Past events and surprises
Hearing that voice, both Yu Qingze and Chang Hao were stunned.
Chang Le charged forward, just as the black-clothed leader was about to grab Chang Hao’s collar. He swung the parasol, hitting the black-clothed person accurately. Seizing the opportunity when the person evaded the parasol, Chang Le lunged forward and pushed him away.
With his strength and urgency, he easily pushed the person several yards away. Caught off guard, the person fell to the ground, momentarily stunned.
Chang Le quickly helped Chang Hao up and checked him from head to toe, anxiously gesturing and asking if he was okay.
Chang Hao was still immersed in the shock of hearing his brother’s voice earlier. Now, seeing his brother’s gestures, he wondered if it had all been his imagination. Didn’t his brother call his name just now? Why was it…?
After a while, he finally snapped out of it and realized the current critical situation. He hurriedly said, “Brother, I’m fine. I just got hit on the back.”
Chang Le breathed a sigh of relief and held his brother tightly.
On the other side, Yu Qingze was also momentarily stunned but quickly regained his senses. In that brief moment, the staff in his hand was knocked away by a black-clothed person, and the pain in his hand brought him back to reality. He quickly extended his arm to block the opponent’s stick and kicked another person away. However, when he turned his head, he saw that the black-clothed leader had already gotten up and was angrily swinging the woodcutter’s knife towards Chang Le.
“Brother Le! Watch out!” Yu Qingze shouted, disregarding the sticks coming from behind, and rushed towards Chang Le with the fastest speed he had ever exhibited.
Chang Le and Chang Hao were tackled to the ground.
“Ugh!” Yu Qingze groaned as he felt a sharp pain in his left shoulder. He had been struck.
“Brother Yu!” Chang Hao exclaimed in shock. Then he saw the black-clothed person from behind approaching, and he urgently shouted, “Watch out behind you!”
Chang Le and his brother were tackled to the ground by Yu Qingze. At that moment, he also saw the black-clothed leader coming at them again. He kicked him away temporarily and then picked up the kitchen knife his brother had dropped and threw it at the person.
The black-clothed leader couldn’t dodge in time and received a deep gash on his left arm from the flying kitchen knife, causing blood to gush out.
Enraged, he roared at the bewildered henchmen behind him, “What are you standing there for? Beat them to death!”
The group of henchmen who were stunned earlier snapped back to their senses upon hearing the roar and immediately came at them with their sticks.
At this moment, Yu Qingze and the two brothers got up. The brothers also noticed the large gash on Yu Qingze’s left shoulder, with blood oozing out and staining a large area of his clothes.
Chang Le’s eyes turned red. He picked up the parasol and held it across his chest, shielding Yu Qingze and his brother behind him with a formidable demeanor.
Yu Qingze felt intense pain in his left shoulder, but now was not the time to cry out in pain. The attackers were closing in again. He gritted his teeth, glanced around, and picked up a wooden bucket, standing on Chang Le’s left side. Chang Hao also picked up his “weapons,” holding a small stool in his left hand and a wooden basin in his right, blocking them in front.
“Attack!” the black-clothed leader shouted, clutching his left arm.
The group of henchmen exchanged glances, realizing that the situation had clearly exceeded their expectations. However, since their leader had given the order, they charged forward together.
Translated on ho lo lo novels dot com.
Yu Qingze and Chang Le shielded Chang Hao behind them and started fighting against the masked black-clothed individuals.
Chang Hao had become smarter at this point and followed closely behind Yu Qingze. He seized every opportunity to throw the stool and wooden basin in his hands at the enemies, and when he ran out of objects, he picked up stones from the ground, aiming to disrupt the enemy’s line of sight and create openings for their side.
The chaotic situation continued for quite some time until a figure appeared at the other end of the road.
It was Yu Dahe from Niu Tou Village. He had been working as a dock laborer in the north of the city these past few days and had just finished his shift.
Carrying a pole on his shoulder with a bag hanging from it, he initially thought of bypassing the fight ahead. However, in the next moment, he realized that it was Chang Le and his brother, as well as Yu Qingze, who lived in Chang Le’s house, involved in the fight.
He immediately dropped the bag and swiftly ran over with the pole in hand, charging into the midst of the battle and swinging the pole to attack.
