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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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After everyone had scattered – even the few people spectating had left – Liu Xu’er noticed that her xiaoyi had a tight grip on her hand. That spoke volumes about how frightened He Ruyu was, so she comforted her saying, “Xiaoyi, there’s no need to be scared. My sishu is here! Let’s go and have noodles!”
He Ruyu was embarrassed. Her face red, she lifted her head to look at Liu Changshi. Liu Changshi quickly smiled and said, “I was just bringing these children to have some minced noodles! Cough, why don’t you two join us.”
With that, He Ruyu understood that Liu Xu’er hadn’t been teasing her. She followed Liu Xu’er to the noodle stall. Liu Xu’er kept rolling her eyes, thinking to herself that she wasn’t so idle that she would crack jokes like that.
They had been so busy earlier at the shop that by now, it was past noon. The minced meat noodle stall wasn’t too crowded, so all of them were able to fit themselves onto two tables. The noodle seller asked how many bowls they wanted. Liu Changshi pointed at everyone and said, “Everyone gets a bowl.”
The seller agreed, “Coming right up!” Before merrily heading to prepare the noodles.
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Nkw Ubydtpbk pvyavle vs ypj Tl Swuw, “Ebu olal usw vos tkazp yzsdl sd vbl pvallvp? Eyp vbyv rlapsd alyzzu qasx vbl pyxl hkzzytl yp usw?”
Mbl svbla tkaz eked’v jdso Nkw Ubydtpbk, ps kv oyp schkswpzu Tl Swuw obs vssj vbl zlye lmrzykdkdt. “R nyxl okvb pydtl. El nyxl vs tkhl vbl Qw Wyxkzu vblka bydejlanbklqp. Yu pydtl eked’v oydv xl vs ts vs vbl Qw Wyxkzu alpkeldnl, ps bl vsze xl vs oykv yv vbl qzsakpv pbsr. R xlv wr okvb Lkyd Wydt vblal….” Fbl rskdvle yv vbl svbla tkaz.&dcpr;
Mbl sdl nyzzle Lkyd Wydt qzwpble. “R eayttle bla swv okvb xl vs lmrzsal vbl pvallvp…. Rv oyp casye eyuzktbv, obs oswze byhl vbswtbv ol oswze byhl xlv wr okvb vbyv tsse-qsa-dsvbkdt!”
“Mbld obs kp Yys Mbkae?”
Ekvbswv oykvkdt qsa Tl Swuw vs pyu yduvbkdt, Lkyd Wydt pxssvbzu alrzkle, “Yys Mbkae kp qasx swa hkzzytl. Tl’p olzz jdsod vs cl y tsse-qsa-dsvbkdt! Gzz eyu, bl tslp ycswv xyjkdt vaswczl. Tl’p bye bkp lul sd Swuw….”
Tl Swuw’p ldvkal qynl oyp ale. Fbl elprlayvlzu vwttle sd bla vs pvsr vyzjkdt.
“Ebyv?” Nkw Ubydtpbk pvyavle vs tlv y ckv osaakle. Tl oydvle xsal elvykzp.
Wsa psxl wdlmrzykdle alypsd, Tl Swuw eked’v eyal vs vau yde vwt yv Lkyd Wydt ydu zsdtla. Fs Lkyd Wydt alrzkle, “Gald’v usw alzyvkhlp sq blap? Tso nsxl usw esd’v jdso ycswv vbl xyvvla? Yys Mbkae byp tsdl vs bla qyxkzu vs rasrspl xyaakytl vs bla. Swuw’p qyvbla nbyple bkx swv okvb y cassx, cwv bl pvkzz bypd’v tkhld wr. Yllvkdt okvb bkx vseyu….”
He Ruyu paused and said, “He’s crazy, I didn’t think I would see him here, and definitely didn’t think he would be so shameless….” Saying this, she looked at all the children. Liu Xu’er who had been listening in intently, immediately started turned around to pretend to watch the seller cook noodles. She had to leave her xiaoyi some face.
Sure enough, seeing that the children weren’t paying attention, He Ruyu was relieved. She softly continued, “I came with my sange and didn’t expect to run into him.”
Liu Changshi shook his head, “I went over to the Gu Family residence today. How is it I didn’t see you or your sange?”
