Published at 9th of November 2020 01:20:09 PM
Seeing the whole table full of similarly sized pearls that were even bigger than a thumbnail, Zhu Junyang suddenly said, "Are these pearls…gifts from the young dragon maiden that you met?"
“You can consider it that way!” Yu Xiaocao deliberately smiled in a mysterious manner . In truth, she wanted to say, ‘The pearls that the young dragon maiden had given me are all still in my pocket . ’ She had not dared to take them out, for fear of shocking others with the pearls that were about the same size as small chicken eggs .
The Pearl Hunting Competition this time was considered quite successful . They had managed to find several thumb nail-sized pearls . Including the ones that they had bought while they were in the capital, and some of the smaller pearls, there were enough to make a pearl crown . The value of the crown increased by another fold when the purple pearl that symbolized grace and eminence was placed in the center of the crown .
Anyway, during Princess Consort Duan's birthday celebration, she wore this crown and outshone all her guests, stunning the noble ladies of the capital . What made others envy her more, was that aside from this crown, the Imperial Palace had also given her a bright, sunset-red coral that was as tall as a person . She had put it on display in the middle of the hall for everyone to admire, earning praises from noble ranking ladies for raising a filial son .
Only Imperial Prince Duan and the princess consort were aware that this red coral display was actually obtained by Yu Xiaocao, that little lass, when she went diving . It was rare to find a girl with such disregard of fame and fortune at such a young age, that she would privately offer the coral to the emperor as tribute, and, though his ‘hands’, give this extremely valuable gift to them .
Princess Consort Duan was now even more curious toward this little lass who she had never met before . For a girl who was born into a farmer’s family, she was not petty at all, and her bearing was even better than the noble maidens of the capital . Moreover, she had remarkable skills in medicine . She heard that Yu Xiaocao had learnt all of this from a barefoot doctor in the countryside, and that her skills were no worse than the families well-known for their medicinal prowess . In fact, she maybe even better, as even Imperial Prince Duan’s damaged body was already slowly recovering from her nursing .
From the little girl’s skilled hands in medicine, it was clear that her teacher must have been a master of medicine who had secluded himself away from the world . Many had guessed that he was the disciple of the Medicine King Valley that the previous dynasty had annihilated . According to the rumors, the disciples of the Medicine King Valley could do the impossible—they knew ways to revive the dead and even the secret to immortality . The emperor of the previous dynasty had coveted this, and that had directly caused the annihilation of the whole Medicine King Valley .
Many had guessed that the Medicine King Valley should still have a few disciples who survived because they had left to gain experience outside of the valley . However, they were now keeping a low profile and secluding themselves deep within mountain forests and in packed cities . It was just that no one was aware of their true identity . As such, Doctor You, who had given Xiaocao enlightenment in medicine, had become a reclusive master in the words of others . As for his disciple, Xiaocao, although she had only learned the bare basics of concocting medicine and wellness, it was enough for her to be praised by others .
It had to be said that the public had quite the imagination . They found logical explanations for Xiaocao’s ‘cheat’ medicines and medicinal diets, and in effect, she was saved from a lot of explanation .
At Princess Consort Duan's birthday banquet, Yu Xiaocao held a very low profile, only giving her a set of cream that she had personally made . Her seat was also placed among the young maidens who she was close to . There were also some who she had seen before but had not had much interaction with . All in all, they got along quite well .
In the circle of well-bred, young ladies of the capital, although there would still occasionally be people who made sour remarks, the majority of the people still had good words to chip in for Xiaocao . They said that she was kind and easy to get along with, very generous towards the people who she considered her friends, and really knew how to hold refreshing gatherings . Compared to those tea banquets and flower banquets where they only sat around and talked, activities like fruit picking, hunting and beachcombing seemed so much more refreshing to the young ladies of prestigious families who had only known one source of entertainment .
During the banquet, Liang Jiahui, the granddaughter of the Grand Preceptor, saw that Xiaocao seemed quite approachable, so she asked probingly, “Miss Yu, I heard that it’s about the season that the fruits in your family’s orchard ripen . Do you have any plans of holding an orchard gathering this year?”
The youngest daughter of Imperial Prince Sa, Zhu Yaner, was a little glutton . Upon hearing this, she finally dropped her chopsticks and raised her head with sparkles in her eyes—her excitement evident in her expression . Previously, she had only heard rumors of this mysterious Official Yu, and thought that Xiaocao was a person who was vengeful and hard to approach .
After interacting with her today, she found that she was actually quite an amiable and interesting person . The delicacies that she mentioned, and her interesting stories from her time at the beach became the little girl’s yearning . The young girl regretted that she got to know her too late, which had caused her to miss out on the previous beach gathering . However, it shouldn’t be too late now . She should be invited to the next orchard gathering, right?
With Xiaocao’s status of a royal princess, the young ladies at this table were either relatives of the imperial family, or the daughters and granddaughters of first-ranked court officials who were usually quite haughty . However, after hearing He Wanning’s stories of collecting seashells at the beach, the underwater adventure and the pearl hunting competition, all of them started to long for events like this . The life of young girls could actually be so exciting!
Especially when they heard Xiaocao mention that the person who won third place in the pearl harvesting competition was actually just a fifteen-year-old girl . They started to think that perhaps being born in a fisherman’s family and living a carefree life would be much more interesting than being cooped up indoors and learning the four arts every day .
