Fields Of Gold / Fields of Gold Chapter 361 – True Disciple

During the chaos of war, Prince Jing once saved the patriarch of the Jiang Family. In order to heal his wife’s body, Prince Jing personally went to the Jiang Family to ask them for a chef. At that time, the Jiang Family sent over the chef that was second only to the patriarch to Prince Jing’s estate in order to repay their debt.

The other chef was the chef who was the best at cooking medicinal cuisine in the palace, Imperial Chef Huang. He had previously cooked food for the emperor emeritus. Before the emperor emeritus retired, he had heard that Princess Consort Jing had a weak constitution and required a lot of nursing back to health. Thus, he sent Imperial Chef Huang to Prince Jing’s estate to have him especially prepare medicinal cuisines for her. It could be said that without Imperial Chef Huang there, Princess Consort Jing’s battered body might not have lasted and she wouldn’t have been able to meet Yu Xiaocao. Her soul might have left this earth long ago!

These two illustrious chefs, one world-renowned, and the other an imperial chef, had unexpectedly been conquered by the cooking of a ten to eleven year old little girl. If this came out, no one would believe it.

At this moment, Yu Xiaocao was not aware of any of this. She was currently in the middle of writing and editing the recipe for Buddha jumps over the wall in preparation to sell it at a very high price to Third Young Master Zhou! The popularity of Zhenxiu Restaurant’s fruit-scented roasted duck had gradually declined, so it was time to push out a whole new dish! ‘Buddha jumps over the wall’ was the perfect dish to send out next.

Why was she going to sell it at a high price to Zhenxiu Restaurant? All of the ingredients used in the dish were top-notch delicacies and were quite expensive. Thus, this dish had to be marketed to customers that had deep pockets and a willingness to spend money. Not only could Zhenxiu Restaurant make a pretty penny of this, but they could also boost their own reputation and make connections with wealthy and powerful people. It was a win-win from every side. No matter how high the price, it would be worth it!

The second day after Buddha jumps over the wall came out, Royal Prince Yang had reserved a private room at Zhenxiu Restaurant to celebrate Little Shitou passing the county-level imperial exams. They not only invited Rongxuan Academy’s Headmaster Yuan but they also sent out invitations to all of the teachers in Little Shitou’s grade. County Magistrate Zhao had also somehow found out that this was going on and shamelessly invited himself in and brought along a very generous gift. Other than the star of the day, Little Shitou, the Yu Family also had Yu Hai and Yu Xiaocao there.

At first, it was with great difficulty that they finally convinced Old Yu to come, but when he got to Zhenxiu Restaurant and found out the headmaster and county magistrate were there, he became frightened and refused to go. He had never interacted before with prestigious personages in his whole life, so he hid in the residence the Yu Family had in town and could not be convinced by anyone to do otherwise. This little episode was only known by the Yu Family and no one else.

Little Shitou had felt a bit embarrassed by all of this. Originally, this was supposed to be a celebration for the whole family, so how did it become filled with a bunch of unrelated people? He acted like a tiny adult and politely said, “I only passed the county-level imperial exams and didn’t even get first place. There’s nothing worth celebrating!”

County Magistrate Zhao flatteringly said, “You’re being too modest. In all of Tanggu Town, there are only two who have passed the exam and get government grain, and you are one of them. That being said, in this batch of examinees who passed, you are the youngest. It’s also said that you caught the eye of the Superintendent of the Zhili Province and he personally read through your exam papers!”

Headmaster Yuan was very satisfied with Little Shitou’s performance and actions. All in all, the little fellow had only been studying for less than three years. If he didn’t have an almost photographic memory to the point where he couldn’t forget things and also a mind that grasped concepts easily, it would have been considered fine for a child his age to be able to recognize all of the words he was reading on the exam. Unexpectedly, the little fellow wanted to try for the county-level examinations!

