Lin Cuifen still wanted to stay and watch the excitement, so Qiao Yuan and Yu Dameng went back first.

On the way back, Qiao Yuan asked, “What’s the name of the girl wearing the pink clothes?”

“Huh?” Yu Dameng thought for a moment.
Was there someone wearing a pink dress just now?

Qiao Yuan reminded him, “The one standing next to Sister Zhang.” They had just chatted with Mrs.
Zhang earlier.

“Oh.” Yu Dameng suddenly realized, “Yanhe?”

Yanhe? Why address her so intimately?!

Qiao Yuan suppressed the jealousy in his heart and asked him, “Do you know her?”

Yu Dameng nodded, “I know her.
We used to play together when we were young.
Gensheng liked to play with her.”

So, they were childhood friends1青梅竹马 (qīng méi zhú mǎ) is a Chinese idiom that literally means “green plums and bamboo horse”.
It comes from a poem by Li Bai, a famous poet of the Tang dynasty, who described the innocent play of a boy and a girl in their childhood.
Colloquially, 青梅竹马 means that a man and a woman have been close friends since childhood, or childhood sweethearts.
It is a romantic and nostalgic expression that implies a deep bond between two people.!

Qiao Yuan asked another random question, “What do you think of her?”

“Huh?” Yu Dameng was stumped again, he didn’t even remember much, so he said: “She’s alright, I guess.
Gensheng used to say she was nice and looks pretty.”

Qiao Yuan kicked Yu Dameng hard, “You go find someone pretty then!”

The strings were too loose, they needed tightening2The phrase “弦太松了,得紧紧” (xián tài sōng le, děi jǐn jǐn) is a metaphor that means “the strings are too loose, they need tightening”.
It is used to describe a situation where someone is too relaxed or careless, and needs to be more strict or serious..

Qiao Yuan ignored Yu Dameng all the way back.
He knew very well that Yu Dameng probably only remembered her just now.
But he was so insecure, he needed to repeatedly confirm the other’s feelings for him, and he also wanted Yu Dameng to coax him.

As soon as Liu Ge’er saw Qiao Yuan come back, he ran over and hugged his leg.
“Brother Yuan!”

“Our Liu Ge’er is still the cutest, he’s always thinking of Brother Yuan.” Qiao Yuan picked up Liu Ge’er as he said this.

Although Liu Ge’er was young, he was…already quite heavy!

Yu Dameng was worried, so he rushed over to support Qiao Yuan’s waist, saying “Don’t carry him, be careful of straining your back.”

Qiao Yuan humphed and carried Liu Ge’er towards the corridor, “We’re ignoring your Third Brother.”

In the end, he obediently put Liu Ge’er down to sit in the corridor.

Liu Ge’er glanced at his anxiously hesitating Third Brother, then looked at the cold-faced Brother Yuan.
He quietly asked Qiao Yuan, “Did Third Brother make you angry?”

Qiao Yuan humphed again and told Liu Ge’er, “Your Third Brother wants to get you a new Third Sister-in-law!”

“Ah, Third Brother is a bad guy!” Liu Ge’er jumped up and ran over like a cannonball to hug Yu Dameng’s legs again, pleading, “Brother Yuan is so nice, can Third Brother please not get a new one!”

Yu Dameng became anxious and hurriedly approached Qiao Yuan, saying in a flustered manner, “I didn’t say I wanted to change!”

Qiao Yuan pretended to glare at him, then could no longer hold back his smile.
He took out a handkerchief and wiped his face for him.
He said disdainfully: “You don’t even know that someone smeared mud on you.
You can’t do without me!”

Later, Lin Cuifen came back from watching the excitement.
Liu Ge’er came to complain about what happened.
She then pulled Yu Dameng aside to ask for the details.
After finding out the truth, she angrily grabbed Yu Dameng’s ear and scolded him, “You fool! How could you praise someone’s appearance in front of your own husband?”

