Chapter 22: Birthday
Translator: Sparrow Translations Editor: Sparrow Translations
A few days later, on one particular noon.
"His Virtue is light as a hair. Still, a hair will admit of comparison as to its size. The doings of the supreme Heaven have neither sound nor smell.– That is perfect virtue"
Fang Zhengzhi read softly, carefully closed the Law of Dao and Doctrine of the Mean he borrowed from the Hall of Dao, then began to recite...
"Grrr!" The sound of his stomach reminded him that it was time to eat.
"Zhengzhi, quickly come and eat, it's your birthday today!" Qin Xuelian’s voice sounded out from the living room.
"Birthday? Nice!" Evidently, Fang Zhengzhi had no idea that it was his birthday, but since Qin Xuelian said so, it should be true. As such, he immediately hurried out of his room.
After today, I would be seven years old? The silent flow of time suddenly struck Fang Zhengzhi.
These days, unsure whether it was due to growing up, hitting puberty or other causes, he definitely felt that his appetite was expanding quickly.
Birthday… would there be delicious food?
A piece of meat, a table full of vegetables, two eggs. This was Fang Zhengzhi's sumptuous birthday meal.
Fang Zhengzhi’s hunger grew quickly, feeling warm and happy inside. This might be considered a very ordinary meal to many people, but what if they ate nothing but vegetables mixed with minced meat for every single one of their previous meals?
Looks like the ingot of gold he gave indeed had some use to it...
But, my dear mum, that is an ingot of gold! Can't we be more generous? Cook a little more meat, please don't leave it for my future marriage!
Even though he was really tempted to voice out these thoughts, regrettably, because of certain circumstances, he shouldn't have known that his house had an ingot of gold. As such, he was unable to voice these out.
Moreover, he knew very clearly that even if he really expressed what he thought, considering Qin Xuelian’s personality, it was likely that she would still save up the gold. Suffering herself, yet leaving all her money for the next generation. This was the selflessness the ancient Chinese showed towards their children.
"Zhengzhi, take the meat, I made this specially just for you!" Qin Xuelian picked up a piece of braised meat and placed in in Fang Zhengzhi's bowl.
"Mum, you eat!" Zhengzhi rejected respectfully.
"You eat, you eat! Today is your birthday, your mum took a really long time to braise this!" Fang Houde advised.
Fang Zhengzhi didn't reject further. He knew Qin Xuelian would definitely not eat it, this was the unconditional love parents had for their children! Moved, a thought suddenly arose - he was already seven years old?
Wolfing down the meal, Fang Zhengzhi took another walk around the small courtyard, then, re-entered the house.
Just as he got ready to read another round of books, he heard Qin Xuelian’s voice coming from the living room...
"Zhengzhi is at an age when his body is growing, his appetite is also getting bigger and bigger!"
"Yes I understand, but the previous strong members of the hunting squad are all studying in the Hall of Dao. Now, the remaining members of the hunting squad don't even dare to go anywhere deep. The game at the bottom of the hill is really too little, for one entire village with a hundred over households, this just isn't enough…" Fang Houde replied with the same worried tone.
"So what if we managed to hunt more animals? The first pick will still go to the households of those studying in the Hall of Dao. Just take Li's family as an example, previously he was able to hunt large amounts of game, hence more were distributed to his family. But now they are completely reliant on the village for support, and during every distribution, the highest numbers always goes to village chief and their family!"
"It's all because of hope, ultimately the Li family is the Southern Mountain Village's biggest hope!"
Just as they were speaking, the sound of hurried footsteps came from outside the door. Opening the window of his room, Fang Zhengzhi looked outside and saw the village chief, bringing along a group of villagers, standing in the middle of the small courtyard.
"Village chief, what's the matter?" Hearing his voice, Fang Houde immediately made his way to the center of the courtyard.
"There's something I need to discuss with you!" Village Chief Meng Bai took a puff of cigar, then gave Fang Houde a knowing look.
"Village chief, please speak." Fang Houde replied indifferently.
"You see, in the recent one or two months, some of the main workforce in the village had entered the Hall of Dao to study, along with that two Sirs had also arrived at the Hall of Dao.
"I understand, I'm willing to volunteer." Fang Zhengzhi instantly understood Village Chief Meng Bai’s intent.
"Yes, it would be great if you are willing to volunteer. Even though you already lost an arm, but you were still indeed one of the strongest in the hunting squad in the past. You are experienced, you know the Cang Ling Mountain, you know which places cannot be visited, I have absolute confidence in you! Some new members have just joined the hunting squad, I hope you can show them the ropes as well. Please make a trip to the mountain tomorrow, everyone in the village depends on you guys!"
"Don't worry Village Chief!" Fang Houde nodded.
Village Chief took another puff, patted Fang Houde’s shoulders, and quickly gathered his group of villagers to proceed in another direction.
Enter the mountains? Hunting prey?
Fang Zhengzhi always knew that the Southern Mountain Village relied on the hunting squad for their livelihood, but had never seen it in action. He heard that the mountains were too dangerous.
Even the Southern Mountain Village hunting squad only dared to hunt at the outskirts of Cang Ling Mountain, and didn't dare to venture deeper inside...
As he thought, he heard a low sobbing sound coming from the living room once again.
"Entering the mountain?! This isn't a joke! That's too dangerous, you are forbidden from going!" Desperation was evident in Qin Xuelian’s voice.
"This… This isn't something I have a choice in, there are only that many people in the village, taking into account the old and the young… if nobody enters the mountain, wouldn't we all starve to death? Only by entering the mountain and bring back game can we have meat to eat, leather to sell at the capital market, that's how we get maintain our livelihood…" Fang Houde reassured her softly.
"Why must they choose you out of so many people in the village? Didn't you already break your arm for the village? Even worse, they are pampering those in the Hall of Dao, yet still forcing you to enter the mountain? How do you even hunt with one broken arm, you can't even pull a bow! Moreover, don't we already have gold now…"
"Sheesh! The gold is reserved for Zhengzhi's future marriage, we can't spend it without good reason! Although I can't pull a bow, I can still hold a spear! Furthermore, what village chief said was right, I'm more familiar with this Cang Ling Mountain. I would mainly be involved in command and control, and not considering the rest of the beasts, hunting a few small prey still wouldn't even be a problem!"
"You always only think about the village, I won't allow… sigh… the spear in our house is a little rusty, I … I'll go prepare it for you now…" Halfway into her sentence, upon seeing Fang Houde’s expression, she finally let out a sigh, turned around and walked towards the storeroom filled with metal tools.
The voices stopped, Fang Houde also began to prepare his hunting tools...
Fang Zhengzhi gazed at the green blades of grass growing out on the small courtyard, sighed softly, his expression slightly worried for the first time. The entire economy of the village depended on that one hunting squad.
The Hall of Dao was indeed prestigious, and was the future hope of the village, but before that hope was realised, it was also a kind of burden. After the already poor Southern Mountain Village's main labour force was selected to study in the Hall of Dao, the level of stress naturally shot up.
Hunting squad? He didn't even know when would he be qualified to go up the mountain...
As Fang Zhengzhi thought, his vision suddenly came into focus. Because, he saw that piece of stone in the middle of the courtyard, and on that stone, was a finger-length crack!