Luckily, Xishan Village was quite a distance away from the ocean and there was the West Mountain in the middle. Thus, the Wokou pirates didn’t go there. When they got the news from the Yu Family that the pirates had been defeated, Liu Cunjin took his two sons along with him on the very next day to bring a cart full of grain and daily necessities.
The Yu Family’s residence had been pushed over by a particular person but most of their belongings hadn’t been destroyed, so they could still use them after picking them up. However, a lot of these supplies had been taken over by one of the men of the household, who distributed them for use to the villagers who had less. Currently, the daily necessities that they were using at the Zhao Residence had been newly bought by that same man. Other than the grain they had taken away on that rainy night, there was still more than enough grain and other food still stored in the underground cellar for them to eat.
The food and necessities that her maternal grandfather and uncles brought over was a token of their concern and love for them. Naturally, they couldn’t make them take it back. Yu Hai and her two uncles spent a lot of time moving all of the goods from the cart before they finally finished bringing everything to the residence halfway up the mountain. There were pros and cons to living halfway up the mountain. The con was that it was more difficult to move heavy goods there, which required quite a bit of energy.
“Your family’s residence also got destroyed by the Wokou pirates? Ai! These evil bastards are truly too inhumane. They not only steal things from us but also destroy our homes!” Liu Cunjin wiped the sweat off of his face and took the tea that his granddaughter offered. He guzzled the liquid down in one gulp. The tea from his daughter’s home was very good and was even better than a pot of fragrant tea that cost a few taels from the tea houses.
Madam Liu sighed for a bit and then said, “Steal our things and destroy our homes? They also kill people ah! The neighboring village chief didn’t believe Xiaomo’s warning. Other than the few families who had a good relationship with him and fled into the mountains, the rest of the villagers had all been slaughtered by the pirates. Their corpses were hung on the tree outside the village and were exposed to wind and rain. From far away you could smell the ghastly stench. It was truly too horrifying! Now, no one can live in the neighboring village for fear of plague!”
When Liu Cunjin heard this, he felt immense relief and joy in his heart, “Luckily that lass Xiaocao was swimming in the ocean that day and encountered the Wokou pirates’ ships. Otherwise…”
“Of course! The village head and all of the villagers said so too. They said that our Xiaocao is the savior of the entire village! If it wasn’t for me and her father stopping them, they would have wanted to erect a longevity plaque to her in the village!” Madam Liu had a hint of pride in her voice.
“Maternal Grandfather, there are even some people who claim that my second sister is the reincarnation of the child, Shancai, who is the disciple of the Goddess of Mercy. This is the reason why she can come up with all of these methods to make money as well as saving everyone. They even claim that my second sister was ill in her childhood because it was hard for her young body to support such a reincarnated spirit. Don’t you think all of this is funny?” Little Shitou came over to join in on the fun and brought over a small wooden stool to sit next to his maternal grandfather. When he heard them chatting idly, he also interjected his thoughts.
Madam Liu laughed as she pointed at his head, “Go, go, go! What are you doing here? Everyone is just idly chatting so don’t gossip along!”
“Younger Sister, I feel like there’s some truth in what people are saying! Xiaocao is still very young yet she knows how to make such delicious food and come up with so many methods to make money. Even I, as her relative, can benefit from her skills!” Liu Pei grinned as he drank his tea while he voiced his agreement with Little Shitou.
In Little Shitou’s heart, his second sister was omnipotent. He nodded his head repeatedly, “I also feel like Second Sister is the reincarnation of a little immortal girl. In fact, she must have been a very powerful immortal girl too…”
Liu Pei quipped, “If your second sister is the reincarnation of an immortal girl, then you, Shitou, are the reincarnation of the Wenqu star . At such a young age, you passed the exam to become a county official and even scored high enough to become a granary official. In the future, won’t you be able to take first place in the imperial examinations?”
Little Shitou remarked bashfully, “It’s only with the help of my teachers...that being said, it’s not easy to place first in the imperial examinations, right? My school’s headmaster said that as long as I work hard, it shouldn’t be difficult for me to place in the top ten. The worst that I’ll place would be within the top twenty!”
The little fellow was still young so he wasn’t able to hide things very well. Thus, he proudly told the adults in the room what his master had told him a few days ago. After getting numerous compliments from his maternal grandfather and uncles, he felt a bit embarrassed and fled to the kitchen to watch his second sister cook food.
Liu Cunjin had a gratified look on his face as he smiled, “Seeing that all of you are fine, I can finally relax again! In the past, I wasn’t in favor of you marrying into the Yu Family. Everyone says that having a stepmother means having a stepfather. You suffered so much for those years and even your children were thin and sallow. Your mother and I didn’t feel good seeing that. However, we weren’t well-off at the time and couldn’t help much...luckily, you guys finally split from the family and your husband is a hard working man. Your children are sweet and obedient. Seeing that your life is going well, your mother and I can finally relax.”
Liu Cunjin loved his youngest daughter a lot. Originally, he wanted to find a husband from her in their own village who came from a decent family. With her three older brothers around, his youngest daughter absolutely wouldn’t be taken advantage of. Who would have thought that Dongshan Village’s Yu Hai would take a liking to her?
The matchmaker had made it seem like Yu Hai was a match made in heaven. He was good at fishing and knew how to hunt to subsidize the family. His family had a five-room house that was newly built and he was an honest and kind man...the only thing the matchmaker didn’t mention was that he had a selfish, vicious and heartless stepmother. At that time, he should have stuck to his guns and adamantly refused. Otherwise, his daughter wouldn’t have to suffer so much for all of these years!
