After a few days, Li Xiao’er’s body gradually recovered, and he faintly started to hear louder sounds around him. Li Changfeng immediately took him to the Lin family pharmacy in town for a check-up.
“Well, not bad. With some more rest, you’ll be back to normal soon.”
After examining Li Xiao’er, Old Doctor Lin said. Although Li Xiao’er couldn’t hear completely, he could tell from his second brother’s expression that his ears were slowly recovering. This made him overjoyed. If he had to be deaf for the rest of his life, he would rather be dead!
Li Changfeng was also happy to hear this, but he still asked Old Doctor Lin to prescribe a few more medications. This way, he would feel more at ease. “Thank you for your trouble,” Li Changfeng said as he paid for the medicine from his money pouch. Old Doctor Lin smiled and waved his hand, then began preparing the medicine for Li Xiao’er.
Li Xiao’er watched Li Changfeng pay for the medicine and felt uncomfortable. He lived in Li Changfeng and Xu Qing’s home, where they not only provided him with good food and drink but also paid for his medications. He hadn’t been able to do anything for his second brother and them, which made Li Xiao’er feel like a freeloader. He felt very sorry.
“Doctor Lin! Doctor Lin!”
A series of urgent calls came from outside the pharmacy, followed by a slightly wealthy-looking Ama rushing in anxiously. When Old Doctor Lin looked up, he saw the person with an expression of urgency, panting slightly from running.
“Is it from the Deng family? Is your Ama having an episode again?” Old Doctor Lin asked, raising an eyebrow.
Deng Ama touched his chest, which was rising and falling rapidly, and nodded in response to Old Doctor Lin’s words. “Yes, exactly. It’s troublesome. Please come with me.”
After making sure the medications were prepared for Li Changfeng and his family, Old Doctor Lin nodded and instructed the junior apprentice in the pharmacy before taking his medicine box and following Deng Ama. The junior apprentice watched their departing figures and let out a sigh.
Curious, Li Xiao’er looked at him. Thinking that Li Xiao’er wanted to know why he sighed, the junior apprentice started speaking without prompting, “The Deng family has some prospects. Their Ama raised their only son all by himself. He grew up and started doing small business outside, becoming busier and busier. There’s no one left at home to accompany the Ama, and since the Ama has poor health, he keeps coming back because of his illness.”
Translated on ho lo lo novels dot com
Li Changfeng couldn’t understand and asked, “Don’t they have any relatives who can take care of them?” The junior apprentice shook his head. “I heard that their family also escaped from famine in previous years. But this year is not easy either.”
The junior apprentice looked at the sunlight shining on the street and shook his head. His relatives had been eating wild vegetables and wowotou these days, fearing that they wouldn’t have enough food in the future and would starve to death.
Although Li Xiao’er couldn’t hear everything the junior apprentice said, he didn’t say much. Li Changfeng realized it was getting late and wanted to take Li Xiao’er back home, but to his surprise, Li Xiao’er didn’t want to go back with him.
“Second brother, I won’t go back with you. I’d rather go home. Consider the medicine money as a loan from me, and I’ll repay you later.”
Li Xiao’er’s words made Li Changfeng angry. “What are you saying? Your second brother and I are not that kind of people!” After saying that, Li Changfeng saw the look of “I can’t hear what you’re saying” on Li Xiao’er’s face, and his frustration grew even more.
“Or, second brother, you can accompany me back, or I can go back on my own.” Li Xiao’er could tell from Li Changfeng’s expression that he was angry, so he changed his mind and presented two options.
Li Changfeng’s mind went blank. How could he let his little brother go back on his own? He must bring him back! The sun was scorching, and his body had just recovered. He couldn’t allow him to act recklessly. So, in a moment of confusion, Li Changfeng escorted Li Xiao’er back home. On the way back, he finally snapped out of it and realized that he had been fooled by his own little brother.
After hearing Li Changfeng’s account, Xu Qing didn’t know what to say. “It seems like your brain isn’t very sharp.” Li Changfeng nodded. “I’ve never been clever.”
Xu Qing couldn’t be bothered to hand him a pole and let him climb up. He supported his bulging belly with his hand, feeling drowsy. In a daze, he felt his head being placed in a familiar position and soon fell asleep.
A month later, the fields in the village had completely dried up. The families with better conditions in the village were not in dire straits, but those with poorer conditions were saddened. They not only had poor-quality food to eat all day long, but sometimes they didn’t even have enough to eat! Some people were so hungry that they formed groups to go hunting in the mountains. However, during this period, not only humans but even the wild animals in the mountains were starving. When they saw the hunting groups, their eyes gleamed green, and if it wasn’t for their numbers, who knows what might have happened.
From then on, the villagers dared not venture into the mountains to hunt. Instead, they became cautious, fearing that wild animals from the mountains would enter the village. That would be more than just a matter of hunger—it would be a matter of life and death!
As a result, the number of people passing through Xu Qing’s area gradually decreased. Xu Qing didn’t feel anything unusual though. Their family’s fence was newly built, four meters high, and made entirely of large stones. Even if wolves came, they didn’t need to worry too much.
Early in the morning, Li Changfeng returned to Li’s old courtyard. Yesterday in town, he met Li Xiao’er, who had regained his hearing and was asked to go back for some reason, but he didn’t know what it was about.
Xu Qing fanned himself with a palm-leaf fan and supported his belly as he leisurely walked around the main hall. It was hot outside the courtyard, so he couldn’t walk during the day. But inside the house, he could stroll around as he pleased. His belly was getting bigger and bigger, and Xu Qing could say that he was conquered by this miraculous phenomenon of life. He could feel the child in his belly growing day by day, becoming stronger. Every day, he drank from the Spirit Spring. Although not much, it was enough for him and the child to absorb.
