1. This is an unofficial translation and no permission has been obtained from the author/ official publisher. It may be taken down if the author/official publisher requests.
2. This is a fan work and the interpretation represents only the translator’s personal views without any input from the author.
3. No permission has been granted to use, publish, upload and/or copy this translation to any other site except for Second Life Translations.
After dealing with the current wave of customers, Liu Lin was a little tired. He came and rested on the counter. Picking up a glass of water, he took a large mouthful, “What a lot of people today! I haven’t been able to take a rest at all this morning.”
“Isn’t that good?” Liu Shu asked. He was holding a brush and was meticulously working on the accounts.
“Dage…. Shi Cheng, is it really alright for my ge to write in your ledger? Wouldn’t your dad be able to tell the difference in handwriting?” Liu Xu’er quickly asked.
Shi Cheng was nonchalant. “It’s alright! Even if it looks different, it’s still fine.”
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Liu Changshi was at the doorway, craning his neck to look in. With her sharp eyes, Liu Xu’er was the first to spot him. Waving her hand, she gestured, “Sishu! Come on in.”
Liu Changshi saw that the shop was swarming with little girls. He paused at the door, but finally walked over to Liu Xu’er’s side. Softly he asked, “Is it so busy?”
Liu Xu’er smiled and nodded. “Yes. They are all there. I can’t join them. I need to keep a watch here.” In this counter was the small box holding their money. It would be bad if an opportunistic thief stole it.
Liu Changshi nodded.
“Where is Third Uncle Yuan? Why are you alone?” Liu Xu’er asked.
Liu Changshi scratched his head. “He’s gone to shop. I wasn’t planning on going with him.”
Liu Xu’er looked at him strangely, “But when we were coming out, you said that you were here to help xiaogufu with his shopping… Didn’t you say that?”
Liu Changshi was abruptly reminded of that. Involuntarily, he flushed and scratched his head again, “Oh that…. I just gave him some general advice and that was enough. He’s buying all kinds of things and needs to go around everywhere. I’m not about to follow him! That’s too tiring.”
Liu Xu’er then asked, “Then what were you doing all morning sishu?”
Liu Changshi continued to scratch his head. He wasn’t able to answer all these questions, so he started to look around the shop and asked, “Is this where Shi Cheng is apprenticing as a shop assistant? Where is the store manager? Are you little ones handling everything?”
Liu Xu’er thought for a moment. They hadn’t shared their plan to do business with ye and nai yet because they weren’t sure it was reliable and they weren’t sure if their plan would work or not. But now that it had started to bear fruit, it should be fine for her to share what they had been working on. So she explained how they had made handicrafts and were selling them at their rented counter. Liu Changshi was shocked but also delighted when he heard that they’d made some money from it.
As they were speaking, most of the customers had made their purchases and left. Xiaochen had also returned. He had already prepared the meal, and was planning to take over Shi Cheng, so that Shi Cheng could go home and eat.
The place the two of them were staying was rented. Although Shi Cheng’s family had a large house in town, they still didn’t dare to use it yet. They would move the whole family over only when the magistrate’s term of duty was up and he had gone.
Xiaochen prepared all of Shi Cheng’s meals. When he had finished preparing a meal, he would take over Shi Cheng’s duties at the store to let him head back for it. However, Shi Cheng preferred staying at the shop to resting. As such, everyday, apart from his short meal periods, he would stay at the store. Xiaochen was more than happy to have longer leisure hours.
But today Shi Cheng naturally didn’t want to go back to eat. He recorded down everything they had sold, before joining the rest of the children and Liu Changshi in going out. Liu Xu’er had also told Liu Changshi what she planned to buy.
Liu Changshi quickly shook his head, “Hold off on the books and brushes first. Let’s wait till afternoon…. Your Third Uncle Yuan said that today he wants to get some cloth for you to make clothes. He plans to buy some books, brushes and paper for Liu Shu and Liu Lin. I couldn’t stop him.”
All the children nodded when they heard. Third Uncle Yuan was known to be a wealthy landlord in their village. No one knew how much money he had, but he definitely had more land than even Shi Cheng’s family. Shi Cheng looked and smiled at Liu Xu’er. She would finally have some pretty clothes instead of her usual drab wear.
“Then should we go and buy some other things?” Liu Lin asked.
Liu Changshi smiled and said, “Let’s eat first. Today, I’m going to bring all of you to have minced meat noodles!”
Liu Shu mumbled, “Let’s just eat buns!” That gained everyone’s agreement. “That’s right sishu, we can just eat buns instead!”
