Li Changfeng couldn’t care less about wiping the sweat off his face. He lit an oil lamp and opened each room door, but there was no sign of Xu Qing. The room was tidy, and Xu Qing’s clothes were still there. Li Changfeng, forcing himself to calm down and think, continued to survey his surroundings.
Yes! Let’s go check the Xie family!
Li Changfeng, running all the way, attracted the attention of fellow villagers on the road. “Isn’t that the son-in-law from the back mountain? Why is he running so fast Did somet-?” an uncle looked puzzled at Li Changfeng’s rushing figure, but before he could finish his sentence, he was reprimanded by his wife.
“What are you saying? Be careful, he might have heard!”
“Uncle Xie! Is Xu Qing at home? It’s Li Changfeng!” Li Changfeng gasped for breath, knocking on the gate of the Xie family. His palms were sweaty with anxiety, fearing that Xu Qing might not be there.
Uncle Xie glanced at Xu Qing, who was picking vegetables with Xie Yu, and listened to the loud voice outside the gate. “This lad must be looking for Brother Qing. He’s here! Open the gate!”
Xie’s son, hearing Li Changfeng’s urgent tone, asked, “What’s the matter with this urgency? Did something happen?” Xu Qing was also puzzled. Could it be that Li Changfeng got injured while going up the mountain? As soon as this possibility crossed Xu Qing’s mind, he lost interest in helping with the vegetable picking. “Let me go out and see.”
Now that he was pregnant, Xu Qing considered his condition even when wanting to know what had happened. He walked steadily and quickly. As soon as Li Changfeng saw Uncle Xie opening the door, he hurriedly inquired, “My wife…” Before he could finish his sentence, Uncle Xie pointed inside the house with his hand and said, “He’s in our house. What happened? Why are you in such a hurry, sweating profusely?”
Hearing that Xu Qing was at the Xie family, Li Changfeng’s heart finally calmed down. “What’s wrong? I can see you’re worried.” Xu Qing walked to the gate, looked at Li Changfeng, saw that he wasn’t injured, and breathed a sigh of relief. He had been genuinely worried about Li Changfeng.
Seeing his wife standing intact in front of him, Li Changfeng forgot all his worries. He wanted to step forward and hug Xu Qing, but he realized he was covered in sweat and didn’t want to bother Xu Qing with the smell, so he didn’t go over. “It’s okay, I just didn’t see you at home.”
Xu Qing slapped his forehead. “It’s my mistake. Brother Xie came to talk to me, and we ended up going for a walk. We went straight to Uncle Xie’s house without giving you a message. I’m sorry for making you worry.” His memory was getting worse, but seeing Li Changfeng’s anxious appearance, Xu Qing felt especially warm and comfortable. But he also felt a bit guilty.
“It’s okay, let’s go home.” Li Changfeng wiped his hands clean and, in front of Uncle Xie, held Xu Qing’s hand. “Go back? We’re having a meal at Uncle Xie’s! You’re still talking about being polite with me, kid!” When Uncle Xie said this, Li Changfeng didn’t know how to refuse, so Xu Qing smiled and said, “Since Changfeng hasn’t cleaned up yet, what if we end up bothering you with the smell during the meal? Next time, we’ll come straight here.”
“That’s right, that’s right! Look at this sweaty body of mine, it’s uncomfortable even for me to smell it!” Li Changfeng followed Xu Qing’s words. The grain during the dry season was not to be taken lightly. If the Xie family ate at Xu Qing’s house, they would be welcomed. After all, their grain would last until next winter. However, the Xie family didn’t have much grain, so Li Changfeng politely declined.
“Alright, alright, but next time you can’t do this. Otherwise, I, Uncle Xie, won’t be happy!” Uncle Xie didn’t think much of it and cheerfully agreed with Xu Qing.
Li Changfeng and Xu Qing returned to their pitch-black home. Li Changfeng quickly took a cold shower and changed his clothes before embracing Xu Qing, who was still picking vegetables. “Wife.” Xu Qing felt Li Changfeng’s slightly cool body after the cold shower and chuckled, “What’s wrong? Acting like a child.”
