Chapter 7 (Part 2): Practise Medicine to Help the People
“This child is seriously ill.”
That mother anxiously said, “That’s right, he just suddenly became sick and I have no solution at all!”
I reached out my hand to touch that child’s forehead. Yun Xiang anxiously called out, “Miss!”
I had already touched that child. His body temperature was ice-cold. I inspected his whole body from top to bottom and asked, “What discomfort does the child have?”
“None, just that he vomited and had loose stools early this morning.”
“What did he eat?”
That mother smiled bitterly, “Grass roots and tree barks. What else can be eaten during this time of the year?”
Food poisoning? That was still fine. Spring in Dong Qi had arrived quickly so numerous creatures would be resuscitated at once and bacteria would start to proliferate. I was just afraid that was some infectious disease starting to spread.
I took out a few pieces of silver that I had on me and said, “Mdm*, your child ate something wrong and it’s not a serious illness. Let him drink more water. Take this money and quickly bring him to visit a physician.”
*T/n: It’s supposed to be a respectful term to call an older married woman. In order to not confuse it with ‘Madam’, ‘Mdm’ is used.
An old man at the side said, “Young Lady, you may not be aware. People like us who came here after fleeing from disasters are not allowed to enter the city. The moment those guards at the city gate see us, they would chase us away.”
I exclaimed, “Then, even if you have the money, you still can’t see the physician?”
This sentence of mine ignited the tremendous fire within them. The numerous people who had been forced with nowhere to go due to poverty and sufferings poured out their hardships in succession. Those sounds of enmity seethed with so much emotion that it was simply going to drown me to death. Something about a snow disaster that is only encountered once in ten years, something about decadent government officials and something about racial discrimination.
I listened until my heart grieved, then asked for pen and paper to write down the medical prescription. I called the cart driver over. “Go ride the horse into the city and bring back these herbs.”
The cart driver was moved, “Fourth Miss has a kind heart.” After saying that, he whipped the horse and left.
That mother cried out, “A living Buddha! Good things happen to good people!” She threw herself onto the ground in front of me at once.
I was flustered as I pulled her up, “Mdm, don’t be like this. It’s only a slight effort on my part, I’m not worthy to accept this.”
The working class were just honest and kind hearted, they would keep in mind even a little bit of kindness. It came into my mind that others were still short of clothes and food during winter while I instead had warm quilts and lived in luxury. I was after all, born from a normal family background. My heart felt heavy and I immediately lost my mood for the outing.
That day, when we had returned home after praying, I kept on being slightly restless.
Yun Xiang was sharp and asked, “Is Miss still worried about those refugees?”
I said, “Although it’s already the beginning of spring, the weather is still freezing cold. Why are they not properly arranged a place to settle down?”
Yun Xiang said, “I don’t know. I heard that the nearby county towns also didn’t allow them enter. These are all herdsmen and many of them even came from Nation Liao. Our Qi countrymen say that they are barbarians and regards them with disdain. When a child is not obedient, their parents will scare the child by saying that they’re going to send him to the Liao barbarians to be a shepherd boy.”
Indeed, I met quite a number of people today with more defined facial features.
I educated Yun Xiang, “Just leaving them alone like this to roam about is not a solution. Eating, is one of the most basic needs human survival. When people can’t eat to their fill, it will definitely result in fomenting dissatisfaction towards the institution in office. If you leave this resentment to continue brewing, it will ultimately culminate in a break out. The people will then rise up to overthrow this institution and overthrow the bourgeois who are rich with properties. At the same time when they are settling their own basic needs, they will build a new society that is beneficial to themselves. Using our terms, it’s called a revolution; Using your terms, it’s called a rebellion.”
Yun Xiang shook in shock, “Rebellion?”
I patted her shoulders, “That is just the worst outcome, I’m just saying.” Suddenly, I got an idea and pulled Yun Xiang, “Good younger sister, why don’t we do some good deeds?”
Yun Xiang didn’t understand, “Do what good deeds?”
I patted my chests (if I had any) and said, “That is of course practising medicine to help the people! With my average score of 70 my third year in this course, I don’t dare to say for the difficult and complicated diseases, but it’s more than enough for me to tackle the the ordinary cold, fever and stomach ache.”
