“Thank you, Godmother!” Yu Xiaocao didn’t act courteous . A hundred-year-old ginseng wasn’t considered rare to her since she already had a five-hundred-old ginseng at home . But she would remember her godmother’s kindness within her heart . If she had anything good in the future, she would definitely share it with her godmother!
Xia Furong felt even more displeased within her heart . It wasn’t that easy to obtain a hundred-year-old ginseng . They had just met this wretch from a rural village, but she had actually cajoled her aunt!
As they spoke, they had already arrived at Xiaocao’s family’s watermelon fields . Yu Hai was currently loading two carts with watermelons . He had to take these two carts of watermelons to town later . There wasn’t anyone else in the Yu Family who was available to drive the cart, so he had to ask his older male cousin, Yu Xi, to come help out .
“Father, Oldest Paternal Uncle!” Xiaocao had jumped off the carriage as it came to a complete stop . Seeing this, Lady Fang repeatedly urged her to slow down .
Yu Hai saw his daughter getting off of an unfamiliar horse carriage . Behind her was a woman in her thirties, who was dressed in rich silk brocades . He had some doubts in his heart, but he couldn’t stare at her for a closer look . So he just asked his daughter, “Cao’er, didn’t we agree that I will take you back when I deliver the watermelons? Why did you come back by yourself?”
Yu Xiaocao hastily introduced the identity of her godmother, and the two politely exchanged a few words . Yu Hai noticed that Lady Fang’s love for his daughter could be heard in her words, so he felt slightly reassured .
Yu Xiaocao picked a big watermelon and asked Linglong to help take it onto the carriage . The two watermelons that they picked out at the shop were unwittingly sold by Eldest Maternal Aunt when they went to eat at Zhenxiu Restaurant . Her godmother really liked the plate of watermelon gifted by Zhenxiu Restaurant . She couldn’t promise anything else, but she could guarantee that they would have more than enough watermelons to eat!
Lady Fang, who had seen the sales of the Yu Family’s watermelon shop, also didn’t act courteous with her goddaughter . Of course, she should kindly accept her daughter’s show of filial respect . Moreover, this watermelon tasted much more tasty and refreshing than the watermelons that she had eaten before . She didn’t know whether it was her own illusion, but she felt as if all her fatigue from her long journey for these past few days had all gone away after eating the watermelon!
This low-key yet slightly luxurious horse carriage attracted many of the villagers’ curious looks as it traveled through Dongshan Village .
The Zhao Family lived close to halfway up the mountain, so the horse carriage couldn’t continue going up . Xiaocao told the coachman to stop the carriage in front of her house, and then she helped her godmother down the carriage .
“Oh! Xiaocao, you’re back from town? Who’s this noble madam?” Next to the seafood collection stall, there were several women, who had just sold their collection of cleaned sandworms . They greeted Xiaocao warmly . The little lass Xiaocao was doing extremely well now . To have an official as her godfather, she must have accumulated a lot of good fortune in her previous life!
“Hello, Aunties! Your spoonworms are really clean ah!” Xiaocao knew that the matrons were just curious, so she greeted them with a smile .
One of the matrons, who was very thin, grinned and said, “Of course! If they’re not cleaned thoroughly, who would have the nerve to come sell them? Your family gives a fair price, unlike Wang Dazhi of Dawang Village, who’s very black-hearted . His price is five copper coins lower per catty compared to your family’s!”
Xia Furong covered her nose with her handkerchief and curiously got closer to see what they were selling . However, her face turned ghastly pale from the fright of seeing the soft spoonworms lying inside the basket . She screamed and hastily retreated, nearly tripping over a stone on the ground .
Another chubby woman looked at her attire and laughed, “She is a young miss from town after all . It’s inevitable that she would be scared when seeing spoonworms for the first time . ”
Seeing Xia Furong’s change of expression, Yu Xiaocao was afraid that she would get angry and throw a tantrum . So she hastily said, “Aunties, you guys continue with your work . My godmother and older cousin are tired from traveling such a long distance . I’ll take them inside to rest first . ”
The women all watched as Lady Fang entered the Yu Family’s gates while being supported by her two personal maidservants . They expressed their envy in succession:
“So it’s Xiaocao’s godmother ah! The wife of an official! Look at that aura she gave off… tsk tsk!”
“Look at her maidservants . They’re dressed like young ladies from noble families . The silver hairpins on their heads probably cost at least several taels!”
“I heard that Xiaocao’s godmother came from the capital . Do you think that the lass Xiaocao will benefit by her godparents and become a noble young miss in the capital?”
“Of course ah! I heard that Xiaocao’s godfather didn’t have any children and he pampers her like his real daughter . When her godfather completes his assignment and returns to the capital, he will probably take Xiaocao back with him! Xiaocao will be the daughter of an official in the future!”
“This child is really blessed…”
Yu Hang quietly listened to the aunties’ discussion, while he helped the coachman unload the carriage . He took the horse to the newly built stable and fed it with fodder . Xiaocao had rinsed all the fodder that the Yu Family fed to their livestock with mystic-stone water, so the Fang Family’s horse enjoyed it even more .
The coachman was very surprised . The Fang Family’s horses were meticulously fed and raised by him, and they had always scorned crude fodder . The Yu Family’s fodder was only the cheapest and most crude type of forage, but the horse actually didn’t mind and ate it with relish . Could it be that it was hungry after traveling through a mountain road for such a long time?
At this time, Lady Fang had already sat down on the recliner in the courtyard, basking in the warm sun, and looking at the green vegetables in the garden . Though the house beside her was simple, it gave off a warm and simple feeling . Was this the pleasure of living in the countryside?
