There was just a little over a month. Searching for a top-quality pearl in the Great Ming Empire was like looking for a needle in the haystack. However, if Miss Yu’s ‘pearl hunting competition’ was promoted well and was able to attract all the pearl collectors from all over the Great Ming Empire, wouldn’t the chance of obtaining high-quality pearls be much higher?
The aides felt that it was quite feasible and immediately entered discussion mode. The general direction had already been established, but they still needed to discuss the method of implementation in detail. There was only less than two months, so the most important task was to maximize the impact of the pearl collection gathering.
Seeing that she was no longer needed, Yu Xiaocao excused herself. When Zhu Junyang sent her out, he asked with concern, “Where are you guys planning to go on this trip? Who’s going? Is it safe?”
Upon knowing that she was going to Dongshan Village with a group of pampered girls, he couldn’t help but frown, “Only a few inexperienced and undaunted girls? It’s hard for this prince not to worry… Why don’t I have Head Steward Liu follow along? My assignment isn’t dangerous this time anyways. Give me an invitation card and I’ll ask if that fellow Lu Hao can take several days off. Let him protect you girls on the road.”
Yu Xiaocao knew that he was worried about her and felt very happy about it, but she rolled her eyes at him, saying, “We’re travelling on the official road and we also have a bunch of servants and guards with us. What dangers can there be? Young Master Lu is working in the Yulin Division, so how can he leave so easily? You ah, you’re just worrying over nothing.”
Zhu Junyang pondered for a moment and then said, “Let’s talk about Lu Hao’s matter later! When are you guys leaving? Why don’t I have Head Steward Liu report to the Yu Residence today?”
“We’re leaving in three days, and we’ll have to trouble Head Steward Liu at that time! Quickly go back. The aides are still waiting for you!” Yu Xiaocao got on the carriage and went to ‘Blossoming Beauty’ first. She took a fragrant flower petal bath before returning home.
Originally, they had planned on taking a vacation by the sea with a few girls. However, the news was leaked through an unknown source. The Ning Brothers of Duke Rongguo’s Household, Royal Princess Minglan’s thirteen year old younger brother, Li Mengru’s two younger brothers, and Yu Wanning’s older brother, who had come along because he was worried about her, all found out about this trip... When they set off, there were five to six more youths in the group. With the addition of the servants, their group was quite big.
When they got out of the capital, they noticed that Lu Hao was waiting there with a team of imperial guards. Seeing Yu Xiaocao’s slightly surprised face, Lu Hao beamed with pride, “That fellow Zhu Junyang was worried about your safety on the trip, so he sent me and my brothers to escort you guys. What do you think? Looks quite impressive, right?”
Yu Xiaocao looked at the imperial guards behind him, chuckled, and said, “I’m not going to shoulder this favor! You guys have an assignment on hand and are just escorting us on the way. What? Did Zhu Junyang send you guys to take the lead in Tanggu Town?”
“A young maiden shouldn’t be too clever because it will discourage men from approaching—but you don’t have to worry. That fellow Zhu Junyang nearly wants to carry you on top of his head.” Lu Hao gestured to her to go ahead with a toothy grin as he said, “Please, may this little one have the honor of escorting you ladies.”
He Wanning glared at him and snapped the whip in her hands as she stated in a valiant manner, “Do we need you to escort us? Let alone that it’s a time of peace and order, even if there are robbers and bandits, I’ll sure that they won’t be able go back alive!”
Lu Hao raised his eyebrow and smiled roguishly, “Oh! Charcoal He, you shouldn’t boast and make unrealistic vows. With your measly martial arts skill, if you really got attacked, then you will be captured within two rounds!”
“Who are you calling a ‘charcoal’? Are you blind? Let everyone be the judge. Which one of us looks more like a charcoal?” Since she used the whitening and moisturizing skincare products that Xiaocao gave her, He Wanning was now unprecedentedly confident in herself.
Lu Hao was seriously so annoying. He had naturally fair skin, so when they were children, he gave her various nicknames, like ‘Little Charcoal’, ‘Dark Beauty’, and ‘Black Ball’. Every time, He Wanning was provoked until she got into a rage. She would yell and chase after him with a small whip. She wanted to teach him a lesson by whipping him a few times. However, despite his chubby figure, that fellow was very nimble. Thus, she was never able to succeed.
She acknowledged that she used to have a dark complexion, but she now had ruddy, fair skin. She looked very young and beautiful, yet he still called her ‘Little Charcoal. What kind of eyes did he have? Lu Hao, on the other hand, often practiced martial arts and was also dispatched to work under the sun after he joined the Yulin Division. Hence, his skin had gotten much tanner. However, he was still considered fairly pale compared with the imperial guards behind him, who had healthy-looking bronze skin.
Lu Hao carefully examined her for a moment and admitted, “I must say Younger Sister Xiaocao’s products have the power to make the ugly beautiful. They were actually able to turn a little black ball into a beautiful woman with fair complexion. Tsk tsk…it’s so incredible ah!”
“Humph! You have a good eye, admitting that this maiden is a beautiful woman! This maiden is originally a natural beauty. It’s just that you should have gone to see a doctor for your eyes in the past!” Whenever He Wanning saw him, they would definitely quarrel. So this trip was going to be very lively.
“Natural beauty?” Lu Hao looked as if he couldn’t hold back his laughter as he said, “I reckon that you’re a natural charcoal.”
“Lu Hao! I dare you to say that again!!” He Wanning raised the whip in her hands in a murderous manner. A beautiful lady had turned into an angry beast.
