He Qiusheng was the ger who spoke to Jiang Zhen.
He Qiusheng’s family was also very poor; in fact, it was in a similar situation as Zhao Jinge’s family.
Zhao Jinge family was poor because Zhao Liu was in poor health. Zhao Fugui sold their land to fund her treatment. Meanwhile, He Qiusheng family was poor because He Qiusheng’s father was addicted to gambling.
He Qiusheng’s father loved gambling so much that he couldn’t help gambling his money away. Although the bets were not too big, he still lost all of his family’s profit and valuables every year. Finally, he even lost his fields, and the He family’s situation fell sharply.
Neither of the two families had any money, but compared to Zhao Jinge, He Qiusheng’s life was like sky compared to earth. It was because there were many people in He Qiusheng’s family.
He Qiusheng’s father could not support the wall with mud, but He Qiusheng’s two brothers were practical and willing to work, not to mention that his father had several brothers.
His uncles were very disgusted with He Qiusheng’s persistent father. They were reluctant to take care of him but were still willing to help their nephews. He Qiusheng and his two brothers grew up well.
But now that He Qiusheng’s two brothers were all grown up, these days, life at home was slowly getting better.
He Qiusheng was also growing very well, which made his life especially comfortable.
Although He Qiusheng is just a ger, he still looked better than the most beautiful girl in the village. Naturally, He Qiusheng was loved by many since he was young, and the boys in the village were especially willing to take care of him.
When he went out with others to cut grass, he did not have to do it. Others gave it to him, and all he had to do was call out a few sweet cries to his brother.
When he went fishing with others, he did not have to go into the river. Someone will give him the biggest fish they had caught, and all he had to do was give them a smile.
In Hexi Village, He Qiusheng has always been supported by the boys his age. But he was still young. He sent out a message that he will wait until he will be sixteen before he will consider any proposal. Hence, if not for that, many family relatives would have already broken into discussions with the matchmakers.
Yes, He Qiusheng was not yet sixteen but only fifteen years old, ten years younger than Eldest Jiang, so these two people didn’t have much contact before. Eldest Jiang had no deep impression of him. Such a beautiful ger. Eldest Jiang then did not dare to take a closer look.
It was the first time Jiang Zhen saw the so-called good-looking ger. He couldn’t help but take a few more glances. But after looking at him, he was a little disappointed. He had always liked strong and handsome men, and He Qiusheng . . . Not only did he look like a woman, but he behaved like a woman, which was really not to Jiang Zhen’s taste.
“Big brother Jiang, can you give me the snake you caught?” Seeing Jiang Zhen staring at him, He Qiusheng showed his smile towards Jiang Zhen, and his voice was sweet again.
He did not like Eldest Jiang, but the snake he caught made him feel greedy, so he wanted to get the snake from Eldest Jiang, and he did not feel that Eldest Jiang was unwilling.
An old bachelor like Eldest Jiang would usually give him what he wanted if he asked for it.
“You want this snake?” Jiang Zhen asked.
“Yes.” He Qiusheng looked at Jiang Zhen and blinked big eyes full of longing.
“This snake weighs about five kilograms. It’s value is the same as a chicken. If you have a chicken and trade it with me, I’ll give you the snake,” said Jiang Zhen.
He Qiusheng’s face suddenly changed. He didn’t expect that Eldest Jiang to refuse him. He also thought so beautifully… It’s just a snake. The old bachelor wants to trade a chicken for it?
Jiang Zhen came from modern times. There, a kilo of snake meat costs one hundred yuan while chicken is ten yuan a kilo. He did not think there was anything wrong with exchanging snake meat for chicken. But for He Qiusheng, saying such a thing was definitely illogical.
Could snakes caught outside compare to chickens raised at home? Even if Jiang Zhen was carrying a chicken, he would not ask for it because he felt that no one would be willing to give it to him.
The men in the village often sent him things—loach, eel, everything you can fish—even eggs would be given, but no one would send him a whole chicken. After all, for the villagers, chickens were important property of the family.
“You want me to exchange it for a chicken?” He Qiusheng asked again, but he also thought that he might have misheard.
“If you don’t want to exchange, get out of my way,” Jiang Zhen said again and went to the river to wash the snake. He never looked at He Qiusheng again.
For the first time, He Qiusheng was treated so indifferently by another. He was so angry that he gave Jiang Zhen a vicious look. “Humph! Who cares for your snake!” After that, he left without looking back.
“Eldest Jiang, you’re so hard-hearted. You don’t care about such beautiful ger,” the middle-aged woman who washed vegetables next to him said. Although He Qiusheng liked to take small advantages for love, he still had a sense of propriety, and he only took things from unmarried men, so the villagers do not hate him because he’s also quite considerate.
That ger was unlucky to have such a father in the house. There was no land in that poor family, so there was nothing wrong about asking others for food.
Jiang Zhen did not say anything; he did not think that He Qiusheng was beautiful. What was more, he was still waiting to cook this snake and eat it with Zhao Jinge. What would he give it to that inexplicable person? Of course, if somebody wanted to trade chicken for it . . . He preferred eating chicken, which was relatively oily, to snakes, which had slightly tougher meat.
Peeling off the snake skin and ripping off the intestines, Jiang Zhen washed the snake clean.
