Translator : Casualtranslator
~ Enjoy ~
Returning to the villa
Once Zhang Xiaohua sat down, Li Jinfeng laughed gleefully and asked, “Xiaohua, are you close to that Qiu Tong?”
Zhang Xiaohua replied, “Of course, elder sister Qiu Tong was the one who let me into Huanxi mountain villa, so we are naturally close to each other.”
“How old is that Qiu Tong? Where is she from? Are there are people in her household? Also, is she… is she engaged?” A string of questions flooded from Li Jinfeng’s mouth.
Zhang Xiaohua was stumped, he muttered, “We are close, but… we have only met two to three times. I am not sure of the answers to your questions, why not I help you ask them the next time I meet her.”
Li Jinfeng put his finger onto his mouth and said, “Hush, these things are not too appropriate to ask in person. When you have the time, you can discreetly find out about it. Remember not to draw any attention and not to let her know that I asked them.”
Zhang Xiaohua was surprised, he asked, “Why? It is obviously you who wanted to know, why do you want to beat around the bush?”
Li Jinfeng put his hands behind his back and looked to the window, he said, “Birds courting through song, on the river originates from the land, to the fair lady, your gentlemanly pursuer has come. Xiaohua, you are still young and will understand once you grow up.”
Zhang Xiaohua’s forehead was set with perspiration, he asked, “Where did this phrase come from? Why have I not heard of it?”
Li Jinfeng smiled and said, “There are countless libraries under the sky, and I will only get to read from one in my poor life. The sea of knowledge in the world is vast, and only by reading good books continuously can one catch up with the times. The earlier phrase was from a song from a story, you will understand its meaning if you read the book in the future, and even if I explain it now you may not be able to understand yet.”
Zhang Xiaohua pursed his lips but his heart was full of agreement, he had only studied for a few days whereas Li Jinfeng had studied for tens of years, how could his knowledge match up to the latter? The phrase he recited earlier was something Zhang Xiaohua could only take his word for since they were not at the same level.
The two men chatted for a while longer, and Li Jinfeng would occasionally ask Zhang Xiaohua about Qiu Tong whether he was doing it intentionally or unintentionally. Unfortunately, Zhang Xiaohua had not seen Qiu Tong since he entered Huanxi mountain villa so he could only share some titbits on the person, yet even these titbits would cause Li Jinfeng to listen attentively and gratuitously. Li Jinfeng suddenly remembered something and asked, “Xiaohua, you have not been in Pingyang city for long, how did you manage to meet Qiu Tong? I have been in the city for much longer than you have, how come I do not have your fortune?”
Hence, Zhang Xiaohua recounted the events that led him to meet Qiu Tong, and Li Jinfeng sighed regretfully, “Such a good opportunity and it was taken by you. If it was me, I would definitely have caught hold of the thief and dragged him to her front.”
Zhang Xiaohua pursed his lips again and said, “If the person was you, then where would I find my rice bowl? Such a flippant fellow, you even want to steal my livelihood. Furthermore, you still want to catch a thief with that body of yours, if not for me that day, you would not even notice when the thief stole your money pouch.”
When Li Jinfeng listened to his words, his eyes brightened and he said, “In this case, both Qiu Tong and I met the same thief, and our money pouches were not stolen because of you. It seems that we two share quite a similar fate.”
Seeing Li Jinfeng who was smitten in love, Zhang Xiaohua rolled his eyes. If the signs were this obvious, then even Zhang Xiaohua could tell that Lin Jinfeng had a crush on Qiu Tong even if he used his legs to think. However, it was Zhang Xiaohua’s first time seeing someone so foolishly hung on love.
If this connection could be considered as fate, then the old moon’s red string of destiny would be worthless.
As night came, Zhang Xiaohu returned back and Zhang Xiaohua recounted the earlier events of the day to him. Zhang Xiaohu was happy, he felt as if a stone had fallen off from his heart. Even though third master Qu had promised to settle with Huanxi mountain villa, Zhang Xiaohu would still worry for each day if no news came from the other party about Zhang Xiaohua’s arrangement over there. He had also met Qiu Tong before since she was the one who brought Zhang Xiaohua over the first time, and if it was her again, Zhang Xiaohu had confidence in her reliability.
