40 Third Aunt take charge
When Lian Ze returned with Mrs Zhao, he was irritated already and her snippy comment made him seething. Standing behind her, he lifted his eyes and shot a glare at her.
Li Juan's face turned red when she heard it. She blurted with embarrassed anger: "Is Sister-in-law complaining that I am too slow? But I could only move this fast. I guess I shouldn't come at all then!"
"I didn't mean it like that!" Mrs Zhao became anxious when Li Juan took the criticism to herself. She looked over at Lian Fang Zhou with an embarrassed smile. She felt that Lian Fang Zhu would help explain her intention, given how polite and easy-going she became.
But Lian Fang Zhou just stood on a side looking down at something as if she never heard her speak.
Lian Fang Zhou stood close to her and Li Juan and the forest around them was really quiet. Everyone, including Mrs Zhao, knew Lian Fang Zhou is merely acting as if she did not hear anything.
Lian Fang Zhu did it deliberately. She had no debt of gratitude to Mrs Zhao just because Aunt Zhang and Uncle Li were so nice. She doesn't need to lower her head in front of Mrs Zhao.
Mrs Zhao is "gain an inch, want a foot" person. If she yields to her, it will only create trouble in the future.
If Mrs Zhao has any requests, as long as they are not too bothersome, she would agree. But her words were overboard, hardly different from saying it out straight.
In fact, Lian Fang Zhou didn't take advantage of Li Juan. Whenever they chanced upon mushrooms she would call Li Juan to collect them together.
At home, Li Juan was doted by her parents and brother, so she never done any hardwork before. Today she joined their mountain hike mostly to see something new, so after collecting for a bit, she lost interest and her hands became slower.
However for Lian Fang Zhou it is not an outing but hard work to get enough money for her family. She wants to pick as many mushrooms as she can before the start of winter and to sell them over the New Year.
Next year they need to buy different kinds of seeds, tools and rent a bullock for the field work. Which doesn't require money?
So of course the two of them ended up with different amounts.
Mrs Zhao saw that Lian Fang Zhou was ignoring her, understood that her words were a bit overboard. Her cheeks flamed up slightly from embarrassment while secretly she was thinking:
My parents-in-law help you a lot, right? Especially my mother, who nearly raised you like a real daughter! You should help me save face!
Even though in her heart she was displeased, Mrs Zhao kept it to herself. Hearing Li Juan say she won't come tomorrow, she was afraid of trouble so she said quickly: "Sister-in-law misunderstood. It was a joke! A joke! Ah Juan don't be mad! Hehe, isn't that right Fang Zhou?"
Only then did Lian Fang Zhou opened her mouth: "If Saozi was joking, then it's fine. Or else I don't know how I could ever face Aunt Zhang! It's better if Saozi doesn't say words like this in future. I can't take such scare!"
Mrs Zhao, even more ashamed, quickly replied: "I won't, I won't."
"Then that's good! I can rest at ease now! Otherwise, I would have to apologise to Aunt Zhang!" Lian Fang Zhou grinned.
Meaning, if you speak nonsense again, then don't blame me for telling off.
Lian Fang Zhou was actually really worried about Mrs Zhao's pratling. Once or twice it's no problem. Even if Aunt Zhang and Uncle Li know her personality well, if it happens a lot the relationship would suffer. Then it would be terrible.
Mrs Zhao paused. Her heart rapidly beat, as she felt a bit afraid out of nowhere.
Not waiting for her to respond, Li Juan has already grasped Lian Fang Zhou's and said in a complaining tone: "Fang Zhou what are you saying? It's not that serious!"
"I was just worried!" Lian Fang Zhou half-serious replied Li Juan. "I don't some grudge to appear between our two families. Isn't it good that we can all live in harmony? Your family has helped us a lot. If conflict were to happen, I really don't know what to do with the unease in my heart."
"You thinking too much. It definitely won't happen!" Li Juan quickly followed up. And turned to Mrs Zhao: "Isn't that right Sister-in-law?"
