Out of everyone in Second Maternal Uncle’s family, only Liu Zhiwei was somewhat familiar with Xiaocao. His other siblings included a brother and a sister. The sister was named Liu Feixu and was already fourteen years old. She had a gentle and quiet personality, and wasn’t a bit like her mother, who had a more abrasive character. The youngest brother was Liu Zhiqiang and he was about the same age as Xiaocao’s oldest brother. He still had a bit of a childish air, so he was currently in the outer room trying to get closer to Big Gray.
Liu Zhimin was Third Maternal Uncle’s only child. He had a temperament similar to his father’s: straightforward and open-minded. He had already studied at a school in town for two years and it was said that his grades weren’t bad. No one at home was hoping that he could pass the prefectural or county exams; they only wanted him to be literate enough to not be cheated. In the future, he could become an accountant in one of the stores in town, which wasn’t a bad career to have.
The female cousins were all on the kang bed chatting harmoniously with Xiaocao, while all of her male cousins were further away, surrounding Big Gray. They wanted to get closer but they were also somewhat afraid. Liu Zhiqiang was the most foolishly brazen out of all of them. Despite his older cousins trying to dissuade him, he stepped closer and closer to Big Gray. Big Gray gave him a warning look yet the boy wasn’t afraid at all and extended a hand to touch Big Gray’s fur.
Big Gray had no desire to indulge him. He first exposed his long teeth in a vicious expression to scare the boy. However, Liu Zhiqiang remembered his younger cousin’s words that this wolf, Big Gray, didn’t bite people, so he heralded his courage again…
The people chatting inside the room suddenly heard a loud scream and Liu Zhiqiang’s subsequent plaintive wails. All of them rushed out to see what had happened. The sight that greeted their eyes made everyone drip cold sweat down their bodies. Liu Zhiqiang had been pressed into the ground until he couldn't move by that giant gray wolf. The gray wolf’s sharp teeth were all revealed and they were only a centimeter away from Liu Zhiqiang’s neck. Liu Zhiqiang had been so frightened that he had forgotten to struggle as he could only close his eyes and lay there. Big Gray’s emerald green eyes fixedly stared at the boy as he thought, ‘Repulsive human, who gave you the guts to try to touch this wolf’s head?’
A helpless expression showed up on Yu Xiaocao’s face. Big Gray only knew how to scare people. When he first arrived at the Yu Residence, he had used the exact same method to frighten Liu Fangping, who was always hanging around him. The little fellow had been so frightened that he wet his pants and had a high fever for a few days. Big Gray must have felt impatient after being chased around by her older cousins and wanted to make an example out of one of them!
“Xiaocao, quickly restrain that wolf of yours and don’t let it bite your Older Brother Zhiqiang.” Madam Yao was about to explode from anxiety. If the wolf bit down, how could that youngster Zhiqiang still live?
Madam Hu had been inside doing needlework. When she heard her son’s sobs, she came over to look and almost fainted from the sight. Her legs faltered and she sat down on the ground as she let out an ear-piercing wail. The shrill sound made Big Gray even more irritable and his expression became more fierce.
Yu Xiaocao knew that Big Gray’s vicious nature was being goaded up and hurriedly advanced to hold onto his neck. She quietly placated him. Madam Hu’s piercing screams continued, so she couldn’t help but scold the older woman, “Second Maternal Aunt, don’t you know that wild animals hate noise the most? If you want Older Brother Zhiqiang to die faster, then continue to cry and scream ah!”
Madam Hu acted as if someone had pinched her neck and immediately stopped weeping. She looked at her son, who had been squished onto the ground and had lost all of his color. She repressed her worry and fright and softly said, “Quickly take away this dumb beast! If it hurts my Zhiqiang, then I don’t care whether you’re family or not!!”
Madam Yao was also worried about her grandson but when she heard her second daughter-in-law’s impolite words, she became a bit unhappy, “As his mother, you should know what your son’s personality is like ah! If you’re unable to keep an eye on him, who can you blame?”
“Mother, Zhiqiang is your full-blooded grandson ah. If he gets bit by the wolf Xiaocao brought over, as his mother, how could I not say some harsh words? Xiaocao’s surname is Yu not Liu, so how could you treat an outsider better ah?” Madam Hu was displeased and she wasn’t someone who would easily let something go.
