Translator : Casualtranslator
~ Enjoy ~
Coming to stay
Dinner was naturally eaten at teacher Liu’s courtyard. Although there were not enough utensils for everyone, Zhang’s household was nearby and it only took a short trip to bring all the required things over.
Guo Sufei was busy preparing the meals in teacher Liu’s kitchen. When she saw the small but refined kitchen in the interior of the house, she could not help but feel envious, a learned person is indeed more particular about where things should be placed, and was so unlike her own ‘kitchen’ where the entire stove was left out in the courtyard under a small shed to block off the rain. Now that she thought about it, she should find some time to discuss with her husband to get the men in her household to build another room to house their kitchen, since it was not too expensive. The idea of an indoor kitchen was caught on quickly by the rest of the Guo village, and it became sort of a trend that teacher Liu kickstarted.
There were fewer people in Guo village than Bali Gou, and the things sold in the market naturally had lesser varieties. Hence, towards the group of villagers who have helped to build his house, teacher Liu was planning to treat them to a good meal, but faced a situation of ‘his heart was willing but his flesh was weak’, and he offered them a simple meal instead. However, there were many people who helped out and the house could not accommodate everyone. Fortunately, the weather was already warm so everyone brought out the tables and chairs into the courtyard to enjoy the meal. There was no such rule as ‘not to talk while eating’ among the farming villagers, so everyone chatted happily as they ate. Butcher Liu would even take a swig of his wine from time to time, but teacher Liu, Zhang Cai and Liu Kai were light drinkers. However, under the repeated toasts of butcher Liu, they naturally could not hold their liquor and soon got drunk. Teacher Liu peered through his squinted eyes to look at the merry crowd, and he felt touched because it was a long time since he had participated in such a rowdy affair, perhaps his daughter was attracted to such an atmosphere. It made him recall his deceased wife whom he saw traces of on Liu Qing’s face, and he believed that his daughter has indeed chosen the right decision for herself. Rather, he was pulled along by her onto the same boat, and she was probably hoping that they could adapt to this new lifestyle and live out the remainder of their lives that way.
After the meal, the nighttime breeze turned cold and everyone returned indoors again. Liu Qing was boiling water in the kitchen to make tea with.
When teacher Liu brought the tea to his lips, he sighed deeply in praise. This as the joy of his life, he would not mind being a member of Guo village as long as he could drink this tea daily.
Liu Kai also tasted the tea, and when he turned his gaze towards Zhang Xiaolong who was sitting opposite him, he smiled and asked, “Xiaolong, how are your injuries?”
Zhang Xiaolong hurriedly answered, “Many thanks for elder brother’s concern, my injuries have fully recovered and I had not encountered any problems while working on the house earlier.”
Butcher Liu also said, “Xiaolong, what had happened on your wedding day? You did not explain clearly then, so I would like to hear the details of the events again now.”
Zhang Xiaolong wrinkled his brow but he still recounted the events, except for the sect and name of his benefactor since Lu Yueming has explicitly informed him not to. Naturally, he did not mention the plaque as well.
Even though the story sounded simple, one could still imagine how horrifying it was for the affected people on that day.
Butcher Liu turned silent when he heard the story.
Teacher Liu noticed that the atmosphere had turned chilly, and he interrupted, “I heard that the Xicui mountain bandits have been disbanded, so Xiaolong and the rest can be relieved because I doubt that any of the bandits will come to look for you.”
Zhang Xiaolong replied, “True, I have left this matter at the back of my head because of my grandmother’s funeral, and only when things have slowed did I feel afraid that those bandits would follow the clue of our wedding and come to look for you. Fortunately, we heard later that they have disbanded, and could finally put this matter to rest.”
Teacher Liu waved his hands and said, “These Xicui mountain bandits are but a motley crew randomly put together, without their leader, they would be like a fox that has lost its tree. None of them would think of revenge, and you are all ordinary villagers so they would not bother to come after you.”
However, Liu Kai said, “That is not necessarily true. The Xicui mountain bandits have existed for a long time, and they have experienced multiple member changes over these decades. Now that they have dispersed, it may not be for long until another person rallies them under their flag again.”
Butcher Liu said loudly, “Whatever that was over has been over. Why would they come to look for revenge?”
Teacher Liu looked at Zhang Xiaolong, he knew that the Zhang household had a Piaomiao sect plaque in their possession and could piece together that their stroke of fortune had something to do with it. The people in Jianghu would assist those in need if there was a fateful encounter, but they would not extricate themselves to help any passer-by, especially to kill the Xicui mountain bandits at the risk of angering the power who was behind the group. However, Zhang Xiaolong must have a good reason to withhold any secret that he was hiding, so teacher Liu did not press on the matter and said, “The possibility of them finding us is not large, and they would look for the person who killed instead of us if they are truly out for revenge, although this does not mean that it is not possible.”
Zhang Xiaolong laughed as he said, “These are only guesses, and we cannot just run away based on them. Even if we have moved, it does not mean that they will not find us. Instead of worrying about the multitude of possibilities that may occur, we would be better off living our lives comfortably in ignorance.”