Li Changfeng took over the task from Xu Qing’s hands and sat him down on the side. He kissed Xu Qing’s cheek and said, “I just felt a strong longing for you.” Without Xu Qing at home, no matter how good or new the house was, it held no meaning in Li Changfeng’s eyes.
Translated on ho lo lo novels dot com.
Xu Qing’s face flushed slightly. Li Changfeng had always said these heartwarming words only in bed, but now his shamelessness seemed to be increasing. Was it because of his pregnancy? Had it been too long since they last did it? With these thoughts, Xu Qing glanced at Li Changfeng’s crotch.
Li Changfeng felt a bit awkward. “It’s not that I don’t think about that, it’s just that I miss you.” After saying that, he felt it wasn’t right. “No, I do think about that too, but right now, that’s not what I’m thinking about.” Xu Qing, listening to Li Changfeng’s jumbled thoughts, became dizzy. “Alright, alright, think, think about it all.”
Li Changfeng’s eyes lit up at his words. “You also want to?” Xu Qing was taken aback, and when he realized what Li Changfeng meant, he hurried to explain. But Li Changfeng sighed, “But now you’re pregnant, even if you want it, I can’t give it to you.”
Xu Qing was speechless. The way Li Changfeng said it made it seem like he was the one who was desperate!
After dinner, they sat at the table in the courtyard, enjoying the cool evening. The dry season had arrived, and it didn’t have much impact on their home, except for some inconvenience in terms of water usage. Xu Qing didn’t know how to bring out the spritual spring water from the space.
“It’s getting late. Let’s rest.” Li Changfeng saw that mosquitoes were starting to gather and wanted Xu Qing to go back to the room to rest. Little did they know that someone was knocking on the courtyard gate.
“Bark bark! Bark bark!”
In their part of the mountain, at night, when Xiaobao started barking, it almost echoed. “It’s me, Lin Fangliang.” Lin Fangliang stood alone outside the courtyard gate and immediately spoke when he heard the dog barking inside and Li Changfeng’s voice.
Li Changfeng went to open the door, while Xu Qing poured a cup of hot tea in the kitchen. When Xu Qing walked into the hall, Li Changfeng and Lin Fangliang were already sitting there. Lin Fangliang thanked Xu Qing and took the hot tea. Xu Qing noticed that Lin Fangliang had a hesitant expression, as if he had something to say but didn’t know how to say it.
“What’s going on? Just say it if you have something to say. Why hesitate?”
Lin Fangliang glanced at Li Changfeng and said, “Today, Second Li’s family came to my pharmacy for medical treatment.”
Li Changfeng and Xu Qing exchanged a glance, and Li Changfeng looked at Lin Fangliang. “Go on.” Hopefully, it wasn’t Li Laosan causing trouble again.
“It’s Li Xiao’er. He… he became deaf.” Lin Fangliang had seen Li Xiao’er at Xu Qing’s house before, so he recognized him as Li Changfeng’s family member. He came to deliver the news to Li Changfeng when he returned to pick up Brother Xie. After all, Li Xiao’er’s condition wasn’t good.
“What?!” Xu Qing exclaimed. “When we saw him, he was perfectly fine. How could this happen in such a short time?!”
“Do you know the details? Is it serious?” Li Changfeng couldn’t help but ask Lin Fangliang. Li Xiao’er was the youngest child in the family, and Li Changfeng treated him as his own child in a way. Hearing that Li Xiao’er had suddenly become deaf was difficult for him to accept.
Lin Fangliang didn’t mind Xu Qing and Li Changfeng’s reaction. It was a natural response for anyone to find it hard to accept when their loved ones were in trouble. “It’s a recent injury, and the deafness is temporary for now. It depends on his recovery over this period of time. If the condition worsens, then… but it’s not certain either. My father has seen a few cases like this before, and some people recovered in just a few days, really.”
Xu Qing was truly worried. Li Xiao’er was a good person and still so young. If he really became deaf, it would be a huge blow. “Let’s go there now.” Li Changfeng shook his head. “You’re pregnant, and the situation has already happened. Being anxious won’t help. Fangliang, do you know how my younger brother got injured? Why hasn’t anyone informed me of such a serious injury?”
