Queen Mother is a Scientist

Chapter 4: Worrying for Livelihoods

——Renqiu City.

Renqiu was one of the seven cities in Mozhou. The number of cities in each state was not necessarily the same, and with seven cities and states like Mozhou, considered to be a medium-sized city.

Hearing Li Jingnan said that there were 132 state capitals in Daqi. When the Late Emperor was reigning, he had ceded the twelve state capitals. Then, Liao’s Army invaded again a year ago. The border fell one after another, and Qi’s Army suffered defeat after defeat. At last, the Emperor relinquished the six prefectures of Qin, Wei, Yuan, Xi, He, and Mo to the Liao country. Therefore, there are only 114 states in Daqi today.

Once the lion opened its mouth, it could not be stopped that easily.

Hua Qingxue knew that this was just the beginning.

At the expense of the interests of these six states, the Emperor of Daqi could only obtain a brief peace.

If the people here could ignore the high-pressure, and monitoring from Liao’s Army on Renqiu City, and if they could disregard the humiliation deep inside their hearts, then Hua Qingxue felt like their daily lives would not have a big impact.

But these were only ‘if’…

The tragic scene she saw on the street with her own eyes gave Hua Qingxue a significant impact.

The contempt of human life made her heart dull so much that she could barely breathe.

She had a soft personality, and she was also optimistic. However, she had been living in such a precarious environment that she couldn’t help but feel despair.

On this day, Hua Qingxue went back very late.

During this period of absence, Li Jingnan was anxious.

In this unfamiliar place, neither of them thought about how to live if one of them was missing.

When Hua Qingxue knocked on the door, Li Jingnan practically ran over without thinking to open the door.

Li Jingnan proudly said: “I swept the snow in the courtyard today. I warmed up the gruel.” In a flattering tone that he didn’t even realize.

Hua Qingxue’s face was tight. She turned around and closed the door. She couldn’t help but said: “Why didn’t you ask a single question before opening the door?! What did I tell you before I left?!”

Li Jingnan was dumbfounded. For the first time, he saw Hua Qingxue was enraged. If she got really angry before, he would have been furious. But at that moment, he forgot to put on airs. He just said in a low voice: “…I forgot it for a moment…”

After Hua Qingxue finished speaking, she felt she was a little over the top.

She took a deep breath and said in a soothing voice: “I bought baozi outside. They are stuffed with meat. We’ll eat baozi tonight.”

{TN: Baozi looks like.}

“Oh…”

Li Jingnan took her baggage. He walked into the house while looking back at her anxiously.

Hua Qingxue thought that she was not as good as an 8-year-old. When Li Jingnan saw the imperial bodyguard’s corpse with his own eyes, he cried loudly when she came back. How could this happen? Did extreme fear cause emotion to go out of control?

Speaking of this, Hua Qingxue had to admire the shopkeeper of Fengle Lou. That shopkeeper, no matter how scared, hateful or disgusted he was, he always put on a warm smile in front of the Liao’s Army who came to the shop. Even if those people didn’t pay every time, they went. 

For people to survive, they still need to abandon something…

In the evening, Hua Qingxue and Li Jingnan ate baozi next to the hot stove.

Both of them have not known the taste of the meat for a long time, and they ate it without politeness. The pork baozi was as big as the palm. Hua Qingxue and Li Jingnan each had their fill with half a bowl of gruel.

It’s been a while since Hua Qingxue had such a comfortable meal. Hua Qingxue’s mood had relaxed a lot. She thought optimistically: Fortunately, she was a woman while Li Jingnan was a child. If they were ordinary adult men, they needed to eat four or five to be full.

This was what God liked to do.  Even though you might be struggling, there is always a silver lining.

It would roughly translate to Heaven never bars one’s way [1]

The next day, both of them slept until the sun was up.

They were awake, but no one wanted to move, so they squeezed in the quilt and held some idle chat.”Are you still doing laundry today?” Li Jingnan asked next to her.“

“I don’t want to wash it today. This winter month, we don’t change clothes as often as on hot days, and there aren’t many clothes originally.” Hua Qingxue said slowly, squinting her eyes.“

This was true. Wealthy families have their old servants to wash their clothes. Poor families didn’t even have clothes to change, let alone take them out to wash for outsiders.

The reason why Hua Qingxue was able to receive some chores for washing clothes was that she relied on Aunt Yan to take care of them.

“Are you still going out today?” Li Jingnan looked at Hua Qingxue anxiously. He still remembers that Hua Qingxue went out yesterday. She was not in a good mood after she came back.

Hua Qingxue shook her head. “I don’t need to go out today. I bought rice grain yesterday. Plus, the leftovers that Aunt Yan gave us, it’s enough for a while.”

Li Jingnan turned his eyes around, a little disappointed, “…Then…What should we do today?”

He was a prince and the Emperor’s only son. His lesson was always jam-packed. He learned the Four Books [2] and Five Classics of Confucianism [3] in the morning. Horsemanship, archery, and martial arts lesson in the afternoon. Also, letters were practiced for an hour in the evening. He never worried about the schedule.

When they first arrived in Renqiu City, he and Hua Qingxue were busy worrying about clothing, food, and lodging. After that, they were in a hurry to inquire for information. Now that the precautions were getting stricter, he was trapped in this small courtyard by Hua Qingxue. His heart was flustered.

He wanted to find something to do for himself. Even sweeping the courtyard was a good idea. He was afraid to be idle and indulge in flights of fancy [4]. The more he thought about it, the more panicked he became.

On Li Jingnan’s side, he was sullen while here, Hua Qingxue’s heart was also disappointed and frustrated.

