Friday, 31 August 2018


52.Start the kiln

"Look what you're saying, Sao-zi! You're acting like a stranger!" Hearing these words, Lian Fang Zhou immediately felt bothered. She smiled, "It was hard on you Sao-zi. You should have left more for yourself!"

"It was no trouble, no trouble at all! It what I should do! Haha, us two families are very close. It should like this; you help me, I help you, right?" Mrs. Zhao promptly laughed.

"That's right, it just like that!" Lian Fang Zhou chattered for a while longer before sending Mrs. Zhao out.

When she returned, Third Aunt continued jabbering. "It's actually a whole half! The thigh and the breast are there. Even the blood and organ! That Mrs.  Zhao is smart, to think of the future!"

"Cook the dinner!" Lian Fang Zhou was very helpless. The Third Aunt right now has changed a lot but she still as unbearable as ever.

Third Aunt didn't care about Lian Fang Zhou not responding to her, she mumbled into the kitchen.

Lian Ze's mind was full of Ah Jian's martial art lesson. After dinner, he impatiently looked at Ah Jian.

Ah Jian didn't understand his meaning, instead, he only detected his nod and a slight smile.

Lian Fang Zhou watched with a secret smile.  She suggested, "Ah Jian, after a few days, you should teach Ah Ze. For a specific day, you two should discuss it."

Lian Ze followed with, "How about tomorrow? Tomorrow is good!"

Ah Jian contemplated for a moment, then looked at Lian Fang Zhou. "I'll explain it to him first and make some preparation. In three we'll start?"

"I have no objection. You should do what you need! Take it step by step, don't injure your body!" Lian Fang Zhou replied.

"Don't worry, I'll keep an eye out, definitely won't let Ah Ze get hurt!" Ah Jian grinned.

Lian Fang Zhou nodded with a smile.

Thrilled, Lian Ze rubbed his hands and promised, "Don't worry Sister, I'll be careful! Big Brother Ah Jian you can be more strict, I can take it..."

The next day, they were busy chopping for most of the day and had all the necessary wood cut up.

In the afternoon, Ah Jian, Lian Fang Zhou, and Lian Ze were responsible for cutting the wood that was brought over to the side of the kiln to one-meter length.  After drying them for a few days, they can then load the kiln up and light it up.

After lighting it up, they need to burn a lot of firewood. Aunt Zhang's family is in charge of getting firewood.

Kiln fire is different to a stove fire. It needs long lasting thick firewood.

Fortunately, the mountain doesn't lack them, just need to spend effort.

So they were busy for another two days before they finally loaded the kiln and lit it.

A raging big fire burned in the kiln's oven. From the chimney, plumes of smoke emerged and get scattered by the wind and disappear into the air.

Looking at the continuously emerging and disappearing smoke, everyone was feeling nervous. Because in the end, it has a lot of connection to whether it succeeds or not.

Whether they have a comfortable and warm winter or a chilling wallet-tight winter depend on this.

As long as this one succeed, then they can dig out another three kiln at the side. When the time comes, with four kilns burning at the same time and burn five to six time, they don't have to worry this winter.

"Next the kiln needs to burn strong for the next days and nights. It can't be interrupted in the middle!  How should we work this out? At night we need someone to keep watch to add wood anytime." Lian Fang Zhou explained.

Uncle Li proposed, "It's enough with San Ge and I taking turns. In the day let your Aunt Zhang and Mei Zi come. You siblings must be exhausted from the last few days. Go rest up!"

"How could that do? If this doesn't change, and by chance, you sleepily feed the fire.  Then fire won't burn strong and all our effort is wasted!" Lian Fang Zhou rushed to point out.

Hearing this, Lian Ze followed up, "Sister, how about we do it like this? Ah Jian, Uncle Li, Brother San Ge and I take turns watching the night shift. In the day, you three and Third Aunt take turns.

Everyone considered it. They felt it was pretty good and had no objection and settle like that.

The first night was Ah Jian's and Lian Ze's turn. In Uncle Li's and others' eyes, Ah Jian was an expert. So they did not fight with them over it.

Ah Jian and Lian Ze took a blanket to wrap around with and went early in the evening to the fire. Lian Fang Zhou felt uneasy and went with them.

They didn't need to bring a blanket because with such a big fire burning in the kiln, it can't be cold in the evening.

Not only is it not cold, but because of the high temperature, they can't be near the kiln.

The three of them chose a spot that's convenient to watch the fire and also not too hot.

Lian Ze couldn't help start pestering Ah Jian with questions about learning martial arts.

Lian Fang Zhou laughed as she chided. "You ah! Don't rush, take it slowly! The future days are long, and there are still two days left. The fire still needs to be watched. Today I'm here, so it's fine. But if I weren't here in the future, you guys would be immersed in talking and mess things up! In every matter, you need to able to prioritize!"

Lian Ze heard his sister's words and deep understood that it was very possible and felt fearful.

As he was going to reply, Ah Jian grinned at Lian Fang Zhou. "Not to worry, I'll pay attention! I promise we won't mess things up.  It's rare for him to have such an interest, may as well let him be."

Naturally, Lian Ze loves to, but he was still uneasy. Only when Ah Jian promise it's okay and Sister didn't say anything did he feel a ease.

Since Ah Jian said it like this, Lian Fang Zhou didn't object anymore. The more they chatted, the more enthusiastic. At the start, she found their conversation interesting, but later she was tired. She yawned a few times as her eyelid start to droop. Unconsciously she tucked up by the pile of firewood and fell asleep.

When Lian Fang Zhou woke up, it was in the middle of the night. The cold blue, cloudless sky had numerous thickly dotted stars, creating an astonishing sight as if was a fairyland. After looking at it for so long, she felt as if she forgot where she is.

"You're awake?" A warm, soft voice sounded out. Lian Fang Zhou slightly tilted her head. Ah Jian was shooting a smile at her.

She swept her gaze around and found Lian Ze who fell asleep at some unknown time.

Ah Jian whispered, "Let him sleep. He's exhausted from the last few days. Don't worry; the fire is still strong!"

Lian Fang Zhou couldn't help laugh and whisper back, "It should you who is tired! I'll keep watch for a while and you nap as well."

"No need, I'm not tired" Ah Jian shook his head.

Lian Fang Zhou continued. "How can you not be tired? Even if you aren't tired, you still need to rest. These days you worked harder than us!"

After pausing, she lightly sighed. "It's all thanks to you, or else..."

Ah Jian laughed. "You guys took me in. I'm just doing what can.  I'm not tired at all. Don't worry; if I need to rest, I'll let you know. "

Seeing that he persist in not resting, she could only leave it be. He pondered for a moment. "In that case, then let's talk! What do you think of Ah Ze- Is his physique suitable for learning martial arts?"

"I don't see anything wrong. Since he has the heart and can succeed in learning, then it's good!" Ah Jian glanced over. He paused before continuing. "I can see that he is learning this for you, right? He wants to protect you and also his younger siblings."

Lian Fang Zhou lightly breathed out. "Actually, it's enough that has that heart. Hmph, it's not going to be easy for those who want to bully me!"

Don't know if Ah Jian didn't understand what she said or if he is pretending not to follow; he nodded in agreement: "With me here, you don't have nothing to worry about! Other matters, I don't understand but at least get robbed, or something won't happen."

Lian Fang Zhou burst out laughing. "What you said is pleasing to hear! I think that one day you'll have to leave!"

"You, you're thinking of kicking me again!" Straight away, Ah Jian became agitated.
Again? Lian Fang Zhou felt speechless on the inside. Isn't it just not agreeing to him staying at the start?  Thus becoming a bad guy forever?

