The Green Lotus Peasant GirlChapters List
Chapter 47: House
On the day of the Dragon Boat Festival, the two returned to Li's house. It was the first time Li Qinghe officially returned to her maternal family's home after getting married. Li Fu was very pleased and he went to the pond a day in advance to confirm whether they were going to return.
As a result, when they arrived at Li’s house, Li Fu did not go outside, instead he swept the floor at home. When he saw the two at the door, he opened the door with a smile and led them in.
There was well-brewed tea on the table in the room, and the house was clean both inside and out. In comparison with the chaos when she returned last time, this time was much better, and she was thoroughly treated with hospitality.
Li Qinghe brought back a pheasant and a piece of meat. Li Fu smiled and took it, "Drink water. I was afraid that you wouldn't come back. You've been busy over there lately, haven't you?"
"Thank you, dad." Zhou Chengkang took a sip of tea and said, "Actually, it's fine. First, we need to prepare the wood and green bricks, and then we can get started."
Li Fu sat down on the opposite side and asked, "When will the construction begin? How many people will you hire?"
"We will begin construction in two days. I will hire as many people as possible, as we are hoping to move in soon." Li Qinghe said as she sipped her tea. For her, this was quite a novel experience. From her childhood to adulthood, her father hadn't had a serious conversation with her like this, so she was in a good mood, and said a few more words, "I know it's hard to get up early in the winter, and someone has to keep watch over the chickens in the farmhouse."
As Li Fu heard this, he agreed, "I'll go look at the kitchen, but you stay here."
When they entered the house, Mrs. Qian poked her head out to greet them, as if she had no hard feelings about Li Qinghe for not lending the money last time.
Soon, Mrs. Qian brought out the cooked food - a plate of meat slices, a pot of bone soup, fried vegetables and pickles, porridge, and steamed buns. The buns were whiter on the inside than regular coarse grain buns, so it was clear that refined flour was added.
It was indeed a thoughtful meal.
The bowls and chopsticks were all set, and Li Fu began to pour the wine. Mrs. Qian looked at the entrance several times, and Li Qinghe was in a good mood so she asked, "Is Wanwan coming back?"
Mrs. Qian was also very happy and replied, "Yes, today is the Dragon Boat Festival, so she found someone to cover her work."
Zhao Wanwan arrived as soon as the meal was served. She bought some steamed buns. She wore the same veil as last time, and Mrs. Qian smiled as she welcomed her.
If it weren't for borrowing money, they could still get along in harmony. Towards the end of dinner, Li Fu was drunk and blushed, "It would be nice if Yanxi was here." Zhao Wanwan did not say a word as she cleaned up the dishes and helped Mrs. Qian pack them up.
The situation was not right. Every time Hu Yanxi's name was brought up, Zhao Wanwan always talked about him. Li Fu did not pay attention as he talked to Zhou Chengkang about the things that needs attention when building a house. When Mrs. Qian noticed it, she frowned and said, "Wanwan, help me bring them to the kitchen."
Zhao Wanwan waved her hand, "Mother, I can't work with this shirt on. It wouldn’t be any good if it's stained and won’t come out."
Mrs. Qian held back her anger, "Then come over and talk to me."
When Li Qinghe carried the dishes to the kitchen, she heard Zhao Wanwan crying and saying something from outside, but when she went in, neither mother nor daughter spoke, and the atmosphere was silent.
It was obvious that something had happened to Zhao Wanwan, but they didn't want her to know. Li Qinghe was also not curious, so she didn't dig into it.
Zhao Wanwan quickly said goodbye. She had only spent two hours at home and had to rush back. Her eyes were red when she left, and it appeared she was about to cry again.
Mrs. Qian also became more silent after Zhou Wanwan left, occasionally staring thoughtfully at Li Qinghe and Zhou Chengkang. When it got dark outside, Li Qinghe and Zhou Chengkang returned home. Li Fu drank a little and sent the two to the yard. A tone of pride filled his voice as he said, "When building a house, don't forget to come to me for help. I don't have the money, but I have the strength to move bricks."
Before Li Fu could finish his sentence, Mrs. Qian ran to the yard and helped him back to the house.
