The Feast - 242.1 - When It Rains, It Pours

This chapter is really hard to translate! Normally I can translate 1.5 to 3 chapters a day, but this chapter cost me two days of work!

“Oh, oh, oh! You mean that place, ah.” Duan Tingxuan immediately understood what she meant. He nodded repeatedly and said, “I know that place, though it’s quite desolated, there are a lot of Jurchen people there. However, since the territory is officially under our governance, his majesty would send officials over to manage the area. Some years back, the emperor even took pity on them and would reduce or even exempt the amount of tribute depending on reports of weather condition. The officials there conveyed the gratefulness of the local people to the emperor in their report.”

“Good, that’s very good.” Su Nuan Nuan grew excited once again as she grabbed hold of Duan Tingxuan’s arm. “Then… Ku Ye Island [1], the Xing’an Range [2], Lake Baikal [3] … no, the whole of the Far East, all 1.56 million square miles of land, are they all still under the imperial rule?”

“You’re talking about… Baikal Sea? I think it was known as the North Sea during the Han Dynasty. I think that’s where Su Wu [4] had raised sheep? And Xing’an Range, is that the huge patch of forested area? As for Ku Ye Island, what is that supposed to be? I only know about the Ku Yi Island, I heard that there’s nothing but mud on it…” the little marquis was getting quite confused now, he had no idea why his wife was so interested in these cold and desolated area. There were even tears in her eyes, ah! As though she was very touched by the idea of their existence.

“That’s right… they are all there… Ku Ye Island, Baikal Sea, Xing’an Range… they are all there.”

Su Nuan Nuan nodded to herself. She had selectively forgotten a lot of history of her own people, because many of them were too sad to bear. However, when she learned that all these lands, lands which, in the modern world, had been snatched by foreign powers and stamped with foreign names still belonged to great China. To think that Sakhalin, and Khingan Range were still known by their Chinese names… Suddenly, she recalled the facts from her history books. The sadness that she had suppressed at that time burst forth and tears rolled down her cheeks:

How fortunate, that in this era, the Far East was still under the power of Great China.

How fortunate, that the imperial powers had already attached importance to the advancement of maritime technology and the exploration of sea routes.

How fortunate, that the people of China in this era never knew of the piercing humiliation and the pain of a modern era Chinese citizen of having to read about the downfall of their great civilization.

“Nuan Nuan, what’s wrong? It’s just a bunch of cold and desolated area, why are you so sad?”

“Duan Tingxuan, you must remember my words. Remember what I say now and never forget it. You must never, ever rule these places out just because they are desolate and remote. Those are precious assets of China, though we might not be able to make use of them now, countless of future generations will benefit from it. You must think of a way to convince the emperor and the court not to view these places lightly. Those places should always remained part of our country. Don’t think that those places are irrelevant to us, and let outsiders take them.”

“Nuan Nuan, what are you talking about, ah? Though it’s a bit desolated, they are part of the imperial lands and therefore we should always defend it. Not even the fierce Northern Xiongnu would dare to lay a finger on those lands. Only those who had eaten the hearts of bears and guts of leopards would even think about it. However, seeing concerned you are, when we get back to the Capital, I shall invite His Excellency Guo over to speak to you about the matter.

His Excellency Guo had served as the commander of Nurgan Command Post for over 20 years. He is especially familiar with the local customs and weather conditions there. He loved talking about that place, but unfortunately not many people are at all interested. If you want to hear more about it, I’m sure he’ll be more than happy to speak to you at length.”

“En, en, en, very good.” Su Nuan Nuan nodded repeatedly, her eyes very bright. Aside from wanting to understand more about the Far East, she also hoped to arouse Duan Tingxuan’s interest in that place through His Excellency Guo’s stories. After all, her husband was still young and had already gained a very high position through his own power. Moreover, he’s the intimate friend and cousin of the crown prince. As long as he became interested in the Far East, his actions could have far reaching influence that would only be beneficial to China’s future and do no harm.

“Wait, Nuan Nuan, weren’t you talking about the Northeast Plain just now? Why are we talking about the Nurgan Command Post? Duan Tingxuan didn’t know whether to laugh or cry at how far the topic had strayed. Naturally, what the little marquis cared about most was where in this northern wasteland that grain could be produced. It was not that he was short sighted, but the country was currently still in its agricultural civilization phase, and far off places with little farming value were of no used to him, unless they had enemy outposts stuck on it that had to be kicked out.

Su Nuan Nuan knew what Duan Tingxuan was thinking and understood his urgency. She smiled and said, “We’ve really strayed quite far away from the topic. Anyway, just remember your promise. When His Excellency Guo visits us in the future, you must listen with me. Then, you will know just how good that far off land is. Alright, let’s talk about the Northeast Plain now. To the best of my knowledge, the Nurgan Command Post area are mostly large tracks of black fertile land.

Pay attention now, the soil is black, it’s not because of mould or rot but because it is rich in nutrients. Even Southern Liaoning’s soil could not be compared even with its reputation as the major crop producing area. Perhaps it’s because there are too few people in the north that most of that precious land is left uncultivated. If we could develop it, the crop production here would only exceed those from Hu Guang, Su Hang. But for the moment, the weather conditions is not suitable for rice or wheat. However, we can still grow foreign crops such as corn, sweet potatoes and other kinds of potatoes.”

“Is that so?” Duan Tingxuan nodded. He answered seriously, “I understand. Since that place is bitterly cold with few people living there, most of them being the nomadic Jurchen or Orochon who only knew how to hunt and fish for food, no wonder the land is left wasted. From the tributes we received from them, animal skins and ginseng dug from forests, we could assume that they lack the technology for large scale farming.”

Author White Pear Flower: This chapter really tests one’s geography skills, hahahaha!

[Gumihou: Eh, either this is Author White Pear Flower’s way of scoring points with the government or a result of years of brainwashing and propaganda.]

[1] Ku Ye Island 库页岛 – known as Sakhalin – the largest island of the Russian Federation. Sakhalin has been inhabited by several indigenous tribes since the stone age, The Ainu people, also present on Hokkaido in Japan, populated the southern half of the island, and while a small group of Sakhalin Ainu is still present on the island, most were repatriated to Japan after the end of WWII. The largest group of the islands original population is the Nivkh tribe of the northern taigas.

Sakhalin has long been the scene of a power struggle between the major Asian powers: Russia, Japan and even the Chinese Qing Empire have put forward claims on the island.

In short, I have no idea why Su Nuan Nuan is so emotional over China losing the island, except as an extension of China possibly saying that they have claims over it once a upon a time…

[2] Xing’an Range – Also known as Khingan Range or Lesser Khingan Range, straddles both Russia and China. There is a Greater Khingan, located in Russia.

I guess Nuan Nuan is upset that Greater Khingan is not part of China?

[3] Lake Baikal – Largest freshwater lake by volume in the world. Is the world’s deepest lake

Located in the former northern territory of the Xiongnu (people of the Eastern Steppe who created an empire that flourished around the time of Qin and Han dynasties) confederation, Lake Baikal is one site of the Han–Xiongnu War, where the armies of the Han dynasty pursued and defeated the Xiongnu forces from the second century BC to the first century AD. They recorded that the lake was a "huge sea" (hanhai) and designated it the North Sea (Běihǎi) of the semimythical Four Seas

Fresh water is very important to the world, I guess that’s why Nuan Nuan is upset?

[4] Su Wu (140BC–60BC) a foreign diplomat sent to foreign territory, endured major hardships and starvation, but still remained faithful to his mission

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