Mrs. Gu was angry too, “That damned old man, he was guarding against us! Other returned to their home town in style. Him? He dressed like a beggar to set us up!”
“Shut up! This was all your fault! It was all your stupid idea!” Gu Qiao angrily smacked his chopsticks onto the dinner table and stared at Mrs. Gu.
Mrs. Gu wasn’t going to just take that, “So now it’s all my fault? You were the one who didn’t want to be his son so I was helping you out! You said so yourself that it was a good idea to have Gu Ming become his instead! Had I know he had money, I would have offered up our Da Zhuang. Our Da Zhuang was much more grateful, unlike those two white-eyed wolf!”
He paused for a bit and took a deep breath before he continued, “I have done some research, Fifth Uncle was affected by his superior and had just returned from where they were exiled to. Matters of the imperial was hard to predict; he just might be arrested again sometime soon. We can’t only see his money; it would be no joke if we were implicated along with him should that ever happen!”
“Oh? Did that old hag commit some crime when he was in the military? What kind of crime? I hope it wasn’t something that they’d cull the 9 clans1!” Mrs. Gu shuddered and asked.
“What are you worried about? His branch and ours were outside of the 5 costumes1, even when they are culling immediate family members we wouldn’t get dragged down!” Gu Qiao felt better now, “Just remember to stay away from them in the future so we don’t get dragged down!”
“Don’t you worry! I couldn’t stay away far enough!” Mrs. Gu noticed that the dough drop soup in her hand was cooling down quickly. Just when she wanted to feel her youngest son, she noticed that he was gone and she had no idea where he went.
“Xiao Zhuang, come out to have your dough drop soup! I even hid an egg in there for you. I am giving it to your brother if you don’t come out soon!” Mrs. Gu thought the little kid was hiding inside the house so she shouted at the indoor.
Da Zhuang was drooling and staring at that bowl of dough drop soup, eagerly he said, “Little brother heard that there were meat at grandpa clan leader’s house and ran over there. Mom, just give that bowl of dough drop soup to me!”
Hearing that, Mrs. Gu split the bowl of soup into two and gave one bowl to Da Zhuang and the other one to her man, “Husband, you think it’d be okay for Xiao Zhuang to go over to the clan leader’s house?”
Gu Qiao couldn’t drink his bowl of dough drop soup fast enough. He nodded hastily and said, “He’ll be fine. Both his brother and sister are there; they won’t let him starve. Gu Ming and Gu Ye will be returning here for the night in a bit.”
When Xiao Zhuang shuffled his short little feet and arrived at the clan leader’s home, everybody was already happily eating away. Gu Ming and Gu Ye were sitting around the stove table on the inside with the clan leader’s grandchildren having a good time. On the table was covered with braised pork, daikon stew meat, poached cabbage, preserved vegetables and meat stirred fry. Gu Ye even heated up the meat buns brought home by her grandpa and gave each person one of them.
“Ge, ge, I want meat!” The smell of all the food made Xiao Zhuang drooled. He eagerly tried to climb up the stove, but he was too short to reach. He started bawling in distress.
Gu Ming didn’t want him to make a scene so he had no choice but to help him up the stove, placed a meat bun in his hand, and shove a piece of fatty meat into his mouth. It was then when Xiao Zhuang finally stopped his “crying” with all noises and no tears.
Xiao Zhuang finished the large meat bun and a few pieces of meats before he finally left with a full and rounded stomach. On his way out, he didn’t forget to snatch the meat bun out of Ge Ye’s hands as he added, “Brat, why are you eating? What a waste!”
1. Five costumes and nine clans is a way to measure relationships within a family in ancient (?) China. Without going into too much details. 9 “clans” is “calculated” from self and going all the way up to great-great-grandfather and down to great-great-grandson. Five costumes is the five different types of costumes that one had to wear when someone in the family passes away. The closest one is to the deceased, the stricter the dressing (costumes) and daily ritual requirements.
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