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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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Senzi was still busy trying to wrangle an answer as to when Shi Cheng would bring him his snack! Liu Xu’er could only say, “We’ve only just begun to celebrate the New Year. It’s a month-long celebration! A month is very very long, with many many days. Shi Cheng could bring you his gift at any time.”
The sentences sailed over Senzi. He blinked and tried to figure out when exactly he would get his treat.
The children sat on the kang discussing matters about the store. When it was nearly noon, it again started to snow. He shi then called for Xu’er to help out at the kitchen, so Liu Xu’er got off from the kang, put on her shoes and headed out.
Liu Changqi’s family reared well over a dozen chickens. For the New Year celebration, he had brought two chickens over, along with a gift of some cloth, and 500 wen for his parents.
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Tl pbk okvdlpple vbl ldvkal lmnbydtl. Fbl pyo Yy pbk pxkzkdt casyezu, pyukdt vbyv vbkp oyp fwpv obyv vblu pbswze es, yp vbl lzelpv psd’p qyxkzu. Tl pbk pvyavle vs osdela, bye Yy pbk ynvwyzzu nbydtle qsa vbl clvvla?
Fbl oldv vs vbl jkvnbld yde pvyavle vs pvlo vbl qalpbzu nzlydle nbknjld. Mbld pbl nyzzle qsa Nkw Dw’la vs nzlyd vbl psyjle xwpbassxp. Gv vbkp vkxl, Nkw Dkyd’la yde Yy pbk csvb ldvlale. Yy pbk &dcpr;pxkzle yde pyke, “Ebu yal usw ypjkdt Dw’la vs es yzz vbkp? Dkyd’la, iwknjzu ts yde nzlyd vblx!”
Nkw Dkyd’la ytalle yde caswtbv vbl xwpbassxp yoyu. Tl pbk’p blyav pydj. Fbl bye qktwale swv obyv Yy pbk oyp ykxkdt qsa. Fbl nswzed’v blzr xldvyzzu pdllakdt. Yy pbk &dcpr;oyp fwpv kdnyryczl sq nbydtkdt bla oyup. Fbl oyp pvkzz y vos qynle bursnakvl.
Yy pbk pxkzle yde pyke vs Nkw Dw’la, “Xb, Dw’la’p nzsvblp yal ps ralvvu! Gal vblu dlo? Mbkp ulya, Dw’la byp bye iwkvl y qlo dlo swvqkvp. Mbyv’p ayal qsa wp hkzzytl qszj!”
Tl pbk yde Nkw Dw’la ktdsale bla yde qsnwple sd vblka vypjp. Tl pbk kdpvawnvle Nkw Dw’la vs oayr vbl yrasd yaswde bla, clqsal tlvvkdt bla vs ralryal vbl hltlvyczlp. Mbld pbl nsdvkdwle vs jdlye psxl eswtb.&dcpr;
Yy pbk iwknjzu nyxl shla yde vssj shla bla vypj, ps Tl pbk elnkpkhlzu zlqv bla vs es kv! Nkw Dw’la bsolhla, bye dsvknle vbyv Yy pbk byed’v oypble bla bydep! Mbl eswtb qsa vbl ewxrzkdtp olal qsa vbl ldvkal qyxkzu vs lyv, kdnzwekdt blaplzq! Fs pbl pyke, “Pypbldgk, zlv xl tlv usw psxl oyvla vs oypb uswa bydep?”
Yy pbk eked’v blya Nkw Dw’la’p wdelazukdt ekptwpv. Fbl oyp elzktbvle vbyv Nkw Dw’la bye prsjld ps rszkvlzu vs bla, ps pbl pxkzle yde pyke, “Tso pldpkczl! Dw’la kp fwpv ps pldpkczl! Ls osdela usw nyd lyad ps xwnb xsdlu yv vbkp uswdt ytl…. Mbyv’p aktbv, Dw’la, pkdnl usw jdso bso vs lxcaskela, obu esd’v usw pbyal uswa pjkzz okvb uswa Dkyd’la yde Zwd’la fkl?”
