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Chapter 143: How to Lend a Helping Hand (I)
Translator: Nyoi-Bo Studio Editor: Nyoi-Bo Studio
The most muscular man among them wiped away the sweat on his face, which appeared horrifying with the dried blood and wounds that had not yet healed. The black and white in his eyes was distinct, adding determination and strong will to his features.
“They have left these for us… They are not common villagers.”
“Have they noticed us? What should we do now, chief?”
The men were compelled to steal for their sick or injured brothers who were on the verge of death. They hated what they were doing, but they had no other choice.
To avoid suspicion, they only took a bit from each household every time. How would the villagers notice?
“Let’s take these and leave.” The chief began to collect the items. “The villagers are helping us. Otherwise, we will be fighting with their guards now.”
“Is that so?” One of his companions was not quite certain.
The military chief said, “They might have guessed our plight from the few items we have taken, and so they decided to offer a.s.sistance. Just accept these and we will thank them someday when we can.”
They were at the wealthiest household they had ever seen with the largest storage of grain. The tenants there had lived with an abundant amount of food and clothes, and they could even save some money for themselves each month—all of which showed how generous their landlord was.
On the contrary—the other tenants were meager, and the skin of their limbs cracked. The exploitation of gentry and local officials caused constant hunger and poverty in their families, and made personal savings for the tenants impossible.
The other men were a.s.sured by the chief, whom they deeply trusted.
When they returned with the large pack and opened it, they realized how considerate the owner was. There were quilted clothes for the chilly night, blankets, medicines that could save their lives, pieces of clean white cloth, and two bunches of pork belly wrapped in lotus leaves. A man weighed the meat with his hands; it was at least five catties. The chopped bones near the meat could be used to make a nutritious soup.
Apart from those items, they also found two liters of rice, some earthenware, and a pot for boiling medicinal herbs.
It all might be common, but it reflected the owner’s thoughtfulness.
“And this…” One of them with a sharp eye took something out of the folded blankets. It was two taels of silver pieces.
Before they had left their motherland, they were merely ordinary items that every one of them could afford, but the drastic change had placed them into the predicament of hunger, illness, and wounds. The household’s aids were like charcoals offered in bitter winter. All the tough men’s eyes were reddened with tears.
“Hurry up—stew the meat, make the soup, boil the medicine! You all know what to do.” The military chief, Meng Hun, was the first to recover from sadness, and he gave the blankets to the injured companions.
The cave they were hiding in was humid and cold, and there were puddles on the earth. Although they had covered them with branches and gra.s.s, the conditions were not inducive to healing. Meng Hun could not describe his grat.i.tude for the owner. With the medicine, white cloth, and blankets, his companions stood a greater chance of surviving.
He could hardly bear the mornings when he woke up to see his brothers lying pale and lifeless.
Even without spices, the fresh pork alone made a delicious meal. The people then had some hot pork bone soup and sticky congee, which seemed to warm up every inch of their bodies. It brought them back from h.e.l.l to earth.
It was until then that Meng Hun was fully at ease. He faked calmness in front of his soldiers, yet he shared their worries about poisons being added to the food. As it turned out, the farmhouse owner was really hoping to help them. Meng Hun began to feel ashamed of his suspicion.
“Chief, should we go ask about the household tomorrow?”
Ancient people could not accept others’ help without reciprocating. They had to thank the owner by any means that they could.
Meng Hun gulped down the steaming congee and ground his teeth together. “Of course. I’m not well mannered, but I won’t forget about reciprocity. Someday, after I have avenged my family’s death, I will give the owner my life!”
Wanted by the Meng’s, the chief understood that he must not get the household involved in their conflict.
As he mentioned revenge, one of them clenched their teeth. “Where is that d*mn cunning b*stard?”
Meng Hun was certain. “Even though Meng Liang is going to escape to Shangjing, he won’t stop his shameless deeds. Hejian is famous for its beauties. Now that no one is around to restrain him, he will definitely do something here before he leaves to another county.”
They would find Meng Liang as long as they kept a close eye. Some days before, he and three companions had found clues that proved Meng Liang was really in Hejian.
The scene of his wife’s and daughter’s desperate deaths reappeared in Meng Hun and agitated him. His fists clenched tight, and the blood vessels on his forehead became so visible that they seemed to penetrate his skin. He wanted to kill Meng Liang at that moment!
He had been loyal to the Meng’s ever since he had served them as a junior guard. He was willing to die for the house, and the hundreds of scars on his body were the best proof of his devotion. To protect the family, he had almost lost his life in a number of terrible fights.
While he was not knowledgeable and could barely write and read, he had never forgotten about the basic principles of loyalty and integrity. To thank the care of the Meng’s for his family, he was determined to serve them with his current life and, if possible, in his next life. What did the Meng’s give him in return? His wife and daughter perished after Meng Liang’s humiliation!
Still, Meng Hun did not hate the Meng house; he only hated the culprit, Meng Liang.
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