Lingjia Village was part of the Qingyang county‘s Datong town. It was located in the middle of the southern zone of the Qing Dynasty’s territory. Datong Town was neither big nor small. Due to its special location, the water route was especially developed and there were many merchants traveling to and from here. But Datong Town, and even Qingyang county were not considered wealthy. The cause of this was still because of the tributary river turned half of the land into wastelands.
After being bumped around on the oxcart for about half of a shi chen, Ling Jingxuan and them finally reached the town. Because today was market day, many people had already come to set up stalls. On the limestone path, two rows of numerous stores had already opened, welcoming anyone that came by. It was the first time for Ling Jingxuan and the two buns to see the market. Ling Jingxuan’s reaction was still decent, afterall, what didn’t he see in his last life? At most he was only a bit curious. However the two buns weren’t the same. Two pairs of eyes busily sized up everything around them, itching to just jump off the cart and stroll around all of Datong Town.
“Brother Zhao, where are we heading?”
Lovingly rubbing the little buns head, Ling Jingxuan lifted his head to look at the Zhao Dalong sitting in front. Haven’t they entered the market for awhile now?
“We’ll send you guys directly to the fish market. Under County Magistrate Hu’s administration for the past few years, Datong Town is very different from before. Every item has a special area where they can sell. The fish market is at the very back of the market.”
The one who responded wasn’t Zhao Dalong, but Han Fei.
“Really? This County Magistrate Hu has quite the ability, but aren’t county magistrates only allowed to govern for three years? I remember five years ago County Magistrate Hu was appointed to Qingyang county ba, how come he’s still in office?”
Having a plan would prevent a mess. Five years ago if it wasn’t for him, afraid that the original owner and the little buns would probably be dead ba. An ancient person that had capability was considered a rare talent with outstanding ability.
“Ai… it’s not that there is no one in office now. County Magistrate Hu is genuinely a good government official. During those three years, we thought he would raise prices, who would have thought…”
Saying this, Han Fei couldn’t help but sigh repeatedly. County Magistrate Hu was a good official for the country and for the people, unfortunately…
“Don’t speak so much. If people hear it’ll cause trouble.”
Zhao Dalong, who seldom talked, turned around and spoke quietly. Han Fei’s lips moved a bit, finally didn't say anything. Indeed, the matter with the official wasn’t something that they poor people should talk about.
Seeing this Ling Jingxuan faintly smiled. He could understand Zhao Dalong’s behavior. A cover up. It was common in ancient times. Everyone knew, only no one dared to reveal because the aftermath wasn’t something an ordinary person could bear.
“Jingpeng? And Jingxuan ah, why did you guys come here?”
When the oxcart was passing by a small grocery store, a young man who just sent off a customer suddenly called out to them. Seeing Ling Jingxuan, the man’s fair refined face very obviously had a look of astonishment. Soon after raised his head to give an enthusiastic smile. Ling Jingxuan indifferently swept over him and almost immediately recognized who he was. The second son of the oldest uncle, Ling Jingwei. He was older than him by two years. Because he studied for a few years, around ten years old he started doing odd jobs at grocery stores, later married the shopkeeper’s daughter and became a bookkeeper.
Ling Jingpeng looked at Ling Jingxuan and scratched his head and shyly as he greeted.
“They should be Ling Wen and Ling Wu ba? Grew up really adorable, you guys wait here, wait ah…”
Ling Jingwei appeared as if he didnt care about their alienation, smiled and rubbed the head of the two buns then turned around and hurried to enter the store. Not even a few minutes later he dashed out, hands carried three things wrapped in oily paper and thrust them onto the little buns. “These are osmanthus cakes, take it and eat it when you're hungry.”
“No need, We are not hungry.”
Avoiding his hand, the three red faced buns shyly tried to refuse.
Ling Jingwei had difficulty covering his awkwardness, appealed towards Ling Jingxuan who hadn't spoken a word yet and merely watched.
“Take it ba.”
“Thank you Er Bo (1)!”
Hearing Ling Jingxuan speak, Ling Wen and the three didn’t dare to reject anymore. A little hesitant, they accepted it. Ling Jingwei couldn't help but once again burst into a smile. He looked at Ling Wen and Ling Wu with a strange look. Everything that happened entered Ling Jingxuan’s eyes. “Brother Jingwei, we still have things to do. Next time when there's a chance we can chat.”
Zhao Dalong tacitly understood and whipped the ox cart to start again. Without even giving him a chance to resist, Ling Jingwei stood in front of his store entrance stupidly until the ox cart disappeared in the sea of people. He tightly clenched his fist and turned around back inside the store.
“Brother, don’t get too close to Brother Jingwei, he…”
Ling Jingpeng wanted to say something, but glancing at the little buns he forcibly swallowed the words back down. His youthful and immature face was full of awkwardness and was at a loss.
“Hehe… if there's something on your mind, wait till we go back to speak ba.”
Ling Jingwei seemed like he was very enthusiastic, but if you carefully looked at it, it was full of loopholes. Who in the family didn’t treat him and the two kids as monsters? Itching to thoroughly cover up this family’s disgrace, Ling Jingwei turned good. With the first meeting he enthusiastically sent stuff over. His performance was clearly over exaggerated. Although for the time being he couldn’t guess what his goal was, but.. If he was calculated against by that kind of act, Ling Jingxuan should just smash his head into something and kill himself.
Ling Jingpeng nodded his head, his line of site continued to sweep over Ling Wu and Ling Wen. His eyes contained undisguised concern and anger.
The fish market was located at the very back of the market. Although they left early, they were on the road for a long time and all the good booths were taken up already. Zhao Dalong could only hurry the ox cart to a corner area. The four adults worked together to bring the big buckets down while the three children, holding onto greasy covered papers, obediently stood to the side.