He was tall and strong, having developed strong muscles from years of farming work. He was incredibly forceful in his attacks.
Both sides were taken aback, wondering who this person was.
Chang Hao was the first to recognize him and exclaimed in joy, “Brother Dahe!”
Yu Qingze and Chang Le looked over, and Dahe coincidentally fought his way to them while asking, “What’s going on?”
Yu Qingze replied, “We don’t know, they’re robbers!”
Dahe furrowed his brow but didn’t say anything. He simply exerted even more strength in his strikes.
With Dahe’s help, Yu Qingze and the others gained the upper hand and quickly turned the tide of the battle.
Eventually, the attackers were left howling in pain, with two of them even having their masks knocked off.
Dahe took a close look at the faces of those two individuals, his brows knitted tightly together.
The black-clothed leader realized that the situation was unfavorable for them and angrily shouted, “Let’s go!”
The six black-clothed individuals quickly fled, their spirits dampened.
Yu Qingze and the others breathed a sigh of relief when they saw the black-clothed people running away.
Chang Le dropped the parasol he was holding and immediately went to Yu Qingze’s side. He saw the wound on Yu Qingze’s left shoulder, which was bleeding profusely, staining half of his clothes red. He anxiously gestured, asking how he was.
Chang Hao rushed over and said, “Big Brother Yu, are you alright? My brother said we should quickly go to the city to find a doctor.”
“Sss…” As his tension eased, the pain in his shoulder became more apparent. Yu Qingze furrowed his brow and glanced back but couldn’t see it clearly. However, he felt that it should be just a flesh wound and hadn’t reached the bone.
“I’m fine, just a minor injury.” Compared to his own injury, he was more concerned about another issue. He looked at Chang Le and said, “Brother Le, you called Xiao Hao just now. Can you speak now?”
Upon hearing this, Chang Hao became excited and said, “Yeah, brother, can you really speak now? Can you call me again?”
Chang Le looked at Yu Qingze, then at his brother, and shook his head, gesturing: Did I speak just now?
Dahe, who was nearby, asked, ” Brother Le, can you speak now?”
Seeing Chang Le’s confused expression, Yu Qingze furrowed his brow and hesitated, “You, you really don’t know?”
Chang Le shook his head. He truly had no idea.
Yu Qingze persisted and asked, “You really don’t feel anything?”
Chang Le shook his head again, indicating that he didn’t feel anything.
Chang Le furrowed his brow, and only then did he realize that his throat was aching. He reached out to touch his throat and gestured, seeking clarification. Chang Hao translated his gestures.
Yu Qingze’s eyes lit up. “Your throat hurts? That explains it. It means you really did make a sound earlier.”
Chang Le looked skeptical.
“Try again, see if you can say something,” Yu Qingze encouraged him.
Upon hearing this, Chang Hao’s eyes also brightened, shining with anticipation as he eagerly looked at his brother.
Even Dahe was filled with anticipation.
Chang Le looked at the three of them and felt a flicker of hope. He opened his mouth and tried hard to say something, but his throat only produced a wheezing sound, and no words came out.
Chang Le looked apologetically at the three of them and shook his head, indicating that he couldn’t speak.
“Brother, please, try again?” Chang Hao held onto his brother’s arm and pleaded.
The longing in his younger brother’s eyes was evident, and since Chang Le always doted on him, he tried again, but the result was the same.
Chang Hao’s eyes dimmed instantly. He had thought that his brother would be able to speak from now on, that he would hear his brother calling his name every day and be able to have conversations with him…
Chang Le gently patted his brother’s head, feeling sorry for him. He had experienced this disappointment many times before, being unable to produce sound, and he had grown accustomed to it. It was just another day as usual. However, the greater the hope, the greater the disappointment, and it was his brother’s first time having such hope, but he couldn’t fulfill it.
Yu Qingze furrowed his brow, unable to fully comprehend the situation.
Dahe also seemed disappointed and deflated.
Chang Le glanced at them, smiled apologetically, and then pointed to Yu Qingze’s wound, making two gestures.
Chang Hao: “Brother Yu, my brother says we should hurry to the town and find a doctor to treat your injury.”
