Lu Feng felt that he owed his nephew quite a lot. If it were not for his insufficient attention towards his sister, then he would not have left this mother and son pair wandering outside without support. Speaking of which, such a mistake could also be considered as the result of fate.
At that time, the Lu family also suffered a great disaster. Initially a flourishing family, the sudden flood had brought death and destruction to their family. The Lu family originally had five brothers—six members if one included Lu LiuZhi, who was married out. Lu Feng was ranked the fifth. The eldest Lu brother was washed away by the flood when he was saving people, and even his bones could not be found. Additionally, the second brother, their father, and mother also died due to the pestilence after the flood. Like Lu Feng, the third and fourth brothers entered the army in order to make a living. In the end, they all died in battle. He was the only one left in this generation, so it was he who supported his other brothers’ family members.
At that time, their Lu family was also in a state of utter poverty because of the disaster. The men who supported the family were not around – only women and children. It was fortunate that the married women in the family were shrewd, or they would have been taken advantage of by shameless loafers. The world was hard, and for those women, they could hardly look after themselves while leading their children. With Lu Feng in the army and going to battles, he was unable to take care of his family. This was especially so for his sister, who was married out.
Lu Feng was not as lucky as Marquis WenYuan. He was in the army for five years before he was even appointed as an insignificant commander. Having bounced around outside for several years, his own son could not even recognize him when he returned home. At that time, faced with no traces of his disappeared younger sister and someone’s intention to deliberately conceal it, Lu Feng had thought that Lu LiuZhi and her child had died together due to the pestilence. It was only when he went searching for more information that he came across the Zhuang’s neighbor, who informed him of Lu LiuZhi’s difficult life there.
Seeing Marquis WenYuan attaining success and feeling well-contented, he thought of his sister’s desolate death and was filled with anger. Thus, he would obstruct and vex the other person whenever he had a chance. However, now, with his nephew found, he had to be more restrained in the future. Although he still found Marquis WenYuan unpleasant to the eye, he did not want to make it difficult for his nephew in that family.
After saying a few words, Lu Feng left. He did not want to come across the marquis and become angry again. Before leaving, he told Zhuang Zhong to remember to return home whenever he was free, as there were a few aunts who kept thinking about him. At that time, Lu LiuZhi had lived at home for a long time and got along well with several of her sister-in-laws. Before Lu LiuZhi was married, she would also watch their children for them, so for her to get such an ending, several of them were very upset. If they had been more attentive to her, the efficient and able Lu LiuZhi would not have fallen to such a state. So, when they heard that Lu LiuZhi’s son was still alive, they were very happy. Had it not been for the many rules in the capital and almost becoming enemies with Marquis WenYuan, they would have rushed here with Lu Feng together.
Upon hearing this, Zhuang Zhong straight away arranged for a visit the next day, making Lu Feng even happier. When he met Marquis Wen Yuan on his way out, his face was still smiling.
The marquis knew that Zhuang Zhong was going to visit Lu Feng tomorrow, and he did not have any objection. He even told the steward to give Zhuang Zhong 100 string-holed copper coins. If he needed to buy anything, he could go buy it from the street. He could even go have fun anywhere, as long as he did not stir up trouble. The marquis had given Zhuang Zhong great freedom.
The steward gave Zhuang Zhong jiaozi1 “交子” (jiaozi) refers to the paper money issued in the Northern Song Dynasty and used in Sichuan and Shaanxi areas. Later on in the dynasty, its name was changed to 钱引 (qianyin/Song paper money).. In the DaYou market, copper money was the main currency in circulation, while jiaozi was only used in bulk purchases. Zhuang Zhong was also unsure of what he needed to buy. Even though he had been in this world for two years, he had been staying in the countryside the whole time, so he did not really know what a big city was like – he was like a frog in a well.
Fortunately, Marquis WenYuan arranged for a manservant who was clever and knew the capital well, so Zhuang Zhong would not have to worry, as the manservant would lead him to the right place. The manservant’s name was DongZi. He was not only familiar with the capital but also familiar with the etiquette, customs, and gossip, etc. With him chirping all the way, Zhuang Zhong did not feel lonely, and even managed to infer the capital’s local customs and practices according to the information from his words.
The two of them went out early the next morning, and planned to have breakfast outside. They would first buy a gift before going to the Lu’s household. Zhuang Zhong had never been ostentatious and was also not very particular about food, so he let DongZi lead him to a high-quality and inexpensive commoner food stall.
