Translator : Casualtranslator
~ Enjoy ~
That night, the atmosphere in the Zhang household was even more vibrant than during the New Year.
The weight on everyone’s mind has finally been lifted, so during dinner, Zhang Cai drank some bowls of wine to toast to his son’s recovery. After the meal, everyone continued to work under the oil lamp, as they discussed excitedly about the crops to grow, the work to do, and the tasks to be allocated to Zhang Xiaolong, Zhang Xiaohu and Zhang Xiaohua when spring arrives.
No one noticed the solemn expression on Liu Qing’s face under the wavering light of the oil lamp.
No one also noticed Zhang Xiaohua’s eyes that were full of thoughts.
On the morning of the second day, Liu Qing got out of bed unwillingly. She could not sleep the entire night and only slept a bit after the sky lightened up. She realized that her eyes were red and her pallor was poor; Guo Sufei even asked if she was feeling sick.
After breakfast, everyone continued with their tasks. February had already came, so the weather was warm and gentle. Zhang Cai and the rest were done checking their farming tools for spoilage, the crop seeds still had to be put in the sun, and seeing that the ice on the river has begun to melt, the fields should be ready to be toiled anytime soon.
While Liu Qing was helping Guo Sufei sun the seeds, she heard a voice from behind “Qingqing~”
On hearing the familiar voice, she turned her head and her gaze swept over the short walls of Zhang household’s courtyard. She saw her father, uncle butcher Liu and cousin Liu Yueyue already at the entrance.
She responded joyfully “Father~” Then, she flew over to the door and held her father’s hands. It has been almost half a month since she saw her family, naturally she would miss them. Upon seeing them now, her eyes turned red and her nose sniffled.
Liu Yueyue, who stood at the other side, said, “Elder sister, what about me? Didn’t you see me?”
Liu Qing took her hands and said, “I saw you, how would I have not? I only have one sister who is as pretty as a fairy, how could I have not seen her?”
Liu Yueyue smiled as she said, “Elder sister, look at you. Your eyes turned red just after a few days of not seeing us. In the future, you are not allowed to call me crybaby anymore. Oh my, why is your skin so pale, did you have a hard time here by yourself? But, that can’t be right. Your skin seemed to have turned smoother, and even whiter and plumper. Is your beauty already catching up to mine in just a few days?”
Liu Qing scolded jokingly, “You rascal, stop complimenting me to get on my side.”
Liu Yueyue turned anxious, and said, “It is true, elder sister. I am not lying to you. You can look at yourself in the mirror.”
A thought struck into Liu Qing’s mind, and she did not say anything further.
How would teacher Liu and butcher Liu notice these details? They treated their conversation as children teasing each other.
At this moment, Zhang Cai led his family out to welcome the visitors.
Teacher Liu immediately went up to send his greetings towards Zhang Cai, “Old brother, it has been a while. How is your body?”
Zhang Cai politely replied, “Thanks to old brother, I have fully recovered. As you can see, I am not using the clutches anymore.
Then, Zhang Xiaolong, Zhang Xiaohu and Zhang Xiaohua took their turns and offer their greetings.
Teacher Liu has seen them the last time he came over to visit. However, the two elder brothers were bedridden at that time, and only on this meeting did he notice and exclaim silently in his heart, “These two children, despite their ordinary looks and not being well read, to have such a demeanor shows that they have grown up in a good environment.” He quickly helped the boys to recover, and laughed, “It seems that the injuries on these two have healed, this is a cause of celebration. However, Xiaolong had suffered a fracture before so you will have to watch him more closely, and only allow him to work hundred days later. Do not let him impede his recovery just to finish the work in the fields earlier. Oh, that’s right, why were the clutches removed after just ten days?”
Zhang Xiaolong moved his arm vigorously and replied, “I will take note of uncle’s words. Look, my arm is more or less recovered. Even though I still can’t do heavy farm work now, it may be a different story a few days later.”
Butcher Liu interrupted, “Nephew’s body is not ordinarily sturdy. The Wang Er in our village went up the mountains to chop some firewood, got hurt and was bedridden for half a year. In just a few days, you little rascal have already gotten well. Come let me take a look.”
After finishing his sentence, he grabbed onto Zhang Xiaolong’s arm, while Liu Qing panicked and walked forward to hold on to her uncle’s hand, reprimanding, “Uncle, your arms are used to carrying hundreds of jin of meat, but Xiaolong’s arm has just recovered. If you grab his arm like that, you are going to injure him again.”
Feeling embarrassed, butcher Liu withdrew his arm and smiled, “Then I won’t take a look.”
Liu Yueyue who was at a side seemed to notice something, and she nudged Liu Qing with her elbow while sending her signals with her eyes.
