“Official Liu is being too polite!” One really needed skills when interacting with officials. How was she going to survive in the future ah! After sending away Minister Liu, Yu Xiaocao stretched her back and put her legs up on another chair. Xichun alertly crouched down beside her and helped her massage her tired calves.
This was the scene that Fang Zizhen saw when he came in. He chuckled and said, “Oh! Who is this lord? You don’t have a very high rank, yet you’re quite haughty. If your godmother sees you, she will definitely nag you for several days!”
When Yu Xiaocao was appointed as an official, Fang Zizhen was very happy for her for a while, but Lady Fang was very worried. As a girl, she wasn’t staying in the inner court and learning how to manage a household, but instead she had to deal with a bunch of men. What would outsiders think about her? Perhaps, many of the people who were on bad terms with the General’s Household had already prepared snacks and were waiting to watch a good show.
Lady Fang had originally planned on having her goddaughter move into the estate when she was around twelve or thirteen. She wanted to fix her temperament, teach her things that a young lady should know, bring her to some flower appreciation gatherings and tea parties, and find a good marriage partner for her.
Now, that Royal Prince Yang, who was rumored to be the cold-faced death god, followed her everywhere without any sense of propriety. This caused her close friends to ask her whether she decided to let her goddaughter be the royal prince’s concubine for the sake of her husband’s future.
Was she that kind of person? She knew very clearly herself how much she cared about Xiaocao. She treated her even better than if she was her biological daughter and wanted to give her all the best things. Especially in terms of marriage, she didn’t want her to be mistreated. Why would the rumors turn her into a shameless person who wanted to send her goddaughter to be a concubine for the sake of her husband’s future? Lady Fang felt very wronged ah!
The emperor also joined in and made things worse. If he wanted Xiaocao to help with matters of farming, he could just privately send an imperial edict or give an oral order. Why did he have to go through all that trouble to summon her to the Imperial Palace and make her a little sixth-ranked official? Wasn’t…wasn’t this just making things hard for people?
Since ancient times, how many women were able to become government officials? Even Shangguan Waner, who served Empress Regnant Wu Zetian, didn’t have a good ending. Which of those officials in the imperial court weren’t proud and arrogant? Which one of them would be willing to let a woman be an official in court? The emperor had sent out an imperial edict, but besides the emperor and Minister Liu, who genuinely cared about the good of the people, how many of them really had a good opinion of her family’s Xiaocao?
How was this being favored by the emperor? This had really destroyed all hopes for her goddaughter marrying a son of an official! Which of those young masters of aristocrat families and scholars who failed the imperial examination would be willing to marry Yu Xiaocao, who constantly worked outside the house and had a government post that people ridiculed? When the imperial edict was announced, Lady Fang was so angry that her chest started to hurt. ‘Your Majesty, you’re seriously so annoying for doing this!’
Yu Xiaocao, who was being teased by her godfather, knew about her godmother’s concern. She giggled and put down her legs. After greeting her godfather, she said, “I won’t occupy Godfather’s study any longer. I’ll go back to my courtyard to change my clothes so that Godmother won’t see me wearing this official’s gown and say that I look out of place and feel angry again.”
When Fang Zizhen recalled what his wife told him last night, he sighed and said, “Your godmother is seriously thinking about your future. Think about it. Many of those young masters of the noble families in the capital don’t even have a position as a sixth-ranked official. Which young man with some reputation would want his wife to be more capable than themselves? Your godmother is worried about your future marriage ah!”
Yu Xiaocao, on the other hand, laughed nonchalantly and said, “I know that Godmother wants the best for me. My father said that he wanted to keep me until I’m eighteen, so isn’t there still six to seven years? A person who sincerely loves and values me won’t be blinded and shackled by those common views. I, your daughter, don’t want someone who thinks too much, is restricted by his concerns, and despises women in his heart! To be able to meet a man who genuinely loves me will be a blessing, but if I don’t, then that’s life! Let’s leave it up to fate! In the future, if I don’t find someone I like, I’m fine with living by myself. With Godfather, Godmother, and Little Linlin around, would you guys just watch me starve and get bullied?”
“Pah pah! What are you saying? Why would my, Fang Zizhen’s, daughter be worried about not being able to get married? Our Xiaocao is so talented. At a young age, you’re an even better cook than the imperial chefs, and you also know how to earn money. Those who look down on us are blind, so they don’t deserve our Xiaocao!! You’re not allowed to talk about being single for the rest of your life anymore. If your godmother heard it, she would probably lie in bed for nearly half a month?” Fang Zizhen glared at the little lass and chided.
Yu Xiaocao wasn’t afraid of her godfather, but she was a little scared of facing her godmother. It wasn’t that her godmother treated her badly, but it was because she treated her too well. Her godmother was always trying to do what’s best for her and strived to turn her into a virtuous noble young lady. Her heart ached when she thought about having to walk, speak, and act in a restrained manner like a monkey controlled by the band-tightening spell.
Yu Xiaocao made a funny face at her godfather, and then walked back to her courtyard with Xichun. As soon as she entered, a round ball-like figure tottered over and hugged her leg. He looked up and called, “Older Sister” in a babyish voice.
“Oh! Little Linlin, why are you at Older Sister’s courtyard? Are you waiting for me to come back?” She bent down to pick up the little fellow, which really required some strength. The little guy was quite heavy ah!
