Because she had happened to hear Zhou Xiaocao say the name ‘Chen Xiuxiu’ this morning, Su Tang had sent the orange cat out to investigate the situation and listen to the gossip going around the village.
Because of that, the orange cat had diligently gone out for a while before coming back to share today’s events with Su Tang.
At first, Chen Xiuxiu had still been busy talking and making trouble with Madam Wu, but when she heard that someone had come to look for her at her home, she had headed back immediately.
When she finally got back, she found her doorway was blocked by Zhou Dazhu and Yang Shi, who were angrily scolding Sun Guihua through the door.
If you wanted to talk about the trouble between Zhou Xiaocao and Sun Guihua, it was first necessary to talk about another person. Most of the families in Sujia Village were all living average lives, and basically, the only ones who were a little better off were the Su Yongqiang’s family and the village head Wang Change’s family.
Wang Changhe was the current village head of Sujiatun. In fact, the Su family had been settled in this village before the Wang family and, in the beginning, the head of the Su family had also been the village head. But, over time, the Su family had slowly declined and, in the end, the position of village head was taken over by a latecomer to the village.
Wang Changhe probably had the largest family that lived in or around Sujia Village, and they were all living a pretty good life. After all, it was rare for any family out in a village to have a large courtyard and tiled houses.
In short, Wang Changhe’s family could be considered rich, and he had three sons that had all been sent to school to learn. Unfortunately, neither the first or the second son seemed to be had the right qualities to become scholars and, after trying to learn for many years, they had no choice but to return to the village to work manual labor and make a living.
However, Wang Xiaotian, Wang Changhe’s youngest son, was different from his two older brothers. He was 14 years old this year, and he had been qualified to take the Child Exam*. Although being qualified for the exam didn’t necessarily mean that he would pass the exam, just by being qualified at the age of fourteen it proved that he had some talent for learning.
Ever since he was a child, his family had never asked Wang Xiaotian to do any work, with the thought of giving him as much time as possible to study. Because of that, he looked a bit like a little rich young master, with pale and delicate skin, and he was considered to be the perfect bachelor in the hearts of many of the unmarried girls of Sujia Village. Although he studied every day and was rarely actually seen in the village, all the girls knew and talked about him.
For the girls in Sujia Village, and even for the girls from the nearby villages, this Wang Xiaotian was definitely the most ideal marriage partner. Not only was he handsome, he could also read books, and there were rumors circulating that he had even been qualified to take the Child Exam. Perhaps if he passed the exam and went on to find a famous master, he might even rise to the very top and become a government official.
So these girls thought that, if they could marry Wang Xiaotian, not to mention being the wife of a rich man right now, they might even become the wife of an official at some point in the future. With those kinds of prospects, who wouldn’t want him?
Enter Sun Guihua. Sun Guihua had inherited her mother’s personality and, at the age of eleven, she was already determined to marry Wang Xiaotian. So every time he was spotted in the village, she would always appear just a few steps behind.
Meanwhile, Zhou Xiaocao’s mother Madam Yang and Wang Xiaotian’s mother Madam Yang were actually sisters, that was to say, Wang Xiaotian and Zhou Xiaocao were cousins. Because of that relationship, Wang Xiaotian and Zhou Xiaocao were a bit familiar with each other.
Of course, Zhou Dazhu and Madam Yang didn’t have any intentions despite that connection. Although they were both surnamed Yang, Zhou Xiaocao’s mother knew that they were only cousins, and they had never been very close to each other or to their other relatives.
Because they knew how precious Wang Xiaotian was to the Wang family, the Zhou family had never thoughts of trying to have their daughter marry over, and they made their attitude clear to the Wang family very early on. They even urged Zhou Xiaocao to keep her distance from her cousin.
Coincidentally, Zhou Xiaocao herself also looked down on Wang Xiaotian and had no desire to marry him. She felt that this kind of weak and scholarly man was actually just useless. In the end, the parents of the two families both knew each other’s thoughts, so they never made any moves to push the children together or apart, happy to maintain the status quo.
However, there might have been some misunderstandings created because Wang Xiaotian himself was always very cold to the outsider Sun Guihua, while he was more friendly to his cousin Zhou Xiaocao.
*sounds a little dumb but that’s what it’s called.
Via wikipedia: Entry-level examinations were held annually and accessible to educated individuals from their early teenage years. These were held locally and were collectively called Tóngshéng shì (童生试, “Child Exam”) or Tóngshì (童试). Tóngshì was broken down hierarchically into the Xiànshì (縣試, “County Exam”), the Fǔshì (府試, “Prefectural exam”) and Yuànshì (院試, “college exam”).