Fields Of Gold / Fields of Gold Chapter 527
Zhu Junfan knew that the bow in his cousin’s hands didn’t look very impressive but it definitely wasn’t something an ordinary person could bend. He curled his lip and thought, ‘Zhu Junyang, you brat, why does it seem like you’re begging for a spanking now?’
“This official’s most important task is keeping you, Imperial Majesty, safe!” Zhu Junyang had an earnest expression on his face and it made him seem a bit fascinating and charming.
Zhu Junfan waved a hand in dismissal and said, “We will be close by, shooting a few arrows here and there. There are so many imperial bodyguards along, what sort of danger could befall us? This is a rare opportunity for you to go play, so don’t just hang around here!”
However, Zhu Junyang was not moved by the emperor’s statement and displayed an expression of utter loyalty and willingness to complete his duty. On the other hand, the eldest imperial prince felt a bit restless and asked, “Imperial Father, can I go hunt?”
‘You want to go hunting with that little bow that seems like a toy?’ Zhu Junfan raised an eyebrow and looked at his son. It wasn’t that he was looking down on his son. However, a child of around seven to eight really couldn’t do much, despite the fact that he had learned some boxing from the imperial bodyguards. The young prince had only started his lessons on archery, so what could he possibly shoot down now?
However, Zhu Junfan considered himself to be a compassionate father, so he looked in the direction of Yu Xiaocao and said to his son, “You want to go hunting? Go ahead!”
A smile full of happiness unfolded on Zhu Hanwen’s adorable little face. Just as he was about to cheer in glee, he heard his father’s follow up statement, “However…you need to stay by Official Yu’s side the entire time!”
Zhu Hanwen was only happy for about three seconds before his face fell. He remarked unhappily, “Imperial Father, Official Yu is a girl, so how could she know how to hunt ah? If you let me accompany her, it’s no better than staying by your side ah!”
“Since my son is so filial, then stay by my side!” Zhu Junfan took great pleasure in teasing his son and smiled as if nothing had just happened.
“Imperial Father…” Zhu Hanwen twisted his body around like a python and attempted to act spoiled to have his father change his mind out of softheartedness.
“Stay here or go hunting with Beloved Official Yu! Those are the only two options you have!” Although Zhu Junfan was usually quite kind and sweet to his children, once he came to a decision, it was almost impossible to change his mind.
The eldest imperial prince naturally knew of this side of his father. He didn’t beg for long before he made his decision, “Then…this son will go hunting for small animals with Official Yu then…”
On the side of all of this, Yu Xiaocao blinked her large eyes as she thought, ‘Can’t you two solicit my opinion about all of this before making a decision? When did I ever say that I wanted to go hunting? My own hunting skills are quite bad but I also have to bring along a little tail now? Anyone else would be better. The eldest imperial prince has a lofty status. If he got even mildly injured, who will take the blame?’
“That uh…Imperial Majesty, Imperial Highness, this official doesn’t know how to hunt…” Yu Xiaocao interjected weakly.
The eldest imperial prince immediately replied, “Imperial Father, look…Official Yu doesn’t know how to hunt. Can this son change her for someone else ah? Duke Rongguo’s third son brought two fierce hunting dogs along and they must be very bold. How about we have him accompany me instead?”
Yu Xiaocao secretly sneered, ‘Your Imperial Highness, just how much do you dislike me ah? Why don’t you make it even more clear now? Be careful what you wish for. Next time, you might have to guzzle down some really bitter medicine!’
This time, the person who spoke was the empress, “Imperial Son, Miss Yu is only being modest when she says that she doesn’t know how to hunt. I heard that when Miss Yu was eight, she often went into the mountains to hunt so she could add some meat to her family’s meals and has never gone home empty-handed. Her father had even killed a black bear! A talented father will have a talented daughter, so Miss Yu absolutely cannot be too bad!”
The corner of Yu Xiaocao’s mouth twitched when she heard the empress’s words, ‘You two are really too much! Isn’t the only reason you’re pushing the prince to go along with me is because you both know that I value my own life and naturally won’t go to any dangerous places? You both truly spare no pains or efforts to keep him safe ah!”
In the past, she had only set a few traps and snares, using the mystic stone water as bait. How could that count as hunting? If they wanted her to use bow and arrows to hunt game, she was pretty sure that even if she shot ten arrows, not a single one would hit unless her luck was sky high. They even brought up her father. If her father truly had the ability to kill a bear on his own, then how could he have almost died after getting his leg savaged by one?
When Zhu Hanwen heard this, he immediately gazed at Yu Xiaocao with an admiring look in his eyes. He was no longer as reluctant as before. Little children were truly easy to trick!
Zhu Junfan then added on another incentive, one that was enough to completely convince the eldest imperial prince that going with Yu Xiaocao was a good idea, “Beloved Official Yu, don’t you also have two very large and special hunting dogs ah? Even that fellow Ning Donghuan salivates over your massive dogs, so they must be exceptional! Imperial Son, if you go with her, even if you don’t use your bow at all, you’ll be able to get quite a bit of game!”
Even Ning Donghuan envied her for these dogs? Zhu Hanwen’s gaze towards Xiaocao became much more fervent, “Official Yu, where are your hunting dogs? How come I didn’t see them on the journey here?”
Little Black and Little White had also been given permission to go to the Autumn Hunt. However, in order to not startle any of the horses on the journey there, the two of them could only follow the procession from far behind. When they got to the grasslands, they were like fish in the water and ran so far that no one could see them. Occasionally, they would remember their master and bring some game back and leave it in front of the temporary imperial residence. The patrolling bodyguards benefited from their gifts.
