Chapter 73 - Silently Enduring

Although wheat flour was replaced by coarse grain flour, the shepherd’s purse pancake was baked until it was a golden-brown color in the cauldron. The charred aroma was accompanied by the delicate fragrance of the shepherd’s purse, and tasted extremely delicious. The family had never eaten such food before and was immediately conquered by the tempting taste.

Madam Liu silently remembered it within her heart and said with a smile, “I never thought that bean flour and millet flour could make something so delicious even without adding wheat flour. Cao’er, is this method also something that the deity taught you?”

Yu Xiaocao, who was eating the pancake with relish, was stunned when she heard her mother’s question. She immediately answered, “I don’t know either, maybe? Anyways, I just knew how to do it when I woke up. It seems like someone in my dream told me that we can dig for this kind of shepherd’s purse right now and the cooking methods for them. Father, Mother, try the shepherd’s purse steamed buns. It should taste better than the flatbreads.”

When she was making the shepherd’s purse steamed buns, Xiaocao also made pan-fried tofu and stir-fried chili pepper. She had used one teaspoon of the less than one catty of vegetable oil that her maternal grandmother sent over, which made Madam Liu’s heart ache. Moreover, she also used two handfuls of wheat flour to make the outer skin of the steamed buns, which seemed a bit too wasteful in Madam Liu’s opinion.

She glanced at buns in the steamer basket and hesitated. Then, she took one and gave it to Yu Hai and said, “I ate two pancakes and drank a big bowl of the shepherd’s purse soup, so I’m already full. Husband, you should try one and leave the rest for the children. By the way, Xiaolian, go to town tomorrow and bring some steamed buns for your older brother. While you’re at it, take the baskets that your father made to the general store in town.”

Last time, Yu Xiaocao had gone to town in a rush with her father when she pretended to be sick before the New Year. So, when she heard that there was a chance to visit town, she immediately volunteered, “Why don’t I go to town tomorrow with Little Shitou? Xiaolian can stay at home to work on her embroidery…”

Seeing her eager expression, Yu Hai couldn’t bear to reject her and repeated advised her, “You can go, but your have to be careful and don’t talk to strangers… Little Shitou, you have to take care of your older sister and make sure she doesn’t get lost!”

As he spoke, he ripped the steamed bun in half and gave the bigger portion to his wife and said, “Let’s have a taste of our daughter’s cooking. If it tastes good, we can dig more shepherd’s purse and make buns to sell at the wharf in the future.”

Xiaocao nodded in approval when she heard his words. Her father was quite business savvy!

It took about three hours to get to town from Dongshan Village. So, Xiaolian, who lived in the same room as Xiaocao, had woken Xiaocao up at the break of dawn.

Since the siblings were going to town, Xiaolian had woken up early to prepare breakfast so that their stomachs would be filled before leaving. For breakfast, they had sweet potato porridge, which was cooked until it was soft and mushy. The flatbreads from yesterday were also re-baked in the pot.

Xiaocao drank a full bowl of porridge and ate a piece of pancake, and then wiped her mouth and said, “I’m full! Little Shitou, hurry up. I’m not going to wait for you if we’re late!”

Madam Liu wrapped the three remaining pancakes in a cloth bag so that they could eat it when they get hungry later. After thinking about it, she took out a purse from the bottom of the rattan box. She took out twenty copper coins from it and gave it to Xiaocao, while saying, “Here, take this. It’s your first time going to the town market. If there’s anything you want to buy, then buy some…”

Although the twenty copper coins wasn’t a lot, they were extremely precious to the Yu Family, who only had two hundred copper coins left. Twenty copper coins was enough to buy more than two catties of wheat flour, or more than four catties of coarse grain flour. Xiaocao didn't want it, but Madam Liu forced it into her hands and said, “It’s okay, take it! Just bring it back if you don’t spend it.

After that, she turned around and got five shepherd’s purse steamed buns for eldest son, Yu Hang. She wrapped them all in the same cloth bag. Xiaolian got five embroidered pouches from her own room and instructed, “Go to Zhenlong Embroidery Workshop and give these to the boss lady. After that, go buy me some silk threads, which cost ten copper coins. You can buy candies with the remaining money…”

Yu Xiaocao’s mouth twitched a few times. She had the mentality of a woman who was nearly thirty years old, so can she not be treated like a kid?

After being repeatedly cautioned by their family, the siblings finally embarked on their journey to town. Shortly after going, they saw Madam Mao sending Qian Wen, who was carrying a small bag, out the door.

“Where are you siblings going?” Yesterday, Madam Mao had used the shepherd’s purse to make soup. It tasted really good, so she planned to take her children to dig some more back to make steamed buns for her children.

Little Shitou beamed excitedly, showing his pearly whites. As if he was afraid that others wouldn’t know where he was going, he loudly replied, “My second sister and I are going to town to bring some steamed stuffed buns for my older brother!”

Qian Wu, who was standing behind Madam Mao and rubbing his sleepy eyes, instantly became energetic when he heard him, “Mother, I want to go play in town with Little Shitou!”

“What is there to play?! If you’re not careful, you might be kidnapped by an abductor! Today, you’re coming with Mother to dig for shepherd’s purse, or I won’t give you dinner tonight!” Madam Mao pushed Qian Wu, who was throwing a tantrum, into the yard and turned to talk to her eldest son, “Be careful on your way. When you come back next time, Mother will make delicious food for you!”

Little Shitou looked at Qian Wen’s attire and said, “Brother Xiaowen, are you going back to town to study? My second sister and I are going too. Let’s go together!”

