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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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Liu Tao heard Liu Xu’er’s question and flushed. After a brief pause, he explained, “I saw some in another store…. They had put some ornamental plants on their glass counter. I felt it looked rather nice. Then I saw that Niu ge was selling these types of plants. The red fruits looked rather pretty, so I asked about the price. It didn’t seem too expensive, so I bought some to put on the counter…. I used my own money for it.”
Liu Xu’er thought for a moment. Shi Cheng realised, “It was Liu Yun’er’s store right? I remember that her store had a lot of such things.”
Liu Xu’er gave a shocked gasp, “Sange, you saw her do it? We don’t need to compete with her!”
Face all red, Liu Tao quickly explained, “I wasn’t thinking of competing with her…. I just thought it would be nice to have some ornamental flowers? There are other stores nearby that sell the same types of goods as us. Our store needs a little something to attract attention.”
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Nkw Dw’la pxkzle yde ypjle, “Mbld obu eke vbl qawkvp lde wr kd vbl csoz? Rq kv oypd’v rzyvle zkjl vbyv, Dkwmkw elqkdkvlzu oswzed’v byhl lyvld kv.”
Dkwmkw dseele, ale okvb lxcyaayppxldv. “Mbyv’p… Mbyv’p aktbv.”
Nkw Mys pbssj bkp blye, “Ebld R caswtbv kv shla vbkp xsadkdt, Fldgk ypjle xl obyv kv oyp. R pyke kv oyp psxl elnsayvksd. Mbl kdpvydv R vwadle xu blye, Fldgk bye rknjle yzz vbl qawkv yde pyke…. Rv zssjle clvvla kd vbl csoz….”
Fbk Ubldt pvyavle vs zywtb. Nkw Dw’la pbssj bla blye yde pxkzle awlqwzzu, “Ebyv yd ytldv sq nbysp vbkp rzydv kp!”
Nkw Mys vbswtbv ycswv kv yde yzps pvyavle vs pxkzl. Rv alyzzu eke nywpl y zsv sq nbysp. Ebld bl cswtbv vbl rzydv, Fldgk elnkele vs rknj vbl qawkv sqq qsa qwd, yde vbld vblu olal xkpvyjldzu lyvld cu Dkwmkw.&dcpr;
Mbl qzsola pvsal sodla, pwadyxle Lkw, oyp yv vbkp xsxldv psqvzu ekpnwppkdt vbl pkvwyvksd okvb bkp okql.&dcpr;
“Mblu eked’v pyu kv bye rskpsd. Mblu fwpv pyke kv nswzed’v cl lyvld, ps obu eke usw pyu kv bye rskpsd?! Nssj yv obyv y fsjl vbl pkvwyvksd clnyxl!”
“Tso oswze R jdso…. Fkdnl kv nyd’v cl lyvld, eslpd’v vbyv xlyd kv’p rskpsdswp?!”
The two of them were grumbling softly together.
The crowd of people made their way back to their stores.
Back at the store, Liu Shu had been sitting, staring at the plant while everyone else had headed off. He heard a sound at the door. Since he needed to help the neighbors with their store, he hurried out to have a look.
It was a little donkey cart. The cart had stopped in front of the flower shop and a 14 or 15 year-old girl jumped off.
Liu Shu recognised the girl.
Their store had been open for quite a few years. By now, it was quite an established shop along their row. The neighbouring stores had all changed hands quite a few times.
The large store just next to them had closed down last year, and Niu ge rented it. Niu ge was a good hand at selling flowers. He had had another shop previously, but it had gotten too small, so he switched locations to the large shop next door.
Most of the flowers in his store were sold in their pots, but he also sold flower seeds as well. It was just that what mostly got sold were the ornamental plants, like peonies or chinese roses.
During the New Year, other festive occasions and other family celebrations and farewells, they would often buy some plants to decorate the occasion. And sometimes, wealthy households hosting big events would buy out large numbers of flowers.
Niu ge and his wife had been in business for a few years, and were very capable. The instant they moved over, they had gotten to know Liu Tao and Liu Shu well. Since they were all neighbours, there were times they would look out for each other’s stores.
