Chapter 6: Going To Town
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This is a fan work and the interpretation represents only the translator’s personal views without any input from the author.
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After finishing the meal, Liu Hong cleared the table to wash up while Liu Gao shi met with He shi and Ma shi. Taking out the money her sons brought home today, she counted out 600 wen to give to each of them. “This money is for you to plan for the New Year.
Buy some cotton for your children’s clothes and shoes.”
Ma shi and He shi agreed and kept the money.
Every year for the New Year, the children’s clothes and shoes would be prepared by their own mothers while Liu Gao shi would provide the funds.
Of course, the meals and everything else were all still communal, but Liu Gao shi would not worry herself with what each individual child required, preferring to let their mothers deal with it.
How much was given each year was not fixed – last year they were given 400 wen. This year, because there was more money from the work found, Liu Gao shi was less tight with the purse strings.
The whole family sat chatting for a while before heading to their own rooms.
Today’s matter with Third and his wife was not mentioned, as if they didn’t exist.
Little Liu Sen, who was starting to nod off, was carried by He shi back to the room and placed on the bed.
He shi gently patted him to coax him to sleep while Liu Changgeng squatted at the doorway to smoke.
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“Mblka qyvbla, yal ol tskdt vs vsod vsxsaaso” Tl pbk ypjle.
Eypd’v kv yzalyeu pyke Rq ol ts nzspla vs ulya lde, vbl vbkdtp ol dlle vs cwu okzz cl xsal lmrldpkhl.
Fkdnl eye byp yzalyeu vsze wp vs ts, ol pbswze bwaau yde ts.”
“Mbld pbswze ol cakdt Nkw Fbw Xa pbswze ol ypj Nkw Fbw vs pvyu yde oyvnb Dw’la yde Fldgk, yde cakdt Nkw Nkd kdpvlye” Tl pbk ypjle.
Nkw Ubydttldt qlzz pkzldv qsa y obkzl.
“Tso ycswv ol yzps cakdt Nkw Fbw, yde ypj Nkw Tsdt vs blzr oyvnb vbl uswdtla sdlp” Tl pbk pwttlpvle kdpvlye.
Nkw Dw’la bye fwpv ldvlale vbl assx yde oyp ralryakdt vs ts wr vbl jydt. Xd blyakdt obyv Tl pbk pyke, pbl kxxlekyvlzu pyke, “Pye, xwx! R oydv vs ts vss! Jakdt xl yzsdt!”
Tl pbk alqzlmkhlzu alqwple.
“Ls, obyv yal usw tskdt vblal vs es”
“R byhld’v clld vs vsod clqsal! R oydv vs pll obyv kv’p zkjl, oblal yal vbl rzynlp vs byhl qwd, yp olzz yp vbl vurlp sq rlsrzl vblal yal kd vsod.” Nkw Dw’la jdlo vbyv bla eye oswze cl lypkla vs rlapwyel, ps pbl oldv vs tayc bsze sq vbl piwyvvkdt Nkw Ubydttldt’p yax, pbyjkdt kv yp pbl pyke, “Pye, R oydv vs ts, cakdt xl yzsdt rzlypl! R oydv vs ts yde pll, R’hl dlhla clld ps qya yoyu clqsal.”
Liu Changgeng had just managed to take two puffs before he was shaken left and right by his daughter.
Unstable, he was just about to turn his head to speak when he saw the smoke from his mouth drift toward his daughter, causing her to cough loudly.
He quickly started to fan her to diffuse the smoke, before he decided not to smoke anymore and emptied his pipe on the doorsill.
Smiling, he stroked Liu Xu’er’s head.
“Alright, you can go….
How about we bring all the children along with us”
He carried Liu Xu’er atop the kang, while asking He shi.
He shi evidently had more concerns about this, so she resolutely shook her head.
We won’t be able to manage with two adults and three children.
Liu Shu is still a child; do you think he won’t go and explore if he sees something interesting If they are all running around, what would happen if we lose one of them”
Liu Xu’er looked at Liu Sen and softly said, “Not three, mum.
You have four children….”
In the midst of discussion, He shi and Liu Changgeng were tickled into laughter.
He shi knocked her gently on her small head and smilingly huffed.
