The Green Lotus Peasant GirlChapters List
Chapter 55: Silver
When Li Qinghe realized she wasn't here to make a joke, she let her in. Although they were recently busy moving to the new house and preparing for the banquet, they were also vaguely aware that something was wrong at home.
After letting her inside the courtyard, Li Qinghe did not take her into the house. As she pointed her finger to the stool at the edge of the yard, she motioned her to sit there. Li Qinghe squatted down again to watch Zhou Chengkang's actions.
Zhang Haiyao did not sit and just stood by the side of the chair, holding her waist. As she watched Zhou Chengkang's movements, she couldn't help asking, "Why are you putting this much effort into raising this dog? It can be kept under the eaves or in the woodshed. You guys also... dogs are everywhere, why do you need to raise an injured one?"
Zhou Chengkang said casually, "I just happened to meet it, so I decided to raise it. Anyway, there's nothing to do, and I don't want to go out, so I'm looking for something to pass the time."
Since she didn't speak, neither of them asked any more questions. Li Qinghe helped carry the planks and build the dog house with great care.
Since they did not ask, Zhang Haiyao walked around in the courtyard and praised, "This house is so spacious. The one in my town is bigger than this, but unfortunately, it's too far away to be convenient."
It sounded as if she would move there if it were closer. Li Qinghe didn't even look up and simply made a muffled sound as though she heard her.
"You probably won't go back to the old room, won't you?" Zhang Haiyao asked again, her tone tentative.
Li Qinghe immediately understood what Mei Shi and her had been up to lately when she heard this question.
Zhang Haiyao had a straightforward personality, or more precisely, she was too lazy to hide her feelings from the Zhou family. This was true the moment she reached out and touched her belly. "I've been pregnant for six months now. The baby will be born after Chinese New Year and will have no home to live in."
The house belonged to the Zhou family. Li Qinghe waited patiently for her to continue and didn't ask.
Likewise, Zhang Haiyao did not require her to ask and continued, "In any case, you won't be living in your old house anyway, so I suggest you lend it to us...or rent it to me and I'll pay the rent."
The last sentence was quite plausible.
Whenever it came to such a thing, it was natural to lend when the relationship was closer. But Zhou Chengkang's relationship with his Eldest Brother and Third Brother was really cold, and the same was true for his relationship with his Second Brother Zhou. However, they weren't as affectionate, so they decided to let it go. Furthermore, both of them wanted it. So, to whom would it be given, and who was to offend?
Li Qinghe would not do this kind of thankless work, so it was impossible to let them borrow it.
"I won't keep it a secret from you. Elder Sister-in-law wants the house too. She wants to give it to Old Lady Liu to live." Zhang Haiyao held her waist. "We can negotiate the price."
Li Qinghe became interested. "How much do you plan to give me for a year?"
Zhang Haiyao held out a hand. "Five taels."
Li Qinghe was speechless. Seeing her expression, Zhang Haiyao said, "Five taels are quite a lot, and I know you don't lack them. But that house will also be empty. How could the house be left empty for several years when no one lives there? Take that into consideration."
When Li Qinghe used to work in the town, five teals of silver were her two and a half months of wage.
With a plan in mind, Li Qinghe nodded. "Okay, you give me the silver, I'll write a deed and rent it to you for a year."
Zhang Haiyao frowned. "May I pay after I live there? I can't use it till the end of the year anyway ......"
In other words, she wanted Li Qinghe to reserve the house for her. She wouldn't pay rent if she didn't live there.
Her idea was very well thought out.
"That's not going to work." Li Qinghe shook her head. "If sister-in-law comes later, I think she will be willing to pay."
It wasn't that Li Qinghe was short of silver. After the rent was taken, it was good to honor Mrs. Zhou by paying her back. After all, she had built the house with her money.
Otherwise, she would have to wait until the end of the year if she wanted Zhang Haiyao to take silver out for filial piety. She remembered that Mrs. Zhou had to pay her debt of two taels of silver.
Li Qinghe seemed indifferent as if it didn't matter whether or not the house was rented. Zhang Haiyao gritted her teeth with anger. "Okay!"
She then returned home. Third Brother Zhou called the village chief in the afternoon and wrote the deed in front of him, and paid five teals of silver a year before they began living in the house.
While the deed was being written, Mei Shi came outside to see what was happening. She became agitated and said, "Zhang Haiyao, you are unkind."
Zhang Haiyao smiled and put away the deed. In order to settle things before Mei Shi returned, she got up early on purpose. Now that the deed was in her hand, she was in a good mood. "Sister-in-law, maybe you cannot afford to spend five silver taels to live for an entire year. Furthermore, you have a kitchen. If I rent this house, the kitchen will be used by me and my mother. If you rent the house, won't you take advantage of the kitchen for free?"
Mei Shi was anxious, but she had no intention of renting and just wanted to borrow it from Li Qinghe, so she rushed over after she sold tofu. Unfortunately, she was too late. However, after learning that the house was being rented after paying for it, she was not very disappointed. It just made her uncomfortable that the house would be used by Third Brother Zhou and his family.
Mei Shi turned and left in anger. Zhang Haiyao and Third Brother Zhou also left with the village chief and closed the door behind them.
Li Qinghe smiled and squeezed the silver in her hand. "Give it to mother."
Zhou Chengkang was a little surprised. "Give it to mother?"
"Or else?" Li Qinghe asked rhetorically.
Zhou Chengkang took the silver. Over there, Li Qinghe was willing to give the money to Mrs. Zhou because she was his mother. So ultimately, it was for him. He was touched and said, "Qinghe, you are so kind."
