“Xiaocao, these people are…” When Liu Hu entered, he noticed the Huang Family of four, so he was a bit perplexed.
Yu Xiaocao smiled at him, “The young royal prince saw that we’ve been extremely busy and sent us some helpers over. These people will reside in the small residence in the back. Uncle, let’s first have Huang Dachui follow you around for a few days. When he becomes familiar with the route, you can give the task of buying and slaughtering pigs to him. Our shop should also have a head manager around to handle issues!”
Huang Dachui already called over his son and they both went up to start preparing the live pigs that Liu Hu and his son were working on. Liu Hu gestured with his head towards the horse cart outside, hinting that they should bring it to the back.
Liu Hu observed that Huang Dachui looked honest and hardworking and was also very strong. He chuckled, “Oh ho, our little boss gave me a promotion ah! From a procurer of goods to the head manager. I need to do my job well, otherwise I won’t be able to live up to our little boss’s expectations!”
Yu Caifeng laughed and leveled a glare at him, “Are there any other elders like you ah? Stop speaking so much nonsense!”
Yu Xiaocao started giggling, “Uncle, what you said is wrong! This braised food shop is the cooperation between our two families, so you are also considered one of the bosses. Doing the head manager’s work is only natural!”
These words were said for the sake of the Huang Family. Before they bought servants, their stores were considered family businesses and they took care of everything. Now they had to make it clear to the four members of the Huang Family who was considered an owner and manager to make sure they were respected properly.
Her uncle was in charge of Huang Dachui and his son, who were both working very hard. From time to time, he would give them some pointers. Yu Xiaocao turned her attention to Huang Xiaomei, who was cleaning up the bowls and chopsticks, “Let’s go, I’m going to tell you the prices of all of the pickled vegetables and you need to memorize them. In the future, you’ll be in charge of selling pickled vegetables...do you know how to do arithmetic?”
Huang Xiaomei was two steps behind Yu Xiaocao and blindly followed her as she nodded her head, “I know how. My father taught me how to use the abacus.”
Yu Xiaocao glanced at her in surprise. There weren’t a lot of girls who knew how to use the abacus! In a moment, when there were more customers in the store, she planned on testing this girl’s ability.
“Half a catty of beans brined in wine and a catty of sweet and crispy radishes will be a total of thirty-eight copper coins. Take good care, and if you think the food is good, feel free to come back next time!” It wasn’t a busy time in the store right now, so Madam Liu was able to handle the flow of customers by herself. After two years of practice, Madam Liu’s gentle personality had been worked on and now she was an old hand at calculating totals.
Yu Xiaocao poured a cup of water for her mother and gave it to her as she smiled, “Mother, it’s been hard on you! You should go into the residence to rest a bit, Xiaomei and I will take over for you!”
“There’s nothing hard about this type of work. All I have to do is weigh out the pickled vegetables and handle the money. The tall chairs here in the shop are pretty good. When there’s no one around, I can sit around and rest my legs. It’s quite comfortable! Oh right, the shop’s sweet and crispy radishes and pickled cabbage are very popular, so the vats are almost empty. The next time your father comes over to transport goods, have him bring two more vats over from Tanggu Town!” Madam Liu was quite used to managing businesses now and was able to think for herself.
Yu Xiaocao looked at every single vat of pickled vegetable in the store and nodded her head, “It’s not only the sweet and crispy radishes. The marinated cucumbers, garlic pickled in sugar, and assorted pickled vegetables are all running low! It’s too hard for Father to go back and forth between Tanggu Town and the prefectural city every day! If it was summer, he definitely wouldn’t be able to keep up. How about...we hire someone from the village to help? What do you think?”
Xiaocao originally planned on having Huang Dachui take over her father’s job, but when she saw that the shops here needed a person to personally manage them, she changed her plans. It looked like they still didn’t have enough people to help out so they needed to hire one more person.
Madam Liu thought for a bit and then said, “Yangfan’s wife once told me that your Uncle Yangfan had been fired by his previous boss and was looking for some suitable work. When I go back, I can ask if he’s willing to do this job.”
