The wooden box was about half a foot, in which a hairpin and a pair of earrings were lain on a satin.
The hairpin was made of the old mahogany in brown, and the head of the hairpin was made of lotus stone in form of lotus flower. The end of the lotus stone was covered with silver.
Even though the lotus stone was not very big, it was high quality and had been properly designed, which was just like a blooming lotus flower.
Both of the quality of the lotus stone and the designs could be regarded as perfect.
As for the pair of earrings in shape of water drop, the materials were the same. The pair of earrings looked pretty elegant and graceful, for which any girls would like it.
Zhao’er liked such beautiful stuff like the other girls as well. However, she was too busy to spare any time in that. Besides, she was short of money, and never would she be able to afford such expensive stuff.
However, Xue gave her this loveable gift. She could not be happier.
Seeing Zhao’er’s satisfaction of this gift, Xue was somewhat relieves. He had been worried that Zhao’er might not be happy to know him spend so much money.
Zhao’er happened to ask him about the price.
Xue attempted to lie, but it was obvious that the gift would not be cheap. Therefore, he honestly told the true price to Zhao’er.
Hearing the price, Zhao’er was a little uncomfortable since it was too expensive. But she was not so uncomfortable anyway. She also had earned a lot these days. It was different between spending one tael of silver with more than ten tael of silver and spending all of the one tael of silver.
It occurred to her that Xue might have worked hard to earn this one tael of silver. After all, the money earned by him through transcribing had been spent. He should have transcribed another volume to earn the one tael of silver?
Considering about this, she was really touched and said, “You must have earned the one tael of silver through transcribing, don’t you? Since you have bought it, it will be no meaning to say more. But I will make up for you.”
“No.” Xue said decisively and quickly.
Zhao’er was still thinking about the specific meaning of him, when he asked her, “Do you like it?”
She looked at him. His eyes were pretty black, while bright, like the eyes of the little puppy.
She recalled how she had bought Heizi, the little puppy, from Jiang’s family. At that time, the little puppy stared at her just like Xue and licked her palm with its pink tongue.
Now, the little puppy had grown up, so had her young men. Now her young men even knew how to care her and buy the hairpin for her.
Zhao’er could not help but to mess his hair, and said, “I love it. But I haven’t pierced my ear. I may not be able to wear the earrings.”
Xue unconsciously looked at her ears.
Generally, the ears of Zhao’er were loveable and cute in pink. As the old saying goes, the people who had such ears would be lucky.
He somehow wanted to bite her ears, while contained such impulsive. He felt his heart beating heavily and tightly.
“I help you wear the hairpin.”
“Now? But I haven’t combed my hair.”
“I help you wear it.” Xue repeated.
Under this condition, Zhao’er had no other choice. She lowered her head so that Xue could be able to wear the hairpin for her.
Xue took out the hairpin, and put it into the hair of Zhao’er. He watched her carefully. She was really beautiful with the hairpin.
It took a long period of time. And Zhao’er finally asked him, “Is it ok?”
Xue suddenly loosed his hand, and cough to cover his absent-minded, “It’s ok.”
“Does it look good?” Zhao’er stood up and turned her head. It was the first time that she had worn such girl-like hairpin. She usually just tied her hair with hair tie before.
Even though the hairpin was not heavy, she felt her head heavier.
“Isn’t it strange?”
Xue said, “Not at all. It looks good.”
“Well.” She still couldn’t help but to look into a mirror.
The found mirror was worn, and was covered by scars and dirt. Besides, the mirror was made poorly, for which Zhao’er could only see the vague shadow in the mirror. Therefore, Zhao’er put the mirror down, and said to Xue, “You can take a rest. I should cook now.”
She put the box on the table, and took a piece of pork from the basket under the tale. After Zhao’er left the room, Xue heard that she was talking with Mrs. Zhou. Even though he was reading book, while her white neck and pink ears were showing on the books.
There were fried meat, stewed tofu with topaz, fired Baisong, as well as Chinese yam at dinner table. Besides, Zhao’er had prepared a big pot of white rice. The rice was bought in the Rice Store, since the rice didn’t grow here in Xia County. Therefore, Zhao’er just bought five catty of rice.
Those dishes were too much for they two. Zhao’er spared a large amount of the dishes and put the rest in another bowl. It was noisy in the yard. The father and son of the eldest family came back.
“Zhou, cook as quick as possible.” The father ordered.
Mrs. Zhou had prepared the food materials for the dishes, and the rice was being boiled as well. She just waited for her husband and son to come back to cook the dishes for them. Zhao’er had just finished the cooking so that Mrs. Zhou could cook for her husband and son.
