All of the officials of the Ministry of Revenue looked at each other with dumbfounded expressions . Royal Prince Yang, you had been given an imperial edict, you can’t just stand aside and do nothing ah! If we can’t cultivate corn and potatoes, then when the emperor became angry, everyone would be implicated together ah!
The royal prince may be able to wash his hands of this affair, but they, the officials of the Ministry of Revenue, couldn’t! They went to find some experienced old farmers and cleared out a field at the imperial farms for experimentation . Altogether they decided on a couple methods to try out with the corn . Some of the seeds were directly planted into the ground, while others were left for breeding purposes . As for the potatoes, the old farmers thought that it somewhat resembled sweet potato and decided to use the sweet potato method to plant a block . The officials also planted another block of land with potatoes directly buried into the ground .
During this process, Royal Prince Yang only came by once to inspect the process and didn’t come over a second time . When the Ministry of Revenue finished writing a report to the prince on the various methods they used to plant the new crops, they couldn’t get in contact with him . The head steward of Imperial Prince Jing’s Estate had told them that the young royal prince was currently in the faraway Tanggu Town and was unable to receive the report .
After spending half a month in the capital doing work, the emperor had mercifully given him ten days of vacation . Zhu Junyang immediately traveled to his mother’s residence in Tanggu Town . Construction on Prince Jing’s residence on the West Mountain hadn’t finished yet, so Princess Consort Jing was still living in the previous county magistrate’s wife’s manor . County Magistrate Wu had gone back to the capital last autumn after finishing his term, and the Wu Family had arranged a fifth rank official’s teaching position for him . In the future, after the imperial academy offered him a retirement package, he had pretty much reached the highest rank he could go .
In order to give his mother a nice surprise, Zhu Junyang didn’t send any servants over to inform her that he was coming over . He brought along his personal imperial bodyguards and galloped his horse at top speed throughout the whole journey until he reached the manor . When he arrived, he casually asked the gatekeeper, “Has my lady mother left the residence in the past few days?”
The gatekeeper carefully bowed and replied, “Prince, the princess consort hasn’t left in the past few days . However, she did invite Lady Fang and her goddaughter, Miss Yu, over for some conversation today . ”
‘Miss Yu?’ A ripple of movement went through Zhu Junyang’s normally chilly eyes . ‘It’s that girl who had solemnly vowed that she would be able to cultivate corn and potato ah!’ At that time, the little girl was so confident that he had almost wanted to believe her . Perhaps this little girl would be able to give him a nice surprise, eh?
Zhu Junyang actually felt a bit of anticipation when he thought of seeing that lively little girl with the large eyes . In fact, he didn’t even notice that his steps into the courtyard were a bit more hurried compared to previously .
It was a beautiful spring day and the whole courtyard was filled with lush flowers that dotted the landscape with red and purple . Inside the garden, Princess Consort Jing leaned back on a long couch as she quietly discussed Lady Fang’s situation, “Are you going to give birth soon, Lady Fang?”
Yu Xiaocao gleefully replied, “Yes! Her due date is within the next couple of days . For the sake of my little brother, Godmother always walks around the garden a few times every day even though her body is quite heavy now . Doctor Sun felt her pulse earlier today and said that her body is in good condition . However, Godmother’s legs are quite swollen, so she can’t wear her old shoes anymore!”
Princess Consort Jing lightly sighed, “Children embody the debt from our past lives ah! As parents, who wouldn’t willingly be devoted and worried about their own children? Yet children never empathize with their parents’ feelings . For example, my third son didn’t even discuss with me and his father before he silently left to go out to sea . After waiting for months, he finally came back, right? He obviously knows that I, his mother, am waiting for him here yet he decides to emulate Yu the Great  and not visit me . Tell me, do you think he even has me, his mother, in his heart anymore?”
Zhu Junyang, who had been eavesdropping on them behind some trees, felt his mouth twitch . Now he wasn’t sure whether he should come out and greet his mother . From his past experiences, he had a feeling his mother would only cry and complain if he came out now . He didn’t fear anything on the earth or the heavens, but he did fear his mother’s tears .
