“How can they put their lives at stake on him?” Xu Qing was starting to feel confused. If it was about entrusting their family’s reputation and future to Li Laosan, he could understand. But staking their lives on him?
Li Changfeng sighed heavily upon hearing this and carefully repeated the conversation he had with Butcher Liu and how Li Laosan wanted to use the remaining money in the house to invest in his exams. “So, when my father and Ama heard this, they thought that as long as he passes the exams, they wouldn’t have to worry about food or buying grains. They agreed not to use the money for grain early on.”
Xu Qing didn’t know how to evaluate this situation. On one hand, it sounded like they were thinking about their son’s future, but on the other hand, it seemed like wishful thinking. He remembered how difficult it was for Li Laosan after he came xiucai and still had thoughts of taking the exams during these times.
“Let’s forget about this matter. You didn’t sleep well last night, did you? Look at those dark circles under your eyes.” Li Changfeng didn’t want to deal with the matters concerning the Li family. Just by looking at the dark shadows under Xu Qing’s eyes, he knew he hadn’t slept well.
Xu Qing rubbed his forehead. It was true that he hadn’t rested much last night, as he couldn’t stop thinking about Li Xiao’er’s situation. “Go and get some rest.” Li Changfeng pulled Xu Qing back to their room. When Xu Qing lay down, he was about to leave when Xu Qing grabbed his hand. “Stay with me for a while. I can’t fall asleep alone.”
Without hesitation, Li Changfeng lay down beside Xu Qing and soon fell asleep. On the other hand, Xu Qing remained awake, his dark circles even deeper than before. If it weren’t for Li Changfeng keeping him company, he wouldn’t be surprised if he ended up working tirelessly with his sleep-deprived body.
The scorching weather and the increasingly arid fields made Xiaobao lazily lie on the ground, seeking some coolness. Xu Qing and Li Changfeng slept through the morning and well into the afternoon. If it weren’t for Xu Qing’s protesting stomach constantly growling, who knows how long they would have slept!
The chickens in the house had grown from chicks to plump chickens. Despite the hot weather, it didn’t have a significant impact on them. Every day, Xu Qing would provide a little spiritual spring water to the chickens, donkey, dog, and piglet in their home to ensure their health. The chickens had started laying eggs, and Li Changfeng made a steamed egg custard while preparing to draw some water from the well. However, he noticed that the water level in the well had decreased by half.
“What’s wrong?” Xu Qing noticed that Li Changfeng’s expression wasn’t good. “The water level in the well has dropped by half.”
“It’s expected that this would happen sooner or later due to the weather. We were prepared for it, so there’s no need to worry,” Xu Qing shifted the topic when he saw Li Changfeng still feeling down. “Didn’t you set up traps on the mountain? Let’s go check them out tomorrow. Who knows, we might have a big harvest.”
Li Changfeng suddenly remembered about the traps. “I’ll go now. It’s not good to go too late. You wait for me here.” He prepared his things to head up the mountain. Xu Qing was taken aback. “It’s almost dark!”
“It’s fine, it’s fine. I’ll go quickly and come back quickly,” Li Changfeng said as he carried a large basket on his back and left. Xu Qing had no choice but to remind him to be careful. Once Li Changfeng left, Xu Qing went to the edge of the well to check the water level. The situation was not good. He then braved the scorching sun and left the courtyard, heading to the nearby dried-up field. Carefully squatting down, he examined the cracked ground.
Li Changfeng returned in less than an hour. His basket contained three peasants and two rabbits, a decent harvest. After cleaning them up, sprinkling some salt, and hanging them under the eaves, they would be sun-dried for a few days once the sun came out. Then they could be stored for a long time. Xu Qing couldn’t eat too much wild game now, as Xie Ama had advised. It wasn’t suitable for someone with a pregnancy.
After dinner, the two of them sat in the courtyard to cool down. Xu Qing thought for a moment and brought up a topic. “Why don’t you go and bring your younger brother over tomorrow? Let him stay with us for a few days.” Li Changfeng nodded. “Alright, I think his condition might worsen if he stays at home. It’s better to bring him here and change his mood.”
