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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 Changgeng didn’t say anything more. All eyes turned to look at Liu Changgui, waiting for him to speak. Although Liu Changgui had discussed the matter with Jia shi, now that he was the centre of everyone’s attention, surrounded by his family, he suddenly started to feel ashamed. After hesitating for a long time, he stammered, “Outside…. Outside, medium grade fields are about five to six taels of silver a mu, we just…. Just…..”
“Outside, they are asking for six taels per mu. Since we are selling the land to dad and mum, then we won’t ask for much, just five taels per mu!” Jia shi interrupted. She had seen that Liu Changgui appeared to be losing his nerve. Worried that he would lower the price, she hurried to finish his sentence for him instead.
For a medium grade field, five taels of silver per mu could only be considered to be market rate. There definitely was no discount being extended. However, having been through all the commotion, both Old Man Liu and Liu Gao shi were prepared for this outcome. It was clear that Third didn’t care a whit for his parents, only for money!
Liu Gao shi lowered her head in thought, before turning to discuss the matter in a low voice with Old Man Liu.
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Liu Changgui hesitated for a long time. Jia shi got anxious and impatient. Shoving him, Liu Changgui stumbled forward before subconsciously extending his hand.
Old Man Liu didn’t give him the money. He just coldly smiled at him, but the smile was strange. His eyes had a trace of frost in them! Liu Changgui’s knees buckled and he knelt down. “Dad….”
His hands however, were still outstretched. Old Man Liu flipped his palm over, dropping the silver into his waiting palms. Then he slowly bit out, “Take care of the money. That’s the money you made from selling your land.”
After he received the money, Liu Changgui looked like he was on the verge of collapse. He cried out and kowtowed. “Dad!”
However, Old Man Liu had already turned away from him. “Today, I want to make this very clear. If anyone wants to sell their land, they need to come to me to sell it. I definitely won’t shortchange them. But if anyone tries to sell it to outsiders….. Hmph, even if it costs me my life, I won’t let them off!”
Liu Gao shi told the kneeling Liu Changgui, “Take the money and leave.” Then she too turned away from him. She didn’t want to spare another glance at him.
Liu Changgui still wanted to kowtow to them further, but Jia shi came over and pulled him up. “Let’s go! Why should we stay here and tolerate this attitude from them?!”
Liu Changshi’s hands moved slightly. He really really wanted to go forward and slap her!
Jia shi finally managed to pull Liu Changgui away. Ma shi wanted to say something, but noticing that dad and mum were clearly still enraged, she decided against speaking and becoming the target of their ire. Straightening her clothes, she coughed softly and said to Liu Changqi that she was going to head back home first.
He shi wanted to go forward and comfort them, but Liu Changgeng was faster. “Mum.”
Liu Gao shi waved her hands at him. “Go on home, the rest of you. We are all tired from this. Whatever we need to discuss can wait till tomorrow. I can’t take anymore today.”
He shi knew that both elders were deeply hurt by what had happened and they were unlikely to be able to tolerate having too many people around them consoling them. It would probably be better for her youngest son and daughter to comfort her. So she tugged on Liu Changgeng’s sleeve, indicating that they should leave. After everyone had left, Liu Changgeng again said a few words to Liu Changshi before picking Liu Xu’er up while He shi picked Senzi up, and they all went home together.
Honestly, fights were not a big deal. Village folk often fought with each other – over water, over land. Siblings, neighbors – everyone fought with each other. It’s just that after fighting, the next time they met, they would still be cordial with each other and life would go on as usual. Between siblings, there would be no grudges held after the fight.
But this fight was not the same. It was clear that Third had hurt the very heart of the two elders. And when a family’s elders were upset, everyone around them would be upset.
As such, when they returned home, the mood was somber. Even Senzi had noticed it. When he got back, he climbed on the kang and started to quietly play with his rocks. Periodically he would look up to gauge the adult’s moods.
Liu Xu’er had gone to the kitchen to prepare the meal. After a while, He shi came over and told her to go and finish her own work. She would prepare the meal herself. Liu Xu’er then asked, “Mum, is dad still upset? What did he say?”
He shi sighed. “Now that the matter has come to this, what else is there to say? We just need to think of a way to get all of the fields planted. We can’t waste good land…. It may be that after tomorrow’s discussion, we would need to call your two brothers back from town to help. After all, apart from our own land, we need to provide two laborers to Landowner Xia.”
