Qian Laiman was taken aback for a moment by Li Qinghe's answer. As soon as the surprise wore off, he felt uncomfortable.

He is not the one she defends like this.

"Since that livestock isn't for sale, I'm going to leave. They are still waiting for me," said Qian Laiman, with an embarrassed smile.

Zhou Chengkang was surprised by Li Qinghe's impolite behavior earlier, as he watched Qiao Laiman descend the mountain quickly. However, he felt Qiao Liaman's intentions toward Li Qinghe had not changed, so he said, "Qinghe, I think he has bad intentions, so do not talk to him anymore."

Li Qinghe looked very serious and said, "Today his cousin tore my stage¹ in front of so many people and called me a fox."

Zhou Chengkang's eyes flashed with anger. However, he did not forget to comfort her, "She just said some nonsense, don't be angry any longer."

They walked down the mountain, carrying rabbits and pheasants without avoiding others. When they arrived at the Zhou family's door, Zhou Chengkang gave her two little rabbits and one big rabbit.

The Zhou family came out and saw this scene after hearing the movements outside. Mother Zhou smiled and invited Li Qinghe to sit in, and she didn't seem to be displeased with her.

Li Qinghe also divided the mushrooms in half and gave the other half to Zhou Chengkang before returning home with the rabbits.

At this point, it was getting late. When Li Fu went outside for a stroll after dinner, he saw Li Qinghe carrying the rabbits. "Did you hunt the rabbit?" He asked, then his gaze turned to the mushroom basket in Li Qinghe's hands, "Can this mushroom be eaten?"

Li Qinghe shook her somewhat sore arm after she put down the things and said, "Yes, I picked two kinds of them, both of which had been collected before, so there is no danger."

When Zhao Wanwan saw the rabbits, she ran out of the house very excited and asked, "Are they for food?"

Mrs. Qian was also standing at the door and had been looking at them for quite some time.

While Li Fu carried this fat rabbit to peel the skin, Zhao Wanwan assisted Li Qinghe in cleaning the mushrooms that were covered in soil and dead leaves. Only after being cleaned and boiled could they be fried or stewed.

"This work isn't hard at all," Mrs. Qian sneered as she glanced at the sisters.

As Li Qinghe has never been afraid of Mrs. Qian, she responded without hesitating, "I have never asked you for assistance!"

As Mrs. Qian entered the house, she said, "Don't say later that I didn't offer to help you. I dare not eat it for fear of poison."

After she finished speaking, Mrs. Qian picked up the needle and thread and continued to sew the clothes.

Zhao Wanwan sat with her head down and concentrated on her work. In a low voice, Li Qinghe asked, "Do you think your mother is lazy?"

Though it wasn't appropriate for her to speak about her elder, Li Qinghe couldn't help herself. She wasn't aware of all these things when she worked in town before. Since she has been at home a lot lately, she has noticed that Mrs. Qian does not continue her work after Li Fu leaves for work. Mrs. Qian wasn't only bad at doing household chores, but she also didn't like doing it. Zhao Wanwan was mostly responsible for household chores, such as cooking and cleaning, as well as taking care of the chickens, as well as collecting eggs.

Zhao Wanwan smiled, "My mother asked me to do more work, which is a good thing for me. If it hadn't been for this, the Hu family might not have been able to consider me as a potential bride."

Is the Hu family interested in you because you can work?

Li Qinghe pondered for a while. It seemed that it was indeed the case, and there was nothing else she had to say at the moment.

The two of them swiftly finished cleaning the mushrooms and then boiled the water to prepare the dish with the mushrooms.

Zhao Wanwan looked at the clean and tender mushrooms and smiled, "Sister, I'm also interested in going to the mountains. Why don't we invite some more people tomorrow? Sister Qingmiao over there heard about it and wants to go too."

"Let's discuss it when we have time." Li Qinghe responded casually. It may not be possible for her to run like this every day.

Li Qingmiao arrived at their house early the next morning. She entered the yard enthusiastically and said, "Qinghe, I heard you caught rabbits yesterday? Let me take a look."

As Li Qinghe washed her face, she pointed at the cage in the corner with her finger.

