On the dinner table, Mo Ling asked, “Mum, the Cao family is hiring again.
I’m not doing much these few days, so how about I work there for a while?”

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“No, everyone who’ll be working there with you are all men, and some of them will even be from outside our village.
You’re a lady, you can’t go.”

Mo Ling didn’t reply kindly, “So send your son then!”

“Feng’er can’t go.
He’s delicate and fragile, not the kind of person who could work in the fields.”

It might’ve been because she’d heard this too many times, Mo Ling didn’t waste any energy on arguing with her, and said, “I’ve talked to Mrs.
Cao, and we’ve decided that I’ll earn as much as I can work, so I won’t have to compete against the other men.
All of them are men except for me, so they won’t do anything too outrageous to avoid losing face.” [1]

Mrs.
Liang didn’t say anything, which could be considered agreement.
Mo Yan looked at the thin porridge in her bowl and felt even more guilty.

Mo Ling was a woman with her own ideas.
She had already talked with Mrs.
Cao about helping work in the fields, and she’d get as much money as she could work.
It was very reasonable.
The problem is, the Cao family only had a single maid, and she can’t make lunch for that many people.
People who were only working here temporarily had to make do somehow.
They either had to get their family members to bring lunch to them or bring some dry rations.

After Mo Yan heard that, she volunteered to bring lunch to her sister tomorrow.
By helping a little more, she feels less guilty during mealtimes.

The next day, Mo Yan started cooking lunch during mid-morning, well before she had to deliver the lunch to her sister.
She took a page out of Mo Ling’s book and slipped two eggs into the pot of thin porridge.
Then, she poured the contents of the pot into a clay jar with some biscuits and salted vegetables, and used a cloth bag to hold the clay jar.

She had just left home when she saw Mo Feng, who was eyeing the clay jar.
Mo Yan raised it high up and asked, “Do you want to bring Mo Ling’s lunch to her?”

“No way!” Mo Feng didn’t even think about touching the clay jar anymore and hurriedly entered the house.

As most people’s fields had already been harvested, the Cao family home was instantly recognisable.
Under the shade of some trees, a bunch of men were chatting and having lunch, but Mo Ling was nowhere to be seen.

It was only when Mo Yan got closer that she realised there was still one person working the land.
Isn’t that Mo Ling? She tried to call her, but Mo Ling didn’t raise her head nor did she respond.
She just kept on working.

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Mo Yan carefully walked towards Mo Ling, trying to avoid all the wheat plants, “Sis, everyone else is resting.
Why aren’t you?”

Her sister didn’t raise her head while replying, “Everyone else had finished a row of farmland before taking a break.
I can’t fall behind.”

Right then, one of the men sitting under the shade laughed and said, “Little sister Ling, if you ask nicely, I’ll help you.” The person talking was a long-term worker of the Cao family.
His name was Da Qiang, and he was a single man who was approaching thirty.
[2]

The people around him started speaking as well, “I’ll help you too.”

Mo Yan yelled at them and replied, “Who needs your help when I’m here?”

She put the clay jar on the ground and went to help.
But then, she realised how dirty Mo Ling’s face was.
Aside from a mixture of dust and sweat, there were two lines of clean skin under Mo Ling’s eyes.

“Were they bullying you?”

Mo Ling raised her arm and tried to use her sleeve to clean her face, which only made it even dirtier, “No one’s been bullying me.
It’s my fault I can’t work as hard as the others.”

How could a sixteen-year-old girl work as hard as those strong men?

“Sis, you should stop working.
This isn’t a good way to earn money.”

Mo Ling hadn’t raised her head, and kept on working, “But I still have to finish this row of farmland, or else I won’t get paid for my work.”

“Let me help you!”

Mo Yan grabbed a stalk of wheat and pulled.
But she hadn’t done it all the way before her small hand had been cut by it.
It hurt so much she had to bite her lip to hold back the pain.
Looking at Mo Ling’s hands, they were so dirty she couldn’t see a hint of skin.
Even if her hands had cuts, they weren’t visible.

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Mo Yan forced herself to harvest all the stalks of wheat around her before taking a break, so tired she didn’t even want to eat.
She opened the clay jar, used the lid to hold the two eggs she had sneaked into it, and handed it to her sister.

Mo Ling wiped the sweat on her face with her sleeve and smiled, “Aren’t you afraid of being scolded by mum?”

“What’s done is done.
Sis, eat quickly.”

Mo Ling poked her with her index finger, “If it wasn’t for you, I’d have left this family a long time ago.”

“Where would you go?”

