Xiǎo - Little, young; can be added in front of someone’s name (usually younger). Can also be used as a nickname to show closeness between family members, lovers, and friends.
Gē - Older brother; can be used as a term of endearment with close male friends.
Return of the Noble Abandoned Consort
6. The First Income
Xú Dà Zhuàng lived alone in the village; his parents passed away early from illness, and while he has an older sister, she has already married out when she was in her late teens. Previously, he also tried his hand at taking care of the fields but had no skill and ended up killing off all the crops. He couldn’t always count on his older sister so with no other option, he entered the mountains and started hunting. It’s been over ten years since.
At first, he could only hunt hares and pheasants. But gradually, after learning how to use the bow, he was able to also hunt weasels and deer. He has also hunted wolves and foxes before. After all, the more fierce the beast, the higher the selling price. The year before, he came across a dying tiger. That tiger was already dying naturally, even if he had not made the final strike, the outcome would have still been the same.
He thought Qiáo Wēi’s situation was the same as his own as he followed her and Aunt Luō into the mountain. However, he went numb with shock when he saw the body of the powerfully-build, adult tiger.
“This... this... was this really killed by you?” Xú Dà Zhuàng was flabbergasted.
Qiáo Wēi smiled in embarrassment. “To say that I killed it isn’t exactly accurate,” she said, fear still lingering in her voice. “It was already hurt and was about to die. So when it climbed up the tree and its neck was extended towards me, I anxiously slashed down in its direction and it ended up like this.”
While Aunt Luō could not imagine the image, Xú Dà Zhuàng was a hunter and could easily see the picture her words were paining. While unfavorable for the tiger, he would have done the same thing had he been in the same position. But he was a hunter, he knew how to kill a tiger. Xiǎo (1) Qiáo, on the other hand was a woman. How could her single, panicked strike have been so accurate? If her strike had missed by even a little bit, the one dead would have been Xiǎo Qiáo.
Qiáo Wēi saw that Xú Dà Zhuàng was staring at the wound on the tiger’s neck and knew that he was probably suspicious. The strike from her knife was simply too accurate. Forget a weak woman, there weren’t many who could pull something like this off even if it had been a man. But she could not tell the truth; after all, she was not the original Qiáo Wēi but Doctor Qiáo from the 21st century, someone who had used knives everyday.
“I was terrified to death,” she stammered. “I really thought I was going to die.” Qiáo Wēi lowered her head, her slender fingers picking at the corner of her sleeves. Light from the setting sun shined down onto her thin figure, her slightly exposed neck was white and delicate; her entire being seemed like it could break with the gentlest touch.
This kind of young woman, if it wasn’t for her good luck, would have long since been in the tiger’s stomach.
Xú Dà Zhuàng shook his head, felt that his initial suspicions were superfluous. “In the future, don’t go into the mountains again,” he told Qiáo Wēi, which only reiterated what Aunt Luō had told her before.
Knowing that their advice was coming from a good place, Qiáo Wēi gave a gentle nod. “I understand, Dà Zhuàng Gē (2).”
Dà Zhuàng Gē? Xú Dà Zhuàng was stunned for a moment. Younger villagers all address him like that but this was the first time he has heard it from Xiǎo Qiáo’s mouth. Xiǎo Qiáo seemed to... be different from before. While still as delicate and weak as before, it was no longer annoying.
Xú Dà Zhuàng carefully checked over the tiger. “This one is better than the one I had from before,” he said.
“Then Da Zhuang Gē, how much do you think it can sell for?” Qiáo Wēi asked.
Xú Dà Zhuàng thought for a moment. “It’s hard to say,” he finally answered. “It really depends on how much the buyer is willing to offer. But there’s little prey during the winter so it should be able to sell for higher than usual. Besides, this is also a strong, adult tiger and its skin is in good condition.” He held up two fingers, “I’ll try my best and sell it for you for this price.”
Qiáo Wēi blinked. “Two hundred taels?”
Xú Dà Zhuàng gave a confused expression.
“Two thousand taels?” Qiáo Wēi asked, her heart pounding.
Was the tiger really so valuable? Heavens, she struck gold!