Yu Qingze shook his head and said, “There’s no need to go to the town. It’s closer to the village from here. Let’s go back and ask Doctor Yu from our village to take a look at it.”
Chang Le looked at the wound, which was at least three inches long, and shook his head in disagreement. He gestured, insisting on going to the town to find a doctor. The village doctor, Doctor Yu, didn’t have a complete selection of herbs, whereas the town doctor would be better and more reliable.
Yu Qingze reassured him, saying, “Brother Le, I’m fine. The bleeding was just a bit excessive due to all the movements earlier. If you help me with a simple bandage now and I don’t move around, the bleeding will stop soon. Let’s quickly tidy up and go back home. Grandpa must be worried.”
Yu Qingze took off his shirt and tore it into a long strip. He wrapped it around his shoulder, armpit, and neck, instructing Chang Le to help him bandage the wound.
After Chang Le finished bandaging the wound, he furrowed his brow as he looked at Yu Qingze. The wound was so large, and it looked very painful and frightening.
“I’m really fine, I promise!” Yu Qingze patted Chang Le’s arm and added, “But if we don’t go back soon, I’ll lose even more blood.”
Hearing this, Chang Le quickly nodded and turned around to pick up the scattered items from the ground and pack them neatly.
“Is this your money pouch?” Dahe walked over, holding a money pouch he had just found on the ground.
“Yes, it’s mine. Thank you, Brother Dahe. If we hadn’t met you today, we wouldn’t know what would have happened.” Yu Qingze took the money pouch and put it in his pocket, expressing his gratitude to Dahe.
Dahe scratched his head, glanced at Chang Le, and said, “We’re all villagers, no need to be polite. Hurry back now. Your wound is quite long; it needs to be treated quickly.”
Yu Qingze nodded.
Chang Le finished packing and gestured to Dahe, while Chang Hao translated, expressing their thanks to Dahe.
Dahe glanced at Chang Le, lowered his head, waved his hand, and said in a low voice, “No, no need to thank me.”
Yu Qingze raised an eyebrow, wondering why Dahe seemed…
With everything packed up, Dahe helped them drag the cart while Chang Le pulled the small cart, and they headed home.
Along the way, Yu Qingze didn’t dwell on the robbery incident but instead kept thinking about Chang Le.
In fact, the pronunciation of the word Chang Le had uttered earlier wasn’t clear; it sounded more like ‘ao.’ However, Yu Qingze was certain that in that situation, Chang Le was calling his younger brother’s name, ‘Hao.’
He had always believed that Chang Le was congenitally unable to speak, but now he realized that Chang Le could indeed speak.
However, based on their recent attempts, Chang Le couldn’t speak again.
Yu Qingze glanced at Chang Le, who was walking ahead, pulling the small cart, and furrowed his brow.
Chang Le’s voice before… Well, to be honest, his voice wasn’t pleasant to listen to. It was rough, hoarse, like an old fan being turned on, or as if many grains of sand were being fried in a pan. Even with Yu Qingze wearing thick filters, it would be difficult to say his voice sounded good without compromising one’s conscience. It couldn’t even be considered a smoky voice.
However, for someone who had been unable to speak for years, even if his voice was unpleasant, it was as beautiful as heavenly music at this moment.
Yu Qingze pondered for a moment. If he guessed correctly, that kind of voice should be the result of vocal cord damage. He wondered what kind of injury could cause someone to lose their voice.
He glanced at Chang Hao, who was following closely beside Chang Le.
The young boy was clearly shocked that his brother could speak, but after what just happened, he seemed disappointed. Now he was walking quietly alongside Chang Le, occasionally glancing at him with a conflicted expression. He probably had many questions he wanted to ask but didn’t know if he should.
Yu Qingze thought that he should find time to talk to Grandpa Chang and learn more about it, and also arrange for a better doctor to examine Chang Le. It was on his mind.
Lost in various thoughts along the way, they arrived home unknowingly.
Upon returning home, Grandpa Chang was startled when he saw Yu Qingze covered in blood on one side of his body. He knew something had happened and quickly asked Dahe to fetch a doctor. Then he went to the kitchen and brought a basin of water, wringing a cloth to first wipe Yu Qingze’s face.