They really started preparing for a house after they returned. Li Qinghe went to Li Xingwang, and Zhou Chengkang went to his uncle. The village head and his uncle each hired a dozen people to build houses.
The end of May was the best time of the year, and the daylight at this time was half an hour longer than usual. As they now had to pay the wages per day, this additional half-hour was not something to be taken lightly. Since workers had to work from dawn until night, they didn't have to work until it’s dark, which made them feel very charitable.
There were still two months left until the harvest. At this time, the crops didn't require much care, which means, there were a lot of people who were idle at home, and it created a lot of opportunities to hire free people. Everyone who was hired worked honestly. However, the frame of the house was completed in half a month, so there weren’t too many workers required. All they needed to do was wait for the carpenter to finish the roof, then the windows and tiles would be installed, and the house would be complete.
During this period, everyone was going out early and returning late. Zhou Chengkang didn't say anything, but he always showed up earlier than others and didn't leave until everyone had gone home. Li Qinghe, on the other hand, had to prepare meals for more than a dozen people daily. Even if only one meal is served at noon, the task was not easy. Fortunately, Mother Zhou and the Fifth Sister Zhou helped her to set the fire. After the meal was prepared, the mother and daughter helped her bring the food to the pond together.
The Third Brother Zhou also went to the house and helped for two days. Li Qingmiao and the Second Brother were basically there from start to finish. While other members of the family, such as Elder Brother Zhou's family, didn't help with the work, they sent some tofu, which was considered a help.
While the carpenters were building the roof, Li Qinghe had the courtyard walls built around the house.
There were very few people who built courtyard walls in the village. They all had courtyards surrounded by fences, which could be crossed with the lift of the foot. There were neighbors in the village, and even if it was the case, they haven't heard of any missing things. Li Qinghe's house was near the pond, which was different. Nobody was living within two miles of the property, and the courtyard was without a wall, which made it unsafe.
Moreover, she still harbored some secret thoughts in her heart. Since there was a pond right outside the house, it was better to build a courtyard wall to protect the children in the future, so she wouldn't have to worry if they left the house. In that case, she would simply have to latch the door and feel relieved.
It was already the end of June when the new house was completed. It was a hot day. Many people were in the courtyard of the Zhou family that day. On this day, Li Qinghe and Mrs. Zhou, as well as Li Qingmiao, were very busy. After the house was built, she had to invite the people who helped to build the house for a meal, and then pay the wages.
As soon as the house was built, the door was locked and no one could get in. Li Qinghe was very happy, even though she was busy cooking and running around, it was her own house.
Furthermore, the construction of this house was exceptionally smooth. In the past, there were times when bricklayers fell off the roof while building houses and fortunately no one got hurt. At this time, not only were there no accidents, but there were also no bumps, and the matter went smoothly.
Outside, the yard was very lively. The kitchen knife in Li Qinghe's hand was slicing vegetables quickly, while the Fifth Sister was busy lighting the stove. Mrs. Zhou was kneading the dough with her hands and the upward curled corner of her lips did not turn even one time. "I did not expect this to go so well. For the past month or so, I couldn't sleep at night. Sometimes I dreamed of people being injured during construction."
"Mother, don't think so much." Li Qinghe smiled and advised, "It's fine. When we move in, if you want, you and the fifth sister can come live with us."
Fifth Sister Zhou smiled shyly in front of the stove. She was already fifteen years old. She, Fifth Sister Zhou, spent the majority of her time at home cleaning up, doing chores, and couldn’t go out for a long time. As she helped cook every day during this time, Li Qinghe remembered it fondly. Furthermore, she calculated in her heart that when the little girl married, she would provide her with an additional dowry.
On the side, Li Qingmiao teased, "Yeah, you just remembered mother. Would you like to stay a few days with me too?"
"Come if you want." Li Qinghe smiled. "Go more often in the future, just in case you won't."
At this moment, a shadow appeared at the door. Zhang Haiyao folded her arms and said, "Is the meal ready? Do you need help? I'm getting hungry!"
As she gazed at the pot, it was clear from her gaze that her last sentence was what she intended to say.
