Chapter 367 - Determination

Huang Xiaohu was excited. His master turned out to be a county official! He was even a student studying at Rongxuan Academy! If he was a book boy for his young master, wouldn’t he be able to stand on the side and listen to the lectures at Rongxuan Academy? Rongxuan Academy was a place that all students from all around the world yearned to study at. He didn’t expect that he would receive such a great honor to listen to a lecture at Rongxuan Academy!

But his eyes suddenly dimmed again. So, what if he could go to Rongxuan Academy and listen to their lectures? He had sold himself off as a slave. There was no way he could take the imperial exams and gain scholarly honor for the rest of his life.

Yu Xiaocao seemed to know what he was thinking and said softly, “If your family works hard, then I will try to find a method to restore Xiaohu’s status if he intends to take the imperial examinations in the future!”

The four people of the Huang Family were not stupid. They clearly understood the meaning behind the young miss’s words. If they could satisfy the young miss through their hard work, then the young lady would never treat them badly. Huang Dachui glanced at the ten big pots of braised food in the rear court. Although Yu's Braised Food Store had just opened three months ago, even he had heard of how delicious and fragrant their braised food was.

The most important thing for making braised food was the secret recipe. Since they were bought by them, that meant they will probably find out the secret recipe for the braised food. In short, this meant that there was a slim chance their masters would release them. However, their son would be able to follow the Yu Family’s son to Rongxuan Academy as a book boy to study. If they could win the appreciation of their masters, then the best outcome would be that their young son will recover his status and continue his dream of studying.

They were bought by the royal prince from the prefectural magistrate, which meant that the royal prince and the prefectural magistrate were backing this shop! The young miss appeared to be around ten years old. Her younger brother was able to pass the county level imperial exam at such a young age, and he was even studying at Rongxuan Academy which had produced many top scorers and second placers in the imperial exams. His future achievements were boundless. As long as they were committed to their duties and stayed loyal, then their younger son’s future wouldn’t be worse off than right now as long as he studied hard.

Huang Dachui was an honest and considerate man, but he wasn’t wooden or inarticulate. His heart was full of excitement as he took in a deep breath and determinedly said, “Young Miss, please be at ease. We definitely will live up to your trust and benevolence!”

Yu Xiaocao took in their expressions and was very satisfied with his response. She smiled slightly and said, “Your family can live in the rear side building in the back. The rear side building is separated in the middle. The west side is where we process the raw materials and it also functions as a warehouse. You can choose one of the three rooms on the east side and live there! Oh right, you still haven’t eaten lunch yet. Put your things down and come eat first!”

Huang Dachui took his wife and children through a small door in the east and arrived at the rear side building. He selected the room closest to the east side and put their spare clothes on the kang bed inside the room. The room was very simple; there was only a kang bed, a wooden table, and two small round stools. An empty wooden box was placed at the end of the kang bed. It was probably used for storing clothes.

Seeing his wife and children’s overcautious expressions, Huang Dachui felt his heart constrict for them. He felt that he needed to remind his wife and children, “In the future, we will be the servants of this family. We must adhere strictly to the rules when we talk or do things. What our seller said was very reasonable; the most important thing is to stay loyal to our masters and not give in to greed. We need to work hard and fulfill the duties that our masters give us. We definitely won’t be used to it at first, but you must remember to do more than you talk. You need to know what you’re doing!”

Dachui’s wife nodded her head honestly. Huang Xiaomei smiled excitedly and said, “Father, I understand what you just said! The young miss also said, as long as we work hard and satisfy our masters, then Younger Brother can continue to study. Perhaps one day, he might be able to receive scholarly honors and bring honor to our ancestors! Father, you can be at ease! I won’t drag my younger brother down!”

Huang Xiaohu’s eyes were filled with tears. He sniffed his nose and said, “Father, actually...I don’t mind if I’m able to study or not. You need to act within your strengths, I don’t want you to work until you’re exhausted because of me!”

Huang Dachui walked over, patted his son’s shoulder gently, and said, “The young miss has already assigned us our tasks. The tasks are less tiring than the bitter hard labor in town. You can rest assured. Our master’s family doesn’t seem to be the type that would mistreat their servants. Our family is relatively lucky! You should relax your mind and just serve their young master well! Come, let’s not make our masters wait for us!”

When they returned to the rear courtyard, a pot of braised meat had just been served. The thick, fragrant scent of the meat entered their noses. Huang Dachui, who usually had good self-control, couldn’t help but secretly swallow his saliva from the delicious scent. It was very fragrant; the rumors were indeed true!

Huang Xiaomei quickly stepped forward to help Yu Caifeng when she saw Yu Caifeng exiting the kitchen with a pot of freshly braised meat. The two carried a large pot of braised meat to the front of the store. Yu Xiaocao secretly nodded her head when she saw this scene as she exited the kitchen carrying food.

“Let’s eat! It’s late, so there’s not much left. I had just taken some food from the store, so please bear with it for now!” There were two dishes; one plate was braised seaweed with firm tofu and the other one was a platter of sliced braised pig head’s meat and offal. The steamed buns were made from corn and white flour. Each steamed bun was as large as an adult man’s fist, and there were around a dozen of them on the table.

Huang Dachui hurriedly received the food from her hand and said in a terrified tone, “How can we make our young miss serve us food? You could’ve just ordered Xiaomei’s mother to go get the food!

“That’s right! Let me do it!” Xiaomei’s mother responded immediately.

