“Jiang Zhen, what do you want to do with this land?” Zhao Fugui was puzzled. Although he could dig some bamboo shoots and grow some water bamboo shoots to sell for money, it would not only take time but also a lot of effort and might earn them less than one or two silver a year. What can you do with such land?
“I think it’s a good place to raise ducks,” Jiang Zhen said.
He didn’t want Zhao Jinge to work as a long-term worker, nor did he want Zhao Fugui to work as a short-term worker, so he found something to do for them. It was a good idea to raise chicken and ducks. This way, in two or three months, the family wouldn’t be short of chicken and duck eggs.
Zhao Fugui thought that raising chicken and ducks would not require such a large piece of land, but thought that it was Jiang Zhen’s silver anyway. He stopped talking.
After negotiating with Jiang Ping to buy the Jiang family’s paddy fields and that piece of dryland, they considered going to the county town to see if there was any other land for sale. Zhao Fugui and Zhao Liu looked at each other and refused to go to the county town.
Jiang Zhen and Zhao Jinge were going to get married. It was alright to go to the county town to have a look. The better-off families would take their future daughter-in-law to the county town to buy some things before the marriage. At this time . . . what would the two old ones do with them? So on the trip to the county town, only Zhao Jinge and Jiang Zhen went. Before leaving, Jiang Zhen brought some porcelain with him.
There was a porcelain shop in the county town, which mainly sold very cheap bowls and dishes. When people went there to buy bowls, the shopkeeper would engrave a mark in the bottom.
In this era, when people threw wedding parties, they needed to borrow tables, chairs, and dishes from others. After they were done, they needed to return them—after all, this was one of the most important properties of many families, so they had to be marked.
Jiang Zhen first looked around the shop and asked about the price of porcelain. Then he took out the porcelain dishes he had brought for the shopkeeper to see and asked him what price he was willing to pay for it.
“This porcelain is of good quality,” the shopkeeper said as soon as he saw the porcelain that Jiang Zhen took out.
“Yes, the purchase price was not cheap,” Jiang Zhen said.
“How many do you have? If the price is right, I’ll take them all,” the shopkeeper said.
“I have a large number of them on my ship. As for the price . . . Shopkeeper, how about this? You help me contact the buyer and negotiate the price, and then I’ll bring the goods to sell to them. As for the selling price, you’ll take one silver out of ten.” Jiang Zhen didn’t know the market price of porcelain. Most of the people who rashly sold it to the shopkeeper would lose money, so he simply thought of such a way.
If the shopkeeper wanted a bigger cut, he would definitely raise the price a little higher.
“This . . .” The shopkeeper had never sold anything this way, so he was a bit hesitant.
“Shopkeeper, you will earn 10 percent out of nothing. Of course, don’t try to fool me. I just want to sell it for a good price. If the price is not right, I won’t sell it at all,” Jiang Zhen said.
After thinking about it for a moment, the shopkeeper agreed to Jiang Zhen’s request. Although the porcelain brought by Jiang Zhen was not particularly expensive, it was still good and pretty rare there.
Jiang Zhen’s porcelain was not very expensive, but it was really of good quality. At least, they hadn’t seen much of it there. If he were to show it to the mistresses of several big families in the county town, he was sure he would sell it for a good price.
With the shopkeeper’s consent, Jiang Zhen left the samples and then told the shopkeeper the quantity of each plate in his hand, leaving his own address as well.
After doing that, Jiang Zhen wanted to take Zhao Jinge to a restaurant in the county town for a meal. There was only one big restaurant in the county town and the food there was not cheap. Just as Jiang Zhen proposed to go, Zhao Jinge refused. “I don’t want to eat there. Let’s eat wonton.”
“Wonton?” Jiang Zhen was stunned. “Jinge, you don’t have to save my money.”
“I really like to eat wonton. When I was a kid, every time father brought me to the county town, he would buy me a bowl of wonton,” Zhao Jinge said.
Jiang Zhen knew that Zhao Jinge mainly wanted to save money, but he didn’t refuse him. So he took Zhao Jinge to the wonton stall.