The river outside the village had already started to dry up, transforming from a big river into a small stream. Even drinking water became a problem for the villagers. However, Xu Qing’s family was not in a hurry about this matter. It’s unknown whether it was due to Xu Qing pouring the Spiritual Spring water into the well that day, but the water level surprisingly didn’t decrease! Although they had to draw water from a slightly deeper part of the well compared to when they used buckets, there was still water available.
Initially, Xu Qing was worried that Li Changfeng would suspect something, but it was Li Changfeng who brought it up himself. He thought it was because their house was connected to a large forest in the back, so the well water was abundant for a reason. He also cautioned Xu Qing not to casually mention the issue of their well water to outsiders, to avoid attracting unwanted attention. After all, running out of water would lead to trouble.
Li Changfeng is not heartless, but he is afraid that the water will suddenly disappear. What would happen to Xu Qing and the child? He could go without water himself, but Xu Qing couldn’t bear it.
Li Changfeng only returned in the evening. Xu Qing’s body was now for two people, and he couldn’t go hungry for too long. After waiting for Li Changfeng for half an hour and he still hadn’t returned, Xu Qing decided to start eating on his own.
“Have you eaten?”
Li Changfeng shook his head, “No, there’s no food at the old house.”
Upon hearing this, Xu Qing thought, “Did the third brother not pass the exam?”
The past month had been quite troublesome for Li Laosan. The family didn’t have much food to begin with, but he always found reasons to have Li Ama cook extra food, claiming it would improve his health for the exams. Naturally, the food consumption increased, and no matter how much Li Ama’s heart ached, the thought of Li Laosan passing the exam meant everything would be better. So, he occasionally agreed to Li Laosan’s requests, resulting in a shortage of food in the house a few days before his exams.
Li Changfeng rubbed his temples. “Indeed, he didn’t pass the exam! Now they have no food at home. Big brother is furious, and Li Laosan won’t be taken advantage of. They’ve turned the family upside down.”
Eldest Li had two children, but Li Laosan’s child ate even more than his two children combined. That alone wouldn’t be an issue if Li Laosan had passed the exam. But with the food gone and Li Laosan’s failure, and with little money left in the house, things started to get chaotic.
Thinking about the food in their own storage room, Xu Qing, considering that Li Changfeng was Li Ama’s son, asked, “Should we send some over?” Li Changfeng nodded, “Yes, of course. I’ll go and deliver it after I finish eating.”
However, when Li Changfeng finished eating and Xu Qing looked at the food he had packed, his mouth twitched slightly. “Is this what you call sending food? It would have been better to cook a big pot of rice and bring it over, at least it would look more presentable!”
Li Changfeng held a small bag in his hand, which probably contained about ten kilograms of rice. He smiled and said to Xu Qing, “You should know that giving them more rice will only make them more arrogant. This is the year of famine.” He wouldn’t let anyone in the Li family starve to death, but he also wouldn’t joke around with the lives of his wife and child. In such a year of famine, people were capable of doing anything.
Xu Qing understood this reasoning too. He reached out and touched Li Changfeng’s face. “I understand. They need to learn a lesson and realize that not everything can be obtained just by wanting it.” The reason they could eat their fill was because of their hard work. Li Changfeng’s hands were blistered from making wooden dolls, and his shoulders were marked with blood-red bruises from carrying timber down from the mountain. Every time he returned, he was drenched in sweat.
The people in the Li family courtyard didn’t listen to Li Changfeng’s words and bought stored food in advance, leaving all their money for Li Laosan’s exam preparation. They “believed” that as long as Li Laosan passed, they would have everything. They never considered the possibility that Li Laosan might not pass, and they didn’t think about how this whole family would survive in such a year of famine.
Li Xiao’er only mentioned another possible outcome, and Li Laosan became so angry that he almost punched him deaf. They avoided the phrase “failure to pass” but failed to realize that it was an inevitable outcome they would have to face.
Li Changfeng embraced Xu Qing, lowered his head, kissed his forehead, and gently touched Xu Qing’s bulging belly with his free hand. “Don’t wait up for me at home. Go to bed early. I’ll come back after delivering the rice.”
Xu Qing agreed. After Li Changfeng left, he tidied up and went to bed to rest. He felt very tired but didn’t feel like sleeping, yet he couldn’t resist the drowsiness that was setting in.
Li Changfeng handed the rice in his hand to Li Ama without caring about the expressions of the people present. “We don’t have much food. Even this small amount of rice is shared equally with everyone. My wife hasn’t grown any extra crops, so there is no stored food either.”
Eldest Li’s wife looked at the scarce amount of food with some dissatisfaction and couldn’t help interjecting, “Second brother, didn’t you remind us when the food prices hadn’t gone up yet? Didn’t you buy more either?”
Li Changfeng sighed, “You all know that we used our money to repair the house. Who could have known that shortly after the house was fixed, we would face this kind of weather? There’s no extra money left to buy food.”
The Li family members were unaware of Li Changfeng’s work making wooden dolls, but it was true that their house had been repaired not long ago, and then the weather turned bad. Everyone knew about that. After Li Changfeng’s explanation, the old man and Li Laosan’s faces returned to normal. Li Xiao’er kept his head down and remained silent. Since he returned from Xu Qing and Li Changfeng’s place, he no longer behaved like a carefree child, and he had fewer conversations with his family.
Li Laosan had a look of exhaustion and despair on his face. He hadn’t been able to recover from the state of not passing the exam yet!
Thingyan: WHAT????? Li Laosan didn’t pass???? How come!!! He’s super smart, no? HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHHAAHHAAHAHAHHAHAHAH