Madam Liu almost fainted when she heard that her mother-in-law and eldest sister-in-law wanted to sell her daughters . Were their family so poor that they needed to sell their own children?
“Mother, Cao’er’s heath is already good enough to help out in the family . Lian’er feeds the pigs, raises the chickens, and takes care of the garden . So, she’s already one of the main laborers in the family . Please don’t sell our children . Please, I'm begging…” Madam Liu had a weak temperament, so despite being harshly bullied, she had never dared to rebut her mother-in-law in the past . However, since this concerned the future of her two daughters, she couldn’t help but cry while begging piteously .
Madam Zhang frowned and had an impatient expression on her face, “Think about it yourself . For Second Son’s injury, we have already spent dozens of taels over the past few days . The weather isn’t very good at the beginning of spring, so your father and eldest brother can’t catch any fish . Thus, the family doesn’t have any income right now . If we don’t sell your daughters, did you want us to sell your eldest sister-in-law’s son? Do you still want to treat your husband’s injury?”
Madam Li also insidiously agreed, “That’s right, that’s right! Doctor Sun said that even if your husband woke up, his leg will still be crippled . Don’t we need money in order to support that good-for-nothing? There’s also you, who falls sick every now and then . Don’t we need money for your medical fees? Third Brother-in-law needs to take the district examination next year and Youngest Sister-in-law needs to get married… Which of these matters doesn’t need money?! If you people use up all our family’s money, how are the rest of us supposed to live? Can we still survive?”
“Besides…” Madam Li cleared her throat and continued, “The Zhou Family is one of the wealthiest families in town . Zhenxiu Restaurant had even opened another store in the capital . The handmaids in their household eats and dresses even more elegantly than the young misses of most families . They not only receive a monthly wage of one tael, but the masters of the family will also give them rewards . If Xiaolian and Xiaocao went, then they will be living a life of ease and comfort!”
Xiaolian nervously supported her mother and furiously said, “If it’s so good, why don’t you go? Hey Auntie, doesn’t the Zhou Family also need to buy senior servants? Eldest Aunt, you can also enjoy an easy and comfortable life…”
Madam Li’s expression instantly changed and scolded, “Damned brat, what are you saying?”
Yu Xiaocao coldly snorted and said, “Eldest Aunt, Xiaolian is right . Since you think that being a servant in the Zhou Household is a blessing, why don’t you go? After being sold into a noble household, you’ll no longer be a free person . Whether you get beaten, killed, or sold again, it all depends on your masters’ moods . Eldest Aunt only sees the bright side of being a handmaid, but within the red-lacquered doors of wealthy households, are there any without a few dead maidservants? Eldest Aunt is just trying to kill us!”
It was unknown whether she was angered or frightened, but Madam Liu trembled slightly when she heard this . However, her tone was usually firm when she spoke, “Even if I’m living in poor and harsh conditions, I still wouldn’t sell my own daughters! Mother, this matter is not negotiable!”
Madam Zhang was immediately enraged when she heard this . Furthermore, it was about time when the old man came back from fishing . So, she had to send the girls away before he came back . Thus, she didn’t allow any disagreements and said, “It’s not up to you whether they get sold or not! I’m not dead yet, so I still have the final say in this family! Trafficker Zhuang, you can take these two girls for twenty taels!”
Madam Zhang’s daughter, Yu Caidie, was already sixteen . She couldn’t bear to see her two cute nieces being sold off, so she couldn’t help but speak for your them, “Mother, our family hasn’t reached the point of selling children . If the villagers find out, how are we supposed to raise our heads in the future?”
Madam Zhang pushed her gently and sullenly said, “Go back and sew your dowry . This has nothing to do with you!”
Yu Xiaocao saw her younger uncle, who seldom came home, holding a book and standing at the entrance with a frown, so she hastily said, “Grandmother, you need to think about Younger Uncle’s future . He needs to take the county examination next year . If his classmates find out that he sold his two nieces in order to obtain this chance, how is he supposed to continue attending the academy?”
Originally, her younger uncle, Yu Bo, had disapproved of Madam Zhang’s decision because, no matter what, his two nieces were also descendants of the Yu Family . If this got spread out, there was no way he could continue living with such shame . Thus, he decided to speak up to persuade Madam Zhang to give up on his idea .
Madam Zhang had placed all her hopes on her youngest son . Her greatest wish was for him to pass the imperial examinations to become a government official, earning a noble title for her . However, when she heard that this could potentially affect her son’s future, she couldn’t help but hesitate .
Yu Xiaocao continued, “Grandmother, aren’t you just afraid that our family will become a burden for you guys in the future? Let’s just divide the family then! No matter what happens to our family in the future, even if our whole family starves to death, we won’t take a single penny from any of you!”
Madam Zhang and Madam Li looked at each other with eyes that were twinkling with delight . Madam Zhang put on a stern expression and asked, “Splitting the family? You’re just a little girl making empty promises . Can you even make the decision?”
“She can’t make the decision, but I can!” The door of the west room slammed open . With an ashen complexion and bloodshot eyes, Yu Hai stood at the entrance . However, he couldn’t support himself with just one leg and fell heavily by the doorsill .
“Father!” Yu Xiaolian and Little Shitou shouted in unison . They hurriedly rushed towards Yu Hai and tried to help him up, with a person on each side .
“Husband, be careful! Nothing is as important as your body!” Madam Liu’s lips trembled as tears filled up her eyes . During the time when Yu Hai was unconscious, her heart always felt anxious, as if the sky might collapse at any time . As long as her husband was alive, even if he was disabled and they lived in harsher conditions, she would still willingly endure it .
With Xiaolian’s help, Yu Hai stood up after such difficulty and sat on the tall wooden stool that Little Shitou brought over . His gaze turned gentle as he looked at Madam Liu . After they got married, his wife had never had a peaceful day . Not only did she worked hard every day, but she also suffered mental torture . Her originally fit figure become so thin that she was left with nothing but bones .
He had always felt deeply apologetic towards Madam Liu . In the past, for the sake of peace at home, he had always believed that it was also a blessing to be taken advantage of and that everything would be fine if he just took a step back . However, his stepmother, Madam Zhang, and eldest sister-in-law, Madam Li, became increasingly abusive because of his tolerance .
Every year, he had earned over ten taels from hunting alone . Moreover, without him, it was impossible for their fishing boat to catch so many fish every day . He painstakingly worked for this family, yet his wife and children never had enough to eat nor warm clothes to wear . Furthermore, they also had to suffer from verbal and physical abuse…
While he was in a coma these past few days, he wasn’t completely unconscious . He had heard clearly and remembered everything that happened at home . Before he was injured, Madam Zhang had sent his ten year old son to work as an apprentice at a carpentry shop under the pretext that they couldn’t support so many people in the family .
He hadn’t expected that his stepmother and the first branch would scheme against his two cute and sensible daughters when he was still alive! Even if he had to risk his life, he would never allow his own children to be sold!
Xiaocao was correct! There was no place for them in this family . If they continued to stay here, his family would be broken apart sooner or later . Split from the family! No matter how harsh their living conditions were, their whole family still had to stay together!
“Second Son! You’re the one who mentioned splitting from the family . We never forced you!” Madam Zhang suppressed the elation within her heart and immediately exclaimed, afraid that Yu Hai would go back on his words .
Yu Caidie looked at her second brother’s injured leg, pulled on Madam Zhang’s sleeve, and whispered, “Second Brother hasn’t recovered from his injury yet . Isn’t it inappropriate to divide the family right now? Father won’t agree either!”
Madam Li interjected, “What’s inappropriate about it?! Second Brother-in-law was the one who mentioned the separation . As long as he insists, Father can’t do anything about it either! Youngest Sister-in-law, stop being so muddle-headed . With such a family dragging us down, you will also have less dowry in the future!”
Yu Hai looked at this stepmother and eldest sister-in-law disappointedly . They had long been eager to kick them out of the family… This was also good . In the future, his wife wouldn’t be mistreated at home anymore . His children also didn’t need to be worried all day long that they would be scolded or beaten . With his ability, even if one of his legs was crippled, he still wouldn’t let his family suffer from hunger and coldness .
Madam Zhang glared at her daughter and shouted, “It’s decided then! When your father and eldest brother returns, we’ll get the village head and the elders of the Yu Family as witnesses, and then divide the family!”
“Why are you guys quarreling in the morning? What do you mean dividing the family? Who wants to leave? Eldest Son’s family?” Old Yu came in from outside, holding the fish that hadn’t been sold . The eldest son, Yu Dashan, followed him inside with a fishing net in his hands .
Madam Li hastily explained, “It’s not me, Father! Second Brother-in-law was the one who mentioned it!”
“Second Son? It’s impossible for Second Son to make this suggestion when he’s injured . He still hasn’t passed the critical period, so why would he suggest splitting from the family on his own initiative?” Although Old Yu wasn’t good at expressing his emotions, he wasn’t foolish . He looked at all the strangers in the yard and furrowed his sparse brows .
Madam Zhang quietly approached Trafficker Zhuang, stuffed a handful of copper coins into her hands, and quietly asked her to leave . Trafficker Zhuang held contempt for her behavior, so she pushed the money back and left in the ox cart that she came in .
Old Yu usually kept silent and didn’t interfere with the matters at home . But he had the final say in all the important matters in the family . Madam Zhang was still somewhat afraid of him, so she awkwardly explained, “Second Son volunteered to leave the family in fear that he will become a burden to the family . Look, our third son needs to take an important exam next year . I heard that the third part of the county examination will take place in the prefectural city . We need to prepare more money… Also, Heizi is approaching marriage age… there isn’t enough space at home…”
Old Yu frowned and glared at her, while saying, “What do you mean there isn’t enough space at home?! Caidie will get married in a couple years, so won’t we have a vacant room at that time? Second Son’s leg hasn’t recovered yet, but you’re already so anxious to force him out of the house . Aren’t you afraid that people will curse at you behind your back?!”
“How did it become me forcing him out? Second Son was the one who mentioned the separation . Even if they curse, it has nothing to do with me!” Madam Zhang screeched, “Alright! So it turns out that this is how you, Old Yu, really thinks of me in your heart! I worked so hard for this family, but in the end, I’m accused of forcing my stepson out of the family . My God! How am I supposed to live now! It’s better for me to just die than be an eyesore!”
Madam Zhang sat on the ground, while smacking her thighs and lamenting to the heavens . However, she didn’t even manage to squeeze a teardrop out of her eyes for half a day . Yu Xiaocao inwardly rolled her eyes . What a scumbag! Of course, she would go for the clichéd routine of crying, screaming, and killing herself .
Yu Hai shook his drowsy head and looked towards his wife and children . Their faces were wan and thin because of long-term malnutrition . They had been wearing tattered clothes that were covered in patches for who knew how long . After that, he turned to look at the new attires that his stepmother and eldest sister-in-law wore, which were made just before the New Year . He became even more determined on leaving this family . Anyway, they would definitely have a better and more comfortable life than they did right now!