Chapter 22: Xiaoyi, The Exceptional Embroiderer
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Liu Changshi went to the kitchen to clean up his face and arms before smilingly rejoining everyone in the room.
Once he had entered, He Ruyu quickly stood and went to the doorway.
“Fourth, quickly have a seat and drink some water.” He Wending handed his cup of water over before saying with a smile.
“We had planned to help gather firewood today, but you were faster.”
Liu Changshi finished the water in a smooth gulp.
He smiled and wiped his mouth, “With this, there’s no need to worry! You can now focus on recovering without thinking about this.
Don’t worry about anything else either.”
He shi fervently nodded, Liu Changgeng didn’t feel the need to be too formal with his own younger brother, so he just nodded and asked, “How did you fell the tree”
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“Rv oyp yzalyeu elye.
R oyzjle vs vbl ellrlpv ryav sq vbl ayhkdl yde qswde kv.
Yu rzyd oyp vs zssj yaswde yde pll kq R nswze qsaytl yduvbkdt tsse qasx vbyv yaly, ps obld R nyxl ynaspp vbl vall, R fwpv elnkele vs cakdt kv cynj iwknjzu.”
Nkw Ubydttldt dseele.
Mblu nsdvkdwle vs nbyv kd vbl bswpl, obkzl Tl Swuw ekpnallvzu zlqv.
Gqvla y iwknj tzydnl yv lynb svbla, Tl Elduw yde Tl Eldbwk yzps lmkvle.
Ebld vbl casvblap blyae vbl dlop zypv dktbv, vblu awpble shla vbkp xsadkdt okvb vbl kdvldvksd sq blzrkdt vs ralryal ldswtb qkalosse qsa bkp pkpvla’p qyxkzu.
Ebs oswze byhl lmrlnvle vbyv vblka qyxkzu’p Wswavb oswze byhl yzalyeu ralryale kv qsa vblx.
Mblu bye dsv nsxl fwpv vs hkpkv ps vbl vos sq vblx pvyavle vs blzr przkv vbl vall.
Ebld vbl vos sq vblx pvyavle osaj, Nkw Ubydtpbk yde Tl Eldikdt nswze dsv pvyu pvkzz kdpkel vbl bswpl.
Mblu vss bwaakle swv vs blzr, yde lhlausdl oyp pssd lkvbla przkvvkdt osse sa blyekdt swv okvb Nkw Fbw vs tyvbla oblyv pvyzjp.
Ju vbl vkxl Nkw Qys pbk yde Nkw Tsdt nyxl shla okvb y cypjlv sq qsse, vblu pyo vbl rzynl cwggkdt okvb ynvkhkvu.
Nkw Qys pbk’p kdkvkyz tzssxu yde eyaj lmralppksd kxxlekyvlzu zktbvldle.
Fbl tallvle vbl Tl casvblap, yde kdhkvle vblx kd qsa y xlyz.
Nkw Qys pbk’p pkel bye xykdvykdle vbl byckv sq byhkdt vos xlyzp y eyu, cwv yv Nkw Ubydttldt’p, kv bye clld nbydtle vball eykzu xlyzp.
Flnsde’p qyxkzu bye vblalqsal yzalyeu bye vbl xsadkdt xlyz, yde kv oyp dsv ulv vkxl qsa vbl dssd xlyz.
Tsolhla, vbl Tl casvblap yde Nkw Ubydtpbk bye yzz dsv ulv lyvld.
Nkw Fld, vss, oyp talleu qsa elzknkswp qsse.
Fs vbl ldvkal qyxkzu pyv esod qsa y xlyz.
“Gzz sq usw esd’v byhl vs osaau.
Ebld usw ts cynj vs uswa qyxkzu, zlv uswa ryaldvp jdso vbyv vblal’p ds dlle vs osaau! Mblal okzz elqkdkvlzu cl qsse.
El nlavykdzu okzz dsv zlv vblx pvyahl.
Gp zsdt yp xu bwpcyde yde R byhl qsse, ol elqkdkvlzu osd’v yzzso vbl nbkzeald vs ts bwdtau!” Nkw Qys pbk xyel pwal vs yppwal vbl Tl casvblap.
He Wenqing quickly agreed.
That is for sure! Otherwise, my dad would not have stopped my mother from coming.
He told us to come instead to help out with any of the heavy lifting; there was no need for the entire family to come over.