“What happened? How did you get such a severe injury?” Grandpa Chang’s eyebrows furrowed tightly as he looked at the bloodstains all over Yu Qingze’s body.
Chang Le went to the kitchen, washed his hands and face, then returned to the main room, taking the cloth from Yu Qingze’s hand. He changed the basin of water and began wiping the bloodstains off Yu Qingze’s back. He didn’t touch the clothes that covered the wound, fearing it would start bleeding again if removed before the doctor arrived.
“Thank you, Brother Le.” Yu Qingze thanked Chang Le and then said to Grandpa Chang, “We encountered some robbers on the way back.”
“Robbers?” Grandpa Chang was surprised. “It’s been so many years since I’ve heard of anyone being robbed on this road.”
“It’s probably because of the upcoming Ghost Festival,” Yu Qingze speculated.
Grandpa Chang fell silent for a moment and then said, “Ah, if you encounter robbers next time, just give them the money. Those people don’t value their lives. Money is just an external possession. Your own body is the most important!”
Chang Hao finished washing his face and also came over. Upon hearing this, he replied, “No, Grandpa. Brother Yu already gave them the money first.”
Grandpa Chang was confused. “Then how did you still get injured?”
Chang Hao said angrily, “Those people wanted to keep my brother!”
Grandpa Chang was first taken aback, then he became furious. “What? Those bandits, those bastards actually… actually…”
Grandpa Chang couldn’t even finish his words properly, his hand trembling.
Chang Hao continued, “So Brother Yu fought with them!”
Grandpa Chang looked at Chang Le, his grandson, standing right in front of him, unharmed. Then he turned to Yu Qingze, gratefully grabbing his hand and thanking him, “Aze, thank you so much. It’s all thanks to you. Otherwise, otherwise…”
As he spoke, Grandpa Chang’s eyes welled up with tears. He couldn’t imagine what would have happened if Chang Le had been taken by those bandits.
“Grandpa, there’s no need to thank me. It’s what I should do.” Yu Qingze patted Grandpa Chang’s hand with his right hand, comforting the old man.
Chang Hao added, “Grandpa, we should also thank Brother Dahe. He helped us drive away the bandits.”
“Alright, alright. I’ll thank him later,” Grandpa Chang replied, stroking his grandson’s head.
Before long, Dahe arrived with the doctor.
While the doctor cleaned Yu Qingze’s wounds and applied medication, Grandpa Chang expressed his gratitude profusely to Dahe.
Dahe was a straightforward man who was usually rather quiet in the village. He didn’t say any polite words, just kept waving his hand, saying there was no need for thanks.
After the doctor finished bandaging Yu Qingze’s wounds and prescribed medication, he asked Chang Le to accompany him to pick up the medicine. It was a hot day, and he wanted to make sure Chang Le took some medicine to prevent infection.
Dahe had been waiting on the side all this time, and when the doctor and Chang Le left, he didn’t go back either.
Grandpa Chang saw off the doctor and then said to Dahe, “Dahe, you’ve worked hard today. Stay for dinner tonight.”
“I won’t eat,” Dahe shook his head. After a moment of silence, he looked up and asked Yu Qingze, “Um, Aze, did you guys offend someone?”
Yu Qingze raised an eyebrow and asked, “Why do you ask?”
Dahe furrowed his brow and replied, “I recognized two people when their masks fell off. They are small-time troublemakers who always hang around the city. Did you happen to offend them at some point?”
Yu Qingze was puzzled. “Small-time troublemakers? Not bandits?”
Dahe nodded confidently. “No, not bandits. Just small-time troublemakers. I often see them at the dock.”
They weren’t bandits, but small-time troublemakers?
Yu Qingze frowned and said, “We haven’t offended anyone. If you insist, yesterday someone came to our food stall causing trouble, trying to extort money from us. We saw through their scheme, so they failed.”
Grandpa Chang speculated, “They might be part of the same group, but we can’t be certain.”
Dahe frowned and said, “As far as I know, those small-time troublemakers never pay for their meals. They shamelessly eat without paying. They don’t usually cause trouble to extort money, and they don’t wear masks. Many small business owners on the streets dare not confront them because they fear endless trouble if they offend them.”
