Chunheng District, Beijing City, this was the former Dadu Chunheng Lane, located next to the city wall. It was a remote corner of the entire Beijing city. The people who used to live here were poor families who could not afford domestic servants.
Now Dadu has become the city of Beijing, and their days seemed to have changed, but they also didn’t seem to have changed either.
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“Zhao Gen’s family, hurry up and collect your clothes. I feel that the weather is not good today. Maybe it will rain in a while.” The woman stood in the yard and shouted to the courtyard next door.
A new wife walked out of the next door courtyard. She had a round face and small eyes, but she appeared very healthy. Health equaled beauty at this time. She replied, “Aunt, are your salted duck eggs marinated? My man wants to eat some. I’ll exchange it with corn.”
The woman smiled and said, “No problem.”
The child ran out of the house with a cloth bag on his waist, biting a bun in his mouth: “Mother, I’m going to school.”
The woman patted his head. She had four sons before this child. During the war, they were all forced to be soldiers. Her man had a broken leg and escaped that fate, so later they had this little brat.
Originally they had thought that this child would not survive, there was nothing to eat during the war, and their family had no land, but the little brat survived by relying on eating chaff, bark and grass roots, surviving until now, and with quite good luck. He had not fully grown up but the world was already at peace.
Now there was even a public school in the district, one could go to school without paying tuition, one only needed to pay the book fees.
However, only the younger ones have such privileges.
After finishing primary school, if you want to go to middle school, you would have to pay tuition.
But if you get good grades, you would get scholarships, it was possible that not only you didn’t have to spend money to study, but you could even earn money instead.
Studying was a good thing. The people used to be reluctant to send their children to become students of teachers because they had no money. Not only did they have to spend money, but also have one less labor force at home.
Children from ordinary families started to work as soon as they could walk. When they were seven or eight years old, they were already considered able-bodied workers.
Now the money was easier to earn than before. Children didn’t have to spend a lot of money on studies. Besides, after becoming literate, and after graduating, they could find a good job. As long as they could use the abacus, they could always be an accountant. For those who recognize more words, they could go to the store to train for a period of time, and then become a shopkeeper.
Now watching the little brat running and jumping towards the school, a smile appeared on the woman’s weathered face.
Even the wrinkles on her face were full of joy.
The new wife touched her belly, there was a little brat inside her. She didn’t know whether it was a boy or a girl, both were fine. Now the world had changed, and girls could also survive easily and earn money.
“The wife of the old Li family wants to divorce with her man.” The woman said while collecting the clothes, “Said that her man spent all the family’s money on whoring, and she and her son are hungry all day long, and they also had to suffer being beaten and scolded by old Li.”
The new wife was taken aback: “Does her man agree?”
Woman: “Of course not. So she sued her man. When the officials checked and asked, they sentenced them to divorce. The child belongs to old Li’s wife.”
“His family is poor.” The woman sighed, “The only thing that can be divided is the house.”
The new wife had lingering fears: “How will Aunt Zhao live in the future?”
The woman smiled and said: “She is fine, she took her son to rent a house outside, let her son go to school, while she go to work in a big family by herself, it is better than following her man, after all, she now has a full stomach, and she is not afraid that creditors will come to the door anymore.”
“What about the house?” The new wife asked again.
Woman: “Because the house is an ancestral home, the government didn’t let them sell it and divide the money, and only asked old Li to give his wife money every month, as well as child support.”
New wife: “Old Li can still give this money?”
The woman smiled and said, “So what if he can’t? If it is delayed for half a year, the house will be owned by the government. The government will pay to buy it over, and then share the house price with that pair of husband and wife.”
The new wife touched her belly: “It’s because our days are becoming better, the lords above are thinking of us.”
The woman also said: “That’s right, the current His Majesty is the former Southern King, and the Southern King is a living Bodhisattva. Thinking about us little commoners, now men can also find work easier, and if they don’t want to work, they can join the army. The disabled also have work to do to support themselves, as long as we are willing to do work, we can live a good life.”
“I heard that there is a disturbance in another city.” The woman raised her brows, “Not even two days of good times had passed, and now they don’t want to live it anymore.”
The new wife whispered, “That, who knows?”
The woman smiled at her: “Your belly hasn’t grown too obvious yet, but be careful.”
The new wife lowered her head and looked at her belly tenderly, and at the small life currently growing in it.
“You have good looks, and the child will be good-looking as well.” The woman said, “This child is born at the right time. When he or she is born, only happiness awaits.”
The new wife said shyly: “Who say it isn’t so, my man said that he is going to buy me fish to cook fish soup to nourish my body, and after I give birth to the baby, I will drink fish soup every day. Although we can’t afford chicken soup, but before when I saw the wife next door, don’t even mention fish soup, she can’t even eat an egg, and have to work with a big belly.”
“Hua Niang! I’m back! The fish I got for you!” The man was wearing a narrow sleeved tunic, with sweat on his forehead, but a smile on his face. He also held a bundle of fish in his hand, which were strung together by wicker sticks. There were three of them and in his other hand he held a bamboo basket with a few taro and yellow dough buns in it.
The new wife pretended to be angry: “What’s the hurry? Don’t stumble, be careful.”
