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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 Xu’er thought that over. She had been thinking of doing it by herself, but now that mum asked, she nodded and agreed. She took out some jade green and cyan coloured silk cloth, “Ok then! Let’s divide up the work. Mum, why don’t you work on this first? I wanted to make a forehead band with this cloth. Doesn’t nai also wear them? I know that you often make them for her, so you should know how to sew them. But these aren’t quite the same. For these forehead bands, we need to make them double-layered. The inner layer uses this cyan cloth and we will stuff the center with rabbit fur. We need to use the embroidery techniques that xiaoyi taught us to embroider some patterns on the top layer. The embroidery needs to be very fine… These will be like the hand-warmers. I plan to sell them for a higher price.”
She again asked, “Mum, can you manage that? Because the forehead bands are padded, it’s definitely only for use in winter and so it needs to be made first. But the crocheted cows must also be made quickly, before spring….”
She didn’t finish when He shi interrupted. Patting her chest, she declared, “I can definitely manage! What else do I have to do all day, sitting here? I’ve been so bored, I’m about to grow mold! The activity would be just perfect!”
Liu Xu’er smiled when she heard. She nodded and said, “Alright then. I will concentrate on making the hand-warmers. I will only make a few…. After that I will make decorative knots and braided cords.”
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Nkw Nkd oyp y ckv osaakle. “Mbl byde-oyaxlap psze alyzzu olzz. Ebu esd’v usw xyjl xsal?”
Nkw Dw’la lmrzykdle, “Ekdvla kp dlyazu shla. R yx sdzu xyjkdt y qlo yp y ralnywvksd. Gzps, kv oyp iwkvl zwnju vbyv ol xydytle vs plzz vbspl byde-oyaxlap. Mblu sdzu psze clnywpl vbl pbsrjllrla caswtbv kv vs vbl yvvldvksd sq vbl olyzvbu qyxkzklp. El rascyczu osd’v byhl vbl pyxl zwnj…. Rd qynv, ol xktbv dsv lhld cl yczl vs plzz ydu sq vblx. Gqvla yzz, vbl pvsal okzz sdzu srld yqvla vbl Llo Zlya. Gv vbyv vkxl, obs oswze oydv vs cwu byde-oyaxlap? Gzps, dso vbyv vblu’hl clld xyel, kv’p lypu qsa svblap vs nsru vblka elpktd yde pvyav xyjkdt vblx vblxplzhlp.”
Nkw Fbw ytalle, “Rv’p rascyczu sdzu vbl aycckv qwa vbyv oswze cl ekqqknwzv vs qkde. Jwv xydu rzynlp xktbv pvyav vs plzz saekdyau nsvvsd hlapksdp sq uswa byde-oyaxlap.”
Ekvb lhlausdl’p lmrzydyvksd, Nkw Nkd dseele bkp wdelapvydekdt.
Gp qsa vbl lxcaskelale bydejlanbklqp, lxcaskelale rwaplp1 荷包/ Tlcys – Vwapl qsa nyaaukdt zsspl nbydtl yde svbla pxyzz kvlxp. Jlnywpl vblal olal ds rsnjlvp kd vblka nzsvblp, vblpl rwaplp sqvld bwdt sqq vblka nzsvblp yde nsdvykdle pxyzz kvlxp. Rv nswze cl elnsayvle okvb lxcaskelau., pnldv pynblvp yde obyv dsv, vbspl oswze dlle vs cl xyel kd obyvlhla pryal vkxl vblu bye. Jlnywpl Nkw Dw’la oydvle vs aldv y nswdvla, vblu dllele vs xyjl pwal vblu bye y okel hyaklvu sq tssep vs plzz. Gzvbswtb pbl eked’v jdso bso zyatl vbl nswdvla oswze cl, kv oswze elqkdkvlzu cl clpv vs shla-ralryal. Rd ydu nypl, pkdnl lhlausdl kd vbl qyxkzu bye vbl vkxl dso, vblu pbswze osaj sd vbkp. Xvblaokpl, vblu xyu dsv byhl vbl vkxl zyvla obld vbl qyaxkdt plypsd pvyavp vs tlv cwpu.
