Chapter 198: Tremble, Scumbag 7
T/N: Sorry for the lack of updates last month. I was overwhelmed with real-world tasks. Thanks to Michelle in Colorado and Ko-Fi Supporter for the donation~
“Widow Meng, why did you come to Jiang’s house? Who are you looking for?”
Meng Jiao-niang, who was dressed in a peach-coloured jacket and skirt, was so eye-catching that the people nearby soon noticed her.
There had been no shortage of peach-coloured rumours surrounding Meng Jiao-niang in the village, but because no one had ever caught her in the act of having an affair, the rumours remained just that – rumours. At most, the rumours had caused the women in the village to feel negatively towards her.
The one who called out to Meng Jiao-niang was Mrs Wang, the wife of the neighbour living next to the Jiang family. She was also a well-known gossipper in the village.
Seeing Meng Jiao-niang hovering outside the Jiang family’s yard, her first reaction was that she had come to look for a man. The man was either Jiang Hai or Jiang Hu.
Mrs Wang didn’t think about Jiang Liu because although he was the best-looking man in the village, he was also the most unreliable. A woman like Meng Jiao-niang would not be interested in a man without ability, and besides, Jiang Liu was now suffering from madness and couldn’t even take care of himself. How could Meng Jiao-niang have anything to do with such a man?
“A few days ago, I went to the town and bought a piece of flower cloth. I heard that Jiang San’s wife is good at making clothes, so I came to learn from her.”
Meng Jiao-niang was also conscious of her reputation. So, she casually made up a reason to deceive Mrs Wang.
“If you’re looking for Bai Lan, she’s gone to work in the fields. You know her husband is useless, so she and her mother-in-law have to take care of the fields themselves.”
Mrs Wang spat out the melon seed shells in her mouth. It was unknown whether she believed the excuse or not, yet she still told Meng Jiaoniang where Bai Lan had gone.
“Since Jiang San’s wife isn’t home, I’ll go back first.”
Meng Jiao-Niang almost tore the silk handkerchief in her hand. Her entire outfit with the rouge and powder on her face was worth at least a few coins, yet all she got was an insult which made her extremely unwilling.
Mrs Wang sneered as she watched Meng Jiao-niang walk away. She finished the last sunflower seed, dusted off her hands, and swayed back to her house.
She didn’t believe that Meng Jiao-niang had really come looking for Bai Lan. Meng Jiao-niang was the only one in the village who had the energy and mind to spend time dressing up. Did someone like her need to learn how to sew from Bai Lan?
She really thought that this Mrs Wang was a fool!
But it was also good. Now, she had something to chat with others about.
“Jiang Hai, what did I do wrong? How could you have an affair with someone like Meng Jiao-niang?”
Jiang Hai had just returned from the field with his two sons when he was greeted not by the delicious dinner prepared by his wife but by a sudden attack.
He had been tired from a day’s work and was unprepared. After a moment, several scratches appear on his face.
“Xu Xiaocao, what’s wrong with you?”
After regaining consciousness, Jiang Hai felt the pain on his cheek and the back of his hand, where scratches were left from the beating. He was so angry that he couldn’t speak. He had worked himself to death for this family, and even though Xu Xiaocao didn’t appreciate him, she still dared to hit her own husband. She had really gone too far in his dictionary.
“Of course, I am going crazy. Yes, how could I not go crazy when you’re messing around with women like Meng Jiao-niang?”
Xu Xiaocao felt a moment of guilt seeing the red and swollen scratch marks on Jiang Hai’s face. However, when she thought about what her neighbour, Mrs Wang, had told her, her guilt quickly disappeared.
Every woman in the village knew about Meng Jiao-niang‘s seductive ways. Although she hadn’t been caught doing anything improper in recent years, women, after all, understood other women. If it weren’t for the men who helped her, Meng Jiaoniang wouldn’t have been able to obtain the cloth, rouge, and enough food she had right now.
Xu Xiaocao looked at her man, who had an impatient expression on his face, feeling very aggrieved. Sure enough, he was disgusted with her. She even gave birth to two sons and a daughter for him and took care of the household chores for him. If she hadn’t discovered his affair with Meng Jiao-niang in time, would she have had to wait for the day when Meng Jiao-niang, with a big belly, came to her door and forced her to step aside? And for her to realise that her man has betrayed her on that day?
