Chapter 51 Ripened Peaches
The sky cleared after the rain, sparkling and translucent raindrops were still hanging on the tree leaves. A flavour of earth was still drifting in the air. Ba Jiao village all of a sudden appeared to have boundless and inexhaustible vitality. The trees had become energetic all of a sudden. The village people had also become even more vigorous.
“You this child, where did you go on a rainy day?” Grandpa said upon seeing me coming fully drenched. He was afraid that I might get sick, so he promptly rushed me into the room and changed my clothes.
“Now at last, all is well, there is no need to worry about the crops in the field.” Teacher Lin also seemed to let out a sigh of relief. Teacher Lin felt a bit uncomfortable watching the villagers weep miserably as the village’s paddy fields died off one by one. Now the crisis had finally passed.
“Although the loss of rice output of this year’s early season is inevitable, it is still good to be able to save this crop of rice.” Grandpa exclaimed.
“Weren’t all crops saved? How is it possible to still lose yield?” Teacher Lin asked in confusion.
“They were brought back to life, but the impact of water shortage during the time when the crops were in milk is very huge. There is going to be a severe impact on the output, but it is always better than all the crops dying. With this rain, even if the next time there is no rain it won’t be much of a problem. Only the cultivation of the paddy remains a big problem.” Grandpa was somewhat worried. Although at present the biggest source of our family’s income was me curing other people’s rheumatism, Grandpa still considered farming as his own job.
What made Grandpa, this old experienced veteran, feel surprised was that when early morning of the next day came, he ran out to see the paddy in the field and discovered to his amazement that the paddy seemed to have fully recovered almost overnight. At a glance there seemed to be no differentiating it from a normal rice crop.
Since the next day was Sunday, Teacher Lin didn’t wake me up, but I still woke up naturally. However, in actuality, I hadn’t woken up naturally. Early in the morning, the orchard behind the house was unusually noisy. All kinds of different birds were chirping continuously.
As I climbed out of bed, Teacher Lin was making breakfast. Upon seeing me, she immediately said laughingly: “Why don’t you lie down to bask your butt in the sun?”
“There are so many birds chirping outside, How could anyone sleep with all this noise?” I said rubbing my eyes.
“They woke you up, you should thank them for it. Hurry up and go wash your face and rinse your mouth. We will eat as soon as Grandpa comes back.” Teacher Lin had already become accustomed to our family’s farm life. The firewood stove had also been tamed by her. Of course, I would usually cook meals most of the time. Don’t get confused by my young age, I didn’t fall short compared to Teacher Lin in terms of workmanship.
“I’ll go to the orchard first and take a look to see what’s going on.” I just opened the back-door of the central room and saw all kinds of birds packed densely on the peach trees out at the back.
I became anxious as soon as I saw this, and picking up a stone from the ground I threw it straight out.
Those birds’ vigilance was the same as those of intelligent creatures. By the time I had raised my hand, the birds had already dispersed in all directions making rumbling noises.
“What did you scare them away for? They were helping you catch bugs!” Teacher Lin immediately reprimanded me.
“They weren’t catching bugs, ah. They were picking off the peaches. I had no idea that our peaches were ripen. However, it is no use now. Those ripened peaches must have surely been eaten up by those plague-like group of birds. These plague-like birds are very cunning, as long as the peach is ripen, they are going to steal the most succulent part of the peach.” I resentfully said and quickly climbed up the peach tree. Just as expected, nearly all of the peaches on the tree had been tasted by those birds. Not many whole peaches could be seen.
Teacher Lin said chuckling: “Right, aren’t they really intelligent?”
Ah well, this kind of matter cannot be discussed with girls. This was obviously not a good thing, but she was still laughing. Seeing me in such distress, she is still taking the side of the birds. What kind of standpoint is this.
I tried to find a few ripe peaches that hadn’t suffered from the bird scourge and stuffed them all into my pocket. By the time I jumped down from the tree, my pants were already bulging.
“You this child, why didn’t you put the peaches in a bag? There are a lot of hair on the peaches. Don’t cry later if it itches.”
“Teacher Lin, the ones I plucked are nectarines.” I was somewhat speechless.
“Do I not know what Nectarine is?” Teacher Lin angrily patted the back of my head.
Anyways, I was determined to become a hero. Practicing the Iron Head Art is also good, this should count as practice.
I put the peaches into a pot and scooped out a ladle of water from the water jar. After casually washing them, I chose the biggest of them and gave it to Teacher Lin: “Teacher Lin, you taste and see.”
Teacher Lin also didn’t stand on formalities and took a bite. Afterwards, she opened her eyes wide: “What kind of peach is this, how can it taste so good?”
“Is it really delicious?” I asked.
Teacher Lin was eating in big mouthfuls and didn’t spare the effort to answer. She just nodded her head.
“Then I’ll also eat.” I grabbed a peach and took a bite. Aiya, its taste is so juicy, its flavour is also really good.
Teacher Lin looked distracted for a moment and only then did she felt that something was amiss. She immediately grabbed my ear, “So it turns out you wanted Teacher Lin to test it for poison?”
