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The Lin family was originally a thriving family in Jade Creek Village. Their grandparent’s generation left a lot of land, and Lin Lixuan’s father was an only son. All the fields were inherited by him. Zhao Liniang was also good at management, so the family of three had been considered the best in the village. Otherwise, they wouldn’t have had enough money to send their child to study for over ten years.
Before Lin Lixuan became a fool and Old Man Lin passed, their family had four mu of high quality paddy fields, three mu of medium grade paddy fields, and three mu of dry fields. During years of favorable weather and they took care of their high grade paddy field, it could produce about six to seven hundred catties, the medium grade paddy field could have four to six hundred catties, and the dry field would usually produce seven to eight hundred catties of grain.
Old Man Lin was experienced with working with his hands. Working in the fields was like serving ancestors. The fields were fertile, and as long as it wasn’t a disastrous year, the annual harvest would be good. Zhao Liniang also often looked for some needlework to subsidize the family. In the past, the Lin family could save nearly ten taels of silver a year for Lin Lixuan to study.
Farmers were reluctant to eat the rice they grew. All the grain that looked good and were easy to sell were sold and exchanged for silver that could be stored at home. Farmers advocated more children meaning more blessings. With more children and more people and less land, who didn’t need money? Sending a child to school, building a house, finding their son a wife… It all cost a lot of money. If one of their family members gets sick, the entire family might go bankrupt.
The poor couldn’t afford to get sick.
When Lin Lixuan was first fished out of the water, they found several doctors for him. He ate a lot of medicine and spent most of their money, but nothing worked. Old Man Lin was worried about his son’s illness and worked in the fields all day long, so it didn’t take long for him to get sick. He couldn’t overcome the illness in his old age, so he passe. Zhao Liniang gave him a funeral. After this series of events, half the property accumulated by the Lin family was lost, and a lot of the property was sold.
Unless it was a very difficult time, who would be willing to sell their land? The land was their lifeline.
This year, in order to find Lin Lixuan a wife, Zhao Liniang sold a mu of high grade paddy field. Old Man Lin passed, and the fields weren’t being taken care of, so their high grade paddy field wasn’t sold at a good price. It was sold for seventeen taels of silver to the Wang family of the same village. If a high grade paddy field was being taken care of, an ordinary mu could be sold for about twenty to twenty-five taels.
These seventeen taels of silver, thirteen of which was used as a dowry. Old Lady Ji wanted to ask for fifteen taels of silver, but Zhao Liniang bargained for half a day, and they finally reached a consensus of thirteen taels of silver.
This was also the reason Zhao Liniang wanted Ji Yan as her son’s wife.
When Lin Lixuan’s engagement was called off, he tried to commit suicide by throwing himself in the river, which caused a stir in the village. Zhao Liniang heard gossip about her family everywhere she went in the village. She endured all sorts of ridicule, but someone actually brought up the idea of being a matchmaker in front of her and wanted to introduce her son to Butcher Zhao’s foolish daughter, Zhao Xiaoyun, from the Li Village. Zhao Xiaoyun became a fool because she had a continuous fever for days when she was young. Her mind had remained the same as when she had a high fever at six. The person who recommended Zhao Xiaoyun also said that her son and Zhao Xiaoyun were a perfect match, both were fools. Nobody would dislike the other, and Butcher Zhao’s family also had some wealth…
Hearing this, Zhao Liniang almost took a broom to chase the person out. However, it wasn’t almost, she actually did chase the person out. After, she wiped her tears with her sleeve in front of the foolish Lin Lixuan. A woman who was a mother was strong. Zhao Liniang was originally a weak and indecisive woman, but now the Lin family could only rely on her for support.
Zhao Liniang couldn’t swallow her anger.
Her son, who had become a Xiucai, even if he became a fool, still had to marry the best wife.
Among the daughters and Shuang’ers in Jade Creek Village, Ji Yan might not be the best, but he was indeed the best looking one.
It just so happened the Ji family also needed money. Ji Yan was of good birth and countless men in the village wanted to marry him, but these people were discouraged in the face of the high dowry the Ji family proposed. Only Zhao Liniang was willing to pay the dory of over a dozen taels of silver to get a Shuang’er for her son. The Ji family was also pressured and criticized for marrying their beautiful Shuang’er to a fool.
After finding Lin Lixuan a wife, the Lin family now only owned a broken house, two mu of high grade paddy field, one mu of medium grade paddy field, and two mu of dry fields. Compared to the past, their property was reduced by half. Plus, the Lin family now only consisted of an orphan and a widow. Zhao Liniang didn’t know how to farm, and Lin Lixuan, this pampered fool, was even more at a loss. Their land was rented out to tenant farmers to a family in their village who had a lot of workforce.
Fortunately, even though Lin Lixuan became a fool, his reputation as a Xiucai was still valid. In ancient times, after becoming a Xiucai, the fields under his name were tax-exempt. How did official and scholarly families come about? It was by accumulating with this fact. When a family gains scholarly honor, the rest of the family’s clan would place their land under the scholar’s name, so little by little, it grew until they became a big and powerful landlord.