Originally, with Little Shitou’s teachers’ estimations, it would have been fine for him to just barely pass the first set of examinations. Who would have thought that his path went smoothly and he passed all three sets of the entry-level examinations and received the honor of becoming a scholar who passed the county-level imperial examinations. Furthermore, he managed to do very well and became one of the few scholars who would be granted the privilege of receiving grain from the government. Naturally, other than Little Shitou’s incredible innate talent, his success was very much linked with Headmaster Yuan’s careful tutoring and training.

None of them knew that Little Shitou’s original IQ was only just a little bit better than his Younger Uncle’s, Yu Bo. In other words, if he studied hard for his whole life, he would probably only be able to pass the county-level imperial examinations.

However, with Yu Xiaocao transmigrating over and changing the Yu Family’s trajectory, everything else changed too. Since the age of five, Little Shitou had been eating food and drinking beverages that all contained mystic-stone water. For a fully grown adult, mystic-stone water could only bring the person to the peak of health and heal any old illnesses or injuries. However, for children, the changes it could manifest was much greater. It had the ability to make the brain undergo a second development and change a person’s intelligence.

An ordinary person usually only used three to five percent of their brain power. Even Einstein, the well-known genius, only used up to ten percent of his brain power. Unconsciously, Little Shitou had surpassed this future scientific genius. Not only was his ability to memorize very good but his ability to understand concepts had also increased significantly. Furthermore, he was very hardworking as he wished to also do his part for the family like his second sister, so it would be more surprising if his grades were bad!

Headmaster Yuan, who had already regarded Little Shitou as his last disciple, didn’t compliment the boy like other people were. Instead, he stated reasonably, “Yu Fan is right. He only passed the county-level examinations and it’s only the first step in a very long journey. He needs to make sure to not get arrogant and stay humble to avoid having the same ending as the main character from ‘The Lament of Zhongyong’ [1]. Yu Fan, you need to make sure you face forward always and study hard. Furthermore, you can’t only rely on books to learn as you have to open yourself to get a better understanding of the world. Next year, I will be going to Jiangnan to lecture and you should come with me!”

When Little Shitou heard this, he became very excited. Many educated scholars longed to travel to Jiangnan. Historically, many scholarly lines of thoughts had originated there and the studious atmosphere there was quite thick. It was said that even the farmers in the fields could also recite a few lines of poetry.

Every year, Headmaster Yuan would get invitations from a few notable schools down in Jiangnan to have him lecture. Being able to go with him and listen to all of these lectures was only an honor reserved for his true disciples.

Although Headmaster Yuan had taken care of Little Shitou and given him preferential treatment these past two years, Little Shitou never expected that he could become a true disciple of the headmaster. All of the headmaster’s true disciples had either become notable scholars of merit or respected officials at court helping to govern the country. Regardless, their futures were limitless.

Yu Xiaocao had just come in with a ceramic pot of Buddha jumps over the wall that gave off its signature tantalizing fragrance. When she saw her younger brother foolishly staring, she hurriedly put the pot down and gently slapped him on the back of his head, “What are you doing just standing there, stupidly happy? Quickly kowtow to your master!”

Little Shitou’s main teacher also encouraged him, “We have both wine and tea available here. Let’s conduct the formal ceremony of you becoming his disciple right now then!”

Headmaster Yuan’s full attention was currently on the dense fragrant smell of the Buddha jumps over the wall, so he absentmindedly went through the ceremonial procedures with Little Shitou serving him tea. Like that, the simple ceremony to take in Little Shitou as a formal apprentice was finished. Only after the celebration party ended did he realize that he had just taken a boy, not even nine years old, as his disciple. This disciple was also much younger than all of his other disciples.

The last time Headmaster Yuan took in a disciple was over twenty years ago. All of his other disciples, as well as himself, thought that he wouldn’t be taking any more true disciples for the rest of his life. When he said that he was going to take Little Shitou along, it was because he liked talented people and didn’t want the boy’s innate talents to go to waste. Who would have thought that he would absentmindedly take in another disciple during a banquet? Argh! Good food could truly make a person lose their wits!

