Chapter 286 - Delivering Grain

The imperial court had sent the relief in a timely manner. Although the people in the disaster area had to go through some hard times, they were able to maintain their daily lifestyles. There didn’t seem to be people leaving their homes to flee the calamity. The common people were very grateful to the imperial court, and many people set up longevity plaques for the emperor.  

Yu Xiaocao’s maternal grandfather’s family lived on the west side of the West Mountain, which was separated from Dongshan Village by the West Mountain. There was a rugged path in the mountain that led directly to Xishan Village. Although the path was about half as long as the official road, it was difficult to travel on the mountain road, and occasionally there would be wild animals hurting people. 

The Yu Family had enough food to eat until the beginning of spring when the crops were ready to be reaped, so they weren’t worried about not having enough to eat. Madam Liu finally felt relieved, but now she was concerned about whether the fifteen members of her maternal family had enough to eat and if they would starve. 

After Madam Liu mentioned for the nth time about her concern for her maternal family, Yu Hai decided, “Since you’re so worried, let’s send some grain over then! As children and grandchildren, it’s not right for us to eat lavishly while our parents and siblings starve!” 

They couldn’t grow grain because of the locust plague. Except for Liu Hu, who went to work as a stevedore at the docks, most of the family just idled at home. Old Yu took several of the children to gather seafood at the beach and Yu Xiaolian sold starch jelly at the docks. The ingredient for making starch jelly was the dried red marine algae that they hoarded last year. Due to the high price of grain, they couldn’t sell cold noodles! 

The reason was very simple. A bowl of cold noodles usually cost five copper coins, but the price of grain had soared to the sky-high price of thirty or fifty times more than usual. If they set a low price for cold noodles, then they wouldn’t be able to make any profit. If they raised the price, who could afford to eat it? Fortunately, they still had a lot of the red marine algae that they collected last year. They should have enough to sell for two to three months. However, they needed to slightly raise the price for starch jelly, which cost five copper coins a bowl now. The business at the docks wasn’t as good as last year’s, but there was still some profit every day. Thus, Yu Xiaolian naturally wouldn’t give up on it. 

Now, the busiest members of the family were Yu Xiaolian and Yu Hang. They both had their own businesses to take care of. Everyone else was just idling at home and tending the several mu of garden in the yard. 

Madam Liu handed the task of spraying pesticide on the vegetable garden to her older sister-in-law, Yu Caifeng. Yu Hai loaded ten sacks of grain onto the horse carriage, and each sack contained around fifty catties of grain. Madam Liu was very moved when she saw this. Her maternal nephews and nieces were all grown and ate the same amount as adults. With just the food from the disaster relief, it would be considered pretty good if they were half full! She didn’t know when the average-priced grain that the officials mentioned would arrive, so she couldn’t just watch her maternal family starve without doing anything ah! 

No matter how much food they had at home, it was food that the Yu Family earned with their own capabilities. No one would say anything even if they didn’t give the Liu Family any. After all, food was the most important during famine. She had only briefly mentioned, but her husband had gotten a cart full of grain for her to take back to her maternal family. How could Madam Liu not be moved within her heart?

“Mother, I have never been to Maternal Grandfather’s house ah. Can you take me along so I can see which house it is?” Before Yu Xiaocao transmigrated over, she was bedridden every day and couldn’t go anywhere. After splitting from the main family, for one reason or another, she had never gone to Xishan Village. She had been very bored at home these past two days. When she heard that there was a chance to go out, she quickly asked to go along. 

Little Shitou also rushed out of his room and shouted, “I want to go, too! I want to go, too!” 

Yu Hai chuckled and said, “Okay! Let’s all go together!” 

Madam Liu rolled her eyes and said, “You ah, you’re always spoiling them!” 

Yu Xiaocao took out the grasshopper sauce from the cellar, and brought a bag of the biscuits that she made yesterday, as well as her homemade cured meat and dried duck. These gifts were absolutely presentable! 

The grain on the horse cart was covered by straw thatches and corn stalks. Yu Xiaocao and Little Shitou climbed to the top of the grain and sat on it. Madam Liu sat on the shaft, while Yu Hai drove the cart. The four members of the family traveled on the newly built road at the foot of the West Mountains and headed in the direction of the official road. 

Originally, from the Yu Family's old residence, they had to travel across the entire village to go out. Later, when Imperial Prince Jing was building his mountain manor in the West Mountain, he specially opened a road, which just happened to pass by the gates of the Yu Residence. It went around the village and led directly to the official road, saving a lot of traveling time. 

The gossiping matrons in the village saw a horse cart coming out of the Yu Residence from afar, and it was full of unknown goods. Madam Xiong, who was the most garrulous one, said to Madam Li, “Your brother-in-law just drove a cart of goods somewhere. Madam Liu also went with him, are they delivering grain to her maternal family?” 

Madam Li’s rolled her eyes and said, “Who is my brother-in-law? Yu Bo is my only brother-in-law. He is currently studying in the prefectural city and waiting to take the county-level exams next year!” 

Another woman, who disliked her, smirked and said, That’s right. You guys have already severed relationships with Uncle Yu, so you’re no longer one family. Brother Dahai would rather subsidize his in-laws than give you guys anything!” 

Madam Li glared at her, but when she saw that the person in front of her a matron who was good at fighting, she turned cowardly again, “Calling him ‘Brother Dahai’, you seem quite close ah. It’s a pity that no matter how much you fawn on them, they won’t give you even one granule of grain.” 

