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1/ Niáng - Mother
2/ Lǐ - An ancient measure of length; approximately 500 meters.
3/ Shíchén - Two hours; one of the 12 two-hours periods of the day
4/ Xiǎo - Little, young; can be added in front of someone’s name (usually younger). Can also be used as a nickname to show closeness between family members, lovers, and friends.
5/ Kàng - Brick bed-stoves
Return of the Noble Abandoned Consort
9. The Second Purchase
Widows were restricted in what they can and cannot do in society.
Qiáo Wēi had been here for some time and although she had put a lot of effort into being a suitable mother, she had forgotten that in the eyes of outsiders, she was nothing but a small widow with no one to rely on. Forget an unmarried man like Dà Zhuàng, even if he had been a married man with his own family to feed, Qiáo Wēi’s interactions with him could cause rumors of a love affair.
Perhaps the reason why Aunt Liú was so hostile to her was because her man had taken some sort of notice of her.
Qiáo Wēi felt her heart soften, knowing that her son had used what limited capabilities he had to handle the situation in his own way. She touched her son’s face, wanting to say something but found that her throat was choked up, unable to get even a single word out.
She had never known anyone willing to sacrifice everything for her before; that the feeling of someone wanting to answer the injustice done to her felt like this. Qiáo Wēi’s chest felt warm and she could feel the tears building up, threatening to fall.
Qiáo Jǐng Yún looked at his mother’s slightly reddened eyes. “I’m too small,” he said, his voice sounded like sweet milk. “Couldn’t win against Tiě Niú. But once I grow up, I will definitely win so he will no longer dare to say bad things about niáng .”
Qiáo Wēi gathered her son into her arms and shed a few silent tears, hidden from her son’s eyes.
Xīniú Village was not too far away from town. Since it was about ten lǐ  away, it would only take an adult about one shíchén  to get there on foot. Of course children would not be able to walk such a distance so Qiáo Wēi planned on hiring a vehicle.
Qiáo Wēi had two different options for a vehicle, the ox cart and the horse carriage. Both were simple modes of transportation with open air. One on hand, the ox cart was slow but could be hired at a low price while the horse carriage was fast but was also much more expensive. After debating for a moment, Qiáo Wēi finally decided on the horse carriage. The price for a one-way horse carriage was ten coins per adult, five coins for children so altogether, Qiáo Wēi had to pay twenty coins. The horse carriage definitely wouldn’t wait around for them once they arrived in town. Once it could find other customers, it would definitely take off.
There were a lot of things Qiáo Wēi planned to buy so without a horse carriage, she wouldn’t be able to return. There should also be other horse carriages in town but where to hire them? She looked around for a moment before her eyes landed on the owner of the horse carriage she was currently occupying. She managed to haggle a price to employ the horse carriage for half a day for two hundred coins.
That price also included the transportation of the goods she wanted to buy. Qiáo Wēi felt that the price was worth it. After all, if she were to convert it to Chinese Dollars, then it was only a hundred and twenty Chinese Dollars.
The family of three, in an ancient version of the modern taxi, happily rode towards the town. A smile could be seen on all their faces as the scenery flew past them and the image of the village was getting smaller and smaller behind them, it seemed as if even their troubles were disappearing.
This town was called Líng Quán Town. Because it was located near the capital, the population was dense and business flourished. The horse carriage driver, Shuān Zi Diē knew that Qiáo Wēi came to shop so he drove directly to town’s largest marketplace. From eating to playing, all kinds of goods could be found there.
The children could not remember when the last time they’ve gone to the marketplace was. They looked around at the dazzling line-up of goods displayed on the shelves, eyes wide and bright.
The two children immediately attracted a lot of attention from people nearby. They were a pair of beautiful fraternal twins, each with an adorable expression of wonder on their face. The young sister was even holding a soft and cute “little white dog” in her arms.
Such good-looking children, they looked like they had directly stepped out from a painting.
Qiáo Wēi felt extremely proud.
