“You still have some wounds on your body...how about, you come to my family’s residence to change the dressing on your wounds and also take some pills to heal your inner injuries? In two days, don’t you have to go out to sea to patrol ah? Take the time to carefully nurse your wounds in these two days. Otherwise, how will you be able to protect the country well? In my opinion, you should stay at my family’s residence and I’ll create a special regimen to treat your body and make some medicinal cuisine to nourish you!” Yu Xiaocao was truly worried about Zhao Han’s injuries. If more pirates came over like last year, it would be very dangerous for him to fight him with half-healed wounds!
As she talked, she acted as if she was a child again and pulled on Zhao Han’s sleeve as they went back up the road. Her four maidservants naturally followed her blindly and grouped around the two people as they headed towards the Yu Residence.
“Eh, why did that lass Xiaocao come back?” A bunch of married matrons were currently congregated at the foot of the wall, sunning themselves as they mended shoes. Their expressions changed when they saw a tall and sturdy man next to Yu Xiaocao.
“It’s Hunter Zhao’s son...no no, now he is a great general. I heard the Zhao Family’s son is also a small official and is in charge of a hundred men now!”
“The Zhao Family’s youngster had a good relationship with the Yu Family’s children in the past. He used to bring Xiaocao and her younger brother all the time into the mountain to trap hares and wild pheasants. When the Yu Family was in difficulty, if they didn’t have the game to supplement their meals, they might not have survived until now!”
“This Zhao Family’s youngster will likely become a high-ranking general in the future. He’s only a few years older than Xiaocao. A general and a royal princess...these two seem quite fit for each other!” There was never a lack of gossip in the village.
“Shhh! Luckily, Royal Prince Yang didn’t come back this time. If he heard you say that, he would sentence you to twenty planks to shut your mouth! Who in the village doesn’t know that Royal Prince Yang treats Xiaocao in a different way. Many people all say that Xiaocao will become Royal Prince Yang’s concubine in the future!”
“Stop speaking nonsense! Xiaocao is now a royal princess that the emperor himself titled. How could she possibly become the mere concubine of someone? In my eyes, I’m pretty sure she could become his princess consort!”
“What good is it to marry into a prince’s residence? Any of the wealthier men in town, as long as they have a bit of status, have a bunch of concubines in their inner courtyard. Everyday they fight and scheme constantly. Isn’t that so exhausting? In my eyes, it’s better for her to go for the Zhao Family’s son. Their two families are close and they grew up together. The roots are already there. Even if the youth takes in a few concubines in the future, the Zhao Family won’t treat Xiaocao unfairly!”
The group of matrons became more and more exhilarated the more they gossiped. They were now divided into two groups. One group approved of Xiaocao marrying into the prince’s estate to become his princess consort, whereas the other group felt that it was better for her to marry into the Zhao Family and live comfortably. Neither side gave way to the other and they all started to quarrel endlessly for a period of time.
When Xiaocao brought Zhao Han home, she found out that it would be hard for him to clean and dress the wounds on his back, so she wanted to help him. However, her maidservants expelled her out. Men and women should not have close contact after the age of seven. Their young miss would be fourteen after the New Years but she still didn’t know how to be even a little bit discreet. Finally, the youngest of the bunch, Yingchun, had been pushed out to treat the wounds on Zhao Han’s back.
Almost half of his back had the criss-cross marks of vicious looking wounds and the sight of it scared the slightly bashful Yingchun. He also had another deep wound that was likely caused by the stab of a sharp sword. It was in the area of his lungs. No wonder Young Master Zhao seemed to be breathing with a bit of difficulty earlier. After being around her master, who was skilled at medicine, Yingchun had naturally picked a few things up and knew the basics of treating injuries.
She used her young miss’s special ‘disinfecting water’ to wash Young Master Zhao’s wounds and then spread a thick layer of the wound balm that her young miss personally made onto his back. Following that, she wrapped him back up with some clean gauze.
