Chapter 48 Drought
I thought for a few days, before finally giving the three puppies their names. The one whose fur had an outline of black, was called Black Gold, the one which had a black line on its mouth, was called Gold Bean, and the one whose entire body was golden and was also the most energetic was called Yellow Bean. Every day after coming back, I would pat a strand of Primordial Qi into these three sisters. At present, wherever I walk, these three sisters would follow.
Black Bean also very much cherished these three sisters, although don’t know whether or not he had the idea of taking these three sisters as wives in the future. The domestic animals are nice, when they think of wives, they think of having many.
Huang Shulang and Ma Jindong would come every day, their eyes wouldn’t budge away from my little three yellow dogs.
“Master, you already have Black Bean, these three little ones, how about you give one each to us fellow apprentices? You can still keep the one remaining.” Huang Shulang looked at me impatiently.
I immediately kicked Huang Shulang: “Do you not see the expressions in the eyes of my little three yellow dogs as they look at me. It is not me being petty, these three little dogs cannot be taken away by you. They recognised their master. If you have the skill, if you can make these little darlings follow you, then you both can walk away with all three of them and I also won’t go back on it.”
Huang Shulang’s face wilted all of a sudden, it was absolutely impossible to deceive these little yellow dogs. Domestic animals raised by me were intelligent, let alone dogs, even my chickens and ducks were very intelligent. Every day they would run off to other people’s houses, snatch the food there and after eating to their full come back on their own. Sometimes, not only do they come back themselves, but also kidnap along other people’s poultry and livestock.
“Don’t always keep staring at the things in my hand. Think of ways to raise a dog by yourself. You think you can take things from my hand? Didn’t my Eldest Grandpa’s dog again give birth? You make your Father take a few jin of meat and go there, and wouldn’t the matter be solved? That was how it happened with Black Bean.”
My words made Huang Shulang’s eyes brighten again. Ma Jindong’s response was also not slow. These two fellow apprentices looked at each other once and then set off immediately. I had heard that my Eldest Grandpa’s dog has given birth to only two pups and they had not completed even one month since. In the morning I met with Eldest Grandpa, he had told me otherwise how would I know. If I didn’t open my mouth, nobody else would think of coming into contact.
Me going to town to buy dogs was not entirely due to Black Bean’s unsatisfactory performance, it was also because I had heard that babies born out of marriages between close relatives turn out to be retarded. Amongst the dogs in the village, the Eldest Grandpa’s bitch was a close relative. I was thinking of looking for a way to find several wives for Black Bean that weren’t close relatives.
The next day, Huang Shulang and Ma Jindong both attended school, while carrying a puppy each. Those dogs still hadn’t completed a month, and along they way were making “guagua” noises.
“Why did you guys come over carrying the puppies? Do you even know how to raise them?” I said anxiously.
“It’s alright, we have prepared milk. In the village some children don’t get breast milk, don’t they also drink cow milk?” Huang Shulang pulled out a baby’s feeding bottle from his school bag and put in the puppies mouth. This little thing was also intelligent, it gnawed at the nipple sparing no effort to suck as much as possible.
Ma Jindong also followed suit, with the puppy that he was carrying.
I originally wanted to hold their puppies, but only these two bastards were guarding against me as if guarding against a thief.
“Master, it’s not that we don’t want you to hold these puppies, just mainly if it comes into your hands, then we are afraid it wouldn’t return.” Huang Shulang was tightly holding onto the little puppy.
“Who cares. Black Gold et al., come.” I beckoned at the several dogs that were near my feet. Every day that I would go to school, Black Bean would lead along these three little child brides to see me off. After I reached school, he would take these three small yellow dogs to go home.
Although both of them were carrying a puppy in each of their hands, Huang Shulang and Ma Jindong were still incessantly looking on enviously at the four dogs being raised by me. It would be impossible for them to get permission to raise so many dogs in their house.
Huang Shulang and Ma Jindong remained spirited for the whole day. After returning, the puppies would just be brought to Eldest Grandpa’s house, letting the mother and children reunite.
While Teacher Lin was taking the class, these two puppies kept rolling around and create a nuisance. Teacher Lin flipped out on the spot, and ordered the two boys to take the two puppies home before coming back to attend the class. Only then did I come to know that these two boys had used a stratagem of moving the tiger out of the mountain on Eldest Grandpa’s bitch, and had stolen the puppies. After returning these little puppies, they would again eat small bamboo-shoot sauteed meat. Only, Eldest Grandpa still agreed. After these two puppies reach one month, he would let them take them home. On my account, Eldest Grandpa was somewhat especially good to my two apprentices. [TLNote: Need I remind you that bamboo-shoot sauteed meat is a euphemism for getting beaten in the village?]
When the city gate catches fire, it’s the fish in the moat who suffer. Because of these two kids, I also had shrooms pop up on my head. Teacher Lin placed the charge of being the ringleader of this time’s theft on my head. Really one could get hit even while lying down to sleep.[TLNote: Again, Shrooms on the Head = Beaten on the head]
The reason that Teacher Lin was so direct and heavy-handed was because if not for me raising so many dogs, this unhealthy trend wouldn’t have emerged in the class. Teacher Lin seized this chance to kill the chicken to warn the monkey, and to crack down heavily on the evil trends prevailing in the class. Quite unfortunately, I became that chicken that was used to warn the monkey. [TLNote: Kill the chicken to warn the monkey = Making an example out of someone by punishing one individual]
During the Dragon Boat Festival time, it hadn’t rained for the whole day. The Elders in the village said that this was not a good sign. The rain on the fifth day of the fifth lunar month, tells about the year’s climate. The farmers tilling the land also look at the sky for their living. If the rainfall is not good, then the farmer’s days would also be not good. [TLNote: Dragon Boat Festival comes on the Fifth day of the fifth lunar month]
Ever since the Dragon boat festival, there hasn’t dropped a single drop of rainwater. The rice paddy that was originally was already in the milk stage, were quickly drying out. The villagers were depending on the release of water from the reservoir.
