Zhao Jinge managed to eat the egg.

He ate very little that morning, but he was very full at noon under the care of Jiang Zhen, so he was particularly full that afternoon.

But although he was very energetic and worked very fast, his mind was not on his work but on something else.

After digging out his cinnabar mole, he regarded himself as a man and made up his mind not to marry. Even though he had recently planned on spending the rest of his life with Jiang Zhen, he forgot of matter of having children. But now Jiang Zhen mentioned it.

Zhao Jinge felt guilty.

The fertility rate of ger was closely related to the color of their cinnabar. The brighter the color of cinnabar moles, the higher the fertility rate of the ger, but his cinnabar mole had always been dull until he dug it up. 

At the beginning, the old man of the village said that it would be difficult for him to have children like this, which was one of the reasons why he couldn’t marry out. Jiang Zhen should also know about this. Did he want him to take good care of himself so he specifically mentioned it today?

It’s hard for me to have children because I’m ugly. Now I’m also so old. I really need to take good care of myself. Otherwise, I may not be able to have children in the future.

After working for a long time, thirsty and tired, Zhao Jinge wanted to scoop up some water to drink but stopped his movements.

Families in the village paid attention so as to not let their women and gers drink fresh and cold water for fear that it might damage their bodies.  He’d better not drink. 

After sitting for a while, Zhao Jinge began to work again.

Jiang Zhen did not know that, because of his flirtatious words, Zhao Jinge thought hard about it. 

In fact, he had no idea that he would have children in the future.

Before crossing worlds, he never thought of having his own children. After crossing worlds, although he knew that Zhao Jinge was a fertile ger, he did not think too much about it. “Well fed and good for breeding” was nothing but casual talk, just to see how a shy Zhao Jinge looked.

After having dinner with Zhao Jinge, Jiang Zhen went to pick up the fish he had caught in the morning.

The fish had been thrown into the basket by him, and many of them had already died, but the loaches and other things were still alive . . . When Jiang Zhen got to the river, he began to scrape the fish scales and cut the belly with a sharp knife used to kill pigs, and cleaned up the small fish.

The fish were easy to tidy up, but the loaches were too slippery and very troublesome to deal with. Jiang Zhen did not pay attention to it and even let a loach escape into the river.

Loaches were not killed in many places; they were boiled directly for a few days. But here in Hexi Village, loach heads were cut off with a knife and washed before eating. As for the method . . .

The loaches were dropped on the mud beside him, one by one, and Jiang Zhen cut off all the loaches heads with his sharp butcher’s knife.

Although the dead loaches were still slippery, but at least they would not escape. Then he needed to cut open their bellies and squeeze out their intestines. 

After dealing with the loaches, Jiang Zhen handled the eel that he had caught, which was small but thick, and he also cleaned some miscellaneous things.

The snake brought home yesterday was cooked for himself, but today . . . Since he had regarded Zhao Jinge as his wife-to-be, then Zhao Jinge’s parents were also his parents, so of course, he would show filial piety.

As far as he was concerned, he had always respected the old and loved the young. If old lady Jiang and Butcher Jiang had not gone so far, he would have never used a knife to threaten the two old people.

Carrying a bamboo basket, Jiang Zhen went to Zhao Jinge, who was digging in the field.

The man who was working looked very tempting to him. Jiang Zhen wanted to cuddle with him for a few moments, but he was able to bear with his impulse in the end. He just took out the bamboo tube he had filled with water and gave it to Zhao Jinge. “Come, drink some water and rest.” Zhao Jinge’s lips were dry and he was probably thirsty.

Zhao Jinge was really thirsty. After receiving the bamboo tube from Jiang Zhen, he drank it all up (or drank bottoms up). He thought that he should bring boiled water from home to drink tomorrow. 

After watching Zhao Jinge finish drinking the water, Jiang Zhen collected the bamboo tube and gave him the bamboo basket. “This is for you.|

“What is it?” Zhao Jinge opened the lid of the bamboo basket and looked inside. Then he saw that the small basket was full of fish and shrimp inside.

“Take it home and cook it. Even if the taste may not be too good, you need to eat more.” Jiang Zhen said, “Take it. I can’t finish all of this alone.”

“Okay . . .” When Zhao Jinge thought about the need to take care of his body, he nodded and asked, “Are you coming over tonight?”

“I will!” Jiang Zhen immediately said and looked at Zhao Jinge in joy. He did not expect Zhao Jinge to take the initiative to make an appointment with him.

“Then I’ll cook it later and save some for you,” said Zhao Jinge.

“All right. Let’s eat together later.” Jiang Zhen’s mood improved, and he could not help but want to kiss Zhao Jinge. Unfortunately, someone might come by at any time, and he could only give up on his plan with regret. 

Zhao Jinge smiled and looked at something in the bamboo basket. Somehow puzzled, he said, “Why did you put the stone crab inside? It’s not good enough to eat. You can only feed ducks with it.”

“Eating this is good for your health,” said Jiang Zhen. Zhao Jinge said this because crabs that lived in the river and in ditches were just a little larger than a dollar coin.

This crab crawls everywhere in the countryside and likes to hide under the stones near the water, so people in Hexi Village call them stone crabs. They are so small that they don’t have any meat at all, so no one eats them. They catch it for the purpose of feeding them to ducks.

However, Jiang Zheng thought that such crabs should be able to supplement the body’s calcium needs, so he did not throw them away but kept them.

Since Jiang Zhen said it was good to eat it, Zhao Jinge secretly decided to catch few himself for him to eat more.

Thinking of the last time Zhao Dahu and his family asked for loaches, Zhao Jinge did not carry the bamboo basket on his back when he finished his work to return the farm tools.

