Eighty Soldiers 08
The children are too old to stay.
After ordering the food, Zhao Nan also brought back a pot of hot tea and poured a cup for Zhang Xiaohua and Jiang Rui respectively.
It was cold, so Jiang Rui held the teacup in her hands to warm them. This body was already well-built, and under her nourishing aura, the impurities in her body are getting less and less, once Du Baoqin was only white, but now she is so white that she is somewhat transparent.
Zhao Nan glanced towards her while she was there, followed closely by a second and a third glance.
Noticing something, Jiang Rui lifted her eyes and looked at him through the gap in her long lashes.
This time it was Zhao Nan who ducked away first, picking up the cup of tea and taking a sip as if nothing had happened. But he had forgotten that the tea was freshly brewed and so hot that as soon as it entered his mouth, his whole body froze, and it took a while before he was able to make a small gulp as his throat rolled and he swallowed the tea.
Jiang Rui covered her mouth, her eyes brimming with laughter.
Zhang Xiaohua looked at it and also wanted to laugh a little, but held back and coughed dryly, fearing that the scene would be awkward, looking for something to say, “By the way, I heard from Aunt Zhang that you have joined the army for more than ten years, how old were you when you first joined the army?”
“Sixteen.” Zhao Nan put down his teacup and pushed it away a little, intentionally or not.
“Still a young boy growing up, it’s not easy being so far away from home. However, I see that when other people are in the army, they can come back once a year and stay at home for half a month, how come I haven’t seen you come back?”
“The military is different and sometimes there are special assignments.”
Zhang Xiaohua nodded half-understandingly, glanced at Jiang Rui and said jokingly, “You’re so busy, in the future when you get married and live apart, both of you will have to work hard.”
Zhao Nan seemed to follow her line of sight and looked towards Jiang Rui as well before saying, “I have enough rank for my family to accompany me in the army.”
“That’s good!” Zhang Xiaohua was surprised, she thought that being married to a soldier meant that one had to live in two separate places and suffer like a widow.
She was about to say something else, but stopped for the moment when she saw the meal coming up.
Just now, Jiang Rui ordered a vegetarian dish, and Zhang Xiaohua ordered a semi-vegetarian dish, but when the dishes were served, there were five of them, three of which were big dishes, buckled pork with preserved plum vegetables, braised hoof bladder, nine turns of fatty intestines, a fragrant and oily dish that made people’s eyes glaze over.
The Du family has only a few pounds of meat distributed by the commune at the end of the year, so they can get some meat in their stomachs. As soon as the meat was brought into the house, it was finely salted by Wang Tong Hua and hung on the beam above the stove, and at most a small piece, two fingers thick, was cut off each time a dish was cooked. The little piece of meat had to be simmered from the beginning of the Chinese New Year until it was finished.
Normally, if you want to eat meat, you can’t buy it without a meat ticket, even if you have money, unless it is home-raised. When you come to a restaurant like this, you need a grain ticket for the rice and noodles you eat, a meat ticket for the meat you eat, and even for a fritter, you need half a tael of fine grain. So these days, people from the countryside don’t dare to go to restaurants because if you don’t have a ticket, they won’t sell you at all.
Zhang Xiaohua only knew that Zhao Nan was a soldier and should have tickets, but she didn’t know that he had so many. Just now at the supply and marketing agency, buying scarves and sweets, watching him take money and tickets, he also did not even blink.
Not long ago, she was saying that if she had to choose between a soldier like Zhao Nan, who she didn’t see more than a few times a year, and a man like Du Baoqiang, who could understand the cold and the warmth, she would rather choose Du Baoqiang. But now, under such a sugar-coated attack, she was firmly swayed: what else do you need a man for when you have food and drink?
When she went to look at Zhao Nan again, she only felt that his already tall figure seemed to have grown even taller, and his back glowed with a golden light.
She turned her head to look at Jiang Rui again, but saw that this little sister still only had a subtle smile on the corner of her mouth, two pear swirls swirled lightly, the whole person was quiet and beautiful.