DongZi’s eyes turned and said, “Young Master, I know of a place that sells such good tasting noodles with soybean paste that even River View Pavilion2The raw name of the building was “望江楼” (Wangjiang Lou). Instead of the romanized name, I decided to translate it as close to the literal meaning as possible so that it would be easier to read. can’t compare to it!”
River View Pavilion could be considered the best and most extravagant restaurant3 In Chinese, “酒楼” (jiulou) usually refers to a building where people can enjoy food and alcohol. I translated it generally as “restaurant” but it is admittedly not really a good fit. in the capital and the whole DaYou that even Zhuang Zhong, a newly-arrived countryside bumpkin, had heard of its reputation. By just entering once, Zhuang Zhong would have emptied all his family assets.
Zhuang Zhong laughed. “For you to speak so highly of the store, they must have given you some kind of benefit. What kind of place is River View Pavilion? How can they sell noodles with soybean paste when one of the main ingredients in it is pork?”
In DaYou, pork was a cheap and worthless item that the high-ranking officials and nobles scorned at. If anyone entertained a guest with pork, the guest would assume that he was looked down upon. As a result, there was no pork on the dining table in the marquis’ household, making Zhuang Zhong—a person who enjoyed pork—feel gloomy. Of course, these rules were only applicable to the rich. To the common people, pork was still something that was greatly loved amongst them.
DongZi giggled. “Young Master is sure able to foresee things with divine accuracy. The owner that sells noodles with soybean paste is my uncle. However, this little one did not lie. My uncle’s noodles are absolutely excellent. If it does not taste good, I will cut off my head and give it to you as a ball4 Here the author specified it as “蹴鞠” (cuju), an ancient game of kicking a ball. to kick! “
Servants in DaYou were all employed with personal freedom and salary. They would work in the master’s house according to the age and date stipulated on the contract. They were also not bound to a certain master for generations and were not considered as lowly people. On the surface, it appeared as if there was no longer slavery. However, in reality, there were still many servants who served a master’s family for generations, especially in the households of the nobles. As long as they were not particularly unkind, the servants would be unwilling to leave, despite given permission to do so. After all, there might not be jobs outside that were as decent and well-paid as those in the household – in front of the prime minister’s door, there will be seven grade officials5“宰相门前七品官” is a Chinese saying where the gatekeeper for the prime minister could be said to be similar to seven grade officials in the imperial court. This is because for one to meet the prime minister, one has to send the gatekeeper to announce their presence (even bribing them to establish good relations) so it could be said that the power the gatekeepers have is pretty high, comparable to the seven grade officials in court..
The entire DongZi’s family had been willing to serve in Marquis WenYuan’s household, which was even more reputable than their relatives.
Zhuang Zhong patted DongZi’s head. “You promoted the noodles with all of your heart, so your uncle should give you a part of the money from sales.”
Some words that Zhuang Zhong used were unclear, but DongZi could probably guess the meaning through the context and its literal meaning. DongZi had thought that it was just a dialect from the countryside.
After the carriage had traveled for a while, DongZi pointed to the front and said, “Here, the stall is right under the willow tree in front of you. You can also view the Wangjiang River6The Wangjiang here is the same as the Chinese name of the River View Pavilion mentioned before. from the window. The food is not only delicious, as one could also experience a beautiful view there too. Oh, why are there so many people there?”
There was a group of people on the side of the riverbank, as distressing cries came from the crowd. The closer they got there, the clearer the cries were.
“As the family head, how can you bear to leave us like this? How can we live on as an orphan and a widow! I told you not to drink so much, but you did not listen. Now, even your life is at stake! Heavens, my family’s life had just turned for the better, so how can you treat me like this? We cannot live on without you, so you have to wake up!”
“Father, wake up, wu… Father, I want Father!”
As soon as he heard that there was something not right, Zhuang Zhong quickly jumped off the carriage. It was an ingrained habit from his past profession – as long as he heard that there was a homicide, his first reaction was to rush over, not caring whether it was true or not. DongZi also ran after him hurriedly. There were many onlookers, and they only managed to squeeze into the crowd after some trouble.
A middle-aged man was lying wet on the ground, and his face was swollen purple with both hands clenched. His belly was also ballooned, and his whole body was puffed with white blisters. A man that looked like a physician squatted at his side and took his pulse. He shook his head. “He is not breathing anymore.”