The man smiled stupidly and wiped his sweat: “I’m afraid you will miss me.”
The new wife blushed and whispered, “You glib smooth talker.”
The woman chuckled on the side, “That’s because your man loves you, you young couple go in quickly now.”
The man entered the house and said to his wife: “When I was buying fish, I heard that the fishing team is going to recruit people, and the basic salary is fifty cents a month. The more fish sold that month, the more money I can earn. I heard the big brother inside say, he can earn five hundred coins a month.”
The wife opened her mouth wide: “So much?”
Husband: “And there is a shortage of laundry washers! The smell of fish is too strong, and the laundromats in the city are unwilling to pick up this job, so they hired someone by themselves, it is said that they can get 80 cents a month for doing the laundry, but there is no commission. It will still be 80 cents no matter how much is washed, if you are not pregnant, this is a good job.”
The wife also thought it was a good job. She felt a little sad when she touched her stomach.
Commission was a new word these days, but it was the case in many industries, people have gone from seeing it as a novelty at the beginning to getting used to it now.
Merchants hire people and find that they work harder after the idea of commission was put in use, so they were happy to continue this all the time.
Seeing that his wife was in a low mood, the man quickly comforted her: “Don’t be sad, when you give birth to our child and finish your recuperation, you can still find work. In Beijing, there are many jobs women can do. Just say that clothing workshop, I heard that it has always been recruiting people.”
The clothing workshop generally made clothes for soldiers.
Soldiers were given two sets of clothes a year, getting new ones every year.
This work was paid on a piece-by-piece basis. If the work was finished, the clothing workshop would be closed.
But this belonged to the imperial court. The merchants themselves set up clothing workshops outside the city. They make cheap clothes, which were worn by the poor. The style of the clothes were simple. Some copied the imperial court’s clothing workshop and paid on a piece-by-piece basis. Others gave a fixed monthly salary.
This kind of fixed remuneration had less money, but it was stable and required a work contract. Workers can’t be fired at random.
The wife regained her spirits. She smiled and said, “Then we need to earn more money, and in the future, we will earn more money for our children.”
The man also went to touch his wife’s belly. It was flat, and he couldn’t feel anything, but he still had a stupid smile on his face, as if the child was already in front of him.
Seeing the man’s happy appearance, the wife asked in a low voice, “This is a girl…..”
“I like daughters too.” The man smiled, “Even if we only have this one daughter, we can recruit a son-in-law. You think about it, if a son married a wife, and if this daughter-in-law is not virtuous, who knows whose family’s child we would be raising. Now, daughters are different, their children will definitely be the seed of our old Sun family!”
The wife swatted him again and again: “Speaking nonsense, the child is not yet even born, yet you are looking forward to grandchildren.”
The man touched his nose and said, “If you have many children, the family will prosper. If we have a daughter, we will recruit a son-in-law. The more members in the old Sun family, the better.”
The wife looked at him distressingly: “No wonder you always work extra jobs lately.”
Husband: “I’m a man, and I’m naturally stronger than you. I’ll make more money while I’m young, and we’ll be able to enjoy ourselves when we’re old.”
The wife nodded: “I’m going to go cook for you.”
Husband: “My dear, don’t go to the stove. I’m always afraid that you will fall. Let’s eat outside. It’s not expensive. I’ll come back in the evening and cook fish soup for you.”
Now there was a free market in each district, where farmers sold vegetables and meat. There were also food stalls with a few tables and chairs, which did not take up much space. The food stalls have to pay the government monthly, but the fee was not much. Just the money for renting the shop space, and paying personal income tax at the end of the month. This part not many people fully understood, but seeing that the food stalls were doing well, and the stall owners were busy but happy, they all knew that the payment must not be much, otherwise there would not be so many smiles.
The man and his wife found a hot and cold noodle stall and sat down.
Each of them asked for a bowl of hot noodles, which was made of sweet potatoes. It did not take long to serve after you ordered, both convenient as well as delicious.
After eating the hot noodles, the man and his wife went to buy some barbecue meat. He bought a bunch of meat skewers and two vegetarian ones for his wife, but he hinself didn’t eat them.
Others also sold spring rolls, buns, whatever one could want, and the price was also cheap.
One bowl of hot noodles cost one coin, one barbecue meat skewer cost two cents, and two vegetarian skewers cost one cent.
After they finished their meal, it only cost a total of five cents, and their stomachs were very full.
On the way back, the new wife couldn’t hold back, covering her face and crying.
The man was startled: “Why are you crying? Don’t cry, it breaks my heart.”
The new wife wiped her tears: “If only the days are like this forever.”
The man was stunned for a moment and said, “I hope so too.”
“Don’t worry, I heard from my friend, he has a distant relative who is a minor official, who said that the policies in the future will only get better and better, all for the sake of us common people.”
You c an fi nd t he la te st cha pte rs at ( th e ir on tr ee bl oo ms. c o m )
“Let’s live with peace of mind, have children with confidence, and earn a big family wealth and business for our children!”
The new wife nodded with tears in her eyes, with a smile on her face, crying and laughing.
The man wiped her tears away in distress: “Let’s live a good life, and we have to smile when we live a good life.”
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