“Yu Dashan and your grandfather set off to the sea some time ago and they encountered a storm. Yu Dashan was swallowed up by the sea, so your grandfather choked on some water while saving him. When he returned, he started coughing, which later on turned into a fever. It has been going for over half a month already, and he still hasn’t gotten better!” Yu Hai said in a worried tone.
Yu Hang snorted and said, “Grandfather’s sickness wasn’t serious at the beginning. His illness must have gotten worse because that cheap Madam Zhang didn’t want to use money to get Grandfather treated. Father shouldn’t have given her the ten taels of silver last time. Instead, you should have used it to get a doctor to treat Grandfather’s illness. That money is probably never coming back now!”
In the recent year, Madam Zhang’s cheap antics had worsened. The main dish was coarse grain flatbreads without any fine grain mixed into it. As if that wasn’t enough, all the vegetables came from the garden that she planted, and she wouldn’t use any oil to cook it. Now that Madam Li’s son had the ability to work, she had complained numerous times that she wanted to live on her own. But, as soon as she heard that she had to leave all her properties, including her house behind, she stopped complaining.
However, Madam Li, who was a big mouth, did not refrain herself from talking behind her mother-in-law, Madam Zhang. She said that Madam Zhang favored her younger son more by giving him all their family’s income to support his studies in the prefectural city. Not only that, she also said that Madam Zhang treated her family badly. Her son had turned fifteen already, yet Madam Zhang still hadn’t helped him with his marriage affairs. She was just draining the entire family’s blood in order to feed the bottomless pit, Yu Bo.
Upon Yu Xiaocao’s return this time, she got them three roasted ducks because clearly one wasn’t enough for everyone. When her third uncle went back later, she would ask him to get one more. One roasted duck cost five to six taels of silver. If she took it to visit Grandfather, they probably wouldn’t get to eat it. Instead, Madam Zhang would probably sell it for money!
Yu Xiaocao bought a fat hen and fifty eggs from her neighbor, the Zhou Family. After that, she went to visit her grandfather with her older brother, Yu Hang.
When they pushed open the old wooden door, there was no one in the courtyard and it was very quiet. Her younger uncle was studying in town, so her aunt and Doudou went back to live in their maternal family home. After her youngest paternal aunt got married, only her grandfather, Madam Zhang, and Yu Dashan’s family lived here.
At this time, Yu Dashan should be back from the sea and selling fish in the fish market by the dock. Madam Li went somewhere to gossip in order to avoid doing labor. Madam Zhang went to the beach during the low tide to dig for spoon worms in order to earn more money to pay for her younger son’s tuition. Apart from the sounds of the hungry pigs in the hogpen, there were no other sounds.
Suddenly, the sound of severe coughing could be heard from the West Room. This was where Yu Hai and his family used to live in. The cough was followed by another cough, as if someone was about to cough his lungs out; it made everyone worried that he might faint the next second due to suffocation.
“Grandfather?” The siblings exchanged looks and ran towards the West Room hurriedly. It may be because no one had lived in that room for so long that it appeared even more worn down. There were only sparse hays on the roof, and it was unknown how long the room hadn’t been repaired. If it rained, droplets of rain would probably leak in.
Since Yu Hai’s family moved out, this room had been used as a storage room. How did Grandfather ended up living here?
Pushing open the nearly falling door, the darkness in the room blinded the siblings and made it hard for them to clearly see the situation in the room. After a while, they saw a scrawny figure lying on the worn-out kang bed with his body hunched over and having another coughing fit.
“Grandfather!” Yu Xiaocao put down the stuff in her hands and rushed into the room. She helped Old Yu sit up and patted his back to make him feel better.
There was a disgusting odor in the room. People couldn’t help but want to retch because of the strong stench that came from her haggard grandfather’s body, as well as the smell from the hogpen next to him.
When his coughing finally stopped, Old Yu quickly pushed Yu Xiaocao away and said with great effort, “Xiaocao, stay away from Grandfather. They all say I have tuberculosis, which is contagious. Both of you need to get out of here quickly to avoid being infected.”
Yu Xiaocao saw that her grandfather’s clothes were full of urine and sweat stains. It was obvious that it hadn’t been changed for a long period of time. Looking at her grandfather, who was helplessly lying on the bed, her nose turned sour. She tried to hold back her tears and said to Yu Hang, “Eldest Brother, find a set of clean clothes for Grandfather and help him change into it. I will go boil water and help him wash.”
“There’s no need. You guys need to go back! There is no cure for my disease, so hurry and go. Don’t let the disease get to you. There’s no cure!” Old Yu became so anxious that he wanted to sit up straight, but his skinny arms had no strength and he panted heavily on bed.
Yu Xiaocao checked his pulse. It wasn’t tuberculosis at all, but instead it was only pneumonia caused by a severe fever. She reckoned that her grandfather didn’t take his fever seriously at first, and then it slowly turned into pneumonia. Madam Zhang was too cheap to find him a doctor and just got him some herbal medicine for him to eat. Hence, the fever had now developed into such a serious condition.
“Grandfather, who told you that you got tuberculosis?” Yu Xiaocao saw the dry skin on her grandfather’s lips and the empty cup next to the bed. No wonder it would turn into pneumonia! Grandfather had a fever, yet they didn’t even give him water to drink.
After Yu Xiaocao boiled a pot of water, she scooped out a cup for it to cool off, added a drop of mystic-stone water, and fed it to her grandfather. Old Yu hadn’t drunk water for two days already, so the warm water moisturized his dried body like sweet dew.