Li Qingmiao walked to the cage and squatted down in front of the cage. For a long time, she teased the rabbits, and said, "It's a pity that the second brother doesn't know how to hunt. Qinghe, if you catch it again, could you give it to me to raise?"

As Li Qinghe saw her face full of expectation, she laughed, "Do you like rabbits or do you like rabbit meat?."

Li Qingmiao glared at her, "Can't I like both?"

Another woman stood outside the yard. She was the neighbor of Li Qinghe, and she too has the surname Li. Just that the couple was in their forties and still did not have any children. "Qinghe, I heard you have a rabbit in your family?"

As soon as she heard the words, Li Qinghe raised her head, smiled, and said, "Ah, the third aunt is here. This rabbit is being raised after being injured. I'm not sure if it can be raised."

The third aunt entered the yard and squatted down next to the cage, "Surely this rabbit can be killed by New Year's, right?"

Li Qinghe, "..." Their thoughts all are focused on the meat.

As they gazed at the rabbit, a woman walked by with a smile and waved at them,"There is a rare thing at the entrance of the village. A man brought some girls over and asked if someone wanted to buy them?"

Everyone looked at one another. This is a very rare occurrence that hasn't occurred for many years. The county town has a special place regarding the issue of buying and selling of people. This is the first time someone has been sent to a village.

"I'll take a look." Li Qingmiao went to the well to fetch water and washed her hands. "Qinghe, let's go together." She also didn't forget to ask Qinghe to accompany her.

There were already a lot of people around under the big tree when the three of them arrived at the village's entrance. There was no sign of the woman who told them the news, and a steady stream of people continued to gather in the distance.

A man in his forties with a pointed mouth spoke excitedly, "The prices marked on them are negotiable. For example, she...."

He pointed at a fair-faced girl, "Eight taels of silver."

The village chief frowned, "Don't come here. Ordinary farmers don't have that amount of money. Plus, they can't keep slaves. In that case, you become a merchant, and your grain tax rises by around ten percent."

In fact, he was not addressing the man directly, rather he was addressing the people who were watching the excitement around him.

As soon as they heard this, the people who were talking about it all stopped talking. The people who thought about buying slaves also changed their ideas.

He didn't get angry but instead smiled and stepped forward, "Are you an elder in the village? Do you know the law?"

The village chief nodded, "So, these ...... girls of yours should be taken away."

"Most of the girls I've brought are orphans, which perhaps you weren't aware of. If someone from your village intends to marry a wife, the girl can be married. This will help them to have someone to depend on, as well as helping the bachelors find a bride. I'll collect some matchmaker's money. Everyone will benefit in this way."

Having seen some people agree, the man became more and more enthusiastic, "Except if you want a good-looking woman, you can cover it with a couple or three silver teals. Isn't that the bride price?"

While the village head's expression was not very good, another person on the side stepped forward to ask the seller. In the end, five women remained.

The man happily took the rest of the people away but noticed that a thin girl was asleep in the corner. He kicked her with his feet, but she didn't respond. Frowning, he stooped down to examine the situation. The girl's face was flushed red and she looked as if she had a fever.

He realized the girl's fever was a symptom of an infectious disease and he didn't dare to bring her home. If the rest of the girls were to be infected he would suffer a huge loss. So, he no longer cared about that girl and left with the others quickly.

Seeing him leave, the crowd that had gathered to watch the excitement also planned to go home. However, someone spotted the remaining girl and went over to her and found that she was unconscious and sick.

Immediately someone asked the village chief, "Uncle, what should we do with this girl?"

It was really difficult to handle this matter. If the girl died, each family would chip in to give her a proper burial. But the girl looked so good that it was hard to refuse to help her.

His clear mind prompted him to ask, "I wonder if he disliked her because she was sick and unable to sell her, or did he fear that her disease would spread to others?"

As soon as he said it, everyone stepped back. In the same way, Li Qinghe guessed that this was likely the case.

When everyone backed away, the thin girl lying in the middle was particularly noticeable. However, the third aunt bent over and touched the girl's forehead, saying, "If we don't care, it would be too pitiful. Let me take her back and take care of her. Maybe she can be saved?"

Several people expressed their disapproval of this situation.

People from ordinary families have trouble when someone gets sick. Two of their problems are that they cannot work and that seeking medical advice is too expensive.

