After returning to the village, Jiang Zhen made a detour to the Zhao Dahu family house.

Zhao Jinge was still working in the fields. When he saw him while plowing the land, he stopped. Jiang Zhen smiled at him and went to the nearby trees.

After a while, Zhao Jinge followed too.

“Something wrong?”  Zhao Jinge squeezed the hoe handle in his hand. He was a little afraid to see Jiang Zhen. He and Jiang Zhen were very close these nights, which made him feel embarrassed when he saw Jiang Zhen during the day.

What’s more . . . if they went in the woods like this and someone saw them, they would be despised and wouldn’t be able to do anything against it. 

“I went shopping in the county town today and brought you a gift,” said Jiang Zhen.

A gift? Zhao Jinge looked up at Jiang Zhen, surprised and a little at loss.

When a man in the village meets a woman or a ger he likes, he will go to the county town to buy some presents for them. If the ger or woman receives them, he can start asking a matchmaker to propose to their parents.

Of course, there were also people like He Qiusheng who received gifts but didn’t want to talk to anyone about marriage. 

Jiang Zhen kissed me before, and I think he likes me too. This is . . . Did he go to the county town to buy me gifts?

He once saw a ger or a woman in the village receive rouge, face powder, a hairpin and a handkerchief given to them by the men who adored them. Jiang Zhen also wanted to give him these? 

He was ugly, so it was good to dress like a man. If he used rouge and face powder like the other gers and hairpins to pin up his hair, it would be very ugly . . .

If Jiang Zhen sent him something just to find this out, would he be disappointed?

Zhao Jinge didn’t like these things, but at the same time, he still pondered about how to use them if Jiang Zhen gave them to him.

Zhao Jinge bowed his head and didn’t speak, and Jiang Zhen didn’t know what he was thinking at all. He just gave him a bamboo basket. “Here. Find a reason to take them home.”

There was some noise in the bamboo basket, and it was obvious that there were living creatures inside. Zhao Jinge took the bamboo basket and looked inside. In the basket he saw five fluffy ducklings.

For a while, Zhao Jinge didn’t know whether he should be happy or depressed.

At the same time Jiang Zhen said, “Little ducklings can grow up by eating earthworms, snails, and other things. They don’t need to be fed real food. They are very suitable for your mother to raise. They can be used for eggs or meat.”

Jiang Zhen wanted to give a gift that would bring real benefits, so he chose five ducklings after thinking about it.

In Hexi Village that was near the water, it was much cheaper to raise ducks than chicken because ducks didn’t need to eat feed, and they would find snails and other things to eat in the ditches.

However, people prefered to raise chicken. The eggs laid by ducks were not as delicious as the chicken eggs with their light egg smell. Also ducks did not lay as many eggs as chickens. In addition, ducks often laid eggs outside.

Not to mention that ducks did not have as much meat as chicken. The ducks in ancient times were a little small indeed.

But even so, it’s a symbol of a prosperous life to raise some chicken and ducks at home. However, if the Zhao family wanted to raise chicken or ducks in the past, they didn’t have enough food to raise them.

“My mother is in poor health . . . ” Zhao Jinge said.

“Just make a fence to keep the ducks from running away, and it won’t be hard to raise them. As for the food, I’ll bring it to you when I catch some fish and shrimps,” said Jiang Zhen. In fact, there was another reason why he decided to send ducklings to Zhao Jinge. He wanted to find something for his mother-in-law to do. 

His mother-in-law was said to be in poor health, but she didn’t look too bad either. It’s just that Zhao Jinge and Zhao Fugui were working outside, and she thought about different things all by herself at home and didn’t even go out for a walk. She also ate poorly so her body was weak.

It’s definitely good for her to keep ducks around.

“No, I can catch food for them myself,” Zhao Jinge hurriedly said after pondering for a while. He felt that raising ducks was really a good idea. “When they grow up, we will share them.” The ducklings were bought by Jiang Zhen. When they grow, Jiang Zhen should have his share.

“Good,” Jiang Zhen agreed. It will take three months for the ducks to grow up. By that time, he would no longer have to sneak to Zhao Jinge like he did now.

After giving the ducklings to Zhao Jinge, Jiang Zhen went back. Looking at Jiang Zhen’s back, Zhao Jinge felt somehow lost.

Jiang Zhen didn’t give him rouge or a hairpin. Was it because he was too ugly?

However, when his eyes fell on those ducklings, Zhao Jinge smiled again. He and Jiang Zhen planned to spend their lives together because they were suitable for each other. So was he thinking too much? Rouge, hairpins, and so on, could they benefit them like ducks would?

After receiving these five fluffy ducklings, Zhao Jinge was even more energetic in his work. He picked up some earthworms, collecting them easily when looking down at the soil.

Ducks love to eat them.

After work that night, Zhao Jinge walked home with the ducklings on his back. He was in a good mood. Then he saw Jiang Zhen sitting by the side of the road, his eyes fixed on him, as if he was going to strip him of all his clothes.

Lowering his head, he subconsciously quickened his pace until he entered his family’s house. With a sigh of relief, his heart rate slowly stabilized.

“Jinge, you’re back,” Zhao Liu welcomed him.

“Um,” Zhao Jinge nodded and gave the bamboo basket in his hand to Zhao Liu. Without waiting for Zhao Liu to ask, he said, “Mother, someone came with chicken and ducklings to sell. I have bought five ducklings. Keep them.”

Zhao Jinge had some money on his hand, and Zhao Liu didn’t doubt his words. She took the ducklings away and said very happily, “I always wanted to raise something for a long time, that is . . .” Their family didn’t have much money. Chicken and ducklings cost 10 pennies each. It’s not easy for them to raise them because there’s no food in their family. Even if they bought some, they could only starve them to death . . .

Moreover, Zhao Fugui always felt that she was in poor health, so he was not willing to let her do much work.

Zhao Liu touched a few ducklings and took out the earthworms that Zhao Jinge had thrown inside the basket. With a smile on her face, she cut them into small pieces with scissors for the ducklings to eat.

It was just that her smile soon disappeared.

“Jinge, recently Jiang Zhen always stares at our house fiercely, and he was staring at you just now. This . . .” When Zhao Liu went out to pick vegetables today, she saw Jiang Zhen staring at her not far away. She became scared, and just now, she saw Jiang Zhen staring at her son by the roadside.

They were a single family that didn’t have anyone to help them. If Jiang Zhen had any bad thoughts about them, what could they do?

Zhao Jinge: “. . .” 


Edited by : Faro

Proofreader: Taalia

Support translation:

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