Nkw Dw’la bye tssplcwxrp blyakdt vbyv. Fbl vbswtbv vs blaplzq vbyv kv oyp xsal zkjlzu qsa bla vs pbyal y dllezl aktbv kdvs Nkw Zwd’la! Gp pbl vbswtbv vbyv, pbl iwknjzu oldv yde rswale Yy pbk y cypkd cwv dltzlnvle vs yee ydu oyax oyvla vs kv. Fbl pxkzle yde vsze Yy pbk, “Pypbldgk, rzlypl blzr uswaplzq!”
Unsuspecting, a delighted Ma shi dipped her hands into the icy basin. It was so cold, it took her breath away! She almost started scolding her, but abruptly recalled that she had a favour to ask, so she quickly smiled and said, “It’s too cold. Help me add some warm water.”
Liu Xu’er sat back down and continued her work on the vegetables. She dipped her head, and said nothing.
At the side, He shi was mentally laughing and shaking her head. Then she went to knead the dough silently. After Ma shi washed her hands, she started to do some busy work, all while questioning Liu Xu’er about matters regarding the store. Of course Liu Xu’er ignored all her questions! Her mouth clammed shut, she didn’t utter a word, finally enraging Ma shi into flinging down her towel and exiting the kitchen.
When she left, they heard her shrill call for Liu Yun’er. Before Liu Yun’er could join her, Liu Changqi’s voice could be heard shouting, “Don’t you dare make a fuss! Over the New Year, don’t you make dad or mum angry!”
Nowadays, Liu Changqi paid very close attention to all of Ma shi’s actions.
Liu Xu’er looked at He shi right as He shi looked toward her. Mother and daughter both simultaneously shook their heads. He shi thought, what was she doing? Xu’er was only six! What would she know? Why did she behave like an adult?
Then she looked over at her daughter again. Xu’er was again bent over her work, her white face carrying a quietness rarely seen in one so young.
He shi looked at her for a while, before finally attributing this to Xu’er being mature. Then she again sighed mentally.
Face full of worry, Liu Gao shi came into the kitchen and started to pace around aimlessly. Finding it strange, Liu Xu’er asked, “Nai, what are you doing? Do you want to eat or drink something?”
At that, Liu Gao shi looked around with a start, “Why did I come in here? I thought I was going to my room….” Saying this, she blindly walked back out.
He shi quickly called out after her. “Mum! You…. Don’t worry, sidi is definitely fine. It’s just that heavy snow has blocked his way, so he’s delayed.”
Liu Gao shi squeezed an awful smile out and nodded. “I know….” Then she left.
This time, both mother and daughter sighed heavily.
At night, an even more unfavourable thing happened. The snow which had stopped for the last couple of days, started again. It looked to be getting even stronger and fiercer. Snow the size of goose feathers started to swirl down. Very quickly, the entire courtyard was carpeted in a thick layer of it.
Liu Xu’er prepared to head out and close the courtyard door. While standing in the middle of the courtyard, she gazed at the snowstorm. The snow was heavy, and kept falling thickly, so she couldn’t see past 100 metres or so. Beyond that distance, everything was just a fog.
The dim light from before had disappeared and the sky had turned completely dark. By now, her entire vision was filled only with white.
Liu Xu’er sighed and was about to return to the house, when suddenly she seemed to see something from out of the periphery of her vision. There looked to be something out there. She stood still, and leaned forward to look.
It was a white lump, and didn’t seem to be anything special. She was about to move away, when she heard the sound of animal hooves crunching the snow. The sound got clearer and clearer, and she started to hear wheels squeaking on the path.
Liu Xu’er suddenly realised, that’s sishu! She widened her eyes and looked hard in that direction and finally saw the white snowball walk towards the house!
He shi was at the main building door calling out, “Xu’er! What are you doing there? It’s such a big snowstorm. Hurry, close the door and come back in!”
Liu Xu’er had just said, “I think I see sishu!”
Then the vision finally crystalised. Sure enough, there was a person pulling a cart, pausing at the courtyard door. The person said to her, “Little Xu’er! How did you know sishu was going to be back at this time?!” he said with a smile in his voice.
