Chapter 34: The search for one’s mom second spring 2/For the sake of my mother’s remarriage 2
T /N: This is MTL work. I tried to edit as best as I could, any mistake plz do put your comment and I will edit it ASAP. This is my first attempt on Chinese novel so please cheer me up! I hope you will find this novel as interesting as I do.
This chapter was sponsored by K.Samel
This pair of widow and orphan’s lunch was very light. Jiang Liu did not know if it was due to the fact that their family was still observing the mourning period, but there were no meat or fish dishes on the dinner table.
The rice was mixed with potato before it was cooked. As for the side dishes, there was a plate of tofu mixed with shallots, a plate of stir fry green peas with beans and a small bowl if pickle. This was basically the Jiang’s family daily meal.
Looking at the food condition, Jiang Liu suddenly thought of his childhood when he was still living together with his grandfather. In order to pay off the debts due to the death of his father, especially in those difficult time, the two people daily meal only consisted of half a bean curd each.
“After you finished your meal, go back and stay inside your room and rest. Don’t go outside and run around. Wait for mother to come back from the mill. I will bring you a bunch of sugar-coated fruit on a stick [T/N: Tanghulu]
Meng Yun-niang ate very fast. Jiang Liu felt that the sweet potato congee was too hot thus it was a bit hard to eat it. However, Meng Yun-niang directly drank the congee as it is and soon finished her meal. While Jiang Liu still sitting and eating at the dining table, Meng Yun-niang was already moving around and sorting out the beans that she going to bring to the mill.
Seeing that the mother of this world had so many things to do, Jiang Liu did not dare to make any fuss. He quietly blew the hot congee and quickly finished the small bowl without leaving any bit of it.
In ancient times, the separation of men and women were very strict. Even between mother and her children, they were supposed to sleep separately once the son reached the age of four or five years old. Therefore, Jiang Liu also had his own small room in the house. Meng Yun-niang put a quilt on her son and hurriedly went out. Jiang Liu finally had his own quiet time, therefore he was ready to receive the memories left for him by the original as well as looking at his mission in this world.
The current ruling known as Jin Dynasty was something that had never appeared within Jiang Liu’s memory. The current emperor was known as Emperor Jinyang while the national name was Sikong. He was the fourth emperor of the Jin Dynasty.
More than a decade ago, the Jin country was embroiled in a war with the neighbouring countries which lasted nearly two years. Although the Jin Dynasty came out victorious, dominating the Shu Kingdom and led them becoming the subsidiary of the Jin country, however, the effect of the war had seriously damaged the national strength. Even after more than a decade, the country still had not fully recovered.
In the memory of the original body left for Jiang Liu, the great battle of that year had enlisted lots of men for the fight at the border. Yet, after the wars, less than a third of them managed to come back. So after the war, the number of widows in the country increased. What’s more, the shortage of labour force, left many farm unattended thus affecting the national resources. This led to slow restoration of the national strength.
The administrative system of this dynasty was similar to the combination of the Tang Dynasty and the Ming Dynasty in Jiang Liu’s memory. The country was divided into 16 provinces, and the provinces were divided into prefectures, regions, and counties. 110 households within 1-li were put under one township. One person will be elected to act as the county magistrate. As for the village, there will be a chief who will act as the leader. They usually appointed Bai Ding as the village’s head. Therefore, generally speaking, the family members of the household with the largest food ration were automatically qualified to become the village’s head. [T/N Bai Ding: A civilian strongman who was under the command of the army yet has no military status.” They always dressed in plain white tops and hence called Bai Ding]
Jiang family’s village, where the original body was located, was under the jurisdiction of the Jiang family. The head of this village was also the patriarch of the Jiang family. According to the seniority, the original body had to call him uncle.
It was rumoured that due to the personal matter the Jiang ancestor had moved the whole families to this place in order to avoid the disaster. The family had a large amount of land at this part of the country, but it was something that had been passed down from generation to generation. They were used to be wealthier than now.
The original body did not have that much land. But he had inherited the craftsmanship that enables them to make a living which was the technique in making tofu. In order to be able to concentrate on the family inheritance, the ancestors stipulated that this skill can only be passed to the eldest son. If the eldest son died young, leaving behind his own son, then the skill will be pass to the son.
As compensation to the other descendants, they can have a bigger part of the field as well as the hard cash.
When the original father had his own family, the original father had been given six acres of fields as well as the ancestral home they were now living in. As for the remaining fifteen acres of field and thirty-two silver, the original father did not get any of it as it was given to the original uncle which was his father’s brother.
Although they don’t receive the ancestor craft which can help to support their finance in their lifetime, however, those fields and silver were enough to keep them afloat without any trouble.
After the separation between the first and second household, everyone had been minding their own business. However, the original’s uncle, Jiang Erchun, felt that he had suffered loss as opposed to his eldest brother. He hated this big brother and was not willing to visit him even during the festival. If the original father was still alive, perhaps their relationship will gradually turn cold, while their children and grandchildren will continue to alienate each other. But whoever thought that a cold will end up killing the original father when the original body was only four years old, leaving them only the ancestral house and the craft that can help them to make some money. Due to this, the other people with the Jiang surnames naturally started to scrutinise this pair of widow and orphan.