She sighed, how could she have thought her sister-in-law was stupid before? Those who are really smart and powerful are never those who love to fight for petty profits.
When the rice was served, Zhang Xiaohua didn’t have time to think about it, and it took almost all her strength not to devour it excessively. Even so, she didn’t raise her head much during the meal, and the table was quiet for a while.
Jiang Rui eats small bites of rice, only taking small bites of greens and radish to go with her rice, and an occasional pinch of plum vegetables.
Noticing her movement, Zhao Nan immediately asked, ” Is it not to your liking?”
“No, it tastes good.” Jiang Rui smiled, looked at him and said, “It’s all delicious, I just don’t really like meat.”
Being looked at by her, Zhao Nan only responded vaguely and took a few more bites of rice before he seemed to feel that his reaction just now was not working and added, “Not eating meat is not good for your health.”
“Really?” Jiang Rui tilted her head.
Zhang Xiaohua was even more surprised, “Baoqin doesn’t like meat? That’s too bad, what else in the world is better than meat? Besides, Ah Nan is right, always eating veggies, no grease in your body, how can you stand it?”
Usually at home, she could still eat eggs occasionally, tricking her tummy into thinking they were meat. Looking back now, it seems that she really had never seen Du Baoqin eat meat dishes, and even eggs were rarely eaten.
Zhang Xiaohua took the initiative to pick a piece of more lean and less fatty pork and put it into her bowl, “If you don’t like meat, then eat less fatty and more lean.”
The chef at the restaurant was very good at his job, and the pork was cooked in a red and oily sauce, with a thick soup and a mellow aroma that made it taste excellent. But Jiang Rui stared at it in distress, her brow furrowing slightly, before she picked it up and bit into a small piece. It was salty and fragrant in the mouth, the meat stewed softly, not too lean, not too fatty, much better than the greasy taste she had expected.
Those two were staring at it with rapt attention, and when they saw her eat it, Zhang Xiaohua hurriedly asked, “How was it, was it good?”
“Mmm, delicious.” Jiang Rui nodded.
“You say that you have missed out on so many good things in the past? Come, come, try this hoof, I guarantee you won’t be able to stop eating it. It’s thanks to Ah Nan that we both got to eat this today.”
Jiang Rui had meat in her mouth, her cheeks puffed out in a pink and tender patch. When she sniffed and looked at Zhao Nan, she saw him looking at her too, so she bent her lips and smiled at him.
Zhao Nan didn’t say a word, and lowered his head to eat his rice, only to find that the bowl was empty after a couple of bites, so he went to get some more rice, and when he got up, he moved so hard that he almost brought his chair down.
When he walked away, Zhang Xiaohua puffed and patted Jiang Rui’s hand, “Just now I told you to smile at people more often, but now I think about it, forget it, he’s dazed even if you don’t smile, if you smile again, I’m afraid I won’t be able to find my way home.”
Jiang Rui gave her a piece of fat sausage, “So much food, not enough to keep my sister-in-law’s mouth busy.”
“Fine, fine, I won’t say anything, I’ll just eat.” Zhang Xiaohua laughed.
After eating, the three were about to leave when a young man ran out from the back kitchen, “Second Brother, wait for me!”
The youngest son of the Zhao family, Zhao Bei, is working as an apprentice in the restaurant, not to mention being an apprentice, a position that many people are eyeing. The reason why it was Zhao Bei’s chance was that the chef of the restaurant was their great uncle. The old man had no children, so his grandfather decided to give his youngest grandson to his younger brother to take over his mantle and take care of him in the future.
Zhao Bei was eight or nine years younger than Zhao Nan, still a teenager, with an apron around his body, he took a few steps to catch up and gave Zhao Nan a pat on the shoulder, “Didn’t we agree to sit together when I’m done, why are you leaving?” Without waiting for Zhao Nan to say anything, he looked at Jiang Rui and said with a smile, “It’s Sister Bao Qin and her sister-in-law, I’m Zhao Bei, you can call me Xiao Bei.”
