The little lass’s fists weren’t very strong—they felt more like an itch when they hit Zhu Junyang . It was as though he was possessed, grinning like a fool as he stood there unmovingly, letting her hit him . Linglong watched them interact so naturally and suddenly, she felt that her young miss and Royal Prince Yang were probably made for each other . One had a cold temperament, but extremely pampered her young miss; the other was a long way off the image of a ‘virtuous wife and good mother’ in people’s hearts, but Royal Prince Yang especially liked this type .
Although Royal Prince Yang enjoyed ‘flirting’ with his little lass, Lady Fang’s ‘eyes and ears’ were still around them . No matter how much disregard he had for the views of others, he still could not completely ignore his future mother-in-law’s opinions . Marriage was decided by the parents, wouldn’t he get himself unnecessary bumps in his plan to marry his wife if his mother-in-law decided to work against him?
He caught the little lass’s fists in his hands and lightly gripped them, unwilling to let her go . Zhu Junyang lowered his head to look at her reddened face, gently saying, “Where were we? You said you want to open a new shop? Have you picked an address? Do you need my help?”
Yu Xiaocao rolled her eyes at him for seizing the chance to take advantage of her, but she really did not take him for a stranger, so she uncourteously said, “I’d like a large residence, five-sectioned, if possible, and it should have several little courtyards inside . The surroundings should be more elegant, suitable for the standing of the madams and misses of the capital and up to their aesthetic standards . You’re the overlord of the capital, just help me keep an eye out!”
“Why do you need to buy a property? I already own several properties that are quite good in both the east and west parts of the city, I’ll bring you there on another day to have a look . If you like it, I’ll just give it to you! Just take it as an early betrothal gift!” He couldn’t keep the grin from his face whenever he imagined that this little lass would be marked as his in just three years .
Yu Xiaocao glared at this handsome man who had a rare, silly expression on his face and grumbled, “I don’t want you to give it to me! This young lady has money, can I not even purchase a property? Not to mention, what kind of a relationship do we have that I can accept such a grand gift from you? What would those chatterbox madams outside say? They’d say that the newly-appointed Official Yu is a seductress, bewitching Royal Prince Yang at such a young age…”
“Who would dare! I’ll cut off her tongue!” He was once again reminded that his little lass had almost been put in harm’s way because of Assistant Minister Li’s wife and daughter, and rage rushed to his head . ‘I need to have the hidden guards look into Assistant Minister Li later, I don’t believe I won’t find any discrepancies! A family that has not even maintained its success for more than three generations dares to look down on my little lass?! I’ll let you scram back to where you came from!’
“It is more dangerous to restrict the people’s freedom of speech than to block a river . You're a crass man with thick skin . You'll be just fine, but I'm a just pure, delicate girl; I must avoid them!" Yu Xiaocao wasn’t agreeing to marry Zhu Junyang because of his assets . Moreover, although her own assets weren't as bountiful as Prince Jing's, the fortune that she had collected these past years was not to be underestimated . Did she still need to covet the properties of others?
Linglong nodded in her heart when she heard this . ‘Eldest Young Miss has really been enlightened . At the very least, she knew to maintain her distance . The madam's efforts were not a waste . ’
"Alright, you're right . I've been careless in my considerations . " ‘First rule of the Code of Conduct for the Pursuit of a Wife: The wife is right no matter what she says . You have to agree with her even if she's wrong!’ Royal Prince Yang nodded and, at the same time, thought about how to legally transfer his best property to under her name .
Yu Xiaocao's eyes flickered and then she continued, "Additionally, I have another profitable deal and I want you to come with me . Do you want to collaborate with me?"
"Of course I'll go with you!" ‘Second rule of the Code of Conduct for the Pursuit of a Wife: Follow every order of the wife . ’ Moreover, if the little lass said it was a profitable deal, then it definitely will be a profitable deal! He would be stupid if he chose to not profit when the opportunity arose! Royal Prince Yang hurriedly said, "Is there anything you need me to do? Just say it!"
"I'm planning to open up a flower tea workshop at the start of spring and I'd like to use the empty land at the foothill of your farmstead . I'd also like to plant some flowers, grass and seeds on the small hill, and I'll need you to help me watch over it, too! At that time, we'll equally split the profit of the workshop . " Xiaocao planned to make quality flower tea, so to share half of the profits in such a short time, her heart burned as though someone had dug out a piece of it .
Zhu Junyang didn't know whether to laugh or cry as he noticed the little lass's expression . She was the one who decided the profit-sharing; he didn't push for it at all, so why did she look like she was being bullied? ‘Third rule of the Code of Conduct for the Pursuit of a Wife: Everything should be done to the wife's liking, and the husband should unwaveringly side with her!’
"Half the profit is too much considering the fact that I'm only sponsoring some empty land . I can't take advantage of you like this . What about this, whatever help you need with the workshop, just tell me, I'll help you build it . At the same time, make a list of all the flowers and seeds that you need, I'll definitely get all of them for you as long as they can be found within our Ming Dynasty . And even if they can't, I'll look for ways to get them to you! Twenty percent of the profits of the workshop is enough for me . " Just as Zhu Junyang finished his last sentence, he saw that the little lass was grinning from ear to ear .
