Chapter 114 – A Profitable Trip
Yu Xiaocao couldn’t just stand by idly and watch the youth suffer. She lifted the female goose in her hands and walked over. When the male goose saw that the female goose had been caught, it struggled even more mightily. With Zhao Han’s bright eyes watching her, Yu Xiaocao couldn’t easily use her cheat item, mystic-stone water, to fix the situation, so she had to use the bait that was previously soaked in the water instead. She fed the male goose with it and only then did both geese settle down.
They tied up the geese’s feet and then placed the two animals into a basket that Zhao Han had carried over. After covering the basket with a lid, they had completed their mission of the day.
As for catching a snakehead fish, it also took a bit of time even though she had her special fish bait. There was no way around it. Xiaocao’s unique fish bait was too popular with everyone. All of the fish fought to eat the bait, and they ended up catching five to six catties worth of carp. The smallest fish was about the size of the palm of one’s hand, while the largest was around the size of a grass carp. Without much effort, Xiaocao’s fish basket soon filled up very quickly.
Luckily, by the time they almost ran out of bait, they managed to catch a big snakehead fish that weighed around two to three catties. As for the remaining fish bait, Xiaocao didn’t plan on bringing it home and used the rest to catch more fish. In the end, she had caught too many fish and needed to have Zhao Han string them up on a rope and help her bring them home.
This time, they not only caught three snakehead fish but they also caught a lot of other fish that made the trip worth it. Xiaocao released the smaller fish back into the lake, but she naturally took the larger ones back home as her ‘spoils from war’!
On the way home, Zhao Han carried the majority of their gains, and Yu Xiaocao only had to carry the couple of snakehead fish and the ginseng. Despite having a lighter load, Xiaocao ended up expending a lot of energy to just barely cross that mountain range that looked deceivingly easy. By the time they got to the area where they had set their traps, the cotton lining of Xiaocao’s jacket was already soaked with her sweat.
“Oh my gosh, I am exhausted!” Xiaocao plopped heavily down on a rock at the side of the road and used the back of her hand to wipe the beads of sweat off her forehead. A trail of gray dirt was left on her face afterwards.
Zhao Han looked at Yu Xiaocao, who looked like a cute, dirty little kitten, and grinned, “Sit down and rest here, I’m going to go to the traps and take a look.”
Despite carrying two fat and large geese in his bamboo basket and having both of his hands holding strings of fish, Zhao Han wasn’t even winded after crossing over the mountain range. Xiaocao watched him walk with pure envy, ‘Ah, he’s definitely someone who practices martial arts. The difference between us is just too big!’
Zhao Han placed the bamboo basket and the strings of fish on the ground next to Xiaocao and warned her repeatedly, “Be careful. Even though there shouldn’t be any ferocious animals in this area, sometimes wild boars or dogs can appear. If anything happens, scream loudly for me!”
“I have a very good moral character, so my luck shouldn’t be that bad, right?” Xiaocao carelessly replied as she stroked the male goose’s sleek feathers on his back.
Zhao Han was a little bit confused when he heard Xiaocao’s reply. What did a person’s moral character have anything to do with coming across a wild boar or another animal? And what was this ‘pointy ’ thing that she mentioned? However, he didn’t try to clarify. He was already used to Xiaocao saying random things from time to time that didn’t quite make sense.
After making sure their surroundings were safe again, Zhao Han went into the shrubbery that was about half a man’s height. He only came back, fully loaded with game, after all of the sweat on Xiaocao had dried up.
She had set a total of ten traps earlier, and, to avoid rousing Zhao Han’s suspicions, she only sprinkled mystic-stone water around five to six of them. Naturally, all of the traps she used mystic-stone water on had game. Because she only used smaller traps this time around, the animals she caught were all on the smaller side, like hares, pheasants, and badgers. One of the hares she caught was actually pregnant too!
Springtime was the season for animals to mate and reproduce. Thus, experienced hunters usually didn’t choose to hunt in this season. One of the reasons was that the animals raising their children were much more fierce and violent. The more important reason was that there was no reason to kill the goose that laid the golden eggs; that is, they needed to give the animals on the mountain time to multiply and thrive.
