Chapter 86 - Luring Fish

Oh right! She knew another method of making pickled fish, which only needed ordinary small fish. There was a pond behind their house, which had an abundance of resources that she could take advantage of!

She remembered that Qian Wu and Little Shitou had caught many palm-sized crucian carps and sharpbelly last time and brought them back to make soup. The little crucian carps and sharpbelly had a lot of small bones, but the bones would become soft when made into pickled fish. So the bones could be chewed and eaten together with the meat. Yes! That was it!

“But… is there any way to catch a large number of small fish?” Yu Xiaocao couldn’t help but worry again.

Suddenly, Little Shitou’s joyful screams sounded beside her ears, “Quickly look! There’s a wild bird drinking water from our water tank!”

Xiaocao looked up and saw a snow-white bird with slender, long legs. It stood on the edge of the water vat and leaned forward to drink water in the vat. In early spring, the weather was gradually becoming warmer. These past few days, there had been unknown birds visiting their home to borrow water from the vat to drink.  

The little divine stone had once proudly told her that the wild birds were attracted to the spiritual energy in the bathing water inside the water tank. Regardless of whether it was an animal or plant, spiritual energy was a good nourishment for them. However, if the concentration of energy was too high and the organism was too young, it would be overpowered by the energy and explode…

Yu Xiaocao’s eyes suddenly lit up at that thought——Didn’t that mean that if she used the little divine stone as bait, she would be able to lure a school of little fish?

[Stinky Master, bad Master! You’re going to use me as a bait again. I won’t let you off!] Out of nowhere, a little golden kitten suddenly jumped onto her shoulder and fiercely snarled at her.

After it acknowledged its master, Xiaocao and the little divine stone’s minds had become interlinked. So, the little fellow could immediately sense all her thoughts.

[Alright, alright! I won’t use you as bait anymore!] Xiaocao hastily pacified the angry kitten, [But, Little Glutinous Dumpling, you’ll have to help me think of a way to lure the small fish into the trap.]

The little divine stone snorted proudly and said, [There’s no need for me, this celestial stone, to personally do anything. Isn’t my bathing water the best bait? As for how to use it, do you really need me to answer such a stupid question?]

After hearing its words, Yu Xiaocao immediately stuffed the two hundred copper coins into her purse and told Madam Liu to put it away safely. The remaining money was left as pocket money for family expenses. After that, she pulled Little Shitou into the kitchen and filled a jar with mystic-stone water. She went to Yu Hai and asked, “Father, do we have a fishing net at home?”

“Fishing net? No! What do you need it for?” Yu Hai soaked the pig head in the water from the vat. The water from the vat had the spiritual energy from the little divine stone, which enhanced the taste of the braised pig’s head.

Xiaocao smiled mysteriously and said, “Of course I’ll have a use for it! I just thought of another way to make money again. Just wait and see!”

Yu Hai stretched out his hand, which he had touched the pig’s head with, and wanted to pinch her nose, but Xiaocao nimbly dodged him. He smiled and said, “What kind of net do you want? I can just make it for you right now!”

Yu Hai didn’t have much to do, so he would often help the villagers weave some fishing nets at home. Thus, their family naturally didn’t lack nets. Xiaocao instructed him heat a bamboo strip until it turned into a circular shape and fasten it onto a bamboo pole. After that, attach a fishing net onto the round bamboo strip to form a pocket—a simple net was formed.

“Are you two going netting? It’s quite hard to catch the big fish in the pond behind the house, so be careful and don’t fall in… Do you want Father to come with you guys?” Yu Hai saw the kids going out of the backyard and worriedly cautioned.

“No, we’re just experimenting first. If we succeed, then we’ll ask for Father’s help…” Xiaocao’s voice sounded from behind the house, while Little Shitou also made an elated cry.  

When the sister-brother pair arrived at the pond, Qian Wu, who was tending the ducks by the river, saw them and swiftly rushed over. He asked, “Xiaocao, Xiaocao! How come you have time to play by the river today?”

Little Shitou acted like a little adult and said, “Go, go, go! Do you think we’re like you, who only cares about playing! We’re here for serious business. Go away! Don’t delay us from catching fish!”

“Catching fish? I’m really good at that! Let me help you!” Qian Wu immediately forgot about his task of tending the ducks and shamelessly insisted on helping.

Xiaocao was worried about other people discovering the secret in her jar, so she smiled and refused, “Xiaowu, if Auntie Qian sees you leaving the ducks aside and playing by yourself, your ears will definitely suffer some pain. You should just go back to tend the ducks!”

Qian Wu touched his ears, pouted, and sat on the shore, feeling aggrieved. He smacked the water with the bamboo pole in his hands to vent his anger, which scared the ducks to flee in all directions. Madam Mao saw this scene and shrieked, “Stinky brat, I told you to tend the ducks, not to send the ducks away! If the ducks are too scared to lay eggs, you can anticipate being spanked!”  

Qian Wu touched his butt, and then reluctantly looked at the siblings who had walked far away. He sighed heavily and resigned to his fate of tending the ducks.

Xiaocao chose a hidden area, put the crock into the water, and anxiously looked at the surface of the water. This jar was the place where Little Divine Stone often ‘bathed’. Thus, it had accumulated a large amount of spiritual energy over time.  

