Great Tang Idyll – v1-c023

The Sound of Laughter While Strategizing In The Command Tent

Idler’s Note: Ah, translating these chapters are sometimes torture on me… Especially on a limited food budget. The hunger only aggravates my mood, especially since the leecher struck again. 😦

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The two banks were verdant with poplar leaves as dragonflies perched on the shallow grass. The skies were jade-blue with few floating clouds with the water reflecting blue with condensed dew. The gathering of swallows was perhaps intentional with the sound of the wind’s arrival or stay. The wildflowers swayed following each swirl, a glimmer with each swing.

Early the following day, Song Jing-gong had just arrived at the Luo River riverbank. Gazing at the scenery before his eyes, he who should have been in a pleasant mood kept feeling like there was something off.

From Sanshui County to here, the day had been late yesterday and plus he had wanted to see whether or not there was a person following behind him so he randomly found an inn to stay in midway through. The result was it let him catch sight of that person who had been carrying the silver next to Steward Zhang.

He was confirming that there was someone following, only to discover that wasn’t this person foolish, ~ya, and didn’t even know how to tail someone? Other people would all try their best to keep a certain distance from the person being tailed. This person sure was good—trailing him only 20 steps behind.

Every time he stopped to turn his head around and look, you would typically have to hide. This person sure was good and just looked straightforwardly in front with their eyes, feigning an appearance of not being acquainted. Could it be that he was being considered a fool—it had only been a while and he couldn’t remember a person?

The most maddening wasn’t even this. He himself had already found an inn. Adjacent to this inn was another inn so if you’re tailing me, then you should go to stay in that inn.

Ending up staying in a single inn might be fine but he himself was dining in the lobby and the spots near the window only had two tables yet each one seated a person with one facing the other—spitting at the person in front wouldn’t hit amiss. This was only because of the few people and the many empty tables. Otherwise, wouldn’t they be sitting together to eat?

How was this tailing? It was clearly surveillance. Wonder what that Steward Zhang intended—could it be that he wished to drop the facade?1

Song Jing-gong stood on the riverbank not too distant from the docks as he thought on exactly how he got like this. Why was he in such a perturbed mood—because of that person tailing him? Steward Zhang’s attitude? The grievances he suffered at the two Zhang and Wang Manors? It didn’t seem like it at all.

After thinking on it for a while, Song Jing-gong attributed this sentiment to the action this time being rather big and the cheating of people more formidable so that he would have such a feeling.

Turning his head to glance at that person who was squatting at a distance of around 10 steps away, they were currently fiddling with the grass on the ground. From this distance, a team of ants could be seen hauling things in a black mass by that person’s feet so that person was using grass to poke at the ants.

Song Jing-gong exhaled a long sigh. He really wanted to go over and ask that person, how old are you?

How could this kind of person be sent out to do things?

Shaking his head, Song Jing-gong didn’t wish to expend his mental energy on such a fool type of person. It was better to first check on those things that had been transported back here from the barbarian lands that couldn’t be sold.

Thinking of it, Song Jing-gong strode towards the docks. The boats that he had hired were still moored there, ~ne. Of course, these boats didn’t have any other shipping fees. As a swindler, he wouldn’t do anything like paying a shipping fee but had an agreement with that person from the barbarian clan. When the stuff was ferried here, out of the profit made, 21 would be added into 5.

When Song Jing-gong had arrived at the docks, that boat already had people who had recognized him as they hurriedly ran over to ask respectfully: “Greetings, Great Scholar Song.2 You [honorific] have found someone to buy the sweet plants3 here? That’s great. We’ve spent quite a bit of money just eating these past few days. If we can’t sell them, then we would lose everything.”

The attitude was respectful yet the words within carried a sense of complaint. Song Jing-gong also knew that if switched with anyone else, they would also be unhappy.

“Unh, almost. Songri Nigan, ~ne? Have him sought out. I have important matters to discuss.”

This person that Song Jing-gong was speaking of was a petty chieftain of noble rank in the barbarian clans over there. They’d had a lot of contact with this side and so, took on some of the habits over here.

When the greeting person heard Song Jing-gong ask after their chieftain, their face unwittingly revealed a trace of happiness in their appearance though they continued to respectfully reply: “Great Scholar Song, my king found a method to get rich and has already left this place. The return may perhaps be after 2 days.”

“Get rich? He can also get rich? Good, ~ah. Wonder how is he getting it? Where would the riches be?” Song Jing-gong smiled. These barbarians also wanted to get rich coming to this place—keep dreaming, ~ne.