“What should we do with this wild hare? Let it go?” Hunters who went out into the woods during the springtime usually would let the pregnant creatures go. Thus, when Zhao Han saw the pregnant female hare hopping and skipping around, he couldn’t help but ask what Xiaocao’s plan was.
Yu Xiaocao carefully picked up the obviously pregnant hare and used her right hand, which had the multi-colored stone on it, to gently stroke the hare’s soft and silky fur.
“Be careful! Wild hares can also bite people when they get scared!” Zhao Han couldn’t help but remind her. One time when he was picking up a pregnant hare, the creature fought him vigorously and bit him hard. The resulting wound wasn’t serious but it bled for a bit and hurt!
Contrary to his expectations, the hare, which had been struggling frantically, calmed down and stayed in Xiaocao’s hands as if it was a kitten that had just eaten its fill. It stopped moving and even closed its eyes, as if it really enjoyed Xiaocao’s pets.
“Xiaocao, are you sure you’re not the legendary forest spirit or something like that? How come all of the wild animals in these mountains seem to especially like you?!” Zhao Han was astounded at the change in the hare and couldn’t help but make a little joke.
There was a reason why he mentioned this. Last year, she had caught a small roe deer in her trap. When the creature saw her, it treated her as if she was its mother, and followed her blindly home. Inside the secret valley, there were a bunch of tiny white fish that were very hard to catch, but Xiaocao was able to catch a whole jar full of them without much effort. And then there was what happened today at the lake. When they were catching the geese, there were a lot of shrimp and tiny fish in the water but the two birds seemed to have a special affinity for her bait.
Yu Xiaocao definitely had a secret! However, Zhao Han didn’t plan on asking her about it. Everyone more or less had their own little secrets. After all, wasn’t his own family an example of that? He had already thought of Xiaocao as a friend, as a younger sister no less, so he decided to honor her privacy.
When Xiaocao heard his joke, she deliberately opened her mouth wide and pretended to look scary, she sinisterly said, “Looks like you’ve seen through my disguise, youngster! Guess that means I can’t leave you here in this world anymore! Zhao Han, you need to die…”
[Idiot, stop being so boring!] The little divine stone had been laying in the basket, and absorbing the spiritual energy from the mountain ginseng. It rolled its eyes at Xiaocao’s antics and changed its position. Then, it continued to hug the ginseng and cultivate.
Zhao Han laughed in delight at Xiaocao’s joke but then saw the little golden kitten moving around in the basket. He reminded Xiaocao out of worry, “Xiaocao! That mountain ginseng is quite valuable! Be careful to not have your cat ruin it!”
“Don’t worry! Little Glutinous Dumpling won’t ruin it. That being said, without Little Glutinous Dumpling, I wouldn’t have been able to find this wild mountain ginseng. Since it likes the ginseng so much, then we should just let it hug it!” Yu Xiaocao, on the other hand, wasn’t a bit concerned at all.
Zhao Han took out the two large geese from the basket on his back and placed the game they just caught and the fish into the basket. Luckily, he had brought a large enough basket for this trip!
He held a wild goose in each hand and then glanced at the golden kitten that was dozing with its eyes closed. He smiled, “Your kitten is truly a treasure. It could actually find a ginseng in all of those weeds. I’ve heard of hunters training dogs to catch prey but I’ve never heard of training a kitten to find medicinal herbs!”
“I only recently picked up this little kitten, and it usually gets to freely range at home. So I’m actually not very familiar with this cat. Perhaps this is just a coincidence? Have you ever heard of animals that can specifically find medicinal ingredients?” Yu Xiaocao also placed her bamboo basket on her back. One of her hands still held the pregnant wild hare.
She had already made a decision that she was going to bring this hare back home to be raised. It was said that hares and rabbits multiplied very quickly. In the future, even if she didn’t go into the mountains, she could still have rabbit meat at home to eat!
