Xiao Xue nodded and giggled: “There are so many here, there’s no way we can pluck all of them! We’ll ask for mother’s help later! Be careful not to damage them!”
“Oh! Then I better not touch them!” Lu Xiao Shu nodded obediently. She glanced around the surrounding and pleaded, “Xiao Xue……”
The tender voice of hers had hit the soft spot of Xiao Xue. She grinned and sighed: “You want to climb the trees again, don’t you? I knew it, you’re just like a monkey!”
Lu Xiao Shu playfully stuck her tongue out, “Xiao Xue knows me the best! Xiao Xue, I’ll pluck the biggest and juiciest grapes for you! Just wait for me!”
“You have to be careful!” Xiao Xue yelled. She smiled and shook her head, she knew she couldn’t hold her back.
“Don’t worry! Xiao Xue!” Lu Xiao Shu giggled and waved at her sister. This height was just a piece of cake to her. She climbed up the tree trunk swiftly and effortlessly.
It felt bizarre being at a place this far from the ground. Grapevines were spreading everywhere, the large and luscious grapes were within the reach of her hands. Lu Xiao Shu was thrilled. She soon filled up a basket full of grapes and hung the basket on a tree branch. She found herself a comfortable spot for her to rest on and enjoyed the astonishing view of the forest from this height.
“Xiao Shu! Xiao Shu!” The gentle but anxious cry of her sister startled Lu Xiao Shu. She immediately looked down and asked, “Xiao Xue?”
“Get down, now! Someone’s coming!”
Lu Xiao Shu got startled. The person heading towards them could either be their mother or uncle. She grabbed her basket and climbed down the tree in a hurry.
Once she landed, she noticed her sister was petrified and staring at her. Lu Xiao Shu waved her hands in front of her sister and chuckled, “Xiao Xue, Xiao Xue, what happened to you?”
Xiao Xue pulled herself together. She grasped Lu Xiao Shu’s arm and trembled: “Do you want to kill yourself? You, you came down from this tall tree so quickly! You, you scared me to death!”
Her sister made Lu Xiao Shu feel guilty yet warm. She chuckled, “Dear sister, I’m perfectly fine!”
“Luckily, you’re fine! Otherwise, I don’t know what else could happen! Do you really need to frighten me?” Xiao Xue glared at her.
“What’s wrong with both of you? Did you two have a fight?”
They were still awkward with each other. Miao Cui Lan approached them from an alley and scowled at them suspiciously.
The sisters were flustered. Lu Xiao Shu swayed Xiao Xue’s arm affectionately and giggled, “What do you mean, Mother? We are on best terms! We won’t argue with each other!”
“Then what’s with the face? What happened?” Miao Cui Lan was still suspicious.
“No, no! We’re fine!” Lu Xiao Shu chortled and secretly nudged Xiao Xue.
Xiao Xue forced a smile: “Right, we’re fine……”
Miao Cui Lan then grumbled, “You both are running around everywhere again! It’s time to go home!” She laid her eyes on the basket full of grapes and snapped: “Where did these grapes come from?”
Lu Xiao Shu startled and thought: Mother, you yelled as if you caught me red-handed! It’s not like I stole the grapes! Look at all this fuss you made!
“You climbed a tree?” Miao Cui Lan glowered at Lu Xiao Shu.
“I…I went up just a little, just a little!” Lu Xiao Shu tried hard to coax her mother.
Little did she know, Miao Cui Lan said, “Climbing trees isn’t a big deal, why do you even need to come this far to climb a tree? Jeez! I was worried that you would get injured from climbing trees when you were still young. Now that you’re older, it’s no big deal.” How many children from the countryside don’t know how to climb a tree?
Even though she was still a young lady, however, picking up a new skill was not bad news after all! Xiao Shu was just like her young self. Back when she was still in the Miao Family, Madame Xia had forced her into the forest to hunt and collect firewood before dawn. There was a time where she nearly became a boar’s dinner if she did not climb a tree swiftly!
“Indeed!” Lu Xiao Shu’s eyes gleamed. She pulled Miao Cui Lan’s sleeves and snuggled into her mother’s embrace in a coquettish manner. She murmured tenderly, “Mother is the best! I will climb trees when you’re around next time, I know you’ll have my back! Mother, please teach me how!”
“You little rascal! You always know which way the wind blows!” Miao Cui Lan snickered and flicked her forehead lightly.
Xiao Xue was silent and thought: Do you still need your mother to teach you? My heart nearly stopped after witnessing your seemingly skilled and agile movements.
“Mother, there are so many edible fungus here! Look!” Xiao Xue pointed at a log of wood.
Miao Cui Lan’s eyes lit up and grinned, “Indeed! It’s been a long time since I last came to the forest to look for edible fungus. Both of you should get up early in the morning tomorrow to prepare breakfast. I will collect the edible fungus before dawn with Nanny Xu! I’m sure there will be various other fungus in the forest!”
The mother-daughter trio then strolled back home.
