It wasn't just her; Zhou Chengkang was also extremely surprised. "This money is to pay off the debt. If you pay it back earlier, those people won't rush you, so you don't need to worry."

Two people’s relationship, no matter how good, could hurt feelings if money was involved.

Mrs. Zhou had owed them money for more than a year now, and their hearts would be uncomfortable in this situation. In some cases, if they talked bluntly about it, Mrs. Zhou would also be hurt.

After a pause, he added, "This is what Qinghe has agreed to."

Mrs. Zhou sighed. "Although I understand, I cannot take this silver. I cannot have you all feel sorry for me, and ask you to help me. I gave birth to four sons; you are not the only one. If I were to take it, all of them would have to give some to me…"

Outside, the rain was getting stronger. Mrs. Zhou lowered her voice. "I have already completely paid off my debts, so there is no need for you to worry about me. I can still get by, living with the fifth child."

That was good.

It was much better to work in the field for some food and to make ends meet without getting into debt. After eating dinner, Mrs. Zhou left. She also took two more buns home so that the fifth sister would not have to cook dinner.

As Mrs. Zhou was leaving, she remembered something. "My fifth child said that the marriage should be put off to later, and same for you."

Li Qinghe responded smoothly, "Yes, she is still young. We can discuss the wedding next year."

While thinking for a moment, Mrs. Zhou noticed the rain outside was increasing and waved her hand. "It's raining so hard, you don't need to send me away. As long as you guys are fine, I’ll be relieved."

As soon as she had finished speaking, she dashed into the rain.

It rained for half a month, and during the winter there was snow mixed in. The winter had come early this year, and it was extremely cold. Every day, after finishing feeding the fish, they took care of the chickens. The chicks gradually emerged from their shells at the end of October. During that time, it was freezing and windy outside. Li Qinghe even lit a brazier for them. Several hens brought the chicks regularly to the brazier, and they sat near it without moving. Fewer chicks died of premature death.

Little Rhubarb's leg gradually recovered from its injury. Although he limped a little at first, he seemed much more normal these days, which was evidence that Zhou Chengkang's bone restoration procedure worked. They spent each day peacefully and quietly, and after the weather got cold, Mrs. Zhou didn't come over very often.

That afternoon, someone knocked on the door again. The rain had stopped earlier in the morning, but it was still cold. Zhou Chengkang went to open the door. The person who had knocked at the door was Mrs. Qian, which was surprising.

Mrs. Qian was wrapped up in a thick sweater and she seemed a little uncomfortable. "Qinghe, I have to ask you something."

Li Qinghe raised her eyebrow. Without a doubt, she knew it would be about Zhao Wanwan. Since it had been so long since she had asked, Mrs. Qian must have thought that she could dig into it.

"You told me you saw Wanwan. How's she doing now?" Mrs. Qian lowered her head after speaking. "In the past…… she might have gone a bit too far, but don't take it personally."

She was angry. As long as Mrs. Qian and Li Fu lived together, Li Qinghe couldn’t be bothered, since eventually, it would be her father that would be tossed around, so why bother?

"I did see her," Li Qinghe said frankly. "I don't know how she's doing."

Mrs. Qian frowned. "I asked her father to give her some money, and he replied that she was doing very well."

So, Mrs. Qian had believed Zhao Tianfu's words?

Li Qinghe became speechless, and after a long time she finally said, "Then, I asked Wanwan in passing if she had seen her father, and she said that she hasn’t seen her father since arriving at the Li family."

"Impossible." Mrs. Qian quickly denied it.

The weather was cold, and Li Qinghe had made clothes recently, so she picked up her needle and thread and said indifferently, "Forget it. If you don't believe me, there's no need to ask me."

Mrs. Qian choked for a moment but had to ask. After all, the clothes she brought back had indeed been stitched by Zhao Wanwan, and Li Qinghe had specified that she had met her. The only thing she didn't want to believe was that Zhao Tianfu had lied to her. The past few days, she had wanted to ask but lacked the courage to. If Wanwan's days weren't like what Zhao Tianfu described, how were they? "Then tell me, where did you meet her? Did you see Yanxi?"

Rather than answering, Li Qinghe asked curiously, "What did her father say?"

Mrs. Qian bit her lip and whispered, "He said Yanxi didn’t have a concubine and he had no one to take care of him. Wanwan cooked and did laundry, and when she’s free she cleans the bookstore. They don't have enough silver to pay for themselves……"

It was really too much. Li Qinghe couldn't help but ask, "Did he say that he would also help you bring silver to Wanwan in the future?"

Mrs. Qian remained silent, which meant she was acquiescing. Then, after a few moments, she said, "When you said you met Wanwan and she helped me make the clothes, I was a little suspicious. If she did, why didn't she let her father bring them back to me? Perhaps Wanwan didn't want her father to interact with me too often, so she asked you to assist."

Thus, Mrs. Qian had automatically made up for what did not make sense.

Li Qinghe was no longer interested in her story, as she was feeling a bit depressed. Although Zhao Tianfu was cheating Mrs. Qian, the money was coming out of Li Fu's pocket in the end and it could be rounded up as her father who was being cheated. This was unbearable, and she immediately said, "It was pure coincidence that we met Wanwan. We went to the county overnight to sell fish. After selling the fish for a day, we smelled bad, so we stayed at an inn. When we inquired about hot water for bathing and asked for a helper to deliver it, it was Wanwan who brought the hot water…”

Mrs. Qian's eyes were full of surprise, and she held out her hand to cover her mouth, asking cautiously, "Was it really Wanwan?"

Li Qinghe nodded, "At the time, she said she was very busy and couldn't talk to me. I didn't see her after that. She popped up again the next day when we were leaving and asked me to take the package to you."

