Chapter 5: Bad News_2

Translator: 549690339

Jinghan lowered her head to look at her shoes, her big toe had already peeked out to see the light of day. "Grandma, when you have time, could you mend my shoes for me? I can still wear them for work in the fields." She really couldn't bear to wear new shoes to go up the mountain or the like.

Mrs. Chen nodded, "Alright, our Jinghan is sensible, knowing to take care of her new shoes. I'll mend them for you tonight. Come and eat."

The family sat around the table, eating pancakes and dipping them in wild vegetable sauce, all enjoying the meal. The patriarch said from the side, "It's time to plant the fields tomorrow. Our family has a total of fifteen acres, it's best to finish as quickly as possible. Wenhan, Wencheng, you two should not go to school for now; go after the planting is done. Eldest daughter-in-law, second daughter-in-law, you both will also work in the fields. We have your mother and Jingya and Jinghan here, they should be able to take care of cooking and the like. Zhixiang, you shouldn't read these few days either, come help in the fields."

"Yes, father, I can't always be reading; I need to be active too. It'll be good to do some work in the fields for a few days, as reading all the time can be unbearable," Zhixiang swallowed his porridge and responded.

"Jingya, the two of you sisters should take good care of your grandmother at home. Go dig up some wild vegetables when you have spare time, we can't go on without vegetables," the patriarch added.

Jinghan quickly nodded, "Grandfather, don't worry, we'll go digging when we have time. We won't delay anyone's meals."

Everyone ate quickly, and soon the meal was finished. Jinghan and Jingya helped their mother wash the dishes and put them away, then returned to their own room. Jingya took out a shoe pad she had only half embroidered and continued to stitch. Jinghan had nothing else to do, so she took out a piece of cloth, planning to sew a cloth pocket for fun.

It sounded like someone was riding a horse to the gate outside. Someone asked, "Is this the Xu family?"

It was the middle of their rest at noon, everyone was home. Wenhan went out to see. At the gate, there were two men, mounted on horses, clad in armor, dismounting from their steeds. Wenhan approached and asked, "Did you just inquire about the Xu family?"

One of the men came forward, "Yes, we come from the military camp in Mobei, we're looking for Xu Chengkuan. Is there someone by that name here?"

Upon hearing they were from the military camp, Wenhan knew it must be related to his uncle and quickly said, "Yes, he's my grandfather. Please follow me." He led the two men directly into his grandfather's room. "Grandfather, these two men are from the military camp, they say they have business with you."

The patriarch, hearing someone was looking for him, hurriedly got off the bed. Seeing the two men, he did not recognize either. "May I ask what brings you two here?" He thought they must have brought a message from Zhiyong.

The taller one pulled out several pieces of clothing and a small urn from his bundle, "Old master, these are items left by Vice General Xu; he has sacrificed his life for the country. This is his ashes." As he spoke, the man started to choke up.

In the room, the patriarch, Mrs. Chen, Zhixin, and Zhixiang were all stunned by the news. The patriarch, with trembling hands, asked, "What did you say, soldier? What happened to my Zhiyong?" His voice was also trembling.

"Old master, Vice General Xu has fallen on the battlefield and sacrificed his life for the country," the man could no longer hold back his tears and started to cry.

Upon hearing this devastating news, Mrs. Chen passed out. Zhixin and Zhixiang quickly supported her, "Mother, wake up, please, Mother."

Jinghan and Jingya were sitting in their room when they heard the commotion outside. They hadn't moved at first, but now, hearing the cries and shouts from the main house, they knew something had happened and rushed toward the main house. Just then, Mrs. Xue and Mrs. Wei were also running towards the main house from a different direction. They met at the door and entered together.

Inside, Zhixin was holding Mrs. Chen, Zhixiang was supporting the patriarch, everyone was teary-eyed, while Wenhan stood at the door, his face streaming with tears. "What happened? Why is everyone crying?" Mrs. Xue hurriedly asked.

"Eldest sister-in-law, my second brother, he's gone in the military camp," Zhixiang said with a sob, revealing shocking news.

"Impossible, you must be lying. Our head of the family cannot die. He can't, you are lying," Mrs. Wei, not believing Zhixiang, grabbed him and insisted, "Stop talking nonsense; my husband cannot be gone. He has me, he has his two sons; he can't die. If he dies, how am I supposed to live?" Mrs. Wei cried out loud.

"Sister-in-law, it's true, Vice General Xu really is dead. Two months ago, the Tartars suddenly invaded the border; we were completely unprepared. Vice General Xu led us to fight bravely, breaking through the encirclement. Then he saw the Tartars setting fire and slaughtering the city, and he led us back to fight. In the end, we were surrounded. When the reinforcements arrived, Vice General Xu was already on his last breath, with dozens of wounds on his body, beyond saving. When the reinforcements drove the Tartar soldiers back, Vice General Xu asked me to return and bring the news to you, and then he passed away," said the taller man, who was by then inconsolable.

"Vice General Xu always led from the front, charging at the forefront each time, which is why his injuries were the worst. We too were severely wounded; it was only after over a month of recovery that we were allowed leave to come and bring you this message," the shorter man continued.

After hearing what the two men had to say, Mrs. Wei's legs gave way, and she collapsed to the ground, "His father, oh, how could you just leave like this? How are we supposed to live, leaving us widowed and fatherless? You heartless man, you're going to torture me to death." Mrs. Wei wailed loudly.

At this moment, Wencheng and Wenxing also ran in. They had heard everything from outside, and now they held their mother, all three of them crying together.