“Oh, it’s Xiaocao! Did you go to the mountain to set traps on such a cold day?” In the midst of her hesitation, the familiar voice of Third Young Master Zhou sounded from nearby.
Yu Xiaocao turned around and saw a handsome young man, who was dressed in a royal blue colored robe, stepping down from a luxurious horse carriage. Wasn’t this Third Young Master Zhou?
“Third Young Master, what a coincidence? I was just about to send over the game that you ordered! Since we caught a lot of game today, I couldn’t carry all of them by myself. So, I asked for my father’s help!” Yu Xiaocao slightly pushed her father and moved closer to Zhou Zixu.
Yu Hai smiled apologetically, “Manager Liu, I’m really sorry! Zhenxiu Restaurant made a reservation for these game with my daughter. Next time, when I get the chance, I’ll work with Manager Liu.”
Manager Liu’s face violently twitched and his expression instantly darkened. He spat at Yu Hai’s back figure, “Just a filthy poor hunter. Does he even deserve to talk ‘business’ with me? All staff listen up! In the future, we’re not taking any of the game that the Yu Family sends over! Just let them cling onto Zhenxiu Restaurant! Humph!”
Although Manager Liu spoke proudly, he felt extremely distressed inwardly. It snowed really heavily this year. During the blizzard, not many hunters would brave the snow and enter the mountain to hunt. Thus, there was a shortage of game for all the restaurants in town. Otherwise, he wouldn’t have lowered himself and acted friendly with a mere hunter.
Manager Liu could only enviously look at the game, while Third Young Master Zhou was pleasantly surprised. Zhou Zixu smiled happily as he looked at the buck on Yu Hai’s shoulder.
“Uncle Yu, you’re seriously such a life savior! At the end of the year, the county magistrate and the aristocrats in town have all reserved a table at Zhenxiu Restaurant. We were just worried about not having any presentable dishes! With this buck, our Zhenxiu Restaurant’s reputation will surely go up another level!”
“Xu’er, is this our Zhenxiu Restaurant’s great savior who you have mentioned?” A gentle and graceful voice emerged from within the horse carriage.
Third Young Master Zhou smiled at Xiaocao, and then replied to the person within the carriage, “Mother, this little girl is one who gave us the recipe for the oyster sauce. Her name is Yu Xiaocao. We are able to defeat the older and more famous restaurants in town because of the oyster sauce. Thus, it’s not an exaggeration to say that she’s the savior of Zhenxiu Restaurant.”
It was inconvenient for Madam Zhou for come out of the carriage since there was an unfamiliar man present. Thus, she stayed within the carriage as she expressed her gratitude, “Thank you so much, Miss Yu, for being so generous and teaching us your secret recipe. Xu’er, remember to invite the young miss to our estate some other day. Mother should thank her in person.”
Yu Xiaocao quickly said, “Madam is being too courteous. If I keep the formula for the oyster sauce for myself, then only my family can taste it. However, if I give it to Zhenxiu Restaurant, more people can try the delicious taste. All recipes and formulas can only reflect its worth in the hands of people who know how to truly appreciate and use it. Don’t you think so?”
When Madam Zhou heard her reply, she couldn’t help but look differently at the little peasant girl from the mountains. Her manner of speech and thinking were even better than some of the noble ladies in town.
“Mother, you should go back first! I’ll need to go to the restaurant and make the arrangements.” Zhou Zixu was completely focused on the game right now. He wasn’t just concerned about the money. This matter could also affect the restaurant’s reputation.
When the other restaurants couldn't provide decent game to the public, Zhenxiu Restaurant would surely reach new heights by presenting a full deer banquet.
“Xiaocao, you’re seriously my little lucky star! The game that we stocked up before the snow has long been sold out. Recently, a few distinguished, regular customers have been clamoring for fresh meat dishes. My hair is about to turn white due to the stress. At the end of the year, if the dishes on the menu are too simple, then it’s seriously not presentable!” Zhou Zixu took the game from Xiaocao’s hands and walked beside her.
