Chapter 385 - Loyal Dog

After she had finished discussing their situation with the young royal prince, there wasn’t a lot of change in her day to day life. The only difference now was that the prince started to seem more and more like a big friendly dog. Sometimes, Yu Xiaocao thought that the royal prince resembled Little White a lot. In front of others, they were both arrogant and aloof. However, as soon as she wiggled her hand at them, they would rush over with their tails wagging.

It was time to switch from the thick padded winter jackets to thinner spring clothing. The wheat flowers in the fields had fallen off and the wheat heads were soon plump and full with kernels. All of the tenant farmers on the Yu Family’s farmstead started to smile more and more brilliantly. No one, including the oldest people there, had ever seen such plump wheat heads before. This year they would definitely have a large harvest! If the winter wheat had a good harvest, that meant that they would be able to have a more comfortable living situation for the upcoming half year! Ever since they started following their current masters, their lives had gotten better and better and they had more hope for the future!

At the start of spring, the tenant farmers, who had some extra cash on hand, either caught a couple piglets or a couple dozen chicks to raise at the advice of their masters. When the animals got bigger, they wouldn’t have to worry about selling them. The masters had told them that they would buy these animals off of them at the highest market price.

Furthermore, at the start of the season, a lot of people went into the uncultivated lands not far from the farmstead to plow and sow them with some sweet potatoes. Even if they didn’t end up eating the sweet potatoes, they could still be used to feed pigs. No one was the owner of those uncultivated lands and the owner of Tanggu Town and its surroundings was Royal Prince Yang, who had a good relationship with their masters. Thus, they didn’t have to worry about problems from using these bits of land. The tenant farmers on the Yu Family’s farmstead were all proud and confident when other farmers, who were down on their luck, came to ask if there was any space. This was the first time that they had some pride in who they were.

Other than the Yu Family’s and the royal prince’s stewards, very few people knew that the eight hundred mu plantation that was adjacent to the Yu Family’s farmstead had already been transferred over to Yu Xiaocao from Royal Prince Yang. When the deed with her name written on it was given to her, Yu Xiaocao had a dumbfounded expression on her face.

This...they hadn’t even gotten to the point in their relationship where they were considered to be dating, yet he had already given her some of his assets to her? Wasn’t he afraid that after she took his things she would have a falling out with him? However...the man was a young royal prince and wasn’t to be trifled with. If she tried to do that, it was likely that it would come back to bite her! Yu Xiaocao expressed that this was a lot of pressure to handle. In the future, if they did have a falling out, it’d be very difficult to split up the assets again.

However, if she didn’t take the land, the young royal prince would act angry. But what if she didn’t care? Then he would change his methods and become pitiful and act cute! Yu Xiaocao admitted that she had no defenses against this type of attack. She very quickly caved at the face of a handsome youth acting cute in front of her. Thus, Yu Xiaocao now had a plantation with eight hundred mu of land among her personal possessions! She had changed her fate from a poor farmer’s girl into a wealthy landowner ah!

Once the wheat became golden and the bumper crop was ready to harvest, Yu Xiaocao was given more helpers from the young royal prince. Some of these people were estate stewards who had more than ten years of land management experience and others were old servants who had lots of varied experience in other areas...in short, after all of these people were sent to their respective positions, Yu Xiaocao and the rest of her family had a lot less work on their hands.

The weather gradually warmed up, so Yu Xiaocao often went to the seaside in her free time. She would sometimes gather seafood with the other village children or drag Xiaolian along to put on their sharkskin swimsuits and swim in the ocean. Occasionally, they would even have a friendly competition with other good swimmers in the area to see who could dive deeper.

Zhuang Xiaomo was from a nearby fisherman village and was around fifteen to sixteen years old this year. He was a well-known diving expert and could be found diving from the end of spring to the start of autumn every year. He was always able to dive deeper than the average person and harvest a good amount of seafood, such as abalone or sea cucumbers. Because of his skill, he could often sell his gathered seafood for a good price.  

From time to time, he would travel over to Dongshan Village to sell sandworms and oysters. The Yu Family had a pretty good impression of this honest and kind-hearted youth. Sometimes, they would even invite him over for a meal. Yu Hang had such a good relationship with him that they almost acted brotherly in nature. The two of them often chatted about everything and anything. When the Yu Family was busy, he didn’t take himself as an outsider and would always lend a helping hand if he could.

