Fortunate Wife Ch 97

Chapter 97 – Suspicious (7)

Li Yan quietly swept his gaze over Li Man, then he went out after saying, “Alright then, fourth brother, I’ll leave her to you.”

Little Five was watching the scene unfold by his place at the doorway. Once second brother departed, he went inside and leaned against his fourth brother. He anxiously looked at Li Man. His eyes were also reddened. He asked, “Older sister, are you going to leave?”

“Leave?” She had thought about this option, but where would she go if she left here?

Li Man gently stroked Little Five’s head and shook her head.

Little Five immediately grasped her hand. His small body snuggled against her, and he raised his head to look at her with a gaze full of reliance.

Li Man suddenly felt her heart softening. This child… He was so pitiful. He didn’t have a mother to spoil him since childhood.

Li Man turned her hand over so that she was the one tightly holding Little Five’s hand. She comfortingly said, “I won’t leave.”

“En.” A smile slowly unfurled on Little Five’s face. Soon after, he looked at Li Hua.

Li Hua also slightly smiled and said to Li Man, “This room is very wet. Let’s go to the other hut.”

Li Man didn’t really want to go over there. She was worried that the other brothers would also be there and felt that it would be awkward. After all, she had recently been uselessly crying.

“Oldest brother and third brother went up the mountain to chop bamboo,” said Li Hua.

Li Man finally nodded her head. The three of them went to the eastern hut together with Li Man holding Little Five’s hand.

Li Yan wasn’t there. Li Man wasn’t sure where he had gone.

Because Li Hua was here, Li Man still felt a bit awkward. When they went into the eastern hut, she sat down by the side of the bed and quietly looked at the window.

Little Five sat down next to her and looked out through the window with her.

The rainstorm had been too heavy last night, so the garden in the backyard was a complete mess. The frame for the cucumbers had collapsed and was pressing down on a lot of chili peppers. Just as Li Man was going to suggest going outside and tidying up the garden, she saw Li Yan’s figure walking over there. He was holding some firewood that was slightly thicker than a person’s thumb. A single glance was enough to tell that he was going to repair the frame.

Li Man quickly looked away and tightly closed the windows shutters.

Once the window was closed, the already dimly lit room became even darker.

Li Hua had originally been planning on studying, but that was obviously impossible with the lack of lighting in the room. And so, he went over to the wardrobe and picked out a few older pieces of clothing that no one could wear. He would alter them so that Little Five could wear them.

Little Five was small for his age and had a thin and weak figure. His older brothers’ old clothing was too big on him. When he wore them unaltered, he looked like he was playing dress up. It wasn’t a good look.

Li Man was seriously observing Li Hua as he threaded the needle. The teenager was skillful with his hands, ah. Even if he was working with old clothes that were already mended with patches, he could transform it into nice-looking clothes that were well-fitted.

Watching as Little Five tried on the newly altered upper garment, Li Man couldn’t resist clicking her tongue in approval and asking, “How did you learn this?” Mending wasn’t difficult, but he had to have learned from somewhere how to alter clothing, right?

Hearing her ask this question, Li Hua felt a bit bashful. “I just had a lot of practice.”

“Have you always been making the clothes for your family?” Li Man felt incredulous.

“Fourth brother has known how to make clothes since he was six years old,” Little Five happily answered for him.

“Six years old?” Wow, what a genius.

There was a bit of bitterness and pain mixed into Li Hua’s smile. Their parents had died young, and his older brothers had been working all day to earn enough to feed their family. They were so busy with struggling to get enough food, so how could they have concerned themselves with something like this? From a young age, he had undertaken the entire responsibility of taking care of his youngest brother and doing the laundry, cooking, and other such chores.

As for learning how to sew, it had started because his oldest brother hunted and would frequently come home with injuries and ripped clothing. He had tried to mend those rips. Later on, he gradually became skillful enough to make clothing for his brothers.

Seeing his like this, Li Man was able to guess a little bit. Their family didn’t have a woman before, and his three older brothers didn’t seem like the type that would pick up a needle and sew.

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Fortunate Wife Ch 96

Chapter 96 – Suspicious (6)

Li Man was still clutching her hair when she heard the door opening. She raised her head up to see, then lowered her head soon after. She couldn’t free herself from struggling over these weird feelings.

