When the sun peeked out from the east, Lu Zhong and Miao Cui Lan were already up.
Lu Zhong pulled the cover and filled the cart, while Miao Cui Lan nimbly started the fire, kneaded the dough, and made pancakes. Afterwards, she woke the two girls from their bed to get them to wash up and eat something before they left the house.
Xiao Xue and Xiao Shu ate the heated leftover salted egg porridge from last night while the couple ate the pancakes and left two for Lu Qi.
After eating, Miao Cui Lan chased the large group of chickens and ducks that she released earlier on back into their coop. She carried Xiao Xue and sat her down on the cart. She then instructed her to sit down obediently. Afterwards, she carried Lu Xiao Shu and put her by her side while Lu Zhong sat beside Xiao Xue and made the cart move.
“Mother! Mother! I can also sit by myself.” Lu Xiao Shu twisted her petite body and said.
“Stop moving about and sit down properly!” Miao Cui Lan held her tightly and then glared at her, “Sit by yourself? With your butt full of needles underneath, you won’t be able to stay quiet. You’ll end up falling over instead!”
“…” Lu Xiao Shu was depressed and gave up on the idea.
It was still very early when they reached. The sun had not fully risen yet. Other than the peasants who were hurriedly pushing their carts into the town to sell their stuff, everyone else in town did not seem to be awake. The whole town gave off a sleepy vibe.
There was a special area in the town for farmers from the countryside to set up their stalls, just like Lu Zhong and Miao Cui Lan who would come on this fixed day. They only had to pay the management office a fixed monthly rental, which was equivalent to renting a fixed stall. With that, it was convenient for regular customers to visit them again, and it saved them a lot of trouble.
Of course, if there was a time where they could not make it, there were others who could occupy their space but the management office would not reimburse the paid rent.
When they reached the place, Miao Cui Lan alighted from the cart and carried Xiao Xue down from the cart as well. She pulled the two children behind her back, and told them to hold each other’s hands and not walk off. She then unloaded the stuff from the cart. Meanwhile, Lu Zhong went to the management office to register. On his way, he collected a simple long table, which was made out of several pieces of wooden planks that were nailed together, and a long bench.
The couple quickly arranged their stuff. Afterward, Lu Zhong took the donkey cart to the market’s centralized area to park before returning to start the business with his wife.
The two girls looked around curiously with their eyes open. Suddenly, many people appeared in front of their eyes. They did not know where those people came out from, it was much more lively than when they first entered the town.
Miao Cui Lan laid out the soft square mats woven from reeds on the ground and bought two packets of jelly beans for the two sisters. She instructed them to sit on the mat to eat the jelly beans and play, and then said, “Play obediently by yourselves. When you are thirsty or want to pee, let me know. Do you hear me?”
Xiao Xue and Xiao Shu immediately agreed, and the two sisters sat down close together and started eating the jelly beans together.
Lu Xiao Shu’s memory unknowingly backtracked to the day last year; that day when her biological father and mother quietly left her to be fostered due to some reasons. In a blink of an eye, a year has passed. If not for the mentioning of the town, she would have almost forgotten about her biological parents.
Looking at the bustling crowd in front of her eyes, all of them had smiles on their faces, and were dressed in colorful clothing. Although she felt that the designs were quite old-fashioned, it at least showed that everyone was limitless and that she had transmigrated into an affluent era and place.
This was quite delightful, at least she did not need to be like other transmigrated girls who had to lead the whole family to be more well off! Uh, then again, she didn’t know how to do that…
Her father and mother’s business was very good. The afternoon was the market’s peak period. Her father and mother were so busy that they did not even have time to drink water. Aside from occasionally turning their heads around to check on the two sisters, they were busy weighing the bean curds and collecting money after money.
When a regular customer saw the two sisters, she could not help but smile and asked, “Are they your daughters? They are so pretty!” After the couple heard what the customer said, they smiled and Miao Cui Lan added, “Pretty? They are both so naughty!”
The regular customer laughed, “Naughty? They look obedient! They’ll surely make others like them when they see them!”
As such, Lu Xiao Shu raised her head. She smiled sweetly towards the lady and greeted, “Hello, madam!”, Xiao Xue also followed. Both of them made the ladies smile with joy, and they could not help but to play with the sisters after making their purchase. They took a handful of pine nut candy, osmanthus candy, two oranges, pears and pomegranates and more from their baskets and gave it to the sisters.
Of course, everyone patted Xiao Xue’s head and praised her as ‘elegant and obedient’. As for Xiao Shu, they pinched her face and smiled, “What a soft and tender beancurd-like face. It’s so tempting that it makes me want to take a bite!”
As a result, Lu Xiao Shu became depressed again. She was not a pushover in her last life! When more people came by again, she did not want to open her mouth to greet them again.
Lu Zhong and Miao Cui Lan smiled at her gloomy little face.
It was soon to noon and half of the stuff that they brought had already been sold and the crowd had gradually faded. Lu Zhong and Miao Cui Lan could finally catch their breath.
