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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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After Duanwujie had passed, the days slowed down again. There were soap-bark trees at the back of the village, as well as hibiscus trees toward the western part. Women from the village would often go and pick leaves from the trees to wash their hair. Now that Qixi was approaching, The hibiscus tree leaves were in hot demand and all of the leaves on the lower branches had been picked bare.
Liu Xu’er, wearing her lotus colored outfit, tilted her head up the tree, looking dazed. She had wanted to wash her hair and bathe today, so she had come here to pick leaves. The place here was usually busy, so she normally would have been able to ask one of the passersby for help to collect some leaves. But it seemed that today was different – no one was around?
She turned and looked everywhere, wanting to find someone to call for help. As she was looking, she spotted a little child running over. From a distance, she recognised him to be Shi Cheng.
Liu Xu’er was shocked. She stared at Shi Cheng as he ran over. Before waiting for him to stop, she asked, “Why are you back?! Have my two brothers returned as well?”
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Fbk Ubldt pxkzle yp bl rydvle. Tl pbssj bkp blye, “Ls, obu oswze vblu nsxl cynj? R sdzu alvwadle clnywpl psxlvbkdt byrrldle kd xu qyxkzu.”
“Ebyv byrrldle?” Nkw Dw’la oyp iwkvl nsdnladle ycswv bkp qyxkzu. Rv oyp qsa vbl clpv kq dsvbkdt cye byrrldle vs Fbk Ubldt’p qyxkzu.&dcpr;
Nssjkdt yv bla, Fbk Ubldt jdlo vbyv pbl oyp osaakle. Tl pxkzle yde pbssj bkp blye, “Psd’v osaau, kv’p y tsse psxlvbkdt.” Nssjkdt bla wr yde esod, bl pyke, “Lsv cye! Ebld usw ealpp vbkp oyu, usw zssj ayvbla ralvvu!”
Nkw Dw’la pvalvnble swv yd yax vs obynj bkx, clqsal ypjkdt, “Omynvzu obyv byrrldle?!”
Fbk Ubldt eked’v ewnj. Tl csal okvb vbl tldvzl obynj clqsal pyukdt, “R pyke kv’p y tsse vbkdt, esd’v usw clzklhl…. “ Tl nyxl nzspla yde obkprlale vs bla, “Yu xwx kp lmrlnvkdt!”
Mbyv nywtbv Nkw Dw’la nsxrzlvlzu cu pwarakpl. “Xb!” Fbl typrle.&dcpr;
Fbk Ubldt pxkzle yde ypjle, “Ebu yal usw ps pwarakple? Yu ryaldvp yal sdzu kd vblka voldvklp, kpd’v byhkdt nbkzeald nsxrzlvlzu vs cl lmrlnvle? Zswa ryaldvp xyu pvkzz tkhl usw xsal pkczkdtp!”&dcpr;&dcpr;&dcpr;&dcpr;&dcpr;&dcpr;&dcpr;&dcpr;&dcpr;&dcpr;&dcpr;&dcpr;&dcpr;&dcpr;&dcpr;&dcpr;&dcpr;&dcpr;&dcpr;&dcpr;&dcpr;&dcpr;&dcpr;&dcpr;&dcpr;&dcpr;&dcpr;&dcpr;&dcpr;&dcpr;&dcpr;&dcpr;&dcpr;&dcpr;&dcpr;&dcpr;&dcpr;&dcpr;&dcpr;
Nkw Dw’la oyp pvkzz ayvbla pwarakple. Fbk Ubldt’p qyxkzu byp bye Fbk Ubldt yp yd sdzu nbkze qsa ps zsdt. Rv oyp yzps obu bl oyp ayvbla qyhsale cu bkp tayderyaldvp, yzzsokdt bkx vs cl ps csze kd bkp ynvksdp. Gde pkdnl Fbk Ubldt’p xsvbla byed’v bye ydu xsal jkep vblpl qlo ulyap, lhlausdl vbswtbv vbyv pbl oypd’v tskdt vs byhl xsal… Nkw Dw’la vss bye vbswtbv vbyv oyu….