At the beginning, Madam Zhang would still deliver him the food and water, but after his coughing worsen, especially when he coughed out blood two days earlier, she started to get anxious. A man in her ex-husband’s village had gotten tuberculosis, and he spread it to the whole family, so his entire family died off.
Madam Zhang was scared that Old Yu’s disease would spread onto her, so she told her older son to carry him to the West Room. Every time she delivered food and water, she used a towel to cover her nose and mouth. Seeing that Old Yu had gotten so sick that he couldn’t get up anymore, she thought he would die within these two days, so she stopped giving him food and water, only leaving him to die in the West Room helplessly.
Yu Xiaocao dipped the towel in cold water and wiped her grandfather’s forehead, neck, and armpits in order to help lower his body temperature. Old Yu was very worried ah! He was already so old, so he didn’t mind if they had just let him die. His granddaughter was still in her best years and she had learned a great amount of skills. She couldn’t die because of an almost dying person! But no matter what he said, Yu Xiaocao still wasn’t moved.
It would be fake if Old Yu said he wasn’t touched. Adversities prove the sincerity of relationships. He had seen all of Madam Zhang’s coldness and Yu Dashan’s cruelty these days, and it pained his heart.
Yu Dashan was only two years older than Yu Hai. He was only seven or eight years old when he first joined their family, and Old Yu never treated him as an outsider. He never favored anyone over the other, anything Dahai and Caifeng had, Yu Dashan also had them. He fell ill because he went to save Yu Dashan. But now that he was sick, he didn’t even show up. He wasn’t his biological son after all. He had raised an ungrateful being all these years ah!
As for Madam Zhang, they had been married for decades! She didn’t even bother to care for him when he fell sick. She just left him in the West Room indifferently, hoping that he would die faster so that she could save more food. There was an old saying: ‘a day together as husband and wife means endless devotion the rest of your life’. How was Madam Zhang acting any different from someone who killed their husband? How disappointing! If he was lucky and ended up surviving this time, he cannot tolerate living with such a cruel and cold hearted woman. Or else he might get killed by that malicious woman when he was asleep.
These days, Old Yu had been thinking about his first wife. It was retribution! He knew that his first wife had been murdered by Madam Zhang, but for his children and his reputation, he opened one eye and closed the other. Now, it was his turn. Well, so be it. If he could find his first wife when he arrives at the netherworld, he would confess his sin to her. He didn’t even take care of their two children! He deserved to die!
“Older Brother, why is it taking so long?” Yu Xiaocao asked in confusion as Yu Hang entered the room with a familiar set of clothing.
Yu Hang glanced at his grandfather and sighed, “Grandfather’s clothes were all piled up at the corner of the courtyard and no one has been washing them for him. There are no clean clothes in the box, so I ran home and brought a set of Father’s clothes here.
Old Yu sighed heavily. She just couldn’t wait for him to die, could she? What was the use of washing a dead person's clothes?
While Yu Hang helped Old Yu take a bath, Yu Xiaocao killed a hen and made it into stew. She was going to use the chicken soup to make porridge for her grandfather. Madam Zhang was really cruel. Not only did she not find a doctor to treat her sick husband, but she also didn’t even give him any food or water!
When Madam Zhang returned home, she saw the smoke rising from the kitchen. She thought that Madam Li was secretly cooking things to eat for herself. She quickly strode into the house with her bound feet. As soon as she entered through the door, she saw Yu Xiaocao carrying a bowl of chicken porridge. Xiaocao glanced at her indifferently and headed towards the West Room.
When she smelled the chicken stew in the air, Madam Zhang patted her thigh, “My chicken!” She hurriedly walked to her chicken pen and carefully counted the number of chickens inside twice. When she found out that she wasn’t missing a chicken, she let out a sigh of relief.
After that, as if she remembered something, she ran to the kitchen and found that the basket of rice she had concealed had been touched. When she took it down to have a look, she realized that some of the white rice was missing. She was about to throw a tantrum and scold her when she realized that Yu Xiaocao had never listened to her. What’s more, her weakness was in her hands!
Madam Zhang slammed the basket of white rice down on the kitchen counter. When she saw that there was still more than half a chicken remaining in the pot, she took a clay pot out and filled the remaining chicken and stew into the clay pot. She decided to bring the chicken soup for Doudou to drink when she goes to visit him in town tomorrow.
After she hid the chicken soup, Madam Zhang arrived at the door of the West Room. Old Yu had changed into a clean set of clothes and the kang bed had also been cleaned up neatly. Yu Xiaocao was currently holding a bowl and feed her grandfather food.
She used her hand to cover her mouth and nose, and strangely said, “Don’t blame me for not reminding you, but your grandfather has tuberculosis. There is no cure and it’s contagious. It’s better if you guys hurry up and go home. Don’t forget to take a bath and use mugwort to air out the clothes. In addition, you should use boiled water to heat up your clothes a few times…”
Yu Xiaocao handed the bowl of porridge to Yu Hang and stood up. She walked in front of Madam Zhang, coldly looked at her, and said, “How do you know that my grandfather has tuberculosis? Did you invite a doctor here to treat him? You aren’t a doctor, so how can you diagnose him?”
Madam Zhang was frightened by her imposing manner, so she backed away two steps. She pursed her lips a few times before saying, “My neighbor from my old house contacted tuberculosis and the entire family was infected and died. The symptoms are the same as your grandfather’s. They started out coughing, and then they coughed out blood. After that, they wouldn’t even be able to get out of bed! It’s not because I don’t want to spend money to treat your grandfather, but it’s because tuberculosis is incurable! No matter how much money I spend on him, it would be wasted. Why not save the money and use it to provide for my youngest son’s studies?!”Previous Chapter Next Chapter