Many people are disapproving at the moment. In this ordinary family, some are sick and dying for many reasons. For one thing, they cannot work, and for another, seeking medical advice is too expensive. Is it possible to treat them at home? The worst thing that can happen is to die.

Furthermore, the third aunt doesn't have a child. If she had one son, he could take her back for treatment. As long as she is saved, she will be a ready-made daughter-in-law. But what good would it do if the third aunt took her back?

The third aunt's close relatives tried to convince her, but she had already made up her mind, "At least I could try to save considering her as a fellow human."

The others still tried to persuade her, but she was firm on her decision.

As the third aunt took the person home, she asked Zhou Chengkang to go to town and find a doctor. Li Qinghe went to her house as well. The girl on the bed had thin, fair skin, and few calluses on her fingers.

Li Qinghe heard someone from the Xu family say that embroiderers have calluses on their fingers.

Zhou Chengkang brought the doctor very quickly in his carriage. After taking the pulse, the doctor shook his head and said, "The patient has a high fever. I can only do my best." After he gave the patient two sets of medicine, Zhou Chengkang sent him back.

Li Qinghe also returned to her house after the doctor left.

Since their third aunt had never interacted with their family, Li Qinghe was surprised that she was so kind.

In the afternoon, Li Qinghe fed the fish at the pond after two days. While passing by the door of her third aunt's house, the third called her, "Qinghe."

Li Qinghe was surprised, "Third aunt, did you call me?"

The third aunt was a little embarrassed, "Auntie wants to ask you a favor."

Li Qinghe walked in and saw that the third aunt was filling the basin with hot water. Having tested the water with her hand, the third aunt said, "Qinghe, can you assist me in wiping her body. I'm afraid when I do it alone it will be too late and she may catch a cold. Qinghe, help me squeeze the water onto the handkerchief so that it can make the process go more quickly."

Li Qinghe agreed and helped her.

Although the girl on the bed was sleeping, her face had regained its usual vitality. While her facial features looked clean, her fair skin made her look more attractive than most village girls.

The third aunt wiped the girl's body, while Li Qinghe squeezed the kerchief. She quickly wiped her body. The moment the third aunt turned the girl to the side on the bed, the girl wrinkled her brows and then opened her eyes.

The third aunt was overjoyed, "Are you awake?"

The girl's first reaction was to pull the quilt to cover herself. She seemed relieved when she saw that two women in the room were helping her to wipe her body. "Where is this? Is it the countryside?" she asked as she glanced around the house.

Seeing her so surprised, Li Qinghe's eyelids twitched.

Is it possible that this girl should never have lived in the village?

The third aunt touched the girl's forehead to check her temperature, "How does it feel? Do you remember your name? Is there anything uncomfortable? Should I contact the doctor again?"

The girl's expression gradually grew frightened, "Where is this place!"

Li Qinghe sighed and said, "This is Wangcun, Luoyue Town."

"Ah!" The girl covered her head, "What the hell, why am I here?"

Li Qinghe explained to her, "Someone brought a group of girls to our village to sell them. They left you behind because you were sick. It was my aunt who couldn't bear to see you sick, so she brought you back to the village to see a doctor. You have been asleep for two days. You may not wake up in your life if you don't wake up now. You probably wouldn't have survived if my aunt hadn't brought you back."

Her tone was deliberately aggravated in her last sentence. The third aunt was embarrassed, "It's nothing. I just want to save someone's life and do good deeds to accumulate virtue."

"Leave me alone," the girl held her head and said.

They picked up the basin and went outside. The third aunt was a little worried, "Should I call the doctor again?"

Li Qinghe shook her head, "There's no need. Didn't the doctor say she would be fine when she wakes up? If she feels unwell later, then you can call the doctor."

The third aunt nodded, "Now you go quickly back to do your work. I've already been holding you up for so long. Auntie made some soup, I'll send you some."

"No." Li Qinghe denied hurriedly, understanding that the soup was for the sick person inside.

While returning from feeding the fish, she saw the girl in the courtyard looking around. She forced a smile when she saw Li Qinghe, "Thank you very much for your help. I would like to know how long it will take if you go to the county?"

1. Tearing down the stage means not allowing you to perform (pretending to be) or teasing someone.


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