After Li Yu and the others finished their meal, Chen Yaohui went home and picked some straw to return to Li Yus house. Together with Liu Changmin, they used straw to weave a few straw curtains for the bed and dried them in the courtyard.
The workers arrived in the afternoon. After everyone fixed the roofs of the rooms on both sides, two craftsmen began to repair the tiles of the main room. Chen Yaohui led the two of them to repair the pigpen and latrine in the backyard.
Due to the fact that the main house was undergoing renovation and a lot of dust and trash had fallen from the roof, Li Mei had no choice but to tidy up the unfinished bedding and place it on the bed. After covering it with a mat, she went out with a hoe to the vegetable field outside the west wall with Liu Changmin.
Li Mei dug hard at the vegetable field and looked up at Liu Changmin. “Zhaodis father, you go home first. Ill go back after helping Yuer and the others settle down.”
After hearing this, Liu Changmin hesitated for a moment. He looked at Li Mei and said carefully, “Ah Mei, Mother didnt know that we were coming today. If you dont go back to Mother, what am I going to tell her”
Li Meis heart turned cold when she heard Liu Changmins words. She thought about how the two sisters-in-law at home were protected by their husbands. Her mother-in-law had never dared to torture them. Her man was honest and weak, and even his children and daughter-in-law suffered. If not for that old womans viciousness, Ah Shan would not have entrusted the child to that dog, Zhang Defa.
The more Li Mei thought about it, the colder her heart became. She said coldly, “You can say whatever you want when you go back. If not, you can ask your mother to divorce me when you go back!”
Seeing Li Meis cold expression, Liu Changmin knew that Li Mei was really angry. After a while, he said, “Ah Mei, dont say things in anger. Ill go back and tell Mother that youll stay here with Yuer and the others for two days.”
Li Mei did not respond. She just dug at the soil under her feet as if she was venting.
Li Yu started to clean up the wing room at home. After cleaning up the trash in the woodshed, she carried the broom and walked towards the right wing room. Just as she reached the door of the wing room, she saw Li Qing walking out of the right wing room with a bow and a long saber. He shouted excitedly, “Sister, come and take a look. Aunt took out Fathers bow and machete and placed them behind the door.”
Li Yu took the long saber and held it in her hand. She felt that the heavy saber was at least a foot long. The hilt was slightly curved, and the back of the saber was wide. The blade was thin and shone with a cold light.
Li Yu looked at the long saber in her hand carefully and thought to herself, This is probably a saber. Could it be that Old Li was a soldier
“Ah Qing, this knife is very sharp. You cant take it out to play. Itll be troublesome if you hurt someone,” Li Yu reminded Li Qing.
Li Qing nodded obediently. “Got it, Sister. Look at how heavy this bow is!”
Li Yu placed the knife in the corner and took the bow. He pulled the bowstring and asked Li Qing, “Ah Qing, where did Aunt put it Wheres the quiver”
“Sister, Ill take you there.” Li Qing led Li Yu to the room on the right. He pushed open the door and pointed at the leather quiver hanging behind it. “Sister, do you think thats a quiver”
Li Yu looked at the long saber and bow and thought to herself, Logically speaking, this saber and bow are more valuable than those furs. Why didnt Zhang Defa sell them for money
“Yes, this is called a quiver.” Li Yu reached out and took off the quiver. She counted that there were still more than 20 arrows inside. Li Yu took off the bowstring and hung the bow back behind the door, as well as the knife.
She pulled Li Qing into the house. “Ah Qing, lets go! Lets clean the house first.”
“Sister, Ill sweep this one.” Li Qing took the broom and went to the one outside. Li Yu saw that there was a wooden granary in the inner room. The wood was wet from the rain, and grayish-black mushrooms had already grown in some places. Li Yu cleaned the granary and carried the grain board to the courtyard to dry.
The siblings had just cleaned up the rooms on both sides when Chen Yaohui and the four people came down from the roof. Chen Yaohui pointed at the roof and smiled at Li Yu. “Xiaoyu, well go back after the roof is fixed.”
Li Yu hurriedly called out to Chen Yaohui, “Uncle Chen, dont leave yet. Ill pay everyone first.”
Chen Yaohui nodded and smiled. “Alright, fifteen copper coins each.”
Li Yu paid the money and bowed to them. “Thank you, uncles.”
An older-looking uncle laughed. “Youre too kind, kid. Let us know if anything leaks after weve been paid.”
Chen Yaohui instructed Li Yu, “Xiaoyu, if Zhang Defa comes to cause trouble, go find your aunt. Im going to the county to look for work tomorrow.”