Miao Cui Lan brought the two children to pee. After washing their hands, it was noon. She asked the two if they were hungry. Lu Xiao Shu nodded and said, “I’m hungry”, hence, Miao Cui Lan took them to a nearby stall that was selling wontons for lunch.
The couple would always eat there, so Old Man Zhang was considered to be an acquaintance. When Miao Cui Lan came, he smiled and greeted her. He also smiled with his eyes squinted and praised the two girls. Lu Xiao Shu was afraid that others would pinch her face again, so she learned that she should not speak too much. She held her sister’s hand and sat down obediently in front of the table and waited to eat.
Miao Cui Lan ordered two bowls of wontons and asked for an empty bowl. She then divided one bowl of wontons into two portions for Xiao Xue and Xiao Shu, and she had one bowl for herself. The rich aroma was strong and it made Xiao Xue and Lu Xiao Shu really hungry. The two sisters each had a spoonful of soup with wontons, and they ate with relish. Miao Cui Lan saw from the side and smiled. She hurried and said, “Eat slowly, don’t scald your tongue! If it’s not enough, I’ll order more for you two!”
The two sisters only had so much space in their stomach, so sharing one bowl was just enough. Lu Xiao Shu looked at the lovely wontons on the counter and salivated. The wontons in this era were delicious; the skin was nice, and the fillings and soup were great. What a pity, she was already full.
“Mother! Mother! Can we buy some home to cook for dinner, brother has not tried it yet!” Lu Xiao Shu pulled Miao Cui Lan’s top and said.
The old man Zhang heard and could not help laughing. He said, “This little girl is so sensible! She is so small yet she already knows how to dote on her brother!”
Miao Cui Lan smiled and said, “This little lass wants to have more herself but is too embarrassed to say!” However, she gently agreed to Xiao Shu and asked Old Man Zhang to pack a kilogram of wontons home.
Lu Xiao Su was overjoyed and told her sister. Xiao Xue also smiled. The two sisters were finally happily satisfied and followed their mother back to their stall.
It was Lu Zhong’s turn to have lunch. Afterwards, Lu Zhong said, “The crowd is still small, I can manage on my own. You can bring these two lasses to shop around and see what they want to buy! I am sure that my two precious girls have something in mind that they want to buy in town!”
When Lu Xiao Shu and Xiao Xue heard what their father said, they immediately looked at Miao Cui Lan eagerly with their eyes wide. Miao Cui Lan smiled and said, “You do know how to be a good person, and let me suffer!” Yet, she did not refuse what he said and bent down to pick up a bamboo basket, before taking the girls to go shopping. She bought many daily necessities, candied nuts, and meat. She also bought the two sisters hairpins, rattle drums, and clay figurines.
When it was late noon, only a few kilograms of beancurd skins and twenty to thirty defect-looking beancurd were left unsold. All the chicken and duck eggs were sold out. Hence, they packed up to go home.
After boarding the donkey cart, they took the route to the academy where Miao Chu He studied.
Miao Cui Lan took a bamboo basket and jumped off the cart. The basket contained a pair of newly woven canvas shoes, about twenty chicken eggs, two bottles of homemade salted vegetables, a thick pile of writing paper and two wrapped ink sticks from the bookstore.
At this time, the students were still having class and Miao Cui Lan was unable to ask Miao Chu He to come out. Hence, she left the stuff to the porter and passed him several coins to help deliver the stuff. After the porter happily agreed, the family then went back home.
It was busy again after they reached home. As they bought a lot of food today, Miao Cui Lan asked Lu Qi to invite Mr Wu over for a meal. The family once again had a lively night together.
After half a month, the rice in the water fields was ready for harvest.
The Lu family had a total of four hectares of paddy field. Every year at this time, they would need to hire some short-term workers to help.
In the rural areas, when it was the seeding period in spring and harvesting period in autumn, the school would give a few days off for the students — and they had too since most of the parents did not carry much hope for their children becoming a candidate, or becoming an official. For those families who were more ambitious, they relied on praying to their ancestors in the hope for their child to become a scholar, so that in the future they would not need to pay rent for their fields — but this was not an easy task as well. As for the rest, they only hoped that their child could recognize a few words, write their own name, read simple books and letters, and that would be enough.
Therefore, it was not that important to study compared to farming — which had the biggest benefit. Most importantly, if they missed the best time to harvest, having meals for the next year would become a problem, and studying would be the least of their problems!
As a result, every time during this period, most of the classrooms would be empty. There was nothing Mr Wu could do, hence he simply gave his students half a month’s worth of holiday. For this half a month, he would also not collect any tuition fees. The villagers were happy about that and praised Mr Wu as an honest person as other teachers were not willing to collect half a month less of tuition fees.
Therefore, Lu Qi had nothing to do at home for the time being. As such, he hung out every day with his sisters.
Lu Zhong and Miao Cui Lan were busy instructing their workers in the field to harvest. One was busy laying out the grains to dry, and making meals, hence they instructed the three children to stay at the courtyard to look after the grains and chase the chickens away from it.
Everyone was busy for five to six days before it was the end of the harvest.