Zhu Junyang’s explanation was that when the troops were fighting with the pirates, they weren’t careful and ended up damaging the residence.
Bah! Nonsense! Who would believe that? Were you driving a bulldozer around when you were fighting the pirates? Yu Xiaocao didn’t believe a single word of his lie. This fellow must have done this on purpose! But why would he do such a thing? He destroyed the residence that her whole family lived in and they were now homeless, yet he wanted her to be grateful. They didn't even have a gate left standing!
“What should we do now? Do we have to live in town now?” Yu Xiaocao glared at Zhu Junyang as she fretted over this. Although their residence in town wasn’t large, it was spacious enough that the main wing could house her immediate family. But what about her Oldest Aunt’s family? And her Eldest Granduncle’s family? Were they…supposed to be like the other villagers and raise a temporary awning to live in?
Xiaolian came over, puffing with anger, as she furiously exclaimed, “Our family’s piggery hasn’t been destroyed and we still have around a hundred pigs left in there! Those bastard pirates only concerned themselves with taking food and didn’t even feed them. Other than the ones they slaughtered, there are still a decent number of pigs that died from sickness and starvation. The remaining pigs are so hungry that they’re staggering when they walk!”
Senior Servant Yang, who was in charge of the piggery, was quite distressed, “Those evil bastards! We had three hundred pigs and the pirates only left us with this many! Miss Xiaolian, is there still pig fodder and feed in the piggery? We can’t have anything else happen to the remaining a hundred so pigs...Old Man, let’s go. Come with me to take a look!”
“I’m going along too!” Xiaolian was quite concerned about the pigs they raised. Luckily, most of the pigs that died of starvation or sickness were the smaller pigs that had just been caught this past spring. The pirates had killed a few of the older ones and half-grown ones to eat. The rest of the pigs only became thinner.
The piggery was the building that had been preserved the most out of all of the village. It was able to house around twenty some workers and had storerooms filled with wheat bran and rice bran. None of the feed had been touched. The remaining pigs in the piggery all squealed weakly. Senior Servant Yang and her husband immediately lit up the stoves in the piggery and started to make pig feed. Perhaps the pigs were able to smell the scent of food but all of them started to cry and squeal in hunger.
Zhu Junyang watched as Yu Xiaocao conversed with Zhuang Xiaomo and the rest of his village, “The dead from your village have already been buried. That place isn’t suitable for human habitation anymore. What are your plans?”
The village chief of Dongshan Village thought for a bit and then proposed, “If you guys don’t mind, you’re all welcome to live in Dongshan Village ah! I’ll divvy out some land for all of you and then you can start building your homes…”
Zhuang Xiaomo didn’t really care. He was fine as long as he had enough to eat and a place to live. That being said, if he could now live in Dongshan Village, he’d be even closer to Xiaolian. What problem would he have with that?
The remaining six families first discussed this amongst themselves and then decided to become a part of Dongshan Village. Their reasoning was simple. Dongshan Village was one of the most famous villages in the area for being prosperous and the village had Yu Hai’s farming business that was doing very well. The Yu Family often gave the villagers opportunities to make more money. Furthermore, Dongshan Village was the closest village to their old village, so those who didn’t want to be too far away from their old home thought that this was the best solution. Furthermore, if they settled down here, Royal Prince Yang wouldn’t discriminate against them and would also give them thirty taels a family to build a new house!
Right then and there, the village head divvied up some plots of land for Zhuang Xiaomo and the other families. Zhuang Xiaomo had been given an area close to the West Mountain and was only about two to three hundred meters away from the Yu Family’s old residence. The tanned youth was quite pleased with this arrangement.
After mourning for a bit, all of the villagers started bustling about again. The men started to cut trees to build temporary shelters with their women helping them. The elderly took the children to scrounge about the remains of their old homes to see if they could find anything usable. Although the royal prince was willing to subsidize them, they had gotten used to scrimping and saving. The more they could save the better!
