Chapter 11: Drought 3
Chapter 11: Drought (3)
Wang Zhuo sullenly pondered for a moment, waved and motioned everyone to leave.
The cavalcade stopped to feed the horses some water again before continuing on.
To save water, the Wang house stopped cooking and only gave out some dry food for dinner; a small amount of water accompanied this food. Because there were so many people, only a kettle of water was sent to each group of ten. Against the setting sun, Wang Zhuo stood in front of the carriages and sternly said, “The remaining water had been sent to you. Before we can find water, it’s best to be prudent.”
The team was abuzz.
In the midst of the clamoring crowd, the 7th young lady’s voice was the most resounding. “Father, how can you give us the same amount of water as everyone else? These lowly people also have a share?”
Silence took over the moment she spat these words out.
All the guards and servants kept their heads down. Everyone seemed to be holding his breath, the air thick with tension.
Wang Zhuo glanced at the burly guards and snapped at his daughter: “Hold your tongue! We are in this together; thus, we must share our suffering. Don’t let me hear such words again!”
These words rewarded Wang Zhuo the servants’ grateful eyes as he had wished.
When had the 7th lady of the Wang house been reprimanded like this by her father? She pulled a long face, her eyes welling up with tears. Her complaining siblings muttered nonstop next to her.
At this time, a faint moon hung in the vast sky. If one did not look closely, he might not find it.
The team sallied forth. As the last rays of light faded, torches were lit up for illumination. In the autumn wind, these torches’ fluttering sounds gave the team a needed vitality as they moved along in the night.
Their pace was brisk due to restlessness.
Chen Rong sat inside her carriage. Her team did not have many people, and because they had received her orders, they were never wasteful, only consuming a small amount when they were extremely thirsty. After one day, the large barrel was still full of water.
For this reason, The Chen House appeared to be much calmer compared to the anxiety outside.
This translation belongs to hamster428.
Time trickled on. Before they knew it, the team had gone through most of the night. By the time the moon was already high in the sky, they still found in dismay that they had not seen even half a drop of water.
The scouts sent by the Wang House had not come back. In desperation, Wang Zhuo sent more people to ask nearby commoners where water lay. The answer they received was that the nearest source of water lay forty miles of mountainous road away, rugged and difficult to travel. Even the locals who were familiar with the area would need an overnight trip to bring the water back. For this reason, many villagers had also migrated to the south after they were unsuccessful in praying for rain.
The team did not stop for rest in the evening. When dawn came, the thirsty and tired horses trotted to the roadside for a few licks of dew drops. Of course, the Wangs could not behave like animals and run out to drink morning dew.
By the time the sun rose high, the Wangs had stopped to rest and contemplate their situation. Until now, the scouts they sent still had not returned.
By noon, the Wangs used up the last of their water, now made to face the never-ending thirst.
Their eyes finally turned in the direction of the Chen troop who was still full of energy due to having sufficient water supply.
Crisp hooves made their way to Chen Rong’s ears.
Nurse Ping leaned into the carriage and whispered: “Miss, the House of Wang is here.”
The hummed reply inside remained calm and cool.
Considering the situation, her tone gave Nurse Ping much peace.
Soon, Wang Wulang’s apologetic voice arrived from outside the carriage: “Ah Rong, pardon my presumptuous visit. Please do not take offense.”
The curtain lifted.
The Wangs lit up when they saw Chen Rong, revealing a mix of jealousy and envy. Chen Rong’s face at this time remained clean, her hair was still dark and glossy, and she did not look tired in the slightest. Compared to her, where had their former elegant and refined looks gone?
Chen Rong faced their eyes with a smile. Before anyone had a chance to speak, she unhurriedly said, “If you do not mind, then this barrel is yours to take. It was previously used as my bath tub and is relatively clean. The remaining two barrels were used for my servants to wash, and I fear they will foul your noble persons.”
She was sincere. She knew that this drought was not widespread. Within a few days, they would be able to get out of this predicament. What she needed now was the Wang family’s goodwill and the good reputation that could be spread by the literati.
This translation belongs to hamster428.
The Wangs never imagined she would be so pleasant. Up to this point, the 7th lady of the Wang house had thought of at least ten things to accuse or insult her, but not one of them could be used now!