“You can only sell here, but your fish is both big and plump, there’s no need to worry that you can't sell it. We still need to go to the weapons store, we’ll pick you guys up later.”
“Ok, troubling Brother Han.”
Sending off Zhao Dalong and his family, Ling Jingxuan looked at the peddlers of the nearby fish stalls. His eyes whirled around, beckoned Ling Jingpeng and the two buns to come over and the four people muttered for a while before separating.
“Selling fish! Home-grown medicine fish! Both fat and big! Young women who eat it will become even more pretty! Young men who eat it will become a lively dragon and animated tiger! The elderly who eat it will nourish their bodies and heart…”
“Pretty sister, buy a fish to bring home ba. This is a kind of medical fish that my daddy fed with all kinds of tonics. Sister, if you eat it you will definitely become even more pretty.”
“Uncle buy some fish ba, daddy used tonics to raise it. It’s very tasty eh!”
“Selling fish, fat and big exclusive medical fish…”
Not long after, four people one after another shouted out and the people passing by stopped and crowded around. The two buns’ sweet talk was also very cute. It didn’t matter who they dragged over, they called them all brothers and sisters and shouted until all those wrinkled uncles and wives cracked a smile. Ling Jingxuan the two brothers were not to be outdone and quickly boasted their fish to the heavens.
“This child’s mouth is really sweet. Aiyo, this fish really is big ah, really used medicinal ingredients to raise? How are you selling it ah?”
“How could that be? I, this humble self, have read books for a few years since childhood, I can understand a little bit of Qihuang’s technique (2). I used codonopsis root, milk vetch root, and other nourishing herbs to feed them. Only 10 Wen per catty, big sister would you like one?”
Seeing some people taking the bait, Ling Jingxuan stooped down to catch a silver carp weighing at least 6-7 catties and gestured at it. A slim and elegant face blossomed out an enthusiastic smile. Although he was wearing patched hemp clothing, it didn’t conceal the natural disposition of his calm and grace, every movement showed the culture of a scholar.
“Since you’ve said that it’s so good, then give me one ba.”
“Ok, Big sister wait a moment.”
“I also want one…”
“Give me two carps…”
Once you have the first sale, the following sales would be good. One after another, the people standing around expressed that they wanted to buy fish. The two buns were extremely happy and their hawking became even more impressive while Ling Jingpeng was busy weighing. The few people were mutually cooperating and very quickly they sold off an entire two buckets of fish. The copper coins were piled up in the little wooden chest at their feet.
“Dad, we earned a lot of money ah.”
Business was like a surge, after the previous customers left, business gradually died down and the four people could finally take a breather. The two buns looked at the money in the wooden chest and excitedly clamoured. 10 Wen per catty ah. In the very beginning they even thought they wouldn’t be able to sell it, after all they normally would sell it at 8 Wen a catty, didn’t think… the people in town really had more money then the people in their village.
“Hehe… It's good if you guys are happy.”
Peddling for half a while, his voice was a bit unwell so Ling Jingxuan didn’t want to talk too much. Seeing that it wasn’t early anymore, the market should currently be at its liveliest. Ling Jingxuan turned around to ask, “Jingpeng, Can you watch it by yourself?”
“En, no problem, I’ll follow the method that you taught me. Reckon it won’t take too long before it's all sold off.”
“Ok then, You watch after it first. I’m going to go see if I can sell the jam and also go look for Jinghan’s herbs, then buy some necessities.”
Saying this, Ling Jingxuan without consulting anyone, stood up。 The little bun, immersed in the copper coins didn’t notice. The two brothers stared at each other and couldn't help but laugh. The money was already earned into their pockets but he was still afraid that it's going to fly away?
“Xiao Wen, Xiao Wu, We are going to go sell jam, do you guys want to come?”
Holding onto two jars of sealed jam, Ling Jingxuan restrained his laughter as he looked at them.
“Want, I want to go with daddy.”
Little Bun didn’t even think about it before dashing over to hug onto his leg. Big bun embarrassedly looked at them then looked at the money chest, his little face was at a loss. After a while he turned towards his daddy and said, “How about I stay here and help youngest uncle sell fish?”
Ok ba, he admitted that he couldn’t part with the money and wanted to stay behind and make more money.
“Oh? Then I’ll just buy whatever I please?”
Eyebrows raised, Ling Jingxuan’s lips curled into a wicked smile.
In the next second, Big bun’s pupils shrank. A stern voice sounding like a little adult turned towards his dad, “Daddy you are definitely going to squander off our money. It's better if I still go with you.”
Saying this, Big bun crouched down and brought out a shabby purse from his chest. With great heartache he counted out 20 copper coins and put it in。 Ling Jingxuan’s mouth twitched and almost collapsed because of him. They needed to buy quite a few things, was 20 copper coins enough?
“Sigh… brother, just let him do as he pleases ba.”
Resisting a smile, Ling Jingpeng sympathized and patted his shoulder. With such a stingy and petty son, it really was tough on him.
In a bad mood, he stared at his younger brother who was rejoicing in his misfortune. Ling Jingxuan originally was not going to have Big bun bring money, but seeing how terrifying he was, decided not to say anything and turned around and left with the jars.
“Daddy, wait for us.”
Seeing this, the two buns hand in hand ran after him. Father and sons very quickly dispersed into the sea of people. Restraining himself for a long time, Ling Jingpeng suddenly burst out a deep hearty laugh. Ever since his big brother became clear headed, his family was becoming more and more lively, more and more amusing.
- Er Bo: Second paternal elder uncle
- Qihuang’s Technique: refers to Xuanyuan Emperor and his subject Qi Bo, who did a lot of studies on Chinese medicine.