“That’s right ah! Weren’t you complaining earlier that you thought your skin wasn’t bright and fair enough? This set is for brightening and hydrating the skin, and it’s very efficacious. This set contains a washing lotion, moisturizing toner, whitening essence, and hydrating cream…if you follow the instructions I just told you and use it ever morning and night, after one month, I guarantee that your skin will be fairer by a shade and also look very bright and hydrated. I’m sure my older brother will be so entranced by you then!” Yu Xiaocao revealed a grin.
In the previous dynasty, there were plenty of fifteen and sixteen year old youths and maidens getting married and having children everywhere. Yu Hang and Liu Huifang were experiencing their first awakening of love. Even when their eyes met across the room, they would blush. After being teased by Xiaocao, Liu Huifang’s face was so hot that one could fry an egg on top.
Yu Xiaocao saw that Older Sister Huifang had now buried her face into her chest and stopped teasing the other girl before it got too much, “Oh right, during the autumn hunt, Little Black and Little White caught a lot of red and silver foxes, so I have a lot of fox pelts. Bring these back to give to Uncle Shuanzhu and Auntie so they can use them to make a hat and scarf. The old men in the capital often wear fur hats in the winter. However, silver fox pelts aren’t something that anyone can buy ah!”
“Since they are that rare, you should leave them for Uncle Yu and Auntie instead ah!” Liu Huifang stroked the silky soft fur on the silver fox pelt. Even if she didn’t know what it was, she could tell that it was very valuable and expensive.
“Little Black and Little White are very talented and hardworking. I not only have set aside some for my parents, but my grandfather and godparents also have a share ah! I especially picked out these two pelts to give to Uncle and Auntie Shuanzhu. Ah, this is a box of pastries that I got from my family’s pastry shop and I’m sure it’ll taste just as good as the pastries I got from Daoxiang Village last year. Bring it back so Tiedan and Younger Sister Ya’er can try some!” Yu Xiaocao was very thoughtful and had prepared gifts for everyone in the Liu Family. She knew that Little Tiedan was currently studying and especially gave a set of brushes and paper for him.
“Isn’t…all of this a bit too expensive ah?” Without even mentioning the two fur pelts, just the ‘Blossoming Beauty’ skincare set was incredibly pricey. She had gone to the prefectural city with her father before and had once overheard a young miss from a wealthy family happily bragging that she had gotten a handmade soap from the capital’s famous ‘Blossoming Beauty’ cosmetic shop. Just one soap cost a few dozen taels. She even said that ‘Blossoming Beauty’s’ prices were sky high and only the noble and wealthy families could afford goods from there. In fact, just registering a card there cost around ten thousand taels. If a tiny piece of soap was that pricey, then this set of skincare items probably cost around at least a few thousand taels.
Yu Xiaocao rolled her eyes at her and said, “These gifts I prepared, the furs were from my own hunting, and the cosmetics and pastries I took from my own shops. Other than the few taels I spent on the brushes and paper, which of these are considered expensive for me ah? Older Sister Huifang, when did you become so conservative and maudlin? You’re not at all like you were in the past, so open and free. If you don’t take them, then I won’t recognize you as my older sister-in-law!”
If she continued to refuse, then it would be a bit too impolite. Liu Huifang could only take these gifts with a blush on her face. The two friends were chatting quite happily when they heard a person in the courtyard yell, “Auntie Yu, I heard Younger Sister Xiaocao has come back and I’m here to see her!”
Madam Liu was just in the middle of organizing the storeroom with the four maidservants and raised her head to see the Zheng Family’s lass. The smile on her face congealed lightly. Madam Liu truly couldn’t find it in her to like that lass Zheng Xiaocui. That lass had too many schemes in her head and was always trying to get something good out of other people’s hands and never seemed to realize that no one was as stupid as she thought!
In the past, when Royal Prince Yang went to visit Xiaocao, she would always show up and try to tag along. It was rumored that she even wanted to become a concubine of the royal prince, so Cao’er’s other friends didn’t even like bringing her along to play anymore. Later on, she wasn’t sure just what exactly Royal Prince Yang said, but this lass didn’t try to find her youngest daughter for a long time.
