Chapter 476 - Setting Out
The news that Royal Prince Yang had escorted the newly titled feudal princess back to Dongshan Village to visit her family traveled quickly to Tanggu Town . County Magistrate Zhao and many of the important people in town came over on the second day to greet these two large personas . Although the feudal princess was born in a farmer’s family, Royal Prince Yang was a true bred and born royal! That being said, the whole area of Tanggu and its surrounding areas were Royal Prince Yang’s feudal lands . It wasn’t wrong for them to consider him as their master .
After County Magistrate Zhao greeted Royal Prince Yang and Feudal Princess Jinan, he exchanged a few courteous words with Yu Hai, who had the same ranking as him . He knew that Royal Prince Yang looked highly upon the Yu Family . In addition, their family had also produced a fifth-ranked feudal princess so he naturally wouldn’t dare to slight them .
He reported on the affairs of Tanggu and its surrounding areas to Royal Prince Yang and also produced the annual tax records for the prince to look over . The harbor had finished construction in the autumn and was now open for business . There was a lot of commerce now in the area and it had become quite busy . Even the nearby Tanggu Town had also become more lively and many shops had been added in that time period . Thus, the amount of taxes that they collectd had also increased compared to the previous year .
After Royal Prince Yang verified County Magistrate Zhao’s work, he awarded the man with a few valuable trinkets and complimented him a few times . County Magistrate Zhao left the Yu Family’s residence in a happy manner . Being able to show his face to Royal Prince Yang was a good thing . If he could enter the prince’s eyes, wouldn’t that mean his future was guaranteed?
Although many of the important people in town couldn’t be like County Magistrate Zhao and have a legitimate reason to see Royal Prince Yang, that still didn’t stop most of them from stopping by the Yu Residence . The stream of visitors seemed to be never ending . At the very least, the Yu Family was able to speak to the royal prince personally . Furthermore, this time, the prince didn't even reside in the mountain villa and instead took residence in one of the Yu Family’s separate courtyards . Therefore, making a connection with the Yu Family could only give them benefits .
Ever since Yu Xiaocao went back home, the Yu Family’s threshold seemed to have been stomped flat by the number of visitors who came to see them . After a while, Yu Hai couldn’t take it anymore and went back to the farmstead in town to hide . They were going to head out to the capital soon, so didn’t he have to make sure that everything was fine at the farmstead before he left? Yu Hang, as the eldest son of the family, endured another two days at home but then also fled to the farmstead in town . He saw no point in enduring these social visits as he found more value in managing the vegetables and fields in town!
Thus, the Yu Family only had females and the old left at home, so they could only apologize and not receive visitors . The eager social climbers were helpless now and could only leave behind their cards and presents before returning back without hitting their goals .
The residence had finally quieted down, so Yu Xiaocao started to organize and send the year end gifts to her relatives . Her eldest granduncle’s family was given six boxes of the best pastries from the capital as well as a large chunk of venison . They were also given several bolts of fine cotton cloth that were dyed in bright colors . Furthermore, she sent some fine pastries and local delicacies to the families they had good relationships with in the village .
Xiaocao’s maternal grandparents in Xishan Village were also given a lot of year end gifts and Xiaocao especially added a few valuable items as well . Currently, her eldest maternal aunt was entirely in charge of the piggery that supplied their pigs for their braised food shop . She had hired a few of the village matrons over there and the piggery was managed perfectly in her hands .
After they finished sending out their year end gifts, it was about time to travel to the capital . The Yu Family packed their clothes and necessities and entered the carriages . Under the envious gazes of their fellow villages, they left the village and started their journey . Other than the Yu Family, there was no one else in Dongshan Village who was able to buy a residence in the capital as well as have the opportunity to celebrate the New Years there .
“Younger Brother’s break only starts ten days later . Should we send someone over to escort him over?” Little Shitou would only turn ten this upcoming year . Xiaocao wasn’t completely okay with leaving him alone in Tanggu Town .