Upon hearing this, Yu Qingze couldn’t help but ponder.
According to Dahe’s words, the behavior of those small-time troublemakers today was very strange. They were usually fearless and audacious, so why did they wear masks and try to extort money today? And…
Yu Qingze recalled that in the beginning, those troublemakers didn’t seem interested in Chang Le. It was only after seeing him readily give them money that their leader started paying attention to Chang Le.
He had a feeling that the objective of those small-time troublemakers wasn’t money or Chang Le. If they wanted money, they would have let them go after taking it. So, if that wasn’t the case, then…
A thought sparked in Yu Qingze’s mind, and his eyes narrowed with a dark gaze. His right hand involuntarily clenched into a fist.
Thieves, pests causing trouble, and now physical violence. It seems that their food stall has become an eyesore for certain people!
Yu Qingze let out a cold snort in his heart. As long as the tree is alive, it has bark; as long as a person is alive, they have their dignity. The more it was like this, the more he wanted to make the food stall successful—not just successful, but to make it big, good, and strong!
Grandpa Chang noticed his gloomy expression and asked, “Aze, have you figured something out?”
Yu Qingze snapped out of his thoughts and replied, “Grandpa, I have a general idea of what’s going on. The success of the food stall has attracted some people’s displeasure.”
“I see,” Grandpa Chang frowned and expressed his concern, “What do you plan to do after this?”
After so many incidents in the past few days, he couldn’t help but worry.
Yu Qingze pondered for a moment and then said, “Don’t worry, Grandpa. I’ll figure out a solution. Besides, I need to rest well since I’m injured.”
Grandpa Chang nodded and said, “You should rest properly. The wound is deep, so you mustn’t act recklessly.”
Yu Qingze agreed and thought for a moment. Then he turned to Dahe and said, “Dahe, are you going to the dock tomorrow?”
Dahe nodded, “Yes, I am.”
“I have a favor to ask you.”
“Could you please tell the old man who sells tea eggs next to our food stall tomorrow? Let him know that I’m injured and need a few days of rest, so I won’t be able to provide him with the sour and spicy chili sauce for a few days. Do you know where our food stall is located?”
Dahe nodded, “Alright, I know.”
After settling the matter, Dahe left, and even Grandpa Chang couldn’t persuade him to stay for dinner. Watching Dahe’s departing figure, Grandpa Chang shook his head and sighed.
After Chang Le returned with the medicine, he brewed a packet of it. Afterward, the family had dinner together.
After dinner, Yu Qingze unloaded the items from the cart and took stock. The wooden basin was broken and needed to be remade. The parasol that Chang Le had used as a weapon was also damaged and needed to be replaced. Some condiments and leftover ingredients were scattered in the forest and needed to be prepared again. However, the wooden barrel that Yu Qingze had used for the fight remained sturdy and undamaged.
Since he had to rest for a few days, he wasn’t in a hurry to address these issues.
Due to his injured shoulder, he took a half-body bath in the evening and could only clean his upper body.
When he finished bathing and Chang Le went to take a bath, Chang Hao secretly pulled him into the room and asked in a hesitant and low voice, “Brother Yu, should we tell Grandpa about my brother’s condition?”
Yu Qingze raised an eyebrow and asked, “Don’t you want Grandpa to know?”
Chang Hao pursed his lips and said, “I don’t want to disappoint Grandpa.” He had experienced the feeling of disappointment himself and didn’t want Grandpa to feel the same when his expectations were shattered.
Yu Qingze patted his head and said, “I think it’s better if we tell Grandpa about this.”
Chang Hao looked at him, feeling conflicted. “But Grandpa will definitely be upset.”
Yu Qingze asked, “Has Grandpa ever explained to you why your brother can’t speak?”
Chang Hao furrowed his brows and replied, “Grandpa said that my brother used to be able to speak, but he lost his ability after getting injured once when he was little. He didn’t say how he got injured, and he doesn’t allow me to ask my brother about it. So I’ve never asked.”
Yu Qingze fell silent, thinking about when Grandpa Chang mentioned that Chang Le was injured during the turmoil. It was probably during that time that his throat was injured too.
