“Mother.” Xiao Chunmian’s gaze suddenly cooled down. “You’re sick again.”
The woman ignored him, and thinking that slapping the left cheek was not enough, she raised her hand again to slap the right cheek.
Seeing his benefactor encountering such a thing in his own home, Yu Qiu naturally couldn’t stand it. However, this was the other party’s own mother. Yu Qiu couldn’t protest. With no other choice, he rushed to block the incoming slap and let it land on his arm.
However, since Yu Qiu had not yet eaten, his Qi Refining layer was like floating clouds1浮云 – Idiom which means “nothing” or “meaningless.”. When he was hit by the slap, he fell askew to the ground.
Fortunately, Xiao Chunmian helped him in time.
However, his support only angered the woman further.
“Where did this wild boy come from!” The woman scolded Yu Qiu and then pointed to Xiao Chunmian, swearing, “Did you run out of the house just to meet with this wild boy? How dare you meet a man in private! What a scandal, what a scandal! You’re throwing away the face of the whole Xiao family!”
As Yu Qiu listened to this burst of scolding, he felt that something was amiss.
Xiao Chunmian, however, ignored her and just swept his eyes to the retainers surrounding them. “Are you guys just going to watch the Madame falling ill here? Still not taking her back yet!”
The retainers flinched and looked at each other, looking like they didn’t want to be involved in this mess.
“We’re outside, not in the mansion!” Xiao Chunmian’s face turned cold again. “Father will be back soon. Do you think father will be happy if he knew what happened today?”
Only then did the retainers come forward and take away Mrs. Xiao while the woman tried to beat and kick them. They grabbed Mrs. Xiao’s arms and tried dragging her back to the Xiao mansion through a path with less people, while she incessantly cursed at them.
“Sorry, xiao Qiu.” Xiao Chunmian fell behind, revealing a shy smile. “Today, I made you see a big joke.”
Yu Qiu didn’t know what expression to use in facing the other party’s family affairs, so he simply smiled.
This silly smile was just right for him to keep pretending. Xiao Chunmian thought that he was still muddle-headed and sighed. He wanted to talk more, but Mrs. Xiao was getting restless and the retainers couldn’t handle her anymore. Xiao Chunmian had to help them carry her back.
Xiao Chunmian couldn’t help but frown. Yu Qiu looked at the wound on the gongzi’s face.
Yu Qiu thought that about what a pity it would be if such a beautiful face would be marred by a wound. He couldn’t help but reach out, wanting to touch it, but when he thought of how his fingers were too dirty, he held back. He quickly turned around, looking for the bucket of water he brought yesterday, and thoroughly washed his wands.
After washing, his thin and yellowish hands, though still small and sickly, looked a lot cleaner.
“Hey, Xiao Qiu…” Xiao Chunmian was in a hurry to say goodbye to him. Seeing this scene, he could neither laugh nor cry.
Yu Qiu ran up to him, and wiped Xiao Chunmian’s face with his clean fingers. Xiao Chunmian thought he felt a slight chill, and before the wound started hurting again, Yu Qiu’s fingers had retreated.
In this seemingly light touch, Yu Qiu had tried hard to gather his spiritual power into his fingertips as he quickly drew a pattern on the teenager’s face. Naturally, this was no ordinary pattern, but a seal. If a Seal Cultivator were present, he’d probably recognize this as a part of the Rejuvenation Seal. It’s a very small part; perhaps, merely a stroke.
Normally, if a cultivator of a mere Qi Refining Layer were to draw a seal without any materials, it would have no effect at all.
In fact, Xiao Chunmian felt nothing. His injury was still there.
However, this was the best that Yu Qiu could do right now. Through a seemingly simple stroke, he condensed the essence of his hundreds of years worth of knowledge, including his unfinished research–how to efficiently simplify the seals in limited conditions so that they can still perform their most important function.
After retreating, Yu Qiu unexpectedly staggered again. Half of his spiritual power was already consumed from creating those ghost seals yesterday, and he hadn’t rested much too. Now, his spiritual power was completely drained and his head suddenly started aching.
This was a symptom of overexerting the soul. It was not Yu Qiu’s first time experiencing it, so he was well-prepared.