Once they reached home, Miao Cui Lan moved the large porcelain urn away that was washed and air-dried by Tong Yu Er. They rinsed the freshly plucked grapes and scattered the grapes on a clean bamboo winnowing fan to air-dry them. After they had their dinner, they cleaned their hands and removed the stems from the grapes. They placed the grapes in the porcelain urn and they added a right amount of sugar into them. After sealing the porcelain urn and storing them in the wine vault, the preparation steps of wine brewing were completed.
A deliciously brewed wine was heavily dependent on the experience of the brewer. The brewer should pay attention to the time to remove the floating residue in the wine, the time and the correct way to stir the wine mixture, as well as the time span to successfully brew the wine. If the urn was opened at the wrong time, be it too early or too late, the color intensity and body of the wine will be affected. It was normal to ruin a whole batch of wine. However, Mr Wu would personally help the Lu Family to brew the wine.
The plucked wild grapes had to be processed and stored in the porcelain urn on the same day to keep it fresh.
Therefore, they would only pluck a small amount of wild grapes from the forest daily. After several days of continuously plucking grapes, most of the grapes in the forest were brought back to be brewed into wine.
Four or five days had unknowingly passed. Lu Zhong was still not home yet.
Miao Cui Lan was brooding and gloomy as her concern about her husband’s safety grew day after day.
Influenced by her emotions, the atmosphere of the family was also dismal.
Miao Chu He comforted: “Don’t worry, Cui Lan. Something could have happened on the way that delayed the journey back home. What if the weather was terrible, or he was stuck in an obstructed road? The cart used to transport the soybeans could have broken down, or he could have purchased too many products until they slowed him down…”
“Exactly, Cui Lan. Let us wait patiently for two more days! I’m sure Lu Zhong will be back by then! This was not the first time that Lu Zhong had gone on that route. Take it easy, Cui Lan!” Tong Yu Er smiled.
Miao Cui Lan felt sorry when she noticed the couple comforting herself. She forced a smile, “Don’t worry, I’m fine! Uh, it’s just that he has never had anything go wrong, that’s why I’m feeling uncertain! Both of you are right! He’s not a three-year-old anymore! He had taken that route several times. What could happen to him?”
“You’re right if you’re thinking that way! I’m sure Lu Zhong will be alright!” Miao Chu He and Tong Yu Er smiled and could finally rest assured that Miao Cui Lan was fine.
Lu Xiao Shu and Xiao Xue acknowledged their mother’s gloomy mood. These days, Xiao Xue was attentive as always, while Lu Xiao Shu also stayed at home to accompany her mother.
It made Miao Cui Lan feel warm yet heartbroken. She sighed and thought to herself: This young girl is rather conscientious. Although she’s mischievous most of the time, however, she can be attentive and sensible in times like this. I certainly didn’t dote on her for nothing!
Lu Xiao Shu stayed at home every day to be by her mother’s side. Her whereabouts was almost comparable with a lady of noble birth who doesn’t step out of her door. This had caused the young master of the Lin Family, who recently fell in love, to suffer from lovesick.
Lin Fang and Cricket came by and wandered in Feng Ye Village several times. Unfortunately, they could not get to meet Lu Xiao Shu.
Lu Qi was not at home. Would they have the audacity to visit the Lu Family? They couldn’t even find an excuse to do so.
Eventually, Lu Xiao Shu finally stepped out of her yard. Cricket, who was ordered to guard the Lu Family’s front door, finally had a glimpse of her.
As if a cheetah was hunting a prey, Cricket sprinted towards Lu Xiao Shu and giggled, “Lady Lu, Lady Lu, I was waiting for you. At last, you are here!”
“Waiting for me?” Lu Xiao Shu pointed to herself and was baffled, “Why were you waiting for me? What’s the matter?”
Cricket nodded and shook his head, “It is my Young Master who is looking for you! Lady Lu, please follow me. Young Master is waiting in the forest at the village entrance!”
Lu Xiao Shu rasped, “I’m not going! I’m not in the mood to play for these few days! Just tell me if you have something to say, if not, just go home. Ask your Young Master to go home too!”
Cricket was surprised. Lu Xiao Shu had always enjoyed having fun. What happened that made her lose interest?
Cricket gave a thought about it and suddenly figured out why. He knew what his Young Master was thinking. In order to gain a favor for his Young Master, he asked tentatively, “Lady Lu, are you…out of money?”
Hmm, no money to spend, of course she won’t be interested in having fun…
At least that was the case for him.
Lu Xiao Shu was aghast with her eyes wide open.
“Hehe, my Young Master has plenty of money, why would he need yours? Don’t worry, Lady Lu!” Cricket boasted and thought he was right.
“What the heck are you talking about!” Lu Xiao Shu glared at him and turned away.
“Hey, hey!” Cricket had waited for Lu Xiao Shu for God-knows-how-long. How could he let her leave just like that? He was desperate and decided to bite the bullet. He grabbed her arm and pleaded anxiously, “Lady Lu, don’t leave! Well… Young Master has something to ask you! Lady Lu, please do me a favor… You know Young Master’s temper, if I fail to get you to him…”
The more he pleaded, the more miserable he became. He gazed at Lu Xiao Shu in dismal.
Synopsis: The online game <