1. This is an unofficial translation and no permission has been obtained from the author/ official publisher. It may be taken down if the author/official publisher requests.
2. This is a fan work and the interpretation represents only the translator’s personal views without any input from the author.
3. No permission has been granted to use, publish, upload and/or copy this translation to any other site except for Second Life Translations.
Liu Changshi gave his body a good sniff. “I don’t smell anything!”
Liu Hong rolled her eyes at him, “Tonight, take your jacket off and I will help you mend and wash it. If we put it next to the stove, it should dry by tomorrow.”
But Liu Changshi didn’t need her help anymore. He smiled, and tilted his head at a jaunty angle. “No need! Mum said she would help me. I won’t keep you from making your wedding trousseau!”
Before Liu Hong could feel embarrassed, Liu Changshi asked, “That’s right, what flowers are embroidered on this handkerchief? The way it curves and bends is surprisingly nice.” He pointed at the handkerchief..
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Nkw Tsdt tzydnle shla yde ydpolale, “Rdvlavokdle zsvwplp.”
Nkw Ubydtpbk pdkttlale, “Ylkxlk, yald’v usw vbl nyryczl sdl! Ebld eke usw zlyad vs xyjl vbkp? Tso kp kv vbyv clqsal usw eked’v pllx vs jdso yduvbkdt, cwv dso vbyv uswa xyaakytl byp clld nsdqkaxle, usw jdso bso vs es lhlauvbkdt?”
Nkw Tsdt czwpble ale. Oxcyaaypple yde ydtau, pbl lmnzykxle, “Mbyv oyp xyel cu lapys’p xlkxlk, Tl Swuw! Fbl tyhl kv vs xl! Gzps, altyaezlpp sq oblvbla kv’p vblpl kdvlavokdle zsvwp qzsolap sa svbla qzsolap, lhlauvbkdt kp lxcaskelale ynnsaekdt vs y ryvvlad. Vlsrzl obs yal pjkzzle kd lxcaskelau oswze yzz jdso bso vs alye ryvvladp yde xyjl vblx ynnsaekdtzu. Ebyv eslp vbkp byhl vs es okvb jdsozletl? Zsw’al vbl sdl obs jdsop dsvbkdt!”
Nkw Ubydtpbk’p qynl bye y pvaydtl lmralppksd. Tl pvsrrle vlypkdt bkp pkpvla, yde sdzu wvvlale yd “sb.” Ywvvlakdt vs bkxplzq, bl pyke, “Fs kv oypd’v xyel cu usw….”
Gqvla vbkdjkdt ycswv kv qsa y obkzl, bl nswtble. Wlktdkdt ekpkdvlalpv, bl pyke, “Mbld es usw oydv kv sa dsv? Rq usw vbkdj kv’p vss pxlzzu, vbld tkhl kv vs xl. R nyd oypb kv yde….”
Nkw Tsdt qswde vbyv pvaydtl. Sykpkdt bla blye, pbl zssjle yv bkx, “Gde? Gde obyv es usw oydv vs es okvb kv? Ps twup byhl y wpl qsa lxcaskelale bydejlanbklqp?”
Nkw Ubydtpbk’p vyddle qynl pvyavle vs qzwpb pzktbvzu. Fnayvnbkdt bkp blye, bl iwknjzu pyke, “Gqvla R oypb kv, R nyd plzz kv qsa vos old…..”
Nkw Tsdt nbsjle. Fbl pvsse wr yde pbshle bkx swv vbl essa. “Fnayx, usw! Zsw oydv vs plzz pwnb y dknl bydejlanbklq qsa vos old? R vbkdj R pbswze vlzz xwx vs clyv usw okvb y cassx!”
Chased away, Liu Changshi couldn’t resist giving another longing glance at the handkerchief. He was full of regret. If only he had pretended not to see it….”
Sighing, he stood for a while in the courtyard, before taking some fertilizer he had made for the apple sapling. Placing it in the pail meant for pig waste, he brought it to his erge’s place.
Under his careful tending, the apple tree had managed to survive. Although it was still rather droopy, it hadn’t died.