“Then you…. Would you lose favor?” She asked, dazedly.
Shi Cheng laughed hard at that, “Have you really reverted to being a child? Your line of thinking is exactly that of a child’s!”
Liu Xu’er cringed, it was true – that was a rather childish thing to say! She pointed at the hibiscus tree and told Shi Cheng, “Can you help me pick a few leaves? I don’t have enough.”
Shi Cheng agreed. He was just about to climb up when he twisted his head around to look at her. “Why don’t we go and play first. Then we can come back and pick a few leaves?”
“Play? Where do you want to play?” Liu Xu’er asked, surprised. What was so fun? She had never felt that there was anything fun to do around here.
“Let’s just wander around. Think about it, since we are just little kids now, then let’s go and enjoy all the fun activities the others do! Don’t all the kids like to play in the little stream? Don’t they like to take twigs, and raid birds’ nests? Look at you, I know you’re about to say that that’s so senseless! It’s not senseless! That’s childhood fun! Let’s go, go, go! We should also enjoy our childhood.”
Saying this, he pulled Liu Xu’er by the hand and ran toward the little stream. Liu Xu’er had no choice but to follow along.
Rainfall had been reduced these past two years in the entire Hanzhong Prefecture. But since the region was originally a rather dry climate, this level of dryness had become normal for them. Everything grown here, from crops to the plants growing along the river banks, were all drought resistant.
Last year, over the New Year, it had snowed twice. There wasn’t a lot of snow, but it barely managed to reduce some of the dryness around here. The earth in this Northwestern Region benefited from the water.
The little river in the village hadn’t been flooded in a long time. As such, it could only be considered a little brook. The days right now weren’t too hot as there was still a cooling breeze. As such, there weren’t too many children playing at the brook.
Although the two of them had said they were coming here for fun, they weren’t really able to behave like actual children, wading into the water to catch fish, or having a water fight. When they got there, they both subconsciously moved to sit on a rock and chat. Shi Cheng asked, “Did you give the money to your mum? By now, your parents should be completely on board with your plans right? Did you buy this outfit last time? How come I didn’t know?”
“My parents agreed to my plans long ago…. When they were stuck abed. It was actually probably because they were stuck that they agreed. In any case, now that we’ve started to rent a counter, we can’t just stop! We need to continue working. The outfit? No, it was made by my xiaoyi.” Saying this, Liu Xu’er immediately thought of what happened during Duanwujie. She mysteriously smiled and asked, “During Duanwujie, did you notice anything interesting?”
Shi Cheng was stumped. He blinked and thought it over before shaking his head. “What was so interesting? Are you talking about something to do with business? Or about something that happened when we were shopping? What are you referring to?”
“It’s about my xiaoyi and sishu. I think my sishu is interested in my xiaoyi.” Liu Xu’er was too lazy to continue with the guessing games. She smiled and said, “I think my sishu went to town because he knew that was the day my xiaoyi would go and hand in her handiwork. I think he was planning to pretend to bump into her. Who knew he would be given the opportunity to play the knight in shining armor!”
Shi Cheng smiled, “Really? This is a good thing right? You would be especially close relatives.”
Liu Xu’er pursed her lips. Villagers didn’t think it was a good idea for relatives to marry each other. In fact, the opposite was true. For jiejie to marry gege, while meimei married didi, or vice versa was actually viewed as being an extremely difficult situation. More traditional minded families would completely refuse to consider this. She sighed and said, “Anyway, I hope that their matter can be resolved easily. It all depends on what ye and nai think.”
Shi Cheng shook his head, “Just have open discussions with each side. Since you are all relatives, it should be easy to have frank talks.”
Liu Xu’er’s heart was moved, that’s true. So long as they are able to discuss this freely, there shouldn’t be anything they cannot resolve. Since both sides were relatives, then they should be open about matters. That would increase the chances of their relationship succeeding.
