Happy Heroes 39 Print
Monday, 14 July 2008 06:47

Chapter 38 – Where Has Spring Gone?

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Nobody knew NanGong Chou’s whereabouts, just like no one could know where spring would be going. But though spring may go, it will return at some point in time. NanGong Chou, however, was gone without any news of him.

Now, spring would be departing soon. The flowers in the courtyard were blooming even more colorfully, but alas, even the most beautiful flower cannot keep spring. The weather was gradually getting hotter. Although Wang Dong’s injuries were fully healed, he had become even lazier. He would lie all day in his bamboo chair, almost not even bothering to budge in the slightest bit. Except for that one day when they buried the black-clothed man…



That day had been close to Qing Ming Jie [see previous footnote [9]], but there was no soul-wrenching rain accompanying it. In fact, the weather was very nice. As they were returning from the gravesite, Wang Dong brought up the rear like he usually did.

Hong NiangZi had not come with them. She was nearly completely recovered from her injuries, yet she would still hole herself up in her room all day. Nowadays, it was not Wang Dong who was avoiding her but rather, it was her avoiding Wang Dong. A woman’s heart is always unfathomable so this was not unusual at all.


What was unusual, though, was that Guo DaLu also seemed to be avoiding Yan Qi of late. While Yan Qi and Lin TaiPing walked up ahead, he strolled languidly at the back with Wang Dong. When they were halfway back, Wang Dong found himself a shady spot beneath a tree, sat down, gave a big stretch, and let out a yawn. Guo DaLu, too, sat down after him, stretched, and let out two yawns. Wang Dong chuckled and, with a slight smile on his face, commented, “Lately, you seem to have become even lazier than me.”

“Who ever stipulated that only you are allowed to be the laziest person?” Guo DaLu responded. “Can I not be a bit lazier than you?”

Wang Dong: “No.”

Guo DaLu: “Why?”

Wang Dong: “Because, right now, you should be the one most vigourous one out of all of us.”

Guo DaLu: “Why is that?”

Wang Dong: “Do you still remember what Yan Qi said about you that day?”

Guo DaLu: “No. Why must I always remember what he says?” This guy was acting like he had just swallowed three tons of gunpowder and his belly was filled with explosives.

Wang Dong did not seem to mind. The smile was still on his face as he reminded, “He said that, out of the four of us, your martial art should actually be the worst.”

“You all have good shifus; I don’t,” Guo DaLu protested.

Wang Dong: “But since that day you fought the black-clothed man, he suddenly discovered that, though our martial arts are higher than yours, if we got into a real fight against you, perhaps none of us would actually be your match.”

His voice cold, Guo DaLu replied, “He may not even believe his own words.”

Wang Dong: “But I believe them because my opinion is the same as his.”

Guo DaLu: “Oh?”

Wang Dong: “Your martial arts may be inferior to ours, but in actual combat with people, you are able to adapt and act accordingly to the circumstances and control your opponent before he has his chance to act. To borrow from a clichéd saying: you are someone who has an amazing inborn gift, a rare talent for learning martial arts. And so…”

Guo DaLu: “And so, we should have a duel to confirm it, right?” There was still a strong explosive feel in his words.

Wang Dong ignored him again and continued smilingly, “And so you should cheer up and practice your martial arts diligently. If you could find a good shifu, maybe you might even become wulin’s number one martial master.”

Guo DaLu suddenly released a lengthy sigh. “Right now, I do not want to find a good shifu. I only want to find a good doctor.”

Wang Dong: “Why?”

Nibbling on his fingernail, Guo DaLu stammered, “Because… because I am sick.”

 

The expression on Wang Dong’s face shifted rapidly as he asked, “You are sick? What sort of sickness?”

Guo DaLu: “A very strange sort.”

Wang Dong: “How come you never mentioned anything before?”

Guo DaLu: “Because I…… I cannot say it.” His entire face was covered in a look of pain. It did not seem at all as if he was joking. Wang Dong, though, did not press him further because he knew that the more insistently he asked, the more Guo DaLu would refuse to say anything at all. Sure enough, since he did not inquire anymore, Guo DaLu could not contain himself and asked, “Have you not noticed that I have changed a bit lately?”

Wang Dong brows were puckered as he agreed hesitantly, “Hmm… it appears you have a bit.”