“Then go over tomorrow morning. I’ll prepare the bed today. Bring him over early before it gets too hot.” Xu Qing was already sweating, wearing only a thin shirt.
Li Changfeng took out a handkerchief and wiped away Xu Qing’s sweat, using his big hands to fan him gently near his ear. But how much coolness could that breeze provide? Xu Qing was still feeling hot. Suddenly, he remembered something that could be used as a fan—a palm-leaf fan!
Translated on ho lo lo novels dot com.
There happened to be a few trees nearby that were suitable for making palm-leaf fans. It was a hot day, and the leaves on the trees had already dried up, saving them a step. Xu Qing asked Li Changfeng to pick two relatively intact sunflower leaves and bring them back. Then, Xu Qing began directing Li Changfeng in making the palm-leaf fan.
First, they “pulled the ears.” They tore off the sides of the palm-leaf to balance it and make it look round and smooth. Then came the “leaf trimming.” Xu Qing pointed to the edges of the leaf, and Li Changfeng proceeded to trim off the surrounding branches and leaves.
Next was the “ear cutting.” After cutting the ears, they took out a hammer and began hammering the handle of the palm-leaf fan. The handle of the palm-leaf was originally black, but with a few strikes, it turned white. They also needed to widen the handle of the palm-leaf, a process known as “hammering the handle.”
In this way, they made a simple palm-leaf fan that provided a cool breeze. Li Changfeng and Xu Qing each held one and fanned themselves. In no time, they felt the heat on their bodies dissipate. “So comfortable!” Xu Qing exclaimed. If only it would rain a bit, it would be even better.
Li Changfeng took the palm-leaf fan from Xu Qing’s hand and gently fanned him. He noticed that Xu Qing was fanning himself vigorously and quickly, afraid that he might overcool himself and fall ill. Li Changfeng said, “Changfeng, look,” and gestured for him to look at the stars in the night sky.
The modern night sky didn’t have such a beautiful view. Xu Qing looked at the stars in the sky, and before long, he began to feel drowsy. His body was getting heavier, making things inconvenient at times. As he was about to fall asleep, Li Changfeng was also worried. He wanted to carry Xu Qing back to the room, but he was afraid of accidentally hurting Xu Qing’s belly. Helpless, he woke Xu Qing up and they returned to the room together to rest.
The next morning, when Xu Qing woke up, Li Changfeng had already left. Xu Qing ate the breakfast Li Changfeng had prepared on the stove, cleaned the house once again, and then sat in the main room, sewing small clothes for the child.
In these days, his greatest sense of accomplishment was being able to make clothes by himself. The clothes Li Changfeng was wearing today were made by Xu Qing not long ago. Only when Li Changfeng put them on did Xu Qing truly understand the sense of fulfillment Xie Ama had mentioned.
As Xu Qing sewed the clothes, Xiaobao stayed by his feet, faithfully watching over him. Even though there was no one talking to Xu Qing, he didn’t feel lonely. After an hour passed, Li Changfeng parked the cart and returned, supporting the pale-faced Li Xiao’er.
Xu Qing saw the pale and feeble expression on Li Xiao’er’s face and asked, “What’s…?” Li Changfeng shook his head, indicating to Xu Qing not to ask too many questions in front of Li Xiao’er, even if he couldn’t hear.
Xu Qing immediately went over to support Li Xiao’er. He felt his body was cold and trembling slightly. When Xu Qing supported him, Li Xiao’er managed to force a smile and opened his mouth, silently saying thank you. As he raised his head, Xu Qing happened to catch a glimpse of the bruise on Li Xiao’er’s neck!
Xu Qing was startled but didn’t want to inquire further at this moment. Instead, he and Li Changfeng carefully assisted Li Xiao’er into the tidy room. They covered him with a blanket. It was a hot day, but Li Xiao’er was shivering from the cold.
Once outside the room, Li Changfeng took out a few packets of medicine and led Xu Qing into the kitchen. These were Li Xiao’er’s medicines, which he hadn’t taken yet today. They needed to prepare them for him.
“Xiao’er… he…” Xu Qing didn’t finish his sentence but pointed to his own neck. Li Changfeng ignited the fire and pondered, “He secretly tried to hang himself last night. Fortunately, he was discovered early. Otherwise… Originally, I was planning to inform Ama and the others today and bring him here. But then this happened, so I directly asked Xiao’er for his preference and brought him back.”