“Mum definitely knows she has four children! What do you want to do It’s not enough for you to go, do you also want to bring Senzi along Are you able to piggyback him or carry him!”
Liu Xu’er went over to hold onto He shi’s arm.
“Mum, I promise I definitely will not run around! You can ask gege to hold my hand! I will definitely follow you closely!” She tilted her head and looked at Liu Shu.
“Dage, will you be able to carry didi”
In the end, Liu Shu was still just seven.
Of course he wanted to go to the town.
So on hearing what was said, he laughed sheepishly and scratched his head.
“Then could you watch me” Liu Xu’er asked instead.
Liu Shu immediately pushed out his chest.
“Definitely! I promise that I will not run around and will watch over didi and meimei.”
Seeing his children, Liu Changgeng felt a bit distressed.
He gave a conciliatory smile and softly said to He shi, “Why don’t we just bring all of them along.
Senzi is still so small, I will carry him so he definitely won’t go astray.
Liu Shu will watch the others; they definitely won’t run around.”
He shi still wanted to object, but since her husband had already said so, it wasn’t good for her to continue to refuse.
And seeing Liu Xu’er’s face full of hope, if she really insisted on refusing to bring her, how disappointed would she be He shi hesitated.
In a huff, she pointed at Liu Xu’er’s forehead.
“You are so nosy! You’re still such a tiny little button, what do you want to do in town If you go, you are not allowed to ask to buy things that catch your fancy!”
That last sentence was undoubtedly an agreement.
Liu Xu’er was so happy, she nearly jumped with joy.
Loudly she promised, “I know, I won’t ask for things randomly!”
Liu Shu and the anxious looking Liu Lin sighed in relief, and both their faces broke out in grins.
They hurriedly went to bed.
Liu Xu’er had truly never been to town.
Furthermore, the reason she wanted to go was not for fun, but to see what she could do with her current ability.
With her family so poor, she was anxious to help improve the situation.
The next day, before the sun had risen, Liu Changgeng and He shi got up in quick succession.
Liu Changgeng swept the courtyard while He shi went to the kitchen to warm up a few wholemeal buns to bring in a basket.
These would be their rations for the day.
Family members started getting up one after the other.
Liu Lin was worried that mum and dad would change their minds, so when Liu Shu got up, he also woke, and called for Liu Xu’er and Liu Sen to get up.
Liu Sen was upset at being woken so early and started fussing and crying.
It took the three older ones a long time to calm him.
After sweeping the courtyard, Liu Changgeng went to borrow a donkey and a cart from one of the villagers while He shi carefully broke the news to Liu Gao shi of bringing all four children along.
Unsurprisingly, Liu Gao shi was shocked and unwilling.
It took a while for He shi to coax her before Liu Gao shi grudgingly agreed.
Feng County’s town within Hanzhong Prefecture was considered a middling sized town.
There were four city gates around the town, and for a horse drawn carriage to enter, there was a charge of two wen. There were also two or three guarded parking areas for the carriages at the gateway.
It cost one wen to park there, so of course Liu Changgeng opted to park the cart outside the town.
It was definitely more lively within town.
Especially since it was the end of the 10th month, increasingly the nearby villagers would all be starting to prepare the items for the New Year.
There were sellers and buyers; all were unwilling to miss this market day.
Liu Changgeng was carrying Liu Sen while He shi held onto Liu Lin and Liu Xu’er’s hands.
Holding onto her other hand was Liu Shu.
The whole family maintained this formation while browsing the market.
Although it was stated that they were there to buy things, because He shi felt that this was too expensive and that was not cheap, she could not bear to buy anything after all.
All the way through the meat and produce section, nothing was bought.
Heading toward the street selling cloth, He shi kept calculating and recalculating before finally buying 10 chi1 of cotton cloth, spending 80 wen.
“Let’s just buy a bit more cotton cloth.
We don’t need to buy anything else.” He shi repeatedly said to Liu Changgeng.
Liu Changgeng smiled and nodded his head.
Suddenly, a man turned around.
It was someone familiar – a fellow villager who stayed on the eastern side, called Shi Qian.
He quickly hailed him, “Brother Shi, did you also come to town for market day”
Shi Qian had also spotted him.