Then she added, "In addition, I didn’t see my brother-in-law, because I once suggested that she work as a helper in the county, as the pay is higher there and she can also accompany brother-in-law. But she refused, saying that it would harm his reputation… As I watched her deliver water, I couldn't help but ask… she meant that she didn't live with brother-in-law, instead, staying at an inn, saying that no one knew about their relationship……"

Mrs. Qian was so angry that she squeezed her clothes tightly, and asked anxiously, "So did he take a concubine?"

Li Qinghe waved her hand, "It wasn’t appropriate for me to ask."

As her relationship with her sister was straightforward, people might think she was making a fool of herself if she asked about her brother-in-law's concubines.

Mrs. Qian took a few deep breaths and replied, "Thank you."

After that, she turned and left, stumbling a little, and held onto the door before standing up.

The weather was getting colder and colder during the winter. The chickens had to eat a large amount of food every day. Originally, Li Qinghe planned to capture all of the roosters and sell them during the New Year. After choosing the day, they kept two chickens with good coats and sold the rest of the roosters in the town.

Normally, people didn’t buy roosters, so she took them straight to the restaurant, exchanged them for over one tael of silver, and bought some food to bring back.

The fish in the pond were getting bigger, but she wasn’t in a hurry. She was just waiting for Chinese New Year to arrive to go and fish them out.

In the twelfth lunar month, all the scholars who went to study in the county returned. Among them were Hu Yanxi and Mrs. Qian's brother, but not Zhao Wanwan.

During this time, Mrs. Qian was anxious and ran to her brother's house to find out what was happening.

Li Qinghe didn't care whether these scholars would come back or not, but Li Fu personally told her that Hu Yanxi would visit them on the eighth day of the twelfth lunar month, and asked them to return.

It wasn't because he missed his daughter, but mostly because Hu Yanxi was coming to the house. He would prepare all the meat and vegetable dishes. Li Fu wanted to bring his daughter and son-in-law to eat a little, which could be regarded as his selfishness. It would also make it more crowded and lively.

As a result, they went to the Li family’s house quite late, since Li Qinghe was afraid that if they went early, Zhou Chengkang, Li Fu, and Hu Yanxi would be talking, and she didn't want to listen to them. She could then only go to the kitchen to help.

Li Qinghe, however, didn't wish to help in the kitchen. If she went to the kitchen, she would have to be alone with Mrs. Qian. The relationship between the two of them wasn't great.

Therefore, when the two arrived, it was lunchtime. The food was ready. In the courtyard, Li Fu was looking this way, and when he saw the two people, he opened the door. "Why are you so late? Yesterday you agreed to come, but I thought you forgot."

"The chicks are emerging from their shells," Li Qinghe said casually.

Li Fu was surprised. "Do you know how to hatch chicks?"

"I learned." Li Qinghe smiled as she entered the room and saw Mrs. Qian getting the dishes, so she also went into the kitchen to help serve the food, and Mrs. Qian even smiled back at her.

When Li Fu ate, he was very happy, talking about the harvest this year and asking about Hu Yanxi's next year's county exams.

The county exam was only taken once a year, and the next one wouldn’t be taken until three years from now. As a scholar, Hu Yanxi was gentle even when he drank. “It doesn't matter what I do, I won't have regrets if I try my best.”

Li Qinghe went into the kitchen to add food while Zhou Chengkang stepped outside for air. Mrs. Qian followed him and asked, "Chengkang, can you ask Yanxi if he has a concubine?"

Zhou Chengkang was a little surprised, but he agreed. Aside from him, it wasn’t appropriate for anyone in the family to ask.

Outside, under the eaves, Mrs. Qian pricked her ears to listen.

She knew she would feel embarrassed if Zhou Chengkang went inside to ask Hu Yanxi in front of Li Qinghe. Hence, she didn't go in and stood under the eaves.

She then heard Zhou Chengkang inside mysteriously lower his voice and ask, "I heard that my brother-in-law is enjoying someone’s blessing, is this true?"

After a long while, Hu Yanxi said, "No such thing exists. Outsiders like to catch the wind. If you don't believe me, you can ask your uncle."

Whether it was true or not, it was impossible for Zhou Chengkang to ask more, as Hu Yanxi had already denied it.

Mrs. Qian was relieved. Whether it was true or not, Hu Yanxi wouldn’t admit it, proving that this wouldn’t be brought to the surface. She didn't even get the chance to breathe in relief when a person ran from outside. "Sister Qian, come back as soon as possible, your father has fallen. He's not going to survive."

The complexion of Mrs. Qian changed dramatically as she ran out. "How did he fall? Where did he fall? Is it serious? Did anyone call the doctor…"

They walked away as she asked.

After the people from the house came out, Zhou Chengkang asked in doubt, "Why was he fine for half a year, but as soon as his son returned, he fell?"

This was also something Li Qinghe could not figure out.

Due to this incident, the dinner was not finished. Li Fu put the dishes inside the kitchen, locked the main door, and took everyone to the Qians’ house.

It was just like the last time when Mrs. Qian's mother had died; many people were standing in the yard. The only difference was that Mrs. You was solemn at the time, and this time she said loudly, "I saw him with my own eyes. He pushed Uncle Qian."

"As**ole!" Some people were disappointed.

"But why would he do that?" Some were doubtful.

While others sighed. "It's better to raise a child than a dog."

As they listened to the discussion, they realized that the reason Mrs. Qian's father fell was that Qian Laiwen had pushed him out of the house, which was witnessed by Mrs. You who had come to deliver a change of clothes.

"There are certain things I haven’t said. In fact…" Mrs. You paused before continuing. "When the aunt died, I found flesh and blood in her nails when I cleaned her for the funeral. It was like she had scratched someone…"


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