Royal Prince Yang was currently wrapped up in a giant, thick coat and spoke to his little lass, who was a bit anxious, through the carriage’s window, “Didn’t you ask Headmaster Yuan to take care of him ah? That being said, as soon as his break starts, Headmaster Yuan will also need to travel to the capital . Your younger brother is the disciple he is the most proud of . Even without you mentioning anything, he would make sure to take good care of Shitou . Oh right, your family’s dumb little roe deer has caught up with us…”
Yu Xiaocao stuck her head through the window to take a look . Sure enough, there was a little black dot behind the carriage that was headed towards the carriage at top speed . The Yu Family weren’t the only people headed to the capital as they had even brought Erya, a simple maidservant, along . They had asked Liu Shuanzhu’s family to help them keep an eye on their house . In actuality, there wasn’t much that needed to be watched . Other than the few rabbits and hens in the back courtyard, there was only Tiny, the dumb little roe deer, that needed to be fed .
When they left, they had locked up all of the courtyards securely and given the spare key to Shuanzhu’s wife . So how did this dumb roe deer escape from the back?
Tiny had started living with the Yu Family not long after they split from the main branch . Since it was small of stature, there wasn’t much meat on its bones so the family just raised it as a pet for the children . It had been four years since the roe deer started living with them but the animal was still the same size as it was when it first came to them . Although they called it the ‘dumb roe deer’, the little creature was quite clever and lively . Perhaps it could tell that everyone in the family was leaving and it had been ‘abandoned’ behind . Thus, it had somehow escaped from the back courtyard to chase after them .
Since she was afraid this little deer might be caught and eaten by someone, Yu Xiaocao instructed the driver to stop the carriage and wait for the little roe deer . Once it caught up, she brought it into the carriage . It wasn’t much larger than a small hunting hound, so the little creature sniffed around excitedly at first, licked Xiaocao’s hand, and then obediently laid down next to her feet . It was obvious that it thought that as long as it kept close to its master, it wouldn't be abandoned .
The little divine stone was currently in its golden kitten form and jumped in through the window . Although the divine stone was now able to take the form of a human, doing so used up quite a lot of spiritual energy to maintain it . Thus, it still liked to use its kitten form to roam about the world . While they were in the capital, the little divine stone often couldn’t go out due to circumstances and could only hole up in the multi-colored stone to cultivate its energy until it was about to die of boredom . It seized the opportunity when they went to Dongshan Village to jump out of the stone and enjoy some fresh air!
“Young Miss, your family’s pets are all so small and adorable! Especially this kitten with the shiny golden fur . This servant has never seen such a beautiful cat before!” Yingchun was still quite young and at the age where one liked tiny animals . As she talked, she stretched out a hand to try to pet the little kitten that was currently sleeping on its master’s knees .
“Little Glutinous Dumpling doesn’t have a good temper and doesn’t like other people . Usually, it likes to roam around in the wild and I often don’t know where it is . Yingchun, if you like small animals, you can help me take care of this little roe deer . It’s the apple of my younger brother’s eye!”
Yingchun joyfully pulled Tiny onto her lap . Perhaps it was because she had the scent of Yu Xiaocao on her body, but the little dumb roe deer didn’t reject her and obediently stayed on Yingchun’s lap and acted as a hand warmer .
“There are wolves! Protect our master!!” One of the bodyguards from the new residence had spotted one black and one white figure swiftly running around . At first he thought that they were large dogs but when they got closer, he suddenly realized they were too large and sturdy to be dogs . The expression on his face immediately changed and the hand on his weapon tightened . He ordered the other bodyguards to surround the Yu Family’s carriages in a defensive circle .
