Back to the CountrysideChapter 32: 许华 (Xu Hua)
It was a beautiful day, so He Ling took out all the bedding and prepared it for sunbathing, but Qi Yue had gone to the backyard to work on his herbs after he had lunch, since He Ling didn’t understand about herb, so he didn’t go over and inconvenience him.
He had just finished putting up the quilts when he heard a knock on the door and a voice outside, “Brother Ling, it’s me, Zao Ge (Brother zao) !”
Hearing Li Zao’s voice, He Ling went over, took off the bolt and opened the door, “Brother Zao, why are you here? Come in quickly!”
“I’m not coming in!” Li Zao waved his hand, not going inside, “Yesterday I heard Yulan say that you wanted to raise some chickens, I know someone who has chicks, do you want to come with me to have a look?”
“Yes, I want it!” He Ling nodded, the chicken pen in the backyard had been left empty, it was a waste, “I’ll go and tell my xiang gong, Brother Zao wait for me!”
“Go on, get a basket by the way, and if it’s okay, pack it straight back in!” Li Zao did not forget to remind him.
He answered him then he went to the backyard, greeted Qi Yue, found another small basket to take, and left the door together with Li Zao.
“Their house is not far from mine, and they also live at that end of the village, so you should not be familiar with them!” Li Zao said as he walked. He Ling used to spend all his time working for He’s family, apart from picking water and collecting firewood, he rarely went out, and most of those who lived slightly far away, he hadn’t seen much.
He Ling nodded his head, no need to mention the village, even the folks around the He family, he could not say he knew them well, at that time he wanted to disappear so no one could see him, naturally he would not talk to them much or even to get acquainted.
The two of them walked around the village for quite a long time and met quite a few village people, both acquaintances and non-acquaintances would greet each other, and there were some aunts and married womens who looked at He Ling in a particularly strange way.
He Ling knew that this was related to the drama that He Zhen had caused a few days ago, he used to feel sad about these stares, but now he is much more calm, just like Qi Yue said to him, ‘A clean hand wants no washing’*(清者自清), why bother about what the irrelevant people think about you, it would be forever impossible to make everyone like you.
[清者自清* read as qīng zhě zì qīng
It means people who are innocent would naturally prove their innocence, even if they do not say anything to clarify themselves.]
“Ling Ge er, don’t take it to heart, it’s just a bunch of hearsay*(道聽途說)!” Li Zao had also heard about He Zhen’s disturbance in front of his house, but he only thought those women were stupid, and even a blind man could see how much Qi Yue cared for He Ling! There were only a few who didn’t understand the situation, who heard some babbling nonsense* (胡言乱语)and took it seriously!
[道聽途說 read dào tīng tú shuō
gossip / hearsay / rumor]
[胡言乱语: crazy and unfounded ravings]
He Ling knew he was worried that he would be sad, so he smiled, “I’m fine, I’ve had so many rumours, it’s not as bad as this one or two!”
Seeing that he really didn’t care, Li Zao put his mind at ease, just as he reached the place, he pointed to a dilapidated house not far away, “That’s the place!”
The house was only enclosed by a short fence, and the mud-built walls were peeling in many places, so it was obvious that the house had not been repaired for years.
“Hua Ge er, are you there?” Although the fence door was open, the two of them did not barge in straight away, and Li Zao shouted to the inside.
“I’m here!” A voice heard from inside the house, not long afterwards, a ger came running out from inside.
The ger was very lean, a little taller than He Ling, with a heroic look between his eyebrows; at first glance one would have thought he was a little boy, but the rounded ger’s mark on his eyebrows reduced some of that feeling for him.
The rough clothes he wore had been washed and whitened somewhat, and there were many signs of sewing and mending, but his person did not have the kind of inferiority complex caused by his poor life, his back was straight, and his whole state of being was very comfortable to look at.
“Come on in, the house has been a bit dirty lately, don’t mind it!” The ger smiled and invited them in, he smiled to reveal a small tiger tooth, very pleasing!
“We’re all from the same village, where’s the fuss, this is He Ling, Ling ge er!” Li Zao pointed to He Ling and introduced him, then turned to He Ling and said, “His name is Xu Hua!”
“Ling ge er, I know you!” Because he had a good skin, there was a lot of talk about him in the village, both good and bad! Recently, because he had married a good husband, there were even more people talking about him. Every time Xu Hua heard it, he just felt that those people were bored with their idleness and liked to make fun of others.
He Ling, who was not good at dealing with strangers, did not know what to say, so he smiled at him. He had a pretty good impression of this ger, his eyes were clear and not so much complicated.
Xu Hua felt that, apart from the fact that he was good-looking, he could not believe anything the village people said about He Ling, such as “a fox (Hu meizi) who was born to seduce men” and “a malevolent man with no regard for his relatives family”. All of those were false.
His nature was soft and gentle, and his smile was cleaner than anyone else in the village.
“Well, you know each other now, so you can visit one another in the future!”
He was happy to make more friends with either of these two people.