Xu Qing nodded. He was afraid that Xiao’er might have lost hope. Unexpectedly, it was true. Thankfully, he was discovered early; otherwise… “What kind of medicine is this?”
Li Changfeng covered the pot and said softly, “It’s prescribed by Old Doctor Lin. He said that after drinking these medicines, we should observe his ears. You can go out. The smell is strong!” Xu Qing shook his head, allowing Li Changfeng to continue tending the fire, while he opened the pot and pretended to examine it. He dropped a few drops of spiritual spring water into the medicine and then covered it.
“Then I’ll go out. Xiao’er definitely hasn’t eaten. I’ll get some nourishing food from the storeroom and stew the peasant for him.” Saying so, Xu Qing left the kitchen. Li Changfeng watched Xu Qing’s figure and reminded him, “Take your time. I’ll handle it later.”
Li Xiao’er lay on the bed, smelling the fresh scent of the new blanket. He extended his hand from under the covers and gently touched his still painful neck. It was so close, just a little closer, and he would have been able to escape from this painful world.
During the preparation of the stewed peasant at noon, Xu Qing secretly added some spiritual spring water. He continued to drink the bone broth and encouraged Li Xiao’er to eat more peasant. “I’m pregnant, and Ama said I shouldn’t eat too much. You should eat more. Look at how thin you are.” After saying that, Xu Qing noticed Li Xiao’er smiling at himself. It was only then that Xu Qing realized that Li Xiao’er couldn’t hear anything he said.
Li Changfeng gently patted Xu Qing’s shoulder and brought a bowl of peasant soup that he had scooped for Li Xiao’er. He looked at him and gestured for Li Xiao’er to eat.
Li Xiao’er looked at the soup in front of him and couldn’t help but shed tears when he saw Xu Qing and Li Changfeng’s gentle and caring gaze. After this incident, Ama and Father didn’t even lay a hand on Third Brother. It was Second Brother who went back and gave Third Brother a severe beating, while others were pulling and tugging. Even though he couldn’t hear, he understood the reason behind it.
In any case, he was going to be married off. The difference between being deaf or not was just the difference between a good or bad marriage. Their family didn’t use money to buy food. They dumped everything onto Third Brother. If he won, there would be nothing to worry about. If he lost, Third Brother still had a whole family, but he only had one brother.
Li Changfeng didn’t care whether Li Xiao’er could hear or not. He directly placed the bowl and chopsticks in Li Xiao’er’s hands, while Xu Qing took out a handkerchief to wipe away his tears. Li Xiao’er couldn’t hear anything they said now, so it was better to do more.
After finishing lunch, Li Xiao’er felt his cold body starting to warm up, and he began to feel drowsy. Xu Qing knew that the spiritual spring water was taking effect, so he told Li Xiao’er to go back to his room and rest, while he and Li Changfeng tidied up the dishes.
Fortunately, Xu Qing’s family lived in the back mountains, and the aroma of the peasant stew couldn’t waft into the village. Otherwise, if others smelled it, they would surely start gossiping. They couldn’t even have a proper meal, but Xu Qing’s family still had meat to eat. If others found out, they would surely create trouble.
“You must be tired of drinking bone broth. I haven’t seen you drink much.” Li Changfeng scrubbed the dishes and asked Xu Qing. Xu Qing was indeed tired of it. They had been drinking bone broth for over ten days. “A little bit. But I still have some broth to drink. Many families probably can’t even find wild vegetables.”
Li Changfeng pondered how to change things up and get Xu Qing to speak again. “It’s okay. We didn’t steal or rob. If we have to say anything, it’s because I’m lucky to have such a good wife like you.”
Xu Qing glanced at Li Changfeng and said, “Don’t try to sweet-talk me with soup. After you finish washing the dishes, you should rest too. It’s not like we have anything to do today. We’ll just eat and sleep, sleep and eat, and fatten up.” Many families wanted to fatten up, but they didn’t have the means to do so.
Thingyan: what do you think? Li Laosan will pass the exam or not?