Xue had planned to bring Chen Jian to East Fence House in Bathing Day. However, it occurred to him that he might had to deal with other things that day. Therefore, he decided to bring Chen Jian out in the nooning time. He told the managerial staff that he had something to purchase. Then the managerial staff let them out.
When they arrived at East Fence House, there was Acai sitting in the store alone.
Xue asked Acai and was told that Mr. Chen, the owner of the store, was in the backyard.
Xue had been acquainted with Acai, since he had visited the East Fence Store frequently. Acid guided them to the backyard. Talkative as Badou was, he dared not to talk nonsense here.
Mr. Chen lay on a deck chair, taking sun bath and taking a sip of tea. Beside the deck chair, there were several tea tables.
Seeing Xue coming in, Mr. Chen greeted with him with enthusiastic smiles, “It’s a surprise to see you here in such workdays. What’s up?” Mr. Chen observed Chen Jian and Badou when he talked with Xue.
Xue also was like at home, and sit on a seat by himself.
“Uncle Chen, in fact, I want to ask for your favors…” He told Uncle Chen about Chen Jian and Badou, and showed him the calligraphy of Chen Jian.
Mr. Chen took over the copywriter of Chen Jian, and turned over the pages casually. But he could not move his figures anymore when he saw the calligraphy of Chen Jian.
After a long period of the time, he took a long breath, and said to Xue, “I have thought highly of your calligraphy. But this boy, his calligraphy, may not be less good than yours. Even though his calligraphy is not mature enough yet, which differs from yours, his calligraphy has shown strong persistence and great ambitions.”
Xue was listening calmly, while he was upset and disturbed.
He knew Mr. Chen was actually right, but his comments were accurate for Chen in the dream.
Xue recalled what had happened in the dream. Chen was hypocritical, sophisticated, treacherous and changeable after he suffered from the terrible change in his life.
There was some commenting him like this, “A sycophant and hypocrite, pretends to be decent and gentle, while actually is vile and vicious.”
Such comment was not biased. It was natural and accurate.
His tutor had taught him how to integrate mentality, consciousness, principles, and behaviors. However, he was turned out to be a betrayer and evil man. He was just a black sheep, who had no awes for monarchy, no respects for his teachers, and no basic understandings of the moralities.
In the dream, nearly everyone might think highly of him owing to his pretended modesty and praise him, since it was rare for a First Grand Secretary to be so friendly and accessible with gentility and tolerance.
However, all of those were pretended. He was ambitious and tyrannical. Those who followed him would thrive, and those who against him would perish.
Different from Chen Huanzhi, Xue seemed to be unruly and aggressive, while actually was determined to follow the rules and principles.
People like Xue were doomed to suffer a lot in their life, for they had too many weaknesses exposed to the others. The vile could make full use of that. Just like he introduced Chen Jian to Mr. Chen, he had done Chen a favor out of sincere kindness.
Xue was surprised that Mr. Chen’s speech should have arisen his so much concerns. And neither had Mr. Chen ever had thought about that. In fact, Mr. Chen had no clue about what Xue was thinking. Mr. Chen closed the copywriter and asked Xue, “Which one is the introduced classmate?”
Xue brought Chen Jian near, who had no clue about what Xue and Mr. Chen had talked about.
He was a little nervous, and greeted Mr. Chen carefully and respectfully.
“Please do feel at home. Since you are friend you Xue, then you are my friend as well. Your calligraphy is good. You’ll achieve something big in the future. However, you are learning in school now. If you want to attend the imperial examination and succeed in imperial examination, you’d better contain your ambitions and strong longings. Otherwise, your calligraphy may cause you troubles since the teachers may don’t like the calligraphy full with ambitions.”
“Thank you for your lectures, Mr. Chen.”
Mr. Chen said with smile, “Just some advice, far from lectures. You can call me Uncle Chen like Xue. I have many books here, and many books need to be transcribed. If you would like, you can get one tael of silver for per volume of book you have transcribed. As for the paper and inks, I’ll offer you. Acai will tell you the details.”
Chen Jian went out to ask Acai for the detailed instructions, and Xue talked with Mr. Chen for a while. Then, they went out together.
“One tael of silver! That is a large amount of money.” Badou was a little envious of the promising rewards frankly.
