Translator : Casualtranslator
~ Enjoy ~
On this day, teacher Liu and butcher Liu bade their farewells to Zhang Cai, Zhang Xiaohu and Liu Qing who had walked to the village entrance to send them off. Zhang Cai promised again that he would find the Guo village elder as soon as possible to discuss the matter of teacher Liu’s moving. Teacher Liu expressed in return that he was willing to wait until the Zhang household had settled. Everyone then split apart.
The next few days were peaceful but lonely as everyone had not gotten used to life without the grandmother, they would think of the latter once in awhile and tears would form in their eyes as they find themselves looking towards the grandmother’s room.
Zhang Xiaohu and Zhang Xiaohua had moved into the grandmother’s room, and the two were not afraid as there were still the warm memories lingering around which made them feel safe. Zhang Xiaolong and Liu Qing stayed in the room beside the main room which was already meant for the newlyweds. However, Zhang Xiaolong has gotten himself injured again, so he could only stay in bed as Liu Qing attended to his injuries.
It was already the beginning of March and the other households in Guo village were near the end of their spring farming. The Zhang household was preoccupied with the wedding and funeral, and thus could only begin with their work on that day. Furthermore, Zhang Xiaolong was still not suited for work, so the others had to put in more effort to cover his absence. Fortunately, Zhang Xiaohua’s strength has risen tremendously, and although it cannot be sustained for long, it was very effective for toiling on the fields. Hence, he could finish the work on his small plot of field quickly and went over to help Zhang Cai and Zhang Xiaohu. In the end, the three men were working on the field while Guo Sufei and Liu Qing were busy preparing the meals and doing the laundry, everyone tried to keep themselves busy to forget their sadness which will slowly erode with time leaving only a painless scar in their hearts.
Maybe the Piaomiao’s medicines were effective, or perhaps the spring water from the Zhang household’s well had mysterious properties, but whatever the case, Zhang Xiaolong’s healed at a fast pace and the rosiness on his face grew more robust as the days passed. By the time the spring field works were more or less done, most of his injuries have healed. Fortunately, Zhang Xiaolong did not get his injuries treated by the animal doctor old Chen, or the latter will be misled to think that his medicines are super-effective again.
Seeing that the crop seeds were waiting to germinate in the fields, the Zhang household heaved a sigh of relief as their busy days which were the best remedy to their sorrow has ended. Now that things were slower, everyone started to reminisce and visit the gravesites from time to time.
Humans are actually strange creatures, the grandfather had passed away so many years ago and the Zhang household would visit his gravesite every year on the festival to commemorate the ancestors in a refreshing mood. However, after the grandmother passed away, everyone would feel as though they were reliving a nightmare. According to Zhang Xiaohua’s words, this grandfather was someone he had not met before but the grandmother had doted on him for all his life, so it was natural for him to be more attached to the latter.
Every time they went to visit the grandmother, Zhang Xiaohua would feel self-blame and regret. The time he spent kneeling in front of the grandmother’s gravesite did not decrease as the time goes by, and instead became more solemn than before. Perhaps, he would never return to the innocent and carefree lifestyle of the past.
However, he did not know what his next step should be.
Must he leave his home in order to learn martial art?
Upon seeing that the weather has already turned warm and Zhang Xiaolong’s injuries were mostly healed, Liu Qing thought of her plan to bring her father into the neighborhood again so she pulled Zhang Xiaolong to find Zhang Cai to discuss on the matter.
Zhang Cai only remember then that he still owe his in-laws a favor, and because the matters in his house and the outstanding work in the field concerns the livelihood of his entire family, he had concentrated all his resources into dealing with them and in the process forgotten of his promise. Nevertheless, it had not been too long since they part, so he hurriedly prepared some presents and went with Guo Sufei to visit the village elder. What he thought would be an easy matter turned out otherwise for a simple reason. There were not many children who could read in the village, and they could not find a teacher in the past so the school had not been in use for several years. Thus, it was demolished to make way for a new settlement, and should teacher Liu come, there will not be a place for him to stay or teach.
Zhang Cai was upset, how could the village elder be so myopic to not see that the children cannot learn to read because the village has no school? In the past, he was not far-sighted enough to send his children to read, and after several interactions with teacher Liu, he found that the illiterate him had not much to say and the things he said were of less substance when conversing with the teacher. Hence, he regretted not starving a little more to send his children to study. This village elder sure had his work cut out for him, to break the future of the village with his own hands and force children who want to learn to go to another village instead. However, all these made Zhang Cai more determined to bring teacher Liu into Guo village.
Since there was not available living quarters, Zhang Cai had to take a step back. He first asked if teacher Liu was allowed to migrate over, and if he could choose the location of his quarters. All matters of the Guo village were governed by the elder so his approval was required for such a request. Without his approval, the person who moved in will find difficulties living harmoniously with the rest of the villagers.
The village elder had met teacher Liu during the grandmother’s funeral and formed a good impression of the latter during then. To allow someone of his character to move in was a benefit to the village as a whole, at the very least no one will be troubled to find a scholar in the village in the future. Thus, the village elder did not reject the request, and he even offered a hand when teacher Liu starts building or renovating his house. Upon hearing this, Zhang Cai thanked the elder on teacher Liu’s behalf before he left.
