Chapter 45: Teaching
Translator: Atlas Studios Editor: Atlas Studios
After making up his mind, Liu Erqian found his two sons and two nephews and instructed, “Pack up. Tomorrow, follow your niece into the mountains. The overpopulation of rabbits in the mountains are causing a disaster. Now that there’s not much work left at home, your wives will be able to handle the chores here.”
Liu Ting’s eyes lit up as he secretly became excited. “Second Uncle, did my father agree?”
Liu Erqian glared at him. “What do you think?” Although his brother did not agree, he did not stop him.
“If you feel bad, pack some agricultural products and send them over later. Because Shi Ton’s wife doesn’t know how to farm and grow vegetables, they use vegetables sparingly at home.”
Farmers did not lack these things the most, so the four of them readily agreed.
When they went to bed at night, Liu Ting told his wife the good news and said, “The children are still growing. If they can eat more meat, they will definitely be stronger and stand more steadily.”
There were many children in the countryside who died prematurely. Even if the eldest son, Liu Lang, was already n years old, there was still no guarantee that he would survive into adulthood, let alone the two even younger children.
Madam Liu-Zhao was also overjoyed. “Go into the mountains. 1’11 work at home. When you enter the mountains, listen to Ah Ling and stick close to her. If anything goes wrong, run out. You’re the pillar of the family. It’s naturally good to have those things, but even without them we can still live well. Don’t be greedy.”
The other two families also had similar reminders. Only Liu Erqian’s youngest son, Liu Xuan, was not married yet. As soon as he returned home, he curled up in bed and slept. The next day, he woke up in high spirits after the rooster crowed a second time.
Compared to his cousins and brothers’ various goals, his was much simpler—hunt rabbits and eat meat.
The four brothers tidied up and stood at the entrance of the Mu residence early in the morning.
When Mu Shi came out and saw them, he was slightly stunned. Mu Yangling said, “Father, enter the mountain yourself today. I’ll bring Uncles in.”
Mu Shi hesitated for a moment before nodding. In any case, he usually did not walk the same path as his daughter, and would always go deeper.
“Don’t bring your uncles too deep in. Don’t go further than the jujube trees area.”
Mu Yangling agreed. After watching Mu Shi enter the mountain, she said to her four uncles, “Let’s go into the mountain.”
They were mainly setting up traps today and would come back to collect the trapped prey the next day. Mu Yangling was very familiar with this area.
After entering the forest and walking for half an hour, they encountered a bunch of jujube trees. The jujubes could be harvested pretty soon, and the young men in the village would come in together to pick them. However, there were usually very few people here, so there was a thick layer of fallen leaves on the ground and withered jujubes that had fallen to the ground.
Liu Ting reached out to pluck one from the tree and stuffed it into his mouth. “Not bad. We can come to pick the jujubes in another 20 days’ time.”
The wild jujubes in the mountains were harvested later than those planted outside.
Mu Yangling looked around and said, “Uncle, rabbits like to nest nearby, but there are also animals who like to eat wild jujubes roaming around, so don’t go far. If anything happens, shout.” Mu Yangling had specially brought a big bow into the mountain today to prevent any accidents.
The four uncles agreed.
Mu Yangling patrolled around and made marks after checking the tracks left behind by rabbits. In a while, she would set a trap here.
At this moment, the sky had just lit up. The first rays of dawn shone through the leaves and landed on the ground, softening Mu Yangling’s expression.
Liu Ting spat twice, picked up the hoe, and walked over. He asked, “All Ling, where do we start?”
“Let’s dig this first. Uncle Zhuang, you and Uncle Yuan will arrange the knot in the place where I made the marks according to what my father taught you in the past. Uncle Xuan, come with me. I’ll bring you to find the rabbit nest, and we’ll smoke the rabbits later.”
Liu Xuan’s eyes sparkled.
Mu Yangling taught him how to observe animal tracks and determine the size and breed of the animals that left those tracks. However, even after staring for a long time, Liu Xuan couldn’t tell the difference between the two bushes. Why was it that a fox had once passed through that bush?
Mu Yangling looked at him strangely. “Uncle Xuan, don’t you smell a stench?”