Mrs. Zhou's smile flattened slightly and she said in a serious tone, "Don't be so gloomy on a good day. There are so many outsiders. If I really scold you, you won't be able to go outside."
Even though Mei Shi didn't help, she gave the tofu, which can be considered as contributing to the dish. It was this person; they didn't know how she could see through and she didn't reach out to them at all. Even though Mrs. Zhou didn't have to ask her for help, her attitude was not good. It was enough if she helped move firewood. What will happen if Zhang Haiyao doesn't help today? How will anybody help her if she needs help in the future?
At that time, it would be Third Brother Zhou who would suffer. As a result, among her daughters-in-law, even if Mrs. Zhou had initially been dissatisfied with the remarried Mei Shi, she now viewed her as a better daughter-in-law than Zhang Haiyao.
Zhang Haiyao was not polite to her sisters-in-law but she did not dare to be rude to Mrs. Zhou, and Third Brother Zhou did not allow her to do that either. She took two steps in and stood by the stove, her voice was low but everyone in the room could hear it clearly, "Mother, I'll give you good news to make you happier."
Mrs. Zhou glanced at her disapprovingly.
The rest of the crowd did not even glance at her. Zhang Haiyao smiled, reaching up to stroke her stomach, "I am pregnant. Yesterday, I went to the doctor in town to have my pulse checked, and it's two months old. You'll be a grandmother soon."
Mrs. Zhou raised her head in surprise. "Really?"
"Many people have seen me when Dr. Huang checked my pulse in town, and the third aunt in the village even saw it for herself." Zhang Haiyao had a smile on her face, "Mother, this is the Zhou family's eldest grandson, I heard Chengcai say that when he left, father was looking forward to a grandson. So when we are free, Chengcai and I will go to the grave and tell him personally, would that be okay with you?
"Good." At the mention of Mr. Zhou, Mrs. Zhou's eyes were a little red, and she instructed, "The child is still unstable, don't talk about it everywhere you go."
"I'll listen to you." Zhang Haiyao obediently answered, "I definitely won't talk about it outside."
When she left, Li Qingmiao touched her stomach, "Sister-in-law is pregnant, why haven't I heard anything yet?"
"There is no hurry." Li Qinghe advised, "There will always be time, but do not take packaged prescriptions."
Hearing this, Mrs. Zhou agreed, "Yes, you shouldn't eat them for giving birth to a son indiscriminately. Someone used to eat them, and the children born to them were neither male nor female..."
Then she continued talking. In the beginning, she discussed the child, but later, she pointed out which remedy was effective and which was ineffective. Her mouth was not idle but it didn’t prevent her movement to increase, and the meal was ready by noon.
Following a meal, Li Qinghe asked the village head for assistance in paying wages. She didn’t consider that just a month and a few days worth of work would cost a lot, but it actually costed 7 taels. This resulted in many people receiving less, including Second Brother Zhou and Li Qingmiao, who worked from start to finish, and received only half the money each. Li Xingwang and his son also refused to accept the change, which is equivalent to wasting a few days in vain. As for Li Fu, he didn't want it at all. It was the village chief who forced him to accept, and he returned half of it.
As Li Qinghe stood by, she noted how much these people received, and she remembered who received less.
Li Qinghe was left with only a few pieces of silver after everyone was sent away. She had spent all of her savings.
It was clear to her that the funds might not be enough to furnish the new house; for the beds, dressing tables, tables, and chairs, along with the pots and pans in the kitchen.
Fortunately, she could sell the fish again in the pond. With the silver they received from those sales, they could buy the necessary items. There should be a surplus if she does not request exquisiteness. But she needed money to buy meat as well as chickens.
In the night, Zhou Chengkang embraced her while moonlight filtered into the house from the window, and he laughed, "Madam, I'm moving into your house now. To avoid being evicted, should I serve you well?"
He groped around her body irregularly as he spoke.
Li Qinghe: "..." Is this serving? This is taking advantage!
The two arose late in the morning, which was rare. Neither of them has been able to rest well since getting married, and they were simply too tired. The sun was shining outside, Li Qinghe squinted her eyes and listened to the sound of even breathing next to her as she lay on the pillow, and her lips lifted.
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