“Alright, thank you, Uncle Chen.” After Li Yu agreed, she sent Chen Yaohui to the back of the house. She saw that there were three huts and a pigpen against the courtyard wall. There was also a toilet and bathroom.
The pigsty and bathroom were both paved with limestone. There was a small door beside the pigsty. Li Yu opened the small door and saw a large wasteland outside the courtyard wall. The wasteland was filled with wild grass that was as tall as a person. In the past, the wasteland was a lush bamboo forest and shrubs. Li Yu turned her head and saw a large manure pit outside the courtyard wall behind the pigsty. The manure pit was filled with wild grass.
Li Yu turned around and returned to the courtyard. After returning to the house and starting to clean the main room, she found the gauze and compared it to the size of the window. She cut off the side of the lock and went out to pick up a few bamboo pieces. He used the bamboo pieces to press on the window cloth and nail it to the window. After pulling out two pieces of lake-blue cloth and folding them half an inch, she tied them with twine on the nails at both ends for curtains.
After the curtains were hung, Li Yu looked at the bedding on the bed and realized that Li Mei had used coarse cotton. Li Qing carried the straw curtain in and placed it on the bed. “Sister, Ill go and chop some firewood. If it rains at home, there wont be any left to burn.”
Li Yu instructed, “Dont go far. Just cut in the bushes at the back.”
“Got it!” Li Qing agreed loudly and went out with the machete rope.
Li Yu took out the thin cloth and compared the width and length of the bedding. She cut a few pieces of thin cloth and planned to start making the blanket.
Li Mei entered the house and looked at the thin cloth that Li Yu had torn off. Her heart ached. “Yuer, why did you tear off the cloth What a pity!”
Li Yu smiled and explained, “Aunt, Ill use it to make a blanket so that itll be easier to wash in the future.”
“Oh! Thats good too.” Li Mei looked at the fine cloth and laughed at herself. “Aunt has been tortured by that stingy old woman all these years.”
Li Yu couldnt answer and thought of the knife and bow. She asked Li Mei, “Aunt, why didnt Zhang Defa take the knife and bow at home to exchange for money”
You think he doesnt want to Li Mei was furious.He came to me after your father was buried and asked me about your fathers bow and arrow and the long knife. I told him that the knife and the bow were buried with your father before he gave up. Come with me.
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Li Mei brought Li Yu to another bedroom and pointed at the beam. “After your father left, I hid the knife and bow on the beam. The knife and bow are treasures passed down from generation to generation in the Li family.
Yuer, your father is a soft-hearted person who trusts people easily. Your mother has never liked the Zhang family. She said that their eyes are evil, but their hearts are bitter. Your father just doesnt believe it. Less than two years after your mother left, your father was even persuaded by Zhang Defa to betroth you to Zhang Guisheng. Look, its only been a few years, but his true colors have already been revealed!”
Li Yu finally understood why Li Mei hated guarding against the Zhang family so much. It turned out that Mother Li didnt like them. It seemed that her aunt and Mother Li were quite close.
Seeing that it was getting late, Li Yu smiled at Li Mei and said, “Aunt, Ill go cook. Ill leave the bedsheets and blankets to you to lock the sides.”
Li Mei replied readily, “Alright, theres no need to cook for your uncle. Hes already gone back.”
Li Yu was stunned for a moment. She turned around and looked at Li Mei. “Aunt, why didnt you let Uncle eat before leaving”
“Ignore him. Aunt has had enough all these years.” Li Mei looked up at Li Yu and sighed. “Sigh! You wont understand even if I tell you. Go and cook!”
Li Yu felt that she didnt know what was going on, so she couldnt say anything. After all, she was just a teenage girl.
Li Yu nodded and went to the kitchen. After washing the pigs lungs, she used a large fire to stir-fry the water and placed some ginger slices and condiments in it. She scooped two scoops of water and poured it into the pot to stew the pigs lungs soup. When it was ready, she placed the steamer on top and steamed a basin of rice.
When the pigs lung soup was almost ready, she cut the radish into pieces and put them into the soup. Li Yu felt that cooking with the stove was the most convenient. When the dishes were ready, the rice was also steamed. Li Yu sat in front of the stove and felt like she had returned to when she was young and lived in the countryside. Although those days were hard, they were also the most carefree times for her.
Li Yu looked at the fire in the stove and pondered. She didnt know if her selfish brother and sister-in-law were sad or relieved to know that this old spinster had finally left.