“What happened?” Li Yan approached her and tugged her hand down. He wouldn’t allow her to continue mangling her hair. Seeing that she was sitting on the damp bed, his eyebrows furrowed even more, and he pulled her up. “The bed is already so wet. Why are you sitting there?”

“Is that any of your business?” Li Man angrily stretched her hand out to push him, but she wasn’t able to push him away. Instead, she ended up in his arms, and her small face bumped against his strong chest. Feeling a twinge in her nose, she almost started to cry.

Upset, she started to hammer him with her fists. Tears really did well up in her eyes. “What are you doing? Why are you bullying me like this? I just want some time alone. I won’t wear your hairpin. What can you do about it? Humph!”

Her small lips were angrily pouting. Her translucent tears were like a broken strand of pearls as they fell down her bright and clean face. She was obviously being stubbornly furious, but Li Yan felt his heart melting like water in a desert.

“Fine, you don’t have to wear it. What’s there to cry about?” Li Yan lifted up her small face with both hands and wiped her tears with his callus fingers.

“Who’s crying?” Li Man turned her head away and stubbornly told a bald-faced lie.

However, Li Yan drew her head back to face him. He chuckled as he showed her a finger that had a drop of tear left on it. “Then, what is this?”

“You…” Li Man fiercely bit her bottom lip and glared at him. “What exactly do you want?”

Li Yan slightly sighed. “You tell me. Do you really find me that dislikable?”

“What?” She hadn’t said that she disliked him, ah. But, why was he always doing stuff that she disliked?

“I don’t know why you’re like this. But, you’re not crying because of something that I did, right?” Li Yan lowered his head, and his inky-black eyes stared at her without blinking. It was if he was trying to see through to her heart.

Li Man clenched her teeth and stared at him. If it wasn’t him, who else could it be? If he hadn’t called her wife, would she have become like this?

She simply and clearly asked, “Why did you call me wife too?”

“Oh, do you not like it? Then, I’ll change it to something else. How about Man-er?” It sounded so intimate.

Li Man pushed away his fingers that were playing with her hair, skirted to the side, and kept her vigilance up as she looked at him. “Don’t you think that you’re acting very outrageously? Don’t you understand that there shouldn’t be any direct contact between men and women?”

“Nope, what do you mean?” Li Yan simply pretended that he was confused

“Really?!” Li Man felt quite vexed.

Li Hua had heard sounds from the neighboring hut, so he had walked over here and saw that Li Man and his second brother were in a deadlock inside the room. When he took a step closer, he saw that Li Man’s eyes were red, and there were traces of tears at the corners of her eyes. It was obvious that she had recently cried.

Li Hua protectively stood next to Li Man and sharply asked with a slightly shaky voice, “Second brother, what did you do?”

Li Yan’s gaze turned a bit chilly. He curved his lips into a smile and replied, “Fourth brother, what do you think I would do to her?”

Li Hua turned his head to look at Li Man. “Are you okay?”

Li Man rubbed her eyes and shook her head.

“Stop rubbing.” Li Hua pulled her hand down. “If you keep doing that, your eyes are going to get swollen.”

Li Man assented and obediently stopped rubbing.

Watching them, Li Yan felt a pang of sourness in his heart. When he had tried to persuade her to stop crying, she would only glare at him. As soon as his fourth brother said something, she would obediently listen to him like a docile kitten.

Fortunate Wife Ch 95

Chapter 95 – Suspicious (5)

And so, Li Mo sympathetically spent all of the money that he had on him to save her. However, the burly man left after taking his money and didn’t hand over a life contract.

At the time, he hadn’t clearly told her that he was going to bring her back to be their wife. After all, she didn’t look very good at the time, and he was worried that his picky young brothers wouldn’t be willing to accept her.

But on their way back here, she had washed her face in a pond.

Li Mo thought that he would never forget what happened next.

Once she washed the blood from her face, his gaze was caught on her beautiful face: her white skin, her large eyes, her pert nose…

When she gratefully smiled at him, she looked like a waking dream underneath the sunlight. Her sparkling eyes looked like the stars in the sky.

At that moment, for the very first time in his life, he felt out of sorts from looking at a woman.