Liu Xu’er was puzzled when she heard that. Why would sishu go to the Gu Family residence?
He Ruyu also found it strange. “You went too? But sange always goes to the western corner gate to deliver the goods. Which entrance did you go to?”
Liu Changshi embarrassedly said, “Their home…. Has a lot of entrances? I think I was waiting at their eastern gate….”
“Their sishu, who were you waiting for? Do you know anyone from the Gu Family?” He Ruyu asked.
Liu Changshi stammered, “No…. no…. How would I know anyone from there? I was, I was actually waiting for….”
Waiting for who? Liu Xu’er’s ears were perked up, trying to eavesdrop. Sishu was behaving so mysteriously today. What connection did he have with the Gu Family? Apart from her xiaoyi making handkerchiefs for them, they shouldn’t have any other relationship with the Gu Family!
Liu Xu’er’s thoughts came to a screeching halt. Her eyes widened, and she turned her head around to look at her sishu and xiaoyi. Sishu’s face was flushed red, while xiaoyi was looking at him puzzled. The two of them…. Could it be?
Right then, the noodle seller rescued Liu Changshi from his embarrassing predicament. “Two bowls coming right up! Honored guest, who should get these first two bowls?” He saw that Liu Changshi was paying, so he turned to him to ask.
Liu Changshi quickly pointed to the group of children. “Xu’er! Xu’er and Shi Cheng should have them first… Shu, Lin, could you wait a little longer?”
“Of course! Meimei and Shi Cheng should start first.” Liu Lin immediately said.
The bowls were placed in front of Shi Cheng and Liu Xu’er. They were the two youngest, so they didn’t feel bad about accepting the privilege. Liu Xu’er picked up her chopsticks and eyed her bowl of noodles. The noodles were covered with a thick layer of minced meat. In it, there were a lot of things minced up to form a thick paste. There were carrots, cucumbers, green vegetables as well as ground meat. Red oil floated on its surface.
The smell was so delicious, Liu Xu’er was nearly drooling. She quickly mixed it and started to eat.
With the stall owner’s interruption, the earlier question was dropped. Liu Changshi was now asking, “Does your sange know that that scoundrel was pestering you?”
He Ruyu shook her head, “He definitely doesn’t, otherwise, he wouldn’t have left me by myself….”
“Why didn’t you go with him?”
“My…. My sange doesn’t want me to go to the Gu Family residence. He said those people…. It wouldn’t be good if they saw me.” He Ruyu said in a stammer.
Liu Changshi however, immediately understood the worry. He Ruyu was very pretty. If someone in a big household like that spotted her, who knows what they might try to pull! He nodded and said, “Your sange is right. But now that you know about this scoundrel, you need to be careful in your village. When you go out to do the laundry and what not, go with company. Both of you girls, don’t go out alone again.”
He Ruyu and Nian Fang both nodded.
Another two bowls arrived. Liu Shu and Liu Lin started to eat. Liu Xu’er turned to look at her sishu and saw that he was starting to behave more normally again. It was just that his brow was wrinkled. It was clear he was rather unhappy about the situation with the good-for-nothing. Was sishu interested in her xiaoyi? Today, did he come to town hoping to bump into her? However, this scoundrel that has his eye on xiaoyi really was a bother!
Another three bowls had arrived. Liu Xu’er looked over at their table. She noticed that Liu Changshi had given the first bowl to xiaoyi, and personally passed her a pair of chopsticks. Whereas he let the stall owner serve Nianfang.
When they were eating, sishu even asked xiaoyi if she found it too spicy….
That behaviour…. Liu Xu’er was no stranger to romance. She recognised the signs immediately! Sishu was definitely interested!
After their table had finished with the meal, Liu Xu’er heard her xiaoyi ask sishu in a tiny voice, “Their sishu…. The matter today, will you be telling it to sange?”
Her voice was clearly anxious. Liu Xu’er found it amusing.
Liu Changshi said, “Of course I need to tell him…. Don’t worry, Wenyu won’t scold you. The matter isn’t your fault. We need to tell him so that he can take the necessary precautions. Otherwise, that person is in the same village as you, if he keeps thinking about you….. It’s too dangerous. I need to warn him to be careful.”
