Translator : Casualtranslator
~ Enjoy ~
Teacher Liu opened the door, and it was Liu Qing who came to inform that dinner was ready.
Even though dinner that night was quite rushed, it was still sumptuous as most of it was made in Liu Yueyue’s house. Liu Qing only prepared some additional dishes and embellished some of the already completed ones, which led the people who had not eaten her food for a long time to wolf down the food ravenously. The host of the dinner then came out with a long speech, and butcher Liu’s family understood teacher Liu’s meaning and were equally happy for Liu Qing. However, the Zhang household has not officially proposed, so his words still sounded quite premature.
Everyone was happy, only Xiaohu was stealing glances at Liu Yueyue from the corners of his eyes, but unfortunately, Liu Yueyue did not pay him any attention which led him to feel disappointed.
After the meal, they chatted for a little longer, before Liu Qing who had walked for half the morning yawned, and thus, Liu Kai arranged the two Zhang brothers a room for them to stay overnight, while butcher Liu and his family went back home to rest.
Early in the morning of the next day, the two Zhang brothers were about to set off to return to Guo village. Liu Qing decided to stay at her own house for few more days partly die to homesickness, and because she too embarrassed to be present when Zhang Xiaolong discussed the marriage arrangements with his parents. Teacher Liu reminded Zhang Xiaolong to explain to Zhang Cai the reasons for his previous rejection and to pick an auspicious date to come over to propose.
Zhang Xiaolong agreed readily with a wide smile on his face, and thus the two men set off under the reluctant eyes of Liu Qing.
The journey to Bali Gou was sweet and full of romance, whereas the journey back was full of joy and elation.
After returning to Guo village, they could see from afar that the whole family was standing in the courtyard looking out and waiting for their arrival. The whole family, apart from Xiaohua, appeared to not have rested well last night. When he saw that Zhang Xiaolong and Zhang Xiaohu has returned, Zhang Xiaohua was the first to jump and run towards them, asking joyfully, “Eldest brother, how was it? Does our family have something to look forward to? Ah……Why didn’t elder sister Qingqing not return with you? Could it be…”
Zhang Xiaohua did not dare to continue his question.
Even before Zhang Xiaolong could speak up, Zhang Xiaohu said irately, “Can’t you see the peach blossom on eldest brother’s face, he is so happy that he can’t even close his mouth. You should help me take over this bottle in my hands which I have carried for the whole journey.”
Only then did Zhang Xiaohua became excited again, but he did not take the bottle from Zhang Xiaohu and instead sped back home to share the good news.
Upon receiving the good news, Zhang Cai and Guo Sufei were naturally happy and they rushed to the entrance of the courtyard to welcome their son home. Zhang Xiaolong and Zhang Xiaohu were clustered all the way to the courtyard like heroes, and after Zhang Xiaolong sat on his chair, gulped down the water that Zhang Xiaohua served, he recounted the events in Bali Gou to the delight of Zhang Cai and Guo Sufei. When Zhang Xiaolong told them about teacher Liu’s apology as well as his request for the Zhang household to pick an auspicious time, the couple’s joy was mixed with worry. They were joyful because teacher Liu was as reasonable as they expected, and is a worthy friend to know. Of course, they will become relatives soon so he would become a dependable relative to rely on. However, they were worried because the betrothal gift should be extravagant, but their family was not well off, so it posed a problem to them. While they are not concerned about themselves, they were afraid that their gift will cause teacher Liu to lose face, yet if they spend too much, they may not be able to afford the price and may even burden the future lives of Zhang Xiaolong and Liu Qing.
However, these matters can be left for later, because the entire household wanted to celebrate the joyous occasion and pick an auspicious date first. Guo Sufei also shared this news happily with the grandmother who was already bedridden, which made the latter so excited that even her face turned red.
Thus, the Zhang household was immersed in a joyous mood for the next few days, and when spring officially began, Zhang Xiaolong’s spring also arrived at the same time. Zhang Cai and Guo Sufei were busy with the matters of the betrothal, while the three children were busy working on the fields. The days grew warmer as time passed, and the ground began to thaw, while the gentle spring wind kept blowing onto their faces as it reminding them that it was time to plant their crops soon.
The custom for proposing was actually very simple, that is the parents of the groom will prepare all sorts of gifts while preparing the eight numbers which represents the time of birth of the groom, and they will visit the bride’s family who will accept the gifts and pass over the eight numbers of the bride, and by then the proposal would be considered complete. Of course, there were people who went the extra mile and record the time of the exchange, while others would have multiple visits for different stages of discussions. Even the gifts became more extravagant as it is human nature to be jealous and petty, so the gifts became a competition up to the point where some people would just give money, or even gold.