"That's not it," Lian Fang Zhou quietly said. " You have your own family and own relative. One day you'll remember everything. When you remember, you'll naturally want to leave. Don't even need me to push you out."

Tuesday, 28 August 2018


51.Talkative Third Aunt

Lian Fang Zhou had already notice Lian Ze's thoughts but didn't bring it out into the open. Now that Ah Jian said it like this and Lian Ze eagerly looked over at her, Lian Fang Zhou smiled as she spoke. "You want to learn, and Ah Jian is willing to teach, what else can I say? However, learning a martial art isn't an easy matter. It'll be very arduous."

"I'm not afraid. Thank you, Sister!" Filled with euphoria, Lian Ze thanked Lian Fang Zhou. He turned his head to look at Ah Jian with his sparkling bright eyes, which carried a hint of fawning.

Ah Jian laughed at him and nodded. So this matter was settled like that.

The three of them chopped at one spot, while Uncle Li and the others were much further away. So Uncle Li and the others didn't notice what's happening at their side since they weren't talking loud. If they looked over now, how odd would they think it is, seeing Lian Ze lost in joy.

"Such a big pheasant, so fat! Aiya, so lucky today!" As she commented, Mrs. Zhao was already back from picking up the pheasant.

Ah Jian's stone broke one of the pheasant's wings. It took Mrs. Zhao a lot of effort to catch the flopping bird in the grass patch.

At this moment, the pheasant in Mrs. Zhao's hand could only cry out tragically and continue flapping its wings as Mrs. Zhao held it up.  She laughed: "It's really plump and big. Look at these legs; it's all meat, really thick! Haha, tonight we got good dishes! Such good luck! Didn't waste a trip!"

Everyone looked over and started joking. That pheasant was enormous, at least three jin (1.5kg).  It quite rare for pheasant to grow this big.

Aunt Zhang gave her daughter-in-law a criticising stare and lectured: "Look at you, so delighted that you became muddlehead* ((literally: can't tell where north, west, south, east))! If it weren't for Ah Jian, how could you catch the pheasant? When we return, don't forget to give half to Fang Zhou!"

Immediately Mrs. Zhao's heart ached after hearing this. Mother-in-law was right, so she can't refute.  Thinking in another way, treat it as doing them a favor. In the future, when Ah Jian catches pheasant, they might share some with her family.

In the end, Mrs. Zhao quickly agreed: "Mother-in-law is right. I had the same thought! Fang Zhou ah, you might as well wait for me to cook the pheasant and then bring over a bowl of it. It'll save some trouble! What do you think?"

Although Mrs. Zhao said this, in her heart she was already scheming: When the time comes, I have already chopped it into pieces. So even if I give them less, they won't notice...  Naturally, I can't give them those meatless claws and wings. It'll be too obvious!

Why Lian Fang Zhou bother quibbling over every detail in these small matters? So she replied, "Alright, then I'll trouble Saozi!"

"It's no trouble at all!"  Mrs. Zhao laughed in glee.

Seeing that the sun was going to set soon, everyone moved the chopped up wood to the side of the charcoal kiln. After tidying up, they made their way back.

On the way back, Lian Ze was very excited. He stuck to Ah Jian's side as he talked with him. Eyes were completely shining. Seeing this, Lian Fang Zhou secretly laughed and thought, 'Don't know how many days can he persist.  It'll be good if he can really successfully learn a bit.'

Once they returned, Third Aunt had already cooked dinner and also boiled some washing water for them.

Seeing that they're back, she said: "You guys wash up and rest. I'll cook something, and we can eat! Che-er, come and help me with the fire!"

Lian Fang Zhou called out to stop Third Aunt. "If it not a difficult dish, then cook it in a while. Today we caught a pheasant. Zhao Sao-zi will cook it and bring us a bowl!"

"Pheasant?" Third Aunt's eyes immediately lit up and hurriedly to ask what happened.

Lian Ze was enthusiastic to answer as if praising Ah Jian also make his face glow. He earnestly recounted everything.

