Translator : Casualtranslator
~ Enjoy ~
Of course, there were some people who could not read among the spectators. Butcher Liu was the first to ask, “Why is everyone keeping silent? Is it a bad word that he wrote?”
His words shook everyone in the audience awake, and they clapped their hands in praise, saying, “Well written, very well written. It looks casual, yet is full of individuality; it is rare to see such good penmanship.”
The men among the spectators who had ill intentions were also forced to admit their inferiority. They thought in their hearts, “This teacher Liu, the youngest brother of his son-in-law is already so accomplished in calligraphy, not to mention the elder brother. Who said that he was uneducated and boorish, if such a standard is considered boorish, then what do we count as?”
Teacher Liu’s gaze was still lingering on the words on the green stone floor, he was well aware of Zhang Xiaolong’s literary standards, yet this Zhang Xiaohua who was of a younger age, and whom he had always treated as a little boy, had such high accomplishment in calligraphy. It seemed that he ‘had eyes but could not see Mount Tai’, and would have to observe this boy more closely in the future.
Even though Zhang Xiaolong was also curious, he knew that now was not the time to ask so he welcomed the second question from the bridesmaid.
Indeed, the second question was another literary question: Compose a poem.
Zhang Xiaolong, Zhang Xiaohua, Liu Qing and teacher Liu all broke out in cold sweat when they saw the question, who could have been so shameless? Liu Yueyue was also innocent this time round, and she enlarged her eyes and said, “That is the revenge of the people you have spurred. If there is anyone to blame, then it would be elder sister for possessing too much charms.”
Zhang Xiaohua was about to go up again, but he was pulled back by Zhang Xiaolong this time, who said, “Xiaohua, watch your eldest brother.”
Zhang Xiaolong lowered his head in deep thought as he paced back and forth, and not long after, he raised his head and addressed the audience, “Esteemed guests, I am a simple farmer in Guo village who only knows how to work in the fields, and therefore cannot be compared to any of you. However, I have always believed that everything has a purpose in life, scholars have their responsibilities, and farmers have their roles to play, and neither can do without the other. Today, I will try my best to write a poem, and I hope you can give me your pointers.”
After he finished his sentence, he raised his voice and said, “I was an immortal from the heavens, who has descended on earth for decades, just waiting for the winds to congregate, before I can soar up into the sky again.”
This time, everyone was surprised again. Even though the poem did not have a good rhyme or rhythm, and even their phrasing was slightly awkward and inappropriate, the meaning it embodied was proud and its mood was distinguished, so they did not know how to judge it. At this moment, teacher Liu said, “Nephew’s poem is indeed very good, its mood is forthcoming and if he is willing to put more effort in learning, I am sure he will be able to reach greater heights.”
Upon hearing his speech, some people in the audience said, “Teacher Liu, you are still calling him your nephew, isn’t it time to change your manner of address?”
At this moment, the audience broke out into a cacophony, but at least, everyone agreed that the answer had fulfilled the requirements of the second question. Zhang Xiaohua threw a thumbs up to Zhang Xiaolong, while the latter smiled as he wiped the sweat off his face.
As Zhang Xiaolong walked again to Liu Qing’s door, the third question appeared: If you can compare the bride to an item, what would it be?
This question was trickier as everyone’s answer would be different, and all their answers could be considered to be good answers. However, for such questions, they are in actuality more difficult to answer.
Many people in the audience started to think in their minds, how would they answer the question if they were in his shoes? However, this question was too easy for Zhang Xiaolong, who replied almost immediately, “I hope that Qingqing is a mirror that heaven has sent to me. If I have made any mistakes, she would remind and reprimand me. I hope that Qingqing is the stalk of a lotus that heaven has sent to me, so that we can love each other forever. I hope that Qingqing is a walking stick that the heaven has sent to me, so that when we both grow old, we have each other to lean on.” Zhang Xiaolong’s answers were simple and honest, and it struck straight into everyone’s hearts. Liu Qing indeed had a good eye to find someone who truly loved her, and those people who were initially unhappy had no choice but to admit that Zhang Xiaolong was truly dedicated towards her. Thus, the audience broke into an applause, and Liu Yueyue who was in the room listening had stars appeared in her eyes as she smiled excitedly until her face was red, and she said to Liu Qing, “Elder sister, how could you pick such a deep person? Even though brother-in-law has not read many books, how could his thoughts be so deep? Could it be the elder sister has been cramming his head with all sorts of things to mold him into a person like that?”
