Lian Ze froze. So did Lian Che and Lian Fang Qing.
Lian Fang Zhou felt ashamed: so she was always a freeloader....
This Lian Fang Zhou was too unreasonable. For that unwanted betrothal, making her wallow in self-pity until she turned into this?
"How about this, I'll go to pick the vegetables! Qing'er, you'll accompany sister, is that okay?" Lian Fang Zhou felt uncomfortable under the gaze of three pairs of eyes.
"Okay, okay! I'll go accompany sister!" Lian Fang Qing crisply agreed, beautiful eyes laughing til her eyebrow curved.
Lian Che quickly said : "Brother, I'll look for the hens now."
Lian Ze still a little bit shocked, replied "Alright" in a daze while watching the two sisters carry the vegetable basket out.
"Brother, don't you feel that our sister is not the same?" Lian Che raised his small little head towards his older brother
"En." Lian Ze nodded his head. He rubbed his head and smiling asked: "Don't you think sister is great now?"
Lian Che thought about it, and nodded his head: "Great!"
"That's good!" Lian Ze laughed.
Lian's vegetable patch was not far away from the house's east wall. Six, maybe seven rows of vegetables. It was not pretty to look at.
It was the end of September, the time of the year when vegetables were the most scarce.
Reaching this season, the ground really lacked in a potential harvest. Beans, chili peppers, and cucumbers were all coming to the end of their life. All the vines and stems were half dry and yellowish with scarce patches of green. An occasional leaf and puny shriveled fruit, really nothing to collect.
Under all that, a barely visible half a plot of red, sweet potato, but with leaves of unhealthy green color.
This made the agricultural graduate Zou Mei lament in her heart.
However, Lian Fang Qing was very calm and said: "Sister, we'll dig out some sweet potatoes! This morning second brother said that tonight we'll eat sweet potato porridge!"
In this whole garden only this looked edible. Lian Fang Zhou sighed and nodded: "Alright!"
These sweet potatoes had really small tubers. Even with one glance, Lian Fang Zhou could tell this was the result of growing the plant from a whole sweet potato, unlike the modern method of using a stem or root cutting.
This way of cultivation not only wasted the seeds but also offered low yields. Yet at the same time, she didn't know if other people knew the method of using cuttings.......
She thought to herself while digging.
The two sisters harvested five, then six tubers. Lian Fang Zhou also picked a handful of shriveled beans and some small chili peppers. Then they went back.
The bean vines were dead and could only be pulled out. As for the chili peppers, if the soil around them was loosened and fertilized, they might possibly revive, become green, bloom and bear fruit again.
She planned to come here tomorrow to tidy up a bit.
Like Aunt Zhang said, this life, she still had to carry on living it!
Wasn't that right! Now that she was at this place, she could only look forward to the days ahead.
On the way back, Lian Fang Zhou casually asked Lian Fang Qing about the condition of their field.
Lian Fang Qing was still young. Some parts of her answer were clear and some not so much. Lian Fang Zhou could only abandon the inquiries. Better to carefully ask Lian Ze. That child matured early and had to know more.
"Lian Fang Zhou, Qing'er, you came back! Mum told me to send down two bags of beans and a winter melon. I handed it over to Lian Ze!"
The two just reached the yard's entrance and saw a round-faced girl of a similar age coming out from the house.
Lian Fang Zhou smiled as she gave her thanks while Lian Fang Qing cried out with twinkling laughter: "Sister Juan!"
Lian Fang Zhou then understood this was Aunt Zhang's daughter, Li Juan.
"Auntie is really generous!" Lian Fang Zhou smiled.
"Say nothing of the kind. Our two families have always been close to each other, I will go back now!" Li Juan smiled as she departed.
"Ah, you can go slowly!" Lian Fang Zhou smiled watching her leave and then she with her sister went inside.
The porridge was nearly done cooking, with a faint aroma coming out from the dark metal pan. Even with a wooden lid on, the smell could be felt. Lian Fang Zhou was really a bit hungry.
The siblings washed the sweet potatoes clean, cut them into pieces and put them in the pan.