Just as he was hesitating, he heard Yu Xiaocao’s suave and gentle voice comforting his mother, “Your Highness, all men strive for self-improvement and all mothers hope that their sons will be successful, right? However, since the past, it is hard to be both successful and filial at the same time . If the young royal prince first came to see you, in other people’s eyes, wouldn’t that be something to criticize him for? Your Highness, you also don’t want him to be accused of being inattentive to his duties right after he got home from such a long journey, right? I believe that the young royal prince has been thinking about you this entire time! Once he organizes all of his affairs in the capital, he absolutely will rush over here to see you!”
The sound of Xiaocao’s voice seemed to have a soothing quality . Princess Consort Jing wasn’t the only one affected by her . Even Zhu Junyang, who was standing behind a tree, was shocked by her understanding of a person’s heart . He raised his icy cold eyes and looked at that smile that seemed to be as gentle as spring . The warmth melted his normally icy heart as he listened idly to her quiet chatter . It felt as if a spring wind had blown into his heart…
He looked down again and calmed down again . Once his mood had stabilized, Zhu Junyang softly pushed aside the willow branches and quickly stepped forward as he quietly said, “Lady Mother——”
Princess Consort Jing had been pulling on Xiaocao’s tiny little hands when she jerked to a stop . A self-mocking smile appeared on her face, “Ah! Look at me, I must have been thinking about my third son so much that I’m having a hallucination now!”
Yu Xiaocao gently moved her body to the side as she looked at that handsome and straight figure in the garden . The smile on her face became even more bright, “Your Highness, you’re not crazy! The young royal prince is here to see you!”
A thread of helplessness could be heard in Zhu Junyang’s voice as he raised his volume, “Lady Mother, I am an unfilial son . I made you worry too much!”
Princess Consort Jing swiftly stood up . Because she got up too quickly, her vision suddenly darkened and her body swayed lightly . She almost fell down onto the couch . Zhu Junyang’s expression rapidly changed as he strode forward to grasp his mother’s hand while Xiaocao held the princess consort’s other hand to keep her standing .
“Lady Mother, what part of you doesn’t feel well? Someone find the doctor! Now!” Zhu Junyang only lost his usual calm when he was interacting with his mother . During the darkest time of his youth, his mother was the only ray of light illuminating the deepest corners of his heart, giving him warmth in an otherwise frosty environment . Although his mother liked to tease and make fun of him sometimes, she still took care of him with all her might . He felt like he could only lean on her .
Yu Xiaocao felt Princess Consort Jing’s pulse and relaxed . She said, “Don’t worry, young royal prince . Her Highness had only stood up too quickly, which caused her to not have enough blood flow to her head . This is why she got dizzy and faint . After resting a bit, she will be fine . ” Zhu Junyang’s icy cold eyes sent out a sharp glare at her . The look in those cold eyes made Xiaocao shiver unconsciously——this young royal prince’s eyes were truly too scary!
“What are you all waiting for? Why hasn’t anyone called the imperial doctor over?!” It was obvious that Zhu Junyang didn’t have any faith in the words of a ten year old kid . He sternly scolded the princess consort’s handmaiden, Meixiang, “If this delay causes a problem for her health, then be prepared to lose your life!”
All of the blood immediately left Meixiang’s face . Under Zhu Junyang’s furious glare, the maid shivered and felt her legs go soft . The young royal prince’s anger wasn’t something to be taken lightly . When she was still an ordinary servant at the residence, she had heard that the young royal prince, at the age of nine, had chopped off the hands of Chuntao, who was Princess Consort Jing’s favorite personal maidservant .
Afterwards, an investigation discovered that Chuntao had been bribed by the prince’s concubine’s maiden family . She had been adding a slow-acting poison to Princess Consort Jing’s pastries . However, who would have expected that the young royal prince, who was still a child at the time, would find out? Luckily, it was discovered early, so the princess consort wasn’t completely harmed . Despite that, her body was still damaged from this event…
Princess Consort Jing comforted her son by patting his hand and she smiled, “Don’t worry, I’m fine! Xiaocao is very good at making medicinal cuisine . After partaking of it, my body’s condition has become a lot better . You’ve been gone for more than a year and I haven’t gotten sick this entire time . This is all thanks to Xiaocao’s hard work! Since she says I’m fine, then I should be okay! Don’t make a big fuss about nothing! Third Son, let Mother take a closer look at you——you’ve become tanner and thinner——you probably had a lot of hardships this past year, right?”