Madam Liu’s eyes became hot and she pulled at her father’s rough, large hand. As if she was a young maiden again, she swayed back and forth and said, “Father, Daughter is unfilial and made you worry so much!”
“Silly lass! Living well is the best way of showing your filial respect to me and your mother! Quickly wipe away those tears, your children are watching.” Liu Cunjin patted his daughter’s hand and continued, “I see that your family’s old residence is expanding again. I know you don’t lack money at this point, so I won’t say anything. Your older brothers and I don’t have much to do at home, so we’ll stay around and help you for a few days.”
Madam Liu used the back of her hand to wipe away her tears as she shook her head, “Father, this time, the royal prince found an experienced bricklayer in town to build our residence. Even my husband can’t do much to help. You’re getting old, so in the future, leave the hard work to my older brothers…”
“Don’t think that because I’m in my fifties that I can’t do much. This body of mine is still sturdy and your second older brother can’t even compare with me in the fields. In the future, if you guys need help, please ask us! I’m your father and they’re your blood-related brothers, so don’t take us to be outsiders!” Liu Cunjin knew that his daughter’s family had a good life now. However, as a father, he couldn’t help but worry and always wanted to help. The feelings of parents were always so!
Liu Pei also nodded his head repeatedly, “Father is right! We are your blood-related siblings. If there’s anything going on, just say a word!”
This year, the Yu Family planted all of their fields in Dongshan Village with watermelons. The two brothers, Liu Pei and Liu Han, had rented a shop in the prefectural city. One of them went back and forth between Dongshan Village and the prefectural city to transport the melons, while the other manned the shop and sold the melons. In a month, they made three to four hundred taels!
He had originally planned on collaborating with his second younger brother to buy that shop. That way, when his younger brother-in-law expanded his early-growing green vegetable business, they could buy them wholesale from him and sell them at this stall. However, he didn't expect that his second sister-in-law was short-sighted and refused to take out five hundred taels to buy the store. She was afraid that they’d lose all of their hard earned money in this investment.
At the time, he only had around seven to eight hundred taels on hand. The owner of the store had originally set a price of a thousand and two hundred taels for the shop. He had painstakingly managed to haggle down to a thousand, but he didn’t have enough money on hand. After talking to Yu Hai, his younger brother-in-law didn’t say anything and gave him five hundred taels to buy the shop now. As for the money that was left, once he made enough money, then he could return it!
With the shop on hand, his wife had bought some braised food from Xiaocao’s braised food shop. Every day they could make around a couple hundred coppers to one tael. At this rate, even if they weren’t able to sell the early-ripening vegetables, they’d be able to make all of the money they spent to buy the shop in four years.
When his second sister-in-law found out, she immediately regretted her decision and argued with them to also take a share. Where was she when they needed them? At the time, she refused to take out the money as she was afraid of losing it. Now that she saw them making money, she insisted on cooperating with them. Who was willing to spoil such a person? His father had lost his temper right then and there and his mother had scolded his second sister-in-law later privately. Only then did the woman calm down.
However, towards his younger brother-in-law, who helped them during their times of need, Liu Pei felt immense gratitude. Although they refused his thanks, he couldn’t forget their kindness. In the future, when he had the chance, he would definitely repay them.
Liu Han had a clumsy mouth and didn’t like talking. At this time, he also spoke up, “Younger Sister, if there’s anything you need help with, just tell me. I don’t have much else but I am strong and willing to do hard work.”
Liu Han never said anything about the help his younger sister’s family had given him but his heart knew what he owed. His wife was working in the Zhou Family’s factories because Xiaocao had introduced her to the managers. She made around one tael per month as salary and could also bring some vermicelli and century eggs home from time to time as bonuses. All of the other matrons in the village envied her endlessly. He was only a peasant farmer who knew how to tend his fields. After collaborating with his eldest brother to sell watermelons, they had made a few hundred taels each in the past two to three years. This was something that they would have never dreamed of in the past!
Although his wife had been the one to stop him from collaborating with his eldest brother to buy a shop, he had his own ideas now. He was planning on using their money to buy land. He would plant and take care of any land he could. The rest he could rent out to other people. That way, they’d have an additional source of income each year. If it wasn’t for his youngest sister and brother-in-law’s family, his whole family would only have those few plots of land to take care of and would have to live very frugally! Even his petty and small-minded wife was also very grateful to his younger sister’s whole family.
When Madam Liu saw that her father and older brothers all sincerely wanted to help her, she felt warmth bubble up in her heart. Her maternal family’s living situation had gradually improved over time. Even her youngest older brother had made quite a bit of money working at the docks. Since her family was rebuilding their residence right now, her youngest older brother didn’t say anything and packed all of his gear to come over to help. Right now, no one in their family needed to oversee the work on the house as her youngest older brother had taken charge of everything. With her youngest older brother taking over, as an experienced bricklayer, no one would dare to goof off or try to use shoddy materials to fool them. It relieved a lot of work for their usually busy family.
When the Liu Family’s father and sons saw that there wasn’t much they could help with, they finished lunch and decided to head out. Madam Liu wanted her father to spend a few days with her but he refused, “Right now you guys have a lot going on, so I won’t add to the trouble. Once your house is done, your mother, I, and your brothers and sisters-in-law will all come over to celebrate! At that time, if there’s nothing going on, your mother and I will spend a few days with you.”
After Madam Liu heard her father’s thoughts, she didn’t try to convince him again. She escorted her father and older brothers down the mountain and reluctantly watched as they left.
 Wenqu star - 4th star of Ursa major. In Chinese mythology, this star is in charge of scholarly achievementsPrevious Chapter Next Chapter
Sanguine’s Thoughts: Madam Liu’s maternal family are good people.