Chapter 14: Jiujiu Came To Help
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The second day had just started when He shi’s brothers arrived from her maiden home.
He shi was the eldest child in her family.
Below her were three brothers; First and Second were both married, while Third, at 17, was the same age as Liu Xu’er’s sishu and had not yet married.
They too were very poor, with only four bare walls to shelter them, and insufficient food to feed themselves.
Liu Xu’er was still with her rabbits in their little room when she heard the noise from outside.
She quickly ran out and saw her three jiujiu1, holding some carpentry tools, come in.
When she was in front of them, she called out a greeting.
“Dajiu, erjiu, sanjiu2!” Liu Shu and Liu Lin also came forth and greeted them.
Liu Sen was taken over by sanjiu and tossed in the air, causing him to giggle.
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Pyfkw iwknjzu vssj psxl pollvp qasx bkp cyt yde ralpple kv kdvs Nkw Dw’la’p byde.
“Wsa usw yde uswa pkczkdtp vs pbyal.”
“Tso eke usw nsxl Pke usw oyzj” Tl pbk oyp ypjkdt.
Nkw Dw’la’p eyfkw, Tl Eldikdt, dseele bkp blye yde pxkzle.
“Zlyb, ol oyzjle shla.”
Tlyakdt vbyv, Nkw Ubydttldt oyp pwarakple.
“Zsw xwpv’hl clld oyzjkdt qsa yd bswa.
Pke usw pvyav oyzjkdt clqsal vbl pwd aspl”
Nkw Dw’la’p lafkw, Tl Eldbwk, dseele.
“Zlyb, pvyavle oyzjkdt clqsal eyod.” Fyukdt vbkp, bl tyhl vbl cypjlv bl oyp bszekdt vs Tl pbk.
“Kkl, vbkp kp obyv xwx yde ekxlk ralryale qsa usw, kv kpd’v xwnb….”
Tl pbk bye y zssj kdpkel – vblal olal shla 10 lttp, yde y cypjlv sq okze hltlvyczlp kd kv.
Fbl oyp hlau nzlya vbyv vblpl 10 lttp olal zkjlzu nsdvakcwvle cu yzz vbl qyxkzu xlxclap.
Fbl pktble yde pvyavle vs alrasynb vblx, “Zsw pbswze’hl fwpv nsxl, vblal’p ds dlle vs cakdt tkqvp.”
Gzz vball casvblap pnayvnble vblka blyep. Fydfkw, Tl Elduw pyke, “Kkl, fklqw3, R’x pwal vblal yal vbkdtp vbyv uswa qyxkzu zynjp.
El nyxl vs blzr es obyvlhla usw dlle.”
Nkw Ubydttldt dseele.
“Qalyv! Mbld R osd’v cl nswavlswp!”
“Of course.” The three jiujiu hadn’t brought much, but they were certainly useful around the house.
After exchanging a simple greeting, all of them rolled up their sleeves and started to work.
One helped to apply wallpaper, while the other two helped Liu Changgeng make furniture.
Liu Xu’er put a piece of candy into Liu Sen and Liu Lin’s mouth.
She tried to give it to Liu Shu, but he refused.
“You go ahead.
I’m older and don’t eat these things.”
Liu Xu’er brooked no protest and stuffed one into his mouth.
“Eat sweets to grow!” Then she put one into her mouth.
She put the remaining two sweets into the pot of boiled water and stirred it.
Once it had dissolved and the water cooled, it could be given to her dad, mum and three jiujiu.
In the kitchen, she was busying herself when she heard He shi pulling someone inside and saying quietly.
“You shouldn’t have brought eggs.
Isn’t your wife expecting She needs to have more nutrition.
Why did you bring them for me We’ve only separated the family, it’s not as though we’ve built a new house….”
Then came dajiu, He Wenqing’s voice.
“Oh jie! Why are you still like this Why are you still so overanxious! Just a few eggs and you keep nagging.
If it were someone who didn’t know you, they might think that you thought there were too few eggs!”
“What nonsense! You sure are capable of making me angry!”
“Hehe, jie, don’t be angry.
So long as jiefu and you don’t mind this poor gift, we’re only too happy….” He Wenqing lowered his voice.
“Dad and mum all know.
