Although I didn’t know why mother-in-law had come here, I still quickly walked forward with Xiang Qing to salute. I respectfully asked if she was well.
Mother-in-law gently put down the cup in her hand and with sincere and earnest feelings, she asked Xiang Qing, “Qing-er, do you know what today is?”
Xiang Qing stared blankly at her after hearing her question, and then shook his head in puzzlement.
“This child is dull-witted and asks mother to state her meaning explicitly.”
(T/N: I couldn’t express this in English, but his words are very respectful and not how an average person speaks to their mom. His words sound like dialogue from a palace drama.)
“Today is Jingze (3rd term of the 24 East Asian solar terms or March 6th to 20th)! Jingze!” Mother-in-law seemed as if she couldn’t believe him. She emphasized the word by saying it twice.
What was jingze? I saw that her face wasn’t happy, so I quickly pushed down my curiosity. I didn’t dare to ask what jingze was.
At this moment, Xiang Qing suddenly realized and said, “Oh, so it’s the time to sow seeds. Does older brother need help? I’ll visit him soon.”
“Who asked you to help him?” Mother-in-law scolded him, and then she explained, “Did you forget that you had your own fields? Aren’t you going to cultivate them now that its jingze? Or, are you going to neglect the fields?”
I didn’t understand her words until she explained to this point. Xiang Qing did indeed have fields of his own. He had two fields that had previously been under the care of his family. Now that Xiang Qing had returned home, elder brother-in-law had returned them to him. There were also the three fields that had been purchased together with the house. In total there were five fields. It wasn’t too few or too many. But, these fields weren’t useful to us.
Yin Zi had planted half a field of fruits and vegetables for himself. Xiao Cha had planted some morning glories for fun. She also wrote in an observation diary. But she used that diary to write down observation about Yin Zi instead of morning glories…
Xiang Qing also now understood the reason for mother-in-law’s visit, so he said with a smile, “I was sent to Mao Mountain as a child and grew up there. My farming skills aren’t very good and Miao Miao doesn’t know how to farm either. Why don’t I give this to elder brother to use instead? Anyways, I earn enough money putting away demons. I don’t need to depend on farming to live.”
“Nonsense!” Mother-in-law was a bit angry. “Do you want the people in the village to say that your elder brother is petty person who takes his younger brother’s fields?”
“This son doesn’t have this intention.”
Mother-in-law slightly cooled down her anger, sat back down, and after drinking tea, she continued, “Even if your elder brother was willing, his family only has two people and me. He doesn’t have enough people to work your land too, so you should cultivate this land yourself.
“But… I really don’t have skill to grow plants.” Xiang Qing was in a very difficult position.
Mother-in-law angrily said, “I don’t care if you don’t have the skill. Farming is the lifeblood of rural people. If you rely on your hands to grow food, you won’t go hungry as long as there aren’t any natural disasters. How could you forget your roots? Absolutely disgraceful! Even if your wife was pampered and spoiled from childhood, she should follow our customs after coming to the village. She should more or less do some farm work, so that people won’t gossip that our Xiang family has a daughter-in-law that’s not virtuous.
(T/N: The literal meaning of xianhui is virtuous, but in Chinese, this word is used in the context of whether or not someone is a good wife and daughter-in-law. Its not really used to mean general ethicalness or purity.)
So it turns out that if I don’t farm, I wouldn’t be virtuous! Oh no! This was very serious. I saw that mother-in-law was getting angrier. I quickly walked forward and said with a smile, “Its only growing plants. It isn’t a big deal. I’ll grow the plants.”
“You?” Mother-in-law and Xiang Qing asked at the same time. They didn’t look confident at hearing my words.
I fearlessly patted my chest and assured, “My farming skills are super excellent! I’m the best in the world! There definitely won’t be a problem if you leave it to me!
Xiang Qing quickly pulled me to the side and whispered, “But… You don’t know how. Don’t say such nonsense. I’ll continue discussing with mother.”
Who was saying nonsense? This was related to the question of whether or not I was virtuous. I fiercely glared at him, and then I went back to mother-in-law to swear to the heavens that I would do a good job with farming and wouldn’t fail to live up to the expectation of Xiang family’s fields.
After mother-in-law heard my promise, she finally revealed a smiling face and praised me several times. Then, she left after instructing that we must finish planting the seeds within the next two days, otherwise the harvest time would be messed up.
My actions had upset Xiang Qing so much that he kept whirling around in the room.
I walked to him and after I persuaded him to calm down, I embarrassedly asked, “How do you do farm work?”
“And you dared to say you were the world’s best farmer…” Xiang Qing didn’t have any other alternatives so he honestly answered, “First, we have to borrow an ox to plow the land.”
After he said this, he left the house. I waited for a long time until he came back with a face full of disappointment.
“It was too late. To begin with, there weren’t many people in this village that had oxen. The people borrowing the oxen had already been scheduled in advance. If I wait until it’s my turn, it would probably be too late for planting. We should probably go buy an ox of our own instead.”
He packed money and was only going take me with him. But, Yin Zi and Xiao Cha insisted on tagging along to see the excitement. So, we all walked to town.
Xiao Cha seemed as if she was scared of other people. For some unfathomable reason, she put on a veil. After she had only walked a few steps on the mountain road, she dropped to the ground and said she couldn’t walk another step. We were tired to death of Xiao Cha’s incompetence, but we couldn’t leave her by the side of the road. Xiao Cha repeatedly hinted at Yin Zi to support her walking, but Yin Zi pretended he couldn’t see her. Without a better option, I carried her on my back as we walked to town.