“Alright!” Uncle Yangfan is an honest person and he works very hard! If he’s willing to do the job, we can give him a salary of eight hundred copper coins a month.” The two matrons who were helping out in the back to clean and prepare the pig’s head meat, trotters and offal got around twenty copper coins a day, so eight hundred copper coins a month...shouldn’t be too little, right?
Huang Xiaomei’s eyes were wide open in shock and her mouth opened and closed a few times. Yu Xiaocao asked, “What’s wrong? If you want to say something, just say it. No need to stay quiet!”
“Isn’t a monthly salary of eight hundred copper coins a month a little too high? My father had once worked in town helping to do work for someone and only got around four hundred to five hundred copper coins a month.” Huang Xiaomei thought that the young miss was being a bit too generous.
Yu Xiaocao thought for a bit and then said, “Eight hundred copper coins a month isn’t considered too much. After all, he has to travel regardless of what the weather is like. Transporting goods isn’t an easy job. Xiaomei, your family will also get a salary. If you guys do well, you’ll also get a bonus at the end of the year.”
In the capital, her godmother’s head maidservants received a salary of eight maces a month and the junior maids got three maces a month. The Huang Family had just started, so they would each get three hundred copper coins a month for now!
A look of surprise crossed Huang Xiaomei’s face. She had previously thought that since her whole family had been bought as servants, they could only do what the masters told them too. Since they were all considered the master’s people, they couldn’t even receive a salary! She never would have thought that even she could earn three hundred copper coins a month as salary! The young miss was truly too generous and kind hearted. However, the young miss didn’t discuss this with the master, so would the master be angry when he found out they were going to get paid each month?
“Young Miss, we’re servants that were bought by your family. Are we really able to get paid too?” Huang Xiaomei couldn't help but give her a reminder.
Yu Xiaocao gently nodded her head and stated, “All of you will be doing work, so naturally you will all get paid! Don’t think of yourselves as a lower status. Have you seen the servants and stewards of the rich and wealthy? Although they are also servants, they are all incredibly proud and arrogant! That Steward Wang, who was trying to force you, wasn’t he just waving around his master’s power and status for his own benefit ah? What does that Wang Family have anyway? They just have a little extra bit of stinky money that they used to bribe a few officials and yamen, that’s all. Nothing to be impressed with! In the future, we’ll open more branches of our braised food and pickled vegetable shop in the prefectural city and the capital. At that point, we don’t even have to consider Steward Wang, even the Wang Family themselves will be coming over to fawn over us!”
Eh? How did the conversation get more off topic the more she talked? Regardless, everything she said was the truth. There was nothing special about the Wang Family. If they dared to come over to cause trouble, the prefectural yamen was just across the street and they were no pushovers! That being said, apparently the prefectural magistrate’s wife's 40th birthday celebration was the day after tomorrow. She needed to prepare some roasted ducks and roasted chickens for it.
The prefectural magistrate had made it obvious that her family was under his protection. Although he was only doing this for the sake of Royal Prince Yang, she couldn't just take his good will for granted. She heard that the prefectural magistrate had originally planned on holding his wife’s birthday celebration at Zhenxiu Restaurant. Unfortunately, Zhenxiu Restaurant’s popularity had been sky high and he wasn’t able to reserve enough tables there. Thus, he could only invite a chef over to his own residence to hold the banquet there instead.
Tomorrow, she needed to inquire the prefectural magistrate’s head steward just how many tables they were having. Then, the day after tomorrow, she needed to work a bit harder. She wanted to give them a roasted duck and chicken for each table. Was that enough to show her gratitude? Perhaps she also needed to personally make a cake for the prefectural magistrate’s wife too?
Yu Xiaocao was just considering how to best return this debt of hers when a carriage stopped right in front of the Yu’s Braised Food Store. Two charming girls around the age of fourteen to fifteen stepped down.
“Oh my! This is the store that our young miss opened? It smells so good ah! It’s truly the work of our young miss.” The young woman who was clothed in green raised her head to look at the sign at the front of the store and cheerfully blabbered.
Next to her was a young woman dressed in pink who glared at her, “Yangliu, how many times do I have to tell you? Stop chattering so much about everything! We are currently the personal maidservants of our young miss, so we need to be more steady and not lose face for our master!”
