Yu Caidie ruffled Xiaocao’s hair and her smile deepened a bit: “As long as you don’t blame me, it’s fine. Rest now, tomorrow I will send you more of the sugar water with egg again.”
Youngest Aunt had a soft personality like flour. In a glance one could tell that it would be easy to grasp her in the palm of one’s hand. It was hard to say whether she would be bullied in the future by her in-laws. Madam Zhang had such shrewish and fiery personality; how did she end up raising a daughter as weak and sweet as her?
Yu Xiaocao thought: Did they take home the wrong infant? Ehhh...in this time period, all births were delivered at home with the help of a midwife. There was no way for someone to take home the wrong child, okay!
Out of boredom, Yu Xiaocao teased the little roe deer, Tiny. This little roe deer was quite odd. They had already raised it for a few months and fed it consistently. In fact, from time to time, it was even given some mystic-stone water to nourish it. But how come it hadn’t grown in height at all? It was still small and seemed very adorable. Its continued diminutive size made certain people, who wanted to ‘kill it once it got big to eat meat’, feel quite disappointed.
However, as a pet, this miniature sized roe deer was truly so cute that one could burst. In addition, the little creature loved cleanliness and was full of intelligence. It never relieved itself inside the room and didn’t have the characteristic gamey smell of a roe deer. In fact, it smelled faintly of grass.
Little Shitou loved to hug the animal and would take it everywhere he went. The village children were green with envy. Wuzi, who was on the best terms with Little Shitou, did his very best to convince Shitou to lend him the little roe deer to play with for a couple of days. However, Tiny absolutely refused to follow. Even when the animal was forcibly carried back to Wuzi’s home, the creature always managed to ‘break out of prison’ and run back home.
One time, when the door at home was shut tightly, the little creature stood in the snow foolishly and froze for an entire night. The next morning, it had almost become an ice sculpture from the cold, and Little Shitou felt very bad. From then on, Tiny was never lent out to other people again.
At this moment, the little roe deer was tractably lying next to Xiaocao and didn’t have any ill will towards the hand that was messing its hair up. On the contrary, from time to time it would extend its warm and moist tongue and lick Xiaocao’s hand.
In her previous life, she had raised a small dog who liked to lick people more than this creature, so Xiaocao didn’t feel much about it. However, the little divine stone on her wrist had other thoughts: [Hey, can you push away that fellow? The rock is my body, so how can I suffer having such a lowly beast sullying it?]
Yu Xiaocao ignored the stone and deliberately placed the wrist that had the multicolored on it closer to the little roe deer’s mouth. The multicolored stone inadvertently emitted a small bit of spiritual energy, which made the sensitive and clever roe deer beyond pleased. Its licks increased perceptibly.
[Go away, go away now!] The little divine stone erupted in fury and its golden kitten spiritual form flew out towards the little roe deer’s head. It scratched incessantly at the deer but it didn’t have enough energy to materialize into a physical form. With its revenge thwarted, the kitten hissed and expanded until it looked like a hedgehog.
“Little Glutinous Dumpling, ah, Little Glutinous Dumpling! How come you haven’t learned how to be obedient yet? Your fate is grasped in my hands as I’m your master. Therefore, you need to be more respectful to me and more polite! Do you understand?” Yu Xiaocao was bored silly so she deliberately teased the arrogant little divine stone.
[You’re not allowed to call me by ‘Little Glutinous Dumpling’! This name is not impressive at all! Please call me ‘Lord Divine Stone’...yeouch! Make it quickly leave! I’m all covered in saliva and it’s disgusting!]
The little divine stone was like a tiger out of its native territory. There was nothing it could do against the nasty human and the weak creature in front of it. In the past, it could have settled the two of them without even moving a single finger.
[Okay! Master, my dear master! I concede, please push it away and help me take a bath!] As the Goddess Nuwa’s divine stone that loved cleanliness the most, the Little Glutinous Dumpling finally admitted defeat to its vile master.
