With Foreman Sun’s help, Xiaocao’s eldest uncle and eldest cousin from the Liu Family were able to find work every day. At times, they would also bring her second uncle with them. They earned over a hundred copper coins per person every day. Eldest Aunt also stopped selling pickled vegetables since she wasn’t able to make much money from selling them anyways…
Seeing that her father was chatting fervently with Grandpa Liu, Xiaocao stood up and strolled around. During these past couple of days, she had been focused on earning money and hadn’t had the time to tour the docks.
Tanggu Docks had only begun to develop in the past few years after the current emperor ascended the throne. When the current emperor was still a teenager, he had liked venturing in the seas. He had also personally supervised the making of ocean-going vessels. After he ascended the throne, he vigorously developed ocean shipping and formed a strong navy to combat pirates and protect the shipping vessels. As a result, the shipping industry had flourished in the past five or six years.
As the closest docks to the capital, the development of Tanggu Docks was naturally a matter of course. But, it was still a rather new wharf. Although it was big, it looked very simple and many of the constructions hadn’t been completed. However, merchants with foresight seemed to have set their eyes on the docks. Allegedly, the Zhou Family had already selected a location near the docks to build a branch of Zhenxiu Restaurant.
As Xiaocao wandered around, she had walked far from Grandpa Liu’s noodle stall and arrived at the place where the dockers were hired. It was the most lively here every day before dawn. Over a hundred short-term laborers would gather here, waiting to be selected by the foreman. However, at this time, people were already busily working on the docks, so there was barely anyone here now.
“Hey! Your name’s Xiaocao… right?” Several guys, who appeared like good-for-nothing rogues, blocked her path.
Yu Xiaocao looked around and frowned inwardly. She warily looked at the guy with a face that says ‘I’m a bad guy’, and asked, “What can I do for you?”
The leader, who wore a cotton-padded jacket that was seventy percent new, had his hands tucked in his sleeves and coldly stared at Xiaocao with his rat-like eyes. With a crafty smile on his face, he said, “I heard that your one copper coin meat dish is selling pretty well at the docks.”
“It’s nothing special. It might seem like I’m selling a lot, but we sell it for a cheap price and don’t get much profit. So, we don’t earn much!” Xiaocao didn’t believe he was here to congratulate her on her prospering business, so she secretly stayed alert.
Behind the rat’s eye, a skinny guy with a protruding mouth and ape-like chin jumped out and shouted, “Who cares if you earn any profit! You’re selling things on our Brother Shark’s turf! Did you pay respect to the boss? Did you pay the protection fee yet?”
Yu Xiaocao understood very clearly now. Her business had been doing too well these past two days and caused others to become envious. Thus, people had come to extort money! She looked around and moaned in her heart. She couldn’t find a single person nearby at this time. What should she do?
“Protection fee? I’m new here and haven’t heard anything about needing to pay a protection fee in order to do business on the docks.” Yu Xiaocao stalled for time as she tried to think of ways to get away from this group of scoundrels.
The man who was known as Brother Shark showed a thug-like smile and said, “Just because you didn’t hear about it, doesn’t mean that it doesn’t exist! Stop with the bullshit and give me the money!”
“Okay, okay! I’ll pay… How much do I need to pay?” Xiaocao showed weakness in order lower her opponent’s guard.
Brother Shark and Skinny Monkey looked at each other triumphantly, and then demanded an exorbitant price, “Ten copper coins for a day. If you’re paying monthly, we’ll just take two hundred copper coins per month!”
Shit! Two hundred copper coins? Even the best business on the docks wouldn’t be able to pay two hundred copper coins a month for a protection fee! It seemed like these local bullies only aimed at her.
Yu Xiaocao pretended to be terrified, glanced at the location of the pier and her father, and inwardly measured the shortest distance to get there. With a sobbing tone, she said, “Big brothers! This little sister has just arrived today. I haven’t even opened my business yet, so where would I get ten copper coins to give you? How about… after I finish selling the meat dishes today, I’ll pay the monthly fee all at once. What do you guys think?”
Skinny Monkey moved closer to Brother Shark and whispered into his ear, “This brat came with a tall and strong-looking man today. If we let her go back, it will be over then!”
These guys were lazy good-for-nothing punks around the docks. They usually bullied the weak and feared the strong. They also occasionally engaged in petty theft. They had extorted money from nearly all the old, weak, women, and children who sold goods on the docks. Most of the peddlers had come from nearby villages, so they didn’t dare to speak out against these local hoodlums.
There were some bailiffs who maintained order at the docks. However, these local rogues always acted very good when the bailiffs patrolled the area. They would hide in some unknown corner and only come out when the bailiffs were gone. Thus, most of the people who were blackmailed would just spend some money as a way to buy peace.
This group of hoodlums had heard from an unknown source about the Yu Siblings’s recently booming business. They had planned to wait until the siblings finished selling their food, and then rob all their money by coaxing and threatening them. But, they hadn’t expected that an adult would come along today. Moreover, he was tall and strong and didn’t seem like someone they could bully. Hence, they changed their plans, stopped the little girl, and tried to extort as much money as possible.
“How much money do you have on you? Give them all to me!” Brother Shark fiercely demanded.