Xiao Chunmian, however, did not know the reason. He was frightened and quickly grabbed Yu Qiu’s hand to steady him.
Yu Qiu smiled and said, “Now it won’t leave a scar.”
Xiao Chunmian was stunned, but then smiled, “So Xiao Qiu is really powerful.” He wasn’t serious though, and his tone was like that of someone coaxing a child.
Seeing this back and forth exchange, Mrs. Xiao was no longer just restless; she started rioting!
Xiao Chunmian sighed, and finally, he stuffed several pieces of broken silver into Yu Qiu’s hand. He told him to use it where he wanted, then he turned around and ran to Mrs. Xiao.
Seeing him coming, Mrs. Xiao became silent.
Yu Qiu wanted to chase after Xiao Chunmian and give back the silver, but when Mrs. Xiao saw him approaching, she reacted as if she were seeing some great scourge. She tried her best to keep him away from Xiao Chunmian. One of the retainers had to send Yu Qiu away politely.
It seemed like hearing Mrs. Xiao’s hurling insults earlier was no illusion. She was guarding against Yu Qiu like how a mother would if a man were to approach her daughter.
Watching this group of people go away, Yu Qiu’s mouth twitched: What is this called…
Yu Qiu couldn’t help thinking: Could Xiao Chunmian actually be a woman dressed as a man?
Not to mention, he had a beautiful face. Matched with a gentle name and a gentle character, the possibility was not that small.
Yu Qiu pondered and then went back into the house.
After waiting a little longer, Doctor Zhang finally lifted the curtain and came out of the room.
“How is it?” asked Yu Qiu.
Doctor Zhang frowned and looked at him, apparently very disgusted. But he was invited by Xiao Chunmian and was even paid with silver. He had to be responsible for his patients. Finally, he patiently explained the situation to Yu Qiu.
Generally speaking, although the old man had a fever after he was injured yesterday, the injury was just a trigger. The root cause was that the old man was too poor, malnourished, depressed, and had been drinking for many years, which made him irremediable.
At last, Doctor Zhang wrote a list, saying that, although he had saved the old man, Yu Qiu would have to nourish his father’s foundations slowly; otherwise, something would happen sooner or later.
Yu Qiu took the list and thanked Doctor Zhang before sending him out.
Then he weighed in his hand the broken silver that Xiao Chunmian gave him. Although Yu Qiu did not want to have too much involvement2因果 – Involvement… debt… The word used here is actually 因果 (yīnguǒ), which means “karma” or “cause and effect.” The concept of karma is mentioned several times throughout the novel, so I thought I should make it clear right now that I won’t always be using the word “karma” to translate it, coz it will sound redundant. There are also times the author uses “karma” as a verb… but in English, as far as I know, karma can only be used as a noun. with the same person at once, he was not too stubborn. Since he couldn’t refuse, and he really needed a sum of money right now, then he’d gladly accept the money. He would remember the amount clearly and pay Xiao-gongzi later when he had the chance.
Fortunately, a debt of money was the easiest debt in the world.
Yu Qiu went to the money bank and, in front of everybody’s gazes, he exchanged one of the silver ingots for a handful of copper money. He then bought several white steamed buns on his way back.
He ate half and left half of the steamed buns. Yu Qiu felt so alive again and, in his heart, he was deeply grateful to Xiao Chunmian.
When he got home, Yu Qiu repaired a chair that had been damaged yesterday, dragged it into the room and placed it beside the old man’s bed, and put the rest of the steamed bread on it. Yu Qiu glanced at the bed and saw there wasn’t much space left. He didn’t want to squeeze in with the old man, so he picked a corner in the room and slept with his arm as a pillow.
His spiritual power was running low and he needed to rest.
He would’ve liked to take advantage of sleep to continue cultivating, integrating the process of Qi refining in his daily life, but for now… He had to wait until his spiritual power recovered.
Sleeping into the middle of the night, Yu Qiu was awakened by a rustling sound. He opened his eyes and saw a dark shadow hunched over and chewing something
Yu Qiu was frightened and quickly jumped up, only to find himself lying on the bed. He did not know when he had moved onto the bed.
“Qiu-er?” The shadow turned around and called faintly.
It turned out the old man had woken up and was blindly eating the steamed buns in the dark.