Yun Xiang touched my forehead, “Miss, you didn’t burn your brain from fever right?”
I said, “What burn? I’m doing good and accumulating merits here.”
“But you need to learn calligraphy and music in the day. How would you have time to go outside?”
I smiled sinisterly, “In the past, or maybe in the future, there is a great literati and educator who once said: ‘Time is like the water in a sponge, as long as you are willing to squeeze, there will always still be some.”
However, executing was often harder than planning.
My current schedule was even more packed than the students taking the college entrance examination.
Upon waking up in the morning, I had to practise singing and strived hard to cultivated my broken gong* into sounds of nature. I personally thought that even if Dong Qi had already accomplished the Four Modernizations**, I still may not be able to become achieve enlightenment and reach the level of an immortal. After breakfast, I had to go to the study hall. Song Zijing complied with Madam Xie’s order to give special attention to me and purposely made me assiduously study all categories of historical records, poetry verses. I had no extensive knowledge and no retentive memory. When I learned things, it was like water passing over the back of a duck and left no traces behind. Thankfully, Song Zijing was very understanding and didn’t force me. Instead, he often discussed with me about some medical knowledge.
*T/n: A Chinese instrument. It is played by striking the metal plate with a mallet and it produces a large sound in the orchestra.
**T/n: The four goals are agriculture, industry, national defense, and science and technology.
It comes in different sizes and designs but here is one example:
When it was afternoon, it would be the four arts. My two hands were like chicken claws. As soon as I placed them onto the zither, the strings would snap and that zither teacher would flee in defeat as if was cultivating some peerless demonic powers. The chess teacher was Song Zi Jing. After I used the chess pieces to form a “囧”, he would change to playing chess with himself. I was still alright with writing. When I was a child, my father sent me to Children’s Palace* to learn hard-tipped calligraphy for two years. However, I couldn’t make it for drawing. The ink would flood the golden mountains every time.
*T/n: A public facility in China for children to engage in enrichment activities
Song Zi Jing had no other choice but to admit his failure in teaching, “Bitterness when one has passed down all, might as well give a sigh.”
I said, “Success and failure are transient, people will leave one day and not bring anything with them*.”
*T/n: I took the liberty to do a more figurative translation so that the meaning of the poem may be clearer. If you are interested, the more literal translation of the poem (I tried T^T) is: Success and failure vanishes into thin air as you turn your head, how many times does one see the red setting sun.
The Song Zijing was amazed, “Great poem! Great poem!”
I said modestly, “You’re flattering me! You’re flattering me!”
Song Zijing asked me, “Do you wish to enter the palace?”
I was still at the peak of my poetic mood and laughed. “Even if there is a sword to my neck I will look up to the sky and laugh, the ones who remain will be as dauntless and heroic as those from Mountain Kunlun*.”**
*T/n: To put it very simply, Mountain Kunlun is present or somehow related to many legends and folktales
**T/n: It is something to express how impactful the feelings of courage one has in face of death, no matter how tragic it would be.
Song Zi Jing frowned, “It shouldn’t be to that extent right.”
I toned down a little, “It’s already said the inner palace is like the sea. I’m going to dive into the sea so I naturally need to have the lofty sentiments and awareness like the heroes.”
“You actually had a vehement reaction instead at the temple.”
I said, “If I don’t go, Third Elder Sister will have to go instead. In short, our Xie family can’t win against the Zhao family, so we have to abandon one daughter to win over the wolf.”
Song Zijing said, “Third Miss also can’t go.”
I smiled sinisterly, “If you don’t want her to go, then you should quickly marry her.”
Song Zijing was dumbfounded. “What did you say?”
I said, “Xiao Song* comrade, you’re not being sincere if you continue to act. The maiden’s heart has been been secretly promised to you for such a long time already, sending soup during the three hottest periods of summer and sent clothes during the coldest days of the year*. You dare to say that you didn’t realize? You better don’t let down my elder sister’s kindness.”
*T/n: Referring to Song Zijing
**T/n: The twenty seven days after the Winter Solstice
Song Zijing’s handsome face became rouge red and was a feast for the eyes, until I couldn’t look away.