He Ruyu reluctantly nodded.
So Liu Changshi assured her again, “Don’t worry. If your ge scolds you, I will help you to explain!”
He Ruyu finally gave a simple, “Ok.”
Liu Changshi had originally wanted to ask Nian Fang why she was out alone? However, after a while, Nian Fang spontaneously offered the answer. Apparently she had come out with her saozi, but her saozi enjoyed watching shadow plays. Since today was Duanwujie, there were many such shows along the riverside and her saozi had stayed to watch. She found them boring however, so she decided to browse the streets. That was where she met He Ruyu.
The noodles for them cost a total of 28 wen. When Liu Changshi paid, Nian Fang’s face flushed red. It was as though she was embarrassed at having someone treat her. He Ruyu was even more anxious. She hurried to try and pay instead.
Liu Changshi smiled and said to you, “Don’t worry! I came with all these children, how can you pay?”
“These are also my niece and nephews! What’s wrong with me paying for them?” He Ruyu had clearly regained her spirit. Her words had started to become more fluent.
Liu Changshi smiled, but refused to allow her to pay. Gallantly, he gently pushed back her hand back. From the side, Liu Xu’er clinically observed a blush bloom on her xiaoyi’s face….
After paying, Liu Changshi turned and said, “Let’s first go and rejoin with the others – your sanjiu, and your future xiaogufu. We need to find them quickly, otherwise, they may think that we’ve gotten lost! Also, we need to find Miss Nian’s saozi…. Once we’ve rejoined them, let’s go and shop. Xu’er, what do you think?”
Liu Xu’er was always the one full of plans, and she wasn’t shy about sharing them, so it was a matter of habit for Liu Changshi to check in with her first. Naturally, Liu Xu’er agreed, “Sounds good!”
Liu Changshi picked her up and they started to look around for the others. The party had grown even larger with the addition of the two girls.
Actually, it was rather easy to locate others. After all, Feng County Town was not large. There were maybe five or six streets. As they walked, they met up with Nian Fang’s saozi. That was where Nian Fang separated from the group and headed off with her saozi while the rest continued looking. At the corner of the street, they heard someone calling. From her vantage point, Liu Xu’er was the first to spot him and called out “Sanjiu!”
He Wenyu ran over, huffing. “I see that Ruyu met up with you! I was hunting all over!”
He Ruyu stuck out her tongue. Liu Changshi smiled and asked, “Have you eaten? All of us have had a bowl of minced meat noodles. Do you want a bowl as well? We are still looking for someone. Why don’t you wait there for us?”
He Wenyu hadn’t eaten, but he wasn’t going to eat minced meat noodles. He pulled out some buns and said, “I’ll just have this! That’s right, how did you all meet?” He asked as he took a big bite.
Liu Changshi looked over at He Ruyu. He wasn’t in a hurry to explain. He only smiled and said, “It was a coincidence. How did you two come? Why don’t we send you back? We came in Yuan Third’s cart. You can meet him too.”
He Wenyu asked, “Is that the fella who got engaged to Liu Hong? That’s great! We should meet up… But we are a bit out of the way. When we get to the fork in the road, you can leave us there. We can walk back from there by ourselves. We may even get lucky and hitch a ride from a passing cart. Today, lots of our fellow villagers have come to town.”
“Let’s talk about it again later.” Liu Changshi said.
Liu Changshi had a very good relationship with He Wenyu. They were the same age, and had been relatives for close to 10 years. They were extremely familiar with each other, and were quite casual with each other. They treated the other like they would their own brothers.
He Wenyu finished his bun and stretched out to pick Liu Xu’er up. Smiling, he asked if Liu Xu’er had come to town to play? So Liu Xu’er explained the matter of the store. He Ruyu was already in the know, so she asked a few more detailed questions. It seemed that things were going pretty well.
Then she said, “That’s right, I’ve made you and your xiaogu a set of clothes each. I didn’t know I would meet with you today, so I didn’t bring them.” He Ruyu said.
Liu Xu’er said, “My xiaogu is getting married, so making her a set of clothes is right and proper. But why did you spend so much money to make me a set? It isn’t easy to earn money! You should make yourself a couple of sets instead!”