The He brothers looked very embarrassed. Although they had no intention of marrying their younger brother to Jiang Zhen, their parents had this idea, which made them even more embarrassed when they looked at Zhao Jinge.
Zhao Jinge was stunned when he saw them. He didn’t expect to see He Chunsheng and He Xiasheng working on his own land.
“If they want to learn how to fight from me, they’ll help with some work first,” Jiang Zhen explained.
After hearing Jiang Zhen’s explanation, Zhao Jinge immediately breathed a sigh of relief. This was good. He had thought that He Qiusheng was in love with Jiang Zhen.
Zhao Jinge came here to deliver food, but there was no share for He Chunsheng and He Xiasheng.
When the He brothers saw that Jiang Zhen not only had a full-to-the-brim bowl of rice to eat at noon but also a bowl of fried garlic sprouts, salted vegetables, boiled broad beans, and stewed eggs, they couldn’t help swallowing their saliva.
“There are some peas growing over there. You can pick some of them and cook them,” Jiang Zhen noticed their expression and pointed in the distance.
Hearing his words, the He brothers really picked up some peas, put them in a bamboo tube, and threw them in the fire to cook. If the peas and the broad beans were any older, they could just pull out the whole peas and cook them on the fire, but for now they couldn’t do it.
Peas could be eaten even if they were not ripe. They picked some peas and padded their stomachs with them.
The He brothers worked for Jiang Zhen for two days, but Jiang Zhen didn’t teach them anything, and even Zhao Jinge didn’t agree to bring them food. However, two days later, Jiang Zhen greeted them and asked them to go to the Zhao family’s house for next day’s wedding.
“Can we go?” He Chunsheng looked at Jiang Zhen in surprise.
“Yes,” Jiang Zhen said, and then added, “Only you two can come.” He felt that both Zhao Liu and Zhao Jinge were on guard against He Qiusheng, so he couldn’t come. As for why He Chunsheng and his brother could come . . . it was because there were too few relatives in the Zhao family.
They invited the village head, Jiang Ping’s family, Zhao Fugui’s relative, and several friends. But all of them added up, the total was less than three tables.
It was a good thing to get married and have some fun. Jiang Zhen invited them, Wang Haisheng, and even Yang Jing, and asked him to come with his wife and children.
On the wedding day, Jiang Zhen got up before dawn, and after getting up, he started . . . killing pigs.
The people in Hexi who got married and had better living conditions all killed pigs. These pigs were called Xixi pigs.
The groom’s family would kill a pig and then send this whole pig to his future bride’s house. The bride’s family would take half of the pig and then send the remaining half back to the man’s house with the pig’s head. Then the meat would be used for the wedding banquet.
Jiang Zhen thought that his family could not do without this, so he spent money on a pig. Because the weather was hot recently, he didn’t kill the pig a day in advance but killed it single-handedly that morning. That was because there was no other way. There were too few relatives in the Zhao family who could help.
“It is not good for the groom to see blood . . .” Zhao Liu looked at Jiang Zhen and hesitated. How could the groom kill the pig himself?
“It’s alright. It was nice and fat, and that is a good sign.”
Jiang Zhen added water and salt to the wooden bucket with the pig’s blood and stirred it. After stirring the pig’s blood with water and salt, it would condense after a while, then they could boil it with some water and, afterwards, pieces of blood tofu would come out. Its taste was pretty good. If the pig was killed here, they would usually share some pig’s blood and pig intestines with their neighbors.
“Is that so?” Zhao Liu was tricked and nodded.
Because there were not many people invited to the wedding banquet, there were only five tables. Jiang Zhen didn’t kill any chicken and only prepared some fish.
With pork and some fish, the wedding reception for him and Zhao Jinge was already very decent.
After looking around, he found that everything he had to prepare was ready. Jiang Zhen breathed a sigh of relief. Then he went to take a bath and put on the set of clothes he had asked the tailor in Fucheng to make. Red wedding clothes could only be worn once. In this era, no one in the countryside would wear red clothes, so Jiang Zhen didn’t have them made. Instead, he had two more sets of regular clothes made.
These two sets of regular clothes were moon-white with a red accent—it was bound to a dark red cloth and tied with a dark red waistband—that represented happiness.
Jiang Zhen’s waist did not have any extra flesh. When he put on his clothes and tightened his belt, he immediately looked extremely energetic, and so did Zhao Jinge. Of course, Jiang Zhen couldn’t see Zhao Jinge at the moment.
