Chapter One :Chapter 1

Ding ding ding!

The bell signalling the end of a day's work had just rung, and people in the field were flocking towards the village like bees to honey.

"Have you heard? The two Miss Lous jumped into the river! I wonder what happened to them," spoke a woman in a headscarf, her gaze directed towards the crowd at a distance, her voice a whisper to the woman beside her.

Seeing her carefulness, the woman beside her leaned in closer, replying in hushed tones, "Qingqing seems fine. She woke up on the spot. Nini's condition is a bit more serious. She swallowed a lot of water."

"Who actually jumped into the river among the two sisters?"

Last night, the two sisters from the Lou family had fallen into the river. It took their fellow villagers a great deal of effort to rescue them, but gossip about the incident spread like wildfire.

Some said Nini jumped out of despair when she was rejected by someone she admired.

Others claimed it was Qingqing who jumped as she had been causing a commotion at home these past few days. The reason, they speculated, was likely due to her not being selected for the Worker-Peasant-Soldier University, hence her choosing to jump into the river.

"Who knows? Wang Meifeng spoils those two girls rotten," another woman nodded in agreement with the rumours.

Meanwhile, inside the kitchen of the Lou household, Wang Meifeng — who was watching her second daughter in a daze — furrowed her brows and exclaimed, "Qingqing, what are you doing? The stove is on fire!"

Wang Meifeng's shout brought the daydreaming Lou Qingqing back to reality.

Frantically, Lou Qingqing stomped out the fire at her feet, glanced at the woman who was cooking with a rather poor complexion, and lowered her head to hide the emotions on her face.

Lou Qingqing was originally a concubine's daughter from the family of the Prime Minister of the Wen Dynasty. At the age of sixteen, she was in the bloom of her youth.

Although she was the illegitimate daughter, but she managed to gain a favorable position in the house by virtue of her superb intelligence, sharp-sighted judgment, fluent rhetoric, and diplomatic speaking skills.

Recently in this period, under her honeyed words and deceptive charm, the old lady of the house had begun to scout potential marriage candidates for her, promising that she'd find her a suitor from a well-off household.

Lou Qingqing didn't have many wishes in life; all she wanted was to find a man from a noble and prosperous family, so that she could live a worry-free life.

As for what kind of man she needed, she had never really given it a thought. After spending so much time in the inner courtyard, she had seen enough of her father's fickle and inconstant love affairs.

But even such a small wish of hers was not granted by heaven. The old emperor, who was already over sixty, was still selecting new concubines, causing all the daughters in the house, given her father's high-ranking position, to feel extremely anxious.

As the illegitimate daughter of the house, how could she be exempted from such a 'great affair'?

Not willing to spend the rest of her life in the imperial palace, fighting over an old man with a group of women, she secretly escaped from the house with all her belongings.

However, due to the rush and slippery road cause by rain, the carriage lost control halfway up the hill, and fell straight off the cliff with all the passengers.

When Lou Qingqing opened her eyes again, she found herself struggling in the water.

Lou Qingqing was not sure if this was a case of reincarnation? But she indeed was living in someone else's body.

The original owner of this body also had the same name as her, also called Lou Qingqing. She was the only girl in the village who had ever been to high school, despite living in the countryside.

Being a high school student, Lou Qingqing was always high-spirited and self-assured.

When the village recommended workers, peasants, and soldiers as university students, she thought she had the ticket to success until the harsh reality slapped her in the face—someone else got the place.

What's more coincidental was that, the quota was given to Lou Qingqing's elder sister's fiance, Jiang Shen.

Jiang Shen and Lou Nini had been engaged for nearly three years and were already discussing marriage plans.

Upon receiving the opportunity to attend the Worker-Peasant-Soldier University, Jiang Shen immediately turned his back and went to break off the engagement with the Lou family.

Lou NiNi couldn't accept this sudden turn of events, and jumped into the river in despair that night.