Zhao’er came to the kitchen twice to get the dishes all back her own room. She asked Xue to eat and she had to take the reserved meat dish to the principle room.
In the principle room where Mrs. Zhao lived, she was inquiring Xue Juncai and was so concerned of his life in the school.
Zhao’er entered the room and greeted with the father of Xue’s family with smile, “Grand Father, Tingxiang and I prepared some dishes to serve for you and Grand Mother.”
“You are concerned. It’s good. Shall you come to eat together?”
Zhao’er said politely, “Thanks for your kindness and consideration. There is one bowl of dishes reserved. Tingxiang was hungry when he came back several hours ago. I had planned to wait for Juncai, but it was a bit of late. So I cooked in advance and Tingxiang is having his dinner now. May I?”
Father of Xue’s family said nothing more, but admitted silently. Zhao’er left and returned the secondary room, only to find Tingxiang still waiting for her.
The dishes had been placed by Tingxiang on the table in order, and the rice also had been prepared by him.
Zhao’er took of the shoes and went to the kang, asked, “Why not eat first?”
“I’m waiting for you.”
“There is no need to wait for me. Well, just have the meal.”
Zhao’er asked him some questions about his life in school, such as whether there were bad boys bullying him, whether the teachers were strict.
Xue answered her one by one.
He stared at her, and hesitated. “Are you running business with Jiang Wu now? Haven’t those clothes sold out yet?”
Zhao’er took some dishes into his bowl, and said, “Of course. But I get two bags of clothes too. You may not know how popular those clothes are. It is profitable.”
Xue Tingxiang had guested that by himself. If Zhao’er hadn’t earned a lot, she would never spend so much money. Even though Zhao’er was not mean, she was careful about spending money.
“Quit this business after the two bags sold out.” Xue pretended to be careless.
Why? Because I don’t want to see you be with Jiang Wu. Xue thought by himself, but he would not say.
“You are a girl. If you go out too frequently, you may be gossiped by the others.”
Zhao’er put down her bowl, and said, “Who will gossip me? Are you worried about what the Grand Mother has said? Don’t you understand her personalities? She just dislikes both of us. She is particularly picky about whatever we do.”
Xue sounded unhappy, “I’m not concerned of her words. But I’m concerned about you. We are not short of money now. There is no need for you to work so hard.”
“I don’t think I’m working hard. But we are indeed short of money, even though you may not be aware of that. The meal fees and tuitions are not mere costs for you to study. We need money to buy books, inks, fees to attend to the imperial examination. You remember? The elder uncle spent more than twenty tael of silver for each imperial examination. Besides, I have planned to build a house on the vacant land. We only have one room, which will not be enough in the future. Living with them is very inconvenient.”
“That is not your responsibility. It’s mine! I can earn a living for our family!” Xue was a little excited.
“How? By transcribing?” Zhao’er looked at him and said seriously, “I don’t want you to transcribe those books. You understand what is the most important thing for you in school. You should study and learn. Even though I haven’t learned much, I understand it. You should not…”
“Cart before the horse.”
“Yes. That’s exactly what I want to say. You have to pay attention to studies in school, not transcribing for others to earn money.”
“Transcribing will not do harms to my studies.”
“Anyway, you just focus on study. And I’ll get money.”
Xue sighed, staring at her, “Zhao’er, why you love money so much? We can take it easier. You don’t need to force yourself in this way.”
Zhao’er was shocked by Xue’s words. After a while, she said, “Yes. I love money.” Very much.
Then the conversation ended, and both of the two said no more. Zhao’er looked serious and a bit of sad, for which Xue dared not to say more no matter how much he wanted to say.
After finishing the dinner, Zhao’er cleared the table, and took the dishes out to wash.
Xue wanted to help her, which was turned down.
The dinner was on-going in principle room, which seemed to be very joyful. However, in comparison, the yard seemed over desolate.
Zhao’er got the water and prepared to wash the dishes. But she was still thinking about what Xue had said. After a while, she started to wash.
She loved money since she was very little. No one knew what had happened when the couple of the second room died. They had once offered her home with so much warmth and happiness, but it was too short. It ended so quickly that she had no time to sorrow. She had to earn a living.
Throughout the whole funeral process, Zhao’er was just like a mad beast. No matter who had offended her, she would avenge without mercy. When everything finished, she started to realize what had happened. At that moment, she figured out the vileness and hypocrisy of the couple of principle room.
It was not until now that she gradually got back on horse. She had once wished to own many money, since money would help her solve many issues. Without money, all the things would be turned into miseries.