As her daughters slowly grew up, Madam Liu started to pay more attention to this tanned youth. Zhuang Xiaomo’s parents had passed away when he was young and the grandfather who raised him had also died during the last winter. As someone who had been abused and scolded by her mother-in-law for more than ten years, Madam Liu naturally hoped that her daughters would not walk down the same path that she did. Whoever married Zhuang Xiaomo wouldn’t have to please a mother-in-law or deal with any sisters-in-law either. Furthermore, his wife would be able to manage the household as soon as she married in. This was the ideal scenario that most mothers hoped for their daughters, right?

Thus, Madam Liu kept her eye on Zhuang Xiaomo. The more she observed, the more she had a feeling that this youth wasn’t always coming over for pure intentions. In fact, he always smiled more brightly and his eyes looked more joyful whenever he saw her eldest daughter.

This youth’s taste was actually quite good. Madam Liu wasn’t being over-confident. Xiaolian was very hard working and was probably considered one of the most industrious young girls in all of Dongshan Village. Although Xiaolian was only twelve this year, she had more money in her personal savings than Madam Liu. Furthermore, once the construction on the harbor finished and the shops there were built, Xiaolian’s dowry in the future would likely be one of the biggest in all of Dongshan Village.

However....Xiaolian was only twelve and there was already someone eyeing her to be his wife. Madam Liu felt simultaneously sad and proud at the same time. Both of her daughters were outstanding, so how could she possibly keep them by her side for a few more years? She had originally thought to keep her daughters with her until they turned eighteen, but the young royal prince didn’t seem like the patient type either. Was her oldest daughter also not going to be able to spend an extra two years by her side?

As their mother, her heart was full of contradictory thoughts. Although she didn’t want them to leave her so soon, she also didn’t want them to lose out on finding the best possible husband. Madam Liu fretted to and fro about this.

Zhuang Xiaomo treated Xiaolian with utmost courtesy. Every time the two sisters went to their secret swimming and diving spot, he would always somehow appear. From time to time, he would dive and come up with a beautiful whelk shell or a colorful piece of coral or a delicate little sea star. He always found an excuse to give them to Xiaolian. Since he was afraid that she wouldn’t accept his gifts, he also always gave something to Xiaocao as well. However, it was pretty obvious that presents he sent to Xiaocao were a level lower than the ones he gave to Xiaolian. 

Most of the time, Xiaocao would go find the little dolphin that was now grown up to play with. Sometimes she would sit on the dolphin ‘submarine’ and dive into deep areas. Along the way, she would grab some superior level seafood for the Zhou Family. Every time she dove, she never came back empty handed.

Royal Prince Yang, who was becoming more and more clingy with time, would always show up in Dongshan Village whenever he didn’t have any tasks to do in the capital. Although the emperor continued to regard him with increasing importance and gave him a lot of tasks, the prince was always able to finish these requests quickly and find some time to run to Dongshan Village. 

The emperor had a whole new level of respect for his younger cousin’s ability to handle work. Many of the tasks that other people saw as difficult or impossible were, in his hands, always finished well. Consequently, more and more work fell onto Zhu Junyang and he became the perfect example of: ‘the most capable person always does the most work’. 

Finally, Zhu Junyang privately protested to the emperor. He stated that the emperor was delaying him from pursuing his future wife properly. Only then did the emperor come to a realization, ‘So that brat was working so hard to finish his tasks so he could have extra time to go hug a beauty ah! After investigating, I found out that my old transmigrator friend caught his eye! He has good taste! I can’t delay my younger cousin’s future happiness, so as his older cousin, I need to help him.’ Thus, Zhu Junyang finally was able to break free from his imperial cousin’s unending work requests.

He went to the beach a few times with Yu Xiaocao. Whenever he saw her happily frolicking in the water like a fish and playing gleefully with the little dolphin, Zhu Junyang felt that all of his hard work and difficult times had been worth it.

Before he went out to sea, Zhu Junyang had spent a whole month diligently learning how to swim properly. Sometimes he would also go into the water and gather seafood with Xiaocao. He would even hoard all of the seafood he got and then have Xiaocao make him a seafood feast later on to eat.

