Translator: Atlas Studios Editor: Atlas Studios
Those in the central room had already put down their chopsticks. However, the children were still eating outside, so it was not appropriate for them to go out immediately. Thus, everyone could only chat.
Since the autumn harvest had just ended, everyone was talking about this year’s harvest and next year’s sowing.
The moment Mu Yangling entered, Liu He and Liu Daqian, who were facing the door, saw her.
Liu He waved at her with a smile. “All Ling, you’re here? Come here.”
Mu Yangling smiled and walked over. She bowed. “Hello, Uncles.”
Liu He laughed loudly. “Child, you’re still so polite. You’re back from town?
Where’s your father? Is he back from the county?”
“Yes, he’s back at home. I came over with my brother to play.”
Liu He knew that Mu Shi did not care about this matter at all and only let his daughter handle it. Despite being aware that Mu Shi doted on his daughter, he had not expected him to indulge Mu Yangling so much.
Liu He heaved a sigh of relief and said to Mu Yangling, “Good child, 1 know you have good intentions in bringing your uncles into the mountains. It’s just that we’re farmers, and our most important job is to farm, so they won’t follow you into the mountains anymore. They’ll work in the fields at home.”
“I know you’re worried that the others in the village will also come to us. I indeed have to thank Great-uncle for being so thoughtful. I didn’t consider this matter thoroughly previously. However, 1 want to continue bringing them into the mountains.”
Mu Yangling said, “Recently, there have been more and more rabbits in the mountains, and the situation is only worsening. In the past, after I finished hunting in the west, I had to go to the east the next day and slowly move east. I could only return to hunt in the same place after two months. This way, 1 wouldn’t have to worry about the prey decreasing too drastically in one place due to over-hunting. However, in the past half a month, I’ve been hunting in the west and almost never had to shift. Every day, 1 can emerge from the mountain with a basket of rabbits.”
Liu He and Liu Daqian looked at each other before saying solemnly, “Are you saying that there are too many rabbits in the mountains?”
Mu Yangling nodded. “It’s about to become a disaster. If we don’t catch more in the autumn, I’m afraid it will harm the crops planted in the village after winter.”
They had never seen rabbits in the mountains harm the crops in the fields, but Liu He had heard that those rabbits could even dig out the roots to eat when they got hungry. They were only more harmful than field mice.
“That’s why I brought my four uncles into the mountain. Since the others in the village have objections, why don’t Great-uncle divide the 47 households into five teams and send a team to follow me into the mountain each day? The people in the team that hunted the prey can split it equally. However, 1 have a request.”
As soon as these words were spoken, the central room fell silent. Liu Daqian looked at Mu Yangling anxiously, but the others gazed at her with bright eyes.
Liu He sat up straight. “Go ahead.”
“I brought them into the mountains because my heart aches for those children. Moreover, everyone knows that my family relies on hunting for a living, so you’re not allowed to sell the prey in the town and Mingshui County. You can only keep it for your own consumption. If you want to sell it, you have to do it outside of Seven Mile Village and Mingshui County.”
Liu He pondered for a moment and said, “Since you’re still a child, you have to tell your father about this…”
Mu Yangling shook her head. “I can make the decision on this matter. Don’t worry, Great-uncle.”
Liu Daqian interrupted, “Then we can’t take advantage of you for nothing. Child, how about we give you half of the prey that we catch on the mountain?”
Mu Yangling pursed her lips and smiled. “Eldest Great-uncle, there is only so much prey that 1 can sell in the town and the county. Even if there’s more, 1 wouldn’t be able to sell it. Besides, my mother is pregnant now, and the smell of smoking the meat into jerky bothers her.” Mu Yangling thought for a moment before suggesting, “Why not each family give me the skin of half of the rabbits caught each day? How about that?”
She didn’t want the rabbit meat, but the rabbit skin could be sold. When the time came, she would make leather clothes, gloves, and hats to warm them up during the cold winter.
