Daytime Fatigue Requires Massaging
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When Zhang Xiaobao and Wang Juan used four limbs to finish crawling 40 meters on the sand floor, they were all lying there exhausted, not moving one bit. Shiliu had been standing to the side accompanying them. She had really been horrified now. What children were these? When crawling the last 2 zhang [yards] left of the way, she clearly saw how the two children’s short little arms and legs didn’t stop trembling.
She’d had a similar experience so she understood well what that feeling was like. In fact, she’d previously had only trembling in her arms but her legs had been fine. She had just started out at the manor and being unfamiliar with how to do things, she had been punished. At that time, she had been endlessly cursing in her heart yet she didn’t dare not work—if she didn’t, then her family’s living would be broken off.
If someone had let her rest back then, she would have been grateful to that person for a lifetime. But right now, just what were Little Mister and Little Miss Juan-Juan doing this for? Could it be just for play? Whose children would ‘play’ so desperately when they were this big? If there were really people who had children play like this, then the children would already have cried looking for Mom.
As she thought of this, a little esteem rose up from within Shiliu’s heart. She told herself that perhaps rich people’s children were all this formidable. As she looked at the sand all over the children’s bodies and those little faces and hands that were tanned completely red, Shiliu had people prepare the bathwater on the one hand while on the other, she walked near, wanting to pick up the two children.
“No need. The two of us after resting a while can walk by ourselves. Have people make the bathwater a bit hotter. Warm the vintage wine as well. Warming a large kettle will do. Go, there’s no need to keep minding us.” Zhang Xiaobao used all of his energy to shake his head while instructing Shiliu.
Shiliu hesitated for a bit before acting according to what Little Mister had said. She didn’t leave though and stood there to the side as things had been arranged for.
“Really fucking [modern]1 comfortable. Aiya,2 how long has it been to be this tired? So nostalgic of the original days.” Zhang Xiaobao basked in the sun as he faced downward and stuck his head into the cove it made in the wet sand as he spoke in a muffled voice.
“Isn’t that so? Today is still of no matter but tomorrow’s practice, we’ll really suffer, ~ne. In a while, just having milk, even if our bellies are stuffed to the max, we’ll still be hungry at night. Xiaobao, what to eat tonight?” Wang Juan also mimicked Zhang Xiaobao in using her head to burrow into the sand.
“Who knows, ~ne? Right now, I don’t want to consider this issue. Just want to lie down and sleep.” Zhang Xiaobao also vigorously stuck his small hands into the sand. It was cool there.
Wang Juan imitated his actions: “That won’t do. You need to decide. That little bit of milk will affect our training tomorrow.”
“If you can endure the greasiness, then let’s drink mutton soup. Have them cook the mutton till it’s mushy. Lessen the salt and other seasonings added—want to eat something light. It’ll be cucumber and chicken egg soup then. Only a bit of cucumber and mix the chicken eggs loosely before adding some chopped scallions. It’s better than a hungry stomach.” Zhang Xiaobao wanted to eat something light right now.
“Mutton soup, then. I’ll bear with the queasiness. After all, this stuff can quickly replenish energy. Gruel3 is too watery and too slow to heat. Our rice here isn’t that great.” Wang Juan chose the item she most didn’t want to eat.
Zhang Xiaobao exerted himself before he could finally stand up. Pulling Wang Juan up, the two of them walked towards the shade together, that tottering pace causing Shiliu to the side anxiety as she watched.
After soaking in a hot water bath for less than an hour,4 Zhang Xiaobao and Wang Juan used the warmed vintage wine to massage each other. Whoever’s turn it was to be massaged, they would bite down on clothing at the side and endure that feeling of aching soreness. Everyone had been driven out. The two of them didn’t wish to let others see their display of discomfort.
“Xiaobao, this alcohol percentage is too low. Let’s distill it a bit. The body absorption is slow; it’s all vaporized.” Wang Juan whined as she spoke.
“It can be used to disinfect when treating external injuries.” Wang Juan kept urging. She didn’t know the steps for distillation but she believed that Zhang Xiaobao would have no problems.
“No, I dislike ethanol. It easily causes pus under the scabbing. When I was injured in the past, I’d directly use yellow iodine solution.”7
“You can get injured as well, even as such a formidable person?” Wang Juan here was just looking for a topic to talk about; she had been rubbed by Zhang Xiaobao till she had nearly cried out loud.
“How could I not get injured? When practicing, I’d constantly be injured. But it was okay, there was the money stolen from the officials to sustain me. Once, I jumped down from a height of 13 meters. Both of my legs were broken. Slapped down 200K at the hospital and they waited on me like I was an ancestor. When my legs were good, I continued jumping until I found that kind of feeling.” Zhang Xiaobao finished massaging Wang Juan’s last leg and directly lay leaning down.
