“Father, separating from the main family and living apart was my idea! It has nothing to do with the situation involving Mother and Eldest Sister-in-law!” Yu Hai spoke again as he looked at Old Yu.
Old Yu’s frown deepened as he scolded, “What do you mean by separating from the family? Stop making a fuss! When your leg gets better, we can revisit this again!!”
Yu Xiaocao suddenly interjected, “If we don’t split from the main family, then the whole second branch will be sold out! Grandfather, if Father didn’t come out to save us, Xiaolian and I wouldn’t be here anymore. We should separate from the family now so no one else gets any ideas to sell us again!”
“Selling people off? Old Yu’s normally murky eyes suddenly revealed a coldness that sent shivers down people. He remembered that his wife had gone out earlier and then connected the dots. He glared furiously at Madam Zhang and Madam Li and snarled, “I’m not dead yet. Let’s see who has the guts to sell you!! The Yu Family will not do something as disgraceful as selling our sons and daughters!!”
Old Yu seldom had his temper roused, so Madam Li lowered her head in shock and hid behind her mother-in-law’s back. Madam Zhang cowered down but still rebutted fiercely, “What’s wrong with being a servant girl at the Zhou Family? They won’t have to worry about food or clothing and can even get paid one to two taels a month. Where else can you find such a good deal? We spent more than half of our money on treating Second Son’s injuries. At that time, we didn’t even know when he would wake up from his coma. His medication costs a few silver bits a day. Lately the family’s income has also decreased…I was just trying to think of the future of our whole family, ah!”
“Well isn’t Second Son awake now? Don’t ever bring up splitting the family up again!” Old Yu was well aware of Madam Zhang’s true personality. When his first wife passed away, how did he make such an error of judgement and decide to marry such a troublesome wretch?
In the past, he had also fought with Madam Zhang when she treated Second Son poorly. However, she always threw a colossal temper tantrum and would bewail about the family’s troubles and her own difficulties. Sometimes, she would agree to change at the time, but in a blink of an eye would always revert back to her old ways.
Back when Yu Hai was eight years old, he had almost drowned trying to catch fish in the river because he was so hungry. At that time, Old Yu had made a firm resolution to divorce her. However, he didn’t expect for Madam Zhang to find out that she was pregnant with his unborn child. After fighting with her, he decided to keep her as his wife. Unexpectedly, after she gave birth to Third Son, Madam Zhang became even more harsh and severe. She was solely preoccupied with her own biological children and no longer took care of the son and daughter from Old Yu’s first marriage.
As the years passed by, everytime he rebuked her, she always made a scene and threw a temper tantrum. Gradually, the children grew up. For the sake of keeping the peace in the family, he could only turn a blind eye to her doings…only, it had made things difficult for Second Son’s family.
Old Yu always felt somewhat guilty inside regarding his kind hearted and capable second son. Doctor Sun had said that his right leg would likely be unfit for use in the future and if it was serious enough, he might even have to amputate it. Second Son’s family had both sick and weak members. If they didn’t split the family, as long as he was there, there would always be some food for them to eat…however if he passed away, and Second Son’s children were older and could be of use…
Contrary to his expectations, Yu Hai had made up his mind and he sincerely said, “Father! If you truly love me as your son, then you would split my branch from the family! Your son is begging you!!”
Seeing the earnest look in his son’s eyes, Old Yu felt a sharp pang to his heart. When his first wife was dying, she repeatedly requested that he take good care of their son and daughter. However, he wasn’t able to fulfill his promise. His oldest daughter had married someone who lived far away. The journey back to visit took around four to five days of travel. Ever since his daughter birthed children of her own, she rarely came back to visit her parental home. As for his first wife’s most beloved son? He was now a cripple—when he died, how would he could he face his first wife?
