Great Tang Idyll – v1-c009

Earn Some Pocket Change To Be Able To Raise Chickens

Idler’s Note: Whoo~! I hope Father’s Day was good for everyone! At least I am currently on track with keeping to my promise of at least 2 releases per week. I might die trying to keep to the schedule for the next month though… 😛

Disclaimer: This translation is by a fan for fans. Any opinions or commentary presented here are translated as is written by the original author. Any remarks by the translator will be in footnotes or in an editorial aside. The original work is the property of the author and any other associated copyright holders in their respective territories. Please do not reproduce, redistribute, or resell this translation anywhere else without permission! If you are reading this anywhere else but on WordPress, then it is being reposted without permission from the translator! If you are the copyright holder and/or have licensed this work for English publication and wish for this translation to be removed, please contact me to do so. Thank you!

Erniu obeyed Zhang Xiaobao and left to pay back the money. Mrs. Zhang-Wang was rather surprised, staring at Erniu as she asked: “How much did your family make this time? You didn’t borrow it from somewhere else to pay it back to me, right?”

“Mistress, how could I have anywhere to go to borrow so much money? It was all from what Little… this little one’s1 family had earned.” Erniu wanted to say Little Mister in unconscious reply but it was a good thing that he was normally clever and at the critical juncture, held onto his control and distractedly foisted it all onto his own family.

Mrs. Zhang-Wang once again carefully glanced over Erniu as she slowly nodded: “Erniu, how much money did your family earn this time? In giving me 50 guan [strings], is there any remainder?”

“There is. This time, a total of 120 taels of silver was earned so there’s still 70 taels left, ~ne.” Even if Erniu was smart, he still couldn’t outmatch Mrs. Zhang-Wang. Completely ignorant of the deeper meaning behind Mistress’s questions, he blabbed the entirety of the truth.

“Oh? So profitable? Then, you repaid with silver. What you still have left in your hands are copper coins then?”

“No, it’s also silver. I forgot Little… this little one’s parents’ instructions. It would be good if it were to be exchanged into copper coins. Now, it’s really not easy to spend.” Erniu also didn’t know why but upon seeing Mistress, he would get scared so whenever he spoke, he was clumsy.

“If that’s so, then I’ll give you copper coins in exchange. After all, you’re also a peasant of my Zhang Manor. To be able to make a profit is good—you have promise.” Mrs. Zhang-Wang completely took care of Erniu’s problem.

Erniu didn’t even think there were any problems at all and used a small cart to haul the 70 guan [strings] of copper cash back. Upon seeing Zhang Xiaobao, he happily said: “Little Mister, there’s no need to think of another method. Just now, Mistress actually exchanged the silver on my hands into copper coins. It’s all good now. Didn’t even realize that Mistress was this easy to talk to. Little Mister? Little Mister? You [honorific] don’t stare blankly. I’ve hauled the money back.”

Erniu kept speaking, only to discover Little Mister’s eyes were gazing outside, not moving one bit. A bit worried, he reached out a hand to wave in front of Zhang Xiaobao’s face.

“Oh, fine. Erniu, is your Mom’s teeth still fine?” Zhang Xiaobao suddenly asked.

“Not that good. My Dad said that it was all to blame on when Mom was young. She lost quite a few teeth so she doesn’t like eating tough things.” Erniu had no way of following along with Zhang Xiaobao’s pace so he just answered whatever he was asked.

“The teeth are bad so eating meat is troublesome? Come, Erniu, I’ll teach you a method. Go back and make it for your Mom to eat. Prepare a copper basin that’s this large. Or you can make an item according to how I draw it for you using copper.” Zhang Xiaobao completely didn’t consider the issue of money and directly started drawing on the ground a basin that was hollow in the middle with a tube that bulged out. Under the tube was a mesh that he explained as being made out of iron wiring.