After his younger brothers heard the whole story, there was silence for a long time.

Little Five had finished eating the congee and was quietly sitting. He blankly looked around. His intuition told him that something bad had happened, and it was related to older sister.

He felt very unsettled, so he lightly touched Li Mo’s arm and asked, “Oldest brother, is older sister going to leave us?” Right after asking this question, the little fellow’s eyes turned red.

“No way, she’s our wife. Oldest brother spent money on her, ” Li Shu exclaimed as if he wanted to let everyone in the world know this.

Li Yan lightly glared at him. “Quiet.” Then, he looked at Li Mo and said, “This makes the matter a bit more complicated.”

Li Mo nodded. When he had brought their wife back, his younger brothers had all been very satisfied, and he was very happy too. He thought the matter had been settled. Although he had spent ten silver taels, their wife had a good appearance, and her temperament seemed good too. If she was able to get along with them in the future, the cost would have been worth it. However, who could have predicted that those later incidents would occur?

Li Hua felt apprehensive as he asked, “Oldest brother, could she have been kidnapped and sold into slavery?”

Li Shu nodded too.

Li Mo helplessly shook his head. “I don’t know.”

Li Yan said, “It doesn’t seem like it. If she was kidnapped, then she would want to go back home.”

“Hadn’t she tried to run away once?” asked Li Shu.

L Yan still shook his head. “Although she tried to run away once, all of you can see that she’s settled down and is trying her best to get along with us.”

“Then…” Li Hua thought it over before saying, “Maybe what oldest brother said last time was true. Perhaps, she really is a servant girl from an aristocratic family that fell on hard times, so she was sold off.”

“That’s possible!” Li Yan and Li Shu chorused. They were both hoping that this was the truth.

Everyone looked at each other in dismay for a while. In the end, there was a bout of silence.

Li Mo finally made a decision and said, “No matter what the real truth is, since we’ve accepted her, we have to treat her well for an entire lifetime.”

“Of course,” Li Shu said. The others, including Little Five, also solemnly nodded.

With a resolute gaze and a deep voice, Li Mo said, “Alright then, the matter is settled. She’s our wife. Let’s eat.”

Once oldest brother had given the final approval, his younger brothers felt relieved. No matter what, wife was wife. No one should dare to try to snatch her away from them.

After the brothers rushed through breakfast, Li Hua remained behind to wash the bowls, and Li Mo brought Li Shu with him to chop down some bamboo to bring back. The bamboo would be used to fix the roof, and new straw would be added on top to cover it. This would be a temporary fix so that the roof wouldn’t continue to leak.

Li Yan had said that he was busy with something, but after oldest brother and third brother left, and fourth brother and Little Five remained in the kitchen to tidy up, he pushed open the door to Li Man’s hut and darted inside.

Fortunate Wife Ch 94

Chapter 94 – Suspicious (4)

As soon as Li Man returned to her hut and closed her door, she went to her bed and blankly sat down. She didn’t notice the wetness of the bed or the water dripping from the roof.

Her mind kept churning out memories of interactions she had with Li Yan, Li Shu, and Li Hua along with chorused calls of, “wife”. It felt like a magicians’ spell that left her with a splitting headache.

She agitatedly rubbed her head. Eventually, there was a huge knotted mess in her hair, but who would come here to untangle this mess for her?

What exactly was going on? Why was she feeling so weird?

“Oldest brother, did no one tell her anything after you bought her and brought her back here? Did you not saying anything either?” Li Yan’s successive questioning broke the silence in the kitchen.

Li Mo’s brow was deeply furrowed. In a sinking voice, he said, “It’s a long story.”

An outrageous idea suddenly popped up Li Hua’s mind. “Why? Could it be that you didn’t buy her at a slave market?”

Li Yan and Li Shu were also silently looking at Li Mo. Not only did Li Man have a beautiful appearance, she was also literate. It wasn’t just the Goddess’s Ravine, even outside this cluster of mountain villages; there would be very few women like her. After all, a woman without talent was considered virtuous. It was rare even in noble families for a woman to be literate.

Thinking of this, they thought that Li Man couldn’t have come from a slave market. After all, if she had really been sold there, with her qualifications, their family wouldn’t have been able to afford that high price.

For a moment, the brothers inexplicably felt slightly panicky.

