Chapter 472 - Homesickness

“Hey! Elder Brother, you actually guessed correctly! Sure enough, Xiaocao has returned!” How could Old Yu still continue to play chess? He took large strides towards the carriage and waved back at her to welcome her.

The sixty-year-old man who was playing chess with Old Yu hesitantly asked, “Lichun, since Yu Xiaocao is now a feudal princess, do we have to greet her on our knees?”

Yu Lichun chuckled and said, “Don’t worry, Xiaocao is the most benevolent and righteous girl I’ve ever met. She won’t put on a front! She is a feudal princess, but she is also from our Dongshan Village, and she is also a descendant of our Yu Family…”

He hadn’t even finished speaking yet when the carriage stopped under the old elm tree at the entrance of the village. Xiaocao was clothed in pink paired with a silver mink fur cloak. She looked like a lovable and small girl as she jumped down from the carriage. The old villagers widened their eyes in surprise at the adorable little girl.

Was she still Yu Xiaocao, Old Yu’s granddaughter? When they saw her in the past, she was as skinny as a cat. People thought that she would probably be unable to survive much longer, but she proved them all wrong. She had only gone to the capital for half a year, and they were barely able to recognize her because of how much she changed. The thin satin clothing that she was wearing shimmered in the sunlight, making the villagers unable to open their eyes. She was pretty and had a confident aura around her. There was no one in Tanggu Town who could even compare to her beauty.

If Old Yu hadn’t introduced her as his granddaughter, they would’ve thought that she was the daughter of a high ranking official! The two girls standing behind her were her maids, right? Even the maids were dressed more exquisitely than the daughters of the wealthy families in town!

“Grandfather, Eldest Granduncle, Grandfather Li...are you guys basking in the sun?” Yu Xiaocao greeted everyone intimately. There was no arrogance in her manner or tone even after her identity changed.

Old Li——the sixty-year-old who was just mentioned, had a slightly reserved smile on his tanned red face. He rubbed his hands and said, “That’s right! The weather is great today...Xiaocao, did you just return from the capital?”

Yu Xiaocao nodded her head and was just about to respond when Yangfan’s wife interrupted her, “Xiaocao, are you here to take your grandfather, father, and mother to the capital to celebrate the New Year? Sure enough, you’ve received blessings from the gods after all the calamity you faced. Ever since your head injury was cured five years ago, your luck has been getting better and better. You saved someone's life and even gave away your secret recipe. Then, you showed so much talent in the field of farming. Now, you’re the first female official in our country! Tsk tsk...you’ve also been conferred the title of a feudal princess and an estate! Xiaocao is a really blessed girl!”

“Auntie, I should thank you! If you hadn’t found me in time, then I probably wouldn’t be alive right now! Auntie, I brought you some pastries from the famous Daohua Village’s Pastry Shop in the capital. Please have some!”

Yu Xiaocao had just finished speaking, when Wutong who was standing behind her, took out a small exquisitely wrapped wooden box that contained some pastries from the carriage. The box was decorated with a delicate pattern and looked quite expensive.

Yangfan’s wife had never seen such a beautiful box. The pastries inside must be quite expensive. She hurriedly shook her head and said, “We’re all one family in this village. No matter who it was that encountered an accident, we will also help out. Quickly take the pastries back, Auntie cannot accept it!”

“Auntie, please take it! Even if we ignore the fact that you saved my life, you are like a sister to my mother. Consider this as a snack from your niece and accept it.” Yu Xiaocao turned around and took the pastry box from Wutong. Then she stuffed the box in Yangfan’s wife’s hands.

Old Yu looked at them and chuckled. "Yangfan’s wife, you should just take it since Xiaocao gave it to you. It’s just a box of pastries, it’s not that expensive.”

The villagers enviously looked at the box of pastries. Their hearts sighed sorrowfully. Three years ago, Old Yu was closely controlled by Madam Zhang. He wasn’t even given one copper coin by Madam Zhang. After he was brought in by his second son, Old Yu didn’t lack any food or clothes. Old Yu’s son also gave him a lot of pocket money to spend every month. In the past, he didn’t even have the power to give away one piece of a steamed bun. Yet right now, he was able to say that the box of pastries was not expensive even though it probably was. Old Yu finally received his blessings and nothing could stop it!

“Eldest Granduncle, how is your health? I have prepared a New Year’s gift for you. It might be difficult for you to carry it, so I will send someone to send the gift over to your house later!” Yu Xiaocao said affectionately as she looked at him with a kind smile on her face.

Yu Lichun smiled and said, “I don’t lack anything at home, so there’s no need for you to spend money on me...Third Younger Brother, it must’ve been hard for Xiaocao to come all the way here. She probably didn’t even have time to eat lunch yet. Hurry up and take her home...Xiaocao hasn’t seen your new house after it was repaired! Take her to go see it!”   

Even though Yu Lichun had said that, he was still very happy. Xiaocao was a girl who knew how to repay other people’s kindness. When she was sick, his family had given her family some money so they could afford to see a doctor. It was just a simple matter, yet she still remembered it deeply.

After they split households, her family’s livelihoods got better and better. Xiaocao never forgot to send his family some things during New Year’s and other holidays. When she started her business, she didn’t forget to bring Yu Jiang and Yu Xi over to earn money together. Now, his family was not only in charge of purchasing seafood from other people, but his family also planted watermelons. He was able to sell the watermelons to a few nearby wealthy estates!

Now, his family had become the second wealthiest family in the village. This was all thanks to the care that Xiaocao’s family had shown them!