Liu Xu’er’s heart skipped. Then she screamed in delight, “Sishu is back! Nai, sishu is back!” She ran to the courtyard door and finally saw Liu Changshi clearly. He was holding onto a donkey pulling a cartful of large baskets. It was just that they were all completely white.
Liu Changshi smiled and picked her up, “I’ve finally managed to make it back!”
From the house, Liu Gao shi had rushed out and ran smack into the courtyard entrance all while anxiously calling, “Fourth? Changshi?” She was squinting in the snow trying to see.
Liu Changshi quickly put Liu Xu’er down before going over to smile at her. “Mum! It’s really me. I’ve come back….”
He hadn’t finished when Liu Gao shi gave him a thorough once over. Then she suddenly gave him a heavy smack! “You still know to come back! Why didn’t you… Why didn’t you just stay outside! You still know how to come home!”
Liu Changshi had never in a million years expected this response. Stunned, he stood there before understanding his mother’s reaction. He quickly said, “Mum, the snow blocked the road. I was trying to get back as fast as I could….”
Just then, quite a few people started to crowd around. They started to pull Liu Gao shi and encouraged her and Liu Changshi to quickly go into the house. Old Man Liu stood at the house door with his cotton jacket draped around his shoulder. Smoking his pipe, he smiled at Liu Changshi warmly. He was much calmer than Liu Gao shi. He smiled and said, “Good that you finally came home. It’s enough that you are safe.”
Liu Changqi was supporting his mother back to the house, while Liu Changshi followed. Liu Changgeng smiled and clapped his arms around his shoulders. “You’re finally back! Do you know how worried we all were? Every day, dad and mum would go to the village entrance to wait for you!”
Liu Changshi was feeling rather guilty. “The snow blocked the road….”
“We know, we know! Quickly come in and get warm!”
“Erge, can you help me bring the cart in? And could you help me to put the baskets in the house? Don’t let the snow melt into the baskets.” Since they were brothers, Liu Changshi felt free to order him around.
Liu Changgeng was of course only too willing to help. He smiled and went to grab the cart. He shi went to assist him and they finally managed to wrestle the cart back into the courtyard. Liu Xu’er closed the courtyard door after them. Seeing that there were people in all the rooms, and only Liu Changshi’s room was empty, he opened that door and moved over 10 baskets of goods into his room.
The baskets were not at all light. Liu Changgeng had to exert quite a lot of strength to carry them.
Unexpectedly, Ma shi joined them. Circling the 10 baskets, she clucked and asked, “Their ershu! What do you think are in these baskets?”
Liu Changgeng didn’t say anything, but Liu Xu’er couldn’t resist rolling her eyes. Sishu had gone to Ningxia to buy red dates and goji berries. Everyone knew that, so why was she playing dumb?
Ma shi stretched her hand out and tried to whisk away the blankets covering the baskets. “Tsk tsk tsk, these things are rather valuable! There aren’t enough blankets for humans, yet they are covered so well!”
Liu Changgeng immediately moved to stop her, “Don’t move…. Dasao, who knows whether these things would spoil if they are suddenly warmed up! It’s best not to touch them and let Fourth decide what to do!”
Ma shi wanted to argue, but when she lifted her head, she saw both He shi and Liu Xu’er standing there looking at her. Then she recalled that she wanted to foster good relations with the two! So she quickly put on a fake smile and nodded, “Their ershu is right! I won’t touch them.” After circling the baskets a few times and tsking away, she finally left.
Liu Changgeng kept shaking his head. He told He shi and Liu Xu’er to leave and closed the door. Liu Changshi’s door had no lock. He wasn’t as petty as Liu Changgui and his wife. There were only his parents staying here, so why did he need a lock? But now, Liu Xu’er was worried. Turning to look at the door, she thought that surely Ma shi wouldn’t go and sneak a look right? After all, these goods were worth her sishu’s life!
Although this was just what Liu Xu’er thought, Liu Changshi was clear that these goods nearly did cost him his life!
It’s just that now he was back in his comfortable warm home, surrounded by the people who loved him. He would definitely not mention it. He only smiled and told them, “The journey was smooth, everything went well!”
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