Upon squeezing in, DongZi saw the man and cried out involuntarily, “Uncle! What is…what is going on? Last night, you were still fine and even drank a lot of alcohol with my father. How come today you…”
The crying woman got up from the ground, grabbed Dongzi’s clothes, and scolded, “Your father was the one who caused his death. If your father had not let him drink so much, how could he have fallen into the water and drowned?”
No matter how bright DongZi was, he was still no more than a 13 or 14-years-old child. Upon seeing such a scene, he became dull and momentarily at a loss. Even when his face was scratched by the woman, he did not dare to resist. Fortunately, the people next to him quickly pulled him away; otherwise, his whole face would have been scarred.
Zhuang Zhong did not pay attention to what was going on at DongZi’s side as he knelt in front of the corpse. As he observed carefully, he constricted the man’s eyeball with his fingers and saw that the pupil was deformed. Only after releasing his hand was the pupil able to recover to its original state. There was joy in his heart. Just as he was about to lift his head and speak, he was pulled away by the woman. As it was summer, he wore pretty thin layers, and most of his chest became exposed by such a pull.
“What are you doing! My husband is dead. How can you disrespect him like that!” The woman was already a little mad, and her eyes were bloodshot.
Zhuang Zhong loudly reproached, “He is not dead at the moment. If you want to save him, you have to do as I say. There is still a slim chance of survival!”
The crazy woman suddenly calmed down, and her body was shaking slightly. “You, are you serious? If you can save him, our whole family will be willing to toil like slaves for you in this life!”
The physician at the side was stupefied. “How can it be possible? I just checked, he has no pulse.”
At this time, DongZi also returned to reality. No matter whether Zhuang Zhong was speaking the truth or not, he wanted to give it a try as long as there was a glimmer of hope. Otherwise, the two families would be destroyed. “Young Master, please give it a try! My uncle can’t die.”
Zhuang Zhong did not have the time to explain to these people, as saving a life was akin to fighting a fire. He randomly grabbed a strong-looking man from the crowd. “Brother, I would have to trouble you as, after all, the priority is to save his life first.”
The man looked at him, then at the crowd before nodding his head and did as Zhuang Zhong instructed.
Zhuang Zhong bent the drowned man’s legs before letting DongZi help him lift the man onto the passerby’s shoulder. With the two people’s backs to each other, he said, “You walk with him on your back.”7 The author refers to Song Ci’s text for this method. A more detailed description (taken from the official translated text itself) would be “having bent the patient’s legs, let him be carried by the feet over another man’s shoulders, back to back, when he will vomit forth the water and be revived”.
The passerby did as he was told, but Zhuang Zhong was still worried and exclaimed, “Is there any dry soil here? Wall mud is also fine, or maybe some Chinese honey locust?”8This is also another method mentioned in Song Ci’s text. Primarily, its purpose is to absorb water so that the “drowned” people could be reanimated.
Although the crowd did not know what Zhuang Zhong was doing, they still actively helped out.
“There is a lot of wall mud in the yard. We will go and retrieve it.”
They were all neighbors, and no matter how their daily relationship was, all of them helped in whatever ways they could. It was not long before quite an amount of mud was carried there. As Zhuang Zhong ordered the people to place the mud on the ground, DongZi cried out, “Ah, Uncle had vomited out water!”
The crowd instantly seethed with excitement, and Zhuang Zhong felt great joy. “Quick, quickly put the person down. Lie him on his back and bury him with it, leaving only the mouth and eyes.”
Originally, the people in the crowd had thought that this young man was fooling around. However, after this, they did not dare to have any objections and quickly took action. Soon, DongZi’s uncle was buried properly.
In the early morning, the alley was bustling. Common people liked to gossip, so when they saw so many people crowding around, they were also curious.
“What is happening there?”
“There was a man who had drowned and remained in the river overnight. He had not been breathing for a long time, and now he is saving him.”
“What?” Passersby thought that there was something wrong with their ears. “Saving the dead?”
One man enthusiastically said, “It’s called burying the dead to bring them back to life.”
