Lin Popi took two quick steps and walked beside the Shen family. Even though Song Shi and Zhao Shi didn’t like him, there was no reason to drive him away since they were all on the same road.
He was also quite well-behaved and didn’t cause any trouble while sticking close to the Shen family’s group.
It was late and dark in June, and the group had been walking for more than two hours without resting.
There was a young child who couldn’t walk anymore and cried incessantly, so the adults had to put the child in a stroller or carry them on their back.
When it got too dark to see the road, they finally stopped again.
There was nowhere to stay for the night, so they randomly picked a spot by the roadside to stop. Everyone sat down along the roadside, making sure not to block the way.
They will have to stay overnight here. Everyone has set up their pots and started boiling water and cooking rice.
Some people have even used this time to make flour into pancakes or other foods that can be cook fast.
They fled here to avoid a disaster. And they didn’t have much time to cook in the morning and at noon.
There is no river nearby, and the water they use was brought with them when they left. If they can’t find another source of water before it runs out, they will only have this limited amount of water. That’s why they are being extra careful with it.”
“In the morning, many households slaughter chickens and ducks. Since the weather is hot and the meat cannot be preserved for long, they cook a soup for a good meal. However, some people grill the meat into strips and store it for several days.
They walked for a whole day today without encountering anyone else. Shen Yu’an watched as everyone was sitting or lying on the side of the road in a relaxed manner.
She leaned over to her father and whispered something to him. Then Shen Rong stood up and walked towards the inner direction.”
“Lizheng’s wife and daughter-in-law were cooking. The pot contained thick soap made from mixed grains and an old hen stewing in it. There were also a few mixed flour cakes placed next to it.
Their family’s meal was considered good compared to others. Some households only put wild vegetables brought from outside into the pot and sprinkle some salt, which was already considered a meal.
Lizheng’s wife saw Shen Rong coming. She covered the pot with the lid and muttered, ‘We’re still escaping from the disaster. What do you want at this time?’”
“She thought Shen Rong came over because he saw them cooking meat and wanted to freeload a meal.
Lizheng glared at his wife and scolded her, “Shut up, you fool.”
His wife didn’t dare to argue with Lizheng and could only give Shen Rong a resentful look, then moved to the side and blocked the pot.
Lizheng looked at Shen Rong and spoke kindly, “Shen Rong, is there anything you need?”
“Uncle Lizheng, everyone is tired from working all day. After we finish eating, we should rest. However, we are in the middle of nowhere. Do you think it’s a good idea for each household to take turns to keep watch at night?” said Shen Rong.
Lizheng smiled and replied, “You are thoughtful. I will arrange for people to take turns to keep watch.”
Shen Lizheng acted quickly and stood up to explain the arrangements for night watch.
Although the people who were assigned to keep watch were a little reluctant, they didn’t say much when they heard that they only needed to keep watch for half the night and then switch shifts with the next group.
“Each household sent someone for night watch. Regardless of the number of people in a household, only one person was sent, and five people were arranged for each shift.
After a tiring day on the road, everyone had a simple meal and some of them lay down on the ground and started snoring.
Over at the Shen family’s place, several people wrapped up the freshly baked bread and roasted chicken and duck in oiled cloth and put them into the carriage where Xiaozhang was.
The rest of the group cooperatively took the oiled cloth and blankets off the ox cart and laid them on the ground.
Xiaozhang looked at the several people laying out “beds” outside and called out to Shen Yu’an, “Why don’t you come up and sleep with me? There’s still plenty of space in the carriage.”
“Yes, you go and keep your third aunt company in the carriage. We’ll keep watch out here,” grandma Shen pushed Shen Yu’an into the carriage and continued to tidy up outside.
Xiaozhang looked at Shen Yu’an as she came in and said with a smile, “I’m only four months pregnant, there’s no need to take care of me so closely. I think it’s fine for me to sleep outside with you all on the ground.”
Shen Yu’an knew she felt guilty that the elders were outside enduring the sun and moon, while she was lying in the carriage, so she quickly reassured her.
“Don’t think like that, Third Aunt. We don’t know how long we’ll be on the road. It’s bumpy all day outside, not like at home, and there’s no doctor around, so we still need to be careful.”
After comforting her, Shen Yu’an looked at the slight bump on Xiaozhang’s stomach and gently placed her hand on it, saying with a smile, “Do you want your mother to stay in the carriage, little sister?”
As soon as she spoke, Xiaozhang’s belly moved slightly. Shen Yu’an felt the sensation in her hand and looked at Xiaozhang in amazement.
“Did… did she just kick me?” Shen Yu’an asked excitedly.
Xiaozhang was equally excited. After being pregnant for so long, it was the first time that the little life in her belly had moved.
She lowered her head and looked at her belly, her eyes shining with the light of maternal love.
“It likes you. Your third uncle called it many times, but there was no response. If he knew, he would definitely be jealous of you,” she said.
Shen Yu’an felt the warm sensation in her hand and slowly transmitted a gentle spiritual force through her palm to Xiaozhang’s belly.
With her eyes closed and focusing carefully, she could feel two small orbs playing with the faint spiritual power in Xiaozhang’s belly.
She withdrew her hand and placed Xiaozhang’s hand on her belly, saying, “You should feel them too.”
Xiaozhang hesitantly placed her hand on her belly, feeling the warmth that Shen Yu’an had brought before. The slight discomfort she had been feeling had disappeared.
However, she still noticed what Shen Yu’an said and asked, “Why did you say ‘them’?”
“Well… perhaps that’s what they call… a woman’s sixth sense,” Shen Yu’an joked while shaking her head.
Xiaozhang shi laughed and cursed, “You little rascal.”
The two of them were fooling around in the carriage, causing the Shen family members outside to feel scared and uneasy.
Song Shi anxiously watched the carriage, as her third sister-in-law were pregnant. She didn’t want Shen Yu’an to accidentally hurt someone while fooling around.
In a hurry, she went to the carriage and asked through the curtain, “What are you doing in there, Yu’an? Be careful not to harm your third sister-in-law.”
“Don’t worry, sister-in-law, everything’s fine. I’m just talking with Yu’an,” Xiaozhang replied, peeking her head out from behind the curtain.
“Okay, if she doesn’t behave and sleep properly, let her come out to sleep,” Song Shi instructed before retreating back.
The crowd gradually quieted down, and everyone except for a few night watchmen went to sleep.
When Lin Chunyan returned from her trip to the bathroom, she found that a new group of watchmen had taken over. Upon her return, she noticed that Lin Popi was squinting at her with a sly look.
Feeling embarrassed and annoyed, Lin Chunyan glared at him and then lay back down in her spot.
Not long after, she heard some movement behind her. She quietly turned to look and saw that Lin Popi was sneaking towards the cart belonging to Shen’s family.
She thought to herself that before she went to sleep, she saw Shen Yu’an and Xiaozhang sleeping inside the cart.
She quietly turned back around, with a malicious smile on her lips.