Chapter 64: The Secret

----- This translation belongs to konila.com -----

----- THIS TRANSLATION BELONGS TO konila.com -----

----- This translation belongs to konila.com -----

----- This translation belongs to konila.com -----

The atmosphere in the room was solemn, and Old Lady Liu had a dark expression. Seeing that Mrs. Zhou was silent, she sneered, "There were so many people watching outside just now, I felt ashamed and didn't continue arguing, but that doesn't mean you can bully me like that."

Mrs. Zhou frowned as if she didn't know what to say.

Zhou Chengkang turned to Old Lady Liu after hearing what she had to say and asked, "How did our family bully you?"

Old Lady Liu sneered, "Ask your brother."

She was full of disdain, and Zhou Chengkang was displeased with her attitude. "Auntie, can you speak properly? You have been with us for more than a year, and when the family was together, Fifth Sister was the one who cooked for you. You normally aren't bullied, right? Why do you sound so sarcastic and cynical to me?"

Zhou Chengkang was unhappy, and Old Lady Liu was even angrier. "Why should I speak in warmly when you didn't do what you promised me. Your family is a bunch of liars!"

"You cannot speak such nonsense." Mrs. Zhou finally spoke up. "It's true that our Zhou family is poor, but my children have never taken anything from anyone since they were young, much less lie to anyone."

"Didn't lie?" Old Lady Liu was furious and pointed at Elder Brother Zhou. "He said he would not have a child within five years of marriage, but it's only been a year, and now Mei Hua is pregnant. What is he if not a liar?"

Mrs. Zhou was also angry. "These two are already married, so if you are not allowing them to have children, then what kind of daughter-in-law did our family choose? I think your goal is to find two ancestors to come back to serve you, right?"

Prevent Mei Hua from getting pregnant?

Eldest Brother Zhou didn't speak a word. It seemed as though he had done this privately. Upon seeing this, Mrs. Zhou immediately became angry and understood what had happened. Then she looked at Mei Hua's pale face at the side, and then at her stomach. She gave her face bearing in mind she was pregnant and held back her belly full of anger, saying to Zhou Chengkang, "It is as she says. Your eldest brother promised not to have children for five years, and that is why she agreed to this marriage, but we didn’t know about it. If I’d known in advance, I wouldn’t have accepted the marriage because we would’ve wronged Mei Hua. Now that Mei Hua is pregnant, she wants us to agree to her wishes. She actually wants Mei Hua to terminate the pregnancy!"

"I've never seen such a vicious woman in my life!"

Li Qinghe asked calmly, "Why can't they have children for five years? They are married, so how can they not have children? Unless they have not yet consummated their marriage, but if they have not yet consummated the marriage are they still husband and wife?"

"In the beginning your family sent some copper coins, adding up to one tael of silver; is this an attitude of courting marriage? The reason I agreed to this marriage is that Eldest Son Zhou said that he will not have children within five years of marriage, and…" Old Lady Liu's tone was a bit heavy saying the last part. "Also, I will collect all the money they earn."

Mrs. Zhou was taken aback and looked at her eldest son.

Old Lady Liu sneered, "Don't look at him. I collected all the silver earned over the year, and if it hadn’t been agreed on before, did you think he was a fool?"

She paused and continued. "This child can't be born. Think about it. If you wish to have a child, you can make up for my five-year loss. Oh sorry, four years, 10 taels a year, forty taels of silver in total, then I won’t stand in your way."

Mrs. Zhou was furious. "Why don't you go rob me instead? If you were Mei Hua's mother, this would indeed be true. And if the bean curd recipe was your Liu family's, I would have accepted it. But you are her former mother-in-law, and she is willing to take care of you because of her kindness and filial piety. You should be content with that!"

Old Lady Liu spread her hands and said, "Look, you’ve turned your face, haven’t you?"

She looked at Eldest Brother Zhou and said, "Eldest Zhou, why don't you speak. You should tell me how to proceed with this."

Eldest Brother Zhou crouched on the ground, holding his head. "I did promise in the beginning."

Mei Hua turned pale. "I want to give birth to this child."

She seemed very frightened, and her body was trembling, as she held Eldest Brother Zhou on the ground, and cried, "I want to live a good life with you."

There was no movement in the room and only the occasional cries of Mei Hua could be heard.

Zhang Haiyao, who had been watching the play at the door, had already stopped smiling and frowned.

Old Lady Liu's voice echoed in the quiet room again. "Mei Hua, don't make a fool of yourself. When he married you, he was only interested in your craftsmanship. He didn't want a betrothal gift because you are truly sincere. Don't feed your sincerity to a dog anymore."

"You are talking nonsense." Eldest Brother Zhuo was full of anger, his eyes widening.

In the end, she stepped back and said, "Now that I know what's on your mind, you’ve become anxious. Are you thinking about hitting someone?"

Mrs. Zhou closed her eyes and said, "Eldest Son, take Mei Hua back to the room."

Eldest Brother Zhuo frowned. He met his mother's eyes, and in the end, he did not say anything, only helping Mei Hua return to their room. When they reached the door, Mrs. Zhou said to Mei Hua, "I want you to remember what you just said, that you want this child, and also that you want a good life with the eldest son."

