Chapter 2: Thriller (2)
Chen Ping turned his head to the source of the voice and saw a youth in embroidered silk clothing with smiling eyes and hands behind his back as he stood outside the courtyard.
He had an unfamiliar face, one unrecognizable in this place.
A tall old man with fair skin and amiable countenance stood beside the youth donned in embroidered clothing.
His eyes squinted lightly, quietly sizing up the two youths and the young girl in the courtyard.
The old man’s gaze swept across Chen Ping and did not stop. His smile gradually widened when he saw the other young boy and servant girl.
“Sell her?” The two youths called out in unison.
The youth in embroidered clothing smiled and said, “Tell me a price.”
The girl’s eyes widened, face filled with disbelief like a young, panicked deer.
Song Jixin looked at Chen Ping before turning his gaze back. He rolled his eyes and stretched out a finger and waved it around. “Ten thousand taels of silver!”
“Alright,” the youth said with an indifferent expression as he nodded.
Seeing as the youth did not seem as if he was fooling around, Song Jixin cleared his throat and corrected his tone. “It’s ten thousand taels of gold!”
The corners of the youth’s mouth curled to a smile. “I was just teasing you.”
Song Jixin’s face darkened to one of gloominess.
“Chen Ping, today, it’s all thanks to you that I was able to buy that carp. After I bought it, the more my mood lightened. Happiness bloomed in my heart the more I looked at the carp. I wanted to thank you in person so I asked Grandpa Wu to bring me to you.”
The youth pulled out a heavy embroidered bag and tossed it to Chen Ping. Donning a bright smile, he said, “This is your reward. You and I are even.”
Just as Chen Ping was about to speak, the youth had already turned around and left.
Chen Ping frowned.
During the day, he accidentally saw a middle-aged man walking down the street with a fish basket. He caught a golden carp the length of a palm jumping around the bamboo basket. Chen Ping took a short glance and felt a fleeting sense of happiness fill his soul whole.
He walked to the middle-aged man to buy the carp for ten taels.
Originally, the middle-aged planned to give the carp for ten ten taels but after seeing the crap’s profitability, the middle-aged man’s eyes twinkled. He coveted more profit as greed flashed in his eyes and raised the price.
Chen Ping’s brows knotted together as he attempted to haggle the price down. And just as the middle-aged man loosened up and agreed to the price, a youth in embroidered clothing followed by the tall old man passed by. They spent fifty taels of gold to buy the carp and fish basket. Without a word, they left just as quick as they appeared.
The back of the old man and youth faded away on the horizon.
Song Jixin withdrew his vicious gaze and jumped over the wall. He seemed to remember something and said to Chen Ping, “Ping, do you remember the forth day of the first month?”
Chen Ping nodded.
How could he not remember? The memories was still fresh in his mind.
According to the hundreds of years of tradition passed down in this place—if snakes happened to enter their houses, it was a good sign and one should absolutely not expel them out of the house nor kill them.
When it was the first day of the first month, Song Jixin sat on the doorstep and basked under the sun. Meanwhile, a little snake scurried inside the house under his nose. When he found the snake’s presence, Song Jixin panicked. He grabbed the snake and threw it out in the courtyard, but he hadn’t expected the snake he beat black and blue would gain sudden bravery and fight back.
The next day, the snake entered the house once more and curled itself up under Song Jixin’s bed.
Song Jixin shivered.
Feeling the young girl tugging at the end of his sleeve, Song Jixin was brought out of his stupor. The two immediately shared a mutual understanding. Subconsciously, he swallowed the words at the tip of his tongue back down his throat. What he wanted to say… was that the ugly snake had four legs and a bulge on its forehead that looked similar to a horn.
Song Jixin cleared his throat and changed the topic. “We might leave this place next month.”
Chen Ping sighed. “Be careful on the road.”
“There are some things that I definitely can’t move away from. Don’t take advantage of the fact that there’s no one here to steal things without restraint.”
Chen Ping shook his head and chuckled softly.
He pointed his forefinger at Chen Ping and said with a mischievous smile, “You are as timid as a mouse. No wonder the humble class had no sons. Not to mention your life being bullied by others… you’ll probably never be able to escape in this life and the next life.”
Chen Ping remained silent.
He returned back to the room and closed the door. Lying in the hard, wooden bed, Chen Ping closed his eyes, silently murmuring, “Shattered… old… broken… peaceful… old… peaceful…”