Wutong was scared silly by the bodyguard announcing that there were wolves in their vicinity . She crouched down in a corner of the carriage as she frantically thought, ‘As expected, being loyal comes with a price . Isn’t this an official road that most people use? How can wolves suddenly appear? I heard the older servants at the residence tell stories before and they said that wolves only usually appear in large packs . How many wolves are there? I hope these bodyguards will be able to keep us safe . ’
From the calm and collected manner of the little roe deer, Yu Xiaocao knew without sticking her head out to look that the wolves that the bodyguards hollered about were Little Black and Little White . These two usually didn’t stay at the Yu Residence when she was gone and instead spent all of their time in the mountains . Little White had fought against the alpha wolf in the wolf pack and won yet he disdained becoming the leader . After spending a short period of time with them, it leisurely traveled back and forth between Dongshan and Xishan Villages, doing as it pleased . It still remembered that before its master left for the capital, she had asked it to keep an eye on her family .
Little Black constantly caused trouble in the mountains . She once heard that it had somehow provoked a giant bear once and was in dire straits . Luckily, this fellow was clever and led the bear to a pit trap that Yu Hai had set before . Afterwards, he scrambled back to the Yu Residence to bring the male master to the trap to reap the rewards . Yu Hai kept the bear paws, gallbladder and skin and sold the rest of the meat to Zhenxiu Restaurant . They made a tidy fortune from that windfall .
Yu Xiaocao could hear the ruckus outside as the bodyguards prepared for a fight . She clearly exclaimed ‘Stop’, which scared the two nervous maidservants, Wutong and Yingchun .
When she saw that her young miss was about to lift the curtain and leave the carriage, Wutong snaked out a hand to stop her as she stuttered, “Young Miss, it’s dangerous outside . Stay inside the carriage and this servant will go out in your stead to see what’s going on!”
Yu Xiaocao cast her a somewhat surprised look . When did this maidservant finally see the light? The originally selfish and arrogant maidservant, who had been so scared that she was about to wet herself, had actually gathered the courage to volunteer to go out . . . it looked like she couldn’t keep judging a person by their past actions .
“It’s no big deal . These two wolves have been raised by me since they were young and they won’t harm me!” Yu Xiaocao smiled slightly at her and then patted gently at the hand that had a death grip on her clothing . The tone of her voice also became much warmer .
Yingchun, who had a bit more courage, opened her eyes wide and asked, “What? One can also raise wolves? Won’t they bite people?”
“Animals have a sixth sense! As long as you care for them sincerely, they will also treat you well back!” Yu Xiaocao gazed at Wutong again and then lightly laughed . She jumped off the carriage, leaving Yingchun, who had stars in her eyes, and Wutong, who had a pensive look on her face .
Little Black and Little White had already grown into Big Black and Big White . The two wolves were currently on the outside of the defensive perimeter . Since Xiaocao had fed them mystic-stone water from when they were young until now, they were about larger than the average wolf by a third . At their shoulders, they were about as tall as a half-grown calf . When you added on their thick winter coats, they looked quite large and intimidating .
As they got closer to the carriage train, the horses stamped their feet uneasily and the bodyguards on the horses tensed up in preparation and tried to calm their steeds .
Royal Prince Yang had also dismounted from his horse when Xiaocao left the carriage . He was like a knight who was protecting his ‘princess’ from every side .
When Xiaocao got to the front of the carriage train, she saw Little White with its head lowered and teeth showing . The white wolf’s appearance had thoroughly scared a nervous young bodyguard . Little Black was next to him, peering around as if it was trying to find something .
When it saw Yu Xiaocao’s figure, Little Black’s eyes lit up and it leapt up with a ‘whoosh’ sound . Its sturdy and large figure immediately disappeared from the sights of the bodyguards . One of the bodyguards looked around carefully and saw a black figure dashing out of the corner of his eye . When he turned around to look, the black wolf had already entered the group of people and was rushing toward the feudal princess .
“Be careful!” The sound of the bodyguard’s voice was choked in his throat suddenly . He rubbed his eyes . The heavens! What did he see? He couldn’t believe his eyes! Perhaps . . . perhaps they had all seen wrongly and these two animals were merely large dogs that looked like wolves instead of being vicious wolves?