“It’s because I am sick,” Guo DaLu sighed.

Wang Dong probed, “And do you know where your illness is located?”

Pointing at his own chest, Guo DaLu answered, “Right here.”

Wang Dong frowned, “You have a sickness of the heart?”

Guo DaLu’s expression grew even more pained.

Wang Dong: “There are many types of sicknesses of the heart. As far as I know, the most severe one is lovesickness – could it be that you are lovesick?”

Guo DaLu was sighing incessantly now.

Wang Dong laughed and pointed out, “Lovesickness is not something to be ashamed of. Why are you not willing to say it out loud? Maybe I could even be a matchmaker for you.”

Guo DaLu was clenching his teeth together forcefully. A long while passed and then suddenly, he grabbed Wang Dong by the shoulders. “Are you my good friend?”

Wang Dong: “Of course.”

Guo DaLu: “Good friends should guard each other’s secrets, right?”

Wang Dong: “Of course they should.”

Guo DaLu: “I have a secret that I have kept for a long time now, and if I don’t say it out, I’m afraid I will go crazy. But… but even though I want to say it, I am scared that you will laugh at me.”

Wang Dong: “You… don’t tell me that what you have is… is a sexually transmitted disease?”

Guo DaLu: “No.”

Wang Dong breathed a sigh of relief. “Then it’s all right. Feel free to say it. I will not laugh at you.”

Guo DaLu struggled in indecision for another half a day. At last, with a distressed look, he confessed, “There are also many types of lovesickness. The one I have, though, is the most shameful type.”

Wang Dong: “Why is it shameful? ‘A graceful and fair lady, the gentleman wishes to be with. Wish is unfulfilled, toss and turn he shall.’ This has always been a principle of Heaven and Earth. What is there to feel ashamed about?”

Guo DaLu: “But… but… my lovesickness is not for a woman.”

Wang Dong paused in surprise for a long moment before inquiring carefully, “Could your lovesickness be for a man?”

Guo DaLu nodded his head, looking nearly as if he was going to burst out into tears.

A look of terrible fear seemed to overcome Wang Dong’s face. Deliberately lowering his voice, he whispered, “It wouldn’t be me, would it?”

As Guo DaLu stared back at Wang Dong, he did not know whether he wanted to cry or laugh. All he could do was scowl as he retorted, “My sickness has not reached that stage of severity yet.”

Seemingly relieved, Wang Dong laughed, “As long as it is not me, everything is all right also.” Suddenly, his voice dropped again. “Is it Lin TaiPing?”

“You’ve seen a live ghost,” Guo DaLu snapped.

Wang Dong’s brow was wrinkled for a long time before he his countenance brightened and he said, “I understand now. The one you like is Yan Qi.”

Guo DaLu did not say anything.

In a laidback tone, Wang Dong said, “Really, I could see that a long time ago. You always like to be with him.”

His face pulled into a painful grimace, Guo DaLu replied, “Before, I did not really notice there was anything wrong. I just figured it was because we are very good friends. But then later… later…”

Wang Dong blinked. “What happened later?”

Guo DaLu: “Later… later something was not quite right.”

Wang Dong: “What was not right?”

Guo DaLu: “I cannot really say either what wasn’t right. Anyhow, as long as I am with him, there is something particularly different about my mood.

“How is it different?” Wang Dong pressed. He really was ‘smashing the earthenware pot to get to the bottom of it’ and was not willing to let go even a little bit.

Guo DaLu: “Different is just different… In any case… in any case, it’s just different.” Saying that was equivalent to not saying anything at all.

Wang Dong appeared as if he was not able to stop himself from breaking out into laughter, but in the end, he finally managed to contain it. Putting on a serious look, he comforted, “Really, that cannot be considered a shameful thing.”

“That’s not shameful enough?” Guo DaLu moaned. “A real man like me would actually…”

“You are not the first person with this sort of inclination,” Wang Dong pointed out. “ ‘Duan xiu fen tao.’ [literally, duan xiu means ‘cutting the sleeve’ and fen tao means ‘dividing peach’ [15]; saying refers to homosexuality.] Even our good old kings and emperors have had this pastime, and in fact, their stories have been told through the ages. In my opinion, you and him should just…”

Jumping to his feet, Guo DaLu glared furiously at Wang Dong and seethed, “So it turns out you actually are not my friend. I misjudged you.”

