Today Jiang Xiaomei was really different from the past.
When Jiang Zhen first came here, Jiang Xiaomei was a clean, beautiful, and popular girl in Hexi Village. Her hands and face were white and clean, but at the moment . . . Her hair was a mess, her hands became thicker, and she had also lost a lot of weight. She was only sixteen or seventeen years old, so she should still be growing, but now, her original clothes looked so big on her body.
Jiang Zhen looked at Jiang Xiaomei’s appearance and frowned, regretting that he had not noticed her situation earlier. However, he had not been present for several months, so even if he wanted to pay attention to her condition, he could not. Instead of thinking about what happened before, he might as well think about how to deal with it now.
It was absolutely impossible to let Jiang Xiaomei go back. If he allowed it, right before he’d turned around, she would be sold off by the Jiang family again . . .
Jiang Xiaomei couldn’t use the tricks he used, and, right then and there, there was no way she could do anything. Standing here today, she had nothing.
Because of this, he wanted to bring Jiang Xiaomei out of the Jiang family . . .
Jiang Zhen knew that the best way to bring Jiang Xiaomei out of the Jiang family was to find a husband for Jiang Xiaomei. There were many people under his hands who were not married. If he was willing to marry Jiang Xiaomei to one of these people, they all would be ecstatic. He just needed to choose one of them and let him bring the dowry money to the Jiang family to marry Jiang Xiaomei. Given the fact that the Jiang family was now short of money, they would certainly agree.
But this was ancient times, not the modern times. In modern times, marrying was not easy; divorce and remarrying happened a lot. But nowadays, marrying someone was basically a lifetime contract. Even if he made that decision for Jiang Xiaomei and supported her to marry. In fact, if Jiang Xiaomei did not like the man he chose for her, she would probably force herself to endure it.
Jiang Zhen didn’t like arranged marriages, let alone having to arrange other people’s marriages.
“You have two options right now,” Jiang Zhen looked at Jiang Xiaomei.
“What?” Jiang Xiaomei asked subconsciously, looking at Jiang Zhen uneasily. Just then, Jiang Zhen had been staring at her, making her feel a little scared.
“First, hurry up and choose a man you like, I’ll marry him to you. Do you have anyone you like in the village? Or do you have a good impression of He Chunsheng or Jiang Ming? I can ask them for you,” Jiang Zhen said.
Jiang Xiaomei became a little flustered. People in the village got married early, so she had already thought of getting married. She also had good feelings for a few men she knew, such as Jiang Ming of the village head’s family, who she liked very much. But under these circumstances, suddenly having to marry made her feel uneasy.
She had a crush on Jiang Ming, but who knows if Jiang Ming had good feelings for her in return?
“The second option is to ask Zhao Jinge to go to the Jiang family house to buy you and sign a deed of sale. Of course, you can rest assured that you can keep the deed of sale in the future, and when you want to marry, you will marry from this family,” Jiang Zhen said.
“Big brother. . .” Jiang Xiaomei, seeing her elder brother being so generous, was slightly torn. Just let her get married in the front, but it’s like this secretly in the back . . . Her eldest brother married into the Zhao family house and was in trouble now. It wasn’t good, right?
She also knew that her brother had made some money outside, but fifty silver was not a small amount; it could buy two acres of land . . .
“What do you want to do?” Jiang Zhen asked again.
“Big brother, do you have money?” Jiang Xiaomei asked in a small voice.
Jiang Zhen didn’t think that Jiang Xiaomei would even be worried about it so he said, “There is money,” and opened the two bundles beside him.
In addition to the clothes for Zhao Liu and Zhao Fugui, the bundle also contained several hundred taels of silver intended to be given to the Zhao family and some jewelry that was shiny and made of gold.
Jiang Xiaomei was stunned for a moment; old lady Jiang never allowed her to see money, so the most she had in her hand before was a few copper coins. She had never seen so much money . . .
“Brother, you can buy me!” Jiang Xiaomei immediately said.
Jiang Zhen also thought that this was the best option. “You have a good meal and rest first. I will buy you tomorrow.”
“Thank you, big brother,” Jiang Xiaomei said.
After seeing Jiang Zhen’s drastic change before, Jiang Xiaomei became a little afraid of him, but at the moment . . . she suddenly found that this big brother was not so frightening.
The Zhao family’s house was small, so the conversation between Jiang Zhen and Jiang Xiaomei was overheard by Zhao Fugui and Zhao Liu. However, they were fine with Jiang Zhen spending money “buying” Jiang Xiaomei.
Zhao Jinge, needless to say, knew exactly how rich Jiang Zhen was. Zhao Fugui and Zhao Liu thought that the silver on the table might be all of Jiang Zhen’s possessions, but they knew that Jiang Zhen had earned it, so they were in no position to stop him from spending it, even if he wanted to spend it all.
“I didn’t expect Jinge to have a child . . .” Zhao Liu kept blinking her eyes as she prepared the food, trying not to let the tears fall from her eyes.
“Our days will get better and better from now on,” Zhao Fugui said. His action of killing the chicken was very neat, not distressing at all.
“I was worried that Jiang Zhen might get hooked up by some goblins in the capital . . . But now I am relieved, he and Jinge are on good terms,” Zhao Liu said again.
“Mm-hmm.” Zhao Fugui nodded.
“My life has been completed.”
“Mm-hmm.” Zhao Fugui continued to nod.
“It’s no fun talking to you!” Zhao Liu said, thinking that tomorrow she would be able to speak with other villagers.