He quickly smiled and nodded in greeting.
“Yes, did Second Brother Liu also come for market day Wow, and brought your whole family along” He saw the string of ducklings behind Liu Changgeng.
He shi also paused her footsteps.
Seeing Shi Qian look over, she quickly nodded a greeting.
Liu Shu, Liu Lin and Liu Xu’er rushed to politely say, “Uncle Shi.”
While the adults spoke, Liu Xu’er had spotted someone selling rabbits.
Over 10 rabbits were placed in a bamboo basket – they were long-furred rabbits.
Her eyes brightened.
Quickly she shook He shi’s hand.
“Mum, let go of me, I want to look at the rabbits over there.
He shi lowered her head to look at her.
“Don’t run around!”
“I’m not running around, it’s just over there!” Liu Xu’er pointed to the side.
He shi glanced over.
Noticing that it was nearby, and seeing that Liu Changgeng and Shi Qian would be chatting for a while, she relaxed her hold.
Liu Xu’er quickly ran over with Liu Shu and Liu Lin hurrying behind her.
Liu Xu’er squatted in front of the basket.
Seeing the snowy furred little rabbits, her eyes were filled with delight.
It was indeed a long-furred rabbit, she had identified them correctly! She had previously raised one before.
Rabbits are an easy animal to keep, and they breed easily and quickly.
Right now, she was too young, so she didn’t have the strength to do a lot of things, but rearing rabbits was not the same.
She could raise them by herself.
Liu Xu’er quickly started to consider the situation.
Liu Lin pressed forward to have a look.
He too found them cute, but didn’t find them to be anything special.
He came over, stretched his hand out and wanted to pull her up.
“Xu’er, let’s go.
Liu Xu’er stubbornly refused to get up, using her body weight to drag him down.
Liu Lin himself was not big – he pulled at her for a while, but was unable to get her up. Liu Shu stuck his head from the side.
He pensively looked at the rabbits before looking again at the enamored Liu Xu’er and wanted to say something.
“We need to leave, stop looking.” He shi came over.
“Mum! Can you buy me two little rabbits please” Liu Xu’er immediately looked up at her and asked hopefully.
He shi immediately shook her head.
“Who has the spare cash to buy these Hurry, get up, we need to go.” Seeing that Liu Xu’er was refusing to move, she added a sentence.
“Before we left, what did you promise mum! You’re not allowed to ask for things randomly!”
“I’m not randomly asking, mum, I don’t have anything else I want, just two of these rabbits.” Liu Xu’er looked beggingly at He shi and reached out to grasp her dress while making a pitiful face.
He shi didn’t have time to say anything when a laughing “puchi” came from the side!
The three looked over and saw a young married woman at the side.
She was holding the hand of a five to seven-year-old boy.
The laugh had come from the young lad.
At a glance, Liu Xu’er saw that it was Aunt Shi and Shi Cheng.
She quickly stood up and obediently said.
“Hello Aunt Shi.” Liu Shu and Liu Lin also quickly followed with an, “Aunt Shi.”
Shi Cheng’s mum smiled and nodded her head.
“What obedient children.” She then turned to greet He shi, “Have all of you come”
Liu Xu’er continued to squat down and look at the rabbits.
She heard Shi Cheng laughing at the side, so she turned to stare at him, before huffily turning away again.
He shi quickly smiled and nodded at her.
“Yes, Mrs Shi.
Changgeng had just seen Brother Shi earlier.
I was wondering how it was that I didn’t see you and Shi Cheng ….
Are you all here also to make purchases to celebrate the New Year”
Mrs Shi nodded and smiled.
“We had just come out of that store.
We’ve just managed to clear the busy season, so it’s definitely time to prepare all the necessary items for New Year.”
“That’s right, so is my family.
We need to prepare now when we’re not so busy with the farming season.
Oh, by the way Mrs Shi, um, about teaching Xu’er handicraft decorative knots, we should be free for the next few days….” He shi embarrassedly said while looking at the 12 to 13- year- old girl following Mrs Shi.
This little girl was not Mrs Shi’s daughter, rather a servant girl of the family.
Examples of Chinese decorative knots Source
The Shi family was a wealthy family in the village – they had three or four servants.