In particular, Jiang Erchun and his wife, Su Panyun can’t wait to receive the property left by their eldest brother.
During that time, the Jiang family had been very busy. There will be some people coming to their door all day long. They came not to mourn the original father, Jiang Dachun, but instead to fight for his property.
Fortunately, Meng Xiang was able to stand firm. She knew that once she became a widow, it will be difficult for her to hold the family. She immediately found the patriarch and the village’s elder and told them of her husband last word. She also told them that his husband willing to let them work on the six acres of land belong to their family. She only wishes for them to provide the ration needed by this pair mother and the son each year. When the son becomes an adult, the title deeds will then be transferred back to the family.
At that time, Jiang Dachun’s illness and death was too fast for them to actually do anything. How could they know that these so-called last words were actually the decisions that Meng Yun-niang had after a long thought?
First of all, she couldn’t even cultivate a six-acre field all by herself. Therefore, instead of ruining those fields, it would be better for them to give these people some benefits.
To go so far as to wait her son reach adulthood, the six-acre farmland will be under the clan’s hand. In fact, it will be held under the hand of the patriarch. Furthermore, for the sake of his own interest, the patriarch will also favour the mother and son’s decision. After all, if it was really being left as it is, those fields will eventually fall under the hand of Jiang Erchun. It will absolutely not going to fall under the hands of the patriarch.
As for this pair of mother and son, they still have the ancestor’s craft of tofu making. Before her son became an adult, she should be able to take out the money needed to buy the land back and re-establish the family property for her son.
Meng Yun-niang was particularly clear-headed. She understood that the earth is dead and the craft is alive. As long as she has the craft and able to keep her son with her, it was worthwhile to sacrifice something.
Sure enough, after the intervention from the village elder, those who were raging in front of their door finally stop, though, Jiang Erchun and Su Panyun couple still come to agitate their first household from time to time.
Because of the six acres of land, the orphan and widowed mothers finally had a comfortable time for a while. Yet, there were many who stigmatized Meng Yun-niang status as a widow. Although Meng Yun-niang had been conducting herself with dignity, there were still many people who love to gossip about the non-existent rumours. Furthermore, with her look and body, even if she did not think about remarriage, there were still countless mad bees following her. That steward that Jiang Liu saw this morning was one of them.
As for Hu Guirong mentioned by Su Panyun, Jiang Liu also found the identity of that person from the memory of the original. That man was a hunter that lived next door to the Meng Yun-niang maiden house. According to the rumour, before Meng Yun-niang’s entered the Jiang family, she and Hu Guirong were in love with each other. But because the Meng’s family had taken a fancy towards Jiang’s family, they had forced their daughter to marry into Jiang’s family. Thus, this pair of lovers were pulled to pieces.
Now Meng Yun-niang was already a mother to a six-year-old child. Hu Guirong, on the other hand, had never got married to anyone else. Everyone had been saying that he could not forget Meng Yun-niang and willing to keep guarding her.
However, the original seemed to not know much about that matter. Even for this memory when he was young, his impression about it was not so profound.
He only remembered that when he was seven years old and ready to enter the school, there was a big event happened in the family. That event almost killed his mother’s life. In the end, Meng Yun-niang face was scarred due to it.
With the absence of her beautiful face, the peach-coloured news [T/N: Sex Scandal] surrounding this widow finally disappeared. No one believes that there will be men who are willing to have an affair with an ugly woman. The family finally believed that Meng Yun-niang was loyal to her late husband. They finally stop keeping an eye on that matter and started to actively maintain this pair of orphan and widow.
The original memory about this matter was extraordinarily profound. The original body seemed to have grown up since that day. He tried hard to study and wanted to be a respected person. He knew that only when he grew up and had stronger ability that he will be able to shelter his mother from rain and wind.
Meng Yu Niang was a tough woman. The painful experience of disfiguring her own face did not seem to have caused much impact on her. After the wound was healed, she continued to make tofu to sell in the market in order to earn the money for her son’s schooling. She also started to pay more attention to her son than before.
During this period, Hu Guirong, who was said to have a relationship with Meng Yun-niang, still appeared in the lives of this mother and son from time to time.
One winter, Hu Guirong decided to venture into the mountains during the heavy snow. When he came out of the mountains, he was covered with scars, and he was dragging a dead tigress. He sold the flesh of the tigress and earned hundreds of silver. At that times, lots of people acting as a matchmaker came to him, but Hu Guirong refused them all. He relied on the money to open a shop in the square market and began to become a butcher who sold meat. Sometimes he brought some meat and exchanged it with the tofu sold by Meng Yun-niang.
This continued until the original reached the age of 20-year-old and pass the exam and become the successful candidate in the imperial provincial examination. With his mother, this pair of mother and son finally moved to Fucheng. And even then, Hu Guirong still remained single.
Jiang Liu did not know whether Meng Yun-niang was still harbouring some feeling for that man. That because she had never talked to her son about that man. However, when she was on her death bed, she had cried and told her son that she felt sorry for that man in this life. The original did not know who she was talking about, but Jiang Liu felt that the man that Meng Yun-niang felt sorry to might have been Hu Guirong who continued to remain single his whole life.
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