Chapter 86: Acrobat 3
“Uncle Jiang, you are back!”
A sharp-eyed child in the village immediately jumped up and down excitedly when he saw the Jiang Liu as he called his other friends loudly. Although there is not much time for them to see Jiang Liu, these children know that whenever Uncle Jiang’s return, it means that they have candy to eat.
Perhaps it was because the original body’s son was stillborn, the original body loves children very much. He always had a lot of candy in his pocket. Whenever he performed acrobatic performances, he will distribute the candies to the children who came to watch the show. The same things happened whenever he returned home. He will also distribute it to the children in the village.
Because of his generosity, he was also one of the most popular elders in the village.
For the children in the village, Uncle Jiang’s return was no different from Chinese New Year.
“Take one each.”
Jiang Liu smiled and handed a pack of candies that he had prepared a long time ago to the hand of the leading child who will be responsible for the distribution.
“Okay, Uncle Jiang, you rest first. Later, we will help you gather all the firewood. It’s cold now, so you need to burn it to heat up.”
The leading child said that as he sniffed and bounced.
Having said that, he held up the candy bag in his hand and was surrounded by a group of children who had come after hearing the news.
When Jiang Liu returned to Jiang’s old house, the older people living in the village and a handful of young people also came.
People on the mountain seldom went down. Unless it was to exchange for some necessities such as salt and oil, for some particular older people who know little about the outside world, they preferred to listen about outside news from Jiang Liu’s mouth. After listening to the story of the big city outside, they couldn’t help smiling and encouraging their grandchildren to study hard and strived to get out of this mountain one day.
By the way, the children on the mountain can also study, but they have to spend two or three hours back and forth climbing down the mountain every day. The nine-year compulsory education, the extremely low school tuition, and the current government subsidies for children in poor mountainous areas were enough to let even the most impoverished children to read books.
It was just that life was more complicated than expected. Often when the eldest child in the family reached twelve or thirteen years old, their grandparents were already unable to do heavy farm work. If the parents who went out to work didn’t send money back, they could only choose to drop out of school and start ploughing the fields to let their younger brothers and sisters continues their schooling.
Due to the habit of early marriages in remote mountain villages, young people at the age of 14 or 15 is already the age of starting a family. Therefore, in recent years, only a few people can go out of this mountain by relying on their study.
Because of their ignorance, those poverty lives repeated from generation to generation.
In order to listen to Jiang Liu’s stories, these older people enthusiastically helped him wiped the dust and cleaned up the house that had not been occupied for several months.
“How long are you going to stay after this trip? Can you stay at home for the New Year?”
The weather was about to turn cold, and it was only three or four months before the New Year. Everyone was not sure whether he intended to stay at home directly until the end of the year, or as before, go out and work hard during the most lucrative New Year festival.
It was strange to say that Jiang Liu has never been back at this time before, so the older people who helped Jiang Liu clean couldn’t help but ask curiously.
“I won’t leave for the time being. I’m too old at this age. I don’t plan to get married and have children. So when I came back from this trip, I was thinking about accepting a few apprentices and passing on this craft.”
Jiang Liu’s remarks shocked everyone present, and everyone put down their work and asked him excitedly.
To be honest, no family in the village did not want their children to learn the craft from the Jiang family. They knew that the Jiang family had made more money in the past few decades. Everyone had seen it. The Jiang family’s large houses had all kinds of electrical appliances that they earned from this skill. If their children can learn this skill, not only will they be able to help their brothers and sisters, but it will also be an excellent thing for them.
It’s just that Jiang Sanchun had said before that this craft would not be passed on to outsiders. Furthermore, in recent years, everyone thought that Jiang Liu would marry again sooner or later, so they never mentioned it.
Now that Jiang Liu has spoken himself, it means that this matter was already set in stone. So, how could these people not get excited about it?
“Little Jiang, ah, do you have any requirements for accepting disciples?”
Everyone thought, how could such a good thing be in vain? They were afraid that they might have to pay filial piety like how those people in the olden days? Otherwise, if you have not a relative or a friend, for what reason would anyone give you the craft of making money?
“I really have some requirement.”
Jiang Liu put down the rag in his hand and continued with a serious tone.
“First of all, I only accept boys.”
When the Jiang family inherited this craft, it was stipulated that only boys could learn it. It was because they were worried that girls would pass on this secret art after they got married. Therefore, unless the Jiang family had only girls in the generation, and the girls would definitely recruit a son-in-law to marry into the family, then, would they pass the art to that child.
The reason Jiang Liu made this request now was to avoid suspicion.
Learning bone shrinkage was different from other acrobatics. It needs to be taught hand in hand. It was necessary to have some intimate contact. This matter was nothing when the children were still young. However, once they get older and has gender awareness, this kind of excessive intimacy might become inappropriate.
So at this point, Jiang Liu decided to follow the original rules and only accept male apprentices.
“Second, I only accept children aged 6 to 8 years old.”
This was the limitation of bone-shrinking exercise. Children at this age were already sensible and will be able to understand the bitterness that they have to eat. Furthermore, their bones are still relatively soft at this age. When they get older, their bones will begin to form; therefore, not to mention suffering, even the effect of the exercise will not be as good as that of younger children.
This requirement was still the same as the one that the original body had put forward in the previous life.
“The third and final point.”
In this regard, half of it was based on the original body, while half of it was something that Jiang Liu had come out with.