In the past, her in-laws always gave money to her younger sister-in-law, who had already married out of the family. She always felt resentful about this. Although she never overtly made a big deal about this, she would always say a few words in front of her husband. Afterwards, when she was able to get a job at the Zhou Family’s factory due to her relationship with the Yu Family, she found out the job wasn’t too difficult yet she made as much as the dockworkers in town. Her own husband had also joined hands with his older brother and sold watermelons from the Yu Family, which made them a small fortune. Only then did she finally become closer to her younger sister-in-law’s family that she used to look down on.
However, when she saw her youngest son being pinned down by the giant wolf Yu Xiaocao brought along, she thought he had already been bitten. Thus, all of her previous grievances exploded. The fact that she didn’t make Xiaocao pay more for this was already considered quite good.
Yu Xiaocao patted Big Gray’s neck a couple of times and said, “Big Gray, didn’t I warn you before that you’re not allowed to scare people anymore? How come you didn’t remember? I’ll have to punish you; you’re not allowed to drink any more water for today and all of tomorrow!!”
Everyone in the Liu Family didn’t know whether they should laugh or cry. There was a thick layer of snow outside. If the animal got thirsty, it could just eat some snow, so how was punishing it to not drink water considered a punishment? A true punishment would be to forbid it from eating any meat! However, how could they all know that the water Yu Xiaocao was referring to was the mystic-stone water that Big Gray loved the most? Big Gray would rather abstain from meat for three days than to forego mystic-stone water for a single day ah!
Big Gray moved his paws and allowed Liu Zhiqiang to leave. He hung his head down in sorrow and dispiritedly circled around the corner of the wall. From the backside, he looked quite pitiful. Liu Zhiqiang crawled up from the ground and was panting heavily. He brushed the dust off himself and pointed at Big Gray, who looked very sad, and asked Xiaocao, “What’s wrong with it? It looks a bit unhappy!”
“He got punished because of you! In the future, stay far away from him to avoid him from taking his revenge!” Yu Xiaocao deliberately tried to scare him. Liu Zhiqiang was a simple-minded guy. He had just escaped the jaws of the wolf and was thinking to get closer to the wolf again.
Madam Hu pulled her son towards herself and inspected him carefully from head to toe. He didn’t have any injuries and even his clothing didn’t have any rips or holes. She thought about the impolite words she said earlier and her aggressive manner. It made her want to flush. She slapped the back of her youngest son’s head and glared at him fiercely, “How could you be such a troublemaker? That’s a wolf, not a dog. If it bit you, it’d serve you right!”
Liu Zhiqiang covered the back of his head and retreated a few steps as he argued with his mother, “Younger Cousin already said that Big Gray won’t bite people. It was only trying to scare me earlier...Mother, I almost peed my pants out of fright, yet you don’t even try to comfort me and hit me instead. Am I really your biological son?”
Madam Hu hit him a couple more times and then placed her hands on her hips as she scolded, “You little brat. If you weren’t my biological son, I wouldn’t care if you died!! You’re coming back with me to the room and just watch how I punish you!”
“I don't want to go; I want to play with Big Gray ah!” Liu Zhiqiang was a tenacious little cockroach and had more guts than sense.
Madam Hu went up and got a grip on his ear. She pulled him away as she scolded him non-stop. When the two of them left, the room finally became quiet again.
Liu Zhiwei somewhat sheepishly said to Xiaocao, “My mother just has this type of personality, please don’t take it to heart.”
Yu Xiaocao smiled and didn’t say anything in return. She poured a cup of warm water from the kettle and slipped a few drops of mystic-stone water inside. She handed the cup to Liu Zhiwei and said, “Eldest Cousin, earlier Older Cousin Zhiqiang was drenched in cold sweat from being frightened. If something else happens, I’m afraid he’ll catch a cold. This is a cold prevention medication I made myself. Please give some to him.”
Liu Zhiwei took the cup of water out of the room. Liu Zhimin had been watching Big Gray from afar earlier and glanced at Big Gray, who was resting in the corner, with lingering fears. He said, “Earlier Big Gray was quite fierce, he really scared me!”
