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2. This is a fan work and the interpretation represents only the translator’s personal views without any input from the author.
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There wasn’t any particular reason Shi Cheng hadn’t joined them for lunch – it was just that business was a bit busy today and he didn’t have any time. By the time he realised, lunch hour had passed. But as per his usual habit, he made his way back to the Liu residence.
Liu Shu had already finished his accounts. Liu Xu’er was still a bit concerned about Xiuxiu being in the company of only boys. She worried that they wouldn’t know how to look out for her. Would she get lost? Xiuxiu didn’t often go to town after all. So she decided to head out with Liu Shu.
They met up with Shi Cheng on the way out, so they got him to come along.
The old store was closer to their home, so naturally, it was their first port of call. From a distance, the three of them noticed that something wasn’t right about the store. Liu Tao had been out for over an hour – why were there only two planks removed from the door? Were they opened or closed?
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Nkw Fbw qlzv kv oyp pvaydtl, ps bl ayd shla. Fbk Ubldt xwvvlale, “Rv pllxp psxlvbkdt’p tsdl oasdt?”
Nkw Dw’la yzps qlzv vbyv psxlvbkdt oypd’v aktbv. Fbl bwaakle shla yde pyo vbyv sdzu vos rzydjp bye clld alxshle qasx vbl essa. Nkw Fbw bye tsdl aswde vbl pvsal, cwv dscseu oyp kd. Mbld, y osxyd qasx vbl dlktbcsakdt pvsal plzzkdt qzsolap, ayd swv vsoyaep vblx. Mblu alnstdkple bla, pbl oyp vbl pvsal’p zyeu cspp.
Ebld pbl pyo vblx, pbl ydmkswpzu nyzzle swv, “Xb, kv’p cye! Zswa xlkxlk yvl vbl ale qawkv sadyxldvyz rzydv vbyv Nkw Mys cswtbv! Nkw Mys vssj bla vs vbl xleknyz byzz…. Mbkp byp dsvbkdt vs es okvb wp! El elqkdkvlzu vsze Nkw Mys vbl qawkv nyddsv cl lyvld!”
Mbl vball sq vblx yzz fwxrle! Ebyv?! Tso nswze pbl lyv yd sadyxldvyz rzydv?!
Fbk Ubldt vbld ypjle, “Tso xwnb sq vbl rzydv eke pbl lyv?!”
Mbl osxyd pvyxrle bla qssv, “Wawkv! Fbl yvl vbl qawkv! Mbyv qawkv kp rskpsdswp!”
Mbl vball sq vblx zlyrv kd vbl yka, “Ebyv qawkv kp rskpsdswp?!”
Nkw Fbw pyo vbl lhkeldnl sq hsxkv yaswde vbl nswdvla, vbld bl pyo y csoz sd vsr. Tl iwknjzu ayd vs vyjl kv swv, “Gal vblpl vbl qawkvp?!”
The woman looked from the doorway. She didn’t see the bowl, but caught sight of the plant on the counter. So she said, “That’s the one!”
Shi Cheng and Liu Xu’er rushed in. The two of them peered into the bowl Liu Shu held. There were three or four red fruits still in there. They were round and red….
Liu Xu’er had a suspicion. She took one up for a closer look. “Why does this look like… toma… Shi Cheng?”
Shi Cheng glanced at the fruit and his eyes seemed to freeze. Staring hard at it, “I think it does look like it… It’s just smaller….”
“The variety in the future had probably been modified many times…. I seem to recall that these used to be used as ornamental plants at first….” Liu Xu’er said. Then she put the fruit into her own mouth!
“Oh my!” The lady boss exclaimed from the door. She nearly fell over in shock!
Liu Shu also panicked! “Oh! It’s poisonous! Why did you eat it?! Quickly spit it out!”
Shi Cheng however, wasn’t even the least bit worried. He looked at Liu Xu’er and asked, “So, is it?”
