Lian Fang Zhou just smiled and looked at Aunt Zhang and Uncle Li.
Seeing how enthusiastic her daughter-in-law was, Aunt Zhang knew no matter what she says, she won't listen. So turned toward Lian Fang Zhou, and said: "If it doesn't trouble you then--"
"How could it be trouble? I'm eager for Saozi to be my companion!" Not waiting for Aunt Zhang to finish, Lian Fang Zhou smiled as she cut her off.
She followed up: "However, everyone knows that Mount Xian Teng isn't like ordinary woods. To be honest, Ah Ze and I don't dare to go to many places or too deep into the mountain. So Saozi, you also need to be careful as well."
Actually Mrs Zhao isn't a bad person, she just loves money too much. Lian Fang Zhou is afraid that when the come, she will recklessly wander off while collecting mushrooms. Since she is an adult, she can't really control her, and cannot be blamed if an accident happens. But it will be still attributed to her, because she led Mrs. Zhao to Mount Xian Teng.
And later it would be awkward for the two families to meet.
It's better to sternly warn before that happens.
"What you said is extremely right!" Aunt Zhang nodded vigorously. She instructed Mrs Zhao: "Fang Zhou is more familiar with the area then you are. So you better listen to her. Don't wander recklessly! Or else if something happens, not only you would suffer, you would also implicate others!"
Lian Fang Zhou rushed to say that she is too young to be a leader, but Mrs Zhao immediately accepted---actually, in her heart, she protested: I'm an adult, how could I not know how to act sensible?
Mrs Zhao thought for a moment then pulled Li Juan over and turned toward Aunt Zhang:
"Mother, how about letting little sis come with us as well! Fang Zhou and her are around the same age, they will have a great time talking with each other!"
Li Juan indeed wanted to go, so she smiled at Lian Fang Zhou and supported that idea.
Aunt Zhang was vexed that Mrs Zhao has no good sense when to stop. She didn't want to agree, but she relented seeing her daughter's determination.
"Then it's agreed like this. No need to go really early tomorrow. Just after breakfast is fine! If there's nothing else, I'll go back now!" Lian Fang Zhou said as she stood up and left with the bag of chinese milk vetch seed in her hands.
Aunt Zhang and Uncle Li told her goodbye adding 'be careful tomorrow'.
"I'll send you off!" Mrs Zhao very politely said with a smile.
This actually happened for the first time ever! Lian Fang Zhou politely declined, but Mrs Zhao grabbed her arm ignoring her protest.
Lian Fang Zhou could only smile.
Mrs Zhao walked with her to the door and and said suddenly: "Oh that's right! Don't tell anyone about our outing! If a lot of people know, it'll be a small problem if we can't collect a lot. Even worse if something happens and they blame us!"
Lian Fang Zhou realised that Mrs Zhao most likely sent her off just to say that to her.
She would not tell others anyway so she agreed: "I won't."
Only like this, could Mrs Zhao feel at ease and watch her leave.
Third Aunt saw a bag that Lian Fang Zhou's brought with her and immediately asked: "What's that?"
"Chinese milk vetch seed. It's used as green manure." Lian Fang Zhou calmly replied.
Hearing this, Third Aunt lost her interest. She curled her lips as her expression become scornful and quietly grumble: " Half a catty of pork in exchange for this..."
Lian Fang Zhou ignored that and called out Lian Che and Lian Fang Qing to bathe and go to sleep.
She also enquired with the guy about his injuries. The guy just grinned: "It's no problem. Just superficial wounds."
Seeing that his face and spirit seem fine, her worries were gone. So she let Lian Ze take him to their nook to sleep. [Editor note to be rejected: poor guy, nobody helps him bathe, heartless, Fang Zhou!]
Early the next day, Lian Fang Zhou, Lian Ze, Mrs Zhao and Li Juan made their way to Mount Xian Teng.
Right after they arrived Mrs Zhao and Li Juan were a bit scared but gradually their fear went away.
