Chapter 82: Slaughtered Pig For The Child As Promised (2)
Originally, Yue Qiang thought that Ai Qian was going to keep talking about his survival story, but he didn’t think that he would say that the ‘child helped him raised his Heart skill by one level’.
This was a Heart skill! The most mysterious and confounding Heart skill!
Yue Qiang himself had accrued many strict requirements before he finally self-learned a Heart skill, and now Ai Qian was telling him that his Heart skill leveled up just because of a skinny kid?
Moreover, judging from his description the kid was obviously an original inhabitant of this world at the bottommost level of society no less, incapable of even feeding themselves to full. From Ai Qian’s use of adjectives such as ‘worn out’ and ‘skinny’, he could imagine just how difficult the mother and son’s lives were.
Yue Qiang did not type anything. He listened quietly to Ai Qian.
“I was very cold and very hungry, but I still have some strength in me. I did not possess the money of this world, and my thoughts were basically to walk over and threaten them with the knife so that they will give me some dry and comfortable clothes to wear, and some meat to eat. However, when I sneakily walked closer to them, I overheard their conversation.”
“To the side several dozens of meters away from the mother and son, there was a butcher slaughtering pigs. The pigs’ cries were very terrible, and so the child asked his mother, ‘What is the butcher doing?’.”
“The mother was busy spinning cloth, and she answered without thinking, ‘he’s slaughtering pigs and cooking some pork for you to eat’.”
“The child was very happy after he heard this. His limbs were thin and small, but his stomach was a little swollen. It was obvious that he had been malnutritioned for a while. So when he heard his mother say the words, ‘cooking some pork for you to eat’, his eyes lit up so brightly that even his tall cheek bones did not appear as sharp any longer.”
“However, the mother’s face looked bad when she finished saying the sentence, ‘cooking some pork for you to eat’. At the time, she had answered without thinking because she was busy with work. There was no way the butcher would cook pork for her child, and the poor mother did not have the money to buy pork from the butcher either.”
Ue Qiang asked, “But what does it matter? If the mother said something wrong, then she can just randomly make up another reason and deceive the kid.”
“They key is that the mother did not lie to her child. She put down the work she was doing and walked before the slaughtering butcher, saying, ‘please give me some pork. I would like to cook them for my child. However, I do not have the money to buy your pork, so please accept my loom as the collateral.”
Ai Qian repeated every word the mother said slowly.
From the moment she heard of the mother and son and the loom, Yin had been wearing a pondering look on her face.
At first, Yue Qiang didn’t quite understand the point of the story. But when he slowly and carefully thought through the story once more, he eventually figured it out. Then, shock and heartfelt respect rose from the bottom of his heart.
This mother’s actions were very difficult to comprehend, but also very impressive!
She had said the wrong thing, and her child believed it to be true and was now waiting happily to eat pork. In order to not break her promise with her child, she had used a worn out wool to exchange for the meat!
Was this what the proverb ‘one must be a man of his word and resolute in his work’ meant?
To a person of this world, or should he say to this mother, was ‘promise’ such an important thing?
Was it more important than even the worn out wool that was the livelihood of the whole family?
Or was her actions not for the meat, and much less for some sort of personal ‘moral fastidiousness’, but only to educate her child using the right method?
Yin frowned slightly when she had heard the story. She seemed to have thought of a different matter.
Ai Qian paused for a moment before he continued to talk what happened next.
“I was holding a knife, and I had walked very close to the duo, ready to charge out at any moment. I did not think that the mother would actually use a worn out wool in exchange for meat just for the sake of not breaking her promise with her child. Perhaps the two of you deemed her actions to be highly admirable, but to me it was just a good opportunity.”
“Fresh pork; delicious pork…”
“Having starved for a whole day and night at the wild, covering myself with naught but a wet white cloth, experiencing the kind of cold and suffering that no man or woman who never experienced it could possibly imagine…”
“A bowl of meat… a bowl of meat that could fill my stomach, and warm my body… forget a ‘promise’, I would use anything I have in exchange for that!” his voice was still deep and calm, but Yue Qiang could hear a most primal and unconcealed desire to live from his tone. It was a kind of desire that could push one to kill anyone in order to ensure their own life.
“This was a good opportunity. This was a very good opportunity to me. I was not in a hurry. I was patient.”
The mother had exchanged a very, very large piece of pork using the worn out wool. Then, she took the kid and left the market, returning to her own shabby straw house. I stealthily followed them from behind, watching their skinny bodies walking slowly back into their house. I waited patiently until the pleasant aroma of meat came from inside. The mother had gone out to do something after she finished cooking the pork. I knew my opportunity had arrived, and so I walked into the house while wielding my surgical knife.