“Don’t go out and talk nonsense. The Li family has a funeral to arrange,” Zhao Fugui said.
Only then did Zhao Liu realize that, because she was so happy, she forgot about Li Yuan and immediately closed her mouth.
The meal could be regarded as lunch. People in Hexi had a casual lunch, but the Zhao family’s meal was extraordinarily sumptuous.
Half of a rooster was boiled and the other half braised. Zhao Liu also steamed a silver carp that was raised in the water tank, scraped off the scales, then put it into the chicken soup and simmered it together with the chicken. Corn flour was then added to make a pot of thick fish soup.
It was winter at the moment, so there were not many vegetables to eat in the north, but in Hexi, many vegetables were growing—at least, green vegetables, such as radish, beans, cauliflower, and spinach and so on that were sown before the weather turned completely cold.
If you cook something like green vegetables in water, it wasn’t that delicious, but if a villager were willing to stir-fry it in oil . . .
Zhao Liu stir-fried the green vegetables, cut a few radishes into shreds and braised them, cut the garlic leaves that had just grown into small pieces and mixed them with the scrambled eggs.
Except for the boiled chicken, all the other dishes were cooked very quickly. Zhao Liu, relying on the only two pots in the house, soon created a table full of various dishes and then began to invite everyone to eat.
“Mother, I’ve been hungry for a long time . . .” Zhao Jinge followed Zhao Liu into the kitchen to help with the meal, and then asked, “Mother, where’s the rice?”
One pot boiled chicken, one pot stir-fry, and then . . . Zhao Liu forgot to cook rice.
Zhao Liu froze and immediately said, “I made so many dishes to let you eat some vegetables. Go and eat quickly and pour some wine for father and Jiang Zhen.” With that, Zhao Liu hurriedly went back to cook.
At the beginning, Jiang Zhen had given Zhao Fugui the wine, but Zhao Fugui didn’t want to finish it and stashed it away, so when he opened it now. . . the wine had turned sour.
Although the longer the wine was kept, the mellower it should have been, but it was still better to not open that wine.
In the end, Zhao Fugui made a pot of strong tea and had tea with Jiang Zhen while eating vegetables. Zhao Jinge and Jiang Xiaomei each filled up a bowl of fish soup and slowly began to eat.
Jiang Zhen arrived early in the morning, so he was very hungry. Although there were many dishes on the table, Zhao Liu didn’t come to the table, so everyone ate a few mouthfuls and drank strong tea. He had a feeling that he was getting hungrier and hungrier as he ate. Fortunately, it didn’t take long to prepare the rice; however, the rice in the iron pot would not be cooked for a while, and even then rice grains might still be a little hard.
“Jinge, eat more. You need to eat for two now.” After Zhao Liu came to the table, she began to persuade Zhao Jinge to eat more and gave Jiang Xiaomei a drumstick. “Xiaomei, you also need to eat more and make up for before.”
“Mother, I’ve eaten enough,” Zhao Jinge said then let Jiang Xiaomei eat more.
Jiang Xiaomei did eat a lot. She had been feeling sick two days ago and didn’t want to work. However, old lady Jiang said that she would starve her for two days, so she could only get up. And so, she had not eaten much these past couple of days and had been hungry for a long time. Moreover, the Zhao family’s food was really delicious!
In the past, when the Jiang family was still well-off, they could eat meat during the holidays, and they usually could eat eggs from time to time. But old lady Jiang was never a person who spent much time preparing food. For example, she generally steamed eggs on the steamer when cooking. As for the meat, she usually put it into the water to boil.
Jiang Xiaomei had never even eaten braised chicken or anything like that before. After eating a lot of food, Jiang Xiaomei put down her bowl in embarrassment and secretly regretted that she had eaten so much.
Meanwhile, Jiang Zhen gave her another piece of chicken. “Eat more if you can.” This was an underage sixteen- or seventeen-year-old girl. She should be brightly dressed and be lively and lovely. . .
Jiang Xiaomei eyes were filled with bitterness.
As a matter of fact, she was not very kind to her eldest brother in the past although she sympathized with the eldest brother and secretly helped him from time to time. That was to say, she had done much more for her other two brothers. Many clothes of Jiang Chengwen and Jiang Chengxiang were made by her. She had also been helping to take care of Jiang Chengwen’s son and washed his diapers since childhood. But as it turned out, Jiang Chengwen was cheated out of the money and wanted to sell her off.
Everyone ate until the plates were clean, and they were all satisfied.
The Zhao family was happy while, on the other hand, the Jiang family was just the opposite.
The Liang family, mother and son, were thrown out of the village by Jiang Zhen’s men, and the Jiang family could only watch, unable to help them as Jiang Zhen’s men threatened them. They only heard Liang Hu’s words before leaving, saying that she no longer had the intention of giving Jiang Xiaomei the opportunity to marry into their family again.
This . . . what should they do? Without Jiang Xiaomei, how much land would they have to sell before they could pay back the money?
“Father, Mother, you shouldn’t indulge the second elder brother! He has no ability at all, but he still wants to make a lot of money . . . is big money so easy to make? If money were that easy to make, everyone in the world would be rich!” Jiang Chengxiang couldn’t help but say.
This family property would definitely be shared equally between him and Jiang Chengwen in the future, but if Jiang Chengwen lost so much because of his debt, what he would inherit would be less.
Jiang Chengwen also knew he had done something wrong, and because of that, he lowered his head and kept quiet.
Jiang Zhen: “. . .”
Edited by: Faro