Translator : Casualtranslator
~ Enjoy ~
By the time Liu Qing’s father and elder brother reached the Zhang family house, it was already three poles after morning.
Butcher Liu was sitting a at the courtyard having an idle chat with Zhang Cai, and the walls around Zhang Cai’s courtyard was also low, so from afar, butcher Liu could already spot teacher Liu and Liu Kai being guided along by a fellow villager towards the house. The two visitors were dressed in new clothes, and Liu was also carrying a large gift box while walking behind his father.
Butcher Liu got up quickly, informed Zhang Cai of the visitors’ arrival, then went out to welcome his elder brother. Zhang Cai rushed into the house shouting “Children’s mother, Liu Qing’s father has arrived”
When Liu Qing heard his voice, she did not throw her thread and needle down to rush out like Liu Yueyue, but rather, put down the halfway-completed embroidery in her hands and waited for Guo Sufei to leave before following behind.
When Liu Qing’s father entered the courtyard, butcher Liu and Liu Yueyue were already at the entrance to embrace their own father and brother. At that moment, Zhang Cai clutched his walking stick and went over to offer his welcome, and after a round of greetings, when Liu Qing then walked over to her father and brother to offer her own greetings, teacher Liu grabbed his daughter’s hands and observe her from head to toe, and felt relief wash over his heart when he saw a smile on the otherwise unblemished familiar face, without any worries or fears in her face, apart from some redness in her eyes. He patted on her shoulders and said “You have suffered, my child.”
Liu Qing wiped off the tears in her eyes and smiled “Daughter is fine. Thanks to elder brother Xiaolong and his family’s help, we managed to escape the lion’s den.”
Teacher Liu signaled Liu Kai to bring the gift box over, and faced Zhang Cai and Guo Sufei, saying “Words cannot express our feelings of gratitude to you, these are just something small which I prepared out of courtesy, I hope benefactor will accept them.”
Zhang Cai quickly insisted that they take back the gifts, saying courteously “We just happened to be there, did not actually contribute much. In the end, it was someone else who saved both them and us.”
Teacher Liu persisted handing over the gifts, and said “We are still grateful to you. If you had not intervened, our children would already have been assaulted, and those two heroes would not have noticed them.”
Butcher Liu saw that the two men were moving back and forth and going nowhere, so he extended his hand and took the gift saying “You all do not have to stand on the ceremony. Old brother Zhang, this is a small token of appreciation from my own elder brother, so you do not have to reject it.” After saying his words, he carried the gift box into the house.
Teacher Liu smiled as he said to Zhang Cai “This second brother of mine would just do things his way without consideration for others. I hope you are not offended.”
Zhang Cai smiled back and replied “Of course not, your little brother and I have many things in common. This way please, let us continue this conversation in the house.”
Zhang Cai then brought teacher Liu into the house, but the house was small and there were not enough chairs, so everyone casually found a place to sit.
After teacher Liu was seated, he expressed his gratitude towards the Zhang family members again, and then he took out some silvers from his breast and put it on the little table, saying “Old brother Zhang, the injuries that your family members incurred were due to saving our daughters from harms’ way, and we are therefore responsible. These silvers are for you to seek treatment, our households do not have deep pockets so we could only bring out these much, I hope for your understanding.”
This time, Zhang Cai was insistent on not accepting the money. He said “I believe Xiaohua has already relayed the events of that day. The bullies have already provided compensation on the spot, but we were afraid that they would demand it back so we did not dare to use it. However, our benefactor hero Wen has also given us quite a sum of money, which were enough to seek treatment and purchase medicine, so we will not accept your money no matter what.” Liu Kai who was sitting by the side replied “Uncle Zhang, a good deed deserves another in return. This silvers ought to be given to you. How could we stand by the side and do nothing for our benefactors who got injured while saving the girls? Wouldn’t that be illogical?” Butcher Liu also shook his head “Old brother Zhang, you should just accept these money. A few days later, I will also bring some money and meat over.”
Zhang Cai then said “Dear brothers, please do not do so. We did not help with the intention of receiving remuneration. Furthermore, we already received the money for our treatment, so we cannot accept your money anymore.”
Thus, the group of people started to push and pull again, and even after some while, Zhang Cai still refused to accept the money.
At that moment, Liu Qing interrupted as she looked at teacher Liu “Father, since uncle Zhang do not wish to accept these silvers, you should keep them for now. I have another suggestion, why don’t you hear it before deciding again?”
Teacher Liu replied “Sure, you always had your smarts since young, what good idea have you thought of this time?”
Liu Qing said “Uncle Zhang’s family got injured while saving us, so the two of us can remain here to take care of them until they fully recover from their injuries. Since three members of the Zhang households are now not able to work, and there is still an elder to look after, Aunt Guo may not be able to handle the burden by herself. Hence, we can chip in some labor to lighten her load and allow this family to function as per normal, and this would also be something that we owe them. What do you think?”
Teacher Liu pondered for a while, then he replied “I have lacked foresight in my judgement, Qing’er’s idea is pretty good. What do you think, second brother?”
Butcher Liu slapped his chest and said “Good idea, good idea. I was also thinking that way.”
Liu Yueyue nodded silently in agreement.
Thus, the matter was decided that way.