Although my mum really wanted come, it was more to check on jie and jiefu’s injuries.
We’re not worried about anything else.”
At that, Liu Gao shi nodded.
In front of the He brothers, she took out a cloth towel.
Opening it were a few pieces of broken silver.
Putting it in He shi’s hand, she said, “Here are two taels of silver.
Use it for your treatment!”
He shi was shocked.
She had never thought that Liu Gao shi would do this in front of everyone.
Her face flushed red, she quickly tried to push it back to Liu Gao shi. “Mum! There’s really no need.
When we went to town to see the doctor, the money we spent on medicines and fees were all paid by dad.
We spent more than 4 taels of silver! Now that we’ve come back, we really cannot take this!”
Liu Gao shi looked displeased.
“Why can’t you take it! Don’t think that I don’t know you still need to take medicine and that the dressing on your wounds still needs to be changed! Everything needs money.
I’m giving you the money so that you can relax! You cannot allow your wound to worsen just to save some money.”
“But we don’t need so much….” He shi said.
She turned to nudge at Liu Changgeng, “Quickly say something! It’s not easy for dad and mum to earn this money….”
Liu Changgeng nodded.
“That’s true, mum.
We don’t need so much.
The dressings only need to be changed every half a month.
And we only need to take medicines for three days – at the time, we’d already bought everything we needed.
Liu Gao shi quickly said, “Then what about your meals!” Saying this, she insistently pushed the money back to He shi. Her tone warmed slightly and she said, “Take it.
Even if it’s just to ease your mind, you should take it! Your dad and I both know that the grain is not enough! With this money, you have some cash on hand, so that if there’s really not enough to eat, you can buy supplies.
If you really don’t use it, then just think of it as helping your dad and I hold onto this money.”
He shi knew that this was Liu Gao shi’s way of encouraging them to relax, and to stop persistently worrying about food running out.
She could only take the money.
Nodding her head, she choked out, “Mum….”
He shi’s brothers looked at each other.
They had also brought some money for them, but they hadn’t thought to give it in front of others.
At least, they hadn’t intended to do it in front of Liu Changgeng as they were worried that he would never stop thanking them….
But Liu Gao shi was an elder, and did things differently from the younger generation.
The reason that she did this in front of others was not for the few words of thanks, but to allow the He family to rest assured and also to let her maiden family know that she, as a mother-in-law, would not ignore their plight, even though the family had already separated.
This was a matter regarding one’s character and conduct.
He Wenqing thought for a moment, and felt that in this kind of atmosphere, Liu Gao shi would probably also like to know what the brothers had brought.
Since they had come with great fanfare, they would certainly have brought something – they couldn’t possibly have come empty handed!
At this moment, there was no reason for them not to display their gifts! So he could only take out the two strings of cash he was carrying.
“Aunt, jiejie, jiefu, we brought this for you….
Aunt is right, jie, jiefu, you don’t have to worry.
Among friends and relatives, nobody would just stand by and ignore your situation.
So, especially you jie, please let go of your worries.”
Saying this, he left the two strings of cash at the side of the kang. He shi was upset looking at them.
Her maiden family was poor; these two strings of cash was probably intended to prepare for the New Year celebrations….
This was best answered by Liu Changgeng.
He quickly said, “What are you doing It’s not as if we’re at the end of our rope.
It’s just that we can’t get off the kang for maybe a month or half a month.
Once we’re better, we will continue to be able to work.
Why do all this, why bring this money!”
He Wenqing smiled and said, “Just take it.
As aunt said, it’s worth it even if all it does is allow you peace of mind!”
Liu Changgeng sighed.
Liu Gao shi saw that it was two strings of cash, which was similar to the amount that she had brought.
She felt eased, and thought that the children raised by her son’s in-laws were all very discerning and knew how to conduct themselves properly.
Meanwhile, back at the kitchen.
Although they were all relatives, considering that there were a lot of young men around, it wasn’t good for Liu Hong and He Ruyu to hang around, so the two of them went to the kitchen to work, while Liu Xu’er was their assistant.
“Xiaogu, when I just went in, I heard nai say that four or so taels of silver was spent! Did they borrow from the villagers or was it all from ye and nai” Liu Xu’er asked.
Liu Hong “chi”-ed.
