Widow Li knew that the owners were taking care of her and her son, so she gratefully took the money but didn’t say any extra words. There were a lot of widows in the world and she was afraid the people who did more work than her would start gossiping. However, she made sure to engrave the masters’ kindness deep within her heart. Forty copper coins was enough money to feed her and son for several days. Her son, who had starved into a bag of bones and only had a large head on his shoulders, would finally be able to eat a filling meal!
The speed and quality of their work was closely tied with how much money they made. All of the tenant farmers were in good spirits. Every day they enthusiastically started working before the sun rose and reluctantly left when the sun finally set. Thus, all a hundred and seventy or so mu were very quickly plowed, fertilized, and sowed with seeds. Afterwards, the tenant farmers became nervous. All farmers knew that the busiest times of the year were spring plowing and the fall harvest. The rest of the time they mostly weeded the fields and watered the crops. The owners had said that corn was a type of plant that could endure droughts but not floods, so it didn’t require a lot of water. They weren’t sure if they would still receive a wage during the idle time of the year.
Before they could fret for too long, new work arrived. Royal Prince Yang had bought over eight hundred mu of farming land and needed them, the ones with experience, to teach the newbies how to till the land. The same wages that the Yu Family set would also be paid. The fields over there had already been plowed, but they weren’t plowed as well as the Yu Family’s fields. Furthermore, the lands weren’t fertilized as much as the lands on the Yu Family’s farmstead. It was too late to buy more fertilizer, so Yu Xiaocao could only increase the concentration of the mystic-stone water in order to guarantee that the output of the corn at harvest time wouldn’t be too unsightly.
When all of the corn had been planted, Yu Hai paid the tenants a monthly wage based on how many workers there were in each family in order to make sure they were all taken care of. An adult worker could receive twenty copper coins. During harvest time, those who had a higher output would get a higher reward.
Royal Prince Yang naturally had his own managers to oversee his eight hundred mu. When he saw Yu Hai and his family making all of the management decisions, he wondered if he should give them a manager. In the future, they would have almost a thousand mu of farmland in Tanggu growing corn. If they all relied on the Yu Family to oversee them, would they be able to handle it?
Zhu Junyang especially transferred over Manager Nian from one of his farmsteads in the capital. He solemnly instructed him that he needed to follow all of the orders that Yu Hai and his family gave. If any issues arose in the corn fields, he needed to ask the Yu Family for guidance. Manager Nian noticed that his master highly regarded the Yu Family, so he silently reminded himself that he must treat them with the utmost respect in the future.
In Manager Nian’s eyes, the Yu Family were in the same boat as him. Both of them were helping his master handle affairs. However, in the master’s heart, the Yu Family was on a higher level than him. Manager Nian had been born and raised in Imperial Prince Jing’s estate and had slowly climbed up the ladder. The higher ranked servants at the estate had a lot of power, while the lower ranked servants could only obey them unconditionally.
When all of the seeds had been planted here, they received some news from the capital. The imperial farmsteads had also finished sowing corn in their fields. Royal Prince Yang was a bit worried now. Could corn seeds that hadn’t been sprayed with pesticide grow as well as the corn crops in Tanggu Town?
He sought Yu Xiaocao and her father and explained that he hoped that they would go with him to the capital for a trip. Everything important here had mostly been done. The watermelon fields were being taken care of by Liu Hu’s entire family, and the farmsteads with corn had the farmstead manager as well as the manager Royal Prince Yang sent over to oversee. There shouldn’t be any issues arising. Thus, Yu Hai went back home to discuss this proposal with the entire family and then decided to go into the capital with Royal Prince Yang.
Yu Xiaocao had already altered all of the wells in the farmstead to contain a very low concentration of mystic-stone water. This would not only promote the growth of the crops but would also have good effects on the humans that drank it. Yu Xiaocao also, out of the kindness of her own heart, altered the wells in the lands that the young royal prince had bought. This would guarantee that all of the corn in Tanggu Town would grow well.