However, this custom of gifts became a source of problem for the two Zhang parents.
Zhang Cai felt that Liu Qing was a good daughter-in-law so they should present a better gift to display how much they treasure her, and to give teacher Liu some face among the village. Guo Sufei felt that their family should not spend more than they can afford, so the gifts cannot be too expensive. If not, their lives would be hard even before the bride marries into the house.
Zhang Cai was actually well aware of the reality, and he had such thoughts in the beginning. However, he thought back to the few hundred silvers that were hidden at home; with the money, they could make this proposal a successful one without any worries. Whenever he raise this matter, Guo Sufei would become worried and mention how she previously shared this with Liu Qing and the latter insisted that they do not touch the money. Yet, since they have the money, why aren’t they using it? It has already been over a month and no one had come to make any troubles for them, so it was likely that the other party had truly meant the money as compensation. If so, the money now belonged to them rightfully, so what was the problem in spending some?
Over time, the difference in opinions seemed to collapse, and both couple decided to use the checks. Thus, Guo Sufei took the checks and the plaque out from the drawer, and then called Zhang Xiaolong into the room.
Zhang Xiaolong’s injuries were healing at a very fast pace so he no longer had to restrain the movements on his arm and only has to watch out for heavier things to lift. When Zhang Xiaolong entered the room, he asked, “Father, mother, what is the matter? I am about to go to the fields to loosen the soil.”
Guo Sufei said tenderly, “Your arm has not fully recovered yet, so you should not overwork yourself and let Xiaohu and Xiaohua do more of the work.”
Zhang Xiaolong smiled as he replied, “I have lain on the bed for a month until my bones feel rusty, so it feels even more comfortable to start working again. Furthermore, Xiaohua’s body is still growing so how can we let him do more of the work?”
Zhang Cai said, “I know that you are feeling very energetic now so we will not stop you. Just remember that you have many days ahead to look forward to so you should look after you own body better.”
Zhang Xiaolong replied, “I got it, father, so what is the matter? It can’t be that you called me in just to rest?”
Guo Sufei said, “It is like this, your father and I are planning to go Bali Gou one of these days to propose to Qingqing, but we are unable to prepare a bride price of suitable value. Hence, we have decided to cash those checks to get enough money.”
After she finished her sentence, she placed two pieces of the checks as well as the plaque in front of Zhang Xiaolong, and pointed to the plaque saying, “You should hold on to this thing first. If something happens while you are cashing out the checks, this thing might end up useful.”
Zhang Xiaolong looked at the gentle expressions on his parents’ face, and then at the checks and plaque, and he sighed without picking them up. He said, “Father, mother, haven’t we agreed not use these checks?”
Zhang Cai smiled bitterly as he replied, “Yes, we did agree to do so at that time. However, the situation has changed, and we are unable to afford a proper bride price, so wouldn’t Liu Qing’s family suffer a loss of their face?”
Zhang Xiaolong replied, “Father, if our financial situation is not good, then there is no need to go through so much expense. Liu Qing has not agreed to marry in our family because of our background, and during the days when I was in Liu household, teacher Liu had told me many times that he is aware of our situation so he did not mention any requirements on the bride price, and I do not think we have to care about protecting anyone’s face.”
Guo Sufei said, “Xiaolong-ah, even if the other party did not raise the matter up, it does not mean that they do not care. No one will be unhappy if they receive more presents, so it is best if we made the preparations.”
Zhang Xiaolong insisted, “We can’t do so, mother. I cannot put our family in danger just to marry my wife. These checks will only invite trouble, and we must never use them.”
Guo Sufei said, “I have discussed this many times with your father. Since they have not looked for us during this month, it should be fine. Furthermore, we have this plaque so they might not necessarily dare to do anything to us.”
Zhang Xiaolong smiled bitterly and said, “Mother, this plaque was given to us by heroine Xue so that we can protect ourselves when the bullies come to stir up trouble. Do not touch these checks, so that when the bullies come to our doorstep, we can return the money immediately. Otherwise, what can we do if we do not have the money to repay them?”
Zhang Cai and Guo Sufei were dumbfounded, it was not because they were unaware of this fact, but they were too concerned about their son’s marriage that they have forgotten about it.
Zhang Xiaolong continued, “The Liu household admires us not because of any material benefits we can bring, instead, don’t we possess something more precious than money? And there will be many opportunities for us to give it to teacher Liu in the future.”
Zhang Cai smiled bitterly as he asked, “What do we have that is more precious than money? Why do I not know about it?”
Zhang Xiaolong smiled mysterious, and said the following sentences.