Wang Dong pulled him back. “Don’t get angry, don’t get angry. I was just trying to test you. Actually, I have noticed for a long time now that there is something not quite right about Yan Qi.”

Guo DaLu was taken aback by this. “What is it about him that is not quite right?”

It was not easy but Wang Dong managed to not burst out in mirth. Pulling his face into a serious look, he asked, “Have you not noticed that this person seems to have a rather bizarre [orig. word is xie, which carries meanings of evil, abnormal, heretic] air about him?”

Guo DaLu: “Bizarre air? What kind of bizarre air?”

Wang Dong: “Even though we are all such good friends, he still guards against us like he is guarding against thieves. When he goes to sleep, he always will first bolt up his doors and windows, right?”

Guo DaLu: “Yes.”

Wang Dong: “Every time he leaves here, he always does it by sneaking out, as if he is afraid we will tail him, right?”

Guo DaLu: “Yes.”

Wang Dong: “He seems like he never bathes, yet his body does not smell at all. The clothes he wears may be grimy and tattered, but his room is cleaner than anyone else’s here… What do you say? Aren’t all these points a little bizarre?”

Guo DaLu’s face seemed to have grown a little pale. “Are you trying to say that he is…”

Wang Dong cut him off, “I am not saying anything, nor am I saying that he is part of the demon cult.” All of a sudden, he broke into a fit of coughing because if he did not cough then, he was afraid he would start laughing.

Guo DaLu’s complexion grew even whiter while his lips repeated the same two words over and over again: “Demon cult… demon cult…”

After coughing for half a day, Wang Dong finally managed to hold back his laughter and spoke again, “I have merely heard that there are few husband-wife pairs in the demon cult that are a little unusual.”

Guo DaLu: “How are they unusual?”

Wang Dong: “These husband-wife couples, the husband is a man and the wife is a man also.”

Guo DaLu appeared as if he had just been struck out of nowhere by an arrow as his entire body leapt into the air. Clutching onto Wang Dong tightly, he rasped, “You… you have to help me out here.”


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[15] Cutting sleeve – Emperor Ai of the Han dynasty was reputed to have had a homosexual relationship with Dong Xian. Rather than awakening Dong Xian, who was sleeping on the emperor’s sleeve, Emperor Ai cut off his own sleeve so as not to disturb Dong. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dong_Xian
Dividing peach – Mizi Xia was one of the favoured (male) subjects of the ruler of Wei. One day, as they were walking through an orchard, Mizi Xia picked a peach and tasted it first. Upon finding it sweet, he gave the half-eaten peach to the ruler, who was delighted at Mizi Xia’s love that he thought first of him. Refer to first part of http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/pwh/china-gaytexts.html

Wang Dong: “How do you want me to help you?”

Guo DaLu: “Think of a way to get in a big quarrel with me.”

Wang Dong: “Big quarrel? How do you want to quarrel?”

Guo DaLu: “However you want to quarrel. Doesn’t matter. Just the bigger the quarrel, the better.”

Wang Dong: “Why do you want to quarrel?”

Guo DaLu: “Because after we have a row, I will have an excuse to leave here.”

WangDong’s face changed, seeming to have realized that his joke might have gone too far. A long while passed before he finally put on a forced smile and said, “You do not really need to leave. Actually, he…”

He seemed as if he was about to divulge some sort of secret, but Guo DaLu interrupted, “Actually, I do not really intend on leaving. I just want to get away from this place for a temporary period of time.”

Wang Dong: “And then?”

“And then I will wait for him at the foot of the mountain. As long as he steps out, I can tail him in secret and see where he actually goes and who he meets up with.” Guo DaLu heaved a lengthy sigh and added, “No matter what, I must learn what secret he is keeping.”

Wang Dong grumbled, “Why can you not wait here at home?”

Guo DaLu: “Because if I just follow him from here, he will discover what I’m doing.”

Wang Dong: “Don’t tell me you are going to go down the mountain to disguise your appearance.”

Guo DaLu: “Mm.”

Wang Dong: “You know the art of disguises?”

Guo DaLu: “No, but I have my own ways.”

Tilting his head, Wang Dong deliberated for quite a while until, at last, he said slowly, “Since you have already made up your mind to do it that way, then there is no reason why you shouldn’t, except…”

Guo DaLu: “Except what?”

