Li Xiao’er had no choice but to calm down. What could he do if he went out? Father even hit Third Brother. If he went out to argue for Second Brother, and if that got spread around, it would tarnish his reputation! No one likes a meddling ger who interferes in his elder brother’s affairs at his maternal house!
Li Ama gave a sharp look to Li Xiao’er, who hesitated, but as soon as he obediently sat down, Li Ama expression improved a bit.
Old man Li shook off Eldest Li’s hand and gritted his teeth angrily at Li Laosan, who had a face full of grievances. “You better explain it clearly to me today! Where did your Second Brother wrong you?! Explain it clearly to me! Otherwise, I’ll kill you, you beast!”
Li Laosan gasped for breath. He looked at Li Changfeng standing at the courtyard gate, and just as he was about to speak, he caught a glimpse of the pleading look in his own wife’s eyes. Him! Him! He couldn’t bring himself to say it!
“Second Brother! Second Brother… he didn’t wrong me.”
Li Laosan squatted down in a daze. How could he say it? That Second Brother had feelings for his wife? But Second Brother hadn’t done anything intimate with Li Wangshi. Even when they ate together as a family, Second Brother always sat at the farthest seat to avoid suspicion. To say that his wife had feelings for Second Brother? But he had married him and even gave birth to a child!
Second Brother didn’t wrong him! When he was young, it was Second Brother who half-raised him. It was he who used his literacy skills to secretly change the name on the conscription list. It was he who used his reputation as a scholar to convince the Wang family to marry their son to him. It was him! It was him who wronged Second Brother!
Li Laosan couldn’t speak, his eyes red. He wanted to admit his mistake but also felt unwilling. He knew very well who was right and who was wrong, but he couldn’t bring himself to admit that he was the one at fault!
Eldest Li looked at Li Laosan’s state and couldn’t bear it either. Before Li Xiao’er was born, Li Laosan was the youngest. With Old man Li and Li Ama busy, he was already a half-grown child, working alongside them. So Li Laosan could be said to have grown up hand in hand with Li Changfeng!
“Father, Third Brother knows he was wrong. Don’t be angry anymore.”
Li Laosan listened to Eldest Li saying he was wrong and instinctively wanted to defend himself. But when he opened his mouth, it felt like his throat was choked, and he couldn’t utter a word!
Old man Li sighed heavily, sat down on the stool that Eldest Li had arranged, and looked at Li Wangshi, who hadn’t said a word from beginning to end. Oh, what a calamity! It was his momentary softness that caused the current dysfunction in the family!
“Second Brother, speak up too. Why do you want to separate the family?”
When Li Changfeng heard Li Laosan saying that he hadn’t wronged him, Li Changfeng had already completely let go of the grudges and grievances between the three of them. Previously, he let go of his feelings for Li Wangshi, and now, he let go of the betrayal and disharmony between them as brothers.
“I have two reasons for wanting to separate the family.” Now, whether it was Li Ama and Li Xiao’er in the room or Old man Li outside, they all pricked up their ears to understand why Li Changfeng would propose to separate the family.
“First, I want to marry out. So, I must enter the new household without any baggage to avoid unnecessary disputes with my wife in the future. Second…” Li Changfeng looked around at everyone, “You’ve all heard the village rumors. As long as I don’t leave this house, it will always exist!”
Eldest Li didn’t quite understand, “A righteous person has nothing to fear from a crooked shadow!”
Li Changfeng shook his head. “We may not be afraid, but our younger brother hasn’t gotten married yet. Big Brother, Third Brother, you both have children. Children are sensitive, and they understand what others say, which doesn’t make them feel good! So I want to separate the family, but I still have the responsibility to support Father and Mother. I won’t forget about that!”
“That’s right! Yang Huzi from the Yang family always mocks our family, saying that his mother says our family is not decent!”
Eldest Li’s second son muttered, complaining to Li Ama and Li Xiao’er!
“Don’t listen to those cheap talkers!” Li Ama scolded the child, and everyone in the courtyard could hear it clearly.
Li Wangshi hung his head, silently shedding tears. What could he do? Li Changfeng was suddenly sent off for military service without even a goodbye. He was not young anymore, and if he didn’t get married…!
Translated on ho lo lo novels dot com.
The following year, Li Laosan passed the imperial examination and privately visited the Wang family to propose marriage. They were overjoyed because he was now the wife of a scholar!
At first, Li Wangshi was hesitant, but he couldn’t resist the sweet and persuasive words of Li Laosan. He was different from the reserved Li Changfeng. As time went on, with the silent consent of Li Wangshi, it didn’t take long for Li Laosan to visit the Wang family and propose marriage. It’s unclear what Li Laosan said to Li Ama and Old man Li, but it happened.
After getting married, Li Laosan treated Li Wangshi well. Although he was not very skilled in work and had a somewhat scholarly demeanor, Li Wangshi was satisfied. However, things became awkward when Li Changfeng returned to the village. Even when washing clothes by the river, he faced gossip from his once friendly relatives and neighbors, with their unpleasant remarks filling his ears.