For the next few days, Zhang Xiaohua continued to stay on bed to nurse his injuries but his heart would feel as though there was a cat scratching it. He did not want to stay in bed and could not wait to return to the mountain villa, and even the books that Li Jinfeng brought could not distract his attention. Zhang Xiaohu was also troubled with his own affairs; inner energy cultivation was not like fist martial arts training after all, even after practicing for a long time, he had not yet touched the door of cultivation so he naturally felt restless.
Thus, the two brothers would often exchange glances at each other in the room, and out of boredom, Zhang Xiaohua asked Zhang Xiaohu, “Second brother, why don’t I go back to Huanxi mountain villa first, I am already bored to death after staying in the escort station for these few months and not even stepping out of this room once. Anyway, I know a few people in the mountain villa, that place is much larger like our Guo village, while I can also move comfortably now and am not afraid of my bones getting hurt, what do you think?”
Zhang Xiaohu pondered for a moment and nodded, he said, “Might as well, since you are not doing much while staying here, I will go to the pharmacy tomorrow to look for the physician for one last consultation before sending you over. Oh right, I heard that the carriage station makes trips over, so once the physician finished his check up, we can go to the carriage station and rent a carriage to bring you back.”
Zhang Xiaohua pondered and said, “Second brother, I heard from Ma Jing that it is not cheap to rent a carriage. I think it is better to return on foot, since I have not moved about all this time, it would be a good opportunity for me to stretch my muscles. Oh right, you can hold on to my first month’s pay from Huanxi mountain villa for the time being, and send it over to father and mother when you find a chance to.” While he spoke, Zhang Xiaohua took out the money from his breast and passed it to Zhang Xiaohu before continuing, “This was the main reason why I came over to look for you, but unfortunately I ended up staying here for a few months, it’s like heaven playing a joke on me.”
When Zhang Xiaohu saw the coins on his younger brother’s little palm, he felt emotional and was at a loss for words, and after a while later, he said, “Xiaohua, you can keep these coins for yourself first. Your expenses will naturally be higher as compared to when at home, and you will be by yourself in Huanxi mountain villa, I cannot be by your side so you will need the money more. Keep the money to buy some things for yourself, our parents at home would also wish the best for you, so just live well and only send some money back after you have taken good care of yourself.”
Zhang Xiaohua persisted and pushed the money into Zhang Xiaohu’s hands, he said, “It is alright, second brother. I cannot leave Huanxi mountain villa as and when I like, and everything there is part of my pay, food and clothes are all provided so what else can I spend my money on? Furthermore, this is my first pay so it has more sentimental value, it should be given to our parents in thanks for raising us. This money represent that I have matured, and is a token of my filial piety to them.”
Zhang Xiaohu smiled and said, “This Li Jinfeng is not bad to have made you become such a proper man, even your words sound more reasonable nowadays. Mm, since you have said so, I shall keep them and ask someone to remit the money back if there is a chance. However, you have just recovered from an injury so do not over-exert yourself. I have accumulated several months of pay in the escort station, so I will pay for the carriage to bring you back there.”
Zhang Xiaohua objected to his idea, but Zhang Xiaohu was worried for his younger brother, and they pushed each other back and forth without reaching a conclusion until it was time for them to sleep.
On the morning of the second day, Zhang Xiaohua followed Zhang Xiaohu to the pharmacy to undergo a check-up from the physician. After the physician conducted the check-up and replaced his bandages, he smiled and said to Zhang Xiaohua, “Your bones are growing straight and the recovery is going well, the time it took was also shorter than I expected, it seemed that I have been cruel to you. From today onwards, you can move you right hand as you wish, but you must take note not to use too much force in the beginning, never ever try to carry something heavy with your right hand, and use your left hand dominantly while working. Oh right, you can try to use your right hand to eat more often since it will be good exercise to train its flexibility.”
Zhang Xiaohua asked anxiously, “Then when can I train martial arts again?”
The physician looked at the anticipation in Zhang Xiaohua’s expression, and turned to look at Zhang Xiaohu before saying kindly, “Mm, you can try to move your right hand more, and you can remove the bandages after a few days. During then, you can try to do some martial arts, but remember that the fist martial arts are only to strengthen your body and not for fighting, so you have to avoid exchanging pointers or getting into trouble in the future.”
Zhang Xiaohua was surprised, what was the use of fist martial arts if not for fighting? However, he still nodded his head and pretended to understand.
