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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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All the chatter in the kitchen abruptly stopped. He shi and Liu Hong exchanged glances before He shi dusted her hands off and went out to have a look. Outside, Liu Xu’er had already stood up and headed toward the doorway. When she got there, she noticed that only Liu Tao was running about the courtyard. She didn’t see Liu Yun’er or Ma shi.
That got her nervous. She was worried that Liu Yun’er would take the chance when everyone was busy to bully Senzi, so she called out, “Senzi? Gege? Dage!”
Liu Shu was just standing underneath a tree. Senzi was at his side, lying on the ground digging for worms. When they heard her call, Liu Shu raised his head. Seeing Liu Tao, he understood her worry. Gesturing to Liu Xu’er, he indicated he would not leave Senzi alone. With that, Liu Xu’er relaxed and went back in.
He shi and Liu Hong were both shaking their heads. They said nothing, mainly because there was nothing they could say to that. Then the doorway darkened and Liu Gao shi entered. Smiling, she said, “Your dage is here. He’s even brought some things.”
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While eating, Liu Tao unintentionally called Liu Xu’er “wastrel”. Ever since his mother had called her that, he had always remembered, and thought that that was how she was to be addressed. Liu Gao shi overheard him. Face dark, she scolded him – he was not to call her that ever again! Feeling wronged, Liu Tao muttered, “But that’s what my mum and my sister call her….”
“They call her what?!” Liu Gao shi continued to scold. Liu Tao didn’t dare to say anything anymore. Liu Hong gently taught him – you can’t say that, she’s your meimei! See how Xu’er is two months younger than you, but so well behaved! Your two gege have gone to study under a teacher. You too must learn how to behave….
Liu Tao only half understood what she said. Mostly, he understood that he couldn’t provoke Liu Xu’er, so he turned his attention to his meal. Although Liu Gao shi scolded him, she still put some food into his bowl for him.
Around the table, the main topic of conversation was still about Liu Xu’er’s little business. But whether deliberately or not, everyone didn’t say too much about the matter. They just roughly sketched out what had happened. Liu Gao shi then started to test Liu Shu and Liu Lin on their letters. Seeing the two of them able to write the words, and hearing how the two of them spoke – they were even able to use appropriate adages in their speech! – Liu Gao shi was very happy.
He shi was not literate, and had no idea of how well her two children were doing in school. Now watching her mother-in-law test her two boys, and seeing how well they did, she was glad she had steeled herself to send both of them to school! Look, now even their nainai couldn’t keep up with them!
While the men had their drinks, the women were chatting. It was only when all the chicken was eaten, and the fish was picked bare that He shi and Liu Hong went to the kitchen to prepare to cook the noodles. After kneading the dough, they called Liu Changgeng over to press the noodles. In a breath, Liu Changgeng took hold of the handle and pressed it down.
Bowl after bowl of noodles was pressed out. The soup pot was already boiling away on the stove. Buckwheat noodles could be eaten cold or with soup. The soup was similar to that of minced noodle soup with diced meat, carrots and vegetables. The ingredients were fried before water, salt and dogwood herb were added. Then all that needed to be done was to bring the pot to a boil.
Most of the people there opted to eat the noodles with soup, so very quickly, the entire pot was finished. Those who wanted seconds, could only have it as a cold dish. When Liu Changgeng had his second bowl, he only put in some salt and dogwood herb!
By the time they were done with the meal, it was late at night, and the moon was high in the sky. It lit the earth with its silvery glow as everyone left the old residence in good spirits. Liu Changgeng and Liu Changqi were walking arms over each other’s shoulder, softly speaking. Liu Gao shi shouted over to Liu Changqi to make sure to watch Liu Tao!
At another corner, Liu Changshi and Yuan Hao were also discussing something. Yuan Hao was obviously preoccupied. He kept scratching his head and looking backward. Of course, Liu Hong wouldn’t come out. He could only sigh and think to himself – two more months….
He shi carried a yawning Senzi, before turning and trying her best to get Old Man Liu and Liu Gao shi to go back to the house and not stay here to send them off. “Go home! Dad, mum, it’s alright. Just go home!”
Finally, when all of the obligatory courtesies were fulfilled, everyone headed back to their own homes.
The road was dark. Scared that Liu Lin and Liu Xu’er might walk into the ravine, Liu Shu carefully reminded the two of them to walk squarely in the centre of the road. Liu Changgeng took over carrying Senzi, before telling He shi in a soft voice, “From the looks of things, they can’t move to town….”
“What? Weren’t they making a huge fuss at the beginning of the year? Didn’t they blame our family for taking up resources and preventing them from their plans?”