“Brother Yu, can my brother’s voice be cured?” Chang Hao looked up and asked, his eyes filled with anxiety and a hint of hope.
Yu Qingze shook his head and said, “I don’t know either, but we can try. In any case, we should listen to what Grandpa has to say about this matter, alright?”
Chang Hao pondered for a moment and nodded, “Alright, I understand.”
“Brother Yu, I really hope my brother can speak. He only called my name once today, and I want to hear him call my name and hear him speak,” Chang Hao looked up at Yu Qingze, his eyes brimming with expectation.
Yu Qingze patted his head and said, “That’s why we need to ask Grandpa about what happened and find out the reasons before we can figure out how to help your brother. We also need to find a doctor to examine his throat.”
Chang Hao was eager, “When?”
Yu Qingze was about to answer when they heard Grandpa Chang’s voice.
“What are you two doing in the room? Aze, come out and take your medicine,” Grandpa Chang called from the main room, placing a bowl of medicine on the table.
Yu Qingze responded and pulled Chang Hao out of the room.
After taking the medicine, Yu Qingze sat down with Grandpa Chang, and he and Chang Hao sat across from him with serious expressions.
Grandpa Chang was a bit confused. “What’s the matter with you two?”
While Yu Qingze was still thinking about how to say it, Chang Hao blurted it out.
“Grandpa, my brother called my name today. He called me ‘Hao’!”
Grandpa Chang was shocked. He looked at Chang Hao and then at Yu Qingze. Seeing that both of them were serious, he confirmed, “Little Le, he spoke? With his mouth? He made sounds?”
Both of them nodded.
Grandpa Chang furrowed his brow, his expression becoming serious. “Did something else happen when you two fought in the evening? Tell me about it.”
Upon hearing this, Yu Qingze and Chang Hao exchanged a glance, and then Yu Qingze began, “It’s like this…”
Yu Qingze recounted the events, and after listening to the whole story, Grandpa Chang remained silent for a long time before letting out a deep sigh.
This sigh was filled with helplessness and vicissitudes.
Yu Qingze spoke, “Grandpa, why exactly can’t Brother Le speak? From what we saw today, it seems that he spoke when he saw Xiao Hao in danger, stimulated by the situation. Even he himself didn’t realize he made a sound. But after the troublemaker ran away, we tried to make him speak again, and he couldn’t.”
Grandpa Chang sighed again upon hearing this and said, “I didn’t intend to let Xiao Hao know about this. I never expected you two to come across it.”
Both of them sat upright, waiting for Grandpa Chang to recount the past.
Grandpa Chang took his tobacco stick, lit it, took a deep breath, slowly exhaled, and then began, “Xiao Hao originally had an older brother above him named Xiao Hai. He was the second eldest and three years younger than Xiao Le.”
Chang Hao widened his eyes. It was the first time he heard about having another brother.
Grandpa Chang continued, “Back then, the war reached our hometown, and everything was in chaos. We heard that the south was relatively safer, so over twenty households in our village planned to move together. We encountered several riots along the way, and several families got separated. During one of the riots, Xiao Le’s elder brother was captured. Me, Xiao Le’s father, and mother rushed forward to save him, leaving the two kids in the care of their uncle. Little did we know that by the time we rescued Xiao Le’s elder brother, Xiao Le and Xiao Hai had disappeared. When we found them, Xiao Hai had already stopped breathing, and Xiao Le was lying on the ground with blood all over his forehead, unconscious.”
“Xiao Le suffered a severe head injury, almost losing his breath several times. Fortunately, he had a strong will to survive and narrowly escaped death. But when he woke up, he couldn’t speak anymore, and we couldn’t find out what had happened either.”
“Later, we moved here. For the next two years, Xiao Le was in a daze, as if he had lost his soul. Because he couldn’t speak and had an injury on his forehead, he was often bullied by other kids. Eventually, he stopped going outside and playing with other children. It wasn’t until Xiao Hao was born that his condition improved. He would hold his little brother every day and stay by his side. Xiao Hao can be said to be the one who brought him out of his shell.”
Chang Hao opened his mouth wide, tears streaming down his face. He had never realized how much suffering his brother had gone through.
