Chapter 22: Rustling Leaves in the Cool Night (2)
The woman was very tall and her face especially beautiful, with a character that appeared very shy. Under the help of her husband, she was slowly brought to the tree roots and took a seat. With her hands and legs covered in her sleeves and skirt, she sat with her back facing everyone else.
Only her dark hair and a small seam of her fair profile could be seen at the side, but that appearance was still divine like fine jade. A few young hawkers could not help stealing a glimpse at her from time to time.
“Sit here for a moment and get some air. I’m going to buy something to eat.” This young man was clearly very caring toward his young wife. His behavior was both gentle and considerate.
When they saw this scene, the female hawkers could not help but feel a sense of envy.
Aunt Yuan from the herbal tea stall prodded Widow Sun who was selling crispy biscuits with her elbow. “Have a look at that couple. They’re so sticky with each other.”
“Ain’t she just pregnant? She’s being fussed over for nothing.” Widow Sun spat out the sunflower seed shells from her mouth to the ground. “They don’t look like they come from a fancy family, but what’s with the fancy treatment?”
“Don’t say that. This young lady does look quite delicate. I worked with the Zhang’s in the city and I have to say not one of the noble ladies there can compare,” said the beancurd aunt who was selling beancurd dessert.
“With that fine appearance, it’s no wonder her man is willing to take such meticulous care of her. Just look at those clodhoppers from our village, they’re all peeping at her.”
While the group of women were chattering amongst each other, thinking they were being quiet, none of them noticed that the ears “beauty” sitting under the tree began to twitch, and their tips gradually turned red.
The young man secured his ox and came over to them with a smile.
He asked for two bowls of beancurd and a few pieces of crispy biscuits.
Though this young man didn’t have an appealing body, he was still a man with a handsome appearance. He had a sharp character, and also a poised tongue. While he spoke, the corners of his mouth would raise slightly, and there was a curve in his eyes that almost seemed like a smile. It made him appear just a bit naughty, but also quite genial.
He was the type that liked to please women. And so, the women greeted him with enthusiasm.
He leaned on the beancurd stall with a few copper coins in his hands. With a smile, he said, “Miss, give me two bowls of beancurd. A sweet one and a salty one. I want more toppings on the salty one but keep the sweet one mild. My wife has prefers lighter foods.”
While preparing the beancurd with her head lowered, the beancurd aunt touched her cheek subconsciously. There was a bruise there that came from her man who had punched her after he had gotten drunk the prior night. She thought to herself, “If my man could be as considerate as him, I’d be happy grinding soybeans and making curds deep into the night every day.”
And that young man was Zhou Xiaoxiao who was dressed as a man. Returning to the banyan tree with beancurd in hand, she handed the beancurd and biscuit to Yu Xingzhi with a smile.
She sat down next to him, and while eating, could not help herself from saying, “I heard it all. They were all praising how beautiful you were! Haha!” Yu Xingzhi shot her a helpless glance, his eyes revealing a hint of indulgence and embarrassment.
And thus, Zhou Xiaoxiao could laugh no more. Awkwardly, she scratched her nose and thought to herself, “He’s really too square, it’s hard to even make a joke. Zhou Xiaoxiao, this is the ancient times, be a little more serious!”
Sitting shoulder to shoulder beneath the tree, the two had their beancurd in silence. Through the gaps of the leaves, the mottled noon sun illuminated the place. The hand-made beancurd had a fragrant and mellow taste, and it gave Zhou Xiaoxiao comfort to drink it.
Suddenly, the pleasant baritone voice of a man sounded. “This…um…I actually look better in men’s clothing.”
Zhou Xiaoxiao nearly dropped her bowl. To think that these words actually came from the lips of the stiff square, Yu Xingzhi!
Though this joke sounded both awkward and cold, it also came a dozen beats too slow.
Still, she felt a small flame kindling in her heart.