Chapter 31: Unexpected Uproar
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“Which family raised such wild children!” Old Man Liu was so angry that his voice caused his mustache to tremble.
Liu Gao shi was even more angry.
She stood at the doorway scolding for a while, as if that would somehow reach the perpetrators.
Even Liu Hong, who had absented herself when the matchmaker came, heard that something was not right, and hurried out.
Liu Gao shi explained what happened in between her scolding.
Liu Hong was so angry she didn’t know what to do, “How can children behave this way Is there no one to teach them How could they tie a chicken up and hit it”
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Fllkdt yzz vbl yewzvp ps ydtau, Nkw Dw’la nsxqsavle vblx pyukdt, “Gv zlypv Fldgk kp ralvvu byrru – bl nyd lyv nbknjld.
Yu ryaldvp byhl yzps zlv vbl xyvvla ts. Zl, dyk, esd’v cl ydtau.
Gdtla nyd’v qkm yduvbkdt.
Rv’p fwpv, cl nyalqwz.
Illr yd lul swv vs xyjl pwal vbyv kv eslpd’v byrrld blal.”
Nkw Qys pbk pvasjle bla blye yde pyke, “El jdso.
Rv’p fwpv, obu kp uswa qyxkzu ps….” Fbl eked’v qkdkpb bla pldvldnl.
Xze Yyd Nkw nswtble, “Dw’la, byhl ekddla okvb wp!”
Nkw Dw’la iwknjzu pbssj bla blye.
Fxkzkdt, pbl pyke, “Pye yde xwx yal oykvkdt qsa xl yv bsxl! Mbyv’p aktbv, dyk, eycs yde pydpbw xldvksdle vbyv vblu oydvle vs xshl vs vsod Tyhl vblu xshle yzalyeu”
Nkw Qys pbk eked’v iwlpvksd vbyv Nkw Dw’la jdlo ycswv vbl xyvvla.
Tsdlpvzu, vbl ldvkal hkzzytl bye blyae.
Gqvla yzz, hkzzytl qszj xshkdt vs vsod oyp ds pxyzz xyvvla.
Rv oswze cl vbl pwcflnv sq xwnb ldhu yde ps dlop ycswv vbkp oswze vayhlz lmvalxlzu iwknjzu.
Mbl sdzu alypsd vbyv Nkw Dw’la’p qyxkzu byed’v jdsod oswze cl ldvkalzu clnywpl Nkw Ubydttldt yde Tl pbk nswzed’v zlyhl vbl bswpl.
Gde dso vbyv kv’p vbl 12vb xsdvb, lhlausdl kd vbl hkzzytl oyp lmvalxlzu cwpu yde qlo oswze byhl vkxl vs hkpkv.
Gp pwnb, kv oyp sdzu bla qyxkzu vbyv pvkzz byed’v blyae.
Nkw Qys pbk dseele.
“Zswa pydpbw byp yzalyeu xshle, cwv uswa eycs bypd’v….
Xb, vbyv’p aktbv.
Ebld usw ts bsxl, zlv uswa xwx jdso – obld ol plryayvle vbl qyxkzu, ol tyhl sdl rkt vs uswa pydpbw.
El vbswtbv vbyv obld Llo Zlya nyxl, ol nswze pzywtbvla kv, yde vbld lynb caydnb nswze tlv psxl.
Ebs jdlo vblu oswze fwpv iwklvzu plzz kv zypv xsdvb! Ju vbl vkxl ol qswde swv, vblu pyke vbl xsdlu oyp yzz tsdl.
Mblu bye prldv kv sd y bswpl kd vsod! Ebyv jkde sq clbyhksa….”
“Xb! Ebu yal usw vlzzkdt vbkp vs y nbkze!” Xze Yyd Nkw kdvlaawrvle.
Nkw Qys pbk bwqqkzu oldv vs pkv sd vbl letl sq vbl jydt.
“R dlle vs cl ynnswdvyczl vs xu eywtbvla-kd-zyo! Ebld ol plryayvle vbl qyxkzu, Flnsde’p qyxkzu oyp vbl sdl xspv ekpyehydvytle.
Tso nswze vblu fwpv iwklvzu….”
“Oh mum, don’t say anymore.” Liu Changshi persuaded her.
Liu Xu’er understood that nai was just venting.
She didn’t really intend for her to pass on the message.
So she smiled and said, “Nai, I won’t tell them about this.
When you’ve the time, why don’t you let mum know.
