Translator : Casualtranslator
~ Enjoy ~
Zhang Xiaohu stood by Zhang Xiaolong while still holding on to the bottle of water, however, his eyes ran over the courtyard as though he was looking for someone.
Teacher Liu stroke his daughter’s hair tenderly, and his gaze went over his daughter’s head towards Zhang Xiaolong and Zhang Xiaohu, and nodded smilingly to them. Then, he used a hand and waved to them with an apologetic expression on his face. Zhang Xiaolong and Zhang Xiaohu naturally nodded in understanding as they waited patiently outside.
Butcher Liu saw that Liu Qing has returned and teacher Liu walking up to welcome her, so he remained seated as he continued to drink his wine. After he finished the wine, he saw the two brothers standing at the door, and thus he stood up and said smilingly, “I was wondering who brought Qingqing back when I saw these two little heroes here. Quick, come in and drink some wine with uncle.”
Zhang Xiaolong and Zhang Xiaohu smiled as they walked towards the square table in the courtyard.
On hearing the two words “drink wine”, Liu Qing who was still in the embrace of her father turned her head and said to butcher Liu, “Second uncle, Xiaolong’s injuries have not fully recovered, so he cannot drink for now. If you want to drink, look for Xiaohu.”
Butcher said loudly, “You little rascal, now you are standing on the side of the outsiders.”
Liu Qing replied sweetly, “Second uncle…..”
Butcher Liu said, “Alright, stop calling me, I know what to do. You don’t even call me like this on normal days.”
Teacher Liu observed the farm boy who was walking towards him. Even though he was still not handsome, his youthful face was full of vigor and not like the other farmers, and he did not have the carefulness of Zhang Cai found on his body. Instead, his eyes were bright, and even though his clothes were old and tattered, they were washed clean and fitted him well. His steps were steady which gave off an overall sense of steadfastness. Teacher Liu naturally knew the reason why Liu Qing brought Zhang Xiaolong home, and although he was still against the marriage, he indeed had admiration for the boy.
At that moment, Zhang Xiaolong and Zhang Xiaohu walked to teacher Liu’s side and bowed respectfully. Teacher Liu did not bother to be too formal, and he simply said, “You have travelled far, and now that the sky is getting dark, there is no way you can return Guo village by today so you can stay in my house for tonight. Both of you can go over to my second brother’s side first while Qingqing and I finish our conversation.”
The two brothers agreed and walked to over to under the roof, and they took a stool each to sit on while they chatted idly with butcher Liu. Teacher Liu said to Liu Qing, “Qingqing, let’s go to the study room to talk.”
Liu Qing released herself from the embrace of her father and said, “Father, you go in first, I will pour some tea for you. Xiaolong and I have brought water from the Guo village, don’t you want to drink it again?”
Teacher Liu was speechless; he shook his head helplessly and smiled as he walked into the study room.
Liu Qing walked to under the roof and took the bottle of spring water from Zhang Xiaohu, and she glanced towards Zhang Xiaolong, “Both of you accompany my second uncle for the time being, I will go to the kitchen to boil the water and bring some snacks for you. I am sure you must be feeling hungry after walking the whole afternoon.”
Then, Liu Qing went to the kitchen and placed the spring water on the stove to boil. Seeing that the kitchen was empty, she made some simple dishes and took them out with some leftover biscuits to let the two brothers satisfy their hunger. Butcher Liu happily helped himself to the food and drank his wine while pouring a cup of Xiaohu and really not forcing Xiaolong to drink.
Not long after, the water began to boil. Liu Qing meticulously made some tea and carried the teapot set into the study room. Before entering the study room, she exchanged glances with Zhang Xiaolong and nodded meaningfully with her eyes full of certainty.
Teacher Liu was reading a book listlessly when he saw Liu Qing entered. He immediately put his book down, rubbed his nose and said, “This water from Guo village is indeed different from elsewhere; the tea it makes is so aromatic.”
Liu Qing placed the teacup in front of her father and watched the latter as he drank the tea sip by sip, closing his eyes while remaining silent.
After teacher Liu has drunk some of the tea, she asked, “Father, how is the tea?”
Teacher Liu replied, “Ai, this tea is naturally much better than the ones we drink every day, but it was not as delicious as the one I had in Guo village, probably because it is no longer as fresh after being still for quite some time.”
Then, Liu Qing remained silent and continued to watch as teacher Liu appreciated the tea.
The two sat for a while quietly, before teacher Liu smiled and spoked up first, “Qingqing, is there something you want to say to father, which is why you came over so suddenly?”