When Zhang Cai returned and relayed the elder’s approval to Zhang Xiaolong and Liu Qing, the latter two were naturally happy as well. Actually, the two had not planned to use the school even though it would be more convenient to move into a ready-made house, because a house built by one’s one hands would be more comfortable and belong to oneself.
There was a small pond behind the Zhang household’s house, and the pond is surrounded by bamboos. Across the pond was an empty space which was overgrown with weeds and usually littered with rubbish. However, if they could clean it up, it would make a suitable courtyard that is in close proximity to water. Furthermore, they could cultivate lotuses on the pond, and there would be an abundance of lotus leaves in autumn, while the bamboo forest on its side also looked elegant. Hence, Liu Qing was satisfied when she inspected the area and she believed that teacher Liu would feel the same way.
However, there were weeds abound and teacher Liu would feel vexed if he saw the plot of space then. Thus, the Zhang brothers gathered their hands and tidied the area up so that teacher Liu could have a better impression and make a better decision when he came.
When teacher Liu received the news and went over to Guo village, the plot of space and the pond were already tidied up. Upon seeing the scenery, teacher Liu grabbed Zhang Cai’s hands excitedly and was at a loss of words. The environment was very suitable, it was close enough to the village, and there were sounds of the gentle breeze rustling through the bamboo forest, while the pond was large enough to launch a boat on and would provide inspiration to teacher Liu’s word. In short, teacher Liu was very pleased with the plot of space.
After receiving teacher Liu’s confirmation, the Zhang household naturally went to work. Teacher Liu first forked out the money for the house construction materials, while the Zhang household naturally provided the labor. The village elder even got some idle labor from the village to help out, and the small courtyard and house started to form semblance of its final look.
There was not many to do in the fields at that time, the farmers only had to water their crops and pull out the weeds. Hence, the Zhang household was mostly busy with building the house, and Zhang Xiaolong even took the construction project as light exercise for his rehabilitation. By the time the house was built, Zhang Xiaolong’s body would have also recovered fully.
Zhang Xiaohua was putting most of his labor into the fields as it was less intensive than the house construction project. Even though it would have been more suitable to let Zhang Xiaolong take his place, the house would have been the newlywed’s future home as well so Zhang Cai arranged his son’s work in that way.
However, Zhang Xiaohua was becoming less and less interested in farm work, he was pre-occupied with his idea of learning martial arts and was wondering on how to go about doing so.
Zhang Xiaohu was also feeling down during that period.
There was not much age difference between Zhang Xiaolong and Zhang Xiaohu, and like Zhang Xiaolong, Zhang Xiaohu was uninterested in most of the ladies from the nearby households. When he first met Liu Yueyue, he also felt love at first sight but never had the opportunity to express his feelings to the other party. When he saw Zhang Xiaolong and Liu Qing happily passing their days together, he felt envious and finally seized the opportunity to discuss his troubles.
Liu Qing had already become Zhang Xiaohu’s elder sister-in-law so she did not beat about the bush and told the latter frankly about Liu Yueyue’s feelings. It was akin to pouring cold water on Zhang Xiaohu’s excitement and his face turned pale and expressionless for the next few days. Thinking about it again, how could there be another girl like Liu Qing who was able to look past family background and was courageous enough to take her stand on love? If the other party had such good qualifications, why would she turn towards a farm bumpkin? Who would not prefer a rich, handsome man to settle with instead? What was love? It was just a picture of a biscuit, although it looked good, it cannot be used to satisfy one’s hunger.
Upon experiencing this setback, Zhang Xiaohu’s feelings inevitably turned darker as he thought about the girls around him and Liu Yueyue. He began to feel that life has lost its color, and like Zhang Xiaohua, was thinking about how to get away from the fields and change his own life. If he had to pick a girl he did not like and settle down with her, then would life still be meaningful?
However, on those days when he was spending most of his energy and time on constructing the house, no one noticed any changes in his external behavior, even Liu Qing thought that he had given up the thought for good, and hence kept the matter from Guo Sufei. Instead, she thought that if Zhang Xiaohu would meet another girl whom he likes or someone suitable, then she would do her part as the elder sister-in-law and let Zhang Xiaohu forget about Liu Yueyue completely to pass the rest of his days happily.
As the days gradually grew warmer, the house and courtyard was completed under the combined help of the villagers. Teacher Liu was moving in alone, so there was no large event; he simply packed some daily necessities and his favorite collections of paintings and calligraphy and came over in a wagon. The other things in the house were left for Liu Kai, as well as for butcher Li and Liu Yueyue.
Liu Qing was naturally happy when she received the news, and she pulled Zhang Xiaolong over to help her father unpack. Zhang Cai and Guo Sufei also hurried over, but teacher Liu had few belongings and he settled down not long after. Looking around at the simple courtyard, teacher Liu let out a deep sigh as he was overcome with emotions. He will pass his later years in this place, and when he looked at his reluctant son and happy daughter, his eyes began to turn wet.