was a faint mark on her neck. Doctor Sun didn’t know whether he should laugh or cry. Was this also considered a wound? It was just some minor scratches. However, he still very cautiously checked her pulse. When nothing came up, he said, “Nothing’s wrong. As long as you put some wound balm on the wound on your neck, you’ll be fine! Do you still have any wound balm that you’ve made left? Just use that one, it’s effect is quite good!”

The rest of the case progressed very smoothly. This group of evil and vicious criminals had either been killed in action or caught by the authorities. Even the slave buyer at the docks had also been caught red-handed and brought in. Before the end of the year, the shocking case of human trafficking in the Jin Prefecture quickly came to an end. 

The common people in Tanggu Town, who were all hunkered down for the winter, quickly found out through word of mouth what had happened. Everyone, especially the families who had gotten their stolen children back, were deeply grateful to the county magistrate and the military official, so they erected long-life plaques to them in their homes. None of them knew that a little girl, who had just reached the age of ten, had played the most crucial role in all of this. 

Yu Xiaocao, who had become a ‘female hero’, refused the county magistrate’s offer of a reward. In her eyes, she only worked hard in order to save her beloved little brother. The people who were truly taking risks were the soldiers under the military official who had chased after the criminals. She also didn’t want to cause any future problems for her family. In her mind, she wasn’t as brave and selfless as they said, so she didn’t want to become famous for this. Thus, she had the county magistrate conceal her participation in all of this.

However, Fang Zizhen, who was in the distant capital, had somehow learned about this through channels she didn’t know about. He braved the winds and snow to rush over from the capital. By the time he got to the Yu Family’s residence, he had almost become a snowman.

As soon as he entered, he inspected his adopted daughter from head to toe. Only after he saw no injuries did he let out a sigh of relief. Afterwards, he harshly scolded Yu Xiaocao, but every single word he said belied how much he worried about her.

Yu Xiaocao poured a cup of ginger-sugar water for her godfather and watched as he drank it. She only spoke after he finished, “Godfather, it’s almost time to celebrate the New Years. How come you’re not spending the holiday with Godmother and little brother in the capital and instead came over to Dongshan Village? Is there something going on at the harbor?”

“All of the workers at the harbor are off for the New Years celebrations, so how could there be anything going on? When your godmother heard about your heroic deed, she was very worried about you. If it wasn’t for me stopping her, she would have come along too! You ah, you! How should I, your godfather, scold you? When other people encounter danger, they all run away to hide, but you, on the other hand, run straight to it!! After such a big event, you also didn’t send any news to the capital. If it were not for Commander Sun bringing a report to the capital that mentioned your participation, I, your godfather, would still be in the dark!” The more Fang Zizhen talked, the more angry he became. His eyes, which were as round as gongs, were fixed on his goddaughter with a look that was half full of frustration and half full of love. How could this child be so gutsy ah?

Yu Xiaocao let out a couple of dry laughs, “Godfather, aren’t I perfectly alright ah? It’s time for the New Years, what’s the point of mentioning this and making everyone anxious? You weren’t aware of the complex situation at the time. If we let the boss of the criminals escape, I was afraid that he would take revenge on us later. Furthermore, Little White could smell where the criminals went. If I didn’t follow him, how could Commander Sun catch all of these bad guys so smoothly?”

Fang Zizhen was going to continue when Yu Hai interjected out of pity for his daughter, who was being scolded to the high heavens, “Alright, alright, things have already passed, what’s the point of talking about it now? You won’t be able to make it back to the capital before the New Years, so just celebrate with us!”

Yu Xiaocao also took advantage of this change of subject, “Godfather, I haven’t seen you in such a long time, yet the first thing you do is scold me. Is it because you have Little Brother that you don’t care about me, your adopted daughter, anymore?”

Fang Zizhen hurriedly placated his daughter’s ‘overly sensitive heart’ and softly said, “Originally, your godmother and I were planning on coming back after celebrating your little brother's hundred day banquet. But who would have thought that Xiaolin would get a chronic cough. All of the doctors in the capital saw him yet he still didn’t get better. Even the imperial physicians couldn’t do anything for him. In the end, it was the Sichuan fritillary bulb with loquat syrup that you concocted that made him better. You didn’t know any of this, but prior to that syrup you made, the doctors gave him medicine that was so bitter ah. Xiaolin screamed every time he had to take medicine and your godmother wept with him. Your medicine is still the best as it’s sweet so Xiaolin likes taking it…”

Yu Xiaocao rolled her eyes in her heart as she thought, ‘How could it not be sweet? I added a lot of honey and brown sugar to it. I reckon that Little Linlin had gotten whooping cough. Sichuan fritillary bulb, loquat, and pears all have the ability to suppress coughing. The most important ingredient in the syrup is still the mystic-stone water. Otherwise, how could a medicine that was prescribed without looking at the patient work so well?’  

Fang Zizhen continued enthusiastically, “Xiaolin didn’t even finish the two bottles of cough suppressant syrup before his illness got better. Afterwards, the eldest prince in the palace had gotten a cold and had a bad cough. He also refused to take medication, so the emperor took the rest of the syrup. It’s said that after just a few days of using your syrup, the eldest prince stopped coughing. All of the imperial physicians analyzed your syrup and came up with a recipe. However, when they tried to reproduce it, their syrups were a lot more inferior to yours.”

A wisp of anxiety rose up within Yu Xiaocao’s heart. She really didn’t want to attract the emperor’s attention ah! She wasn’t sure when similar cough suppressant syrups appeared in history but if the emperor really ended up pursuing this, she would just say that she came up with the recipe herself.

