Translator : Casualtranslator
~ Enjoy ~
On that morning, the sun rose as usual.
The Zhang household was busy preparing for the spring farming season, but Zhang Xiaolong was obviously in daze. Once in a while, he would turned to look at Liu Qing while the latter would appear as if nothing was out of the norm. Her expressions made Zhang Xiaolong even more anxious, and when he finally found an opportunity to stand beside her, he whispered, “Have you made your decision?”
Liu Qing teased as she avoided his question, “What decision?”
Zhang Xiaolong was slightly displeased as he said, “About what to do when your father comes to pick you up. Have you decided to go home?”
Liu Qing replied, “Yes, when my father comes to pick me up, I would naturally follow him home.”
Zhang Xiaolong’s face turned pale as he said, “I knew it, the words you said to me previously were all to comfort me so that I could recover sooner. Now that I am fully recovered, you are dropping the act and returning to the comfortable lifestyle that you have grown used to, because there is nothing here worthy of your attention.”
Seeing that Zhang Xiaolong had taken her words for real, Liu Qing quickly withdrew her joke and said, “Xiaolong, look at what you just said. Do you really believe that I have putting on an act in front of you? Do you not know about my feelings?”
Zhang Xiaolong was flustered as he replied, “It is not that I do not trust your words, but because I do not understand how you are able to stay calm at a situation like this while I am nervous to the point of a breakdown.”
Liu Qing smiled as she said, “You silly fool, on usual days you appear to be smart but today, you senses have all left you. Isn’t there a phrase “Mud blocks when the water comes, the general stops them when his soldiers go” ? Even though my father will be coming to pick me up, whether or not I go back with him depends on my own decision. My father would usually let me make my own decisions, but he made an exception this time so I want to hear him out first to make clear of the situation. There will naturally be a solution, so why should I worry now?”
Zhang Xiaolong smiled and said, “I am not like you, whose heart is as sturdy as the bamboos. I would naturally be frantic, and I feel that we should take the initiative to find your father to discuss this matter rather than to wait for him to come one of these days.”
Liu Qing was impressed and she praised Zhang Xiaolong, “You are right, we should take the initiative and grab the opportunity with our own hands. If we wait for my father to come, we would be falling off the boat and should there be any undercurrents, then, ah, why don’t I go home first to see the situation first?”
Zhang Xiaolong felt uneasy as he replied, “It was only a random thought, I did not think of as far ahead as you. In addition, I should accompany you if you go since my injuries have mostly recovered and a half day journey should not pose as any problem.”
Liu Qing pondered for a while and said, “Your idea is great. Let’s find my father together and see what is really in that gourd-head of his.”
Zhang Xiaolong was naturally worried and he asked, “Qingqing, what if your father refuses to change his mind and forbade you from coming here anymore?”
LiuQing said slyly, “That is impossible, I have my ways to deal with my father. He will definitely agree to it.”
Zhang Xiaolong was still nervous and he persisted, “I am asking what if, what could we do if the situation comes to that?”
Liu Qing replied confidently, “Elder brother Xiaolong, I am aware of what you are worrying about, and there are many things we have not made clear to each other yet. However, you must believe me that I… I will accompany you.”
After finishing her sentence, her face turned red and she could not bear to lift her head anymore.
Zhang Xiaolong drummed up some courage and pulled her towards him, and said in a low voice, “Qingqing, you are the best.”
Liu Qing did not let him have his way. She stepped back and said, “You should think about what to say in Bali Gou.” Then, she ran off.
Zhang Xiaolong watched her from the back as Liu Qing ran off as he tried not to forget the previous sensation.
When Zhang Xiaolong’s focus finally returned to the people around him, he turned to Zhang Cai and asked, “Father, did Liu Qing’s father mention when he will be fetching her?”
Zhang Cai looked at Zhang Xiaolong and replied, “Yes, he mentioned that he would come in these few days, but did not give a specific date.”
Zhang Xiaolong explained, “It is like this father, I plan to follow Liu Qing back to Bali Gou to have a straight discussion with Liu Qing’s father.”
Zhang Cai was surprised and he wrinkled his brow, saying,“Is this Liu Qing’s or your idea?”
Zhang Xiaolong replied, “It is my idea, and I have discussed it with Liu Qing who had agreed earlier.”
The wrinkle on Zhang Cai’s brow left and he smiled, “You are quite something huh, when I was your age, I did not have half your guts. No bad, haha.”
While he laughed, Guo Sufei walked over and asked, “The children’s father, what is so funny?”