After Chen Rong had stunned everyone, Wang Wulang cleared his throat and led the group in thanking her, then tilted his head to signal his people.
Three servants promptly came forward. They carried Chen Rong’s tub and returned to the front.
When the water was brought before Wang Zhuo, his daughter pursed her lips and said bitterly: “Father, there’s only half of the barrel left! Hmph, I’m sure Chen Rong kept using it to wash. That’s how she wasted so much of it!”
The moment her words escaped, Wang Zhuo glared at her and snapped: “What kind of nonsense are you spouting? She had given you water. Not only are you unappreciative, but you’re also resenting her with no sense of restraint. How did our family give birth to a daughter like you?”
His scolding was very harsh.
In reality, he had to reprimand her. The 7th lady’s voice was not low. Those standing around must have heard her.
The 7th lady of the Wang house never imagined she would be scolded like this by her father. Moreover, she had never heard this kind of disgust in her father’s voice before. Tears welled in her eyes. Sniffling her nose, the 7th lady pulled down her curtain and crawled into a corner. Shortly after, sobbing filled the carriage.
“Yun’er is still young. She doesn’t mean what she says,” a middle-aged man advised.
Wang Zhuo growled: “She and Ah Rong of the Chen house are the same age. Why is she still young while Ah Rong already knows how to conduct herself appropriately?”
He next sighed and closed his eyes. “Invite Ah Rong to come over.”
Chen Rong did not delay when the Wang house asked her over. She immediately left for the forefront.
In the distance, she bowed to Wang Zhuo from her sitting position in the carriage and respectfully said, “Good greetings, Sir Wang.”
Her expression and tone of voice were exceptionally respectful, even more than they had been two days ago.
Wang Zhuo’s frown unconsciously relaxed. He waved at her kindly and called out: “Ah Rong, come closer.”
“Ah Rong, let uncle ask you, how did you know there would be a drought? Why did you so decisively tell people to fill water and wet the fabric? Did you receive divination from the gods? Is that how you knew there would be such a turn of event?”
When he mentioned the ‘gods’, Wang Zhuo increased his tone of voice and watched Chen Rong’s eyes, unconsciously giving himself a ray of hope.
Chen Rong understood what he was hoping for. She quickly bowed in saying: “It’s as you said.”
At these words, Wang Zhuo lit up while the neighboring whispers came to a silence.
Chen Rong said compliantly: “When we arrived in this county, I had dreamed of an elderly white-haired man who faced the cracking fields and sighed. Two days later, I heard brothers of the Wang house say that there was too little water in the fields. That was when I remembered my dream and came to let you know.”
“So it really was a divine warning,” Wang Zhuo sighingly said while nodding his head. “I have only myself to blame for I did not believe in the supernatural.” This was an era in which Confucianism was rebuffed, Daoism and Buddhism ran rampant, and Mohist atheism still persisted. Wang Zhuo had covered up his mistake with a simple ‘I did not believe in the supernatural’. In a few nice words, he had easily erased his blunder.
At this moment, not only Wang Zhuo but even the Wang youngsters were regarding Chen Rong with hospitable eyes. Not only did she unhesitatingly acknowledge to have received a divine warning, but she also mentioned that the Wangs had long known about the drought. Consequently, even if people talked, they would only hold them responsible for being careless.
Wang Zhuo stroked his beard. After he had received the answer he wanted, he waved to dismiss Chen Rong.
Her horse carriage had barely pulled away when he suddenly thought of something else and hurried to ask: “Ah Rong, did the elderly man in your dream say how many more days this drought will last?” After showing concern for the overall fate of the populace, he asked what he really wanted to know: “How many more days do we have to go until we can get out of this dilemma?”
Chen Rong indicated for the carriage to turn around. She bowed and shook her head, humbly replying: “I also do not know this.” Seeing Wang Zhuo’s disappointment, she added uncertainly: “Perhaps not very long?”
“I certainly hope so. Go.”
Wang Zhuo watched Ah Rong’s gradually disappearing carriage, stroked his long beard, and suddenly said, “That Chen Rong is a fine lass. I dare say she’s suitable for my son!”