Stretching her head to poke her forehead, she commented, “You are so small, but your worries are not small! Why do you care about how much money was spent You’re not the one who has to return it!”
Liu Xu’er quickly said, “These are my family members, so I should care!”
Liu Hong laughed again.
Turning to look at the similarly laughing He Ruyu, she said, “Look at how your niece behaves! A little button of a thing, but carrying the weight of the world!”
He Ruyu was more bashful compared, but she too laughed.
She nodded and said, “Isn’t that so.
Sharp as a tack.” She smiled and asked, “Xu’er, I heard you’re raising two rabbits.
Where are they”
Liu Xu’er quickly responded.
“In the room! Xiaoyi, should I bring you to have a look”
He Ruyu smiled and agreed.
She stretched out her hand to grab Liu Hong along.
After all, the food had already been prepared and brought over from home so there was no actual work to be done in the kitchen.
The two half-grown girls followed Liu Xu’er out of the kitchen and went to the little room that housed the two rabbits.
Bending over, they went in to have a look.
After that, they came out and headed straight to Liu Xu’er’s room to sit and chat.
“I heard you went with them My jie was carried by you everywhere When my mum heard, she cried till her eyes were swollen.” Once seated, He Ruyu said to Liu Hong.
Liu Hong sighed.
“It was nothing, my mother is extremely angry over the matter….
But my other two saozi are that way.
Everyone in the village knows that it is not a reflection of ersao’s character.”
He Ruyu sighed and said, “Still, they are all sisters-in-law.
At a critical time, neither of her sisters-in-law were willing to step forward and help.
I’m afraid, my sister’s dignity has been treaded on and I am sure that she will have a hard time getting over it.” Sighing again, she took out two items.
“This was embroidered by myself, as a gift to you.
I hope you will accept it.”
Liu Hong brought it closer for a look.
It was actually a white handkerchief, made of silk.
On one side, a plum blossom was embroidered, and on the other, lotuses.
Shocked, Liu Hong quickly stuffed it back into her hand with a gasp.
“Such an expensive item! I cannot accept it.”
He Ruyu quickly pushed it back to her.
“How is this expensive! Hong jie, just accept it!” Her face had flushed red.
Sharp eyed Liu Xu’er snatched the handkerchief that was being pushed back and forth.
Smoothing it open, she exclaimed, “Xiaoyi! Is your embroidery skill so good! Where did the silk come from”
Liu Hong herself was also puzzled.
She nodded, “That’s right, was this embroidered by yourself”
He Ruyu flushed and nodded.
“It was made by me.
In our village, there is a woman from the south who married over.
I have a good relationship with her, so she taught me her skill for embroidering.
Previously, I embroidered a few cloth handkerchiefs to try selling in town, and a wealthy family liked them.
They commissioned myself and my friend to embroider handkerchiefs for them.
They need new ones for every season! Each season, they require 10 lots of handkerchiefs, so we would split the work and do five lots each.
The silk is provided by them….”
Saying this, He Ruyu’s face turned even redder.
She smiled and said softly, “The cloth they gave was for me to embroider handkerchiefs for them, but there is always excess fabric, so I would make a few to keep for myself.”
Liu Hong’s face was filled with admiration when she heard what was said.
Liu Xu’er bent to look at the embroidered flowers.
It was truly different from the typical village women’s work.
It was much more exquisite.
Liu Xu’er was someone knowledgeable.
She knew that in later times, there would be many schools of embroidery.
A few of the more famous would include, shu embroidery, su embroidery, gu embroidery and so on.
One of the places that advanced quickly was obviously Jiangnan.
Liu Hong also took hold of the handkerchief to have a look.
Her eyes were filled with envy and delight.
“It’s truly different! I wonder how the southern people are able to come up with this embroidery skill Why can’t we come up with something as good It looks so lifelike!”
“En, it’s truly beautiful and realistic.” Liu Xu’er said.
That made Liu Hong and He Ruyu laugh.
He Ruyu smiled and said, “When I came, I wanted to bring you a little something, but couldn’t think what would be appropriate.
I only have this handkerchief that is somewhat presentable, but my mum said that this type of item is only good for our peasant families to look at.
It’s not practical for anything else.
She said that I’m the only one who would think that it is a suitable gift!” Saying this, she turned and smiled at Liu Hong saying, “Hong jie, if you like it, please accept it.”