Wonton was divided into two kinds. One was the big wonton with thick skin and meat, which was more expensive and cost six copper pennies for one bowl or ten copper pennies for a bowl with meat. The other kind was the small wonton that was very thin with pieces of meat inside the size of mung beans. This bowl cost only about two copper pennies and usually needed some extra meat buns to satisfy the customer’s hunger.
Zhao Jinge ordered two bowls of small wonton, and Jiang Zhen asked for ten meat buns, which could be taken back with them in case they couldn’t finish eating them afterwards.
A bowl of small wonton was worth two copper pennies and a bowl of fist-sized meat buns was worth three copper pennies. Jiang Zhen ate three meat buns with a bowl of wonton in order to get full. Zhao Jinge ate the same amount, so they wrapped the remaining four steamed buns in oiled paper.
When he brought Zhao Jinge to the county town, he intended to buy something for Zhao Jinge, but Zhao Jinge didn’t want anything. After purchasing goods in Fucheng, he couldn’t think of anything else he should buy. At last, he just bought two kilos of meat and another plate of pig liver.
After buying the pig liver, Jiang Zhen saw that pig’s trotters were cheap, so he bought two more pig’s trotters and asked the butcher to cut them into pieces.
“Zhao Jinge?” a voice could be heard suddenly. Zhao Jinge, who was standing beside Jiang Zhen, turned his head and saw a woman in her thirties standing not far away.
“Sister,” Zhao Jinge called and looked at the woman opposite him.
“I didn’t expect to see you here . . . Do you want to buy some meat but have no money? Do you want me to lend you some?” Liu Pandi looked at Zhao Jinge and asked.
“No,” Zhao Jinge refused.
“Don’t say no. I know your family’s life is not easy. Alas, you are too old to still find a mother-in-law and need to work for another family all day . . . ” Liu Pandi said, looking at Zhao Jinge with some pride. However, this close look made her eyebrows wrinkle slightly.
This Liu Pandi was the eldest daughter of Zhao Jinge’s uncle and was the same age as Zhao Jinge. When she was a child, she was very jealous of Zhao Jinge, who was loved by his parents. When she grew up, she married well in the county town, while Zhao Jinge never got married. She felt more and more superior to Zhao Jinge.
It was her great regret that Zhao Liu basically cut off contact with her family, so she would casually send Zhao Jinge some food for the Chinese New Year, in order to let Zhao Jinge see how well she was doing.
Today, when she saw Zhao Jinge, she was happy at first, but soon felt that something was not right. Today, Zhao Jinge was dressed up, looking very lively. There was even a silver hairpin in his hair.
“Zhao Jinge, I can’t believe you’re wearing a silver hairpin! Is my aunt finally helping you find your mother-in-law’s family?” Liu Pandi asked again. That silver hairpin shouldn’t have been bought by the Zhao family. Zhao Jinge was getting married? “Are you filling in a house or marrying an old man? You are already so old, but that family is willing to give you a silver hairpin. It must be in poor condition, isn’t it?”
Liu Pandi seemed to be guessing, but in fact, she was very sure. She thought that Zhao Jinge might marry some stupid madman. If not, why would they buy Zhao Jinge a silver hairpin?
Zhao Jinge didn’t have much contact with this cousin of his. In fact, at the beginning, he hadn’t discovered that this cousin bore malice towards him, but now he also felt something was wrong and couldn’t help frowning.
“Jinge, I’ve bought the meat. What else do you want? Let’s go buy it.” Jiang Zhen smiled and looked at Liu Pandi. “Who is this old woman? Do you know her?”
“This is my cousin,” Zhao Jinge said.
“Oh, she was a cousin. I thought she was an aunt,” Jiang Zhen sneered.
Liu Pandi was nearly furious. The situation of her husband’s family was really very good for showing off. But she had a powerful mother-in-law who was always dissatisfied with the fact that her family had asked for too many betrothal gifts, so she treated her harshly, aging her. But even so, she was still only one year older than Zhao Jinge. How did she become an aunt?
Liu Pandi wanted to say something more, but Jiang Zhen didn’t pay any attention to her and had already pulled Zhao Jinge away. Liu Pandi looked at Zhao Jinge’s back and could not help frowning. Could Zhao Jinge really be getting married? It couldn’t be true! She must go back and ask!
Edited by : Faro