Due to short of money, her elder sister was sold. She was sold as well. Even though she was lucky to be adopted by the couple of the second room, the death of the couple was caused by lack of money. And the conflicts in Xue’s family were caused by money as well.
To be honest, they were not really short of money now. Through the recent businesses, she had earned a lot in spite of the division for Jiang Wu. That money was enough for she and Xue to live for one year. When the grains were gained in autumn, they would even get a large amount of money. However, Zhao’er was constant wanting more money.
In the principle room, the family members surrounded the table and had the dinner.
Mrs. Zhao had prepared meat and chicken for today’s celebration. However, even though her dishes were not bad, they were not as popular as the dished cooked by Zhao’er.
The dishes served by Zhao’er were abundant of diverse ingredients, such as the chilies, black fungus, and Chinese cabbages, etc. Besides, she was good at cooking. Not for a while, the dishes served by Zhao’er had been eaten.
Mrs. Yang was going to took the final part of the dishes served by Zhao’er. But Xue Qinghuai took the final part ahead of her. She was dissatisfied, and wanted to say something, “Zhao’er is so sly. She had cooked so much dishes for herself and Tingxiang, while served so little for us.”
Xue Juncai was on the spot when Zhao’er sent the dishes just now. He said with lowered voice, “Mother, no need to mention such things at dinner.”
Mrs. Yang got the point of Xue Juncai, and changed her words immediately, “I just think about it. By the way, Mother, do you know what is Zhao’er doing these days? She seems to be so busy.” Mrs. Yang said to Mrs. Zhao.
Mrs. Zhao was happened to be dissatisfied with Zhao’er and her business, “How can I know that? She goes out in the morning, while returned at evening. Even I cannot see her in home.”
Mrs. Zhao got angry by that, and said to her husband, “You see, my word is just nothing since the big family divided. I advised her just now, and she should have refuted! There is no woman like her! She is out all the day with Jiang Wu. By the way, why Jiang Wu follows Zhao’er? Should he fall in love with Zhao’er…”
Her husband, the father of Xue’s family, scolded her, “Nonsense! Qinghuai told me that Zhao’er is running business with Jiang Wu.” Hearing this, Xue Qinghuai nodded.
That day, Xue Qinghuai happened to sell his goods in other village. He was just wondering why there were no villagers that day, while found Zhao’er was selling in the center of the Thrashing Floor of Wheat by chance.
In the Thrashing Floor of Wheat, nearly most of the villagers had been attracted by Zhao’er and her stall. The villagers crowded there. The men were chatting and smoking, children were playing by themselves, and the women were surrounding the stall and picking the stuff sold by Zhao’er.
Not for a while, a women called, “Father of kids, move the stuff here!”
Her husband stood up immediately, and dragged out a basket full with the agricultural products. The others played jokes with him, “Your wife purchases so much. You have prepared a lot this time.”
The man said with plain smile, “She is not the woman who love shopping without diligence. She buys so much since the stuff sold by Zhao’cai are so good. Buy for once, we families don’t need to buy anymore in several years.” The man handed over the basket.
It was really abnormal. The villagers were so excited and passionate. But now these villagers were so excited to hand over the baskets.
Out of curiosity, Xue Qinghuai took a look by himself but to find those villagers were shopping for clothes sold by Zhao’er.
What’s more, he found out that Zhao’er was selling clothes with Jiang Wu. But Xue Qinghuai didn’t tell these, and just mentioned that Zhao’er was running business with Jiang Wu.
“Besides, Zhao’er is wife of Tingxiang. When Tingxiang grow to 15 years old, they will get married. As is known by all, Jiang Hai is the friend of the couple of the second room, and Zhao’er has grown up with Jiang Wu. There is nothing more about their relationships. What’s more, Zhao’er is a girl. It will be more convenient for her to run business with Jiang Wu.” The father of Xue’s family continued.
But Mrs. Zhao was dissatisfied with that, while said no more.
“As for you, Yang, you see Zhao’er even hasn’t had her dinner and served the dishes for us firstly. Such a big bowl of meat also costs a lot of meat. However, there are too many people here to take it for granted. If one of you should have such kindness of Zhao’er, we will be even happier.”
The father of Xue’s family seemed drunk, while pretty happy. He had been concerned of the division of the big family, since the different rooms might therefore get less close. This was just a good chance for him to warn the couple of the principle room.
Mrs. Yang had planned to defame Zhao’er, while was criticized. She dared not to gossip anymore.
Xue Qingshan said, “Father, you can be assured of that. If these is anyone dare to disrespect you and Mother, I will not forgive him.”
“Fine.” The father of Xue’s family threw a glance at Qingshan, then took another sip. This accident was appeased.