Lin Fangliang paused for a moment. “It should be done by someone from your family, Second Li.” Li Changfeng’s face immediately darkened upon hearing this, and Lin Fangliang continued with the explanation, “Because the injury is quite severe, there were palm prints on Li Xiao’er’s face. So, my father said that if such a serious injury was reported to the officials, there would be punishment. But who would have known…” Lin Fangliang glanced at Li Changfeng and continued in a low voice, “Who would have known that your Ama said Li Xiao’er injured himself accidentally.”
It was such an obvious excuse that no one would believe it, and besides Li Ama, everyone’s expressions were unpleasant, but they remained silent, tacitly accepting Li Ama’s explanation. Li Xiao’er kept his head down the entire time, unable to hear or read, so there was no way to communicate.
“Also, Li Xiao’er’s condition may not be very good. After all, it’s difficult for anyone to accept such a thing, let alone when it might have been done by his closest family members.” Lin Fangliang didn’t want to comment too much on Li’s family, but it was regrettable that such a thing happened to Li Xiao’er at such a young age.
Xu Qing couldn’t help but feel anxious. “Changfeng, let’s go back and see. If something happens and Xiao’er can’t bear it…”
With a serious expression, Li Changfeng thought for a moment and said to Lin Fangliang, “Don’t bother looking for a donkey cart tonight. I’ll take you back, and then I’ll go to the old Li family.” Then he turned to Xu Qing and instructed, “I’ll take you to Xie Ama’s house. We’ll disturb them tonight. I can’t trust you being alone at home.” This summer was the season when wild creatures in the mountains were most active. If something happened, whom would he regret not asking for help?
Xu Qing accepted Li Changfeng’s proposal. After a brief tidy up, the three of them returned to Xie’s house and explained the situation to the old Xie’s couple. After a while, Li Changfeng and Lin Fangliang left in the carriage under the cover of night.
In his heart, Xu Qing felt a deep sense of regret. It would be great if Li Xiao’er could recover. If he had to live like this for the rest of his life, it would ruin him. Xie Ama listened to the whole story and sighed, “This is the best time for him to consider marriage, and this incident has caused so much trouble. It’s truly heart-wrenching!”
Xu Qing hardly slept peacefully that night. He was constantly thinking about Li Xiao’er and how he would live in the future, how he would face it all. After having a simple breakfast at Xie Ama’s house, Xu Qing returned home. After feeding the piglet, chickens, and Xiaobao in the house, Xu Qing hesitated for a moment, but still decided to prepare the room that was originally meant for the child.
Li Changfeng didn’t return home until the afternoon, driving the donkey cart. The scorching sun made his forehead covered in sweat, and his face remained calm, giving no indication of his mood.
Xu Qing quickly poured Li Changfeng a glass of cold tea and sat beside him, waiting for him to speak. After Li Changfeng finished the tea, he said, “It was done by Third Brother.” He then detailed how Li Laosan went crazy and how Li Xiao’er got injured, explaining everything to Xu Qing in great detail. “As for Ama, he said that although this could ruin Xiao’er and Third Brother is at fault, he has an exam next month. If he passes, he will have compensate Xiao’er properly.”
“But what if he doesn’t pass the exam?” Xu Qing voiced the same question as Li Xiao’er.
Li Changfeng shook his head. “Ama’s intention is that our family has already ruined one person, and we can’t ruin another. So, I gave Third Brother a good beating.” However, when he thought about how Li Xiao’er hadn’t eaten anything since coming home and kept burying his head, hiding in his room, Li Changfeng couldn’t help but sigh again. “My younger brother hasn’t eaten a single bite since he came back home. He always keeps his head down and refuses to come out.”
Xu Qing could understand Li Xiao’er’s behavior. Anyone would find it difficult to accept such a situation, and even if they did accept it, it would take a considerable amount of time to adapt. Moreover, it was his own brother who had caused such harm. “So, you’re not planning to report it to the officials?”
With a serious expression, Li Changfeng nodded. “I don’t agree, but my father, Ama, and even Big Brother think the same way. Xiao’er is still a ger, and he will get married someday. This Third Brother, heh, they have placed all their hopes, including their lives, in his hands!”
Li Laosan: That’s right. My future is bright. Can’t be tainted by some minor family affairs *smirk