Liu Qing’s flushed again, and her movements turned awkward.
Fortunately at this moment, teacher Liu turned to look at Zhang Xiaohua whom he had taken a liking to and stroked his head, “Xiaohua, we have not met in a few days and you have grown that much. I think that by this year, you will be able to catch up to your elder brothers. Furthermore, your eyes look brighter and wiser.”
These words were not false; when teacher Liu first saw Zhang Xiaohua, the latter was just beaten up the bullies and was still worrying about his father and elder brothers, naturally he would look dejected and listless. However, his family has recovered now, so his mood was naturally not bad. Thus, he would look different.
Zhang Xiaohua was obedient, and he replied humbly, “Uncle, this is due to elder sister Liu. She has not only looked after eldest brother, helped our mother with the housework, she had taught me many things as well. With her guidance, I would naturally grow more sensible.”
These words made teacher Liu happy, and he laughed, “Good boy, good boy. Old brother, I am jealous of you for producing these good children.”
Zhang Cai replied humbly, “We only tried our best, and they hardly read any books. Old brother must be jesting.”
Teacher Liu did not agree and said, “It is true, I mean that. The boys have innately good temperament. Even if you were to find a million families, it will be hard to find children as good as these.”
Butcher Liu interrupted, “You two better not start, we are all already closely acquainted. I have walked for the whole afternoon, my throat is so parched that it is about emit smoke, let’s hurry into the house to drink some water.
When Zhang Cai and teacher Liu heard him, they broke into peals of laughter and hurriedly led everyone back into the common room.
Since the water was just boiled, Guo Sufei went into the room to make some tea, while Liu Yueyue took advantage of the time to ask Liu Qing, “So elder sister, are you interested in that Zhang Xiaolong?”
Liu Qing reddened and said, “What interest, when did I have that?”
Liu Yueyue continued to tease her, “Look at you getting embarrassed like a young lady in love, when are you going to admit it?”
Liu Qing replied, “You little rascal, when did you learn to talk so much? Didn’t you come here to see Zhang Xiaohu?”
Upon hearing her retort, Liu Yueyue said evenly, “Elder sister, these words are not right. Have you forgotten what we said before? Although Zhang Xiaolong and Zhang Xiaohu are good men who even saved us, my ideal type is a scholar with a wealth of knowledge and handsome appearance. The two of them are farmers so I would have to stay at home and do housekeeping chores if I marry them. I was indeed feeling grateful and had some good feelings towards him at that time, but after I went back home to think through carefully, I have decided not to jump into this stove. Elder sister, you have to understand that this is a decision that will affect our future happiness. If we make a mistake, we will have to live with regrets for rest of our lives.”
Liu Qing turned solemn and said, “You are right, Yueyue, I had thought of this too which is why I hesitated for so long. Even though I wished my future husband to be a scholar, but among all these scholars I have met, none had the courage or disposition of Zhang Xiaolong. Despite knowing for only a month, my feelings are deeper than people whom I know for many years. I can’t really explain this feeling, and I believe that both our choices are not wrong, because we all have the freedom to make our own decisions.”
Liu Yueyue said bitterly, “Elder sister, even if you have not made the wrong choice, in the future…”
Liu Qing interrupted, “It is too early to talk about these matters, I have not made my final decision yet.”
Liu Yueyue did not pursue the matter any further, and the two continued to walk quietly.
Not long after, Guo Sufei brought the tea leaves and boiled water out, while Liu Qing prepared the tea and the three of them returned to the common room.
Within the common room, the people inside were having a happy and engaging conversation.
Liu Qing distributed the tea and then sat down quietly, thinking of the matters in her heart.
The people in Zhang household had already gotten used to the tea, and did not pay much attention to it. Butcher Liu was like a buffalo, gulping it down without tasting it. Liu Yueyue was also preoccupied with her thoughts and only had a few sips, and she did not even see Zhang Xiaohu’s gaze towards her.
Only teacher Liu, after having several sips, was surprised and stopped talking.
After seeing teacher Liu’s reaction, Zhang Cai asked urgently, “Old brother, is there a problem with the tea? Isn’t it good?”
Teacher Liu replied, “No, there is no problem. In fact, it is too good, what kind of tea is this?”
Zhang Cai said embarrassingly, “Honestly, I do not know. We only started drinking this recently, this is the tea the Liu Qing brought from your house.”
Teacher Liu turned around and asked Liu Qing, “Qingqing, is this tea made from the tea leaves at home?”
Liu Qing was distracted by her thoughts, and upon hearing her father’s question, she blurted, “Sorry father, what did you ask?”