Tax-exemption wasn’t a trivial matter. Farmers taxes were very heavy. Three or four percent of the grain harvest from the land a year had to be handed over to the government. Zhao Liniang gave the land to others to farm. Since their lands didn’t have any taxes, the harvest was split forty and sixty. This was the same as them working for an entire year and still able to obtain sixty percent of the grains. The family who farmed for them were also happy, since their family had a lot of people but little land. This way, they were able to get more grains to feed their family.
Both sides were happy.
However, their current lives were different from the past. Zhao Liniang sighed.
The current grain harvest was only enough to support their daily lives. They couldn’t squeeze out any extra to send Lin Lixuan to study.
Zhao Liniang was unwilling to not send Lin Lixuan to continue studying.
She believed in her son’s talent. He could definitely stand out from his peers and pass with honors.
However, how could she earn more money?
Zhao Liniang gritted her teeth and silently calculated: I could take on more needlework from the county town. Right, there’s also Ji Yan. He can also help a bit. Although this job is hard and doesn’t earn a lot, we can work a bit harder and save a bit more money.
She must have Lin Lixuan continue studying at the academy.
Lin Lixuan stretched his wrist. Staying in the countryside for a long time was quite leisurely. Not to mention, he’d become accustomed to it these past few days. He lifted his gaze and was greeted with surrounding green mountains and verdant trees. Lowering his gaze lay the lush green field of fruits and vegetables. The houses weren’t like modern houses, towering and clustered close together. One could see far with a glance. The distant mountains were outlined with clouds. It looked like it came straight out of a painting by a famous master.
Away from the blinding electronic screens, it seemed his dry eyes were cured.
Lin Lixuan lowered his head and added a stroke to the paper. The white paper showed the distant mountains and water. Occasionally looking at the distant mountains inspired him. Plus, he was tired of writing, so he drew on the paper for a bit. He’d studied calligraphy and drawing since he was young in order to cultivate patience and perseverance. He persisted in learning calligraphy, but his drawing skills weren’t the best. To an amateur, it was still considered pretty good, but in fact, his drawings didn’t have any essence. Inherently, he was a profit minded businessman.
However, his drawing was good enough for leisure and entertainment.
Lin Lixuan had already adapted to his current life.
However, his life would be perfect if the food was a bit better.
He couldn’t be blamed for being vulgar, but food really was the god of people.
In the past, he didn’t consider himself a picky eater. Those delicacies from all over the word, abalone and sea cucumbers and whatnot, were fleeting. But now in the far distant past, he had returned to the most primitive simplicity. He really missed the “delights” of his past.
Lin Lixuan placed the brush back down and beckoned to Ji Yan, who had just come back. “Come here.”
Ji Yan just came back from picking wild vegetables in the mountains. With mud on his hands, he said, “Wait a bit. Let me wash my hands first.”
“It’s fine, come here.” Lin Lixuan took out an egg from somewhere, peeled it, and was about to feed the youth. After interacting for two days, he already knew that the youth who looked thin actually had a big stomach. He would eat whatever he was fed.
He rubbed the youth’s head. Lin Lixuan already thought of Ger Yan as his younger brother. He was an only child in his previous life, and he wasn’t close with his cousins. Now that he met such a well-behaved, obedient, and studious little thing, he couldn’t help but care for him.
Facing the egg Lin Lixuan held out for him, Ger Yan didn’t know how to refuse. This wasn’t the first time. The Lin family didn’t have many good things. It was only the hen Zhao Liniang raised that would lay one or two eggs a day that could nourish the body. To Lin Lixuan, Zhao Liniang was willing to spend a lot of money. Thinking about how he’d just recovered, she needed to boil two eggs a day for him to supplement his body.
Although eggs were good, for ordinary people, eating a hard boiled egg a day was already enough. Lin Lixuan really couldn’t eat two.
“If Mother sees, I’ll get yelled at,” Ji Yan persuaded. Yesterday, Zhao Liniang caught Lin Lixuan secretly feeding him something. She didn’t say anything in front of Lin Lixuan, but she gave Ji Yan a good warning in private.
“It’s fine. Mother won’t catch us.” Lin Lixuan slightly smiled. It was just an egg. Once he makes money in a few days, both Zhao Liniang and he (JY) could eat better.
This time, Ji Yan said he wouldn’t eat, and he didn’t. He quickly fled to the courtyard to wash wild vegetables. Lin Lixuan was helpless, so he put the egg away and followed the youth to wash vegetables.
Lin Lixuan learned from the youth and tore off the rotten leaves beside him and asked, “What kind of vegetable is this?”
Hearing his question, Ji Yan’s eyes were full of disbelief. Lin Lixuan saw his expression that said “you don’t even know this?” and couldn’t help but cover his mouth with his fists and coughed. “I remember now. It’s leaf mustard.”
The leaves of the wild vegetables picked by Ji Yan were relatively tender. There were very few leaves that were older. Ji Yan held a basket full of washed wild vegetables. He was a bit surprised. Why was Lin Lixuan helping him wash wild vegetables?
In their village, these kinds of chores were done by daughters and Shuang’ers. Which man was willing to wash vegetables and cook?
Unknowingly, Lin Lixuan had been there for three days already. This was also the day Ji Yan had to return to his family’s home.