While it is hard to tell how a person’s heart is, generally people would be pursuing self-interest in this generation when there are not many people whom one could trust and when not many people are loyal. How much trust and loyalty are built on selfish benefits?
They become hypocritical, filthy. They have no base limits, they resort to unscrupulous means to gain what they want. This is so that they can live a better life, be deemed successful. On the other hand, the down-to-earth people are seen as dim-witted while the truly loyal people get hurt; the religious people are mocked and the principled ridiculed.
What should society be like? Should it be what the others described it to be? Qin Sheng felt a little lost, but he was determined to hang on to his principle of being grateful. He believed that by holding on to this principle, he would succeed.
Qin Sheng found Zhao Quan’s reasoning and Zhao Song’s loyal a little too funny, but there was nothing he could do. They were destined to come to this when they chose to tread on this crooked path. Qin Sheng would let them go as instructed by Jiang Xianbang, since the matter which had been troubling him had come to an end.
After Qin Sheng left the building, he took out his mobile phone and searched up a contact number which he had not used for a long time and sent a message saying that the Song family’s ancient jade heirloom was in Kumbum Monastery in Xining and the person they should look for there was the living Buddha, Kela. He even ended off the message with, “No need to thank me, this is Lei Feng.”
This contact number belonged to the foxy fiance, Miss Song. After a moment, she replied asking who he was.
Qin Sheng ignored the message but after a while, she sent another message asking if he was Qin Sheng. Again, Qin Sheng ignored the message. What followed immediately was a phone call, but Qin Sheng rejected the call straight away.
At least for now, he did not wish to be entangled with the things of the past once again. He wanted to start his life anew.
Qin Sheng returned to the hotel to pack up, gave some instructions to the hospital, then bought the earliest speed train tickets back to Shanghai. He did not try to read a book on the train ride, instead, he managed to catch a much-needed sleep.
As for the Ancient Bronze Sword from the period of the warring states, it had been sent back to Jiang Xiangbang in Shanghai and Qin Sheng had nothing to do with it anymore.
When Qin Sheng reached Shilin Huayuan, it was already afternoon. Qin Sheng had almost forgotten that he was suspended from Shangshan Ruohui for a week, so much so that he almost went to Shangshan Ruoshui for work. He wanted to laugh at himself for this. He decided that he should enjoy the rest of his leave and did not even contact JiangXianbang.
After taking a shower, he changed into something clean and comfortable. This trip to Hangzhou had caused him frustration. Luckily he managed to bring the entire situation under control and did not kill anyone during this time. With a light heart, Qin Sheng took a stroll along the busy streets and went to the market to buy some ingredients to cook dinner for Chang Baji, Hao Lei and Hanbing.
The market place was crowded and happening. Qin Sheng could hear wives, mothers and aunties haggling prices. In reality, life is mostly made up of these normal trivialities instead of many earth-shaking events.
On the way home after he bought everything he needed, he passed by the bookshop which he frequented. Thinking that he had not been to the bookshop for a while, he decided to go in to have a look, so he entered the bookshop smiling.
“Hi Qin Sheng, haven’t seen you for many days!” Brother Liu, the cashier greeted him with a warm smile.
Qin Sheng put down his groceries and said, “I’ve been busy lately.”
“You’ve knocked off from work early today, Qin Sheng, and I can see you’ve bought quite a bit of groceries,” said Sister Tang, the other shopkeeper, as she approached.
“I was just back from a business trip, and am taking two days off.”
“Come out Le, come and see who’s here!” cried Brother Liu on purpose.
Le, who was doing some housekeeping at the back rushed out, looking flushed, and said, “What is it, Brother Liu?”
Both Brother Liu and Sister Tang did not respond to her but proceeded to busy themselves with their respective duties.
“Oh you’re here,” Le greeted Qin Sheng as she lowered her head.
Qin Sheng fixed his eyes on Le and said jokingly, “What’s happened? I see that you’ve cut your hair short. I still think you look better wearing long hair, but your short fringe looks nice.”
