Translator: Atlas Studios Editor: Atlas Studios
Old Hu glared at his youngest son hatefully, wishing he had never given birth to him. After obtaining the 17 taels of silver, he hadn’t had the heart to spend it. Was he going to have to give it back before it had time to warm up in his hands?
Having never seen so much silver in his life, Old Hu was indignant. He gritted his teeth and said, “Even if your family’s rice seeds are made of gold, they’re not worth so much.”
Great-aunt sneered. “How can your family’s wine be worth 17 taels when it’s only sorghum? Aren’t my grains more precious than your sorghum?”
Upon hearing this, the onlookers outside all understood. At the end of the day, Madam Ma-Liu was unwilling to accept losing the 17 taels of silver that the Hu family had taken from her by means of threat. This was revenge.
The people outside were happy to see this. Ever since Hu Man became the section commander, their lives had become much harder.
The Hu family was not as selfless as the Mu family. It was only after comparing their lives under Hu Man that they realized they had it so good back then.
In the past, when Mu Shi was the section commander, when it came to farming work, every family in the village would just be in charge of their own work. The Mu family did not even occupy the plowing oxen and farming tools. This had always been an important reason why they were grateful to the Mu family, and also one of the reasons why Mu Shi could quickly win the respect of his subordinates.
However, now that the section commander was Hu Man, the Hu family occupied all five oxen. Previously when they transplanted the rice, they even transferred the strong laborers from various families to transplant the rice for the Hu family first. Now that it was time to plow the wheat fields, they actually took up all five oxen again.
Nobody dared to say anything in front of the Hu family, but there wasn’t a single person who didn’t speak ill of the Hu family behind their backs.
Even though everyone in the military camp knew that Hu Man was innocent, he was still scolded by the villagers over and over again. At this moment, seeing that the Mu and Hu families were at conflict again and that the Hu family was obviously at a disadvantage, everyone cheered for the Mu family.
Someone was already spreading the news in a low voice. “What’s there to be afraid of? The Hu family isn’t the most powerful family in this village. The Mu family is suppressing them.”
“That’s right. Big Brother Mu easily made Hu Man the section commander. If the Hu family and the Mu family become enemies again, Big Brother Mu might not keep his promise and directly get rid of Hu Man.”
“In my opinion, Big Brother Mu is too pedantic. Back then, the Hu family was in the wrong. Now that they were even bullying his daughter, why should he keep his promise? They should’ve just thrown the Hu family out.”
“That’s why 1 said that you can only farm, while Big Brother Mu has gained the favor of Little General. This is called having morals and a bottom line. If Big Brother Mu behaves like you, who will listen to him in the future?”
While it was noisy outside, it was also noisy inside. Madam Hu-Jin added to the chaos, but the main force of the Hu family, Old Hu and Madam Hu-Fang, did not show any weakness. They insisted that the rice was not worth 17 taels of silver. Madam Hu-Zhang would help from time to time, and Hu Gui would not admit his mistake. Shrewish since she was young, Madam Ma-Liu was evenly matched with them.
While Mu Yangling was frowning, Xiuhong squeezed in from outside and said to her, “Cousin, Aunt wants me to come over and talk to you.”
Xiuhong shouted this. Not only did Madam Ma-Liu stop and turn around, but the Hu family also stopped talking and looked over.
Xiuhong said loudly, “Aunt said that it’s illegal for Third Uncle Hu to let the oxen gnaw on the crops, for it interferes with the farming. Cousin, she wants you to look for the battalion commander directly. If the battalion commander is busy, you can go to the government office. She also doesn’t want you to quarrel with Grandpa Hu and the rest. The law can decide what’s right and what’s wrong. Since Third Uncle Hu’s mistake isn’t too big, it’ll most likely be offset by a few months of hard labor in prison. They will have to compensate twice the amount of our family’s loss of rice. This is written clearly in the law.”
Xiuhong glanced at them and lowered her voice. “Aunt said that our family doesn’t lack money and told you not to make things difficult for the Hu family. Just follow the law.”
The faces of the Hu family members immediately turned pale.
Madam Ma-Liu immediately stopped being anxious. Sneering at them, she said, “Indeed. We don’t want these 17 taels of silver anymore. We’ll just send them to the officials and let the officials judge them.” As she spoke, she pulled Mu Yangling and Xiuhong away.
Hu Gui knelt at Old Hu’s feet with a pale face and hugged his leg. “Father, I don’t want to be imprisoned. 1 don’t want to be a coolie. Will I still be able to walk out alive if 1 become a coolie of the Imperial Court?”
Old Hu’s hand trembled. Madam Hu-Fang had already stepped forward to stop Madam Ma-Liu. She cried and begged, “Good sister, you can’t send him to the officials. It’s not a big deal. We’ll just pay more money. How about this? How about five taels?”
Madam Ma-Liu pushed her hand away and sneered. “Our Mu family doesn’t lack money. Keep it for yourselves to brew wine.”
Madam Hu-Fang gritted her teeth and knelt in front of Madam Ma-Liu. Wiping her tears, she said, “Good sister, I know you hate my family’s head for selling wine to you at a high price, but that wine saved your nephew’s wife after all. Even if that wine isn’t worth this money, it did save a life, right?”
“That’s right.” Madam Ma-Liu had already pushed Mu Yangling and Xiuhong away when she knelt down and made way for her. Now that she heard her question, she stood in front of her instead. However, her face turned ashen as she raised her face and asked, “But what’s our relationship? Ever since we moved here, you’ve been calling me ‘sister’. I asked Shi Tou to let your family have the section’s oxen first. Whenever my Ah Ling went up the mountain and obtained something good, 1 gave your grandson a ball of meat every day because I pitied him for being pale. When you were sick and almost died in bed, 1 was the one who brought my nephew’s wife and an old hen over to nourish your body. You called me ‘sister’ so affectionately. 1 really treat you as my sister, but what did you do? When my family member nearly died from a fever and we begged you for a mouthful of wine to lower her temperature, you were so black-hearted. 17 taels of silver wasn’t enough for you. You even forced my Ah Ling’s father to give up the position of the section commander to your son. Don’t you feel guilty? Don’t call me ‘sister’! It disgusts me to hear that word from your mouth.”
Madam Hu-Fang’s face was pale.
Madam Ma-Liu straightened her back and spat fiercely at Old Hu. As the onlookers outside made way for them to leave, someone couldn’t help but say in a low voice, “They really deserve it. They’re classic ungrateful people. No wonder Madam Ma-Liu hates them so much. If it were me, I would hate them to the core, too.”
“That’s right. In the past, the two families were so chummy. The two sons of the Hu family often hung out with Big Brother Mu. Now, they’re completely enemies.”
“The Hu family asked for it.”
Old Hu looked at his youngest son with a livid expression for a while. Then, he turned around and returned to the house to dig out the 17 taels of silver from under the brick bed. He touched it again and again. Finally, he stuffed it into his wife’s hand and waved dispiritedly. “Go, go. Hurry up and send it over.”
He couldn’t just watch his beloved youngest son die. If one was punished to do manual labor for the government office, they could grow so thin to the point of being unrecognizable in just 20 days. In a month and a half or so, they could die of exhaustion at the construction site.
Looking at the silver, Madam Hu-Zhang gritted her teeth. She said in a low voice, “It’s spring now, and there’s nothing to do in the government office. How can there be any manual labor?”
Hu Gui glared at her and said, “Since Sister-in-law says so, let Big Brother take my place..”