He is a sociable person, unlike his second brother, who is quiet and is a few months older than Du Baoqin, but he still calls her “sister“.
Jiang Rui and Zhang Xiaohua also greeted him.
Zhao Bei pressed Zhao Nan’s shoulder and pressed him back into his seat again, “Sit down all, sit down a little longer, I still have melon seeds there, wait for me to bring them.”
The three of them sat down again and watched him run back to the back kitchen in a hurry, bringing out a plate with apples and oranges, melons and peanuts in no time.
“Sister Baoqin and her sister-in-law feel free to eat, this is what I went out to buy on the spur of the moment just now, I didn’t get anything too good, please don’t mind.”
He was attentive in his invitation and Jiang Rui took an orange in her hand and peeled it slowly while Zhang Xiaohua also ate it.
“You guys came over in the morning, right? Have you had a look around? There’s a park not far from here, so I’ll take some time off and go for a stroll with you?”
“It’s too much trouble.” Jiang Rui shook her head.
Zhang Xiaohua also smiled and said, “The two of us are just idle people, casually strolling around for fun, how can we delay your business?”
Zhao Bei smiled and said, “It doesn’t matter to me, keeping Sister Baoqin and her sister-in-law company is the right thing to do.”
Zhang Xiaohua added, “The main thing is that it’s not too early, if it’s too late, there will be no bus back to the commune.”
“That’s true.” Zhao Bei nodded, turned his face to look at Zhao Nan and poked him in the chest with his elbow, “Why aren’t you even talking, brother? Next time you and Sister Baoqin come to the county to play, remember to come find me earlier, I’ll show you around.”
” Ah Nan also took us for a stroll around the supply and marketing office today, it was quite lively.” Zhang Xiaohua said.
“That’s good. Sister Baoqin and sister-in-law, if you buy anything, just ask my brother to help you carry it. My mother talks about it every day, saying that my brother has been a gentleman since he was a child, he can’t say much and he can’t make people happy. And don’t look at my brother in a military uniform, he looks like he has nothing, but in fact his wallet is much bigger than mine, so if you see anything you like, just say so, and give him a chance to be nice, don’t let him get spoiled.”
Zhao Nan did not say a word and only looked sideways at Zhao Bei.
The first thing you need to do is to get a good understanding of the situation.
It was only in the morning that Zhang Xiaohua praised her own little sister-in-law in front of Zhao Nan in an explicitly demeaning and implicitly positive way, and now the Zhao family is out and about, following the same route as her.
Zhao Bei says that his brother has a stupid mouth and won’t come to terms with things, but in reality, he is just short of saying that he has a great body, a great person and a great wallet, so you can’t miss him when you pass by.
As Zhang Xiaohua listened, she secretly reflected that her own skills were still not enough, her mouth was not smooth enough, her face was not thick enough, she still had to learn to speak again.
In the end, it was Zhao Nan who couldn’t listen any longer and carried the man back to the back kitchen with one hand and left with Jiang Rui.
It was getting late, so they didn’t stay in the county and took a bus back to the Chaoyang Commune.
When he got off the bus, Zhang Xiaohua pulled Jiang Rui and said to Zhao Nan, “An Nan, thank you for your hospitality today, some day when you are free, let’s treat you for once too. Baoqin and I still have to go to the supply and marketing agency to pick up some things, so we won’t go all the way back with you.”
This is also to avoid gossip. The two of them met for the first time today, and when they return tonight, the two families will have to discuss the situation again, in case the two of them end up not getting along, but walking together in pairs and being seen on the roads, the Zhao family is fine as a boy, but Du Baoqin, a girl, will not be able to bear the gossip.
Some black-hearted people might even have to spread the word around, saying that there must be something wrong with Du Baoqin, otherwise how could the Zhao family not see her?
Zhao Nan looked at Jiang Rui and nodded, pulling out three scarves from the cloth bag he was carrying and handing the rest to her, “It’s for you.”
Inside the bag were the scarves and sweets he had bought in the county.