I am sure she won’t say anything – after all, since it was given to sanshu, then it belonged to him! We won’t be greedy for it.” Saying this, she waved her hands goodbye, “Ye, nai, I need to hurry back to eat chicken! Enjoy your meal!”
Just as she was heading off, Liu Gao shi called for her, “Wait!”
Saying this, she hurried into the kitchen and took a small basket out.
Passing it to Liu Xu’er, “This is from your ergu1.
There are two jins each of goji berries and red dates.
Aren’t you learning handicrafts from Shi Cheng’s mum Give this to her as a token of appreciation.”
Liu Xu’er knew that ergu’s village was further west.
It produced better goji berries and red dates than other places.
It was even said that the goji berries and red dates from their area were sent as tribute to the emperor.
So she quickly received it and thanked Liu Gao shi before turning to leave.
Again, she spent the entire journey back deep in thought.
Liu Changgui and Jia shi were truly thick-skinned.
As Liu Gao shi had said, when they separated the family, the pig was an extra given to them.
It was understood by all that when New Year came, they would slaughter the pig, and divide up the meat to share among all the branches of the family.
They wouldn’t even let go of the money from a single pig!
Then she thought again of what nai said – dabo’s family still hadn’t moved, so was the incident today done by Liu Yun’er But if it really was her, what on earth was the motive How strange!
Just as she was thinking, she heard someone ahead shout.
Lifting her head, she saw that it was Liu Shu.
She jogged up to him, “Dage, why are you here Have you eaten”
“I’ve come to bring you home.
We haven’t eaten yet; we’re all still waiting for you!” Liu Shu said.
Reaching for her hand, the two siblings raced home.
That night, the entire family ate their fill.
They ate as much as they wanted, and it was only when all of their stomachs were so stuffed that they really couldn’t take another bite that they stopped.
Senzi patted his round tummy.
Sprawled on his back, lying on the kang, he still asked, “Jie, can you stew me a chicken everyday”
That caused everyone around him to laugh.
He shi rubbed his little stomach, “You want to eat chicken everyday Who can afford to take care of you!”
Liu Sen quickly sat up.
He was certain that Liu Xu’er had stewed the chicken, and so went to wrap his arms around her neck smiling, “Jie can take care of me! Jie, will you take care of me”
Liu Xu’er rolled around the kang laughing.
“You should be taking care of jie! Why are you reversing this and asking jie to take care of you”
Liu Shu exclaimed, “I will take care of all of you! Senzi, Xu’er, dage promises that from today onwards, you will have good things to eat! What other families have, we too will have!”
Hearing this, Liu Lin was anxious, “Ge, did you forget about me”
He shi reached out to pinch his cheeks.
“Aren’t you ashamed of yourself! Your ge is less than 15 minutes older than you! Why are you comparing yourself with your didi and meimei”
Liu Lin embarrassedly scratched his head.
It was true that he was barely younger than Liu Shu, but because he wasn’t the eldest, his sense of responsibility was much less developed than that of Liu Shu.
Liu Shu said again, “Dad, mum and all the rest of you, I will definitely work hard, and let you be able to eat well.”
He shi was delighted.
She stretched her arms out to hug him, “Oh, my son is so wonderful!” She behaved as though Liu Shu had already delivered on his promise.
Sitting at the head of the kang, Liu Changgeng smiled and patted his youngest son’s head.
In his heart however, he was thinking – he was now the head of the household, the man in the family.
This was his wife, these were his children! From today onwards, he really couldn’t let them suffer any more! Since they had separated the family, he needed to work hard and do his best! So that their days would get better and better!
After that good dinner, everyone in the family was happy.
They had a fun time together for a while before Liu Xu’er went off to tidy up.
There was still half a pot of chicken soup.
Because the days were cold, it was enough to securely cover the pot and leave it out overnight.
Tomorrow, they would add some noodles, and that would be their meal.
Because she had stuffed herself, Liu Xu’er walked with Liu Sen around the courtyard for a while before heading to bed.
The next day, as was her habit, Liu Xu’er went to Shi Cheng’s home to continue to learn handicrafts from his mother.
She had mostly learnt all the techniques for decorative knots – by now, it was mostly about familiarizing herself with them.
The braided cords were more complicated.
Shi Cheng’s mother had told her that after the New Year, they would dedicate more time to that skill.
Liu Xu’er took out the red dates and goji berries, saying, “These were from my ergu’s village.
My mum said, we are very grateful to Aunt for teaching me your skills.
