It was the 16th year of Minghua. The northernmost part of the Great Chang Kingdom had already been snowing for an entire month since the start of the winter.
The surrounding mountain range was covered in snow.
This place was completely deserted and void of life.
However, a horse was currently galloping through the snow. Soon, because the snow was too thick, the horse could no longer run.
Two men in black cloaks alighted from the horse, carrying white objects in their arms.
They hurried through the snow, occasionally looking around.
“Alright, just leave it here. We’ve already traveled 200 miles. Any further and we’ll have to climb over the mountain!”
“Sigh, I still can’t bear to do this. After all…”
“We’re being paid to help others resolve a disaster. Why are you talking so much nonsense? Throw it away quickly. We still have to rush back to the lodge. It’s so cold out here. I’m really going to freeze to death!”
Not long after, there was a bang as something was thrown into the snow. The two of them did not even look at it as they rubbed their hands and hurried off.
Wang Chuanfu and Wang Chuanman were walking on the road dejectedly when they suddenly heard the sound of hooves not far away.
Before the two of them could react, Wang Chuanman collided fiercely against something. He staggered a few steps and saw a horse galloping away without stopping.
“Fourth Brother, are you alright?” Wang Chuanfu immediately went forward to check on him.
Wang Chuanman patted the snow off his body and stood up. “It’s nothing. I’m wearing thick clothes and the snow is also thick. Big Brother, let’s go quickly. The weather is getting colder and colder. It might even snow heavily before dark. We should hurry back.”
At this moment, it was still snowing lightly, so the brothers did not bother to look for shelter.
However, not long after they left, Wang Chuanman suddenly kicked something.
“Ah, it seems to be a bag!” The package that the two men had thrown on the snow has already been covered by a thin layer of snow.
Because it was white, it was not easy to discover.
Wang Chuanfu also lowered his head to take a look. As he did so, he said, “Could it be those two who lost it? Looking at how fast they were running, the package might have fallen off the horse.”
Wang Chuanman was also anxious. “Aiya, what should we do? We don’t have horses, so we won’t be able to catch up to them.”
“Bring it back to the village chief first. We’ll talk about it after the snow melts.” Wang Chuanfu sighed. “We’re not done with our own matters yet.”
As the two brothers spoke, they picked up the white package. When they pulled it, they realized that it was a white flannel.
A corner of the flannel was pulled open, and the thing inside rolled out.
It landed straight on the snow.
It was a thin-clothed child who looked to be only one or two years old.
Perhaps it was because the child was in pain from the fall, its closed eyes opened slightly, like a weak deer looking at the mortal world. Its bright eyes were not revealed much, and they quickly closed again.
Its face was red like a ripe persimmon, and its breathing was shallow.
“Ah, it’s a child!”
With just a glance, the two men did not dare to look further. In this land of ice and snow, if they trembled like this, it would not be good!
Wang Chuan was flustered. He hurriedly opened the velvet cloth on his body and picked up the child from the ground.
“What a sin! Quick, wrap it up!”
Wang Chuanfu also couldn’t care less about anything else after seeing this, and subconsciously removed the coarse cloth around his neck and wrapped it around the child, giving her another layer of protection.
Wang Chuanman did the same. Their fingers were cold, and they did not dare to touch the child, afraid that they would sap her temperature.
In just a few breaths, the two men broke out in cold sweat.
“Big Brother, why is this child’s face so red? Is it sick?”
Wang Chuan was only 23 years old this year. His family was poor and he had just gotten married two years ago. He had not been able to give birth to a child in the past two years and did not understand these things at all.
“I’m afraid she’s caught a cold. This child has a fever! That little nephew of Second Uncle’s family was lost due to a fever last year. Hurry up, we’re returning. We’ll let our mother take a look!”
Wang Chuanfu patted Wang Chuanman’s shoulder and took the miscellaneous things from him, letting him carry the child in peace.
The two of them hurriedly headed towards Hu Family Village.
Hu Family Village was on the northeast side of this mountain. The mountain path was rugged and difficult to walk on, and the snowy sky added to the danger.
Fortunately, the brothers were already used to moving in such terrain. They would not fall even with their eyes closed.
Originally, it would have taken them an hour to trudge through the snow, but they only took half an hour this time.
As soon as they reached the village entrance, they saw Old Master Hu walking under the white fig tree with his hands behind his back, smoking a large cigar.
There were two paths at the village entrance. One led to the bottom of the cliff, and two miles further was the Qu River. The Qu River was rapid, and it was not accessible by boat.
The other led to the right of the village. This was the only path to the outside world in the village.
“Youngsters of the Wang Family, did you catch something good?” Old Master Hu asked loudly when he saw the two brothers. One of them was carrying something that was used for hunting as a trap, and the other was holding something tightly in his arms.
This shout attracted some people from the village to poke their heads out of their houses, but they only took a peek and did not come out.
On such a cold day, families without thick clothes could not leave the house at all.
Wang Chuan wiped the snow off his face and hurriedly replied, “We picked up a child outside.”
“What? Are you guys crazy from hunger? You even eat children? That won’t do. Our village doesn’t have such rules!” Old Master Hu’s eyes widened.
He knew that some people in other villages had gone crazy from hunger in the snow and had already started eating babies.
Their village could not make this exception!
“No, no.” Wang Chuanfu shouted, “Old Master Hu, this child has a fever. We have to bring her back quickly for mother to take a look. If only Uncle Hu was here, he could take a look too.”
An auntie shouted from the window, “Wang Chuanfu, did you pick up a boy? Does your Wang family feel that the males in your family are too few?”
“I think it’s a girl?” Wang Chuanfu was not too sure.
The child’s cheeks were red from the fever. Her eyes were tightly shut, and her lips were chapped. It was difficult to tell if it was a boy or girl.
However, based on the looks of the children at home, one who looked so good must be a girl.
They didn’t have any girls in the family.
“Aiya, what sins have you committed! Hurry up and throw it away. What are you bringing a girl home for?! They’re huge liabilities!” The woman spat. “Your family is about to starve to death, and you still brought a little girl back? Your mother will be angered to death by you!”
Before the woman could finish speaking, she heard a strong high-pitched voice beside her.
“Big Flower Jiang, if you don’t shut your smelly mouth, I’ll pour feces into your mouth! What kind of nonsense is this? A liability? Why didn’t you implicate your Jiang family to the ancestral grave! Chuanfu, Chuanman, why are you still standing there? Get back here!”
On the snowy dam in the middle of the village, an old woman in a brown cotton jacket was standing with her hands on her hips.
They were clearly still 400 to 500 meters away, but her voice was extremely penetrating and reached everyone’s ears.
Wang Chuanfu and Wang Chuanman did not dare to delay. They greeted the people here and hurriedly ran along the village path.
When Old Madam Wang saw her two sons arrive, she stretched out her hand. “Give it to me!”
Wang Chuanfu had a bitter expression on his face as he gently raised the bundle in his hand. “Mother, we didn’t bring anything with us this time. The snow is too heavy—”
“I know that the two of you are not reliable. By the time you come back with something, your mother’s funeral will have already concluded!” Old Madam Wang rolled her eyes.
The old lady glared fiercely at Wang Chuanman and carried over the child in his arms. Her movements were gentle, but her mouth was not soft at all. “You picked up a child and didn’t even know to go home immediately? Why are you talking to those people? The two of you are really worrisome. You can’t even complete a simple task properly. What a waste of your name! Idiot boys!”
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