"Yes." Mei Hua's tone was serious as she said, "There is no one better than him in this world for me, and I am not someone who doesn't know good from the bad. Mother, do not worry, after this time, we will not let you worry about it again."

"You may not leave until we have clarified things." Old Lady Liu stepped in to stop her. "Who is going to give birth to a child? Who agreed?"

Mrs. Zhou stopped her. "I've been helping you for a year and a half. You said ten taels a year and now you have earned 15 taels of silver, which is almost enough. I won't ask you for the money. But you have to move out of my house now. My oldest son will support you and I will send you food and clothes every year, but don't think much about anything else."

"What if I don't?" Old Lady Liu folded her arms.

"Then I will report it to the officials." Mother Zhou said calmly. "Anyway, our family did not take advantage of you, and it's not unusual for widows to remarry. But I have never heard of someone who remarried bringing along her mother-in-law to support her in her old age. That's our family's kindness. It's because our family has a good heart that you live in my house. Since you don't know the difference between good and bad, you can leave and live on your own."

Old Lady Liu raised her eyebrows. "Then I will sell this tofu recipe."

Mrs. Zhou responded quickly, "If you sell the recipe, the eldest son will no longer care about you."

"Okay." Old Lady Liu turned around, went out, and said loudly, "Mei Hua, you’ve heard it all!"

In a flash, she returned to the house, and from her room, for a long time, noises could be heard. Then she came out with two large bags. "At first Mei Hua said the house would be mine after Fourth Son’s family moved out, but now what have I got? You made me live with a little girl. I've had enough. And the recipe… maybe I'll just sell it for a few dozen taels of silver now, so I don't have to wake up so early for work every day."

Mei Hua stood at the doorway, holding onto the door frame to stand unsteadily, trembling.

When she saw Old Lady Liu laughing and leaving, her hands grew soft and her body curved downward. Eldest Brother Zhou supported her hurriedly. "What's wrong?"

Tears were rolling down Mei Hua's cheeks. She had cried too much today, and her eyes were swollen. She choked up and said, "I was willing to listen to her, to give her the silver I earned, and even to help her for another five years after I remarried, because she promised me that she would not pass on my family's recipe for making tofu. It’s the last thing my parents left me."

Li Qinghe was stunned. There were only two tofu sellers in Luoyue Town, so if Old Lady Liu sold the recipe, she would earn more than 12 taels of silver.

"What should I do now?" Mrs. Zhou asked nervously. She was just negotiating with her, believing that the big deal would be to just sell the recipe before Old Lady Liu sold it, but what she didn’t expect was that the recipe was so valuable to Mei Hua that even if she didn't make it herself, it was something that she had to hold tightly to her heart. In the end, she couldn't help but ask, "There are so many sellers that make tofu, and they taste so different, so why didn't you keep the recipe to yourself?"

Mei Hua cried and shook her head. "She watches it every day and is my mother-in-law. If I urge her to leave how can I stay peacefully?"

"I’ll bring her back!" Eldest Brother Zhou sat her down on the chair and was about to chase after Old Lady Liu when the hem of the clothes was pulled by Mei Hua. He turned around and heard her say, "No need."

"I should have known this day would happen. She isn’t a virtuous person by nature. If I keep doing what she wants and continue to live with her, not remarrying or having children, since I married you, she will always find a way to sell the recipe."

Brother Zhou was filled with emotions upon hearing her words, and even Mrs. Zhou was touched. For Mei Hua, marrying him wasn't as simple as marrying any man. She had to lose the recipe that had been handed down to her from her family to marry him.

With Old Lady Liu gone, there was one less person in the Zhou family. It seemed to be the same as before, but it also seemed to be a little different.

Li Qinghe and Zhou Chengkang returned home. It was already late, so they cooked and ate food, and then fed the chickens and fish before taking a shower and going to bed.

The days passed, and when Li Qingmiao's full moon feast was over, the two began to go to the field to cut the sweet potato vines, sun-dry them, and store them inside till winter.

And half a month after Old Lady Liu left, there were three more tofu sellers in the town. Needless to say, they all knew that it was Old Lady Liu's doing.

It may be just like what Mei Hua had said. Old Lady Liu wanted to sell it for a long time. It was said that each family spent 32 taels of silver to buy the recipe, so she made nearly 100 taels at once. She bought a small courtyard in town and hired a few maids to help her throughout the day, so she was able to live a comfortable life.

The yard was covered with the leaves of sweet potato vines. At first, nobody noticed that the two people had planted sweet potatoes, but now everyone knew. When people saw the lush seedlings in the wheat field, and the sweet potatoes emerging from the ground, they couldn't help but ask, "This kind of seed may be cheap, but weighs a lot when planted. How expensive was it to plant such a large area?" It was Li Qingmiao's mother who had asked.

Before Li Qinghe could speak, a woman beside her shook her head and said, "We can't afford to grow them, and they have no shortage of money." Her tone was sour.


Read chapters in advance on Patreon. Click the button below.

-

----- This translation belongs to konila.com -----

Get More

Read chapters in advance.

Become a patron

Help Us Grow

Read. Donate. Experience.

Buy us a coffee