After all of the loose ends at home were taken care of, the father and daughter pair traveled along with Royal Prince Yang’s entourage. All of the villagers had heard that the two of them had been invited by the royal prince to the capital to plant crops, and they were all extremely envious. The Yu Family truly had skill; they could even become famous from raising crops.
The vast majority of villagers had only traveled as far as the town. Those who had been to the prefectural city had boasted about it, so going to the capital was a whole other matter. The Yu Family members had been personally invited by the royal prince to go! If they completed the task well, perhaps they would even be rewarded with a residence in the capital or something. Perhaps the Yu Family was going to move to the capital in the future?
Under the envious gazes of their fellow villagers, the two of them climbed into the flashy carriage that the royal prince had brought over. The carriage left and traveled in the direction of the capital. Yu Xiaocao had brought along her little red horse. When she was in the mood, she would ride the tiny horse to appreciate the scenes round her. When she got tired, she would go into the carriage, drink a cup of tea, eat some snacks, and then take a leisurely nap. Once energized, she would go back on her horse and quibble with the young royal prince to pass the time.
The distance from Dongshan Village to the capital could be traveled in one day and one night if the person traveling was on a horse galloping at top speed the entire way. If they were on a carriage, traveling by day and resting at night, it took around three days of travel. Royal Prince Yang was afraid that Yu Xiaocao’s body wouldn’t be able to take a strenuous voyage, so they rested somewhat frequently in between.
In the evenings, they did their best to stop at a small town and find a nice inn to allow Yu Hai and Yu Xiaocao to rest after traveling the whole day. At noon, if they weren’t trying to get somewhere, they would rest on the side of the road and prepare lunch to eat to their heart’s delight. Thus, the journey was not as tiring as Yu Xiaocao had originally thought. Instead, it was like going on a scenic tour and occasionally camping outside to prepare food.
Originally, Royal Prince Yang had prepared a residence for the two of them. However, when Fang Zizhen found out that his adopted daughter was going to the capital, he made sure to notify his wife well in advance. When the group of them was about five kilometers outside of the capital, they spotted Lady Fang with her maidservants anxiously waiting for them.
“Godmother, why did you personally come here? Where’s Little Linlin?” Yu Xiaocao jumped off the carriage and threw herself at Lady Fang. She rubbed her head against her godmother’s abdomen.
Lady Fang lovingly stroked her goddaughter’s black and glossy hair and lightly laughed, “Little Linlin has recently been coughing, so he’s at home with the wet nurse! I was afraid if I sent other people to wait, they wouldn’t recognize you. Godmother finally was able to have you come over. Come, let’s go home together!”
Yu Hai hesitated. The general wasn't in the capital, so it wasn’t quite proper for him, an adult man, to stay at the general’s estate.
As if she had anticipated Yu Hai’s misgivings, Lady Fang said, “Linlin’s father is currently finishing up his affairs at the port, so he’ll be back the day after tomorrow at the latest. Brother Dahai, please take the general’s estate as your own home. There’s no need to be polite.”
Yu Xiaocao was in an unfamiliar environment, so she didn’t want to separate from her father. She also said, “Father, you can live in the guestroom in the outer courtyard. In the morning, we’ll need to go to the fields and we’ll only get back late at night. If we get busy, we might even have to stay overnight at the farmsteads! If my godfather gets back tomorrow or the day after tomorrow and finds out you were living outside of the residence, he’d scold me to death ah!”
Lady Fang nodded her head from the side with a smile on her face.
Yu Hai pointed at his daughter and said, “Could your godfather even bear to scold you? I doubt it!”
Royal Prince Yang interjected from the side, “If you guys don’t want to live in the general’s estate, I have a residence that’s pretty close to the general's estate…”
Lady Fang hastily butted in, “Royal Prince Yang, please don’t make things complicated. No one is an outsider here, so it’s still best for them to live with me.”
