Published at 22nd of December 2020 02:07:41 PM
The birth of the new foal had gone quite well considering the circumstances . Perhaps it was because the mother horse had eaten fodder that had spiritual energy in it, so she was in good shape . Not long after Xiaocao arrived there, the mare had given birth on her own to a red colored foal . Once Doctor Wang arrived, he inspected both the mare and her new foal from head to toe . After ascertaining that both animals were doing well, he left .
Black Whirlwind squeezed through the group of people and curiously regarded the pitiful little fellow who couldn’t even stand up properly . It turned its head away in disgust and walked away . However, it was also afraid that its master would start loving the other fellow more than it, so it ended up waiting obediently at the side, acting completely different from its usual fiery and childish self . In fact, it didn’t even try to steal the drop of mystic-stone water that Xiaocao had fed to the other little foal .
The new little foal had a decent bloodline and had just been fed some mystic-stone water to improve its constitution . After spending a winter at the stud farm, the little foal would likely not be the least bit inferior to Snow Scar once it grew up! Yu Xiaocao noticed that within the wild horse herd there were quite a few other pregnant mares . Thus, she especially sent out a few experienced grooms to take good care of these mares and their future little ones . These foals were all the hope for the future at this farm! She was pretty convinced that the next generation of these horses, who would spend their entire childhood in the cozy environment of the horse farm, would likely be quite reluctant to leave such a wonderful ‘home’ in the future .
After she finished settling everything down with the wild horse herd, it was already getting close to the twelfth month . Yu Xiaocao took a few of her maidservants on a day with good weather and had them pack all of their belongings in preparation to head back to the capital .
During this time period, the guards at the stud farm had caught a few outside spies who had tried to infiltrate the area to poison their water source . After interrogating them, they confirmed that these spies had come from the Tuha'erhanbu Tribe and had been sent out by Xiao Rong’s brainless younger brother on this mission .
Did they really think that the Great Ming Empire, a fierce tiger, was a weak little Hello Kitty ah? In a pique of fury, Zhu Junyang took these spies along with some soldiers from the firearm barracks and headed out to attack the tribe with a night ambush . This group ended up setting the tribe’s winter supplies all on fire and they also hung the heads of the slain spies on the flagpoles at the camp . For these ambitious foreign tribes, it was necessary to teach them a hard lesson . Otherwise, they would never learn!
The elite warriors of the Tuha'erhanbu Tribe had finally experienced the savagery of the long-distance gunpowder powered firearms . After experiencing a complete defeat, they finally realized the giant gap between themselves and the troops from the Great Ming Empire . Just because the other side didn’t bother with them did not mean it was because they were afraid of them . Instead, it meant that they truly didn’t even regard them as a rival and saw them as little jumping fleas instead .
In the middle of winter, it was extremely difficult for a tribe like them, which lived on the outskirts, to gather extra food and supplies . Almost half of their wintering supplies had been burnt to a crisp, which meant that a large portion of the tribe would go hungry during the long winter . In addition, the new chief of the tribe was tyrannical and muddleheaded . Many of the lower-ranking warriors and commoners were quite unhappy about this turn of events and began to long for the times when Great King Xiao Rong, who was a wise leader, was still around .
Xiao Rong, who had recovered fully from his wounds in the outer residence at the outskirts of the stud farm, had already infiltrated the tribe with his two loyal advisors . He was patiently waiting for the perfect time to strike and regain his throne . When Royal Prince Yang’s firearm troops began their ambush, he took advantage of the situation and struck when the iron was still hot . He roused the warriors and people who were still loyal to him and swiftly rounded up all of the turncoats and imprisoned them . Thus, he finally regained the power that he had lost within the Tuha'erhanbu Tribe .
At this time, the tribe was facing a crisis with their lack of supplies for the harsh winter . Xiao Rong called all of the high-ranking warriors to take part in an urgent meeting and stated that he was thinking of making Tuha'erhanbu a subject-tribe under the Great Ming Empire such that the common people would be able to survive the upcoming season . Although there were a few high-ranking warriors who vehemently disliked this idea, the vast majority of people were cool-headed enough to analyze the situation logically . After realizing the severity of their situation, the votes came in and Xiao Rong’s plan was approved .