Wang Juan gritted her teeth as she climbed back up and began giving Zhang Xiaobao a massage: “A great beauty like me giving you a massage, you happy? You comfortable?”
“What feeling? Right now, anyone that touches me, I am all one single feeling. How is yellow iodine solution produced? I tricked people in the past before without involving this stuff. If I’d known it would be like this, I’d have learned about it. It’s only a matter of a few sentences. Just a mention to remember and I could memorize it.” Zhang Xiaobao bared his teeth, sharply inhaling on the one hand and grunting as he spoke on the other.
“The matter you let Erniu’s family do and there’s also the one with Yingtao, have you decided on what to do in the end? If there’s a leak, ~ne?” Both of Wang Juan’s hands pushed down on Zhang Xiaobao’s back, nearly all of her body weight pressing on top.
Zhang Xiaobao had wanted to speak then but he suddenly grunted. It wasn’t until Wang Juan shifted position that he exhaled as he said: “No fear. The ideas to make a bit of pocket change are plentiful. Wait till others have learned how to, then we’ll do other things. This kind of thing is the same as tricking people—flexibility and adaptability is necessary. Clinging onto one kind of thing in this time period, maintaining confidentiality isn’t easily done, ~ah.”
“Fine, you’re almighty. That hot pot, ~ne? You’re not prepared to use it to make money?”
“Only idiots will use hot pot to sell for money. That plaything—just a glance, and others will know how. Keeping it secret isn’t even possible. Once my and your family members have all eaten well, we’ll publicize it in a free promotion. Let all who wish to dine this way know the method of making this hot pot. Then, we’ll sell the ingredients. Actually, the most typical one is to add starch—that way the meat won’t toughen up so easily. I don’t know how to make it so let him cook rice or wheat. The starch content in that stuff is high. At that time, we’ll have another income stream.” Zhang Xiaobao’s eyes slowly closed. This type of feeling when being massaged was really too comfortable—soreness that was just right, aching till it was relieving.
As the two of them massaged each other inside the small room, outside, Mrs. Zhang-Wang was eating with great effort as well. When Shiliu arranged for people to make a thick mutton soup, Mrs. Zhang-Wang had people make pork elbows for her to eat at the same time—the type that was unsalted and taking two bites would lead to a moment of nausea. The little maid servant that specifically attended on her, Xiaoqiu,8 looked at that basin full of oily and greasy pork elbows and without needing to eat it, just a look made her want to puke. While she watched Mistress vigorously eat over there, she urged: “Mistress, this stuff really is too greasy. How about adding a bit of salt? To get it down like this won’t do, ~ah.”
“Add what salt? Adding salt can still induce milk?9 My son and my daughter-in-law are badly tired today. If I don’t eat more, how can I feed them well? Other people’s children will energetically cry with just a bit. How understanding are my family’s two children? If by chance, they get hungry, they won’t cry like other children. They’d just bear with it. The more they’re like this, the more that the mother I am will feel sorry. Tonight when you sleep next door, listen carefully. If there’s any movement, just call for me to get up for a breastfeeding.”
Mrs. Zhang-Wang spoke a few words before beginning to eat again. Thinking of the children’s sweet smiles when they fell asleep after a feeding, she felt that these pork elbows weren’t that greasy after all.
“Mistress, how about finding two wet-nurses?10 You [honorific], a single person feeding two children, it’s too tiring.” Xiaoqiu advised next to her.
“Don’t look. My family’s children I can feed myself. I still have elbows here to eat, ~ne. How many people who had children and wanted to eat a bit of meat but couldn’t, didn’t they bear with it, too?” As Mrs. Zhang-Wang spoke, she scooped up a piece of fatty meat that was 1 cun [inch]11 thick. Opening her mouth to shove it inside, her face broke out into a smile as if she had just fought a victorious battle.
When night came, it was just as Mrs. Zhang-Wang had thought; Zhang Xiaobao and Wang Juan woke up after sleeping for 2 hours. When muscles were recombining, the heat consumption was really great. The prepared mutton soup was all eaten by Mrs. Zhang-Wang while the two of them still had milk.
On the second day, when Mrs. Zhang-Wang left to do other things, Zhang Xiaobao summoned Shiliu to ask: “Yesterday before dinner, what did my Mom eat?”
“In reply to Little Mister, it was elbows.” Shiliu replied.
“That’s fine. You may go.”
“Xiaobao, elbows can induce milk but isn’t the effect not that fast?” Wang Juan waited till Shiliu reached the exterior room before asking.
“The milk we had yesterday had nothing to do with the elbows. This is a type of self-hypnotic subconscious suggestion. My Mom believed that eating elbows could induce even more milk so she concentrated on having more milk herself. The result was that she really had some milk. It’s just like sleepwalkers that climb up high-rises. Under those types of conditions, he believed he could climb up and as long as his bodily functions could theoretically fulfill this demand, he could climb up there.” Zhang Xiaobao explained.