When we arrived in town, Xiao Cha finished resting on my back and was very lively. She looked left and right. She was inquisitive about everything. Everything seemed fresh and novel to her. She wanted to buy everything and she also wanted to try all of the food, but she didn’t have any money.
Yin Zi couldn’t bear it anymore. He bought her a doll made of sugar and took her to her a teahouse to listen to music so that she wouldn’t run wildly all over the place. Then, he told Xiang Qing and me to go buy the ox without them.
Unfortunately, when we arrived at the market for draft animals, we weren’t able to buy an ox. During spring planting time, adult oxen were sold quickly. They were only young calves left. It would take at least a year for those calves to grow strong enough to plow fields. Even though the peddlers for the draft animals said many extravagant embellishments about their calves, we still declined to purchase. We walked back to Yin Zi and Xiao Cha in disappointment, and then we started to return home.
“There’s no other way.” Xiang Qing pondered for a long time before stating, “I’ll use a hoe to plow the fields. With my great strength, it shouldn’t take too long.”
“But… everyone uses oxen to plow. Besides, do you know how to use a hoe to plow the fields?” I was a bit doubtful.
“No, but I can learn.” Xiang Qing replied with determination.
I looked at the nearby fields. There were several oxen.
My brain suddenly had a flash of light and I had an idea, “It just needs to be an cow?”
Xiang Qing looked at me uncertainty and said, “It can’t be bison, rhinoceros, or snail.”
(T/N: In Chinese, those three animals all have the Chinese character for “cow” as part of their name.)
I was speechless… Did he think I didn’t have any common sense?
I ignored Xiang Qing’s question. I had Xiang Qing and Xiao Cha wait for my good news. Then, I mysteriously grabbed Yin Zi to walk to the nearby woods. I forced him to change to his original crow form to fly us to Mo Yun Cave at Ji Lei Mountain.
The jade-faced fox named Jiao Jiao lived there and during the day, Bull Devil would often spend time there. I heard about Jiao Jiao’s history from Yin Zi. Her father was the ten thousand year old Fox King. When the Fox King died, he had left behind treasure and gold worth millions and millions as her inheritance. This inheritance combined with her natural beauty had many powerful demons pursuing her. Unexpectedly, her elder brother was a romantic eccentric and his martial arts skill was unusual. After I have beaten him to his original fox form, he went to practice asceticism and cultivation once again.
This translation belongs to FuyuNeko. Please use an ad-blocker, mew.
Jiao Jiao spent her days panic-stricken. She saw that Bull Devil’s martial art was outstanding, so she became his concubine to borrow his power to ensure for peaceful days. Before, she relied on his affection for her to act arrogant. Later, I taught her a lesson. When she cried to Bull Devil about my actions, he scolded her. Not long after, Luo Sha found her and almost beat her to death.
Afterwards, she didn’t show off or act badly anymore. She stopped acting like a vixen and conducted herself properly. Her endless stream of rare treasure and all kinds of other presents to Houyan Mountain was like flowing water. She also dressed more simply and unobtrusively. She granted every one of little Hong ’s requests. She pampered him in every way possible and loved him dearly. Other than calamities, she helped him resolve everything.
(T/N: Just in case its too long ago, little Hong is Bull Devil and Luo Sha’s child.)
As the saying goes, if you receive benefits from someone, you shouldn’t act against them. Although Bull Devil would frequently visit her during the day, he would rarely stay the night. Luo Sha saw that Jiao Jiao was better behaved, so Luo Sha would also say hello to her and inquire after her wellbeing. Seeing Jiao Jiao’s pitiful appearance, Luo Sha’s heart also softened towards her. Along with little Hong’s helping words, Luo Sha let go of her anger for now. Luo Sha tactically acknowledged her existence and caused her less trouble.
Jiao Jiao was scared of dying and had already been taught a lesson by me. She would always be extremely deferential to me because she was scared I would take offense. After the small demons had informed her that I had come to Mo Yun cave, she appeared neatly dressed outside the door a moment later. She invited me in with a smile. She also gave Yin Zi a very large emerald and asked him to kindly accept her offering.
I didn’t have any good or ill will towards her. I simply asked her where Bull Devil was.
In a short amount of time, Bull Devil appeared at the bedroom’s door. He animatedly ran towards me.
“It’s rare for little sister to come visit. How about sharing a meal with big brother? Jiao Jiao will prepare delicious fish from the East Sea for a big feast.”
“No need.” I hurriedly declined his good intentions. I pulled on Bull Devil’s clothes and requested, “I came here today to ask for your help.”
“What is it? Did Xiang Qing that despicable fellow bully you again?” Bull Devil’s fury was once again rekindled. He speedily grabbed an iron club and started walking towards the door. “Big brother will help you sort him out.”
“It’s not that.” I ran to catch up to him to stop his hotheaded behavior. “I’m here to ask big brother to leave the mountain to help me with something that I can’t do…”
“Your problems are also my problems. Why say such superfluous words?” Bull Devil didn’t finish hearing me speak before quickly grabbing Bi Shui Jin Jing beast and started flying to the village.
Yin Zi and I quickly caught up to his speed.
After we arrived at the forest near the village, we changed back into our human forms and walked to the fields.
Bull Devil asked in puzzlement, “Why did we come here?”
“To till the fields!” I bounced around the field in high spirits. I took out the implement I had prepared. “We don’t an ox, so I came to you for help. Look, I even prepared the plow.”
Bull Devil was immediately struck dumb.