Li Qing returned with a bundle of firewood on his back. Seeing Li Yu looking at the stove in a daze and looking sad, he hurriedly put down the firewood and walked to Li Yu. He squatted down and looked at Li Yu worriedly. “Sister, whats wrong Dont be sad.”
Li Yus heart warmed when she saw Li Qings worried expression. She smiled and said, “Im fine. I just remembered some things from the past.”
Li Qing heaved a sigh of relief when he saw Li Yu smile. He thought that she was worried about the future and patted his thin chest to comfort Li Yu. “Sister, dont worry. Im also very strong. Ill earn a lot of money to let you live a good life in the future.”
Li Yu thought to herself that he should be going to school at this age instead of thinking about earning money.
“Ah Qing, do you want to study”
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Li Qing shook his head without hesitation. “Studying is very expensive. Im not going. I want to learn how to hunt and sell wild animals to earn money like Father.”
“Ah Qing, even if you dont take the imperial examination, you have to be able to write and calculate if you want to earn money. Otherwise, you wont even be able to calculate how much a wild boar can be sold for. If someone wants to make a contract with you, will you know how to write and read”
Li Qing frowned at Li Yu. “Then what should we do Sister, will you”
Li Yu nodded. “Yes, you should go to school to learn. Go and see what kind of path you should take in the future.”
Li Qing kept shaking his head. “Im not going. Im worried about you being home alone.” After Li Qing said that, his stomach rumbled twice.
“You must be hungry!” Li Yu stood up and patted Li Qing with a smile. “Go and call Aunt out. Well eat first.”
“Sister, the food you cooked is too fragrant. Im hungry just by smelling it.” Li Qing called Li Mei over.
Li Yu lifted the lid of the pot and brought out the rice. The fragrance of the steamed pork lung soup wafted over. She brought the pork lung radish soup over and placed it on the table. She washed a few half-red chili peppers, chopped them into short pieces and placed them in a bowl with salt and soy sauce. She burned some boiling oil and poured the boiling oil into the chili. Then, she cut some green onions and coriander and mixed them in the chili. She scooped the sauce into a small dish.
Li Mei and Li Qing arrived at the kitchen and said with a smile, “Its so hot.” Li Mei opened the back door of the kitchen. A cold breeze blew in as soon as the back door was open. She sniffed. “Yuer, what did you make that smells so good”
Li Yu pointed at the table and smiled. “Pig lung radish soup.”
Li Mei took a sip and drank some soup. She smiled and praised, “Your culinary skills are getting really good. If the pigs lung soup isnt cooked well, it would have a strong fishy smell. When its stewed, it tastes good and brings food.”
Li Qing looked at Li Yu and smiled. “My sisters culinary skills are getting better and better.”
Li Mei smiled and said, “If its delicious, eat more and grow fatter.”
After their meal, Li Mei and Li Yu cleaned up the pots, bowls, and stoves. They poured two buckets of water into the pot and began to boil it. Li Mei carried the banquette out to the courtyard and squatted on it to sew the blanket.
Li Mei said to Li Yu and her brother, who were sitting in the courtyard, “Xiao Yu, Ah Qing, youre young and youve lost your health in the Zhang family. You have to make up for it. In the future, eat three meals instead of two. We farmers even eat mixed grain rice, brown rice, and beans.”
Li Yu asked, “Aunt, are taxes heavy these days”
Li Meis face was full of worry. “Its heavy. How can it not be heavy The personal tax is 200 copper coins per person. The land tax has been 300 copper coins per acre since last year. You have to pay one stone for three stone of grain. An acre of land can only yield four stones of grain at most. Its difficult to survive in a year.”
“Do those distinguished families also have to pay taxes”
“The families of the Elementary Scholars dont have to pay taxes. The Elementary Scholars are exempt from 15 acres of land taxes, and the High Scholars are exempt from 40 acres. They dont have to pay taxes and dont have to work!”
Li Yu asked, “Are there many scholars in the village Is it easy to take the exam”
Li Mei sighed and said with a smile, “Its not that easy to become an Elementary Scholar! Look at the Zhang family. Zhang Guisheng has been studying since he was four or five years old. He only became an Elementary Scholar when he was 17 this year. How much did he spend Thats all because of money. Hes quite smart. Some people are still studying even after taking the exam their entire lives.”
Li Yu finally understood why everyone in the village had to listen to Zhang Defa when the Zhang family had a scholar. It seemed that she had to send Li Qing to school to see if he had the talent to study.