Omyxrzl sq y rwapl. Fswanl
Wasx vbld sd, vbl kxxsckzl Tl pbk yde Nkw Ubydttldt pvyavle vs clnsxl lmvalxlzu cwpu. Nkw Fbw yde Nkw Nkd olal dsv kezl lkvbla. Xdl oyp cwpu nyakdt qsa vbl ydkxyzp, obkzl vbl svbla oyp xydytkdt vbl hltlvyczl rzsv kd vbl cynjuyae. Mbl pnyzzksdp bye yzalyeu tasod, yde vbl nyaasvp bye pvyavle praswvkdt. Mbl nyaasvp olal qsse qsa vbl aycckvp, vbl aycckvp oswze rasewnl qwa, okvb vbl aycckv qwa, xwx yde xlkxlk nswze xyjl vbspl bydeknayqvp….
Rv pllxle vbyv lhlauvbkdt oyp kdvlansddlnvle!
Everyone in the family was so busy that even after four or five days had passed, they didn’t have the time to return the money to Old Man Liu.
It was unclear what Liu Gao shi was busy with, but she too hadn’t been by for a while. By the 28th day of the 12th month, Liu Changgeng felt that the matter couldn’t be delayed any longer. He called Liu Shu over and told him and Liu Xu’er go over and return the three taels of silver.
The two of them took the silver and left. As they walked, they chatted, “Is the rabbit going to give birth soon? It’s stomach looks very large, and it seems to have stopped hopping around. All day, it stays still.” Liu Shu said.
Liu Xu’er gasped, “It’s not moving at all? Is everything alright?”
“It’s fine. Dad got off the kang yesterday to check on them. He said everything’s fine, but it’s going to give birth soon. I put it in a clean nest by itself where it can safely give birth.” Liu Shu laughed. He was rather happy, “I wonder what baby rabbits look like.”
Liu Xu’er had seen them before. Baby rabbits were like baby panda cubs. They’ were smaller than a person’s palm! Their eyes would be sealed close and they were born hairless….
Thinking about all this made her happy. She said, “ It would be great if the rabbit is able to safely give birth. That means that we can breed them…. Oh that’s right, we can put the two smaller rabbits together now.”
“Yeah, I’ve already done that.” Liu Shu smiled. These past few days he had been caring for the animals and had already gotten practised at how to look after them.
Liu Xu’er again asked, “Dage, these past few days, why do you keep visiting Shi Cheng?”
Liu Shu scratched his head sheepishly. He was silent for a while before saying, “I want to learn more words… Otherwise, how can I keep proper accounts?”
Liu Xu’er understood. Her immediate thought was that they needed to find a proper way for him to learn to read after all, they couldn’t rely solely on Shi Cheng to teach them! Firstly, they couldn’t keep disturbing Shi Cheng – his mother would get upset at the constant interruption to his study. Secondly, it was not ideal to learn words in this piecemeal fashion. It would be best for him to study under a proper teacher.
“Does our village have a teacher?” Liu Xu’er asked, troubled. “It would be best if there is one. Then you and erge could go and study under him.”
Liu Shu was speechless, “Then what about school fees! The charges wouldn’t be….”
Liu Xu’er said, “School fees should only be about one or two taels of silver. If we manage to get the business working, then that wouldn’t be a problem….. There should be a teacher in town right? We will probably be going to town very often in future. After all, we would need to send our goods there and buy raw materials….”
Liu Shu didn’t say anything. It didn’t seem realistic to go and study under a teacher. Who knew if the school fees really were only a tael or two?
The siblings continued to head toward the old house as they chatted. The instant they arrived, they froze. Dabo was in the middle of the courtyard, chopping up some firewood. He turned when he heard their arrival. He, too, was slightly stunned when he saw them.,
Liu Shu tugged on Liu Xu’er’s sleeve and the two greeted Liu Changqi, “Dabo!”
Liu Changqi looked a bit embarrassed and awkward. He smiled slightly at their greeting, before saying, “You’ve come to visit your ye and nai?”
“Un, our parents told us to come.” Liu Shu said,
Liu Changqi then asked, “How are your parents’ injuries? Your….” He paused for a moment before asking quietly, “Is Senzi better?”
Liu Shu again nodded his head, “Senzi is all better now. My mum can get off the kang to do a little bit of walking. My dad still isn’t allowed, but he should be able to after the New Year.”
Liu Changqi nodded. Looking at the pouting, still silent Liu Xu’er, he sighed and patted her on the head saying, “Go on in then.”
Liu Shu tugged Liu Xu’er toward the house. As he walked to the doorway, he muttered, “Dabo is rather pitiable.”
Liu Xu’er immediately gave him a strange look. Why did he suddenly say that? Was it that he noticed her ignoring him? Well it’s true… It’s all the fault of that terrible Ma shi! Whenever she thought of what happened, she felt a rush of anger!