Yu Xiaocao’s Oldest Aunt’s family and Eldest Granduncle’s family were all planning on building temporary shelters in the vicinity of their homes. That way it would be easier for them to keep an eye on things when the houses were being built. The Yu Family was also concerned about their businesses in the village and didn’t really want to move into town. Zhu Junyang warmly invited them to go live in the mountain villa but had been resolutely refused by Yu XIaocao. He glared at her sulkily after that.
Fang Zizhen was still concerned about the harbor. When he saw that his daughter was fine, he headed back to the docks. Before he left, he gave the key to the Zhao Family’s residence to Xiaocao and said, “I already took a look and my martial uncle’s home hasn’t been touched. If you guys don’t want to go into town, you can live there instead!”
It looked like there were no better options available. Yu Xiaocao took the key and then spoke to her Oldest Aunt and Eldest Granduncle, “The worker rooms in the piggery are still empty. Oldest Aunt, Eldest Granduncle, if you guys don’t mind the odor of the piggery, you all can live there for now.”
Summer was about to come and the rainy season was imminent. Temporary shacks naturally weren’t as comfortable as living in the piggery, which had been sturdily built with bricks and had a tiled roof. Yu Caifeng thought for a bit and said, “I need to go back to the prefectural city’s braised food shop to oversee some things. Yaner and Junping are still young so I’m not sure they can handle everything. How about...we let your Oldest Uncle handle the house getting rebuilt here and I take Fangping back to the prefectural city to check on things?”
Earlier, their two families had discussed things over. The whole village was now casting mud bricks so no one had the time to help anyone else. The two families decided to hire some bricklayers from the town to rebuild their homes. Neither of them lacked money. In fact, they were planning on rebuilding their residences next to each other to become neighbors. This way, it’d be easier for them to check up on each other and help when needed. They only needed to spend money on the bricklayers’ wages to have them work on their house. Thus, Liu Hu alone was more than enough to oversee things.
Yu Lichun discussed things with his sons and they felt that Xiaocao’s proposal was quite good. They packed up their luggage and left with Erya to go live in the piggery. All of the other people in the village watched enviously as they left. In their eyes, having a proper roof over their heads was the most fortunate thing at this time.
Madam Zhang and her son sidled up and tried to get a handout. They both knew that Old Yu was the most softhearted out of all of them and so they found him, “Old Man, for the sake of our previous relationship as husband and wife, can you give us something? Dashan also called you father for more than thirty years.”
Old Yu had finally seen the truth. This mother and son pair could flatter you like the gods when they needed something from you. However, once you had no value to them, they would kick you to the side of the road as if you were a stray dog. If he still fell for these fair-weather folks’ tricks, he would truly be the dumbest idiot in the whole village.
“Don’t even think about it. The piggery is Dahai’s whole family’s business. They can let whoever they want to live there. It’s none of my business.” Old Yu put his hands behind his back in preparation to go to the Zhao Family’s residence at the foot of the mountain with his son.
Madam Zhang grabbed onto his arm and pleaded, “You’re Yu Hai’s biological father, isn’t his property your property? How could he not dare to listen to you if you say a word? The word ‘filial’ will stop him in his tracks! Old Man, I noticed that Yu Hai listens to everything that the lass, Xiaocao, says. I heard that the lass even has all of the housing deeds, business contracts and money in the family. Just think, she’s a bad investment and who knows who’ll she marry in the future! You can’t just let all of that money go to an outsider in the future! You’re the head of the family so you need to set down some rules. You can’t just let the younger generation just walk all over you!”
“What’s wrong with Xiaocao having all of those assets in her hands? The family’s early ripening vegetables, watermelons, the cooperation with the Zhou Family, and stores in the prefectural city...which of these weren’t ideas that came from Xiaocao first? The vast majority of money from the family had all come from her. Even if she took everything as her dowry when she got married, no one in the family would say a word! Is handling the money you made yourself considered being rash and arrogant now? Then, are you saying that if we give everything to you instead, pay for all your living expenses, that’s not being rash and arrogant??”
