Ohh man, so much food in this chapter XD. We’ve added pictures so that you’ll know which foods are which~ Trust the ancient Chinese to eat so much delicious food XD. There is a mini food porn warning lol. The team has decided that Rebirth will be posted two times a week, on Monday and Thursday!
Also everyone, please welcome Ely a new editor to the team! 🙂
togekiss: Hello, friends. I would love to introduce a new editor, Ely, to the team. This chapter would not be possible without the help of Ely and Anks as they have been helping me tremendously with their editing.
Chapter 2: New Year’s Eve dinner
At a peasant’s residence with three green-tiled and red-walled rooms, the spacious courtyard was covered by layers and layers of accumulated snow. A large, black watchdog paced at the entrance, lazily chomping a bone from a cracked bowl. It seemed that the frosty air made it feel extremely cold, as it retreated into its cozy kennel.
It was New Year’s Eve. Colorful paintings, depicting an abundant harvest of all food crops, were pasted at the entrance. Three fat, huge lanterns hung from the roof. Firecracker sounds could be heard from the outside. Occupants of the residence were beaming with happiness, in harmony with the feeling of a New Year’s Eve dinner. Although village delicacies were served, the eight main dishes had been cooked meticulously with attention to detail. The meat and vegetables complemented each other. There were spicy steamed striped bass cooked with bean sprouts 1, braised pork 2, tea-infused smoked chicken 3, five-colored shredded vegetables 4, onion and lamb dumplings 5, “praying for blessings” shrimp 6, four happiness meatballs 7 and abundant wealth 8.
A large group drank and gambled together. It was an extraordinary scene that was bustling with noise and excitement. At the same time, there was an atmosphere of bleak emptiness in the most remote residence of the peasant’s courtyard. A solitary room was dimly lit by a candle, which seemed as though it would be extinguishing soon.
A tall, young maid with her hair combed into a topknot bun sat in front of the residence, carefully adding firewood to the brazier. As the firewood in the brazier caught fire, a pungent, thick smoke immediately pervaded the small residence.
Another maid with a petite figure ran towards the residence hurriedly as she picked a thin, shabby fan from the ground, before fanning it carefully. She scolded, “Lian Qiao, you should be more careful. Our lady’s health has not recovered yet. What if she chokes?”
Lian Qiao curled her lips with an extremely angry expression. Yet, she still lowered her voice, “I do hope that there is not any smoke. Today, I went to find Zhang Lan family. I didn’t even request for fusain, just normal coal. She has the nerve to blame the heavy usage over these past few days as the reason why there isn’t any more coal left in the storage. Bah! Who is she trying to deceive? At this time of the year, how can there be no coal in the residence? She is just taking advantage of her authority to bully us. If it wasn’t for our currently sick lady, and I do not dare to worry her, I must slap her twice!”
“You-” The fanning maid sighed again, “You should restrain your stubbornness. Although this family bullies us intolerably, we are still living under their roof. We have to lower our heads. If you really stir up trouble, our lady will be the one who will suffer.”
Lian Qiao eyed her in contempt, “Bai Zhi, I did not realize that you are this cowardly. What is the social standing of this family, and what is the social standing of our lady? Regardless of what happens to our lady, with her status, we cannot let these low-born people continue to bully her!”
Bai Zhi shook her head, “Both of us are our lady’s maids. Of course, I want the best for her. It is just that, lately, there has been no news from the capital. I do not know how much longer our lady has to stay here. It is fine if we are here for a short amount of time, but you see, it is already the fourth year now. Master has never sent anyone to ask about her well-being. If we still have to stay here for a longer time and you incite a dispute with them, the one who suffers in the end is our lady.”
Lian Qiao stopped herself from replying. After a moment, she only spoke softly, “Then, should we just allow them to simply bully our lady?”
Bai Zhi only sighed softly.
The house fell into silence again. Only the firewood within the fire was crackling. The two maids kept the fire going with the fan in their hands. No one noticed that the person on the bed had awakened.
Jiang Ruan had been awake for quite some time. Naturally, the conversation between Bai Zhi and Lian Qiao reached her ears, word for word. When she opened her eyes, she was surprised to learn that she has transmigrated into her younger self from a decade ago. The experience from her past life felt like a dream from an afternoon nap. However, she knew that her hatred of being callously killed was not something that could be dissipated by a dream. Since God has provided her with a chance to start over, she would not hesitate in accepting and availing it properly.