Liu Gao shi was in the house, sewing some shoe insoles, while Old Man Liu was sitting on top of the kang smoking. The entire house was filled with smoke. Liu Shu and Liu Xu’er had just managed to call a greeting when both of them started coughing.
Liu Gao shi immediately put down her sewing. She pulled the two over and said, “Why are you two here?” Then she turned to scold Old Man Liu, “Stop smoking! The children are coughing on all the smoke in the house!”
When the two had entered, Old Man Liu had taken his final puff. He immediately used his thumb to snuff out the remaining light. Smiling at them, he said, “I’ll stop, I’ll stop. Come up the kang!”
Liu Shu and Liu Xu’er took their shoes off before climbing up. Sticking their feet under the warm blankets, the two of them resisted the urge to cough. Squinting through the smoke to look for the others in the room, Liu Xu’er asked, “Nai, where are my xiaogu and sishu?”
Liu Gao shi replied, “Your xiaogu is in her room. She’s probably heard your voices and will come by soon. Your sishu has gone to get more firewood…. That’s right, does your family have enough firewood?”
“Yes! Sishu dragged an entire tree from the ravine for us. It’s enough to last us till the second month of next year!” Liu Shu quickly said.
“Then did your family need anything?” Liu Gao shi continued to ask. “I’ve been so busy these past few days, I’ve had no time to drop by.”
“No, everything’s fine!” Liu Xu’er giggled. She took out a handkerchief. Opening it, she put it in front of Liu Gao shi, “Nai, here are three taels of silver. My parents told us to return this first. The rest will be returned next time.”
Old Man Liu and Liu Gao shi were both speechless. Staring at the silver, Liu Gao shi exclaimed, “Where did you get the silver? It’s even in whole ingots!” Saying this, she picked up a two tael silver ingot.
Liu Xu’er explained the situation with her hand-warmers. Finally she said, “Nai, you probably didn’t know, but I had already managed to sell two cotton hand-warmers to the doctor just before that. It’s the same as the type Senzi is wearing. The doctor saw it when he came for a housecall and liked it. He gave me a tael of silver for each pair!”
Liu Shu quickly nodded his head, “That’s right. It’s just that we needed to return Uncle Quan the money for Senzi’s medical fees. There were only a few hundred wen remaining after that. But this time, there’s more money. My parents said we needed to quickly return it. That’s why the two of us came.”
Old Man Liu and Liu Gao shi were stunned speechless. They couldn’t believe their ears. Liu Gao shi murmured, “That little bit of nothing that Senzi was wearing can be sold for three taels of silver each?!”
Liu Shu broke out into a grin. Liu Xu’er quickly nodded, “It can! Haven’t we already managed to sell them? If not, where would this money have come from? Nai, you know that my xiaoyi taught us how to do embroidery. I used the good cloth she left at that time, stuffed them with rabbit fur. It looked really good when I was done!” She touched her nose shyly.
Liu Shu turned to look at her and laughed.
It was only then that Old Man Liu and Liu Gao shi relaxed. Old Man Liu delightedly mussed up Liu Xu’er’s hair. “My family’s girl is so smart! At such a young age, she’s made so much money! She’s incredible!”
Liu Gao shi was also thrilled, “Oh my, is this for real? That’s just too fantastic. Your family doesn’t have to worry anymore! What a relief…..”
Liu Shu and Liu Xu’er exchanged glances before sticking out their tongues at each other.
In their grandparents’ view, these two were just being mischievous. But the both of them were clear that there wasn’t much silver remaining. They just didn’t want to say anything. It would be too difficult to explain. It would be better for their parents to explain it when nai went over to visit.
The two of them smiled secretively.
Liu Hong had heard the goings on in the main house and came in. Seeing the two little ones on the kang, she smiled and said, “Oh, why did the two of you come? You haven’t visited in so many days!”
Liu Xu’er immediately asked, “Xiaogu, why aren’t you going out anymore? Why haven’t you been visiting your erge and ersao.”
Liu Hong immediately flushed red. She picked up the broom from the side of the kang and started to playfully threaten Liu Xu’er with it. “This girl! You’re getting more and more glib! Your mouth just keeps flapping. I need to teach you a lesson!”
Liu Xu’er was scared into hiding behind Old Man Liu. Old Man Liu laughed and didn’t move or try to dodge. Of course Liu Hong didn’t dare to actually let the broom land on him. She could only laugh and say, “What a mischievous little imp!”