Fields Of Gold / Fields of Gold Chapter 553
At this time, red corals were already regarded as an auspicious and fortunate item that represented nobility and power, so it was also called ‘Lucky Gem’. It was the symbol of happiness and eternity. Xiaocao heard from her godmother that when the princess of the previous dynasty got married, the imperial family included a red coral that was even taller than a person in her dowry. It was extremely valuable, and thus attracted the envy of countless noble maidens. Corals with such a bright and dazzling red color like this should be considered top grade, right?
With the little divine stone’s help, Yu Xiaocao picked the beautiful red coral and slowly pulled back to the shore. Fortunately, there was buoyancy in the sea and she also had the help of the little dolphin. Otherwise, she wasn’t sure if she could bring this coral that was nearly the same size as her back.
The coral was dragged ashore with the help of her friends. The group of young maidens were amazed because they had never seen such a coral that was so big and red.
He Wanning was pleasantly surprised as she walked around the coral twice and said, “Younger Sister Xiaocao, you’re really lucky to actually find such a top-notch quality red coral. How did you drag it up with that small and thin body of yours?”
Li Mengqi also knew about the value of red coral. The matriarch of her family had a red coral in her dowry. It was only a little more than half a meter tall, but she treated it like a treasure and hid it for fear that it would be damaged by others.
Yu Wanqing showed the string of red coral beads on her wrist to the others and said with a smile, “My mother gave a red coral beads bracelet on my birthday. The color isn’t as beautiful as this one, yet I heard it cost several thousand taels! Older Sister Yu, you can grind out so many beads from this coral ah!!”
He Wanqing smacked the back of her head. She disregarded her wronged expression and rebuked, “Do you know how rare a colony of coral is? If it’s divided into pieces like you suggested, then that’s recklessly wasting god’s gift! Xiaocao, you can’t be muddle-headed and suffer big losses for the sake of small gains ah!”
Yuan Xueyan, on the other hand, thought more profoundly and asked, “Younger Sister Xiaocao, this coral is very valuable. Have you figured out what to do with it?” People often say that ‘one’s only crime was to carry a jade’. Such a precious item would likely attract thieves.
Yu Xiaocao understood what she meant, so she answered without any hesitation, “At the end of next month, isn’t it the emperor’s imperial mother, Princess Consort Duan’s, birthday? The emperor and empress treat me so well, and I have nothing to repay them with. So I’ll give this coral as a birthday present to Princess Consort Duan.”
He Wanning felt very regretful about it. In her opinion, Xiaocao had been granted the title of a feudal princess, but to be a match with Royal Prince Yang, who was a real member of the imperial family, there was still a gap between their statuses. If she had such a valuable item in her dowry when she got married, those nosy people probably wouldn’t be able to say anything, right? However, Xiaocao wanted to give it to someone else. Her heart ached for her, alright?
Royal Princess Minglan sourly said, “No wonder the emperor and empress like you so much. You, this lass, really know how to flatter others. You’re giving away such a precious thing just like that! But you need to be prepared. You’re giving such a valuable birthday present that will make others pale in comparison, so it will inevitably cause certain people to feel displeased. You’re inadvertently offending people by doing this!”
Yu Xiaocao thought about it and felt that she was right. She quickly ran over to hug Royal Princess Minglan and said, “Older Sister Minglan, thank you for reminding me. Otherwise, I would have really done something stupid and caused trouble for myself!!”
“Go, go away! Stay away from me. Ah——my clothes are wet because of you. It was so hard to get Modiste Jiang to personally make this set of clothes ah!! Look, it’s all dirty because of you!” Royal Princess Minglan was exasperated after Xiaocao rubbed seawater all over her body. What did she do?! If she knew this would happen, she wouldn’t have reminded that lass!!
Yu Xiaocao chuckled and avoided her little hand that was about to smack her. She said with a cheeky grin, “Older Sister Minglan, I’ll go back and wash it for you. If it’s ruined, then I’ll get you a new set as compensation! I just had a set of clothes made this year that I haven’t worn…”
“With that tiny body of yours? Am I going to wear it so that others can laugh at me?” While Xiaocao wasn’t paying attention, Royal Princess Minglan pushed her off the reef. Looking at the splashing water, her sulky mood was somewhat relieved.
Yu Xiaocao moved her limbs and leisurely swam backstroke in the sea water, but she also didn’t forget to provoke Royal Princess Minglan. Royal Princess Minglan appeared to have a bad temper, but in fact, after she got a better understanding of her, she realized that Royal Princess Minglan was just a paper tiger that could be easily broken with a single poke!
When the night sky filled the entire beach, the group of young maidens happily returned to the village with a rich harvest. The red coral, which was the height of a person, was carried back to the mountain manor by Chunhua and Qiushi.
On the way back, they encountered the Ning brothers, who were worried since they hadn’t returned for so long, and three half-grown youths. Seeing the red coral under the moonlight, Ning Donghuan’s eyes nearly popped out. Such a big coral? That lass Xiaocao was going to make a fortune!!
Before he had figured out how to buy the coral from Xiaocao, Xiaocao had already sent someone to call Lu Hao over. The task of transporting the red coral back to the capital was handed to this team of imperial guards of the Yulin Division. She decided to quietly give the coral to the emperor. Whatever he decided to do with it had nothing to do with her.