These peach trees in the back of the house are all saplings that I had casually dug out from the village and I didn’t know how they tasted. Even though I knew that these birds had a very selective taste, I wasn’t aware of how was the taste after all. I didn’t expect it to taste so good. No, how would I not know what kind of taste those peach trees in the village possessed? There was no peach this delicious in the village!
Teacher Lin was very unhappy with me using her to test the peaches out. Till night that day, whenever she saw me, she would give me a scornful look. After that she would even add another phrase: Little Swindler.
“Right, you need to think of a way. There are only so many of these delicious peaches left, you cannot let the little birds steal them.” This time Teacher Lin put more importance on me.
“How about we put up some dead birds on the tree. The little birds would think that these birds died from eating poison in the peaches and they wouldn’t eat our peaches.” I had an idea.
“Won’t do, Won’t do. It will smell too badly.” Teacher Lin promptly shook her head.
Otherwise, I will go find Huang Shulang and Ma Jindong and we will all use slingshots to kill the birds. After frightening them a few times, they wouldn’t dare come back.
“Won’t do, Won’t do. The birds stealing food is wrong, but these little birds are so cute. Killing them would be such a pity, they can even catch worms.” My plan was again vetoed by Teacher LIn.
This also won’t do, that also won’t do, then what to do, “Teacher Lin, how about you come up with something.”
As a result, I was again slapped on my head, “If I had an idea, would I still need to ask you?”
Ah? It’s still my fault?
Grandpa came back. He also had a method, but it was not practical.
“If you release a few cats there, they wouldn’t dare come. Otherwise, releasing a few kestrels would also be fine. Ba Jiao Mountain has a good lot, but they don’t fly over here.”
The cats are also not able to fly and they would definitely not be able to scare those birds. If we are able to catch some kestrels, then it might really work. My eyes shined, I was prepared to go catch kestrels after breakfast.
I was only a kid, who would not be frightened looking at Kestrels those wild ferocious birds? There was a time when eagles would come to the village and carry away chickens. Little brats would cry for dad and shout for mom out of fright. Eagles are really ferocious. They are really something that a child can’t confront. Although kestrels aren’t as large as eagles, but in terms of fierceness, they aren’t any inferior. Eagles can’t cope with those birds. The smaller birds have agile movements, and they are extremely keen in the sky. Despite the abundance of strength in eagles, they are still not sharp enough.
After eating, I didn’t go to find my two disciples. They had come to seek me on their own. Upon hearing that we were going to the Ba Jiao Mountain to catch kestrels they were both excited.
“Master, are we able to catch Kestrels?” Huang Shulang asked somewhat worriedly.
“What is the use of saying that?” I still had a plan. First was to find a Kestrel, then I would think of a way to catch it, finally I would bring it back home.
Ma Jindong asked: “Do I need to go to Uncle Ming Gui to borrow a hunting rifle?”
As a result, both me and fatty hit him heavily on the head.
“Are you stupid? Using a hunting rifle, do you want to take it back home to eat its meat?” I had a feeling akin to ‘hating iron for not becoming steel’. Why couldn’t they learn a bit of wisdom from their Master? [TLNote: Idiom ‘Hating iron for not becoming steel’ means feeling resentful towards somebody for not showing improvement]
“I’ll go grab a cage. Just in case we manage to catch it, there should be some place to put it.” Huang Shulang said after thinking for a bit.
Upon hearing this I turned my head to look back at Ma Jindong. They had the same Master, but how could there be such a big difference?
Birds of prey like the common kestrel were not difficult to find, because these guys would often circle in the sky looking for prey. They could be seen in the vicinity of Ba Jiao Mountain on a daily basis.
Just as we neared Ba Jiao Mountain, Huang Shulang pointed to the sky and shouted loudly: “Look, Kestrel! That’s a Kestrel!” The Kestrel was leisurely looking for prey, but it didn’t know that it had become the prey of these three little brats. The Kestrel flying high in the sky, wouldn’t see a few brats in its eyes.
“It is flying so high, how would we be able to bring it down?” Ma Jindong had turned his head upwards but was feeling unstable and was moving in circles at the same place.
“You keep holding on to your leisurely mood. Won’t Master have his own means?” Huang Shulang said contemptuously.
I couldn’t wait to go over and throw a kick at him, Master also doesn’t have any means, ah! Using the 风 (Wind) Primordial Qi character allowed me to fly up, but I still didn’t have good control over it. Just in case if I fell down from the sky, what would I do? Besides, even if I were to fly up, could I compare with this Kestrel who was a natural master of flying?
“Master, hurry up! Otherwise it will fly away.” Ma Jindong had true faith, he really thought that I, his Master, was omnipotent.
Being able to react resourcefully in an emergency, I suddenly had an idea. Even though I could not fly, but I could control the one flying with primordial characters. Using both 天 (Heaven) and 地 (Earth) wouldn’t have much of a use, at most it would scare away the kestrel. Using the Primordial Qi Character 雷 (Thunder) would probably turn the kestrel into a roast barbecue.
Those recently grasped Oracle script characters flashed in my mind one by one. Suddenly, I thought of the most suitable oracle bone character.