Zhang Cai replied, “Our son has finally did something good. He has planned to look for his own father-in-law.”
Guo Sufei was confused so Zhang Cai repeated the words Zhang Xiaolong said to him. Guo Sufei was happy and she said, “This is a pretty good idea, when do you and Qingqing plan to set off?”
Zhang Xiaolong replied, “Mother, didn’t teacher Liu say that he would be coming shortly? I plan to find him before he comes, so I can’t wait to leave now.”
Guo Sufei looked at the sky and said, “If you leave now, you will not be able to return by tonight. Why not have your lunch first. I will prepare the food with Liu Qing right now, sigh, without Liu Qing’s help in the future, I won’t be able to cook again. Xiaolong, you have to succeed in getting Liu Qing to stay.”
Zhang Xiaolong smiled and replied, “Okay, mother, I definitely will.”
Lunch was prepared and eaten in a hurry. Zhang Xiaolong and Liu Qing prepared themselves and just as they were about to set off, Zhang Xiaohu said, “Eldest brother, it may not be safe with just the two of you. How about if I come along?”
Zhang Cai also added along, “Xiaolong, you should bring something with you and not go over empty handed.”
Zhang Xiaolong replied, “I understand father, I will buy something when I go to the village.”
Liu Qing heard that Zhang Xiaohu wanted to tag along, and her eyes brightened as she said to Zhang Xiaolong, “Let Xiaohu follow us, it will be safer on the road with three people. You also do not need to buy anything, just bring the spring water from the well would be good enough.”
Zhang Xiaolong smacked his forehead and said, “Look at me, I have forgotten that you father loves this water the most.”
Zhang Xiaohua jumped off from his chair and said, “Then I will go right now to draw some fresh ones. You just get ready to carry them over.”
When Xiaohua came back with the water, Zhang Xiaolong also borrowed a bottle which could be sealed from the neighbor, and filled it to the brim with the spring water which naturally would be Zhang Xiaohu’s luggage during the trip.
Thus, the three people set off.
There were two routes from Guo village to Bali Gou, one was along the river which could lead them through a bamboo forest followed by some hills. The other was from the small bridge ahead which would lead to a main road that would let them pass by another village on the way. The smaller road was more difficult to walk but faster, whereas the main road was twice to thrice the distance.
Zhang Xiaolong and the rest naturally chose the small road.
It was already spring, so the river has begun to melt and was already flowing. The gurgling of the river and chirping of the birds made a melodious sound and their trip less tiring. Zhang Xiaolong and Liu Qing were holding hands as they walked in the front, as though they were enjoying their own private moment now that the family was not around. Zhang Xiaohu was at a distance behind them holding on to the bottle of water in his hands as he smiled at the scene of his eldest brother and sister-in-law-to-be, while hoping in his heart to have a beautiful encounter in Bali Gou.
Zhang Xiaolong’s heart was painted by the sweetness of love, he wished that the journey would never end so he can enjoy this happiness forever. He had never enjoyed travelling as much as that day, and never realized how beautiful the mountain scenery was, and never noticed how melodious the sounds of the river and birds could be. He had also never thought that the distance between Guo village and Bali Gou could be too short, and when Liu Qing let go of his hands, he was still in a trance as he asked why before Liu Qing answered timidly that they were already reaching their destination. Only then did he come to a realization that the dreamlike memory has come to its end.
Liu Qing led Zhang Xiaolong and Zhang Xiaohu into the village, and ever so often, a villager who knew her would wave and stare shamelessly at the two men. This made Zhang Xiaolong and Zhang Xiaohu feel awkward, and even Liu Qing was at a loss on how to react. Even though these people did not ask her about the men, she would not be able to explain if they did. Yet if she did not explain herself, these people might let their imaginations run wild. As there was still quite some distance to her home, she guessed that her arrival would become a hot topic that would spread across the whole village.
Just as Liu Qing brought Zhang Xiaolong and Zhang Xiaohu into the house, teacher Liu and butcher Liu were coincidentally chatting while sitting in the courtyard. When Liu Qing entered the door, she saw teacher Liu sitting on a stool while holding a tea cup, and butcher Liu opposite him with a wine gourd in his hands.
Seeing her father, Liu Qing’s eyes turned red and shouted “Father…..” before running over to him.
Teacher Liu was surprised to see the Liu Qing whom he missed came back. He happily put down his tea and stood up to welcome her home. Even though he had met her recently when he went over, it was not the same as seeing her in his own house. Liu Qing jumped into his embrace like a child, while Teacher Liu stroke her head lovingly and said, “It is good to see you back, it is good to see you back.”