However, that Buddha jumps over the wall dish was truly too delicious. Headmaster Yuan, who often bragged that there were no delicacies in the world that he hadn’t tried, had also been firmly conquered by it.

The person who was most happy after all of this, other than Little Shitou, was Yu Xiaocao. After Royal Prince Yang explained the situation to her, she understood just how fortunate it was that her younger brother was able to become Headmaster Yuan’s last disciple. It could be said, that as long as Little Shitou didn’t make any big mishaps in the future, his future could only be limitless and smooth. Not only would he have access to the best education and materials, but he also now had connections to all of the talented and skilled older disciples. They would later be his network! In the future, it was almost an iron-clad guarantee that Old Yu’s family’s descendants would be bound for officialdom!

“Hee hee! Young Royal Prince, I have to hand it to you; it was a great idea to hold this banquet! I don’t even know how to thank you properly!” Yu Xiaocao was filled with gratitude from head to toe. Her eyes shined with light full of gratitude and seemed to glow with an inner radiance.

Zhu Junyang felt his heart skip a beat after looking into her shining eyes and he couldn’t help but turn his head away. He had never known before that a person’s eyes could look so incredibly luminous and beautiful. They looked as if they were crafted out of the most expensive glass and jade and didn’t have a single flaw. It was as if they could see into the depths of a person’s soul and purify all darkness within.

“Ahem…then, how do you want to thank me?” Zhu Junyang was also happy for Little Shitou. With Little Shitou around, the court would also have another person there supporting the Yu Family wholeheartedly.

Yu Xiaocao grinned until her eyes turned into crescents and looked like tiny moons, “How about I make you Buddha jumps over the wall every day? What do you think?”

“Eat it every day? No matter how delicious something is, it’s always possible to get sick of it!” Zhu Junyang was not very satisfied with her answer.

Yu Xiaocao slanted her head to the side as she contemplated. After thinking a bit, she was in low spirits. Imperial Prince Jing’s youngest son was also the person the emperor regarded with the most importance right now. There really wasn’t anything that she could take out that would be a proper gift to him to express her gratitude.

Zhu Junyang watched as the little girl nibbled on her fingernails as if she was a little kitten stuck in a bunch of yarn. Her face was full of confusion. He silently laughed and then patted her small head, “If you can’t think of anything, it’s okay. I’ll be merciful and let you have a debt for now.”

Yu Xiaocao hated owing other people the most. She stated with an expression full of dissatisfaction, “Young Royal Prince, tell me what you want the most. As long as I am able to, I’ll do it for you!”

Royal Prince Yang revealed an arrogant expression, “A gift you give voluntarily versus something I ask for, can those two be considered the same? No sincerity!” After he finished, he strolled away with large steps.

Yu Xiaocao followed him as if she was his personal tail as she continued to say, “Just tell me ah! You don’t lack for anything and it’s not as if I can read your mind! I really don’t know what you need!”

Zhu Junyang could hear in her voice hints of acting spoiled and being cute, and it felt like a little cat was tickling the inside of his heart. He suddenly stopped walking and turned around to look at the little girl whose head didn’t even reach his armpits.

Yu Xiaocao didn’t expect that the person in front of her would suddenly stop moving. She was still speed-walking forward as she roasted him in her mind, ‘Must be nice to have such long legs, ah! You can walk so fast!’

“Ouch!” The result was tragedy. The little girl bumped her head straight into Zhu Junyang’s abdomen and her nose stung after hitting his rock-hard stomach. Tears involuntarily came to her eyes and dripped down her face.

“You didn’t even give me a head’s up when you stopped. Now my nose is going to be flat after hitting you!” Yu Xiaocao wiped the tears off her face as she loudly protested. Noses weren’t very strong to begin with. If her nose got hit a couple more times, wouldn’t she have a flat nose for the rest of her life then?

[1] “The Lament of Zhongyong” (伤仲永) – A story written in the Northern Song Dynasty about a boy named Fang Zhongyong who was a child prodigy. Moral of the story is this: It doesn’t matter how much talent you have if you don’t work hard.

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