Fields Of Gold / Fields of Gold Chapter 555
Now that people wore swimsuits, it was better. In the past, pearl divers usually swam in the ocean pretty much naked. If they were bitten by a venomous sea snake and couldn’t be rescued in time, they often lost their lives. Venomous jellyfish often floated in the seas as well. If a diver got injured by their tentacles, there weren’t any good medications to be had to treat their injuries. The wound would then fester and rot and cause extreme pain to the victim. Those who were unlucky and had more severe wounds could also die.
In addition, the pearl divers who were in the water needed to have good cooperation with the people remaining on the boat. That way, as soon as they shook the rope tethering them to the boat, the people aboard would respond. If the people on the boat were too slow to react, the divers may end up dead in the water from suffocation.
These weren’t the only dangers that the divers had to look out for. Sometimes, the people on the boat would reel in the rope and find it severed without a person on the end. This usually meant that the pearl diver had already been swept away by the underwater currents or perhaps had disappeared into an underwater whirlpool…
It was no wonder that Yu Xiaolian was so worried that Zhuang Xiaomo had insisted on participating in this pearl diving competition!
As of now, Zhuang Xiaomo’s luck wasn’t too bad. He had dove down and come back up multiple times, picking up quite a few nice-looking pearl oysters in the process. At lunchtime, he had pretty much gathered all of the pearl oysters in this ‘pearl pond’. In the afternoon, his group went to a different location and they also had a decent small haul in the end.
When they went back to shore, the vast majority of pearl diving boats came back completely empty. Many of the pearl divers from other areas who had come to participate didn’t even finish exploring the waters while Zhuang Xiaomo and his group had already gotten to the step of opening up their pearl oysters.
The pearls obtained from the pearl oysters could either be taken home to be submitted later or given right there for the competition. Zhu Junyang wasn’t afraid that anyone might try to commit fraud. As long as the competition was able to produce superior grade pearls, he didn’t care about the cash reward or tiny official position.
When it was time to open up the pearl oysters, Yu Xiaocao and her cohort of friends all gathered around until Zhuang Xiaomo and his group were surrounded by three layers of people. The probability of finding a pearl in a wild pearl oyster was about the same odds of winning a large raffle. The first few that were opened were all empty. Thus, those young ladies and young masters from the capital started off very excited and then ended up leaving in disappointment with their lips curled.
Yu Xiaocao, on the other hand, continued to squat next to the pile of pearl oysters and casually ran her hand through them. Yu Wanqing took a small stool and sat next to her as she watched Zhuang Xiaomo continuously open the oysters and be disappointed by them. This ‘little fangirl’ of Yu Xiaocao’s anxiously said, “Older Brother Xiaomo, you should have Older Sister Xiaocao open a few and see. Her luck has always been very good!”
This young maiden also began to call Zhuang Xiaomo as “Older Brother Xiaomo’ after following Xiaolian’s and Xiaocao’s examples. She didn’t have the least bit of airs or arrogance of a young miss from the capital. In fact, she seemed to admire Zhuang Xiaomo’s pearl diving abilities quite a bit.
Yu Xiaocao was startled by her unexpected suggestion and blanked out for a bit before she replied in good humor, “What does this have to do with luck? Do you think I’d be able to magically make an oyster have a pearl if I opened one versus another person?”
Yu Wanqing remarked in a righteous manner, “I’m sure there must be some pearls in this pile of oysters. Other people may not be selecting the right ones, but Older Sister Yu’s luck has always been good. I’m sure the one that you pick will have a pearl in it!”
At this time, the little divine stone had come out of hibernation and used its powers to scan the pile of pearl oysters. It remarked in a voice with a hint of disdain, [This fellow surnamed Zhuang is pretty unlucky. He picked up a bunch of trash and there are only a few oysters here that have an inkling of spiritual energy.]
In the eyes of those who cultivated, jewels and pearls were considered treasures of the earth and sky. Consequently, they could feel a bit of energy coming off of these precious items. The more energy they felt, the larger the item was, and the more valuable it was.
In a corner that was out of sight of everyone else, the little divine stone materialized into its glimmering golden kitten form that was no larger than the palm of a person’s hand. It sauntered over to Xiaocao in an arrogant and graceful manner. Yu Xiaocao picked it up and held it as she searched through the pearl oysters. Following the little divine stone’s prompts, she reached her hand out to a small and wretched looking pearl oyster under the expectant and ridiculing gazes of the others.
Yu Wanqing became anxious for her, “Older Sister Yu, you should pick the largest one! Aren’t the older pearl oysters more likely to produce pearls? The one you picked is so small. Even if it had a pearl in it, it wouldn’t be very big.”
Xiaocao also didn’t quite understand the choice, so she could sympathize with Yu Wanqing’s feelings. However, the little divine stone was very adamant that this pearl oyster was emitting the strongest aura of energy. She had never doubted the little divine stone’s judgements.
She threw the oyster to Zhuang Xiaomo, hinting that he should open it. Everyone saw that she looked calm and confident and immediately transferred their excited gazes over to Zhuang Xiaomo and the oyster in his hand.
The pearl oyster was very quickly pried open and it revealed a shimmering pearl, about the size of the joint on the pinky finger, conspicuously cradled in the middle. Under the fading light of the evening, it glittered gently and emitted a small glow.
“Wow! There really is a pearl! Xiaocao, you’re too awesome. You just casually picked up a pearl oyster but it had a pearl inside!! How did you do it?” He Wanning rushed over and clasped the oyster that had just been opened, inspecting the round and beautiful pearl inside. Apparently pearls could be found in these tiny and ugly pearl oysters!
