Translator : Casualtranslator
~ Enjoy ~
At that moment, Zhang Xiaohu wrinkled his brows and glared at Zhang Xiaohua, he asked, “Xiaohua, why did you not stay in Huanxi mountain villa obediently and come all the way to this little remote town? This place is not even ordinarily far from Pingyang city, did you come alone? Or did someone else bring you along? Did you commit a serious fault in the mountain villa and thus escaped all the way over to here? If that is the case, Xiaohua, you don’t have to be afraid and tell second brother everything that happened. Even if the sky was to fall, second brother will support it with his hands for you, but you must tell me the truth honestly.”
When Zhang Xiaohua heard his second brother asked so many questions and became more ridiculous as he speculated, he quickly waved his hands and said, “Don’t, second brother, even if the sky was to fall, it will still be taller than you so you don’t have to worry about me. If you ask so many questions at once, how do you expect me to answer them? You should pour me some water; I am feeling quite thirsty right now. I will explain everything to you after I quench my thirst.”
Zhang Xiaohu had no other choice but to turn around and pour him a cup of water. He watched Zhang Xiaohua as the latter gulped down the water before asking again, “You can explain the situation now right?”
Actually, Zhang Xiaohua was not unwilling to share the truth about Ou Yan and the rest with Zhang Xiaohu. However, he was always conscious of He Tianshu’s reminder to keep the trip a secret, and the events of the attack during the rainy night almost caused him to lose his life, so he was afraid that his second brother would worry unnecessarily if he told the latter the truth. Furthermore, master Jing Xuan also seemed reluctant to let her traces be known to others, and she did not even share her origins with Zhang Xiaohua, so how could Zhang Xiaohua not spare some consideration for her circumstances?
Nevertheless, Zhang Xiaohu was Zhang Xiaohua’s own brother, so if he could not even trust him, then who else can he trust in this world? After pondering for a long while, Zhang Xiaohua finally opened his mouth and said, “Second brother, there are certain things that I have to keep secret so you must never ever tell anyone I am going to tell you today. Even if your station head Luo asks about it, you must not mention it to him.”
When Zhang Xiaohu first saw Zhang Xiaohua’s worried expression, he assumed that the latter had committed a grievous fault, but when he listened to Zhang Xiaohua’s warning, his face turned serious and he nodded in agreement, “Alright, Xiaohua, I promise that I will not tell anyone whatever you are going to say.”
Thus, Zhang Xiaohua recounted all the events since he left Huanxi mountain villa with the carriage party all the way up to the attack on the rainy night, but he did not mention anything about the fight between him and the black clothed elder. Instead, he said that he fell into the river accidentally while running away from the black clothed people, grabbed onto a piece of driftwood, and thus managed to survive and float down the river.
Zhang Xiaohu and Zhang Xiaohua had grown up together, so Zhang Xiaohu was naturally well aware of Zhang Xiaohua’s abilities in swimming. While the latter is able to play pretend as a frog in the village river, being a loach in a river during a storm was far from impossible to him. Thus Zhang Xiaohu did not suspect Zhang Xiaohua’s explanation of grabbing onto the driftwood, but his face still turned pale white when he heard Zhang Xiaohua float down the river for a long time until he was fished out at a slower running stream.
Seeing his second brother’s frightened expression, Zhang Xiaohua felt puzzled so he asked, “What’s wrong, second brother, aren’t I doing well now? What is there to be afraid of?”
Zhang Xiaohu forced a smile and said, “As the saying goes, ignorance is bliss. Zhang Xiaohua, did you know that we are not far from sea over here, and that the river of our left would join up to the sea not far away? If you were not fished up from the river, you would have floated all the way to that wide river which is even harder to go up ashore from, and when the river brings you to the sea, you might never have a chance to go back on land again. The sea is so vast and with only a piece of driftwood to keep you afloat, I am afraid you would have lost your life long ago. Tell me, how can I not be frightened?”
Zhang Xiaohua felt a shiver down his spine when he heard this, he secretly thanked little Meng’s fishing rod for which if not, he might be sleeping at the boundless sea right now!
Zhang Xiaohua continued to explain how he had fallen sick after being fished out of the river, and only until yesterday did his saviour brought him out and placed him in this unfamiliar town.
