“Qinghe, do you also think we made a mistake in handing over the grains?” 

Guo Changsheng asked this with an agonized face.

How can Su Qinghe reply to this ah? In her opinion, the team shouldn’t be handing in grains now.
They originally couldn’t collect much grain, yet they handed it all in.
The villagers were not made of iron; they had to eat.
However, she couldn’t let out all these irresponsible remarks ah.

“Old captain, I don’t know anything.
My mother and brothers give me food.
However, from observing, I could see that even our family eats less and less after handing over the grains.
It’s so hard to feel hungry.”

Guo Changsheng rubbed his eyes, “Yes, it’s so hard to be hungry.”

He stood up, feeling a little shaken, leaving immediately.

Su Qinghe spoke, “Old Captain, aren’t you going to wait for my mother and the others to come back?”

If the relief grain doesn’t arrive soon, it’s not just grain they would be handing over, but also lives.

After a while, Gao Xiulan and the others returned home.

They were almost empty-handed.

As soon as he returned, Su Dabao ran over to Su Qinghe, “Auntie, it’s all gone.
Even the earthworms are gone.
They’ve all been dug up for people to eat.”

Da Ya shook her head and said, “Auntie, we don’t want to eat eggs anymore.
Let the others have the earthworms to eat.
Chun Ni’er is going to starve to death.
She couldn’t find any earthworms, so she could only eat barks from the forest entrance.”

Er Ya added, “There are a lot of people who can’t walk because their stomachs have swollen so much.
They said they wanted to dig the soil to eat.
Auntie, how can they eat soil? Grandma said that people are willing to eat anything if they are starving.
Are we going to eat dirt too?”

Gao Xiulan placed the basket she was holding in the kitchen.
When she came out, she heard the children talking to Su Qinghe.
She said unhappily, “Leave, leave, leave.
What are you all saying? What’s happened to the starving people? Why do you have to tell your aunt? Are you trying to scare her?”

The children immediately stopped talking.

Su Qinghe frowned, “Mom, I heard from Captain Guo earlier that the relief grain was not delivered.
Is it because of this?”

Gao Xiulan took a broom, stuffed it into Da Ya’s hands, “Sweep the floor,”  and instructed Er Ya to clean the tables and chairs.
Girls shouldn’t be too idle.
The thought of them eating and not working hurts her.
After rushing Su Dabao and Su Erbao to play, she sat next to Su Qinghe.

“Don’t listen to the children’s ramblings.
They just happened to run into people with poor home situations.
They have no labor force and consist mostly of the old, sick, and disabled.
Other people can still eat at least one meal.
At most, they feel weak and will not die for the time being.”

Gao Xiulan sighed, “If our family couldn’t rely on your father, we might not be able to handle it as well.
We have a lot of children at home.
They must eat at least once, even if they don’t have enough food.
Fortunately, your three brothers are strong laborers, so we receive more grains than other families.
Qingmiao’er, you should look for families with many men in the future.
Never marry into a family with only one son.”

Su Qinghe nodded obediently, but she had been thinking about the miserable situation of the team in her heart.

Gnawing on tree bark and eating soil.
These were things that she once heard people tell as stories, and now it’s really happening around her.

At noon, Su Aiguo and the others came back early.

“I don’t have the strength to work anymore.” Su Aiguo wiped his face.
He sat on the square table at home and sighed.

Su Aidang said, “Even if you speak nonsense, nothing will happen.
You might as well just take a break.”

Su Aihua sat next to his brother, “Mom, when do you think the relief grain will arrive? Why don’t we go and ask Uncle?”

“What’s the point of asking him? Can’t you tell it will not arrive?”

Gao Xiulan spoke with a stern face, also feeling upset.
They can’t always rely on her husband, Su Dagen, to support the family.
They had so many workers.
If they distribute the food, how much will they get? Wouldn’t their family be at a loss if they don’t receive their share? Besides, what if Su Dagen won’t be able to take care of their family? They still have to rely on the people in power ah.