However, the freedom in their eyes was just part of the struggles of the livelihood of a daughter born into a fisherman’s family . In the eyes of the daughters of fishermen, these girls who were born with a silver spoon in their mouths were the ones who should be envied . If one wasn’t a fish, how would one know how much a fish would envy a human’s joy?
Yu Xiaocao's circle of friends widened considerably after Princess Consort Duan's birthday banquet . There was the daughter of Imperial Prince Sa, the granddaughters of the Grand Preceptor and the Director of the Imperial Court Clan… By the time the gathering was held, some of their uninvited brothers also joined them, so the group attending this fall’s orchard gathering was more than twice the size of the group that attended last year . Their group was so big that the little animals around the hill had been too scared to come out, so the animals that were caught by the traps they had set were much lesser than the number they had caught last year . If it weren’t for Little Black and Little White, they might not even have had enough ingredients to carry out the orchard barbeque!
Just like this, these peaceful days slowly passed . Because she had been keeping such a high profile for the past two years, Xiaocao did not come up with any new ways to earn money . However, even just her pharmaceutical workshop, beauty spa and greenhouse vegetables were enough for others to envy her .
With the passing of fall, came winter; and with the end of spring, summer returned . Regardless of whether it was the imperial plant breeding center, or Yu Family’s farm in Tanggu Town, they all had a plentiful harvest of fruits . The seeds of winter wheat were enough to satisfy the plantation needs of the dozen states and prefectures in the north, and corn was already becoming a common crop in the northeast and northwest . The people of the northwest, which was known for its barren lands, were finally able to keep some extra grains after filling their stomachs because they planted high-yielding corn seeds .
Just as the Yu Family’s twenty thousand mu farm in Tanggu started to show some good results, they welcomed Xiaocao’s hairpin ceremony . Originally, Xiaocao only wanted to have a meal and eat a cake together with her family in Dongshan Village, but her godmother and Royal Prince Yang were unwilling!
Needless to say, it was such a rare occasion that Zhu Junyang actually had a valid chance to court Xiaocao’s favor, how could he miss out on such an opportunity? If things went according to his way, the ceremony would be held as large-scaled and as grand as possible!
Lady Fang was also of this opinion . Before, she was only able to attend the hairpin ceremony of the daughters of other people, and who knew how many gifts she had given away . But now she finally had the chance to hold one for her own daughter . So, of course, she wouldn’t let go of this chance to earn gifts!
Xiaocao’s best friends also excitedly chipped in their ideas . Although Xiaocao had already been in the capital for a few years, she was still completely clueless about the various etiquette of the hairpin ceremony . Not to mention, her godmother had arrived at her home a few months in advance to discuss with her about how they should decorate the place . It made her feel that the ceremony was too bothersome . She dearly missed the way she celebrated birthdays in her previous life, where she could just walk into a restaurant and they would take care of everything else for her .
Oh right! In her previous life, in order to save trouble, everyone did it like this, so why couldn’t she do it now? Didn’t she have Zhenxiu Restaurant’s boss as her friend? If they could successfully host her hairpin ceremony’s banquet, it might even be a new business opportunity for Zhenxiu Restaurant!
As such, she invited Third Young Master Zhou, who was in the capital, over and told him the gist of her idea . What? She wanted to hold her hairpin ceremony in Zhenxiu Restaurant? Turn the whole third floor into a big hall that could hold the hairpin ceremony? She wanted to hold the hairpin ceremony and the banquet together as a bundle?
This idea was very fresh, so without much thought, Third Young Master Zhou, who was always willing to experiment, agreed to the plan . As Xiaocao’s hairpin ceremony was only less than two months away, Third Young Master Zhou put off every other matter and focused solely on this .
Lady Fang was disapproving when she heard that her goddaughter wanted to hold her most important fifteen-year-old coming-of-age ceremony in a restaurant, but she ultimately gave in since Xiaocao insisted . However, she was even more invested in the renovations and decorations of the hall on the third floor where the hairpin ceremony was going to be held than her own home . She mulled over almost each and every decor for half a day .
With an expert like Lady Fang who watched them closely, Third Young Master Zhou was even more confident towards the success of the hairpin ceremony and banquet . Coupled with the help of Xiaocao’s friends who were of high status, the decoration of the main hall on the third floor was done in a quick and orderly manner .
Just a few days before the hairpin ceremony, Third Young Master Zhou invited Xiaocao to check out the results . The main hall, which appeared luxurious yet elegant, presented itself to Lady Fang and Xiaocao . It was looked simple, yet also exuded magnanimity,
Every drapery in the hall was top-notch in both pattern and texture, and even the pendants on top were embellished with pearls or gemstones (these were sponsored by Royal Prince Yang) . The furnishings on the antique shelves were genuine antiques, and the paintings and calligraphy on the walls were also prized possessions of famous people . Even the floor was cut and polished from limestone that was brought back from Dali . The marble floor was as polished as a mirror, and the patterns on it were like a natural ink landscape painting . . . In short, the entire hall was decorated more beautifully than the couple's parlor room .
As for the hairpin ceremony’s banquet, that went without saying! In addition to all of the signature dishes of Zhenxiu Restaurant, Xiaocao also specially introduced several new dishes . These dishes were mainly Cantonese dishes: honey roasted pork, stewed shark's fin with vegetables, bird's nest with coconut milk and sugar, steamed striped bass, fried salt and pepper mantis shrimp, pineapple with sweet and sour pork, and steamed crabs . The head chefs of each branch of Zhenxiu Restaurant, led by Head Chef Wang, gathered together to learn and practice their culinary skills in order to make a splash at the banquet .