“Make this item. Put charcoal in the center area and the charcoal debris can be taken out from the bottom. Put in seasoning that you think can be placed in there. Add lard. In addition, use a stove to cook some wheat flour in a pot. Cook it until it’s thickened. Exchange it with twice the amount of water. Place the water into the stuff from before. Wait until the water boils, then put in the lamb meat to cook. Take it out once the color changes and give it to your Mom to eat. She definitely will be able to chew it—as tender as poached meat.2

In a while, go back to find people to make it. It’s best if you find different people to make different parts. Keep it secret. Absolutely don’t reveal it. Make an additional one—unh, two—send it to my Mom as well as Juan-Juan’s Mom while telling them how to use it. Emphasize the secrecy, understand?” Zhang Xiaobao pointed at the drawing on the ground as he spoke to Erniu.

“Understood, Little Mister. You [honorific] rest assured. Beat me dead and I won’t talk. Little Mister, why are you [honorific] also buttering up my Mom?” Erniu asked in a daze.

“What words are you saying? What is this buttering up your Mom that you’re talking about?3 This is to let you treat your Mom a bit better. Don’t ask. Just go back to make the stuff for your Mom to eat according to how I said so. Now, let’s begin talking about the main business. Know anyone who makes ceramics?” Zhang Xiaobao continued asking.

While Erniu was pondering this, to the side, Wang Juan used lip speech to say to Zhang Xiaobao: “Your Mom [modern] treats you so well. Knowing you can’t easily use silver to spend with, she exchanged it all for copper coins. She even found an excuse that she thought was reasonable, not wanting to let you know. Being a Mom [modern] really isn’t easy.

I’ll say something honestly so don’t be unhappy. I now find it a bit fortunate—how fortunate that your parents are gone. Otherwise, you would definitely seek out your parents. If it really came to that point, what if your parents from that lifetime had been laid off or bullied? A rainstorm of blood4 would definitely be launched right there. Just get scared thinking about it. You know that the state you’re in is sick, right?”

“You’re not sick? I pray that your Mom [modern] from that world will be smashed dead by a car tomorrow.” Zhang Xiaobao’s lips moved.

Wang Juan was just like a man-eating wolf as she fiercely threw herself at Zhang Xiaobao, using her hand to choke his neck as she said lowly: “You want to repeat yourself for me to hear? I’ll bite you to death.”

“See? And you call me sick. You’re not better than that, you know? We’re the same type of people. From now on, don’t cross my bottom line. Yes, knowing that it was my Mom giving me support with no reservations, I just now thought of Erniu’s Mom, wanting to use his hands to give my Mom and your family members a little benefit. I don’t feel that I did wrongly. You can say that I have no internal defenses when it comes this type of familial feeling but you shouldn’t insult me.” Zhang Xiaobao didn’t struggle one bit. A little brat that was only as big as Wang Juan wanted to choke him to death? That was essentially impossible.

“So you speak of my Mom [modern]? Fine, I’ll temporarily forgive you. Don’t speak to me again of whatever words of do not do unto others what you do not want wish for yourself.5 Continue making your hot pot.”6 Wang Juan actually just wanted to make Zhang Xiaobao not be so juvenile since once he was dealing with the people in his family, he was missing that kind of toughness only to suddenly discover that she herself was the same. Moodily climbing up, she stood to the side once again.

Erniu was freaked out. He had wanted to pull [them apart] before yet didn’t dare to. Seeing that the two little ancestors were finally apart, he repeatedly gasped for breath before he could restore his emotional equilibrium. Thinking of the question Little Mister just asked, he replied: “I can find people who make ceramics. Little Mister, what do you [honorific] want to make?”

“Make stuff—make different kinds of fine little jars. Don’t want them to be too big. If they can only hold 4 taels of water, it’s fine. It should be so that 4 jars all together can hold 1 catty. The prettier, the better. How are the mountain chili sprouts that your family have gathered?” Zhang Xiaobao regained composure as he spoke to Erniu.

“Gathered quite a few. Little Mister, how much do you [honorific] actually want? This money is to be used to make ceramics jars?” Erniu finally realized now that in front of a child that had barely even reached 1 year of age, he himself was pretty much a simpleton as he had no way of knowing what it was that Little Mister was actually thinking. If it weren’t for the over 100 silver taels earned at once this time, he would have supposed that he really was accompanying children on a lark.

