His master and the Yu Family’s siblings spent the whole journey there playing cards. For lunch, they only ate a few bites of the snacks that were in the carriage to whet their hunger. Everyone was in the midst of having fun, so Head Steward Liu directed the driver to go to the Zhenxiu Restaurant branch that had just opened recently in the prefectural city.
The prefectural city’s branch had only been open for ten days, so business was booming. Currently it was past the usual time to eat lunch, but when they entered to look, the restaurant was still completely full of diners. Luckily, the manager of this branch was the old head manager of the Tanggu Town branch. The new manager at Tanggu Town was now Qian Xiaoduo.
The head manager had long been informed by his master that the Yu Family’s siblings were going to the prefectural city. If they came to Zhenxiu Restaurant, they could use the reserved private room to dine. Thus, the whole group of people went up to the third floor’s private room under the envious gazes of all of the other customers.
Yu Bo had long heard about Tanggu Town’s Zhenxiu Restaurant’s exquisite food. The food was known to be incredibly delicious but the prices were also very high. In addition, getting a table there was very hard. He naturally never had the chance to even try one of the dishes there. However, he would not have expected that he would have the opportunity to dine at Zhenxiu Restaurant after bumming a ride off of the royal prince.
Under the warm reception of the head manager, the group of people entered the private room. Yu Bo had originally thought that the head manager was only treating them so politely because the royal prince was with them. However, after silently observing for a bit, he discovered that the head manager’s demeanor towards his niece was even more warm and welcoming than his demeanor towards the prince.
He had also heard rumors that the young master of Zhenxiu Restaurant had a pretty good relationship with his second older brother’s family. Perhaps...the Zhou Family’s young master fancied his niece, so the head manager was being welcoming and polite to his future mistress? That couldn’t be true, right? Although his second older brother’s family now had some assets, they were still very far from the wealth and status of the Zhou Family. If the family backgrounds were not the same, how could the Zhou Family permit this marriage?
Yu Bo, ah Yu Bo, your thoughts are going in the completely wrong direction!
The meal consisted of both meat and vegetable dishes, and all of them were pleasing to the eye while tasting incredible. Yu Xiaocao took a single bite and could tell this was the product of Chef Wang’s hands. She was pretty sure that the Zhenxiu Restaurant in the capital was now stable and had been taken over by one of Chef Wang’s disciples. Thus, he could personally come over here and supervise the prefectural city’s branch!
After they finished the meal, before Yu Bo left the group, he first asked whether Yu Xiaocao and her brother had a place to stay. Once he found out they did, he left with a lightened heart to meet up with his schoolmate.
“Older Brother Xiaowen, did you already make arrangements for your stay?” Little Shitou asked.
Qian Wen lightly shook his head, “I was planning on finding an inn near the prefectural city’s testing facility to rest in tonight. Then tomorrow I was going to go search for a more suitable living space…”
Little Shitou somewhat excitedly replied, “His Royal Highness helped us rent out a small residence. I heard that it’s pretty close to the examination area. How about you live with us ah?”
Qian Wen glanced at Yu Xiaocao, who was currently talking to Royal Prince Yang. He hesitated for a second before he said, “Let’s first get you two settled and then we can talk about me ah!”
Behind the two youths were Yu Xiaocao and Royal Prince Yang. They were currently discussing that residence. Yu Xiaocao looked at the deed that was given to her and it also had a transaction certificate with it. She was shocked beyond words and didn’t quite dare believe what was in front of her as she said, “The houses in the prefectural city are really this inexpensive? A three-sectioned residence only costs a hundred taels?”
What she didn’t say was this: ‘Such a big residence must be broken beyond repair if it only cost a hundred taels ah! Is it even livable at this point?’
Royal Prince Yang’s eyes seemed to be able to see into her heart as he resentfully said, “This residence used to belong to someone I know. The family had to return back to the capital in a hurry and knew I was out looking for a residence. Thus, they went with the flow and half-sold it half-gave it to me. What, you have a problem with that?”