“That’s because Chen’s calligraphy is good enough. If you can make it like Chen and Xue, you can earn one tael of silver for one volume.” Li Datian was plain and honest.
“I must had done something bad to you in the last lifetime. You always stick my nerves!”
Li and Badou were playing jokes with each other, while Chen Jian was paying his gratitude to Xue, “Thank you. If it’s not for your sake, Uncle Chen will not offer me such promising price.”
“It has nothing to do with me. As Datian said, your good calligraphy has won you the promising price.”
Chen was somewhat emotional, and clenched his bag tightly in which the papers and inks were packed, “Anyway, I do owe you my sincere thanks. This money is important to me. I will do my best to do this work.”
Xue said nothing, but just clapped on his shoulder, and nodded.
Badou and Li Datian came to Xue and Chen, and said, “Fine, fine. Please do not thank anymore. We still have enough time, why not have some fun?”
The rest of the three were not very interested in this idea.
Li said, “It’s already not early. The rest time may not be enough. Besides, tomorrow is Bathing Day, and we will have enough time tomorrow.”
It occurred to Xue that he had to purchase something, which was not merely an excuse to go out. With some hesitation, he asked Badou, “Do you know where I can buy the stuff that girls may like?”
Xue wanted to do further explanation, while Badou smiled with sly and said, “I know, I know. Are you going to buy some gifts for your fiancée? Let me show you the way!”
Following Badou, they finally arrived at a remote valley. All of them dressed in the student-style shirts, which made them out of place.
Badou guided the way, and said, “You may pay no more glance at such places. But the stuff here is diverse and abundant. My elder sister always visits here to buy the hairpins and stuff like that. My family is not rich. But the stuff sold on stalls are too inferior to use for long, while the Silver Stores are too expensive for us. Therefore, here may be the best choice for us.”
Before Badou finished his words, a little store opened. The door was as big as the stores on the prosperous streets. And inside the store, the room was not big neither.
There was no signboard outside, nor the advertisement sign. However, Xue found the decoration and layout of the little store were intrinsically designed for female customers.
“Ha, Mr. Storekeeper. I come again.” Badou greeted with the elder woman and entered the store.
“Oh, it’s you. Boy, isn’t your sister coming with you?” The storekeeper seemed to be in her 40s. Even though she was not young, but she was tidy and decent, which had made good impressions on others.
“Ha, I come with my friends to buy some stuff.”
The elder storekeeper stared at them, and seemed had understood, “Then, help yourselves. I may offer you favorable prices.”
Xue had come to the front shelf when Badou was talking with the storekeeper. The front shelf had been designed in unique way. On the front shelf, there lay some wooden boxes, in which many intrinsic stuff was put, such as the pouches, sachets, combs, mirrors, hair clasp, earrings, hair binds, etc. Xue had never gotten to know these stuff, and he suddenly got puzzled.
Badou finished his conversation with the storekeeper and came to Xue, “What do you want to buy? And how much you would like to pay? You want to buy one piece of stuff or different pieces? I may provide you some suggestions.”
Under this condition, Xue was not calm anymore. He seemed had lost the mind and was at the mercy of Badou.
“This bead flower is good. Girls like this kind of bead flower in pink. My elder sister really loves such ones…”
“Or this wood hairpin. It is special and unique. Oh, look, this earning…”
Badou said without pauses.
“Badou, how can you know these?” Li Datian asked with curiosities.
Badou relied with forced smiles, “My elder sister loves those things. Every time she comes here, she will ask me to company her.”
Badou saw Xue staring at a peach wood hairpin with lotus. He said, “This hairpin is not bad. Elegant and tasteful. There are even earrings in the same style. But these may be expensive.”
“You do have a good taste. This pair of hairpin is just purchased from the city towm. Just one pair. It has been intrinsically designed and crafted. The hairpin is made of silver, and the lotus is made of the Lotus Stone…” The elder storekeeper said to Xue.
For a while, they went out of the store with a wooden box in Xue’s hand.
“Tingxiang, you’re really generous. This pair of hairpin has costed a tael of silver. It takes you a lot of time and work to earn a tael of silver.” As generous Badou was, he would not be so generous as Xue like this.
In general, it would not cost more than one hundred cents to buy the girls stuff. But Xue should have spent one tael of silver!
“This pair is suitable for her. I can earn the one tael of silver later, but this pair may not be found anymore.” Xue smiled, and sensed the wooden box in his bag.