“My thoughts were very simple. I want meat, and I want clothes. The child’s mother wasn’t around, and the child was the only person in the house. I had strength, and I had a knife. If he isn’t willing to give me the bowl of meat that represented his entire family’s wealth, if he isn’t willing to scour me some clothes, then I would kill him.”
“I would kill him! I would kill him directly! That was what I thought when I went in.”
Ai Qian then smiled self-derisively at this point, “But God seems to have made a joke at my expense.”
Yue Qiang quietly listened to the latter half of the story. The plot of the story wasn’t complicated. This trader had abruptly descended upon a strange world without a coin in his pockets. He had endured both cold and hunger, and had reached the brink of collapse. Even if he really did something like committing murder for food, it was understandable.
“Could you guess what the child told me? He told me three words.”
“‘Here, eat this’.”
“I was holding a knife. The knife was perhaps shaking a little in my hands. He had spoken before I could even extend the knife and threaten him. He told me to eat it.”
“The child’s reason was this: You are hungrier than me, and you are colder than me. If you don’t eat, then you will die.”
The self-derisiveness on Ai Qian’s face grew thicker.
“He hadn’t given me the meat because he saw the knife in my hands!”
“He saw the knife, but it was as if he hadn’t seen the knife at all!”
“The only reason he gave me the bowl of meat, was because I was about to die!”
Ai Qian closed his eyes, and the self-derisive laughter finally escaped his throat. His listeners could not laugh, however.
“Then, I saw his eyes. He knew that I was going to rob him of his meat. He knew that I was going to kill him. I know that he knows! But he still did it anyway. He did it not because of my threats, but because it was what he was going to do in the first place.”
“His eyes were very bright. His cheekbones were a little tall, a little thin, and a little dark, accentuating the brightness in his eyes even more. When I saw his eyes, I thought that he was a sage.”
“But he was just a boy. He wasn’t even well versed with the affairs of life. In that moment however, he was a sage.”
“He hadn’t done it due to moral demands, but because it was what he believed should be done in the first place, just like how his mother believed that one shouldn’t break a promise in the first place. It wasn’t moral.”
“This was instinct.”
Ai Qian finally discarded the calmness that he had maintained all this time, looking a little agitated, “I did not eat, and I did not ask for clothes. I ran away. When I saw the child’s eyes, I felt as if there was something similar to a flame burning inside my heart. It was as if it was trying to burn my entire chest into ashes. Then, my Heart skill leveled up just like that.”
“I did not realise any grand principle from this incident. I simply figured out something very simple: I want to earn money, and only by earning enough money would I not starve to death, or freeze to death.”
“After my cultivation of the heart had risen, my talking skills seemed to have improved by a lot as well. I have also automatically unlocked 3% of my memories. It would seem that I was a pretty good trader during my previous life. I returned to that uninspiring market, sought out that butcher and used my talking skills to swindle a job and a meal from him. After that, I survived.”
“As for the mother and son, since then they had…”
“Moved away, correct?” This time the speaker wasn’t Ai Qian, but Yin who had been listening quietly all this time.
“How did you know?” Ai Qian asked.
He sounded a little surprised.
He had just escaped the atmosphere of his own story, and suddenly he heard Yin predicting his words before he said them. At first he did not think much of it, but upon careful thinking he felt very afraid.
Meanwhile, Yue Qiang was already used to Yin astonishing people every time she spoke. He cast a glance at the girl as she explained, “Not only did I know that the mother and son had moved away, I even know that they were not an original inhabitant of this uninspiring market. The mother may appear to be in a state of poverty, but she was in fact a well read talented woman of a noble family. She had left with her child only because a market environment was noisy and not suitable for the child’s upbringing, and not for other reasons.”
Ai Qian was stunned.
He did not say anything, because what he learned later after he swindled a job from the pig butcher was exactly the same as Yin’s words.
So… how on earth did this girl whose eyes were forever shut know about this?
“The reason I know, is because I have heard of the first half of your story before.” Yin said, “That young boy is addressed differentially by later generations as the ‘Second Sage’, whereas his mother is addressed differently as the Sage’s Mother, Lady Duan Yi of Zou State.”
“About the first half of your story, there is a specific expression used by later generations to describe educating one’s child the right way. This expression is called, ‘slaughtered pig for the child as promised’.
“This incident happened during the Warring States period, and during the second move during the three times she moved houses.”
“That little boy, will grow up to become the Mencius we know.”