Li Mo swept his gaze over them and said, “It’s not what you guys are thinking. I really did buy her at a slave market.”

The three brothers let out a sigh of relief in unison.

Shortly afterwards, Li Mo continued the discussion with, “”But…”

The three brothers immediately felt their hearts rising up in alarm.

“But, what? Oldest brother, tell us!”

Li Mo had a complicated expression as he finally said, “Actually, when I met her in the slave market, she was very different from how she is now.”

“Eh?” Everyone felt confused and doubtful. “What was she like?”

Li Mo saw everyone’s puzzled gazes, and he couldn’t help recollecting that day in the market.

On that day, he had left home early in the morning with savings that had taken several years to accumulate. When he arrived at the slave market, he was just thinking that he wanted to buy an honest woman for his brothers as their shared wife.

However, after walking a lap around the slave market, he didn’t see anyone that he was satisfied with. Either the price was too high and he couldn’t afford it, or the price was okay, but he didn’t like the person. He definitely didn’t want to buy a woman from a brothel. Shun family’s wife, Xing-niang, was a good example of why that would be a bad idea.

There were also some young petite women from impoverished families. They were malnourished and had sickly appearances with dull eyes. He actually considered buying one of them, but he was worried that she would eventually die after he bought her back home. And so, he hadn’t been able to find a suitable wife after walking around the market.

Just as he was about to return home in disappointment, someone ran into him. A solid man holding a stick was chasing this person.

The person that had run into him was Li Man. At the time, her clothes were shabby, her hair was messy, and her face was bloodstained. It wasn’t possible to see her real appearance.

At the time, Li Man had desperately clung to his clothes as if he was her last chance at hope. She said a bunch of words that he couldn’t understand, but he could tell from her eyes that she was pleading for help.

Fortunate Wife Ch 93

Chapter 93 – Suspicious (3)

“Okay.” Little Five swiftly came down from the bed and went outside after putting on shoes. He helpfully closed the door on his way out.

After turning his head and checking that the door was firmly closed, Li Mo finally took something out from his clothes.

It was a very unique-looking bracelet made of woven red string. The villagers in the Goddess’s Ravine called the string, “fated marriage string”. He had gone out in the rain to request this item from the shrine keeper.

The sound of Little Five’s voice came from the other side of the door, “Oldest brother, are you done changing yet? The congee is getting cold. Hurry over to eat it.”

“Oh.” Flustered, Li Mo tightly clutched the bracelet. He hastily picked out a set of clean clothes from the wardrobe and changed into it. Then, he went to the kitchen.

As soon as he arrived in the kitchen, it was obvious that there was something off.

Li Man’s head was lowered, and she was using her chopsticks to eat the congee grain by grain. Her expression looked very lifeless.

As for the other people, they were just sitting around. No one else was eating. There were staring at Li Man with worried expressions.

Li Mo sat down by Little Five’s side and doubtfully asked, “What happened?”

Li Shu hastily meaningfully looked at his oldest brother and deliberately lowered his voice as he said, “Oldest brother, wife seems as if she’s been bewitched. She’s been that way for a while.”

How did she go from being perfectly okay to bewitched? Li Mo looked at Li Yan and Li Hua. They both shook their heads in response.

Li Mo furrowed his brow. He looked at Li Man, but he didn’t know what to say, so he pushed the nearby bowl that was piled high with pancakes towards her.

Sure enough, Li Man’s eyes flickered, and she woodenly responded, “Thank you.”

Then, she picked up a pancake and nibbled on it. She dry swallowed each piece without properly chewing.

Li Mo’s expression was stiff as he looked at the other people. “You guys haven’t done anything to her, right?”

“No.” Li Shu was the first one to raise his hand and swear.

Li Yan looked at Li Hua.

Li Hua felt somewhat guilty, so he took the initiative to explain, “She recently asked me a question.”

“What did she asked?”

Li Mo, Li Yan, and Li Shu all stared at him.

Li Hua originally hadn’t wanted to say anything. Since Li Man had written her question, he assumed that she didn’t want other people to know. And yet, seeing her like this right now, he was very worried. And so, he honestly answered, “She asked me what wife meant. She also asked if she was second brother’s wife or third brother’s wife.”