“Aunt, is there a school in the village”
Li Mei looked up at Li Yu. “Theres none in West Mountain Village. Our East Mountain Village has one. The youngest son of the Zhou family, Zhou Xiucai, owns it. Yuer, do you want to send Ah Qing to study”
Li Yu nodded. “I want to send Ah Qing to study and learn something. Even if its a transaction, Ill settle the score. Im not afraid of being cheated by others if I sign a contract.”
Li Mei felt uneasy when she thought of the Zhang family. She thought to herself, Its good to let Ah Qing study. If hes successful, I wont be afraid of Zhang Guisheng taking revenge on Yuer.
Li Mei nodded and said, “Alright, lets send Ah Qing to school. Ah Qing has been smart since he was young. Ill go back and ask Scholar Zhou tomorrow.”
When Li Qing saw that his sister and aunt had decided to send him to school, he was worried about where the money would come from. Also, if his sister stayed at home alone, the Zhang family might come looking for trouble. Li Qing frowned and said, “Sister, Aunt, studying is good, but where will the money come from Im worried about Sister staying at home alone. Im afraid that the Zhang family might come looking for trouble.”
Li Yu did not expect Li Qing to consider so much at such a young age. He looked like a sensible child, but she could not say too much. If she spoke too much, she might be exposed.
Li Mei comforted him. “Ah Qing, the silver Zhang Defa returned is enough for you to study for a few years. Why dont you study for two years first If you can do it well, you can continue. When you make a name for yourself, your taxes, head taxes, and labor will be gone.”
If you cant, just like your sister said, you can learn how to write and calculate. If Zhang Guisheng becomes a High Scholar in the future, he will become an official. Only you can protect your sister from being bullied by the Zhang family.”
Li Qing was silent for a while when he heard that. He looked at Li Yu and said, “Sister, Ill try and continue reading if it works. If it doesnt, Ill go home and hunt in the mountains.”
Li Yu nodded and said, “Alright, go to the school with Aunt tomorrow and see if Im waiting for you at home.” Li Yu turned back to look at Li Mei. “Aunt, please make a set of clothes for Ah Qing with me and go to the school to see Sir.”
“Alright, Ive finished sewing the blanket. Bring it in and well start making clothes.”
After Li Yu made the bed, she asked Li Qing to rest in the house and rushed to make a set of clothes with Li Mei overnight.
After Li Yu washed up, she went to her room. Li Mei handed the silver and oilcloth bag in her backpack to Li Yu and said with a reproachful smile, “Girl, just leave these things in your backpack. If someone takes them away, where will you find them”
Li Yu blushed and smiled. “I took it out and placed it there. Who knew that I would forget about it”
Li Mei opened the oilcloth bag, took out the jade pendant, and tied it with a ribbon. She stroked the jade pendant and thought of her sister-in-law. She looked at Li Yu and said gently, “Yuer, this is the protective jade gourd your mother left for you. Ill bring it to protect you.”
Li Yu was stunned for a moment before she lowered her head and let Li Mei put it on for her. Li Mei looked at Li Yu and patted her head lovingly. “Sister-in-law, please bless Yuer and Ah Qing to be safe in the future.”
Li Yu thanked her in a daze and lay on the bed with the jade gourd in her hand. Li Mei also lay down and soon let out a soft sound of sleep.
Li Yu lay there and realized that she seemed to have entered a circular space. There was a ring of shelves around her, and there was a small booklet hanging on the shelf. Li Yu picked up the booklet curiously and opened it. She saw that it said, “The Jade Gourd Storage Space welcomes its owner.”
One, to store food and still objects.
Two, when you need to store it, you only need to touch the item you need to store and chant, “Jade Gourd”. The item will automatically enter the space.
Three, every time you need to enter the space, you can enter automatically by silently chanting “Jade Gourd” to open the door.
Four, when you come to extract storage items and leave, you can leave automatically by chanting “Jade Gourd”.
Five, Every time you enter the space to extract an item, you only have a quarter of an hour. If you exceed the time limit, you will be pushed out automatically.
After Li Yu finished reading it, the booklet disappeared into thin air.
Li Yu was extremely surprised and anxious. She wanted to test if it was true. She reached out to touch the silver under her pillow and silently muttered, “Jade Gourd”. Indeed, the silver disappeared.
Li Yu was overjoyed and thought to herself, Heavens, is this compensation for me Thank you! Thank you!