After eating lunch, their family was ready to go to work again.
Then, they saw the people of Old Ding and Old Lin family coming their way.

It wasn’t like last time’s large group.
Only Madam Lin and Madam Ding came, followed by Ding Jianjun, who was escorting them.

Seeing her in-laws, Gao Xiulan showed a long face.

Madam Lin said quickly, “In-laws, ah.
We heard that the relief grain isn’t going to arrive again.
Many of your people do not work, so we wanted to send some food.”

Madam Lin handed the bag to Lin Shuhong, whose eyes immediately reddened, “Mom, what are you doing ah? Why don’t you eat it at home?”

“Eat fart ah.
It’s not for you spilt waters [1] to worry about.” Madam Ding also handed Ding Guihua the bag in her hand.

[1] spilt water – from the idiom “married daughters are like spilt water”

Seeing this, Gao Xiulan had a smile on her face, “Aiyo, you even came all the way here.
Why do you have to be so polite? You sent so much food over.”

“I’m just afraid my daughter and grandson will starve to death!” Madam Ding shouted angrily.

She returned home furious last time, but after all, this was her own daughter.
The situation was getting worse and worse these past few days.
She could not sit idly at home.
Their family tightened their belts and ate fewer daily meals, but they also managed to save some food.
Thus, she wanted to hurry over and invited the Lin family to come with them.

Ding Guihua said hurriedly, “Mom, how could you starve yourself? We all have something to eat here.
Keep this for yourselves.” Although she can’t help her maiden family, she also doesn’t want to drag them down.

Gao Xiulan weighed the grains in her hand, which were both of the same weight and came out to be around two catties.
This can be used to cook a few more meals.

“Aiyo, I won’t entertain you anymore.
Talk to your mothers ah.”

She immediately entered the house.

Su Qinghe followed her in.

Inside the house, Gao Xiulan was happily placing the grains inside the big urn.
Just as she was about to come out, her daughter came in.

“Mom, they have given us something.
Shouldn’t we give a return gift?”

Su Qinghe could see that the two Madams of the Lin and Ding family were even more haggard than on their last visit.
They must be having a hard time.

Gao Xiulan said, “What for? What’s wrong with bringing a few things when visiting their daughters?”

“Mom, I don’t think that’s their purpose.” Su Qinghe came closer and said, “You see, our family isn’t struggling right now.
However, Eldest and Second sister-in-law’s family don’t have anyone helping them.
They probably saved this grain instead of feeding themselves.
My elder sister-in-law and Second sister-in-law eat in our family, and we have some relationship with them.
However, this counts as life-saving grain ah.
Wouldn’t the relationship be lost if we received a few catties of grain from them? If someone from their family starves to death, they might bear a grudge… Wouldn’t we be at a loss, ah! I don’t think this would be good for us at all.”

“I’ll see if they dare! I won’t spare them if they dare not recognize our relationship.” Gao Xiulan showed a stern face.

“Mom, there is no knowing what’s in a person’s heart.
We have to be careful.
We should always try not to owe people favors.
In the future, if we don’t owe any favors, then we will not get taken advantage of.”

 Gao Xiulan felt that her daughter’s words made sense and she won’t lose out.
The corners of her mouth raised, “That’s right, you’re an idiot if you don’t take advantage of favors.”

Su Qinghe: “…” She wasn’t talking about being an idiot! She didn’t want to take advantage of this kind of life-saving grain!

In the end, under Su Qinghe’s persuasion, Gao Xiulan more or less gave return gifts to the two in-laws.
Since they sent sorghum noodles, she also gave sorghum noodles.
Just a little bit less.

Even so, Madam Lin and Madam Ding were both stunned.

Old lady, did the sun rise from the west? Looking outside, maybe it really rose from the west.

Gao Xiulan showed a long face.
Since she couldn’t take advantage of the situation, she felt a little unhappy in her heart.
However, she must not be seen as cowardly, “Our family do not take advantage of people.
We pay a lot of attention to reciprocation! They all say that married daughters come to their maiden homes empty-handed and return to their husband’s houses with full hands.
This ‘coming to your husband’s family and going to your maiden family’ is different in our family.
We will not mistreat our in-laws.”

