Upon seeing Shao Dong's expression, Mu Jingzhe quickly said, "I'm not a thief."
Previously, she had decided that she would guide them as best as she could and not let them go astray. Although she had given them limited guidance until now, she definitely couldn't be a bad example at the very least.
"I took the money mainly because your father kept it for Little Zhong and you guys to see the doctor. Your grandmother wouldn't give it to me, so I took it. This isn't stealing, though. We're in a special situation, so you mustn't learn from it, understand?"
Shao Dong looked at Mu Jingzhe's anxious expression. "I know."
"It's good that you know that. This is what your father left for you. Consider it receiving your inheritance in advance. This time, not much was spent on Shao Zhong's treatment fees because he didn't take any medicine. The rest is here. Store it well. You can use it if you need to in the future."
Shao Dong looked at the money in his hand. "You… are giving it to me just like that?"
Mu Jingzhe casually replied, "Of course. It's your money anyway."
Treating Shao Zhong was a special situation. After doing that, she didn't want to use the money anymore. Therefore, she naturally had to give it to Shao Dong.
She believed that Shao Dong would take good care of it. Leaving them some money would make them feel more reassured. If she should leave in the future, they wouldn't be left empty-handed and be forced to pick up garbage.
That's right. In the novel, Shao Dong wanted to treat Shao Bei's ears after they were damaged from the fever and Zhao Lan refused to give him money. As a result, he was forced to pick up garbage.
People only knew that Shao Dong was a business bigshot, but no one knew that he was once a rag-and-bone man who had earned his first bucket of gold by picking up garbage.
Shao Dong held the money, not knowing what to say for a moment. He hesitated for an instant before putting it away and thanking her.
"You're welcome." Mu Jingzhe thought for a while and emphasized again, "Shao Dong, you must remember that you can't steal. Someone who steals needles when he is young steals gold when he grows up. If one continues stealing, one will become more wicked and will eventually be capable of committing all sorts of atrocities."
Shao Dong: "Okay."
Mu Jingzhe hurriedly went to cook. As she started feeling thirsty, a bowl of water suddenly appeared in front of her.
She looked up and saw Shao Nan.
Shao Nan smiled. "Here, have some water."
Mu Jingzhe was flattered. "Thank you."
On the way back, Mu Jingzhe had pointed to Shao Zhong and told him about everything she saw. Her mouth had never stopped moving, so she was so thirsty that she couldn't seem to drink enough to quench her thirst.
Mu Jingzhe gulped down the bowl of water in one go.
Shao Nan took the bowl and asked some questions about Shao Zhong's treatment.
Shao Nan and Shao Bei were boy-girl twins, so his facial features were very exquisite, and he could pass off for male or female.
He was the most brilliant academically among the five children and was a future scientific research big boss. He looked like a nerd on the surface, but in reality, he was devious on the inside.
He was the one who would later concoct a colorless, odorless, slow-acting poison that couldn't be detected. He would take revenge for his younger sister, but in the end, no one would suspect him.
Mu Jingzhe swallowed at the thought. Was there… any colorless, odorless, slow-acting poison in that bowl of water?
Was this going to be the way she met her demise?
No, surely not… Mu Jingzhe shook her head. I haven't been up to any bad deeds lately.
Besides, Shao Nan was still a kid. He couldn't possibly make that kind of poison. She needn't scare herself unnecessarily.
Shao Nan walked out of the kitchen and saw Shao Bei staring at him in confusion. "Third Brother, why did you bring her water?"
Shao Dong and Shao Xi both looked at him.
Shao Nan smiled. "She's been cooking for us for the past few days, making clothes, and taking Shao Zhong to see a doctor. It's only right that we fetch her a bowl of water. If she keeps this up, I will pour her water and even smile at her every day."
Wasn't it a pretty good deal?
Shao Bei tilted her head. "That's true. I'll pour water for her in the future as well."
Shao Nan laughed and patted her head. "No need. Third Brother can do it."
It would be great if this continued.
"We're going," Shao Qiyang told Mu Jingzhe and Shao Bei before he left with the four boys.
Every year before spring plowing, according to the customs of the Great Eastern Village, there would be a prayer for blessings and good weather. That day, classes were suspended, but only males were allowed to attend the prayer. Females weren't allowed to attend it.
In the end, only Mu Jingzhe and Little Bei were left at home.
Little Bei was a little unhappy. Mu Jingzhe motioned for her to go over. "Come here, I'll tie your hair for you."
Mu Jingzhe didn't care for this tradition and was fine with not participating, but Little Bei minded.
She changed Little Bei's hair clip.
Only then did Little Bei's mood brighten.
For the past few days, Mu Jingzhe had kept her promise and tied her hair in different styles every day. The little girl no longer disliked her so much.
Mu Jingzhe had just gone to the county city yesterday to deliver goods and receive another batch of orders.
It seemed like the hair ornament business was viable. Although it didn't bring a large sum of money, it would take care of some living expenses. However, Mu Jingzhe couldn't keep fixating on this small business.
After a trip yesterday, she had found a new business opportunity.
She had decided to ask the villagers what kind of mountain goods they had. There were some walnut trees in Great Eastern Village and in the vicinity. They weren't thick-skinned walnuts, but they were big and plump and they tasted good.
All these walnuts could be sold.
Mu Jingzhe wanted to go over to make inquiries, but Little Bei was busy playing with the toy she had made for her.
"Be good and stay home. Don't run around."
Little Bei agreed readily, but when Mu Jingzhe returned, she wasn't at home.
"Where did she run off to again?"
Mu Jingzhe initially thought that Little Bei had gone somewhere to play or had secretly gone to see the blessing ceremony.
This was exactly like Little Bei. The more she was forbidden from doing something, the more she wanted to do it.
She didn't like to be treated differently because she was a girl, nor did she like to be belittled. In exams, she had to get first place and do better than all the boys.
Unexpectedly, when Shao Qiyang brought the boys back, Shao Bei didn't come with them.
"Didn't Little Bei come looking for you guys?"
"No. She came to look for us?"
Shao Qiyang currently had complicated feelings for Mu Jingzhe. She had completely changed. When he came back occasionally, she was polite but distant around him. It was as if he had imagined her trying to get close to him previously.
When he saw that the house was getting cleaner and neater, she took care of the five children well, and this was becoming more and more like a home, his plans to send Mu Jingzhe back to her parents' house were shelved time and again.
"I thought she went looking for you guys."
Mu Jingzhe didn't notice the complicated look in Shao Qiyang's eyes and frowned. "Maybe she went to find a friend. I'll go look for her."
Unexpectedly, she ended up looking for her until the sky turned dark.
Mu Jingzhe searched the entire village but couldn't find Little Bei.
Little Bei had disappeared.
Mu Jingzhe went next door to ask Zhao Lan and the others about her.
"Mom, have you seen Little Bei?"
Zhao Lan and the others had just finished their meal and were sitting around and chatting. They had long heard Mu Jingzhe and the others looking for Little Bei. They raised their eyelids upon hearing the question.
"Then when was the last time you saw her?"
"This morning?" Zhao Lan looked at Mu Jingzhe with a dark gaze. "Why can't you even look after a child properly? How have you been taking care of them?"
Mu Jingzhe, who had no time to argue with her, simply turned around and left.
However, Zhao Lan didn't stop. She said in a strange tone, "A stepmother is always a stepmother. See, she revealed her true colors in just a few days. Maybe she beat Little Bei up and hid her somewhere."
Shao Nan, who was right behind Mu Jingzhe, paused.