Zhang Xiaohua was in high spirits as he followed Zhang Xiaohu, his steps were light and bouncy as he tried to move his hands around. Zhang Xiaohu quickly stopped him, he said, “Even though the physician said that you can use your right hand, that is only up to a certain limit. Do not make such forceful motions and try to do less strenuous activities in the beginning, and after a while, you can continue to practice your martial arts. Oh right, I feel that gentleman Li’s words are quite reasonable, why don’t you read more books, perhaps studying will be more interesting?” Zhang Xiaohu said because he had yet to give up on persuading Zhang Xiaohua.
Zhang Xiaohua quickly walked normally but he answered, “Studying is so boring, even though those books are interesting, it is still meaningless to drill though them every day. I still want to learn martial arts and cultivate inner energy.”
Zhang Xiaohu said, “Sigh, cultivate what inner energy. Not to mention where you can learn your inner energy cultivation method from, even I have been practicing for so long without seeing any results, cultivating inner energy is really too hard.”
Zhang Xiaohua smiled and said, “Second brother, don’t you always say that training martial arts is like grinding a metal rod into a needle, why do you say such dejected words now?”
Zhang Xiaohu smiled bitterly and said, “But you still have to see what type of metal rod it is, sigh, let’s not talk about it anymore, perhaps you will understand when it is your turn, you won’t believe anything I say for now. However, since you want to persist in martial arts, you must remember to take it slow and adjust according to your limits. Only once the time is ripe, you can continue to pick up from where you left off.”
The two brothers chatted until they reached their room, and at that moment, there was a person waiting outside the door and upon seeing Zhang Xiaohu, he said hurriedly, “Zhang Xiaohu, where did you run off to? Sixth master Li has been looking for you urgently.”
Seeing the person’s hastiness, Zhang Xiaohu did not say much to Zhang Xiaohua before he left, except to stay behind and not go off to Huanxi mountain villa himself.
Zhang Xiaohua initially had the intention to go by himself, but upon seeing the expression of his second brother’s eyes as they stared into his own, he decided to wait obediently in the room.
While he was waiting in the room by himself, a voice came from outside, “Zhang Xiaohua, Zhang Xiaohua, where are you?”
Upon hearing the familiar voice, Zhang Xiaohua excitedly hopped off the bed and replied back even before exiting the room, “I am here, elder brother Ma, over here.”
It was indeed Ma Jing, Zhang Xiaohua’s ex-roommate who had come.
After not seeing his roommate for a few months, Zhang Xiaohua only had feelings of longing towards the other party, even the matter of the foot stench had been left at the back of his mind as he dashed out of the room.
By the time he reached the door, Ma Jing had followed his voice and walked over, and upon seeing Zhang Xiaohua walked out of the room, he was also overjoyed and went over to grab Zhang Xiaohua’s right hand. Zhang Xiaohua had already gotten accustomed to using his left hand during this period, so he naturally extended his left hand out which caused Ma Jing to fluster and switch his hands immediately. By the time Zhang Xiaohua recovered his caution towards the other party’s hands, Ma Jing had already taken Zhang Xiaohua’s hands warmly while his other arm swung naturally around Zhang Xiaohua’s shoulders. Zhang Xiaohua could not retract his hand or shoulders, and he heard Ma Jing’s warm friendly voice, “Brother-ah, it has been such a long time, elder brother missed you terribly, how come your voice has turned so nice? It is much closer to elder brother’s awe inspiring voice now.”
Zhang Xiaohua shirked his hands and tried to invite Ma Jing into the room, but Ma Jing continued to hold onto his hand tightly and continued to talk without waiting for his response, “Brother, did you know that on that day, I remembered that you told me that you would wait for me at the guardhouse, so when I did not see you there, I thought that you had already returned. I felt strange because you said you would wait for me, and I even went back early despite little Peach… Oh, so I waited a little longer for you at the door in case you were late and could not find the way back. When I went back to the room, you were not there even up till the next day and I began to miss you. Sigh, brother Xi as well, even though we are roommates, your work can’t be pushed on to me right? Without you around, my days were tough and difficult, and I would look at the moon and stars while awaiting for your return, but brother Xi said that you actually hurt your hand, oh my gosh. Fortunately, brother Xi still had some compassion so he did not give me all your work, but my days were still tougher than before, look at how skinny I am now, that is a scar from all my recent sufferings.”
