Chapter 512 - Fright

Zhu Junfan heard this familiar voice and raised his brow at Su Ran, chuckling, “Is her zodiac sign the dog? How is her nose so good that she catches a whiff of our scent so quickly?” 

Su Ran smiled faintly and said, “It’s not the little lass who is well-informed, but her maidservant. When we were coming up earlier, the manager had been eyeing you, Master, and I suspiciously for such a long time, so you can’t say you didn’t notice.” 

He stood up to open the private room’s door and grinned warmly at the little lass outside. Yu Xiaocao’s eyes sparkled when she saw this beautiful face, ‘Wow, Sir Su is even more ethereal than the male lead in the drama ‘The Journey of Flower’  [1]  that she had watched in her previous life. He’s such an eye candy. The emperor keeps such a handsome man by his side, could he actually be…’ 

“Wretched lass, what kind of dirty thoughts are you having, smiling so secretively?” Zhu Junfan noticed the sundaes of a variety of colors in the stylish, transparent glasses and raised his brows, looking quite satisfied. 

Facing the emperor who was dressed in plain clothes, Yu Xiaocao did not feel as much reverence as before, and smiled, “Your Imperial Majesty, I’m but a child, so how could I have dirty thoughts? If there is Buddha in your heart, you’ll see everything as Buddha; if there is dog poop in your heart, everything you see will be dog poop…” 

Su Ran took the tray from the little lass’s hand and shot her a look that said ‘that’s some guts’, reminding her of the identity of the person she was referring to. She drily laughed, racking her brain for ways to tactfully resolve her statement. 

Zhu Junfan dug into a strawberry flavored sundae, asking dangerously, “Beloved Official Yu, what do you think is in our heart right now?” 

Yu Xiaocao’s eyes rolled around in thought, then suddenly a sly expression flashed across her face as she grinned, “Your Imperial Majesty, your eyes and heart must be full of iced desserts right now. How is the taste of the sundae? I’ve personally made it just for you—it’s an honor no one else has!” 

“Good that you’re clever! We’re gracious, so we won’t stoop down to your level. However, you opened this iced desserts shop at just the right time, when we were coming up, the seats downstairs were nearly full, and there weren’t many private rooms left upstairs. How is it? You’ve earned quite a lot, haven’t you?” Zhu Junfan felt a shot of coolness reach the bottom of his heart when he ate the strawberry sundae, but instead of perceiving the cold, he felt a kind of indescribable comfort in his stomach.

Yu Xiaocao smiled along, “It’s all thanks to your gracious self. The business is going well, so I’m able to earn some pocket change!” 

“Hmph! This is pocket change? A bowl of ice porridge, which is just a small piece of crushed ice and a little bit of honeyed beans, already costs five hundred copper coins! And a scoop of ice cream that’s not even as big as a ping pong ball costs one tael! If we came in, we wouldn’t be able to leave without spending a few taels. How is this pocket change?” Zhu Junfan paused, then nodded as he continued, “Right, compared to your ‘Blossoming Beauty’, which easily earns tens of thousands of taels, this is indeed pocket change!” 

Yu Xiaocao tittered, adding more strawberry syrup to the emperor’s glass and joked, “Isn’t this because a big ‘Buddha’ backs our Blossoming Beauty? Don’t people only trust my spa because of your gracious self and her imperial majesty?” 

He thought about his empress and her ten percent share of the Blossoming Beauty’s profit after it opened for business for a few months. The amount was near to exceeding his personal treasury! What more could be said about this little lass’s earnings? He ate another mouthful of the sweet yet tart strawberry syrup and said with a slight sourness in his tone, “Little lass, you have so many ideas for earning money that your assets are nearly exceeding ours, as we are only a poor man.” 

“Your Imperial Majesty, please don’t say this, this little one is really fearful! This little one is not that Shen Wansan  [2]  whose fortune could match that of a country’s wealth; please don’t learn from that Zhu Chongba  [3]  and behead this little one to confiscate this little one’s assets!” The story of Zhu Yuanzhang and Shen Wansan did not exist in the current Great Ming Dynasty. As such, this classic could only be understood by her and this fellow transmigrator who came from the same world. 

“Legend says...Shen Wansan died because he owned a treasure bowl and was punished because of his wealth. Moreover, his fortune could be compared to that of a country’s treasury, and he was able to buy half of the empire, so Zhu Yuanzhang was afraid of him. You ah...As long as you’re honest and don’t become full of yourself, we won’t mind no matter how much money you earn!” When he mentioned the treasure bowl, he had an odd smile on his face and Yu Xiaocao felt his gaze flicker to the multicolored stone on her wrist. 

Su Ran, who was enjoying his sundae at the side, listened in bewilderment to their conversation. Although he had never heard of the story of Shen Wansan and Zhu Chongba, he could still sense something off about their conversation. It was as though the emperor and the little lass of the Yu Family shared the same secret. However, he was a dutiful chief steward, he would do his best for the matters under his jurisdiction, but for the matters that he should not know, he would pretend to be mute and deaf. This had been strictly taught to him since the day he entered the imperial palace. 

“The treasure bowl is but a rumor! Shen Wansan was a genius in his trade, that’s why he could become the richest man in the empire. As for me, I don’t have any great ambitions, I just want to not worry about basic necessities and live life like a rice weevil which only ever eats and waits for its death. That's enough for me." Yu Xiaocao reminded herself in her heart, 'All I need is enough money to spend. I mustn't become like Shen Wansan. He worked hard all his life but in the end, all of his efforts went to someone else instead.' 

