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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 Changshi carried Liu Changgeng back home. Liu Changgeng had tried to refuse – he insisted he could slowly walk back – but everyone in the family worried that it would worsen his injuries.
When they returned, and after Liu Changshi had left, Liu Changgeng asked about what had happened in the courtyard. Liu Lin leaped up and in rapidfire fashion explained. Liu Changgeng merely nodded and said nothing.
On the first day of the New Year, no one came over. Although the sound of firecrackers going off around the village didn’t stop, inside, the house was quiet. Everyone was busy with their own tasks. Even Liu Sen was entertaining himself in all kinds of ways – chasing little chickens, looking at the baby rabbits, going to visit everyone in their rooms to talk to them or just make a mess for them.
He most enjoyed visiting Liu Xu’er’s room, interrupting her so much, she couldn’t continue work on her handicrafts. She eventually gave up and went to the kitchen to heat up a bowl of chicken soup, adding a few dumplings for him.
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“Dad and I were discussing this all through New Year. He felt that what I said was quite reasonable, so he decided to allow me to make some decisions, like where we can acquire stock, on my own. This shop doesn’t have a proper shopkeeper, we will only have Xiaochen, a shop assistant. We will tell everyone he is my relative and is helping to manage the store. I can make suggestions in any area, including how to display the goods, what type of goods….”
As Shi Cheng spoke, he turned to her and said, “After the 15th of this month is past, I will need to go to town to check on the shop’s renovation. You need to prepare everything quickly – whatever can be brought out, must be brought out.“
Liu Xu’er nodded, “I think that we will rent a counter. If we rent a counter, we can make our own decisions. I can decide on what I want to make….”
Shi Cheng didn’t wait for her to finish before nodding, “I thought you would, so I’ve already checked in with my dad. After discussion, we decided that the rental would be a tael of silver a month.”
Liu Xu’er was worried that he would try to avoid charging them rent. If that were the case, she really wouldn’t be able to run the business for long. After all, surely they could not keep relying on others for help?! So it was a relief to see that he was behaving in a very impartial manner. However, a tael of silver or month was still something she hesitated over.
Shi Cheng then said, “Let me give you a suggestion about the handicrafts you’re making. You should make simple items that aren’t worth much money, for example, the ornament that Senzi is wearing, or the little cows that your mum is crocheting. But you should also make a few things of more value, for example the decorative knots you made today, or necklaces, braided cords. Lastly, you should make some expensive goods, for example, the forehead band and hand-warmers that are stuffed with rabbit fur. You don’t need to make too many, just a few. If you manage to sell one a month, that would be three taels of silver in your pocket. Wouldn’t that be sufficient for everything you need.”
Liu Xu’er nodded, “I know. We will do as you’ve suggested…. The forehead bands and the hand-warmers were the first thing I started to work on. My mum has already made two of each, and so have I. That should be enough for now. We don’t need too many. After all, we might not be able to sell them at all. However, we need to make more inexpensive little trinkets to sell.”
Shi Cheng nodded heavily. “Good, that’s the right way! Also, you should discuss the price of goods with your family members. Give me some wriggle room when you price them. Also, could you let me have some items that I can use for promotions. For example, if a family were to buy some hand-warmers, I could give them an embroidered handkerchief.”
Liu Xu’er nodded, “No problem! When I deliver the goods to you, I will make sure that everything is sorted out!”
Shi Cheng took the time to update her on everything he knew about the store. He also suggested quite a few different strategies they could consider trying.
When she went home, she prepared everything they had agreed on.
By now, He shi was able to walk. Although there was still a slight limp, it wasn’t too obvious. Liu Changgeng too had slowly started to move around.
Everyone in the family had agreed, at the end of the month they would go to town. Firstly, Liu Changgeng and He shi’s injuries needed to be checked by the doctor. Secondly, they wanted to check out the school. If there were any who accepted village children and were flexible with the lesson schedule, they would get Liu Shu and Liu Lin to attend. Last but most importantly, they wanted to look at the shop. The family wanted to have a look at the counter Liu Xu’er had rented.
Everything was planned by Liu Xu’er. From the very start, these matters were spearheaded by Liu Xu’er, and she had obviously succeeded before in selling three hand-warmers. Hence, Liu Changgeng and He shi subconsciously deferred to her in these matters.
Liu Xu’er often used Shi Cheng and his father to deflect attention from her, referencing suggestions from Shi Cheng or his father and so on. The strategy was remarkably effective.
At the old residence.
Liu Hong was in her room, embroidering her wedding clothes on the side of the kang. There were quite a few things she needed to prepare as part of her trousseau, including a set of bedsheets – mattress and quilt covers, pillow cases and so on. Everything needed to be done by her. After all, she had no younger sisters who could help.