“Slippery,” said Le, staring back at Qin Sheng.
Qin Sheng walked in and casually asked, “Are there any recent books to recommend? Oh yes, how is it going with my request to you? Is that customer still bringing books to the bookshop?”
“No. After sending that stack of books here, he never came again. However, I’ve gotten ready the book you asked me to look for. It’s over there!” said Le. She did not know Qin Sheng’s intention of asking her to consolidate all the books that said customer had brought to the bookshop. She only knew that Qin Sheng wanted to buy over all of them. She had been busy with this task Qin Sheng entrusted her and finally managed to complete it a few days ago, except there was no way of contacting Qin Sheng.
Upon hearing the news, a well-pleased Qin Sheng said, “Thank you! I will bring these books with me. If that said customer comes again, please help me get his contact. I also want to buy all the books he brings here.”
“Wow, I didn’t know you know how to say thank you!” teased Le. She immediately took note of what Qin Sheng’s favor. Qin Sheng could be deemed the most loyal customer to this bookshop and Le found men who loved to read especially attractive. She could sense the scholarly charm about them. However, her boss, who barely visited the bookshop had commented that those people who loved books were heartless.
Qin Sheng knocked Le’s head with her knuckle, which made Le blushed, then proceeded to have a look at the books in the aisles.
After spending half an hour in the bookshop, Qin Sheng found two history books, namely “The political resurgence between the two dynasties” and “Emperor of the Ming Dynasty record”. He would bring back something each time he visited the bookshop, although it may appear to be a small bookshop, it had a good collection of books.
Altogether Qin Sheng spent less than 400 yuan on all the books contributed by that said customer together with the two books he picked up from the shelves. He was glad he managed to reap a good deal, and after bidding goodbye to Le and the others, he took up his bags of groceries and headed home.
Once he reached home, he called Han Bing and Chang Baji to inform them that he had returned from Hangzhou and that he would be cooking dinner for them. The kitchen and the appliances in it had been underutilized since they moved into Shilin Huayuan.
At six-thirty in the evening, just when Qin Sheng was about to serve all his dishes on the table, Han Bing, together with Hao Lei and Chang Baji entered through the door one another. Han Bing put down her bag, removed her coat and changed into slippers before she rushed into the kitchen exclaiming, “Smells so good, did you cook all these?”
“Needless to say, who else could it be?” Qin Sheng said smugly, pouting his lips.
“Did you order takeaway?” Han Bing teased when she saw how the complacent look on Qin Sheng’s face. Before Qin Sheng could rebut, Han Bing pointed at him and said, “That’s how you talked about me the other time.”
Ignoring Han Bing, Qin Sheng continue to fry the vegetables in the wok, while Han Bing tied her hair into a ponytail, pulled back her long sleeves and asked, “Do you need help in anything?”
“No need. Just wait outside. This is the last dish and soon we can start eating!” Qin Sheng pushed Han Bing out of the kitchen, fearing that she would make trouble for him instead. Although she indeed could cook, her food was at most just edible.
Han Bing gave up insisting to help. She was a new generation independent woman and it was not her priority to become a housewife, otherwise, her future husband might look down on her.
After washing her hands, she opened the bottle of red wine she brought and soon, Qin Sheng was done with the last dish he was preparing.
“How are you in such a fabulous mood today? Something is amiss,” Han Bing asked, looking puzzled. This seemed to be the first time she had seen him getting down to cook.
In a dispassionate tone, Qin Sheng said, “Am I? It’s likely because I just returned from a business trip and I am feeling relaxed that I have a few more days of leave, so I decided to prepare you a meal. Come, try my dishes and see if you like it. Rest assured that I won’t do this again.”
All of them thought Qin Sheng was going to say something pleasant, little did they expect that he was back to himself, so they burst out laughing.
“Erm… tastes good,” Han Bing had a taste of the sweet-sour fish dish and could not help but praised Qin Sheng for his culinary skills, then she moved on to taste the other dishes and kept up with her approving comments, saying, “These dishes are so delicious, much nicer than what I can make. Looks like I’ve to come for dinner more often from now on.”
