Chapter 4 – Lingjia Village, Yuehua Ravine
Thanks to my editor Gold Fairy~
The three sides of the Lingjia Village were surrounded by mountains. The back faced Yuehua Mountain Range. The left and right sides had Ling River and an inland sea. Theoretically Lingjia Village should be very prosperous, but Lingjia Village as well as other nearby villages were all extremely poor. The reason was very simple. Throughout the entire year, Yuehua Mountain was surrounded by clouds and fog. People who went to hunt there would disappear forever. The most the villagers would do was dig out the wild herbs at the foot of the mountain. Even hunter traps would only catch small animals.
Through the ages the villages close to Jiang Sea were very prosperous, but the Lingjia Village base was bad. Not only were they close to Ling River, but they were also close to the inland sea. To the north of the village, the farmland near Ling River was fertile. The harvest every year was pretty good, but south of the village, the river valley was too tragic. Every year the sea tides would bury the ground in seawater and the wide expanse of land became a salt land. In the past there were people who reclaimed the wasteland to plant, but it was a pity. Any seed that was planted had no way of surviving. Thus, even if the north of the village was fertile, it was still incapable of providing the villagers a prosperous life.
In addition, during these past few years the royal court was on an expedition. The taxes were getting higher every year, and the lives of the common people became even more bitter. But by comparison, Ling Jingxuan’s grandfather’s family livelihood could still count as tolerable.
The head of the Ling family, Ling Qiyun, was the village’s only scholar. In the family he was the eldest. He also had a younger brother, Ling Qicai, who was the Ling village’s Li Zheng, which was equivalent to a village head in modern times. In ancient times, only people who passed the scholar rank exam and above, and served as government officials were excused from taxes. Therefore the livelihood of the two branches were not bad and was tolerable.
The main branch’s Ling Qiyun was Ling Jingxuan’s paternal grandfather. Elder Ling had taken the exam to be a scholar around 20 years old. He was the only person in the village with this status at the time, but afterwards no matter how much he attached his head to a beam and stabbed his thigh with an awl (1), and endured a life of strenuous studies as a poor student, he never made it further. Ling Qiyun finally gave up on the imperial examinations when he was almost 40 years old. He opened a small school in the village and received a bit of tutor remuneration for his house.
Ling Qiyun had three sons and one daughter. The eldest was Ling Chengwen. The second eldest was Ling Chenglong, the third was Ling Chenghu, and the youngest was Ling Chenghua. When they were young, Ling Qiyun placed his hope of the imperial examination on his sons but these three sons were not made for studying. They couldn’t even pass the country level exams. In summary, the Ling family was considered a family that farmed and studied. Everyone in the family learned to read, although none were as good as the master of the house.
Under the guidance of the two little buns, Ling Jingxuan was arranging the information in his head as he dragged along a heavy bucket to the riverbank. The original Ling Jingxuan was the eldest son of the second child, Ling Chenglong. When he was young he was intelligent and clever. At 13 he passed the county level exam. The old man happily prayed to his ancestors, but one day, five years ago, he unexpectedly got pregnant as a man. In doing so, he also revealed the secret his parents had kept for several years. Turns out, he was born damaged. He had both a woman’s and a man’s reproductive organs. In modern times, this was called an intersex, but in ancient times this was considered a monstrosity, causing people who discovered it to want to burn them alive. Ling Chenglong and his wife did not have the heart to do it and quietly concealed this problem. Who would have imagined…
You can imagine what happened afterward. The elder flew into a rage, and threatened to drag Ling Jingxuan to a pond and drown him. The situation at the time had shocked the rest of the Ling family that the clan head and several elders unanimously agreed to have the big bellied Ling Jingxuan drown in a wicker basket in the inland river. But who knows if Ling Jingxuan was extremely lucky or the two little buns were not destined to die yet. When the moment the villagers angrily tied up Ling Jingxuan, the Li Zheng, Ling Qicai, who had gone to the county to handle affairs had come back. At the same time, he brought back news for everyone that no one could calmly accept. The new official County Magistrate Hu decreed that every village and town were prohibited from abusing punishments or killing in cold blood. Finally, Li Zheng with the Ling Clan head’s party decided to have Ling Jingxuan expelled from Ling Qiyun’s branch and chase him far from the village to the foot of Yuehua mountain. As for whether he could survive or not, would depend on his own luck.
After experiencing that matter, Ling Jingxuan was muddle headed. If it wasn’t for his mother Ling Wangshi, who couldn’t bear it, taking out her own dowry and many years of private savings and asking her younger brother to help buy three fields of uncultivated land at the bottom of Yuehua Mountain, O=one field to build a three room clay and grass house, the leftover two fields were used to plant grains for the animals, Ling Jingxuan and his sons probably would have died by now.
Thinking up to here, Ling Jingxuan couldn’t help spitting out an annoyed breath. The life of the original owner was so melodramatic, but he had no sympathy towards him. It wasn’t that he was merciless, rather…. If he worked a bit harder, relied on mother’s small property, in addition to the financial assistance from his parents for many years, life would pass with difficulty but would still be tolerable. But since being driven away from the family, he was continuously muddle headed. His mouth would frequently mutter “I am not a monster”. Immersed in his own self pity, he was not in the slightest worried about the life and death of him and his sons. Even if he received his memories, Ling Jingxuan did not know what he was thinking these past five years. And regarding the person that gave him a big belly, he only faintly sensed a fierce and strong physique, scorching body temperature, and heavy pants. Even the other party appearance, he was unclear about. He truly could not sympathize with this type of person.