Qian Wen saw that Yu Xiaocao was not only carrying a bulky baggage, but also holding three small baskets on one hand and a bigger basket on the other. Thus, he went forward and took the heavy basket in her hand and said, “It’s a long way to town. If you carry so many things, you’ll probably get tired soon. I’ll help you hold the basket.”

“No need, no need! When I’m tired, I can exchange with Little Shitou!” Yu Xiaocao clasped tightly on the basket and didn’t let go, but she wasn’t as strong as Qian Wen. So, he eventually snatched the basket from her hands. Xiacoao couldn’t do anything about it, so she just thanked him.

Speaking of Yu Xiaocao, she really wasn’t suited to travel long distances. She had originally thought that her body had gotten much better after being nourished by the mystic-stone water. She thought that she would be able to walk dozens of kilometers, but she had overestimated herself. The more she walked, the heavier the things in her hands became. It was getting more and more difficult for her to take the next step.

Fortunately, Uncle Ma from the neighboring village had a donkey cart and was taking several people to town. Seeing the three children, Uncle Ma warmly greeted them, “Do you guys want a ride? I’ll take the three of you for the price of two.”’

The group of three rode on the donkey cart and quickly arrived in town. Qian Wen was worried about the siblings’ safety and suggested in a gentle voice, “Xiaocao, there are all sorts of people in town. How about you guys follow me to the academy first? I’ll put down my belongings, and then take guys to find your older brother…”

Yu Xiaocao politely declined, “No, thanks. My younger brother and I have been to town before, so we’re familiar with the road. We shouldn’t delay Brother Xiaowen’s studies any longer.”

“Goodbye Brother Xiaowen!” Little Shitou waved at him and looked around with his big, round eyes.

After Xiaocao and her younger brother bid farewell to Qian Wen, she inquired about the direction to the general store and prepared to send the bamboo baskets over. The general store was located in a somewhat desolate area. When the shopkeeper saw the siblings bringing newly woven baskets over, he had a troubled expression on his face and said, “Xiaolian, you’re sending baskets over again! It’s not a busy season for agriculture right now, so bamboo wares aren’t in demand. I still haven’t sold off the ones that you bought over last time. I won’t make it difficult for you this time and accept the products. But… you don’t have to send any more over next time.”

Xiaocao didn’t correct the shopkeeper’s mistake. She thanked the shopkeeper, and then quietly held her younger brother’s hand as they walked on the street. She felt somewhat downcast. Although her father had hoped to earn some money by selling bamboo crafts, money wasn’t the most important reason for him to weave bamboo wares. By weaving bamboo crafts, it seemed like her father wanted to prove something to himself——to prove that he wasn’t a worthless person.

Ay! It would be great if Father’s leg could recover soon…

When they arrived at Zhenlong Embroidery Workshop, the boss lady warmly welcomed them, “Oh! Xiaolian, I haven’t seen you for a few days, but your skin has gotten much whiter. You also seem to have gotten prettier. Girls really do change as they grow older!”

Yu Xiaocao had learned that after the previous emperor ascended the throne, he had once vigorously promoted the ‘equality between men and women’. Later, the policy was left unsettled due to various reasons. Nonetheless, the status of women had indeed improved. Women walking and shopping on the streets could be been everywhere. It wasn’t uncommon for a woman to be a boss, like the boss lady of Zhenlong Embroidery Workshop.

Xiaocao felt somewhat glad to have transmigrated to this era. In the future, it wouldn’t seem strange for her to do some small business and earn money to support her family.

She needed to thank her fellow transmigrators for creating a relatively relaxed environment for her. Through the rumors she had heard about the retired emperor and the current emperor, Xiaocao had confirmed that they were definitely transmigrators, just like herself. Since there were these two, there might also be others.  

She didn’t have any major ambitions. She only wanted to quietly protect her own family and live happily as a little farmer girl. At times, she could come up with new ideas and earn some money. The saying of ‘when people from the same hometown meets each other, their eyes will brim with tears of happiness’ wouldn’t apply to all fellow transmigrators. She didn’t want to become someone else’s cannon-fodder. It seemed like she had to keep a low-profile in the future…

“Xiaolian’s skills are getting better and better. You can probably surpass your mother soon. Oh? This time, the patterns are quite unique, and the color assortments are rather novel. For these five embroidered pouches, I’ll raise the price and give you the same amount as your mother, twenty copper coins per pouch. If you make more of such purses in the future, I’ll raise the price for you again!”

In the past, Xiaolian’s purse cost fifteen copper coins each. Thus, she had earned twenty-five copper coins more than before. As a matter of fact, Xiaocao should also take some credit for this because she was one who designed the patterns.

In her previous life, she was interested in art. If it hadn’t been for her parent’s accident, she might have entered the specialty classes in high school. After she took over the braised food store, she liked to draw flowers and plants in her spare time as a hobby. She hadn’t expected that she would be able to use this skill to make money after transmigrating.

After securely putting away the money, Xiaocao took her younger brother to the woodworking shop. In the carpentry shop, that snobby worker from last time was manning the store. He was currently sitting in a chair with his legs crossed and dozing off. When he heard that the siblings were looking for Yu Hang, he stood up reluctantly and grumbled, “Looking for Yu Hang? Didn’t that kid just go home around a dozen days ago? What a hassle!”

When Yu Hang came out, he was wearing the cotton jacket that Xiaocao gave him before the New Year. It had only been a little over two months, but there were already several holes in the jacket, revealing the white cotton inside. Xiaocao was aware of the fact that her older brother was someone who cherished his own clothing and belongings, and thus his new clothes usually wouldn’t turn out like this.

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Myst's Thoughts

food pic

Translator: Myst