home was illuminated by a lamp.
Inside, Mrs.
Liang was repairing the soles of a pair of shoes using the faint light emitted.
They were larger than Mo Feng’s feet, so it went without question whose these were.

Mo Yan followed her sister into the inner house.
Mo Ling took out two pieces of paper from under her pillow, and there were charcoal images of flowers on both.

“Yan’er, which one looks better?”

One image depicted a peony, and the other had a lotus on it.
Mo Yan’s favourite flower was a lotus in her past life, so she pointed at it and said, “This one.
Lotuses grow in dirt but still stay pure, which has a good meaning.”

“Sis, where do you want to sew this onto?” Mo Yan raised her small face and asked Mo Ling.

“Clothes for the New Year,” Mo Ling said warmly.
During the New Year, they didn’t have to work so she could finally take a breather for a few days.

Judging from our family circumstances, we can’t afford satin for New Year’s clothes.
And is it really worth it to sew these pretty flowers onto linen clothing?

“It’d take too much time to sew these onto clothes.
What if we made smaller drawings and sewed them onto the hems of our clothes? They’d look better even if they were only drawn using one colour.”

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“But we don’t have those! We got these from Mrs.
Cao.” [3]

“How about I draw them?”

Mo Feng wasn’t in his study, so Mo Yan grabbed a brush and paper.
The rain hadn’t stopped, but no one knew where Mo Feng had gone off to after dinner.

She put the paper on the kang and started drawing with the help of a lantern.
The images included blossomed lotus flowers and lotus flowers which hadn’t fully bloomed yet.
It was simple, but it wasn’t crude and ugly.

She had just finished drawing when Mrs.
Liang hollered from the northern room, “Go to sleep! You’re using up precious oil!”

The two sisters blew out the lamp on the kang and laid down on the ground.

“Sis, does dad send any money to us?” Mo Yan asked.

Mo Ling huffed lightly before replying, “2000 taels a year, but mum gets none of that.
It’s all taken by the old woman living in the back house.” [4]

The old woman living in the back room was their grandmother.
[5]

“So why doesn’t mum go and find dad in the city?”

“She went in the past, but the two would start arguing as soon as they met.
She doesn’t go to the city to meet him anymore.”

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Mo Yan fell asleep as she imagined how her parents would argue when they met.

The next day, Mo Ling woke up bright and early.
After cooking breakfast, she hurriedly ate a few mouthfuls before going to the fields.

It was harvest season.
The Mo family had already reaped all their crops from the harvest, but the land still needed tilling for the second harvest.
They didn’t have any oxen or ploughs, so the small amount of farmland they had were tilled by Mo Ling and Mrs.
Liang.
The most important part of farming was to keep up with the seasons, so if you missed a fairly small window of time your harvest would grow poorly.

They had no idea when Mo Feng returned home last night and he was still sleeping.
He only woke up reluctantly when Mrs.
Liang shook him awake.

Mo Yan wasn’t hungry, so she only ate half a bowl of porridge and a small bun.
Then, she cleaned up before leaving the house.
She wanted to know what Chenzhong Village was like.

As she left, she came across two small, beaten-up rooms towards the back of their home.
She remembered the old lady Mo Ling was talking about, so went towards it.

There were bamboo curtains covering the northern room, so she couldn’t go inside.
But when she walked to the southern room, there was an old woman drying out the food in a large basket.
Two chickens were circling around her and the food as she tried to chase them away.

“Scram! This food isn’t for you!”

Post-editing notes: This family seems more dysfunctional than the Greek gods in mythology.
That’s not easy to achieve.
[1] This guy is really misogynistic.
[2] But hey, at least he respects his mum…probably…
[3] Mrs.
Cao is probably just a minor side character, if she appears at all.
[4] That number is fairly arbitrary, but I think 2000 taels a year is supposed to be ‘not a lot’.
[5] So why wasn’t she at dinner yesterday?

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