She raised her head and looked at the wheat fields around her blankly, “Wherever I wanted.
Even if I became a maid for a well-off family, it’d be better than working like a slave here.
I can’t even eat as well as unskilled labourers like Da Qiang.”

Mo Ling was the kind of person who’d rather work a bit harder than be scolded by others.
There was no way she’d actually be willing to become a maid, she was just venting.

Both sisters ate an egg each, then turned to leave.
Someone from that group of men asked, “Hey, why’re you leaving? You’ve got to work until sundown to get the money.”

Mo Ling waved at them and said, “Don’t worry, Mrs.
Cao is generous and she’ll pay me for the half day I’ve worked.
She won’t underpaid us.
Besides, Da Qiang remembers how much each of us have worked!” After saying that, she took Mo Yan back home.

Da Qiang replied at the back of the group, “Yeah, I remember! Don’t worry!”

After resting for half a day, Mo Ling had recuperated her strength and was making dinner.

She was tending to the fire in front of the stove, with Mo Yan staying by her side, when she heard someone call from the front door, “Is the eldest daughter of the Mo family at home?”

The sisters’ eyes met.
Mo Ling reacted first and stood up, “It’s Cao Zhang.
I think he’s here to deliver the money for our half day of work.”

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She ran to greet him, and Mo Yan followed.

She said, “Young mister Cao! Please, come in!”

The Cao family was very prominent in Chenzhong Village, and anyone who saw a member of them would be more respectful.
When Mrs.
Liang heard Cao Zhang had arrived, and she came out of her room as well.
[3]

Cao Zhang nodded towards Mo Ling and Mrs.
Liang, saying, “Miss Mo Ling hadn’t stayed until sundown to collect the money she’d earned, so I’ve arrived to send the money.” After that, he handed over a string of coins.
Mo Ling did a rough count and saw there were a few extra dollars in there.

“Young mister Cao, why are there more coins in there than expected?”

“My mother told me to hand over a few extra.
After all, when other people hire workers, they provide meals, but we don’t.”

“But I only worked for half a day.”

“Don’t worry about it.”

Mrs.
Liang took the string of coins and gave Cao Zhang an ear-splitting grin, “People have always said that Mrs.
Cao is generous, and that’s truly the case! Young mister Cao, come in and sit down for a while! My son Feng’er is your classmate, after all!”

Mo Yan huffed lightly, how could that son of hers be compared to Cao Zhang? Why would she even talk about him?

Cao Zhang looked at Mo Yan and asked, “Yan’er, why haven’t you been to the school these past two days?” [4]

Mo Yan gestured to the duck cages at the side, “We’ve recently bought some ducklings, and I need to take care of them.”

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“Then if you want to know what the teacher had been talking about recently, you can feel free to ask me.”

But before she could say anything, Mrs.
Liang hastily interjected, “Thank you for your generosity young mister Cao, my daughter is just dumb and doens’t know the rules.”

Cao Zhang’s eyebrows raised as he retorted, “Yan’er is really smart! Even Mr.
Tian praises her on a regular basis!”

Until Cao Zhang left, Mo Feng stayed in his study and didn’t dare go out.
He was afraid that his mum would ask about his performance at school and Cao Zhang would respond honestly.

After they had sent away Cao Zhang, Mrs.
Liang took a good look at Mo Yan.
Seeing that she still looked like a young and immature girl, she couldn’t but sigh.
“If only you were two years older.
It’d be great if you could marry into the Cao family.”

This time, Mo Ling spoke against her, “Don’t just think about these useless things.
Cao Zhang’s from the Cao family.
Why would he think about marrying someone from our family? Not to mention Yan’er is still young, she’s still unfit for marriage.”

Mrs.
Liang was displeased when she heard this.
“So what about our Mo family? There’s a doctor in their family, and your dad works in a city.
I don’t think we’re inferior to their family in the slightest!”

Mo Ling replied coldly, “So why doesn’t my dad send us more money, so we can buy more land and be able to afford to hire workers for that land, so you can live a life like Mrs.
Cao’s?”

“It’s useless to just talk about these things!”

Mrs.
Liang didn’t continue arguing with Mo Ling and turned back to her room.
However, she looked different from when she usually lost to her daughter in an argument.

Post-edit notes: I swear Mrs.
Liang’s delusional.
She thinks her son’s on the top of the world and Mo Yan’s useless, when in reality her daughter’s exceedingly sharp and intelligent.
[1] Like having their reputation suffer.
[2] I wonder why the author specifically talks about his age and marital status…
[3] Never thought someone introduced like a side character might seem to have developed into a potential male lead so quickly…
[4] He’s using endearing terms to talk about Mo Yan already? Damn.

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