Happy Heroes 28 PDF Print E-mail
Friday, 11 July 2008 12:05

Chapter 27 – A World of Gold

--------------------------------------------------

What sorts of people can be called ‘sick people’ [or a 'patient’]? This classification, like many other classifcations, has many different definitions. Some people will explain it as: a sick person is someone who has a sickness. Of course, this definition of ‘sick person’ is indisputable but it is still not completely correct. Sometimes, people do not have a sickness, but yet, they are still ‘sick people’. For example, someone who is injured, or someone who has been poisoned. Can you call them ‘sick persons’?

No.

********************

It was still spring.

The third month is precisely the heart of spring, when the grass is long and the oriole flies all around. The snow had all melted. The ground was covered in a blanket of green.

Guo DaLu was standing beneath the shady green, engrossed in his own thoughts. He really was lost in thought because he did not even notice when Yan Qi strolled over to him. Yan Qi could have snuck up and given him a big startle, and in fact, he had actually wanted to. However, once he saw how he looked, he did not have the heart to do it. What sort of look did Guo DaLu have? A face that seemed as if he had not eaten well nor slept enough and that had gotten a lot thinner.

Exhaling a little sigh, Yan Qi walked quietly over in front of him. A faint smile showed on his face. “Hey,” he asked softly, “what are you thinking about?”

Guo DaLu lifted up his head to look at him, staring for a long time before he said unexpectedly, “Do you know what sorts of people are called ‘sick people’?”

Yan Qi: “People who have a sickness.”

Guo DaLu shook his head.

Yan Qi: “Not correct?”

Guo DaLu: “At least it is not completely correct.”

Yan Qi: “What answer should I say in order to be completely correct?”

Guo DaLu pondered for a moment before answering, “In a child’s eyes, so long as someone is lying on the bed unable to move, then that person is a sick person, yet someone like that does not necessarily have any sort of illness.”

Yan Qi: “But you are not a child.”

Sighing, Guo DaLu stated, “In my eyes, a sick person is merely someone who spends especially large amounts of money.”

Yan Qi: “What sort of sentence is that?”

Guo DaLu: “A true sentence.”

What he said really were words of truth. Sick people may be unable to have drinks but they must have medicine. Moreover, not only must they take their medicines, they also have to consume a lot of bupin [natural supplements, usually very expensive] and these items were usually more expensive than wine.

Naturally, Yan Qi knew that those words were true because right then, in their place, there were three sick people. Lin TaiPing’s injuries had not yet completely healed and now, there was HongNiangZi and Wang Dong as well. Yan Qi frowned at him. “Even if it is a true sentence, you still should not say something like that.”

There was a bitter little smile on Guo DaLu’s lips. “I know I really should not say it, but I have to.”

Yan Qi: “Why?”

Guo DaLu: “Because, at this point in time, I am very quickly going to become a dead person.”

Yan Qi: “Dead person?”

A pile of stuff lay before Guo DaLu. That bitter smile was still on his face as he explained, “If things keep continuing on this way, in less than two days, I will have no choice but to throw myself into the river.” That pile in front of him was actually a stack of bills. Those bills were the sort that meant people were demanding payment from him. Yanking out a sheet of paper from the middle of the stack, he read, “Pure, high quality yan wo [*swallows nest; considered a delicacy and good for you], total weight five liang. Cost: fine silver, twelve liang even.” He hurled the paper to the ground, then sighed, “I can’t believe a nest made by some bird can actually be that expensive. If I had known, it would have been better if we turned into birds ourselves. That way, we could have avoided having all those pharmacy owners coming and pressuring for payments.”

Yan Qi grinned, “You already are a bird – a dim-witted bird.”

The sigh from Guo DaLu was even longer. “I bet even a dim-witted bird would not agree to manage the bills.”

Yan Qi blinked. “Well, who told you to manage them?”

Jabbing a finger at his own nose, Guo DaLu replied, “Me – the dim-witted bird.” It was true; he had said himself that he wanted to take care of the bills. Lin TaiPing, Hong NiangZi, and Wang Dong were all unable to move about. The only two left who could do anything were he and Yan Qi, but yet, the things that needed to be done were many.

“So do you want to manage the household or the bills?” Yan Qi had asked him.

Not even needing to think about the answer, Guo DaLu had immediately said, “Bills.” In his mind, he had felt that managing bills was much more pleasant than preparing medicines or making porridge for the sick. Only now did he realize that he was wrong, extremely wrong. Forcing a smile, he explained, “I had thought that there was nothing in the world that could be easier than dealing with bills.”

“Oh?” Yan Qi blinked at him again.

Guo DaLu: “Because in the previous months, we did not have any bills we needed to manage.”

Yan Qi giggled, “Even if there were, they were just some nonsense bills.”

Guo DaLu: “Exactly.” Sighing, he added, “Back then, when we had money, we would go eat and drink a bit, and when we did not have money, we would just restrain ourselves. Even if we did not eat or drink for the entire day, it still would not be a big deal.”

Yan Qi: “And at the time, at least all of us would try to come up with plans to get money.”

Guo DaLu: “But now, things are different.”

Yan Qi nodded his head slowly. He, too, could not help sighing now as he agreed, “Things truly are different now.”

