Translator : Casualtranslator
~ Enjoy ~
On the way back home from Bali Gou, Zhang Cai kept recalling the words of teacher Liu. “The reason I let Qingqing take care of Xiaolong was to repay his act of sacrifice, but I would never expect that it would come to this. Now that Xiaolong is almost fully recovered, I am planning to bring Qingqing back in a few days’ time. Otherwise, it will be inappropriate for Qingqing to stay there any longer.”
How could Zhang Cai have replied? There was already quite some difference between their families’ backgrounds; Xiaolong was a farm boy who could not match up to a learned lady like Liu Qing. In the eyes of Zhang’s household, Liu Qing was like a phoenix, but there was no parasol tree in Zhang household, so why would the golden phoenix roost in their place? Even though Liu Qing had some attraction towards Zhang Xiaolong, and was willing to live together in the Zhang household, who knows if her mindset would change after they started living together for real? Rather than to have a disharmonious future, it would be better to abandon their hopes of such a good daughter-in-law, no matter how hard it was to accept the fact now.
Zhang Cai was thinking these thoughts as he sighed, and his worried expression did not soften throughout the whole trip back to Guo village.
Zhang Xiaolong was full of anticipation as he waited at home, and was looking forward to the good news when he saw Zhang Cai’s downcast expression as the latter entered the door. Knowing that the proposal did not go well, he quickly poured a cup of water while Zhang Cai plopped his butt onto the chair and rested. After drinking some water, Zhang Cai repeated the words that teacher Liu said to him, and everyone listened silently. Finally, Guo Sufei asked Zhang Cai, “Should we inform our mother about this?”
Zhang Cai deliberated, and said, “Not for now. Mother knows that we went to propose during the day, and would have told her immediately if we bore good news. Since we did not inform her, she would have guess the result. Oh right, where is Liu Qing?”
Guo Sufei pointed to the room and said, ”When she saw the both of you returned, she went in and hide out of embarrassment. I will tell her to come out and let her know of her father’s choice, so that she can pack her things in advance.”
Zhang Xiaolong quipped from the side, “Mother, I will inform her instead. I guess that Qingqing would be unwilling to go back, so there is no need to pack yet.”
Guo Sufei looked at her son who was still drown in love, and said, “Alright, you go ahead. Perhaps Qingqing could persuade her father otherwise.”
Not long after, Liu Qing followed behind Zhang Xiaolong as she left the room while her face was slightly pale. She did not say anything as she saw everyone, and quietly sat on a chair at the corner. Everyone else also sat down and looked quietly at her. Actually, Liu Qing’s mind was in turmoil; her father had always paid attention about her wants and would seldom reject her requests, especially when it came to her marriage. Whenever a family would come to propose, her father would not express his opinion and act based on her decision. Perhaps her father did not believe Zhang Cai’s words, or he really wanted her to marry after her elder brother? Thinking of the latter case, she became worried because her elder brother had high expectations and the women in the villages nearby could not meet them, so by the time her brother gets married she would have become an old maid.
When she raised her head, her gaze intersected with everyone else, and she forced a smile, “In the next few days when my father comes to pick me up, I will ask him about his thoughts.”
Then, she nodded towards Zhang Xiaolong who broke into a gentle smile.
That evening, dinner was not a relaxed one as everyone hurriedly took a few bites and cleaned up soon after. When Guo Sufei went to deliver the grandmother her food, the grandmother asked about the news they Zhang Cai returned with. Guo Sufei hesitated, and before she could speak, the grandmother interrupted, “It is alright, Sufei, I know very well the situation of our family. Our few children may be outstanding, but with their family backgrounds like this, being ditched would be a natural affair. Just leave it up to their fates. Sooner or later, they will all get married eventually.”
When Guo Sufei heard her mother’s words, her thoughts were mixed. She was happy that her mother could see things clearer than her, but was upset that she could not fulfill her mother’s last wish.
Everyone was not in the mood to work after their dinner, so they chatted idly before going to bed. Only Zhang Cai and Guo Sufei were along in the main room discussing in low voices for a long period before they eventually turned in to bed as well.
No oil lamp was lit in the house, so Guo Sufei walked to her bed in the darkness, and was lying on it while thinking of the discussion she had with Zhang Cai earlier when she heard Liu Qing tossed around, so she asked the latter, “Are you still thinking of your father’s words?”
“Yes, auntie.” Liu Qing replied.
