Translator: CKtalon Editor: CKtalon
Moments after they reached the village, they heard the sputtering sounds of tractors. Following that, a tractor from a neighboring village pulled a truckload of rice paddy and set off. When the tractor passed by, Fangzheng could even smell the fragrance of the rice within. Nearly every family was busy with the autumn harvest these days, so there was nearly no one in the village. The only beings left to watch over their yards were a few dogs.
Ever since Mengmeng was abducted, the villagers did not dare be too careless. Even during the harvest, they would bring their children with them.
“Master, where’s everyone?” Red Boy asked out of curiosity.
“They are harvesting the paddies. Today’s mission is to help them in the harvest. Whoever does the most gets an additional serving tonight!” Fangzheng said with a smile.
The villagers were good to One Finger Monastery, so as a form of gratitude, Fangzheng always wished to do something for them. Besides, his disciples did need more interactions with the outside world to learn and grow. More importantly, his disciples had nothing to do on the mountain all day, so they stirred up trouble when they had nothing better to do. Therefore, he decided that it was better to make them do some work.
As expected, all of them were pumped when they heard of the additional serving.
“Master, we aren’t people that only know eating! Tell us what should be done. My claws are already unable to endure the thirst!” Squirrel waved his tiny claws and said in high spirits.
Fangzheng smacked him and flicked his butt before looking at the others who also put on anxious looks. “No rush. Once we get out of the village, there will be plenty of work for all of you.”
When they left the village, both sides of the path were like fields of gold. The golden paddies reached straight to the ends of the horizon and in the middle, a wind-breaking forest separated them. Even so, when one looked up, the heaven and earth seemed connected. The sky was blue and the land golden. When the golden rays of sunlight scattered across the land, it left the paddy fields shimmering like a golden ocean! With the blowing of the autumn winds, the waves swept through the paddies like waves on the sea. Some birds would secretly fly down into the paddies to pick at the grain, just like seagulls swooping down into the sea for fish.
As he took in the fragrance of the paddy, Fangzheng could not help but marvel “It’s the annual harvest again. How nice.”
“Master, I never expected paddies to look so beautiful when they are ready for a harvest.” Red Boy wasn’t tall, just slightly taller than the paddy stalks. He couldn’t see far even if he tip-toed, so all he could do was constantly jump. One Finger Village happened to be at the boundary of the mountains and plains, and past Mt. One Finger was the Mt. Tongtian range which had undulating slopes that went on for hundreds of kilometers. As for the other side of Mt. One Finger, it was an endless plain which was suited for the planting of corn, paddies, and other crops. This had also been One Finger Village’s only source of income in the past.
Fangzheng said with a smile, “They are beautiful unripe too. It’s just that you are unable to appreciate it. Wait and see. The truly beautiful sight isn’t now. It’s more beautiful in the evening.”
When Fangzheng said that, his four disciples were intrigued. The evening? More beautiful? Why? The few of them began to silently look forward to the evening.
“Let’s go! Let’s enter to take a look!” Red Boy waved his hand, about to lead his senior brothers into the paddy fields to have fun.
Fangzheng pulled back Red Boy and berated him. “You are not to run around. If you trample on everyone’s crops, I won’t be able to pay for it.”
Although he now had money, Fangzheng never thought of splurging. Fangzheng did like money, but he wasn’t prodigal. It was nice to have enough to pass the days. As for even more money, his monastery expansion fund was still lacking, so he had to save up…
As he walked along the path with his disciples, they saw the villagers of One Finger Village from afar. The villagers were walking through the fields repeatedly with their usual old clothes, inspecting something. It wasn’t clear what they were doing.
“Venerable One, sorry to bother you. May I know if anyone in the village needs to reap the paddies?” At that moment, a low voice sounded. The owner of the voice had a northwestern accent.
Fangzheng looked back and saw five men and women with two children. All the adults carried thick blankets, sickles and other tools. Even the children carried quite a lot of things. These people had dark skin, looking crude and hardened by life. Their eyes were filled with exhaustion and desire as though they were hoping that Fangzheng could give them a positive answer.
Among the people, only the two children had bright eyes. In their inchoate understanding of the world, they were filled with wonder about it. They were still a little shy to strangers, especially when they looked at Lone Wolf and Monkey. It was as though they were seeing monsters. Although amazed, they were also afraid. The two children hid behind their parents and secretly peeped at Fangzheng and company.
It was obvious that these people led hard lives and often suffered the elements. Fangzheng pressed his palms together. “Amitabha. Patrons, are you wheat hands?”
The wheat reaper occupation was an occupation commonly found in the northeast around this time. However, the northeast didn’t call them wheat reapers. One Finger Village did not have a uniform name for them, calling them ‘helpers,’ ‘hired laborers,’ or ‘wheat reapers,’ etc. ‘wheat hands’ was a term from the south. It sounded much nicer than the other terms and was accepted by everyone. Firstly, it was a good way of calling them, and secondly, it showed respect as well.
Wheat hands first originated in the Shaan-Gan-Ning Region. In the past, in order to make a living, large numbers of laborers would set out during harvesting season to help others reap in their harvest and earn some money to improve their lives. Such acts were known as clearing the wheat fields, and people who engaged in it were called wheat hands.
Wheat hands were like mercenaries of ancient times. The latter just did not reap wheat, but protected important families as bodyguards.
However in the northeast, there were naturally no wheat hands from the Shaan-Gan-Ning Region. After all, they were located very far away and typically, wheat hands who helped harvest the paddies were villagers from nearby villages. Everyone was acquainted with each other, so they knew who was hardworking and who enjoyed skiving. No one wanted those who skived, while everyone snatched the hardworking ones. That was the industry.
However, the few people in front of Fangzheng were strangers. Clearly, they were not villagers from nearby villages. Furthermore, their accent wasn’t that of the heavy, tongue-curling northeastern accent. Instead, they sounded like they were from Shaanxi. Did these wheat hands come all the way from there? But how was this possible? One Finger Village was so remote…
Although Fangzheng had countless questions on his mind, they were only a thought that flashed past his mind.
The man leading the group looked honest and when he heard Fangzheng’s question, he hurriedly nodded and said, “Yes, we are from Shaanxi. Venerable One, do you know if anyone around here needs help with harvesting?”
Fangzheng looked at the full paddies around him. It was already Cold Dew, so if the farmers failed to finish reaping the harvest in time, things would be problematic. Fangzheng nodded and said, “This Penniless Monk does know which fields need help. However, the villagers do not have fixed help.”
“Ah, is that so…” When the man heard that, his eyes flashed with a look of gloominess.