However, once he found out that his swimming skills, which he had suffered to obtain, was nothing in front of Xiaocao’s abilities and that he was only holding her back, he readily became a mere observer on the side. He sat on the beach and silently watched as Xiaocao easily swam and played in the ocean waters.

At first, whenever Xiaocao disappeared underwater for a long time, he would feel worried and couldn’t help but dive in himself to look. However, every time he did so, Xiaocao would always surface far away and cheerfully wave at him. Gradually, he got used to the long time that Yu Xiaocao spent under the water. However, he was never able to not feel concerned.

When Zhuang Xiaomo appeared, at first, Zhu Junyang felt like he had a crisis on his hands. In his heart, Xiaocao was perfect, so there would definitely be other people besides him who could also see her perfection. Luckily, he had already grasped his ability to read people’s hearts, so he easily found out that the person Zhuang Xiaomo liked was his future older sister-in-law——Yu Xiaolian.

Yu Xiaolian looked about seventy to eighty percent similar to Xiaocao. Her skin was a bit more tanned and her eyes were slightly smaller. Furthermore, she had a more ‘sturdy’ figure compared to Yu Xiaocao. Zhu Junyang couldn't understand why Zhuang Xiaomo liked Xiaolian better——just what sort of taste did the other youth have? Obviously, when you compared the two sisters, Xiaocao was the better of the two, okay?

However, how could Zhu Junyang understand that in the eyes of Zhuang Xiaomo, Xiaolian was the better choice? Xiaolian had a healthy and strong body and was very hardworking with the ability to endure hardships. Thus, to Zhuang Xiaomo, she was the perfect wife candidate. As for the delicate and weak Xiaocao, who somewhat resembled Lin Daiyu [1], she was nowhere near as attractive as her older sister.

Naturally, there were also quite a few families who were eyeing the Yu Family’s financial circumstances and Xiaocao’s talents. Those people secretly hinted to Xiaocao’s mother that they were interested in a betrothal arrangement. However, they were all firmly rejected by Madam Liu with the excuse that her daughter was still young and that she wanted to keep her by her side for a few more years. Unfortunately, someone had appeared next to Xiaocao that they couldn’t get rid of even if they wanted to, a giant...boss! Madam Liu really felt quite helpless at the situation. 

If they had to be honest, everyone in the Yu Family didn’t see Zhu Junyang as a good husband candidate. He was ‘too rich and noble to be a good husband’ in the Yu Family’s eyes. From their perspective, Zhuang Xiaomo, who had a similar background to them, was the type of husband they wanted for their daughters.

The noble and wealthy families all had a gazillion rules and traditions. Could their adorable and silly youngest daughter, who had never been restricted in any way or bullied since they split from the main branch, endure such a life? Which rich families didn’t have a house full of concubines swarming around? Even if the royal prince promised and vowed that he wouldn’t bring in another woman to fight for favor with their daughter, how could they believe a man’s words?

In the future, if their youngest daughter was wronged in any way, their family’s status was much too low compared to his. Even if they wanted to give her justice, they wouldn’t be able to ah!

Zhu Junyang felt very misunderstood. He had a very good understanding of the thoughts that were running through the minds of Xiaocao’s parents and her siblings. However, no matter what he promised, no one was willing to believe him. Was he really that unreliable in their eyes? In the Yu Family’s hearts, was he really a worse choice than Zhuang Xiaomo, who was the orphan son of poor fishermen?

He was the son of the high and mighty Imperial Prince Jing and had been personally given the title of a royal prince by the emperor. In court, he was seen as one of the most promising officials, yet he was losing to a fisherman. Zhu Junyang felt very indignant at all of this, ‘None of you see me in a good light, huh? Then I will definitely show all of you, just what type of person I really am!’ 

And thus, Zhu Junyang was now going down the road of becoming a husband who pampered his wife, a monster who was even better at treating his wife well than Imperial Prince Jing…


[1] Lin Daiyu - one of the principal characters of Cao Xueqin's classic Chinese novel Dream of the Red Chamber. She is portrayed as a well-educated, intelligent, witty and beautiful young woman of physical frailness who is somewhat prone to occasional melancholy.

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Myst's Thoughts

Sanguine’s Thoughts: You can tell the Yu Family really love and value their daughters. Other families would be scrambling at the chance to marry off a daughter to Zhu Junyang, yet they’re concerned that Xiaocao might be bullied in the future.

Translator: Sanguine