Xiao Rong then informed Royal Prince Yang of their sincere desire to become a vassal under the Great Ming Empire, so the prince immediately sent someone off on a fast horse to send this information to the capital . The emperor swiftly sent over some officials to negotiate this settlement and the Tuha'erhanbu Tribe ended up signing an agreement . Every year, the Tuha'erhanbu Tribe would give a tribute to the Great Ming Empire in raw silks and cash while the Great Ming Empire would provide the tribe with enough food and supplies to get through the harsh winters in the north . Furthermore, they would craft a marketplace where the two nations could trade freely, leading to an improved business relationship between the two…
But none of this could affect Xiaocao’s desire to go back home . Did she want to go back to Dongshan Village to celebrate the New Years this year? Or should she bring her family into the capital to celebrate it instead? Since she wasn’t sure herself, she wanted to go back earlier so that she could discuss this matter with her parents .
Zhu Junyang, on the other hand, hoped every day for a giant snowstorm . That way, they would be stuck here in the north, unable to travel . If that happened, he would be able to celebrate the New Years with the little lass himself, just the two of them! Naturally, if he could also find a way to get rid of that eyesore, Chief Steward Su, that would be even better!
Unfortunately, the weather did not cooperate with his wish . The eleventh month pretty much only had clear skies and bright sun every single day . He began to find every excuse he could to delay their departure back but his anticipated blizzard never appeared during that time .
Naturally, Su Ran, as a perceptive man, had long seen through his desires . Although he also wanted to spend a happy and bustling New Years with that lass, Xiaocao, he didn’t want that brat, Zhu Junyang, to get his heart's desire either . As Zhu Junyang was trying to find another excuse to delay Xiaocao heading back, Su Ran lampooned his idea with a single sentence, “If Royal Prince Yang is much too busy to go back, I can go in your stead and escort Xiaocao back to the capital!”
Zhu Junyang was infuriated by Chief Steward Su’s suggestion . This stinking old eunuch was definitely doing this on purpose! He was definitely deliberately going against him and instigating that lass to go back to the capital earlier! What made the prince even more angry was that the little lass expressed her approval of Chief Steward Su’s idea and was nodding her head in agreement . Did she truly want to leave him behind and head off with Su Ran alone, who only had a pretty face?
Helpless in the face of the events, at the end of the eleventh month, Zhu Junyang reluctantly journeyed off with Xiaocao back to the capital . Within their luggage, they had added a few carts of valuable fur pelts as well . Naturally, the most expensive items that they were bringing back home, the rare and hard to find medicinal herbs, were all stored within Xiaocao’s medicine box!
At the start of the twelfth month, Xiaocao finally arrived back at the capital . In the midst of a windy and snowy day, she obtained the news that Fang Zizhen and his wife were waiting to welcome their adopted daughter home at the Shili Pavilion in a suburb outside of the capital .
“Godfather, Godmother! It’s such a cold day yet you both still came out of the capital to welcome me!” Yu Xiaocao exited the carriage and excitedly threw herself into Lady Fang’s arms . After spending almost two months away from the capital, the closer she got to the city, the more Xiaocao reminisced about her time there and missed her relatives . The fact that her godfather and godmother came out to welcome her back had touched her greatly and made her feel very fortunate——she also had people who missed her!
Lady Fang carefully inspected her goddaughter from head to toe . She noticed that Xiaocao’s complexion was bright and rosy and it looked like she had gained a bit of weight as her cheeks felt much more soft under the gentle pinch of her hand . She helped the little lass to stand up straight and discovered that her daughter had seemed to have grown a bit taller . Furthermore, the girl’s body had added a bit more curve to it and she now resembled a little flower that was gradually blooming, beautiful and stunning .
She felt herself relax and revealed a smile, “Your godfather, ah, started to inquire after your whereabouts right at the start of the twelfth month . A few days ago, he found out from Imperial Prince Jing’s Estate that you would probably be back within the next two days, so he couldn’t sit still anymore . He ran out here every day . In fact, even snow didn’t stop him from heading out . I secretly calculated a bit and thought that you would likely be back by today, so I headed out with him . And see, it looks like my hunch was right . I truly did pick the right day . Doesn’t that show that us two have our hearts linked together?”