She had asked the question that everyone else had thought. Under the shining gazes of the others, Yu Xiaocao hesitated for a long time before she finally said, “It’s nothing, just my intuition that’s all!”
“Psht! Xiaocao, you’re really so boring!!” Most people were unsatisfied with that explanation.
Yu Xiaocao opened her hands and said, “Alright ah! In my recesses of my mind, there seemed to be someone guiding me and allowed me to spot this unassuming-looking oyster out of the giant pile. My hand unconsciously stretched forward to that pearl oyster and the voice within my head repeatedly told me, ‘this one has a pearl, this one has a pearl…’”
“Tsk tsk! You should change your career to become a storyteller!” A few of the young men in the group had evident disdainful expressions. The young maidens in the group were stifling their giggles. Obviously, no one believed a single word she had just said. Yu Xiaocao merely shrugged. She wasn’t lying; the little divine stone did truly tell her mind-to-mind which oyster had a pearl in it. No one was willing to believe the truth anymore!
The little divine stone roasted her, [It’s because you made the truth sound too fake so of course no one would believe you!]
In a pique of temper, Yu Xiaocao opened up six oysters in a row, and all of them contained pearls that were neither too big nor small. Then, under the stunned looks of everyone in the area, she flounced away. The remaining dozen or so pearl oysters didn’t have a single pearl in them. Everyone all thought that they were dreaming. Was Xiaocao’s intuition really that spot on that she didn’t miss a single one?
“Quickly tell me! Are you a little immortal girl who has descended down to earth?” He Wanning gazed at Xiaocao with a different look in her eye as she scuttled over. She asked in a lowered tone as if she was afraid other people would overhear her.
Yu Xiaocao rolled her eyes at the other girl and patiently said, “Older Sister He, have you read too many fairy tales ah? An immortal girl descending to earth? I can also turn ordinary rocks into gold at the touch of a hand! Dongshan Village is next to a giant mountain and borders the ocean. Why don’t you suspect me for being a mountain spirit disguised as a human? Or the daughter of the Dragon King coming up to shore to play?”
She didn’t say this very loudly but Yu Wanqing and the others heard her. The young men in the crowd all suppressed their smiles while the young maidens giggled and began to tease He Wanning for having an overactive imagination.
Yu Wanqing, on the other hand, blinked her large eyes and solemnly nodded her head, “It’s entirely possible ah! Older Sister Xiaocao is very good at swimming and is able to hold her breath for a very long time underwater. She was also able to become friends with the little dolphin. Older Sister Yu, I think in your past life you were probably the daughter of the Dragon King ah!”
Yu Xiaocao laughed in disbelief and pinched the other young maiden’s cheek as she chuckled, “If you say so then! Who knows what happened in my past life! Perhaps, my Younger Sister Wanqing was a very beautiful little immortal girl in her past life and the Jade Emperor’s daughter was extremely jealous of your looks. Thus, in this life, she spitefully made pimples and lesions grow all over the face so you would be lonely for more than a decade. Only after you encountered me, the reincarnation of the Dragon King’s daughter, were you able to lift the curse on you and become rebirthed!”
“That’s right ah! It’s very possible that this is true! Older Sister Yu, do you have any memories from your past life? What does the palace of the Dragon King look like?” Yu Wanqing was a pure and naive young maiden and had unexpectedly believed her story. It made the other older maidens in the group not know what to do.
For the next few days, Zhuang Xiaomo had a haul every day. However, the pearls that he obtained never surpassed the pearl that was the size of the pinky finger joint that he obtained that first day. However, he wasn’t downhearted by this. He went out early and returned late every day to continue his quest to find pearls.
More and more pearl divers from outside areas came over. Although they came a bit late, they still had more than a dozen days left until the competition ended. Diving for pearls relied on two things: skill and luck. As long as they had the opportunity to participate, it was possible that they might hit the jackpot!
The pearl diving competition continued. Although there were a few dangerous situations that occurred in the middle, the experienced pearl divers all managed to weather it with ease.
Although the competition hadn’t finished yet, the families of the noble young maidens and masters had already written several letters over urging them to come home. It was especially true for Yu Wanqing as she was the youngest out of all of them. Although her eldest brother had come along, Lady Yu still wasn’t relieved with her gone so long and sent people over several times to urge them to come home.
The young maidens, who had wanted to extend their stay until the competition was over, had been gently reminded several times by servants sent over that they should go home. They really had no excuse to not go home now after all this time. Although they didn’t want to leave, they still reluctantly turned to take the journey back home. The two Ning Family brothers also had to go back because of the same reason.
When Xiaocao saw them off, He Wanning and Ning Donghuan repeatedly reminded her to write letters to them once the competition was over. They wanted to know the outcome.
After the dozen or so people left, Dongshan Village finally quieted down again. Ever since the young masters and ladies from the capital had visited here, the villagers were all very careful whenever they spoke as they were afraid that they might inadvertently offend one of these people with their words or actions. In the hearts of the common people, the children of high-ranking officials and nobles were all arrogant and hard to get along with.
Every time the raucous group of people entered and left Dongshan Village, the villagers only dared to stand far away and watch them. Even Yu Xiaocao’s good childhood friends in the village very rarely came by to visit her. Her friend, Zhou Shanhu, who was the most carefree out of all of them, did go visit Xiaocao’s residence a few times. Although she didn’t converse much with these noble maidens, she thought that they weren’t as difficult or temperamental as the other villagers said they were.
Peace came back to Dongshan Village after the bright and raucous group of high-spirited young nobles had left. Other than a few villagers occasionally bringing them up to discuss their confident and unrestrained ways, they were like a cool breeze. After they blew over, there was no other news.