“Oh, then we still walking in the sand today?” Wang Juan nodded to show she understood, not saying too much. They were all adults; there was no need to mention words of gratitude.
“Walking in the sand is fine. You should have discovered that we actually aren’t a bit uncomfortable. This is the advantage of a child’s body; the recuperation speed is extremely fast. Today, let’s walk around outside. We’ll walk separately. I want to get familiar with the affairs of the manor. You have Shiliu lead you. I’ll get Yingtao.” Zhang Xiaobao made the decision.
After finishing their milk, they were carried out by people. What Zhang Xiaobao wanted to see was what was actually being planted inside the manor and whether the yield could be increased while Wang Juan was assigned with the mission of understanding the hearts and minds of the peasants so they operated separately.
Yingtao went and bought chicken eggs yesterday. Today, she didn’t need to go herself and there were people who had already brought the chicken eggs over here. It was all according to her request of newly laid eggs with at least one end rounded as well as not being excessively rocked. Zhang Xiaobao was a little worried about this last bit.
As if aware of Little Mister’s concern, Yingtao directly said to Zhang Xiaobao: “Rest assured, Little Mister. Not a single one of these people dare to trick us. I will mark the eggs they bring over. Whichever family’s eggs spoil and die the most, I’ll go seek them out then.”
“That is good. I’m not worried. When the chicks come out, what stuff has been prepared to feed them?” Zhang Xiaobao considered it. The people here were not the same as his own time period, they were not that bad.
“Feed what? Taking them out to feed will be fine. They can find stuff to eat themselves. They can even eat grains of sand.” Yingtao replied casually.
“That won’t do. My family’s chickens definitely must be sturdier than other people’s chickens.”
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The Chinese version of “fuck” is actually an abbreviation of what would translate to “motherfucking,” which they usually just shorten to “your mom” or any other variation as a curse. I note that this is the modern version because in ancient China, saying “fuck” or “your mom” would actually be “ni niang” (你娘) since using ma/媽 to address one’s mother was not common then. Wang Juan is actually saying “his mom” or “ta ma” (他媽), which is slightly softened in tone as a generic curse since it’s not aimed at anyone in particular. ↩
“Aiya” (哎呀) is another common Chinese sound of exhalation that is a variation on “aiyou” (哎呦). ↩
The text says less than half of a “shichen” (時辰), which is the unit of time the Chinese divided their days into and equates to 2 hours. I converted into modern-day time rather than go for a literal translation. ↩
Shaoxing wine (紹興酒) is a famous example of a traditional Chinese wine (huang jiu/黃酒 or yellow wine), which is fermented from rice. It can be directly imbibed as a beverage or used as a cooking wine in Chinese cuisine. ↩
The Chinese term Xiaobao uses, “huang dian shui” (黄碘水), literally translates to “yellow iodine water” and is referring to the organic compound solutions of iodine that are used as disinfectants (iodine being poisonous to humans in larger quantities). They stain the skin yellow, hence their name in Chinese. The forms of iodine-based disinfectants depend on what agent they’re solubilized in such as tincture of iodine, Lugol’s iodine, and Povidone iodine (an iodophor). ↩
“Xiaoqiu” (小秋) means “little autumn.” ↩
The philosophy of Chinese medicine greatly believes that nutrition is part of health and thus food can influence or cause many physical effects. In this case, the belief that certain foods encouraged lactation. Scientifically, the substances that promote lactation are called galactagogues. Conversely, the Chinese also believed that substances such as salty foods could interfere with and impede lactation, thus Mrs. Zhang-Wang’s refusal of Xiaoqiu’s suggestion here. ↩
In Chinese, “nai niang” (奶娘) literally means “breast mother.” They are frequently a character archetype that will appear in stories set in ancient China and stereotypically have a great deal of influence on the child that they breastfed since the household will generally employ them as a nanny and caretaker of the child once the child is weaned. Common translations of this term are “nurse” or “nanny” as well. Wet nursing was a historical practice that employed a lactating mother to breastfeed a baby in cases where the biological mother was unable or unwilling to breastfeed. With the invention of baby formula, this practice is no longer as prevalent. However, wet nurses still show up in developing countries as well as in areas like China, Indonesia, and the Philippines where their hiring is a display of social status and wealth on the part of the employers. ↩
“Cun” (寸) is the Chinese unit of measure for length that was traditionally based off the span of the thumb at the knuckle. It was also set to be a tenth of a chi (尺). It was standardized a couple of times throughout history but a cun measured in between ~3-4 centimeters and over ~1 inch in length. As a reminder to readers of the role it plays in the Chinese measurement system for length as inch does in the imperial system, I will be notating [inch] next to it. Obviously, it is not equivalent though and the variable values of this unit over time makes a conversion difficult for me.