Yu Dameng felt wronged.
I didn’t!

“Your aunt couldn’t win the argument, so she kept saying that she wouldn’t take them to work at the dock anymore.
Those people asked her for the wages they had been cheated out of before, as well as the hard-earned money for helping with farm work over the years, and in the end, they got into a fight.”

“A fight?” Xu Xiuhua was just one person, yet she dared to get into a physical fight with so many of them.
Qiao Yuan had to admire her courage.

“Yes, it was a mess.
I didn’t think it was proper for me to stand there watching, so I hurried back.”

Anyway, they would eventually hear about how things progressed from others.
The most urgent thing was to take care of their own family matters first.

But they couldn’t do it today.
Things had already escalated to the village chief’s home, where many villagers had gathered to watch the commotion.
Qiao Yuan and Yu Dameng didn’t think it was appropriate to go over and get the grain then.
So, the two of them first went back home to clean out the vegetable cellar.

On the way, Yu Dameng tentatively tried to hold Qiao Yuan’s hand.
After touching him two or three times and Qiao Yuan didn’t scold him, he finally dared to hold Qiao Yuan’s hand firmly.
He also said: “I didn’t say she was pretty, it was Gensheng who did.”

Qiao Yuan snorted and said: “You can’t say that a girl is ugly either.
It’s because you’re married now, so you can only have me in your eyes.
Otherwise, I won’t be your husband anymore, do you hear me?”

Yu Dameng mumbled softly, “There’s only you anyway.”

Qiao Yuan didn’t hear clearly, so he didn’t bring it up again.
Instead, he discussed business with him, “I spoke with mother about the amount of food our family should stock up on.
Mother said she’d help make arrangements for us tomorrow morning and place orders with others.
Tomorrow afternoon, we’ll have to hire an ox cart from town to bring everything back.”

Actually, there were also people in the village who had carts, but oxen were rare these days.
Anyway, Qiao Yuan had money in his hands now, and he didn’t want to owe anyone any favors.

Yu Dameng nodded in agreement, and added, “You don’t have to go down to the vegetable cellar later.
It’s dark inside, I’ll go by myself.”

Qiao Yuan rubbed his nose.
He was never this timid before!  Ever since these supernatural and bizarre things started happening, he even needed Yu Dameng to accompany him when going to the toilet at night!

It made him want to cry but have no tears!

Coincidentally, because he had gotten jealous over Yu Dameng’s childhood playmate, Qiao Yuan also wanted to make Yu Dameng drink some vinegar3Drinking vinegar = getting jealous.
So, at dinner he specially added a lot of vinegar to Yu Dameng’s bowl of spicy and sour noodles.

Yu Dameng was sour but didn’t dare to say anything.

The next day, the two got up early to hire an ox cart from the county town.
Lin Cuifen had also informed the villagers already and placed orders with Aunt Wu for cabbage, Aunt Qian for potatoes, and Mr.
Li’s for radish.
Qiao Yuan deliberately ordered more, as they would need vegetables for the pancakes later.

They had to deliver to the old house, their own small home, as well as the cellar in the county town store.
The two were completely worn out going back and forth.

The cart driver also felt sorry for his ox, but of course, when Qiao Yuan paid him sixty wen and gave him a pound of pork after, his unhappiness disappeared instantly.

After storing the vegetables and grains, Zhao Gensheng, Aunt Wu’s two sons Wu Erping and Wu Sanping4Er means second and San means third, Aunt Qian’s youngest son Qian Caiwang, and Butcher Zhang’s second brother Zhang Erga came to help.
They naturally had to treat them to a meal and thank them properly.

On their way back from the county town, Qiao Yuan bought five jin of pork, five jin of lamb, bought three pairs of pig’s feet and some ribs and pig bones, as well as two chickens.
Lin Cuifen also bought two fish from Qian Caiwang’s house.

