Chapter 352 - Proving Him Wrong

After Zhu Junyang’s morning exercise, he came down from the mountains. As soon as he entered the courtyard, he could smell a strong fragrance drifting in the air. He didn’t think that the little lass could actually make dishes with such alluring taste with those unattractive and somewhat disgusting bugs that were dug up from the soil.

“It’s time to eat!” Yu Xiaocao held a big plate in each of her hands and walked out of the kitchen unsteadily. The fragrance came from the two plates. 

The large plates, which were piled up with fried cicadas, could almost break her two wrists that were as thin as a stick of firewood. Zhu Junyang’s feet moved faster than his brain; he walked forward and took the plates from Yu Xiaocao’s hands. 

Seeing him, Yu Xiaocao grinned widely and said, “Young Royal Prince, your nose is comparable to that of a ‘barking alien’ [1]. You have followed the smell over as soon as the cicadas are fried!”

If Zhu Junyang knew what a ‘barking alien’ was, he would definitely be furious. She actually compared him, who was wise and skilled in martial arts, to a canine that only knew how to stick its tongue out and wag its tail to please others. Such disrespect! Fortunately, most of his attention was focused on the fragrantly scorched cicadas, and thus overlooked the meaning of ‘barking alien’. 

Xiaolian and Liu Yaner, who were helping in the kitchen, each brought out a plate of different flavored fried cicadas. After they put them on the table, Xiaolian said, “You guys eat first. I’ll take these to Eldest Maternal Aunt and Older Cousin so that they can also have a taste.”

There was a simple kitchen in the piggery. Normally, Xiaolian, Eldest Maternal Aunt and her daughter would cook their meals there. When the family made delicious food at home, they would also send some to them. Since the piglets in the piggery had sufficient food and Xiaocao regularly supplemented them with a light concentration of mystic-stone water, they were all in good health, had good appetite, and grew very well. The first batch of piglets weighed close to one hundred catties after being raised for four months, as if they ate ‘four months fat’. 

Liu Yaner also delivered a full plate of fried cicadas to the Qian Family next door. After all, the Qian siblings also contributed two jars of cicadas yesterday. Qian Wu didn’t take a single one home for this very reason. Who told Xiaocao to be such a good cook? Even if he brought it back, his mother, Madam Mao, wouldn’t know how to cook it. Moreover, even if she did, she wouldn’t be willing to waste oil to fry the cicadas as snacks for him. One must admit that this fellow Qian Wu usually seemed quite foolish, but he had quite a lot of tricks up his sleeves! 

In the Yu Family’s courtyard, the women helping to pick vegetables had arrived. Smelling the scent, one of the women, who usually had a close relationship with Madam Liu, said with a smile, “Dahai’s wife, what novel food did your youngest daughter make this time? It smells so good that I’m about to drool!” 

Madam Liu took out some and placed them on a small plate for them to taste. They had just experienced a disaster year, so they knew about the importance of food. The matron resisted the temptation of the food and shook her head, saying, “Dahai’s wife, please don’t lure out the gluttonous bugs in our stomachs. We’re going to be the ones suffering if it rebels. Quickly take the plate back. Don’t you know that putting such delicious food in front of us is like a cruel torture to us ah?!” 

Madam Liu glared at her with a smile and said, “It’s fine if the gluttonous bugs are lured out. It’s not like these are anything precious. Do you hear the cicadas on the trees? These are the larvae that just crawled out of the soil and haven’t shed off their shells. They can be found in batches in the forest at night. After catching them, they need to be properly cleaned and marinated with salt for a while. They are edible when they are cooked!” 

During locust plague last year, the Yu Family had spread the news that locusts were edible. Nearly every family caught a large amount back to eat, which saved them a lot of grain. They had already eaten locusts roasted over fire, so why would they be afraid of these cicada larvae? 

Seeing that it wasn’t some expensive ingredient, the matron stopped acting courteous and picked one up to put in her mouth. A strangely refreshing taste instantly erupted within her mouth. It tasted better than the fried dish they had during the New Year! Her eyes lit up and she had a wide smile on her face as she said, “It tastes really good. Tonight, I’ll have my husband and the kids catch some back, and I’ll fry some for the kids to eat.” 

The other women also gave up on holding themselves back and each tried a piece. The group of people catching cicadas in the evening grew even bigger. Madam Liu told them to eat some more, but they refused. The members of the Yu Family and the Liu Family added up to more than ten people. How many cicadas could several children catch? They probably didn’t have enough to eat, so even if they wanted to eat more, they had to control themselves. How could they take food from the children?   

Moreover, Royal Prince Yang was here. Right now, his existence in Tanggu Town was of someone superior to the county magistrate. All the villages within the vicinity of Tanggu were under his ruling, so they were also considered his people. They had to at least leave a good impression for the royal prince, right? 

They were worried about the royal prince, but Royal Prince Yang, who had the innate quality of a glutton, focused all his attention on the different flavored fried cicadas. His favorite was actually the spicy and numbing flavor. Not only did it have a golden color, but it also had a crispy shell and tender flesh. With a dry and fragrant taste and numbingly spicy mouthfeel, he felt as if all the taste buds in his mouth were jumping. This caused him to eat one piece after another, unable to stop.   

‘Well, it seems like nearly the entire imperial family has the gene of a foodie. The emperor emeritus is a long-time foodie, and Royal Prince Yang doesn’t lose out to him. I wonder if the emperor would also disregard his noble and elegant demeanor in front of his favorite food?’ Yu Xiaocao thought in her heart. 