“What Meng Jiao-niang? I have nothing to do with her.”
Hearing Xu Xiaocao linking him with Meng Jiao-niang, Jiang Hai felt disgusted.
Unlike women, men would always privately share some secret and titillating stories. Of course, this was limited to good brothers with strong relationships. Jiang Hai had a good reputation in the village and had many good buddies. From their mouths, he had also heard some things about Meng Jiao-niang. He even knew about the birthmark on the left side of her chest.
In Jiang Hai’s view, Meng Jiao-niang was a rotten person. No matter how pretty or seductive she looked in bed, she was still rotten.
He couldn’t understand why his wife thought he had a fling with Meng Jiao-niang.
“Xiao Wang’s wife has seen it. Meng Jiao-niang was wandering around our house a few days ago. If you didn’t have a thing with her, why would she come to our Jiang family?”
In Xu Xiaocao’s view, that despicable woman wouldn’t get up early unless there were something in it for her. The only man in the Jiang family that Meng Jiao-niang could possibly be interested in was her husband, Jiang Hai.
“She came to our house?”
Jiang Hai wasn’t angry anymore that his wife had hit him. After all, she was angry because she cared about him. But he was also curious as to why Meng Jiaoniang was frequently seen near their home.
“Is Xiaowang’s wife deceiving you? Only half of what that woman says can be trusted.”
“Impossible. Xiaowang’s wife was very confident this time.”
If the other party hadn’t been so certain, Xu Xiaocao wouldn’t have suspected that her man had something to do with Meng Jiao Niang.
“Could it be the second brother? Yes, it must be the second brother. It’s amazing that he usually looks so honest and reliable. I didn’t expect him to have a relationship with a woman like Meng Jiao-niang. Doesn’t he mind getting dirty?”
Jiang Hai was sure that he had nothing to do with Meng Jiao-niang. Since he had nothing to do with her, the person involved with her must be his younger brother, Jiang Hu.
His younger brother usually kept a low profile, but Jiang Hai knew that he had also saved up a lot of money over the years.
Perhaps because he had never been valued since he was a child, Jiang Hu could endure hardships better than him. During the slack season, when people in the village went to the wharf to carry bags, Jiang Hai could earn twelve to thirteen coins daily, while Jiang Hu could earn sixteen to seventeen coins daily. The two brothers agreed to claim that they only earned eight coins a day, with the rest being handed over to the public funds and the remaining portion was saved for themselves.
Moreover, Jiang Hu had a good reputation in the village. He was known for being honest, simple, and clean-handed. When someone in the village was building a house or a pigsty, they would ask Jiang Hu to help, and he would get paid for it too.
Jiang Hu didn’t smoke or drink, and he almost saved all the money he earned. According to Jiang Hai’s guess, his younger brother had at least saved more than ten taels of silver.
If Meng Jiao-niang had her eye on the money in his younger brother’s hands, it was not impossible for her to loiter around the Jiang Family compound.
“Second brother is truly something else. He’s not honest at all.”
Xu Xiaocao was convinced by Jiang Hai’s words. The more she thought about it, the more she felt that Jiang Hu, who looked honest and simple on the surface, was more unreliable than any man.
“No, I have to talk to my younger sister-in-law.”
Xu Xiaocao became angrier as she thought about it. If it weren’t for Jiang Hu provoking that woman, how could she misunderstand her man and even hit him? Therefore, all of this was Jiang Hu’s fault.
Jiang Hai gritted his teeth and touched the scratches on his face. He also felt somewhat indignant. The culprit must be scolded by his wife before the fire in his heart can be extinguished.
“What’s been going on with you these days?” Jiang Hu looked at his wife, who had become like a closed clam lately and couldn’t quite figure out what was going on in her head.
“Jiang Hu, have I done anything to hurt you in recent years?” Liu Cui thought of what her sister-in-law, Xu Xiaocao, had said to her with a gloating look in her eyes. She could not help but feel like a knife was cutting into her heart.
“Why did you suddenly say such things out of the blue?” Jianghu was even more confused.
“You are a good woman who gave birth to our son, San Niu and kept our household running. What could you have done to wrong me?”
Jianghu was quite satisfied with Liu Cui, despite her plain looks. Rural people value practicality. Since Liu Cui could have children and take care of the household, it made her a good woman in his eyes.
