Eighty Soldier 05
She is his medicine.
There was a small piece of land behind the Du family’s house where pumpkins were originally planted, but now that the season was over, the vines were beginning to turn yellow and wither.
Jiang Rui found the last pumpkin under the layers of leaves and put it into a bamboo basket, which already contained a total of three or four pumpkins, all of them small, only a little over two palms with yellowish skin and a bit old.
She carried the bamboo basket into the house, and Wang Tong Hua took it and looked at it, picking out the one with the best quality. She was about to say that Jiang Rui should send it to the Zhao family, but after thinking about it, she swallowed her words.
The pictures were sent to Zhang Liyun a long time ago, but the Zhao family had not given a clear answer. Even though Zhao Nan was far away and the letters took a lot of time to come and go, Wang Tong Hua was still a little anxious about waiting.
Because the matter was not yet known, both families tacitly kept quiet. Particularly in the Du family, only Jiang Rui and Wang Tong Hua knew about it, and Wang Tong Hua couldn’t find anyone to talk to about it even if she wanted to.
She looked at her eldest daughter’s calm appearance and mentally shook her head; she was really a bit worried.
She also wanted to let her daughter spend more time in front of Zhang Liyun to leave a good impression so that if they became a family in the future, Jiang Rui would have fewer difficulties in her in-laws’ home. However, she was afraid that if she was too pushy, she would be looked down upon. In the final analysis, the family was too poor and lacked courage, which was why they had so many worries.
Jiang Rui lined up the pumpkins under the wall outside the house and looked up to her and said, “Mum, the pumpkins are not growing anymore. I want to clean up that plot tomorrow, so what do you think would be good to plant afterward?”
“Don’t worry about that land. When your father and brother get off work, let the two men do it. Try not to work in the middle of the day, girl, you’re the palest in our family, don’t get a tan.”
Jiang Rui smiled a little and added, “When Baozhen comes back tomorrow, should we go exchange a few eggs and bring them to her?”
Wang Tong Hua furrowed her eyebrows for a moment, looked inside the house again, and sighed, “Let’s talk about that, your sister-in-law is about to give birth.”
After giving birth to a child, one has to follow a special diet. If the circumstances in the family are good, a chicken will be killed every three or five days and the mother will feel replenished with chicken soup. The Du family did not meet such conditions. Wang Tong Hua was not a harsh person, so she could not ask her daughter-in-law to endure. She could only find ways to store up on eggs and ask someone to buy some brown sugar, which was better than nothing.
In the face of such an emergency, she could only move her daughter, Du Baozhen, back a little and consider her again after Zhang Xiaohua had completed her month.
The four adult rabbits in the family ate a lot, so Jiang Rui had to go up the mountain every day or two to collect some grass for them. One day, after finishing her work, she was about to go down the mountain when two people came up to her: Zhao Daqiu and his eldest son Zhao Dong.
The Zhao family kept bees, and a few hives were located under a large tree on the hill. Every day, after work on the farm, or when the farm was not busy, Zhao Daqiu would take his son up the hill to check on the hives.
It was the first time Jiang Rui had met them on the mountain, and the path was so narrow that she stepped aside and called out in a small voice to Uncle Zhao.
Zhao Daqiu was too busy to respond, and when he was far away, he stopped to look back and asked Zhao Dong, “What was that just now?”
“It’s the Du family’s eldest daughter,” Zhao Dong looked around and continued, “Didn’t Mum say she had a girl in mind for Ah Nan? That’s her.”
When Zhao Daqiu returned home, he said to Zhang Liyun, “That girl from the Du family is not bad.”
Zhang Liyun gave him a wet towel to wash his face and asked, perplexed, “There is no beginning and no end. Where does this come from?”
“I went up the mountain with Ah Dong this morning and met the girl. She even said hello to me, but I didn’t even recognize her.” Zhao Daqiu wiped his face, threw the towel back into the basin, and lifted his hands to wash them once again, “It was early in the morning. There was no one on the mountain, and she was already finishing her work and going down the mountain; she is more diligent than several of our family members.”
Zhang Li Yun said: “I have inquired long ago. At home, the household chores are all her responsibility. Moreover, even if she seems shy with nothing much to say, her temper is indescribably good.”
It was because she felt that Du Baoqin was good that Zhang Liyun made up her mind to have Zhao Nan come back and marry. Otherwise, if it was late, she was afraid that someone else would be the first to take her.
Thinking of this, she frowned in dissatisfaction, ” Ah Nan’s reply should have come by now, yet how come there’s no news so far? Did that brat really disagree?”
As soon as the words left her mouth, Zhao Xixi’s voice rang out in the courtyard, “Mum, a letter from my second brother! I met the postman on the road just now, and I brought it back in passing.”
That evening, through the twilight, Zhang Liyun made another trip to the Du family.
Du Youfu and his son Du Baoqiang had just turned over the small plot of land behind the house before the family had finished eating, and the table had not been cleared.
When she saw her arrival, Jiang Rui called out to Auntie Zhang, brought her a chair, and went to the kitchen to pour a bowl of tea before gathering the dishes and taking them to be washed.
Zhang Liyun smiled as she watched her walk out, turned her head to Wang Tong Hua, and said sincerely, “Sister, you’ve raised a good daughter.”
Wang Tong Hua saw her expression and knew that she had brought good news. Her heart settled down a large part, and she modestly said: “Bao Qin speaks little, only knows to work, and her mouth is clumsy.”
“What’s the problem?” Zhang Li Yun waved her hand, “A down-to-earth and well-behaved girl like Baoqin is what makes people happy. I’m sure you’ve guessed what I’m here for, sister. Our Ah Nan wrote today that he’s coming back to visit his family this New Year, and I was wondering if I should let the two young people meet.”