Outside the room, Wutong was currently carefully reminding her mistress, “Young Miss, you’ve almost reached a marriageable age, so it’s best if you keep your distance away from men. Although Young Master Zhao was your childhood playmate, he’s still a man…”
“I already know what you speak of! However, there is one thing you need to remember: a doctor must be compassionate. I’m not only a young girl but I’m also a doctor. Even if my patient is a man, I can’t just let him suffer and not save him, right?” Yu Xiaocao rolled her eyes at the maid and took out a bunch of medicinal ingredients from her medicine box. She wrote down a few prescriptions and gave the ingredients to Wutong and said, “In a moment, you won’t have to come along to view the pig slaughter. Help me concoct this medication for Older Brother Han ah.”
“Eh? Young Miss, didn’t you say earlier that you wanted to bring this servant along to widen my horizons ah? This servant really wants to taste the pig banquet ah!” Wutong revealed a long-suffering expression on her face but still took the medicinal ingredients given to her without any reluctance.
Yu Xiaocao refused to acknowledge her own pettiness and solemnly said, “What’s so interesting about watching them kill a whole pig? It’s so bloody and I don’t want you to get scared! When you’re done concocting the medicine and helping Older Brother Han take it, you can come along with him. Don’t worry, I’ll make sure to save a seat for you.” As she spoke, she also gave the maid a look that clearly said, ‘How’s that? Isn’t your master quite clever ah?’
At this time, Zhao Han exited Yu Hang’s room with Yingchun following him with the wound balm in hand. Yu Xiaocao came forward and said, “Older Brother Han, it must not be comfortable resting on the ship, right? Drink this cup of honey water and you can take a nap in my older brother’s room. When the pig banquet is just about ready, I’ll have someone come over to bring you guys over!”
Zhao Han nodded and took the cup of honey water from Chunhua’s hands. He drank it down in one gulp. The honey water had a sweet and mellow flavor, similar to the brilliant smile on the young maiden’s face. He glanced at the dimples at the side of Xiaocao’s mouth and was spellbound for a second. It distracted him from the warm feeling of the water relieving the pain near his lungs.
As he laid on the mattress that smelled faintly of sun-dried laundry, Zhao Han felt as if he had never been this relaxed before. The wounds on his back felt cool and comfortable after getting their dressings changed. They no longer felt as sharp and painful as before. Even the heavy pressure he had near his lungs had also disappeared——did Xiaocao add some special medicine to heal internal wounds in his honey water earlier?
Before he knew it, Zhao Han’s breathing became comfortable and he fell into a deep sleep in the bright early morning light of winter. By the time Wutong woke him up and gave him a bowl full of medicine to drink, Zhao Han felt as if his body was now full of energy and that all of his hurts had been banished away. He knew this medicine was something that Xiaocao herself had personally prescribed for him, so he didn’t hesitate as he drank the whole mess of bitter contents down in one gulp.
Xiaocao had gone over to her eldest granduncle’s residence to get in on the fun. When she got there, she saw that the large fat pig had pretty much been cleaned and divided. There were plenty of friends and family in the courtyard helping out. Some helped to wash and take the hairs off of the freshly slaughtered pig, while others were cleaning and preparing the pig innards. Yu Hai and his wife didn’t go to the farmstead today and instead were in the courtyard working busily.
A group of matrons were with Xiaocao’s eldest grandaunt. They were washing and chopping the ingredients in a busy manner. Before long, the pig’s head was placed in a heated pot to cook while another pot that was cooking blood sausages bubbled merrily. Madam Liu used her family’s secret spice recipe to help braise the pig trotters and offal…
At lunch, everyone who came over to help sat around in the full courtyard. Yu Xiaocao and her servants were sitting with the Yu Family. Even Erya revealed a silly smile as she sat next to Madam Liu, inquisitively regarding the scene around her. Originally, Xiaocao’s maidservants were a bit hesitant to sit at the same level as their master. Only after Xiaocao half-jokingly scolded them did they finally reluctantly sit down next to her to partake in the meal.
Everyone said that northern people were very practical. Each plate here was piled high with food for the pig banquet. There was fatty pork with garlic sauce, pork with kidney beans stewed with vermicelli, pickled vegetables with pork blood sausage, simmered pig’s head, sliced pork diaphragm with garlic sauce, braised pork bone meat...although all of the dishes looked very fatty and greasy, they tasted incredibly delicious and Xiaocao almost couldn’t stop eating.
