Su Chen was startled by his boss’s actions, and he awkwardly explained, “My sister was just joking.”
However, Wei Liu didn’t want to easily give up on this potential lifeline. He carefully read through the conversation between the siblings. Su Mu’s inquiries were all about the true details of the reward, and she didn’t talk much about the current state of the orchid.
From this, he deduced two things: first, she was probably just being curious, and second, she might actually possess the ability. He pondered for a moment and typed, “The leaves of the orchid have all drooped and turned black. How can you be so confident?”
No immediate denial? That’s not like my brother’s usual style. Su Mu found it a bit surprising, but she answered honestly, “The condition of the leaves isn’t the main concern. The crucial point is that the roots still have some green, indicating that the virus hasn’t spread completely. However, it’s close. It’s just a matter of a day or two. If it’s brought to me now, there might still be a chance.”
If Su Chen had seen this message, he would have thought his little sister was boasting again. However, Wei Liu believed her to some extent. Her words were similar to what the experts in orchid cultivation had said, but the difference was that while the experts admitted helplessness, she sounded confident.
Wei Liu handed the phone back to Su Chen and after a few seconds of thought, he decided to take a risk, “Delegate the matters of the next few days to Manager Zhang. Get yourself ready, and let’s visit your sister. By the way, where is she now?”
“Boss?” Su Chen couldn’t believe his ears. His sister might be prone to exaggeration, but the fact that even the usually shrewd boss believed her was quite surreal. This day felt magical.
“What are you waiting for? Go now,” Wei Liu urged, his brow furrowed. The orchid was his old man’s cherished possession. Since the grandmother had passed away, the old man had found solace in it, valuing it even more than his own grandson. So long as there was a glimmer of hope, he would seize it tightly. Wei Liu also had a hunch that Su Mu might actually have the ability.
At home, Su Mu stared at her motionless phone, her chin resting on her hand. Did her brother actually believe her or not? Just give her a hint! This silence was torturous.
“Mu Mu, come on, let’s visit the village chief.” Father Su prepared some gifts, called his absent-minded daughter, and thought that since she would be farming in the village, she would have to interact with the village chief sooner or later. He would accompany her this time, and in the future, she would have to handle it on her own.
“Oh, sure. Wait a moment, I’ll send a message to my brother.” Su Mu sat up from the recliner, sent the message, then tossed her phone aside, patting her slightly wrinkled pants. “Dad, let’s go.”
Mother Su added a piece of advice from behind, “Mu Mu, remember to be polite and speak sweetly.”
Su Mu waved her hand dismissively, raising her voice, “I know.”
In recent years, the village’s economic conditions had improved. Almost every household had built small houses with white walls and black tiles. The villagers also liked to plant flowers and trees in front of and behind their homes. The houses were scattered among layers of trees, giving the village a unique charm.
Su Mu followed her father at a moderate distance, taking in the drastic changes in the village. Many of the familiar scenes from her memories had disappeared or been replaced by new things. She felt a tinge of melancholy, then slowly shifted her gaze to her father’s back. At some point, his once sturdy shoulders had become slightly thinner, and his gait was no longer as upright.
Time was ruthless, but thankfully, she still had the chance to accompany him.
Su Mu caught up a few steps and held onto her father’s arm. “Dad, you’ve worked hard all these years.” The family had only a small plot of land, about five acres of fertile land plus the hilly area behind the courtyard. This was enough to support two college students, but it was Su Chen’s job that had ultimately improved the family’s financial situation.
Father Su wasn’t used to such affectionate scenes. His tone was a little tense. “There’s no need to mention it.”
Su Mu suppressed a smile, her lips curling up. “Dad, are you feeling shy?”
The village chief was one of the earliest families to become affluent in the village. Their house was large and finely crafted. When Father Su and Su Mu arrived at the doorstep, the village chief’s young grandson was playing outside. Upon seeing them, he shyly scampered inside.
Father Su quickly called out, “Hu Zi, is your grandfather home?”
Hu Zi ran while calling out in a sweet voice, “Grandpa, Uncle Su is looking for you.”
After a while, the village chief came out of the house. Hu Zi followed closely behind, curiously observing the unfamiliar elder sister.
Translated on ho lo lo novels dot com.
Su Mu felt his cautious gaze and smiled at him. The little boy shied away once more.
“Hey, we all live in the same village. Why did you bring something to visit?” The village chief scolded Father Su with a glare. In fact, their families were distant relatives, but not particularly close.
Father Su chuckled. “I’m just accompanying the kid. Mu Mu hasn’t been to your place in years. It’s only proper to bring a gift.”
He turned his head to his daughter. “Mu Mu, this is your great-grandfather. Call him.”
Su Mu smiled gently. “Hello, great-grandfather. I’m Su Mu. Thank you for having us.”
The village chief, with his reading glasses on, scrutinized the tall and graceful girl. For some reason, he sensed a hint of authority in her demeanor. He dispelled his condescension. Su Tang’s daughter was no ordinary girl.
After some pleasantries, Father Su finally revealed the purpose of their visit. “Village Chief, I’m here to discuss the matter of renting land. Can you tell us the current rental price?”