However, very soon bad news came around. During the last year’s new year celebration time, the Reservoir cadre in order to promote catching of even more fish had used up all of the reservoir’s water under the belief that when the rainy season comes around the reservoir could be filled up again. Draining water in the period of low-water level naturally wouldn’t conform to established custom, but the desires of men are able to make courage swell up greatly. However, this year’s rainy season’s rainfall was not too great. The reservoir couldn’t store up too much water. Therefore when drought came around, the reservoir couldn’t release even a drop of water. [TLNote: Period of low-water level a.k.a. Winter in North China]
“That does it again, this season’s early rice would yield no harvest.” Eldest Grandpa was discussing the matters of the field with Grandpa in the courtyard.
“Yes. How come this year’s rainfall is so less? Last year’s winter time when I saw water flowing in the canals, I felt something amiss. So it turns out it was the Irrigation office people who dried out the reservoir. These people are really wretched, this reservoir is the lifeblood of us several township farmers. This time they really will take our lives.” Grandpa sighed.
“As for taking our lives, it is actually not as bad as that. At the moment, all the young people are out to work. There aren’t many left to care for crops in the fields. An average family always has some surplus grains in the barn. However seeing their one month’s harvest, all become dead. This would really make people hurt.” Eldest Grandpa took a big puff, and two white smoke trails came out of his nostrils.
“If it was in the Republic of China era, then the village might as well start to pray for rain. Nowadays, it is different, we have water conservation facilities, everyone relied on this reservoir.” Grandpa also melancholily smoked. Our family’s several mu large field also became dried up making it difficult to deal with.
As I walked while inspecting the sky, in the blue sky, there was not one white cloud to be seen. In the back of the mountain, the leaves of the fruit trees under the scorching sun had become wilted somewhat. This year’s drought has been really terrible. Not a trace of moisture could be felt in the air, walking on the road wearing sandals could make one feel the sandals becoming soft from the boiling hot ground.
Black Bean and the three little yellow dogs all would lay under the grape trellis, all of them with their mouths open, and tongues out, constantly panting. They were all looking on listlessly, as I passed by their side.
I squatted by their side and patted a strand of Primordial Qi into their bodies. All four dogs became invigorated immediately and arrived jubilantly by my side. The three little yellow dogs had already grown so much, but they all still looked very cute. All of them threw themselves at me, creating constant din on my body.
Huang Shulang and Ma Jindong carrying a pail and fishing net arrived at my house’s gate.
“Second Grandpa, is my Master at home?” Huang Shulang reached the gate but didn’t notice me sitting under the grape trellis.
“What are you up to?” I immediately replied.
“Master, the Dama river’s water has already dried up, a good many people have gone to catch fish. We came to see if you are coming?” Ma Jindong’s stutter had almost become cured.
“Go, What Go? If it doesn’t rain, the fish in my fish pond would all die out. There’s not even a place to put the caught fish.” I said ill-humoredly.
I was feeling quite vexed regarding this matter. At the moment, the rice crops in the fields have almost all but withered. Everyone was staring at the water of this pond of mine, it seems strange to say, the water in the pond even being exposed to the sun hasn’t dried up the same way, until now the pond water was going slowly. In fact, although the pond water looked like it was a lot, but it wouldn’t be able to irrigate sufficent enough area.
“YangYang, fatty and all came to ask you to play, you go play with them. Boys should not stay cooped up in the house all day.” Grandpa seeing Huang Shulang and Ma Jindong somewhat disappointed, immediately said loudly.
“Ok.” I immediately prepared to set out.
Teacher Lin also came.
“Where are you preparing to go?” Teacher Lin saw the various things in the hands of Huang Shulang and Ma Jindong.
“Teacher Lin, we are preparing to go catch fish in the Dama river.” Huang Shulang said raising up the fishing net in his hands.
“Huang Jingyang, you are also going, eh. Wait a minute, I am also coming with you.”
“You want to come?” We three people spoke at once.
“Why are you making those faces? Can’t I come?” Teacher Lin stared at us. We all immediately shut our mouths.
As soon as Teacher Lin went inside, I immediately kicked Huang Shulang”s butt: “Just your loud mouth.”
As we arrived by the river side, the Dama river that was usually flowing with water, at this moment was a sight that made my heart skip a beat. In the more than ten meters wide channel, only the middle gulley had water remaining in them. There were diesel engines everywhere on the river bank, roaring and rumbling as the water was pumped out to irrigate the fields.
There were also a lot of little brats like us, and big brats who were just running around everywhere fishing with their fishing nets. Some little brats just simply took off their pants and throwing themselves immediately at the first sign of movement in the water. Often cheers could be heard from the little brats, for every small or big fish that was fished up from the Dama river.
Looking at all of this made me somewhat grieved, these all could have been my fish!