Wang Dong: “If we want to get into a squabble, we should at least do it realistically, otherwise he will not believe it.”

Guo DaLu: “That’s right.”

Wang Dong: “That is why we have to wait for an opportunity. We certainly cannot just start fighting for no reason.”

Guo DaLu: “What kind of opportunity do we need to wait for?”

Chuckling, Wang Dong reassured him, “Though I do not really like getting into fights with people, it won’t be overly difficult for us to find an opportunity to have a row.”

Guo DaLu: “Why?”

Wang Dong: “Because what you say usually cannot be considered words from a human being anyways.”

Guo DaLu started laughing also. “If Yan Qi was here right now, I could start a fight with you just for that.”

Wang Dong: “Right now, I am only worried about one thing.”

Guo DaLu: “What are you worried about?”

Wang Dong: “I am worried that he will help you and side with you in the quarrel and afterward, he’ll leave with you too.”

Batting his eyes, Guo DaLu told him, “You do not need to worry about that point.”

Wang Dong: “Oh?”

Guo DaLu: “If I can get in a spat with you, do you think I wouldn’t be able to get in one with him?”

“Of course you can,” Wang Dong snickered. “Sometimes the things you say are enough to annoy the population of an entire city. Regardless of who gets in an argument with you, I still would not find it the least bit surprising.”

Before Guo DaLu had a chance to open his mouth and respond, they suddenly heard a cry of fear echoing out from the woods. The sound of a young girl’s voice was screaming, “Save me…. Save me!”

Most men who hear a girl crying “save me” will immediately rush over. Even if it is not in his mind to save her, he will still hurry over for a look. In every man’s life, there will more or less be one or two times when he fantasizes about being ‘a hero rescuing a beauty.’ It is too bad that such chances do not arise often in real life.

But now, the chance had come. How could Guo DaLu let it pass? Without waiting for action from Wang Dong, Guo DaLu sprung to his feet and darted over.

Unfortunately, it seemed he was still a step too late. He had just jumped up when he saw a person charging like an arrow into the grove.

Most girls who cry, “Save me!” are usually not unattractive, but there are not many who are as beautiful as the girl who was crying, “Save me!” at that particular moment. The girl was not old, at most sixteen or seventeen years old, and her hair was combed into two large, silky braids that made her appear even more lively and delightful. On her arm, she carried a basket of flowers, and her fair-skinned, oval face had grown pale in fright as she ran in circles around a tree.

A burly, bearded man with a wicked grin on his face was chasing her around that tree. He was not very hurried in his pursuit, though, for he knew that this girl was like food that was already in his mouth: she had no hope of escaping his clutches.

Who would have thought that an unexpected obtruder would suddenly interfere? Fortunately, the obtruder was merely a young lad who looked not all that different from a girl. And so, without waiting for Lin TaiPing to open his mouth, he barked, “You little b**tard! Who told you to come? If your arrival ruins my happy deed, then you better be careful because I will rip your head off.”

Lin TaiPing’s facial expression was calm as he asked, “What happy deed is that?”

Sneering, the man spat, “Can’t you tell what your daddy is doing here?”

The young girl had dashed over to hide behind Lin TaiPing. Gasping for breath, she quavered, “He is not a good person. He… he wants to pick on me.”

Unperturbed, Lin TaiPing told her, “Do not worry; no one can pick on you anymore.”

The burly man snarled in fury, “Little b**tard, are you trying to shove your nose into someone else’s business?”

Lin TaiPing: “It would seem so.”

Letting out a mad roar and like a lion ravenous lion pouncing on a sheep, he leapt viciously towards Lin TaiPing. It appeared that he had at least a few days worth of martial arts training. Not only was his lower body sturdy and stable, his attack was extremely quick as well.

It was unfortunate for him, though, that the one he encountered was Lin TaiPing.

The instant Lin TaiPing waved his arm, the man tumbled backwards like a wild dog that had just been given a sharp kick. Feelings of shock and anger collided in him as cusses poured from his lips. He seemed to want to crawl back up to his feet and throw himself all out into the fight again, but all of a sudden someone had already seized ahold of his collar and hoisted him up off the ground. This person possessed enormous strength and furthermore, his build was not shorter than than his either.

Guo DaLu had finally caught up, and now, he carried the man by the collar over to Lin TaiPing. “How do you say we should take care of this scoundrel?” he asked with a little smile.

