By Siew-Yue Killingley
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Nobody in the house made a sound or even dared cough for fear of distracting her. Yesterday when Yinxi cried, Fourth Aunt said, “Your elder cousin is studying. ” The cottage was even cooler than Third Aunt’s room. Her grandfather usually took his afternoon naps here. For her sake, however, the old man had even vacated his napping bed. So many expectations, and such a dilemma: should she or shouldn’t she take the exams? The arm’s-length cottage came by its name because its eaves were a little lower than on most houses, and a tall, grown man could easily reach up and touch the roof.
The gunpowder, however, would fall into the ponds and pollute the water, so most people opted for the clappers, made of the best bamboo, the thicker the better. The bamboo was cut into threefoot-long poles; one third of each was cut into cross-sections and hollowed out. When the bamboo pole was swung around, the hollows would emit a loud whoosh. The sound was harmless to human ears, but it scared the egrets senseless. Judging by the way that they swooped down on ﬁsh at the ponds, one might surmise that they were ﬁerce and strong.
The young women appeared as a group before Fifth GreatUncle, but he couldn’t remember all of their names at once; after all, they hadn’t seen each other for some time. ” Zhenguan listened and soon came to understand the purpose of Fifth Great-Uncle’s visit: he was here to claim his share of the family’s property. Great-Grandfather had left twenty-ﬁve hectares of ﬁshponds for his children, and the three brothers received eight hectares each. The remaining hectare was to be divided equally among the three brothers, but since Fifth GreatUncle had married a woman from Tainan and ran a medical clinic there, Grandfather and Third Great-Uncle administered his share jointly on his behalf.