A bun was only one wen each, but a bowl of noodles cost four wen!
Liu Changshi was astonished. He looked at each of the children and said, “Why are all of you so serious?” Then he smiled and said, “Relax, I can still afford a few bowls of minced meat noodles. All of you kids, all of you are just too mature!”
Saying this, he picked Liu Xu’er up.
The street that Shi Cheng’s store was on could be considered to be the heart of Feng County Town. As such, there were many food sellers on the street. When they turned a corner, they saw many food stalls, some selling wontons, others selling noodles.
The few of them were heading toward the minced noodle stall when they saw a few village youths circling two girls and calling out to them. “Let’s eat some minced noodles! Let me treat the two of you! Let’s eat, let’s eat! You can’t say no!”
One of them had even stretched his hand out toward them, so a girl warned sternly, “What do you think you are doing?! Mao Third, don’t you dare pull anything!”
Liu Xu’er’s eyes popped wide. Are the youths actually harassing the girls in broad daylight?! Shi Cheng was also watching, giggling. His thoughts had clearly run along the same lines as hers.
The two girls’s backs were facing them. As they were surrounded by the boys, it was hard to see them clearly.
The fellow called Mao Third was standing in the middle. He was clearly the ringleader. He said, “What? Why can’t you let me treat you? Do you want to eat in a restaurant? Let me tell you that even if you want to eat in a restaurant, I can afford it! It’s just whether you’ve the guts to go, haha!”
He laughed mightily, but the fellows behind him let him down. They didn’t join him in laughter. Two of them were even exchanging puzzled looks, as if they hadn’t figured out what was going on!
Liu Changshi was someone who couldn’t stand unfairness. He hated seeing these sorts of scenes. Although he could tell that the two girls seemed to recognise the youth, it was also very clear that this Mao Third was trying to force these two into something they didn’t want! Furthermore, which girl wants to be surrounded by men when they go to town?
Liu Changshi immediately went forward. He smiled and said to Mao Third, “Which village is this brother from? How is it that we’ve never met? You want to treat people to minced meat noodles? That’s perfect, the kids here and I were just about to have some, why don’t you treat us instead!”
Mao Third was baffled by the sudden appearance of a stranger asking him to treat them! He was about to say something when Liu Xu’er, from her vantage point in Liu Shi Cheng’s arms, got close enough to see the two girls in question. Shocked, she called out, “Xiaoyi! Xiaoyi, why are you here?!”
One of those being surrounded was actually He Ruyu! Her head was bowed and she was tightly holding onto her partner’s arm. Her entire body was trembling. Shocked by Liu Xu’er’s voice, she raised her head. When she spotted them, she was surprised and delighted! She ran and hid behind Liu Changshi’s back and held onto his sleeve. It was only then that she finally started to feel a bit more secure. She said to Liu Xu’er, “Xu’er…. Why are you here….”
The instant that Liu Changshi saw it was her, he was stunned. His smile slid off his face, and his eyes grew hard. Placing Liu Xu’er on the ground, he pulled Mao Third over and said, “Who are you people?!” His tone was hostile.
Mao Third turned and saw that the girls had found backup. He too was stunned for a while, before asking, “Who are you? They came with me!”
Before He Ruyu could say anything, her companion gave a “bah!” and angrily said, “How shameless! It was clearly you who started to follow us!” Turning, she said to Liu Changshi, “Don’t listen to him. He is from our village, but we don’t know how we bumped into him today. He keeps insisting on having a meal with us!”
Liu Changshi had heard enough to get the rough picture. Face dark, he glared at Mao Third and said, “Did you hear what they said? Why aren’t you leaving?!” Then he glared at the rest of them, “Are you all from the same village? Why haven’t you learnt better? All of you are just acting like hooligans! Wouldn’t your parents be ashamed if they knew?”
The few of them looked at each other. Two of them said, “Who was acting like a hooligan? We don’t know what happened! Mao Third said he knew….”They were too lazy to explain further. Pointing at Mao Third they said, “You’d better watch out!” Then the two left.
The other two started to back up. They were just there purely to see if they could take advantage of the situation and tease the pretty girls. But now that a fierce protector had emerged, they didn’t have any plans to confront him. The instant Mao Third saw that the situation was not going his way, he pointed at Liu Changshi and asked He Ruyu, “Ruyu, do you recognise this person? Oh, it’s a misunderstanding, a misunderstanding!”
He Ruyu’s face was full of revulsion. She didn’t even spare him a glance, instead tightly gripping Liu Xu’er’s hand.