The matron curled up her lips again and said, “I’m not like a certain someone, who is gluttonous and lazy and also being oppressed by her mother-in-law. My family collected all our sweet potatoes before the disaster, and with the food from the disaster relief, we definitely have enough to eat for three to five months. It’s so sad that some people can’t even eat the food that they have received ah!” 

Hearing this, the rage in Madam Li’s heart flared up, but she couldn’t find a way to vent. Why was she able to come out to gossip with others today? It was because her mother-in-law wasn’t home. She had gone to the prefectural city to send food and money to her precious son.

All the grain that she brought home was locked in the cabinet by her mother-in-law. She was going to be away for three days, but only left three catties of food for them. There were two adults and one half-grown boy at home, so three catties of grain wasn’t even enough to eat for a day! 

Madam Li kept complaining to her husband about how her mother-in-law had given all the food that they received to her younger brother-in-law. Madam Li had even gotten in a big fight with Madam Zhang regarding this. However, she wasn’t good enough to be Madam Zhang’s opponent. She became more well-behaved after being punished to go hungry for a meal. 

The matron saying this was equivalent to rubbing salt on her wound. Madam Li instantly stood up with widened eyes. She was about to let out a series of curses when she saw the matron rolling up her sleeves as if saying ‘if you dare to scold me, then I’ll slap you silly’. Seeing this, she immediately deflated like a balloon. She glared angrily at the matron. If shooting daggers from the eyes could kill people, then that matron would have already died countless times. With a humph, Madam Li patted her bottoms and went home! 

Madam Xiong sourly said, “Yu Hai’s family have made a lot of money in the past two years. Before the disaster, I saw them buying grain from town. There must be no shortage of food at their house! That horse cart is definitely loaded with grain and seems like they’re heading in the direction of Xishan Village. Ay! This Yu Hai is so generous to send a full cart of grain. The Liu Family of Xishan Village is so fortunate. They are blessed with several hundred catties of grain by just sitting at home and doing nothing. Why doesn't my family have such rich relatives ah?” 

The matron, who was at odds with Madam Li, couldn’t stand Madam Xiong’s way of conduct. She stood up and prepared to leave, “What’s the point in saying so much? It’s no one’s business who they send food to. No matter how much we talk about it, it still won’t have anything to do with us. I’m going to help our head of the household to dig for spoon worms. In a day, we can earn enough money to buy salt! It’s better than sitting here and waiting for a pie-in-the-sky!”

Yu Hai’s family didn’t know that people were talking about them, and hurriedly drove the cart all the way to Xishan Village. There were almost no pedestrians on the road. Those who could find work had already gone to work, while those who couldn’t all stayed at home. By minimizing their activities, they could consume less food. 

The family set out rather late, and the horse cart didn’t move very quickly because it was pulling several hundred catties of grain. Despite only having a difference of a single character, Xishan Village and Dongshan Village were vastly different! First of all, there wasn’t any prince building a mountain manor in Xishan Village and repairing the road for them. Thus, after getting off the official road, there was a section of road that was full of bumps and hollows, which was very troublesome. 

In addition, Xishan Village wasn’t close to the sea. Unlike the villagers of Dongshan Village, they couldn’t gather seafood in their spare time and sell them for money. However, Xishan Village had more good farmland. Besides growing sweet potatoes in the wasteland on the mountains, wheat was grown in all the fields. 

The locust plague had caused great losses for Xishan Village. The wheat could have been harvested soon, but all of it had been destroyed by the locusts. The sweet potatoes were buried in the ground, so they could more or less reap some of them. 

The Liu Family had ten or so good farmland, and there was no harvest of wheat at all. They only planted five mu of sweet potatoes. Before the disaster, they had heard the news from the Yu Family. Under the lead of their father, the three brothers of the Liu Family quickly reaped all of their sweet potatoes and worked around the clock to cut their several mu of wheat fields. Although the wheat had not matured, it was in the last stage of grouting. After roasting green wheat with fire and rubbing the grain out, it could be eaten.   

The four members of Yu Hai’s family arrived at the gates of the Liu Residence, the whole family were sitting in the yard and rubbing grain out of wheat! 

“Father——" Seeing that her father had more white hair on his head, Madam Liu felt tears rise and she couldn’t help but call out. 

Liu Zhimin, the thirteen year old son of Xiaoaco’s third maternal uncle Liu Hao, raised his head and exclaimed in surprise, “Younger Aunt! Grandfather, Younger Aunt came!!” 

Liu Cuijin looked up and saw his daughter standing at the entrance with reddened eyes. He hastily stood up and greeted, “Lass Yun, why did you come? Is it because you don’t have enough food to eat? Our family harvested a lot of green wheat, so take some back for emergency use!” 

When Madam Liu heard this, she burst into tears. She was the youngest in the family [1] and the only daughter. Since childhood, she had been favored by her parents and pampered by her three older brothers. Before she got married, she had lived without any worries.   

When she got married, her family gave her a lot of dowry, which had all been confiscated by Madam Zhang with the excuse that she would keep them until they separated from the family. After that, she never saw her dowry again. 

After she got married, she lived a hard life and would occasionally complain to her maternal family. With a lot of people in the family and relatively little land, her maternal family wasn’t very well-off. But, every year, they would save some money and food from the little resources that they had and send them to her. Unfortunately, she failed to put up a fight, and all the money and food were taken by Madam Zhang. 

When they separated from the main family, it was the most difficult time for her family. It was her elderly parents, brothers, and sisters-in-law who helped them repair their house, sent them food, and gave her money for daily necessities. They were the ones who helped her family overcome their most difficult time. 


[1] In earlier chapters, Liu Hao was introduced as Madam Liu younger brother, but the author decided to make Madam Liu the youngest now.

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Myst's Thoughts

Translator: Myst