Chapter 119 Feeling Grief for The Hardship in People’s Lives“Chedang?” The woman in white thought of something subconsciously. Che as in clear as water, Dang as in its texture as cinnabar?
Compared to Madcap, this religious name made a lot more sense, and it suited the little monk’s slow-witted, dumb character.
“Big brother, big sister, you need to leave now. Those bad guys, they will come back for sure… they’re terrifying.” The little girl told them in panic.
Granny Cai also kept telling Li Mu that they should leave.
Those hooligans led by Ma San were just ordinary hooligans in town a couple of years ago, they didn’t dare to do anything outrageous. But a year ago, after the new mayor took up the official post, somehow Ma San got close with this new mayor. Under the official permit and secretive control of the mayor, they were getting more and more outrageous.
Especially in the past six months, they were at the peak of evilness, getting bold and evil. They did all kinds of bad things, including killing people without hesitation.
Hearing that, Li Mu was furious.
A local government of the Western Qin Empire was actually corrupted like this?
Just a mayor could turn this peaceful, quiet town into a living hell, the people here were barely surviving.
He didn’t plan to go easy on Ma San’s gang, now hearing this, he had every reason to punish them.
But the woman in white stayed silent the whole time and didn’t say anything.
Through the conversation, Li Mu found out that the little girl’s infant name was Caicai.
“Caicai, where’s your mom and dad? Where did they go?” Li Mu teased the little girl while smiling.
“Dad has gone for the war, he has been gone for five years. Mom has gone to the mountain to collect herbs. My grandma said when my mom comes back, she’ll take Caicai somewhere far far away to find dad and take him home.” Caicai kept her head low and said with a sad face, “But when will mom come back to me? She has been gone for a whole year, Caicai really misses her.”
Granny Cai was sorting out things aside while wiping the tears on her face, she didn’t say anything anymore.
Watching her, Li Mu and the woman in white both realized something.
Caicai’s mom might not be coming back at all because collecting herbs on the mountain wouldn’t take a whole year.
“Caicai’s dad is in the Army?” The woman in white asked.
Granny Cai wiped her tears and said, “Yes, it was the end of the year five years ago, the family had a lot of debts, the harvest of the farmland was really bad. The remaining farmland was about to get taken away and the whole family was about to die of hunger. Then her dad made up his mind to join the Army in exchange for some money, then he went with the troop in the winter and never came back. Then, then… well.”
In the end, the granny with wrinkles on her face looked at Caicai staring at her with wide eyes, suddenly realized something and stopped talking.
Li Mu was shocked and speechless.
He thought about the articles that he learned at the Chinese classes in middle school like, Bai Juyi’s masterpiece ‘The Old Man Who Sells Charcoal and the famous poet Du Fu’s ‘The Officer in Shihao County’. The character’s fate in the poem was really miserable. Now it looked like no matter in which world, poor people were all miserable, like it said in that poem.
“If the country is prosperous, the people will be suffering. If the country is destroyed, the people will be suffering.”
The woman in white stayed silent, she didn’t really know what to say.
She stopped and seemed to realize something, then said, “Five years ago? Did Caicai’s dad join the Border pacification force of the Chang’an government?”
Granny Cai wiped out her tears, then nodded while sorting the stall. “It seemed to be the name of the troop, at the time the mayor wanted some strong young man immediately. I heard that there were three men in the mayor’s family, they all joined the Army…”
The woman in white didn’t know how to explain anymore.
She knew this history very well.
Five years ago, a major war broke out among the big three empires, the Western Qin Empire lost badly, and then it immediately recruited soldiers around the nation to form a new troop named the Border pacification force. In the end, the empire was able to be safe again. The Border pacification force contributed the most, it could be said that they singlehandedly change the situation.
But after that battle, the whole Border pacification force was wiped out, almost no one from the troop survived, the leading generals all died in the battlefield.
So, if Granny Cai’s son joined the Border pacification force at the time, then it would be highly possible that he had died in the battlefield five years ago.
Watching Granny Cai’s face, she guessed that the granny probably knew about this in her heart, she just chose to hide the fact from little Caicai.
“Granny do you have other kids?” Li Mu couldn’t help but ask.
In this world, there wasn’t any policy like family planning, so generally, there would be more than one kid in a family.
Granny Cai sighed, as if she needed to get all the sadness and desperation out of her body, then said. “My husband was a lowly officer, he died on the battlefield sixteen years ago. We had three sons, but… the eldest and the second son enlisted long before the third son did, they died before they could get married and have babies. The third son got married before joining the Army, Caicai was all that he left…”
Li Mu was stunned.
Her husband and sons all died on the battlefield, and Granny Cai must be devastated.
How fate treated this family was extremely unfair.
When Li Mu looked at the little girl Caicai again, he felt so pity and sad for the little poor girl.
Kids at this age should be with their parents, should be loved by her mom and dad like all the normal kids. But she had to struggle in hunger at such a young age, she had to come out with her granny to sell noodles in the wind and rain, living an unstable life. Her little face was about to be distorted because of hunger.