Lin TaiPing replied, “That will depend on what this guniang [miss] wants to do.”

The girl was still shaken and her body was still quivering. Guo DaLu went up to her, and with a wink, grinned, “This person was bullying you. What do you say if we butcher him up and feed him to the dogs?” The girl gave a terrified cry and was so frightened that she nearly fainted as her body collapsed against Lin TaiPing.

Guo DaLu laughed uproariously, “I was only joking. Even dogs would not want to sniff a stinking scoundrel like him.” With a wave of his hand, he ordered, “Get out of here! The faster, the better; the further, the better.” Without needing Guo DaLu’s prompting, the burly man had already scurried off, tripping and crawling as he went.

Only then could the young girl breathe a sigh of relief. Her face flush with color, she straightened herself back up before falling gracefully to her knees. “Thank you, young sir, for saving me, otherwise… otherwise…” Her eyes started to grow red again and she could not even continue speaking. It almost seemed as if she wished she could embrace Lin TaiPing’s feet in order to express the great amount of gratitude that she felt in her heart.

Lin TaiPing’s face, too, had reddened.

Guo DaLu chuckled, “It was not only this one young sir who saved you. I had a part in it too. Why are you not thanking me?”

The young girl blushed an even deeper shade and was even more flustered about what to do.

Luckily, at this time, Yan Qi had hurried over. Glowering at Guo DaLu, he snapped, “She has already suffered enough and you still want to pick on her?” Pulling the girl back to her feet, he addressed her, “That guy has some problems. You do not need to pay any attention to him.”

The young girl’s head was lowered as she said, “Thank… thank you.”

Yan Qi: “Why would a young girl like you come to such a place with a person like that?”

The girl’s head dropped down even further as she explained haltingly, “I sell flowers. He said that there was someone here who wanted to buy my entire basket of flowers and so… and so I came along with him here.”

“This world has more bad men than good ones,” Yan Qi told her with a sigh. “Next time, you must be more cautious.”

Lin TaiPing piped in suddenly to ask, “How much is your whole basket of flowers?”

Flower vendor-girl: “Three… three…”

Lin TaiPing: “Alright. I will give you three liang of silver. I am buying your entire basket.”

The flower vendor-girl raised her head and gazed at him, her tender eyes filled with gratitude. Lin TaiPing, though, was blushing again and he actually turned his head away, as if he did not dare face her.

Guo DaLu looked first at Lin TaiPing, then over at the flower vendor-girl. Out of the blue, he asked, “Little miss, what would your name be?”

However, the flower vendor-girl appeared to be very fearful of him. The instant he had opened his mouth, she was so frightened that she retreated back a couple of steps.

Guo DaLu: “Do you live at the foot of the mountain? Did you only move here recently? How come I have never seen you before?”

Her face was red and her head was lowered while she nibbled on her lip without speaking a single word.

Snickering, Guo DaLu spoke again, “What aren’t you saying anything? Don’t tell me you are a mute.”

The flower vendor-girl looked as if she wanted to say something, but in the end, nothing came from her lips. All of a sudden, she whipped her head around and ran off. They watched as her two big braids swung to and fro behind her. She had darted off quite a distance when, suddenly, she turned around to peek at Lin TaiPing. Pulling out all the flowers from her basket, she placed them onto the ground and said, “These flowers are all for you.” Her cheeks blushed even more furiously and then, she was dashing away even faster than before, as if she was afraid that someone would chase after her.

“That little girl’s nerves are rather weak,” Guo DaLu chuckled.

Yan Qi retorted, “After seeing that ferocious look of yours, even a woman with stronger nerves would still be frightened away by you.”

“I merely asked her a few questions, that’s all” Guo DaLu objected.

Yan Qi shot back, “What does her surname, her name, or where she lives have to do with you? Why would you want to ask all that?”

Giggling, Guo DaLu said, “I wasn’t asking for myself.”

Yan Qi: “Who were you asking for?”

Guo DaLu pursed his lips at Lin TaiPing, then answered grinningly, “Have you not seen the look on the face of our amorous young sir over there?”

Lin TaiPing appeared as if he had not heard anything. With his eyes still fixed upon the place where the young girl’s outline had disappeared from view, he seemed somewhat dazed.