That person, seeing that Song Jing-gong’s tone had disdain, felt a little bit of dissatisfaction in his heart but still maintaining a smiling face in an appearance of welcome, continued and said: “My king really did find a way to get rich and even said to wait until after you [honorific] had arrived here to have you [honorific] go over to see.”

Seeing them speak with such assurance, Song Jing-gong was also puzzled. Could it be that Songri Nigan really did step into a dog poop windfall4 and discovered something? But then feeling that it wasn’t possible, so he asked: “How did Songri Nigan discover it? And where does he want me to go?”

“It was that someone came over to ask if we were buying chicks and said they could be cheaply sold. 2 wen [cash] can buy 1 chick—the kind that can grow up and lay eggs.” That person replied.

Here now, Song Jing-gong wasn’t puzzled but stupefied. A single chicken was worth around 30-some wen [cash] over here. It wasn’t too expensive but hens were not the same. They could lay eggs and no matter how cheap, chicken eggs were still worth 1 wen [cash]. It didn’t need too many days for the chicks to grow up and lay eggs—just half a year’s time was more than enough.

This 2 wen [cash] bought a little one and a half year of casually feeding them a bit of stuff was only a few wen [cash]. Letting it outside to range for food to eat on its own would save even more. After half a year, wouldn’t that money come in like an unending stream?

This price really was too cheap. When those hens brooded, laying eggs wasn’t possible. With the delay of those few days, the money for the chicken eggs laid were all several wen [cash], how could it be so cheap?

‘Swindler. I can’t believe that I, Song Jing-gong, could also encounter a swindler.’ Song Jing-gong’s most instinctive thought was this. But he didn’t know how the other side was doing the swindling. They were even selling chicks and not chicken eggs—there, male or female could be figured out with one look.

“Fine, I’ll go over now. Find a person to lead the way in front.” Song Jing-gong really couldn’t figure it out and wanted to get a personal look. So taking his leave and then glancing over at that fool of a tracker, he was led away from the docks by someone to hurry towards that place selling the chickens.

The sparrow birds chirruped as the butterflies chased; hazy mists wreathed the green mountains in the distance as the oblique light dotted the floating dust motes by them.

Zhang Xiaobao and Wang Juan had just gotten up for the morning and had milk. They didn’t resume sleeping and went to the vegetable garden within the courtyard together, prepared to continue producing different dishes5 for the adults to eat. For the two of them, drinking some soup and swallowing some froth would be fine.

“No kidney beans,6 ~ah? I had wanted to simmer7 some to eat, ~ne.” Wang Juan looked around in a circle and didn’t discover kidney beans but did see that there were cowpeas.8

Meanwhile, Zhang Xiaobao, almost like a thief, struggled to pick a little round eggplant that was around 2 cun [inch] in diameter from within the eggplant plot. Using that thumb to vigorously dig at it until he dug out a small piece and shoved it in his mouth, he happily nodded his head.

“Xiaobao, what are you doing, ~ne? It’s not suitable for you to eat eggplants right now and to even be so surreptitious about it.” Wang Juan said upon seeing with a glance that Zhang Xiaobao was over there sneaking a bite, not knowing whether to laugh or cry.

“I’m scared of other people finding out. The eggplants are too small. Eating it like this is a pity but it’s only at this time that the eggplants are sweetest. You try it.”

Zhang Xiaobao spoke while he dug out a little bit again and presented it in front of Wang Juan.

Wang Juan really didn’t know what to say. Such a grown man who was actually doing these kinds of stuff that only children would do. Reaching out a hand to slap down that small broken-off piece: “Can’t you focus on some serious business?”

“Then, forget it. Xiaohong, you eat it. It sure is sweet. After eating it, help us pick eggplants. We’ll be eating these for lunch today.” Zhang Xiaobao easily conceded to the beneficial advice9 and gave the small eggplant ‘eggs’ to Xiaohong.

Xiaohong took them and actually ate them. She didn’t have anything to eat getting up this morning so to be able to eat some eggplants was good.

Zhang Xiaobao and Wang Juan, seeing that Xiaohong ate the eggplant with just a few bites, started. Only after a while did Wang Juan say: “Xiaohong, you rest assured. After Xiaobao and I make money over these next few days, the people who work the most in the manor will definitely be able to have 4 meals a day in the future—morning, midday, and night as well as a midnight meal.”

“Thank you, Little Miss Juan-Juan. Actually, we’re all used to it. Don’t mention 4 meals, 3 meals would need to spend quite a bit extra in money.” Xiaohong’s eyes brightened but then she felt like this matter wasn’t possible. Which manor would give servants 4 meals?