Liu Xu’er chewed it slowly before swallowing, “Yes… I didn’t wash…. Never mind, it’s ok not to wash it. It’s not as though I will get poisoned….”
“Why did you eat it? You… Why did you eat it?!” Liu Shu had taken her by the shoulders and was shaking her. He nearly lifted her in the air in his panic! As if trying to shake the fruit out of her!
Liu Xu’er exclaimed, “It’s not poisonous…. It can be eaten!”
Shi Cheng also explained, “There’s no poison, no poison!” Then he rushed over and prised off Liu Shu’s grip and rescued Liu Xu’er.
Liu Shu was momentarily stunned and released his hand. He didn’t know whether this thing had poison or not – he had never seen it before. When the lady boss claimed it had poison, he panicked, but when Liu Xu’er reassured him, he had calmed down. But he was still worried. He looked at Liu Xu’er and grumbled, “What did you eat it for?! Why couldn’t you just say that it wasn’t poisonous?”
Liu Xu’er was a bit sheepish, “If I didn’t eat it, I wouldn’t know….”
Shi Cheng said, “It shouldn’t be poisonous. One look at this thing… It’s clear it’s not poisonous….” One look at this thing, and anyone would know it was a tomato!
Liu Shu wasn’t completely sure. He looked at the red fruit again. At this moment, the lady boss was so anxious, she was about to collapse! Her husband had clearly said that it had poison! Of course she believed her husband! She ran in and grabbed hold of Liu Xu’er’s arms. Shaking her, she cried out, “I told you it’s poisonous! Why did you eat it?! Are you kids so greedy?!”
Then she pulled her out, “Quickly! Go to the medical hall! I want to make it clear – no matter what happens, it is not our fault! I said many times that you can’t eat it!”
Liu Shu called out, “Oh!”
Liu Xu’er did want to go to the medical hall to look for Xiuxiu, so she said, “Dage, I will head to the medical hall!” Then she let the lady boss drag her away.
Liu Shu was completely stunned! He wanted to follow her out, but thankfully Shi Cheng was there. Shi Cheng ran out and told Liu Shu, “Don’t worry. There’s definitely no poison! But we should go to the medical hall to look for Xiuxiu and Liu Tao! Liu Shu, watch the store!”
The lady boss called out behind her, “Help us watch our store as well!”
In an instant, everyone had left. Liu Shu stood there, dazed for a moment. Then he calmed himself down and started to open the store. He swept away the dirt around the door, before sitting back down and staring hard at that bowl of fruit.
Back to Liu Xu’er.
She was being dragged by the lady boss toward the medical hall. The lady boss was grumbling the entire way, “Why are you children so greedy? I already said you can’t eat it….”
Liu Xu’er was embarrassed. Shi Cheng followed behind and finally managed to wrest Liu Xu’er’s arm away from her grip. “Isn’t it enough if we follow you? Don’t grip so hard, it’s painful….”
The lady boss angrily waved her finger at Shi Cheng, “You don’t understand the seriousness! In a while… When your stomach hurts, you will understand how grave the situation is!”
She anxiously complained the entire journey to the medical hall. The medical hall was the same one that they used before. The lady boss immediately said on entering, “Doctor, this girl has also eaten some poisonous fruit! Just like the earlier girl…. Where is that girl?!” When she didn’t see anyone, she was surprised.
The doctor wasn’t around. The shop assistant pointed toward the back, “In the back room.”
As the assistant spoke, he studied Liu Xu’er. Her face was ruddy, and she looked to be very alert. She didn’t appear to have been poisoned? Her situation seemed much much better than the earlier girl, who came in weeping.
The lady boss quickly pulled Liu Xu’er to the back room. When they arrived, Liu Xu’er saw that Xiuxiu and Liu Tao were both there.
Xiuxiu sat in the patient’s chair. Her head was lowered and her eyes full of tears. Liu Tao stood at the doorway, his face full of anxiety.
The flower seller from next door was also crouched at the door, his head buried in his hands.
Liu Xu’er immediately called out, “Xiuxiu!”
