Chapter 351 - Catching Cicadas Under the Moonlight
The night sky appeared very clear after being washed by the rain, and the dark blue sky was covered with stars . A bright moon was hanging high in the sky . Its faint light was like a thin gauze that lightly shrouded the mountain forest, leaving a silver glow on the top of the trees .
A cool breeze gently blew . The cicadas in the forest showed off their clear throats, while the crickets in the thickets sang a long melody . In the dark, the fireflies danced around the small lanterns… Suddenly, the cicadas went silent and the crickets stopped singing . The fireflies also hid within the thickets . The little fairies of the mountain secretly watched the group of people who broke the silence of the forest .
When they passed by the piggery, Yu Xiaocao called Liu Feiyan to come along with them . Little Black, who was responsible for guarding the entrance of the piggery, excitedly played with Little White as they ran in the front . At times, they stopped and turned around to look at their masters with their emerald green eyes .
At the beginning of spring, Big Gray had returned to the mountains . The two wolf pups with different colored fur, Little Black and Little White, were almost one year old . During the past half a year, they grew crazily like inflated balloons . With all four limbs on the ground, they were nearly up to Xiaocao’s chest . One was black, while the other white . They had the same emerald green eyes, same tall physique, and the same dense fur . They had very distinctive personalities; one was lively and the other was cool . The children all really liked them . The villagers all thought that Little Black and Little White were dogs that were mixed with wolves . They had also saved their young master before, so the villagers had good feelings towards them . The two little wolves had never harmed the domestic animals raised by the villagers . Everyone lived together in a harmonious and peaceful manner…
Royal Prince Yang and Yu Xiaocao walked in front of the group with glass lanterns in their hands . Little White followed Xiaocao step by step, like a loyal guard . Whenever there was any movement, he would stop in his tracks and quietly listen with his ears pricked up . The others followed behind them gleefully, and occasionally bent down to look for something in the grass .
Yu Xiaocao was very experienced in catching cicadas . She knew that the best time to catch them was between seven to eight in the evening . She took out a pocket watch and checked the time with the help of the lantern . It was about time, so she led the group of excited kids to the foot of the mountain forest .
With her chest proudly thrusted out, she began assigning the tasks, “Form groups of two or three and just stay around this small forest . Don’t run off too far and shout loudly if something happens . Little Black and Little White will swiftly go assist you guys! Catching cicadas is very simple . Just shine the light of the lantern on the tree trunk, and when you see it, just catch it! That’s all you have to do! Alright, that’s it for now, dismissed!”
Liu Fangping, whose hands were held by his older sister, asked with a grin, “Cousin Xiaocao, why do you speak with a northeastern accent? It sounds so close and dear ah!!”
Liu Yaner squeezed his little hands and said, “She must have heard it when you were teaching Little Shitou . She didn’t learn it properly, so it sounds nondescript and quite funny!”
Under the dim light of the lantern, Zhu Junyang saw Yu Xiaocao with her hands placed on her hip and speaking in a spirited manner . She looked like a little squirrel that just snatched a large pine nut . She was becoming more and more interesting . Holding the back of her collar, he brought her to his side and said, “Let’s form a team . This prince will protect you!”
This big-eyed ‘little squirrel’ rolled her eyes at him, and then pulled his hands away, saying, “This part of the forest is very safe . At most, there would be some wild hares and pheasants appearing . Would this maiden need your protection?” As she spoke, she walked towards a big tree with a lantern in her hands .
“There aren’t any beasts, but snakes would appear in the grass in the summer…”
Before Zhu Junyang had finished speaking, that proud ‘little squirrel’ screamed and jumped back next to him . She hid behind him and tightly grasped the corner of his clothes with a flustered expression, “Snakes? Where? Where is it??”
[Coward, that kid is tricking you!! With this Divine Stone around, what are you afraid of?] The little divine stone’s scornful voice sounded in her mind . A small, golden figure swiftly scrawled on top of Little White’s back . It found a place on the top of his head and lay down comfortably . Had it been someone else, with Little White’s proud temper, there was no way that he would let others ‘beard the lion in his den’ . However, the little divine stone used its power to regulate his body in exchange, so he reluctantly stopped himself from shaking the little kitten off .
Zhu Junyang also saw the little golden cat, which was only about the size of his fist . It had been over a year, yet it still hadn’t grown at all and it always looked so miniature . He laughed and said, “One will always raise a pet similar to oneself . This little kitten is so tiny ah!”
Yu Xiaocao immediately forgot that he had scared her with snakes, and exploded in anger, “What do you mean? I have grown taller, okay!! Since the beginning of spring til now, I have grown at least 7 centimeters…”
“Oh, I can’t tell . You still look so short!” Zhu Junyang measured the top of her head which reached up to his own waist .
Yu Xiaocao stomped her feet like an enraged little rooster . She angrily hollered with her neck stretched out, “You can’t tell because you’re also growing!! Compared with the measurements that I marked on the wall last year, I have grown this much, this much!!” As she spoke, she made a gesture with her hands to show him that she had indeed grown in height!
Zhu Junyang walked up to a tree and pointed at a black bug that was crawling on the trunk . He asked with slight disdain, “Is this the edible bug that you mentioned? It looks so ugly!”
Yu Xiaocao ran over to hold onto the cicada, and then put it into the jar tied around her waist . She wrinkled her nose at him and said, “You think it’s ugly? I reckon you’re actually afraid of it, right? Then don’t eat it after it’s fried ah!”