Fang Zizhen proceeded with his story, “After Little Linlin got better, it was already the start of winter. Your godmother was afraid that because he was so young, he might get sick again on the road, so she decided to come back to Tanggu Town in the spring. In between, your godmother wrote a letter to you to have you come over to the capital to celebrate the New Years with us but you ended up declining. Xiaocao ah, when are you going to the capital with me? Your godmother and I all want to introduce you to our close friends and family ah!”

“That uh...let’s wait until Little Linlin celebrates his first birthday? At that time, I’ll go to the capital and participate in his birthday grab [1].” Yu Xiaocao was still a bit wary of the rich and powerful families in the capital. Thus, she always had some hesitation in going to the capital. 

Fang Zizhen thought for a bit and calculated that was less than half a year away, so he nodded in agreement, “Then we’ll agree on that. Don’t try to find another excuse or reason to not go then.”  

Yu Xiaocao let out a dry chuckle, “How could I...Godfather, you must be hungry! Let me go into the kitchen and make some of your favorite: braised pork knuckle.”

Fang Zizhen hadn’t been able to eat the food made by his daughter for half a year. He smacked his lips and said, “Okay. I heard that your family is raising a few wild boars. Must be hard in the middle of a disaster year.” 

Yu Xiaocao smiled, “My family didn’t really go through that much. We firmly believed in the words of that white bearded immortal, so we harvested everything in the fields well in advance. We had six mu of sweet potatoes that were half grown then and also had some sweet potato seedlings. In addition, we had corn stalks and some wheat husks and such...ah, we also had locust powder that we made from dried locusts in storage. Using that to feed hogs and chickens makes them grow quite quickly!”  

For the evening meal, Yu Xiaocao not only made braised pork knuckle but also stir fried some grasshopper sauce for Fang Zizhen to try. Fang Zizhen really liked the savory and spicy grasshopper sauce. In fact, he devoured five to six flatbreads covered with the grasshopper sauce before he finally took a break to talk, “Daughter ah! How come you didn’t send a few jars of such delicious sauce to the capital?”

Yu Xiaocao replied in surprise, “I asked the young royal prince to give you two jars to try. Did you not get any? I thought that you and godmother didn’t like it because it was made with locusts, so I didn’t bring it up later.”

“What? You asked Royal Prince Yang to bring grasshopper sauce to us? How come I didn’t hear your godmother mention it ah? Don’t tell me your godmother didn’t like it and sent it as a reward to the servants? That can’t be right ah, she always tells me right away when you give stuff to us!” Fang Zizhen was a bit puzzled now.

Yu Xiaocao silently cursed the young royal prince in her heart and pouted, “Godfather, if you both didn’t get any, then the young royal prince must have taken it for himself! That guy is really too much! I specifically told him that two jars were for you and the remaining two jars were for him!!”  

The culprit, who had taken the grasshopper sauce, that the two were talking about, was currently far away in the capital. Zhu Junyang was currently happily eating grasshopper sauce while his lady mother and eldest brother watched him with alarm. Suddenly, his nose itched and he let out an enormous sneeze. He inwardly thought, ‘I’m sure that lass Yu Xiaocao is talking about me. Did she find out that I took the other two jars of grasshopper sauce? Hmph, what does it matter if she knows? It’s only two jars of grasshopper sauce. That lass has so many frozen locusts in the cellar, why does she care about two jars of grasshopper sauce? Such a miser!!’

Princess Consort Jing endured the feeling of her stomach roiling as she worriedly said, “Yang’er, is this grasshopper sauce really made with locusts? Will there be any problems with eating it?”

Zhu Junyang spread a thick layer of the savory and spicy grasshopper sauce on a white and soft steamed roll. He took a giant bite and said, “Lady Mother, don’t worry. I’ve eaten it countless times while I was in Dongshan Village. How could there be problems? This grasshopper sauce is very tasty. Lady Mother, Eldest Brother, are you two sure you don’t want to try any?”

Princess Consort Jing’s mind was currently filled with the images of the dreadful locusts. Insects scared her the most, so she hurriedly shook her head, “How could I have the nerve to fight for it when I can see that you love it so much? You can keep eating…”

Zhu Junyang hesitated for a bit before he asked Prince Jing, who had a solemn look on his face, “Lord Father, do you want to try any?”

Prince Jing was silently thinking, ‘You little brat, you’ve finally thought of me. I’ve been sitting here all by myself and I’m not tiny. Did you pretend that I wasn’t here earlier?’ 

Prince Jing had a very serious demeanor. Even at home he continued to be dignified and imposing. Normally, all of his sons revered him but weren’t very intimate with him, especially his youngest son. Ever since his youngest son turned five to six, his personality changed a lot and he became irritable and angry. His youngest son even injured people frequently. Prince Jing had a headache on his hands and punished him severely a few times. Thus, his youngest son started to hate him. Usually, his youngest son would avoid him whenever they crossed paths. If Zhu Junyang couldn’t avoid Prince Jing, then he would just ignore him. Thus, Zhu Junyang normally only talked to his lady mother and eldest brother at the dining table and ignored Prince Jing’s existence. The sun must have risen from the west today since Zhu Junyang voluntarily spoke to his father.


[1] Birthday grab (抓周) - A custom of placing a variety of articles (writing brush, abacus, etc) before an infant on his or her birthday. The first one the baby picks up supposedly reveals his future career.

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Myst's Thoughts

Braised Pork Knuckle

Sanguine’s Thoughts: Hahaha I like how shameless Zhu Junyang is, just taking the other two jars of grasshopper sauce for himself too. The foodie genes from the emperor emeritus clearly was passed on to all of his descendents.

Translator: Sanguine