Yu Hai, who walked behind them, was stunned inwardly, ‘When did my daughter become so familiar with the young boss of Zhenxiu Restaurant?’
When they arrived at Zhenxiu Restaurant, Third Young Master Zhou instructed the server to take the game into the kitchen. After that, he invited the father and daughter pair into his own private room and heated up the brazier. Looking at Xiaocao’s reddened face, he couldn’t help but ask with concern,
“You must be freezing, right? Quickly come warm yourself up beside the brazier. There’s so much snow in the mountain, so it must be very difficult to catch prey! Uncle Yu, your hunting skills are truly excellent!”
Yu Hai held a cup of hot tea in his hands to keep warm, while he observed the gorgeous and elegant decors in the private room. He inwardly sighed: ‘I have been to Zhenxiu Restaurant numerous times to sell game, but I have never enjoyed such treatment before. This was all thanks to my daughter!’
According to Madam Zhou, they had learned to make the oyster sauce, which was one of Zhenxiu Restaurant’s specialties, from his daughter. He never knew that his little girl had such skills, and a spontaneous sense of pride and honor surged within his heart.
When he heard the courteous remark made by the young boss of Zhenxiu Restaurant, he quickly straightened his posture and appeared slightly stiff as he replied, “Third Young Master Zhou has overpraised me. I was just lucky today. I also hadn’t expected that we get such results by just setting traps.”
“Uncle Yu, you can just call me Zixu. I knew Xiaocao was skillful in setting traps. However, I didn’t know that the skill runs in Uncle Yu’s family!” The ginger soup that Zhou Zixu instructed to be brewed had arrived, so he personally handed them to Yu Hai and Xiao’s hands.
Seeing that his daughter had received the ginger soup in a relaxed manner, Yu Hai also dropped the formalities and drank the soup while it was still warm. When his frozen body finally warmed up, he smiled and said, “We’re not really a family devoted to hunting. I had learned my hunting skills from Older Brother Zhao, who was also a hunter. In terms of hunting, Older Brother Zhao Bufan is the one who’s truly an expert!
“Our Zhenxiu Restaurant needs to thank Uncle Yu and Uncle Zhao for always helping us out. As an expression of our gratitude, I’ll treat you guys to a meal this afternoon. I hope Uncle Yu will accept my sincerity…” Disregarding their business relationship, Zhou Zixu felt that the generosity and help that Yu Hai’s daughter had provided him was enough for him to treat the father and daughter warmly.
Yu Hai hastily declined, “Third Young Master Zhou doesn’t have to waste the money. We are still in a hurry to go to Tongren Medicine Hall and ask Doctor Sun to check on Cao’er.”
“Xiaocao, are you feeling unwell? Tongren Medicine Hall’s Doctor Sun’s medical skills is very good. Should I get someone to call Doctor Sun over?” Zhou Zixu carefully examined Yu Xiaocao and felt relieved to see that she didn’t seem sick.
Yu Xiaocao drank the bitter ginger soup with a troubled face, and then waved her hand at him, “I’m fine. I suffered a little fright in the morning, but I’m alright now. My father is just overly anxious!”
Yu Hai inwardly thought, ‘You even fainted this morning, so how am I being overly anxious?’
Yu Xiaocao continued, “However, it has gotten colder recently. I wonder if my older brother has any warm clothes. Third Young Master Zhou, are there any shops to buy ready-made garments nearby? I want to buy a cotton-padded clothing for my older brother.”
With a slightly discontented expression on his face, Zhou Zixu exclaimed, “How many times have I told you already? Don’t call me ‘Third Young Master Zhou’. It makes us sound like strangers. No matter what I’m still five years older than you, so it wouldn’t be too much for you to call me ‘Older Brother Zhou’, right? You don’t need to go buy the cotton-padded clothes. I have many quilted garments at home that have become too small for me even before I got to wear them. If you don’t mind, you can give them to your older brother to wear.”
“No, please don’t! My older brother is an apprentice at a shop, so it’s improper for him to wear your fancy clothing! It’s better to buy those cotton-padded attires made with rough fabric because it’s not as eye-catching!” Yu Xiaocao looked at the royal blue brocade robe on his body. It definitely wasn’t suitable for poor folks like them.