“…” Liu Xuan said, “No, I only smelled the fresh fragrance of wild jujubes.”
“…Then can you tell what’s different about this bush?” Mu Yangling pointed at a knee-high bush not far away and asked.
Liu Xuan took a closer look and said, “It seems to have been bent.”
“What about the bush beside it?” Mu Yangling pointed at another bush that was also slightly bent. If one didn’t look carefully, they wouldn’t be able to tell.
“It’s bent too.”
Mu Yangling nodded. “Do you know how it was bent?”
Liu Xuan shook his head.
Mu Yangling pointed at the first bush and said, “This was blown by the wind.”
“Look over there, there’s a big open space. You can feel the wind from here. In other words, this position is facing the wind. From the way the grass is bent down as a whole, with a smooth bend, it doesn’t look like the bent was caused by an animal pressing down upon it.”
Liu Xuan nodded excitedly. “I get it now.”
“What about the bush up there?”
Liu Xuan replied hesitatingly, “Was it also blown by the wind?”
“No, it was bent by a wild boar.”
“…” Liu Xuan looked at it repeatedly before asking, “How did you know?”
“There’s a shallow pig trotter mark on the ground and two pig feces behind the tree.”
Liu Xuan lay on the ground and looked for a long time, but he could not see the shallow pig trotter mark. However, he saw the pig feces behind the tree. Though, he would not notice it if he did not deliberately pay attention, because the grass under the tree was very thick. If he did not pry it open, he would not be able to discover it.
“Moreover, this grass suddenly bent down from two-thirds of the top, so it must have been crushed by something…”
Liu Xuan looked back and forth between the two bushes, but he still couldn’t tell in what ways the bends were different. Turning his mosquito-like eyes to look at his niece, he said, “Ah Ling, I’d better not learn. Just tell me where the rabbit nest is. I’ll go smoke it.”
“…Alright, the rabbit’s nest is in the grass not far from the tree you were looking at just now. Didn’t you see that hole when you went to pry the grass just now?” The reason Mu Yangling asked him to look at the two bushes was because she wanted to teach him how to distinguish the rabbit’s holes, but it was obvious that the homework she had prepared was useless.
Liu Xuan rubbed his nose and ran to look at the hole. He asked, “Everyone says that there are many exits in the rabbit hole. Where are the other exits?”
“I’ll look for it.” Mu Yangling walked around the vicinity and found another entrance. She said to Liu Xuan, “Come here and stand guard. Use a sack to cover the entrance. I’ll start a fire to smoke the rabbits.”
There were many trees in the forest, and even the slightest spark could cause a fire. Therefore, Mu Yangling was very careful every time she started a fire. This being the first time she had brought Liu Xuan into the mountains, she didn’t feel confident leaving such an important matter to him.
Mu Yangling taught him some techniques, then pulled out a few handfuls of grass and dried grass and placed them at the entrance of the rabbit hole. After which, she gently lit a fire with the flint. When a lot of smoke rose from the fire, she placed the grass at the entrance and fanned the fire with the large leaves she had just picked.
Most of the smoke went into the entrance. After a while, smoke floated out of another entrance. That was how Mu Yangling knew that it was about time. She was afraid that there were still entrances that she had yet to find, so she looked around and planned to run over to block it should smoke come out from other places.
The two of them were very lucky. The first rabbit hole they found only had two exits. After a while, exclamations came from Liu Xuan’s side. Snow-white rabbits quickly escaped from the hole and rushed into his sack.
Seeing that no more rabbits came out, Liu Xuan quickly pressed the sack tightly and shouted happily, “All Ling, come and take a look. The snow-white rabbits are beautiful!”
Mu Yangling ran over to take a look. There was a big snow-white rabbit and four little rabbits quietly squeezed at the bottom of the sack. Mu Yangling said happily, “Uncle Xuan, you’re really lucky! Those young masters and young ladies in the county adore such snow-white rabbits. Let’s hurry down the mountain later and get my father to bring them to the county. They will definitely fetch a good price.”
Liu Xuan beamed. “How is that due to my luck? It’s clearly Ah Ling who’s blessed..”