The Green Lotus Peasant GirlChapters List
Chapter 109: Firecracker
Li Qinghe and Zhou Chengkang didn't go to the wedding. So Mrs. Zhou went to help with the wedding in their stead, and took a wedding gift along.
Though it was Xu's family's wedding since their family still continued to communicate with the Yang, many people in the village subconsciously alienated them. Therefore, this time when a Xu family member got married, it was not as lively as compared to before.
Speaking of the Yang family's lack of morality, they took money from everyone in the village to make money for themselves. But the Xu family was not so innocent either. They took advantage of others' misery and bought such a big courtyard house just for the worth of 10 taels. Who in their right state of mind, would want to have any sort of relationship with them?
The air was turning cold as a result of the snowfall outside, so Li Qinghe and Zhou Chengkang chose not to go out at all. Mrs. Zhou didn’t live with them, but she would visit them frequently and occasionally would spend a few nights with them.
This didn’t bother Li Qinghe at all though. There wouldn’t be any shortage of food for them even if she feeds an extra person. Although she didn't know what Zhang Haiyao thought about this. Anyway, whenever Mrs. Zhou would come home for dinner, she would cater to her well and would occasionally add a few more side dishes to the table. Speaking of which, though the third brother Zhou doesn't earn much money, their lifestyle was not bad. Perhaps, because Zhang Haiyao couldn’t eat coarse grain buns, and would mostly consume fine grain buns with white porridge.
During the winter, Mrs. Zhou went back to live at the Zhou family house until the New Year.
The family had a very depressing New Year's Eve the previous year, so no matter how unhappy they were, they still made it a point to spare some time to spend the New Year together this year.
Li Qinghe went to the Zhou family house a bit too late. When she arrived she found that there were only two people in the kitchen: Mrs. Zhou and Zhang Haiyao. Logically speaking, shouldn’t eldest brother Zhou and Mei Hua have arrived at the house by noon?
Seeing her enter, Zhang Haiyao sighed, "There you are. Come and help us out quickly."
Zhang Haiyao was very straightforward, and would say anything she felt the need to be mentioned, directly. If someone spoke to her sarcastically or in a shady tone, she would get very angry.
"Elder brother and sister-in-law haven't arrived yet?" Li Qinghe was not hesitant to ask. She was accustomed to this sort of scenario. The number of times they visited in the previous years could be counted on the fingers of one hand alone.
If Mrs. Zhou didn't want to go to the town, it was okay to not take care of her. But shouldn't he have come back to take a look and check up on her?
"No." Zhang Haiyao sneered, "Maybe they were also in a situation like the fifth sister and would come back to celebrate with us later."
Those words made Mrs. Zhou glare at Zhang Haiyao with wide eyes.
Zhang Haiyao was not afraid to admit this either. She gets along well with Mrs. Zhou, which was quite different from Li Qinghe's and Mrs. Zhou's bond together. Li Qinghe doesn't talk much and usually doesn't care about what Mrs. Zhou does.
Zhang Haiyao was different. She had a stubborn temper and was always pampered at her maternal home. After she got married, third brother Zhou was also submissive towards her. She was a straightforward person and would often quarrel with Mrs. Zhou.
Sometimes, just because the food was a little saltier, the mother-in-law and daughter-in-law would have a huge fight.
Though the two quarreled with each other, neither of them would take any matters seriously. Otherwise, Mrs. Zhou would not have stayed there for two months.
The mother-in-law and daughters-in-law were cooking together in the kitchen. It was New Year's Eve and the weather today was also quite nice. It was still a little warm outside in the evening.
Xiyu and Xiwei were playing in the courtyard. Sometimes they would grab things from each other but would not fight.
Just when the rice was ready and the dishes were being fried in the pan, second brother Zhou and Li Qingmiao arrived.
Every year, on the New Year's eve, the celebrations at the Li family would be done very early. This was so that the couple could make a trip to the Zhou family house to celebrate New Year after eating. This could be considered intentional.
When the food was served, a carriage arrived outside. Hearing the movements, the three brothers went out to take a look. Zhang Haiyao was setting up the table and said, " Sure enough, they think they are guests. They can have the food whenever they decide to arrive."