Madam Liu had originally thought that the lass had smartened up. However, as the Yu Family became more and more prosperous, apparently this lass now had the idea to cozy up to her own son. As long as Yu Hang came back from Tanggu Town, she would always ‘coincidentally’ bump into him. Madam Liu had seen a few times just how this lass interacted with her son. She always talked to him in a coy and breathless manner, and her eyes seemed to be glued onto her son’s body. Luckily, Hang’er didn’t seem to have any good feelings towards the girl and would always greet her politely before making his escape as fast as possible. However, Zheng Xiaocui refused to give up and often used the excuse of looking for Xiaolian to spend half of the day at their residence. She even deliberately pretended to not notice the pointed looks and hints to leave from other people. It really made people feel helpless!
Who knew what little scheme she was cooking this time? Although Madam Liu didn’t like her very much, they were both from the same village, so she couldn’t just shoo the girl away. She could only squeeze out a smile and say, “Cao’er is in her room talking to Huifang ah…”
“Huifang is also here?” The expression on Zheng Xiaocui’s face slightly changed and she couldn’t hide the jealousy within her eyes. Her mother had told her that girls had to be subtle when chasing boys. Originally, she thought that as long as she struck first and created more opportunities to meet Yu Hang, that kind and obedient youth would very quickly fall into her hands. However, that fellow was as dense as a block of wood. No matter how much she hinted, he refused to get a clue.
Her mother had told her that some boys matured late. Perhaps Yu Hang just hadn’t gotten to the point where he was interested in girls yet. However, how could she know that not long ago, news came out that the Yu Family was intending on engaging their son to the Liu Family’s Huifang? Although it wasn’t officially set, they had already exchanged a few tokens. Just what part of that wretch, Liu Huifang, was better than herself? She spent all day with the chickens and smelled horrible. She wasn’t as pretty as herself, so was that fellow Yu Hang blind? He didn’t choose her and chose Huifang instead?!
Zheng Xiaocui was about the same age as Huifang and would be turning sixteen after the New Years. Her older sister had been married off at that same age to a cripple who was older than her by ten years. The reason was because his family was able to give out fifty taels as a betrothal gift. The Zheng Family didn’t have a good reputation in Dongshan Village. The men in the family were all lazy and didn’t do much work while also only valuing boys and not girls. In her father’s eyes, the only point of having daughters was to have them do work around the house and then get some valuable betrothal gifts when they got married off.
Appearance wise, Zheng Xiaocui was considered to be a beauty in the village. Her father had long started to plan just what sort of benefits he could get off of her! Thus, when his daughter shamelessly tried to get closer to the Yu Family’s eldest son, he turned a blind eye to this. If his daughter became the eldest daughter-in-law of the Yu Family, wouldn’t the Yu Family’s large and prosperous businesses become the Zheng Family’s? However, when he found out that there wasn’t much hope for Yu Hang anymore, he started to ask the matchmaker for other matches. He discovered that there was a local tycoon in town who was looking to take in his twelfth concubine. It was rumored that the tycoon would be giving out two hundred taels as a betrothal gift!
When Zheng Xiaocui found out from her mother that she was about to be sold to an old man to become his twelfth concubine, she almost fainted right then and there. If she had to become a concubine, then at least she should become a concubine to a person like Royal Prince Yang! Royal Prince Yang had a face that was even more beautiful than hers and had a well-sculpted body to match. Furthermore, his status in society was also very appealing. At this time, she had long forgotten the threats that Royal Prince Yang had said to her.
When she found out that Xiaocao was going to come back to celebrate the New Years, she had started counting the days. Xiaocao spent most of her time in the capital and was also quite close to Royal Prince Yang. If she could convince the other girl to bring her to the capital, she would be able to find an opportunity to get closer to the prince and have him see her charms!
This lass truly dared to dream high! Even if Royal Prince Yang didn’t have the ability to read her thoughts and see through her schemes, he still wouldn’t be interested in her somewhat pretty and bland looks. In fact, even his bodyguards wouldn’t be interested in her, let alone someone like the prince who saw glorious beauties all the time.