“It sounds reasonable. Anyway, this gift is for your fiancée. The gift should not be cheap.”
At the moment when they arrived the school, the bell for course rung.
They hurried back dormitory and put the stuff in dormitory. With books in hands, they quickly ran to the lecture room.
In general, there were no teachers lecturing in afternoon. This period of time was for students to study by themselves.
What’s more, since it was the Bathing Day tomorrow, it seemed that no one remained to be concerned of the studies.
In fact, many students were from the villages nearby. Therefore, before the ending time of the daily courses, students had been allowed to return dormitory and pack their luggage. Not for a while, there was no one in the school anymore.
They went out the school, and heard of someone calling Xue’s name.
A mule cart pulled over the corner of the street. There were two men sitting on the mule cart: one was an adult, and the other was young.
Xue was unhappy immediately.
Badou was just going to ask when he saw the younger one came to them swiftly, “Tingxiang, I remember it’s the time for you to leave the school. Brother Jiang has remembered wrong timing. Let’s go back home. I’ve bought many foods to cook for you.”
The younger one was Zhao’er. She didn’t lower her voice, for which her clear female voice could be heard by them. Badou seemed to be too astonished to say even one word.
It was not until at this moment that Zhao’er realized Xue’s fellows. “Are they your classmates?”
Xue just nodded, with no more words nor smiles.
“What’s wrong? You are unhappy. Is there anyone has bothered you? I’ll help you!”
“No one has bullied Xue. You are?” Badou said awkwardly.
“Oh, may I introduce myself? I’m elder sister of Tingxiang. You must be his classmates.” Zhao’er was happy to see Tingxiang make friends with others. She had been worried about Tingxiang’s over solidarity, even though he had changed a lot.
“She is not my sister. She is my fiancée! I have to go now.” Xue grabbed Zhao’er and left in hurry.
Badou was astonished again, and said after a while, “I get it. Xue loves his sister. The sister is his little fiancée.”
Datian was a little embarrassed, “How strange it is for you to say little sister of Xue. We’d better to hurry up. Or we may miss the carts.”
Xue was unhappy in the cart throughout the trip back home. It was inappropriate for Zhao’er to ask him directly, since Jiang Wu was also in the cart. Therefore, she had no choice but to say something.
Jiang Wu hadn’t realized what was happening. He just said with Zhao’er.
When they arrived at the village, Jiang Wu pulled over the front door of Xue’s home directly.
Zhao’er and Xue got off, and Jiang Wu started to move those stuff to the home of Xue from the cart.
Zhao’er had said that she ‘bought’ a lot of, and that was not a joke. There was one bag of grains, one bag of flour, two pig’s feet, 2.5 kg pork, two meters of cloth, and other stuff.
All of the members of Xue were coming out, including Mrs. Zhao and Mrs. Yang, who came out for Xue Juncai, since they thought it was Juncai coming back.
Today was also the day for Xue Juncai came back home.
“Zhao’er, why you have purchased so much stuff?” Mrs. Sun asked curiously.
Zhao’er opened the door, placing the stuff in the room. She answered, “Tingxiang returned home. It’s necessary to treat him with something good.”
Mrs. Zhao stood in front of the door, feeling so embarrassed and angry, “Ha, you even will return home? Can you see there is any girl like you hanging out all the day?”
Zhao’er smiled innocently, “Mrs. Zhao, I return home every day. And I return home every early before the sunset. You see, it costs to support Tingxiang and Juncai to study in school. I have to go out to get enough money, right?”
Mrs. Zhao was pretty unsatisfied, and entered the room with cold face.
Zhao’er even didn’t take care of that, and said to Jiang Wu, “I really have caused so much troubles for you today. Please have a relax tomorrow.”
Jiang Wu nodded, and said to Zhao’er, “Then, I’d better to go.”
After finishing all the tedious works, Zhao’er went to Xue Tingxiang.
Xue was still unhappy. Zhao’er touched her nose award, and thought by herself. She took the female clothes and changed the dresses in a hidden corner of the room.
Zhao’er was combing her hair, and suddenly Xue stood in front of her.
She looked up, and saw a wooden box handed by Xue.
Xue replied with no word, but stared at her with his black eyes.
Zhao’er took over the box and opened it.
“Is this for me?”