Lian Ze then went to chop some firewood. Lian Che watched the fire. Lian Fang Qing was luring the two hens, who were going in circles clucking around the yard, back into the chicken coop.
Lian Fang Zhou looked around, picked up a broom and then started cleaning up the room.
"What did you come for? Our home doesn't welcome you, get out!"
Lian Ze's voice suddenly boomed in the yard, the tone was cold and filled with hostility.
Lian Fang Zhou froze as she also heard Lian Fang Qing yell childishly: "You're not allowed to bully my sister!"
She quickly tossed the broom aside and went out asking: "Ah Ze, Qing'er, who came?"
"Sister!" Lian Ze was starting to panic. He wanted to stop her seeing the visitor. But his efforts weren't enough.
As she came over, a young man in a somewhat old, bamboo green robe yelled her name looking both surprised and happy.
"What are you doing! Did you not hear me tell you to get out?" Lian Ze was really anxious. He ran to block him while staring coldly.
"Ah Ze!" Lian Fang Zhou frowned slightly, she couldn't figure out what was going on.
"Sister. Why do you still wish to see him? The Yang family doesn't have a single good member, why do you still see him? Did you forget what you said just today?" Lian Ze was anxious as well as annoyed. With a dash of distressed anger on top.
"Fang Zhou no need to worry. Breaking the engagement is my parent's idea. I wouldn't agree! I just got back from helping at the horse races and heard about it. I came specifically to tell you, I will definitely marry you!"
The young man solemnly said as he looked at Lian Fang Zhou.
Lian Fang Zhou was stunned. This was the deity-like fiance, Yang Huai Shan? His looks were quite pleasing to the eye, with a darker than normal skin and rather nice face. He looked to be of fine spirit and quiet temperament
And he treated her not too bad. No wonder the previous Lian Fang Zhou didn't want to let go of this engagement.
A pity she wasn't the previous Lian Fang Zhou and this marriage wouldn't happen.
"No need!" Lian Fang Zhou's with a serious face said indifferently: " Marriage matters are decided by parents. Yours have already matched you with another... You better obey their will!"
"Fang Zhou, I----"
"Let me finish speaking!" Lian Fang Zhou continued quietly: "Now my parents are both dead. Before my siblings grow up, I will definitely not marry. Since your parents don't like me, I don't want to marry into your home and face their scorn all day. So better to forget about this betrothal. However, it's good that you came today! I'll tell you this; dissolution of the engagement was initiated by your family. So if you want the marriage contract, bring ten liang in exchange--- I hope my conditions aren't over the top?
Yang Huai Shan was completely lost and shocked, he looked at Lian Fang Zhou as if she was a stranger.
Lian Ze also froze. It looked like he wanted to say something and moved his lips, but he said nothing. He just stood closer to Lian Fang Zhou's side and silently supported his sister.
"Haha" Yang Huai Shan face paled and he said self-deprecatingly "Ten liang? Is that all? Why don't you ask for more? So in your heart, our engagement is worth only that much money?"
Lian Fang Zhou looked at him and calmly said: "I actually want more! I'm just afraid your parents would say I have a lion's big mouth and wouldn't give anything in anger. That's not worth it!"
"You!" Yang Huai Shan was so angry that he couldn't say anything. His heart hurt with disappointment.
He couldn't believe it. He looked at her with hope and said: "Fang Zhou, this isn't what you really think. These are words said in anger, right? Or are you in a bind? Don't worry, I will come back. My business I can decide for myself. I will talk with my parents!"
Lian Fang Zhou sighed in her heart. Shaking her head and meeting his gaze, she said: "Don't work yourself up, trying to find emotions that are not there! I can swear that these words come from my heart, so not another word. The day isn't young anymore, so you need to leave quickly. After all, hosting an adult man at this time in one's home isn't proper! Listen to your parents and carry on living well. And don't forget to bring the money to exchange for the marriage contract!"
Yang Huai Shan's arms which he held by his sides began to tremble uncontrollably. His heart was extremely sad and extremely angry. For a while, he couldn't say anything.