There was a small plot of private land behind the Du family’s house. Pumpkins were planted and now that the season was almost over, the pumpkin vines were beginning to wither and turn yellow.

From under the layers of leaves, Jiang Rui found the last pumpkin and put it in the bamboo basket. There were already three or four pumpkins in the basket and they were not big, only a little larger than two palms. The skin of the pumpkins was slightly yellow, and it looked a bit old.

She carried the bamboo basket back into the house. Wang Tonghua took the basket from her, glanced at it, and picked out the pumpkin with the best appearance. Just as she was about to let her send it to the Zhao family, she thought about it for a while, then swallowed what she was going to say.

It had been quite some time since the picture was given to Zhang Liyun, and the Zhao family had not given an affirmative. Although it could be said that Zhao Nan was far away, and it took a lot of time for the letters to be delivered back and forth, Wang Tonghua still felt a little anxious.

Because this matter did not seem to have a prospect of a solution yet, the two families have tacitly agreed to not announce anything. Especially the Du family, only Jiang Rui and Wang Tonghua knew about it, and Wang Tonghua couldn’t talk to anyone even if she wanted to.

She looked at her eldest daughter’s calm expression and shook her head in her heart. She was really worried.

Logically speaking, since the Zhao and the Du family had privately made such a decision, the two families should have more contact with each other as compared to before. She also wanted her daughter to interact more with Zhang Liyun to leave a good impression, and if they really became a family in the future, her in-laws would less likely make things difficult for her daughter. But she was also afraid that this would make her seem impatient and in turn, let people look down upon her. After all, it was because of their poor family conditions and lack of confidence, that she had so many concerns.

Jiang Rui arranged the pumpkins in a row under the wall outside the house, looked up, and said to her, “Mom, the pumpkins are not growing anymore. Tomorrow, I want to tidy up the plot of land behind the house, what do you think we should plant after?”

“Don’t worry about that land, wait for your dad and your brother to get off work, and let the two men do it. Girl, try not to work at noon in the future, you are the palest in our family, don’t get tanned.”

Jiang Rui smiled and said: “Tomorrow Baozhen is coming home, do you want to exchange some eggs for her?”

Wang Tonghua frowned for a while, then looked inside the house, and sighed: “Let’s talk about it later, your sister-in-law is about to give birth.”

After giving birth to a child, there was a need for postpartum confinement. If the family conditions were good, a chicken would be killed every three to five days, and the mother would be nourished with chicken soup. The Du family did not have such good conditions, and Wang Tonghua was not a harsh person, she couldn’t make her daughter-in-law work, so she could only find ways to hoard some eggs, and ask someone to buy some brown sugar, which was better than nothing.

When faced with such an urgent matter, she could only move her daughter, Du Baozhen back a bit, and only think about her after Zhang Xiaohua finished her confinement.

There were four adult rabbits in the family, and they had a big appetite. Jiang Rui had to ascend the mountain to dig for rabbit grass every other day. After digging for the grass that day and while she was preparing to go down the mountain, two people approached her. It was Zhao Daqiu and his eldest son, Zhao Dong.

The Zhao family were beekeepers and they raised bees. They kept several hive bodies under a tree on the mountain and after finishing work on the farm every day, or when the farming was slack, Zhao Daqiu would take his son up the mountain to check on the hives.

This was the first time Jiang Rui met them on the mountain. The mountain road was narrow, so she stepped aside and softly called, “Uncle Zhao”.

Zhao Daqiu hastily responded. After he walked far away, he stopped to look back, and asked Zhao Dong, “Who was that just now?

“She’s the eldest daughter of the Du family,” Zhao Dong looked around, then continued: “Didn’t Mom mention that she showed Ah Nan a picture of a girl? That’s her.”

When Zhao Daqiu returned home, he said to Zhang Liyun, “That girl from the Du family is not bad.”

Zhang Liyun gave him a basin of water for him to wash his face, and asked strangely, “So ambiguous and random, where did such a sentence come from?”

“I went up the mountain with Ah Dong in the morning and we met that girl. She even greeted me, but I didn’t recognize her.” Zhao Daqiu wiped his face, then threw the towel back in the basin and washed his hands, “Early in the morning, there was no one on the mountain, but she had already finished her work and was preparing to descend the mountain. She is more diligent than those in our family.”

Zhang Liyun said, “I’ve inquired about her a long time ago. That girl, at home, does all the housework by herself, and although she looked shy with nothing much to say when meeting someone on the road, she would conscientiously greet them. Her temperament is indescribably good.”

Precisely, because she thought Du Baoqin to be satisfactory, Zhang Liyun made up her mind and insisted that Zhao Nan come home to meet her. Otherwise, if it was too late, she was afraid that others will take the lead.

Thinking of this, she frowned and said with dissatisfaction: “Ah Nan’s reply should be here, why is there no news until now? Could it be that that stinky boy really disagreed?”

Right after she said that, Zhao Qianqian’s voice sounded from the yard, “Mom, second older brother’s letter is here! I met the postman on the road just now, and I conveniently brought the letter back.”

That night, using the twilight, Zhang Liyun went to Du’s house again.

Du Youfu and his son, Du Baoqiang had just turned over the small plot of land behind the house, and the family had not yet cleaned up the table after they finished eating.