After the jar was placed in the water, the energy inside gradually overflowed. In a short time, ripples began to appear on the surface of the water…

“Second Sister, quickly look! A lot of small fish are swimming over! That’s so amazing. What kind of bait do you have in the jar? It works so well!” Little Shitou tried to suppress the joy in his voice and whispered.

His voice didn’t frighten the school of fish that were gathering over. On the contrary, more and more little fish were gathering due to the overflow of spiritual power. They all swam towards the mouth of the jar in succession.

When Xiaocao placed the jar in the water, she had only submerged a small portion of the opening in the water. Although the fish had followed the spiritual energy over, they were unable to enter the crock. Thus, they were eagerly flapping their tails and swimming around the crock.

As more the fish gathered, the more densely they surrounded the jar. Xiaocao lifted the net in her hand and gently scooped towards the place with the most fish. If it was like before, the fish would had already scattered in different directions. However, they were attracted by the spiritual energy and ignored the looming danger. They opened their mouth as if they wanted to absorb more of the pure energy.

Xiaocao slowly raised the net in her hand from the bottom of the water. In the net that had a diameter of thirty centimeter, there were dozens of small fishes, including grass carp, crucian carp, and sharpbelly… But, most of them were still grass carp and crucian carp. The bigger ones were around half a catty, while the smaller ones were only about the size of Little Shitou’s small palm.

“Wow! So many fish were caught in such a short time! Wasn’t that too easy! Second Sister, Second Sister! Let me try!” Little Shitou took the bucket over and received the fish that Xiaocao had caught, and was very eager to try.

Xiaocao put the net into the little guy’s hand and laughed, “Move slowly when you’re netting the fish. I’ll go bring another bucket over. If we catch more fish, we’ll have something to sell tomorrow afternoon!”

Little Shitou lifted the net enthusiastically and carefully extended it towards the school of fish. He asked in a low voice, “Older Sister, these fish have a lot of bones, so I’m afraid that people might find it too troublesome to eat. It might not sell well!”

“Don’t worry. I have a plan!” Xiaocao looked at him with a gaze that read ‘believe me’, and then left with a smile.

When she came back again, more than half of the bucket was already filled with fish. The water in the bucket also came from the water vat, so there was also spiritual energy in it. So, the fish were still very lively even when they were squeezed together in such a narrow space.  

The siblings had caught two full buckets of fish in less than two hours. During that time, a fish that was half a meter long had also appeared. Unfortunately, their net was too small. They had caught the fish’s tail, but the big fish had escaped with a swing of its tail. The siblings felt that it was rather regretful, since they would have been able to eat an extra dish for dinner if they had caught the fish.

When they returned home, the Yu Hai couple and Xiaolian had already finished cleaning the pig’s head and intestines. Madam Liu pointed at the remaining pot of pig blood and asked, “We didn’t know what to do with this, so we didn’t dare to touch it…”

Yu Hai, on the other hand, looked at the siblings with amusement and exclaimed, “Oh! There’s quite a lot in the buckets! How many fish did you guys catch? Let me see. Are we eating it for dinner?”

However, Little Shitou excitedly said, “We’re not going to eat these fish ourselves. We’re selling them! Second Sister said that she could solve the problem of the fish having too many bones! Father, look, we caught a lot of fish!”

Yu Hai went over to take a look and saw that it was really true. He had originally thought that the kids were just going to play when they asked him to make a net for them to catch fish. He hadn’t expected that they would bring back two buckets of fish two hours later. Looking at the densely packed fish heads in the bucket, there must be a lot of them inside.   

“Oh! There’s really quite a lot! How did you guys catch them?” Yu Hai was stunned. Even if he was the one who had cast the net, he still wouldn’t be able to catch so many fish in such a short period of time. How did the kids do it?

Little Shitou swiftly answered, “It’s Second Sister! Second Sister made a new type of bait that attracted all the fish. All we have to do was to catch the fish with the net on the shore!”

Yu Hai looked at his younger daughter with a complicated gaze. His daughter was becoming more and more capable. As her father, he felt both proud and ashamed.

Xiaocao looked at the sky and said, “Why don’t we clean the fish first? We might be able to rush to the docks and sell them before dinner! We can work on the pig’s head and intestines later in the evening!”

The family worked together to scrape the gills, take out the intestines, and clean the fish. Little Shitou couldn’t do this work, so he continuously fetched water with a small basin and helped them clean the small fish with the water.

Ha! They had really caught a lot of fish this time. There was a full tub! However, Xiaocao didn’t have time to be happy about this. She pickled the cleaned fish with salt.

“What’s next?” Xiaolian finally had time to catch her breath and asked with a happy expression on her face.

“It needs to be cured for about thirty minutes, and then we need to prepare it to be fried!” Xiaocao smelled the fishy smell on the hands and rushed to clean it with water. After being busy for the entire day, she felt somewhat hungry. She dug out a hot baked sweet potato from under the stove, which was specially prepared for her every day.

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Myst's Thoughts

Xiaocao and her endless recipes... who else wants them?   

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Translator: Myst