Translator : Casualtranslator
~ Enjoy ~
Liu Qing continued to explain, “When Mr Wu found the treasure, he did not have the power to hold on to it. Such a situation is called ‘Other people hold a knife while I hold a fish’. Without any power for self-protection, one can only wait to get robbed off all the benefits. However, hero Wen has profound martial skills, and thus the power to protect his possessions, although that would depend on the abilities of his opponent. If his opponent is stronger than hero Wen, then hero Wen will be robbed, and he may even lose his life. If his opponent was weaker, then of course he will be fine. Next, you will have to look at the value of the treasure, there will be people above other people and heavens higher than the sky. If the treasure is exceedingly precious, then there will always be someone who would come to rob you for it.”
Zhang Xiaohua excitedly said, “Elder sister, so if one knows martial skills, he can then protect his own possessions, and the higher his skills are, the more precious treasure he can hold on to.”
Liu Qing smiled and replied, “Yes, Xiaohua is correct.”
Zhang Xiaohua then said, “If I know martial arts, then if there is a conflict in the future, father, eldest brother, second brother will not get hurt, and elder sister will not be bullied.”
Upon hearing, Liu Qing’s expression turned dark as she asked, “But how can martial arts be easily learnt?”
Zhang Xiaohua optimistically replied, “Do not worry, elder sister. I will definitely pick up martial arts to protect all of you.”
Liu Qing replied jovially, “Okay, then I will be relying on hero Zhang in the future.”
Then, she continued, “Sometimes, martial arts are like a treasure, you cannot share them with anyone. It is necessary to preserve a hidden card for the worst case scenario.”
Zhang Xiaohua pondered thoughtfully and asked, “How does elder sister know so much?”
Liu Qing replied, “These are written on the books, if you are well read, you will naturally learn more about the world. In the future, Xiaohua has to read many books, and gain more knowledge. However, what is the use of knowing so much? When faced with absolute power, all knowledge become as useless as paper.”
Liu Qing did not mind as she shared the things she learnt from among the books she read, while Zhang Xiaohua hungrily listened, and these viewpoints which Liu Qing shared would eventually influence the future him deeply.
In the midst of their conversation, the two of them had already reached the entrance of the Zhang household courtyard, and by this time, the sun had already descended onto the mountains. As the last ray of sunlight gets enveloped into darkness, the chilly winter wind rose, while everyone else had already returned into the house. Zhang Xiaohua was smiling secretly in his heart because he has succeeded in his afternoon mission. He asked, “Elder sister, after reading so many books, you will have to share their contents with me in the days ahead, as well as to teach my eldest brother how to read and write, If not you will have nothing to talk about.”
Liu Qing casually replied, “Sure, you can count on me.”
Then, she realized the implications of the words, and thought that this Xiaohua is more than meets the eye. However, she soon set the matter aside as she thought, “This surrounding fence is too short, there is no privacy at all within the courtyard, I should work on it when I have the time.” Without realizing it herself, she has already adopted the mindset of the young mistress of the household.
The interior of the house was warm; Zhang Cai was talking to Zhang Xiaolong and Zhang Xiaohu on the platform, and when Liu Qing entered the house, the three men huddle closer to make space for her. Guo Sufei was already preparing dinner, and when she saw Zhang Xiaohua brought the bucket of water into the house, she asked, “Why did you bring the bucket beside the well home?”
Zhang Xiaohua replied, “Mother, the bucket is filled with water from the well. Elder sister Liu said that she has brought some tea leaves from home, so we can use the water in here to make some tea.”
Guo Sufei replied, “What is so good about tea, it tastes so bitter, even plain water tastes better.”
Zhang Xiaohua laughed as he said, “Mother, that is because you have not tasted good tea. Do you think that all the tea in the world tastes as bitter as the one in Old Guo’s house? The previous time when I went to elder sister’s house, I had really delicious tea there.”
Liu Qing also said, “Auntie, you will know after you try it.”
Hearing Liu Qing’s persuasion, Guo Sufei also smiled and replied, “Alright, we will follow as Qingqing says.”
Then, Liu Qing filled the kettle with water from the well and placed it on the stove.
The three men who heard Zhang Xiaohua also stood up to see if they could help.
Soon after, the water began to boil, and since the Zhang household did not own a teapot, Liu Qing placed some of the tea leaves in a rice bowl and submerged the leaves in hot water.
As Zhang Cai and the rest watched the tea being prepared, and the aroma of tea wafting through the room, he exclaimed, “Is this tea? How can it be so refreshing?”
Everyone beared the scalding heat as they downed the tea greedily. After finishing their bowls, they all asked for more. Liu Qing replied, “If you drink too much of this tea, you will not be able to sleep well tonight. If you would like another cup, then it will have to wait till after dinner.”
Everyone naturally listened to the expert.
Liu Qing did not forget the grandmother as she carefully brought a bowl of tea for her to taste.
