Chapter 13: Signed (2)
At this time, Song Jixin was picking his ears as he waited patiently.
The cool breeze blew gently on by.
As usual, the refined young man in green robe sat on a stool positioned to the south. He sat upright.
Song Jixin sat on the ground opposite of the youth in green robe.
Mr. Qi sat on the western side, watching the view without uttering a word.
The servant girl would often go for a walk in the bamboo forest whenever the young master played chess with others so as to not disturb the three ‘scholars.’ Today was no exception.
In a small remote town, things like scholars did not exist. If they did, they were a rare existence.
According to the old rules set by Mr. Qi, Song Jixin and the young man had to play against one another.
Since Mr. Qi imparted to them his knowledge, he regarded them as people of high status.
After the two youths guessed what would be happening, Song Jixin pulled out a handful of white chess pieces from the box. The number of white chess pieces varied. It was a secret no one knew.
On the other side, the green-robed youth pulled out black chess pieces. After guessing the numbers of the white chess pieces, he would be able to hold the advantage of the game and take the lead. He thought this gave him an edge over others. Playing the black chess pieces, he never had a single loss.
The green-clothed youth was a student of Mr. Qi and a bookkeeper. Following Mr. Qi from morning to night benefitted his growth. If he were to play, he’d be able to win occasionally.
Just as Song Jixin was about to grab a chess piece, Mr. Qi interjected and said, “You’ll play a round of chess today. It’ll be different.”
The two youths were confused. They had no clue how ‘different’ it would be.
Mr. Qi spoke neither fast nor slow. After explaining the rules, he didn’t make it complicated. He simply placed the black and white chess pieces on each block.”
His movements were skillful, fluid, and pleasing to the eyes.
The green-clothed youth who usually liked to abide by the rules was dumbstruck. He stared at the chessboard in a daze, and carefully said, “Teacher, it seems that many of my plans will be useless.”
Song Jixin frowned and thought for a moment. Then, his eyes lit up as his brows relaxed. “The chessboard pattern shrunk.” He raised his head and wore a proud smile. “Right, Mr. Qi?”
The middle-aged scholar nodded. “Indeed.”
Song Jixin raised one eyebrow. “Should I let him go for two rounds first? Otherwise, he will definitely lose.”
Song Jixin knew the real reason Mr. Qi changed the layouts of the game. In the past two years, he had become more distracted and cared not for winning. Song Jixin had even become a little impatient and purposely allowed his opponents to win. Mr. Qi wanted to sharpen Song Jixin’s mind.
As for the young man in green-robed, his mind was obsessed with the word ‘win.’ He needed to come back down to earth.
Mr. Qi looked at his student. “You can start first.”
Next, the youth slowly moved a piece. He was overly cautious; each step taken was done with precise thinking. On the other hand was a laid-back Song Jixin, his eyes opening and closing like he’d fall asleep anytime soon.
The two had completely different temperaments.
In less than eighty moves, the green-clothed youth lost completely. He lowered his head and said nothing, his lips tightly pursed.
Song Jixin rested his elbows on the table. His cheeks supported his palms while he tapped on the stone table with his fingers.
According to Mr. Qi’s rules, one could silently concede. There was no need to say the words, “I lost.”
“Go practice your calligraphy. There’s no need to clean up the mess.”
The green clothed youth hurriedly stood up and bowed respectfully as he took his leave.
When the youth’s figure disappeared, Song Jixin softly asked, “Is Teacher Qi also leaving this place?”
The refined scholar with white hair nodded. “We’ll be leaving right after.”
Song Jixin smiled. “That’s great. I can send you off.”
Mr. Qi hesitated for a moment before prying his mouth open. “There’s no need to send me off. When you leave this town also, remember not to be too extravagant. I don’t have anything else but these three books. Take them with you, and study them often. Read them a hundred times. Flip through them in your free time. Maybe it’ll improve your emotional well-being.”
Song Jixin’s face brimmed with surprise and one full of embarrassment. He gathered his courage and said, “Teacher, you like taking care of me. Ha-ha… you really make me uncomfortable at times.”
Mr. Qi donned a face full of smiles. “Don’t be too exaggerated. We’ll cross paths again someday.”
As he said this, he gave off the feeling of a spring breeze.
Song Jixin stood up and smiled. “Alright, then I’ll have to trouble teacher to clean up this mess. I have something to do first, and then I’ll be back!”
The youth ran away happily.
The middle-aged scholar bent down to pick up the chess pieces. Though they appeared to be in a complete disorder, the truth was that they were arranged neatly.
It was unknown when the servant girl, Zhi Gui, returned from the bamboo forest. She only stood outside the door and didn’t set foot inside the courtyard.
Without turning his head, the middle-aged scholar said, “Do your best.”
The girl who had grown up in Muddy Bottle Lane wore an innocent look. She was delicate, weak, timid, and pitiful.
The gentle and refined scholar revealed an angered expression as he slowly turned his head.
His eyes were cold.
The girl looked confused––innocent.
The middle-aged scholar stood up and looked at the young girl with jade-like gaze. He coldly laughed, “You’re an unfilial bastard!”
The young girl slowly retracted the innocent look on her face. Her eyes gradually turned cold, and the corners of her mouth curled into a mocking smile.
She seemed to be saying, What can you do to me?
And just like that, she looked straight into the scholar’s eyes.
Outside the small courtyard, it seemed as if two pythons were facing each other in a showdown.
In the distance, Song Jixin shouted, “I’m back.”
The young servant girl immediately tiptoed on her toes. “Ah, Young Master is here.”
She pushed open the door and ran past the scholar. After running a few steps, she did not forget to turn around and say to the scholar in a gentle and pleasant manner, “Teacher, Zhi Gui will be leaving first.”
After a long time, the monk sighed.
The gentle spring breeze caused the bamboo leaves to sway as if they were the sounds of books being flipped over.
The Young Daoist wore a lotus flower crown on his head. He tidied up his stall and sighed. The people of this town that were familiar with him shook their head.
When a married woman, now a widow, saw the Young Daoist acting strangely, she stopped walking. Her voice was soft and shy.
The Young Daoist glanced at the woman emotionlessly. His gaze shifted downwards slightly. It was a view of a bulging scenery. He quickly swallowed his saliva and chanted a mysterious saying.
“Today, this Daoist will sign himself.”