Finally, Xue, Mao, and Li still hadn’t succeeded in finishing the two full dishes.
None of the three were born in wealthy family, and none of them would like to
Waste any foods, especially for Li Datian. He had been accustomed to the frugality lifestyle. So, he insisted that they could have the dinner together with the rest of foods. He washed the dishes and packed the rest of foods to take back dormitory.
Badou nearly couldn’t contain his disgusts, while he said nothing when he thought about the tasteless dinner offered by the canteen.
When they returned dormitory, Chen Jian was still reading. At this moment, it occurred to Xue that Chen Jian seemed hadn’t show up in canteen.
However, since he was still unfamiliar with Chen, he didn’t want to ask more boldly.
The three of them went to the Boiler Room and got their faces washed. Then they turned back to have an afternoon nap.
About an hour, they got up only to found Chen Jian reading as the same.
At this time, Xue Tingxiang had some basic understanding of Chen anyway. No matter how the others commented on Chen, he was reading hard working. Perhaps he studied so hard because of his poverty-stricken family?
Xue wondered, and somehow he recalled what he used to be in the dream.
In the afternoon, all of the students were called to gather in the Big Hall.
The Big Hall was actually big, including two big rooms at the right and left in respective. There were windows on three of the walls of the Big Hall. The rostrum was at the rest of the wall without window.
There were no desks nor chairs. Everyone was sitting on the floor, and each of them had a low table in front. Owing to the windows around the Big Wall, the lighting condition was really good.
More than twenty students were allocated in class B, occupying up to 70% of the total students in QingYuan school. As for the other 10 students, they were in the class A beside the class B with no doubt.
Behind the rostrum standing an over fifty-year-old elder. Thin and tall, with grey hair, looked strict and serious. He left soon with concise order for students that they should claim their books by themselves.
The responsible persons to distribute books were two students as well, while they seemed to have been here for a long period of the time. And they were pretty familiar with the many other students.
Viewing this, Xue asked Badou and Li, and was informed that Qing Yuan School did offer books for students. What’s more, the books were systematically offered, including the Four Books, as well as The Chapter Variorum of the Four Books.
However, these books should be returned to school at the end of each school year and could not be brought back home.
These books were gained by the elder teacher. Because many books had been used by students, the students still claimed the former ones respectively.
When it was the freshmen’s turn, the brand books had been selected. The rest of the books were worn and shabby. The freshmen had no choice. And Xue was at the end of the queue.
Both Badou and Li had gotten their books already. When they saw the broken and worn books allocated to Xue, they felt a little agitated.
Badou could not help complaining, “these are really not very good. Could you please change for some books better?”
The responsible person, the senior student, refused with an air of righteousness, “you are not new here, and you must clearly know the rules. There is no new for change. These are all.”
Badou stared at him with angry, “He Ming, you must have allocated these books to Tingxing out of the dislike of me. You cannot be like this. I can see there are books better in the case.”
“Out of the dislike of you?”He Ming sat around and repeated what Badou said again.
He pretended to have no interest in such stupid behaviors and he said with uncontainable despise, “Why should I ever care about that? You’ve been here for three years, and haven’t been able to pass the imperial examination even for once. Ha. Non sense.”
The other students at present had tried their best to make Badou less embarrassed, while there was someone who could not help breaking out into laughter. Badou’s face flashed at once.
“I have been decent with integrity. The books in the case have been claimed by him.” He Ming said, pointing at a direction.
Everyone was looking to the pointed direction, and finally saw Chen Jian, who had stood behind and kept silence from the beginning.
Wearing a grey-brown worn out blouse with a lot of patches with faint faces, Chen Jian was really not very eye-catching.
To be honest, he was not just not VERY eye-catching. His clothes were dirty grey, and he was always avoiding the eyesight of the others. All of these had discomforted the others.
At this moment, Chen Jian had no choice but to elevate his head.
There were not special features on his face, and people might even not be able to figure him out in the crowds. However, his eyes were slanted, darkened, and radiant, with secrets contained inside.
“Chen Jian have been here for a long period of the time. He of course should be placed at the priority. That is the rule. You remember?”
Hearing He Ming’s words, all of the students understood him. There indeed existed such unspoken rule in Qing Yuan School.
In fact, since Qing Yuan School was on the declination and the accessible resources became fewer and fewer, the only way to maintain the operational activities was to recruit more students to support the school financially.
However, the owner of the school was kind and merciful, and would not like to increase the tuition fees, which might account for the lack of economic resources of Qing Yuan School.
When Qing Yuan School was at its peak, the books allocated for students were printed, while now the most of allocated books were copy versions.
Even so, these books were worn out after the recycling consumption year by year.
Therefore, with so many students, the books were far from enough. Under such condition, an unspoken rule was formed. The new books would be allocated to the students in class A, and then would be for students in class B. The seniors could use the new books, and the freshmen could only use the old ones.