The two of them talked in the hall, and the rest of the Du family consciously or unconsciously avoided them.
Inside the house, Zhang Xiaohua sat on the edge of the bed to wash her feet, lowered her voice, and said to Du Bao Qiang: “See? I guessed it right.”
Du Bao Qiang sat aside, and only after a long time said: ” The Zhao family is also quite good.”
Zhang Xiao Xua glared at him, “What do you know?”
In the eyes of others, the Zhao family was certainly good. For one thing, Zhao Da Qiu and his son Zhao Dong could raise bees. Others couldn’t even see white sugar all year round, yet their family took honey water as plain water to drink. The second son, Zhao Nan, was a soldier with more than ten years of military service. He was also an officer in the army, and every month, the salary must be high. He was fed and housed in the army. The State issued as much money as it could save, so many years after that, how big it had to be! The Zhao family’s daughter, Zhao Xi Xi, and youngest son, Zhao Bei, were both employees and did not depend on the land for their livelihood.
It could be said that there was no unoccupied person in the Zhao family.
In Zhang Xiaohua’s view, if Du Baoqin was married to Zhao Dong or Zhao Bei, it was indeed very good, but she was against Zhao Nan.
Who is Zhao Nan? A Soldier ah, with rank ah, how good it sounds!
In fact, so what? For a woman, he is just a man who can’t even return home once a year.
Married to such a person, year after year staying in a vacant house, what’s the difference with widowhood? Besides, you also have to take care of his family.
If you let Zhang Xiaohua choose, although the Du family was poor and Du Baoqiang was stupid, compared to the external view of the Zhao family, she would rather choose her current partner. At least every night when she was thirsty or hot, he would get up and pour tea, fan for her, and rub her foot cramps in the middle of the night.
This man was not capable, but he loved her and was very considerate.
After Zhang Li Yun left, Wang Tong Hua entered the kitchen. Her face could not hide her joy, “Girl, Zhao Nan will be back in the New Year; the two of you will meet then.”
“Good.” Jiang Rui responded, turning the cleaned bowl upside down to drip the water.
Wang Tong Hua took over, put the bowl into the cupboard, and said joyfully: “Just now your Aunt Zhang did not hold back and told me that she used to give the numbers of girls to Ah Nan, but he never saw nor met them. This is the first time he gave in, which means he must like you!
Jiang Rui lowered her head and cleaned up the stove, “Mom, it’s too early to say that, right?”
Wang Tong Hua smiled, “It is not, by no means early. That is, this child is shy. When you two meet, our two families should discuss the wedding date. Right. Girl, from now until the New Year, save the rabbit hair cut during this period. When it is time to exchange the money, buy a piece of cloth to make a new cotton jacket. I saw that Ling Ling’s girl wore a red cotton jacket last year. It looked very good, so let’s make the same one. It will definitely look better than hers!”
“Is our family not about to use money soon? I can still wear the two old ones, so I won’t need to make new ones, right?” Jiang Rui said, while turning out the amaranth she dug in the backyard ridge in the evening, ready to boil a pot of water to scald it.
“Leave it to me.” Wang Tong Hua took the basket in her hand, “Mom will think of a way to deal with things at home, no matter how difficult it is. There should always be new clothes for you. This time to see Ah Nan, you can not wear old clothes. You go back to your room to wash up with some hot water, go to bed early, and leave this to mom.”
Jiang Rui washed up and laid in bed, looking through the window at the clear night sky.
Zhao Nan agreed to come back and meet with her, and she was not surprised by this matter.
She did promise the original owner, Du Baoqin, that she would play her properly, but her own mission could not be forgotten. Although it was true that she had a lot of time to leisurely complete the task, being Du Baoqin, a young girl, she couldn’t withstand the long years.
Therefore, she had to get Zhao Nan’s attention in a short time.
She manipulated the picture so that there was a trace of aura on it. When Zhao Nan touched the photo, that little bit of aura would infiltrate his body and would make him feel peaceful and calm in his mind. This small difference should be able to give him a good impression of the person in the photo.
And if other people had touched the photo, they wouldn’t have felt anything. The aura only worked on Zhao Nan.
Because she is his medicine.
Special diet 坐月子 (Zuò yuè zi) : to convalesce for a month following childbirth, following a special diet, and observing various taboos to protect the body from exposure to the “wind”
Only find ways 想方设法 (xiǎngfāngshèfǎ) : to think up every possible method (idiom); to devise ways and means / to try this, that and the other.
Better than nothing. 聊胜于无 (liáoshèngyúwú) : better than nothing (idiom)
Uncle 叔 (shu) : uncle / father’s younger brother / husband’s younger brother
Ah 阿 (a) : prefix used before monosyllabic names, kinship terms etc to indicate familiarity
First to get her 捷足先登 (Jiézúxiāndēng) : the quick-footed climb up first (idiom) / the early bird catches the worm / first come, first served
Auntie 婶 (shen) : wife of father’s younger brother
Sister 妹子 (mèizi) :
Very considerate 知冷知热 (zhīlěngzhīrè) : to know whether others are cold or hot (idiom) / to be very considerate
CHARACTERS THAT APPEAR IN THIS CHAPTER:
Wang Tong Hua: Bao Qin and Bao Zhen’s mother
Du You Fu: Father of Bao Qin
Du Bao Qiang: First son. Husband of Zhang Xiao Hua
Du Bao Qin / Jiang Rui : Main character and First daughter
Du Bao Zhen: Second daughter, third child
Zhang Li Yun: Mother of Zhao Nan
Zhao Nan : Male lead and second son of the Du family
Zheng Bin: Friend of Zhao Nan