Our family is too poor and we can’t help to support you, so your standing is the lowest among your sisters-in-law, you….”
“What talk is this” He shi voice was surprised.
“How do dad and mum know about this”
While they were talking, Liu Xu’er wanted to show herself, but she also wanted to continue to listen to their conversation, so she squatted behind the stove to continue to eavesdrop.
He Wenqing sighed.
“Just because you only ever share good news and not your worries, you think dad and mum won’t find out Wasn’t your sandimei’s xiaoshu travelling along the water routes around Shandong Didn’t he recently return”
“Huh How do you know that Sandimei’s maiden home is in Dong Village.
It is very far from ours!” He shi found it strange.
“Yeah, it’s far from our village, but his wife is from our village.
This time, she too came back to our village, adorned with gold and silver and telling everyone that they gave her husband’s family’s so and so relatives this and that… At first we didn’t know which relative she was talking about, but after hearing that they gave her husband’s recently married niece a few tens of taels of silver and lots of interesting things….
She said that the niece had married someone in Taohua Village.
The more we heard, the more we found it familiar.
Then we realised that they were actually talking about your sandimei.”
He shi was speechless.
Liu Xu’er’s heart also went “thump”. Sanshu and sanshen brought back a few tens of taels
“Forget it, forget it.
No matter how well other people live, it is still other people’s lives.
We don’t lack arms and legs.
So long as people are willing to work hard, they can still live a good life!” Seeing his sister stunned, He Wenqing quickly said in comfort.
He shi returned to her senses and nodded.
“That’s right, that’s what your jiefu and I have been saying as well.
Although right now, it’s a difficult time, but if we work hard for the next few years, we can definitely live a good life! You too, we all need to work hard.
That’s right, is Wenhui still learning carpentry”
“That’s right – for him to make ordinary furniture is now no problem.
He’s often helped others in the village make some furniture.
Wenyu also got an odd job in town.
He did it for a month and got paid with a dozen or so apple tree saplings.
He’s already planted them.
Don’t worry about our family, things will slowly improve.”
Liu Xu’er heart jumped! That’s right, planting apple trees was also a possibility!
“What! They didn’t give money for work, but gave saplings How is that ok” He Wenqing’s words not only did not ease He shi’s worries, it added to them.
He Wenqing quickly explained.
“That was Wenyu’s specific request to them! You cannot just look for short term benefits, you need to think long term.
Even if we got some money now, wouldn’t it be spent straight away In the long term, the apple tree saplings would give more returns.”
Hearing this, He shi relaxed and sighed.
He Wenqing spoke to her for a while longer before the two left.
Liu Xu’er sat behind the stove thinking.
The northwestern side was originally able to produce apples, like red Fuji apples, yellow apples.
These varieties were very well known in later generations.
The climate here was very suitable for growing apple trees.
Her mood immediately rose.
That’s right! Tomorrow, she would discuss the matter of apple trees with Shi Cheng.
Although it was a poor region, if you really gave it thought, there were many ways to grow wealth!
Because there was a lot of physical labor done today, they had three meals.
At noon, He shi went to prepare the meal and called Liu Xu’er to assist.
She fried an egg with chives.
After hesitating a while, she took out the meat from the well, and cut a fatty piece, sliced it and stir fried it with vegetables.
She gave Liu Shu two wen and told him to go to the village provision shop to get some wine.
After steaming over a dozen buns, she made a vegetable soup.
At noon, Liu Changgeng along with his three brothers-in-law, took a couple bowls of soup before continuing to work.
That day, they managed to make a table, two long benches as well as a large chest to hold their things.
They also managed to build two stoves in the rooms that the children slept in.
The doors and windows were all repaired and looking sturdy, and all three of the rooms for everyday living had been wallpapered.
Looking at it now, there was a sense that things were brand new.
When it was getting dark, the three brothers set off to return home.
It would take another hour for them to get back.
Looking at her brothers backs, He shi felt her eyes fill.
Liu Xu’er was also feeling sad.
Her jiujiu didn’t even have the spare cash to rent a cart for transport.
This evening, Liu Xu’er slept badly.
All kinds of ideas were floating around, and she really wanted to realize them quickly.
She sighed, everything needs to happen step by step.
Tomorrow, she would discuss with Shi Cheng….
She finally fell asleep.