“Please don’t, I don’t have time!” said Qin Sheng quickly.
Han Bing pouted and said, “What a petty person you are! Look at how I scared you!”
“Did everything go smoothly in Hangzhou?” asked Chang Baji impassively after they clinked their glasses.
Hao Lei and Han Bing did not think much about Qin Sheng’s business trip to Hangzhou given that Qin Sheng and Chang Baji were both working at Shangshan Ruoshui.
“There were some hiccups but it was smooth going overall, otherwise I wouldn’t have come back so quickly,” Qin Sheng tried to explain it away casually and quickly changed the topic by asking, “How had Shangshan Ruoshui been the last few days?”
“It’s fine, I didn’t really take notice,” Chang Biji answered honestly, not knowing what exactly Qin Sheng was trying to get at.
“Could you take special notice tomorrow to see if the number of customers visiting has decreased,” said Qin Sheng thoughtfully.
“Why?” asked Chang Baji, frowning.
Qing Sheng casually explained by saying, “Nothing, I was making a guess and trying to see if I was right.”
“Alright, I will try to look out tomorrow,” Chang Baji answered while nodding.
Time flies and the Lunar New Year was approaching. Qin Sheng wanted to accompany Lin Xin on the trip back to Xi’an to celebrate Auntie Wang’s birthday. “Hao Lei, I may make a trip back to Xi’an during the New Year, do you want to come along?” asked Qin Sheng casually.
Hao Lei had left in a hurry the other time so he did not bother to explain clearly to his family the reason for his trip. He merely said that he had to protect Han Bing, so he hesitated and asked, “How about Han Bing?”
“There are three days of holiday during the Lunar New Year. I want to come along with you to Xi’an and you can show me around a bit,” Han Bing said, wishing she could go on a holiday. It had been quite a while since she last went on a holiday.
Qin Sheng hesitated and answered, “That works too. Let’s just make this our plan, to go back to Xi’an during the New Year.”
After dinner, Qin Sheng drove Han Bing back to her house, accompanied her to take a walk around until late. Han Bing almost could not bear to part with Qin Sheng when eventually they bade goodbye to each other.
Qin Sheng left Shilin Huayuan for a jog at dawn the early next morning. He jogged all the way to the florist next to Baoli Square in forty minutes.
When the shopkeeper saw Qin Sheng, she remembered that this was the customer who only wanted a stalk of white rose. “One stalk of white rose?” she asked Qin Sheng casually.
Qin Sheng nodded as the florist cast a contemptible look at him. Qin Sheng wondered if he would continue to be despised in future.
The receptionist at Lin Su’s company was already at the reception area by the time Qin Sheng arrived to pass her the flower, saying, “This is Manager Lin’s order.” This time, Qin Sheng did not have to go through any trouble like the last time, since the receptionist was familiar with him by now.
“No problem,” the beautiful receptionist said as she accepted the flower.
Qin Sheng then left, feeling happy and satisfied.
Qin Sheng eventually took the public bus back to Shilin Huayuan and grabbed himself some soybean milk and fritters for breakfast. He had planned to spend the morning reading, the afternoon in the gym, and look for Jing Xianbang in the evening.
The moment he stepped into his bedroom, he received a call from Lin Su. This time, she did not just send a short phone message.
“You’re back?” Lin Su was standing by the window as she spoke, smelling the fragrance from the white rose and smiling. She naturally knew that the stalk of white rose was from Qin Sheng. It was a message to tell her that he was back from his business trip. She as happy to accept the flower as he was willing to give it.
“I arrived back here last night,” Qin Sheng said with a chuckle.
“What are you doing during the noontime?” Lin Su, who was moody, had contemplated taking leave in the afternoon.
Shaking his head, Qin Sheng replied, “Nothing planned.”
“Treat me to hotpot lunch then,” Lin Su said in a straight forward manner. A man would be an idiot to turn down the invitation of his goddess.
“Great, of course!” Qin Sheng answered without any hesitation.