Zhang Xiaohu naturally felt indescribable heartache when he heard his younger brother barely escaped death so why would he bother about the minor questionable details, he gripped onto his younger brother’s hands tightly and while hoping that he could take his brother’s place in facing all these dangers and pains.
Zhang Xiaohua was even more assured of his decision when he saw Zhang Xiaohu’s reaction, if the latter had known that he was almost killed by someone else, wouldn’t his tears be falling all the way to the ground right then?
After half a bell of time, Zhang Xiaohu spoke up, “Since you floated all the way to here and villa master Ou’s life or death is still uncertain, then we naturally cannot mention any of this matters to anyone else, so you can just say that you were arranged to come here by a supervisor in Huanxi mountain villa instead.”
However, he laughed almost immediately and said, “However, who would dispatch a child like you to such a faraway place? It is more believable if you said that you followed someone else over but got separated when you reached this town. Now that you met us coincidentally, you can follow us back to Pingyang city and whatever that happens after we return can be decided later on.”
Zhang Xiaohua blinked and smiled, he said, “Then I shall follow second brother’s suggestion. Luckily, elder brother Yuan saw that I was tired yesterday and did not ask me too many questions, if not, I would be at a loss of what to say.”
When he spoke up to here, Zhang Xiaohu seemed to recall something and smiled gleefully, he teased, “I heard that someone’s actions were awe-inspiring yesterday, and he seemed to have gotten quite a good harvest.”
Zhang Xiaohua’s face immediately flushed when he heard this, he muttered softly, “That was because I did not want to let them off too easily.”
He then shook Zhang Xiaohu’s wrist and said, “Second brother, I won’t dare to do it in the future, okay?”
Zhang Xiaohu’s face straightened and he asked in a curious tone, “Why not? Not only must you do this, you should give them a good beating as well. As to these type of bullies, I can’t wait to punish them myself so why would I blame you?”
Zhang Xiaohua looked at Zhang Xiaohu with a shocked expression, he stopped shaking the latter’s wrist and asked in disbelief, “You approve of my actions?”
Zhang Xiaohu smiled cheerfully as he replied, “That’s right, second brother approves of it wholeheartedly.”
Zhang Xiaohua became thrilled when he heard this, he said, “That is my good second brother. Oh right, I have not looked at the harvest from yesterday, so now would be a good time to do so.”
After finishing his sentence, he pulled out a large dump of money pouches from his breast that were of different sizes and various styles.
He then casually took one out that seemed rather full and opened it, while Zhang Xiaohu picked up another and opened to study its contents as well.
The money pouch that Zhang Xiaohua opened contained a few broken silvers and some copper coins, and while he was counting them, he heard Zhang Xiaohu exclaimed, “Wow, there are many things in this money pouch, there is even a hair pin. Oh, why is there a rock in here as well?”
Zhang Xiaohua raised his head to look and saw his second brother studying the contents of his own money pouch with interest, Zhang Xiaohua quickly snatched it away and said, “I did not get this from yesterday, I picked it up in the mountains a few days ago.”
Zhang Xiaohu was surprised but he did not suspect his words, he smiled and said, “Xiaohua, it seems that lady luck is shining on you. How could there be so much money on a money pouch which you picked up randomly.”
Zhang Xiaohua was too lazy to explain the details so he threw another money pouch from the table over and said, “Hurry and look at the rest.”
Zhang Xiaohu caught the money pouch and said, “Why bother doing it like this so slowly, let’s pour all of their contents on the table instead.”
Zhang Xiaohua smiled and said, “Second brother’s idea is good.”
Hence, the two brothers picked up the money pouches and poured all their contents one by one onto the tabletop.
Even though there were seven to eight money pouches on the table, there were not much things inside them and apart from elder brother Fan’s money pouch which was more filled than the rest, the others only contained a few copper coins. Zhang Xiaohua thought as he looked at the items, “Their money pouches are so empty, no wonder they wanted to rob me.”
However, as the saying goes, many small things go a long way so even though each money pouch had little money in them, there was seven to eight of them and their total contents added up to almost five pieces of silver and dozens of copper coins so Zhang Xiaohu still felt rather impressed.
After tidying and counting them, Zhang Xiaohu pushed the silvers and copper coins towards Zhang Xiaohua and said, “These are your harvests, so keep them well.”
