Chapter 4: Baoshan Returns
Ye Xiaoxian could finally get out of her bed in the afternoon. Once she came out, Mrs. Xiao née Wang started to stare at her legs. All the peasant women in the village said that once a woman had a man she walked differently. Naturally, those women were so pleased to study these things in their spare time.
The previous Ye Xiaoxian was just a teen girl of fifteen or sixteen. Since she was ravished violently by such a big hunk as Xiao Baoshan while also drugged, both Mrs. Xiao née Wang and Mrs. Xiao née Chen thought that she must lie on the bed for three days.
Ye Xiaoxian didn’t give them a chance to stare but walked swiftly towards Li Hongmei and sat beside her. Li Hongmei was peeling peas to cook pork bone soup for lunch.
“Little Ye, you got out of bed so quick? Does it hurt? Are you hungry? I’ll go to the kitchen to see if there’s anything to eat,” asked Li Hongmei in a sloppy manner.
“I’m fine. Let me help you peel the peas…” said Ye Xiaoxian.
If she just lay on the bed like that, the two senior women must have opinions, besides, the previous Ye Xiaoxian was a diligent girl so she couldn’t just idle about.
“Good.” Lin Hongmei passed half a basket of beans to Ye Xiaoxian and whispered, “Just peel peas for today. It doesn’t require much energy.”
“…” Ye Xiaoxian didn’t reply to Li Hongmei’s question but looked around this big courtyard.
The one living in the east of the courtyard was old Mr. Xiao, and the room had been reconstructed with bricks and black tiles. The beams of the house were high as well. It was warm for him to live in the winter and also cool in the summer. A row of rooms in the middle of the courtyard were the elder and the third sons’. Although the rooms were not so magnificent, at least the brickwork and tiling were complete.
In the west lived Ling Hongmei’s family. There was a row of earth houses with low roofs and cracked walls, just like the pigsty Ye Xiaoxian had seen on TV.
Ye Xiaoxian watched for a while. Then two childish voices came from the outside of the courtyard. “Mother, sister-in-law, we are back!”
Outside came a girl and a boy. These two were Li Hongmei’s birth children. The girl was twelve or thirteen years old, and her name was Xiao Baozhu. The boy was eight years old or so, and his name was Xiao Baofeng. One was carrying grass for feeding pigs and the other carrying dry wood.
One could easily tell that the two little ones were not idle loafers or else they would not carry so much stuff. Seeing them, Li Hongmei immediately came to help them unload their grass and firewood.
“Are you hungry? Can ma get you something to eat?” asked Li Hongmei.
Li Hongmei had only just finished asking when Mrs. Xiao née Wang, standing in the middle, began to shout. “Didn’t we get dinner prepared already? What are you thinking of feeding them? Just let them grab some sweet potatoes on the kitchen range.”
Li was not very happy. “Baozhu and Baofeng have been working for a whole day and they can’t even have something to eat?”
“I didn’t say they can’t but if you make something for them now and then we have dinner, isn’t it that they have two meals in such a short time? Isn’t it a waste?”
“You…” Li was going to argue again; meanwhile, Baozhu hurried up and calmed Li down. “Ma, sweet potatoes are alright for now. We can eat dinner later.”
Baofeng also said, “Yea, ma. We’re not hungry.”
“But Ma is worried about you.” Li loved them so much.
At the same time, Mrs. Xiao née Wang’s youngest son Xiao Baocheng came back as well. Xiao Baocheng was ten years old or so and went to private school in town. He said loudly once he came home, “Ma, I’m starving!”
“Oh, there is some leftover pork skin and rice. Ma is getting some for you!” Mrs. Xiao née Wang giggled.
Hearing that, Li suddenly got mad. “Elder sister-in-law, Baozhu and Baofeng just finished their work and you let them eat sweet potatoes. What makes you think your son could eat rice and pork skin?”
Mrs. Xiao née Wang mocked, rolling her eyes, “What makes me think that? I have the right to think that because we hand in two taels of silver every months. What about you? If you are so capable, why don’t you hand in more money every month? You can’t even fish out half a tael of silver per month, and yet still dream of eating all the time! You think all food is a windfall?”
“…” As it came to money, Li Honhmei acknowledged her defeat instantly.
Xiao née Wang is right, Li paid the least amount of hand-in money per month. This was always Li’s raw nerve. Every time she thought about this, she couldn’t help but feel self-abased.
“It’s all because I am so poor.”
“Never mind. What’s the big deal about missing one meal? Let’s eat the sweet potatoes for now and have dinner later.” Li Hongmei comforted her two children.
Li was just going to the kitchen to fetch the sweet potatoes when she glanced at the gate of the courtyard unintentionally. “Aha, Baoshan comes back!”
Ye Xiaoxian’s heart missed a beat immediately and then she also turned to the gate of the courtyard.