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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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On the 22nd day of the 12th month, He shi, as she did in the past few days, got up early and brought Liu Xu’er over to the old residence to help out. The next day was the 23rd of the month; it was the day to send the kitchen god back to heaven: Xiaonian.
When she got to the old residence, she saw Liu Hong helping out in the kitchen. Her hair was pinned up in a married woman’s hairdo and her face was slightly red. She had the look of a newly wed. When she saw them come in, she smiled and greeted them. “Ersao is here with Xu’er.”
He shi quickly went over and tugged at her apron. She grumbled and said, “You’re a married woman now! Why are you still doing this? It will be Xiaonian soon, so you should hurry home to prepare! Although you don’t have any parents-in-law to please, you can’t let your dabo, erbo and their wives scold you for coming over today!”
Liu Hong quickly replied, “Yuan Hao is here too. He’s in the room accompanying mum and dad… I am worried about them. After all, sige still isn’t back yet…..” Saying this, she sighed. “I’m also quite worried about him. It’s already Xiaonian, why isn’t he back yet? It’s so agonizing.”
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Mbl pvshl bye psxl pwtya oyvla, pvknju xkzzlv yde fkysvwyd1 搅团/ Kkysvwyd – G vurl sq pdynj .
Mbl pvknju xkzzlv oyp xyel okvb taswde xkzzlv qzswa yde xkmle okvb cskzkdt oyvla. Gqvla pvkaakdt kv qsa y obkzl, kv oswze clnsxl y pvknju rypvl. Ebld kv’p nsszle, kv’p aszzle kdvs y nuzkdela. Ms lyv kv, sdl oswze nwv qzyv nkanzlp sq vbl xkm yde qau kv kd skz clqsal ekrrkdt kv kd pwtya. Rv oyp pkxkzya vs tzwvkdswp aknl nyjlp, cwv ayvbla vbyd wpkdt lmrldpkhl tzwvkdswp aknl qzswa, vblu wple xkzzlv qzswa.
Kkysvwyd oyp pkxkzyazu xyel wpkdt lkvbla nsad, psatbwx sa cwnjoblyv qzswa. Mblu oswze pvka kv kdvs y rsv sq cskzkdt oyvla wdvkz kv clnyxl y rypvl clqsal vkrrkdt kv sdvs y qzyv csyae. Ebld kv nsszp yde byaeldp, kv oyp nwv kdvs alnvydtzlp. Ebkzl ralryakdt kv, vblal olal awzlp ycswv bso vs xkm kv, okvb y prlnkqkn dwxcla sq vkxlp vblu bye vs pvka vbl xkmvwal.&dcpr;
Mblpl vos pdynjp bye vbl pyxl wdkiwl nbyaynvlakpvkn sq clkdt ayvbla pvknju. Kkysvwyd oyp pzktbvzu zlpp ps, cwv pvknju xkzzlv oyp lmnlrvksdyzzu pvknju. Rv pvyule kd y rlapsd’p xswvb, ds xyvvla bso vblu nblole, yde zlqv y zkdtlakdt pollv yqvlavypvl. Rv oyp sqqlale vs vbl jkvnbld tse ps vbyv obld bl oldv vs blyhld yde tyhl y alrsav vs vbl Kyel Oxrlasa, bkp xswvb oswze cl pvwnj nzspl, yde vblalqsal cl wdyczl vs pyu yduvbkdt cye ycswv vblx. Fwtya oyvla oyp rashkele ps vbyv obld vbl jkvnbld tse oyp vbkapvu, bl nswze eakdj kv. Gde kq bl eaydj ldswtb pollv oyvla, bkp alrsav sq vblx oswze cl pkxkzyazu pollv.
“Cwknjzu ts bsxl! Gzvbswtb Zwyd Tys kp yzps blal, kv eslpd’v zssj tsse qsa usw vs cl uswa xykeld bsxl. Zsw pbswze cl yv bsxl vs nlzlcayvl Dkysdkyd! Gzvbswtb usw esd’v byhl ryaldvp-kd-zyo, obknb xyjlp vbkdtp xwnb lypkla, usw pvkzz nyd’v shlazssj vblpl nwpvsxp. Psd’v zlv svblap pyu dypvu vbkdtp ycswv Zwyd Tys.”
Tl pbk ytykd vakle vs nsdhkdnl Nkw Tsdt.