Chen Jian had been disliked by the others in Qing Yuan School, no matter why he was so disgusted by the others. Even though he had been here for a long period of the time, he was never regarded as the senior student.
This time, he was promoted and was even included into the senior students by He Ming!
However, with the words said by Badou taken into account, such promotion was not out of no reasons. Perhaps He Ming was actually taking his revenge on Badou in this way? Nevertheless, He Ming had provided strong reasons to cover his revenge anyway.
Badou was straight and just, and planned to argue with He Ming. However, he was stopped by Xue. “It’s OK to have book. It’s nothing to be bothered by this.” Said Xue.
He packed these books with bags well, then leave with Badou. Li followed them later.
It was not until they had got out the Big Hall that Badou asked Xue, “Ting Xing, why you stopped me just now? He Ming was obviously using excuses to take his revenge. Chen Jian was merely utilized by him to alienate our relationships inside our dormitory.”
“You see, you clearly understand these all. Then there is no need to argue with him. Besides, the excuse he has used is the rule of this school. If you argue with him, you may take an unfavorable position.”
“But Chen Jian has being using the shabbiest and worn books!”
“Then why should Chen be treated so? There is no one deserve such treatment.” Even though he smiled, Xue seemed to have revealed his strong emotions in his tone and voices.
Xue recalled the dream, in which he was the outsider and underdog when he studied in Qing He School.
At that time, Zhao’er had run out all of the money to support him to study in the School. There was no money more for him to buy new clothes and schoolbags.
Due to that, he was regarded as the outsider at the first day.
Then, he could not afford even a dish, and ate the cheapest buns and rice. Thereupon, more and more his fellows started to look down upon him.
In spite of his poverty, Xue Jun was one of the reasons why he should have suffered all of those.
His anecdotes about his child bride, Zhao’er and his unfiliality to have annoyed his grandparents all had been told by Xue Jun to the others. Unfortunately, Xue Jun came to Qing He School earlier than him, and even had a lot of friends.
Even though Xue Tingxiang was not short of money anymore owing to Zhao’er’s success in business, and had performed pretty good through hard work, his situation had been improved until he left Qing He School.
It occurred to Xue Tingxiang that he was comparing the situations between himself and Chen Jian. He just could not move his eyes from Chen Jian since he met with Chen at the first time.
It was at this moment that Xue understood why he should have been so concerned of Chen Jian. Chen Jian was just the same like himself in the dream, the same gloomy, silent, conservative, even under-esteemed.
“You say so because you don’t what have happened. You…” Badou suddenly stopped talking as he saw Chen Jian was coming near with a pill of books in his hands.
Chen Jian’s head remained half-lowered, while he looked up at Xue when he passed by them.
Xue happened to have caught the eyesight of Chen, who turned his head away immediately. A red scar hidden behind the hair of Chen was exposed to Xue.
Without carefully observation, the scar would never be seen by anyone. It was not easy to figure out the red scar.
Xue was shocked and stared at Chen Jian with astonishment. He recalled a man, the man in the dream whom Xue could never forget.
In the dream, when Xue firstly met with Chen Jian, he was suffering from dramatic changes in his life and had just entered the capital from a remote small township.
However, at that moment, THE MAN was already a household name for his getting the top one in imperial examination. Besides, he was the son-in-law of the First Grand Secretary, Mr. Xu. THE MAN was at the peak of his life.
Secretary Xu was the opponent of Xue’s tutor. That was the reason why Xue believed that he and THE MAN doomed to be rivals.
However, THE MAN was not named as Chen Jian, but Chen Huanzhi.
Xue suddenly recalled the dream in which someone had once mentioned that he and Chen should have shared the same hometown. But that time, Xue was not concerned about that at all. He investigated the background of THE MAN, and learned that Chen Huanzhi should be a rare jinx, and all the family members had died in a fire except for himself.
Chen Jian was Chen Huanzhi!
“Tingxiang, you have no idea about what he has done.”Badou said.
Xue was drown in his own thoughts. Hearing what Badou said, he said without realizing what he was talking, “WHAT had he done?”
“Ha, I should have not commented these things. Besides, there are no substantial evidences to support such comments. It is not very good to spread these things out. But I do think you should know. Last year, we, Li Datian and Chen Jian had lived in this dormitory already. The fourth one was not studying here this year, and he was named as Wang Qi. Even though we all are not born in wealthy family, we still have enough financial supports from our families. However, Chen is so poor and his family could not even afford his tuitions and fees for meals in canteen. That is all ok. Nothing wrong. But the meal tickets were stolen for several times. At the first beginning, we hadn’t been aware of that. It was when Li’s new meal tickets were gone in the cupboard that we started to realize what was happening.”
Badou indicated that the thief was Chen Jian.
“At that point, I was determined to question Chen, while stopped by Li. This charge was so serious that once Chen was proved to have committed such criminal, everything would be ruined. Chen’s family was already poor enough. It was not easy for him to study here. If he was charged with this stealing, he would be expelled out the school with no doubt. The meal tickets were not gone anymore. Therefore, we just held the whole thing down, and just didn’t talk with Chen anymore.”