“Everyone has watched me grow up, and they know how hard it takes to practice this skill in my family.”
Jiang Liu’s words reminded the adults present about the condition of the original body when he first touched the bone shrinking exercise. Because he couldn’t bear the pain of dislocation, he had been crying like a ghost and howling like a wolf. Not to mention the children even the adults who looked at this kind of exercise method were unable to eat this bitter fruit.
“So I hope you will think carefully before sending your children here. I will not accept children who are unwilling to come here. If you really want to worship me as a teacher, we have to set up written evidence and write clearly that these children had come to learn with me voluntarily and you are the one who allowed it. I didn’t force anyone to come over.”
These demands were quite reasonable. One old man could not help but asked: “If my children come to worship you as a teacher, how much will I have to pay?”
Some of the children who went out still remember to send money home. However, there were also those children who never returned. As for those family, they obviously did not have much money to spend.
“No, I won’t charge tuition fees. I will also provide my apprentice with three meals a day, but after he finished his apprenticeship, he needs to give me one-fifth of the money he earns the next ten years.”
Jiang Liu’s conditions were not harsh. Many people like him who taught their art to the outsiders will not only charge tuition fees but also required the apprentices to work in their acrobatic troupe for several years. So after hearing Jiang Liu’s conditions, everyone was relieved.
While they started to relax, they could not help but feel a little bit embarrassed. They felt that their family seemed to be taking advantage of Jiang Liu.
At the moment, everyone didn’t care to listen to the story about the big city. After helping Jiang Liu cleaned up the house, they all got up and went home. They were all ready to discuss with the family and see if they want to send their children to learn this art or not.
There were not many eligible children in the village. There were only four or five boys at the age of six to eight years old in the whole village. As long as the family can live a good life, they are not willing to send their children to learn these bone-shrinkage skills.
That night, there were a lot of disputes among the four or five qualified families about learning this skill.
“Mom, I don’t want to go to school. I will go and learn this art.”
Xiao Binbin said to his mother, Zhang Yanfen, without thinking.
“I don’t want to study anymore.”
Zhang Yanfen was in silence for a long time before she exhaled and said.
“You are still young. You haven’t seen how Uncle Jiang’s father taught him back then. I saw Grandpa Jiang take off uncle Jiang’s hand bones and foot bones, and then put it back again. In that one round, your Uncle Jiang’s back was drenched with sweat. Seeing his painful sweat even made my clothes wet. Not only that, you also have to wear a thin training suit to practice this art regardless of whether its rain or shine. Could you bear it?”
Zhang Yanfen knew that learning this will let them get the money faster. If her son really worships Jiang Liu as his teacher, even if she dies, she doesn’t have to worry too much about the life of her son and her pair of daughters. However, as a mother, she still couldn’t bear letting her son suffer.
“I know, mom, don’t worry, I will be able to bear through it.”
Xiao Binbin was also terrified in his heart. But the six-year-old boy has long been used to cover up his emotions in front of his mother.
He instead showed a relaxed manner full of hope: “I want to learn this skill. In the future, like Uncle Jiang, I can drive a big car and live in a big house. I want to eat well and dress well. I don’t want to be poor anymore.”
Xiao Binbin did not say that he wanted to learn these skills quickly because he wanted to send her mother to see the doctor, or that he wanted to earn money so that his two younger sisters could go to school with peace of mind in the future. He only said that he wanted to make money and live a stable life. And that he didn’t want to be poor anymore.
Sure enough, after he said these words, Zhang Yanfen kept silent.
“It’s your mother that drags you down.”
Sometimes Zhang Yanfen thought that with a body like her, it was better to die, but she really can’t bear to leave her three children. The oldest of her three dolls was only six years old, and the youngest twin was only two years old. If she leaves, what about these three children? So she can only continue to live and drinking that herbal soup that she doesn’t know if it reliable or not, and live as long as possible.
“What do you mean by being a drag?”
Xiao Binbin quickly clung to her like a match stick, and then smiled as he told his two sisters that he would be able to make money soon. When he made money, he would be able to buy them sweet candies, which were as sweet as the ones Uncle Jiang gave them.
The two two-year-old children were still ignorant. While they were listening to the good life described by their brother, they could only show him innocent smiles.
Early the next morning, Jiang Liu opened the door and was about to pick up some water. He saw Xiao Binbin already waiting outside with a basket of firewood on his back.
In his previous life, among the three apprentices of the original body, the one he liked the most was this eldest apprentice, Xiao Binbin.
This apprentice didn’t talk a lot and didn’t say anything to please the original body. Yet, he was also the one who could endure hardship the most among the three children. When such things happened in the previous life, Xu Quanjun and Wang Gouzi both testified against Jiang Liu under the encouragement of their parents, yet, Xiao Binbin did not appear from beginning to end.
The original body thought that maybe he was embarrassed to show up in front of him again. It was because his father, Xiao Guohui, was the most outspoken in this matter. Even Zhang Yanfen, who had been funded by Jiang Liu, chose to remain silent.
The original body had always wanted to ask him face to face why he didn’t stand up and say something for him. Still, until the original body left and met Wang Gouzi, who secretly apologized, he didn’t see his most beloved big apprentice.
The original body left with a strong feeling of regret and unwillingness. Therefore, when Jiang Liu met Xiao Binbin, this anticipation and resentment also affected him.
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