Liu Qing scolded smilingly, “You little rascal, stop thinking of such ridiculous things. I had not expected Zhang Xiaolong to be so accomplished in literary aspects, I had not taught him anything yet. I only suspected that he had potential to be uncovered, and it seems now that I was not wrong. Hehe, Yueyue, why have you not opened the door yet?” After she finished her sentence, she threw the red veil over her face.
Liu Yueyue replied, “Understood, bride of the day.” Then, she opened the door.
When the audience saw the door of the bride’s room opened, they knew that the bride has approved of the answers, and they naturally burst into cheers. Then, Zhang Xiaolong entered the room under the bridesmaid Liu Yueyue’s supervision, and carefully led Liu Qing out into the main hall. Teacher Liu was already seated there as he waited for Zhang Xiaolong and Liu Qing to come up to him to kneel. The newlywed kneeled thrice towards him, and after they did so, teacher Liu stood up and supported them to do so as well. At that moment, Liu Qing felt a sudden pang of sadness as she realized that she has officially left her household, and she began to cry uncontrollably. From that day on, she would no longer belong to this household, and when she thought of the nostalgic times since her childhood, and of her mother who could not be present to see her then, how could she have controlled her emotions? Teacher Liu walked to Zhang Xiaolong who immediately called him father-in-law, and he placed Liu Qing’s hands into his as he said, “Xiaolong, I am entrusting Qingqing to you. You must remember the things I have mentioned before, and treat her well, and do not let her down.”
Zhang Xiaolong received Liu Qing’s hands and said seriously, “Father-in-law, I will sincerely take good care of Qingqing. You can watch me in the future as I will not let you down.”
Then, teacher Liu walked to Liu Qing’s front and said, ”Qingqing, you are from this day on a member of the Zhang household. You have to be a good, supportive wife, and lead a good, happy life with Xiaolong. I won’t say too much, but I hope that the two of you can lead a long, happy life together.”
Liu Qing cried as she said, “I understand, father. We will do so.”
Then, teacher Liu said, “Alright, both of you can hurry back now. The other party must still be waiting for you.”
Thus, Zhang Xiaolong pulled Liu Qing’s hands as he led her up to the sedan which was waiting outside for a while, before he got up onto his horse which Zhang Xiaohua led from one side and Liu Yueyue stood on the other side. Then, the entire procession began to move away from the Liu household and back to the village entrance.
Seeing the procession disappear slowly from his sight, teacher Liu would not help but let the tears fall from his eyes. The daughter whom he has raised has finally been married off to another household, and it reminded him of his deceased wife who was unable to participate in the wedding although he believed that she would be in heaven watching out for their daughter’s happiness.
At this moment, Liu Kai appeared by his side, and he comforted his father, “Father, Xiaolong is a good child, and the members of the Zhang household are sensible people. Younger sister would not suffer any inconvenience when she is married over, and furthermore, aren’t you planning to follow them soon? If anything happens, you would still be the first to know, and thus younger sister’s life will not be very different from how it was like here.”
Teacher Liu sighed as he nodded and shook his head, before turning back into the house.
When Zhang Xiaolong brought the procession out of Bali Gou’s village, he looked up into the sky and saw that it was already three poles after morning. Thus, he said to Zhang Xiaohua and Liu Yueyue, “It seems that we are slightly behind on time, so we will have to rush for the remainder of the trip. Xiaohua, you can ride the horse with me. Yueyue, you can take the sedan as well, since the bridesmaid should have a sedan by rights.” The two followed Zhang Xiaolong’s instructions as they climbed up the horse and sedan, and the procession quicken their steps as they rushed to Guo village in hopes of making it before noon.
The people in the procession had already eaten and rested while Zhang Xiaolong and Zhang Xiaohua were inside the Liu household, even the horse was fed, and thus, they did not play any instruments as they rushed back to Guo village.
They still had to take the main road on their way back, and by this time, there were already many passers-by on the road. Some of the passersby would point and gossip while trying to guess the appearance of the bride which was hidden under the curtains of the sedan.