As she chattered, the princess consort’s eyes filled with tears at the thought of her son enduring difficulties . Zhu Junyang noticed that his mother was feeling down and felt panic bubble up . He hastily said, “Lady Mother, I only got tanner because I was on the deck a lot and had the sun shining on me and the wind blowing . Tanner people look thinner . Feel my arm, I’ve gained a lot of muscle! Didn’t I tell you before? The ships have more than enough food to feed me and I also caught a lot of seafood delicacies to add to my meals . I also had a lot of servants helping out, so how could I possibly have had a hard time? Mother, I feel like you’ve become thinner . It must be because you were so worried about me ah! I am truly unfilial…”
In front of Princess Consort Jing, Zhu Junyang, who was usually as cold and taciturn as an ice sculpture, finally acted like a normal person . He readily showed his emotions and spoke to her .
Princess Consort Jing wiped away the tears from the corners of her eyes . Her son always had an emotionless and cold expression on his face but right now he looked quite worried for her . A faint smile appeared on her lips, “I’ve gotten thinner you say? That can’t be true . I feel like I’ve gotten plumper instead! All of the clothes I brought along feel much tighter! This is all due to Cao’er’s help . From time to time she comes to visit me and cooks me medicinal cuisine and other tasty foods . My appetite has gotten a lot better with her around!”
Zhu Junyang inspected his mother’s face and discovered that her complexion had improved a lot . Previously her cheeks had been somewhat sunken in, but now they were healthy and plump . Her usual sickly pallor had also disappeared and there was a hint of a rosy blush now . All of this made her look more youthful . The look in his eyes as he glanced at Xiaocao had unconsciously gentled . He slightly nodded his head and said, “Many thanks, Miss Yu, for taking such good care of my lady mother!”
Yu Xiaocao hurriedly waved her hands, “You’re being too polite, young royal prince! Her Highness is a good friend of my godmother and treats me like her own niece . I’m more than happy to help her nourish and heal her body!”
Princess Consort Jing pulled Xiaocao’s pale and soft little hand into her own . Her smile was full of sincere love as she remarked, “Xiaocao is truly a little girl who warms people’s hearts! Everyone always says that a daughter is a mother’s cotton padded jacket . I have three sons and my only little cotton padded jacket is also like a boy too . She’s not sweet at all and was even stolen away by someone! Xiaocao, how about you become my daughter ah . . . ”
Zhu Junyang’s eyes twitched as if he wanted to interject . However, he didn’t quite know what was appropriate to say . For some reason, he was a bit repelled by the idea of Yu Xiaocao becoming his younger sister——Was it because he was afraid that the little girl would steal away his mother’s affection? That couldn’t be right, he was almost seventeen and was past the age when he would fight for his mother’s favor .
Yu Xiaocao revealed a somewhat helpless expression . Why did everyone want to become her godparents? Not to mention her current set of godparents, but it seemed like even the emperor emeritus also wanted to recognize her as an adopted granddaughter . Furthermore, even the headmaster of Rongxuan Academy had once hinted that she should become his granddaughter . Now Princess Consort Jing was joining in on the fun . Was it because she was too adorable and other people couldn’t resist her charms?
“Your Highness, if this was heard by my godmother, then she would definitely not agree and accuse you of trying to steal her daughter!” Yu Xiaocao’s joke also hinted at her own personal thoughts on this matter .
Princess Consort Jing was about to reply when her son butted in . Zhu Junyang deftly changed the subject to what he had seen and experienced on his journey . He babbled story after story to let his mother hear . Only after he saw that his mother didn’t propose the idea of adopting a daughter again did he finally relax .
 Yu the Great (大禹) - mythical leader who tamed the floods; excellent leader who established the Xia Dynasty