“Eh?” Li Shu remembered something. “Wife had also asked me this question previously. Could it be that she doesn’t know?”

Li Yan slightly narrowed his eyes and turned his gaze to Li Man as if he had just realized something. “Oldest brother, when you bought her that day, did she know what purpose you were bringing her back for?”

Li Mo’s expression froze for a moment.

Li Yan added, “To say it in another way, did she know that you purchased her to be our wife?”

There was an indescribably unpleasant expression on Li Mo’s face. His lips moved, but he didn’t know how to explain the matter.

“Oldest brother? ”Li Hua also looked at his oldest brother very suspiciously. He remembered his first meeting with Li Man. At that time, she had asked him in writing what their relationship was. He had euphemistically answered family member.

But, was the reality that she actually didn’t understand their relationship?

“Oldest brother? ”Li Yan and Li Shu continued the questioning.

Li Mo took a deep breath. Just as he was about to speak, Li Man suddenly put down her bowl and chopsticks and tossed out the words, “I’m full. ” Then, as if she was puppet, she expressionlessly stood up, left the kitchen, and returned to her hut.

Everyone else was left feeling stunned for a period of time.

Fortunate Wife Ch 92

Chapter 92 – Suspicious (2)

It was a simple line of words written in a natural and flowing style. The words were easy to understand, but Li Man felt as if her eyes had been stabbed with thorns, even her brain felt throbbing pain.

This teenager was also saying that she was his wife?

She was on the verge of fainting. She hadn’t even figured out her relationship with the other two. Why was there another one now?

Li Man felt as if the world was spinning, and the scene in front of her was turning dark.

Li Hua hurriedly supported Li Man as she tottered. “What’s wrong? ”Was it because of what he had written? Was she unwilling to be his wife?

Li Yan and Li Shu, who were at the side, also received a shock. They came over and worriedly asked, “Are you okay?”

What on earth was going on? Li Man looked Li Yan and Li Shu, who had come over here and were crowding around. Her mind felt twisted up. In this family of five brothers, why had three of them called her wife? Were they mistaking the meaning of wife? Could it have a similar meaning to older sister, aunt, or aunty?

“Are you not feeling well somewhere?” Seeing her deathly pale face and feeling worried, Li Yan stretched his hand out to touch her forehead. It wasn’t hot. It was actually very cold. “Are you feeling cold from not wearing enough clothes?”

Li Man pushed his hand away and weakly shook her head. It felt as if her thoughts were tangled up into a mess of string that couldn’t be disentangled.

At this time, Li Mo returned home and saw this scene. He asked, “Why are you all crowding by the doorway?”

The group instinctively looked towards his direction and saw that Li Mo was soaked from walking in the rain, but there was surprisingly a light smile on his face.

“Oldest brother.” Li Hua was very curious. Why had his oldest brother’s mood changed so drastically after going out for only a short period of time?

Li Mo had already walked over. He looked at the group. As he looked at Li Man, his honey-colored face turned slightly red. Before the group had time to inquire where he went and what he did, he was already quickly heading over to the eastern hut. “Oh, I’m going inside to change my clothes.”

Although the brothers felt doubtful, none of them asked any questions. Their attentions were all focused on Li Man.

Li Man’s complexion had slightly improved, but the three brothers were still worried.

“Wife, if you’re not feeling well somewhere, you can tell us,” said Li Shu.

Li Man supported her forehead in her hand. This had all started because you kept calling me wife.

“How about I go ask the doctor to come over here to check?” After Li Hua asked this, he started to head out, but Li Man grabbed onto him and said, “No need, I’m okay.”

“Really? ”Li Yan closely scrutinized her. It was a fact that she had almost passed out recently.

Oh! Li Yan suddenly looked at Li Hua and asked, “Fourth brother, what did you write on the ground?”

“I…” Li Hua’s heart sunk. Because of what he had wrote, she… He looked at Li Man and said in a low voice, “If you’re not willing, I…”

Seeing his suddenly lonely expression, Li Man hurriedly shook her head and interrupted him. “It’s not because of you. Let’s not keeping standing here. It’s quite chilly. Let’s go inside to eat.”

After saying this, she left the three brothers behind and quietly entered the kitchen by herself. She sat down at the table, but didn’t move. Her mind was a mess. Please give her some time to calm down.