Jiang Rui and Zhang Xiaohua looked at each other. Earlier Zhang Xiaohua had joked that she must have had a share in those scarves that Zhao Nan had bought. Now it seemed that not only did she have a share, but even Zhang Xiaohua, Wang Tong Hua and Du Bao Zhen all had a share.
Jiang Rui shook her head and took a small step back, “I can’t take it, you can take it back.”
“Don’t you like it?” Zhao Nan frowned slightly.
“It’s not that I don’t like it, you should take it back to your family, they’ll be happy.”
Zhao Nan said in a muffled voice, “It’s just for you.” He pointed to the three scarves he was holding, “These are for them.”
Zhang Xiaohua glanced at the cloth bag, in addition to the four scarves, there were also two large packets of fruit candies and milk candies inside, although she was salivating a little, she really could not accept them.
If she were a member of the Zhao family and her son was giving the woman things in a large bag at their first meeting, she would have forgotten her mother before she even married her daughter-in-law. Besides, these things are not small amounts, and the Zhao family might even wonder if she and Baoqin had coaxed Zhao Nan into it. At that time, even if the Zhao family was originally happy with Du Baoqin, they would still have doubts in their hearts.
Seeing the two of them stalling there, she was about to speak up when she heard Jiang Rui say softly, “You take it all home first, whether it’s the scarf or the candy, let Aunt Zhao and Xixi and the others pick first, and if Aunt Zhao says for you to give it to me, I’ll take the rest, okay?”
Zhang Xiaohua listened and swallowed her words back into her stomach. It seems that there is no need to persuade, even if she persuaded a hundred sentences, it may not be as effective as the soft voice of her sister-in-law, did she not see that when Zhao Nan left, his feet were floating?
They said they were going to get something from the marketplace, but it was just a pretext. When Zhao Nan was out of sight, the two of them also started walking home.
As soon as she arrived home, Wang Tong Hua greeted her with a Xiao Shanzha in her arms, “You’re back?”
” Coming back, it’s been a hard day for mum.” Zhang Xiaohua picked up her daughter.
“That’s my eldest granddaughter, what’s all this talk about hard work.” Wang Tong Hua looked at the two people’ faces and lowered her voice, “How did it go, did it go well?”
Jiang Rui walked towards the house with her head down, seemingly shy to talk about it, “Mom, I’ll go to my room and change first.”
“You’re still shy after meeting him?” Wang Tong Hua teased, and asked Zhang Xiaohua, “Tell me about it, it’s making me anxious.”
Zhang Xiaohua hugged Xiao Shanzha and rocked her, laughing, “How can anyone not like Baoqin with her looks and personality? You can rest assured that there is no problem with Zhao Nan, now it’s up to the Zhao family to say what they want.”
“Then it’s done!” Wang Tong Hua clapped her hands and was overjoyed, “The Zhao family will have no problem, they are even more anxious than ours. Your Aunt Zhang told me a long time ago that as soon as the two kids give their nod, we’ll discuss the wedding date.”
After she finished, she rubbed her hands together and headed for the kitchen to make something delicious for the evening to celebrate.
Inside, Du Baozhen was revising her homework at the table and window. When she saw Jiang Rui return, she threw down her book, “Sister, you’re back.”
“Not so bad, it was quite lively.” Jiang Rui looked in the cupboard for clothes, changing out of her new clothes and putting on her old cotton jacket, revealing a bit of skin between her waist when she bent over, fair and delicate.
Du Baozhen immediately leaned over, “Sister, when did you become so white? My eyes were dazzled just now.”
“It’s not that dramatic? It’s probably because of the winter and the lack of sunlight.” Jiang Rui pushed away her hand that was about to lift the hem of her dress, “How’s the reading going? It’s going to be New Year’s soon, so it won’t be as quiet as it is now.”
Du Baozhen rubbed her stomach and puckered up her mouth, “I’m always hungry when I look at it, I can’t concentrate at all.”
She suddenly twitched her nose and sniffed twice on Jiang Rui, closed her eyes to relish the smell, then opened them and said with certainty, “It’s the smell of meat, it smells so good!”
