Chapter sponsored on Ko-fi by Lin and Seekingloveforever

 

On New Year’s Eve, Jiang Zhen wanted to stay awake, but he was driven back to bed by Zhao Liu.

Hexi Village didn’t care much about staying awake on New Year’s Eve, and the villagers did not even know when it was midnight. So generally, after the New Year’s Eve meal, everyone would go to bed. But on the first day of the new year, everyone would get up very early.

Jiang Zhen took Zhao Jinge back to his room and opened the red envelope in his hand to check. After opening it, he found that it was not silver but gold.

All the money he gave to Zhao Fugui and his wife were silver, so he estimated that Zhao Fugui took the silver to the county town to exchange it for him. Jiang Zhen put it away and once again felt that it was not bad to travel back to the ancient times. Although it was not convenient to take a bath here, at least he had family.

That night, Jiang Zhen did not do anything to Zhao Jinge but just touched his stomach and talked a lot with him before the two of them fell asleep.

The next day, they were awakened by the sound of firecrackers. In this era, there were already firecrackers, but most of the people in Hexi could not afford to buy them. In the previous years, only Zhao Dahu’s family set off firecrackers, but this year, there will be even more firecrackers from the Zhao family.

It was the firecrackers that woke them up.

Jiang Zhen thought it was already very late, so when he heard the noise, he looked outside only to find that the sky was still dark. For a moment, he was speechless.

“The earlier the firecrackers are set off, the more prosperous the family will be this year. Dad probably didn’t even sleep,” Zhao Jinge said.

“I’ll go and have a look.”

Jiang Zhen put on cotton-padded trousers and a cotton-padded jacket made for him by Zhao Liu and opened the door and went out. Then he saw Zhao Fugui lit a mulberry stick. He was some distance from the firecracker and was about to light a second one. But because it was cold and windy, the burning mulberry stick would soon succumb, so he put it into the nearby fire and lit it up before firing the firecracker.

“Dad, I’ll do it,” Jiang Zhen said. The firecrackers in this day were not as good as those of later generations. Zhao Fugui doing it like this, he didn’t know how long it would take him to light the second one.

Zhao Fugui was very relieved to see Jiang Zhen. He wanted to give the mulberry stick to Jiang Zhen, but instead of taking the mulberry stick from him to use it to light the firecracker, Jiang Zhen went to pick up the firecrackers placed on the vacant lot and threw them directly into the fire.

Zhao Fugui: “. . .” Why didn’t he think of doing it this way?

Zhao Fugui was feeling a bit stupid when he saw the firecracker exploding in the fire. Even if they were not close to each other, they would still blow up.

Zhao Fugui: “ . . .”

Anyway, in the end, they lit all the firecrackers bought by Jiang Zhen. Not long after the sound of firecrackers on their side ended, the sound of firecrackers from Zhao Dahu’s family could be heard.

The new year has arrived.

It snowed twice in Hexi Village this year, but there was no snow on the ground. The snow melted the next day, and its impact on the people of Hexi was less than that of rain.

After the New Year, the weather was very good. On the third day of the Lunar New Year, Jiang Zhen called all his men back to continue their training. In modern times, such behavior may be considered inhumane, but at this time, no one thought there was anything wrong with it. In particular, Jiang Zhen gave his men a new set of clothes for the new year.

So from the third day of the Lunar New Year, on this side of Hexi, there could often be seen a group of people dressed in exactly the same dark blue clothes shouting, “One, two, three, four,” and running along the road in the village.

Most of these people were not from Hexi and the vast majority of those who worked on the land bought by Jiang Zhen were people he rescued from the bandits. For some time, Hexi become much livelier than before.

Jiang Zhen trained his men, and when he had nothing to do, he would go into the house to check on Zhao Jinge. Later, Zhao Jinge no longer wanted stay inside the house, but instead, would help turn the land near the Zhao family house.

At first, Jiang Zhen was a little worried and unwilling to let him do it. But later, when he saw that a woman in the village who was also pregnant was still turning the ground, he did not stop Zhao Jinge from this. However, when Zhao Jinge turned over the land near his home and wanted to go to another field bought by Jiang Zhen, he was stopped by Jiang Zhen. 

