Translator : Casualtranslator
~ Enjoy ~
Liu Kai asked casually, “What is the matter about?”
Zhang Cai smiled as he replied, “I will discuss it with teacher Liu in a short while.”
Liu Kai smiled as he nodded, and then asked Zhang Cai a string of questions relating to his sister. Zhang Cai also answered each and every question, while Zhang Xiaohua dropped many praises of Liu Qing, which made Liu Kai who was listening attentively break out into smiles.
Liu Kai sat with Zhang Cai for a while, and seeing that the day was getting late, he said to Zhang Cai, “Uncle and Xiaohua can wait here for a while because I am not sure when my father will be done with his things., it is better to go over to my uncle’s place to have lunch.”
Zhang Cai waved his hands and said, “Nephew does not have to stand on the ceremony, we can eat something casual.”
Liu Kai stood up and said, “I can’t do that. Uncle has specially made a trip over to our house, I should play a better host to you. I still remember that Xiaohua loves roast meat, so I will make sure to let him have his fill of it for lunch.”
Zhang Xiaohua said while salivating, “Then I will thank elder brother Liu in advance.”
Liu Kai smiled and replied, “You little honey tongued devil.” Then, he left quickly while Zhang Cai and Zhang Xiaohua remained in the house.
The two drank some tea as they waited but teacher Liu still did not come out even after some time.
At this moment, a bright voice came from outside the house, “Old brother Zhang, you have finally come.”
Zhang Cai and Zhang Xiaohua exchanged smiles, this new arrival could only be butcher Liu.
Zhang Cai and Zhang Xiaohua both stood up hurriedly and just as they were about to get the door, he heard the sounds of healthy footsteps. Butcher Liu grabbed Zhang Cai’s hand welcomingly and said, “Old brother Zhang-ah, I have really missed you. How is your leg now? En, seeing you here, it should have recovered fully.”
Zhang Cai smiled as he replied, “Yes, thanks to your grace. While walking over this afternoon, I did not have any problems with my leg.”
Butcher Liu said, “Good people will have good things come their way. Old brother Zhang is a good man, he would definitely have good fortune. Oh right, how are the injuries of your two sons?”
Zhang Cai replied, “Xiaohu has fully recovered while Xiaolong would be joining him soon.”
Butcher Liu said, “That would be for the best. It is farming season soon, I was still worrying about it. Come, let’s continue our conversation in the room.”
Everyone then reseated themselves in the room, and just as he sat, teacher Liu also entered. Zhang Cai and Zhang Xiahua stood up immediately to pay their greetings which teacher Liu returned. Then, teacher Liu said, “Old brother Zhang has been here for almost half the day while I was working on my painting, I am really sorry for not welcoming you properly.”
Zhang Cai quickly said, “It is not a problem, little brother is working on something important so it is alright for us to wait in the room for you. Furthermore, Liu Kai was around to play host. Has little brother completed his painting?”
Teacher Liu glanced at butcher Liu and said, “Almost done, I was broken from my concentration by this buffoon’s loud voice so I will continue working on it in the afternoon.”
Butcher Liu said innocently, “I did not know that you were painting. Furthermore, this buffoon was born with a loud voice, and if you were not interrupted, old brother Zhang would still be sitting here waiting for you.”
Teacher Liu replied, “You always have your reasons, I won’t bother to argue with you.”
Then, he turned to Zhang Cai and said, “I have this little problem of ignoring my surroundings when I am writing or painting, and it could never go away. Here, have some tea.”
After finishing his sentence, he also poured a cup for himself and said regretfully, “This tea is not as good as the one in old brother Zhang’s house, I really missed the tea I had at that time.”
Zhang Cai smiled as he replied, “Then little brother Liu should come over to Guo village more often, or consider moving over so that you can drink it every day.”
Teacher Liu replied smilingly, “There are many things that are easier said than done.”
The men sat around and chatted for a while, before teacher Liu asked, “Old brother Zhang, what is the reason for your visit?”
Zhang Cai replied, “Little brother Liu, I came over indeed because of something important.”
Teacher Liu nodded and said, “Then old brother should go ahead and let us hear it.”
Zhang Cai continued, “Qingqing has been staying in our house for a while now, and our entire household loves her. Furthermore, my eldest son Zhang Xiaolong and she have some mutual attraction, so the reason why I came today was to ask for your permission to allow her to marry into my family.”
After he finished his speech, Zhang Cai’s eyes were glued on teacher Liu to observe his reactions.
Unfortunately, the expression that he was looking forward to did not appear. Instead, teacher Liu was evidently surprised, then worried, as though he had every intention to reject the proposal. Butcher Liu who was sitting beside remained uncharacteristically quiet as his gaze switched between teacher Liu and Zhang Cai. After some silence, teacher Liu first spoke up and said, “Old brother Zhang, you are a straightforward person so I would like to share my thoughts directly with you, I hope you won’t be offended.”