Actually, it was not that Xie Zhaoke and him didn’t have any hope. At the most, they could feign death and elope which was direct and efficacious. They could then drift around a boat across the mountains and rivers. How very free and unfettered. Eighteen years after the tempest has passed, they could bring their children along to recognize their ancestry and origins where relatives living under the same roof could cry together.
While I was lost in my reverie, I heard Song Zi Jing say, “It’s not like what you think it is between Third Miss and I.”
I smiled. “But she likes you. If father were to find out, he would definitely transfer you to some other place. When that time comes, you won’t be able to see the whole library of books here.”
Song Zijing’s pair of clear eyes stared at me, “You’re going to tell Master Xie?”
I smiled shamelessly. “I don’t know for sure. I’m burdened with such heavy study workload all the time, my stress levels are exceedingly high so I may inevitably speak nonsense.”
Song Zi Jing was not stupid. He smiled lightly. “Say it then.”
I was ecstatic at once. “Teacher, this one’s request is not too demanding. Why don’t you cancel my chess and calligraphy classes in the afternoon? At any rate, I’m a potato that cannot become a jade sculpture. When you teach me, I don’t get it and when you don’t teach me, I also don’t get it so why don’t we take a step back and let everyone be more relaxed?”
He asked, “What do you want to do with this time?”
I grinned. “I can’t tell you this. You don’t have to speculate about a girl’s trivial matters. It’s enough as long as I ensure that I don’t let my parents know!”
Song Zi Jing furrowed his eyebrows as he pondered. He has already suffered enough injustice as such an awe-inspiring scholarly talent like him had to suffer an injustice by lowering himself to teach someone like me who was hopeless like a mud that can’t be pasted onto the wall. Now that I voluntarily asked for a leave and freed up a large amount of time that was just nice for him to continue his literary studies, why wouldn’t he be happy to do so?
Hence, Song Zijing smiled as he nodded. “Alright. You also can’t neglect your other homework. Be careful that Madam Xie may test you.”
Song Zijing added, “Also, don’t stir up troubles.”
I grinned cheekily, “How could I possibly make teacher worry?”
Therefore, the next day, I changed into plain cotton clothing, bringing along Yun Xiang to climb over the wall and sneak out.
We ran until the outskirts of the city and met the Mdm from yesterday. I went over to greet her, “Mdm, has your son gotten better?”
The Mdm was stared blankly for a moment before recognizing me. She was overjoyed as she said, “So it’s that young lady! My son is fine now! You came to see us again?”
I said, “I came to diagnose illnesses for you all here. If you all can’t buy medicine, I’ll buy them instead.”
That Mdm was so agitated as if the liberation army yearned by the labourers have finally arrived and wanted to pull my hands but at the same time didn’t dare to. Thus, she could only continuously say, “Young Lady, you really have a heart of gold*! Really a heart of gold!”
*T/n: The original text was heart of Bodhisattva, so I used an English equivalent instead
Right after this publicity of hers, numerous sick and injured refugees all came over. Thus, I set up a booth inside a dilapidated temple and borrowed the Soil-Ground Father’s* altar to see the patients.
*T/n: A tutelary deity
I called myself as Xiao Min which was my original name’s homophone. Hence, they called me Miss Min.
The fellow townsmen mainly had issues with their digestive systems but there were also some which were more complicated that even I only half understood. Only at this time did I start to regret not being hardworking enough in my usual studies. If I had slept less during classes, if I had usually watched fewer dramas, if….
My first act of kindness which I did out of personal loyalty was bound to have aspects which I have yet to think through properly. The money I had on me wasn’t much. After seeing around twenty patients, Yun Xiang said, “Miss, we don’t have enough money anymore.”
I had no choice but to return in disappointment. Unexpectedly, Those fellow countrymen were reluctant to part with me that they sent me off until the city gate.
Yun Xiang asked, “Are we still coming again tomorrow?”
I asked, “Do you know where we can get money?”
“The monthly allowances are all distributed by Eldest Madam and there is a definite figure. However, when Miss was sick previously, those money were all omitted.”
But I didn’t have the ability to thicken my skin and asked those money back from Madam Xie.
However, if there’s no money, nothing can be done. Only now did I feel that my decision was both impulsive and ridiculously immature.
Translated and Edited by: HaruOngy and LalaKurouds