Chapter 10: Broken (1)
Song Jixin brought his female servant to the old locust tree. Under the boughs of shades, he found it packed with people. Nearly half a hundred people sat on their chairs as they watched their offsprings fool around. There were even children pulling their elders to join in the fun.
Song Jixin smiled and stood beside the servant girl at the edge of the locust tree. He noticed from the corner of his eyes an old man standing under the tree with a big white bowl.
He wore an excited expression and loudly said, “Just now, we’ve talked about the general direction of the dragon’s vein, but I will also talk about the true dragon. Tsk, tsk, tsk… This is truly an incredible story. About three thousand years ago, an extraordinary immortal appeared under the heavens. Some say he went to an extremely high place with his 3 feet long Qi and sat down to discuss the Dao with the Daofather. Others say he arrived at the Blessed Paradise Kingdom then argued with Buddha that he personally oversees the gates of the Underworld to prevent evil spirits from wreaking havoc in the world…”
The old man spat out word after word with a great sense of passion.
The people of Muddy Bottle Lane looked at him with a loss of indifference.
“What is 3 feet of Qi?” The servant girl leaned over and asked in a low, curious voice.
Song Jixin smiled. “It’s a sword.”
“Young master, this old man really likes to play around with his knowledge,” The servant girl said snappily. “He doesn’t even know how to speak properly.”
Song Jixin glanced at the old man and gloated. “There aren’t many who can read in our town. This storyteller really…”
The servant girl then asked, “What is a Blessed Paradise? Could there really be anyone in this world able to live for hundreds of years? And what is this about the Underworld? Isn’t it a place where the dead go?”
Song Jixin was stumped by the question but did not want to show his cowardice, so he waved his hand and casually said, “It’s simple nonsense. I think I’ve read a few mediocre books in the government officials about this and used them to fool country bumpkins.”
At that instant, Song Jixin was keenly aware of the of the old man’s intentional glance directed towards him. Though his gaze was only at the tip of the iceberg that swept past his direction, Song Jixin caught the other party’s gaze carefully. It was just that the Song Jixin paid no attention and saw it merely as a coincidence.
The servant girl raised her head and looked at the locust tree. Light penetrated through the gaps between the leaves and sprinkled down; she subconsciously narrowed her eyes.
Song Jixin turned his head and grew stunned ever so suddenly.
This servant girl of his had begun shedding her baby fat. She seemed different from the thin and shriveled little servant he remembered.
According to the customs of town, when a woman marries, chances of having both parents around remains high.
Song Jixin recalled the time he sulked in those sullen memories, so he asked his servant girl, who was twelve at the time, to accompany him as he bought a new wine. He then brought out a porcelain bowl he had hidden away. The enamel was gorgeous, just like a green plum. After pouring the wine into it, he carefully sealed the bowl with mud before finally burying it in the ground.
Song Jixin suddenly opened his mouth and said, “That fellow with the surname Chen belongs to the ‘rotten wood cannot be carved, nor can a wall of dung and mud be finished with a trowel’ |1| class. According to the words of our scholars’ ancestors, he has finally done something meaningful in his life.
|1| A hopeless case. You can’t teach them anything because they don’t have the aptitude.
The servant girl did not reply. She lowered her gaze, eyelashes trembling faintly.
“That Chen Ping, he’s not bad, but he’s too inflexible and stubborn to do anything. Once he becomes a kiln maker, it would mean that no matter how hard he works, he’ll never be able to make anything good. Why? Liu Xianyang’s master, Old Man Yao, treats him like trash.”
When Song Jixin said this, he mocked himself and chuckled lowly. “I’m actually worse off than Chen Ping.”
The servant girl did not know how to comfort her young master.
In this small town, she and Song Jixin had always been the rich in her street––among the most important subject people would discuss during tea hours and lunchtime because of Song Jixin’s background.
In the history of this town, overseers were often popular. Unlike the arrogant overseer from before, Song Jixin’s father, Master Song, did not hide in the government officer or close the doors for any help. Rather, he was quite intimate with the people, helping them with the kilns, with their studies, and any assistance the town needed.
Over the past ten years, he looked more like a villager of the countryside than someone from the capital. Master Song’s skin had been tanned that there seemed to be no difference between him and the peasants.