Close to Zhao Dahu’s house, there was a large piece of riverbank land, but because the land was not good for growing crops, no one claimed it. However, there were some people in the village who had little land and were relatively idle, so they would go there to plant beans and pumpkins or something. Even if the harvest was small, a little something was better than nothing.

Now, that land, along with the small forest nearby, all belonged to Jiang Zhen.

Jiang Zhen took the deed given by the yamen and invited the yamen officers who came to measure the land and deliver the title deed to eat at his house. Then he gave them a duck each and found a boat to send them back to the county town.

“Jiang Zhen is really powerful. How polite were those yamen servants towards him!”

“I don’t know why he wanted such a large piece of land . . .”

“Say, do you think he needs more men? My youngest son wants to follow him too.”

“Are you afraid that your son will end like Li Yuan?”

“My youngest son may not have that bad luck, will he? Moreover, you also know the situation in my family. There is barely enough to eat, so if he won’t venture out on his own, it will be almost impossible for him to have a good life in future.”

 

. . .

 

The entire village was talking about Jiang Zhen. On the other hand, the Jiang family did not dare to entertain crooked ideas anymore. Each of them shrunk their heads for fear that Jiang Zhen would find trouble with them.

They asked old lady Jiang to go to the yamen to sue Jiang Zhen. So it was estimated that Jiang Zhen already knew about it but still didn’t know how to deal with them

Just thinking about it, they couldn’t help becoming worried. Old lady Jiang, who had been waiting for a long time in front of yamen that day in the cold weather, directly fell ill. Huang Min kept complaining because she had not yet gotten off the kang bed. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kang_bed-stove)

Old lady Jiang was now living with them, but she was not able to help with the work and even asked her to wait on her. Fortunately, it was agreed that Butcher Jiang, who lived with Jiang Chengxiang’s family, would take care of some fields from them to let her rest.

The Jiang family’s days were spent in fear but Jiang Zhen did not intend to do anything to them. Eldest Jiang’s obsession was gone, so to him, these people were just some annoying strangers . . . Moreover, this was the ancient times . ..

In modern times, when the children’s parents are unkind, they still have the responsibility to support their parents, or else, people will accuse them for being unfilial. Let alone these ancient times. After all, in the eyes of the people, old lady Jiang and Butcher Jiang had raised him all this time. It was just that they were not good to him. However, that was not enough reason to cut ties with them.

If he was still as alone as he was when he first came to this world, he would not be afraid of anything. But since then, he had every intention to live a good life in this place and this era, and he was going to have a child soon.

Jiang Zhen didn’t do anything to the Jiang family. He just completely ignored them. In fact, his attitude had already made it difficult for them.

His subordinates, as well as the people of Hexi, were not those scholars who paid special attention to filial piety. When they saw that Jiang Zhen didn’t like the Jiang family, they gave them no face. So they bullied the Jiangs.  Even the village gers and women were unwilling to talk to them.

The Jiang family was so isolated that their days in the village were getting worse and worse.

Soon, Li Yuan’s funeral was held.

In Hexi Village, attending a funeral was called “eating tofu” or “eating tofu rice” because tofu was the main dish served during the village’s funerals.

It was probably because it’s difficult to preserve the corpses at these times that villagers paid no attention to the matter of death. Usually, after someone dies, the people of the clan would be called over to discuss the matter of dealing with the funeral. Then they would begin to prepare funeral objects, such as clothes to show filial piety, which was cutting a sack to make a hat for a filial son or preparing some strips of white cloth, as well as blue and red cloth.

These strips of fabric were worn on the heads of the guests who came to offer their condolences. Generally, the peers, the children of the deceased, and their nephews would wear these white strips while the grandchildren wear dark blue strips, the great-grandchildren wear the red strips, and the generation after that would wear the black strips.

Since every family had some strips of cloth like this ready, there was no need to cut too much. Of course, some big families not short on money would prepare hats of corresponding colors and a belt for all people who came to eat tofu.

Women prepared these things while the men were to visit from house to house to report the funeral then buy food, borrow tables, chairs, bowls and chopsticks . . . Usually after such a busy day, the funeral would then be held.

The next evening, all the relatives and friends would come to deliver offerings, kowtow in respect to the deceased, and have a tofu meal in the house. On the third day, the deceased would then be buried.

On the day of Li Yuan’s burial, everyone had to take part in the funeral, and after the funeral, they would still need to go to the main house and eat tofu rice. Of course, some people had fewer family members, so the preparation time became longer.

Li Yuan died a long time ago and only his clothes were brought back. So the Li family didn’t have to worry about his body decaying. Hence, they didn’t hold a funeral immediately. Instead, they went to seek the advice of the fortune-telling blind man to set an auspicious date.

Li Yuan had joined Jiang Zhen’s team late, so Jiang Zhen was not very familiar with him, but since he was one of his own men, the Li family came to inform him about the funeral.

On the evening of Li Yuan’s funeral, Jiang Zhen took Zhao Jinge to the Li house. All his subordinates in Hexi also came.

According to the local custom, people who attended a funeral needed to bring things like incense and candles, a piece of meat or egg, and some rice and noodles. At the gate of the Li family house, Jiang Ping, who was literate and knew the entire village and even the people from the nearby villages was taking notes with a pen to write down the offering basket of each family.

Some of the things sent by would be used when the family hosted the funeral. Some poor families even relied on these things to complete the entire funeral.

But the host would not use up all the things. According to customs, they had to return some of them. Therefore, they need to remember who sent what. After that, the host family would go to that house to “eat tofu rice” and return the offered things.

In the past, there was a family in Hexi that was so stingy that they only gave two eggs and a handful of dried rice when they went to someone else’s house for the meal. Later, when their family held another funeral, people only sent them such things so that the entire funeral was nearly impossible to complete.

Jiang Zhen didn’t know anything about this, but Zhao Liu was very proficient and prepared a generous gift for Jiang Zhen, including a pot of oil, two large candles, two chickens, and a basket of eggs.

Jiang Zhen put these down and gave another two silver.

Jiang Ping recorded it. At that moment, the people who came to the Li family were talking about the funeral and sincerely felt that the Li family funeral was conducted very decently.

“The coffin is painted!”

“Did you see that two candles and eight oil lamps were lit! At this point, it must have been lit all the time for the past two days and wasn’t extinguished. “

“The Li family also invited a cook and someone to play the suona.”

“The younger generations of the Li family all wear blue hats and blue belts, and even the filial piety clothes of Li Yuan’s brothers were newly made.”

 

. . .

 

“It is said that the reason why the Li family was able to do so was because Jiang Zhen gave them a lot of money after Li Yuan’s passing.”

“I heard about it too . . . Although the Li family lost a son, their lives will be easier in the future.”

“In fact, it was not a loss . . .”

“Keep your voices down. Jiang Zhen and his men are here.”

 

Edited by: Faro

Proofreader: XLB

 

Support translation:

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