“No, that’s not allowed!” Zhu Junfan now felt a bit upset, “You’re our good minister, the revitalization of our agriculture and the prosperity of the empire all depend on you, beloved official!” 

Yu Xiaocao waved her hands with an expression of fear, saying, “Your Imperial Majesty, the matters that you’ve entrusted to this little one, I will definitely give my all to complete them. However, please don’t say words such as the prosperity of the empire, that would be going over the top. This little one’s shoulders are too frail, I cannot handle this burden.” 

After finishing the strawberry sundae, Zhu Junfan picked up the blueberry flavored one, and suddenly changed the topic, “This blueberry was imported from the western hemisphere, right? That brat, Junyang, has secretly kept quite a lot of good stuff!” 

“We’ve only tried planting a few of these blueberry plants, so we don’t produce a lot of them. Except for the small portion we leave for our own consumption, the rest have been made into blueberry jam, and we only have a few jars of it. That’s why blueberry-flavored iced desserts are a few times more expensive than the rest. Please, try it. If you like it, you could bring a jar back with you?” Yu Xiaocao’s heart was bleeding despite the fact that she sounded generous on the surface.  

In her previous life, she liked blueberries the most, but she didn’t eat them because they were quite expensive. She had mentioned it to Zhu Junyang once, but she never expected that he would let the voyage fleet actually go and search for blueberry seeds and even secretly tried to plant it. Only when the blueberry plants bore fruit was she presented with a great surprise. 

As it was the first year the plants bore fruit, there were not a lot of blueberries. Zhu Junyang could not bear to eat a single one, and kept all of them for her, either to eat as a fruit, or to make them into jam. As they were scarce, she extremely treasured them. 

Listing it in the iced desserts shop and marking it up to a high price was just a gimmick—she didn't expect to make money from it. She never would have thought that when the Emperor came, she would lose a jar of jam… Even though she was the one who initiated it, his words sounded like he was complaining that Zhu Junyang used his power for personal gain. If she didn't do something, she didn't know what kind of outrageous claims this person would say.   

Zhu Junfan was very satisfied with her initiative. He savored the blueberry-flavored sundae and said slowly, "Honestly, the taste of blueberry jam is just so-so to me. But it’s sour and sweet, so our beloved concubines and children should like it. We’ll thank you in their stead! By the way, since you’ve made blueberry flavor, what about chocolate flavor? We haven't had chocolate in almost thirty years, we miss it quite a lot!" 

When Su Ran heard this, he choked on the ice cream in his mouth and coughed a few times. Then, he waved his hand at the emperor and Miss Yu who had looked over, indicating, ‘Please continue your conversation and ignore the existence of this servant.’ 

Yu Xiaocao shot Zhu Junfan a look that clearly said, ‘Is it alright if Sir Su overhears our conversation?’ 

Zhu Junfan nodded slightly as if to reply, ‘It’s alright, Su Ran is very loyal, and he’s also tight-lipped. He knows what to say and what not to say.’ 

Yu Xiaocao looked again at Su Ran who held a glass of sundae and pretended to look at the view outside and thought, ‘Pretend, keep pretending! It’s the hottest time of the day outside, not a single soul could be seen on the streets, what are you looking at?’ 

"This frozen desserts shop was opened rather hastily and was not planned in advance. I don't know if chocolate has been discovered yet, but I’m certain that it hasn't been brought to our Great Ming Dynasty. If we sent people to search for it now, it’d probably still take quite a while. So...this time next year, if Your Imperial Majesty returns to this shop, you might be able to eat chocolate-flavored ice cream!" Yu Xiaocao dazedly remembered that cocoa trees had already been planted in North America at this time, and wondered if the voyage fleet that set sail this year would be able to return with a surprise for her.  

Alas! The ancient times lagged behind. If it were in her previous life, you could buy chocolate just by going into any random supermarket, so why would she need to go through all this trouble? Xiaocao and the emperor looked at each other, saw the same thought in each other's eyes, and let out a long sigh in unison.  

The more Su Ran heard from the side, the more frightened he became. Sometimes, Yu Xiaocao was really similar to the emperor when he was young. At that time, the emperor seemed to have the whole world under his control. He knew which areas had which countries and what local specialties were available in each country like the back of his hand. Originally, Su Ran thought that these were just his master's speculations. He didn't expect that his master's speculations would be true until he accompanied his master and his ocean-voyaging fleet after it was established to, for the first time, sail across the western sea. He also didn't expect that his master, who had never been in contact with westerners before, could actually speak their language and communicate with those foreigners with yellow hair, green eyes and jutting noses without any difficulty.  

He had thought that his master was unique in this world, a gifted person who had been bestowed with a unique ability by the heavens, the ability to understand things without a teacher, and know all the matters of the world without ever needing to leave his house. He never would've thought that the little miss of the Yu Family would be like his master and know everything about the land overseas. Chocolate, North America…it felt like he was listening to something too complex for him to understand, yet the two of them conversed without any difficulty. 


[1] The Journey of Flower - 2015 Chinese television series starring Wallace Huo and Zhao Liying. It is based on the fictional novel of the same name written by Fresh Guoguo, which is inspired from Daoist legends regarding the path to immortality 

[2] Shen Wansan - a businessman during the beginning of Ming Dynasty. Shen used to be one of the richest men at the area of south of the Yangtze river. But the Hongwu Emperor, Zhu Yuanzhang, was envy of his property and concerned about the threat posed by this fabulously wealthy man. Shen was finally exiled to Yunnan and spent the rest of his lifetime there. 

[3] Zhu Chongba - birthname of Hongwu Emperor 

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Myst.2's Thoughts

Translator: Vera