Mrs Zhao suddenly thought of how Lian Fang Zhou doesn't really have it easy. And her behavior improved a lot.
Before, she only know how to ask for things from her family and her family's help was never paid back.
Now? Yesterday, she gave them half a catty of meat!
Mrs Zhao silently sighed. She couldn't help regret saying those words a moment ago and thought:
it's embarrassing to be petty with a girl a lot younger than me.
"Fang Zhou, Saozi really doesn't mean it, you-"
"Saozi, say no more!" Lian Fang Zhou hearing her say it like this, she knew she has already thought it through. It was better not to let her finish, so she quickly said with a smile: "Saozi was joking, I get it. It's pretty late, we should get on moving."
Mrs Zhao paused and then the knot inside her loosened. She laughed: "That's right, that's right. Just joking!"
Saying this, the three young women burst out laughing.
Lian Fang Zhou called over Lian Ze and the four of them made their way back.
Once Fang Zhou and Ah Ze entered the yard, they saw the guy they rescued chopping firewood and Third Aunt with hands on hips as she talked I do not understand, who was she talking too? If unclear, delete after "hips".
"Oh, you have return! How did it go? Gathered a lot? Hey, quickly come over and take them!" Seeing Lian Fang Zhou and Lian Ze, Third Aunt cheerfully greeted them and then hollered toward the man while glaring at him. As if blaming him for not being tactful.
The man answered and clapped his hands. He walked over to Lian Fang Zhou and Lian Ze.
After few steps, he suddenly stopped:
who should I go over to first? Logically Lian Ze is younger so he should take his. But Lian Fang Zhou is a female. Female can't handle heavy work. But, if he take Lian Fang Zhou's just because she is a female, he need to avoid being obvious.
So such a simple matter put the guy in such a dilemma.
"Oh, why are you still standing there! Not one bit clever at all!" Third Aunt yelled with unhappily.
"Third Aunt!" Lian Fang Zhou and Lian Ze already put their shoulder pole down. Lian Fang Zhou frowned, said with displeasure to Third Aunt: "How could you order him around? He's still recovering and anyhow he had saved us, didn't he?"
Third Aunt was about to explain herself but the man quickly exclaimed: "Eldest Miss, it's no problem! My injuries are fine, and they were superficial to begin with, nothing serious! This minor work does not hurt at all."
"Eldest Miss?" Lian Fang Zhou's voice contained some bewilderment. She glared at Third Aunt: No need to ask. Such strange way of addressing someone is definitely Third Aunt's work! He isn't their servant, so how could she make him address them like this?
Lian Fang Zhou was furious:
To treat a saviour like this, not only her own conscience won't allow it, but one has to consider the children too. Lian Ze is fine, as he could tell what's right or wrong since he's not little anymore. But what if Qing'er and Che'er learn from her and in future grow up in the wrong direction?
What if the little ones learn from example! Who knows what other amazing examples Third Aunt could produce.
"Ah Ze, quickly take this sir inside to let him rest!" She must have a good talk with Third Aunt.
"Ok," Lian Ze looked over at Third Aunt and then he took the man inside.
That guy reflexively glanced at Lian Fang Zhou. Seeing that her expression wasn't good, with sudden realisation he felt a bit afraid. He didn't dare disobey her words and went inside with Lian Ze.
Third Aunt felt a bit guilty and with an ashamed tone she said: "Um, it's about time to make dinner. I'll go to the vegetable patch and gather some veg..."
"Stop!" Lian Fang Zhou gave a low shout. In few steps she was in front of Third Aunt. With a heavy face, she asked: "Why are you ordering him around today, Third Aunt?"
"I wasn't ordering around!" Third Aunt quickly explained: "He asked if there was any way he could help, and then I..."
Lian Fang Zhou felt so frustrated like it felt like a chicken talking to a duck. She thought,
'Third Aunt ah! You aren't a three year old child. They are being polite when they ask like that. How could you take advantage and take it seriously?'
"And then?" Lian Fang Zhou gritted her teeth as she asked.