Chapter 41: A Coincidence
“Your subordinate also went to the house of first young mistress Ye’s wet nurse, Su, who has left the mansion and went back to her hometown. First young mistress Ye was indeed having a hard time at home,” Song Qi reported.
Xia Chunyu set his cup of tea down and walked to the window, his hands clasped behind his back. He looked into the distance with a frown. From where he was, he could see the dense white canvas of boats in the canal, manifesting into this flourishing city.??Indeed, the river flows east, bringing tens of thousands of white sails over.
However, the bustling scene before his eyes could not cover up his mournful and desolate heart.
All the information that he has gathered pointed to Yaoyao telling the truth. Ye Jinxuan really was kidnapped and brought to Hei Feng Gang while the second young mistress Ye acted as a substitute for her. The second young mistress Ye took Ye Jinxuan’s rightful place as the first young lady of the Wei mansion.
Yaoyao wasn’t lying.
He dared not think of what Yaoyao must have been feeling when she left. She promised that she would follow her husband’s orders, even if he has always treated her badly. She?took on the role of the doting wife, never complaining?when she washed his dirty clothes or made him delicious meals every day.
Chunyu, I will treat you well.
Chunyu, you cannot abandon me.
He shook his head, his mind occupied by her words, her soulful eyes, and her crafty, beautiful smile.
It was a pity that he didn’t believe her back then. She treated him as a life-saving buoy in the sea of her troubles and misfortunes in her life, and he only looked down on her. He had let her down time and again just for the sake of protecting his noble status. With her gone, he was left with so much guilt and regret. At times, he would feel like there were two mountains pressing down on him, rendering him unable to breathe. Every thought of her was a sharp pain to him.
Song Qi looked at the Master Crown Prince sympathetically. Sister-in-law was a good woman, and he believed that everyone who has interacted with her would find it difficult to forget her. Even until now, he still could not forget the pig stomach chicken that she promised to trick him into playing with her.
“You did not tell Su the true condition of Yaoyao, right?” Xia Chunyu asked.
Song Qi replied, “Your subordinate dared not tell the truth. The only thing that got Su to trust me was telling her that the first young mistress Ye is living well in Ji Nan and misses her. Su was delighted and even said that she was relieved that the hard times for first young mistress Ye has finally ended.”
Xia Chunyu’s frown deepened. “Take another trip to Su’s house and give her a hundred silvers. Also, buy a pair of the best tiger skin you can find for her.”
He did not know if Yaoyao has any other wishes,?those were the only one he has heard her mention.
Yang Zhou, an ancient city that was as described in poems and paintings, has a beautiful Shou Xi lake, a majestic grand canal, and beautiful private courtyards. The courtyards were passed down the generations of salt merchants and have become famous tourist sites in the modern times.
However, Helian Jing and Ye Jiayao decided that sightseeing could wait. Filling their growling stomachs were the priority.
There was a bustling food street by the grand canal. The ancient times were not like the modern times with cars, trains,?and planes. Shipping was the main mode of goods transportation in ancient Yang Zhou. People from different locations would stop by here to try the local delicacies or simply appreciate the beauty of the scenery. It made perfect sense, at least business-wise, that the food and beverage industry near the canal coastal area was the most developed.
The two of them entered an ordinary teahouse, and Helian Jing ordered San Ding buns, jade, and a thousand layered cake. “This is called the three absolutes of dim sum, a necessity when drinking tea. However, I am not sure if the dim sum here would taste good. The dim sums in Man Fu Restaurant are absolutely delicious, but it is too expensive and we cannot afford it right now. I will bring there next time.”
Ye Jiayao smiled, replying carelessly, “Sure!”
The dim sums in Man Fu Restaurant were indeed the most authentic and expensive ones in Yang Zhou. Jinrong loved eating them, getting people to buy them for her from time to time and even flaunting it in front of her. Ye Jiayao only had it once when she was 10 when her maternal grandfather bought some for her.
In the range of Ye Jiayao’s cooking abilities, her pastry skills were the most lacking, because, in the modern times, her father wasn’t also very good at it. Ye Jiayao really did want to learn more about it but becoming?a formal apprentice in the ancient times was difficult. Most chefs don’t allow people to watch them cook or make pastry for the fear of their trade secret getting out. At least in the modern times, there were specialized schools and training classes to nurture budding chefs.
The dim sums were served quickly, and Helian Jing rubbed his hands together in excitement. He picked his chopsticks up and chose a San Ding bun first, relishing his first bite with a satisfied look.
Ye Jiayao followed his lead and also tried one. The skin was still soft and chewy, and the filling was diced chicken, diced meat, and diced bamboo shoots. However, Ye Jiayao found that the chicken was not fragrant enough. It appeared that it was used to stew soup because the freshness of the chicken was all extracted out. The diced meat was too fatty, and the diced bamboo shoot was quite tough with the taste of the dregs prominent.
Well, I’m giving this a two-star review.
She tried the thousand layered cake next. The authentic thousand layered cake has around 20 layers, a layer of cake and a layer of sugar oil alternately stacked together and separated. It was exceptionally soft and moderately sweet. Unfortunately, the thousand layered cake in front of her was all stuck and mashed together and a little too sweet.