Li Mu who swore that he would never be a justice seeker, now really wanted justice for the little girl.
Caicai’s fate was somehow similar to Li Mu’s.
Li Mu grew up alone without his parents. Like Caicai, he was raised by a senior. But Li Mu had more luck because he was living in a peaceful environment, he could go to school. Although the old faker was a swindler, he had some skills, so Li Mu was able to go to school, eat and dress well.
Compared to him, Caicai’s fate was much worse.
At that moment, Li Mu decided that he was going to help them.
He reassured some thoughts in his heart.
While the facial expression of the woman in white got a lot softer, she said, “According to the laws of the Empire of the Great Qin Dynasty, a soldier’s family like yours doesn’t have to pay the tax, and you can get pension and extra land, and you can get certain amount of money based on the price increase of rice and oil in town. Then why would you…”
Caicai snorted. “Ever since the bad mayor took office, granny couldn’t get any money anymore, and we had to pay the rent and the tax…” Caicai couldn’t help but said.
“Caicai, don’t ramble…” Granny Cai immediately stopped her granddaughter.
There were many people on the street, if someone heard them talking bad of the mayor and told him about it, then they would be doomed. Not long ago, someone’s tongue got cut off for talking badly of the mayor.
Granny Cai was afraid so she packed up the stall and stopped the business.
She put up the noodle stall with difficulty, carried it on her back and left with the little girl.
The woman in white took a look at Li Mu, then turned around and left.
She secretively slipped an ingot of gold into Granny Cai’s noodle case in a clever way.
Li Mu stood there and watched Granny Cai left.
“Little monk, leave as soon as you can, you have caused big trouble today…”
“Little monk, Ma San will come at you for sure, you need to change your outfit and leave Peace County at night, go as far as possible, and don’t stop.”
“Yeah, Master Madcap, those people, you don’t want to mess with them.”
Some concerned people always told Li Mu to leave openly or secretively.
They were all impressed by Li Mu when he fought Ma San’s gang. Especially the two slaps, so loud that it made all the people who hated Ma San’s gang very happy.
Right now Ma San’s people had left, many concerned people were warning Li Mu, these hooligans could do anything to him, the evilest thing, so he had to be careful.
The people in Peace County were very nice.
Li Mu thought to himself.
“Amitabha, I’m the little monk Madcap, thank you for warning me, the Buddha will bless you all, all of you will live a safe and peaceful life.”
Li Mu thanked them one by one, then turned around and left.
But some hooligans hiding far away saw where he was going.
“Follow him, see where will this bald-headed settle, Lord Ma said we have to kill him.”
“He dared to mess with us, this bald-headed is going to die.”
The hooligans bit their teeth hard, they knew the terrain very well so they quickly followed him.
But a short while after they followed him, they found out that the little monk was as quick and smooth like a fish because he disappeared after he turned in a corner.
The hooligans were dumbfounded.
At the same time, Li Mu appeared in an inn.
Inside an inn room, the Heartless Scholar Zheng Cunjian was in a panic like an ant in a hot pot. After he found out that Li Mu had disappeared, he thought about it for a long time, then decided to stay in the inn.
“Ah, second Young Master, you’re back.”
Watching Li Mu got back, Zheng Cunjian was startled, then he greeted him in a flattering way quickly.
Li Mu nodded and said, “I need you to help me with something.”
At the east side of Peace County, a little river was streaming through.
The water flow was smooth, the reed was very thick.
On the two river banks, on the flat river slope, there was a slum area that reached three and four miles. People built most of the houses out of dry reed sticks and wood, and they were so all shabby and low that they could barely shield people from wind and rain. A lot of the poor people and tenants who lost their lands lived in these houses, chickens crowing and dogs barking. It was quite a lively scene.
Granny Cai and little Caicai lived here.
Granny Cai carried the stall back home, then she looked outside the door cautiously, relieved after finding out no one followed them.
“Granny…” Caicai was catching her breath. “Honestly… we got back a little early, we could still sell a few more bowls of noodles today, then we could make more money to find mom and dad.”
Granny Cai didn’t know what to say to her granddaughter.
From today on, they couldn’t sell noodles in town anymore, they had to hide and lay low for a couple of days. When Ma San’s people calmed their anger, they could come out again. These hooligans were extremely cruel and merciless.
“Caicai, are you hungry, I’ll make a bowl of noodles for you.” Granny Cai stroked the girl’s head while smiling.
“No, Caicai is not hungry, I’ll just drink some water, we better save the noodles for selling, so that we can make more money to find dad.” The little girl’s stomach was howling because of hunger, but she still swallowed the hunger anyway, then said softly.
While she was talking, suddenly they heard a heavy knocking sound.
“Old bitch, you were quite quick, but you’re not getting away from me… Get your ass out here.” A rough and evil voice rang out.
Granny Cai’s face suddenly went deadly pale.
She could hear that it was a hooligan named Huang Yong who followed Ma San around.