“Continue gathering it. It’s best to have other people help gather it. You can use money to buy it—the more, the better. Even if the surrounding mountains are completely harvested, it’s fine. Do it this way—1 wen [cash] for every 3 catties. Have the children who don’t have anything to do go gather them.” Over there, not waiting for Zhang Xiaobao to speak, Wang Juan already gave the order. She at least understood this small stuff.

“1 wen [cash] per 3 catties?” Erniu asked with eyes widened.

“Why, the money is too little?” Wang Juan was a bit unsure.

“Too much. You can find a whole plot of that stuff up on the mountain. Just randomly letting a child go up the mountain can return 40-50 catties in a day.” Even Erniu wanted to rush up the mountain to go gather them right now.

“Ah? That much? Then, it’ll be a bit more—1 wen [cash] to buy 5 catties. I can’t lower it any more but I can adjust the method of acquisition. Collect 300 catties at one time. This way, when the mountain chili sprouts have been gathered till their numbers have started getting lower and lower, there will still be people going to pick them. There won’t be any money to earn if they can’t gather enough of 300 catties.” This kind of small matter Wang Juan herself could handle. It didn’t even require Zhang Xiaobao, that big swindler.

Up to now, Erniu was still unclear as to what Little Mister and the Wang Family’s Little Miss were thinking inside but he still nodded in confirmation. After all, he was considered to be a clever type of person, too. He understood that he himself didn’t have to know a lot of things but there was one thing that he absolutely had to be able to accomplish and that was loyalty—to do whatever they had him do.

Waiting until Erniu left in acceptance of his orders, Wang Juan was a bit worried again and asked Zhang Xiaobao: “Having Erniu’s single family work on such a large matter? Why not divide it and let Yingtao also work on it a bit?”

“How big of a deal can it be? How come I haven’t found this matter to be that important? It’s nothing more than a bit of pocket change. Yingtao has some other things to do. I don’t expect to rely on a single item to make a fortune. I want to endlessly produce little items and earn a bit with each one. Once you add them all together, it’ll naturally be a lot. Yingtao, come here. There’s something to discuss.”

Zhang Xiaobao had an appearance of not caring while he spoke, calling out to Yingtao who was still vigilantly looking outside.

“Little Mister, you [honorific] were looking for me?” Yingtao also knew about the money Erniu had made these past couple of days. 70 taels, ~ah! A tenth was 7 silver taels, which was enough to match a few years of the salary, if not fined, she would have received. Her family was also of the manor. Who didn’t wish to make some money for their family? She deftly ran over here.

“Come, I’ll draw something for you. You watch.” Zhang Xiaobao took up that wooden stick to start drawing on the ground again.

“Little Mister, what thing is this?” Yingtao asked as she looked at the drawing.

“This is called a kang [bed-stove].”7

“Kang [bed-stove]? What is it used for?”

“This thing’s function is huge. It’s most useful in the winter. It can also be used now. You wait for Erniu to return and get money from him. Buy chicken eggs—buy the kind that was laid by a hen that was bred to a rooster. Try your best not to rock those eggs. My family’s courtyard also has chicken. You look to see which chicken is brooding. Get someone to hold the chicken down and then stretch a hand inside to feel that temperature.

Wait until the kang [bed-stove] has been built. Then, you place the collected chicken eggs on top of the kang [bed-stove]. Use something to cover it. Fire it—when the temperature is around the same as when under the chicken’s body will be fine. Oh, also, the eggs you collect, you should try to collect those where one end is rounded and one end is pointed. Both ends that are rounded can be collected, too. Forget about the ones where both ends are pointed.”

Yingtao blinked her eyes once she understood. Little Mister wanted her to produce chicks without needing to brood by directly using this kang [bed-stove]. If this really could be figured out… Madness—how many people would go mad?

