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2. This is a fan work and the interpretation represents only the translator’s personal views without any input from the author.
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Liu Shu paused. Looking at Liu Xu’er and Liu Lin he said, “I really couldn’t get a good look at them. The girl ran really quickly, and the two didn’t run along the same path. I chased the boy, but he ran along the edge of the ravine, so I didn’t dare to continue. If anyone were to fall into the ravine because of this, it would become a very big matter.”
“Then should we just let them get away with killing a laying hen! Isn’t killing a laying hen a big deal?!” Liu Lin cried angrily.
Liu Shu looked at him, “Is a dead chicken a bigger deal than a dead person? He ran along the ravine edge really quickly; I couldn’t risk letting him fall into the ravine over a single chicken!”
Liu Lin shook with rage.
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“Rv elqkdkvlzu oyp dsv! Ebspl nbkzeald oswze jdso vs vkl wr y bld yde bkv kv? Rv oyp nzlyazu y elzkclayvl ynv sq byax! Tso byvlqwz!” Tl pbk oyp kd y aytl.&dcpr;
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Liu Sen was delighted, wearing the gloves his sister had made, he kept circling around He shi, asking non-stop, “Mum, are we eating chicken at noon? Are we? Are we?”
Originally He shi was still enraged, but seeing her youngest son’s greedy expression, she started to feel upset. She thought that since this has already happened, it wasn’t a bad idea to let the children have something nice for a chance. Slowly, her anger dissipated as her hands made swift work of the chicken. Once the chicken was prepared, she called for Liu Shu and Liu Lin to support her into the kitchen.
As hens were such a luxury item, He shi didn’t dare allow Liu Xu’er to prepare it. She worried that Xu’er would waste it.
As the cooking assistant for today, Liu Xu’er looked over the prepared chicken. She saw that it had been cleaned, and watched as He shi cleaned out the chicken gizzard. Then a string of orangey-yellow stuff was pulled out which carefully placed into a little bowl.
“What is that?” Liu Xu’er asked, “It looks like egg yolks!”
He shi nodded, “It’s all the eggs that the hen didn’t manage to lay. In hens that are still laying, all their stomachs would have this kind of egg yolk.”
“….” Liu Xu’er felt that this explanation wasn’t quite right, but she didn’t know anything about this. Before she came to this place, she didn’t even know that hens could lay eggs without the presence of roosters….
How ignorant she was previously….
Liu Xu’er was mildly rueful. While this was happening, He shi had already placed the chicken into the pot. Ladling a full pot of water in, she started to slowly stew it. Then she found a few dried mushrooms. Washing them, she laid them to a side, instructing Liu Xu’er, “When I tell you to, add the mushrooms in.”
Liu Xu’er nodded.
The salt was already spooned into a little scoop. Once the mushrooms could go in, so could the salt and then the soup would be done. This dish didn’t require many ingredients – the natural flavors from the mushrooms and chicken were enough.
He shi’s ankle was far from recovered, and all this hopping was taking its toll on it. She banked the fire to let the pot continue to stew, before calling Liu Shu and Liu Lin to help her back to bed.
The meat needed to be stewed for a long time. At noon, Liu Sen thought that there would be chicken to eat. He eagerly waited for it to be served only for his wait to be in vain. His face crestfallen, he said, “Jie, Senzi wants to eat chicken.”
Liu Xu’er quickly explained, “You can only have it in the evening! It’s still raw now, you can’t eat it.”
Left without a choice, Liu Sen could only pout and eat the meal in front of him.
After the meal, dad, mum and Senzi went to have an afternoon nap, while Liu Xu’er washed up. Seeing Liu Shu and Liu Lin pacing at the courtyard doorway, she joined them. Liu Lin was squatting at the bloodstained site. Acting like a detective, he was examining the area, all the while mumbling under his breath, “Are you sure you didn’t see it clearly, or are you lying to us? How was it that I managed to see them?”
Liu Shu stood a little further away, looking around appearing as though he hadn’t heard him.
Liu Xu’er went to sit on the doorsill, thinking.
Was it Liu Yun’er? She was definitely capable of doing such a wretched thing, but why would she decide to do it out of the blue? The family had separated, why would she still be trying to make trouble for them? Was she just bored? How bored was she anyway?!
After thinking for a long time, she still couldn’t make any sense of it. The pot was boiling, and the aroma of the chicken soup started filling the air, so she got up and went in.
Today was Laba. so in another little pot was some millet porridge along with goji berries and peanuts. That was their Laba porridge. They had planned to make more, but since there was now chicken to eat, they made a smaller pot of it.
After stewing for four hours, the scent of chicken had filled the air. Liu Sen was so hungry for it, he kept circling the kitchen. Even Liu Lin refused to step a foot away from the kitchen, while Liu Shu was unable to resist glancing occasionally at the pot.
After the mushrooms and salt had been added, Liu Xu’er opened the pot and ladled out a spoon of soup. Blowing to cool it, she fed it to the drooling Liu Sen. “Senzi, taste it.”