The whole family worked together in the old house to prepare the dishes.
Qiao Yuan was in charge of cooking.
He made soy-braised pig’s feet, potato stewed chicken, dry pot spicy chicken, salt and pepper ribs, steamed meat with rice flour, four happiness meatballs, stir-fried pork slices, dry-fried lamb, steamed bass, and pork bone soup, as well as some greens.
He also made some sweet potato cakes, candied sweet potatoes, and sour plum sweet potato strips for the children with sweet tooth.

The aroma wafted far away, making people drool.
The village chief insisted on bringing some good wine and following Zhao Gensheng to Yu family’s house for a meal, earning him a good scolding from Aunt Zhao.

Naturally, how could the Yu family prepare all this fine wine and food without him?

Not only did they invite the village chief, but they also invited Aunt Zhao, Yu Ge’er, and Zhao Laifu.
They also invited Butcher Zhang, Mrs.
Zhang, Zhang Dabao, and several other family members.
They sat at two full tables, making it very lively.

The village head praised Qiao Yuan’s cooking skills, and regretted: “If I had known earlier, I would have asked Yuan Ge’er to cook for Gensheng’s wedding banquet.”

The Zhang family who were quite well-off and worldly also said, “It really is even more delicious than the restaurants in the county town!”

At the table, the village chief also mentioned the matter of land tax: “Tomorrow, some of you will collect the land tax with me in our village, and then the day after tomorrow, we will deliver it to the county government office.
They will pay you for these two days.”

This refers to Wu Erping and others, and naturally does not include Yu Dameng and Butcher Zhang who are doing business.

Wu Erping and others didn’t expect to come for a meal and get an extra opportunity to make money, which made them even happier.

Only now upon hearing their conversation did Qiao Yuan realize that the house east of theirs belonged to the Wu family.
It was just that the Wu family hadn’t divided up yet, and were all still living together, so that house was unoccupied – they were still considered half-neighbors.

The little ones all loved the steamed minced pork and salt-pepper ribs.
Naturally the adults let the children eat first.
They all ate till their little bellies were round and full, yet their mouths didn’t stop, amusing the adults into laughter.

Aunt Zhao also mentioned to them about the farce that happened with Xu Xiuhua yesterday.
“Later, a group of people came to my house to argue.
Li Da and Li Er’s idea was that as long as the Qiao family gave them their previous wages, it would be fine.
After calculating, each family ought to get about one or two taels of silver!”

Someone from the Wu family said, “That much?”

“They were afraid that she wouldn’t give it, so they asked for less.” Aunt Zhao grabbed a handful of melon seeds and continued: “There are seven families in total, and they need at least seven taels of silver.
How could Xiuhua bear to part with that much? But those families are not pushovers either.
Anyway, they have already torn their faces, and they joined forces to say that if they don’t get the money, they will go to the dock where Da Qiao5Big Qiao, Qiao Yuan’s uncle’s nickname, remember that he is the older brother of Qiao Yuan’s father works and make trouble!”

“That’s what Xiuhua is afraid of.
She started apologizing to those families and said she would bring them to work at the dock again in the future.”

Someone from the Qian family said, “That can’t be the end of it! She is too unreasonable and overbearing.
My husband went with them to work one time before.
Later when I was washing clothes by the river, I ran into her and she tried to intimidate me, so I slapped her down! I was worried my mother-in-law would scold me when I got home, but when I told her what happened, my mother-in-law said we shouldn’t take their dirty money even if we lose out.
People should have some dignity.”

When Qiao Yuan heard that Aunt Qian had slapped Xiuhua down, he nearly spat out the water in his mouth.
No wonder the original’s memories showed Xiuhua forbidding him from speaking to anyone from the Qian family!

Aunt Zhao added, “That’s right! We’re all from the same village, all peasants.
Why do we have to humiliate ourselves like this! Those seven families have made up their minds to get their money and won’t work with Da Qiao anymore.
The village chief got Gensheng to go to the dock to fetch Da Qiao back.
Da Qiao beat up Xiuhua in front of everyone, and paid those families their silver.
He also said that he would take them to work at the dock in the future.
That’s how it ended.”