Zhang Xiaohua played along with his tone and said, “Elder brother Ma, it has been so difficult on you, this little brother will return the favour and adore you even more in the future.”
After finishing his sentence, he seized the opportunity and quickly pulled his hands away, but just it slipped off halfway, Ma Jing grabbed onto it tighter and tears appeared in the latter’s eyes, “Brother, you could tell as well? However, you don’t have to adore me, brother is just a lightning rod for misfortune.”
Zhang Xiaohua did not know whether to laugh or cry, he could only extend his left hand for Ma Jing to grab on while he thought secretly, “I will have to wash my hands at least ten times later, and also practice some movement techniques so that Ma Jing cannot enter half a step within my range.”
Following which, Ma Jing went on to recount all the little affairs that had happened to the group of azure robed little hats servants while Zhang Xiaohua only had one thing on his mind, which was to wash his hands. Thus, Ma Jing would continue to blow his flute to the cow until he finally said his fill and ended with, “Fortunately, a month after you got injured, my closest war buddy cum roommate, Liu Er, came back and pulled me out of the sea of misery. Oh right, you have not seen Liu Er before, come over here, let me introduce the two of you to each other.”
After finishing his sentence, he pulled Zhang Xiaohua’s hands and moved sideways to reveal a short and fat stature. Even though Ma Jing was not tall himself, this fatty was even shorter than him by some, which was no wonder why Zhang Xiaohua could not see him while Ma Jing was talking. Even though this person was not as tall as Ma Jing, his body width was twice as wide as the latter, and when Zhang Xiaohua recalled the food provided in Huanxi mountain villa, he gained some understanding to its reason. Zhang Xiaohua quickly retracted his hands and bowed towards the short and fat Liu Er, “Elder brother Liu Er, I have long heard of your name, and it’s an honour to finally see you in person today.”
Liu Er bowed and returned the greeting, his words were short and direct, “Zhang Xiaohua, nice to meet you, I hope you have recovered from your injuries.”
Zhang Xiaohua replied, “Thanks elder brother Liu Er for his concern, it has fully recovered.”
Zhang Xiaohua then said to the two men, “These two elder brothers, please follow me and take a seat inside.”
Ma Jing stopped him in his tracks and said, “Xiaohua, it is not early anymore, we did not come just to visit you.”
Zhang Xiaohua felt a wave of disappointment as he said, “You are already leaving so soon? Why not sit inside and chat for a bit, and once my second brother returns, I will follow the two of you. My injuries are more or less healed anyway, so I was just about to go back to the mountain villa with my second brother.”
Ma Jing continued, “Mm, we did not come to visit you but to complete some other matters, and bring you back to the mountain villa while we do so.”
Ma Jing emphasized on the word “visit”, and when Zhang Xiaohua caught its meaning, he sighed secretly; this Ma Jing would never change his spots.
Zhang Xiaohua said, “In that case, elder brother Ma, elder brother Liu Er, both of you can wait inside the room while I go out to find my second brother to let him know I will be leaving with you.”
Upon hearing, the two men finally entered the room.
However, after the two men entered the room, Zhang Xiaohua realized just as he stepped outside the door that he did not know where to look for Zhang Xiaohu. There were many people in the escort station, and Zhang Xiaohua was not naïve enough to think that everyone would recognize his second brother, while he had not explored the area enough to have a deep impression. Now that Zhang Xiaohu was called away by sixth master Li, Zhang Xiaohua did not know where the delivery hands would be at so he had no choice but to return back to the room.
Upon returning into the room, Ma Jing asked, “How did you inform your second brother so soon?”
Zhang Xiaohua smiled bitterly and said, “I have yet to let him know, I do not know where he went so I think I shall pack my belongings first, and at the very worst leave him a note.”
Ma Jing was surprised, he asked, “You can write? I seem to remember that you could not read well.”
Zhang Xiaohua said smugly, “Elder brother Ma, three days of separation and a person may change, not to mention that we have not met for three months, do you think I still can’t write since then?”
Ma Jing said enviously, “Xiaohua, do not lie to your elder brother, no matter how I see it, you don’t seem to be the kind of person who can learn to write in three months.”
Zhang Xiaohua said as he packed his belongings, “Fine then, once I’ve packed my stuff, I shall demonstrate it to you.”