Fang Haolin’s wet nurse smiled happily and said, “Eldest Miss, right after you went out, the young master has been looking for you. Like this, he has been waiting for the entire afternoon. During the wait, he asked about you many times. If you had come back any later, our young master will probably throw a tantrum!”
Lady Fang had long instructed all the maidservants and senior servants in the estate to treat Yu Xiaocao like the legitimate blood-related young miss of the household. They must never slight and disrespect her. Otherwise, they would be kicked out of the estate after a beating! In addition, the madam’s four personal maidservants were all very respectful to the young miss, so the others didn’t dare act in a reckless manner.
The wet nurse was also a clever person. From time to time, she would bring the young master over to the young miss’s courtyard for a visit. There was an older sister who he couldn’t help but want to get closer to and a lot of snacks that he had never eaten before, so the little kid Fang Haolin would visit his older sister’s courtyard three times a day. He would always stay until it was time for lunch or dinner before leaving.
Yu Xiaocao carried her younger brother back to her room. The news of the young miss’s return had spread to the courtyard as soon as she entered the estate. At this time, hot water had already been prepared in the washroom and Pipa was waiting on the side with a set of clothes the young miss usually wore.
“Pipa, give the young master a peach to eat. It’s almost time for dinner, so just feed him half of it.” Yu Xiaocao handed the heavy ball of flesh to the wet nurse. It was only a short walk from the entrance of the courtyard to the room, but her arms were already sore. Later, when the little guy could walk steadily, she must suggest to her godmother to not let others carry him. He should run around himself as exercise, lest he turn into a big fatty and couldn’t find a wife.
She couldn’t help but laugh out loud at that thought. She was seriously worrying over nothing. With her godfather’s background as a military official, would he just let his only son grow up in the inner courtyard? Perhaps, her godfather was now making plans to have his son practice basic martial arts when he was three or four years old.
After she took a simple bath and changed into a comfortable set of clothing, Yu Xiaocao took her younger brother, who had finished eating more than half a peach, back to the main courtyard. Lady Fang had been waiting in the room for a long time.
Lady Fang let the wet nurse carry the little fellow, who wanted to stay by his older sister, away, and then asked with concern, “Why did you go for so long? Did the emperor make things hard for you?”
Yu Xiaocao saw that her godmother’s face looked somewhat sallow and the dark circles under her eyes were very apparent. It was obvious that she hadn’t been sleeping well these past few days. She quickly went forward, held her hands, and said with a smile, “Godmother, His Majesty has always been kind, so why would he make things hard for a little girl like me? The emperor is worried about farming and asked me a lot of questions about farming. Don’t worry, the task that the emperor assigned me is something that I’m good at. I definitely won’t disappoint you and His Majesty!”
Lady Fang patted her daughter’s soft, delicate hands. This was a pair of tender and fair hands that even the noble young misses couldn’t compare with! This pair of hands should be doing needlework and casually flipping through the books at home. At times, she could tend the flowers and plants, or make some pastries and drink some tea.
But she was now working with a group of officials from the Ministry of Revenue to help tend the crops. It wasn’t that she looked down on women who helped their family do farm work. She didn’t say anything in the past when her daughter helped her family grow vegetables, grow watermelons, and make braised food. Ay… She had unintentionally thought about troublesome matters again. In a short period of time, Lady Fang had sighed numerous times.
Yu Xiaocao quickly pacified her, “Godmother, I was granted the position of an official because the emperor acknowledges my ability. I’m responsible for managing the Imperial Plantation, which bears the emperor’s expectations for me and his love for the people. When I get back to Dongshan Village and my friends find out that I have become an official, they will be so envious!”
Seeing that Lady Fang still appeared very worried, she continued, “Godmother, whether it’s a punishment or reward, it’s still a grace from the emperor. Besides, I like this job. As long as the crops are planted well, wouldn’t your daughter be in charge of the entire Imperial Plantation and the mountains around it? We can plant all kinds of fruit trees on the mountains and leave a portion of land to grow vegetables and melons. In this way, we can harvest vegetables in the spring and reap melons in the summer. Not only will it be convenient for us to eat, but we will also get more income!”
“Nonsense! Since His Majesty has entrusted you with such an important task, you must do your work in a serious and honest manner. Don’t do unnecessary things. If someone complains about it and the emperor wants to punish you, then you’ll be in serious trouble!” Hearing her words, Lady Fang had no choice but to accept the facts. Since things couldn’t be changed, she had to give her the greatest support so that she wouldn’t have any worries.
Ay! She wasn’t a good godmother. Her daughter was appointed as an official and summoned to see the emperor alone, so she must be very nervous and scared in this situation. Instead of supporting and helping her, she had fallen ill and needed her daughter to comfort her. Ay… She was really becoming more and more immature as she got older! In the past, when she didn’t have a son, didn’t she also bravely survive the groundless rumors in the capital? Why did she become so timid after becoming a mother?
Her daughter was right. Whether it was a blessing or a curse, it still couldn’t be avoided. So there was no use in being afraid. The key was to know how to turn the bane into a boon! With her husband’s position as a third-ranked general and noble title of Count Zhongqin (Author’s note: The title was granted to him after the Wokou incident.), would they not be able to find a good husband for their daughter?Previous Chapter Next Chapter