Dinner was the usual fare*, and everyone was in high spirits as they drank the tea. In the night, apart from grandmother, Liu Qing and Zhang Xiaohua, everyone was still wide awake. Grandmother and Liu Qing did not have much tea, whereas Zhang Xiaohua drank the most. Nevertheless, not long after, the latter returned to his dreamland of flickering bright lights.
*TN: Chinese phrase, coarse tea and bland rice, the author made a joke about the tea.
After dinner that day, Guo Sufei kept the bowls and made another batch of tea with the well water for the family, not forgetting to bring a bowl to this grandmother’s room.
When she entered the room, the grandmother woke up and asked, “Sufei, is that you?”
She answered, “Yes mother, I have brought you a bowl of tea that Liu Qing brought from home.”
The grandmother asked, “Haven’t we already had some before dinner? Qingqing said that these should be drunk sparingly during the night.”
Guo sufei replied, “I know mother, I have come for a different matter.”
The grandmother was confused, “What other matter, why must we be so secretive?”
Guo Sufei asked, “Mother, what do you think of this child Liu Qing? Why did you have to be so direct in the afternoon?”
The grandmother replied, “Sigh, Sufei-ah. I feel that this child is too good. She is good at housework, is well-read, and Xiaohua says that she is pretty to boot, and her family background is also well off. I am afraid that our Xiaolong cannot match up to her.”
Guo Sufei sighed as she continued, “Yes, mother, that is how I felt as well. However, I can tell that she is pretty satisfied with Xiaolong, just that I have not found the opportunity to ask her one-to-one. After what you did this afternoon, I am not sure on how to ask her anymore.”
The grandmother replied, “Qingqing is only one part of the picture; we will still need the approval of her family. From what Xiaohua has told me, they are a family of scholars and are not used to farm work. Their uncles is also a butcher, so there may be some obstacles in communicating with a farming household like ours. Furthermore, their family is quite well off, so it is really difficult to say.”
Guo Sufei said softly, “Precisely because of this, my intentions was to let Qingqing spend more time with Xiaolong, so that if they can cultivate a good relationship, it may help to make the marriage more of a reality.”
The grandmother paused for a moment, and then sighed deeply, “Sufei-ah, it is not that I do not know where you are coming from, but my body has been feeling weaker as time passes. Your father has appeared in my dreams many times to pick me up. I feel that my days are numbered, which was why I acted that way this afternoon. I really want to see my grandson get the girl he likes, and possibly even participate in his wedding.”
As her words came out, Guo Sufei tears started to fall. She wiped her eyes silently, and said, “Mother, you do not have to worry too much. Your dreams only that, just dreams. You will definitely live to see your great grandson.”
The grandmother stroke Guo Sufei’s hair as she said, “Sufei-ah, your mother is well aware of her own health. I have lived a long life, and seen you grow up to marry, form your own family, and even watched Xiaolong, Xiaohu and Xiaohua grow up. I am already contented with my life, and the words this afternoon were from a moment of rashness. The girl has only arrived for a few days, so it is not the appropriate time to talk about marriage matters yet. You must look after this family well, and if the girl is willing to marry Xiaolong, then it will be his and our family’s fortune.”
Guo Sufei continued to chat with the grandmother for a while longer, before getting up and leave. She tried some of the tea which has already turned cold, and poured it into the courtyard before looking at the figure of her mother in the darkness. She was well aware that ever since she gave birth, most of her energy and attention has been placed onto her children, and she had seldom cared or thought of her mother. She always felt that her mother was like a large tress which would always provide her with shade, but after hearing her mother’s words today, she realized that she has overlooked too many things. People would only realize the things they have taken for granted after they lose them, and she felt that she should have cherished her mother more.”
Regardless of regret or self-disappointment, the only thing she could do now was to pick up the scattered pieces.
Guo Sufei dejectedly walked back into the main room where Liu Qing was doing embroidery under the lamp. Seeing Guo Sufei’s expression, Liu Qing quickly stood up and took the bowl from her hands, asking, “Auntie, what is the matter?”
Guo Sufei forced a smile and said, “Nothing is the matter, I am just a little tired.” Then, she glanced towards the room where Zhang Cai and her sons were in. Seeing that she did not elaborate any further, Liu Qing sat down again and continued with her embroidery, while occasionally glancing at Guo Sufei.
The men in the other room where sipping tea while talking about farm work, while one of them was lying down nursing his injuries. Guo Sufei did not talk much, and said, “Go to bed early. Xiaohua, take good care of your grandmother tonight.”
The men agreed without looking up.
Guo Sufei did not mind, and she continued back to her room, instead of returning to the main room to continue the embroidery.
Liu Qing was surprised, but since Guo Sufei did not wish to discuss the matter with her, she did not try to force it out of her.
As the night grew later, everyone slowly went back to their respective sleeping platforms, and only then did Liu Qing return to her room. The lamp was still lit, but Guo Sufei was already asleep. Thus, Liu Qing extinguished the light and lay down to sleep.