Yu Xiaocao replied with a bit of embarrassment, “You didn’t need to do this. As long as the location was good, we would be able to take out the money to buy it at market price.”
“If you can get it for cheaper, what’s wrong with that?” What Royal Prince Yang didn't mention was that the prefectural magistrate was planning on giving him this residence and the land around it. However, he refused the gift. There wasn’t really a difference between him receiving it as a present and him buying it. This residence was worth at least seven hundred to eight hundred taels. By buying it for one hundred taels, it was pretty much the same as getting it for free.
Yu Xiaocao gave him a cold glare and stated, “I’m only thinking of you and the debt you might have incurred ah! It’s easy to repay a debt of money but it’s hard to return a debt of gratitude. I was concerned that he might have ulterior motives and want you to do something that makes you feel uncomfortable!”
When Zhu Junyang heard her explanation, a cool refreshing feeling fell into his heart, as if he had just taken a sip of iced water on the hottest day of the year. This little lass had improved and knew how to think about him!
He proudly replied, “Not a problem! I know what he wants and it’s nothing difficult. Not a big deal at all!”
Yu Xiaocao finally relaxed. However, she still had to exhort him a bit, “Problems that can be resolved with money are all not a big deal. I advise you to rely less on using connections. It’s hard to fathom a person's mind. Who knows what other people are thinking!”
“So long-winded! Do you really need to state the obvious? However, if you have absolute power, you will have countless people coming up to fawn over you. At that point, even if you take their things, they will take it as the ultimate honor! This is what power is!!” Royal Prince Yang was giving Yu Xiaocao a lesson on how ‘a society that relied on hierarchy’ worked.
Only now did Yu Xiaocao remember that the person in front of her was a royal prince who was born into the imperial family. He was also someone the emperor himself looked highly upon. So, how could he be afraid of anyone?
She took the deed for the residence and fished out a banknote worth a hundred taels. She stuffed it into the young royal prince’s hands and said, “Alright, then I’ll take it that I’m basking in your glory and received a big advantage. In the future, I’ll make more delicious food to compensate you!”
Zhu Junyang wanted to give the money back to her but he knew her stubborn personality. If he didn’t take the money, she would refuse to take the deed to the house. It didn’t matter. The future was long and he could gradually compensate the money she gave him through other methods.
Zhenxiu Restaurant was located pretty close to the examination yard, so the group of them walked there as they chatted. This was the first time Little Shitou had been to the prefectural city. Thus, the entire way there he acted as if he wished he could have another pair of eyes to take in all of the sights. Yu Xiaocao thought he looked quite funny, “After you finish taking your exam, we can spend a few more days in the city so you can play to your heart’s content. The most important thing right now is to settle down as soon as we can!”
Before long, the group had arrived at the newly bought residence. Facing the street was a small shop that still had people going in and out of it as they packed away the last of the goods. When the people there saw them approach, a middle-aged man, who looked like a shopkeeper, walked towards Head Steward Liu. He smiled, “We’re a bit behind schedule, so the shop hasn’t been completely cleaned yet. Could we possibly get a couple more days? The residence behind the shop has already been completely cleaned so everyone can go in whenever they want!”
Head Steward Liu turned to look at the current new owner of the residence——Yu Xiaocao. Yu Xiaocao nodded, “My younger brother will be taking the prefectural exam in three days and needs some peace and quiet to study. Please quickly clean up everything!”
Qian Wen felt a bit confused so he asked in a questioning tone, “Shitou, the house you guys are renting has a shop in front ah! It must not be cheap, right?”
Little Shitou scratched the back of his head and let out an awkward laugh, “My second sister was in charge of everything in regards to renting a place to live. I’m not really sure. However, we are right across the street from the examination hall, so it’s quite convenient. I guess this store fell behind on rent and so they’re taking this opportunity to rent it out to students taking the exam, right? Let’s go, we should go look at how big the residence is!”
The residence was the perfect example of a three-sectioned house. The front section had been renovated into a store. After traversing through the main gate next to the store and turning past the screen wall, they passed through the inner main gate into the courtyard.
