Translator: CKtalon Editor: CKtalon
Fangzheng looked at the large group of people who had even their children in tow. He knew life wasn’t easy for them, so he couldn’t bring himself to disappoint them. He asked, “Patrons, why didn’t you clear the wheat fields in the northern China region, but ended up all the way here?”
“Sigh… It’s a long story. Venerable One, I’m sorry, but we still need to rush. We don’t have time to chat with you.” The man shook his head and prepared to bid him farewell and leave.
At that moment, a shout sounded.
“Abbot Fangzheng, what brings you here?” Fangzheng looked back and saw Wang Yougui walking over happily. He looked like something joyous had happened. He was grinning so widely that the corners of his mouth nearly reached his ears.
“Amitabha. It’s the autumn harvest. This Penniless Monk came with his disciples to help and experience the autumn harvest. Patron, where are you going?”
Wang Yougui was clearly prepared for Fangzheng’s response. After all, One Finger Monastery would come down every year to help with the harvest. Just as Wang Yougui was about to say something, he saw the few strangers. Ever since Mengmeng had been abducted, the One Finger villagers took note of strangers and were wary of them. Wang Yougui asked, “Abbot Fangzheng, who are these?”
“These are wheat hands who wish to clear wheat fields. They come from Shaanxi.”
With that said, Fangzheng introduced the few wheat hands to Wang Yougui. “This is One Finger Village’s village chief. If you wish to find work, it will depend on him.”
The wheat hands’ eyes lit up when they heard that. They looked at Wang Yougui with looks of desire. Those eyes looked pure with the sole desire to find work. When he looked at them, Wang Yougui’s innate aversive feelings towards them lessened. He took out a box of cigarettes and handed them to the wheat hands. “Friends, it must have been tiring for you to travel so far. Come, let me play host at my house.”
The wheat hands were comprised of three men and two women. There were two middle-aged couples and a young lad, as well as two children, a boy and a girl.
The man leading them was a little older, and his face was covered in wrinkles. He immediately took the cigarette Wang Yougui offered and when he saw the brand, he immediately smiled. He put it to his nose to sniff at it before placing it on his ear. Then, he took out a box of cheap cigarettes and planned to light one of those instead.
The others did the same. Clearly, they couldn’t bear to smoke the branded cigarettes Wang Yougui had offered.
Wang Yougui frowned when he saw this as he asked, “Eh, what’s the matter?”
The leader scratched his head. “We can’t smoke such good cigarettes in one go. It’s best to keep them. Hehe.” Upon saying that, the man couldn’t help but give an embarrassed laugh.
When Wang Yougui saw this, he stuffed the entire box of cigarettes into the man’s hand and said, “Why save up like that? Take it all!”
The man was taken aback as he looked at Wang Yougui in a daze. His eyes instantly reddened, and his hands which had just received the cigarettes trembled. He suddenly snapped to his senses and handed them back to Wang Yougui. He shook his head incessantly and said, “No, I can’t accept this. They’re too expensive…”
When Wang Yougui saw how honest and down-to-earth the man was, he felt his heart wince. It was as though he was seeing his former self. In the past, he too couldn’t bear to enjoy any luxuries and only when there were guests would he smoke. Looking at himself now, he was smoking branded cigarettes and planning on buying a small car. The stark contrast between the him of before and now suddenly made Wang Yougui realize that his burden of leading the villagers to wealth had not lessened; instead, it had turned heavier.
With this in mind, Wang Yougui stuffed the box of cigarettes into the man’s hands. “Brother, let’s leave it at that and stop pushing it about. These cigarettes aren’t free. In a while, you have to tell me what you can do. Since it’s the autumn harvest, our village is indeed lacking manpower.”
The man also knew that Wang Yougui was making an excuse to give the cigarettes to him, unlike those rich men who would treat them as charity cases. His heart warmed up even more as he nodded with all his might. “Alright, alright, alright…”
“Okay, don’t just stand there. That much luggage can’t be light. Come, let’s head to my place. Say, little guy, am I that scary? Why are you hiding when you see me?” Wang Yougui teased the two children and immediately, the atmosphere lightened up.
Fangzheng followed Wang Yougui to his place, but Fangzheng did not see Jiang Zhou and company. According to Wang Yougui, Jiang Zhou had to deal with matters regarding his school and had left ahead of time.
“Abbot Fangzheng, let me tell you some great news!” Wang Yougui said in excitement.
“Oh? What is the good news?” Fangzheng smiled. Fangzheng had some idea why Wang Yougui was so happy, but he didn’t say it.
“Hehe, a tycoon came today to check the area and found our bamboo carvings very beautiful. Furthermore, with Jiang Zhou presiding over the quality, he decided to invest in a school for our village. Furthermore, all operation rights will be left to our village. He won’t take a single cent. This school will specialize in imparting bamboo carving techniques. How about it? Great, isn’t it? Hahaha! In the future, our One Finger Village will have a technical school!” Wang Yougui’s excitement made him like a child.
Fangzheng felt like laughing as he watched this play out. A tycoon had been impressed with One Finger Village’s bamboo carvings and wished to donate to build a school? And he wouldn’t take any of the profits? How could there be such a foolish tycoon in this world? Fangzheng knew that the only person who could have done this was the unlucky bastard, Jing Yulong. For this, Fangzheng extolled Jing Yan in his heart!
What a good girl.
Everyone took their seats as the wheat hands hurriedly put down their luggage, sending a puff of dust up into the air. Clearly, their luggage wasn’t light.
The two children clung to the adults without running around. Their eyes were fixed on Lone Wolf, Monkey, and Squirrel. Perhaps, they felt like they had entered a zoo and had their interests piqued.
After a mutual introduction, Fangzheng learned that the five were a family. The eldest was called Zhou Zishan and his wife was Shen Aijia. The second son was Zhou Ziyuan and his wife was Ma Jingru. The youngest was Zhou Ziheng. He was just over twenty years of age, and his skin was dark. He laughed in a very lively fashion, and his eyes were black and bright. As a young man, he had the expected vitality which made him unlike his two elder brothers who felt a bit as if life had drained them of spirit.
“Brothers, to be honest, this is the first time we are encountering wheat hands from your side. Logically speaking, shouldn’t you be clearing the wheat fields in North China?” Wang Yougui served them some water and asked.
This was also something that puzzled Fangzheng. To come to the northeast all the way from the north was too great a distance.
Zhou Zishan gulped down a huge mouthful of water and said with a rueful smile, “Village Chief, do you think I don’t wish to do so? The north is closer to home, and the money is okay. We could have saved a lot of money on transportation. And in fact, we used to clear the wheat there in the past, but this has become impossible in the recent two years…” Upon saying that, Zhou Zishan let out a long sigh as his eyes welled with tears.
The second brother, Zhou Ziyuan, continued. “We were out of choices. There was a drought and little rain. Our own farmland is close to not being able to produce anything. Meanwhile, North China begins harvesting in June, but when we went there, they just didn’t want us. Even our old employers didn’t want us.”