Last night, the Zhao family put the new bed, which had been specially made, in the new house. Then Zhao Jinge slept on it with Wang Daniu, Wang Haisheng’s youngest son, to bless the bed.
Obviously, having Wang Daniu sleep on his new bed in his house with his Zhao Jinge, Jiang Zhen felt a bit reluctant, but this was the tradition, so he couldn’t do anything about it. In addition, there were also other customs. For example, last night, Jiang Zhen slept in the new house of the Zhaos while Zhao Jinge slept in his house.
Today, he was busy in the Zhao family residence. After changing into new clothes, he would go from the Zhao family’s house to his own house and then go to Zhao Jinge’s house for the wedding. Then he needed to take Zhao Jinge back to the Zhao family’s ancestral hall for worship. Even if it was a nuisance, a man still needed to do it when he married a woman or a ger.
At around ten o’clock in the morning, Jiang Zhen set out from the Zhao family’s house to his own. He had no family, so he took a young man Zhao Fugui found for him and Wang Haisheng to welcome him together.
In his house, Zhao Jinge was accompanied by Sun Xiaoshan, and a young woman from another village was already waiting.
When other people got married, they would still ask for a red envelope in order to open the door. However, Zhao Jinge and Jiang Zhen’s situation was different, which spared them all of that. At last, Jiang Zhen took Zhao Jinge back to the Zhaos’ house with ease.
There was no such thing as a sedan chair with a high roof or a big horse. Jiang Zhen led Zhao Jinge, who was covered in red fabric, and the two of them walked back, worshiped the ancestors, and finally got married.
There were a few relatives of the Jiang family, but when they went to the hall, many villagers came to watch, and they all whispered when they looked at Zhao Jinge.
“Zhao Jinge’s clothes are really beautiful.”
“It was said that Jiang Zhen had these clothes made in Fucheng. Fucheng . . .”
“Jiang Zhen went especially to buy a pig. The wedding banquet of the Zhao family should be very magnificent.”
“Jiang Zhen has so much money now. It would be no problem for him to marry now. Why did he agree to marry in?”
“Speaking of which, he is really capable. He used to be so silent in the Jiang family, but now, he has become rich as soon as he left the Jiang family.”
. . .
The mood of the people present was somewhat complicated, and the most complicated feeling undoubtedly belonged to Butcher Jiang, who came here especially.
Jiang Zhen was dressed in a new set of clothes. His expression was not as cold and stiff like it had been before. His whole person looked refreshing and handsome . . . and Butcher Jiang suddenly discovered that, out of his three sons, his eldest son was the one most like him. Speaking of which, it was Jiang Zhen who learned all his craftsmanship—the butchering of pigs, farming, and everything else.
Why did he use to think that his son was stupid and, therefore, always hated him? He had always been a neat worker. What was wrong with him?
Butcher Jiang still disliked Jiang Zhen, but at the moment, he also had some problems with old Madam Jiang, who had always spoken ill of Jiang Zhen in front of him all day. If old Madam Jiang hadn’t spoken ill of Jiang Zhen and about his wrongdoings all day, he would never have hated this son so much.
Because Butcher Jiang came to the wedding banquet, old lady Jiang also came. But she did not think too much about it and kept telling people that Jiang Zhen was unfilial.
There were still many people who agreed with her words. Although some people in the village admired Jiang Zhen, and some even envied him, they also felt that Jiang Zhen was unfilial. It was just . . . Jiang Zhen was so strong; no one dared to offend him.
When old lady Jiang was saying that, Jiang Zhen and Zhao Jinge had already bowed in respect in the hall, and Jiang Zhen was leading Zhao Jinge into their new house. Outside, the banquet commenced.
The Zhao family had also invited a cook, and now, all the dishes brought to the tables looked very attractive—braised pork feet, braised kelp stew, braised pork, braised fish . . .
The Jiang family had not eaten meat for a long time. Looking at all these, old lady Jiang could not move her eyes away.
She wanted to sit at one of the tables; she was Jiang Zhen’s mother, who could stop her? Maybe she could even bring some food back to little Yuanwen. Old lady Jiang was about to enter when she suddenly saw about twenty people from a distance coming here.
These people were men and women, young and old, and most of the people in Hexi Village couldn’t recognize them. But there was one person who they knew, Liu Heitou, who came to Hexi a few days ago to kidnap people.
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Edited by : Faro