Lian Fang Zhou knew without guessing, how Third Aunt would react. She turned around to walk out to wash her hands and face.

Third Aunt had no interest in praising Ah Jian's skills.

As predicted,  she just turned around and heard Third Aunt rapidly questioned. "So you're saying Ah Jian shot down a pheasant? Then why did you let Zhao Mei Zi take it? How clever of her! Just cook one bowl for use? Hmph, who knows whether the pot she gave us is bone or meat!  No, it can't do, I must go over to her place!"

Originally Lian Fang Zhou wanted to stay out of this matter, but now she can't. She rushed to halt Third Aunt: "Don't go! What's the point of quibbling over every little detail? Whether it's more or less, it's alright! We still need to rely on Uncle Li and Brother San Ge on the charcoal!"

Third Aunt still couldn't accept it. She harrumphed as she glared at Lian Fang Zhou. "You're really generous. I'm afraid someone going to become more and more greedy. It was said that you were very fierce against the Hua Family's daughter-in-law. I believe that was most likely not real?"

As she spoke, she dragged Ah Jian over. "Ah Jian got a powerful body. From what I see, two of your Uncle Li and Brother San Ge added together still isn't enough to match up! What relying on them! Who would believe that!"

Lian Fang Zhou was speechless. Third Aunt is very talented in calculating gain and loss. Lian Fang Zhou could not refute these words.

"How could Hua Family's daughter-in-law compare with Aunt Zhang?" Lian Fang Zhou wrinkled her brows."I said can't go, then you can't go! How much did Aunt Zhang and Uncle Li help us?

Stifled with anger, Third Aunt simply sat down. " Fine then, you said can't go, then I won't go. You're the family head anyway! One matter is one matter, who would say it like you? So, if that Mrs. Zhao asks you for money, you will also give it to her? She said borrow, then what about returning it? If she doesn't return, could you ask for it back?

Lian Fang Zhou replied, "Isn't there still Aunt Zhang? I have my plans, so don't worry!"

Seeing the two of them started quarreling, Ah Jian hurried to intervene. "Third Aunt, listen to Fang Zhou. Isn't it just a pheasant? Next time I see one, I'll catch it!"

Initially, Third Aunt was just feeling indignant and grumbled a bit. She dare not disobey Lian Fang Zhou. Ah Jian's words made her sigh. "You're also helping her. You guys breathe out with the same nostril. What else can I say--- Could you hunt some rabbit?

"Sure!" Ah Jian nodded.

"Any other? Can you catch others?" Immediately Third Aunt was full of curiosity.

Ah Jian laughed and nodded after some giving it some thought. "As long as you can name it, wild goats, wild deer, roe deer, marmot, muntjac... I think I can!"

"Wonderfully! That's just perfect!" Third Aunt started cheering and ordered Ah Jian. "Next time hide it from the Li family, especially that insatiably greedy Mrs. Zhao!"

"Alright." Ah Jian agreed with a nod.

Lian Fang Qing and Lian Che heard Ah Jian talk that impressive; they couldn't help pester him with endless questions. Ah Jian was very patient with them. He answered each question one by one with a smile, making the two little guys exclaim in admiration.

Lian Fang Zhou had already walked away as if she didn't hear anything.

Not long later, Mrs. Zhao brought over a big bowl of soup of stewed mushroom and pheasant in a bamboo basket. And the top was covered with a lid.

Once the lid was uncovered, the aroma overflow. Lian Fang Qing took a deep breath in and her mouth watered. "Smells so good!"

When the authentic aroma floated out, no one could resist the temptation. Even Lian Fang Zhou couldn't help move her fingers toward the table. She gave her thanks with a grin.

Mrs. Zhao carefully placed the pheasant soup on the table and beamed. "Stewed mushroom and pheasant garnished with ginger slice and scallion.  Will be very savory! It's split in half between us, two families. We didn't take any more than that!"