The one supplying Niu ge’s store was a family from the nearby Niangou Village. The family had lost their parents at an early age, and it was just one gege raising his two meimei. They had sold their land long ago to settle their parents’ medical debts. Now that their parents had passed, they had no more land, so the family had had a hard time making ends meet. Thankfully, gege was good at raising flowers. He had grown flowers in his family’s garden and sold them to make a living
This family was surnamed Shao. The eldest, Shao Huai, was 20 this year, the second was called Shao Gui, she was 17 and the youngest was Shao Rong. She was 15 this year.
The one who jumped off the cart was Shao Rong. Liu Shu came out and saw her looking at Niu ge’s store. So he said, “Shao Rong, are you sending flowers over? Niu ge and his wife aren’t in.”
Shao Rong was surprised. She looked at her cart filled with pots and started to fret. “Why aren’t they at home? The store is open, so where did they go?”
Liu Shu saw that she was here to deliver stock, so he tucked his lapels into his belt and came over saying, “They’ve gone to the medical hall…. Do you need to move these in?”
Shao Rong saw that he was coming over to help, so gratefully nodded her head, “That’s right. We need to move it in. Thank you so much Liu Shu ge.”
Liu Shu stretched his hand and took down a pot. Seeing her move to help, he said, “There’s no need for thanks. You don’t need to do anything. It’s just a few pots of flowers.”
How could Shao Rong just watch him help her. She went over and with Liu Shu’s assistance managed to move the pots down the cart. She asked, “Why did Niu ge and his wife go to the medical hall? Is someone sick?”
“They’re not sick…. There was an issue.” Liu Shu explained. Then he asked, “Where is your ge? Why are you alone today?”
Shao Rong smiled, “There’s someone in the village proposing a match for my brother. My ge and jie are both at home entertaining guests!” Then she glanced over at Liu Shu. Liu Shu’s expression was stern. Shao Rong didn’t know why. She thought he wasn’t willing to chat any longer, so she quickly wiped the smile from her face. Softly, she said, “It’s just a few pots. I can send them over by myself.”
Liu Shu nodded his head. He was still worried about Liu Xu’er and the rest, so unconsciously, his face had started to become more grave. After moving down a few pots, he jumped back on the cart and started to shift the remaining pots closer to the edge.
Shao Rong quickly called out, “Let me, just let me…”
Liu Shu gave her a strange look. “What’s up with you? We’re all familiar with each other, so why are you being so courteous?”
Shao Rong stood there, feeling somewhat embarrassed. After a long pause, she finally said, “It’s nothing….”
Liu Shu hadn’t noticed her expression. He was moving the innermost pots toward the edge when he suddenly stopped short. There was a pot here that was the same as the one on his family’s counter! The only difference was that this potted plant was laden with fruits – The familiar red, round fruits!
Liu Shu called out, “These were grown by your family?!” Then he grabbed hold of the pot and jumped back down. He put it down next to the cart and asked Shao Rong. “These were grown by your family?”
Shao Rong was startled. She quickly nodded her head. “That’s right, it’s grown by us….”
“Can these fruits be eaten?” Liu Shu immediately asked.
Shao Rong shook her head, “No… It’s only to look at, you cannot eat the fruits!”
Liu Shu’s heart immediately sank! Shao Rong should know – these plants were grown by her family! His expression became ugly. Looking hard at Shao Rong, he urgently asked, “It really cannot be eaten? Are they poisonous? If eaten…. What would happen?!”
Shao Rong was getting more anxious the more he asked, “It cannot be eaten. But I don’t know if it’s poisonous or not… No one said it had poison. If eaten… I don’t know what would happen, I’ve never tried….”
Liu Shu was stamping his foot anxiously, “My sister ate some! Do you really not know what would happen? It cannot be eaten because it’s poisonous?”
The instant Shao Rong heard that his meimei had eaten some, she gasped. Then she said, “How could she eat it… I don’t know! But I’ve never heard that it’s poisonous. Maybe…. It doesn’t have any poison?”
