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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 Xu’er carefully carried the two snowy white little rabbits in her arms. She was pouting while sitting atop the swaying cart. He shi sat closer to the front, grumbling at Liu Changgeng who was driving. “Look at you, aren’t you spoiling her too much? Letting her decide how to spend a full 500 wen! I don’t even know what to say about you!”
Liu Changgeng didn’t turn back, he could only listen, giving a sheepish “hehehe”.
He shi then turned to look back at Liu Xu’er. “Why are you so stubborn? What do you want with them? Isn’t it just that they’re new and novel? What happens if they die? 500 wen just down the drain!”
Liu Xu’er pouted and stayed silent.
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Liu Xu’er had turned white with fear. He shi ran over and pulled both Liu Xu’er and Liu Shu, who had blocked the blow, behind her. Maddened with rage, she pushed Ma shi and screamed. “The money I used was given to buy my children their clothes! For the New Year, there is nothing else my family wants! How dare you hit my child?!”
Ma shi was pushed back a step. When she stabilized herself, she shouted back. “It doesn’t matter what money was used to buy it! It’s not right! Wasting money recklessly; why aren’t I allowed to discipline them? How have you two been spoiling your children? If you’re not going to educate them probably, as their dashenzi, I will step in!”
Seeing his brother and sister get beaten. Liu Sen was long shocked into crying loudly. Liu Lin also went to stand at his gege’s side, glaring at dashenzi. He shi was so angry, her entire body was trembling. She carefully shielded her children behind her.
Liu Gao shi had just come out from the eastern room. Seeing the courtyard in a disarray, she shouted. “What fit are you throwing now, First’s wife?! The money I gave was to Second’s wife. If you are upset, you should come to me, what are you doing hitting children?!”
With lightning speed, Ma shi grabbed at the rabbits in Liu Xu’er’s arms. Liu Xu’er desperately struggled to bend over and protect them in her arms. He shi was also not to be provoked. Seeing Ma shi stretch her claws over, she used her entire strength to beat her off, fiercely pushing her away, causing Ma shi to stumble.
If He shi wasn’t afraid that Ma shi would take the opportunity to hit her children, she would have gone, this very moment, to the kitchen to grab a knife!
Liu Shu turned around and stretched his arms out to protect his meimei. Liu Lin took advantage of the chaos to bite the hand Ma shi held out in front of him.
Ma shi didn’t manage to grab a rabbit, so she turned and pointed at the family while running toward Liu Gao shi. “Mum! Did you see, their whole family is colluding to beat me! Protecting that wastrel of a girl!” Shouting this, she reached Liu Gao shi. Her hand beating at her thigh, she started to wail aloud. “How are we to survive! A poor family raising a spendthrift. No matter how much money we earn, it would all be wasted! How are we to survive? My son, my daughters don’t have enough to eat, but Second’s wife has the money to buy foolish frippery?!”
Liu Gao shi’s eardrums hurt from all the wailing. She was also unhappy with how He shi had taken the money to buy rabbits. She slanted a look toward He shi. “I gave you two money for you to burn? Have you forgotten which family you belong to? Your Liu Shu and Liu Lin’s pants are already so short, their ankles are showing. Instead of buying them cloth, you bought nonsense? Don’t you know how to care for your children?!”
Liu Xu’er actually was aware that on arriving home her mother would definitely have to bear the cost of her “rebellious” behavior. That was why, all the way home, despite all the scolding, she stayed silent. On hearing what her nainai said, she straightened her back and wanted to declare that it was her who insisted on buying it. However, before she could say anything, Liu Shu had beaten her to it. “Nai! It was me who insisted on buying it! Mum and Dad had no choice!”
It must be known that Liu Shu was Old Man Liu’s oldest grandson. This position was not to be taken lightly. Liu Gao shi really doted on this first grandson. All the dissatisfaction that she had toward He shi, the rebuke that she was about to deliver, was swallowed back when she heard what her oldest grandson said. She gave a hmph, but didn’t say anymore.
Ma shi wasn’t having it. Loudly she cried, “Their whole branch is one of wastrels! How much money would need to be funneled to them for them to waste? I don’t care! Mum, if there is no good conclusion to what has happened today, how can I continue to live!”
Liu Gao shi harrumphed again when she heard what was said. How could she not know what First’s wife wanted? She wanted to separate the family! Just like that lazybones, Third’s wife!
These past few years, every time First’s wife picked a fight, the motivation was always to push for the family to separate. The strong desire Ma shi had to separate the family was no less than the just married Jia shi. After all the repeated arguments these past few years, how could Liu Gao shi not know?
He shi was still feeling heartache over the slap Liu Shu had endured. Impotently shaking with rage and wiping her tears, she thought about heading to the kitchen. But she didn’t feel it was right to do that in front of her children, so she firmly resisted the urge. Liu Sen, who was just at the doorway and shocked into crying, catapulted toward He shi. He shi quickly carried him, drying his tears, all the while tearing up herself.