Old Yu only planned on living out the rest of his days leisurely with the Yu Family. Other than helping out here and there, he had no desire to meddle with anything else. His grandchildren had their own ways of life. As an old man who had been a fisherman for all of his life, it was better if he didn’t interfere too much!
“Just look! I wasn’t implying that at all, I was only thinking for the Yu Family as a whole…”
Before Madam Zhang could continue on her attempt to persuade him, Old Yu interrupted her, “As an outsider, you have no need to be concerned with my Yu Family’s affairs! Since we were a married couple for so long, I’m going to give you some advice. You two don’t really have much going for you in the village. It’d probably be better if you both went into town or the prefectural city and rented a place to do some small business there. You’ll also be able to keep an eye on Xiaobo then. I can’t say anything else but I know that Xiaocao’s pickled vegetable store in the city is doing quite well. The city is so large so you’ll easily be able to find a small market to sell some pickled vegetables. Doing that is better than just getting by in Dongshan Village.”
For the sake of his life, Yu Dashan disregarded his mother and lost his wife. All of the other people who had lost contact with their loved ones hadn’t had any news even now. It was possible that their family members were gone forever. For the past few days, all of the villagers side-eyed or glared at Yu Dashan whenever they saw him. Their pointed looks stabbed him and made him feel low. If he continued to stay in Dongshan Village, he’d never be able to lift his head again.
When he heard Old Yu’s proposal, he was quite tempted and said to his mother, “Mother, what Uncle Yu is saying makes sense! Aren’t you always fretting about Youngest Brother ah? We can do some business in the prefectural city and also take care of Youngest Brother. That way he’ll be able to focus on studying. During the next period, he’ll be able to pass the exams and become a county-level official. I’m pretty strong and I can find some work in the city to supplement some income for us…”
Madam Zhang was persuaded by his viewpoint. After receiving the housing subsidy, the mother and son pair left for the prefectural city the very next day. Later on, the people back in Dongshan Village would occasionally get some scattered news about them. It was said that they had found a small residence to rent with other people in the southern district of the prefectural city where commoners lived. They had started buying some popular pickled vegetables wholesale from the Yu’s Pickled Vegetable Shop and were selling them at a nearby market. Their business was decent and they made around a tael of income every month. Yu Dashan went out every day to do hard labor and his standard of living had improved compared to when he lived in the village. All of this was in the future!
In Dongshan Village, there were people everywhere crafting mud bricks and laying them out under the sun to dry. Everyone wanted to build their house before the rains started. The Yu Family expanded their construction plans at the old residence. They were building a residence that had three interlinked courtyards and the front and back courtyards had been expanded considerably too. Altogether, it was around four to five mu in size. The Liu Family was building their new residence next to the Yu Family and they also decided to have a large courtyard and tall walls. The Liu Family had two sons, so they were planning on constructing a two courtyard residence that had three main rooms with two storage rooms in each courtyard. It was going to be very spacious.
Currently, construction had just started on both of their residences. They had hired the best bricklayer from town. In addition, Xiaocao’s Third Maternal Uncle also came over to help.
When the Wokou pirates were coming, Eldest Maternal Aunt and her daughter, who had been working at the piggery, hurriedly packed all of their things and ran back to their village. Because they were afraid that the pirates might slaughter their way to Xishan Village, they told the news to their village chief. Xishan Village’s village head was an old veteran from the battlefields. Thus, he instructed the villagers to pack up their valuables and some food in preparation to flee to the mountains. He also organized the strong adult men in the village and had them patrol the area around the village. As soon as they saw any sign of the pirates, they could warn the village and they could all run for the mountains as fast as possible.Previous Chapter Next Chapter
Sanguine’s Thoughts: Madam Zhang and Yu Dashan are birds of a feather. It’s a little frustrating to see them always be so shameless but it does point out that people very rarely change unless they want to. Neither of them want to change their shameless ways. For people like them, when they show you who they are, it’s best to take it at face value and not get taken advantage of in the future.