The little divine stone bit on a small handkerchief: ‘Goddess Nuwa, did you know that your most favorite stone is being tormented in some nameless corner of the world? Please save me quickly!’
Although the little divine stone didn’t want to admit it, but Goddess Nuwa had also given it a name that was very similar to the one that its current master’s little brother had given it! This is also why when Xiaocao previously asked its name it refused to tell her. As a grand and magnificent heavenly divine stone, having a name that was given by weak human with mucus dripping out of his nose made the stone feel very ashamed. (Author’s note: Little Shitou’s protest: When I was very young, I didn't have a runny nose, ok!)
By the time Yu Xiaocao had almost fallen asleep from boredom, the door to the west room was pushed open again. A chubby and pudgy figure, who looked almost exactly like ball, snuck through the crack in the door. Behind him was a little servant girl who was repeatedly saying: “Little master, be careful of the doorsill. Don’t fall down!”
“Tiny! Tiny, Doudou wants to play with Tiny!” The little child Doudou saw the little roe deer on the kang bed and rushed over to climb onto it. However, his little legs were too weak. His hands pushed on the bed as he tried to climb up, but still failed after a good amount of time.
Xiaocao chuckled wickedly at the scene and had no intention to help the little boy. Little Doudou’s eyes held back tears as he looked at her accusedly.
At the corner of her eye, Yu Xiaocao could see a graceful figure walking into the room. She hurriedly coughed a couple of times and pretended to be weak and powerless. She quietly said: “Doudou, your older sister is sick right now. You shouldn’t climb up here and inhale the air from my illness. If you like, you can bring Tiny back to your room to play…”
Before Little Doudou could agree, he was interrupted by his mother’s cough: “It’s not a big deal. Let Doudou sit with Shitou at the head of the kang bed and play. I, your aunt, would like to have a talk with you.”
The servant girl bent down to lift the little master onto the kang bed. Under Madam Zhao’s hint, she left the west room and even closed the door in passing.
“Xiaocao, your grandmother was in the midst of a temper tantrum yesterday. As her daughter-in-law, I can’t willfully disobey her wishes, right?” Madam Zhao sat on the side of the kang bed and pulled at Xiaocao’s hand. She seemed to be full of sincerity.
Xiaocao sneered on the inside: ‘Who doesn’t know that the person the old hag fears the most is you, Madam Zhao. The old lady would think even your farts smelled good. Yesterday, had there been the slightest movement in the east room, Madam Zhang would have dialed back a ton. Younger Aunt, ah, Younger Aunt, you’re trying to trick a little child!' (Author’s note: You’re a little kid right now!)
The blank expression on Xiaocao’s eyes (Author’s note: Actually, it was just her being lost in her thoughts while roasting her aunt.) made Madam Zhao feel a bit powerless. She didn’t try to skirt around the issue anymore and directly said: “Xiaocao, your younger uncle and I are in town, so we need to rent a house, pay for his tutor, and buy your uncle brushes and ink. We also need to spend money on food and drink. After trying to scrimp and save, your younger uncle and I were only able to save just one to two taels. How much money did your father borrow from Eldest Uncle? Take this first and repay some now!”
Xiaocao quietly coughed a few times in order to show that she ‘was very weak’. She looked down at the silver bits in Madam Zhao’s hand and couldn’t help but sneer on the inside: ‘She really thinks other people are fools, eh! Every month, Madam Zhang would send more than enough money to cover her son and daughter-in-law’s living expenses. From Madam Li’s sour comments, I know that the amount of money she’s given her youngest son in a month is more than equal to the amount of money our whole family spends in half a year.’
In a short three years, the couple not only didn’t have to worry about their food and living expenses, but also bought a little servant girl to help them. With the rest of the money, they also bought a little stall in a somewhat desolate street in town to conduct a small grocery business.
On the outside they claimed that the shop stall was the dowry from the Zhao Family. However, as a dowry, how come it wasn’t given to them when they got engaged and was only sent three years later? Such a story could only fool a simpleton ah!