But, the three brothers followed her inside. However, seeing that she wanted to be left alone, no one dared to say anything to her. Instead, one of them quietly ladled out of a bowl of congee for her and placed it by her side.

When Li Mo entered the eastern hut, he saw Little Five making the bed.

Little Five was surprised to see Li Mo totally soaked. “Oldest brother, how did you get so wet?”

Instead of straightforwardly replying, Li Mo said, “Little Five, go eat first. Oldest brother is going to change into dry clothing.”

Fortunate Wife Ch 91

Chapter 91 – Suspicious (1)

Jerk!

With blushing face, Li Man angrily retorted, “I didn’t see it.”

“Oh.” The smile in Li Yan’s eyes deepened. He snorted and asked. “You didn’t see it? I thought you had put it away?”

Was he saying that she had stolen and hidden away his headband? He was really overthinking things.

Li Man rolled her eyes at him. She didn’t feel like continuing to explain herself to him. She turned around and wanted to go out to get some fresh air. But, the arm that was wrapped around her waist didn’t let go. It slid up to her lower abdomen as she moved.

What was even more despicable was that broad hand suddenly exerted force and pulled her back. Her back ended up snuggly touching his chest. His warm and clean masculine scent surrounded her. Li Man didn’t have enough time to react. With his chin lowered against her delicate shoulder, he softly murmured into her ear, “Wife, are you scared of me?”

Who’s scared of you? Eh, wait a sec.

When Li Man abruptly turned around, her forehead brushed against his warm and soft lips, and a strange feeling slipped across her heart. She slightly trembled. For a moment, she forgot the question that she wanted to ask.

The corners of Li Yan’s mouth flew upwards. His slender fingers stroked his lips, then they gently repeated the action on Li Man’s forehead.

Such an intimate move left Li Man feeling as if she had been struck by lightning. She nervously retreated until her back touched the table. She stared at him for a long time. For a while, she couldn’t think of the right words to say. She could only feel her heart wildly beating.

Right after Li Shu came back, he saw that Li Man and Li Yan were staring at each other. Feeling puzzled, he asked, “Wife, what’s wrong?”

Li Hua had followed Li Shu inside. He suspiciously looked at Li Yan. “Second brother?”

Li Yan slightly raised his eyebrows. There was a smile on his lips. “Why are you all looking at me? Do you think that your second brother is going to eat her or something?”

Seeing that Li Man was still staring at Li Yan, Li Shu carefully touched her and asked, “Wife?”

Startled, Li Man seemed to return to her senses. She fixed her gaze on Li Shu, then her line of sight drifted to Li Yan before landing on Li Hua.

Li Hua! A jolt went through Li Man’s mind. She pushed Li Shu to the side, walked forward, grabbed hold of Li Hua’s hand, and pulled him along as she walked outside.

“Wife?” Li Shu was astonished. He hastily followed after them.

Li Man only pulled Li Hua out the door. Right under the eaves, she picked up a stick and wrote on the ground, “Wife, what exactly does that word mean?”

This was the first time punctuation marks were used*. At first, Li Hua was a bit confused. Soon after, he understood. There was an indescribable happy surprise in his eyes. He pointed at the comma and the question mark. “Did you make this up yourself?”

* (T/N: Modern punctuation marks like commas and question marks weren’t used in ancient Chinese writing.)

No matter what, the addition of these two strange symbols improved the clarity of the writing.

Li Man wasn’t in the mood to explain punctuation to him. She just pointed at the question with the branch and said, “Tell me.”

“It’s the meaning that you think it is. ” Li Hua’s fair face was slightly flushed.

“What I think?” Li Man’s heart trembled. She wanted to ask again to make sure, but she didn’t dare to say it aloud, so she wrote on the ground, “Am I your second brother’s wife, or your third brother’s wife?”

Why had Li Yan also recently addressed her as wife?

She felt as if she was in over her head. Could the word wife mean something different here? Could it have a similar meaning to big sister, aunt, or aunty instead?

A trace of dismay shone through Li Hua’s eyes. Why had she only mentioned second brother and third brother? She was also his wife, ah.

And so, Li Hua took the stick from her and wrote on the ground, “You’re my wife.”