Xue suddenly said, “Why you are sure Chen Jian is the theif?”
“If not him, then who eles?”
Badou’s deduction was reasonable. Chen was the one who was short of money mostly in the four of them. And he even couldn’t afford his tuitions and fees for canteen meals. Plus his solidarity, he was no doubt the one who was most likely to steal the meal tickets.
“Have you seen? Chen didn’t show up in the canteen at lunch time today! He eats twice per day without lunch.” Badou argued.
Xue smiled, while seemed not persuaded, “I don’t think he is the thief anyway. I reserve my opinion.”
“Why?” Badou asked.
“I just feel like that.”
Xue was not joking. He really felt like that and believed in that. Perhaps that was out of the empathy he had for Chen Jian because of the dream. Xue wondered.
Badou had no way anymore. Someone happened to come near, for which Badou had to stop this conversation.
They returned dormitory, only to find Chen Jian was still reading.
They didn’t talk with Chen, and prepared the books should be used tomorrow, for which all of the three were concentrating on the work.
Suddenly, a strange and hoarse voice broke out in the silent dormitory, “If you don’t like your allocated books, I can give mine to you. The books allocated to you are worn, and have been allocated to me for many semesters. They are worn and shabby, while I’ve been accustomed to that.”
It was Chen Jian who was talking to Xue!
Chen Jian stared at Xue with sincerity and honesty, which could be seen through his eyes. Xue happened to open these books in his hands, and found these books were filled with substantial and illuminating notes. Even though the books were worn, these notes were really good! Xue was rather happy to see that.
These notes were written by Chen Jian and were full with Chen’s thoughts and understandings. Some were recently written, while some had been written on the books many years ago. These notes were precious, since they were written by Chen Jian, THE MAN with talents and gifts and had won the top price in imperial examination in his dream!
Even though Xue was not bad, he could never really catch up with Chen.
Xue said, “Don’t bother with that. I think these books are good.”
Xue decided to keep these books with Chen’s notes not out of the jealousy, but the confidence of Chen’s talents and gifts. Since Chen had written for the first time, he would be able to write for the second time.
Compared with Chen, he was not so confident of his own learning. Even though he had some fragment memories about the contents of the Four Books, these fragment memories could not help him fully understand the core points.
Chen hesitated, while didn’t speak out any words anymore. He continued reading with no words.
Before long, the dinner time came. The schedule was fixed in Qing Yuan School. Besides, the schedule was based on the sunrise and sunset, for which the dinner time was pretty early.
The foods for dinner were noddle made with soba and sorghum, as well as buns made of coarse cereals. None of these were able to provide satiety, for which students always could not help getting hungry in the midnight.
This time, Chen Jian went to canteen, while had his dinner in a corner by himself without talking with the three throughout the dinner.
When they finished their dinner and returned dormitory, a managerial stuff called Xue’s.
“Here is something for you. The girl who sent the copper lock this morning give
You this basket of eggs.”
Xue took over the eggs, while Badou said with a ridiculous tone, “Oh, your little wife again! Eggs this time!”
“Don’t make a fool with me.” Xue said concisely, and entered the dormitory room. Badou followed him, and kept asking Xue whether he could eat the eggs.
The noddle, buns and the little left dishes without any meats were far from enough to full Badou. Badou was a gourmet, but he could not afford to spend so much and eat expensive dishes frequently like in the lunch.
Now, Xue received eggs. Badou really wanted to eat, even though he was also playing jokes with Xue.
Xue was not selfish, and just said, “Of course. But how?”
“That is my business, then.” Badou said with a sly smile.
Xue gave him ten, which were packed by Badou in the clothes. Badou was so happy, and said to Xue, “We can even have these eggs with the porridge tomorrow morning!”
Before long, Badou returned with the boiled eggs. Xue had to admit it was a good idea to ask for help of the managerill stuff who worked in the Boiler Room.
The boiled eggs were put into the cold water, for which the superficial shells were cool while the eggs remained hot. Even though Badou had been acquainted with Xue, he didn’t take it for granted to take the eggs. He just took merely one boiled egg, and returned the rest to Xue.
Xue took one for Li, and took another one for himself. However, when he was going to put the eggs into the cupboard, he suddenly thought about something, and took the third one.
He went to Chen Jian, who was reading under the light of the dim oil lamp, and handed over the boiled egg.
The boiled white egg was covered with light pink, for which it seemed to be shining under the dim oil lamp.
Chen Jian took over the egg unconsciously.
Xue had left before he could realize.
It made sense since Chen Jian had planned to exchange his books with Xue. Out of that consideration, Badou and Li didn’t think Xue’s behavior strange.
However, it was really silent in the dormitory room. Chen Jian said nothing, and just lowered his head, and reading his book.
But in his hand, the boiled egg was held tightly by him.