Qiáo Wēi felt as if a bucket of cold water had been poured down onto her. “Da Zhuang Gē,” she said, her small face darkening. “How come it’s only twenty taels? This is a genuine tiger. Do you know how much treasure you can find on a tiger’s body? Its kidney can cure tuberculosis, its gall bladder, epilepsy, its tendons, rheumatism, its meat and skin, malaria. Its eyes can also help clear up vision, tiger paste can be used to treat hemorrhoids, and its penis can help strength the male’s yang. Besides, there’s also tiger cream, tiger bone, tiger teeth... not a single part of the tiger is not medicine!”
Xú Dà Zhuàng smiled. “Of course I know, that’s why I’m telling you that can I sell it for twenty taels. My previous tiger was only sold for ten taels.”
When Qiáo Wēi heard the tens and twenties, she felt that it was very little. However, after Aunt Luō explained the local prices to her, she figured out that a single tael in this dynasty was equivalent to six hundred yuan in modern times. That meant twenty taels was about sixteen thousand yuan. In modern times, a single tiger could sell for a high price of three hundred thousand yuan but that was because tigers were a protected species and if caught hunting them, one must go to jail. In ancient times, tigers were abundant. If one wanted to hunt them, then they could go hunt so the value cannot really be compared.
With this in mind, twenty taels really isn’t small at all.
She flashed a small smile. “Da Zhuang Gē, if it’s twenty taels then it’s twenty taels. If you manage to sell it for more, then it’s all yours.”
The result between free labor and paid work would obviously be different. Qiáo Wēi was not a greedy person. Besides, she wanted to continue doing business with Xú Dà Zhuàng in the future so it was best to let him taste some sweet success first.
Xú Dà Zhuàng was naturally happy to agree. Right before leaving, he glanced into the central room of her house and pointed, “If you want to sell that, I will be able to sell it for a high price.”
Qiáo Wēi followed the direction of Xú Dà Zhuàng’s finger. It was actually that damned small, white dumpling! How did it come? It was even standing between her two children, gracefully showing off its small pectoral muscles and biceps.
Qiáo Wàng Shū clapped her hands cheerfully
It turned even more shameless, turning this way and that to show off its charming tail.
At this point, Qiáo Wēi’s face was practically green. “However much, just take it and sell it!”
When the small, white dumpling heard that it was going to get sold, its small paws shuddered and it threw itself into Qiáo Wàng Shū’s bosom.
Qiáo Wàng Shū held the tiny creature close to her chest and felt her heart break as she rubbed the soft fur on its cheeks. “Mother,” she said in a small voice. “It’s so cute, can I raise it?”
Qiáo Wēi could only gnash her teeth together.
Xú Dà Zhuàng was worthy of his title as the “four ocean and eight wilderness’” sole hunter. Without delay, he went into town the very next day to sell the tiger. When it got dark, Xú Dà Zhuàng was excitedly making his way into Qiáo Wēi’s courtyard. “Xiǎo Qiáo, quickly come out and see.”
Qiáo Wēi was currently making dinner; she had only stewed half of that afternoon’s rabbit and was planning on roasting the remaining half. She had just finished setting up a bonfire in the middle of her courtyard when she saw Xú Dà Zhuàng. “Dà Zhuàng Gē,” she greeted as she stood up.
Xú Dà Zhuàng pulled out a bag of money from his robe. “Count them, a total of thirty taels!”
“So much?” Qiáo Wēi’s eyes were wide as she took the bag. Truthfully, she did not know how to count ancient currency but she knew that Xú Dà Zhuàng would not lie to her. She pretended to swipe around the taels a few times before handing the bag back. “Da Zhuang Gē, didn’t I already said twenty taels? Take the rest for yourself.”
“I’ve already taken it,” Xú Dà Zhuàng said as he scratched his head with a small smile. He pulled out another bag of money. “I met someone of high rank who gave me thirty-five taels. I took five taels so keep the rest for yourself.”
“How can I accept this?” Qiáo Wēi countered. “We already agreed that I would take twenty taels. The fact that the tiger was sold for thirty-five taels is due to your skill. If it had been me, it would not be possible.” This was the truth, a lone woman going out to sell a tiger? Avoiding getting robbed was already considered good, much less actually managing to sell it.
However, Xú Dà Zhuàng was not willing to accept this. Normally, he could barely make five taels a month. Selling the tiger was merely running around for someone else. It was better not to be too greedy and to be a good person.
Qiáo Wēi saw that he was resolute in his decision and did not want to continue arguing. Instead, she invited Xú Dà Zhuàng over for dinner as a thank you.
But who expected that this simple dinner would cause something bad to happen?