Jiang Zhen, carrying a knife, slowly returned to the Jiang house and saw a large number of people gathered at the gate of Jiang’s house.
The villagers of Hexi Village basically built a few houses to the south as accommodations. These main houses often have smaller houses behind it, either thatched houses or storerooms. There were many children, so they often built a more structures behind the houses to serve as living spaces for their children.
The Jiang family has four main houses facing the south—two for the Jiang old couple; the third one for the second son, in the east; and another one for the third son, in the west. The second house in the west is the hall house, the place where the Jiang family ate.
There was no house behind the hall, only a courtyard. There was also a well next to courtyard. Next to the courtyard, there was a storeroom, a kitchen, and Jiang Xiaomei’s house. In northernmost side is a thatched house and a pigsty.
Ordinary people have no money to build a large courtyard to wrap around the front and back of the house, but every household will have drying area, and the gate of the hall will never be closed during the day. Right then, Jiang Zhen saw a dozen or so uncles of his family smoking and chatting at the drying area of the Jiang family, and some people were gathered together to watch the fun at the drying area of their neighbors.
These people, I’m afraid, are waiting for me . . . Jiang Zhen knew this, but he was not afraid and walked forward. When he approached, he found that old lady Jiang was crying to those uncles, and in the hall, the dishes that he had knocked over that afternoon had already been cleaned up. A Jiang relative, who knew a little about carpentry, was working there with some Jiang butchers to repair the table.
He split the wooden table with a knife and kicked it hard. The wooden Eight Immortal table was obviously worn out and broken.
“Stinky boy, you dare come back!” With the support of a group of Jiang family uncles, old lady Jiang forgot what she had been scared about before. She stood up, hating Jiang Zhen so much that her teeth itched.
This “debt collector” did not know what was going on. Yesterday, he came back like a changed person. Today’s uproar made his family lose so much face. How could he have not drown the other day?
Considering what had happened before, Madam Jiang’s eyes were filled with bitterness.
After Jiang Zhen grabbed the eggs and kicked the table over, the rest of the Jiang family became confused.
They were all frightened. Zhu Shufen, who had just entered the house, immediately began to cry and then shouted that she wanted to live in the county town. Jiang Chengxiang had been working in the county town all this time. Although it was a half-an-hour walk to Hexi Village, he was impatient about walking back and forth every day and so rented a house in the county town.
In the beginning, there was reason Zhu Shufen was willing to marry Jiang Chengxiang. Jiang Chengxiang promised her that they will live separately from the Zhu family in the county town. Although the Zhu family did not have much money because Zhu Xiucai wanted to study, Zhu Shufen grew up pampered and was unwilling to wait on her rural mother-in-law.
She was very unhappy with the environment of the Jiang family. Now when she saw Jiang Zhen swinging a knife in front of her, she wanted to live in the city at once.
The new daughter-in-law was going to leave a day after she got married. Old lady Jiang felt very embarrassed, but Zhu Shufen was determined to leave. She couldn’t stop her. She watched Jiang Chengxiang and Zhu Shufen pack up their things and went away. Zhu Shufen didn’t plan on living in the countryside since the beginning. The bed frame and bedclothes that she brought along with her were simply carried to the city, but she didn’t need to collect them at all. They didn’t have much to pack at all.
Old Mrs. Jiang cleaned up the dishes on the ground, sent away her son and daughter-in-law, discussed it with old man Jiang, called for several of Jiang uncles, and made up her mind to teach Eldest Jiang a good lesson.
There were many families living in Hexi Village, and there are more than 10 families surnamed Jiang. They were related to old man Jiang, but when old lady Jiang went out to cry for help, a lot of people came.
Although these people learned from Madam Jiang how abominable Eldest Jiang had been, they didn’t really take it seriously. What can Eldest Jiang really do? They were all clear about it. He was weak and easy to bully. He was beaten and never complained. Some of them were the same age as Eldest Jiang, and when they were young, they had bullied him, such as robbing Eldest Jiang hard of cut grass or pushing him down the ditch.
Eldest Jiang would pull a knife at his parents? Is that a joke?
Most of the table was chopped by Jiang butchers, who split it with their own knives.
These people were standing around Jiang’s drying area, chatting, and were very relaxed until they saw Jiang Zhen coming from a distance with a knife on his person.
The men were still the same people, but they did not know why the current Eldest Jiang was making their hair stand up.
“Little villain, you’re back!” A voice rang out, and with it, a thin old man with a long pipe came out, frowning at Jiang Zhen.
“Hmm.” Jiang Zhen knew the old man. He was his grandfather’s brother and Jiang’s uncle and a butcher brother. He should call the other party, Second Uncle. Living up to seventy years old was rare. The second uncle in Jiang’s family was over seventy years old. He was the oldest person in the village, so he took himself very seriously.