Zhu Junyang knew that Yu Xiaocao had already made a decision so he didn’t say anything more. He personally escorted the father-daughter pair to the entrance of the general’s residence and tactfully declined Lady Fang’s invitation for him to drink some tea. He then spoke to Yu Xiaocao, “It’s been a rough two days for you. Go to sleep early, tomorrow I’ll come in the morning to take you to the fields…”
Before he finished, a voice full of surprise hit his ears, “Older Brother Yang, you’re back from Tanggu Town? Are you here to see me?”
Zhu Junyang immediately scowled and his face became as cold as ice. It was as if every cell in his body had been carved with the words ‘no living thing shall come near me’. Yu Xiaocao was very curious now. Just what sort of person was this to make the young royal prince react so strongly?
Xiaocao inquisitively raised her head to look towards the sound and saw that, far away, a slender and beautiful young maiden, dressed entirely in red, was coming over gracefully with a look of surprise on her face. She had a head full of fine black hair that was tastefully wound up and secured with a dragonfly hairpin made of jade. A piece of red coral that was carved into the shape of a butterfly dangled in front of the middle of her forehead. Her skin was as pale as fresh milk and seemed to glow underneath the sun. This contrasted alluringly with her small red lips. The maiden also had large almond shaped eyes that stared fixedly at Royal Prince Yang, as if he was the only thing in the world worth looking at.
“Wow! She’s so pretty. Young Royal Prince has such luck with women!” Yu Xiaocao quietly quipped underneath her breath as she covered her mouth to conceal her sniggering.
Zhu Junyang seemed to have heard her remark as he frowned even more deeply. His phoenix eyes slanted a warning glare at her. Just as he was about to say something, the young maiden clothed in red had already stopped in front of him. Her large eyes gazed at him with infatuation.
The frostiness on his face became even more apparent and Zhu Junyang didn’t even spare the girl in front of him with a glance as he spoke to Lady Fang, “Lady Fang, I’ve finished escorting them, so I will head out now!”
He shot another glare at Yu Xiaocao, who was snickering under her breath, and said, “I’m going to pick you up early tomorrow, so don’t sleep in!”
After he finished talking, he ignored the red-clothed girl as if she was thin air, went around her, and mounted his horse to leave. The young maiden swiftly threw out her hand and held on the reins in Royal Prince Yang’s hands. She raised her delicate face and pouted as if she was wronged, “Older Brother Yang, what did Xian’er do wrong to make you ignore me?”
Jiang Zixian was the youngest daughter of Princess Consort Jing’s second older brother and was younger than Zhu Junyang by a year. Princess Consort Jing had a decent relationship with her second sister-in-law. When she gave birth to her oldest son, her second sister-in-law had helped her for an entire month. When Jiang Zixian was born, Zhu Junyang, who was only one at the time, vehemently stated that he wanted to bring his younger cousin home. At the time, Princess Consort Jing cracked a joke, “Why do you want to bring her back? Do you want her to become your little wife ah?”
Because Imperial Prince Jing had power as well as status, Princess Consort Jing’s second sister-in-law was naturally eager to make a close connection with them. However, later on, Zhu Junyang underwent a shocking personality change at the age of five and became tyrannical and impetuous. He was willing to harm people at the blink of an eye. Princess Consort Jing’s second sister-in-law used the excuse that the household had gotten more busy to avoid spending more time with her. Thus, the issue of a betrothal was left at that.
However, in the past two years, Zhu Junyang had been awarded the title of a royal prince and had gone out to sea on behalf of the emperor to find high-yielding crops. He came back in triumph and the emperor rewarded him with many things. Furthermore, he had successfully grown corn and potatoes, which made the emperor regard him in a new light. Now he was the emperor’s most highly regarded official. Consequently, Princess Consort Jing’s second sister-in-law remembered the old joke from many years ago, so she would bring her youngest daughter over to visit Imperial Prince Jing’s estate from time to time.
Jiang Zixian had seen her older cousin once while she was in the garden. His handsome good looks caused her to become instantly smitten with him.Previous Chapter Next Chapter
Sanguine’s Thoughts: Haha, looks like Zhu Junyang has some admirers coming out of the woodwork.