Liu Qing’s face turned red as she replied, “Father knows the obvious yet he still asks. If I did not come back today, would father have gone over to fetch me in a couple of days?”
Teacher Liu sighed and put his cup down. He then said, “Qingqing, I have always let you make your own decisions since young, and have not forced you to do anything you dislike. This time, father did not follow your wishes, so you should understand my dilemma.”
Liu Qing pondered and said, “I am guessing that father is afraid that I would suffer in the Zhang household, and that I would end up doing farm work, while Zhang Xiaolong will turn out to be a boorish farm man, and I would not be happy after marrying him?”
Teacher Liu nodded his head and said, “Spending your days as a couple is not just a single person’s problem; it requires two people to match. If one person enjoys reading books, and another wants to work in a farm, then their interests would lead them in different direction and their life would be flavorless. Furthermore, the Zhang household is poor, and you should have already experienced it yourself and know that life there is not as comfortable as in Bali Gou.”
Liu Qing nodded her head and replied, “Father, what you have said was right, but I have already considered these points and have even shared them with Zhang Xiaolong’s mother. Like you, she advised me to think twice.”
Teacher Liu asked curiously, “She really said that?”
Liu Qing replied, “Of course, I too had not expected auntie, who was a simple uneducated housewife, to be so sharp and understanding.”
Teacher Liu said, “In that case, it is no wonder they could raise such good children.”
Then, teacher Liu continued to say, “Actually, these are things you are unable to understand without experiencing it yourself. Older people like us can only share our advice even though I know you will not listen given your personality. Only after you hit a block by yourself will you be able to understand my difficulties. Even though what happened to you mother happened a long time ago, it will always haunt me forever. If I had the ability, I could have prevented you mother from suffering and leaving us prematurely. Thus, I do not hope that you will suffer the same fate as your mother.”
Liu Qing’s thoughts were steady like bamboo, and she said, “Father, I think you are wrong about this. If you had the ability then, could you become the current person you are today? Was mother happy when she was with you? If life is filled with unhappiness, then what is the use of a long life anyway? Mother loved and respected you, and although she followed you for only ten years, that short period of time gave her more happiness that what other people can enjoy their whole lives. You say, what do you think her choice would be?”
Liu Qing continued to argue, “Father, I am actually a person who believes that fate is predetermined. Be it sorrow or joy, they are all part of the experiences of living. Life is like a trajectory, many trajectories would intersect with each other to form a complete life. Mother’s trajectory was aligned to yours, and you trajectory was predetermined to be with her. Even though you feel that you had not taken good care of her, but since the day she followed you, the trajectories of our families have already been determined, and mother’s happiness and demise was also set in stone. To try and change otherwise would only be useless effort. If father had join officialdom, you would naturally neglect mother, and even though she would not have to leave us so early, would she have been happy?”
Seeing teacher Liu who was deep in his thoughts, Liu Qing pressed on, “Actually, I have always been considering the fate between Zhang Xiaolong and I. I have told Yueyue this before, since the moment I saw Zhang Xiaolong in the cloth shop, I felt that our trajectories have tied to each other. The things that happened later should be no foreign to father. I can only use these two words ‘fate’ to describe the things between us. Furthermore, there is something important which father may have not known.”
Teacher Liu was surprised and he asked, ”What is it?”
Liu Qing said mysteriously, “Doesn’t father find the water in the Guo village to be especially delicious?”
Teacher Liu replied, “Yes, but so what?”
Liu Qing then recounted the illness that the grandmother suffered and the doctor’s diagnosis, as well as the matter of the water. Teacher Liu was obviously shocked and he asked, “Are you sure about the effect of this spring water?”
Liu Qing replied, “That is for certain, you can see this just by looking at Zhang Xiaolong’s arm. Have you seen someone heal from a fracture after just one month? In addition, when Yueyue visited me the last time, she said that my skin was evidently better than before, and I can feel the changes on myself as well.”
Teacher Liu wrinkled his brow and did not ask any further, while Liu Qing continued to say, “Father, think about it. The water from the well is an invaluable treasure, your body has been weak all these time and it has never gotten better since mother left. To see your body recover is one of my few wishes, and if this spring water, even living up to a hundred years would not be a pipedream. This well was dug up by the Zhang household and is therefore their property, don’t you think that this is the heavens giving Xiaolong and me another chance?”
“Furthermore, elder brother has not married and we do not know when he will ever do so. If I marry into the Zhang household, you can also move in with us. Then, I can take care of father, while father can enjoy the treasure that has been bequeathed by the heavens, wouldn’t that be the perfect outcome? And won’t all the problems in my heart be settled?”