Liu Sen gulped it down. Licking his lips, he cried out, “It’s delicious! I want more!”
“How was the taste? Is it savory?”
Liu Sen nodded frantically, resembling nothing so much as a little pecking chick. “Yes! It’s delicious!”
Liu Xu’er knew that it was a wasted effort to ask him. Smiling, she ladled another scoop into a bowl. Blowing it to cool, she first tasted a bit before passing it to the also drooling Liu Lin.
Liu Lin took a sip. His whole body energized, he said, “It’s truly delicious…” He passed the remainder to Liu Shu, “I’ve never tasted any soup more delicious than this!”
Normally chickens would give out a lot of oil when stewed. Combined with the fact that this was a laying hen and that the children had never stinted on their food, this chicken had plenty of oil. A thick layer of it covered the soup.
Liu Lin didn’t get many chances to taste oil in a year, let alone like now, when it was drunk by the bowlful! It explained why he was so emotional when he tasted it.
Liu Shu laughed and shook his head. He took over the bowl, and brought it to Senzi’s lips, “Drink slowly, don’t burn yourself.” Liu Sen quickly used his little hands to bring the bowl to himself.
Liu Xu’er got Liu Shu to help her ladle out the chicken. Placing it in a large basin, she then poured a few ladles of soup in. She got him to carefully serve it in the main room, while she got out another small pot.
Since there was something good to eat at home, her parents would definitely want to send a portion over to the old residence to share.
Sure enough, just as Liu Shu was carefully bringing out the basin, He shi called out, “Xu’er bring a small pot here!”
Liu Xu’er brought the pot out. Smiling, she said, “Here, mum.”
He shi nodded. With her chopsticks, she quickly divided up the chicken. Under Liu Sen’s impatient stare, she placed two chicken thighs, as well as a piece of breast meat into the pot. She added some mushrooms and ladled some soup into it as well before closing it and passing it to Liu Xu’er. “Bring that to your ye and nai.”
Liu Shu quickly came around, “I’ll bring it! Let Xu’er have dinner first!”
Liu Xu’er swiftly grabbed the and got He shi to put the pot in. “I’ll send it! I want to ask nai something anyway! The rest of you can start without me!”
Saying that, she hurried off with the basket.
Liu Shu started to follow her, but was called back by He shi.
The reason Liu Xu’er wanted to go to the old residence was to find out if Liu Yun’er’s family had moved to town. If they had, then what happened today shouldn’t be her doing.
She carefully walked along carrying a basket, worried that she would spill the chicken soup. Thankfully the old place was not too far away. Their house was visible from a distance, and it seemed that there were people in the courtyard.
When she had arrived, she saw Liu Gao shi sending off a woman. The woman was wearing a festive red silk jacket, and in her hair was a hairpin made of gold.
Smiling, she was talking to Liu Gao shi, “No need to send me off! Please, go home!” With that, she walked around Liu Xu’er and left.
The woman didn’t recognise Liu Xu’er, but Xu’er recognised her. This was a matchmaker from a neighboring village. It seemed that she was a matchmaker even for officials. The village head’s son’s marriage was arranged by her!
Liu Gao shi smilingly sent her off before looking at Liu Xu’er and asking, “You’ve come! Have you eaten?”
Liu Xu’er quickly shook her head. “I haven’t. Nai! Isn’t that person a matchmaker? Is she here to suggest a match for sishu?”
Liu Gao shi hadn’t managed to reply when a “pu-chi” came from inside the courtyard. “What a sharp little girl you are! Are you sure it’s alright to only grow your wits and not your height?”
Saying this, sishu emerged from the courtyard.
Liu Xu’er’s eyes darted around. Sishu was just in the courtyard? Then the match couldn’t possibly be for him – matches would never be spoken of in front of the actual party. Since it’s not him, then could it be for xiaogu?
Surprised, she asked, “The match is for xiaogu?”
Liu Gao shi smiled, while Liu Changshi tilted his head and had a good laugh. He went over, wanting to carry her. It was only then he saw that she was carrying a large heavy basket. He quickly stretched out his hand to take it over, “What, are you sending your ye and nai food again? It smells good! Why does it smell like chicken soup?”
Liu Changshi’s face showed his surprise. Liu Gao shi too was quite shocked, “Your family slaughtered a chicken?”
In a rural village, no one would lightly decide to slaughter a laying hen. This was why both Liu Gao shi and Liu Changshi were so shocked.
Reminded again about the matter, Liu Xu’er stuck out her lip, “I don’t know whose children did it, but they were awful! They tied up our family’s hen and used a stone to kill it!”
“What!” Liu Gao shi and Liu Changshi exclaimed.
“They even used a rope to tie it up, that’s not a random act of mischief. It’s clearly a deliberate act to kill it!” Liu Gao shi took Liu Xu’er’s hand and guided her into the house, while Liu Xu’er shared what had happened.