Chapter 42 - Winter Disaster

“Yes! Alright! There’s hot water in the pot. I’ll go get some!” Seeing that Xiaocao seemed to know what she was doing, a sense of hope reemerged within Shuanzhu’s wife’s heart. She hastily went to the kitchen to get the hot water. She was so anxious that she almost tripped in the yard.

After Yu Xiaocao carefully examined Uncle Shuanzhu’s pulse, she took out some fever-reducing cold medicine from her medicine box and swiftly began decocting the medicine inside the room.

“Little Sister Xiaocao, will my father really be alright?” Liu Shuanzhu’s ten year old daughter, Liu Huifang, whimpered as she squatted down to help Xiaocao brew the medicine and asked for reassurance.

Yu Xiaocao put the herbs into a ceramic pot, which was used to brew herbal medicine, and added a few drops of mystic-stone water into the pot. After that, she replied in a confident and firm manner, “Don’t worry! He will be fine after drinking two doses of the medication!”

“Here’s the hot water. Xiaocao, is this temperature suitable?” Shuanzhu’s wife came in with a basin of hot water and a washcloth.   

After Yu Xiaocao checked the temperature, she added half a bottle of mystic-stone water into the hot water and nodded, “It’s fine! Quickly wipe down Uncle Shuanzhu’s body with the cloth, especially the neck and armpit areas. The excessive body heat will dissipate faster!”

“Sister Xiaocao, what did you put in the water? It doesn’t look like medicinal herbs? The second child of the Liu Family was the same age as Xiaocao, but he was a few months younger than Xiaocao.

While Yu Xiaocao instructed Liu Huifang on how to brew the medicine, she explained to the Liu Family’s second child, whose nickname was Tiedan’er, “This is Grandpa You’s secret remedy. It can speed up the recovery of any diseases. This is extracted from forty-nine different kinds of medicinal herbs. Grandpa You only made two bottles in fifty years. Don’t you think it’s precious? Don’t go out and tell other people about this. If Uncle Shuanzi wasn’t a close friend of my father, I would had been reluctant to use it!”

Shuanzhu’s wife believed her and shed tears of gratitude, “Cao’er, you used up half a bottle for my husband. Wouldn’t Doctor You be mad at you when he returns?”

“He won’t! Grandpa You said that medicine was made to save people. Uncle Shuanzhu needed urgent treatment for his illness. If we delayed it any longer, then a big hole might be burned into his lungs. His life might be in danger if we don’t use this medicine!”

Yu Xiaocao knew that it would be difficult to treat Uncle Shuanzhu’s illness with just her own abilities, but it was much easier to cure him with the help of the mystic-stone water.

She also had concerns before she made the decision to come treat Uncle Shuanzhu’s illness. After all, he was her first patient after she began studying medicine. If anything went wrong, it would be impossible for her to treat other patients in the future. Furthermore, she might get the reputation as ‘a quack doctor who had harmed her patients’ and wouldn’t be able to lift her head in the village anymore.

While she was hesitating, the little divine stone suddenly appeared and sneered, [It’s just a mere cold! Even though my powers are sealed, I can still cure such a minor disease. Take this! My, this Divine Stone’s, bathing water will surely work without fail! Here, let me add a little more saliva for you——spit. It will definitely not fail.]

The little divine stone’s bathing water and saliva had remarkable results. Shuanzhu’s wife wiped her husband’s body several times and noticed that his body temperature had dropped a lot. Shuanzhu, who had been unconscious due to his high fever, also gradually regained consciousness.

At this time, the medicine was ready. Shuanzhu’s wife fed the medication to her husband. His terribly high fever was reduced within two hours after taking one dose of medicine.

“Ay! Brother Dahai, your daughter’s medical skills is almost as good as Doctor You’s. No wonder Doctor You praised her as a medical genius!” Liu Shuanzhu, who was still somewhat weak after his fever went down, leaned against the bed as he expressed his gratitude and praise for Xiaocao.

Shuanzhu’s wife pulled out a cloth bag from the cabinet and took out several strings of copper coins, which had around one hundred copper coins on each string. She gratefully exclaimed, “Older Brother Yu Hai, we’re so grateful to your daughter, Xiaocao. Doctor You’s medicine must be very expensive, so I’m not sure if eight hundred copper coins is enough. If it’s not enough, I’ll go borrow some from my maiden family when the snow stops.”

If the bottle of elixir and medicinal herbs belonged to his daughter, Yu Hai would never accept the money because of his close relationship with Shuanzhu. However, his daughter said that medicine belonged to Doctor You. Moreover, it seemed to be rather valuable. It was difficult for him to make a decision, so he looked at his daughter.

Since Yu Xiaocao had already spoken, it would be suspicious if she didn’t accept the money. After a moment of hesitation, she said, “Auntie Shuanzhu, you’re also familiar with Grandpa You’s personality. If his patients’ family had difficulties, he would waive their medical fee.”

“That’s right! All the villagers in the surrounding villages compliments our Dongshan Village’s Doctor You as a benevolent person. A lot of people regard him as a living Bodhisattva!” Shuanzhu’s wife exclaimed.

Yu Xiaocao continued, “If Grandpa You was here, he wouldn’t want to see you guys borrowing money to pay the medical fee. I’ll make the decision today and just accept two hundred copper coins from Auntie. Uncle Shuanzhu still needs to recuperate for some time and the New Year is coming soon…”

“Two hundred copper coins? Isn’t that too little? Doctor You will scold you when he comes back in the spring! Cao’er, just take the money. We’re a little short of money because we also bought a new boat this year. Don’t worry. Although your Uncle Shuanzhu isn’t as good of a fisher as your father, he is also one of the best fishermen within the village. With a new fishing boat, would we still be afraid of a little debt?” Shuanzhu’s wife forced the cloth bag into Xiaocao’s arms.  