The only decent lounge chair in the yard was already occupied by her aunt, so Xia Furong laid her handkerchief on a stone chair and sat down aggrievedly . When she lowered her head and saw that her embroidered shoes were stained with mud, her heart felt even more upset . She didn’t know how much longer she had to live in this remote and barren place in the future . Dirt roads, low-ceiling thatched cottage, boorish women… How was she supposed to live like this ah!
“Godmother, my mother went to wash clothes by the stream at the foot of the mountain . It’s very hot today and we just traveled for nearly two hours, so you must be thirsty! Here, eat a few pieces of watermelons to quench your thirst!” Yu Xiaocao got a knife from the kitchen, sliced the watermelon on the stone table, and then handed a piece to Lady Fang .
With the corner of her eyes, she looked at Xia Furong, who was pouting so much that she could almost hang an oil bottle on her lips . She handed her a piece of watermelon and said with a smile, “Older cousin, eat a watermelon! The fruit tray at noon was too small, so you probably haven’t eaten enough, right? You can eat more now!”
Xia Furong frowned and didn’t take the watermelon that she handed over . She angrily exclaimed, “Why does it seem like there’s some hidden meanings in your words? Do you think that I haven’t eaten watermelons before?”
Yu Xiaocao looked at her in surprise and said, “Older Cousin, don’t overthink it . I didn’t mean anything else . If you think that there was something wrong with what I said, then I will apologize to you!”
Lady Fang was about to put the watermelon into her mouth, but she stopped . She had a grim expression and her voice was full of displeasure, “Furong, if you feel wronged about coming to Dongshan Village, I can let Zhenzhu stay with you in town! Don’t vent your anger on innocent people . Your younger cousin is young, so she speaks bluntly . But she didn’t do anything wrong . Don’t always pick on her!”
Xia Furong knew from her aunt’s expression and speech that she was really angry . She hastily lowered her head and admitted her mistake, “Aunt, I know you’re angry and that I was wrong! Niece came with you in order to serve you . I’ll stay whenever you stay . Niece doesn’t feel wronged…”
Although she said that she didn’t feel wronged, her heart was filled with resentment . Thinking about the simple and crude living environment in the future and that she had to share her aunt’s love with another person, the rims of Xia Furong’s eyes reddened and she almost cried .
After eating a few pieces of watermelon, Lady Fang leaned comfortably on the recliner and looked up at the blue sky and white clouds . Occasionally, a bird flew across the sky . She couldn’t help but close her eyes as she gradually relaxed .
Yu Xiaocao covered her godmother’s legs with a lined blanket . Seeing that there were a lot of watermelons leftover, she whispered to the two handmaids, Zhenzhu and Linglong, “Two older sisters, have a taste of our family’s watermelon . It tastes quite good!”
When Zhenzhu and Linglong were serving their masters the watermelons, the strong, sweet fragrance had caused them to secretly swallow their saliva . In the capital, the masters’ leftovers were also awarded to the competent maidservants . Thus, Zhenzhu and Linglong didn’t refuse and started eating the watermelons . The sweet and juicy watermelon immediately conquered their hearts . It was tasty and could quench their thirst . They didn’t stop until their bellies were too full to continue eating .
While her godmother was taking an afternoon nap, Xiaocao took the two handmaids to the Zhao Family’s house to air the quilts that they brought over and clean up the main room . General Fang had lived there alone without anyone to serve him, so there wasn’t much in the room except a few clothes .
Zhenzhu and Linglong used the things that were on hand and decorated the room based on their master’s preference . Xiaocao watched in admiration as they quickly arranged the room to look neat and warm .
When Lady Fang woke up from her nap and came over with Xia Furong, the three of them had already tidied the room and cleaned the kitchen .
Dinner was made with Xiaocao as the chef and the help of Zhenzhu and Linglong . The ingredients were fresh homegrown vegetables gathered at home, fish caught in the pond behind the house, chicken bought from the Zhou Family, and the seafood they had at home—oysters and sandworms .
Zhenzhu and Linglong took out the dishes and put them on the table in the main hall . Lady Fang nodded contentedly as she looked at the delicious and fragrant dishes . Linglong jested, “As expected, Miss Cao’er deserved her reputation of an excellent chef . This sweet and sour fish had a vibrant color, a beautiful shape, and alluring fragrance . It arouses one’s appetite just by smelling it!”
“Miss Cao’er put in a lot of effort to make this roasted oyster with garlic! Madam, you seldom get the chance to eat such fresh seafood in the capital . Enjoy the young miss’s cooking today!” Zhenzhu was also full of praises for Xiaocao’s culinary skills .
“What is this?!!” Xia Furong saw a plate of pink and plump food and thought of the nauseating creatures that she had seen earlier . Her face immediately turned pale and she started screaming .
Yu Xiaocao, who had come over with a plate of steamed clams with eggs, turned towards the sound and faintly glanced at her, as if she was blaming her for making a fuss . She indifferently said, “It’s stir-fried spoonworms with scallions ah! Spoonworm is a natural condiment . This dish needs to be cooked in a natural way in order to keep the original taste of the ingredients and highlight the fresh, crisp, and tender mouthfeel of seafood . It has a mild taste and is very healthy and nourishing…”
Before she finished speaking, Xia Furong’s piercing scream rang out again, “Who asked you to cook with spoonworms? The intestines of the sea…” She retched . “It’s disgusting to even think about it!! You actually dared to let Aunt eat this…”