Yangliu grinned at her and her eyes suddenly landed at the pickled vegetable shop behind the other girl. Her eyes opened wide when she saw Xiaocao, who was wearing an apron, bustling around the shop. She yelled in surprise, “Yingtao, look! Isn’t that our young miss ah? The Yu’s Pickled Vegetable Store. Every time I eat pickled vegetables that our young miss has made, I can eat an extra two bowls of congee!”
Yingtao scolded her in amusement, “You’re such an embarrassment!”
She followed Yangliu’s line of sight and, when she saw the familiar face, Yingtao also couldn’t stay calm. She immediately forgot that she was previously scolding Yangliu for not being steady as she lifted her skirts to run inside. She leaned over the counter to yell in a voice full of emotion, “Young Miss!”
Yu Xiaocao lifted her head and saw Yingtao standing there, holding back tears. She was a bit flabbergasted, “Yingtao? Yangliu? When did you guys come over to the prefectural city?? Did Godmother come over too?”
Yingtao used a handkerchief to wipe the tears of her face as she replied in a voice that slightly trembled, “Milady didn’t come...Young Miss, you’re so cruel. You left us servants back at the residence and haven’t even asked about us. It’s been more than a few months since you left. We are your maidservants for a reason. In the future, wherever you go, we will go too!”
When their young miss left the capital, she didn’t bring a single maidservant along. This caused them, her personal maidservants, to guard an empty courtyard while earning their wages. The other maids, who weren’t previously chosen to be personal maids, always came around to say some sour remarks. They claimed that the young miss disdained them and that the young miss couldn't refuse the lady’s good intentions, so she left without them. Furthermore, they opined that they weren’t sure whether they could keep their positions the next time the young miss came back to the capital! If it wasn’t for Linglong coming over often to supervise the courtyard and harshly scolding those other maids, they probably would have had to endure a lot more criticism!
The last time the general came back to the capital, he mentioned that Xiaocao had opened a store in the prefectural city and was so busy that she ran around all day and had gotten significantly thinner. He recommended that his wife send a few people over to help her. Yingtao and Yangliu voluntarily came out to take on this task to go to the prefectural city to help their young miss. Yingtao had previously gone with her young miss to the Imperial Plantations and had described everything that had happened there to the other maids. Everyone was envious that she was able to go there with the young miss. This time, if she didn’t strike first to grab the position, she might not be able to go to the prefectural city. Yangliu had also been chosen to go because she had talent in cooking and had learned a few recipes from their young miss. The lady loved the young miss and decided to have Yangliu be in charge of her daughter’s food and drink, while Yingtao was in charge of everything else…
“Alright ah! Look at you, you’re sobbing just like a little crybaby. If you keep crying like that, you won’t be pretty anymore! Quickly wipe those tears!” Yu Xiaocao was also very happy to see Yingtao and Yangliu.
Yingtao suppressed her emotions and wiped the tears off her face. She noticed that there was a young girl behind Yu Xiaocao and had a bad premonition, “Young Miss, who is she ah?”
“I’m a servant that Young Miss bought!” Huang Xiaomei regarded Yingtao and Yangliu with unabashed curiosity. Both of these young women were dressed in such beautiful clothing and they had silver ornaments in their hair and silver bracelets on their wrists. In fact, they were dressed more grandly than the Wang Family’s young miss. The thing she found most surprising was that these two called themselves servants in front of the young miss. Were they, two girls dressed more beautifully and with more jewelry than the young miss herself, truly servants of the young miss?
When Yingtao heard this, her emotions overtook her and tears gushed out of her eyes again, “Young Miss! Do you really want to throw us away? You would rather buy a maid than bring us along with you?”
Yu Xiaocao wanted to slap her head in exasperation. She never knew that Yingtao, who always looked lively and cheerful, was actually a crybaby. She explained somewhat tiredly, “Xiaomei was given to me by Royal Prince Yang. I’m training her so that she can take over the pickled vegetable store in the future. Don’t worry, there’s no one here who will try to take over your duties!”Previous Chapter Next Chapter
Sanguine’s Thoughts: Haha, her maids are quite funny.