“I also need a heater,” Xiao Wangye spoke in a low and muffled voice as he shrank into the quilt, exposing only the part above his nose.
“Wangye, you’ve already got two stuffed in your bed.”
The person who spoke was Xiao Wangye’s new servant girl called Qiao Qiao. Although how she handled things was not as neat as how Pearl used to do them, she was fortunately not at all wordy.
Xiao Wangye pouted. “But my feet are still very cold.”
After speaking, he felt a bit aggrieved. He began to secretly consider going to Si-Huangxiong’s place for a while to hide, and just come back when it was nice and warm.
Dong, dong, dong. At this time, someone knocked on the door of the Wang Mansion.
Xiao Wangye curiously poked out his head and said, “Who could be outside this late at night?”
The little servant boy keeping guard at the door came in and announced, “Wangye, there’s a man named Yan Heng outside, and he says he wants to see you. Shall I let him in?”
When Xiao Wangye heard this name, his face wrinkled up. He rolled up the quilt, turned over and said, “I’m not seeing him!”
Yan-daren was not at all surprised when he was refused entrance. He had expected this result.
He wasn’t in a hurry anyway. There’ll be plenty of time in the future.
Yan-daren found an inn near Rui Wang Mansion to settle down in. After taking a bath and washing away the exhaustion from travelling day and night, he slept well, intending to rest his mind before finding Xiao Wangye again tomorrow.
Less than half a month later, it was New Year’s Eve1 Referring to the eve of the Chinese New Year. On that day, Xiao Wangye got up early. He ran to the mansion gates and set up a stall to sell the Spring Festival couplets2春联 – With black or golden characters written on red paper, Spring Festival Couplets are composed of a pair of poetry lines vertically pasted on both sides of the front door and a four-character horizontal scroll affixed above the door frame. Pasting couplets expresses people’s delight in the festival and wishes for a better life in the coming year. he had written.
An old man passing by stopped to have a look. Xiao Wangye asked with a smile, “Does Yeye3爷爷 – It’s how one would address their paternal grandfather, but it can also be used to address any old man want to buy some Spring Festival couplets?”
The old man smiled and asked Xiao Wangye, “How could Wangye be short of this money?”
Xiao Wangye said, “This would be New Year’s money4压岁钱 – money given to children as a new year present, often put in red envelopes. given by Yeye to ask for an auspicious New Year.”
“How much is a pair? I’ll buy it.”
All of a sudden, a young man’s pleasant and magnetic voice joined in. Xiao Wangye’s ears twitched. He felt this voice sounded very familiar.
He turned his head and, sure enough, saw Yan-daren, whom he hadn’t seen in months, right behind him.
Xiao Wangye’s heart immediately skipped a beat. After that, he rushed to carry the couplets he hadn’t finished writing and ran back to the mansion in one breath.
Qiao Qiao had just set up a heater and was about to send it to Xiao Wangye when she collided into him as he ran in a thump, thump, thump. It was if someone was chasing him from behind.
“Wangye, what happened outside?” Qiao Qiao asked nervously.
Xiao Wangye instructed the little servant boy keeping guard to close the doors. He then shook his head, saying it was nothing.
He put down his couplets and gasped for breath. His pulse had sped up a bit. He didn’t know if it was because he had run too fast just now or if it was because he had seen that man.
It was quiet outside the door, and nobody was knocking. Xiao Wangye guessed that person must have already left, so he lay on the table and began to be lost in thought.
Why isn’t he staying beside the person he likes?
Why has he come from so far to find me?
Is his injury healed?
He’s lost a lot of weight.
From this day on, Yan-daren would knock on the doors of the Rui Wang Mansion at around chenshi5辰时 – One of the two-hour subdivisions used in former times. It would be around 7-9 am. every day. In the winter, Xiao Wangye liked to sleep in, so as a result, he’d be awakened by the knocking.
“Wangye, he’s here again. Don’t you want to open the door?”
“Don’t open it!” Xiao Wangye, who was barely awake, rubbed his eyes as he got up angrily. “Can’t he come at a later time?”
The little servant boy keeping guard conveyed this to Yan-daren, asking him to come at a later time tomorrow.
So on the next day, the knock on the door came two shichens late, not sounding until around wushi6午时 – 11 am-1 pm.
Xiao Wangye was satisfied, but he still didn’t open the door.
On the third day, the little servant boy came to report as usual, but this time, he brought a new piece of information: That person who kept knocking on the door had bought a house, and in these past two days, he’d been recruiting a housekeeper.
Xiao Wangye was taken aback, knowing that the price of land here wasn’t cheap. How much silver did Yan-daren have to spend? Xiao Wangye felt a bit uncomfortable.
Xiao Wangye asked, “And where is that house located?”
The little servant boy said, “It’s right next to the mansion.”