Liu Kai clapped his hands and said, “Xiaolong’s words are correct and insightful, haha. Oh right, I wanted to ask you about the poem you composed in Bali Gou, how did you think of it? Why do I not feel that this idea was not thought of by you?”
Zhang Xiaolong’s face turned red but fortunately, no one could see it under the oil lamp. He said sheepishly, “About this, I am not sure of it myself. I have never composed a poem before, and being forced to do so that day made me think of it on the spot, perhaps it was sent to me from the heavens.”
Seeing Zhang Xiaolong’s reaction, Liu Kai did not question any further. At that moment, Zhang Xiaohu who was sitting beside asked suddenly, “Teacher Liu, do you know where Pingyang city is?”
Teacher Liu smiled as he replied, “Of course I would know. Pingyang city is the closest city to Lu town, and is roughly six hundred li northeast of Lu town. Why did you suddenly ask me this?”
Zhang Xiaohu glanced over at Zhang Cai who was sitting on the chair and drinking tea to clear his drunkenness.
His following sentence made everyone surprised.
“I want to go Pingyang city.”
Everyone jumped in shock, and even the Zhang Cai who had his eyes closed opened them.
Zhang Xiaohu looked at Zhang Cai again and continued, “I want to take a look at Pingyang city. Having reached this age, the furthest I have been to is Lu town, and even the name Pingyang city was learnt from someone else’s conversation.”
Zhang Cai then sighed in relief. However, teacher Liu asked, “You only plan to visit there? After some time later, Liu Kai will need to go over to settle some matters, so you can all go together then.”
Zhang Xiaohu clenched his teeth and insisted, “No, I do not just want to take a look at the city. I wish to step out this village and expand by horizons.”
“Ah…., Xiaohu wants to leave the village?” Guo Sufei was tidying the kitchen with Liu Qing, and just happened to step out when she overheard Zhang Xiaohu’s words, and could not help but feel weird about it.
Zhang Xiaohu saw that it was his mother who entered the room and he immediately stood up to let her sit in his seat.
Guo Sufei took the seat which Zhang Xiaohu let and looked towards the latter, before asking curiously, “Xiaohu, why do you want to leave suddenly?”
Seeing everyone’s curious gaze being directed towards himself, Zhang Xiaohu organized his thoughts and said, “Father, mother, I have thought about it recently and if I would choose to live in the village like you, I can only look forward to the yellow earth in front of me and the sky behind my back, and I’ll only shuttle between our home and the fields. After a few years later, mother would find another daughter-in-law for me to work in the fields together, and we will have children whom we will teach to tend the fields, and when I grow old, I will be buried in the graveyard at the hill behind our village. I feel that this kind of life is too meaningless and dull, I wish to see more colors and meet more people so that I will not regret when I turn old.”
Everyone turned silent, and only Zhang Xiaohua who was sitting at the corner gleamed upon hearing his words.
Teacher Liu coughed and look at Zhang Cai before saying, “I can identify with nephew’s feelings because I had the same dreams when I was young. I also took steps to try and reach them, but when I did, I was faced with many obstacles and realized that this was not the life I was pursuing, and thus returned to Bali Gou. Nevertheless, it was not a completely fruitless trip because I returned with Qingqing’s mother.”
Liu Kai also continued to say, “Father is not wrong, but to whomever who has not gone out for himself, how would he know what the outside world is like? How would he determine if it was a suitable lifestyle for himself? I had the same idea as Xiaohu a few years back, and I think that Xiaohu should go out and look at the world personally before deciding. Perhaps after he experienced the cruelty of the outside world, he would return the village while clearing any regrets in his heart.”
Butcher Liu said loudly, “What is there to see in Pingyang city, isn’t it just several times larger than Lu town? It takes effort just to find a toilet, why would I go there? I do not support this idea.”
After hearing up to here, Liu Qing could naturally guess the reason for Zhang Xiaohu’s decision. However, she was now a daughter-in-law of the Zhang household, thus she turned to look at the Zhang Cai and Guo Sufei’s expressions. Upon seeing their frowns which revealed their unwillingness, Liu Qing pondered before saying, “Pingyang city is large and far from where we are. However, that is the reason why there are many people there. If Xiaohu goes over, he would definitely meet many people, and who knows if he would encounter a lovely lady to bring back for us to meet. It would be much better than finding any other lady within a few steps out of this village, since the good ones are all so rare.”
Zhang Xiaohu noticed that Liu Qing has guessed what was on his mind and he sneaked a smile at her.
At that moment, the wrinkle on Zhang Cai and Guo Sufe’s brow finally smoothened, it appeared that their son had this sort of intention. Thinking back to how far Pingyang city was, and how Zhang Xiaohu has never travelled so far out from the village, they were naturally uneasy with the idea of letting their son go so far away. However, when they thought of the trouble they went through to find a bride for Zhang Xiaolong, and having no results despite spending such a long time, it would have been a difficult problem if Zhang Xiaolong had not met Liu Qing. Now that Zhang Xiaohu has reached a marriageable age, the matter of a bride search has become another difficult problem, so if he could find a wife on his trip, then wouldn’t it solve the problem easily?
After thinking up to here, Zhang Cai was about to give his agreement when he heard another sound rang from aside.