The sick must not be allowed to go hungry and even moreso, they must take their medicines. And so, regardless of whether they had money or not, everyday, there was a fixed set of expenses that they could not avoid. Those expenses were not small either. However, there was not one person coming up with ideas to get money. Yan Qi was busy caring for the sick; Guo DaLu was desperately racking his brain for ways on how to buy things on credit.

“I find one thing very odd, though,” Guo DaLu sighed.

Yan Qi: “What is that?”

Guo DaLu: “Although I have never muddled my way around jianghu before, I have heard more than a small number of stories about the heroes of jianghu. How come I never heard about any one of them having to worry about money?” He gave a cynical little chuckle before carrying on, “Those people seem to have bundle after bundle of money that they can pull out at any time. That money seems to just fall down from heaven.”

Yan Qi contemplated his words for a minute, then remarked, “In the future, if someone tells our story, there will definitely be no mention of us worrying about money either.”

Guo DaLu: “Why?”

Yan Qi: “Because storytellers all seem to think that people do not like to hear stuff like that.”

Guo DaLu: “But those are all facts.”

Yan Qi: “Facts may be true, but there are not many people who dare to speak the truth.”

Guo DaLu: “Why don’t they dare? What is there to fear?”

Yan Qi: “They are scared people will not listen.”

Guo DaLu: “Could all those storytellers be idiots? Don’t they understand that there will be people who like to listen to the truth?” He thought for a moment, then added, “Maybe you get a bigger kick out of those myth or legend-like stories, but true stories are definitely able to move people even more. Stories that have the ability to touch people’s hearts are the only ones that carry on forever.”

Letting out a slight chuckle, Yan Qi advised, “It would be best if you saved these words for the storytellers to hear.”

Guo DaLu: “You are uninterested?”

Yan Qi: “Yup.”

Guo DaLu: “What do you want to hear then?”

Yan Qi: “The only thing I want to hear now is how much debt are we actually in?”

Heaving a sigh, Guo DaLu replied, “Not much; it has not even reached ten thousand liang of silver yet.”



In some people’s eyes, a debt of ten thousand liang was really not all that much. During the time that Guo DaLu had money, this debt would also not have been considered a large amount. The issue lies not in how large the debt is but rather, how much you have.

Yan Qi: “These ten thousand liang worth of bills, are they all urgently in need of payment?”

Guo DaLu: “The people demanding payment are already pressuring me so much that I am ready to throw myself into the river. Do you think it is urgent?”

Yan Qi: “How much do we still have on hand at the moment?”

“Quite a bit.” Guo DaLu sighed, “With another three coins, we will have pooled one liang.”

Yan Qi stood there at a loss for words. The difference between ten thousand liang and one liang was 9,999 liang. Anyone could do this calculation. So, Yan Qi could only stare off in silence. After a long while, he let out a long sigh and commented, “I finally understand what it means to be poor.”

Guo DaLu: “Only now do you understand?”

Nodding, Yan Qi explained, “Because even though we did not have money before, we did not owe anyone any debts either so that could not really be considered as being poor.”

“Right now, as long as I do not have to owe any more debts, I would be willing to crawl around on the ground for three days and three nights,” Guo DaLu moaned.

Yan Qi: “Sadly, even if you crawled on all fours for three years, you still would not be able to crawl out ten thousand liang.”

Guo DaLu: “I don’t need ten thousand liang. 9,999 liang will be sufficient.”

Yan Qi: “The problem is, how are you going to get 9,999 liang?”

With another sour smile, Guo DaLu said, “I have no idea.”

Yan Qi: “Neither do I.”

Blinking, Guo DaLu suggested, “Why can we not be thieves?

Yan Qi: “Because we are not the types that are able to be thieves.”

Guo Dalu: “What type of people can?”

Yan Qi: “The inhuman types.”

Guo DaLu: “Could we go steal from the rich and give to the poor?”

Yan Qi: “No.”

Guo DaLu: “Why not? People who steal from the rich and give to the poor cannot be considered thieves. At most, they are gallant bandits, heroes.”

Yan Qi: “Who are you planning to rob?”

Guo DaLu: “Those wealthy but heartless and dishonest businessmen or those corrupt officials who exploit the common people.”

Yan Qi: “And after you are done with the robbing, who are the poor that you are going to provide aid to?”

Guo DaLu: “Naturally, we would first rescue ourselves from our own crisis and relieve our own poverty.”

“Then that is not being a hero; that is being a b**tard,” Yan Qi rebuked. He added, “It is because there are so many people who have these b**tard ideas that there are so many thieves in the world.” Perhaps the majority of the world’s thieves actually started with these self-deceiving notions.

Guo DaLu thought over it for a minute before forcing a smile. “According to what you are saying, then, it appears that we only have one path left to take.”

Yan Qi: “What path is that?”

Guo DaLu: “Not paying.”

Yan Qi: “Do you know what sort of people default on their debts?”

Guo DaLu did know, and that is why he sighed again. “People who have no shame.”

Yan Qi: “So are you able to do that?”

Guo DaLu: “No.” Besides, even if he was able to bring himself to not pay the debts, Wang Dong and the others’ injuries had not healed yet, and they still needed to continue with their medicines and supplements. If you defaulted on your current debts, who would be willing to let you borrow from them again?



End of Chapter 27