The lady boss was also asking, “What’s the situation?!”
All three of them looked over. The instant Xiuxiu saw Liu Xu’er, she immediately called out, “Biaojie…” She cried as she stood up.
Liu Xu’er hurried over to her and said, “Don’t cry, don’t cry. Everything is alright. That fruit isn’t poisonous!”
Xiuxiu had just wiped her eyes when she heard that sentence. She couldn’t quite process it. She looked up in a daze. “What?”
“Relax! That fruit isn’t poisonous. I’ve also eaten one. Nothing’s happened! You should be fine too… Is your stomach painful?”
As Liu Xu’er spoke, that youthful boss and Liu Tao had circled them. “No poison, that fruit isn’t poisonous?”
“What? That fruit isn’t poisonous?!” The doctor asked the same question as he entered. He held a medical book in his hand. He had probably gone to look for the medical text to see what exactly that fruit was….
Shi Cheng quickly nodded. “There shouldn’t be any poison… That’s not right, it’s definitely not poisonous!”
The doctor asked, “Did you bring the fruit here?”
“No, we didn’t.” Liu Xu’er said, “But doctor, we can confirm that the fruit isn’t poisonous. We’ve seen it before… Really sorry….”
Liu Tao turned to look at the youthful flower seller. It was him who claimed that the fruit had poison. Liu Tao himself didn’t know enough about it.
The youthful boss scratched his head, “No poison? But…. The person who grew it told me not to eat it….” He stammered. His wife glared at him.
“He only said that it couldn’t be eaten? Did he say it was poisonous?” Shi Cheng asked.
The young boss’s face was red. “No…. He didn’t say it had poison. But… But since we can’t eat it, doesn’t that mean it’s poisonous?!”
When he heard that, the doctor put his book down angrily. “All of you…. Why are you here to make trouble? You hadn’t even confirmed that it was poisonous before running over here squawking and scaring everyone…. Shi Cheng, since there’s no poison in it, then bring everyone back!”
The entire crowd was embarrassed. Seeing the rest leave, the flower owner could only accompany his wife back. Liu Xu’er and Shi Cheng apologised to the doctor. It was the same doctor who had attended Liu Xu’er’s family before. They were all rather familiar with each other by now. He waved his hands, “Go, go. When you’ve the time, bring the fruit over so I can have a look.”
Liu Xu’er quickly agreed. Then she left with Shi Cheng. They saw Liu Tao, Xiuxiu and the flower sellers standing at the door. Xiuxiu’s face was white, and her eyes were still wide from shock. Liu Tao was splitting his attention between them – he would say a few sentences to the flower sellers before turning to comfort Xiuxiu,.
The two of them walked over and the young owner asked sheepishly, “That fruit… you’ve seen it before? It’s really not poisonous?”
Shi Cheng thought for a moment before asking, “Brother Niu, was that fruit brought by the Shao family? Where did they get it?”
“He said that it was something new from the south. It wasn’t something that the south originally had – it was brought in by the sea traders. It’s very rare. The southerners like to put it in their houses as a form of decoration. It’s so red and pretty to look at…. At first, only the big households had it, but they’ve grown a lot of them over the years, so it became less expensive over time. Now even we have some.”
Shi Cheng and Liu Xu’er looked at each other. The two of them were now certain. Shi Cheng nodded his head. “It’s not poisonous. You can eat it. Relax!”
It was always meant for the table, Liu Xu’er thought to herself. She said, “Let’s go. We should head back.”
The crowd of them slowly made their way back. Liu Tao quickly asked, “Xu’er, you’re certain it’s alright? Xiuxiu seemed to have eaten quite a few….”
Xiuxiu was also feeling a bit awkward – she was probably a bit too greedy? Face red, she muttered, “The fruit looked so red. And it was in a bowl….”
“Relax, I can confirm that’s edible.” Liu Xu’er asked Liu Tao, “That’s right, sange, why did you buy ornamental plants anyway?”