Zheng Xiaocui saw the pile of New Years gifts in the courtyard that were piled up like a mountain and the jealousy in her heart blazed high. If Yu Hang hadn’t been seduced by that slut, Liu Huifang, then all of these delicate silk bolts, gold and silver treasures, precious curiosities, and famous goods from the capital would be considered hers! All hers!!
Zheng Xiaocui deeply inhaled and did her best to move her eyes away from the valuable objects. There was no hope left for Yu Hang, but if she became a concubine of Royal Prince Yang, she would not only have status but also have wealth. Wouldn’t that be much better than marrying into a tycoon’s family?
For the sake of her goal, she raised her spirits and revealed what she thought was her warmest smile and entered Xiaocao’s room, “Xiaocao, when I found out you got back, I especially brought over some of your favorite hickory nuts and hazelnuts. They’ve all been roasted already, quickly try some!”
Yu Xiaocao stared at the other girl for a long time and then looked over at Older Sister Huifang for help, ‘Who is this ah? How come I don’t really have an impression of her?’ In the past, when she was in Dongshan Village, she was always busy doing something or other and didn’t have much time to interact with the other villagers. She only spent time playing with Older Sister Huifang, Shanhu, and Qian Yafang. As for everyone else, she mostly nodded her head and smiled when she saw them.
Zheng Xiaocui almost couldn’t keep the smile on her face. What was this all about? Did she become arrogant after becoming a royal princess and no longer deigned to recognize her old playmate? ‘Yu Xiaocao, I didn’t think you’d become this kind of person!’
Liu Huifang also knew that Zheng Xiaocui had once set her eyes on Yu Hang. However, they were all from one village. Normally, they went along their separate ways but it wasn’t good to outright ignore her. After seeing Xiaocao’s reaction, she almost burst out into laughter, ‘You keep pretending to be very close to her, but she doesn’t even remember who you are. Isn’t that embarrassing ah?’
However, after thinking about it, she understood why! In the past, every time she had made plans with Xiaocao to go gather seafood or wild nuts in the mountains, Zheng Xiaocui always used her name to tag along. Later on, Xiaocao had gotten busy and they rarely had the time to go together to the mountains or ocean. It had been a few years ago, so it wasn’t surprising that Xiaocao couldn’t remember Zheng Xiaocui.
“Younger Sister Xiaocao, this is Zheng Xiaocui. Her family lives pretty close to mine. In the past, we had gone out together to pick wild mushrooms!” Liu Huifang gave a short introduction to the other girl.
Yu Xiaocao frowned for a bit and then very soon revealed an expression that showed she remembered. Zheng Xiaocui immediately smiled broadly and pulled at Xiaocao’s delicate and soft hand and warmly said, “That’s right! It’s me! At that time, you used to call me Older Sister Xiaocui. It’s been almost two years since you last came back to Dongshan Village. At that time, you were still young, so it’s not surprising you can’t remember who I am.”
Yu Xiaocao now remembered that Royal Prince Yang had warned her in the past that she shouldn’t spend too much time with this girl as she had unclean thoughts. Although she didn’t think it was a big deal, she never doubted that fellow’s abilities. This was the perfect example of someone eyeing a benefit they could get from you while acting solicitous! It looked like she needed to keep her guard up in order to avoid falling into this person’s plans.
“Ah! I remember now! You’re the person who Shanhu said who wanted to become the concubine of Royal Prince Yang and got angry and left!” Yu Xiaocao took her hand out of the other girl’s and slapped the bed with an expression that showed that she had realized something.
Zheng Xiaocui’s face froze, ‘This stupid brat. She couldn’t remember anything else except that ah?’
Just as she was racking her brains, trying to find a way to change the topic, Yu Xiaocao spoke again, “Xiaocui, where did you hear about becoming a concubine? Our Dongshan Village doesn’t have the precedence of selling their daughters to become low-ranked concubines in wealthy people’s families.”Previous Chapter Next Chapter
Sanguine’s thoughts: Haha, I love how Xiaocao just says it like it is sometimes.