Lin Shuhong and Ding Guihua looked touched at their mother-in-law’s words.

Their mother-in-law was usually stingy and liked to take advantage of people, but she was actually reasonable during critical times ah.
They misunderstood her before.

A friend in need is a friend indeed.
They had a good mother and a good mother-in-law.  

Su Aiguo and Su Aihua also looked at their mother with hard-to-read expressions.
They felt that their mother was doing this for their face.

Gao Xiulan did not notice them.
She handed the bags to Madam Lin and Madam Ding.

Madam Lin was flattered and took it, “In-law, you’re too kind.”

Madam Ding also took it with some awkwardness in her heart.
She thought Gao Xiulan was actually a good person in her heart.

Looking at their reactions, Su Qinghe remembered a situation she had heard of before.
If someone’s usually not kind to people ordinarily, then you’re suddenly doing good things, you are a good person in others’ hearts… That’s why villains in many TV series are so easily whitewashed in the end.
It’s because they abuse the protagonist so much.
Her mother was not a villain.
She has a mouth as sharp as a knife and a heart as soft as tofu!

Since they still had to work in the afternoon, Madam Lin and Madam Ding returned home with the help of Ding Jianjun.

On the way, Mother Lin kept talking about Gao Xiulan’s kindness, “Our Shuhong was right.
Her mother-in-law is actually kind.
Who else would be willing to send grains to her daughter-in-law’s family these days?”

Madam Ding nodded in agreement.
Although in her heart, she felt that something was wrong.

Madam Lin spoke again, “It really depends on how a person acts at critical times! It’s useless to be kind during regular days.
I think our in-law is a really good person.
They have a mouth as sharp as a knife and a heart as soft as tofu!”

Madam Ding nodded again.
Old Lin’s words were pretty good.
They were good during critical times, even willing to give grain.
She did not have to come home empty-handed.

Ding Jianjun said strangely, “Mom, we didn’t come empty-handed.”

Madam Lin and Madam Ding: “…”

Madam Ding slapped him on the head, “What do you know? Do you think us going to her husband’s family’s house and her coming to our house is the same?”

Ding Jianjun scratched his head with a bitter face, thinking, how is it different ah? The old lady in the Su family said earlier that people return to their maiden family empty-handed and return with their hands full to their husband’s houses.

After sending Madam Lin and company away, Su Aiguo and the others also went to work.
Although there was not much work to do in the fields, they were still reluctant to give up work points.
Even if you just work a little, there will still be work points.

Gao Xiulan also didn’t feel sorry for them.
Why would they not work after eating? Get out and work!

Just several catties of sorghum noodles moved Su Aiguo and Lin Shuhong.
Even if Gao Xiulan was cursing people, the people had smiles on their faces.

After they left, Gao Xiulan turned to her daughter, “My Qingmiao’er is really smart.
I just thought about it.
Since they saw me giving return gifts this time, they must be bringing more next time.
I won’t give them return gifts next time.
We’ll take advantage of them!”

Su Qinghe looked blankly at her mother.
Mom, you’re brilliant.
You can even think of this, ah.
Isn’t this like fraud in the future? Borrow money for the first time and pay the principal and interest.
Borrow a lot of money the second time and immediately run away…

After talking a bit with her daughter, Gao Xiulan took her grandchildren to pick up firewood and try their luck at getting some grassroots to bring home.
Since there were no actual vegetables, cooking some grassroots in the pot was just the same.

When everyone left, Su Qinghe closed the courtyard door and went inside.
The team members were all starving to death, while she still had five thousand catties of grain in her hand.

It felt like holding a crate of meat buns while watching someone starve to death in front of her.

She couldn’t control the situation in places she couldn’t see.
However, right here, how could she help? As long as the relief grain comes, everyone wouldn’t starve to death.

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