Zhang Xiaobao could care less how many people would go crazy as he continued drawing and then said: “Yingtao, look here. Make a small plate. Get some mirrors and arrange them. Place a candle inside the area these mirrors are surrounding. Then, candle8 it. Look at the chicken egg as you hold it in your palm. Candle it once every 5 or 6 days. Keep the ones that are dark in color. Take out the ones where the colors are reversed. Don’t discard them. Give them to me. I still have a use for them. After 12 or 13 days, candle it once again. Look at the skeletal silhouette inside… Forget it. Let’s not speak of this. You wouldn’t understand. Just keep the large majority of the same kind. Take out the ones that are different and don’t dispose of them. Give them to me. I can still use them.”

Yingtao nodded, memorizing the words that Zhang Xiaobao spoke before she excitedly stood to leave. She was a bit dazed. This Little Mister was really too unlike ordinary people. With all the matters he spoke of, anyone would get muddled.

“You want to hatch chicks? Candle the eggs? What’s the meaning of the roundedness and pointedness?” Wang Juan waited until Yingtao had left, slightly tilting her head as she looked at Zhang Xiaobao.

“A genuine egg candling expert can directly sort out the male and female. This, I can’t do. Usually, the rounded ones are female and the pointed ones are male; the probability is in there. In this time period, chicken is actually inferior to the ox or sheep. Thus requiring the next step of my plan, teaching others how to eat chicken and the different ways of eating it. We’ll raise chicken and even be able to earn a bundle. After adding up one bundle to another bundle, you’ll discover that it’s a tremendous figure.” Zhang Xiaobao said while blinking his eyes.

“Something’s wrong. You, Zhang Xiaobao, could possibly only use this to earn a single bundle of money? Then, you wouldn’t be Zhang Xiaobao. Talk. What other plans do you have? Your smile isn’t the type of smile a normal person would have. What particular detail is there about the chicken eggs that get sorted out?” Wang Juan didn’t trust that this International Criminal Swindler didn’t have a backup move. If that truly was so, then it could become a World Wonder.

Zhang Xiaobao used that fat little hand to scratch at his sparse hair as he deliberately feigned a coy smile: “You found me out again. The Heavens, ~ah! Great Earth, ~ah! Why place a cop right by my side, ~ah? Actually, there isn’t. It’s that I’m preparing to use that chicken to trade for oxen and horses. My family are landowners after all. Farming without oxen or horses won’t do.

Regarding those candled eggs and balut9 eggs, I’m going to use them to trick people—no, to help people. First, I’ll use lamb stew and fish stew to cook them with, adding a lot of scallions. After they’re cooked, I’ll grill them with the juices made out of those mountain chili sprouts along with some other things. There’s an effect where it increases blood circulation. People with cardiovascular diseases shouldn’t eat it. When healthy men eat it, they’ll discover that they’re just a bit impulsive. It involves the thing that you wanted to touch to expose me. If you don’t understand, it can be sold for money and not only that, it can be sold for a lot of money. You understand?”

“Hooligan.” Wang Juan said.

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20 thoughts on “Great Tang Idyll – v1-c009

  1. I can’t help but giggle when people overseas think Balut is so exotic and is like some mythical food lol

    Thanks for the chapter.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. So, that last sentence is something like a viagara…

    Also, I don’t understand that Modern which is written alongside Mother. If there’s modern, then where’s the ancient? All mother mentioned till now we’re modern itself…

    Thanks for the chapter translation.

    Liked by 1 person

    • By default, they will be using “niang” (娘) rather than the modern “ma” (媽) since they are in ancient China. To minimize the distraction of my editorial notes while reading, I only point it out if they are using the modern word.

      And yes… Baluts are thought to have aphrodisiac qualities…

      Hope this helps clear it up! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. as always thank you for the amazing chapter :3
    really appreciate all the footnotes >.<
    hahah but i still didn’t get it about the last paragraph XD
    this one -> It involves the thing that you wanted to touch to expose me.

    Liked by 1 person

    • LOL, sorry. I tried my best to translate as clearly as possible but Xiaobao was being very vague in the original Chinese too. I will give you a hint… Remember how Wang Juan exposed that Xiaobao wasn’t the innocent boy he was pretending to be when they first woke up?

      Hope you get it now. 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  4. haha~ XD! Really now, Swindler! Swindler! Well, it’s getting spread out!! I mean the scope of their business,? lol. I’m quite weird out by their rapid development, but oh well, it’s common! not in reality, lol.