Liu Gao shi sat with her on the kang, making shoe insoles. It wasn’t seemly for her to help make any of the wedding items. She could only make two pairs of shoes and a jacket for her future son-in-law.
“Those two girls are completely ruined! When you were twelve, thirteen, you already knew how to behave. You were able to do household chores and all the mending. You were just as calm as an adult! But Xian’er is still like a child, quarreling with her didi and meimei. She doesn’t even behave as well as Xu’er!”
Liu Gao shi was talking about the incident on the first day of the month. After she had punished Liu Yun’er, Old Man Liu reproached her. She shouldn’t have punished her in front of so many people. It was really embarrassing for First. Although Liu Gao shi was quick to retort, she did feel somewhat regretful.
So she often came over to her daughter’s room to vent.
Liu Hong knew that her mother felt regret over the incident, so she always tried to accommodate. Mother and daughter were having a conversation when Liu Changshi’s voice came in from outside, “Liu Hong? Liu Hong?”
Liu Hong answered from her seat. Liu Changshi came in. Turning to show the back of his cotton padded jacket , he said, “I don’t know when this happened, but there’s now a large tear in my jacket! Liu Hong, can you help me quickly mend it!”
Liu Hong glanced over and quickly agreed, “Take it off and I will help you with it.”
“Can’t you sew it like this? It should only take a couple of stitches. I only have this one jacket!” Liu Changshi said.
Liu Hong glared at him. “That’s such a large tear, how would a couple of stitches be enough! Why can’t you just do as I say? If you keep hesitating like this, then I won’t help you.”
Liu Changshi exclaimed, “What’s wrong with you recently? After you’ve gotten betrothed, your mood worsened? I didn’t say much, why did you blow up at me!”
Liu Hong was shamed into anger. In a temper, she said, “I’m not helping you sew it!”
Liu Changshi got angry too. Turning to leave, he said, “Fine!”
Liu Gao shi was both exasperated and amused. Looking at her son and daughter, she poked her daughter’s forehead. “Didn’t I just praise you for being sensible? Why are you behaving so childishly now? Bickering with your brother?!” Saying this, she got off the kang and walked out.
She spotted her son bent over, repairing the pig pen fence. Sure enough, the back of his jacket sported a large hole, with some of it’s cotton wadding falling out. She went over and patted him, “Tonight, take it off and come over. I will help you to fix it…. Don’t be angry with your meimei. She’s been very busy these past few days. She’s also lost her favorite handkerchief and is quite unhappy.”
Absently, Liu Changshi asked, “What?” Before suddenly recalling the matter! He knocked himself on the head before saying, “Oh! How did that completely slip my mind?!” After he said that, he set down his tools and quickly went to Liu Hong’s house.
Amused, Liu Gao shi shook her head and left them be. She headed back to her own room.
Liu Changshi entered Liu Hong’s room, scratching his head. “Liu Hong, have you lost a handkerchief?”
Liu Hong murmured an “en”. Then she saw a handkerchief being waved in front of her face. Her eyes widened. That was hers!
Delighted, she took it before looking at Liu Changshi, “Where did you find it?”
Liu Changshi scratched his head, “At dad and mum’s doorway…. I picked it up on the first, and forgot all about it ….”
Liu Hong’s eyes narrowed. “On the first, but you only pass it to me now? How did you forget about it for so many days?” She gave the handkerchief a sniff and immediately felt faint. “Oh, it stinks! You, you!”
Liu Changshi said sheepishly, “Then should I wash it for you?”
Liu Hong rolled her eyes at him. Putting the handkerchief to one side, she said, “You? Do you even know how? Don’t even try.” Saying this, she looked at him, “Sige1 四哥/Sige – 哥/Ge refers to one’s older brother, 四/ Si – refers specifically to the fourth. So one’s fourth older brother., you really should take care of your personal hygiene. How many days has it been since you’ve bathed or changed your clothes. You… How old are you?!”
“Do you think I am like you girls?” Liu Changshi retorted righteously. “Don’t you need to boil water to bathe during these cold days? Doesn’t boiling water take firewood? Who is the one who has to go chop and carry the firewood ….”
He hadn’t finished when Liu Hong waved him vigorously away, “Sure, sure, sure. If you don’t want to bathe, don’t…. Continue to be dirty and smelly then!”
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LOL! I can definitely see myself and my brother in their sudden bickering on something very small. Just that we wouldn’t be joking with each other at all any more XD
HAHAH! Glad that the book’s description of a sibling relationship is so legit!