Chapter 89 - Tuition
In the evening, the whole family sat around a round table . They were drinking delicious fish head stew and eating fragrant braised fish, while happily talking about their results for today .
âSecond Sister! At the beginning, when we were selling the pickled fish, everyone just looked at the fish and was unwilling to buy them because the fish were too small . So, I took a small one and ate it in front of them . I told them that the fish bones had become very crispy and tender, so it was alright to eat them . After that, they were finally willing to take out money and buy them . â Little Shitou drank a big mouthful of the fish stew and felt extremely pleased in his heart . A month ago, the crude grain pancakes had never been able to satisfy his hunger . When had he ever lived such a good life, to be able to eat fish every day?
âAt the beginning, I was really worried because they didnât buy much . Fortunately, those who bought the pickled fish all said it was very tasty . Many of them also bought another one to take home for their children to eat! Uncle Hao bought five servings at once . He ate one himself and took the rest back home . He said that there was a lot of work at the docks recently, so he wanted to spend the money that he had earned on his family . With such cheap and delicious food, if he didnât buy some back, he will be scolded by Auntie Hao!â
Little Shitouâs crisp voice filled the entire room, while everyone looked at him with a smile . Happiness was really just that simpleâŠ
âMore than a hundred fish were completely sold out in less than thirty minutes . The leader of another group of dockers, Brother Six, also bought five servings . Foreman Sun almost fought with him in order to get the last portion of pickled fish!â Little Shitou proudly said, âSo, I divided the last serving of fish and gave a free fish to each of them to put an end to the fight . Second Sister, Iâm really clever, right?!â
Xiaocao tapped the tip of his nose and praised him, âYes! Our familyâs Shitou is the best . Youâre only six, but youâre already so smart . Itâs no wonder that Teacher Yuan, who has such discerning eyes, likes you!â
Little Shitou felt even more proud of himself and kept chattering endlessly . In the end, he squinted his smiling eyes and said, âSecond Sister, guess how much money we earned at the docks today? GuessâŠâ
Xiaocao was very clear about the quantity of fish they had . But, she deliberately frowned, pretended as if she was thinking very hard, and intentionally guessed the wrong amount, âFifty copper coins? At most sixty copper coinsâŠâ
Little Shitou couldnât restrain his excitement and immediately reported todayâs earnings, âNo, youâre wrong! Itâs one tael and seventy-eight copper coins!! Look, this is one tael! Itâs my first time seeing so much money . The shiny silver is so beautiful!â
The little fellow impatiently took out the purse that he had been holding in front of his chest . He took out the piece of silver and put it on the table . The family gathered around and looked at the money with a surprised expression .
Xiaocao wondered, âXiaolian, Shitou, did you guys meet a tycoon this time? To pay you one tael, heâs even more generous than Fatty Jin from this morning . â
Little Shitou was very pleased with himself as he touched the silver bits . His eyes were narrowed as he smiled, âSecond Sister, whatâs a tycoon? Is it edible?â
Xiaolian glanced at him and said, âLet me explain instead . As soon as we reached the docks, we encountered the son of the county magistrate . He had even mistaken me for you . Young Master Wu had gone to the docks to pick someone up . He tasted our pickled fish and thought that it tasted very good, so he packed some to go . However, he had come out in haste and didnât bring any loose change . He also didnât bring a manservant with him, so he just gave us a piece of silver . I told him that I didnât have enough change for him, but the ship he was waiting for had arrived . Thus, he told us to just keep the change . â
âHehe, we sold five servings of pickled fish for one tael . It would be great if we can encounter such a foolishly-generous spender every day!â It was unknown where Little Shitou had learned the term âfoolishly-generous spenderâ, but he had used it in quite a fitting situation .
Madam Liu scolded him jokingly, âYou little money-grubber! You were lucky to have met two generous, wealthy people today . But, this lucky encounter was like a pie-in-the-sky . Do you really think it will happen every day? Iâll keep this piece of silver for you . In a few days, when you go study in town, you can also go pay the tuition!â
Since they had even for the first monthâs schooling fees, Little Shitou felt even more elated . He was so lively for the entire night that he couldnât even fall asleep .
After dinner, Xiaocao took Madam Liu and Xiaolian and taught them how to make blood sausage . She had already sliced up the clotted pig blood and boiled a large bowl of plain pork broth with various seasonings . After it cooled down, she added it into the pig blood . After that, she put in chives and stirred it evenly . Afterwards, she stuffed it into the cleaned small intestine and tied it securely with a string . Xiaocao had purposely saved the pigâs small intestine by instructing her mother not to put it in with the rest of the braised food .
After stuffing the blood sausages, cook it in plain water and then stew it on low heat for fifteen minutes . When it was ready, soak it in cold water until it cooled down . When cooled, remove the string before eating . The method of making blood sausage was relatively easy, and the taste depended on the combination of seasonings used for the plain pork broth . However, Madam Liu and Xiaolian were both people who constantly worked in the kitchen . Thus, they had swiftly mastered the ratio needed for the seasonings .
She drank a cup of highly concentrated mystic-stone water before bed and had a great sleep . On the next morning, Xiaocao felt energized and refreshed . The fatigue on her body had been swept away . Today, she needed to bring a lot more food to sell at the docks . In addition to the braised pig head, large intestine, stomach, and blood sausage, there was also over a hundred small fish .
In the past two days, according to Xiaocaoâs observation, there would be at least two to three hundred dockers transporting goods on the docks . Grandpa Liu, who sold noodles, said that February and March were the busiest months at the docks . Most businesses didnât transport goods in December and January . The New Year celebrations was one of the reasons . The other reason was because the coastal waters of the northern regions were frozen, making it difficult for ships to sail . So, in February and March, when the weather was warming up again, the merchants began transporting goods that they had accumulated over the winter from the south to the north .