Lost in his thoughts, Old Yu thought he could once again see that beautiful young girl in the field of green vegetables smiling sweetly at him again…
With Madam Zhang’s poor personality and the fact that his Second Son would be staying at home like a parasite in the future, Old Yu couldn’t even imagine how cruel and harsh she would be. Forget it, if Second Son wanted to split from the main family then he should leave. In the future, he would just privately help them a little and they should still be able to live out their days…
Following that, Old Yu told Dashan to invite his older brother and the village chief to come over to discuss the details of separating their families.
Old Yu’s eldest brother, Yu Lichun, was outraged on his nephew’s behalf, “I say, Third Brother! Dahai is the most hardworking person in your family! Try to find your conscience and think a little! Isn’t Dahai’s hard work the reason why your whole family can live this way? He only just came out of his coma, and you want to push him out already. Can you face his dead mother now?”
“Eldest Brother-in-law, Second Son is the one who wants to split. What does that have to do with us?” Madam Zhang was unhappy. All of these irrelevant people were here criticizing and being opinionated when it was just their own family affair to split off a branch. ‘It’s all well to talk but getting things done is another matter. If we don’t separate, will one of you take care of Second Son’s family?’
Yu Hai’s second uncle, Yu Lixia, who lived outside the village and rarely visited had a rather fiery personality. He glared at her and growled, “Men are talking here, how can a woman like you interject into official business?
Madam Zhang grumbled resentfully under her breath, “Our family is the one that’s splitting off, how could it not be related to me?
Although on paper Dongshan Village was a small fishing village, the village chief, Liu Jiashun, still had a lot of prestige. He glanced at Madam Zhang, and she became quiet immediately. Only then did he open his mouth for the first time to speak to Old Yu, “Brother Liqiu, what are your plans on splitting the family?”
Old Yu puffed on his tobacco pipe, thought a bit, and said, “I’ve already have a plan. We’ll split the family assets equally into four. Dashan and his other brothers will all get a piece each, and then I and my wife will get a piece…”
“That’s not okay! Caidie hasn’t married yet and should also get a share! Otherwise, who will give her a dowry? The Zhan Family offered eight taels as a betrothal gift for her! Also, Third Son will be participating in the preliminary round of imperial examinations in the future. His expenses will be quite a lot. Are you saying that his brother who has left the family will be raising some money for him?” As soon as she heard the proposal, Madam Zhang instantly became unhappy and blurted out her complaints to show her objections.
Old Yu tapped his pipe under the table and said, “Then we’ll split it into five equal parts and Caidie will have a portion! After we split the family, your mother and I will live with one of you and in the future our portion will go to that person’s branch when we die. After we come to an agreement, it doesn’t mean that splitting the family will lead to leaving the family. Second Son’s family can still live in the main residence with us, that way we can live in harmony and not drift apart. Dahai earned most of the money for the family’s new boat, and his legs aren’t good anymore, so the boat will go to him. In the future, renting it out could be a form of income…”
Before he could finish what he was saying, Madam Li forcefully pulled on her husband’s arm. Seeing that he didn’t say anything, she promptly spoke, “Father, Dashan and Heizi are the first son and first grandson of the family, so it is their duty to look after their parents and grandparents. Naturally, you two should live with us. However, my husband only knows how to go fishing to make an income. If the boat is given to Second Brother-in-law, are we supposed to eat and drink solely from the wind itself ah?”
Madam Zhang had long been holding back her complaints and this time they finally all came out, “Eldest Son’s family is correct! As the head of the household, you are clearly being too biased! Without a fishing boat, how are we supposed to make a living? Do you still want Third Son to take his examinations? Do you still want Caidie to get married in the future? What about Heizi’s future marriage? You really want all of our lives ah! I don’t agree, I absolutely don’t agree!”
“Don’t we also have three plots of land? Eldest Son and I can go into town and work some temporary jobs again…didn’t we also live life like that before?” Old Yu stayed silent for a bit before he finally replied as he was thinking about his studious and talented Third Son.