Li Laosan noticed the unusual behavior of Li Wangshi. He stood up, walked over to his side, and embraced his shoulder. He wiped his wife’s face and felt the wetness of his tears.
Li Ama took Li Xiao’er and the children out of the main room and exchanged glances with Old man Li. After a moment of silence, Li Ama spoke up.
“Eldest Brother, go invite the village head and several clan uncles!”
Eldest Li opened his mouth to speak, but when he saw Li Xiao’er and the children behind him, he sighed and walked out of the courtyard.
“Eldest’s wife and Third son’s wife, go prepare the food. Xiao’er, take the children to go pick vegetables. Second son, Third son, come into the main room.”
Following Li Ama’s instructions, everyone went about their tasks. It was getting late, and usually by this time, they would have started their meal. They wondered if the children were hungry.
Inside the main room, Li Ama went back to his room, Old man Li sat at the head, smoking his pipe in silence, while Li Changfeng and Li Laosan remained silent.
After a while, Li Ama came out with an old-fashioned money pouch in his hand and directly stuffed it into Li Changfeng’s arms. “There is a total of forty-five taels of silver in the house, including the ten taels you gave earlier. If you want a clean break, you have to accept this money before I agree.”
Li Changfeng stopped pushing the pouch back and accepted it.
Seeing Li Changfeng taking the money, Li Ama’s expression softened, and he continued, “Out of these forty-five taels, your father and I will take eight taels, and the four of you brothers should each receive ten taels. However, considering that Eldest Brother has more children, he will receive twelve taels, and since your Third Brother also have a child, he will receive ten taels. Xiao’er will use eight taels for dowry and wedding expenses. Therefore, Second son, you will receive seven taels of silver. Third son, do you have anything to say?”
After Li Ama finished speaking, the previously silent Li Laosan asked, “Only Second Brother wants to split up the family, but Big Brother and I don’t need to, right?”
“Of course not. I’m just telling you the amount of money you should receive, so you have an idea in your hearts. It’s a matter of accountability to your loved ones.”
“Father! Ama! Village head and several clan uncles have arrived!”
Eldest Li’s voice came from the courtyard, and Li Ama and Old man Li hurriedly stood up and went out to welcome them.
Village head was a man in his forties, slender and with a small beard. The three clan uncles were all in their seventies, and in the Li family clan, they were considered respectable elders.
After welcoming Village head and the others into the main room, they lit an oil lamp and served their homegrown tea.
“It’s so late, and it’s really troubling for Village head and the clan uncles to come all this way. But if we don’t resolve this matter today, the village gossip will only increase, which is harmful to our Li family clan.”
Old man Li handed the tobacco to Village head and the clan uncles, speaking up.
Village head recalled the rumors in the village and looked at Li Changfeng and Li Laosan standing behind Eldest Li, pondering for a moment. “So, how do you intend to handle this matter?”
“By splitting up!”
Old man Li said firmly.
The clan uncles exchanged a glance and nodded silently. This was the best solution. Not to mention Old man Li’s family, if such rumors spread, it wouldn’t just harm their family’s reputation but also the entire Li family clan. The clan uncles had many grandchildren, and there were quite a few unmarried grandsons and gers among them.
Village head stroked his small beard, nodded, and thought to himself that he had actually intended to discuss this matter separately with Old man Li. After all, the vivid and detailed rumors, if they continued for too long, would not be good for the village as a whole.
The clan uncle sitting on the left side of Village head was the first to bring up the topic. “So, how do you plan to divide? How will you split it?”
Li Changfeng heard this and walked up to Village head and the others, respectfully bowing as a junior.
“It’s the junior who wants to split up and leave the family!” Before anyone could ask, Li Changfeng explained to Village head and the others the reasons why he wanted to split up and leave the family.
“…So, I voluntarily want to separate and leave the family. I hope that Village head and the clan uncles can understand and agree!”
After having a private conversation with Village head and the clan uncles, as well as discussing it with Old man Li and Li Ama, Village head and the clan uncles ultimately decided to be the witnesses of this family split.
Li Laosan wrote the separation agreement, and Village head and the clan uncles signed it, making two copies. In the end, Li Changfeng had Li Laosan add one more clause: “As long as the elderly couple of the Li family is alive, Li Changfeng will bear the responsibility of supporting them and will not refuse!”
This action pleased Village head and the clan uncles. Even Old man Li and Li Ama, who had doubts about the family split, felt relieved. Second son was a man of benevolence and righteousness.
Village head and the clan uncles politely declined Li Ama’s offer to stay for a meal and returned to their respective homes. As soon as they left, the atmosphere in the Li family became somewhat sour.
“The food is ready, bring it all to the table! The children must be hungry!”
Upon hearing this, Eldest Li’s wife and Li Wangshi brought the dishes to the table, and with their own children, they joined their husbands at the table. Old man Li sat at the head of the table and said, “Bring me my wine!”
Thingyan: Ai, didn’t want to study so, I ended up finishing the whole chapter lol. Please enjoy 😀
P.S. If you’re reading this message, I just wanna let you know that I really appreciate your support on my first ever translation project 🙂