Liu Xu’er sighed when she heard. “It seems that this year, gege will have to be part of the actual labor force.”
He shi sighed too. “There’s no other way.” Saying this, she turned her attention back to making the meal.
Sure enough, the next day, Liu Changgeng went to discuss the matter with the extended family. When he returned, he told He shi that they would need to call Liu Shu and Liu Lin back. They needed to start plowing the land.
He shi asked him how the discussion went. Liu Changgeng explained that Liu Changqi and Liu Changshi would go and work for Landowner Xia. Old Man Liu, Liu Changgeng, Liu Shu and Liu Lin would stay at home to do the farm work. Also, Yuan Hao would ask two of his workers to come over to help. After all, he had 20 mu of land to sow, so he could only promise two of his workers help for now.
“That’s already very decent.” Liu Changgeng said,
He shi asked about his workers. Liu Changgeng explained that Yuan Hao had hired hands to help him with his own land. Otherwise, how could he manage 20 mu of land by himself?! After He shi heard, she felt that the situation now seemed to be better than when Liu Changgui was around!
With a total of eight mu of land, even if there were an additional two persons to help, the work would still be rather intense. The main reason for that was that they had to release two people to go help Landowner Xia.
However, villagers treasured their land. No one would ever complain about having too much of it. As such, He shi didn’t object to Liu Shu and Liu Lin helping out in the fields. She had started to prepare everything they needed – dry rations and what not. The next few days would be intensely busy and no one would have time to cook.
After stocking up on food for the family, she turned her attention to food preparation for the livestock. Liu Xu’er would be alone at home and she needed to look after Senzi too. She wouldn’t be able to manage foraging for animal feed. So she started to prepare large quantities of feed for the rabbits and chickens.
The next day, Liu Shu and Liu Lin returned home from town. This time, they brought 200 wen back with them. This was money that Shi Cheng had given them to bring back from their counter sales. Liu Shu was rather pleased. He told Liu Xu’er that the last few days, the little crocheted animals had been flying off the shelves. In fact, all of their stock had been sold, making them about 100 or so wen. Added to that, they had managed to sell some other stock, so they had made over 200 wen in total. Shi Cheng had told him to bring everything back.
“Shi Cheng’s idea was excellent. Every day, Liu Lin and I would head to the store in the afternoon. Sure enough, nobody has bought an item on its own. They were all sold in groups of threes.” Liu Shu was talking about the pricing strategy.
Liu Lin was at the side, chattering animatedly, arms flying, about the strange customers they had met at the store.
Liu Changgeng and He shi’s confidence were undoubtedly boosted by this additional 200 wen. He shi regretfully said, “I made too few at the time. I really should have made more!”
Liu Changgeng murmured, “I had already given up hope. Now, it seems that it might work.”
He shi spoke to herself, “I should sleep later at night. That way I can make a few more of them…,.”
Liu Xu’er saw instantly that her parents had renewed confidence in this venture. She let out a relieved sigh. Smiling, she said, “Mum, now’s not the time for this. We previously sent in a lot of goods that can be slowly sold. Now, the important thing is to deal with spring sowing!”
Liu Changgeng quickly nodded, “That’s right, that’s right! That’s our biggest priority now!”
Liu Shu and Liu Lin hadn’t spent much money on food. They had used a total of 100 wen, returning about 180. However, this genuinely upset He shi. She gave them a good scolding. How could they grow if all they ate were vegetables and buns?!
Liu Xu’er said to He shi, “Mium, since dage is helping us to keep accounts, then this first sum of money should be recorded, and the money should be kept with him. After all, we will need to buy raw materials and what not again.” She still remembered that they hadn’t managed to pay their rent yet! But now that the family was so busy, she couldn’t deal with that yet.
He shi of course agreed. However, she repeatedly reminded Liu Shu not to bring the money with him when he was in class. Liu Shu nodded, “That’s for sure.”
In the next month, everyone was crazily busy. Liu Xu’er couldn’t help much – she could only help boil water and prepare the meals at home while watching over Senzi. Everyday, dad, mum and her brothers would only be back when the sky was dark. This was the first time her two gege had to do this much work. Their bodies couldn’t take it so after 10 or so days, Liu Lin fell sick, followed by Liu Shu shortly after.
The most important thing to villagers was their land. Even though Liu Shu and Liu Lin were both down sick, the work in the fields couldn’t stop. Apart from Liu Xu’er helping to care for them, Liu Changgeng and He shi didn’t have the time to even spare them a glance.