Yu Xiaocao had always treated her eldest granduncle as her own grandfather. She took his hand and exchanged some words with him. It wasn’t until her stomach started growling that Yu Lichun urged her to go home and eat. She finally said, “Eldest Granduncle, I will go to your house to bow and greet you for the New Year after I finish eating…”

Yu Xiaocao didn’t ride the horse carriage to her house. Instead, she walked the familiar paths in the village. Not far behind her was the carriage that she was originally riding on. Behind that, were five carriages that were carrying specialty items from the capital. The villagers quietly began to gossip after seeing those carriages. 

“Old Yu’s house is certainly flourishing! Based on the items on these five carriages, she probably spent several hundred taels of silver! Xiaocao sure has a loose hand when it comes to spending! I bet the six-month salary she received as an official has all been spent on these five carriages!”

“What are you saying? Did you think Xiaocao lives only on her salary as an official? I heard that she had set up a braised food shop in the capital. She opened the shop as a partnership with a very distinguished noble from the capital. Based on the dividends, she could probably afford more than just five horse carriages!”

“The person riding on a horse next to the carriage must be Royal Prince Yang, right? How thick is Xiaocao’s skin to actually make the Royal Prince Yang to personally escort her? I heard that the emperor values her farming skills. Just by looking at them, I can tell that the rumors are true!”

“Shuanzhu’s wife, did you know that Xiaocao is back? She also brought a lot of goods back from the capital. The girl is quite generous; she gave Yangfan’s wife a box of pastries from the capital. Just the box alone is probably worth several taels of silver! The pastries inside the box probably cost even more than the box! Your family has strong ties with the Yu Family, and your daughter is close to Xiaocao. I bet you will receive a lot of goods from the capital!”

“I really envy you guys for having close ties with the Yu Family. You guys are too far-sighted! Even if we had money, we still probably won’t be able to buy those goods from the capital for sure! I don’t even know if I will have the chance in this lifetime to go to the capital and experience the atmosphere of the imperial capital…”

Xiaocao didn’t know what was happening. Her return had created more topics for the villagers in Dongshan Village to talk about after their meal and tea. Xiaocao currently felt that Dongshan Village felt familiar and unfamiliar at the same time. Dongshan Village had changed a lot in the past six months. Some of the houses that were destroyed by the Wokou pirates were rebuilt on their original land. However, some villagers selected some other land to rebuild their houses.

When the Wokou pirates attacked, due to Xiaocao warning them in advance, the villagers at Dongshan Village did not sustain as many losses as the people in neighboring villages. Combined with the financial support given by Royal Prince Yang, the villagers were faring much better than other people. The villagers had discussed amongst themselves and decided that even if things were difficult at home, they should grit their teeth and rebuild their houses using tile and brick.

The newly built green brick buildings, the large stone courtyards, and the brand new wooden doors...the whole village looked familiar and strange. Old Yu began explaining as he walked next to Xiaocao, “Dongshan Village has become a wealthy village that is envied by the nearby villages! Not to mention, none of the other villages had all their houses built using green bricks and tiles.”

Because the Yu Family’s braised food shop in the prefectural city had flourished, they had opened three other branches. The number of chickens, ducks, geese, and pigs that were needed in the braised food shops were immense. As a result, it was impossible to supply all the stores with the pigs from the Yu Family’s pig farm.

Now, every family in Dongshan Village would raise a few pigs, chickens, and ducks. Liu Shuanzhu’s family raised hundreds of chickens and ducks at the foot of the mountain and some families copied what they did. Anyway, it didn’t matter how many livestock they raised because they didn’t have to worry about not being able to sell them! The Yu Family wasn’t the only family that needed livestock. The Zhou Family also needed a considerable amount of livestock to sell their roast ducks and chickens. The two family businesses gave priority to the businesses in Dongshan Village. Compared to the previous years where they depended on the sky and sea for their livelihood, the villagers’ current income was ten times higher than it was previously!

As long as they work hard, then there will always be money to be earned! The boys in the village didn’t have to worry about not being able to marry anymore because there were many girls from other villages that hoped to marry into one of the families in Dongshan Village. This was because the daughters from Dongshan Village all had a rich dowry. The doors of their soon to be husband's house would probably break down from the amount of dowry there was! In short, the people in Dongshan Village also didn’t have to worry about marrying off their daughters anymore.

Dongshan Village’s sudden wealth was naturally all thanks to the Yu Family. When Yu Xiaocao arrived in front of her family’s newly built house, she couldn’t help but become speechless. This...this was their family’s courtyard? There were golden colored nails on top of the vermilion gate. There were two tall and mighty guardian lion statues in front of the entrance to the house. The tile roof was glazed red and yellow and the roof was supported by tall eaves on both sides! The wall of the courtyard was tall and was made from cyan-colored bricks. The wall was also decorated with glazed tiles just like the roof. From the outside, the house looked like the estates owned by high ranking officials in the capital!

Inside the gates was a residence with three separate courtyards in it. If Yu Hai hadn’t prevented it, then the people Royal Prince Yang sent to build the estate would have likely built a five-courtyard residence for them! Most of the houses in the village only had one courtyard once they entered the gates. There would be three to five main rooms and east and west side rooms. They wouldn’t have such a complicated residence like this. The large courtyard covered the smaller courtyard and the smaller courtyard was connected to the other courtyards.

When the house was first built, the married women in the village would exaggeratedly joke around, “Because they have such a large residence, I almost got lost when I went in!” 

The only distinguishing feature that made the Yu Family’s house different from the wealthy estates in the capital was that the wealthy estates in the capital were decorated with plants and elegant flowers. In contrast, the Yu Family’s courtyards were all used to plant vegetables! Since it was currently winter, most of the vegetable fields in the courtyard were empty. Only the greenhouse located in the back garden was planted with vegetables that the Yu Family frequently ate.

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Translator: Vi