That was why Su Tang just wanted to tell him that it was fine for him to stay behind. It was just a trip to the river after all. But before she could open her mouth, she heard a voice coming from outside the yard, “Is this your new home? Dalang, Dalang?”
As soon as Su Nuo heard the voice coming from outside he suddenly cheered up. He looked over at Su Tang and, when he saw her nod, he quickly ran outside. Sure enough, there were two little boys who were poking their heads through the gate.
“Dongzi, Huzi!” Su Nuo laughed as soon as he saw the two little boys.
Among these two children, Dongzi was seven years old and Huzi was Su Nuo’s age. In the past Su Nuo had often gone up the mountain or over to the river with Dongzi and Huzi. The three of them were best friends.
Dongzi and Huzi did not come from wealthy families but, even though their clothes were shabby and patched, they were both neat and clean looking. They were both well-behaved and ever since they had become old enough to understand some things the two of them could always be seen around the village trying various things like digging wild vegetables, picking fruits, or catching small fish and shrimp that they would then take back home to help their families.
Su Nuo had always seemed worse off than other little boys in the village because he wasn’t treated well at home. Whenever he went outside he had always been dirty and scruffy so most other children didn’t want to play with him, only Dongzi and Huzi didn’t mind it and befriended him.
The two kids had come over today because they wanted to play with Su Dalang. Their parents had told them that Dalang had moved and that he no longer lived at Su Yonggui’s house, so they came out to look for him.
But as soon as Su Nuo came out, Dongzi and Huzi almost couldn’t recognize him, “Dalang, why are you so different now? You look so clean.”
When Su Nuo heard his good friends say that, his little chest puffed up and he felt proud. “Now I live with my elder sister. My elder sister will help me wash and be clean every day. Also, my elder sister can cook delicious food, it’s even better than your parents’ cooking. And you should know that I will no longer be called Dalang, my name is Su Yongnuo now. It’s a new name my sister gave to me and I think it sounds very good.”
His mouth seemed to only be able to say words praising his sister so Su Tang felt a little amused as she watched from the doorway.
When Dongzi and Huzi heard Su Nuo say all this, they nodded along. “Well, my father and mother said that you will be the children of Su Laochuan’s family now. But what should we call you? Su Yongnuo? It sounds so strange.”
Dongzi was a little older, so although he was a child from a village, he wasn’t too surprised by the adoption. This kind of thing was nothing new and his parents had already told him about it. But even though he somewhat understood what was going on he still felt a little strange after hearing Su Nuo had a new name.
“Dongzi and Huzi, you two should just call him Xiao Nuo. Xiao Nuo, since you don’t want to go to the Qing River why don’t you play with your friends. But don’t run around too far, okay?”
It was lucky for Su Tang that right as she wanted to go fish on the Qing River but was in a dilemma because she didn’t want to leave Su Nuo alone at home where he would be bored, Dongzi and Huzi came over. Now Su Nuo would have someone to accompany him to play.
From the beginning Su Nuo didn’t want to go to the Qing River, so now that his friends were here he was happy to agree to his sister’s suggestion. He immediately took Dongzi and Huzi inside to show them around his new home. “My sister and I will live here from now on so if you want to find me you have to come here. Don’t try to go to the place we were living before because I’ll only be here from now on.”
“Well, I already heard my mother say that neither you or Sister Dani will go back anymore. She said that now your stepmother and grandma won’t hit you anymore at least.” Dongzi said. From the side, Huzi also promised to remember when Su Nuo lived now. The three little friends were all happily getting along.
Su Tang saw that the children were playing well together so she told Su Nuo to take some of the red dates Su Yongqiang gave them yesterday and give them to his friends. After that, she headed out with her bamboo basket.
Su Tang went to the bank of the Qing River and threw the bamboo basket into the shallow water. After about 15 minutes, she pulled the bamboo basket back up while putting two grass carps from the space inside secretly at the same time. Then she went back home with the basket.
Since it was barely an hour from the time she left to the time she came back Dongzi and Huzi had not left yet. They were busy inviting Su Nuo to go up the mountain and dig wild vegetables with them tomorrow.
Su Nuo was a little tempted to go but when he saw his sister coming back, he looked at her with questions in his eyes.
All six-year-old children were lively and playful but in the past Su Nuo had always been forced to do a lot of chores, so he had always seemed slightly gloomy. Even when he was allowed to go outside the house he had always been told to bring enough things back with him or else he would be beaten.
So back then, even if he was going out to play with his friends, Su Nuo could never really relax. There was no way for him to relax because for him it was not really play. But now that they had left Su Yonggui’s family Su Nuo didn’t have any tasks to do outside anymore. He didn’t have to worry about being beaten for not digging enough vegetables or for not picking enough fruits. For the first time, he could really go out and play.
Su Tang was planning to send Su Nuo to study when she had enough money to do so. She knew that once he started to study, he probably wouldn’t have much time to play like this anymore, so she wanted to let him cherish this time while they were still too poor to afford to send him to study. At least for now, he could play outside as much as he wanted.
With that thought in mind, Su Tang nodded to the little guy and as soon as Su Nuo saw his sister nod he immediately became joyful. “Well, I’ll get up early tomorrow morning and we can go up the mountain together. That tree we saw last time should be bearing fruit soon. We should watch it carefully, so the dogs won’t take the fruits away.”
Dongzi and Huzi heard him say yes, so the three little guys joyfully made an appointment to go to the mountain early tomorrow morning. Then the two boys left to go home.
Su Nuo was also looking forward to it. This time he would be able to dig wild vegetables and pick fruits, and then take them home and sell them in town to make his own money.
After Dongzi and Huzi left, Su Tang saw that it was still early, so she went outside and pulled up a handful of grass, twisted the grass into a rope, and then took the grass carp she had just brought back and hooked the rope through the fish’s mouth. Then she took Su Nuo and the two of them left toward Su Yongqiang’s house while carrying the fish.
When Su Tang and her brother arrived Su Yongqiang was sitting with his wife Madam Zhou and discussing the marriage of their youngest daughter. Su Yongqiang and Madam Zhou had two sons and two daughters. At present, only the youngest daughter, Su Xue, had not yet married. But she had recently turned 16 years old so she was already old enough to talk about marriage.
These days, Madam Zhou had been busy taking her two daughters-in-law around everywhere to make inquiries, trying to find a suitable husband for her daughter. While they were discussing, someone told them that Su Tang and her brother were coming to visit so the couple hastily stopped their conversation and waited for the siblings to come inside.
Su Yongqiang and Madam Zhou were the two people most familiar with the siblings. Back on that day it had been Madam Zhou who had led her daughters-in-law in making mourning clothes for the siblings. Back then, the two children still had dirty and grubby appearances, like two small beggars.
But now that they were living alone, not even mentioning how they themselves looked, even the clothes the sister and brother pair were wearing had been scrubbed clean. In the past you could tell that no one was taking care of them at a glance, but now they looked completely different.
Madam Zhou and Su Yongqiang exchanged glances with each other. It seemed that they had done the right thing by helping the siblings be adopted into Su Laochuan’s family. It seemed the two kids were tough. Although she was not old, Su Tang was a girl who could get things done and was very diligent. Seeing the two siblings like this, the couple were confident that the kids lives wouldn’t be too bad in the future.
“What are Tang’er and Brother Nuo doing here? Come in and sit down. You, come pour some water for your Aunt Tang and Uncle Nuo.” Madam Zhou beckoned her little daughter-in-law over to pour water.