After entering the courtyard, he called out, “Shu?” then he stepped in.
He shi came limping out of the house. Smiling, she greeted him, “Their sishu has come?”
Liu Changshi smiled and nodded, “That’s right, is erge at home? I want to pass him the fertilizer for the apple tree. Where are Shu and Lin?
He shi smiled and replied, “They’re in the backyard! Their sanjiu has come to look at the apple sapling.”
Liu Changshi paused. Immediately he wondered if that other person had come too? As if in answer to his thoughts, He Ruyu came out from the kitchen carrying a large wooden tray. There was a pot and some bowls on it. When she saw him, she smiled and asked, “Has their sishu come? Please come on in.” Saying this, she got a whiff of a weird smell. She looked over at what Liu Changshi was carrying.
Liu Changshi was caught completely unprepared. His mind went blank and all the blood in his body rushed to the surface. Backpedaling, his face turned red and he stood helplessly by the doorway.
The tray He Ruyu was carrying was not light. So after giving him a quick glance, she entered the main house, completely missing Liu Changshi’s unusual behaviour. He shi however, had caught it. She gave him a strange look and was about to ask when Liu Changshi fled toward the backyard. Before He shi could process what had just happened, Liu Changshi had made a swift exit from the yard, leaving behind a frantic, “I just thought of something urgent. I will be back soon ersao!”
He shi stared mouth agape at his retreat, before returning to the house.
Liu Changgeng was seated on the kang, accompanied by He Wenqing. Both turned to look at her. Liu Changgeng asked, “What happened? Why did Fourth come and go so quickly?”
He shi too was puzzled at his behaviour. Shaking her head, she said, “He suddenly seemed to recall something…..”
He Wenyu entered the house. Twisting around to stare at the courtyard entry, he asked, “Where is Fourth? He just left a basket of fertilizer, gave a quick greeting before leaving…. Is he visiting or not?”
Liu Changgeng explained, “It seems he suddenly recalled something urgent. He will be back shortly.”
He Wenyu nodded.
He shi then said, “Alright, have a seat and drink some water. When you came, you didn’t even bother having a sip before going out to see the apple sapling…. How many years would it take for that sapling to bear fruit?”
He Wenyu seriously answered, “Jie, don’t look down on that little apple sapling. If you take care of it well, in three to five years it will produce fruit. Each tree would be able to produce enough fruit to make three to five taels of silver. In a good year, there may even be eight to 10 taels of income!”
He shi jumped, “What, is that true?!”
“Of course it’s true!” He Wenyu said, “When I was helping out at the orchard on the western ravine, the orchard was making over a 100 taels of silver per year with about 10 or so trees….”
He shi was stunned, “What! Doesn’t that mean that they’ve made it rich? After all, aren’t fruits produced every year? They don’t have to worry about anything….”
Liu Changgeng couldn’t resist laughing at her, “Hang on a moment! You don’t know anything. The apple tree is quite fragile and needs careful tending. Wouldn’t half of the silver earned have to go into hiring manpower to look after them? Otherwise, why would they hire seasonal laborers? How did Wenyu manage to get a job there?”
He Wenyu nodded, “That’s true. It is a lot of work to care for.”
He shi fell silent, but she started to take the apple sapling in the backyard much more seriously.
Seeing that they were done discussing the apple sapling, He Wenqing continued on with his previous conversation. “Because your leg was hurt, you didn’t manage to visit on the second day of the New Year. Mum really wanted to come and visit, but during the New Year period she was just too busy. She did want us to come over a few days ago to check on you, but all of us were busy with one thing or another. That’s why we only made it for a visit today….. Jie, your leg looks much better. Jiefu’s injury also looks quite improved. We will let dad and mum know – that should alleviate some of their worries.”
Liu Changgeng nodded. “That’s right. They don’t need to worry! When we are completely better, our whole family will drop by for a visit. With this injury, we had to put off so many matters and made your parents worry.”
“Don’t worry about that.” He Wenyu said before lifting the bowl up to gulp down some water.