After returning the farm tools and helping Zhao Dahu with some work, he put his hidden bamboo basket on his back and went home. 

“Dad, Mother, I’m back.” After returning home, Zhao Jinge gave the bamboo basket to his mother.

“Did you catch fish, Jinge?” Zhao Liu looked at the bamboo basket and asked in some surprise that her son had time to catch fish during work.

“I didn’t catch it. It was Eldest Jiang who caught it for me,” Zhao Jinge said, bowing his head somewhat sheepishly. 

When Zhao Jinge mentioned Eldest Jiang, he felt a sense of satisfaction in his heart, hoping that his parents would him ask a few more questions. But Zhao Liu did not think much about it at all. “Is he thanking you for saving him last time? He knows how to be grateful.”

Zhao Liu continued, “But recently, his mother scolded him every day in the village . . . If you see him, please persuade him with few words. They are still his father and mother.”

In the past, when Eldest Jiang was bullied, the people in Hexi Village sympathized with him, but when he suddenly became strong and became the one who bullied, old lady Jiang became the object of sympathy instead.

But Zhao Jinge felt that old lady Jiang deserved it. He could not help but feel aggrieved for Jiang Zhen in his heart, but he could not speak and did not refute his mother.

“There is no oil in our house. Otherwise, the fish would be delicious . . .” Zhao Liu sighed. If the fish were too small, cooking would smash its small body, so she steamed it and ate the loach and eel. Zhao Jinge insisted on eating the stone crab, so she cooked it in a pot with the salted vegetables.

There was no seasoning and not even a drop of oil. Fish cooked this way had a fishy smell, but the people here eat fish all the time; they no longer care about the fishy smell.

Zhao Jinge had good teeth. He could chew those steamed little fish without picking out the bones. He could chew and eat up the fish whole in one swallow. With the serving of pickles, he ate three bowls of porridge in one breath.

He also ate a lot of stone crabs, all of which had no meat in their shells, but they were delicious when chewed with their shells.

Father and Mother Zhao also ate some small fish but especially left some salted vegetable, eel, and loaches for Zhao Jinge to bring to Eldest Jiang.

As Zhao Jinge had similar thoughts, he nodded in agreement. But instead of carrying a bowl to Jiang family house, he waited at the thatched cottage. As a result, he had not waited long when Jiang Zhen came.

They split the eel and the loaches. 

“It’s a pity that there is too little seasoning and no oil . . .” Jiang Zhen ate a piece of eel and sighed. At the same time, he began to think about getting some oil for cooking.

It’s just . . . in ancient times, there was very little oyster oil and the output of vegetable oil was low because of its poor oil extraction technology, and he really could not afford to buy it now. 

Jiang Zhen could now say that he had nothing, and even his body was not completely well-nourished,  so he let go of these thoughts for the time being. 

As for the future . . . Jiang Zhen’s eyes fell on the canal. He always thought he had to find a way to earn some money to support himself, and the job that was more suitable for him in this world, he was afraid . . . was to be a businessman.

He did not have the skills to earn his living in ancient times, and he could not do anything else than to do business. Fortunately, it was not as difficult as in later generations to do business in these times. The so-called traders only had to exchange goods between two places. 

In the days that followed, Jiang Zhen had lived a very similar day-to-day life.

In the morning, he tried to find all kinds of food that he could eat, had lunch with Zhao Jinge at noon, and then wandered around in the afternoon to continue to find what he could eat. 

The small fish and shrimps, which many people in Hexi Village despised, had good nutrition. After eating them for a few days, Jiang Zhen’s complexion was much better. Zhao Jinge’s whole body also looked refreshed. But all the ditches of Hexi Village were cleaned out. That summer, the harvest of children in the village were estimated to be much poorer than in previous years.

At that time, with the arrival of the Qingming Dynasty Festival, the members of the Jiang family became more and more intolerant of Jiang Zhen. 

This eldest Jiang didn’t work every day but still had to eat and drink well. Why?

One morning, after Jiang Zhen went out, Butcher Jiang and old lady Jiang called Jiang Chengwen into their house. Then they discussed with Jiang Chengwen how to deal with Jiang Zhen.

Old lady Jiang now hated Jiang Zhen, who scolded her all day long, even more. She scolded for a while before saying, “It’s not enough for this son of a bitch to eat eggs every day, he even robbed the pot of lard from home yesterday. Why don’t he just die?

As old Madam Jiang thought of the pot of lard, she felt very distressed. She used her chopsticks to scrape a little bit of lard to cook when she become greedy. In the end, her eldest son actually took the whole pot of lard away . . . She still didn’t know even now whether the lard had been eaten by him yet.

“Mother, what is the use of your scolding? Let’s think about another way to deal with him!” said Jiang Chengwen.

“We must teach him some lessons, so he will work in peace again,” said old Jiang. Old lady Jiang had always blindly hated her eldest son. These days, however, old Jiang was well aware of his eldest son’s good side.

Before, when his eldest son was willing to work in the fields, when had he needed to work so hard?

The three of them talked for a long time but couldn’t think of any good way. Finally, Jiang Chengwen said, “Why don’t you let the third brother think of something? He’s the smartest.” Both Jiang Chengwen and Jiang Chengxiang went to school at the beginning. And the result was Jiang Chengwen didn’t learn anything useful, but Jiang Chengxiang learned a lot of skills and later found a job in the county town. Gradually, Jiang’s family began to listen to him in regards to many major events.

“Yes, let Chengxiang help us make up our minds,” Butcher Jiang said and suddenly remembered another thing. “We haven’t been to the county town for a long time. Let’s go there today and deliver some food to Chengxiang and then buy a pair of candles for the ancestral worship.”




Edited by : Faro

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