Zhang Cai naturally agreed.
Teacher Liu continued, “Before Qingqing’s mother passed away, her only wish was for me to find a good family for her. Over these days, there are many families who came to propose, but I have rejected them all firstly because Qingqing was unsatisfied, and secondly because I did not believe that they would be able to bring her happiness. Furthermore, I know that Qingqing had loved books since she was young, and her dream was to find a husband with deep knowledge. Even though Xiaolong is a good man with an upright personality, I doubt he can recognize the characters and match Qingqing’s interests. Furthermore, Qingqing has never experienced farm life, so I am afraid she will not be able to adapt to the life Xiaolong can give her. Even though Qingqing may have some good feelings towards Xiaolong, that is only natural since he is her benefactor. But if we were to speak of marriage, then it might be taking this matter too lightly.”
Hearing the words that teacher Liu said, Zhang Cai’s face seemed to have gone numb. From their past exchanges, he had always thought that the man would be easy to talk to, and even had a good impression towards Xiaolong. But now, he realized that the admiration towards Xiaolong was in the capacity of a learned man towards a farmer, and not of a father-in-law. Furthermore, Zhang Xiaolong and Liu Qing were from two different worlds, even though they lived in villages, one was a learned person and the other was a farmer, there was indeed no common ground for interests, which would create some obstacles for their future life. Thus, all the points that teacher Liu raised were valid points.
Zhang Xiaohua was equally flabbergasted when he heard the always agreeable teacher Liu’s rejection. However, he was at a loss for words, so he could only look at his father while hoping that the latter could convince the other party.
Zhang Cai said, “Teacher Liu has over-considered. The matter of marriage would depend on the feelings between the interested parties. Since Xiaolong and Qingqing have agreed, then they would definitely be happy later on. Since little brother mentioned that they have no common topics for discussion, then Qingqing could teach Xiaolong to read and the problem would be solved. As for farm work, we have four healthy pair of hands so Qingqing would never be forced to work in in the fields.”
Teacher Liu sighed again and said, “Didn’t I mention that there are things easier said than done? Furthermore, Liu Kai is still unmarried so as his younger sister, it is not very appropriate for Qingqing to marry before him.”
Zhang Cai has forgotten about this point, indeed it was customary for the elder siblings to marry before the younger ones. Since the elder brother was still not engaged, it would be inappropriate for the younger sister to consider marriage. Zhang Cai was at a loss for words.
At this moment, Liu Kai returned. Not noticing the awkward atmosphere, he said, “Father, second uncle, the food has been prepared over there. Shall uncle Zhang Cai and Xiaohua go over for a meal now?”
Teacher Liu looked at Zhang Cai and smiled, he said, “Old brother Zhang, let’s go and discuss this later. You and I can think about it later but we should have our meal first.”
Butcher Liu also took Zhang Xiaohua’s hands and said, “Come, let’s not talk about this. Food is most important, doesn’t Xiaohua love to eat roast meat the most?”
The wine and food was naturally more sumptuous than the one prepared by the Zhang household, but Zhang Cai did not have much appetite. However, faced with butcher Liu’s hospitality, Zhang Xiaohua did not stand on the ceremony and ate the most. Firstly, his was still in his growing phase, and secondly, he thought that his eldest brother and elder sister Qingqing were a good match, and that they would have a happy life ahead. Thus, he did not take teacher Liu’s objection too seriously. Seeing the boy’s healthy appetite, butcher Liu, his wife and Liu Yueyue all laughed heartily as they place more delicious food into his bowl while encouraging him to eat more.
Even though Zhang Cai did not have much appetite, his mood improved slightly when he saw his son eating happily, while engaging with casual talk with teacher Liu occasionally and exchanging toasts with butcher Liu. Liu Kai had asked his father privately and learnt of the reason for Zhang Cai’s unhappiness, and thus did not speak much and ate his food quietly.
The meal soon finished, and everyone was resting in butcher Liu’s house. Zhang Cai was about to bring Zhang Xiaohua to leave and teacher Liu wanted them to stay but seeing that the day was quite late and they had a long journey ahead, he did not insist and he sent the two out to the village entrance before returning.
By this time, butcher Liu’s family was also aware of the motive for Zhang Cai’s trip, and Liu Yueyue said to teacher Liu, “Uncle, Uncle Zhang was right that elder sister indeed has feelings for Zhang Xiaolong. She also raised this up to me the last time we went to visit her.”
Teacher Liu sighed again as he said, “All women will have to leave their household eventually when they grow older, but it will take more than just feelings for her to live in that kind of environment in the future.”