Chapter 21: A Mouth Full of Gossip
Lin Xin turned her back towards Lin Xinyu and quickly finished eating the egg as she hid her tears. She didn’t want Lin Xinyu to stay here longer.
“You should leave soon.”
Lin Xinyu didn’t want to go; he wanted to spend more time with her. “I’ll go look for a place to sit.”
Lin Xin was about to scold him, but in the end, she couldn’t bear to say anything hurtful. “If the Dean sees you here, he might punish us again. You should leave quickly.”
Lin Xinyu looked at them in distress. If the Dean ends up catching him with them, Lin Xin will definitely be in more trouble. The sickly boy obediently ran back to the orphanage. Upon reaching the backyard, he took a brief look at Lin Xin in the distance before turning around and finally entering the building.
After seeing him depart, Lin Xin sighed in relief. She glanced at the sun that hung high in the sky, then looked down and continued her drudgery as she loosened the soil.
Zhao Qiang approached her and asked, “Since when did you become so nice to him?”
Lin Xin snapped back in reply, “Get your a** moving and till your side of the field.”
Zhao Qiang snorted and silently continued to dig up the soil. From time to time, he would look up and stare at Lin Xin and think to himself, ‘why she was acting so cautious?’ It was as if she refused to speak her mind because she was afraid of something.
The two children worked on the field until three o’clock in the afternoon. Zhao Qiang didn’t dare to return to the orphanage without the Dean’s consent. Seeing his compliance towards the Dean, Lin Xin thought of him as a child who had not experience much of the world. But with her identity, she should act the same way as he does; if adults tell her to do something, she should not be too assertive nor defiant.
The pair sat at the edge of the field while waiting for the Dean or some other adult to call for them. Zhao Qiang was unable to sit still. In his boredom, he carefully dug out some roots from a white stalked herb until he managed to dig out two to three stalks. The boy shook the stalks rigorously to remove the soil before taking one of the leaves and chewing on it. In his hunger, he takes another bite, then offers one of the leaves to Lin Xin.
Lin Xin stared at this herb that looked similar to the heart leaf plant and wondered if it was edible.
“It’s sweet,” Zhao Qiang said.
Just because Zhao Qiang was able to eat it doesn’t mean it’s not poisonous. And how is it ‘sweet’? Lin Xin doubtfully reached out and took the leaf and chewed in slowly. Hey~ it is sweet. But the taste is quite mild. She chewed on it for a bit before spitting out.
Zhao Qiang thought that she was simply unsatisfied with having so little. He went on to dig two more for them to share. Two children sat on the dirt and nibbled on this meager snack.
The sun slowly began to set westward where several clouds floated on the horizon. Sunlight softly landed on Lin Xin’s face until it was covered by drifting clouds. She felt a peace that could not be expressed in words as she savored the view of a setting sun.
Suddenly, a sound of footsteps came from the distance. The Dean coughed and pushed up his black-rimmed glasses before softly asking, “Have you finished loosening the entire field?”
Zhao Qiang jumped up eagerly and exclaimed, “Yes Dean, we’ve loosened the ground, we tilled it all over.”
The Dean did not praise or criticize him, and instead, looked over at Lin Xin. “I heard that you had a serious illness half a month ago?”
“Yes,” Lin Xin replied as she lowered her head.
The Dean continued on to say, “Lin Xinyu seems to like you very much and talks about you often.”
Upon hearing his meaningful words, Lin Xin didn’t dare to show discomfort, and could only reply in a steady tone, “I see him as my little brother.”
The Dean spoke again, “But it appears that you are younger than him.”
Lin Xin calmly responded, “Oh, he is older than me? I thought he was younger than me since he is much smaller than me.”
The Dean’s mouth curved up to a slight smile and he pushed his black-rimmed glasses up again.
Zhao Qiang eagerly added, “Dean, you don’t know how good her relationship is with Lin Xinyu. I also saw him give her apples to eat.”
The Dean’s smile suddenly faded. He looked at Lin Xin with an expressionless face and asked, “Is that so?”
Lin Xin was angry inside. Blame it all on Zhao Qiang’s big mouth. Nothing good ever comes out of it! His gossiping words were much worse than a girl’s so she wanted to tear his mouth into pieces.