Chapter 714 - To Sob

After staying in the villa in Tanggu Town for two days, Yu Xiaocao and her husband traveled back to the capital with the escort of a thousand soldiers from the Firearms Barracks. The journey was uneventful and took only a short three days complete. Naturally, this was the stretch of the journey that was most vulnerable to attack.

If the enemy didn’t bring a large number along, then it wouldn’t be an issue. After all, with the two great experts, Imperial Prince Xu and Chief Steward Su, along it’d be difficult for anyone to gain the upper hand. However, if the traitors from the previous dynasty decided to use the tactic of flooding them with people who were willing to use suicidal tactics, they’d be hard pressed to protect the now already four-month pregnant Xiaocao. 

Thus, when the emperor got notice that the party had reached shore, he had sent out the Firearms Barracks to escort these two important officials back. The thousand or so soldiers from the Firearms Barracks were led by the second-in-command and they arrived in a grand manner to the Tanggu Harbor. If people didn’t know better, they would have thought that a large-scale battle had broken out at the docks! 

With the fierce and well-equipped soldiers escorting them, the enemy naturally wouldn’t try to attack them in vain and end up dying for no reason. Thus, they had a relatively quiet journey back to the capital. The carriage that Xiaocao sat in had also been especially prepared for her. The shock absorption had been upgraded and all of the furnishings were renovated in order to increase her comfort to the max. Even with these accommodations, Xiaocao still slept heavily for two days after getting to the capital before she finally felt like herself again. 

As the imperial envoy, she naturally needed to report on her mission after arriving back. Yu Xiaocao donned her official’s attire and appeared at court with the swell of her pregnant belly visible under her clothing. As she greeted the emperor, Zhu Junfan personally came down from the dais and bent over to support this interesting official. 

Yu Xiaocao, on the other hand, didn’t stand up and instead hugged the emperor’s calf as she wept loudly, “Your Imperial Majesty ah——this official almost died and wouldn’t be able to see you again. Wah wah’s not important whether I die or not but this official hasn’t finished her dream of seeing rice paddies that produce a thousand catties per mu, allowing the people of the empire to be able to not starve anymore. Even if this official died, I wouldn't be able to close my eyes out of regret——wah wah wah!” 

Zhu Junyang didn’t expect that the little lass would play this type of scenario. His phoenix eyes bugged out in shock and he stared fixedly at the calf that his wife was hugging in a furious manner——he needed to chop that leg off ah! 

The emperor: ‘You dare! This is plotting to harm the ruler! Think again and open up those dumb eyes of yours! Your wife is holding onto us, why don’t you chop off your wife’s hands instead of our leg?’ 

Zhu Junyang: ‘Can’t bear to hurt her!’

The emperor: ‘You can’t bear to hurt your wife but you’re okay with hurting us?! You’re truly our good official and good cousin!’ 

When the officials in the court saw this scene, they couldn’t help but feel tears stinging their eyes. Originally, the report that Imperial Prince Xu sent back had seemed a bit exaggerated as he had described Yu Xiaocao’s wounds in a pitiful manner. Now, when they saw her obviously pregnant self, crying like a child, they suddenly realized that the imperial envoy was only a young eighteen year old lady. Furthermore, she was also the mother of an unborn child. 

In addition, this mother who almost lost her child was sobbing, not because she had become injured or that she had almost had a miscarriage, but because if she had died at this time, she’d be letting down the country’s experimental fields and all of the empire’s people. The officials who had gotten word that the imperial envoy and Imperial Prince Xu had been using her time in the south injudiciously to travel and play around now felt guilty that they had planned on making things difficult for them at court.  

The emperor’s lips twitched and he hurriedly supported Xiaocao up. He gave her a look that said, ‘You’re being a bit too dramatic now. Looks too fake!’ However, the words that came out of his mouth were different, “Beloved Official, it was we who were not thoughtful enough and allowed you to come into harm's way!” 