    — Thanks for the chapter~ ^^.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I just have to say it now. WHY can’t you just use pinyin? It really getting on my nerves… It’s not like you have to leave all the relation terms in pinyin, but at least the essential ones. Don’t you notice how it disrupts the flow of reading because of those constant [….]? Leaving them out would actually be even worse…

    A really good example is: The translator uses really many pinyin, but once you get them it it really helps the story.

    And anyone who already watched chinese and korean dramas knows most of them anyways.

    Thanks for the translation!


    • As to the complaint as to why I don’t use pinyin for the relationship terms, it’s because I’m translating into ENGLISH. I add the footnotes to elaborate on stuff I can’t fully translate but the putting clarifications in editorial asides is a longstanding practice in English. I’m sorry if you find it distracting but probably just as many people find it distracting having to memorize the pinyin for relationship terms that might or might not come up so often. So this was my compromise in not getting rid of all that information but also translating it so I don’t force my readers into constantly referencing dictionaries/glossaries. My goal in translating is to try to accommodate for the reader’s English rather than force them to learn a whole other language.

      Unlike your assumption that everyone should know these terms anyway, I can’t really be so cavalier and irresponsible as to assume that. Also, by that same reasoning, you should also know that every translator has their own idiosyncrasies and you can’t really expect to enforce an universal translation convention. So with that line of reasoning, as a novel translation reader, you should be used to having to adjust for the differences in translation convention by now as well. What suits you might not suit other readers and I have to consider that.

      I did entertain the idea of using just the pinyin. However, because I already don’t translate or localize the names and I dislike peppering so much pinyin into my translations that I might as well only be translating 50% of it, I elected not to. Especially because pinyin itself is also a horribly flawed choice because it doesn’t help for cases where it’s a homophone and most non-Chinese speakers don’t know how to pronounce it properly anyway and it becomes a nonsense word they just skip over.

      I may reconsider in the future. But for now, this is how I’m translating.


      • That’s why I said only the really often used terms.^^ Like those for Mom and Dad. Because they are used so often that it’s actually making far more work for you to even write them. I did overreact a little…

        The other thing is with such novels that the author does think that the reader has an understanding of ancient chinese costums which most of the readers here will not have. Like the relations between men and women.


      • I did consider that possibility but the novel does go into a lot of stuff later on that I can’t directly translate like with the measurement units or certain foods, etc. So I didn’t wish to overload on the percentage of pinyin when I didn’t need to. It is a matter of personal choice on my part as a translator since I prefer having readers be able to at least have a rough English label they can have in their mind and then go to the added note in brackets or the footnote if they needed the character and further explanation of the specifics of the term. Especially because a lot of the terms do double duty sometimes and it can get confusing even for native speakers with some of the regional colloquialisms. So, pretty much, my decision was just to try to minimize as much initial confusion as possible. The bracketed asides is pretty much my compromise since I dislike having to cut out that much cultural context. But with translations from Chinese to English, you usually end up having to either remove some of the extraneous stuff since Chinese likes repetition or add stuff like the particles, sentence transitions, or omitted pronouns that Chinese can get away with but English can’t.

        Thank you for the concern about the work I have to do translating but since I chose to translate it this way, I don’t find it too bothersome.

        In terms of the culture presented, I think the author of this novel did a pretty good job with his setup since with Juan-Juan’s presence, you don’t just get a male (and thus skewed) perspective on Tang dynasty China while still allowing for that modern Chinese perspective from Xiaobao and Juan-Juan that is more in line with modern-day attitudes worldwide. Of course, the foreign customs that need to be explained is part of the reason why I end up footnoting sometimes. Not to mention this is a historical novel so I will also need to be footnoting some of the historical figures and events that get mentioned offhandedly. But I expect this would be the same with some of the English novels that get translated into other languages too where they either have to not explain casual mentions of colloquialisms or replace it entirely with localized figures or customs.

        Thanks again for your comments as being in the habit of rethinking my translation decisions helps ensure I continue adapting and that my translation quality improves. 🙂


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