Xu Hua took them to the chicken pen he had circled on the side of the courtyard, which held two hens and a rooster, and a nest of yellow chicks, especially cute with their fur!
“There are eight chickens here, two roosters and six hens, if you think it’s okay, it’s three wen for each!” Xu Hua didn’t say any nonsense,gave him the price directly.
He Ling saw that all the chickens were chubby and in good spirits, so he didn’t hesitate much, “OK, I’ll take them all then!”
Xu Hua was relieved to see that he wanted it, as basically everyone in the village had chickens at home.If he didn’t buy it, he don’t think anyone else would. He was in a hurry to use the money, and these were not much, but at least they were something.
He took the chickens out one by one, put them into the basket that He Ling had brought with him, and the other party counted out twenty-four coins then gave it to him.
As soon as Xu Hua received the money in his hand, a sharp coughing sound rang out from inside the house,so he glanced back at them and said sharply, “Sorry, I won’t see you out!”
Without waiting for their reply, he ran back into the room in a hurry.
Li Zao sighed and dragged He Ling out the door, helping to close the fence gate in the process.
“Hua ge er’s house, is there a patient?” He Ling saw the sympathetic look on his face so he was curious for a moment, asked out loud.
“That’s his father.” Li Zao looked at him, sighed again and said, “Hua ge er’s mother resented the family’s poverty and ran away with someone after giving birth to him.His father had to work and take care of the child by himself. Once, when he was helping someone build a house, he was hit in the chest by a falling stake and vomited blood then he passed out. Since then, he has not been able to get up and walk around. At that time, Hua Ge er was just an eight year old boy!”
“Then he ……” He Ling felt like his heart was pulled into a ball as he listened, he knew better than anyone how helpless Xu Hua should have been at that time.
When Li Zao saw his expression, he knew he was thinking of himself and reached out to pat his back, ” Hua ge er is a strong child like you, only a little old, but he took on the responsibility of taking care of his father. He worked all over the village for other families, doing small jobs when he couldn’t do big ones, and earning food when he couldn’t earn money, so he managed to get by. When he was a little older, he went into the mountains to catch rabbits and pheasants for money.He is…, he looks just like a guy (basically he mean, he didn’t like the usual ger) , and he did all the things that guys do.Now he’s almost seventeen, yet he hasn’t found anyone! “
Previously, the two most sympathetic people in the village for Li Zao, one was He Ling and the other was Xu Hua.
He always thought sometimes God is too unfair that such a good children like them has to suffer so much! Now, He Ling has made it to the top and has the best husband in the world who loves and cares for him, while Xu Hua still hasn’t met that person.
He Ling lowered his eyes, his heart a little sad, he remembered those days when he and his father were dependent on each other, how he was watching his father’s body weaken day by day and it was a very torturous thing.
“Originally, Hua Ge er didn’t intend to sell these chicken cubs, he wanted to raise them for more money, but recently Uncle Xu had a bad cough so he wanted to get two more sets of medicine before selling them. I know you want to buy it, so I brought you here. There are other people in the village who have chickens too but I just want to help him. Please don’t blame me, Ling ge er!” Li Zao gently stroked his back, expressing his own selfishness.
“How could I blame Zao Ge! if I can help him a little, I’ll be happy too!” He Ling grabbed his hand, “I need it, he happened to have it, there’s nothing to help or not!”
Li Zao knew that with He Ling’s nature, he would definitely not mind since he had always been a good and kind person.
When he reached a fork in the road, He Ling nudged him and said, “Go back, Brother Zao, I’ll just walk by myself!”
“How could it be? I’d better that I take you back!” Li Zao was a bit uneasy about letting him go by himself.
“Why couldn’t it be? Now, in the middle of the day, it’s not the night time, you’ll have to send me back and then come back by yourself. I just don’t feel good about it.” Li Zao’s house was just around the corner and their house was at the other end of the village, so he was already very sorry that the other party had gone to pick him up today, so how could he ask him to send him back again?
Li Zao couldn’t persuade him, so he nodded his head and agreed. Before he left, he also warned, “If you meet those gossipers, don’t pay any attention to them, they’re just a bunch of people who having nothing better to do*(吃飽了撐的)!”
[ 吃飽了撐的 (“restless from overeating; having nothing better to do and just monkeying around; etc.”]
“I know!” He Ling replied with a smile, urging him to go back quickly.
After watching Li Zao leave, He Ling himself turned around and walked in the other direction.
On the way, he reached out every now and then to touch the fluffy chicken chicks, loving it in his heart; when he raised these little things, the family wouldn’t have to spend money on eggs. Originally, the village people rarely ate their own eggs, let alone bought them, but Qi Yue liked egg 🥚, and it were also very nutritious that he was required to eat it at least two a day!
One egg costs two wen, so they have to spend eight wen a day, which is two hundred and forty wenl a month.
It hurts to think of it so it’s better to have chickens at home!
He Ling was thinking about it when he heard someone call out to him, that voice, he can’t be more familiar with it.
I quite like this chapter…