“If I’m able to make the rice yields from the hybrid rice crops stable, it’d be worth it no matter how hard!” Yu Xiaocao switched out the handkerchief in her hands and wiped her eyes. Oh my goodness, the pepper water she had used was a bit too fierce and her eyes were now swollen! 

Yu Xiaocao’s tactic of crying out in lamentation had earned many compliments and sympathy from the other officials at court. After the session, Minister Liu from the Ministry of Revenue came over with an excited expression on your face, “Official Yu, is the hybridized rice you speak of truly able to get up to a thousand catties per mu?” 

“But of course!” Yu Xiaocao replied in a confident manner. Although hybridized rice was something that would take awhile to experiment, with the right direction, they would reach what their goal was eventually. With Official Wu’s research, they had already seen the possibility of success. She was sure that hybridized rice would be able to appear in this world soon. 

Official Liu had a gratified look on his face as he asked, “Then what about wheat? Would you be able to develop a type of wheat that can produce a thousand catties per mu?”

People in the north relied more on wheat for their staple food. Thus, more wheat was planted there. If they were able to develop wheat that could reach a thousand catties per mu, Official Liu could foresee a glorious future. In his history books, he recalled that during the time of Emperor Wu of the Han Dynasty, the country was flourishing and the strings that held their copper coins in the treasury were rotting. The grain warehouses were so full with surplus food that they would pile up the new harvest on the old and they had run out of space, so they had to store the excess grain outside the buildings. 

When he had read that, he couldn’t help but wish that he could live in such a flourishing period. If he was able to become an official like Sang Hongyang[1], that'd be for the best! Although his current contributions to the country were still quite lacking compared to Sang Hongyang’s, if he was able to guide the country while the head minister of Ministry of Revenue into an era where it was so prosperous that ‘grain was rotting in the warehouses’, that’d be a glorious sight indeed! 

Xiaocao thought for a moment. In her previous life, it wasn’t an impossibility to have wheat that reached a thousand catties per mu. However, the current era’s fertilization technology and field management weren’t up to par. Thus, this issue was even a bit tricky for her. When she got back home, she needed to ask the little divine stone on what it thought about the problem. 

“It should be possible. However, Official Liu, you also know that the yield of a crop isn’t dependent only on the seed quality. There are also other ancillary things, such as land management and fertilization, that affects the crop yield, so...don’t worry ah, I will continue to work hard in this direction!” 

Official Liu wanted to say something more but was interrupted by Imperial Prince Xu, “Official Liu, Official Yu’s body is still weak and she shouldn’t be discussing official matters for this long. The emperor has already approved a length of vacation for her. When the vacation is done and her body is up to it, you can discuss more then!”

He didn’t give Official Liu any chance to reply as he escorted his wife out of the main hall. 

“Your Highnesses, the empress is worried about Princess Consort Xu and allowed this servant to prepare a sedan for her, please enter…” The person who spoke was the head eunuch of the empress. Behind him were four strong body servants and they were currently carrying a comfortable sedan on their shoulders in silence. 

“Please thank her imperial highness for her kindness. On another day, Xiaocao will personally visit her to give thanks.” Xiaocao felt exhausted from head to toe. She had to wake up early to make morning court and had stayed there for two hours. After thanking the head eunuch, she entered the sedan with the help of her husband and sat down. The sedan slowly left the palace. The other officials leaving court saw this and were incredibly envious of her good fortune of being favored by the empress. 

However, did it matter that they were jealous? Were they as hardworking as Official Yu? If they wanted to be favored, how come they didn’t come up with a method to produce rice paddies that yielded a thousand catties per mu? The vast majority of officials now saw the light. With Princess Consort Xu around, Imperial Prince Xu’s relationship with the emperor would only get better with passing time. Whoever tried to drive a wedge between the emperor and Imperial Prince Xu would have a very bad outcome now! 

Following that, for a long period of time, Zhu Junyang discovered that things had gotten a lot easier for him at court. In the past, all of the fellows who liked to cause trouble for him were now quiet and obedient. In order to understand the change, he had secretly used his powers to glimpse into their mind. The answers he got made him want to either laugh or cry. Apparently, it wasn’t because they now acknowledged his abilities but it was because they completely acknowledged his wife’s abilities. 