Liu He and the others naturally agreed to such a small request.
Mu Yangling stood up and said, “Take out Uncle Ting and Uncle Yuan. This way, there will be 45 households with nine people in each team. The two of them will follow each team every time, and the villagers will listen to their arrangements. I’m only in charge of bringing them in and teaching them how to set up traps and hunt. I’ll leave it to my two uncles to manage the teams.”
That meant that Liu Ting and Liu Yuan could follow the teams every time and get prey every time. Everyone knew that she was taking care of her two great-uncles, so everyone had no objections and nodded in agreement.
Mu Yangling continued, “Since Widow Liu doesn’t have any grown sons, for her family, her prey will come from my two uncles.”
Considering the oldest male in Widow Liu was merely five years old, they could not very well let Widow Liu follow them into the mountains. Furthermore, the prey given to her family would come from Liu Ting and Liu Yuan, so no one had any reason to object.
This was a pleasant surprise to everyone present. Even though Liu Ting had pranked them, it did not affect their good mood. Everyone looked at Mu Yangling in relief and felt that she was indeed a member of the Mu family. What a kind-hearted girl!
Seeing that they had concluded the matter, Mu Yangling stood up and said, “Then Uncle, do make the arrangements. We’ll enter the mountain the day after tomorrow.” She paused before acting nonchalant and saying, “By the way, how’s Eldest Great-aunt’s matter coming along? Will us entering the mountain delay her matter?”
“No, no.” Liu He promised, “In a few days, I’ll personally bring your Eldest Great-uncle to West Mountain Village to visit your Eldest Great-aunt. I’ll also go and greet the village representative.”
Liu Daqian’s eyes lit up. Not only was Liu He the village chief of Nearhill Village, but he was also the patriarch of the Liu clan. If they could get him involved, it would be of significant help. Moreover, with Liu He’s stature, he could invite the village representative, too.
Delighted, the smile on Mu Yangling’s face became even more sincere. “Then wait for me at the foot of the mountain the day after tomorrow after you guys split up into teams. I’ll go back and tell my father.”
“Alright, alright. You can go back. I’ll tally the numbers today and we’ll be able to divide them into teams tomorrow. I’ll get your two uncles to bring people over early in the morning.” Liu He personally stood up to send Mu Yangling out.
Madam Fang-Liu listened in the kitchen for a while. When she saw Mu Yangling rushing out, she hurriedly ran over and said, “Ah Ling, since you’re singling out your two uncles, why don’t you single out my son too? Let the three of them help you lead the teams.”
Mu Yangling snorted in response and said, “I don’t like Uncle Zhuzi. Period.” Anyway, she was only a nine-year-old child. So what if she was willful and did as she pleased?
Liu He also shouted, “Madam Fang-Liu, there’s no place for you to speak. Get out.”
Madam Fang-Liu’s face turned red and she was about to retort when Mu Yangling said, “My father is back and is waiting for me at home. If you’re displeased, you can come to my house to talk to my father.”
How would Madam Fang-Liu dare? She could only suppress her temper and watch as Mu Yangling pulled Little Bowen away.
Little Bowen skipped forward as he said, “Sister, Father said that he will send me to school at the beginning of spring.”
“Shall I get up every morning and piggyback you there?”
“No way.” Little Bowen said arrogantly, “I can walk on my own.”
Mu Yangling stroked his head. “You’re going to school next year, so you have to learn a few more words. That way, when you go to school, no one will surpass you.”
Little Bowen immediately declared proudly, “No problem. I’ll definitely get first place.”
When Mu Yangling returned home with her brother’s hand in hers, Mu Shi was sitting in the courtyard waiting for her. “You’re back? Come over and tell Father what trouble you got into this time?”
Mu Yangling squatted in front of her father. Little Bowen followed suit and propped up his chin as he squatted beside his sister. Looking at the two kids in front of him, the anger in Mu Shi’s heart suddenly dissipated..