Mrs. Zhou, who was helping her set the table said, "It's New Year today. Don't think too much."
Zhang Haiyao didn't care about it though. When they entered the house, everyone noticed that the couple was dressed plainly, with clothes made of fine cloth. Mei Hua only had a wooden clip in her hair and there was no trace of gold or silver on her body. On the other hand, Xili was wearing a satin dress along with a hat of the same color on her head. She was looking like a young lady from a wealthy family.
"Sorry that we are late." Elder brother Zhou apologized as soon as he entered the house, "There were a lot of people in the restaurant today. So they ordered a dozen catties of tofu from us. It's usually the people who run restaurants, who buy tofu from us. It was New Year today and if we were to refuse, it would be very difficult to do business with them again in the future."
Hearing his explanation, Mrs. Zhou's expressions softened. Zhang Haiyao hummed lightly and said, "It’s alright, now come and eat."
A large circle of people sat around the table. Mrs. Zhou looked at her children and her eyes were filled with happiness, "I'm glad that you all are doing so well."
After saying that she picked up the bowl to eat.
She didn't say anything about how little the eldest brother Zhou visited her.
She didn't want to mention the past. If she does, then this new year would also turn out to be the same.
Although the atmosphere was dull, there were no quarrels, which was not bad. The children got full from eating and went out to play and the brothers were drinking. While Zhang Haiyao was already washing the dishes in the kitchen.
In fact, she can't be blamed for this. Her two elder sisters-in-law may leave and if they both leave, she would be the one who would have to clean the dishes. After all, she can't make her mother-in-law work, right?
Besides, when the fifth sister Zhou will come tomorrow, she still has to prepare food.
If she went to the kitchen now, Li Qingmiao and Mei Hua would help. Li Qinghe also didn't slack off and ran to prepare for tomorrow. Occasionally, she would turn her eyes to look at the children in the yard. This time when she looked into the courtyard again, she suddenly got startled, "Where's Xili?"
Obviously, there should be four children who were not much different in age, but at this moment only three children were outside. Only Xili was missing. She was the only conspicuous one, as the rest of the children were wearing fine, blue cloth while she was wearing a sky-blue satin dress.
As soon as she spoke, Mrs. Zhou was surprised and went out to check, "She was here just now."
After searching the front and back yard, Mrs. Zhou became anxious, "Xili…"
Hearing her cry, Mei Hua came out of her room. It seemed like they wanted to stay there tonight, so she went to their old room to clean and make the bed. When she heard Mrs. Zhou looking for Xili, she also anxiously came outside, "She was here just a moment ago, where could have she gone so quickly?"
Mrs. Zhou shook her head, "The children also didn't know where she went and she wasn't in the yard either. Where could she go?"
While talking, she had already opened the courtyard gate to look for Xili on the road outside. She went out and asked the children who were playing in the next-door yard.
They also didn't see her.
Though they couldn't find her, she was not very anxious about her disappearance. After all, it was a small village, and there were usually no outsiders visiting here often. Today was also the Chinese New Year, so there were even fewer people on the road. Besides, on every New Year's Eve, there would be so many children running on the road outside, and no one was ever lost. So, she was more inclined to think that Xili wandered away while playing by herself.
Zhang Haiyao ran out and asked Xiwei, "Where did Xili go? Did you see her?"
Among the children, Xiwei was the oldest. She shook her head in denial, "She was here with us until now. Changping wanted to play with her snare drum, but she refused and ran away all by herself."
Changping was Li Qingmiao's child. Zhang Haiyao frowned, and asked further, "Did she open the door and go out?"
Xiwei shook her head and said, "I didn't see that."
They were all just 3-4 years old, so the elders couldn't be very sure that all their words were true. But they believed this part, as even they didn't hear any sound of the door opening. And it was also because the door was closed, that they allowed the children to play in the yard.
A quarter of an hour later, Mrs. Zhou came back out of her breath and said, "I searched both the yards, but I couldn't find her."
They searched inside and outside the house and the yard. Not only the ladies, even the brothers who were drinking inside came out to look for Xili.