On the contrary, the jade shumai was an unexpected surprise. The skin was paper thin, revealing the jade green chives inside and making it worthy of the ‘jade’ description. The shrimp filling was also good, fresh and tender.
“Delicious, delicious! This is too yummy, I miss the taste of Yang Zhou’s delicacy too much.” Helian Jing was clearly very satisfied with his meal.
Ye Jiayao watched him with sympathy.?Pitiful little Jingjing.??After a few days of hard times, his expectations for delicacies has sharply declined. Based on his snobbiness, if this was served to him in the past, he might’ve thrown it away to feed the dogs.
I’m going to refrain from teasing him about this.??Back in the day when Empress Dowager Cixi was seeking refuge, she considered a bread given to her delicious. Even when she returned to the palace, she wasn’t able to forget it. It really was true that when a person is starving, everything would taste delicious.
“You can eat more if you like.” Ye Jiayao pushes the dim sums towards Helian Jing.
Helian Jing was extremely touched. Big Raorao was tough with her words, but she really was soft-hearted. She was always putting him first.
“Have some too! I cannot finish this much alone.” Helian Jing endured the pain of parting with his treasure. Big Raorao was so nice to him, he can’t be too selfish.
Ye Jiayao broke into peals of laughter. “There is a total of three San Ding buns, four thousand layered cakes, and six jade shumai. Normally, these would not even be enough for you. Don’t try to be courteous, I’m just not that hungry and I don’t feel like eating.”
She did not want to affect little Jingjing’s appetite, and also in the principle of not wasting food, so she didn’t tell him that the food tasted horrible to her.
Helian Jing, satisfied with her answer, finished the rest of the food.
After having dim sums, the pair continued on to search for good food. They spotted someone selling candy man by the road and they both rushed over. Ye Jiayao paid three coppers for a phoenix while Helian Jing ended up getting a dog. He detested the dog so much that he made the vendor exchange it for a rabbit.
The master in candy man looked perfectly fluid as though he was merely drawing, creating a flying phoenix with its wings spread and a little rabbit expertly.
Ye Jiayao proudly compared her huge phoenix with Helian Jing’s little rabbit, laughing out loud.
Helian Jing was bummed. They both paid three coppers but she got something so huge and he only got this little rabbit.??Oh, well. I didn’t really pay for it.
The two of them continued strolling around while they eat their candy man. Helian Jing showed interest in the roadside ring toss game. Ye Jiayao saw his eagerness to try so she handed him some coppers. “Have a go!”
“You’re not going?” Helian Jing asked.
Ye Jiayao raised her chin towards another direction. “I’m going to mold a dough.”
Helian Jing was not interested in dough molding.?Perhaps big Raorao would ask the master in dough molding to make a mold of my face.??“Then come back here to look for me after that.”
Ye Jiayao went to the dough figurine shop, inquiring. “Master, how much does it cost to mold a dough?”
The dough figurine master replied, “Two coppers for a dough. I can mold it according to your appearance.”
“Then mold one according to my appearance,”?Ye Jiayao said merrily.
She posed with a tacky peace sign and asked, “Can you mold it just like that?”
The corner of the master’s eyes twitched as he looked at Ye Jiayao’s peace sign. “With that hand gesture as well?”
Ye Jiayao nodded her head repeatedly. “Yes, yes.”
The dough master looked at her weirdly before heaving a big sigh and beginning to mold.
Over at the other side, Helian Jing managed to squeeze his way to the front of the line. He scoffed upon seeing how the person before him failed to get anything for five consecutive rounds.
“One hoop for one copper! You can loop whatever you want! If you get it, the prize goes to you! Come, come, toss some rings!” the uncle tending the store shouted loudly.
“Give me five rings.” Helian Jing handed the uncle five coppers and got five bamboo rings in exchange. He immediately targeted the fat porcelain doll. Big Raorao has a broken, black, and ugly ceramic pot to contain coppers. He would gift her a prettier one for her to contain her coppers.
The bamboo ring looped steadily onto the porcelain doll, and the people watching all cheered loudly. Helian Jing felt proud. Throughout their unlucky journey, he has practiced hitting birds with stones and it showed with his dramatically improved accuracy.
Following that, Helian jing looped a few other small things. The uncle tending the store worried about his hundred percent hit rate. He passed the prizes to Helian Jing and said in discontent, “Young man, what accuracy! I am only a small business, please know when to stop!”
Helian Jing looped the things that he wanted and left the things he had no interest in. Big Yayao has taught him to always give others some leeway, hence, he stopped and carried his prizes happily to look for her.
“Raorao, Raorao!” Helian Jing squeezed in amongst the crowd, shouting at the top of his lungs.
Ye Jiayao turned around and saw Helian Jing carrying a bunch of items in his arms, shouting for her. It looked like he had quite a profit. She was just about to call him when she spotted a person walking straight towards Helian Jing. Ye Jiayao immediately turned away and started in the opposite direction.
F*ck! What is dumb donkey doing here??
Just as Helian Jing made a move towards Ye Jiayao’s direction, a tall silhouette stepped in front of him.
Helian Jing squinted?his eyes against the light. “Brother… brother Chunyu?” he stammered.
Xia Chunyu was feeling incredibly frustrated so he came to take a walk by the river when he suddenly heard someone call Yaoyao. His heart skipped a beat and before he knew it, he was already heading towards the direction of the voice.