Xiaocao shook her head timidly and quietly moved to the side. As if she was about to cry, she said, “My father has the money. I don’t have a single penny on me. Big brothers, please let me go. I really don’t have any money…”
As she spoke, she suddenly squatted on the ground and grabbed some sand. She threw it at the hoodlums’ faces, and then hastily ran towards the docks with all her might.
She used all the strength in her body, while only thinking about one thing——run, run! As long as she ran to a crowded place, these rascals wouldn’t dare to be so reckless.
However, reality was cruel. With Xiaocao’s short legs, how would she be able to outrun several adult men? It only took a few steps for them to catch up with her.
Being surrounded once again, Xiaocao felt vexed and cursed in her heart: Damn it! It seems like she couldn’t avoid getting a beating.
Brother Shark, who was supported by Skinny Monkey, rubbed his eyes with one hand and started swearing. Earlier, Xiaocao had thrown all the sand at his face, so he couldn’t see clearly now.
“Damned brat! You’re refusing a toast and asking to be forced to drink a forfeit! Go and teach her a lesson!!” Brother Shark’s eyes were in pain, so he kept tearing up and couldn’t see anything. Thus, he angrily shouted.
“Mother, save me!”
At the beginning, Brother Shark was very proud and confident. ‘That damned brat actually dared to throw sand at me! She needs to be taught a lesson!’
Uh? Something wasn’t right! Why do the screams sound so familiar, as if they were coming from his group of buddies? What was going on?
“Six… Brother Six…” Beside him, Monkey’s stuttering voice could be heard and his hand that was supporting him was also shaking incessantly…
After Shark issued the order, Xiaocao immediately held her head and squatted down. She was waiting to feel the pain on her body, but the punch and kicks that she had anticipated didn’t happen. She curiously looked up upon hearing a series of screams and noticed that the hooligans were all lying on the ground, wailing in pain.
She blinked a few times and looked at the tall figure in front of her——broad shoulders, slender figure, half-old clothes that couldn’t hide his charisma. Wow! Was this the legendary scenario of ‘a hero rescuing a beauty’? Cough, cough… Okay, it was more of ‘a hero rescuing a little girl’ right now…
“Six… Brother Six…” She saw Skinny Monkey shaking like a quail, and he was so scared that he just hadn’t pee his pants yet. She was even more curious about the identity of the hero who saved her.
Xiaocao stood up and watched as the hero kicked them one by one and sent Skinny Monkey and Shark flying. She worshiped him even more within her heart.
The pain in his stomach caused Shark’s tears and snot to all flow out. His tears finally washed out the sand in his eyes. He blinked his red and swollen eyes vigorously and finally saw the person who had come to fight for justice. Enduring the pain, he hastily got up and weakly called out, “Brother Six…”
The man who was called ‘Brother Six’ didn’t have any expression on his cold face. He stared at him with an icy gaze that could almost freeze a person’s blood. Brother Shark felt a chill run down his spine and collapsed on the ground like a dead dog.
Who didn’t know Brother Six on the docks? He used to be a beggar who had taken food from vicious dogs when he was a child. At the age of ten, with a fierce force, he killed a wolf with his bare hands.
At sixteen, the youth called Liuzi , with several brothers of beggar origin, had defeated the tyrant on the docks and opened up the path to his own career. With his ability, he was able to monopolize the docks. But he wasn’t greedy and only held onto several important customers. He left the rest to be divided by the other foremen. Later, Foreman Sun gradually accumulated his own network and got rid of a lot of the smaller forces. Over time, the current situation was formed…
Nevertheless, on the docks, the words of the man, who was respectfully known as ‘Brother Six’, was even more powerful than the bailiffs. Even the bailiffs had to give him some face. The hoodlums on the docks had been beaten up by him in the past, so they were so scared of him that they would run away whenever they saw him.
Shark and Skinny Monkey were one of them. They were merely insignificant people who weren’t even qualified to compete with Brother Six, but they had heard of his prestige. They hadn’t expected to bump into him today. Skinny Monkey trembled as he thought of Brother Six’s cruelty and suddenly felt a warm sensation on the area around his crotch…
“Scram! Don’t let me see you guys at the docks anymore, or else…” Brother Six narrowed his eyes, which were fierce like wolves. His voice was light, but the effect was very strong!
Shark promptly got up from the ground and replied, “Yes, yes! We’ll scram immediately, scram immediately! We promise to never step onto the docks again…”
He was so scared that his legs became limp. He rolled several times on the ground, and then crawled away on both hands and feet. The others also resented their parents for not giving them two more legs and desperately ran away, as if they were being chased by a hungry wolf that wanted to bite their butts.
“Uh… Thank you!” Yu Xiaocao had heard the name ‘Liuzi’ from Foreman Sun. She only knew that he was a competitor of Foreman Sun and didn’t know anything else. Based on those rascals’ attitude, this Liuzi definitely wasn’t someone easy to deal with.
Brother Six turned around slowly and lightly nodded at her. Xiaocao finally had a clear look at his face. He had profound facial features. His eyes and eyebrows made him look a little mixed. He had a tall nose and slightly thin lips. He had uniformly tanned skin due to long-term exposure to the sea breeze and sun. If it weren’t for the scar stretching from his left eyebrow to the corner of his lips on the right side of his face, he would definitely be a super icy, handsome man.
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