Zhu Junfan also voiced his agreement, “That’s right ah! Beloved Official Yu seems to like to hide her hunting dogs from the rest of us. If you don’t take them out now to play, when will you? Anything a hunting dog catches is also counted under the master’s game count. Don’t you want to place highly?”
Get first to third place? Was it really alright for someone who couldn’t even bend a bow to get in the first three rankings? Yu Xiaocao rolled her eyes inwardly but turned to face the prairie and raised her voice to yell, “Little Black, Little White, come here——”
Zhu Hanwen was currently sitting on his pony and stood up in his stirrups to look afar. His childish face, which still had some baby fat on it, was lit up in anticipation. However, after waiting for a bit, he noticed that there weren’t any signs of movement in the grass and the little fellow became a bit dispirited. He mumbled quietly, “Official Yu, was the sound of your voice too soft such that Little Black and Little White couldn’t hear you? How about you raise your voice a bit louder and yell for them…”
Before he could finish his thought, the little pony beneath him became uneasy and started stomping its hooves restlessly, turning around and around. If it wasn’t for the young eunuch holding tightly onto the reins, the pony might have already started running off uncontrollably. Just like this, there were a couple of times that the prince had almost fallen off the pony. When Zhu Junyang saw this, he hurriedly bent over and pulled the eldest imperial prince onto his horse to sit steadily.
The other horses in the vicinity also became restless. Fortunately, the horses that the imperial family rode were all carefully picked out and meticulously trained. Thus, people were able to calm them down and restrain them easily.
At this time, in the distant thickets, a black and white small dot appeared and speedily headed towards their directions. The small dots became larger and larger. In the blink of an eye, the eldest imperial prince could make out the full figures of those small dots. The black and white colored figures looked like very big and fierce dogs.
Within the span of a couple of breaths, the two massive hunting dogs stopped not far from the group of people. They did so because their master had told them that not every human would be able to tolerate them and treat them with friendliness, so they needed to keep their distance from people they didn’t know.
Little Red, who had already become a bit impatient, trotted forward when it saw the two wolves without even waiting for its master for an order. It reared up slightly to warmly greet the two wolves. Little White was its usual cold and arrogant self. Little Black, on the other hand, warmly licked Little Red’s hooves to send a greeting back.
Two pairs of shining blue eyes regarded their master with excitement and intimacy. Xiaocao dismounted from her horse and hugged a furry wolf neck with each arm. Her small hands caressed their heads, mussing up their fur. The two of them clearly enjoyed their master’s pets and closed their eyes in joy and their mouths opened in what looked like a smile.
“Wow! Official Yu, your dogs are so big and so majestic looking ah!” Zhu Hanwen had somehow appeared next to her and had stopped when he was about three steps away. The prince knew that most strong and fierce hunting dogs had some wildness inside. Other than their own masters, they very rarely allowed strangers to get close to them.
“Imperial Majesty! Those two are clearly…will the eldest imperial prince be in any danger?” The head steward in charge of the hunting lands had come across many animals in his time. Naturally, he was able to tell the difference between wolves and dogs. Thus, he was asking this out of concern.
As the father, Zhu Junwan wasn’t the least bit worried by any of this, “No worries, Official Yu is there!”
As expected, as soon as Little White noticed the boy coming close, it became wary and wrinkled its snout to start to snarl at Zhu Hanwen. Xiaocao lightly stroked its ears and smiled, “Little White, no need to be so nervous! He’s a friend, not an enemy! Relax a bit! Look closely you two, protecting him today is also your responsibility today ah!”
Zhu Hanwen noticed that Little White’s previous snarling countenance had immediately disappeared and exclaimed in surprise, “Official Yu, Little White seems to be able to understand what you’re saying!”
Xiaocao turned her head around and beckoned towards him with a hand. The little boy scampered over and bravely attempted to stroke Little White’s soft and silky white fur. However, the arrogant wolf dodged his attempts. Xiaocao spoke to Zhu Hanwen, who had a face full of loss, “Imperial Highness, Little White is a bit bad tempered. Go pet Little Black, he’s much more gentle and amiable!”
Little Black, who had just been sold out by its master, heard its master calling its name and excitedly turned in a circle. Then it shoved its large head over to push away Little White and opened its mouth in an attempt to act cute.
Zhu Hanwen giggled in amusement when he saw the large dog, who was taller than himself, acting adorable for the sake of begging for pets and favors. This black dog’s eyes seemed to be more gentle and sweet. No wonder Official Yu said that its temperament was a lot better!
“You can reach out a hand to pet it!” Yu Xiaocao noticed that the eldest imperial prince had scooted over and had a face full of desire to pet, yet he still seemed hesitant. His large eyes were shining with longing and he somehow resembled a tiny puppy begging for a bone to chew on. He was so cute that he made a person want to pinch his chubby little cheeks. In actuality, her hand had already reached over and started to do what she thought of!
Zhu Hanwen was startled for a moment and he stared blankly at that claw that had gone back to its owner. Other than his imperial father and mother, the rest of the people around him either treated him with utmost respect or had an air of flattery around them. No one had ever been so daring to pinch his little face. He didn’t fly into fury because of this. Instead, he felt it was a bit novel and intimate. Official Yu must really like him in order to pinch his face, right?
Yu Xiaocao sheepishly looked over in the direction of the emperor and empress, praying that the two of them didn’t see her incredibly rude action earlier. When she met the emperor’s eyes, the man regarded her with a faint smile on his face and he turned around as if nothing had happened. Everything was just an illusion, all fake and a figment of your imagination…
“Eldest Imperial Prince, Little Black is very gentle. Once you become familiar with each other, you can even ride on its back. However, it’s not as steady or comfortable as riding a horse, so you need to be careful!” Yu Xiaocao’s deliberate attempt at changing the subject was successful in distracting the little fellow.