Lou QingQing, feeling down at the time, decided to get some fresh air by the riverside and happened to witness her sister's suicide attempt.

Being a compassionate person, she didn't hesitate to jump into the water in an attempt to save NiNi.

However, both sisters didn't know how to swim and soon couldn't keep up the struggle.

Although both of them were eventually saved, only QingQing knew that the old QingQing was gone.

Due to the issue of the Worker-Peasant-Soldier University quota, QingQing had made a scene at home for several days, even threatening to end her life.

Given that Lou NiNi had just recovered consciousness and QingQing was still in a daze, Wang MeiFeng had always assumed that it was the younger daughter who had caused this trouble, hence, she didn't treat her well.

"No need to keep the stove burning. Later, scoop out the porridge and give it to your sister. I'll go check on her."

Having given a cold command to QingQing, Wang MeiFeng turned and entered the house.

Seeing Wang MeiFeng leave, QingQing let out a sigh, her eyes dull and shoulders drooping.

During her time at the manor, she had once learnt some kitchen skills in an attempt to please the old lady. If not for that, she would've exposed her incapable self sooner.

Despite suddenly finding herself in a challenging environment, QingQing at first was worried. But when she thought about the women at the manor, she felt relieved.

She'd rather struggle here than go back there. Besides, with the belief that "man can conquer nature", she felt optimistic about marrying into a decent family given her present age.

Cheered up and feeling a glimmer of hope, QingQing slowly lifted the pot lid, ladled out a bowl of porridge, and brought it into the room.

"Nini, I'm truly sorry for the turmoil you've had to endure this time. Listen to your mother, cutting off such a man as quickly as possible is best. It's much better than realizing his true character after getting married."

Wang Meifeng, at the age of forty-three, had two twisted braids coiled up at the back of her head. Although her look was somewhat aging, she still had fair skin tone and was a beautiful middle-aged woman.

Her daughters inherited her skin characteristics that were resistant to tanning in the sun. Only her youngest son took after Lou Dahai, his father. However, being a boy, he didn't mind much.

The elder daughter might not be the most attractive one, but she was amongst the top few in the village for her physique and skin. Now that Jiang's family had called off the marriage, it was indeed infuriating.

Lou Qingqing placed the porridge on the heated brick platform by the side, glanced at Lou Nini lying on the bed with a blank stare, and spoke softly, "Mother, the porridge is ready."

Wang Meifeng was still angry with Lou Qingqing. Seeing that her eldest daughter was unresponsive, she vented her dissatisfaction on Qingqing, "Qingqing, you are already a grown-up. Consider this incident a lesson, and never act impulsively in the future. Your sister is okay now, but if anything happened to her, your mother would never forgive you."

"But, it's not..."

Lou Qingqing intended to defend herself, explaining it wasn't her who tried to commit suicide, but Lou Nini wanted to end her own life, but before she could, the still figure on the bed abruptly sat upright.

Lou Nini looked squarely at Lou Qingqing standing on the ground, her eyes filled with a mix of shock and joy.

What Lou Nini couldn't have anticipated was that she had just been wallowing in her sobs due to the sudden and inexplicable crossing, and the next second she was pleasantly surprised.

When she heard the woman beside her calling her Nini, even though she felt it was familiar, she didn't pay much attention.

But the simultaneous appearance of the names Qingqing and Nini led to her sudden realization.

Because Qingqing and Nini were the names of two sister characters in the novel she just finished reading.

The storyline was very regular, depicting the life journey of two sisters from a rural background in a parallel world set in the 1970s after they got married.

Lou Qingqing was the top student in the village, though she married a worker with a child in the county, both were ambitious, which led them to a prosperous life. After the Reform and Opening Up Policy took effect, they started a company.

Lou Nini, on the other hand, couldn't let go of her unsuccessful first love. Seeing her sister marry well, she also desired to marry into the city. But with no education and not being as good-looking as Lou Qingqing, she ended up marrying a man in the county who was slightly disabled.

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