The cost for the medicine Xiaocao used for Shuanzhu didn’t even add up to a dozen copper coins. The crucial component was the mystic-stone water, which didn’t cost a single penny. Thus, she basically didn’t spend any money at all. If she accepted the eight hundred copper coins, she would feel guilty. Hence, Yu Xiaocao refused and insisted on only taking two hundred copper coins.

Shuanzhu’s wife was also a stubborn person. The more Xiaocao refused to accept the money, the more she wanted to give it to her. After seeing them pushing back and forth for a long time, Uncle Shuanzhu finally couldn’t take it anymore and coughed a few times,

“Don’t push and shove anymore. Xiaocao, just take it as your uncle taking advantage of you and accept five hundred copper coins. We’re spending the New Year at Tiedan’s grandfather’s house, so we have enough for the winter with the remaining three hundred copper coins.”

Xiaocao knew she couldn’t decline anymore, so she accepted the five strings of coins with shame. She left behind several packs of herbs and reminded Auntie Shuanzhu to decoct a dose of the combined herbs for Uncle Shuanzhu to take daily.

The mystic-stone water was too effective. In the future, she needed to adjust the dosage to prevent arousing other people’s suspicion and greed.

It snowed even more heavily on their way back. The snowflakes were almost like small snowballs since they were drifting so profusely and disorderly. The snow on the ground had already accumulated up to Xiaocao’s knees, so she walked unstably in the snow. Her feet were sometimes stuck in the snow, which made it difficult to pull out.

Yu Hai, who held his daughter’s small hand, noticed her situation and picked her up with a chuckle. He carried her on his back and strode home.

Yu Xiaocao rolled her eyes at the sky——it’s unfair that she had short legs!

The heavy snow lasted throughout the entire night. When they woke up on the next day, the door was blocked by all the snow in the courtyard. When Yu Hai got up in the morning, the first thing he did was to sweep the knee-deep snow out of the yard.

“Brother Dahai, have you heard? Wang Erlian’zi’s three-room house was crushed by the snow. Two and a half of the rooms were destroyed. Last night, in the middle of the night, his family of five crammed together in the crumbling half-room that survived. They were lucky that they didn’t freeze to death!” Their neighbor, Zhao Da, had already finished sweeping the snow and went around the village to share the news.

With his hands clasped behind his back, Old Yu frowned as he came back from outside. He stamped the snow off his shoes in front of entrance and deeply sighed as he said, “This was just the first snow of this winter, but it was already so big. I’m afraid it’s going to be a tough winter.”

“The heavy snow has become a disaster. Many houses within the village was more or less damaged by the snow. There were also several elders who didn’t make it through last night. I heard that they were already frozen by the time they were discovered in the morning!” Zhao Da shook his head and went into his father’s room. He stuffed more firewood into the duct of the kang to keep the kang bed warm.

Nearly every year, during the winter in the north, there would be sick elders and young children freezing to death and dying of illness. However, it was rare to see houses collapsing and people freezing to death so early in the winter like this year.

There were more and more people sweeping snow in front of their door. As they worked, they were also gossiping about the unfilial children, who left their elderly parents to live alone. The snow had crushed the houses of these elders and buried them inside. No one even knew how long they had lain dead...

Yu Xiaocao felt increasingly sad as she listened. She thought of Grandpa You, who was an elder in his sixties and lived alone in this remote fishing village. She was worried about his well-being. Was there was anyone to take care of him as he traveled alone? Would he be lonely and helpless?

“Father, I’m concerned about Grandpa You’s house. Let’s go take a look!” Seeing all the snow accumulated outside, Yu Xiaocao knew it would be hard for her to walk with her short legs, so she asked for her father’s help.

“Alright! I’ll take you over to have a look!” Yu Hai held the snow-cleaning tools in one hand, while he picked up his daughter and placed her on his back with the other. After that, he arduously walked towards the west side of the village.

Madam Zhang briefly chased after them before she gave up and shouted, “The snow on our own roof hasn’t been swept, yet you have time to meddle in other people’s business! Do you guys have too much free time on their hands?”

Yu Xiaocao, who was hugging her father’s neck, turned around and shouted back at her grandmother, “Grandmother! My father isn’t the only man in the family! Aren’t Eldest Uncle and Younger Uncle both at home? Grandpa You is the only doctor in the vicinity. If his house is ruined, can he still live in our village when he returns in the spring?”

The neighboring villages were all envious of the fact the Doctor You stayed in Dongshan Village. It was also very convenient for the villagers of Dongshan Village to have a doctor in the village. There wasn’t anything that Doctor You would be worried about except for his two-room house. Thus, it was considered Dongshan Village’s responsibility to take care of his house when he was away.  

When Yu Hai and Xiaocao arrived, the village head had already gathered several strong men to help clear out Doctor You’s courtyard.

Doctor You had a two-room house. The roof for one of the rooms had already collapsed due to the snow. Fortunately, it was a storage room, so there wasn’t much loss.

Yu Xiaocao hurriedly entered the room that was still intact, which only had a large kang bed and boxes of medicinal herbs. She carefully examined all the boxes that stored medicinal herbs. She finally breathed a sigh of relief after she made sure that all the herbs were still intact.

The village head was an old man in his fifties with gray hair and beard. He had a tall figure and a somewhat stern appearance. When he saw Yu Xiaocao, he quipped, “Oh, did our village’s little doctor come to check on the herbs? Don’t worry. Village Head Grandpa promises to repair this two-room house to make it nice and sturdy. No matter how heavy it snows, the herbs will not be crushed.” 

Previous Chapter Next Chapter

Myst's Thoughts

Translator: Myst