——Washing clothes was not long-term work, not to mention this was quasi-manual labor. Both of her hands had started to crack and get inflamed. Occasionally, touching it would hurt dearly. Let alone washing clothes in the water.

Originally, Hua Qingxue wanted to go to the restaurant to help the shopkeeper to calculate her accounts. There was a separate accounting room for her, so there was no need to show her face to the public, and the family’s daughter could do it too. However, in that way, Hua Qingxue will inevitably need to go in and out of the restaurant frequently.

Liao’s Army had been sent there not too long ago. The officer (military) had yet to come to the place to put constraints on these people. At this moment, it most likely something went wrong, and there was no one to take care of the trouble. Yesterday’s scene confirmed this.

Since they could not go out and find a way to make a living. Hua Qingxue’s mood was very depressed.

As far as her understanding went on, when another force suddenly occupied the place, the first year was usually the most chaotic. It was because the existing rules and orders were disrupted. This kind of friction will last for a long time. Three or five years for the short, and decades for the long. Until the new rules and orders are established, this place will finally be able to return to peace.

However, she knew nothing about the world. She had no survival skills and also had to live with a child. The difficulty was self-evident.

Hua Qingxue could only hope that the legendary General Fu came to rescue the prince, conveniently bringing her along.

“Let’s make tea today!”

Hua Qingxue’s brain suddenly flashed a halo. Her eyes brightened, “If it’s good to drink, we can ask Aunt Yan to sell it in the restaurant!”

Li Jingnan, who was wrapped in the quilt, immediately looked contemptuous. “You can’t even cook rice well but still want to make tea ah…”

Hua Qingxue didn’t mind being ridiculed by Li Jingnan at all, “I have never stepped into the kitchen. Everything has the first time. Besides, I’ve made progress since then. I think you’ve eaten all of it.”

Li Jingnan snorted. That’s because he was hungry, okay?

Every day was gruel and mantou. It’s not easy to have a stir-fry bok choy. Indeed, it was rare.

(TN: Mantou looks like)

(TN: Stir-fry bok choy looks like)

But then, Hua Qingxue didn’t know how to pick vegetables. Li Jingnan also didn’t know. The whole bok choy was blended in the pot. In the end, it was flour pasted outside. The inside was raw, and the salt didn’t melt completely. Some of the leaves were still stained with salt. They were too salty to eat. They couldn’t bear to throw it away. So, Hua Qingxue poured it back into the pot and added water. The stir-fry bok choy turned into boiled bok choy.

The two of them concluded that boiling was easier than frying. Hence, what vegetable dish to eat later, they would directly throw it into the gruel to cook it all together.

These things were too terrifying for the magnificent crown prince to speak of, so Li Jingnan didn’t utter a word.

Hua Qingxue was very interested and continued to speak: “Before returning yesterday, Aunt Yan gave me half of the winter melon! The winter melon is so big that you can’t finish it in one or two meals anyway. It’s enough to use it to make the winter melon tea…”

(TN: Winter melon looks like)

(TN: Winter melon tea looks like)

Li Jingnan put up with it. He finally opened his mouth and asked her: “Have you ever done it before?” 

“I don’t remember, but I feel like it should be no problem.” Hua Qingxue was full of confidence.

When Li Jingnan heard this, his steamed bun-contemptuous face changed and became more serious.

A woman who can’t cook stir-fried bok choy well, there was nothing of her that he can look forward to!

Hua Qingxue will do as she said. She turned over and got out of the bed.

The quilt was lifted open. Li Jingnan, who was lying in it, immediately shrank back——it was getting colder this day!

Hua Qingxue put on her clothes and went down from the heated bed. Just after two steps, she stopped suddenly and turned around to climb on the heated bed.

Li Jingnan blinked, “What’s the matter?”

Hua Qingxue angrily replied: “There is no sugar in the house, and there is only one pot…”

If tea was made for sale, at least there must be a bucket, right?

An iron pot of water was three or five cups, was it enough to sell?

Sigh! Too poor.

It was hard to make a living, and they could only run into difficulties and be forced to stop. Hua Qingxue was a little depressed. However, she found that she recalled numerous things. All kinds of tea making recipes were just like turning pages in her mind. Winter melon tea, chrysanthemum tea, wolfberry tea, red date tea, Longxu tea.

Casually remembering hundreds of tea production methods, Hua Qingxue was scared of herself!

What’s going on here…?

Could it be… Was she going to regain her memory?

She thought of it again and tried to remember it.

She still can’t remember her identity. On the contrary, she accidentally remembered some recipes.

This was too strange.

Hua Qingxue silently muttered in her heart.

In any case, winter melon tea can’t be made.

Hua Qingxue cut off a small part and made stir-fry winter melon using a little oil, a little salt, and added some water. The stir-fry winter melon was too soft; making chopsticks can hardly pick it up. Nevertheless, they still ate it happily.

(TN: Stir-fry winter melon looks like)

After lunch, Hua Qingxue squatted at one side of the pot and washed the dishes. Li Jingnan readily took a broom and began to sweep the snow in the courtyard. The sun shone on them, and the courtyard appeared tranquil as well as leisure.



Translator’s Note: 

[1] 天无绝人之路/tiānwújuérénzhīlù is an idiom means don’t despair and you will find a way through. / Never give up hope. / Never say die.

[2] Four Books, namely: the Great Learning, the Doctrine of the Mean, the Analects of Confucius, and Mencius

[3] the Five Classics of Confucianism, namely: the Book of Songs, the Book of History, the Classic of Rites, the Book of Changes, and the Spring and Autumn Annals

[4] 胡思乱想/húsīluànxiǎng is an idiom means to let one’s imagination run wild

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