“Since I haven’t done anything to hurt you, why did you have an affair with a woman like Meng Jiao-niang?” Liu Cui was pleased to hear Jiang Hu’s response, knowing that he wouldn’t divorce her for Meng Jiao-niang.
“Nonsense! Where did you hear such rumours?” Jiang Hu stood up in a flash. “What kind of woman is she that I would have an affair with her?”
Meng Jiao-niang was pretty and had a charm that ordinary women in the village did not have. So it was no surprise that many men in the village coveted her, including Jiang Hu. However, he knew that even if something happened between them, it would only be for his money.
Once he understood this, his romantic thoughts about Meng Jiao-niang disappeared.
“Are you really not involved with her?” Liu Cui felt relieved by Jiang Hu’s expression.
“Where did you hear these rumours?” Jiang Hu asked Liu Cui.
“Eldest sister-in-law told me. It seemed that Meng Jiao-niang has been wandering around our house these days, looking for someone.”
Women are jealous by nature. Hence, seeing Meng Jiao-niang made them fear that their husbands would follow her. So Meng Jiao-niang‘s frequent appearances around the Jiang household naturally caused panic among the women there.
“I don’t think Meng Jiao-niang is looking for me. She’s probably looking for my brother,” Jianghu said, feeling that he was being blamed for his brother Jiang Hai’s misdeeds. “Do you think I’m the kind of person who would go after Meng Jiao-niang? But my elder brother is different. He’s wild and often goes to town with his friends to drink. He and Meng Jiao-niang getting together wouldn’t be surprising.”
“I think my elder brother is feeling guilty and has pinned the blame on me. Our eldest sister-in-law is foolish enough to believe him and thinks that I am the man who has been involved with Meng Jiao-niang.”
With a cold snort, Jiang Hu became more and more convinced that his guess was correct.
“Isn’t eldest sister-in-law being too pitiful?” Liu Cui clicked her tongue a few times. If her mouth weren’t so upturned at this moment, her words would have been even more convincing.
Obviously, she wasn’t sympathizing with Xu Xiaocao right now but rather enjoying the spectacle. She couldn’t wait for the day when her big brother and Meng Jiao-niang would be caught red-handed. Then Xu Xiaocao would know how ridiculous her schadenfreude had been.
From beginning to end, the one who was pitiful wasn’t Liu Cui but Xu Xiaocao.
The two families had different thoughts, both waiting to see the other’s joke.
However, whether it was Jiang Hai, who was rough but had insight, or Jiang Hu, who was simple on the outside but clever on the inside, neither had thought that the person Meng Jiao-niang was really looking for was Jiang Liu.
What did their brother, who had become a fool, have?
Besides their mother’s care, he had nothing. He couldn’t work, nor could he make money. He only had a presentable appearance.
But what kind of woman was Meng Jiao-niang? She was greedy for vanity. As long as a man had money, he could climb into her bed and be her husband for one night. Such a woman would never be impressed by a man’s appearance.
In Meng Jiao-niang‘s heart, Jiang Liu, without money, was probably like a pool of mud on the side of the road. He might look good, but at best, he was just a fresher pile of mud.
Not only Jiang Hai and Jiang Hu but most of the people in the village would not believe that Meng Jiao-niang would visit the Jiang family’s courtyard every day for Jiang Liu.
Because of this, Jiang Liu was lucky not to be involved in the rumours. Instead, his two brothers had to bear this big blame for him.
Jiang Liu didn’t know about this yet. Even if he did, he wouldn’t care too much. After all, at the moment, he was also bearing a big blame for the original body.
“Mom, I want to earn money.”
At the dinner table, Bai Lan suddenly brought up the topic of making money.
“Who doesn’t want to make money? I also want to, but is money so easy to earn?”
Jiang Miaoshi’s chuckled and said. Her precious son was still clueless even though he was already a father. He spoke and acted like a two-and-a-half-year-old child. Jiang Miaoshi thought that if she could save some money for her son now, he would have something to rely on in the future.
Moreover, Jiang Miaoshi always remembered what the doctor said back then. Her son’s illness was not incurable, and there was a medicine that could treat his condition. However, the medication was expensive, and their family could not afford it.
Jiang Miaoshi knew that her son’s condition was difficult to cure, but she still had a glimmer of hope. What if her son was lucky and the medicine worked for him? Unfortunately, she did not have enough money to try. She could only rely on unproven home remedies to treat her son’s illness.