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Spring was not too far gone yet. The morning wind still carried the coolness of spring. As Guo DaLu pushed open the door and breathed in a deep breath of fresh air, it seemed like the courtyard’s spring breeze had all flowed into his chest. Every morning, he would always be the first person to awaken because he felt that idling away that perfectly good amount of time on the bed was such a waste.

However, when he pushed open his door today, he discovered that Lin TaiPing was already standing inside the courtyard.

Standing there staring off at nothing.

Guo DaLu gave a couple light coughs. He did not hear anything. Guo DaLu knocked on a railing. He still did not hear anything. His eyes were staring unwaveringly at a cluster of peonies by the corner of the wall, but what was his heart thinking about? Guo DaLu walked quietly over towards him, and then suddenly announced in a loud voice, “Good morning.”

Lin TaiPing finally heard him now and at the same time, was nearly scared out of his wits. Turning his head around and seeing Guo DaLu, he forced a smile. “Good morning.”

Guo DaLu looked intently at his face. “Your eyes are all red. You did not sleep well last night, did you?”

Lin TaiPing: “I was thinking… spring seems to have passed now.”

Guo DaLu nodded in agreement. “That’s right. Spring has passed. It actually just left us yesterday.”

Lin TaiPing: “Left us yesterday?”

Guo DaLu smiled lightly, “Could it be that you do not know? Yesterday, when that young girl ran off, didn’t spring also leave with her?” Lin TaiPing’s cheeks burned a crimson color. Heaving a deliberate sigh, Guo DaLu lamented to himself, “Where has spring gone? Who knows? If someone actually knows where it is headed, why not call it back or go fetch it to live here together?”

Red-faced, Lin TaiPing snapped, “Is it possible for you to say just a few less indecent words?”

With a grin Guo DaLu returned, “Were those words wrong? Could it be that you don’t want spring to stay?”

Lin TaiPing: “I…”

His mouth closed abruptly because right at that moment, the sound of melodious singing suddenly drifted in on the spring breeze:

“Little young miss daybreak arises,
Carrying a flower basket to the market.
Passing through the main street, walking through the alleyway,
‘Flowers for sale, flowers for sale,’ her voice a-crying.
Flowers may be pretty, flowers may smell sweet,
But if no one buys them, what to do?
Carrying the flower basket and her empty purse
Papa, mama, how could she return to face them?”




The singing was sweet and beautiful and also seemed to make the heart ache a little. Not only was Lin TaiPing completely taken by it, even Guo DaLu seemed to be in a stupor as he listened. After a long while, he finally exhaled a sigh and murmured, “It appears that spring did not go far, and now it has returned.” All of a sudden, he gave Lin TaiPing a shove. “Why aren’t you going outside? What are you doing still standing here?” he laughed.

Blushing again, Lin TaiPing asked, “What would I go outside for?”

Batting his eyelids, Guo DaLu reminded, “Someone gave you so many flowers yesterday. You should at least express some sort of appreciation to her.” Lin TaiPing was still hesitant, but in the end, as he put on a show of reluctance, he was pushed out the door by Guo DaLu.

The morning mist had dissipated; sunlight shone upon the earth.

A young girl, a flower basket in hand, was treading on that sunlight-covered earth and walking over slowly. Raising her head, she suddenly noticed Lin TaiPing. All of a sudden, the sunlight that had been everywhere seemed to all collect on her face. Or maybe half of it had actually gathered on Lin TaiPing’s face too.

Guo DaLu looked first at him, then at the young girl. Retreating quietly, he closed the door and left the two of them alone outside. The gentleness of the spring breeze was like that within the gaze of lovers. Guo DaLu was smiling, feeling extremely happy in his heart. With his hands clasped behind his back, he ambled slowly through the courtyard.

He had not intended on going to find Yan Qi, but when he raised his head, he realized unexpectedly that he had already arrived in front of Yan Qi’s door. Such a beautiful spring scene. How could you not share it with your friend?

At last, Guo DaLu stretched out his hand and knocked lightly on the door. There was no answer. Even louder knocking brought no response. How could Yan Qi be sleeping so deeply? Guo DaLu called out in a loud voice, “The sun is shining on the head already. You still haven’t gotten up?”

It was quiet on the other side of the door. There was not even a hint of stirring.