Yu Xiaocao hugged her godmother’s arm and swayed a bit as she chirped in a sweet voice, “Does that mean only Godfather was waiting for me ah? Godmother, does that mean you weren’t excited about me coming back?”
“How could she not miss you? Right after you left the capital, she began to incessantly mutter into my ears: ‘As a girl, do you think Cao’er will be able to get used to life at the border ah? Is Cao’er at the stud farm at the border yet? Will Cao’er be bullied by the horses? When will Cao’er come back? Cao’er should be back by now right? Why has she been gone for so long? It couldn’t be that something has happened right…’ She was like a broken record that it made my head spin every day . Even your younger brother learned from her and began to ask when his older sister would come back!” Fang Zizhen roasted his wife as he gently stroked his daughter’s black and silky hair with a fake helpless expression on his face .
Zhu Junyang silently stood at the side and waited until the three of them had finished their conversation before he sidled forward to wish his two future in-laws well . However, all he got in return was a disdainful eye roll from General Fang——It was this fellow who took his daughter off to the forsaken border to help him establish a horse breeding farm . Having a young maiden live in the crude and harsh conditions of the border front in order to build a stud farm was only an idea this brat could come up with!!
Fang Zizhen directly ignored Zhu Junyang, who was a royal prince, and instead warmly greeted Chief Steward Su and even thanked him for taking good care of his goddaughter .
Zhu Junyang: Clearly it was this prince who had been taking care of the little lass, alright? How was any of this related to that stinking old eunuch?
“If you want to chatter, do it once we get back to the capital . It’s windy and snowing right now, so we shouldn’t let our daughter get exposed to the cold!” Lady Fang pulled on her daughter's hand and led her onto Xiaocao’s carriage . After entering the carriage, she discovered that the inside was wide and spacious and had been appropriately supplied . There were fur blankets in the carriage and plump cushions on the seats to make sitting more comfortable . Furthermore, the carriage had a warm and welcoming brazier in the corner, which made the entire inside cozy and at a comfortable temperature . Only then did Lady Fang relax after seeing all of this .
Xiaocao nestled next to her godmother and the two of them began to chat about the residence . Lady Fang told her some good news, “When your father and mother found out that you had been sent to the border on a mission and that you wouldn’t be back until the twelfth month, they couldn't bear for you to make another journey to Tanggu Town and decided to bring their entire family over to the capital at the end of the month . ”
“My parents are coming to the capital to celebrate the New Years ah! Then what about their business in Tanggu Town?” Their farmstead in Tanggu Town had over a thousand mu in land that was cultivating out of season vegetables under greenhouse pavilions . Normally, her father and her eldest brother managed the day to day operations, so was it truly okay for them to leave at this time?
Lady Fang patted her daughter’s hand and said, “Are the stewards at the farmstead eating and drinking for nothing ah? If every owner of land and business had to manage everything themselves, then what’s the point of having stewards? You, ah, at such a young age, really like to worry over things . It’s not the first year that your family has grown vegetables out of season in greenhouses and there are so many experienced hands on the farmstead . Your parents will only be gone for less than a month, so what sort of problems could arise then?”
“You are right! Steward Ding, who is in charge of the greenhouses, is quite capable despite his young age! This is also the right time to test him . If he’s unable to handle everything, then it’s better we find a new steward to take his place instead . That way, we can avoid my father and eldest brother becoming overtired from working so hard!” Yu Xiaocao forcefully nodded her head in agreement .
Lady Fang tapped her head and lightly said, “You must be tired after traveling so long, right? Come lean against me and sleep for a bit . When we get back home, I’ll wake you up! We’ll first go back to the General’s Residence as your younger brother has been asking after you for days . If you didn’t come back soon, I’m sure he would throw a huge temper tantrum!” The ‘younger brother’ that Lady Fang was referring to was naturally her blood-related son, Fang Haolin, who had just turned three this year .