The next day, when Liu Xu’er was about to leave the house, He shi was still nagging.
“What do you mean, you’re not bringing anything.
How can you go empty handed You need to bring something!”
Deeply buried in tidying up the courtyard, Liu Changgeng looked up.
“Why the need for a gift She’s just a child, what’s the need Also, it’s not some sort of special occasion, and there’s no special celebration that Shi Cheng’s family is having, so why can’t she go empty handed”
“Isn’t Shi Cheng also a child The day before, he brought so much over for us!”
“But that’s because his family is….” Liu Changgeng couldn’t win against her, so he buried his head in work again, refusing to engage further.
Liu Xu’er said as well, “Mum, I’m just a little kid, why do I need to bring something.
I’m off!” Saying this, she left.
Liu Shu also went with her.
Knowing that she could not make it up that big slope by herself, he made sure to send her all the way to the top.
Then he again reminded her, “Make sure you stay along the center and do not walk close to the side of the ravine.
In the afternoon, ge will come to bring you home!”
“Ok.” Liu Xu’er had already walked a distance away before agreeing.
She followed a narrow dirt road for a while before spotting Shi Cheng’s home.
They had a big brick house; their main building had five rooms, and there were still wings at either side of the main building.
Theirs was probably the only house like this in Taohua Village.
At this moment, Shi Cheng was seated on the doorstep waiting.
Seeing her arrive, he immediately broke into a wide grin, stood up and went to greet her.
“Xu’er, you came! Have you had breakfast”
“Yes, have you been waiting here for me Don’t you need to study If your mum found out, she will surely have something to say.” Liu Xu’er started to nag.
Shi Cheng shushed her and looked around before quietly saying, “The Four Books and Five Classics4 are truly very difficult, I’m not certain that I can understand them in this lifetime!”
Liu Xu’er laughed, before also checking out her surroundings and replying softly, “And to think you were a graduate student! Aren’t you ashamed of yourself.”
“The classical way of writing….” Shi Cheng had just begun retorting when he spotted his mother come out of the main house.
He quickly ran up to her.
“Mum! I’ve just finished memorizing a piece.
When I came out to drink some water, I saw that Xu’er had arrived, so I went to say hi!”
“Hello Aunt Shi!” Liu Xu’er immediately bowed in greeting.
Originally, Shi Cheng’s mum’s face showed some displeasure at seeing him run out, but hearing this explanation, some of it eased.
She nodded and smiled at Liu Xu’er.
“Ok, Xu’er has arrived Come in then.” She turned and told Shi Cheng.
“Once you’re done with your drink, go back to the room.”
Shi Cheng could only agree.
Looking at Liu Xu’er, he reluctantly left.
In Shi Cheng’s mum’s view, the obvious reason he was behaving this way was because he could not play with Liu Xu’er.
She laughed and pulled Liu Xu’er into the main house.
“Xu’er, has your family separated I heard Shi Cheng say that you’ve moved to a place below the slope” Shi Cheng’s mum asked.
Liu Xu’er quickly nodded.
“Yes, we moved the day before.
Shi Cheng even brought us some eggs and meat, saying that Aunt sent them.
My dad and mum were very thankful and told me that I must thank aunt.
Thank you Aunt!” Liu Xu’er solemnly and innocently said.
Shi Cheng’s mother’s face tightened.
She quickly covered it up and nodded, saying, “What’s there to thank.
Tell your dad and mum that there’s no need to be so formal.
Wait here, I will go and get the thread.” Saying this, she left.
Liu Xu’er sniggered inwardly.
Actually, Shi Cheng’s mother did not like her nearly as much as He shi imagined.
The reason He shi had this misunderstanding was entirely because of Shi Cheng.
With Shi Cheng as the middleman passing messages, he would make it sound as though his mother really really liked Xu’er.
He would exaggerate everything by at least two or three times, so He shi really thought that Shi Cheng’s mother really really liked Liu Xu’er!
Then Shi Cheng would turn around and speak to his mother, exaggerating how wonderful Liu Xu’er’s family was, how nice Second Aunt Liu was, how much he liked Xu’er, and how because of this family, he really really liked Taohua Village, and so on.
He said so much that even his arrogant and noble mother could not help but look at Liu Xu’er’s family differently.