Wang Juan also know that Xiaohong wouldn’t believe it until she’d really eaten 4 meals so she didn’t speak any more words as she pulled Zhang Xiaobao along to go look at the other vegetables. Here, there was Xiaohong to pick the eggplants.

“Actually, just 4 meals aren’t enough. These people, they keep exerting themselves over the day and in the middle of the night, they still have to appear when called. Have to prepare some fruits later on and supplement their nutrition to be enough. The sheep’s wool grows on the sheep’s body.10 The better their bodies are, the more things that they can do.”

Zhang Xiaobao and Wang Juan arrived at a small plot of scallions, speaking as they squatted there. It was enough for a typical person to eat 3 meals in 1 day. Those servants were really too exhausted and also, it was entire families one after the other living at the manor.

Without the children, the parents would be aggrieved; without the parents, the children would be upset. A stable solidarity was the most important. If the nutrition kept up, people’s life expectancy would also lengthen. Once he and Wang Juan grew up, the next generation of the manor would also appear. A manor also needed a manor’s culture to do well.

“Unh, let’s not hurry first. I’ll arrange it at that time. You’ll be responsible for the planning and I’ll be responsible for the organization. In the future, if the footmen and guards increase, give them to me to drill. While I’m still little, I’m prepared to go find some of the data on this time period’s military operations to integrate theory with practice to produce combat tactics.”

Wang Juan also supported this point and also wanted to use some of what she had previously studied. Seeing the nervous gaze Zhang Xiaobao was directing over here, she smiled: “Relax, I’m not rebelling so it won’t implicate your Zhang Family. What dishes are you prepared to make for lunch?”

“Eggplant to be roasted together with fish—dress it with scallions and sauce after steaming, garlic eggplant, minced meat eggplant, dry stir-fried11 eggplant—this will need to use that mountain chili sprout water, sugar-glazed12 eggplant, red-cooked13 ribs and starched14 eggplant, rappi15 and simmered eggplant—peas will need to be added, 8 will be enough. Add an eggplant with kelp and shrimp soup. The staple food will be fried eggplant cakes.”16

Zhang Xiaobao counted on those little fingers of his as he listed them off one by one for Wang Juan to hear. After hearing it, Wang Juan solemnly nodded her head: “Fine. I think this matter’s fine. I’m ready to eat tofu tonight. I’ll have to depend on you—it has to be a feast of entirely tofu.”

“No problem. I resolve to complete the mission. My only worry is whether using brown sugar17 to make the sugar-glazed eggplants would make it hard to eat. On our return, get some charcoal and filter out the brown sugar dregs to be convenient for cooking in the future.”

If Wang Juan spoke, Zhang Xiaobao dared to promise it, seeming to be eager to try it, rendering Wang Juan speechless.

“All right. Whatever we eat is fine. Do you think that Swindler Song will act according to how you think he will act?” Wang Juan redirected the topic back to the right track.

“Relax, I understand the kind of person he is—it’s the same mentality as when I first started swindling.” Zhang Xiaobao nonchalantly said.

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13 thoughts on “Great Tang Idyll – v1-c023

  1. Instead of directing the link to chapter directly, why not try to add a buffer of a link and an extra link to be taken through Adfly or some other…

    Thanks for the chapter translation.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ah, thanks for the suggestion but I don’t think that’s likely to work. The content leecher is stealing the chapters through automatic bots/scripts that are similar to the web crawling bots used by Google and other search engines. So hiding it behind a link or redirect likely won’t help…

      Liked by 1 person

      • My suggestion was for your Ad money somehow; but wow…Didn’t know that the chapters are being stolen. Guess it’s a piracy site where they aggregate chapters from many different novels to earn Ad money in their site. Just take measures like they did at Volare site for GDK novel or try to move to a more secure site if it’s possible and can try to gain more readers also.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Ah, I’m sorry. I read your previous comment too quickly and thought you were also giving me suggestions on what to do to prevent the thievery since readers have been doing that for a while now.

        To answer your suggestion re the ad money, the reason I make the direct link and the indirect link available is because I don’t want to ambush people into using the adfly links without being aware of it. Especially because I don’t get credit for clicks if the clicker doesn’t fulfill the requirements.

        I am hoping to be able to move to my own web hosting so that I can be able to customize the site and try to prevent the content theft but right now, I’m using the free blog so it doesn’t have any options to customize on the backend like that…


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