Seeing that they had visitors, Jiang Rui hurriedly called out, “Aunt Zhang”, then moved a chair for her, went to the kitchen to pour a bowl of tea, and then picked up the dishes and chopsticks to wash.

Zhang Liyun watched her go with a smile, turned her head to look at Wang Tonghua, and said sincerely, “Sister, you have raised a good daughter.”

Looking at her expression, Wang Tonghua knew that she had come with good news to share, and her heart mostly settled down, she modestly said, “Baoqin is reserved and speaks less, she only knows how to work, but she is inarticulate and has a stupid mouth.”

“What’s there to worry about?” Zhang Liyun waved her hand, “A down-to-earth and well-behaved girl like Baoqin, people will love dearly. I believe you’ve already guessed what I am here for this time. Our family’s Ah Nan sent us a letter today, saying that he will be back home during the New Year to visit relatives. I was thinking, should we let the two young people meet then?”

The two of them were talking in the main room, and the rest of the Du family, intentionally or otherwise, avoided them.

In the room, Zhang Xiaohua was sitting beside the bed, washing her feet. She lowered her voice and said to Du Baoqiang, “You see? I really guessed it right.”

Du Baoqiang sat at the side, and after a long time, he said, “The Zhao family is quite good.”

Zhang Xiaohua glared at him, “What do you know?”

In the eyes of others, the Zhao family was certainly not bad. Zhao Daqiu and his son, Zhao Dong, were beekeepers. All year round, others couldn’t even see white sugar but their family drank honey water like drinking water. Their second son, Zhao Nan, had been in the army for more than ten years and he was an army officer with a sizeable amount of allowance every month. He was in charge of food and housing in the army and the amount of money that could be saved depended on how much money the state sent. After so many years, how considerable was that sum of money? Their daughter, Zhao Qianqian, and their youngest son, Zhao Bei, were both employees and they did not rely on the land for food.

It could be said that there were no idlers in the Zhao family.

In Zhang Xiaohua’s opinion, if Du Baoqin married Zhao Dong or Zhao Bei, then it would be great, but she, unfortunately, was going to marry Zhao Nan.

Who is Zhao Nan? He’s a soldier, and had a military rank, how wonderful that sounds!

But in reality? To a woman, he was nothing more than a man who could never go home all year round.

Being married to such a person and living in an empty house year after year, was it any different from being a widow? And she still had to take care of his family.

If Zhang Xiaohua were to choose, even though the Du family were poor and Du Baoqiang was stupid, she would still prefer the person next to her now, as compared to the beautiful Zhao family. At least every night, when she was thirsty and hot, there was someone who would get up to pour tea and fan her, and when her feet cramped, someone could help her rub her feet in the middle of the night.

This man was incompetent, but he loved her dearly and knew how to be considerate.

After Zhang Liyun left, Wang Tonghua went into the kitchen, unable to hide her joy, “Girl, Zhao Nan is coming home for the New Year, and the two of you will meet each other then.”

“Okay.” Jiang Rui agreed as she held the clean bowl upside down to drain away the water inside. 

Wang Tonghua took the bowl from her, put it in the cupboard, and said with glee, “Aunt Zhang didn’t shy away from the topic just now, she told me all about it, she had introduced a lot of girls to Ah Nan in the past, and he didn’t even want to meet them. This is the first time he gave in, it means he definitely likes you!”

Jiang Rui lowered her head and cleaned the stove, “Mom, it’s still too early to tell.”

Wang Tonghua smiled and said, “It’s not too early, that is, even if you are a shy child, after the two of you met, we should discuss the wedding date. By the way, girl, from now until the New Year, you should save all the rabbit hair you sheared over this period of time. When the time comes, you can exchange it for money and buy a piece of cloth to make a new padded jacket. I think the red padded jacket that Lingling wore last year looked very good. Let’s make the same one and when you wear it, you will certainly look prettier than her!”

“Don’t the family need money recently? I can still wear my old clothes, let’s not make new ones?” Jiang Rui said while she rummage through the common purslane (T/N: it’s a type of plant/weed) dug from the land behind their house that evening, as she prepared to boil it with some water.

“Let me do it.” Wang Tonghua took the basket in her hand, “Mom will think of a way to accomplish the things at home, no matter how difficult it is, there will always be new clothes for you. It has been two years since you had new clothes, you are meeting Ah Nan this time, you can’t wear your old clothes. Bring some hot water back to your room and wash up, go to bed early. The things here, leave it to Mom.”

Jiang Rui lay in bed after washing up, looking at the clear night sky through the window.

She was not surprised that Zhao Nan agreed to come home and meet her.

She did promise the original owner, Du Baoqin, to properly act like her, but she couldn’t let go of her task. Although she could take her time to slowly complete the task, Du Baoqin, a young girl, could not stand the drag of time.

Therefore, she had to attract Zhao Nan’s attention in a short period of time.

The picture that was sent to him, had been manipulated as she left a trace of spiritual energy on it. When Zhao Nan touched it, that little spiritual energy would have entered his body, making him feel calm and peaceful. This difference should have given him some good impressions of the person in the picture.

And if other people touched it, they wouldn’t feel a thing as that trace of aura only affects Zhao Nan.

Because, she is his cure. 

│Mochi: *internal screaming* 

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