Jiang Rui lost her smile and nudged her nose, ” You have a dog’s nose.”
Du Baozhen took her hand and wrapped it around her, “It’s meat, isn’t it? Sister, what did you have for dinner today? Was it good?”
“It’s meat, I had buckled pork with preserved plums, it’s quite delicious.”
“Let me smell it again,” Du Baozhen leaned over her with a yearning for meat all over her face, “did that Zhao Nan treat you guys to that? So it looks like he’s not bad.”
“Treating me to a meal of meat is good enough?” Jiang Rui asked rhetorically with a smile.
Du Baozhen nodded her head and affirmed, “It’s better than not even being invited to a meal.”
“Come on, you’re a foodie, and meat is paramount.”
Du Baozhen admitted with a cheeky grin, and rubbed her belly with self-pity, “Poor me, I haven’t seen meat for so long, I don’t know if it will still recognize meat next time I see it?”
Jiang Rui changed her clothes and headed out, “I’m just afraid that if you don’t remember your surname, you won’t not recognize the meat either.”
“Hahahaha sister you really understand me!”
In the next room, Zhang Xiaohua was breastfeeding the baby, Du Baoqiang was beside her asking, “How is Zhao Nan?”
“How about what? It’s better than you.” Zhang Xiaohua gave him a sidelong glance.
Du Baoqiang was not angry and added, “Didn’t you say before that being a soldier was bad? I’m worried about Baoqin ……”
“Where does Baoqin need you to worry? Besides, it’s too late to worry now.”
Today’s incident made Zhang Xiaohua understand that marrying Zhao Nan was a relief for Du Baoqin. In the future, she will be married in the army, and there will only be two of them outside, so she will not have to serve the whole family, and she will not have to look at her in-laws. I’m afraid that no one else in the family is as good as she is.
On the other hand, Zhao Nan returned to the Zhao family and was also surrounded by a group.
At Zhang Liyun’s command, the others stepped back while she spoke and interrogated them.
She first looked up and down at Zhao Nan. She knew her own son, and although his face was not very expressive, she could still tell if he was happy or not. When he went out this morning, he was obviously still a bit reluctant and not too happy, but when he came back just now, the sound of his footsteps was different, so he was obviously happy after he went out and met the girl.
“First of all, talk to mum, you didn’t upset the girl today, right?”
Zhao Nan, dressed in a straight military uniform, sat on a small bench, thought back and shook his head.
Zhang Liyun let go of her snack and added, “What did you all do, tell us.”
Zhao Nan then told them one by one, from meeting on the roadside in the morning, to riding in the bus together, to going to the department store and having a stroll, and eating together.
Hearing him say he had gone to the restaurant, Zhang Li Yun asked, “Have you seen your brother? Did he come out to say hello?”
“If your mouth was half as good as his, I wouldn’t have to worry about it.”
Zhang Liyun shook her head and asked him even about what he had ordered at the restaurant, and finally took the cloth bag he had brought back and pulled the contents out, and when she found that the scarves she pulled out were all female styles, and there were seven of them, she understood in her heart.
“Our family only needs three of them even for your sister-in-law and me and Xixi, who did you buy the other four for?”
Zhao Nan was silent for a moment and finally just said, “You pick three.”
Zhang Li Yun looked at him with a raised eyebrow, “I’ve finished picking out three of them, do you want to send the rest to Du’s house right away?”
Zhao Nan didn’t answer and turned out the two packets of sugar, “Pick the sugar too.”
Zhang Li Yun was furious inside.
Before, she was anxious when her son did not get married. Now that he has someone he likes, but he has only met her once, he has bought more things for her than he has bought back.
The good thing is that he still knows that when he buys something back, he has to take it home first, let his old mother pick it out, and then take the rest to please the girl.
But then she thought, with the pitifully little human understanding in her own son’s head, how could he have thought of doing this? Could it be that he had been nudged to do this, too?
Zhang Liyun sighed helplessly, and had to enlighten herself: “Forget it, raising children is just paying off a debt, and when they grow up and get married and have children, the debt will be paid off. If you expect them to pay you back, you might as well grow sweet potatoes!
