Spring Once More - novelonlinefull.com
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(Traditional Chinese cover scanned by Dairytea)
I’m a big-hearted guy. If he greets me, I’m gonna be respectful and greet him back. Plus, the guy looks about eighteen, nineteen, and I’m not going to be difficult with a kid. I bring my fists together, too. “Not honourable, but my name is Ma. Ma Xiaodong. How about yourself, young man?”
He smiles politely. “I am of the lowly family of Fu, and my given name is Qingshu, courtesy name Shenshu.”
Fu Qingshu…pretty good name. He exudes the air of n.o.bility. His brows are long, extending near his hairline. His eyes are bright and lively like pearls, and his features look as if they were carved out of jade. He’s probably the kid of some high-ranking official in the capital. I’m chuckling on the inside: “Young Master Fu, you’re lucky that the little prince you met today is me. Otherwise your whole house would be getting wiped!”
Fu Qingshu seems to be quite bothered by the “young” from earlier and asks, “What is your age, Master Ma?”
“A score and one.” I pick up my fan and tap it in my palm. “Which teen are you?”
He folds his fan and makes to put it down. “I am nearing twenty.”
“So just nineteen,” I restate with a smirk. “What a wonderful age to be!”
His expression darkens. Hmph, you’re way too green to be jousting with me, little boy!
“Where is home, Master Ma?”
“Oh, my home? It’s somewhere far, far away, but for now I am residing in the capital. Master Fu, you look like you are from here.”
He nods. “If you have time, you are welcome to visit my humble home on Suichang Street. Did you arrive in the capital recently?”
Hm, this guy’s got an eye. “That’s correct, just a few days ago actually.”
“No wonder you didn’t know that the lady playing the pipa is the music teacher at the academy and even were so generous with her thinking she had financial problems at home.” He glances at me before opening his fan. “It’s a pity that your silver was spent in vain.”
f.u.c.k. My face burns as I spit inwardly. You li’l son of a b.i.t.c.h, we’ll call it a draw.
Just as our chat was. .h.i.tting the sweet spot, I hear a commotion from the street. Fu Qingshu looks out from the window and rushes to his feet. “Master Ma, I have other engagements and must leave you now. Until next time.”
I lean out the window to see a train of house servants converging on the tea house, and when I turn around, Master Fu is long gone. Seeing that it is late, I call for the waiter for the bill. The waiter bows to me, saying, “The gentleman paid earlier.”
Oh, not bad, Mister Fu. Very tactful.
Stepping out of the tea house, I find my bearings and make my way towards the manor, each step I take becoming heavier. My head hurts just from thinking about the big, fat mess waiting for me. And then a thought occurs to me: what if I just take this big wad of bills and run? Who gives a s.h.i.t about those losers? But then my conscience kicks in, and I think of my grand declaration. Perseverance is key. Plus, if I run, that would spell the end for those twenty guys. A man must do right by others and listen to his conscience.
I turn into an alleyway. The manor’s back door is not far off. I turn again and run straight into someone standing up against the wall. My shoulder is stinging with pain, and the man seems spooked as well. I focus my eyes.
“Master Fu, why are you standing here?”
His eyes flash. “What a coincidence, Master Ma! I was just taking a stroll around, no particular direction. Why, do you live around here?”
I stare at him suspiciously. Taking a stroll? Didn’t he say he had something urgent? I hear a ruckus coming from the entrance of the alley, and his expression tightens as the sound draws near. I can make out a few words: “Young Master, the Master is waiting for your return…”
Why, of course!I chuckle.
“Master Fu, running away from home is something children do when they throw fits. You’d better return soon lest your father grow concerned.”
His face flushes, and he bites his lips. Then he throws me a glare, shakes his sleeves out and walks towards the entrance.
Come on man, I just said you were tactful. Now you ditch me without saying bye.
Whistling, I make my way to the back door of the manor. More than a handful of servants greet my return with lanterns in hand as if I were the emperor. Xiao-Shun, Xiao-Quan, and Xiao-Sheng all scurry over from the inner courtyard. Xiao-Shun takes a lantern and walks beside me.
“Milord, have you eaten yet? The kitchen has your meal prepared.”
After an evening of wandering, I’m pretty d.a.m.n hungry, and recalling the plain congee and dried sea jelly makes the flames of hunger burn even more fiercely. I reply through gritted teeth, “I will have a bite or two.”
Being the considerate boy he is, he orders the meal to be sent straight to my chambers. After bathing, I return to my room to see Xiao-Quan coming in with two food containers. Xiao-Shun brings over a bowl of congee directly before me. I take a look and spoon some into my mouth. A gleeful expression pops up on my face. This must be the prince’s manor difference! I’ve eaten pork and century egg congee all my life but never this delicious!
Xiao-Shun looks at me wanting to impress. “Your Highness, doesn’t the rice taste better than usual? I have here some five-spice peanuts and some bamboo shoots. Would you like some?”
I peel the quail egg and grab a piece of smoky red ham, tears practically streaming. “The peanuts are nicely done, the bamboo shoots, too!”
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