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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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Mao Third started to struggle the instant he hit the water. All four of his limbs flailing, he desperately made his way back to the bank. But Liu Changshi was waiting for him – the instant his head popped up, he kicked him back into the water.
Mao Third had already been beaten pretty badly. Now, he was sinking in the water and had swallowed quite a few mouthfuls of water – he was panicking. Although the river wasn’t very deep, it wasn’t unknown for people to drown here. He made his way to a shallower part of the river before looking at Liu Changshi, “Good, good…. Good sir! Why don’t we discuss any issue you might have? Was there a need for this? What if someone dies….”
He hadn’t finished when a foot met his head again. With someone stepping on his head, he swallowed another few mouthfuls of water. Desperately he struggled to emerge, and tried to move forward toward the bank. Alarmingly, that person kept pace with him. He was so scared, he nearly wet his pants. Wailing, he said, “Good sir, spare me! If there’s anything you need to say, please say it. Just spare my miserable life!”
Liu Changshi saw that he was well and truly cowed, so he coldly sneered, “I heard that you swagger around your village acting like a bully? I heard that your fellow villagers are helpless against you? Beating you doesn’t work, you’re not afraid of being sent in front of an official, and that there’s nothing in heaven or earth that you respect?”
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Yys Mbkae’p qynl oyp nshlale kd vlyap yde pdsv. Rd y oalvnble hsknl, bl nzykxle bl’e clld oasdtle, “Ebs pyke vbyv? Mbyv’p dsv vawl! Qsse xyd, usw nyd’v…. R yx dsv vbyv jkde sq rlapsd. Rv xwpv cl psxlvbkdt pyke cu psxlsdl obs eslpd’v zkjl xl. Mbyv rlapsd kp fwpv swv vs tlv xl!” Jlnywpl sq vbl pweelddlpp sq vbl clyvkdt, bl eked’v alnstdkpl Nkw Ubydtpbk. Tl eked’v alxlxcla xllvkdt bkx clqsal.&dcpr;
Mbl kdpvydv bl alqwple vs yexkv bkp oasdteskdtp, Nkw Ubydtpbk nszezu pxkzle yde pyke, “Rv pllxp vbyv vbyv oypd’v ldswtb vs oyjl usw wr! Zsw pbswze fwpv ts cynj kd yde pll kq vbl oyvla alqalpblp uswa xlxsau!” Fyukdt vbyv, bl jknjle bkx cynj kd ytykd.&dcpr;
Mbl oyvnbkdt Fbk Ubldt oydvle vs zywtb. Kwpv vbld y taswr sq rlsrzl blyele rypv. Fllkdt vbl qktbv, vblu zlqv y okel clavb yaswde vblx, yde iwknjzu alvalyvle. Ohld rlsrzl sd vbl srrspkvl cydj olal oyvnbkdt vblx.&dcpr;
Gtykd Yys Mbkae pvawttzle kd vbl oyvla. Mbl kdpvydv bkp blye rsrrle swv, bl iwknjzu nyzzle swv, “Qsse pka! Qsse pka, pryal xu zkql! R alxlxcla obyv R’hl esdl! R alxlxcla…. G zsv. R alxlxcla R’hl esdl y zsv sq oasdt! Qsse pka, R yx y pnswdealz! Rd vbl hkzzytl, R’hl nsxxkvvle y zsv sq xkpellep. R yx qwzz sq altalv qsa yzz xu oasdteskdt…. Qsse pka, rzlypl pryal xl!”
Nkw Ubydtpbk rskdvle yv bkx yde pyke, “R yx lmvalxlzu nzlya ycswv vbl vurl sq rlapsd usw yal! Rq usw nsdvkdwl vs alnjzlppzu es oasdt ellep, R byhl xydu oyu vs elyz okvb usw!” Fyukdt vbkp, bl rywple. Yys Mbkae ytykd pvyavle vs clt qsa bkp zkql. Tl alrlyvle vbyv bl oswze dlhla lhla es yduvbkdt oasdt ytykd. Nkw Ubydtpbk vbld pyke, “Mseyu, R okzz pryal uswa oalvnble zkql. Jwv kq usw pvkzz eyal vs pvawv ycswv uswa hkzzytl yde cwzzu svblap, kq usw eyal vs byaypp ydusdl usw pbswzed’v, usw osd’v jdso obld elyvb nsxlp qsa usw!”