However, even though she thought so, she coldly put all the scarves and candies away and met Zhao Nan’s eyes with a nonchalant sneer, “What are you looking at me for? You’ve got a lot of use for me, you brat. You want to go to someone’s house to offer your affection now, but it doesn’t say that you haven’t seen the day, you have to see if they will offer it to you. If I don’t come to the house and talk about your marriage, if I don’t help you, you’ll still want to get a wife? Dream on.”
Zhao Nan watched as his – mother took everything away, sat alone for a while and silently got up and went to chop wood.
In the room, with a milk candy in her mouth, Zhao Xixi looked through the window and into the courtyard for a moment before turning back to Zhang Liyun and saying, “Mom, second brother won’t be angry, will he?”
“He dares?” Zhang Li Yun didn’t even raise her head, rummaging through the cabinet for their shēngchénbāzì, “They say that the wind and water turn, last night it was me who took the trouble to ask him to meet with someone, today it’s his turn to beg me. If he dares to make a scene for me, I’ll keep him cold for two more days to see if he’s in a hurry or if I’m in a hurry.”
Zhao Xixi stuck her tongue out and muttered in a small voice, “Ginger gets spicier as it gets older, one can’t afford to offend.”
Zhang Li Yun glanced at her, “Don’t think your mother is blind and deaf, I’m not old yet. You are also a little girl, in the future, if you like any boy, come back home, serve tea to your mother politely, then squeeze your shoulders, pound your legs, and make me happy, then I will consider whether to approve your marriage.”
“Mom, you’re a feudal society old lady!” Zhao Xixi staggered.
“I’d rather I be that old lady, and if I don’t like anyone, I’ll just do the family law, and beat them up one by one, and see who dares to be mean to me.”
Zhao Xixi patted her little chest and shook her head, thinking that her mother had gone a bit off the deep end, and then turned her head to look at her second brother in the yard, who was chopping wood just like tofu, and shook her head again.
Zhang Li Yun finally found the eight characters, see her shaking her head and muttering, came over and flicked her forehead, “What are you mumbling about, go to the yard and tell your second brother not to chop anymore, our family ground is not strong, I am afraid he will split it for me.”
The ground is not sturdy, so I’m afraid he’ll split it for me.” When she turned around, she said, “If you hurt your hand, you’ll make my mother feel bad.
She looked at the red paper and thought she would go to the Du family after dark. The children are too old to stay, and the ones with a husband are too old to stay, so they will be taken away at the first sign of a hook.
understand the cold and the warmth 知冷知热 (zhīlěngzhīrè) : to know whether others are cold or hot (idiom) / to be very considerate
Little 小 (xiǎo) : small / tiny / few / young
Sister 姑子 (gūzi) : husband’s sister
pear swirls 梨涡 (líwō) : dimples (of a woman)
Ah 阿 (ā): prefix used before monosyllabic names, kinship terms etc to indicate familiarity
Great Uncle 叔公 (shūgōng): great uncle / grandfather’s younger brother
Grandfather 爷爷 (yéye) : father’s father / paternal grandfather
Give 过继 (guòjì) : to give for adoption (usually to a childless relative)
take care of him in the future 养老送终 (yǎnglǎosòngzhōng) : to look after one’s aged parents and arrange proper burial after they die
Quiet 沉默寡言 (chénmòguǎyán) : habitually silent (idiom) / reticent / uncommunicative
Sister 姐 (jiě) : older sister
shēngchénbāzì 生辰八字 : one’s birth data for astrological purposes, combined from year, month, day, hour, heavenly trunk and earthly branch
the wind and water turn 风水轮流转 (fēngshuǐlúnliúzhuàn): fortunes rise and fall / times change
Ginger gets spicier as it gets older 姜还是老的辣 (jiāngháishìlǎodelà): ginger gets spicier as it gets older (idiom) / the older, the wiser
Blind and deaf 眼瞎耳聋 (yǎnxiā’ěrlóng) : to be deaf and blind (idiom)