Zhang Xiaohua smiled but he only kept the copper coins and pushed the rest back to his second brother, he said, “Second brother, I will keep the copper coins as pocket change but you can keep these silvers for me and send it to our parents when you have the opportunity to.”
Zhang Xiaohu did not stand on the ceremony when he heard this, he picked out a money pouch that was decent looking from the dump and filled it with the silvers before placing it securely in his chest, he said, “Alright, then I will not be courteous. At least, I have a money pouch now which is no worse than the one you picked from the mountains.”
Zhang Xiaohua did not reply but took out the jade piece from his breast and said, “This is also for you, the person said that it was a counterfeit yesterday so you can go to the pawnshop when you are free to exchange it for some silvers.”
Zhang Xiaohu received it and studied it carefully before returning it back to Zhang Xiaohua, he said, “Forget it, there are many silvers here already and since it is a counterfeit, it should not be worth much. You can carry it and treat it as a toy instead.”
Zhang Xiaohua put it back into his breast as he was told.
Following this, he took out the small sword from his breast and passed it to Zhang Xiaohu.
Zhang Xiaohu saw Zhang Xiaohua continuously taking out items from his breast so he could not help but teased, “Is your breast a hundred treasures treasure chest? Why are there so many good stuff coming from it?”
Zhang Xiaohua only smiled and then explained the events of He Tianshu in the blacksmith store to Zhang Xiaohu. Zhang Xiaohua laughed secretly when he heard it, when he was in Pingyang city and had never gone out for a job, he always assumed that the prices of weapons were the same everywhere but after travelling out for a few times, he realized that weapon prices differed everywhere, so even though those seven silvers might not count for much to He Tianshu, it would still be a large amount to the blacksmith, so no wonder the other party gave a free gift along with it.
Zhang Xiaohu could tell that his little brother liked the small sword a lot so he took it and glanced all over, but he found nothing special apart from its weight, not to mention any hint of connectivity of comfort so he smiled and said, “It seems that this small sword is fated to belong to you, I can’t find anything out of the ordinary on it. However, it should still be something good for it to be given free after spending seven silvers in a blacksmith store.”
Even though Zhang Xiaohu said these words, he did not believe them. He felt that his little brother did not have many toys while growing up, so the latter naturally became attached when he got a new one so easily.
Zhang Xiaohua’s excitement diminished slightly as well when he saw his second brother’s disinterest, but he naturally could not tell the latter about how he used the small sword to kill the black clothed elder, so he kept back the small sword into his breast again.
At that moment, the sky had already brightened considerably so Zhang Xiaohu said, “Let’s go, Xiaohua, we shall have some breakfast first. I will still need to work later on so you can stay in the courtyard and play in here. The date for our return has already been fixed so you can follow us back then, so don’t worry about anything else and play to your heart’s content.”
Zhang Xiaohua pursed his lips and thought secretly, “Still treating me as a kid!”
Zhang Xiaohu led Zhang Xiaohua out of the door and they met station head Luo outside, station head Luo’s eyes were swollen as though he just woke up from a drunken stupor and when he saw Zhang Xiaohu’s nonchalant attitude, he called out to the latter and asked, “Zhang Xiaohu, how was the matter yesterday?”
Zhang Xiaohu replied respectfully, “Station head Luo, everything was settled properly and I will give you a report of it later after breakfast. Please be settled.”
Station head Luo nodded in approval and said, “Good, well done. Go have your breakfast first and find me later. Oh right, this little brother is really your younger brother?”
Zhang Xiaohu smiled and said, “That’s right, he is my little brother Zhang Xiaohua. It was indeed a coincidence to meet him here, I will tell you about it in detail later.”
Station head Luo waved his hands and motioned the two brothers away to have their breakfast while he yawned and headed off to another direction.
Zhang Xiaohua carefully tugged Zhang Xiaohu and asked, “Second brother, why does this station head Luo not have the bearings of a station leader, are all station leaders in Lotus escort like this?”
Zhang Xiaohu looked around at his surroundings before saying in a soft tone, “Xiaohua, some things should be left unsaid especially if there are people around. While other station leaders in the escort station are not like this, perhaps station head Luo have been out of the city for too long and grew homesick, which is why he is like this now.”