Behind him, though, there was a sound. It was Wang Dong’s voice: “He is not in the courtyard at the back or in the kitchen.”

Guo DaLu’s complexion changed slightly and he could not help shoving open the door. The door had actually been left unlocked, and the instant Guo DaLu pushed it open, it seemed like the spring brilliance in the courtyard also got shoved out.



There was no one inside the room. The covers on the bed were still folded neatly, but apart from those, there was nothing else. Not only was Yan Qi not inside but all of his odds and ends belongings were missing as well.

Guo DaLu stood motionless in that place. His hands and feet had grown ice-cold.

Wang Dong’s brow had creased into a frown. “From the looks of it, he left last night,” he thought out loud.

Guo DaLu: “Mm.”

Wang Dong: “Why did he take all of his belongings with him this time? Why didn’t he leave a single word to us?”

Guo DaLu suddenly whirled around and seized ahold of Wang Dong’s shoulders. “Last night, you didn’t tell him anything, did you?”

Wang Dong: “What do you think I would have told him?”

Guo DaLu: “Those things that I told you.”

Wang Dong: “Do you think I am that type of person?”

Guo DaLu: “You honestly did not say anything?”

Wang Dong let out a sigh before he said, “There is no longer any need for us to get in a quarrel; otherwise, just for that one question, I could get in a fight with you.”

Guo DaLu stood there in a daze for a long time before he too finally heaved a sigh and slowly released his grip.

With a forced smile on his face, Wang Dong consoled, “Really, you don’t need to grow anxious. He has snuck out before but he came back after a few days.”

Shaking his head, Guo DaLu said with a bitter smile, “You just said so yourself: this time is different.”

Wang Dong: “But he has no reason to leave without saying goodbye.”

His head hanging low, Guo DaLu said, “Maybe… maybe he is the same as me and feels that something is not quite right also, so… so it is better just to leave.”

Wang Dong hesitated a moment before saying, “There actually is nothing wrong between you two.”

Guo DaLu’s smile was agonized. “That still isn’t something wrong?”

Wang Dong: “Actually, he… he…”

Guo DaLu: “He what?”

Wang Dong was looking at him intently. After quite some time had passed, he suddenly shook his head. “Nothing… nothing...” Without waiting for the conversation to end, he turned his head and left.

“Where are you going?” Guo DaLu called after him.

Wang Dong: “To find a cup of wine and have a drink.”



In reality, Wang Dong was not a person who could bury what he wanted to say in his heart. It was just that he felt that some things were better left unsaid because he believed that it may be better if Guo DaLu did not know certain matters. The more you know, the more you may actually agonize.

Unfortunately, not knowing will also cause you to feel troubled just the same.

Now, spring really had gone far away. Where had spring gone?

No one has ever known the answer to this.

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


“Little young miss daybreak arises,
Carrying a flower basket to the market…”


The sweet sound of singing could be heard every morning. So long as he heard the singing, Lin TaiPing would feel that spring had come back again.

But Guo DaLu’s spring had left and did not return. Yan Qi was like the spring breeze: once he departed, there was not a trace, and once he was gone, there was no further news of him.

“Where has he gone? Why did he not leave a single message?” Guo DaLu was determined to find out the reason.

And so, he also headed out. He only left one sentence before going: “Until I find him, I will not come back!”

There was less laughter inside Wealthy Manor. Even though the weather was getting hotter and hotter with each day, Wang Dong felt that this place was growing colder and colder. Only that sweetly beautiful singing could still be heard everyday. Aside from this, the only other thing that would allow people to feel slightly happy was that Hong NiangZi’s inuries had completely healed now.

One day, she and Lin TaiPing were sitting under the eaves keeping Wang Dong company. The heavens had been a brilliant blue, but all of a sudden, black clouds rolled in across the entire sky. Then, the summer thunderstorm came pouring down. The rain was like a heavy curtain hanging down from the eaves. The wilted flowers in the corner had been washed away to some unknown place.

Wang Dong gazed at that curtain of rain. All of a sudden, he exhaled noisily and mumbled, “Spring really has passed.”

In a gentle tone, Hong NiangZi comforted, “Although it is gone now, it will be back very quickly.”

Lin TaiPing added, “That’s right. No matter how far spring may go, it will always return.”

“For certain?” Wang Dong asked.

“For certain!” Lin TaiPing replied.



End of Chapter 38