As for Xiaocao, now that she had a proper vacation time, she continued her days of ‘being a pig’. Every day she ate and then slept, followed by more sleeping and eating. Her husband pampered her and made it such that she never had to lift a finger. Fortunately, he didn’t restrict her from leaving the residence. Otherwise, she might have gone insane. 

However, she still wasn’t as free and independent as before, going to wherever she pleased. She still needed to have her husband accompany her. If he didn’t have the time, she needed to go out with her ‘adopted younger brother’. She also couldn’t go too far and could only visit her maternal family, her godfamily, and a few of her close friends. That was because these places weren’t too far from Imperial Prince Xu’s estate. 

Imperial Prince Xu wasn’t as lucky as his wife. When he got back from the capital, the emperor had sent him off to the Xishan Barracks to continue drilling them. Zhu Junyang knew that Yuan Zi’s identity wasn’t normal, so when he wasn’t around, he always asked him to keep an eye on her wife. 

The little divine stone was starting to get annoyed by this. Xiaocao was also its master and her safety was within its realm of responsibilities. Was it really necessary that the prince nag all the time? 

Naturally, the place that Xiaocao visited the most was her maternal family! At the beginning of the eighth month, her older sister-in-law had birthed a nephew for her. Now, he was already three months old and was a bright and adorable little fellow. Her favorite thing to do was to sit on the warm and cozy kang bed and watch the little fellow huff and puff as he tried to flip over. When he finally succeeded, she would gleefully flip him back over. The little fellow had a good temper and continued to use great effort in flipping back over. 

“You, ah, only know how to bully your nephew!” Madam Liu felt a bit bad seeing that her grandson had been flipped over for the nth time by his aunt. She gave her daughter a look and hugged her grandson in her arms before feeding him a bit of warm water. 

“Wah wah that Mother has a grandson, she doesn't love me anymore. I’m so pitiful, there's no one who loves and pampers me…” Yu Xiaocao covered her face and pretended to cry. 

Madam Liu had a helpless expression on her face as she said, “How old are you now to still strive for favor with your nephew ah? You’re about to be a mother but you've made no personal progress!” 

Xiaolian, who had just discovered she was pregnant, was currently sewing a tiger cap for her nephew. She smiled at this, “Younger Sister, who said that you have no one to love you? Imperial Prince Xu would carry you everywhere if you asked him to!” 

Yu Xiaocao reached out a hand to tickle her, “Alright ah! Since you’re making fun of me, just watch me make you…” 

“Slow down a bit, my little ancestors. Be more careful! Cao’er, you and your older sister are both pregnant and shouldn’t be horsing around!” Madam Liu saw that her youngest daughter was jumping around and was so scared that cold sweat poured out of her body. 

Her youngest daughter had gotten pregnant but ended up suffering such horrendous injuries shortly thereafter. She almost lost her unborn child. If it weren’t for the fact that the imperial physician and her own daughter had promised her that her body and her baby were perfectly healthy now, Madam Liu would still be so worried that she wouldn’t be able to sleep well.

Yu Xiaocao saw the worried expression on her mother’s face and hurriedly sat down in an obedient manner. She watched her plump little nephew wriggling around on the kang bed like a worm. Even when he reached an obstacle, he didn’t cry or throw a tantrum. She chuckled, “Feng’er’s personality must be like my older brother’s. He has a very good temper.” 

“Younger Sister, those words make me unhappy. You make it sound like I have a really bad temper or something!” It was almost the twelfth month of the year and there were more things to manage in the residence. Liu Huifang had been busy up until now and had just gotten some time to chat with her younger sister-in-law. 

[1] Sang Hongyang - an official under Emperor Wu of Han who was famous for his economic policies.

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Myst.2's Thoughts

Sanguine’s thoughts: Feng’er has a better temper than my kid...

Translator: Sanguine