Madam Zhang’s loud, shrill voice pierced the ears of everyone in the room as she hollered, “The amount of crops produced by those three plots of sandy land in one year is only enough to feed our household for six months. In the past we had fewer children, I didn’t dare to eat too much or get new clothing in an effort to save. We were only able to amass this much property with great difficulty. But you, you’re giving it all to Second Son! Yes, Eldest Son was from my first marriage, if you don’t care about him, then whatever! But aren’t Third Son and Caidie both your flesh and blood? You old man, you’re not giving us a living road! This is not okay! The fishing boat absolutely cannot be given to Second Son unless you want to strangle the rest of us to death!”
The slow of speech and honest Eldest Son, Yu Dashan, also timidly interjected after being pinched by his wife several times, “Father, other than fishing, I don’t know how to do anything else. If I go into town, I won’t be able to find any work…I also don’t agree in giving the boat to Second Brother…”
“That’s right, that’s right! Mother and Father are living with us, while Youngest Sister-in-law hasn’t gotten married yet. Third Brother-in-law is still in school and still needs to be with the family. Thus, the fishing boat absolutely cannot be given away!” Madam Li hastily agreed and stared at Old Yu pathetically.
Both Yu Bo and Yu Caidie stayed silent with their heads lowered. No one could tell what their thoughts were on any of this.
Yu Hai calmly listened to everyone and only now did he speak, “Father, the doctor told me that my leg will never get better. It’s still up in the air whether I can stand on them in the future. Even if I had the fishing boat, I wouldn’t be able to go out to sea and catch fish. I don’t want the fishing boat. As for the three plots of land, there’s a decent amount of harvest to be had from them in a year. So just give the land to us and we’ll have my wife and children farm them.”
Yu Xiaocao didn’t know how to catch fish so she really didn’t care much about that fishing boat. She was currently thinking about the future. If they were still living together, it still wouldn’t be a clean break. If their branch suddenly started living well, with Madam Zhang’s and Madam Li’s temperaments, wouldn’t they still cause trouble for them every couple of days? What did they have to do to live farther from this pack of wolves?
Just as she was thinking, her father spoke again, “Eldest Brother’s child is about to grow up and Third Brother can only squeeze into the tiny west room when he visits. If our whole family still lived together, it would definitely be crowded. How about you give the Yu Family’s old residence to us? After cleaning it up a bit, it should be livable…”
The Yu Family’s old residence was at the foot of the West Mountains and it was a three-room house made of mud bricks. It also had a decently sized courtyard and behind the rooms was a large pond. Back when Yu Hai’s mother was still alive, the whole family had lived there. Later, as their circumstances got better, the whole family moved into the village, where it was closer to the sea.
No one had lived in the old residence for the past ten years. Although every year they would go back and do some small fixes, no one knew how much damage there was on the house. Madam Zhang thought for a bit, decided not to make a fuss, but wished she could still keep those three plots of sandy land. Even though the land didn’t produce a lot, not having it meant that in the future they would need to spend money to eat grains and starches. It was not surprising Madam Zhang wanted to keep it. However, compared to the fishing boat, the three plots of land were really not as important.
In the end, other than the shabby, old residence and those three plots of land, Xiaocao’s family also got a cooking pot, a few bowls and plates, and some farming tools. When Old Yu raised the issue of splitting the money into five parts, Madam Zhang’s face turned so dark that someone might have thought her mother had died.
However, with the village chief and the rest of the Yu Family elders present, no one would believe her if she said that there wasn’t any money. She reluctantly fished out a few strings of copper and a few silver bits from a jar and threw them onto the kang bed. She huffily said, “When Second Son got injured, we spent almost all of our money. Look, this is what’s left!”
Xiaocao eyeballed the money and estimated that the coins and bits together at most came out to be about ten taels, and they needed to split them five ways. Her family could only get two taels at most. It wasn’t even enough to fix their new home!Previous Chapter Next Chapter