Nkw Tsdt rwv vbl yrasd esod clqsal pktbkdt yde psqvzu lmrzykdkdt. “Gnvwyzzu, R eked’v oydv vs nsxl swv vseyu lkvbla. Rv’p fwpv… R oyp vaukdt vs yhske psxlsdl, obknb kp obu R nyxl. Oapys, usw byhl ds kely. Lsoyeyup, eypys jllrp nsxkdt shla vs xu rzynl. Ohlau vkxl pbl nsxlp, pbl cakdtp tkqvp yde osdelap kq Zwyd Tys nyd blzr eytl qkde psxl osaj, sa oblvbla R nswze blzr Dkyd’la, Zwd’la qkde osaj vbyv xyjlp yp xwnb xsdlu yp Dw’la…. Mlzz xl, bso yx R vbyv nyryczl? Mbl xsdlu…. Mbyv’p yzz Zwyd Tys’p xsdlu….”
Tl pbk’p qynl eyajldle obld pbl blyae vbl qkapv byzq yde oyp ycswv vs pnsze vbyv pbyxlzlpp rlapsd! Jwv obld pbl blyae vbl zypv ckv, pbl pvyavle vs zywtb. “Ebyv es usw xlyd kv’p Zwyd Tys’p xsdlu, Zwyd Tys kp uswap! Fs yald’v bkp vbkdtp yzps uswap?!”
That sentence made Liu Hong blush. Ashamed, she ran away, “Ersao…. What are you saying…..”
He shi also felt that what she had said was too mushy, so she laughed, “My mouth got away from me…. It just slipped out.” Then she put her smile away, “Dasao is doing what?!”
Liu Hong was obviously rather troubled by the matter. “Yeah… Every day or two, she would come. What should I do….”
He shi’s joking manner had completely disappeared. The more she thought about it, the angrier she got. “Does dage know about this?!”
“He doesn’t. Once Yuan Hao met dage and tested him. It looked like dage didn’t have any idea about this.”
“Then you should quickly inform dage!” He shi said. “What kind of unsightly behaviour is this? Dage is Yuan Hao’s dajiuge. How can a senior ask a junior for work like this? It’s not as though dage is so free either. If dage were to find out, wouldn’t he be so embarrassed?! As for Xian’er and Yun’er….. That makes me so angry! Does she know that Xu’er is making money?”
“Is that something that can remain hidden? She definitely found out about it long ago.”
He shi sneered coldly. She really didn’t know what to say. After a while, she said, “I think it’s best to tell dage. Now, apart from your dage, no one else can manage that person!”
Liu Hong was troubled. She said, “I’m worried that if I tell dage, he would fly off the handle and hit…. It’s the New Year….”
“So what? That person…. Honestly speaking, if you don’t beat her, she’s completely unmanageable…. Her jealousy, when will she change that habit of hers?”
He shi and Liu Hong both started to shake their heads, but there was no other good solution.
The 23rd of the 12th month was spent with Liu Gao shi’s anxiously waiting. The few days after that, He shi was kept so busy running between two places, she barely had time to catch her breath.
By now, it wasn’t just Liu Gao shi who was worried. Even Old Man Liu started to become nervous. Every few days, Liu Changgeng would head to the village entrance to look out for anyone returning. Although they had originally agreed to head out and look for Liu Changgui after Liu Hong’s wedding, in the end, they didn’t manage to get to that.
Liu Xu’er, Liu Shu and Liu Lin were all rather worried. Now, Liu Xu’er didn’t think that what sishu did was right. All she could think of was that he shouldn’t have gone before the New Year. Wouldn’t it have been better to wait till the second month of next year?
As a single person, carrying 30 taels of silver. Even if he kept it hidden when he left, what about when he returned? How much goji berries and red dates would he have bought with 30 taels? With all his goods, wouldn’t sishu attract attention?
The more she thought about it, the more scared Liu Xu’er got. But she didn’t dare to voice it out. All she could do was silently worry.
On the 30th day of the 12th month, He shi brought Liu Xu’er over to the old residence. The day had just dawned when they got there, but they saw that the courtyard door was already opened. Stunned, He shi thought that Liu Changshi had returned and quickly ran to shout. “Dad, mum, why is the door open, has sidi returned?”
Liu Xu’er rushed to sishu’s room to look, but saw that everything was still untouched.
Liu Gao shi emerged from the house, looking worried. “No. Your father couldn’t sleep, so he went to the village entrance to keep a lookout…..”
He shi and Liu Xu’er’s hearts both sank! He shi tried to console her, “Mum, don’t worry….”