Lu Hao wasn’t afraid of her. He made a funny face at her and said, “Little Charcoal, Little Charcoal! Don’t think that you can get rid of your childhood nickname just because you have gotten whiter. Don’t forget that I still have your portrait!!”
He Wanning was even more angry when he mentioned the portrait. That guy Lu Hao deliberately splashed ink on the paper and insisted that it was a portrait of her. This caused her to be laughed at by her stupid friends for a long time. She couldn’t tolerate this any longer!! He Wanning forcefully squeezed the horse’s belly and charged fiercely towards Lu Hao. Without holding back, she snapped the whip in her hands at his fair, plump, and annoying-looking face.
Lu Hao, who had been trained by Zhu Junyang for so many years, had continued to fight despite setbacks, so how could he let a young girl hit him so easily? He controlled his mount and deliberately kept a distance of a horse between them. He wanted to let her think that she could hit him, but, in actuality, she wouldn’t be able to reach him. From time to time, he would also intentionally provoke her with words.
Looking at how the two interacted, the two words ‘bickering couple’ appeared within Yu Xiaocao’s mind. So Older Sister He liked this type of guy ah…
Seeing that they had ran far away during the chase, Yu Xiaocao said to the guests, who were either invited by her or came uninvited, “It’s getting late, so let’s quickly set off. Big brothers, please take care of us along the way. When we reach Tanggu Town, I’ll treat everyone to drink alcohol and eat seafood!”
A young man, who looked like a leader among the imperial guards, smiled brightly as he replied, “Miss Yu is being courteous! It’s not important whether we get to eat seafood, but on behalf of everyone, let me say this—it’s good as long as there’s enough alcohol!!”
In addition to fruit wine, the distillery in the outskirts of the capital had added a high-quality liquor called ‘Five Grains Liquid’, which had a mellow taste and wasn’t too strong. Even if one was dead drunk, one would still feel refreshed and energetic the next day. There wouldn’t be any symptoms of a splitting headache, and it wouldn’t cause one to delay their tasks on the next day. Therefore, it was very popular among soldiers.
However, due to the scale of the distillery, not a lot of Five Grains Liquid were produced every month. Moreover, it was very expensive and wasn’t affordable for ordinary soldiers like them. Now that the owner of the distillery was in front of them, it would be foolish of them to not try to get some advantages!
As soon as Yu Xiaocao heard this, she knew what these guys wanted. She wasn’t a petty person, so with a wave of her hand, she said, “Rest assured! When we get back from Tanggu, I’ll give each of you a jar of Five Grains Liquid. A ten catties jar!!”
The imperial bodyguards were immediately in a state of uproar, and they couldn’t believe the sudden arrival of happiness. One should know that, on the market, a small one catty jar cost forty-eight taels per each. Furthermore, it was sold out as soon as it was put on the market and had been out of stock for a long time. Wouldn’t a ten catties jar of Five Grains Liquid cost nearly five hundred taels? That was several years of salary for these soldiers who came from ordinary families, okay? Miss Yu was indeed the same as the rumors—generous!!
“Five Grains Liquid? Ten catties? Do I get one too?” Lu Hao just happened to hear his brothers discussing this topic enthusiastically when he returned from running a lap on his horse with He Wanning chasing after him. He leaned over to shamelessly ask as he avoided her whip.
It was hard to say whether it was due to being angered or she was tired from whipping, but He Wanning’s face was completely red. She still had a murderous look on her face as she shouted at Yu Xiaocao, “Younger Sister Xiaocao, if you give him the Five Grains Liquid, then you’re no longer my younger sister!!”
Yu Xiaocao suppressed her laughter and looked at Lu Hao with a helpless expression. Lu Hao yelled at He Wanning, “These are separate matters. Tomboy, you dared to threaten Younger Sister Xiaocao. Be careful that I’ll report it to the cold-faced death god!”
Tsk, in such a short period of time, ‘Little Black’ had turned into ‘Tomboy’! He Wanning roared at him with an arrogant and indifferent tone, “Go report it ah! So what if he’s a cold-faced death god? Isn’t he as docile as Little Black in front of Younger Sister Xiacoao? He appears like Little White in front of people but acts like Little Black in private. He’s a prime example of a double-faced man!!”
Lu Hao looked at her with a ‘you win’ expression, but he still needed to strive for a chance to get the Five Grains Liquid, “Little Lady, I’ll apologize to you, okay? Please be magnanimous and don’t lower yourself to my level. We’ve known each other for over a decade, so you should know how I am. I just have a rotten mouth. You shouldn’t take my words to heart!”
“Weren’t you very happy calling me ‘Tomboy’ earlier? Now that you need a favor from me, you changed it to ‘Little Lady’? Humph! Let me tell you, this little lady is in a bad mood. Let’s talk about the liquor when you make me happy again!” He Wanning thought that she had gotten a hold of Lu Hao’s weakness and had the same complacent expression on her face that Lu Hao had earlier.
Lu Hao couldn’t stand her smug expression. He sneered and said, “Forget it then! I’ll just ask Zhu Junyang for it later. I doubt you can interfere with Younger Sister Xiaocao sending alcohol to Prince Jing’s Estate.”
He Wanning had a stunned expression on her face and she was even more angry. She ran after the irritating fellow with the small whip in her hands. Along the way, these situations kept repeating. The group was amused by their banter, and thus didn’t feel that the journey was tiring.Previous Chapter Next Chapter