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The Green Lotus Peasant Girl

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Chapter 118: Help

Zhou Chengkang had been running for half a day and had only just eaten. He wolfed down two bowls of food and then took the dishes to the kitchen to wash them. After washing up, he went inside and found that Xiyu had already fallen asleep.

"Mother is very worried," Zhou Chengkang whispered as he lay in bed.

Li Qinghe didn't say anything. No matter how poorly eldest brother Zhou behaved, Mrs. Zhou, as a mother, would definitely worry.

The night was quiet, and occasionally the barking of dogs from the village could be heard. The two gradually fell asleep.

The next day, it was bright outside when someone knocked on the door. Zhou Chengkang got up to answer it, and then his mother's voice came in.

"No matter what grievances you have with your elder brother, you are still brothers. You can't ignore him at this time."

Hearing this, Li Qinghe opened her eyes, put on her clothes, and went out. It wasn't cold on this May morning, and she could see Mrs. Zhou in the yard at a glance.

Zhou Chengkang was washing up and didn't respond to his mother's words.

Seeing Li Qinghe come out, Mrs. Zhou felt a bit embarrassed. "Qinghe, be careful at home these few days and take good care of Xiyu. We'll be back soon."

"Mother, I didn't say I want to go," Zhou Chengkang wiped his face with a towel. "The county town is too far away, and I still have things to do in the woods."

Mrs. Zhou's face changed slightly. "Are you saying that you don't want to take care of your elder brother? Put aside the grievances between brothers and unite at this time."

At this hour, neither of them could fall asleep, so Li Qinghe went to wash up and casually asked, "Mother, is third brother going too?"

Mrs. Zhou was silent for a moment before replying, "What's he going to do? Fourth child has been to the county a few times and knows the way. The most important thing is that the county magistrate knows the fourth child. If he helps plead for leniency, the Magistrate will definitely investigate carefully."

"Others may not know, but you two know your eldest brother's personality. He only had a moment of greed and wouldn't actually kill anyone. As long as they investigate thoroughly, he will be fine."

Li Qinghe could see through her intentions. It was true that the two of them knew the county magistrate, but why should they have to plead for eldest brother Zhou?

Zhou Chengkang had already gone into the kitchen to cook and showed no signs of packing up to leave.

Mrs. Zhou became anxious and followed him into the kitchen, "Fourth child, are you really going to be like this?"

"Mother," Li Qinghe came in with firewood, "It's true that he is his brother, but we also have second and third brothers above us. Even if the second brother lives with his wife's family, he is still part of the Zhou family, right? If they go, we'll go together. If they don't go, why should we be forced to go?"

"And if eldest sister-in-law doesn't go, we won't go either." Li Qinghe spoke seriously, "Pleading for leniency is not easy. Just to see the eldest brother and ask about the situation, we need to bribe someone. Without money, we won't be able to see him. And even if we bribe someone, there's no guarantee that we'll be able to see him. We can't afford to pay that kind of money, can we?"

"In fact, when eldest brother took Chengkang into the forest to feed the wolves, he never thought he would need to ask for help from this younger brother. If the sister-in-law doesn't come to ask personally, we won't take the initiative to go, so as not to be seen as meddlesome."

Bringing up the past again, Mrs. Zhou turned pale. "It was my fault. For a mother, there are no bad children. At that time, the first child didn't really understand, and it was my fault for not watching over the fourth child… But now is not the time to talk about this. Let's find the eldest brother first, and we can discuss this later, okay?"

"You want Mei Hua to ask you personally? I'll go then." She turned around and hurriedly left.

Of course, when asking for help, there must be a certain manner to it. Why let the old mother come forward for everything?

Li Qinghe couldn't care less if Mei Hua approached them for help, but Zhang Haiyao would definitely mock her if she did. Since the old woman Liu died, she had become arrogant and looked down on her sisters-in-law. Now that eldest brother Zhou was in trouble, was she really going to sit back and wait for these people to help her?

How beautiful that would be!

Sure enough, Mei Hua came quickly and was sincere in her attitude. "Fourth brother, I'm really asking for your help this time. I've talked to second and third brothers, and they will come too."

"But there's one more thing," she looked a bit embarrassed. "I didn't plan to come before because Xili was at home, and I had to take care of the child. If I go now, can Xili come over to your place?"

"No!" Li Qinghe raised her hand to refuse. "If something happens to Xili while she's here, you'll accuse us of doing it on purpose. Let the third sister-in-law take care of her."

Mei Hua's face turned pale. "Third brother's wife said she wants to come too."

"What about Xiwei?" Li Qinghe asked in surprise, "She wouldn't have been sent over too, right?"

No wonder she asked this question. It was a two-day journey from here to the county town, and even adults found it exhausting, let alone children. Moreover, who knew when this case would be tried? It could take a month, a year, or even longer.

"Xiwei wants to come along," Mei Hua said, her face looking a little uneasy. They were going to save someone, but Zhang Haiyao made it seem like she was visiting her parents.

She was indeed going to visit her parents!

Ever since the Zhang family moved to the county town, she had not gone to visit them in years. Occasionally, she would receive news from there. The Zhang family seemed to be doing well and would sometimes even send her gifts.

"Well, you might as well bring her along too," Li Qinghe said frankly, "When the children are together, they're bound to bump into each other. That way, you don't have to worry, and I don't have to take care of her either."