These young masters and maidens spent a few days in Dongshan Village and had a great time. They ate all kinds of delicacies from the land and sea. Madam Liu’s authentic seafood cooking skills conquered their taste buds. Garlic lobster, sea cucumber and chicken soup, crispy abalone with salt and pepper, soy sauce scallops, spicy Mantis shrimps… They ate so contentedly that they didn’t want to leave this wonderful place, Dongshan Village.
However, no matter how good Dongshan Village was, they still eventually needed to return to the capital. Just as they prepared to go home, the news of a pearl hunting competition suddenly spread throughout Tanggu. It was said that in addition to the hefty reward, the first place would also be granted an official post. Although it was only a sinecure seventh-ranked position, it was a great temptation for fishermen and pearl divers.
One must admit that Royal Prince Yang had done a great job with the promotion. There were even some people from small fishing villages hundreds of kilometers away coming to sign up for participation. Anyway, the registration was free, so even if they couldn’t get ranked in the competition, it wasn’t a big loss for them. By giving it a try, perhaps the God of Luck would help them, right?
Many fishermen with good diving skills had signed up for the competition, let alone those who had many years of experience in pearl hunting! Surprisingly, there were also quite a lot of women who had also signed up. Sure enough, the legendary profession of female pearl divers really existed.
The most skilled swimmer in Dongshan Village was Yu Hai. However, he was now rich and had a position of an official. Thus, he wasn’t interested in this event. Several fearless youths had signed up without informing their families. Xiaocao had only found out on the day of the competition that Zhuang Xiaomo had also secretly signed up to participate.
Zhuang Xiaomo had even better diving skills than Xiaocao’s father, Yu Hai. Allegedly, the old man who adopted him was a famous pearl diver when he was young. Later, due to problems with his health, he stopped working in this profession and became an ordinary fisherman.
Although he didn’t want this adopted grandson to take the same disastrous road, he also didn’t want his over a decade of precious experience in pearl diving to be forgotten. In the midst of his hesitation, he gradually passed on his experience to Zhuang Xiaomo. Zhuang Xiaomo had also listened to his grandfather and didn’t embark on the dangerous road of being a pearl diver. However, he believed that his diving and pearl hunting skills were much better than ordinary pearl divers.
Zhuang Xiaomo, who liked Xiaolian, had always felt inferior. He was afraid his status wasn’t worthy of her and that she would fall in love with someone better than him. Therefore, Zhuang Xiaomo always had a knot in his heart. He hoped that he could rely on his own efforts to obtain a status that was a good match for Xiaolian.
This was a once-in-lifetime opportunity for him. If he really got first place and won the hefty reward, he would be able to buy a house in the capital for Xiaolian. Although it wouldn’t be as good as the one bought by Xiaocao, they would at least have a place to stay in the capital.
Although a small seventh-ranked official didn’t have any real power, he would be able to get rid of the identity of a bumpkin and become someone from the highest class among scholars, farmers, artisans, and merchants. When he proposed a marriage to the Yu Family, he could stand up straight with confidence. When he promised to give Xiaolian happiness, he could say it in a bold and confident manner.
On the first day of the pearl hunting competition, Xiaolian, who had come to join in the fun with her younger sister, noticed a familiar figure among the crowd, and suddenly felt flustered. Since she had always lived by the sea, she had naturally heard the older generation talk about pearl divers.
The profession of picking pearls may sound like a good career to make money, but who really knew about the difficulties in the profession? Who would know that in order to obtain each round and translucent pearl, the pearl divers had to risk their own health and even lives?
On the surface, the vast expanse of water was calm and without waves. However, the mysterious seabed was full of ravines, dense reefs, turbulent undercurrents, and ceaseless whirlpools. There were far more dangers than that. There were poisonous sea serpents lurking in the crevices of reefs, poisonous jellyfish floating in the sea, and fierce sharks patrolling their territory in groups.
In order to obtain pearl oysters that lived more than ten meters, or even tens of meters, under the sea, pearl divers not only had to withstand the huge pressure of the sea water, face the risk of being swept away by the undercurrent and engulfed by the whirlpool, but they also had to be on guard against the attacks of various dangerous marine organisms.
Therefore, when Zhuang Xiaomo called Older Brother Jiang and the others to get on the boat, Yu Xiaolian rushed over and indiscriminately yelled, “Zhuang Xiaomo, who told you to sign up for this? Do you know how dangerous pearl hunting is? Why are you getting yourself in danger? Are you really that short of money? For the sake of money, you’re even disregarding your life?”
“Hey! Little girl, can’t you say something good?” Before Zhuang Xiaomo could reply, a tanned and burly man on the next boat had voiced his displeasure. For people in this profession, it was taboo for others to say that it was dangerous and life-risking! Wasn’t that cursing them?
Zhuang Xiaomo smiled apologetically at him. Then he turned to Xiaolian and said, “It’s alright. I’m just going to try it out with Older Brother Jiang and the others. I won’t go too far off and just wander around nearby. Anyway, it doesn’t cost much to sign up for such a grand event, so I’ll just treat it as an experience. Don’t worry. I value my life more than you, so I won’t easily take risks!”
His inner monologue was, ‘If I died in the sea, wouldn’t that just benefit those stinky brats who are looking at you with covetous eyes?’