He proceeded to show off and give an exaggerated account that even the story of PanGu breaking the sky9 “盘古开天” literally “PanGu breaking the sky”, is an ancient Chinese myth that depicts the creation of Heaven and Earth by a figure named PanGu. More information on the myth can be found at https://www.ancient-origins.net/human-origins-folklore/pangu-and-chinese-creation-myth-00347 was included. He managed to fool those who were unaware of the whole story.
“So, is he saved?”
“Eh…I have just been squeezed out from the crowd. We still might have to wait for a while.”
Compared to the bustle outside, the people inside seemed very quiet. All of them were staring at the man who was mostly buried, not daring to breathe too hard. Afraid to miss any sounds, their hearts were beating faster than usual.
“Father!” There was a weak cough coming from the mud mound. The little boy, who had been staring fixedly at the mound, immediately jumped out and yelled.
People cheered instantly as DongZi’s aunt directly fainted on the spot with a thud.
Zhuang Zhong did not know whether to cry or laugh, as there was still a long way to go to save the man. He dared not to be complacent, so after letting the man vomit out all the water, he ordered the people to dig him out of the mound. He then asked the physician to check the pulse and determine the medicine he needed. With regards to the follow-up job, there was no one more suited than the physician.
When taking the man’s pulse, the physician’s hands were trembling, and spoke without any stutter, “Alive, alive!”
The author has something to say:
PS: This method of rescuing drowned people was recorded in Song Ci’s Collected Cases of Injustice Rectified and I do not know whether it is truly effective or not. = 。= That world had many things in common with the Song Dynasty, *coughs*, so this method can also save the people in that world…
So, my story is very pseudoscientific ︿（￣︶￣）︿ and all have their own sources, but whether it is right or not, it is… Anyway, everyone should not use a professional eye when reading and just look at it as a golden finger10 “金手指” literally “golden finger” is used to refer to the protagonist who was given very strong skills and sometimes a brilliant mind. It often integrates various excellent qualities into one, shaping the protagonist into an omnipotent talent that is rarely seen in life. .
-The plot is finally moving! I have waited so long T.T
-When I was translating this, I also went to check and research Song Ci’s Collected Cases of Injustice Rectified for what he wrote on cases of drowning. Like what the author said, it does include various recovery methods for drowning. However, I have to say some of them are pretty impossible to act out by Zhuang Zhong though (e.g. “pound some soap bean, wrap it up in cotton, and insert it into the rectum”, “hold the patient up by his feet, strip off his clothes, clean out the navel, and let two men blow into his ears through bamboo tubes”??) XD
- 1“交子” (jiaozi) refers to the paper money issued in the Northern Song Dynasty and used in Sichuan and Shaanxi areas. Later on in the dynasty, its name was changed to 钱引 (qianyin/Song paper money).
- 2The raw name of the building was “望江楼” (Wangjiang Lou). Instead of the romanized name, I decided to translate it as close to the literal meaning as possible so that it would be easier to read.
- 3In Chinese, “酒楼” (jiulou) usually refers to a building where people can enjoy food and alcohol. I translated it generally as “restaurant” but it is admittedly not really a good fit.
- 4Here the author specified it as “蹴鞠” (cuju), an ancient game of kicking a ball.
- 5“宰相门前七品官” is a Chinese saying where the gatekeeper for the prime minister could be said to be similar to seven grade officials in the imperial court. This is because for one to meet the prime minister, one has to send the gatekeeper to announce their presence (even bribing them to establish good relations) so it could be said that the power the gatekeepers have is pretty high, comparable to the seven grade officials in court.
- 6The Wangjiang here is the same as the Chinese name of the River View Pavilion mentioned before.
- 7The author refers to Song Ci’s text for this method. A more detailed description (taken from the official translated text itself) would be “having bent the patient’s legs, let him be carried by the feet over another man’s shoulders, back to back, when he will vomit forth the water and be revived”.
- 8This is also another method mentioned in Song Ci’s text. Primarily, its purpose is to absorb water so that the “drowned” people could be reanimated.
- 9“盘古开天” literally “PanGu breaking the sky”, is an ancient Chinese myth that depicts the creation of Heaven and Earth by a figure named PanGu. More information on the myth can be found at https://www.ancient-origins.net/human-origins-folklore/pangu-and-chinese-creation-myth-00347
- 10“金手指” literally “golden finger” is used to refer to the protagonist who was given very strong skills and sometimes a brilliant mind. It often integrates various excellent qualities into one, shaping the protagonist into an omnipotent talent that is rarely seen in life.