In the afternoon, a full carriage of people finished packing up and set off. After seeing them off, Li Qinghe had to go back to the courtyard of the Zhou family to feed the chickens for Zhang Haiyao.

These chickens had been raised by the third brother Zhou for his child, specifically to provide eggs for the child to eat. Now that they were gone, she also took the opportunity to go to the Li family. On the way, she met many people who were curious and asked her: "How is the eldest brother doing?"

Li Qinghe could only answer that she didn't know.

She really didn't know.

It would be good if they could prove that eldest brother Zhou wasn't involved. But if they couldn't find any evidence to prove his innocence, and those two on the other side refuse to change their testimony and insist that he was involved, he might have to pay with his life. Then there would be no turning back.

The villagers all knew that the Zhou brothers had gone to the county town to try to find a solution. It was the off-season for farming, and the weather was good, so everyone was busy chopping firewood or going out to do odd jobs. Some even asked if there was anything they could help with at Li Qinghe's house.

On this day, Yu Yan came by with her son. He really was a handsome boy, with fair skin, comparable to Xiwei. At first glance, he looked like a pretty little girl.

"Do you want to buy the land over there?" Yu Yan smiled and asked.

She was asking about the wasteland and hillside land owned by the Yang family. Li Qinghe shook her head. "Not for now. I still need to put more money into my own forty acres before I can even think about buying anything else." She would wait until she could harvest the medicinal herbs and make some profit before considering other investments.

"Yesterday, the mother and daughter came to me for help," Yu Yan said with a smile. "They said that the people in town were chasing them and threatening to send them to that dirty place."

That was only to be expected. You reap what you sow, and this was the debt left behind by Xu Changjie. They were not going to let them off easily.

No one had bought the wasteland hillside, even though it could be turned into terraced fields like Li Qinghe's. It would take a significant amount of manpower and resources, which no family in the village could afford.

After two days, Li Qinghe heard the news that Yang Lanrou went to the town mayor and asked him to help her write a reconciliation letter and departure for Xu family. Then she took her mother and left the village, and nobody knew where they went.

As for the wasteland, ponds, and fields, they were all handed over to the town mayor, who helped to negotiate and hoped that the creditor would accept these things to clear the debt.

The mother and daughter had run away, and even if the creditor no longer wanted those things, they had to accept it.

It's worth mentioning that the pond was a thank-you gift from Yang Lanrou to the town mayor, while the wasteland and hillside land were the debt that Yang's family paid back. When Xu Changjie bought the land, he imitated Zhou Chengkang and wrote the hillside in his wife's name. Otherwise, the ten acres of wasteland would still have to be handed over, and they would still not have been able to clear the debt. It was like borrowing ten taels of silver to buy wasteland, but ending up sacrificing four acres of land to clear the debt.

In fact, if Mr. Yang personally managed the situation, it might not have turned out this way. The main reason was that he underestimated the stinginess of Mrs. Xu, and it was true that she had leverage, but she couldn't push a person too hard. There's a degree to be measured during this period. Mr. Yang could handle it, but Mrs. Xu couldn't. If mishandled, she would lose everything.

This time, Zhou Chengkang and the others went away for more than a month. When they returned, they finally brought back the emaciated eldest brother Zhou.

They left in May and returned at the end of June, during the hot weather. When Zhou Chengkang got home, he first washed up, and then the food was already on the table. He ate two bowls of food and sighed, "It's still comfortable at home."

Li Qinghe poured him a cup of tea and smiled, "How was it? Was it troublesome?"

"Troublesome," said Zhou Chengkang as he took the tea, "those two wouldn't confess. The county magistrate interrogated them every day, but eventually discovered that their statements contradicted each other when it came to the murder. Only then did it become clear that the eldest brother was innocent."

Having not seen each other for almost two months, Zhou Chengkang noticed that not only had his wife become more beautiful, but even Xiyu seemed to have grown taller, and most importantly, they both had gotten tanned.

Xiyu was so dark that when he saw her, he couldn't react for a moment, "Xiyu, why are you like this?"

Li Qinghe was also helpless when she heard this. Yu Yan had told her son that boys shouldn't have pale faces, so the two children ran outside to sunbathe whenever they had time. Fortunately, Xiyu was okay, but Yan's son's face had peeled after getting sunburnt, causing him pain for several days.

"Dad, I look good like this," Xiyu said earnestly.

Children's aesthetics were indeed different, and Zhou Chengkang frowned, "Starting tomorrow, we'll practice calligraphy."

They had played enough in the past two months. It was time to focus on studying calligraphy, but they hadn't even touched ink all day if it hadn't crossed their minds.

"Okay, let's do it together," Xiyu nodded quickly.

Together?

The next day, father and son spread out the pen, ink, paper and inkstone and began practicing calligraphy. After half a day, they had found their rhythm and were writing quite well. When they had some free time, Zhou Chengkang said, "We should still invite Dr. Huang over and learn some medicine..."

As he was speaking, someone knocked on the door. When they opened it, they saw Mei Hua. "Come over for dinner tonight. Thank you, fourth brother, for helping us out these days."

Mei Hua had also lost weight and looked a bit tired, but her eyes were bright.

Since this couple moved to town, they hadn't invited them over for a meal in years. They should go, especially since they had helped out in a serious way. They wouldn't feel guilty eating this meal.

As the two of them walked towards the village, Li Qinghe asked curiously, "Did they spend a lot of money?"

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