This question caught the village chief off guard. “You want to rent land?” As the village chief, he knew the families’ situations quite well. Su Tang’s eldest son was capable, and his daughter was a college student. They farmed a little land just to pass the time. It was unexpected for them to want more land.
Su Mu answered on behalf of her father. “Yes, it’s me who wants to rent, Great-Grandfather.”
The village chief was even more surprised now. Did this young and delicate girl want to give up a well-paying job in the city and come back to farm? Was her mind all there?
In the countryside, people were desperately trying to go to the city, yet here she was, going against the tide. But it was her choice, and he had no right to interfere.
“Our village has plenty of unused land. If you want to rent, I can give you a discount. A hundred yuan for an acre should be reasonable.”
“Which family’s land do you want to rent?”
Father Su hurriedly spoke up, “The Liu family’s land, the twenty-acre plot near the entrance of the village.”
The village chief nodded and pulled out his old-style mobile phone. “I’ll call and ask him. The Liu family all moved to the city, so they should be willing to rent it out. Don’t worry.”
Father Su smiled, and Su Mu stayed by his side, occasionally amusing the chubby little boy.
After a while, village chief got the news back, “Alright, he’s willing to rent it. But he wants to lease it for thirty years at once. What do you think? Can you accept it? Is there room for negotiation?”
Father Su looked at his daughter. Since it was her decision, it depended on her choice.
This suited Su Mu just fine, and she agreed immediately. However, the village chief’s land lease contract was quite rudimentary. She mentioned that she would draft a formal contract and, if he agreed after reading it, they could proceed to sign the agreement.
The village chief waved his hand. “Alright, I’ll be the witness, and we’ll stamp the village seal.”
“Alright, thank you for your help, Great-Grandfather.”
After leaving the village chief’s house, Su Mu felt a sense of relief.
“Mu Mu, farming is a very labor-intensive and sacred job. You mustn’t take it lightly. Do you understand?” Father Su was afraid that his daughter would underestimate the work, and if she regretted it after signing the contract, it would be too late.
“I understand, Dad. You can rest assured.”
Once back home, Su Mu dialed a number she had saved in her phone. However, nobody answered even after a long wait. The lawyer seemed to be quite busy; she guessed he wouldn’t call back until late at night.
She shook her head at the thought of her workaholic best friend, Chen Guo, and set this matter aside. Chen Guo would surely return her call after seeing the missed call.
Leaving her room, Su Mu began to process the river-fresh seafood she had caught that morning.
Things that were meant to be consumed had to be cleaned thoroughly. She poured the snails and mussels from the basin into a woven bag her mother had made from good nylon thread. The small openings of the bag prevented them from escaping, and it was sturdy.
After a while of rubbing and rinsing, the dirt that clung to the shells came off, and the water in the basin became muddy. However, her hands were sore, and her skin turned red.
“Mom, are you done with your work? Can you help me?”
Mother Su was currently watering the vegetables in the garden. It was strange, as she noticed that the vegetables in the garden had grown quite a bit taller, and they weren’t wilted by the sunlight. On the contrary, they looked lively and spirited.
Hearing her daughter’s plea for help, she didn’t think too much and closed the garden gate to see what her daughter was up to.
“Oh, when did you catch these?”
“This morning, I went out with Dad and caught them along the way. Mom, my hands are red, can you help me wash them? I’ll go get the pliers.”
Mother Su nodded. “The pliers are in the storeroom, in your father’s toolbox. Also, grab a pair of scissors.”
After cleaning up, the mother and daughter sat by a wooden basin, using scissors to trim the tails of the snails. The purpose was to remove some of the dirt from the tails, making them easier to eat later.
“We can stir-fry the snails, add some chili and perilla leaves, along with pickled bamboo shoots.” Su Mu enthusiastically planned tonight’s menu. “The river mussels in this season are very fresh. How about making a pot of tofu, bamboo shoot, and mussel soup?”
Mother Su teased, “Little glutton, you really know how to enjoy food. If you’re making soup, you should go to Grandpa Li’s house to see if there’s any tofu left.”
Su Mu hesitated. “Should I go buy some later?”
“You won’t enjoy good food if you’re lazy. If you wait too long, they might be sold out.”
Putting down the pliers, Su Mu rushed back to her room to get money and then left in a hurry, saying, “I’m going to buy it now!”
Mother Su laughed. Her daughter was still so passionate about food.
Relying on her memory, Su Mu found Grandpa Li’s house. She remembered that when she was a child, she often came here to enjoy soy milk and tofu pudding. Now that she was grown up, she oddly felt a warmth in her cheeks.
She stood at the door and called out, “Is Grandpa Li at home? I want to buy some tofu.”
“Coming, coming.” It was Grandma Li who responded. She wiped her hands with her apron, squinting to see who was at the door. The girl in front of her matched the image of the little glutton girl from her memories.
“Isn’t this Mu Mu? When did you come back?”
Su Mu quickly replied, “I just got back yesterday. Grandma Li, how have you and Grandpa Li been?”
“We’re good, good, still strong. Your Grandpa Li is even going around the village selling tofu.”
The old lady had plenty to say, and Su Mu had to patiently listen. After spending half an hour with her, she left.
When she finally reached her doorstep, she heard her brother’s familiar loud voice.