The two of them were talking anxiously to each other at the doorway when Liu Xu’er and the rest spotted them. Liu Xu’er called out, “Dage!”
Niu ge and his wife had spotted Shao Rong, so they hurried over to unload the cart.
Liu Shu turned and saw it was Liu Xu’er with everyone else. He let out a sigh of relief. He quickly went forward to ask, “Is everything alright? What did the doctor say?”
Liu Xu’er said, “It’s alright. The doctor doesn’t know whether the fruit is poisonous or not, but I am very sure – the fruit isn’t poisonous. It’s edible. Look, Xiuxiu and I are completely fine!”
Liu Shu turned and saw that Shao Rong had joined them. He quickly pointed at her and said, “But these are planted by Shao Rong’s family. Shao Rong said that you cannot eat the fruits! Whether or not it is poisonous, she doesn’t know, but it definitely cannot be eaten! Right Shao Rong?”He asked.
Shao Rong quickly nodded her head. “That’s right, my ge said it cannot be eaten…..”
Shi Cheng then asked, “Do you know what this fruit is called?”
“We call it Liuyueshi1六月柿/ Liuyueshi – literally translated as sixth month persimmon, some call it Xibaosanyuan2喜报三元/ Xibaosanyuan – Literally means good news, first place scholar at three different levels (provincial, metropolitan and palace level)…. It’s auspicious3 Red is the colour of good luck so the fruit is considered “lucky” and was therefore given a “lucky” name..”
Liu Xu’er waved her hands, “It doesn’t matter what it’s called. The important thing is that it’s edible. I’ve had one, and I’m completely fine!” She comforted Liu Shu and said, “Shao Rong may not know, but it really can be eaten!”
Liu Shu said, “They grew it, but they don’t know? And yet you do?”
Shi Cheng saw that this matter would keep going on and Liu Shu was still rather worried! He interrupted and said, “I saw this in Hanzhong city before. I saw others eat it. It really can be eaten. It’s just that our town is small, so they might not know. It really is edible!”
Liu Shu didn’t quite believe him. Liu Xu’er nodded her head definitely. “Relax, don’t worry! Xiuxiu and I will be fine! Don’t worry!”
It was only then that Liu Shu calmed down. He turned to look at Shao Rong. Shao Rong herself didn’t quite believe what was said. Then he looked at Liu Xu’er as well as Xiu Xiu. Liu Tao was just at Xiuxiu asking, “Xiuxiu, do you feel any stomach pain?”
Xiuxiu paused for a moment before shaking her head, “It really doesn’t hurt.” Actually when she was crying and vomiting, it was only because she had been frightened. Added to the fact that others had said it was poisonous, she had responded psychologically. When Liu Xu’er had confidently stated that it wasn’t poisonous, and shared that she had also had some, Xiuxiu had calmed down, and her stomach had stopped hurting. She felt completely fine.
Everyone entered their own store while Niu ge continued to move the stock for himself. When everyone came into the shop, they circled the bowl of tomatoes and stared at it. Liu Xu’er started to have an idea. She smiled and took the bowl and the plant toward herself and told Liu Tao, “Sange, give these to me! I want to plant them.”
Surprised she would still want it after the trouble it had created, Liu Tao shook his head and glanced over at Liu Shu. He still wasn’t completely certain that it wasn’t poisonous.
Liu Shu then suddenly recalled. “Shao Rong had just sent a pot over!”
Delighted, Liu Xu’er said, “Really?!” Then she rushed to the neighbouring flower store. Liu Shu regretted opening his mouth and telling her that! Why did he say that?!
Shi Cheng smiled and said, “It’s alright, you really don’t need to worry. You can wait a few days and see if Xiuxiu and Liu Xu’er are fine. Then you don’t have to worry about eating it!”
By the time he finished saying that, Liu Xu’er had carried a pot back. Niu ge and Shao Rong were giving her concerned looks and following her.
Liu Tao anxiously asked, “If you really want to, just bring this plant back! Why did you get another one?”
Liu Xu’er giggled. “One isn’t enough. I want both…. I want to grow it in the courtyard!”