The little lass was pure at heart. In her eyes, Chief Steward Su was just like everyone else, and she would naively appreciate his appearance and get close to him because of his aura. Every reaction of hers towards Chief Steward Su was purely because of himself, not his identity, and she was sincere in her every compliment and gaze. As such, Chief Steward Su treated her differently.
“Sir Su, this place backs the mountains while facing the sea while the surroundings are beautiful and the feng shui is exceptional. When Sir Su retires, you can come here to pass off the rest of your days.” Seeing that Su Ran liked this ocean view, Yu Xiaocao’s eyes flickered before she grinned broadly, “Sir Su, can I recite you a poem?”
Su Ran turned around, a warm smile on his face as he looked at her, “Oh? You also know how to recite poems?”
“Don’t underestimate me. At the very least, I’ve studied for two years with my county official little brother!” Yu Xiaocao adorably rolled her eyes, clearing her throat, “From tomorrow onwards, become a blissful man,
Feed horses, chop firewood, traverse the world;
From tomorrow onwards, care for grain and vegetables;
I have a house, facing the sea, with spring blossoms." ……
Give every winding river and every mountain an endearing name.
Stranger, I, too, wish you happiness,
I wish for you a glittering path ahead,
I wish for you to meet your lover, make a home,
I wish for you to receive happiness in this world,
I only wish to face the sea, with spring blossoms…” 
Zhu Junyang secretly held his breath, resisting the urge to laugh. He did his best to maintain his emotionless face, but the slight tilt of the edge of his lips said otherwise, “Xiaocao, are you sure this is a poem?”
“You’re so uncultured, do you even know how to appreciate the artistic concept of poems?” Yu Xiaocao threw him a disdainful look. In her previous life, this lyrical poem written by modern poet Hai Zi  had been spread among the people for a long time, and it expressed the poet’s yearning for happiness in his loneliness and desolation. It was just right for Su Ran’s current state of mind.
Su Ran faintly nodded his head, “Although Miss Xiaocao’s poem seems more like an epode, it is comparatively freer than that. The artistic concept of the poem is clear yet deep, bright yet implicit, easygoing and hearty yet dignified and rich. It is indeed a rare, good piece.”
‘Facing the sea in the warmth of spring while the flowers bloomed.’ It was such a beautiful yearning. Perhaps it was the average little warmth that he longed for in his heart, but would never obtain. Su Ran took one last look at the calm ocean waters before he turned around and continued his steady ascent uphill on the stone steps.
Among the favored eunuchs recorded in history, how many of them were actually able to smoothly retire? Most of them were unjustly blamed for the emperor. They became the person who had bewitched the emperor into his misdoings, and even in death they did not have a place to rest in peace. Right now, the emperor was still young. He was wise and loved his people, but what about the future? The human heart changed easily, so who knew what would happen in the future? ‘Facing the sea in the warmth of spring while the flowers bloomed.’ Perhaps it would be the only yearning in his heart.
“Sir Su, I think you’re more fit to be a recluse—living in the mountains facing the sea, a peach blossom tree beyond your door, and beneath the tree, a guqin…” Yu Xiaocao felt moved by the scene she drew. Ah! A person who was akin to a banished immortal, playing his guqin as he sat beneath the brilliant peach blossoms, the breeze caressing his long hair as the edge of his clothes danced with the petals of the peach blossoms...it was such a wonderful scene.
Su Ran climbed the steps quietly, slowly, as though by doing this, he would be able to get closer to the peaceful life she had made up, to the beautiful yearning in his heart. The edges of his lips faintly curled upwards, and it was as if he was no longer the person who commanded the emperor’s hidden guards. He was no longer the head steward who could flood the court with blood in a split second, but instead a recluse who secluded himself in the forests, with a jug of wine in hand while he was surrounded by flowers, lying drunk in a forest of peach blossoms…
In Prince Jing’s West Mountain manor, Su Ran stood to leave after he greeted Princess Consort Jing and drank the tea that Xiaocao had personally brewed. He was afraid that he might feel more and more reluctant to leave if he stayed even a while longer…Perhaps it was time he found a successor.