The second uncle looked at Jiang Zhen with a cold hum and slowly smoked his pipe. Then he continued, “Bad boy, did you throw over your dishes at home? Did you cut the table? I heard you robbed some things?”
“Second Uncle, who is it if not him? There were only a few bowls in our house, and he threw them over. And the table, it was a good one. He just split it like that!” Old lady Jiang pointed to a pile of broken porcelain at the door.
In the countryside, every family only had a few bowls. If one of them fell to the ground, it was enough to be distressed for a half a day. But right then, a pile had fallen off, not to mention that old lady Jiang was distressed. Even her second uncle and the others looking at her felt distressed for her.
“He’s still pointing a knife at us. He’s trying to kill two old masters!” Madam Jiang said again.
“Village villain, is what your mother said true?” The second uncle looked at Jiang Zhen coldly. Among the younger generation of children in the village, the one he disliked the most was the eldest Jiang. When other young people saw him, they all respectfully called him, “Second Uncle.” This man never called him that. When he bumped into him, he just bowed his head as if he hadn’t seen him. Just seeing him made him angry.
Jiang Zhen felt that it was still necessary for him to explain. After all, he was a reasonable man.
“I fell in the water a few days ago and was thrown into a broken-down cottage in the west in the end. I could not get up because of the fever but didn’t even have any water to drink for a few days. If it weren’t for the good person who had given me a bowl of porridge, I would be dead.” Jiang Zhen spoke in a faint voice about Jiang Zhenwei’s experience. He felt that his chest was full of the strong feelings of resentment. “I felt nothing. I was used to it. But when I come home yesterday, they didn’t even give me a meal. I turned over the table from carelessness.”
Jiang Zhen’s plain remark drew the sympathy of the majority of the people present. The village head of Hexi Village, Jiang Ping, who is a generation apart from old man Jiang said, “Butcher Jiang, Eldest Jiang is also your son. You can’t be so inattentive to him. This child almost drowned, and you left him alone. It’s too much.”
Hexi Village is close to the county town; the law in the village is insignificant. The village head had little power. Usually, when the villagers quarrel, they come to him to resolve it. Old lady Jiang did not take Jiang Ping seriously.
“It’s just falling in the water. When I married my third child in those days, I was busy all day long. When did I have time to take care of him? Isn’t he already good?” old lady Jiang said.
Butcher Jiang had a nickname, “Old Knife,” and his temper was not good. He did not like this son. He was very disgusted with his son’s actions these past two days. Now, he said, “This bastard doesn’t take us seriously as his father and mother. How come it our fault in the end? He’s such a big man. Do we have to cater to him when he wants to eat or drink?”
At this point, Jiang Ping became silent. Although he sympathized with Eldest Jiang, it was other people’s house matter, so he could not be too speak out about it.
The tobacco leaves in the second uncle’s pipe had gone out. He tapped a few times on the peach tree by the house, poured out the ash from the pipe, and said to Jiang Zhen, “Evil boy, kneel down!”
Jiang Zhen frowned and looked at him without saying anything.
“Kneel down and kowtow to your parents to apologize, and then take 20 hits from the sticks. When that’s over, remember to be filial to your parents in the future!” Second uncle Jiang said it, but there was no ancestral temple in Hexi Village, and no lynching had ever happened been done before. However, second uncle Jiang had heard of such things in other villages, so he used this rule now.
Kneel down and be hit by a stick twenty times . . . What if you break him? Jiang Ping frowned immediately. As for the rest of the people, some gloated over the other person’s misfortunes while others showed sympathy.
“That’s all?” Old madam Jiang felt that it was not enough.
“So you want me to kneel and kowtow?” Jiang Zhen suddenly asked.
“Yes, kneel down!” the second uncle said again. His pipe struck the to peach tree full of peach blossoms.
Jiang Zhen sneered and went straight for the second uncle. He grabbed his clothes and directly picked up the skinny old man. “If you want to kneel, go kneel on your own!”
After saying that, Jiang Zhen directly pushed him down and grabbed the pipe in his hand.
“You . . . You . . . What do you want?” The second uncle lay on the ground, looking up at the tall Jiang Zhen foolishly.
“You said to respect the old and love the young. I won’t hit you.” Jiang Zhen stepped over the second uncle with a pipe in one hand and a knife in the other, then he went to the other people present, smiling, and for some reason, the man standing opposite him could not help but feel the coldness in his heart.
“I already died twice, once when I fell in the water and later when I died of hunger. I’ve died twice, and I can’t afford to be a loser anymore.” Jiang Zhen smoked the pipe hard while looking at someone about the same age as Eldest Jiang and who had bullied him before. He kicked that man and then kicked him again on the crotch. “If you came to cause me trouble again, I will kill you. One life is not worth much, and I have nothing to lose!”
Edited by : Faro