Whenever Lian Fang Zhou chanced upon mushrooms, she would carefully tell them what kind it is and if it suitable for picking.
Collecting mushrooms is completely different from cutting firewood.
You need to wander around widely [they avoid dangerous parts!] when picking mushrooms. One has to be perceptive, but also lucky.
Originally with just Lian Fang Zhou and Lian Ze, it was more convenient. But now there's two more of them. Aftering walking for good while, they would only find one meager cluster. That's when it's hard to split.
And also Mrs Zhao is a greedy person. Everytime they come across mushrooms, she rushes over to be the first to reach them. With an expression 'this is mine', she asks Lian Fang Zhou: "Can one pick them?"
Lian Fang Zhou wouldn't selfishly hide from her, but if this keeps up, even with full day effort, she and Lian Ze won't be able to gather much.
After thinking about it,Lian Fang Zhou then spoke out: "It isn't really convenient for the four of us so far. How about this? Saozi and Ah Juan come with me and Ah Ze goes gather by himself. Let's agree on a time to meet and not be late."
Lian Ze is a male, even though he's young, he should manage alone.
Lian Ze wanted to walk off long time ago. Honestly he doesn't like Mrs Zhao. Before Mrs Zhao gave them a lot of frowns and cold eyes. He knows very well why she came with them today.
Li Juan also felt Sister-in-law's actions are very embarrassing. Hearing Lian Fang Zhou say this, she agreed. However Mrs Zhao doesn't.
Internally Mrs Zhao believes Lian Fang Zhou is taking them to wander around the mountain, while letting Lian Ze pick up the valuable one.
"It isn't such a good idea. Won't Ah Ze become lonely? How about this, Fang Zhou, you and Ah Juan go together and I go with Lian Ze!" Mrs Zhao smiled slyly.
Lian Ze's face immediately darkened a lot hearing this. Did he hear it wrong? Mrs Zhao actually want to go with him?
Lian Fang Zhou froze. Now thinking about it, could only do this. It's better than letting Li Juan going with Lian Ze.
"Then... it's alright!" Lian Fang Zhou nodded. Then turned to Lian Ze with a smile and said: "Ah Ze, you look after Saozi Zhao. And also don't be greedy and go far. Make sure to come back in time!"
Lian Ze helplessly look at Lian Fang Zhou. It's hard to refuse sister's words, so he could only glumly agree.
"Alright, let's go then! We should move while it's early, this way we can gather more!" Mrs Zhao grinned happily at Lian Ze.
"Sister, be careful!" Lian Ze said to Lian Fang Zhou as he waved goodbye and left with Mrs Zhao.
"We should also go then!" Lian Fang Zhou smiled at Li Juan after seeing them leave.
"Ok," Li Juan nodded and shot her an embarrassed smile. Honestly, Sister-in-law is--, but she couldn't apologize for her--it is not for her to say it!
While Lian Fang Zhou just laugh it off and pressed her hand to show it's fine.
The two of them exchanged glances and bursted with laughter. In that moment they felt a lot closer.
When the time to meet arrived, Lian Fang Zhou and Li Juan came out first. Not long later, Mrs Zhao and Lian Ze also came.
"Oh, it's time to go back already? From what I see, it's still early!" Mrs Zhao laughed out.
Lian Fang Zhou replied: "Saozi, you should be very clear that it gets dark faster in the mountain forest. If we don't leave now, there's a chance we'll bump into ferocious beasts looking for prey. Then it's hard to handle!"
"That's right Sister-in-law! And the road back is still long!" Li Juan followed up.
Mrs Zhao saw that her sister-in-law also spoke out, there's nothing else she could say. So she purposely glance at Li Juan's sack and Lian Fang Zhou's. With a laugh, she purposely lightly pointed out: "Ah Juan is new to this and she picked very little! Compare to Lian Fang Zhou, it's a lot less!"
The underlying meaning is very clear: Lian Fang Zhou didn't take care of Li Juan! Clearly, she took advantage of her!