Zhu Junyang lingered at the Yu Residence and didn’t leave until he had lunch. Yesterday, Little White had caught a wild hare, which became the Yu Family’s lunch at noon. There were a lot of people eating together, so Yu Hai slaughtered one of the rabbits that they raised at home. 

When the wild hare was slaughtered, the Yu Family’s little roe deer was still watched happily and ran around gleefully. But, when it saw Yu Hai choose one of its usual companions and skillfully slit its neck and skinned it, it was so scared that it hid in Yu Xiaocao’s room, trembling. It didn’t even take a single bite of its favorite grass mixed with mystic-stone water, for fear that his master would slaughter it for food like that rabbit. 

She didn’t know if the little roe deer had a genetic mutation due to its frequent consumption of mystic-stone water, but it had never grown bigger since they brought it back three years ago. It maintained the size of a little roe deer that was less than a month old with a small and thin appearance. It was currently shivering like a fallen leaf blew by the cold wind. It looked cute yet pitiful. 

When Yu Xiaocao noticed that the little roe deer hadn’t eaten for two meals and was curled up into a ball with a dispirited appearance, she thought that it was sick. After she got a reminder from the little divine stone, she realized that the little guy had been scared silly. She quickly hugged it and comforted, “Tiny, don’t be scared! No one will eat you. You’re so small and barely have any meat on your body, so you wouldn’t even be enough to fill the gaps between one’s teeth. I promise you that no one in the family will dare to do anything to you without my permission!! However, you must stay alert outside the house. Be careful not to let others catch you and make you into soup!!” 

The little roe deer seemed to understand its little master’s position in the family. Since she said that no one was allowed to touch it, it must be safe at home. As for the outside, there was no way that it would let strangers get close to it. It could now run as fast as the wind. Even Little Black and Little White couldn’t catch up to it, so who could catch it? But, for a long time after this, the little roe deer would make a detour when it saw Yu Hai. It was afraid that he would dislike it, and thus decide to slaughter it. 

In a blink of an eye, it was already time for autumn harvest. Zhu Junyang followed Yu Hai and his daughter to the Yu Family’s farmstead. The vegetation on the hill behind the plantation had gradually begun to turn yellow. Occasionally, one or two maple leaves would display their dazzling appearance among the gold and green colors. The pods in the fields were golden and appeared bloated as if their bellies were about to burst. The tenant farmers working in the fields all had bright smiles on their faces. 

With a sincere smile on his face, the supervisor, Wang Maocai, accompanied the owners and explained, “We have also planted soybeans in the past, but the pods were only about the length of a thumb. This year, the pods are even longer than one’s middle finger. Moreover, the beans are a size bigger than the seeds. With a modest estimate, I reckon that the output of the soybean fields will double the output of the previous years!” 

In actuality, Yu Xiaocao didn’t deliberately help the tenant farmers cultivate the soybean fields. It didn’t rain a lot in the summer, so the hardworking farmers were afraid that the yield of soybeans would be affected. They were also afraid that the owners would have doubts regarding their abilities, and then not rent the land for them to farm next year. Thus, they all worked hard to tend the crops. They meticulously irrigated the fields, weeded the fields, and eliminated pests. There was spiritual energy in the well water, so the fields watered by the well water naturally had a higher output of soybeans. 

After four to five days of hard work in the fields, all of the families sent all their soybeans to the granary. After being weighted, the household with the greatest yield had surpassed four hundred catties! The low yield of soybeans was the main reason why farmers were reluctant to cultivate the crop. In previous years, their best output in the fields was no more than 160 to 170 catties. But now, the output had more than doubled ah! The family with the least output had also gotten around three hundred catties! It was about the same as the yield of wheat!! 

The tenant farmers, who were originally pessimistic about the owner’s daughter's request to grow soybeans, were sincerely convinced by her now. After they got new masters, except for the disaster during the first year, they had gotten a great harvest for the spring and autumn seasons. The tenant farmers believed that the master had good fortune, and thus also boosted the luck of the farmstead. If they continued to work for the master in the future, they would definitely be able to eat to their heart’s content, wear warm clothes, and live a fairly well-off life…

The farmlands that Zhu Junyang bought weren’t very far from the Yu Family’s plantation. After the autumn harvest, he planned on moving the fields next to the Yu Family’s fields. In this way, Yu Xiaocao could help him take care of the farmlands, which was much more convenient! Yes, Royal Prince Yang barely knew anything about farming. The steward that he sent to manage the land would consult the father and daughter of the Yu Family for everything, and thus he became a master who only asked others to work and didn’t do anything himself.

Right after the harvest of the corn, Royal Prince Yang had gone back to the capital to report the good news. Thus, the steward and Yu Xiaocao worked together to make decisions regarding the plowing, sowing, and management of the more than eight hundred mu of land. With Yu Xiaocao there, he was absolutely at ease that the output of his fields definitely wouldn’t be low! That’s right, Zhu Junyang was just that confident! 

As expected, the average yield of the eight hundred or so mu of farmland was over three hundred catties per mu. People probably wouldn’t believe it even if they heard it! He had the steward to make detailed records, organize them into a memorial, and send it to the capital at the fastest speed.

‘Didn’t that old fogie with the surname Yang say that the rich harvest of corn had nothing to do with the Yu Family and Yu Xiaocao? I’m going to prove you wrong with the data right away! Have you ever seen soybeans with a yield of over three hundred catties per mu? The Imperial Plantation in the capital has also planted dozens of mu of soybeans. If there is a higher output than this prince’s eight hundred mu of fields, this prince will give up my title of royal prince!!’


[1] Xiaocao used an internet slang for dog.

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Translator: Myst