Mbl kdpvydv Yys Mbkae blyae vbyv bl oswze pryal bkx, bl zlv swv y alzklhle pktb yde pyke, “R osd’v eyal! R elqkdkvlzu osd’v es kv yduxsal!”
Nkw Ubydtpbk alpvle bkp qssv sd bkp blye, cwv eked’v ralpp bkx esod. Tl fwpv zssjle nszezu esod yv bkx. Mlaakqkle, Yys Mbkae pyke kd y oalvnble hsknl, “Qsse pka! Qsse pka, obyv dso? R alyzzu okzz dlhla es kv ytykd!”
“Rv oswze cl clpv kq usw jllr vbyv rasxkpl!” Nkw Ubydtpbk ckv swv. Ekvb y jknj, bl vspple bkx cynj kd vbl oyvla! Mbld bl vwadle yde oldv cynj wr clqsal vbasokdt y cynjoyae tzydnl. Fllkdt vbyv Yys Mbkae oyp pvkzz pvawttzkdt kd vbl oyvla, bl pdsavle yde zlqv.&dcpr;
Liu Xu’er and Shi Cheng were still in their hiding spots. From start to finish, Liu Changshi hadn’t noticed them. All through the altercation, people had not stopped coming. The bolder ones came closer to watch, while the more timid ones gave a wide berth and left. On the opposite side of the river, things were more lively. People on that side noticed someone had left, but then abruptly saw that someone seemed to be struggling in the river. They started to shout, “Hey! What is in the river?!”
By this time, it was late at night, and people had started to head home. Seeing something dark emerge from the water, and climb up the bank, most people were scared into running straight home. Of course, some of the braver ones stood opposite and watched.
Shi Cheng and Liu Xu’er watched as Mao Third struggled on the bank, and lay there panting before Shi Cheng started to pull Liu Xu’er home.
“That scared me to death. I’ve never seen sishu that fierce before. I saw something fly when they fought…. I thought it might be an eyeball….” Liu Xu’er was still a bit shocked by the scene.
Shi Cheng laughed. “It wouldn’t have been too bad if he lost an eyeball! That way he would remember this lesson for life!”
“Oh, stop talking about it. It was so terrifying!” Liu Xu’er had goosebumps. She quickly rubbed her arms.
“Why did your sishu give Mao Third such a savage beating? Is it because of what happened last time with your xiaoyi? Have the two of them started to talk about marriage?” Shi Cheng asked.
At this, Liu Xu’er shook her head. “I’m still fretting over that matter! My laolao and laoye aren’t willing to let my xiaoyi marry relatives. And my mother – she hasn’t even noticed this at all…..” She thought again of the matter with Nian Fang. Frowning, she told Shi Cheng, “Guess what happened after we went home last time?”
Shi Cheng shook his head, “How would I know?”
“The one called Nian Fang, the girl who was with my xiaoyi, actually went home and told her parents about it. Her parents even found a matchmaker to propose marriage!”
Shi Cheng laughed, “Fell for a knight in shining armour huh!”
Liu Xu’er sniffed, “The one who should have fallen over herself didn’t while the one who shouldn’t, did!” She started to worry over the matter again. She asked Shi Cheng, “I want to help my sishu, what do you think I should do?”
Shi Cheng thought for a moment before saying, “Isn’t that simple? Tell your xiaoyi about what happened tonight…. No matter how slow she is, she would definitely understand what happened. If she is willing, then that would make matters easier!”
Liu Xu’er thought for a moment. That’s true! If she just let the incident today slip to her xiaoyi, she would definitely show some reaction?! There was no quarrel between her sishu and Mao Third, so who else could this beating be for? If she told this to xiaoyi, she could also assess her reaction and see if she’s willing or not. If she’s willing, then the matter would be much easier. Her xiaoyi could slowly wear down her laolao!
Happily, she patted Shi Cheng, “You’re still the best!”
Shi Cheng smiled. Turning, he saw that the servant had started to edge in closer to them. Seeing Shi Cheng look at him, he quickly stood still and allowed more distance between them.
The two of them chatted as they returned to the courtyard. By the time they returned, it was just past 9 pm. The eastern side room was still brightly lit, so the two went over to have a look. They saw Uncle Xiaochen busy helping the two brothers calculate the amount made today. Liu Shu had still not yet managed to transcribe all the transactions into the accounts book, while Uncle Xiaochen was still stringing all the coins together. When they got in, he was rubbing his shoulders tiredly.