Zhou Zixu’s servant, who was like a shadow without any sense of existence, finally spoke up at this time, “Young Master, this servant’s mother had made a cotton attire for me at the beginning of the year. When I tried it on several days ago, I noticed that it had gotten shorter. The clothing was made from a fabric gifted by Madam and I have never worn it before. If Miss Yu doesn’t mind…”
“Bring it over for me to see! Also, go fetch two quilts from home on your way. The weather has gotten so cold, so we don’t want our Brother Yu Hang to freeze!” After Zhou Zixu finished giving out his orders, knowing that Yu Xiaocao wouldn’t stay for the meal, he instructed the server to go weigh the game on the scale.
The waiter came back from the kitchen a moment later and reported, “The male deer is two hundred sixty catties, while the various small game weighed a total of thirty-five catties.”
Zhou Zixu naturally wouldn’t treat them badly. After a moment of deliberation, he said, “In the past, a buck was worth sixty copper coins per catty. However, according to this winter’s market value, it will cost about a hundred copper coins per catty. The deer you caught is still alive. The deer blood and penis are both very valuable things… Let’s do this. I’ll pay you one hundred twenty copper coins per catty for this deer. The price for the other small game will also be double. What do you think?”
“The venison can be sold for a hundred copper coins, but our deer is only heavy due to its fur. So, how can we ask for a hundred twenty copper coins for each catty! We’re already taking advantage of you by taking a hundred copper coins per catty.” Yu Hai wasn’t someone who would take advantage of others.
Zhou Zixu guffawed, “If you’re talking about taking advantage, we’re the ones who have benefited the most. I can sell this deer for at least ten times the price that I brought it with. If Uncle hadn’t delivered this deer to Zhenxiu Restaurant in consideration of our old friendship, how would we be able to use it to earn money? Uncle Yu, no offense, but you’re not as straightforward as your daughter.”
Yu Hai was even more astonished inwardly when he saw his daughter’s relaxed and satisfied attitude, ‘Based on their attitude, this clearly wasn’t their first business deal. When did his daughter start doing business with Zhenxiu Restaurant?’
The deer, which was over two hundred catties, was sold for thirty-one taels and two hundred copper coins. The various small game were sold for 1,750 copper coins. In the end, Third Young Master Zhou rounded the total up and gave them thirty-three taels.
“The deerskin is very valuable. Do you guys want it?” The price for the deerskin is calculated separately. A complete deerskin would be worth at least ten taels.
Yu Hai pondered for a moment and said to his daughter, “Let’s just keep the deerskin. After we tan the skin, it will be very soft and strong. It’s also water-resistant. I can make two pairs of deerskin boots for you siblings. In the future, your feet won’t get wet when you go gather seafood at the beach.”
If he wasn’t her own father, Yu Xiaocao would have replied to him by saying, ‘Are you an idiot?!’ We could buy so many pairs of shoes with ten taels. Moreover, he wanted us to wear the deerskin boots to gather seafood at the sea. How much seafood would we need to gather in order to make up for the price of a pair of deerskin boots?
“We don’t want the deerskin. You can just give us the money for it!” Yu Xiaocao directly made the decision. It was undeniable that her father really loved his children, but he was too indecisive sometimes.
Zhou Zixu didn’t say anything and took out a banknote, which was worth fifty taels, from his purse. Without giving Yu Hai a chance to refuse, Yu Xiaocao had reached out her hand to take the banknote, “Wow! So this is the banknote that people talk about! Are there any restrictions? It won’t expire, right?”
Zhou Zixu rolled his eyes in an unrefined manner. He smiled as he pinched her cheek and said, “Don’t worry! This note is from the old and famous bank operated by the Sang Family. They’re the wealthiest family in all of the Great Ming Dynasty. The bank won’t go bankrupt! Moreover, with our relationship, even if the bank is gone, you can still come find me to exchange it for cash.”Previous Chapter Next Chapter
Xiaocao needs to save up some money first