Guo Sufei said, “Qingqing, your father was doing what he thought was best for you. You are still young after all, and have not gone through enough experiences. Your father would have his own ideas, and would hope that you lead a comfortable life in the future. We call understand his intentions, and we also feel that we are unable to provide you with enough. When your father was young, you mother passed away because your family’s situation was not well off, and it became a lifelong regret for him. Thus, I think he wants you to find a learned man who can exchange conversations with you, just like your elder brother, because that should be the life that you deserve. Even though I feel that my son Xiaolong is pretty good, our family situation is indeed not as well off and thus cannot send him to school. This is also part of life, after all, who would not want the best for their children?”
“I understand, auntie. I have an inkling of my father’s thoughts. While I still think that living a comfortable life with a learned man would make me happy, I also think that a simple life on the farm can bring happiness. Even though the times may get tough, but I can make a difference with it using own two hands. Furthermore, I am not like my mother whose body was weak, I was born in the village and even if I have no experience working on a farm, I believe I am able to adapt as well as any other villager.” Liu Qing said indignantly.
Guo Sufei smiled and said, “Qingqing, I can see that you are a person who is unwilling to bend. Actually, a marriage is not just the matters of two people, you will have to enter a new household and adapt to their ways while giving up on your own. Furthermore, every household has its own problems, and any of these problems may spoil the dream life that you are thinking of now.”
Liu Qing said, “I already know these things, auntie. When I was at home, neither my father nor brother knew any housework so I had to do these things by myself. I believe that I have sufficient preparation for whatever ahead. Furthermore… furthermore, during my stay here, I felt that the household atmosphere was very homely which is not the case at my own home, so I think that I can adapt easily into this household.”
Her words became softer as she spoke, as though she was embarrassed.
“In addition, the most important thing is Xiaolong. I feel that he is good in many ways, and I do not wish his family’s background to become an impediment to my happiness. Actually, I have already thought of it before, while I do not have many things to talk about with Xiaolong, I can teach him to read, and he has also agreed to it, so I believe that our lives in the future will still be happy.” As she finished her last sentence, Liu Qing’s voice was almost inaudible. Fortunately, it was pitch black and her embarrassment was hidden by the darkness, or she would not have the courage to say these words out.
Guo Sufei felt relieved as she heard these words, she also comforted Liu Qing, “Qingqing, auntie is very happy that you have shared these words with her. As you can see, our family is very happy when you are around, not just Xiaolong alone. You uncle and I have also treated you as our daughter-in-law, and Xiaohua and Xiaohu can’t wait to call you their sister-in-law. We will try our best to get you married into our house. Do you still remember the time at Lu town when the bullies gave us their checks as compensation?”
Liu Qing replied, “Oh, I would have forgotten if you did not raise this up. It was indeed a large sum of money.”
Guo Sufei continued, “I had just discussed with your uncle, if your father is obstructing us because of our financial situation, then we plan to use these checks to give your father a sense of security.”
Liu Qing immediately objected, as she said, “Auntie, we must never use that money. If the bullies in Lu town found out that the checks have been used, then won’t we be stepping into their trap? If we are not a hundred percent sure, we should never touch that money, or we will lose the normal lives we have now. Furthermore, my father is not someone who is money-minded, I believe that he has some other ideas, and I will wait for him to share them with me first.”
Guo Sufei also agreed, “That is right, I have also said that to your uncle, but he was as stubborn as a bull. I guess that he is afraid that your father will take you away. Anyway, once your father arrives, ask him about his thoughts. Anyway, I think that if Xiaolong is unable to marry you, then perhaps no other lady will catch his eyes and he would stay unmarried his whole life?”
Liu Qing smiled as she replied, “Look at you, auntie. How am I that good? Meeting Xiaolong was part of our fates anyway.”
Guo Sufei said, “Yes, fate. While fate can bring two people together, it is unable to get them to marry and form a family with each other. Whatever, it is late so we should sleep and replenish our energy to take care of this family tomorrow.”
Liu Qing said, “Yes, auntie. You should sleep early too.”
After sharing the thoughts in her heart, Liu Qing felt her burden lightened and slept soon after. Hearing Liu Qing’s thoughts, Guo Sufei was also extremely happy. Even if this girl was unable to become her daughter-in-law, she would still wish for her to find happiness elsewhere. As she thought to herself, she slowly fell asleep as well.
Except that in the opposite room, Zhang Cai and Zhang Xiaolong were unable to sleep, and were unsure of when they ever could.