“Mom, I know you mean well, but in these times, how could we be satisfied with our three acres of land?”
Jiang Miaoshi sighed. She felt that her daughter-in-law was still too young, or she wouldn’t have spoken of earning money so casually. Did she think that making money was so easy?
“Mom, please hear me out.”
Bai Lan knew what Jiang Miaoshi was worried about, but she had already prepared her excuses.
“Do you know my aunt from my mother’s side?”
Bai Lan had an aunt who had been a maid in a wealthy family when she was young. She redeemed herself from servitude in her twenties and, under the matchmaking of her elders, married a widower.
Her aunt, who was already old, had managed to marry a widower, which was considered a good match. But unfortunately, the widower died a few years after their marriage.
The widower’s son inherited the family business and sided with his maternal family. He listened to his aunt’s words and sent Bai Lan’s aunt back to her maternal family.
Since then, Bai Lan’s aunt has never remarried but stayed at her mother’s home to take care of her brothers’ children. Bai Lan’s grandfather had the best relationship with her sister, and their family was responsible for all the affairs after her death.
When Jiang Miaoshi initially looked into Bai Lan’s family situation for her son, she also inquired about it. As a widow herself, Jiang Miaoshi understood the situation better. She couldn’t understand the connection between her aunt and making money.
“My aunt used to work as a cook in a wealthy family when she was young and learned some pastry recipes. When she was at home, I had the best relationship with her. She passed these few recipes on to me. I never thought about using them before, but now that my husband needs money for his illness, I thought about making some pastries and selling them in the town during the farming offseason.”
Bailan was not afraid of her mother-in-law’s suspicion because her aunt had indeed worked as a maid in a wealthy family and helped in the kitchen.
However, her aunt had never learned any pastry skills. She was chosen by the family solely because she was physically strong and helped chop wood and fetch water during those years in the kitchen.
But very few people knew about this, and there was no rule that the kitchen maid who chopped wood could not secretly learn a few pastry recipes. So Bai Lan was sure that Jiang Miaoshi would not be able to uncover her secret.
However, Bai Lan overlooked her son, Jiang Dahu. He knew that his mother had no pastry recipes.
He was shocked, wondering if his mother had gone through something similar to him.
“Don’t think about it. No one in our village would be willing to buy the pastries we make.”
Jiang Miaoshi waved her hand. Even if her daughter-in-law had recipes, the pastries would not be tasty. In her opinion, the business would be a loss.
“Let me try it, Mother. Tomorrow, I’ll steam a basket of red bean cakes for you to taste. If you think they’re good and might sell, I’ll try making a batch to sell in town. If we make some money, we can use it for my husband’s medical expenses.”
Bai Lan spoke earnestly, behaving like a dutiful daughter-in-law who worried about her family.
Indeed, when it came to one’s vulnerabilities, even Jiang Miao Shi could not help but waver a little.
“Mother, eat some cake.”
Jiang Liu stuck out his tongue and licked his lips, waving his mother’s arm to show his support.
Jiang Miaoshi’s wavering disappeared completely.
“Okay, try it. But don’t make too much.”
Jiang Miaoshi thought that if it didn’t sell, they could give them to his son as a snack. It would not be a waste.
“But can you, as a woman, sell pastries in town?”
Jiang Miaoshi was a little worried. In her opinion, it was not good for a woman to show her face.
“Mother, maybe you can let my husband come with me. It’s a good opportunity for me to take him out and maybe help him remember things from the past.”
Bai Lan glanced at the foolish boy beside her. She still wanted to seek revenge on him. When the time comes, she will make this scumbag carry pastries to the town. In any case, she will ensure that every ounce of his strength is used for her and her son. She wants him to bear the responsibilities that a man should bear.
She will never let him off just because he has become a fool.
Jiang Liu grinned at Bai Lan and smiled, adding a touch of innocence to his fair and handsome face.
She will definitely not going to spare him!
Bai Lan moved her gaze away and reiterated it in her mind.
Jiang Miaoshi couldn’t find any faults considering the suggestion made by Bai Lan. As she looked at her silly son, she ultimately agreed to the idea.
The ad revenue supports this website. You do not need to click on any. I would appreciate it if you could turn off the ads block for this site. If you like things that I translate, do consider fueling me up with lots of bubble tea to pump me up |▽//)ゝ