From a smaller room on the western side came two 10 plus-year-old girls. They were Ma shi’s daughters. Seeing their mother wailing, they came over, each tugging on an arm, cajoling her.
Ma shi started to cry even more brokenheartedly. “My oldest girl is already 12. There isn’t anyone who is looking to marry her, why? It’s because we’ve no money! Others disdain my daughter, they disdain the fact that we can’t afford to give her a dowry!” She started to beat her chest. “Bang, bang, bang”, the sound rang out. “We are the First branch, we’ve suffered the most, done the most work, and therefore lost out the most! Third and Fourth were all brought up by me….”
From the entrance of the courtyard, Old Man Liu’s voice carried. “What are you howling about? Who has suffered the most loss? When were my sons brought up by other people? How was it I was unaware?”
Ma shi choked mid sob. The head of the household, Old Man Liu, had returned. No matter how shrewish she was, Ma shi did not dare to make too much of a scene in front of her father-in-law.
Behind Old Man Liu were Liu Changqi, Liu Changshi and Liu Changgeng. After returning the ox and cart, Liu Changgeng had spotted his father and brothers returning from the fields. Before entering the courtyard, when he heard his dasao’s wails, it abruptly occurred to him that the fight may have been triggered by his family, so he quickly rushed on ahead to check on the situation.
Sure enough, he saw his children huddled into a corner, his wife carrying their youngest, wiping her tears in front of their children. Liu Changgeng quickly walked over and asked softly, “What happened?”
Liu Changqi immediately noted that, again, his wife was creating a fuss. He saw her looking shifty eyed and viciously glared at her, looking as though he wanted to go up and slap her.
Dressed in a cotton garment, hands clasped behind his back, Old Man Liu didn’t look at anyone in the courtyard. Instead, he serenely made his way back to his room.
Ma shi had already prepared to make a huge scene today. Seeing his behavior, she stiffened her back and shouted. “Dad! Look at Second’s wife! The money that mum gave for us to buy cloth for the children was wasted, buying her wastrel daughter two rabbits! What kind of family allows for such behavior? My family’s Xiaotao1 A diminutive of his name doesn’t have steamed egg custard, but they have the money to buy rabbits?! If their children don’t need cloth, then save the money to buy my children eggs!”
He shi angrily retorted. “How could you hit my children? The money I spent was for my family to prepare for the New Year! Hitting a 5 year old child; how could you be so ruthless?!”
“If you two can’t bear to teach your child, then I will step in! As a dashenzi, why can’t I discipline her? Look at how the two of you have spoiled her? Let me say that it is absolutely unacceptable to waste money! Dad! Farmer’s families cannot afford to raise wastrels! It’s just the beginning – now she would only waste her own family’s money, but after a year or two, she would be the downfall of our entire family! How can this be allowed to continue?”
“Alright, alright, stop howling. I know what you want to say.” Old Man Liu continued into his own room. At the doorway, he called. “First, Second, Fourth, come in for a while.”
At the side, Liu Lin had already updated his father on what had happened. Hearing that his eldest was beaten, Liu Changgeng face turned ashen! He turned to glare at his dasao before looking at the back of Liu Shu’s neck. What he saw made his face turn even uglier!
Liu Shu’s neck had an extremely obvious palm print! How could one use such force on a child!
And when he heard He shi softly say with a sob, “This was intended to be a slap on Xu’er’s face; it got blocked by Liu Shu.” Liu Changgeng’s hands shook with rage! His face blacker than the bottom of a pot, his hands balled into fists, he turned to walk into Old Man Liu’s room. On passing Ma shi, he viciously said. “I will discipline my own children. Next time, if you dare to hit my children again, I will return that blow on Liu Tao!”
Face dark, he went in.
First’s personality was more lax. Usually, when Ma shi created a fuss, he would not interfere so long as the matter was not important. He was also used to Ma shi’s calculating behavior, and where he could, he would let matters slide. After all, were husband and wife to quarrel incessantly? However, as the eldest son, he could not ignore the matter today. Especially since his younger brother had left the warning in his presence.
Liu Changqi also glared at Ma shi before entering the house with a black face.
Ma shi was not even a bit scared by Liu Changqi’s look of warning. Straightening her back, she hmphed.
Old Fourth, Liu Changshi also went to have a look at the palm print on Liu Shu’s neck. He gasped on seeing it and immediately rushed toward Ma shi. “Dasao! How could you be so heavy handed on a child?! Isn’t Liu Shu your nephew?!”
“Dashenzi’s slap was intended for meimei! It was blocked by gege.” Liu Lin immediately said.
Liu Changshi’s face changed. If this slap had reached little Xu’er…. In a few steps, he had made it to Ma shi. He shouted, “If you want to separate the family, then take it up with mum and dad! Dealing such a heavy blow to a child, you’re really not…..” If he were not addressing his dasao, he really wanted to say that she really was not human!
“Enough, quickly come in!” First shouted from inside the room.
Liu Changshi angrily went in.