After circling around once, Qiáo Wēi had a pretty good idea what an ancient marketplace was. It was equivalent to the modern wholesale market where prices were cheaper than those found in stores. However, the town was a stronghold that lead directly to the capital so it had a very large transient population which meant that business integrity was most likely not very high. Was it possible to buy something of good quality but was also reasonably priced? Could it be bargained?
Actually, Qiáo Wēi could be considered a sort of expert. Shuān Zi Diē also introduced several reliable businesses to her. Wandering around, she was able to buy oil, rice, flour, and seasonings. However, Qiáo Wēi felt a bit of regret buying salt as the salt during this time period was mostly course salt. Fine salt and course salt really could not be compared but due to the government’s monopolization, the price was very high. It had cost her one silver tael for just ten catty of salt. It had pained her to take out the money.
Afterwards, Qiáo Wēi made her way to a ready-made clothes store to buy some women’s essentials. Sadly, she was quick to find out that people did not sell ready-made menstrual cloths, everyone made those themselves. So instead, she bought the necessary raw materials and packed them up into the horse carriage.
She also needed cotten-padded clothes for winter but the prices for these ready-wear clothes were three to five times higher than that of both fabric and cotton wadding. Qiáo Wēi hesitated for a moment before buying two sets for herself and her two children. She also bought some cloth; she will go back home and slowly learn how to make clothes.
Her two little buns were so excited about their new clothes that they were even walking with a bounce in their steps.
Shuān Zi Diē looked over at the horse carriage which was filled with so much goods it was practically piled up into a small hill. “Xiǎo  Qiáo,” he said. “Do you still have things to buy? If not, should we head back?”
Qiáo Wēi thought about it. “No rush,” she answered. “Let me ask you, is there any iron shops near here?”
“An iron shop?” Shuān Zi Diē repeated. “Dà Xīng Alley has one, just take this road from here. What happened? Why do you want to go there?” One of his ears was deaf so his voice was a bit loud.
Qiáo Wēi did not mind, instead she smiled and said, “Well, I want to go hunting but I don’t have the right tools so I just want to take a look around.”
Rumors of Qiáo Wēi successfully hunting a tiger had already spread throughout the village. No one believed that it was due to her skills; it’s just that she had good luck. Seeing that she was insistent on buying, Shuān Zi Diē did not say anything. Qiáo Wēi and her two children rode to Dà Xīng Alley.
Qiáo Wēi ended up purchasing a dagger for self-defense from the iron shop along with a bone cleaver and a few hooks to make traps.
“Need anything else?” Shuān Zi Diē asked.
“I also want to order a bed.” There wasn’t a bed where they lived so the three of them could only squeeze themselves into a narrow kàng . It was somewhat crowded. Qiáo Wēi wanted to sleep in a separate bed and leave the kàng for her children.
Shuān Zi Diē then led her to a carpenter to place an order for planks. She just had to take it home and assemble it according to the given specifications. Qiáo Wēi was rather surprised, she did not expect that the olden times was already so advanced.
After being busy for an entire afternoon, she finally finished purchasing everything she needed. “Are you hungry?” Qiáo Wēi asked, reaching out to touch her son and daughter’s small head.
The two of them nodded.
Not complaining even when they’re hungry, their thoughtfulness really made people feel distress.
“What would you like to eat?” Qiáo Wēi asked.
“I would like to eat beef dumplings,” Qiáo Wàng Shū whispered. “Is that alright?”
Qiáo Wēi smiled. “Of course you can! Besides that, is there anything else you would like to eat?”
Qiáo Wàng Shū licked her lips. “I also want to eat chive boxes and scallion pancakes.”
“What does Jǐng Yún want to eat?” Qiáo Wēi asked, looking at her son.
“I’m fine with anything,” Qiáo Jǐng Yún said, speaking like a small adult.
Since her children mostly ordered snacks, it wasn’t very expensive. Qiáo Wēi and Shuān Zi Diē found a relatively clean vendor’s stall. She ordered two large bowls of beef dumplings, one for Shuān Zi Diē and the other for Jǐng Yún and Wàng Shū to share. She also ordered four chive boxes, four scallion pancakes, a portion of fragrant spareribs, and two bowls of mutton noodle soup.