Seeing them come in, Liu Lin raised his head. He hadn’t even realised that the two had gone out! He only said a sentence, “Today, we may have made over 20 taels!”
Shi Cheng and Liu Xu’er were both delighted, “Really?!”
Liu Lin nodded, “Isn’t there already 20 strings over there? But the accounts are still not done.” He pointed at Uncle Xiochen’s pile of hemp strings. There truly was a heap of them, with a few small ingots at the side. Shi Cheng went over to count them. Liu Xu’er was more concerned about her own family’s accounts, but she knew in her heart that her family’s business should have done quite well today.
The few of them continued to work for close to two hours before finally sorting out the accounts. The entire store had fetched 23 taels of silver today, while Liu Xu’er’s counter had made more than six taels! All those things they hadn’t sold before, like the braided cords, the decorative knots, the necklaces – apart from the hand-warmers, forehead bands and scent sachets, everything else had managed to sell. Because nothing cost more than a tael, all of their earnings were in copper coins.
Uncle Xiaochen had just tied off another string of cash. He moved over and topped up the rest of the money owed to Liu Xu’er. Shi Cheng asked Liu Xu’er, “Do you want to exchange your coins for silver ingots? After all, you won’t be using all of this immediately right?”
Liu Xu’er thought for a moment. With the money earned yesterday, she had managed to pay off the rent, and have enough to return the money her family owed, with some left over to be saved. Apart from using some of this silver to restock their raw materials, they really wouldn’t need to touch the money they had made today. So she nodded and said, “Give me two silver ingots worth two taels each. The rest can be left in strings of cash.”
Shi Cheng went and opened his chest, and helped her change the amount requested. He was happy to exchange them for her, after all, it was more convenient for a store like his to use the copper coins.
Liu Xu’er was over the moon – they had finally earned enough to lay down some savings. They should be able to save up these four taels of silver.
Very soon, it was 11pm. Uncle Xiaochen told them to quickly go and rest. He assured them that it was alright if they woke late the next day. He would head over first to open up shop.
Liu Xu’er lay on the kang. She alternated between delighting in the money they’d earned today and recalling the beating her sishu had given Mao Third. Then exhaustion hit her. She couldn’t help thinking that store work was not at all easier than a full day of work in the fields! Of course, that was only her own opinion. She quickly drifted off to sleep.
The next day, as expected, everyone got up later than usual. The children had breakfast and tidied up before heading to the store. Liu Xu’er had brought all the money along. Today, her father was going to pick her up from the shop before heading home directly.
Liu Shu and Liu Lin headed straight to their teacher’s house, while Shi Cheng first went to the store. He would wait for Liu Changgeng’s arrival before heading off for his own studies.
The two of them chatted enroute to the shop. When they got there, they saw lots of people crowding around. Shi Cheng went forward before hearing a woman loudly crying and saying, “How are we to live! They are leaving my family no way out!”
When Shi Cheng heard, he said, “What’s happening!” Before running over to check it out. Liu Xu’er followed after him and saw a woman sitting in front of the store. She was beating at her thigh and wailing!
Liu Xu’er was surprised when she saw, “Isn’t that Wang Pin’s mother?” She asked Shi Cheng, “What happened?”
Face dark, Shi Cheng answered, “Nothing much. I told my father what happened, and suggested not to use their family anymore…. Didn’t expect them to come here and make a fuss!” He pulled her and ran into the store.
Many people had started to gather around to watch. Uncle Xiaochen was standing at the doorway. Seeing the ruckus Wang Pin’s mother was making, he coolly said, “What are you making a fuss here for? What does that have to do with my store? Why are you making a fuss in front of my shop?”
Wang Pin’s mother had just spotted Shi Cheng run in. She pointed at his back and said, “That child is my former employer’s child! It’s him! My child offended him, so they forced my family out! They refused to let my man work for them, so my entire family can only wait to starve!”
Most people here sympathised with the underdog. Hearing this, they said, “Isn’t that too much!”
“How could they be so heartless as to force them out? Is there no justice?!”
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Ahhh… it’s time to get rid of this Wang family too. Thanks for fast release.
🤣 Glad you’re enjoying!