When she stirred on the bed three days ago, Bai Zhi and Lian Qiao heaved a large breath of relief. Jiang Ruan had already been unconscious for more than ten days, since the day she fell into a lake. The medical practitioner that attended to her said he was incapable of defying fate. Zhang Lan family even enquired about funeral rites. Who knew, she would wake up again. Lian Qiao held her hand and cried her heart out, repeating that God had blessed her, while Jiang Ruan merely closed her eyes.
After dying once, not only did the experiences from her past life not vanish like smoke into thin air, Jiang Ruan could remember them even more clearly. When her mother passed away four years ago, a wandering Taoist came to the manor and divined her character to be unyielding from a glance. She was said to bear bad luck for her parents, and her life was destined to be the bane of another’s existence. At first, Jiang Quan wanted to send her to the family temple to be a nun. It was precisely because Jiang Su Su kneeled and begged for mercy that Jiang Quan changed his mind and sent her to a residence in a village instead. Because of this incident, Jiang Ruan bore a gratuitous heart for Jiang Su Su. But, now that she had thought about it, all of the endless bullying and humiliation that she was being subjected to were bestowed by Jiang Su Su and her mother.
The residence was entrusted to the care of Zhang Lan family. Zhang Lan was someone who was avaricious, stingy and extremely shrewd. Every day, she did not fail to scold and humiliate Jiang Ruan indirectly. Her husband, Chen Fu, was an alcoholic loafer and a gambling addict. They had a son and a daughter. The son, Chen Zhao, was a complete pervert. The daughter, Chen Fang, wielded sharp and unkind words. The pieces of jewelry and accessories that Jiang Ruan brought with her when she initially arrived, either fell into Zhang Lan’s hands or were tricked away by Chen Fang. Ten days ago, Chen Zhao touched her inappropriately by the lakeside. Jiang Ruan could not bear the abasement and jumped into the water. Chen Zhao escaped as soon as he realized that he had caused trouble. By the time Lian Qiao and Bai Zhi asked someone to save Jiang Ruan, she had already lost her consciousness.
As it was during the final days of the lunar year, the lake water was cold and piercing to the bone. Additionally, under Zhang Lan’s harsh mistreatment over these past few years, Jiang Ruan’s body had grown more and more frail. Catching a cold just made things worse in a bad situation. She immediately came down with a severe illness.
Jiang Ruan remembered very clearly. Originally, she did not wake up as early as this. After she gained consciousness, she had contracted a nearly incurable illness. However, a more significant incident occurred not long after. Gossip heard from outside mentioned that she was already seducing men at such a young age, without caring about her invaluable body. She fell into the water, after she took the initiative to seduce Chen Zhao and failed in her attempt. Thinking back, the act of pushing the blame on her must have been Zhang Lan’s doing. As a result of this marred reputation, when Jiang Ruan met the elders face to face in the future, the title of temptress befell her.
Now that she has woken up earlier, the gossip has not spread yet. Until now, the thought must have not occured to Zhang Lan, so she could actually use this chance to send her a New Year’s gift. There was no future in extending her stay in this residence, where they could torment her. After four years, she would be sent into the palace as a pawn. This was not something that she could endure. Her purpose was not to be taken advantage of without reason and there was always a price to pay for everything a person did. Thus, she singled Chen Zhao out as the first target to meet her blade.
Jiang Ruan peered outside the window. The faint sound of the firecrackers caused the house with the trio to seem even more cold and dreary. She righted herself slowly into a sitting position. Bai Zhi heard her rising, so she stood up and went towards her quickly, “Miss, you have woken up. Do you feel discomfort anywhere?”
Jiang Ruan shook her head, “What time is it now?”
“It should be around seven to nine in the evening,” Bai Zhi answered.
Lian Qiao placed her fan down, “Is Miss hungry? Let me bring some food from the kitchen.”
Most of the misses and madams that stayed in the residence were usually the ones who had committed crimes. Regardless, they were still masters. Unless they were being cared for in a “special” manner, it was unlikely that the treatment would be so disappointing that it could not even be compared to a lowly servant. One might ponder deeply about why the New Year’s Eve dinner was never sent earlier.
Before Jiang Ruan could reply, she heard knocks on the door. A clear voice spoke from outside, “Miss, I have come to deliver the New Year’s Eve dinner.”
Lian Qiao was stunned. Jiang Ruan said, “Come in.” The door opened with a sound. An extremely festive-looking maid entered, carrying a food basket in her hand. She was all smiles, “Auntie Lan ordered me to bring some food over. Miss, you should eat some too.”
When Bai Zhi saw that Jiang Ruan was still for a long time, she lowered her head unsurely. She watched a glimpse of emotion flash across Jiang Ruan’s eyes. Then, Jiang Ruan turned and raised her head with a slight smile.
Translated by togekiss
Edited by Ely and Anks