Although we don’t have much, please accept this little token.
Please don’t refuse this small gift.”
Shi Cheng’s mother smiled as she accepted.
“You’ve such a glib tongue!”
With that, Liu Xu’er made her excuses.
Shi Cheng’s mother called for him to send her off, fulfilling Shi Cheng’s wish.
Pulling her along, they ran out the door.
As they headed to the large slope, he asked, “Did someone kill a chicken at your place yesterday”
Liu Xu’er smacked her lips, “Who did you hear that from”
Shi Cheng nodded, “When you stewed a chicken, everyone could smell it! They were wondering how it was that your family could afford to have chicken when your neighbor, Aunt Wu explained.
She said that someone had tied up the chicken and killed it! She told everyone to be careful especially now that the New Year is approaching….”
Hearing that, Liu Xu’er’s heart sank! Without waiting for Shi Cheng to finish, she interrupted, “Did Aunt Wu see who did it!”
Shi Cheng paused.
Actually, as a male, he was not interested in the general village gossip.
If it were not that he suspected Aunt Wu recognised the perpetrator but didn’t feel comfortable sharing, he would not have told this to Liu Xu’er.
Liu Xu’er immediately rushed off, “I’m going to ask Aunt Wu!”
“Wait, wait!” Shi Cheng quickly reached a hand out to stop her, “You really should do something about this impatience of yours….
Let me ask you, if you were to go to Aunt Wu, how would you ask her If she didn’t share it with you last night, then clearly it’s not something she’s comfortable sharing! If you just go off like this, aren’t you just interrogating her!”
When Liu Xu’er heard that Aunt Wu had seen who had done it, she was instantly filled with anger and impatience! She didn’t consider the matter too closely.
Now that Shi Cheng had said all that, she acknowledged he had a point.
So she started to think, “But then what can we do I need to know what happened, we can’t just let….”
She hadn’t finished her sentence when the sound of a little child crying suddenly came from the empty area behind her.
Shi Cheng and Liu Xu’er both stopped talking.
A few hundred steps north of Shi Cheng’s house was a plot of empty land.
It was originally used to thresh wheat, but it had long been abandoned because it was too small.
After a while, a few elm trees started growing and it started to become a sparse little grove.
The cry had come from behind the trees.
When Liu Xu’er heard it, her entire scalp went numb! Why did that voice sound like… It sounded very similar to Liu Sen!
Almost at the same time, Shi Cheng recognized the voice too! Without saying anything to her, he took off running in that direction!
Liu Xu’er quickly followed him! As they ran, the sounds from behind the trees became clearer and clearer, and Liu Sen’s crying became louder and louder! They then heard two “pa, pa” ringing out!
A girl’s voice was heard scolding him.
“Cry! Continue to cry! If it weren’t for your family, my family would have been able to move to town before the New Year! Shameless! Cry, cry, continue to cry!”
That was Liu Yun’er’s voice!
Liu Sen’s crying was heartbreaking!
Liu Xu’er saw the scene as she followed closely behind Shi Cheng.
The instant she saw it, all the blood rushed to her head! She was so angry she was trembling! Her vision turned black!
Who knew how Liu Yun’er got Liu Sen alone.
She had grabbed hold of Liu Sen’s little arms, and had slapped him viciously! Liu Sen was just a child; he was only just past a year old.
He didn’t have the strength to resist.
He had already fallen to the ground, trying to protect himself against the beating.
His face was already red and swollen and he was crying heartrendingly!
At Liu Yun’er’s side, a boy was even standing sentry! His arms crossed, he stood there.
Liu Xu’er was so angry, she could spit blood! She let out a bloodcurdling scream, “Liu Yun’er, you f*cking b*stard!” Crazily, she ran forward!
In the end, Shi Cheng was still more cool headed.
When he had gotten there, he had already sized up the situation! The eight-year-old Liu Yun’er was bigger than them, she was taller than the two of them and definitely stronger.
Not only that, they had to consider the boy standing to the side of them.
He was the Wang’s family’s Wang Pin.
His family stayed to the north of the village.
This year he was 10 and was a big lad.
He was tall and strong! How could the two of them be his opponent!
As such, without even thinking about it, Shi Cheng grabbed a rock that he had seen lying on the road.
At this moment, Liu Xu’er, who was maddened with rage, had rushed over like a bull! Because Wang Pin’s back was to them, and he was standing a distance away watching, by the time he heard the commotion and turned around, she had already rushed over!