Her one copper coin braised food was delicious and cheap, so she wasnât worried about not being able to sell them whatsoever!
âCaoâer, Father will go borrow a handcart from your Uncle Qian . Today, letâs go to the docks together!â Yu Hai saw that the braised food and pickled fish had filled two baskets and looked quite heavy . He was afraid that the two kids would be tired, so he suggested . Â
Xiaocao called for the little divine in her mind, [Little Glutinous Dumpling, can you hear me?]
[What do you want? Iâm sleeping, so stop bothering me!] The little divine stone grumpily said .
[Iâll just bother you for a moment with a question . With the current condition of my fatherâs leg, can he walk for a long time?] Xiaocao felt somewhat worried and asked .
Little Divine Stone hmphed and said, [His leg, veins, and bones have all grown well . More exercise is beneficial to his recovery process . Donât worry, itâs fine for him to go to the docks . ]
Madam Liu, who was beside him, asked with concern, âIs your leg okay? Donât people say that it takes a hundred days to recover after injuring the veins and bones . It hasnât even been a month yet, will you really be alright?â
Yu Hai kicked his left leg and said, âItâs my own leg, so Iâm very clear about its condition . As long as I donât do any heavy labor, it should be fine . Iâm just pushing two baskets while walking, so itâs alrightâŠâ
Under his insistence, Madam Liu had no choice but to let him go . When they were leaving, she reminded Xiaocao to help her father push the cart and donât let him do too much work .
The handcart was a wooden wheelbarrow . Yu Hai hung the cartâs rope on his shoulder and firmly held onto the handles with his strong hands . He strode forward as he steadily pushed the handcart . Despite his limp, his legs were longer than Xiaocaoâs, so his one step was two or three steps for her! Xiaocao could barely catch up to her father, let alone help him push the handcart .
Yu Hai, who was used to doing hard labor, had been idling at home for nearly a month and felt that his bones were rusting . He finally had the chance to help out, so his whole body was naturally full of energy . He turned around and saw his daughter panting for breath, so he stopped and said with a smile, âCome up, Father will push you!â
Xiaocao hastily shook her head and said, âFather, I can walk myself! Your leg hasnât fully recovered yet and youâre also pushing a cart full of braised foodâŠâ
Before she had even finished speaking, her father had already lifted her up with one arm and placed her on the wheelbarrow . Although she had been carried several times in the past half of a year since she had transmigrated, it was the first time that he had slipped her under his armpit and lifted her up . Xiaocao felt slightly embarrassed and looked around to make sure no one saw it .
âHa, do you really think that you can tire me out with that weight of yours? Caoâer, you need to eat more . You only have bones on your body and thereâs barely any meat!â Yu Haiâs heart ached and felt remorseful as he nagged . In his mind, he planned to buy some white rice and wheat flour back for the children after they finished selling todayâs braised food . It was the childrenâs growth period, so they shouldnât eat coarse grain flatbread all the time like themâŠ
Being escorted by her father, Xiaocao walked for a while, and also sat on the cart that her father pushed for a while . When they were resting on the road, she eagerly helped massage her fatherâs left leg and asked Little Divine Stone to quickly help relieve his fatigue . It was still early when they arrived at the docks .
âGood morning, Grandpa Liu!â Xiaocao cheerfully greeted the kind and gentle old grandfather . These past few days, her business had been booming, so it was inevitable that some people were green with envy, especially those who sold pickled vegetables and stir-fried dishes . From time to time, they would make jealous remarks, but Xiaocao was too lazy to argue with them and just ignored them . Grandpa Liu was the only one who was kind to her from the beginning to the end . He would always warmly bring a stool over and let the siblings rest on it .
Grandpa Liu, who was working hard on kneading the dough, heard the sound and looked up . He smiled and said, âOh, itâs Xiaocao . You came pretty early today . Are you tired? Come sit down and rest for a while . Oh? Little Shitou didnât come with you today?â
âNo! My father came with me today!â Xiaocao smiled as she pointed to Yu Hai, who was parking the handcart by the roadside .
Old Liu looked at Yu Hai, who had limped over . A sense of realization flashed in his mind: âItâs no wonder that they would allow two young children to come and sell things . It turns out that their fatherâs legâŠâ
âXiaocaoâs father, quickly come and rest . You must be tired after walking such a long way . â Grandma Liu came out of the shack and greeted him warmly .
Yu Hai was stunned for a moment, but he immediately smiled and thanked them, âThank you! You must be the Grandpa Liu and Grandma Liu that Xiaocao often mentions? I must thank you two elders for taking care of them these past two days . Many thanks, many thanks!â
âNo need to thank us! Xiaocao and her younger brother are both very capable . Ever since she came here, my noodle business has been doing much better!â Old Liu wiped his hands and exclaimed .
He was right . In the past, there wasnât anything good to eat at the docks . Thus, most of the workers on the docks usually brought food from home . At most, a few people would pool in some money and buy some pickled vegetables to eat together . However, most people wouldnât even come to this side at all .
Ever since Xiaocaoâs one copper coin meat dish became popular among the dockers, many people who had bought the meat dish would also buy a bowl of hot noodles from the nearby noodle stall . It was much better to eat a warm bowl of noodles with meat dish than to eat the hard to swallow dried rations . Other than the noodle stalls, the business of the steamed buns stalls nearby had also gotten a lot better . However, those who sold pickled vegetables were full of resentment .