“Daddy, we arrived.”
Ling Jingxuan who was immersed in his own train of thought did not notice the change in environment until the little bun called for his attention. He just came back to his mind and had to hide the disorderly images in his head. Ling Jingxuan lifted his head to look around. In front of him was something that could only be called a stream. Behind it was a dense forest, at the side of the stream were many emerald green weeds and edible herbs. Compared to the 21st century where serious pollution clouded the water, the water here was so clear you could see the bottom. Even the moving little fishes could be seen clearly.
“This is the Ling River that flows into Jiang Sea?”
He put the casket on the ground. Ling Jingxuan rolled up his pants and stepped into the water. Ice cold stream water surrounded his feet, causing a comfortable feeling.
“Don’t know. They said this was the Yuehua Ravine. This is the upper reaches of the river. It’s already very close to entering Yuehua Mountain. Usually no one will come here. We usually come with grandpa and grandma here to get water.”
Ling Wen spoke as he dragged his brother with him. Two people and four eyes envied their father as he stood in the water. The three year old children in Lingjia Village could all swim, but those two could not. Don’t even talk about the past Ling Jingxuan, Ling Chenglong husband and wife had to hide from the old man to help them. Ling Family did not divide their family, everytime they came they were in a rush. Where would they have time for someone to teach them how to swim.
“Hehe.. finished thinking?”
One glance and he could tell what they were thinking about. Inside his head suddenly emerged an image of a little bun saying he wanted to catch fish to give him to eat. His face couldn’t help but form a gentle and soft expression,
“Mhm… but we don’t know how to swim.”
Hearing what was said, two little buns excitedly nodded their heads, eyes became increasingly darker and brighter. But after a second the two of them, one after another lowered their heads, feeling aggrieved and unhappy as they twisted their fingers. Although Yuehua Ravine was not as good as Ling River, after all was said and done, the water was still very deep. It was still more than enough to drown these two tiny little things.
“I know how, come here. Daddy will teach you.”
Walking barefoot ashore, Ling Jingxuan looked around. After determining there was no one nearby, the three people held onto each other’s clothes, The figure of three father and sons… there was honestly nothing worth seeing. One look and the thought was ‘so skinny’, so skinny they almost lost their shape.
“Ah, so cold. Daddy, daddy, it’s so comfortable..”
The little buns excitedly cried as soon as they entered the water. Little hands closely held onto Ling Jingxuan’s thigh. The face that was only two fingers wide burst into a brilliant and innocent smile.
“Dad, quickly teach me how to swim. I want to learn.”
Even the early maturing big bun had a face full of excitement. Holding onto his other leg he vigorously swayed, making Ling Jingxuan laugh heartily, ”Ok ok ok, let’s move in more to the middle. The water right here is too shallow, come with daddy.”
One hand pulling on the buns, Ling Jingxuan turned his face towards them step by step retreating. The two little buns with every step were very cautious, and with great difficulty hid their excitement, little faces a restraining bright red.
“Good, almost there. The water here only reaches your chest. I’m going to let go first. You guys learn to stand here, then slowly lift your leg…”
Finally reaching the suitable depth, Ling Jingxuan talked as he tried to release their hands. Both were frightened and flung themselves closer to him. They simply didn’t want to let go. Ling Jingxuan had no other choice. He could only slowly guide and teach them how to swim one at a time.
“Haha…Dad, I can do it. I can swim now. Daddy quickly look at me. I learned how to swim.”
The little children’s learning ability was always astonishing. It hadn’t even been a quarter of an hour but the big bun learned how to swim, even though it was only the easiest doggy paddle.
“Daddy, it’s my turn, it’s my turn…”
Upon seeing this, the little bun pouted his lips discontentedly to shout. Ling Jingxuan pulled him towards the big bun to talk, “Don’t wade into the deep parts of the water. Remember to use the water to wash your face.”
“En, Daddy hurry and teach Xiao Wu. I know how to do it.”
Despite being the same age, Ling Wen already possessed an elder brother mentality and never forgot to worry about his younger brother at all times. He was so sensible it caused people to both feel endeared and warm. Ling Jingxuan nodded his head and turned around and focused on teaching the little bun. He waited until he also learned to doggy paddle. Ling Jingxuan also helped them clean their bodies and washed all the filth from the entire bodies. Concealed under the filth their little faces were unexpectedly good looking. Ling Jingxuan nodded his head in delight. Touch here, pinch that, the one thing that put him in a bad mood was that the two buns were too skinny. This also strengthened even more his determination to turn them into super meat buns.
As someone who never bothered about money, for the first time he wanted to make money, make lots of money!
- Head attached to beam and stabbing thigh with an awl: idiom meaning to study tirelessly
JADE: Hey everyone, sorry for slow updates. Last semester was rough x.x Trying to start updating more again though. This series has been pretty interesting to translate so far. If the characters start to get too complicated I’ll make a character sheet and upload it.