Yu Qingze fell silent. It was clear that something extremely traumatic had happened to Chang Le during that incident, and it was likely related to Xiao Hai’s death.
Looking at the gentle and kind Chang Le now, it was hard to imagine the hardships he had endured in his childhood. Yu Qingze couldn’t fathom how Chang Le had transformed his introverted personality into what he was today. But just with a little thought, he knew that there must have been a lot of bitterness involved.
Yu Qingze felt a pang of pain in his heart, feeling sorry for Chang Le.
“Xiao Le spoke once a few years ago too.” They hadn’t fully processed the information they had just heard when Grandpa Chang revealed another surprising fact.
Without waiting for their questions, Grandpa Chang continued, “When Xiao Hao was two years old, his father and mother went back to our hometown to pay respects to our ancestors during the Qingming Festival. Little did they know that it would be their final farewell. Xiao Le saw their coffins and shouted out. The situation was similar to today, and he didn’t even realize it afterwards.”
Yu Qingze asked, “Did you consult a doctor?”
Grandpa Chang nodded and shook his head, saying, “We did, but it was of no use. The doctors said it was a severe psychological trauma, and whether he could recover or not would depend on fate. There was no effective solution. Afterward, Xiao Le didn’t let me seek medical help anymore.”
Yu Qingze was about to say something more when they heard some noise from the kitchen. Chang Le had finished bathing and come out. Yu Qingze quickly stopped talking.
When Chang Le entered the living room, he saw his tearful younger brother rushing into his arms, embracing him tightly.
Confused, Chang Le held his brother’s shoulder and looked at Grandpa Chang and Yu Qingze with a puzzled expression.
Grandpa Chang calmly said, “He’s missing your father and mother.”
With the Ghost Festival approaching, it was normal to think of deceased loved ones. Chang Le gently patted his brother’s shoulder, comforting him with tenderness.
The love that their father and mother had for their children was irreplaceable.
Translated on ho lo lo novels dot com.
That night, as they went to bed, Yu Qingze told Grandpa Chang that he wanted to take Chang Le to see a doctor again, to see if there were any changes.
Grandpa Chang said, “If you can convince Xiao Le, then go ahead.”
Yu Qingze fell silent, realizing that convincing Chang Le wouldn’t be easy. But he kept this matter in his heart.
The next day, it rained heavily in the afternoon, bringing a coolness to the hot summer.
They made steamed rice cakes at home. Rice cakes were a type of offering used for ancestral worship. The dough was shaped into the form of pigs, cows, sheep, and fish, and then steamed to offer to the ancestors, symbolizing abundance and prosperity in the afterlife.
On the day of the Ghost Festival, Yu Qingze accompanied the Chang family to the mountains for the ritual.
Chang Le’s father and mother were buried together, on a sunny slope behind the mountain connected to Niu Tou Mountain. Chang Le’s older brother was also buried on the same slope. They had to follow the mountain path along the creek, cross the valley, and climb up the mountain.
Chang Le carried a bamboo basket in front, containing the offerings for the ritual. One end held incense, candles, and paper money, while the other end held various other offerings.
Chang Hao and Yu Qingze followed behind, with Grandpa Chang at the back.
It was Yu Qingze’s first time entering this mountain, so he looked around curiously from time to time.
Due to the rain yesterday, the ground was still wet, and with the dried twigs and fallen leaves, it was easy to slip.
“Hey, Aze, be careful.” Yu Qingze didn’t pay attention to his footing and almost slipped, but fortunately, Grandpa Chang behind him supported him and stabilized his body.
Chang Le and Chang Hao glanced back, and Chang Hao cautioned, “Brother Yu, the road is slippery, be careful.”
Yu Qingze nodded. Yes, he admitted it. He had been looking around and not paying enough attention to the road, which caused him to slip.
Now he dared not look around randomly and focused his attention on the path ahead.
Soon they arrived at the slope behind, where there were several burial mounds. Along the way, some villagers had already started their rituals.
The graves of Chang Le’s older brother and parents were close to each other, only about twenty or thirty meters apart, with a small grove behind them.
Chang Le and Chang Hao took out the offerings and started their rituals. Grandpa Chang took a machete and cleared away some tangled bushes and thorns around the graves. Yu Qingze picked up a hoe and helped Grandpa Chang remove the branches he had cut.