Liu Changgeng could only sigh and say, “Dage drank a bit too much and shared a lot…. Actually, they don’t have that much money. Even if they scrimped and saved and moved into town, they don’t have the money to buy a house in town! And without any money leftover, what would they do for food? If they move to town, it’s also very inconvenient to farm…. Dasao made such a huge fuss mostly because she saw Third move and got jealous.”
“Dasao is really…. Mum was just saying that all of her children are being taught the wrong things….” He shi said in a low whisper.
Liu Changgeng shook his head and sighed.
“Third…. Surely there must be some sort of resolution? He didn’t even come back for Mid Autumn Festival or over the New Year…. What is he planning? Does he not want to acknowledge dad or mum?”
Liu Changgeng hmphed, “I dare him to say that?! If he dares to, we will send him before the government office…. Those two are too shrewd! They didn’t say anything, but they won’t come back to visit or to support our parents, so it’s just going to be dragged out this way. Since we have three brothers here, surely we are enough to support our parents? Even if he doesn’t contribute anything, dad and mum won’t starve. It’s just whether or not mum and dad have the heart to do anything. When we find him, we’ll see what he has to say.”
“Then why don’t you all find him and talk to him?
“How do we talk to him? Mum and dad don’t have the heart to even speak of this topic, so how can we say anything! What if mum and dad think that we don’t want to support them…. This topic can only be brought up by dad and mum. The rest of us don’t dare to touch the subject. Why should we? It would just make everyone upset.”
He shi shook her head and sighed.
On the second day, Liu Xu’er met with Shi Cheng. Shi Cheng shared with her that his parents had already discussed their move. They would continue to stay in the village until his sibling was born. “It has already been a long time since anyone stayed in the town house. They still need to heat up the kang and get rid of any musty smells in the room. Then everything needs to be tidied up. It’s still better to stay nice and cozy in the village for the New Year. After mum delivers, they will discuss the matter again.”
Liu Xu’er nodded, “That’s right. That big house needs to be tidied up. It would be best to air the place for a while too.” Then she asked him, “How’s the store coming along?”
“It’s doing well. These past few months, sales have been doing well…. Your counter was looking rather bare. I daresay that after the festival yesterday, everything will have been sold out.” Shi Cheng asked, “Are you unable to keep up with the demand?”
Liu Xu’er nodded, “Yeah, we are struggling with that. Especially during this period. We’ve already dropped everything else to make them.”
Shi Cheng said, “Well, after the Mid Autumn Festival, business should be less hectic. You can use this period to slowly make more. Don’t damage your eyes with all the embroidery work.”
The two of them stood at the entrance of Shi Cheng’s house and chatted. In the house, Shi Cheng’s mother saw them. She came out to greet Liu Xu’er. Seeing Liu Xu’er dressed in her lotus coloured outfit, she smiled and started to praise her, “Xu’er looks so pretty in this outfit.” Then she told her to come in. She would give her two pieces of mooncake.
Shi Cheng’s mother’s belly was visibly pregnant. When Liu Xu’er came out, Shi Cheng chased after her, calling out to his mother, “I’m off to find Liu Shu and Liu Lin to play!”
After the three day festival break, Liu Shu, Liu Lin and Shi Cheng all returned to town. But this time, they were only there for half a month before returning, because autumn harvest had begun.
Shi Cheng’s family naturally didn’t need Shi Cheng to help out, but he still got to enjoy a little break. After all, his teacher also had land at Taohua Village, and he wanted to keep an eye on the harvest.
This time, when they came back, they brought home over 3000 wen. Liu Shu updated on his return that the counter was basically empty. All that was left were the more expensive items like the hand-warmers and the scent sachets. The rest had basically all been sold. However, even though they had no stock left, they still couldn’t do anything about it. After all, the autumn harvest came first.
Old Man Liu’s family had already discussed everything. Liu Changqi and Liu Changshi would go to Landowner Xia’s side to finish up the contracted work. For their own land, Old Man Liu, Liu Changgeng as well as Liu Shu, Liu Lin would be reaping the harvest. Yuan Hao again got two of his helpers to come over. They would be harvesting millet, which wasn’t as taxing as their summer crop. At least they wouldn’t need to keep bending over. And this time, both Old Man Liu and Liu Changgeng were more careful. They didn’t allow Liu Shu and Liu Lin to work for too long. After four hours, they were given an hour break, so this time, neither of them fell sick.
The autumn sun still beat down ferociously. Because Liu Hong was about to marry, she couldn’t come out in the sun for fear of tanning. She could only stay at home to cook and look after Senzi. Everyday Liu Xu’er got up early and tied a headscarf before heading out to the fields with her family.
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Awww… I also miss harvest season in my childhood. Similar vibe. Thanks for the chapter.
Awwwww…… And you’re most welcome!