Snake gall was considered a good thing in Hexi Village, but Jiang Zhen was not interested in it, so he gave it to the middle-aged woman next to him and asked the woman to take it back to her grandson.
When Jiang Zhen returned home with a big snake, old Madam Jiang and Jiang Xiaomei were cooking dinner while Butcher Jiang was talking with Jiang Chengwen. He asked Jiang Chengwen to go with him to the fields tomorrow.
It was obvious that, after he refused to work in the fields, the Jiang family had a little too much farmwork to do.
Of course, that had nothing to do with Jiang Zhen.
Jiang Zhen didn’t have a knife today, but with a snake in hand, Butcher Jiang still did not dare to call him out to do things. Jiang Zhen, without knowing what farmwork should be done, sat at the threshold and waited for dinner to be ready.
Meanwhile, Zhao Jinge walked away from the river quietly while Jiang Zhen was washing the snake and returned home.
Instead of going to the river to wash his hands and feet, he scooped up water from his own tank with gourd ladles. After washing, he stared at his reflection in the water.
If he were a man, this appearance would be too rough for the townspeople, but it was not bad in the countryside. He face was quite satisfactory in the countryside, but he was a ger.
Jiang Zhen even acted like hooligan towards a ger like him and said he wanted to kiss him . . .
Jiang Zhen refused He Qiusheng.
Although Jiang Zhen did not necessarily refuse He Qiusheng for his sake, Zhao Jinge was still very happy at that moment, but he did not dare to show it on his face.
He tried to keep his face straight, and then he saw from his reflection that he was frowning. Not gentle at all! He suddenly felt a little discouraged.
“What are you doing, Jinge?” Zhao Liu saw her son staring at the water tank with a bitter and hateful expression and shouted.
“Nothing.” Zhao Jinge said, “Mother, there is no water in the tank. I’ll go and pick some more.”
“Good.” Zhao Liu nodded and agreed. There were many rivers on their side of the country. For washing clothes and vegetables, they have always gone to the riverside, but the water for cooking was prepared in a water tank. She was not in good health and could not walk all the time, so she used water in the tank to wash dishes and vegetables.
When Zhao Jinge passed by several families in the village while carrying a bucket from the river, he heard someone talking about Jiang Zhen, so he stopped again.
“The eldest Jiang really changed himself. I heard he not only doesn’t work now but also eats and drinks two eggs a day!”
“Jiang family used to treat him too harshly, otherwise, how could they have forced him into this?”
“But he’s gone a little too far. How miserable his mother cried today. She frankly said that she raised this son for nothing.”
“She didn’t raise Eldest Jiang so much either . . .”
“But she’s still the mother of Eldest Jiang. Who would use a knife against his own mother? That’s too much.”
. . .
People talked about it one after another although they felt that Jiang Zhen’s actions were excusable, but they also felt that his parents had done too much.
When Zhao Jinge heard this, he breathed a sigh of relief. Jiang Zhen was really eating well and did not save food to give him, which made him feel less guilt.
Zhao family still had porridge in the evening. Recently, the weather had been a little bit hot. The vegetables in the field were blooming. They should be eaten early. The dishes were boiled vegetables in a large bowl.
After drinking two bowls of porridge and eating a large bowl of green vegetables, Zhao Jinge was full.
After eating enough, Zhao Fugui took out the money he earned from working as a short-time worker these days and gave it to Zhao Liu.
The Zhao family was reluctant to light the lamp. After Zhao Fugui said that he had earned money from the short-term work he had done these days, he went back to bed with Zhao Liu. Zhao Jinge should also go back to his room to sleep. But in the end, he unexpectedly opened the door and went out to the Jiang family thatched cottage.
“Jinge, are you waiting for me?” Jiang Zhen’s voice suddenly rang out again. Zhao Jinge turned his head and saw Jiang Zhen with two bamboo tubes.
“Jiang Zhen . . .”
“Jinge, I caught a snake today. Shall we eat together?” Jiang Zhen shook the bamboo tube in his hand.
After today’s dinner, he went to Jiang’s kitchen and chopped the snake into pieces and cooked it.
Old lady Jiang hid all the soy sauce, rapeseed oil, and so on, and there was only a little salt left in the kitchen. He was too lazy to ask her for seasoning, and he planned to cook the snake casually. As a result, old lady Jiang kept on talking outside the kitchen, dismissing him for burning snake meat and using too much firewood.
Then . . . Jiang Zhen used a knife to force old lady Jiang to take out the vegetable and soy sauce.
He took out the snake meat that had been boiled in water for a while, put oil in the pot first, then stir-fried the snake meat slightly, and finally added soy sauce and a little water to boil it for a period of time . . . Jiang Zhen made a pot of fragrant snake meat though his cooking skills were mediocre.
Then he took the snake meat back to his room and left nothing for the rest of the Jiang family.
Jiang Yuan Wen, the darling of the Jiang family, cried because he didn’t get to eat snake meat. Old lady Jiang had scolded him from outside the room. Jiang Zhen was annoyed to hear it. He simply locked the door to the room with two bamboo poles and went out to find Zhao Jinge.
At first, he was still a little worried. He was worried that Zhao Jinge was asleep and he could not call him out of his house. He did not expect to see Zhao Jinge from afar.
Once again, Jiang Zhen dragged Zhao Jinge into the thatched cottage.
Edited by : Faro