Xiaocao loved eating the sliced pork diaphragm with garlic sauce and the pickled vegetables with pork blood sausage the most. The four maidservants watched as their master happily ate the black colored blood sausage and gobbled down the braised pork bone meat. Although the food wasn’t very elegant, it definitely stimulated their appetites and made them want to eat more too.
Wutong didn’t quite understand her master’s enthusiasm. She had never seen her young miss eat with such gusto before, even when they were at Zhenxiu Restaurant dining on their finest dishes. The food here looked very crude and greasy, so how could it be so suited to her young miss’s tastes? She looked at the other three maids, Yingchun, Chunhua and Qiushi. They all seemed to be eating quite happily too. She couldn’t help but pick up her chopsticks and grab a slice of pork diaphragm meat that didn’t look too greasy. After placing into her mouth, she carefully chewed a bit——Mm, it was a bit bland and chewy, nothing else.
Yu Jiang’s wife, who was sitting next to her, smiled, “Girl, you need to dip this pork diaphragm meat into the garlic sauce to eat. Otherwise, it’ll have no flavor at all.” As she spoke, she picked up a piece of meat and dipped it into the sauce before placing it in her mouth. She chewed it with gusto.
In the past, the residence’s senior servant had instructed her that a good personal maidservant couldn’t eat anything that was too heavily flavored. In fact, she should avoid eating too many meat-containing dishes too in order to avoid having any strong smells sticking to her, causing her master to dislike her. In the afternoon, she still needed to take care of her mistress. Was it really alright for her to eat garlic sauce and other foods that had a very distinct smell?
Yu Xiaocao could see the hesitation on Wutong’s face and patted her shoulders before personally giving her a piece of pork diaphragm meat that was dipped in garlic sauce, “This afternoon, all of you will get a half day break and there’s no need for any of you to stay by my side. Eat whatever you want to eat and don’t sit there twiddling your thumbs. It’s too awkward that way! This piece of boiled meat may look fatty on the outside but it’s not the least bit greasy when you eat it. Try some! Also, my eldest grandaunt makes the best blood sausage in the area. You wouldn’t be able to try this anywhere else!”
Xiaocao had noticed that the muscles on Wutong’s face involuntarily twitched when she picked up a blood sausage, so she silently laughed at the maid. She deliberately picked the foods that the maid obviously didn’t want to try and placed it in Wutong’s bowl.
Wutong truly wanted to cry when she saw the evil and mischievous expression on her master’s face. However, as the servant, it was a great honor to be awarded food by her master so she needed to eat it even if she wanted to weep. She gathered her courage and placed the pork diaphragm meat with garlic sauce into her mouth. As expected, the combination was much more flavorful together and the more she chewed, the more she liked its unique flavor.
As for the fatty pork with garlic sauce, the fatty slices of meat looked very greasy. Wutong pinched her nose and placed a slice that was about the size of half her palm into her mouth in a manner that clearly showed her reluctance. She forced herself to chew. As she chewed, the expression on her face gradually changed and she no longer looked as reluctant as before. Eh? So odd, it didn’t taste greasy at all. Instead, it had a fresh and savory flavor she never tasted before.
As for the blood sausage, Wutong had seen her young miss eat piece after piece. Now that she had complete faith in her master’s tastes, she wasn’t the least bit hesitant as she tried a blood sausage. In any case, hadn’t she eaten braised pig intestines in the past before? What was the point in being squeamish now?
Wutong, who had no misgivings now, started to try all of the foods she had never had the opportunity to eat before and went through all of the dishes. Although each dish looked very crude and simple, their taste was quite unique and surprisingly delicious. Yu Jiang’s wife felt her heart relax when she saw this city girl finally eating with gusto and enthusiasm.
For the honest and simple commoners, they felt like they only fulfilled a host’s duties when their guests were all able to eat to their fill and enjoy their meal. In Yu Jiang’s wife’s eyes, despite the fact that Yu Xiaocao now had a prestigious title, she was still a part of the family and a child she had watched herself grow up.Previous Chapter Next Chapter
Sanguine’s thoughts: Yum yum.