Spring Once More - novelonlinefull.com
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(Traditional Chinese cover scanned by Dairytea)
I’m sitting in an average-sized tea house in the capital, drinking tea and listening to the show.
I wasn’t able to go to a restaurant. Why? The empress dowager, of course! That granny’s edict is d.a.m.n powerful. The people of the capital are fasting under the strict supervision of twenty squads of the Imperial Guard. All restaurants are closed during the three days.
By the time I get out of the manor it is almost dusk. With the shops closed and the market shut down, the streets seem rather desolate. After making two laps around the block without any great findings, I spot a teahouse up ahead and decide to give it a shot.
The heavens must feel pity for me and want to give me a delightful surprise. I pick a table near the window, and the tea master pours a cup of yuqian longjing and brings out four types of snacks shielded under a green mesh. Just as I pick up a piece of cloud cake, a fair young lady holding a pipa approaches my table and greets me gracefully. “Sir, would you like to hear a song?” Her voice is clear and lingering like a gentle stream meandering through the mountains.
I swear half of my skeleton just fell apart from her soothing voice. “Yes, yes!”
She sits down on a round stool, tunes the strings and smiles warmly at me. “Which piece would you like to hear, sir?”
Now the other half has melted at the smile. “I’d like anything you play for me.”
Her lips pucker a little before stretching into a smile again. “Then how about I play a little qin tune?”
I nod. “Sure, sure.”
She stretches out her slender fingers and effortlessly begins strumming the pipa.
Cooling myself with my fan, I focus my senses and study the musician. After all, beauty is like a fine tea – you have to slowly savour it. She’s wearing an emerald-green, two-piece dress typical of ancient times. Her oval face is framed by two slender arches over clear, wide eyes. The delicate and clean visage makes my poor heart jump. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen a beautiful girl.
As the piece ends, I snap my fan shut. “Very good, very good. Could I learn your name, miss?” I can’t go wrong with pursuing such a graceful, quiet girl.
She lowers her head. “Thank you for the praise, sir. My family name is Chen, and my name is Jingniang.”
“Ah.” I nod. “Jingniang, a very tasteful name. I’m Ma, full name Ma Xiaodong. Where is your home?”
Jingniang lays the pipa across her lap. “My ancestral home is Shencheng in Jiangsu, but I presently reside in the capital.”
My head tilts back a little in question. “Is it because your family experienced difficulties that you are selling your talent?”
Head lowered, she chuckles but doesn’t answer.
Then, another voice interjects, “My good sir, could I bother you for a compromise?” I turn to see the waiter. “Sir, the gentleman over there wishes to sit here. Would it be possible to reach a compromise and have you scoot over a little?”
Scoot over a little?! Who the h.e.l.l dares ask me to scoot over when I’m trying to score myself a chick?! I look around to find a young fellow by the entrance – looks like the son of a rich household. Tryna flex on me? Other than the emperor, there ain’t n.o.body who can flex on me, the little prince! I calmly open my fan. “Ask him to sit elsewhere.”
“But Young Master.” The clerk bends at the waist. “All seats are taken. I beg your understanding, but perhaps you could sit at that table over there instead? Your tea will be on the house.”
I swing the fan shut and demand, “Does it look like I can’t afford my own tea?”
The clerk recognizes my unfriendly tone and immediately changes tactics. “Well, how about this, sir? Our place isn’t all that big, so perhaps I could ask the two of you to share this table? Would that sound acceptable?”
I don’t voice any opinion, and the fellow comes over and plops down in the chair that the clerk pulls out for him. The tea master pours a cup for him and brings over the same four snacks. The fellow takes a sip and turns to Jingniang.
“Play a tune for me.”
What a f.u.c.king tool!
Jingniang stands up and curtsies toward him. “What would you like to hear, sir?”
The fellow has a fan in his hand, too, and he whips it open. “Whatever is fine.”
She sits down, smiling. “Then how about a springtime song?”
He nods. Then she turns to me and smiles.
What? Is she into me? I gently fan myself as I smile back at her. The fellow c.o.c.ks a brow and asks, “Why aren’t you playing?”
The girl smiles at me again. Oh boy! This cutie must not want his business since I don’t like him. I shoot an arrogant look at the guy, but Jingniang bows her head. “Master Ma, the gratuity…”
My face begins to burn. I cough awkwardly, reach into my breast pocket and pa.s.s her the first bill that I find. Her expression changes. “Why, you must be jesting, sir. Do you think this lowly girl can find change for a thousand silver?”
“You don’t have to,” I say smilingly to the lady. “Use it as you will.”
She seems a bit stunned. I continue, “I’m going to come drink tea every day. You can talk to me if you have any problems.”
“Many thanks, Master Ma,” she says as she tucks the bill into her sleeve. “If it pleases you, sir, I can serve you anytime you come.”
I think I hear my heart fluttering in celebration. The fellow across the table looks on with his tea in hand and a weird smile on his face. After Jingniang finishes one song, she is called over to another table where a fata.s.s is sitting. The fat pig, practically s...o...b..ring, goes on to touch Jingniang’s chest. Enraged, I’m ready to rush to her rescue when she gives him a bright smile and pinches his chubby paws with her delicate fingers.
“Oh, Master Niu! You’re so naughty!”
My mouth drops as my fan drops on the table. The young fellow lets out a chuckle. I shoot him an angry glare. So what? I am an idiot in love.
The fellow brings his fists together towards me. “A chance meeting contains affinity beyond measure. What is your honourable name?”
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New guy for the MC's harem? XD
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