Shi Cheng looked at her and smiled, “Don’t worry about others, when are the two of us going to get married? When we are 14, you think?”
Liu Xu’er immediately turned to stare at him. “Are you crazy? 14 is still way too young! Don’t try and point out examples of 14 year-olds getting married, I still cannot accept it!” She slanted a look at him and said, “Furthermore, your family is so wealthy. In two or three years, you will be moving to town, possibly even moving to Hanzhong City or Xianyang in future! I may not be able to catch up.”
Shi Cheng whispered, “Don’t worry, wherever we go, I will drag your family along with us…. Cough, in any case, we should get married at 14. That’s a promise!”
“Promise? Yeah right! Your mum would be the first to object!” Liu Xu’er rolled her eyes at him. She turned to look at her surroundings. Although no one was around them, she didn’t want to continue this topic of conversation. “Let’s not talk about such things – instead, we need to think of ways for my family to quickly gain wealth!”
Shi Cheng nodded, “That’s true! When your family becomes wealthy, you can move to town to live. Then we can still be neighbours. When my family moves onto the big city, the two of us should have gotten married…. That way, we won’t need to be separated?”
Liu Xu’er paused. She had honestly never thought about these matters before, mostly because she was too little, and her family was just too poor. She spent all her time thinking about how to earn enough money for their needs, how to put meat on their table and live an ordinary life. She had never considered this aspect. But looking at things it seemed clear that Shi Cheng had thought about this a lot. The reason he wanted to get married at 14 was because he was worried they would move to Hanzhong, or Xianyang, and her family wouldn’t be able to keep up….
She thought it over and nodded. “Ok then, we will work hard so that my family can build wealth and can meet with your family on equal footing…. So that when the time comes, your mother won’t look down on me.”
The two of them didn’t mention any other possible pairings. They hadn’t even thought of the possibility, as if them being husband and wife was pre-ordained by heaven.
Shi Cheng looked her over again before shaking his head, “When we marry, I will make you 10 outfits…. No! 10 outfits a month! No matter what, we need to get back to our former standard of living. You should be able to change shoes everyday for a year. Also, we should have delicacies everyday…. Oops, I won’t say anything about food now. Otherwise, you who can’t have meat or eggs regularly might start to get hungry….”
Liu Xu’er sighed. In her past life, she would purposefully avoid meat, to maintain her weight and figure, blah blah blah. Now that she’s come here, she barely gets a taste of it and keeps thinking about meat. This was karma….
She sighed again. Now, just being able to eat meat and wearing pretty clothes regularly would be a dream come true.
Shi Cheng looked and noticed that the little brook had fish. He quickly pointed and smiled, “Hey, hey, hey, look! There really are fish! Hasn’t it been a long time since you’ve had fish soup? Why don’t I catch a few for you to go home and eat?”
Liu Xu’er said in a whisper, “If you want to play with water, go ahead and play! Why are you using me as an excuse?”
Shi Cheng smiled. He didn’t dispute the claim. Instead, he rolled up his pants and waded into the water. He let out a gasp when he entered, “It’s cold!”
Bending, he tried to catch the fish. But how were they easy to catch! Each of them slipped out of his grasp. Furthermore, such a little stream could only support small fishes, which were even harder to catch. After struggling for a while, apart from getting his sleeves and pants completely soaked, Shi Cheng hadn’t managed to catch anything.
When he came out, he was mercilessly laughed at by Liu Xu’er. Shi Chang had the mindset of an adult, so he wasn’t goaded by her laughter to insist on catching a fish to prove himself. He only started to explain, coming up with a mountain of excuses as to why he failed. Just as before, he came up with all sorts of ridiculous explanations. The two of them laughed and chatted for a while before getting up to return.
They were headed back to the hibiscus tree to collect some leaves. From a distance, they saw a group of children under the tree. The two of them didn’t pay much attention to them, and headed on their way. When they got in front of them, the group of kids suddenly separated, and from the middle came a tall, burly boy, walking directly in front of them!
The two of them suddenly realised – That was Wang Pin!