Before leaving Dongshan Village, he stood in front of his white, immaculate steed and passed a jade pendant to Yu Xiaocao, smiling as he said gently, “When you arrive at the capital, if you meet a situation that you can’t resolve, take this jade pendant to Eastern Dwelling Distillery. As long as it’s within my capabilities, I’ll definitely help you!”
Yu Xiaocao took the jade pendant into her hand joyfully. It looked like an ordinary double-fish jade pendant, but the letter ‘Su’ was carved on the back of it. Was it Sir Su’s personal seal? Sir Su was the emperor’s trusted head steward. With his backing, she could parade about the capital without fear!
“Many thanks to Sir Su. Here is some peach blossom wine that we made ourselves, and peach blossom tea that I personally crafted. If you don’t disdain this gift, bring it back and try it!” It wasn’t polite to be gifted something and have nothing to give back in return. She didn’t have anything else on hand. This homemade wine and hand-crafted tea could help maintain the good health and youthful appearance of the consumer, and they were quite excellent in taste. Besides, it was the sincerity behind the gift that mattered, not the price, right?
Of course, Su Ran would not disdain the gift. He smiled, replying, “There’s no one in the capital who isn’t aware that the peach blossom tea in the general’s residence is fragrant, delicious to drink and even helps to maintain a youthful appearance and remove freckles. It was rumored that Lady Fang’s freckles from her pregnancy had completely disappeared as a result of drinking this tea. Not only that, but she even seemed to have become a few years younger. Her complexion is much better than before. So this peach blossom tea that’s so hard to procure is actually the craft of Miss Xiaocao!”
Yu Xiaocao had no idea that the peach blossom tea she had asked her godfather to bring to his wife had caused such a big sensation in the capital. She was happy, and also fortunate that her godmother had not told anyone of the origins of the peach blossom tea. Otherwise she would never be able to live her life here peacefully!
When she raised her head, she saw Sir Su’s gaze that was filled with laughter and cleared her throat, “This peach blossom tea not only helps to maintain one’s youthful appearance, but it also helps to dredge meridians and replenish qi and blood…and this peach blossom wine will help to prevent diseases if you drink a small cup of it twice every day in the morning and at night.”
“Alright, I appreciate Miss Xiaocao’s sincerity. In the future, I will definitely follow Miss Xiaocao’s instructions and drink a small cup of it every morning and night.” Although Su Ran still had his doubts about the effectiveness of the wine as the little miss had claimed, he instinctively felt that there were only benefits to be gained from drinking this peach blossom wine.
Once Su Ran left, Xiaocao hurriedly returned to pack her things for the trip to the capital. Naturally, Zhu Junyang would not leave her alone and accompanied her along, fearful that the little lass would be anxious.
Although she was a little tentative, Xiaocao was still calmer than her father after she found out from the young prince that their summons to the capital this time was a good thing. After all, she had entered the imperial palace and met the emperor and empress before. Oh, right, and the emperor emeritus, that adorable and esurient old man. She believed that even if she made a few mistakes in her speech, the emperor and empress would not take it to heart. She had, after all, helped the little imperial prince before!
She dismounted from her horse in front of the general’s residence. When the page saw Xiaocao’s figure, he hurriedly ran inside to notify the madam. After a short period of chaos, Lady Fang appeared with Zhenzhu and Linglong following behind her, along with an entire crowd of her courtyard’s servants.
Yu Xiaocao went up to greet her, but was instead pulled into an embrace by Lady Fang. Lady Fang lightly slapped her back twice, chiding, “You heartless little lass! It’s as though telling you to come to the capital is equivalent to harming you! Every time, you only send things to me, but don’t you realize that no matter how many things you send me, it doesn’t hold a candle to you coming here personally? I missed you so much!”