He shi then took out some silver that had been set aside. “This is a tael of silver. We will return this first. We will return the remaining string of cash when we can.” She passed it to He Wenqing.
He Wenqing gasped and pushed it back, “Dajie, why are you doing this? The money…. It was for you to see the doctor! You don’t have to return it!”
He Wenyu chimed in his support, “That’s right. We already made it clear, there’s no need to return it. Since nobody asked you to return it, why are you and jiefu doing this?!”
After pushing it back and forth, Liu Changgeng finally stuffed it into He Wenqing’s hand. In mock anger, He shi said, “Just take it! Of course the money needed to be returned! We need to keep clear accounts between siblings! Furthermore, we only returned it because we have the money. We didn’t borrow silver from someone else, so you can relax!”
She then explained the matter of Liu Xu’er’s hand-warmers. She said, “We still have some money with us! So don’t worry about us.”
He Wenqing, He Wenyu and He Ruyu were all stunned. He Ruyu said, “Who would have thought that our Xu’er would manage that! Are the hand-warmers like the ones that Senzi is wearing? How did she even think of doing it? She really is such a bright child.” She obviously understood what had happened. After all, her frivolous little handkerchiefs had also managed to earn a lot of money.
Smiling widely, He shi could only nod. She showed them the trinkets she was working on “These were all the things she assigned us to do! We plan to give it a good go. We will do our best to make these handicrafts for sale!” Saying this, she pulled on He Ruyu, “That’s right. You need to come with me and have a look. She’s also embroidered some handkerchiefs in her room. Have a look and tell me what you think?”
The two headed to Liu Xu’er’s room, while the men stayed in the main room sighing. How was it that farming didn’t make nearly as much money as those impractical little trifles?
Liu Changgeng then broke the mood, “It’s probably just the right thing at the right time. There are people who embroider shoes and flowers all day. You don’t see them making much money. This was just a lucky break.”
The other two nodded.
He shi had pulled He Ruyu to Liu Xu’er’s room. Because the siblings were all in the backyard, her room was empty. But lying across the kang were all the handicrafts she had been working on. They had been stacked into neat piles. From the corner most pile in, the sequence went, braided cords, decorative knots, handkerchiefs, a pile of crocheted little animals – little cows, horses and so on. In the last pile were tassels, little decorative knots, little necklaces and toys. There were wooden fishes and beetles.
He Ruyu stared at this in amazement.
Liu Xu’er had also placed all the little boxes her dad had made on the kang. He shi opened one and brought it over for He Ruyu to see. “Look, there’s still this! This box…. Oh, this is rabbit fur….”
He Ruyu, “This is the rabbit fur!” She had been stunned when she had heard how Liu Xu’er had used rabbit fur to make hand-warmers. She, like everyone else, had thought that little Xu’er had wanted them for fun.
He shi didn’t feel that the rabbit fur was anything special. She nodded before turning to open the two other boxes. “In this one are four forehead bands and four hand-warmers. In the other box are scent sachets and embroidered pouches…. Have a look, can you tell which were made by me? Are my and Xu’er’s handicrafts similar?”
He shi smiled and asked.
He Ruyu smiled and took each of the items out to examine. She was very familiar with her dajie’s skill. Furthermore, she had just recently taught her embroidery techniques, so she was able to quickly identify the forehead bands and hand-warmers made by He shi. “These?”
He shi’s eyes widened in shock. “Oh my, what is with your eyesight?! All of you…. How are all of you young ones so capable?!”
He Ruyu smiled and didn’t explain. Instead she turned to look at the scent sachets and embroidered pouches that Liu Xu’er had made. After examining them for a while, she turned to look at the embroidered handkerchiefs. Turning them over and over, she just kept exclaiming, “Xu’er is so capable. Her handicrafts are really quite good! This necklace…. Did she learn it from Shi Cheng’s mother? It’s so skillfully made! Dajie, look at this. I saw a steward’s wife wearing an embroidered pouch like this, with that tassel as decoration that she was especially fond of. She said it was a gift from the Young Madam!”