Chapter 40: Just A Foodie
Ye Jiayao stepped out to wash up first and when she returned, Helian Jing was almost unconscious, hugging a pillow.
“Hey, get up and wash up before you sleep.” Ye Jiayao nudged him awake.
“Don’t disturb me! I want to sleep!” Helian Jing smacked her hand away, snuggling further into his pillow.
“You’re filthy! Come on! Get up and wash!” Ye Jiayao pulled the pillow out from his arms.
Helian Jing?reluctantly crawled out of bed, his eyes only half-open as he stumbled on his way to the washroom.
Ye Jiayao pushed the four benches that come with the square table together to make a makeshift bed. She took a pillow and a blanket to serve as her cushion from the hard wood. Luckily, it was large enough that it could also cover her. Finally done, Ye Jiayao lied on the benches, heaving a long sigh of relief.
Although this bed was a little hard and a little uneven, it was still way better than sleeping in ruined temples and pavilions. Not to mention that it doesn’t have the odor of a huge plank bed. She’d just make do for the night and see if she could ask housekeeper Li for a couch or a straw mat.
After washing up, Helian Jing returned to the room to see brother Jin sleeping on the bench. “Why are you sleeping on a bench when we have a bed?”?he wondered.
Ye Jiayao groaned. “I am not used to sharing a bed with someone.”
“Didn’t we sleep in a huge plank bed with 10 smelly people? Are you afraid I would molest you? I am not a homosexual,” Helian Jing replied with disdain.
If only you are gay, I’ll jump on that bed in a heartbeat.
“Stop nagging and just sleep on the comfy bed and let me sleep on my bench.”?Ye Jiayao glared at him before turning her back to him. She was dog-tired and she had no energy left to banter with him.
Helian Jing sat by the bed, a little upset as he watched her curl up on the bench. Although she acts fierce and bullies him all the time, he?could tell that she was always looking out for him. She always let him eat first when there’s food, and always find a clean and dry place for him to sleep when they have to hunker down in a ruined temple. She had a busy night tonight as she had juggled making several dishes all at once. Even though the aunties helped, it was her that did the heaviest work.
Helian Jing suddenly said, “You sleep on the bed.”
“I told you, I am not used to sharing…”?Ye Jiayao replied, annoyed.
“I’ll sleep on the bench, you sleep on the bed,” Helian Jing cut her off.
Ye Jiayao turned to look at him, surprised. She couldn’t believe that he was willing to give the bed up for her. He was a pampered, rich young master from a wealthy family. All throughout their journey, all he’s done was complain about every little inconvenience that they encounter. For him to offer such thing, he must’ve actually finally learned how to be considerate of others in light of the trials and tribulations he had experienced.
She was the perfect example of making the best out of a hard deal. Growing up, she did not have to worry about money, food, or staying alive. Now that she has time-traveled to the past,?she was forced to face various challenges and crisis of survival. She would’ve liked to complain, but she didn’t. She desperately wanted to spiral down into depression, but she didn’t. Staying down would only speed her death, well, the second death, up. Instead, she worked hard to survive and live a better life. It doesn’t matter even if the world deserts her because she would not give up on herself.
“Forget it. You’re gigantic and you don’t have a good sleeping posture, you’ll just fall down halfway through the night. Leave me alone and go to sleep.” Ye Jiayao’s tone might be hard but she really was feeling warm inside.
Helian Jing settled back on the bed, despondent. As he lied on his side, he watched her slender back, and even from a distance, he could smell the faint fragrance of her body. He yearned for that scent that makes him feel warm and at ease.
He knew that he was not easy to get along with, and just like what she said, he was unreasonable, proud, and bad-tempered. In the prince’s mansion, everyone would give him anything he wanted and he always took it for granted. He had no qualms about taking everything and it wasn’t until now that he felt guilty about it.
He has experienced more hardship these past few days than on all of his 16 years of life combined. He would never have imagined that he would meet someone who would have a huge impact on him at Lian Hu. Although they were similar in age, he was a mere ignorant child compared to her. He does not even know how to survive on his own. He had always thought he was remarkable, and for the first time, he realized how useless he really was. Without her guidance, he might have really become a beggar.
Big Raorao, when we get to Jin Ling, I would be sure to fulfill my promise and let you live a good life. You would never have any need to wander around ever again.
Helian Jing silently repeated his promise over and over again. He raised his hand towards the candlestick and with a flick, the flame flickered and extinguished.
Within the next three days, Ye Jiayao mingled around rich man Li’s home. She took to everyone like a fish took to water. From the old madam Li, to the watchman, and even the dog, everyone loved her.
Helian Jing concluded the reasons for brother Jin’s popularity. She was good-looking, very passionate, enthusiastic, polite, and extremely hardworking and industrious.
That thought darkened Helian Jing’s mood. She was always polite and cheerful around others, yet she was constantly snarling at him. Did he really deserve to be scolded like she was always saying? Was he that terrible?
On the fourth day, the Li family business group sets off as scheduled.
Ye Jiayao and?Helian Jing sat on the packets of herbs on top of the handcart. Although the transportation was a little simple, it was still a blessing because that meant they didn’t have to walk anymore. Ye Jiayao’s mood was so bright, she could not help but burst into a song.
“The river flows towards the east, the stars in the sky are part of the Big Dipper…”
There were many strong and courageous people in Shan Dong, so singing a heroic song was more than fitting. However, she deliberately made her voice hoarse and loud. The off-tune and off-beat singing made Helian Jing, who was sitting by her side, break out in goosebumps.