Liu Gao shi sighed, waved her arms at them and headed back in. He shi could only sigh and head to the kitchen to light the stove. Today, they would be busy in the kitchen all day.
When Liu Changgeng brought Liu Shu, Liu Lin and Liu Sen in, he too was shocked into crying out, “Has Fourth returned?”
Liu Gao shi had no mood to say anything. He shi came out from the kitchen and quietly warned him not to say anymore. Liu Changgeng shrank back into himself and nodded. Then he brought two slaughtered chickens, a basket of eggs, a large basket of fresh meat, preserved meat, cabbages and what not into the kitchen.
Since it was still rather early, He shi accompanied Liu Changgeng into the main house to comfort Liu Gao shi. After a while, Liu Changgeng noticed that Old Man Liu hadn’t returned yet and got worried. So he went out to search for him and accompanied him waiting at the village entrance. But there was still no sign of Liu Changshi, so they could only return.
When he got back, Liu Changqi and his family had all arrived. It was a cold day, so all of them were huddled on the kang. Liu Xu’er and Senzi were both originally in Liu Gao shi’s room, with both Liu Shu and Liu Lin sitting under the kang. When Liu Xian’er brought Liu Yun’er and Liu Tao into the room, Liu Yun’er sneered at Liu Sen and Liu Xu’er before before climbing on the kang.
Liu Xu’er gave her a look filled with loathing, while Liu Sen started to wriggle off the kang. Although Senzi was young, he had a good memory, and could definitely remember Liu Yun’er’s vicious beating. The memory wasn’t enough to cause him to cry, but he was scared whenever he saw her, and would try to avoid her.
Liu Shu helped Liu Sen with his shoes and told Liu Xu’er to get off as well. Originally, Liu Xu’er didn’t want to give in and let them win! But then, she thought to herself that there was no point in sitting there and making herself angry. Wouldn’t that be childish of her. In the end, she got off, and prepared to head over to Old Man Liu’s room where they would have to suffer his tobacco smoke.
Right at this moment, Liu Gao shi came out of the main room. Spotting them, she called out, “Your xiaogu’s kang has also been heated up. You can sit in there.”
When they went over to Liu Hong’s room, her room was even cleaner than before. There was no table, instead, on her kang, there were some blankets and bedding tidily put away. The children climbed onto it where it was warm.
Liu Gao shi brought them some melon seeds and walnuts for snacks before saying to Liu Shu, “Shu, you need to watch over your didi and meimei. Don’t quarrel with your dabo’s children. It’s the New Year and it’s not good to be angry over this period.”
Liu Shu quickly nodded and said, “I know nai! Don’t worry.”
Liu Gao shi nodded and left with a worried frown.
Liu Shu sighed, “We don’t even know how sishu is…. I really hope he can return safely. It would be great if he could hurry back today.”
“Sishu is definitely fine. Don’t worry. Sishu isn’t dumb. Wouldn’t he know how to avoid trouble coming? It’s definitely that there were delays on the road, which is why he’s so late returning.” Liu Shu had obviously grown more mature and his words were logical. “He went out with so much silver, so he would definitely be on guard.”
A little surprised, Liu Xu’er turned to look at Liu Shu.
Liu Lin also nodded and said, “That’s right. Nai is worried because she is imagining the worst. The more she dwells on it, the more frightened she gets. Don’t you do the same.”
Again, Liu Xu’er turned her astonished gaze over to Liu Lin.
Rolling on the kang, Senzi asked, “Jie, Shi Cheng ge said that over the New Year, he would bring me something I’d never eaten before. When is he coming? Aren’t we preparing for the New Year today?”
Liu Xu’er asked, “When did he tell you this?”
“That day!” Senzi said.
Liu Xu’er giggled, “Which day?”
Liu Shu smiled and said, “It should be the day before. Shi Cheng came by to look for you, but you were here, at the old residence, so I brought Senzi out with him to have a look at his milk cows.”
Liu Xu’er slapped her thighs. That’s right! She herself had been thinking about raising milk cows! Since Shi Cheng’s family raised them, he should have been able to guide her on how to raise them after all. But now that they started to rear rabbits, she had forgotten all about her earlier plans.
“How are his milk cows?”
“Still the same. They’ve grown much larger, and can start to produce milk now. They plan to open a store to sell milk.” Liu Shu laughed, obviously thinking that Shi Cheng had said that as a joke.