As a result of the deed signing, the dog house had to be delayed. It was already mid-afternoon when it was completed. Since Little Rhubarb was still small, the house was still quite empty when he entered. It was now October, already late autumn. In the daytime it was fine, but at night, it was very cold. Li Qinghe found some old clothes to lay inside the house, and also found a bowl to use as a dog bowl. Then, Little Rhubarb's house was positioned in front of the door.
Zhou Chengkang finished the dog house and was quite satisfied with the result. He then said to Little Rhubarb, "Take a good look at the house!"
As Li Qinghe looked at them from the side, she couldn't help but laugh. After that, the two went together to feed the fish, and then went to see the chickens.
Back then, they bought seventy to eighty chickens. At the start, more than twenty of them died. In the remaining fifty, half of them were roosters who had grown up in almost a year. Some hens did not lay eggs, and some were different and wanted to hatch their eggs.
There were now more than one hundred eggs in the family. Several women in the village were capable of picking up the eggs, but Li Qinghe was not very good at it. As far as she knew, the Third Aunt next to the Li's house would pick them, so she specially invited her.
When she arrived in the courtyard, Yu Yan was gazing at the sky in the courtyard. To be precise, she just happened to meet her as she came out to rest her eyes after a long period of embroidery. When she heard they were going to pick bred eggs, she joined them with great interest.
In the end, more than 60 eggs were picked. Li Qinghe watched, learned, and divided the eggs among the five hens to hatch. The rest of the eggs could only be kept for their consumption, and others could be sold.
She also chose a few to give to her Third Aunt Li. She had just moved into her new house the day before, and everyone she met talked about her new house. Her Third Aunt Li was no exception. She laughed.
"This house is pretty good. I remember when you were a little girl, thin and small, you cried and chased after your mother when she left. Finally, I carried you back. I did not expect you to be so promising, and I felt pity for you because you did not have a mother......"
"Those are things of the past, and you will get better and better as you go along." Third Aunt smiled and talked about hatching eggs. "The chicken didn't need to be fed before, but once the eggs hatch, you have to put food and water over here. You can't leave the eggs alone for too long, or else the eggs will be ruined. That would be bad."
Li Qinghe took note of them one by one and sent them out as it was getting late.
Third Aunt Li sighed along the way. "I would be relieved if Yan'er could also find a reliable marriage."
Yu Yan pretended not to hear this and asked,
"Will you be going to town during the next couple of days? It's getting colder and colder, so I'd like to get some embroidery cloth and also that embroidery thread you brought back. I have embroidered some handkerchiefs and want to take them to ask for the price to sell. If you go, remember to bring me along."
She was from a big city. Some of her habits were different from those in the village. When someone goes to town—for example, people without horse-drawn carriages and bullock carts—they would think about walking, and a few people would take a ride with a copper plate. But Yu Yan would never walk.
Li Qinghe thought for a while and said, "I will come to see you in a few days."
These days, they have been very busy, so they haven't had time to wash a lot of dirty clothes. Today was over, so she could only consider washing them tomorrow. The weather was getting colder and colder, and there would be rain or even snow in the upcoming days. By that point, the clothes would not have dried, and they would have a musty odor. They would be uncomfortable to wear.
The next morning, the two of them washed their clothes after having breakfast. It was worth noting that the yard of the new house did not have a well. Instead, a stream was diverted from the spring water source to the corner of the yard, where bluestone slabs were erected. There was a small square well from which all the water used in their day-to-day life was drawn. The excess water would flow out of the courtyard wall and into the fish pond.
They went up to the mountain again after washing their clothes, but not to cut firewood. The harvest in the wasteland was not good this year. Li Qinghe wanted to dig back some mulch—adding it with this year's chicken manure and sprinkling it on the wasteland—so that next year's harvest would be better.
They had been busy for half a month. Finally, they covered the wasteland with a layer of mulch. It rained heavily for several days in late October.
Li Qinghe went to see the hens that hatched their eggs every day. After it rained outside, the two could not leave the door, so they decided to burn charcoal instead.
The process of burning charcoal consisted of igniting large firewood, burning it into charcoal blocks, and then putting them into a sealed jar. After the flame went out, what remained was a block of charcoal.
It was most suitable to do this job when it rained; it wouldn't be cold when the fire was lit. The clothes could be dried, and the hay could be roasted in the pot.
The hay was roasted to feed the chickens and horses. Ordinary weeds were cut back and removed. After roasting, they could be re-cooked to feed chickens, horses, and pigs. People ate them during a famine as well. However, they were not particularly tasty.
The two of them lived in a place that was somewhat distant from the village. There were usually few visitors, and they also both liked such quiet and peaceful days. Of course, Mrs. Zhou still visited regularly. She went there about once or twice a week, regardless of whether it rained.
After hearing the knock at the door and noticing that there was less rain than it had been, Li Qinghe knew it was Mrs. Zhou.
Zhou Chengkang went out to open the door and soon entered with Mrs. Zhou who was drenched in rain.
Li Qinghe hurriedly got up and let her sit in front of the fire. "Mother, why are you here in such heavy rain?"
When Mrs. Zhou walked in, she swept a glance at the well-organized yard, and when she saw the wood burning in the stove, her face softened. "Nothing, I came to take a look."
It wasn't like she came here to just look around. In fact, she just came the day before yesterday. Li Qinghe smiled and said, "I made steamed buns, so mom should eat with us before she leaves."
Mrs. Zhou looked at her and took out five taels of silver. "Keep this for yourselves."
Li Qinghe was a bit surprised. The silver was probably given to Mrs. Zhou by Zhou Chengkang, so why was she returning it?
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