In his heart, he couldn't help but shake his head, 'Who do you take after, to be so avaricious? Don’t you realize that even if you gave me your money now, all of it would still belong to you in the future? At most, I’d only be safeguarding it for you for a few years…’
Yu Xiaocao was quite satisfied with Royal Prince Yang’s ‘tact’, and in her state of happiness, she lost all sense of measure, heavily patting Zhu Junyang’s chest a few times while she smiled, “Rest assured, if you follow this lady, I’ll make sure you live in the lap of luxury!”
At the side, Linglong held her face in her hands, ‘Oh, my mistress! What is Royal Prince Yang’s status? Ever since he was born, he’s led a comfortable life, whyever would he need to follow you? . . . that’s not right, when Royal Prince Yang was born, chilis had not yet been brought to our country, so it’d be a little difficult for him if he wanted to eat something spicy…’
Zhu Junyang, however, held in his laughter, lowering his head to look at the soft, warm, little hand that was rampaging on his chest, close to his left breast . He chuckled, “Very well, I’ll be waiting to live well under Official Yu!”
“Hehe! You don’t say; this lady will treat you to good food today!” Yu Xiaocao suddenly remembered that the kitchen had been able to procure a deer this morning and smiled, “I’ll treat you to mala hotpot . Will you honor me, Royal Prince Yang who is always busy?”
“Even if I’m busy, I still won’t miss your cooking!” ‘Fourth rule in the Code of Conduct for the Pursuit of a Wife: Recklessly throw compliments—men who are sweet talkers get the prize!’
At lunchtime, General Fang braved the wind and snow and made it back home, and the whole family, along with a freeloader (Royal Prince Yang), enjoyed venison hotpot in the parlor room . The pot had been specially made according to the style and shape of Beijing hot pots, with a divider in the middle so as to accommodate Fang Haolin's tastes . One side of the pot used clear, black chicken soup for its soup base, while the other used authentic, old Chongqing mala hotpot ingredients as its soup base .
Plates of thinly sliced venison, lamb, various meatballs and fish balls, as well as tofu skin, tofu, spinach and other green vegetables were on the table . This was paired with a dip made by Xiaocao that had the entire family stuffing themselves full . Even Little Linlin ate a lot of meat and fish balls!
While helping her son to cook the lamb, Lady Fang pretended to ask casually, “Cao’er, are you going back to Dongshan Village this New Year’s, or are you celebrating in the capital?"
“Er . . . I think I’ll still go back to Dongshan Village . My family is there, so it wouldn’t be right if I didn’t go back . ” It had been a long time since Yu Xiaocao returned to Dongshan Village, and she missed her relatives who stayed there, as well as the simple Dongshan villagers .
“What’s wrong about it? You've already spent a dozen New Year's with Brother Dahai, but you've never spent a New Year with me and your godmother! Don't go back this year, the four of us will have our own celebration!" Fang Zizhen was really treating Xiaocao like his own daughter . His daughter was such a lovely person, not to mention that she understood his temperament! It was a pity that Yu Hai kept trying to steal his daughter from him . It was so displeasing!
He didn’t seem to recall that Yu Xiaocao was still surnamed Yu, after all, and she was Yu Hai's own flesh and blood . At first, Yu Hai pitied him because he had no children of his own, so he shared his daughter with him, but now it had become a case of Yu Hai stealing his daughter from him . Ai! You really couldn’t reason with such a crude person!
“Er…” Both front and back sides of her hand had flesh on it, and both her godfather and biological father were still her fathers . Yu Xiaocao was put in between a rock and a hard place .
Even just his movements of cooking the ingredients in the soup was so pleasing to the eye . Zhu Junyang helped the little lass blanch a bowl of venison and lamb, then refilled her empty cup with fruit tea before he leisurely said, “What’s there to argue about? Wouldn’t it be simpler to just bring Xiaocao’s family into the capital for New Year's?”
Upon hearing this, Fang Zizhen slapped his thighs and loudly concurred, “That's a good idea! Brother Dahai wasn’t able to take a good look at the capital the last time he was here! It's much more lively in the capital than in Tanggu Town during the New Year! Cao’er, you should bring your siblings over, and when the time comes, you can bring them to the temple fair and enjoy the lanterns . Everybody can have fun together!"
“Father, Older Sister, Linlin also wants to see the lanterns!” Fang Haolin quickly jutted in after swallowing the piece of tofu that his mother fed him .
“Okay! When the time comes, I’ll bring Linlin and your older sister to see the lanterns together, and buy Linlin a bunny lantern…” Fang Zizhen pinched his son's chubby little face, grinning so widely his eyes had turned into slits—as if the matter was already settled .
“Linlin wants a big tiger lantern, not a little bunny!” Ever since he heard his older sister’s story of the mighty tiger, tigers had become the object of affection for our little friend, Fang Haolin, because it was the best of all the animals!
“Very well, we’ll buy both the tiger and the bunny!” Fang Zizhen’s laughter resounded within the parlor room .
Looking at her godfather's exuberant expression, Yu Xiaocao really couldn't bear to spoil it for him . However, if the entire family was to spend the New Year in the capital, disregarding all the effort it would take, it would already be a difficult challenge in itself to find a place to fit the entire family . If they lived in the Fang Residence, her family would definitely not feel at ease . Did she have enough time to buy a house now?
Sigh . . . why hadn’t she thought of buying a yard of her own in the first place? She seemed to have had the intention at the beginning, but then her godparents were afraid that she would move out of the Fang Residence after she bought her own residence, so they had strongly opposed her, and that was the end of it .