After searching for another quarter of an hour, everyone grew more worried. They all wondered where could the child go?
Eldest brother Zhou searched around their room once again, then ran to the road and then came back after some time. After entering the house, with a sullen look, he said: "There were some people basking in the sun. I asked them, but they didn't see Xili either."
Mrs. Zhou was relieved to hear this. "If it's true, then the child must still be in the village."
Li Qinghe thought carefully and said, "I'm sure the gate hasn't been opened."
As the group of people looked at each other, eldest brother Zhou looked suspiciously at Zhou Chengkang, "Fourth brother, you did it, didn't you?"
Li Qinghe was stunned. Even Zhou Chengkang was stunned before he realized what he meant. He frowned, "What do you mean?"
"When you were four years old, I know you still remember about it. Didn't you…" Before he finished his words, Mrs. Zhou slapped him in the face, " You still have the nerve to mention it?"
Eldest brother Zhou squatted down and held his head, "Xili is my only child. If I lose her, what would I even do in the future? Fourth brother, big brother is sorry for doing that to you in the past, but you can not take revenge on my child..."
"Nonsense!" Li Qinghe squeezed Zhou Chengkang's hand to comfort him while she defended him from this ridiculous accusation. She sneered, "Only you are the one who remembers it, we forgot about it long ago."
Third brother Zhou hung his head low.
Eldest brother Zhou obviously didn't believe this, "Where did Xili go then? Mei Hua is not in good health, and I only have one child. Fourth..."
When he mentioned it again, Li Qinghe got annoyed. She picked up the stool next to her and threw it at him. Eldest brother Zhou was squatting on the ground, and the stool was swung at full speed at him, so he only had time to cover his head and block it. The stool then hit his arm instead.
Mei Hua was angry about this attack and stepped forward to protect her husband. She glared at Li Qinghe, "Why did you throw the stool?"
"Then how dare you move your lips, to wrongly accuse us of stealing your child." Li Qinghe was furious, "The child is lost and you are not in any hurry to find her. Instead of searching for her, you are asking us to hand her over to you. We only come back to this house several times a year, so we are not as familiar as you are."
"No matter how cold I and my husband are, we will never do something to a child for our selfish reasons. Only someone like you who would lose a child on purpose and would think that way. Just because you would do something like this, doesn't mean we would do it too!"
Her voice was cold, and the courtyard turned quiet after she said these words.
Even the children didn't dare to speak anything. Eldest brother Zhou hung his head even low and the third brother Zhou was unable to take it anymore. He turned around and went to the backyard and shouted, "Xili…"
He went to look for the child.
A few seconds later, suddenly came his surprised voice, "Xili, you are here."
Everyone rushed over there, but Li Qinghe didn't. She bent down to pick up Xiyu, pulled Zhou Chengkang's sleeve, and walked out.
Mrs. Zhou called her name from behind, but she didn't turn her head and neither did Zhou Chengkang.
The blame of whatever happened today shouldn’t have been pushed on them.
While walking on the road, Zhou Chengkang took Xiyu from her arms and patted her back, "Don't be so angry."
Li Qinghe shook her head, "I'm not angry, I still need to talk to mom about this matter. In the future, during the Chinese New Year, we will not go to a get-together like this. It's an auspicious day, we've been married for a few years now, and we've had a good year. Getting together every year will not make everyone happy."
"If mother really wants us to be there, then we can go back when the fifth sister comes back for the first day of the new year. Let's have a meal with our fifth sister." Fifth sister Zhou and her husband were guests and it was impolite even in the farmer's family to fight in front of guests.
It was rare for a married girl to go back to her natal family. If her brothers still quarrel in front of them, it will inevitably make people feel that the girl was not taken seriously in her natal family, and the husband's family will look down on her too. So, even if everyone was unhappy last year too, they managed to get over it when the fifth sister arrived.
They can do that again.
"Okay." Zhou Chengkang persuaded in a low voice, "Don't be angry, I didn't expect him to think I would take revenge on him."
Li Qinghe sneered, "He still had the nerve to mention it. We didn't even look for him to settle the score."
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