Yu Qiu was surprised and delighted. “Father! Are you all right?” Although he was surprised, Yu Qiu also lamented the fact that he had been moved to the bed without noticing at all. His vigilance was really poor.
When Yu Qiu shouted, the old man froze and didn’t even react to the crumbs of bread falling out of his mouth.
After a while, he trembled and asked, “What did you just call me?”
“Father… Is that right?” Yu Qiu was at a loss.
The voice had not yet fallen when the old man took him into his arms, inexplicably surprised. “Right! Father is father! Ha ha… Yu Qiu, my son, Yu Qiu, you finally know to call me father!”
After laughing, the old man burst into tears.. Yu Qiu paused, and suddenly there was sorrow in his heart.
Yu Qiu put his hand behind the old man and patted him gently.
“Father…” Yu Qiu asked, “I used to… Not know anything?”
The old man raised his head and looked at Yu Qiu in surprise, with tears in his eyes. After a while, he suddenly pushed away Yu Qiu, with a panicked look on his face and retreated far away. “Yu Qiu… Are you really Yu Qiu?”
Yu Qiu was surprised. “Otherwise?”
The old man looked at him in wonder. “You’re really Yu Qiu? Not someone else?”
Yu Qiu understood that the old man might be afraid he was an impostor. After all, when he first woke up, he also thought he might be possessing someone else’s body.
“If, if you are really someone else, you tell me directly, you must tell me directly.” The old man continued to ramble. “I won’t take you for granted. I won’t take you for granted, as long as you don’t pretend to be my Qiu-er…”
Yu Qiu looked at him for a long time and then jumped into the old man’s arms.
“Father, it’s me.” Yu Qiu held the old man’s back with two hands. “I woke up, father.”
The old man was stunned for a long time, before tightly hugging Yu Qiu as he sobbed. After some time, the old man still cried like a child.
He believed Yu Qiu easily after all. How could he really doubt it? This was his son. He had been on top of his heart ever since he was a child. Whatever happened, he was always number one. He was the most cherished son. His suspicion was simply because he cherished Yu Qiu too much. A little wind swaying the grass was enough to make him afraid3风吹草动 – Idiom for a small disturbance.; how much more a big surprise like this?
In the end, Yu Qiu had to pat the old man on the back to help him get along.
In the old man’s intermittent narration, Yu Qiu finally knew his own life.
Sure enough, as Yu Qiu had guessed, when he was very young, he had fallen off the carriage and hit his head. Since then, Yu Qiu had become a fool with dementia.
Yu Qiu estimated that he should have hurt his divine sense at that time. This kind of spiritual wound can be healed naturally in the process of cultivation. It was a pity that, in his previous life, Yu Qiu recovered too late and completely forgot the father who treasured him so much. Fortunately, in this life, he was reborn with memory; he had the opportunity to make up for it.
The old man went on to say that Yu Qiu’s mother also fell off the carriage that day.
However, Yu Qiu had never known his mother, so he felt nothing. But then the old man mentioned something he cared about.
“We were not the only ones who suffered that day.” The old man laughed at himself and said, “It was a messy day… Even the magistrate’s family wasn’t spared. A concubine and a common daughter died. And the wife of his family, who went out with her son at that time,had gone crazy when she returned. She had nothing to do with the death of the two though… But don’t you think it’s strange?”
“The madame went crazy?” Yu Qiu frowned and thought of Xiao Chunmian’s mad mother. “What’s the family name of the household?”
Sure enough, the old man quickly answered, “Their family name is Xiao.”
Xiao Chunmian was a child of the magistrate’s family? Yu Qiu thought of the teenager who looked like a woman dressed as a man–his exquisite clothes, refined words and deeds–and thought that this was not unexpected.
However… Yu Qiu looked around at the walls of the house, which had nothing but stains. He couldn’t help but ask again, “What’s the relationship between the magistrate’s house and us?”
Why is Xiao Chunmian helping them so much?
The old man smiled narrowly. “Want to know?”
Yu Qiu hesitated for a moment and finally nodded.
Then the old man said, “It’s a long story, and I’m a bit thirsty right now.”
Instead of turning a blind eye, Yu Qiu jumped to the ground and went to the yard to fetch water for him.