Chapter 23: Leaving
Shen Yu’an looked towards Lin Chunyan and her family. She noticed that they were sitting right next to Wang Zhicai’s family.
She raised an eyebrow with great interest.
After selling the grain, she went with her second and third uncles to buy a cart in town. By the time she returned and received the news, she didn’t have time to inquire about what happened when Ma Shi took Lin Chunyan to Wang’s house to seek justice.
She looked towards Xiaozhang and asked, but Xiaozhang shook her head indicating she didn’t know either.
They didn’t go to watch the commotion, so naturally they didn’t know how it developed.
Not thinking about it anymore, Shen Yu’an turned her gaze towards the bottom of the mountain. The refugees had already finished looting and left.
At night, when everyone was most relaxed, the refugees were rampaging through various villages like unstoppable machines.
Because they came out in a hurry, the live poultry and livestock of each household had not been processed in time.
Perhaps tired from all the noise, the clucking and quacking of the chickens and ducks gradually quieted down.
Those who stayed on the mountain dozed off in this peaceful environment.
The next morning, Lizheng gave the order and everyone, who had packed up, headed back down the mountain.
They had to pass through a village on their way down and they stopped for a while.
Some people walked around the village, and apart from a few bodies lying on the ground, there was no one else left. It seemed that they had taken the opportunity to run away last night.
Lizheng called a few people to carry the bodies to the bottom of the mountain and bury them. After all, they were people from a village. If they just left them there and ignored them, they would feel guilty.
When a person dies, their grudges and grievances are gone too.
Shen’s three brothers and two elder cousins all went to help. Shen Yu’an asked her mother and aunt to take the chickens and ducks tied to the cart and bring them to the river to be slaughtered.
They didn’t know how long it would take to reach their destination, and the chickens wouldn’t lay eggs if they were frightened on the way. They still needed to be fed every day, so it was better to take advantage of the water availability and slaughter them now.
Everyone else followed suit.
Wu Cuihua squatted next to Song Shi, holding a chicken in her hands. She looked towards Shen Yu’an and asked, “Shen Yu’an, can’t we go back to live now that the refugees have left?”
Other people also pricked up their ears to listen. Who would be willing to leave their home and village if they could stay here?
Shen Yu’an said, “No, Aunt Wu, look at this river. When we scoop up some water, we get half a scoop of mud. In a few days, it will dry up completely. Instead of waiting for the rain to come and save us, we might as well try to make a living on our own.”
“Moreover, if one group of refugees has left, we can’t be sure that another group won’t come.”
Everyone looked at the river and thought that it was true. The village wells had stopped producing water a few days ago, and even the river had dried up.
If they didn’t leave soon, they would die of thirst even if they didn’t starve to death.
It was Shen Yu’an’s family who had a kind heart and informed everyone about the situation. Because the Shen family was willing to sell grain to everyone, their popularity among the people increased significantly.
After less than half an hour of rest, everyone picked up their belongings again and prepared to set off.
This time, they might not come back again.
The Shen family’s village had more than five hundred people of all ages and sizes, but now only a little over three hundred were following the group.
Everyone had brought out all their belongings from home. Those who had ox carts or flatbed carts had it easier, but some families hadn’t even brought a flatbed cart and had to carry their belongings on foot.
The group consisted of both elderly and young children, so they couldn’t move very fast. It took them the whole morning to walk only a dozen kilometers.
The elderly could endure the journey, but the children didn’t understand why they had to leave their homes and walk such a long distance. There were constant sounds of crying children and women scolding their kids along the way.
Fortunately, Lizheng finally spoke up, “Let’s keep going a bit further. Once we reach the forest ahead, we can take a break.”
Hearing that they could finally take a break, everyone put in more effort to walk towards the forest ahead.
However, although the forest didn’t look far, it took them a full fifteen minutes to reach it.
Everyone found a place to rest and piled their belongings by their feet. Some people took out dry rations to eat and fill their stomachs.
Shen Yu’an found a large tree on the edge of the crowd for his family to rest under.
Shen Yun carefully helped Xiaozhang down from the ox cart.
The other members of the Shen family didn’t stay inside the cart. They believed that they couldn’t afford to rest on the first day of their journey. Even Shen Liu, who was only ten years old, walked alongside Shen Dalang and the others.
During this time, Shen Yu’an’s training had been effective, and his body had become much stronger.
Grandma Shen said, “Let’s quickly eat something. If we wait too long, we won’t have anything to eat while we continue our journey.”
Ding Hehua (the sister-in-law of Xiaozhang) quickly followed Song Shi and Zhao Shi to take down the bags of dried food from the cart and distribute the steamed buns that they had prepared earlier.
Each person got one steamed bun, which was filled with meat slices and vegetables that they had prepared in advance.
There are only four people in Zhang’s family, and the Shen family didn’t specifically ask them to cook their own food. Everyone works together and eats together, but every time they cook, Ding Hehua adds some of their family’s food to the pot.
As she was biting into her steamed bun, Shen Yu’an felt a highly invasive gaze. She followed the feeling and met Wang Zhicai’s suggestive eyes.
I thought that after speaking to him like that by the river that time, with Wang Zhicai’s strong self-esteem, he would either hate me to death or wouldn’t have such an attitude.
Could it be that he is hiding some evil intentions again and wants to play some tricks?
She couldn’t believe that someone like Wang Zhicai, who always seeks revenge for the slightest grievance, would give that kind of look to her.
Lin Chunyan, who was sitting on the side, called out to Wang Zhicai a few times but he didn’t respond. Following her gaze, she happened to see Shen Yu’an’s delicate face that looked as if it could be easily punctured.
She stiffly bit into the dry biscuit in her hand, as if venting her frustration.
Shen Yu’an withdrew her gaze, not caring what they were plotting. She could fight back against them.
After resting for an hour, Shen Lizheng shouted for everyone to get up and hit the road again. Shen Yu’an and the others worked together seamlessly to put the things they had taken down back onto the ox cart.
“We just rested for a bit, why are we leaving again? Can’t we wait until it’s cooler before hitting the road?” grumbled Lin Popi, lying on the ground.
“Anyone who doesn’t want to walk can stay here,” Lizheng retorted, glancing sideways at the complaining Popi.
It had been hot all day, and if they waited for it to cool down before continuing, they would starve before they even left the county.
Seeing everyone else continue on, Popi reluctantly got up from the ground, gathered his things in his arms, and followed the group.
The Shen Family walked at the back of the group, while Lin Popi caught up with the end of the line after a few steps.
Lin Popi lived alone in the village and could eat his fill without worrying about his family. He had no elders at home and had not yet married, and since he was young, he had a habit of stealing chickens and dogs. After he was caught peeking at the women in the village while they were bathing, nobody wanted to associate with him.
Walking behind, he caught a glimpse of Shen Yu’an at the end of the line and couldn’t help but look at her fair skin, which seemed to glow in the sunlight.