Zhang Xiaohua followed Zhang Xiaohu and had their breakfast at the small kitchen in the courtyard. At that moment, the station’s cook and many of the delivery hands already knew that their head Zhang’er had met his own younger brother coincidentally in town, and Zhang Xiaohua’s outstanding performance in town the day before had already been blabbered by Yuan Changqing to the rest. Hence, many of these people had good feelings towards Zhang Xiaohua, and no matter what, they could all be considered fellow brothers from Pingyang city so since he was able to punch out the teeth from an earthen snake, they all felt satisfied as though they were the ones who upheld justice personally.
Zhang Xiaohua was also feeling intimate towards these people after not seeing any familiar faces for a long time, he obediently talked to everyone and even before he finished his meal, everyone already developed a good impression towards him as though he was their own younger brother.
Zhang Xiaohu had many work to do in the team so he did not have much time to look after Zhang Xiaohua, he was initially worried that the latter would not adapt to the surroundings but upon seeing everyone treating Zhang Xiaohua with much love, his worries eased so he hurriedly finished his meal and gave Zhang Xiaohua a few instructions before rushing over to station head Luo’s room.
Station head Luo’s room was significantly larger than Zhang Xiaohu’s one, and it was the only house with two rooms inside. At that moment, station head Luo was sitting inside the main room with a bowl of congee in front of him, and he was massaging his temples obviously still trying to recover from his hangover.
Upon seeing Zhang Xiaohu entered, station head Luo pointed to the stool in front of him and ordered, “Sit.”
He then picked up the congee bowl and took two mouthfuls of congee before calling someone to bring it out.
Station head Luo then took two sips of tea before turning to Zhang Xiaohu and asked, “Deputy station head Zhang, report to me what happened yesterday.”
Zhang Xiaohu hurriedly stood up and said, “Station head Luo does not have to be so courteous, I was lucky to be looked upon favourably by fourth master Wen to be your assistant but I am still a delivery hand so you only need to address me as Zhang Xiaohu.”
Station head Luo smiled and said, “Deputy station head Zhang may only be a simple delivery hand, but you have also learnt the more profound martial arts in the martial arts school, so isn’t it certain that you will become a station head in the future? I am addressing you like this in advance, don’t you think so?”
Zhang Xiaohu modestly replied, “As long as I am not station head, I should not be addressed as such, don’t you agree to that as well?”
Station head Luo smiled but he was obviously in disagreement.
Zhang Xiaohu saw station head Luo remained silent and knew that the other party was slightly jealous of him for being able to learn martial arts from the martial arts school, and furthermore, the roles of an assistant head was appointed to him personally by fourth master Wen, so he did not argue anymore on the topic and said in a professional tone, “The discussion with the merchant yesterday happened like this.”
Following this, Zhang Xiaohu recounted all the details of the discussion between him and the merchant while station head Luo nodded occasionally as he sipped on his tea, and after Zhang Xiaohu finished his report, the latter said, “You have done well, deputy station head. Everything will be as you have proposed, so you can send them a reply of our confirmation later.”
Zhang Xiaohu nodded his head in understanding and said, “In that case, station head Luo, I shall take my leave and inform the other brothers to prepare to set off in a few days’ time.”
Station head Luo nodded and said, “Alright, give them some notice. We have stayed here for long, and the New Year has already passed.”
Zhang Xiaohu bowed and turned around to prepare to leave.
At that moment, station head Luo spoke up again, “Deputy station head Zhang, hold on.”
Zhang Xiaohu quickly retraced his steps, turned around and asked, “Station head Luo, what is the matter?”
Station head Luo smiled and said, “It is like this, deputy station head Zhang, since you are appointed as a leader, you should lead by example and be a good role model for the rest, don’t you think so?”
Zhang Xiaohu was surprised as he asked, “Station head Luo, please remind me if I have done anything wrong recently. I am still not familiar with the rules of the escort station so there are still many areas where I have to learn from you.”
Station head Luo was pleased when he heard Zhang Xiaohu’s reply, he smiled and said, “Actually, it is nothing much, but when these people leave the station for the job, the escort station has to bear the cost of their accommodation and food. Everyone’s daily needs are provided up to a certain quality which you are well aware of, and the costs of all these necessities are explicitly recorded in the account books, so how would I be able to explain myself if any of these expenses are out of the ordinary? Since your little brother had suddenly appeared, our expenses for food and accommodation will need to be adjusted accordingly.”
Zhang Xiaohu’s face changed greatly upon hearing this.