Zhao Han looked at her for a long moment and then faintly smiled, “How come I have a feeling that every time I’m with you, coincidences seem to happen more often?”
“Haha! That’s because I have a good moral character, ah!” Yu Xiaocao acted as if she had accidentally avoided his gaze and pretended to be extremely happy as she skipped down the road back home.
At home, they found out that Little Shitou had only went back to the town to return to school after confirming that his older brother was okay. Yu Hai had gone with his older daughter on the donkey cart to sell pickled fish at the docks. The only person in the courtyard was Madam Liu, who was darning clothes.
When she saw her younger daughter push the gate open, Madam Liu looked up at the sky and the expression on her face immediately changed, “This child, ah, is really disobedient! Didn’t you promise me before you left that you would go on the road that winds at the foot of the mountain, right? How could you be so reckless? What if something happened to you, do you want your mother to live anymore?”
“Auntie, please stop scolding Xiaocao! It was my idea to go into the mountains. I’ve walked on that trail for multiple times and I know there’s nothing dangerous on there. Auntie, if you want to scold someone, scold me instead!” Zhan Han had followed Xiaocao into the courtyard and had heard Madam Liu rebuking her, so he quickly pulled the responsibility onto himself.
The tight expression on Madam Liu’s face relaxed slightly but she was still a bit discontented, “Xiaohan, don’t blame auntie for making a big fuss about nothing. After what happened with your Uncle Yu last time…Auntie is truly afraid now!”
Zhao Han took the basket on his back that was filled with game, placed it on the ground, and replied in an understanding tone, “Auntie, I know you’re trying to do the best for Xiaocao! Don’t worry! In the future, I won’t bring Xiaocao into the mountains without your permission first. This is the game and fish that Xiaocao caught, please quickly put them away!”
“Oh you silly child, why do you always treat yourself like an outsider? In the past, when your Uncle Yu and your father went into the mountains, they always split the game fifty-fifty! We don’t need to get bogged down with who owns what between our two families, okay?”
After receiving Zhao Han’s promise that he wouldn’t secretly bring Xiaocao into the mountains, a smile finally appeared on Madam Liu’s face. She picked up three large fish, two pheasants, and a hare, and stuffed them into Zhao Han’s basket, ignoring his protests.
“Mother, leave the wild hare for me! I want father to weave a basket cage and house this pregnant hare with that male hare together. Hares can give birth to a litter after about a month. In the future, we will always have rabbit meat to eat!” Yu Xiaocao hastily took the male hare out of the basket and swapped it for the badger.
After seeing the mother and daughter pair acting like this, Zhao Han knew that if he continued to refuse it would only make things more awkward. Instead, he smiled and said, “Okay! Then I’ll just politely accept these. Xiaocao has a good hand at raising animals, so I’m going to leave these two geese at auntie’s house. The next time I go into the prefectural city, I will stop buy and pick up the geese to bring to the prefectural magistrate’s residence!”
“Oh right, Xiaocao!” Before Zhao Han exited through the gate, he suddenly asked, “Do you plan on keeping that ginseng for now or do you want to sell it? If you want to sell it now, you may not be able to get a good price in town. You should wait until I go into the prefectural city and I can help you inquire a bit!”
Yu Xiaocao thought that with the mystic-stone water, she probably wouldn’t need to use this old ginseng and said, “Then I’ll have to humbly ask Brother Han to ask around then! You also know our family’s current circumstances. If we sell off the ginseng, I think we should completely redo our house and then buy a few more plots of land. With my mother here, we probably can’t go into the mountains to hunt anymore. We should just settle down and plant fields!”
“Don’t you make good money from selling your food? If you don’t farm, do you really think you guys will starve?” Zhao Han lightly joked.
“Oh that’s true!” Yu Xiaocao lifted her head proudly, “However, as a family of peasants, it’s still better to have more plots of land at hand!”
 Xiaocao was using slang when she talked about her ‘luck’. In literal terms, it means a ‘point’. I couldn’t think of a good English equivalent.