Yu Xiaocao nodded her head at her and revealed a soothing smile, “There is also a plate of braised food in the kitchen that is already sliced. The steamed buns are in the basket next to it. You can bring them out and serve it together! Most of the pots are being used, so there’s no soup. I will have to wrong you guys by making you guys drink water for this meal!”

“This is already very good!” Xiaomei’s mother went into the kitchen for a moment, but she only came out with a basket of steamed buns. She didn’t dare touch the plate of braised food because in her opinion, such fragrant braised food was not something people like them could eat. If she had taken the dish meant for her master’s family, then wasn’t it blackening her son’s future?

“Isn’t there another dish? Why didn’t you bring it out together?” Yu Xiaocao asked casually.

Xiaomei’s mother’s eyes widened in surprise, “That...that plate of meat...is for us?”

Yu Xiaocao nodded her head and said to Xiaohu, “Yes! Xiaohu, go and bring the dish out!”

The plate piled high with braised food left a trail of fragrant and enticing aroma as it was taken from the kitchen and placed on the stone table in the courtyard. The four people in the Huang Family felt their saliva secretion speeding up. They could no longer swallow their saliva fast enough.

Huang Dachui rubbed his hands together and said in embarrassment, “This plate of food is quite costly, so it’s a waste if you give it to us to eat. Young Miss, we can just eat vegetarian dishes. Isn’t it best if we leave this plate of meat to sell?”

“I’ve already sliced the meat into pieces, how will I be able to sell it still? Let’s consider this dish as our welcoming gift to you. Come and eat, you’ll need to work later!”

Huang Xiaomei knew at first glance that the young miss had a pleasant personality. After she heard the young miss’s explanation, she hurriedly put a steamed bun on her father’s and younger brother’s plates. She even helped them pick some meat to put on their plate. She said to Yu Xiaocao, “Young Miss, this steamed bun is very beautiful. It has a golden color and it emits a slight fragrant scent. It doesn’t look like it’s made with bean meal.”

 Yu Xiaocao smiled and replied, “It’s made from a mixture of cornmeal and white flour!”

“Cornmeal?” Huang Xiaomei pulled apart the steamed bun and sniffed the insides gently. Her face was full of confusion.

“Yes, Royal Prince Yang from the imperial court brought some corn seeds from the west. My family planted a few acres of corn seed, and the harvest was bountiful. After handing the seeds over to the imperial court, we still had some left. So, we just ground it and made it into cornmeal. We use the cornmeal to make steamed buns and porridges; the taste is pretty good. You guys eat, I’m going to the pickle shop to take a look.” Yu Xiaocao knew that if she stayed, then the family would feel uncomfortable, so she used an excuse to leave.

They waited until Yu Xiaocao’s figure disappeared from the view. Huang Xiaomei excitedly took a big bite of the steamed bun and chewed it carefully. She didn’t even wait until she swallowed it before she said, “It’s delicious! It’s more fragrant and delicious than the steamed buns we made from white flour for the New Years! Father, Mother, try it!”

Huang Xiaohu picked up the steamed bun and looked left and right. He muttered to himself, “Corn? Our master’s family is truly generous to use something as expensive as corn to make steamed buns!”

Huang Dachui thought about it for a while and said, “These must be the food our masters eat. Since we arrived here so suddenly, they probably had no time to prepare.”

Xiaomei’s mother said, “Husband, is it appropriate for us to eat the food our masters eat?”

Huang Xiaomei picked up a piece of braised pork belly and put it in her mouth. It was so delicious that she almost cried. After she swallowed the food in her mouth, she smiled and said, “How is it not appropriate? This is the food the young miss rewarded us! I heard that in big households, the masters reward their leftovers to their servant girls and senior servants! Xiaohu, try this. It’s so soft and fragrant!”

After hearing what her daughter had said, Huang Dachui finally relaxed. He picked up a large piece of pig head meat with his chopsticks and put it in his mouth. His daughter wasn’t lying, it was delicious! No wonder the Yu Family’s business was so good!

“Father, the young miss is very generous. Just one plate of braised meat could be sold for quite a sum of money, yet she rewarded it to us! It seems that we shouldn’t worry too unnecessarily. Our master is a good person!” With just one meal, Yu Xiaocao was able to win over Huang Xiaomei’s heart. She decided to work hard for her master’s family!

Xiaomei’s mother ate some braised food and braised seaweed with firm tofu. She chewed the food carefully and sighed. She said softly, “This meal is even better than our family’s New Year’s meal! There are vegetables, meat, and even rice! The rice is not coarse. Is this our blessing?”

Yu Caifeng came out of the kitchen and overheard Xiaomei’s mother’s words. She smiled and said, “What are you saying? Rest assured, as long as you work hard, your days will only become better!”

The young miss had introduced this woman who was wearing a strange smock earlier. She was the young miss’s aunt. All the delicious braised food from the shop was made by her.

They stood up and greeted her. After she left, Huang Dachui said to his wife, “In the future, when you work under the aunt, you must be diligent. You need to rush to do all the dirty and tiring jobs. When the aunt is making braised food, don’t go into the kitchen unless she tells you to! Don’t talk about the braised food recipe. What’s more, don’t even think about stealing their recipe. Do you understand?”

Seeing how solemn and serious her husband appeared, Xiaomei’s mother nodded her head and said, “Husband, don’t worry, I won’t ask or even mention the secret recipe!” 

After they finished eating supper, Xiaomei’s mother cleaned the dishes and brought the clean dishes back into the kitchen. There was a burst of noise from the side gate. Liu Hu and his son had butchered a pig and carried it in.

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Translator: Vi