“This prince has already tried locust, so would I still be afraid of this little bug?” Zhu Junyang proudly snorted . He reached out his arm, picked up a cicada that was high up on the tree, and dangled it in front to her, which resulted in her rolling her eyes at him .
Yu Xiaocao patted Little White’s neck and decided to stay far away from this haughty drama queen, lest she get infected . Anyway, she had the little divine stone and the two guards, Little White and Little Black, protecting her, so she wasn’t afraid of those creepy-crawlies .
When she moved a few steps to the side, Zhu Junyang also walked a few steps to the side . He followed her step by step, so no matter what she did, she still couldn’t shake off this little tail . Whatever! Proper business was more important . Holding the lantern and bending over, Yu Xiaocao searched for larvae of cicadas on the trunks and bushes .
Unlike in her previous life, where cicadas were nearly gone, it seemed like they could catch some every few steps . Sometimes, they were able to catch a few cicadas on the same tree . Yu Xiaocao became increasingly enthusiastic as she continued to catch the cicadas . The small jar around her waist had filled up unknowingly .
Suddenly, Little White’s ears moved, and he shifted into an alert stance . Yu Xiaocao was alarmed and hurriedly moved closer to her little tail, Zhu Junyang . She had accidently stepped on the young prince’s feet in a panic .
Zhu Junyang, who was holding a cicada, strangely asked, “What’s wrong? Did you see something?”
“There seems to be something in the thickets, shhh…” It wouldn’t be a snake, right? The thing that she feared the most was those slippery and cold animals with smooth skin . But, Little Divine Stone, who was on top of Little White’s head, didn’t give her a warning, so there shouldn’t be any danger . Yu Xiaocao’s violently beating heart gradually calmed down .
Right at this time, Little White suddenly jumped onto the thick bushes, and his strong figure disappeared within the darkness . Yu Xiaocao was somewhat worried, “Will Little White be alright?”
Although Little White and Little Black often brought back small game when they frolicked in the mountains, after all, they were still very young and had never encountered fierce beasts . They also didn’t have any experience with intense fighting . No one could guarantee absolute safety in the mountain forest at night . Perhaps, one or two fierce beasts might emerge from an unknown corner of the mountain .
“Little White is a wolf, not a dog!” Zhu Junyang wasn’t worried at all . It might be dangerous for Little Black, that dumb wolf, to encounter a ferocious beast, but the survival skills of that haughty little wolf, Little White, wasn’t inferior to Big Gray . If he encountered a lone wolf or cheetah, he should still be able to fight .
In Yu Xiaocao’s heart, she couldn’t forget how Little White looked when she first brought him home . He was just a baby wolf that hadn’t opened his eyes . She anxiously checked the thickets and refused to walk away . Suddenly, she felt a furry head pushing at her arm . She turned around and was startled by a pair of emerald green eyes . With a closer look, it turned out to be Little Black . There wasn’t a single strand of hair that was of a different color on his body, so he was completely hidden in the darkness of the mountain forest . At a glance, only a pair of green eyes could be seen .
Little Black shook his head excitedly and had a look in his eyes that seemed to be asking to be praised and caressed . Yu Xiaocao didn’t quite understand, so Little Black touched her hand with his nose . She knew what he meant and stretched out her hand . From within Little Black’s warm mouth, a squirming cicada fell onto her palm .
It seemed like this fellow saw that everyone was catching cicadas so he joined in the fun to help . The dark night was nothing in the eyes of wolves, but it was quite hard for him to hold a thumb-sized cicada in his big mouth without harming it a bit . He had such good control of his strength! Yu Xiaocao continued to stare in the direction that Little White disappeared in as she patted his head in a perfunctory manner .
At this time, everyone had gotten a decent harvest . Those who had filled up the vessels that they brought gradually gathered over . Seeing Yu Xiaocao staring at a cluster of bushes motionlessly, they also curiously looked in that direction . When Little White emerged with a wild hare in his mouth, he was bewildered by those strange humans—why were they all gathered here? The wild hare was for his young master, so no one was allowed to steal it!
Yu Xiaocao checked out everyone’s harvest and saw that there were a lot of cicadas in their vessels . It seemed like they got quite a large harvest! In addition, they also got a plump hare . They would definitely have a sumptuous meal tomorrow!
When they got home, Yu Xiaocao got a wooden bucket and filled it with salt water . After she cleaned the cicadas, she put them in the bucket to be soaked for a night . Once the flavor seeped in, it would taste better when fried!
The night passed by peacefully . The next morning, the three siblings of the Liu Family, Yu Hang, and Yu Xiaolian woke up very early . They picked vegetables in the courtyard as they waited for Yu Xiaocao, who was sleeping in, to wake up . The three Liu siblings had never tried cicadas . Allegedly, in the northeast, these things were caught to be fed to chickens . However, Yu Hang and Yu Xiaolian had eaten them before . When the three siblings heard them describe the fragrantly scorched taste of the fried cicadas, they almost drooled . They were filled with even more anticipation .
After much wait, Xiaocao had finally woken up . The group of children didn’t need the adults’ help as they lit the fire, made the pancakes, and cooked the porridge . With so many people helping, they quickly finished preparing breakfast .
Yu Xiaocao fished out the cicadas that they caught last night from the salt water and cleansed them with clean water . With the different cooking methods of deep-frying, dry-frying, and pan-frying, she different flavor dishes like ‘salt and pepper cicadas’, ‘spicy cicadas’, ‘cicadas stir-fried with shredded ginger’, ‘spicy and numbing cicadas’, and so on .