Just as the words came out of his mouth, there was the sound of knocking on the Liu Family’s gate. When they went out to look, there were a lot of villagers outside all holding hoes and spades as they aggressively surrounded the residence.
Liu Cunjing draped a large coat on his shoulders before he went out. He looked at the village chief and other villagers with a perplexed expression and asked, “What’s going on here?”
The village chief replied somewhat nervously, “Brother Cunjin, earlier Erdan’s wife said that she saw a wolf enter the village. We followed the footprints on the ground and discovered that the wolf entered your residence. Did you guys see anything weird lately?”
Xiaocao’s eldest maternal uncle, Liu Pei, hurriedly interjected, “How could there be a wolf? Erdan’s wife’s eyes must be getting worse. Earlier it was my younger sister’s Xiaocao who came over with a snow sled to bring us stuff. Could it be that Erdan’s wife thought that the big gray dog pulling the sled was a wolf instead?”
From behind the crowd, Erdan’s wife squeezed through and asserted, “How could my eyes be growing dim? I know the difference between a wolf and dog ah!! I swear that I saw a wolf and it looked quite fierce, as if it could eat a person instantly!!”
Yu Xiaocao heard the ruckus outside, so she tied a small rope around Big Gray’s neck. She walked up with the wolf behind her, “Grandfather, Eldest Maternal Uncle, what’s going on? I heard that it sounds like a wolf entered here? Not a problem, my family’s Big Gray is very strong and wolves aren’t his opponents! This year, my family had gotten attacked by a pack of wolves and Big Gray even saved my father's life!”
All of the Xishan villagers and the village chief looked toward the sound of her voice. They saw a slightly-built, fair little girl leading along a large dog that was taller than her. The dog was covered in gray fur from head to toe and had its head down with its tail tucked between its legs. It looked as if it had just been roundly scolded earlier.
Erdan’s wife pointed at Big Gray and blurted out, “That’s it, that’s it!!”
The villagers all burst into raucous laughter and they lowered the ‘weapons’ in their hands. Everyone could tell that although the big gray dog behind the Yu Family’s little girl was on the larger side, it looked very docile and obedient. How could it be a wolf? If it was a wolf, wouldn’t it eat the Yu Family’s little girl in one bite?
The village chief leveled a glare at Erdan’s wife and scolded her, “And you said your eyes haven’t gone dim? Are the wolves in your family this obedient too? Erdan, can’t you keep a hold of your wife? She’ll spread any baseless rumor! The facts are right in front of us, yet she still tries to quibble!! Sorry about that, Brother Cunjin!!”
“Let’s go back, all go back!! Only a false alarm!!” The village chief waved his hand at everyone and took the lead in leaving. It was such a cold day, so who wanted to spend time outside doing useless tasks? All of the villagers made Erdan and his wife the butt of their jokes as they walked back to their own residences. They even said that Erdan’s wife was as timid as a mouse to be scared silly by a dog.
When the Liu Family’s gate closed, Big Gray restored his majestic demeanor. Arrogance glittered in his emerald green eyes as he looked at the Liu Family members with a disinterested eye. He snapped the rope in two and gracefully walked back into the room so he could sulk by himself about not being to drink mystic-stone water for the next two days.
Eldest Maternal Uncle clicked his tongue in wonder, “This wolf is too uncanny. It really acted like a dog earlier!”
Eldest Maternal Uncle’s youngest daughter, Liu Feiyan, grinned, “Younger Aunt’s family’s animals are all a bit uncanny. Xiaolian told me that their family's little roe deer never did its business inside. In fact, in the winter, it sleeps indoors and knows how to exit to go to the bathroom!”
Liu Zhiqiang squeezed out from behind his mother and remarked in envy, “Mother, can we also raise a little roe deer? When it gets big, we can also slaughter it for meat!!”
Madam Hu rolled her eyes at him, “We can’t even afford to raise you, let alone a roe deer. All of the hares and roe deer in the mountains are about to die of starvation, where would we find one to take home? Stop having these daydreams!”Previous Chapter Next Chapter
Sanguine’s Thoughts: I can’t blame Madam Hu for acting the way she does. Any mother would be horrified at seeing a wolf threatening her son...