However, in front of Younger Aunt’s ‘goodwill’, Xiaocao would not expose her lies and instead tactfully refused the offer: “Younger Aunt, Doudou is still little and Younger Uncle needs to continue his schooling. You guys have a lot of expenses ahead. Xiaocao thanks Younger Aunt for your good intentions; however, you should keep these silver bits and bring them back home!”
“Older sister, older sister! The money is for you to visit a doctor!” Little Doudou crawled over from the head of the kang bed and attempted to grab the silver bits from his mother and put them in Xiaocao’s hand. With great effort, he managed to stand up and press his forehead against hers. Whenever the little fellow became sick, his mother would also treat him the same way.
The concern of a child was never cheap or discounted. Xiaocao felt her heart soften and she pinched the little guy’s chubby cheeks and said gently: “Our Doudou is really sweet. Older sister will get better soon. When the snows melt from the mountain, I’ll go there to catch some small fish and simmer Doudou’s favorite fish stew!”
“Okay, okay!” Little Doudou clapped his hands and jumped while squealing in delight on the kang bed. On accident, he tripped on the quilt and fell head first into the soft blankets. He puffed and struggled for a long time but wasn’t able to pull himself up. It was only with Little Shitou’s help that the little fellow finally got rescued.
“Older Sister, get better soon! You need to catch fishies and simmer stew for Doudou to eat!” Little Doudou didn’t care that his butt was still tender from falling and instead sweetly came over and laid on Xiaocao’s quilt. He fixed his damp and shiny dark eyes on Xiaocao. The expression on his face looked exactly like the little roe deer’s hungry expression whenever it wanted to drink more mystic-stone water.
“Okay, okay, okay! I’ll simmer fish stew for Doudou to eat!”
After getting Xiaocao’s promise, Little Doudou grinned happily and his attention was once again taken away by the lively roe deer that was running around on the kang bed. The fat little boy went on all fours and chased after the little roe deer in a rollicking chase.
Yu Xiaocao handed back the silver bits that were stuffed in her hand by the little fellow and said: “Younger Aunt, although we did borrow a lot of money this time, I overheard father saying that because of the snowstorm, the town is really lacking game, so we can sell them for a good price. On the flip side, if there wasn’t a lot of snow, then father could just go up to the mountains more times and would still be able to almost return the money before the end of the year. If this one tael was given to Eldest Granduncle, it wouldn’t be close to enough to return the money we owe. It’s probably better to sell some game and save it until we can return all of the money at once.”
“What kind of medication was prescribed that cost more than a couple taels?” When Madam Zhao found out that a couple taels of money would not be able to pay back the debt, she couldn’t help but feel a little bit suspicious.
Yu Xiaocao lightly sighed and said: “Doctor Sun said that my innate constitution was really too weak. It should have been carefully nourished but the food I got wasn’t enough to keep up. So he needed to add some strengthening tonics and so forth to the medication, which is why it’s more expensive. He also said that after I finish the medication, my father needs to bring me back to town for another visit. If my body is still weak and not properly nourished, then I might need to continue to take medication.”
As she spoke, she furrowed her brows and scowled, as if she hated to take medication but was stuck without a choice.
After finishing this medication, she might need to take more? No wonder her mother-in-law said that this girl was a medicine guzzling fiend! Madam Zhao took back the money in her hand without hesitation and said: “Xiaocao, don’t worry about the money. It’s most important to take care of your body. When I get back, I’ll negotiate with your younger uncle and see if we can raise some money, ok? Doudou, let’s go back now, don’t disturb your older sister’s rest.”
“No! Doudou wants to play with Tiny!” Because of the snow storm, Doudou had been stuck inside and seldom went out, so naturally he didn’t want to go back to their room again.
Madam Zhao tried to convince the little fellow to leave but saw that he was almost in tears. Against her will, she could only agree to let Doudou stay in the west room and she left to go back to her room by herself.Previous Chapter Next Chapter
Translator note: any bets on whether Xiaocao’s younger uncle and aunt will actually raise money for her?