Qiao Yuan didn’t think so.
How could Qiao Guangzhi be so reasonable? Otherwise, how could he have turned a blind eye all these years as Xiuhua mistreated his birth mother and orphaned nephew? It was all just for show.

In any case, since they were at Yu’s house, they briefly talked about this matter, then switched to talking about the interesting things that happened during the autumn harvest and sharing their experiences of raising children.
They also told Qiao Yuan and Yu Ge’er to listen carefully, because they could use them in the future.

Qiao Yuan: “……”

It wasn’t until the sky was completely dark that everyone dispersed.
Aunt Zhao and Mrs.
Zhang helped tidy up before heading home.

It was late, so Yu Dameng and Qiao Yuan held hands as they walked home under the moonlight.

Qiao Yuan acted coquettishly: “I’m so tired.
You boil water when we get back.”

He really had sweated a lot today, and was dirty all over, so he desperately needed a nice bath.

Of course he didn’t need to say it, he just liked acting cute.

“Mm,” Yu Dameng nodded in acknowledgement.

Qiao Yuan smelled alcohol on him.
“Did you drink?”

“Just a little.”

Qiao Yuan looked at him carefully.
His eyes were still clear.
“Are you drunk?”

Yu Dameng blushed under his gaze, mumbling, “No.”

Qiao Yuan felt a bit disappointed.
He wondered what Yu Dameng would be like when he was drunk.

Both of them had to wash, and it took four times to boil enough water in their few pots at home.
After Yu Dameng boiled the hot water and added it to the tub, he turned around and saw that Qiao Yuan had already taken off his outer shirt and shoes.
He quickly averted his eyes.

He busily prepared to go out, but Qiao Yuan trapped his leg between his feet.

“What…what’s wrong?” Yu Dameng stumbled over his words.

Qiao Yuan rubbed his leg gently with his foot and opened his arms wide.
He looked straight at him without saying anything.

Yu Dameng understood.
He bent down and picked him up, but he was reluctant to put him in the tub.

They gazed at each other for a long time.
Qiao Yuan touched his lips, eyes full of laughter, “Aren’t you tired?”

Yu Dameng called out, “Yuan Ge’er.”

His breathing grew heavy, and he hoarsely asked, “Can I kiss you?”

Qiao Yuan tightened his arms around Yu Dameng’s neck.
He smiled and said: “Do you need to ask to kiss your own husband?”

Before he even finished speaking, Yu Dameng lightly pecked his lips.

Qiao Yuan stared into his bright, sparkling eyes, his own face growing redder, “J-just…just one kiss?”

“Mm.” Yu Dameng nodded lightly.
He reluctantly looked at Qiao Yuan for a while, then put him in the tub.

After Yu Dameng left the room, Qiao Yuan’s face turned red.
He plunged his head into the water.

I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did.
If you want to show your support, you can buy me a coffee.
It would make my day! For every five coffees I get, I will release a bonus chapter.

1青梅竹马 (qīng méi zhú mǎ) is a Chinese idiom that literally means “green plums and bamboo horse”.
It comes from a poem by Li Bai, a famous poet of the Tang dynasty, who described the innocent play of a boy and a girl in their childhood.
Colloquially, 青梅竹马 means that a man and a woman have been close friends since childhood, or childhood sweethearts.
It is a romantic and nostalgic expression that implies a deep bond between two people.2The phrase “弦太松了,得紧紧” (xián tài sōng le, děi jǐn jǐn) is a metaphor that means “the strings are too loose, they need tightening”.
It is used to describe a situation where someone is too relaxed or careless, and needs to be more strict or serious.3Drinking vinegar = getting jealous4Er means second and San means third5Big Qiao, Qiao Yuan’s uncle’s nickname, remember that he is the older brother of Qiao Yuan’s father

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