Little Shitou remarked with slight disappointment, “The courtyard is a lot smaller than the one at home. It’s also completely bare and only has two trees…”
Qian Wen silently thought, ‘Your family’s front courtyard and back courtyard combined must be a few mu in area. A courtyard that big in the prefectural city must cost at least a thousand taels, right? That being said, you’re only renting for half a month before leaving. Does it really matter how big the courtyard is?’
The main building in the courtyard had three rooms with a side room on each side of the building. The two side wings also had three rooms each. Qian Wen thought for a bit and decided that if Yu Xiaocao had rented the entire courtyard, they wouldn’t have enough people for all of the buildings. That would be a massive waste of money ah!
Yu Xiaocao leisurely wandered through the courtyard. The courtyard had been cleaned up quite neatly and nothing in the rooms had been moved around. Thus, this residence was move-in ready and came already furnished. Even the quilts and articles for daily use had been changed into new ones. The utensils in the kitchen had clearly never been used before.
“Miss Yu, is there anything else you need us to acquire?” Head Steward Liu was quite pleased with the work his underlings had done, so he casually asked her.
Yu Xiaocao thought for a bit and then replied, “Everything looks good. I just don’t know if it’s hard to get food ingredients in the prefectural city or not!”
Head Steward Liu eyed one of his underlings who was next to them. The servant hurriedly replied, “All of the food has been bought according to the list that the Head Steward gave us. Everything has been stored in the cellar downstairs. Head Steward, please inspect it!”
“Alright, you can leave! Tell the rest of them that if they don’t have an order, they’re not allowed to disturb us…” Head Steward Liu knew that his master didn’t like other people besides Miss Yu hanging around him. There was no need for any maidservants or senior servants.
As for the prince’s personal safety, that also wasn’t an issue. Head Steward Liu was the best of the best. Furthermore, all of the bodyguards that came with them were housed in the two residences next to this one. That’s right, his master not only bought this residence but also the two next to this one. Ah, was doing all of this worth it for the sake of Miss Yu’s younger brother taking his examination?
In the end, they had successfully persuaded Qian Wen to stay with them. On one hand, this courtyard was large and spacious, and there were a lot of rooms. Royal Prince Yang resided in the main building and the two Yu siblings were housed in the east wing. Thus, the west wing was still empty. At this time, it was hard to say whether they could find another house that was suitable to rent. Inns were loud and full of people, how could they be as peaceful and calm as this place?
Although Qian Wen decided to stay, he insisted on paying his portion of the rent. Blood-related brothers would make sure to split the bill, so how could two neighbors, who only had decent relations, not?
The next day, Little Shitou went out to pay a visit to his two good classmates in the city. When he came back, he brought back two little tails along. Sun Runze and Liu Jinye were trying to bum a meal off of them. Little Shitou had traveled a long way, so technically it should have been those two taking him out for a meal. However, they were unable to reserve a table at Zhenxiu Restaurant and all of the other restaurants in the area served food that was nowhere near as delicious as the food Yu Fan’s second sister made.
Consequently, the two of them somehow managed to get some food ingredients and shamelessly wiggled their way in to bum a meal. The food they brought along was only stuff that was available in the season. Among the ingredients was some fresh shepherd’s purse that looked quite good.
Yu Xiaocao accepted her fate and began to cook a table of delicious food. She also wrapped a bunch of pork and shepherd’s purse filled dumplings. Thus, after the two stuffed little fellows were sent back home, they finally had time to roam the nearby streets.
On this walk, she discovered that the residence that her family bought was quite a steal. The location was perfect. Because it was very close to the prefectural yamen, a lot of wealthy families liked to live in the area, meaning it was safe ah! The stores next to the residence had steady business. This showed that all of the people nearby had plenty of money to spend!Previous Chapter Next Chapter
Sanguine’s Thoughts: This chapter was brought to you after lots of searching about terms to describe Chinese architecture and head-scratching on how to piece together how a residence flows. I don’t think I ever knew I’d learn about this when I first started translating...