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110 Follow Instructions Well

 Pao Hua squeezed through the branches to get inside the carriage. In town he had to buy a bag, so he could carry everything back. He took out a few rice buns for him and Hli Ja, a jar of water, medicine, a pot, and some utensils.

Pao Hua also bought some supplies he felt they needed, that Hli Ja hadn't requested herself. Among those, he remembered the box of matches and small candles he had bought. He dug in the bag for a moment, pulling out a candle. The matchbox he pulled out of his pocket. He struck a match, lighting the small candle so that they had some light.

Hli Ja smiled and thanked Pao Hua. "You did a great job," she patted his head, "Thank you for coming back."

Pao Hua felt his cheeks flush at the compliment. It has been a long time since someone complimented him. He looked away and replied meekly, mumbling, "Mhm."

Hli Ja took a few bites of the rice bun. She chewed slowly, and then after a while, she said: "I'll have to trouble you again Pao Hua... Tomorrow morning, I need you to go back into town."

"Mm... I don't mind." Pao Hua  was happy to do these things for his sister. It felt good to be needed.

"For the next two months, I won't be able to move around. I want to make sure my baby's born safely. If the baby comes too early, that could but us all at risk. That's why I need you to make these trips for me Pao Hua. Are you ok with that?"

"I'll do whatever sister wants, for as long as sister need me to," Pao Hua replied.

A warm expression bloomed on Hli Ja's face. She had to survive giving birth to her child, while also being someone Pao Hua could rely on. He had no one left. Hli Ja had decided to take care of him for as long as she could.

"Thank you. Let's go to sleep after this," Hli Ja suggested.

"Mhm," Pao Hua agreed, blowing out the candle.

The next morning, the sun shone brightly The weather was calm, and the forest was quiet. Pao Hua woke up and saw that his sister had woken up before him. He quickly he pushed rolled out of bed, and reached for the bag. He went rummaging in the bag for the medicine. He found it near the bottom. He also pulled out a pot.

"I... I'll go brew this medicine for you," Pao Hua spoke in  hurriedly, as if he was late for something.

"Take your time, but make sure to scatter the kindling and tinder once your done. We don't want anyone finding us," Hli Ja replied.

"Ok, I know." Pao Hua walked out of the carriage to gather firewood.

After what felt like forever, Pao Hua felt that he had finally collected enough firewood. He walked over to the nearby cave from before, and started a small fire in the entrance. He had cleaned the pot in a nearby river he had found while searching for firewood, collecting some water in a small, reusable jar. Then Pao Hua placed the pot in the middle of the firewood, and waited for the water to boil. He checked after a few minutes, and saw that the water was bubbling, so he grabbed the tea and dropped it into the pot.

Pao Hua placed a lid over it, and went back to the carriage to get a small tea cup he had bought home yesterday.

After his father had passed away, the family that took him in treated him like a slave. Over time he became quite good at taking care of chores and children. He also follows instructions well and learns quickly. If he had had a proper upbringing, he could become someone great someday.

He found the cup, returning to the cave.

About 15 minutes later, Pao Hua came back into the carriage with the cup of medicine. He handed the cup to Hli Ja. She smiled as she took the cup from him. "Thank you. You're a great help."

Pao Hua flushed with shyness, responding again, with a simple, "Mm.."

Hli Ja gulped the medicine down. After she swallowed she gave the cup back to Pao Hua. She took off her bracelet on her left wrist and handed it to him, "Bring this to a jewelry shop in town, and trade it for money. Buy paper, ink, rags, and clothes. Get yourself something too."

Pao Hua reached to receive the bracelet. "Mhm... I understand. I'll be back soon." He grabbed the bag he had bought the night before and left for town.

"Be careful." Hli Ja warned, worried.

" I know." Pao Hua replied. He covered up the carriage before leaving for town.

Pao Hua went back to town and found a jewelry shop. He showed the owner the bracelet. The owner tried to cheat him by devaluing his sister's item, but Pao Hua wasn't falling for it.

He knew the bracelet belonged to his sister, who was from the royal palace. People like her would never wear something as cheap as what owner was saying. Pao Hua knew exactly who the bracelet belonged to, which meant that Pao Hua have the upper hand in this negotiation.

Although Pao Hua was still young, he had learned to survive at such a young age by himself. He was street smart. He cooly told the shop owner that he would take his business somewhere else.

He thanked the shop owner, and started to leave. The shop owner saw that Pao Hua was serious. This kid was really leaving? He shouted after Pao Hua, quickly pulling him back into the shop.

The shop owner knew how uncommon that bracelet was. It's materials were rare, and a few were even available to be bought like this. The kid must've known this, so cheating him was out of the question... but, he'd rather have the boy sell him the bracelet for a higher price, than to lose this opportunity to the next shop over.