Then, teacher Liu and Liu Kai entered the room, and Zhang Xiaolong and Zhang Xiaohu were still lying on the bed. Earlier when they heard butcher Liu’s booming voice, they both tried to get up but were stopped by Guo Sufei. They could guess that their visitors this time were Liu Qing’s father and elder brother, and both tried to get up again. This time round, Liu Qing did not go forward to support Zhang Xiaolong, rather, Guo Sufei helped her son to sit up on the platform.
Teacher Liu then observed the young man before him carefully. Zhang Xiaolong was a muscular youth, whose age was around Liu Kai, with ordinary looks and thick brows and bright eyes like his father, and while his mouth was still wounded, he could see an air of dependability on him. The clothes he was wearing were not new, and there were some patches, but it was washed clean, with the appearance of being very comfortable. Zhang Xiaolong’s arm was still in his clutches and were bandaged to his chest, but the hands were rough and muscular which suggested his proficiency in farmwork.
As teacher Liu looked at the youth, whose height was about the same as his own son, but disposition was vastly different, he could not help but approve of this young man in his heart. Only someone like that would be able to ignore his own safety to help another in need.
Under the scrutiny of teacher Liu, Zhang Xiaolong’s heart began to palpitate. On seeing the other party’s awkward expression, teacher Liu then broke the silence to express his gratitude, and wished him a speedy recovery, before making some small conversations. Later, as he followed Zhang Cai out of the room, he told the latter “Elder brother Zhang sure is fortunate for having such an outstanding son.”
Zhang Cai beamed when he heard the praise, but he did not forget to stay humble and replied “Same to you, your son is also pretty outstanding himself.”
Seeing that it was midday, Zhang Cai called Guo Sufei to prepare some wine and dishes for teacher Liu. The Zhang household was obviously not as well-off as the Liu family, so the dishes that were prepared for the guests were not anything special for which Zhang Cai apologized profusely. Nevertheless, teacher Liu and butcher Liu were both not picky, and they helped themselves to their normal fare. Of them Zhang Xiaohua was the happiest among the people dining, because in his mind, he was able to eat meat for two consecutive days, and he wished that such days would come more often.
After the meal, the two Liu brothers made some idle talk with Zhang Cai, before returning to Bali Gou with the two ladies.
Zhang household was thus left with a family of invalids lying on their respective beds.
Fortunately, it was winter season, so even on normal days, the family would huddle at home to keep warm, and not leave the house to pull weeds and farm. However in this afternoon, everyone in the Zhang household felt that there was something lacking, and only when the sky began to darken, Guo Sufei realized as she was preparing dinner than the two helpful additions were not around. The members of the Zhang household also felt strange, they have been living as a family of six for many years, but after the few days when he two ladies stayed over, they actually felt that the house has lost its bustle, and began to miss the days when they were around.
After making dinner casually, Zhang Xiaohua’s mother personally helped the two elder sons to finish their meal, and then, everyone sat under the oil lamp, and Guo Sufei asked ”I wonder if Liu Qing the rest have eaten yet?”
Zhang Cai replied “Looking at the sky, they should only just reached home. It is too late for them to prepare dinner, so they are probably dining at butcher Liu’s place.”
Zhnag Xiaohua said “I am sure that is the case. It could even be that they are having five spiced meat as well.”
Guo Sufei then said “By the way, Xiaohua, what was their house like when you went over?”
Zhang Xiaohua then describe what he saw and experienced in Liu Qing and Liu Yueyues’ homes to the best of his abilities.
Actually, Guo Sufei has been meaing to inquire about the home affairs of Liu Qing’s household, but she felt that it was impolite to ask Liu Qing personally. When she met butcher Liu yesterday, she still felt that the timing was inappropriate, and after seeing the way teacher Liu and Liu Kai carried themselves, she felt a knot in her heart, and after listening to Zhang Xiaohua’s account, the knot in her heart grew even tighter, and her brows wrinkled, as she asked Zhang Cai “Old man, do you think Liu Qing is interested in our Xiaolong?”
Everyone kept their silence, but Zhang Xiaolong’s face turned a little dark. Zhang Cai replied “This would depend on fate. Whatever we say do not matter, we can only follow heaven’s will.”
Zhang Xiaohu then said “Mother, I feel that Liu Qing is meticulous, and she should have read many books, so there is no question about her knowledge, and furthermore, she can do housework really well, much better than the impulsive Liu Yueyue. From the way she took care of eldest brother, it seems that she has some interest towards him.”
Zhang Xiaohua said “Second brother, when it comes to marriage, the elder sibling must marry before the younger sibling, you do not have to worry. Even if you do not raise the matter of Liu Yueyue, mother will still consider her in her selection of a bride for you.”
Zhang Xiaohu’s face turned ugly, and he kicked Zhang Xiaohua as he replied “We are talking about eldest brother’s marriage matters, stop fooling around, Liu Yueyue and I do not have anything between us.”
Zhang Cai then said ”My second son, even if you have some interest towards her, we will still have to consider your eldest brother. From our household’s financial situation, marrying a bride into the house would already be stretching our budget, so you would have to hold that thought for a while longer.”
Guo Sufei then interrupted “Old man, what about those checks…”
Zhang Cai gave her a glare and abruptly cut her words “Do not talk about that, that money still has to be returned.”
After a while more, everyone began to feel tired, and not long after, the extinguished the oil lamp and went to their respective beds.
Zhang Xiaolong was tumbling around the entire night, unable to catch any sleep, although it was uncertain if the reason was due to the pain from his injuries, or from his worries in his heart. Nevertheless, his fumbling around did not affect Zhang Xiaohua and his dreams of bright lights.