“Hey, can you not howl? You are going to summon the wolves,” Helian Jing complained in agony, putting his hands over his ears to block the sound.
Ye Jiayao rolled her eyes at him, continuing to sing. “Howl at the sight of injustice when it is time to attack, attack…”
The crowd from the business group laughed heartily, heavily entertained by Ye Jiayao.
Ye Jiayao sang more enthusiastically upon seeing everyone’s enjoyment. However, what everyone thought was novel the first time, became annoying after the fourth time.
“Brother Li, aren’t you tired? If you are tired, you can take a break.” The leader of the group, Li Mao, housekeeper Li’s son, hinted at her.
Helian Jing burst into laughter.
Ye Jiayao stopped mid-song, embarrassed.?I only sang that bad to give you strength and cheer you on!?Unappreciative boor!
Ye Jiayao swung a fist as big as a bean paste bun at Helian Jing as a sign of warning. Helian Jing silenced his laughter but he still could not restrain the shake of his shoulders.
Without vexing over where to find their next meal and where to sleep for the night, the journey became more enjoyable and interesting.
The group reached Ji Ning after 10 days. They were traveling by boat and they were able to cover a few hundred lis in a day.?Ye Jiayao calculated their course, and at this speed, they could reach Jin Ling in 10 days.
They were almost reaching Yang Zhou and Ye Jiayao began to ponder. Should she stop by Yang Zhou and take a look at the Ye house? Would her step-mother be shocked when she sees her? Does her father know about this perpetrated fraud? Well, even if he did know, what were the chances that her father would actually do anything about it? It was more likely that he would help her stepmother and sister to save the reputation of the Ye and Wei family.
After considering for a long time, Ye Jiayao dispelled the thought.
Oh! I can go to my maternal grandparents’ house!??Her maternal grandmother doted on her the most and surely, she would stand up for her.
However, after some thought, Ye Jiayao decided against it. At the start of the year, someone from her maternal grandparents’ house came to deliver news of her maternal grandmother’s poor health. If her maternal grandmother were to know that her beloved granddaughter got bullied like this, she would’ve kicked the bucket. She didn’t want to go over there and?cause her more trouble.
“Hey, what are you thinking?” Helian Jing asked, coming up to the deck upon seeing Ye Jiayao sat at the bow of the boat, daydreaming.
Ye Jiayao glanced slightly at him.?Stinking fellow. Why is he like that dumb donkey, always calling people hey?
“Thinking of what to eat for lunch,” Ye Jiayao answered lazily.
Helian Jing laughed. “You know you don’t have to come up with different fancy styles every day, right? Surely, that’s just a headache. Speaking of, you told me you’re not a chef, but how did you know how to cook so many dishes?”
Ye Jiayao raised a brow at him smugly. “That’s not a wonder. I am a genius and I have good comprehension skills. It’s just like a lesson being taught by the same teacher, but there were students that could just grasp the techniques quickly. You are the kind of student who has poor comprehension and can never learn well so you find my knowledge a wonder.”
Helian Jing clucked his tongue, saying, “A couple of praises and you’re already flying over the clouds. You know what I think? I think you’re just a foodie who only mulls over eating.”
Ye Jiayao smirked, a fake smile on her face. “Congratulations, you are not hopelessly stupid. Interest is your best teacher and the source of motivation. It’s only when you are interested in something, would you put all your concentration and efforts in it. You’d find ways to do it to its best like I just did with my cooking.”
“You’re preaching again. I think that you can become a chef and a teacher.” Helian Jing pouted mockingly.
Ye Jiayao laughed in a self-deprecating manner. It was a pity she didn’t apply what she had just said in her previous life. Her teacher would always nag her to study more and she had always found it irritating. It was only now that she had gone through the horrible things she did that she understood her teacher. If she had heeded the advice to learn more skills, she would probably have another way out instead of just depending on her cooking.
Li Mao came out from the hold of the ship, shouting towards Ye Jiayao, “Brother Li, we are going to reach Yang Zhou shortly. We are going ashore to deliver some goods, would you and little brother Jing want to come ashore to play?”
Helian Jing exclaimed, “Let’s go ashore to play! I’ve been to Yang Zhou and I know of a lot of fun places. I’ll bring you there!”
“Sure, we are going ashore too,” Ye Jiayao shouted back to Li Mao.
The boat docked ashore gently, and Li Mao commanded everyone to move a portion of the goods ashore. They were going to deliver the herbs to Ji Ren Tang, the biggest medicinal store in Yang Zhou.
Ye Jiayao called Helian Jing over to help.
“It’s okay, brother Li. Go and enjoy yourselves! The boat will be stopping here for a night, and you don’t have to make the dinner tonight. Everyone is going ashore to drink.” Li Mao laughed.
They’re free today!
Helian Jing pulled Ye Jiayao ashore merrily, excitement making him practically bouncing on his toes.
In the top grade room of the biggest inn in Yang Zhou, Yue Lai Ju, Xia Chunyu was drinking tea while listening to Song Qi’s report.
“Your subordinate has asked around and found out that there are three sisters in the Ye family and one brother. The first young mistress is called Ye Jinxuan, 17 this year, the second young mistress is called Ye Jinrong, 16 this year, the third young master is Ye Zhongyuan, 14 this year, and the fourth young mistress is only 10. Madam Ye was originally a concubine and was only made the lady of the family after sub-prefect Ye’s wife passed away. The Ye household is very calm, as though nothing happened. The servants all said that the first young mistress got married to the Wei family in Ji Nan province but cannot be sure of the whereabouts of the second young mistress.”