Xiaocao’s eyes felt warm. Seeing her godmother’s eyes turn red, she quickly turned towards the plump little boy in the arms of a nanny who stood behind Lady Fang, “Yo, is this our Little Linlin? He’s so big already! He’s quite handsome; luckily he doesn’t look like Godfather…”
The little boy Fang Haolin, had been curiously eyeing the little miss in his mother’s embrace. Seeing her look in his direction, he shyly turned his head away.
“You dare say! The last time you saw your little brother was on his first birthday. Only now, when he’s nearly two years old does he get to meet his older sister! You see, Little Linlin doesn’t even recognize you anymore!” Lady Fang was full of grievances as she glared harshly at her goddaughter. She rarely got to see this little lass. If it wasn’t for the food that she sent to her once in a while, she would’ve thought that this lass had already forgotten about her godmother!
“Hee hee! It’s my fault, okay? This time, I brought you some peach blossom wine, and several catties of peach blossom tea. If you can’t finish them, then you can give them to the other madams that you’re usually closer to. Not to mention the peaches we planted last year—quite a lot of them bore fruit this year, but it’s not so easy to transport, so I only brought one basket full of them. I carried them on my back the entire journey to the capital, afraid that others might bruise them if they were careless. The other peaches had been canned and there’s enough for you to enjoy for a whole year!” With a pleasing tone, Yu Xiaocao offered the peaches to Lady Fang like she was presenting treasures.
Although the peach tree in the Yu Residence’s back courtyard was actually a wild peach tree that was dug out from the mountain, it still couldn’t ‘withstand’ the mystic-stone water that she watered it with every day. Not only did its flowers bloom beautifully, but the peaches it bore were also very big. The pink peaches were as big as the fist of an adult and emitted an enchanting fragrance. The peaches were also imbued with some spiritual energy that benefited the human body.
Perhaps it was because the little boy, Fang Haolin, had been fed the mystic-stone water by Xiaocao before when he was younger, but he was more sensitive to this kind of spiritual energy. His head immediately turned back and he stared unblinkingly at the peaches in Xiaocao’s hands. Yu Xiaocao used the mystic-stone water in her water bag to wash a peach. Then, she held it in front of the little fellow.
Fang Haolin shyly looked at the somewhat familiar yet unfamiliar older sister in front of him, and slowly, a bashful smile blossomed on his face. Without saying whether he wanted it or not, he stared fixedly at the peach.
Then, as though he was tempted by the fragrance of the peach, he slowly outstretched his little ‘paw’. He wasn’t able to hold it in one hand, so he extended his other arm and, with both hands, held the peach to his chest. The smile on his face grew even sweeter.
Only then did Lady Fang notice that Royal Prince Yang had been accompanying Yu Xiaocao, and hurriedly went forward to greet him. Zhu Junyang stopped her, smiling as he said, “Lady Fang doesn’t need to be so courteous! Xiaocao will need to enter the imperial palace to meet the emperor tomorrow, so she should rest early today. I’ll come pick her up tomorrow morning!”
They escorted Royal Prince Yang out the door, and then Lady Fang arranged for Yu Hai to settle in the outer courtyard. Fang Zizhen also returned to the capital yesterday, and, at the moment, he had been summoned to the imperial palace by the emperor for questioning. When he returned a while later, the two of them would have a good drink together.
Xiaocao and Lady Fang were crowded into the inner courtyard. The little fellow, Fang Haolin, held the big peach in his grasp and smelled it with his nose, but he didn't bite into it. Once they were within the inner courtyard, the servants dissipated once they greeted Yu Xiaocao, and only Wutong and Pipa were left to serve her.
 Name of the poem is "Facing the Sea, with Spring Blossoms". Can see full translation here: link
 Hai Zi - one of the most famous poets in Mainland China after the Cultural Revolution.Previous Chapter Next Chapter