“Jinge, if you have nothing to do, why don’t you help me manage the brick kiln?”

The two craftsmen brought back by Jiang Zhen had already build the first brick kiln and burned a batch of very inferior products, most of which were picked up by the children in the village. These children usually could play with even a stone for a long time, so when they got some bricks, which were rare, they also wanted to play with those bricks to grind the wheel. However, while those well-made green bricks could be polished into wheels, these semi-red bricks, which were not evenly heated, couldn’t. In the end, they only got some broken bricks. As a result, these broken bricks were finally picked up by the villagers, who planned to mix them with soil to build chicken coops and pigsty.

“OK, I’ll watch it for you.” Zhao Jinge nodded and immediately went.

Zhao Jinge went to the brick kiln while Jiang Zhen continued to keep an eye on his men’s training. He also found a group of people to dig up a lot of soil beside the canal to make a sunken port where many boats could dock.

It was a huge project, but it was not slow, and the cost was much lower that Jiang Zhen expected.

The reason for this rapid progress was because Jiang Zhen paid money to hire people from Hexi and the surrounding villages to help.

Jiang Zhen offered 20 copper coins and a meal for a day per person. This condition proposed by Jiang Zhen attracted the Hexi villagers and many other people from the surrounding villages, making everyone scramble to work for him.

Although 20 copper coins could only buy half a kilo of pork, most people have no place to make money in the countryside at all. Also,it was not the time for leisure with the crops still sprouting, nothing to harvest, and this time being the spring food shortage . . . Just for digging, they would not only get a meal but also 20 copper coins, which was a good thing. People in the nearby villages almost rushed to tell each other and scrambled to work for Jiang Zhen.

By spending 4 silver a day, two hundred people could be hired, and these two hundred people work very hard for fear of being fired . . . So even if he wanted to, it was hard to slow down the construction of the dock.

Jiang Zhen spent silver to hire people from nearby villagers, so Zhao Jinge did the same thing.

Several more brick kilns had been built so that more experiments could be carried out and more bricks could be fired. But this way, firewood and brick were still not enough.

Zhao Jinge asked the women in the village, gers, and children to help them make bricks. Paying according to how much they made, and if they didn’t do well, he did not pay money, while at the same time buying firewood. In this way, they immediately had no shortage of brick and firewood. There was not much firewood available in Hexi and the surrounding villages, so some people went out to buy firewood and sell it to Zhao Jinge, earning the difference.

Unwittingly, it had been a year since Jiang Zhen came to this place. It was only when he overheard people talking about the Jiang family that he suddenly remembered it. Of course, it’s impossible for Jiang Zhen to recruit people he found annoying, so he did not want to hire the Jiangs, undoubtedly making the Jiang family even more excluded.

Meanwhile, something happened to the Jiang family.

At first when the Jiang family sold their land, it was to pay off the debt and also to help Chiang Chengxiang find a job in the county town. It was because Jiang Chengxiang asked for money from his family that Jiang Chengwen insisted on getting 40 silver to do business. Later, Jiang Chengwen lost all his money, and Jiang Chengxiang said that he had found a job in the county town, but . . . he never brought a single coin home.

Just at the beginning of the year, when the conflict between Jiang Chengwen and Jiang Chengxiang became more and more serious, Jiang Chengwen followed Jiang Chengxiang and then . . . found that Jiang Chengxiang did not go to work at all! He just hid in small room, never coming out!

It turned out that Jiang Chengxiang could not find a job in the country town at all. But since Butcher Jiang and old lady Jiang were so busy working in the fields, they would also want him to work in there if he was not able to find a job. Otherwise, the villagers would look at him strangely, and he could not stand it.

He wanted to put it off for a while so that he could have more time to find a job that he could do. After thinking about it, he finally came up with a way and lied that he had found a job and asked Butcher Jiang for money. Then he could live in the county town and find a job at ease!

Jiang Chengxiang got the money as he wished, but later, he found that he seemed to have walked into a dead end.

He lied and said that he had already found a job. In any case, he couldn’t go looking for a job all over the street; otherwise, what would he do if he was seen by people from Hexi or people he knew?

 

Edited by: Faro

Proofreader: XLB

 

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