When Chang Le and his brother finished burning the paper money, and Grandpa Chang had also burned his, Yu Qingze approached and kowtowed three times to Chang Le’s father and mother, lit incense, and burned paper money. He silently spoke a few words in his heart.
Chang Le and his brother were touched by Yu Qingze’s actions. He was just an outsider and didn’t need to do all this.
Little did they know that Yu Qingze had a small intention in his heart. Although he didn’t say it out loud, he had communicated with the two elders in his heart and had already made an agreement to take care of Brother Le.
When they reached the grave of Grandpa Chang’s older brother, it was a similar scene, but this time, Grandpa Chang stayed a bit longer, and his eyes were moist.
He must have missed his older brother.
The three younger ones waited silently by the side.
On the way down the mountain, when they reached a bend in the valley, Chang Hao pointed to a landslide area ahead and said, “Brother Yu, look, you were stuck there before.”
Yu Qingze looked in the direction Chang Hao was pointing. It was a slope on the other side of the creek, where the soil and rocks had collapsed and slid down to the creek, leaving two deep pits at the foot of the slope, with traces of excavation in between. On the open ground two meters away from the creek, two large rocks had rolled aside, with clear mud marks on top.
The scene of the accident.
Now, Yu Qingze finally saw the stone that “so big” that young Chang Hao had gestured to him when he woke up. He finally knew that the young boy hadn’t lied.
It was indeed huge, probably requiring the combined efforts of two adults to hug, and it was quite tall. To move them out from the mostly buried soil, Yu Qingze felt that they would need to clear all the surrounding soil and use a crane.
But looking at those two pits, it seemed like the stones had been directly pulled out from inside!
His gaze involuntarily turned towards Chang Le, those thin little arms, that frail body—how on earth did he have such great strength?!
No wonder Chang Hao was so proud and praised his brother. It wasn’t just empty boasting.
Speaking of that day, Yu Qingze suddenly remembered something.
“Grandpa, are there a lot of mushrooms on the mountain?” he asked.
Grandpa Chang nodded, “Yes, after the rain yesterday, there should be some growing on the mountain, and there are usually many in the hemlock grove by the creek down below. Why, do you want to eat mushrooms?”
Yu Qingze smiled and said, “We still have half a chicken at home, so I thought of picking some mushrooms and stewing them together. It would taste really good.”
Grandpa Chang waved his hand and said, “I’ll go pick them, you all go back first.”
“Grandpa, I want to go too!” Chang Hao eagerly spoke up when he heard about something delicious.
Yu Qingze also smiled and said, “I want to go and have a look too.”
Grandpa Chang decisively said, “Then let’s go together!”
Saying that, he took the lead and headed towards the hemlock grove.
It was Yu Qingze’s first time picking mushrooms.
So when he saw Chang Le and Grandpa Chang easily picking up a bunch of them by rummaging through the grass, he doubted his own eyesight!
The forest floor was covered with thick layers of dead leaves and grass, and the hemlock mushrooms blended in perfectly with their color. It was not easy to spot them.
Grandpa Chang shared a secret tip, saying to keep an eye on the base of the hemlock trees and the piles of grass—that’s where the hemlock mushrooms would be.
Yu Qingze felt like his eyes were about to pop out of their sockets. Where were the mushrooms?!
Wasn’t this all just dead grass and leaves?!
After searching for at least half an hour, with a sore back, Yu Qingze hadn’t found a single mushroom!
Feeling quite dejected…
Chang Hao, the equally visually impaired person, found them before Yu Qingze did. He found one and proudly showed it off to Yu Qingze, saying, “Hahaha, I found one! I found one, Big Brother Yu! I’m faster than you!”
Yu Qingze: …I’m probably truly visually impaired!
Grandpa Chang and Chang Le watched them with a smile, not paying them much attention, and happily collected mushrooms in their baskets.
If they relied on those two, they wouldn’t find enough for a meal even by nightfall!
Although Yu Qingze was visually impaired when it came to finding mushrooms, he discovered something else—a treasure in the mountains: jelly figs!
Thingyan: Crazy long chapter. Author forgot to stop :’)