Chapter 116 The beggar at the lantern market
When they went out, they noticed that the carriage was already stationed outside the door. Du Qiu and Ji Danqing were standing next to it.
Only now did Shu Huan realise that Gu Xiran had already prepared everything. It was just that he didn’t tell her. After getting on the carriage, they departed towards Shadow Moon Village. This village was the closest one to the Gu family home, so it was convenient to go back and forth, and it happened that Shang Xin was extremely familiar with this place. Along the way, she tirelessly talked about the local folklore, some other trifle tales and introduced all the amazing sceneries along the way. The rest were listening to her intently with enthusiasm, they didn’t find it boring at all.
When they arrived at Shadow Moon Village, Shu Huan got off the carriage and the first thing that came to sight was the lantern market. Along the street, the stalls were decorated with all kinds of lanterns, with some of them selling food and some selling lanterns. There were also stalls set up where one could make their own mud dolls and catch goldfish. A few meters away, there was a stage, where some opera singers were singing and dancing.
Although the Lantern Market paled in comparison with the Mid-Autumn Festival, it was still very lively and crowded here. In ancient times, where there was no nightlife, this market was a great place for friends to meet and stroll around at night.
Upon seeing this familiar scene, Shang Xin smiled melancholically, “This place is the perfect location with the back to the mountains and facing the water. It’s also not far from the city, and the commodities are abundant. If one isn’t like my uncle who spent money like water, then everyone can enjoy their lives quite prosperously. Although this place is in the countryside, the villagers would donate money to invite a small troupe to come over and perform during the Mid-Autumn Festival. I still remember pestering my father to take me to watch the performance when I was a child. He would spend two copper coins to buy me a bag of peanuts or candied fruits, and we’d eat while watching the performance…”
Nowadays, she could no longer go back to those days, and she’d feel sad whenever she thought about those memories.
When Shu Huan saw her depressed face, she smiled and took out a handful of copper coins from Gu Xiran’s purse. She then dragged Shang Xin away to a stall to catch goldfish. Back then when she went to temple fairs in the modern era, catching goldfish was one of her favourite activities as she was very good at it. The trick was to be sharp-sighted and deft. Normally others would throw countless coins, but catch none. Contrariwise, she was able to catch so many that even the goldfish stalls’ owners were afraid of her. They could only stare at her with a blackened face, unable to stop her in public.
Gu Xiran and the rest naturally didn’t have a reason to stop them, so they stopped by another stall nearby and started playing target shooting with slingshots. Ji Danqing and his skills were limited, so they naturally didn’t manage to hit the target many times, but Du Qiu could perfectly hit the targets without aiming. In a very short period of time, the stall owner was already crying his eyes out as he gave them a bunch of prizes and begged them to leave.
Those small prizes they had won didn’t catch anyone’s eyes. They were just taking it as a sign of good luck and divided them amongst themselves. With the prizes in their hands, they strolled the market while eating, drinking and having fun.
There was no exquisite food in a small place like the countryside, but it was still pleasant to eat two skewers of barbecued meat adding on a bowl of rice noodles, and a cup of sour plum soup.
As they were strolling along the path, they suddenly saw a beggar bowing and begging all the way with a broken bowl in his hand.
Aside from visitors from a few neighboring villages, most of the onlookers were residents of Shadow Moon Village and they recognized the beggar at a glance. Not only did no one give the beggar any money, but they were all telling him off.
“Go away, don’t come near me lest you dirty my clothes.”
“You’re asking for money? What a joke, haha! Later, you’d either gamble all the money or buy wine with it. Not even my son is living as comfortable as you, how about you gift me two copper coins instead?”
“Say, Jiang Haitian, why didn’t you stay in your broken temple on such a festive day? Instead, you came out and beg people for money.”
“You should take a wife as soon as possible, and don’t come out anymore. Just stay at home and make children. You can then sell your child one at a time. This way you will earn much more compared to the time you sold your niece for money.”
“Hey, stop teasing him. Didn’t you guys know that he was maimed by a group of gamblers? So how could he possibly have children? If he did, then who knows if his child’s surname is Zhang or Li in this case? He must be wearing a big green hat then.”
- Wearing a green hat is an expression that Chinese use when a woman cheats on her husband or boyfriend because the phrase sounds similar to the word for cuckold.
The onlookers sneered and burst into laughter.
Jiang Haitian’s face was still swollen from being hit, and he was probably already used to being laughed at, so he didn’t seem embarrassed at all. He expression remained indifferent as he chased after a few people, saying, “Money, I ask your kind soul to please give me some money.”
When Shang Xin saw him, she frowned and hid behind Shu Huan. “Second young mistress, I don’t want to see him. Can we take a detour?”
She didn’t want to see Jiang Haitian, but Jiang Haitian looked up and saw the eye-catching Gu Xiran, who stood out amongst the crowd. He quickly looked around him and immediately recognized Shang Xin by her side profile.
She didn’t have any scars on her face. He was stunned at the sight of her flawless face, and instantly rushed up to her like a madman and shouted, “You lied to me! Where are the scars on your face?!”
This person didn’t only look like a madman, he seemed a bit crazy too. Shu Huan frowned slightly at him, while protecting Shang Xin behind her, but her action was unnecessary as Du Qiu had lifted his leg and kicked Jiang Haitian out before he could approach them.
The kick was so heavy that Jiang Haitian fell to the ground. He struggled for a long time but didn’t manage to get up. He lay there like a big tortoise that couldn’t turn over and soon gave up. He simply lay there on the ground and cried, “You guys are swindling my money, you even lied to a poor man like me. You will not have a good ending.”
Some people amongst the crowd also recognized Shang Xin. After the commotion, those who were familiar with her gathered around her and asked this and that.
Jiang Haitian was ignored by everyone, so he started to cry all the more miserably as he viciously cursed, “Jiang Yuqing, your parents and you share the same virtue, all of you want to frame me. Your father didn’t give me money to spend, and you swindled my money. Why don’t you also learn from your father and die early? He deserved to go down the eighteen levels of hell, and be skinned alive by the King of Hell…”
After that, he could say no more as Du Qiu gagged his mouth with a cleaning cloth he picked up from the roadside food stall. Afterwards, their driver stepped off the carriage standing not too far away and took things over from Du Qiu. He found a rope, tied Jiang Haitian up firmly, and carried him off to someplace far away.
The onlookers were very clear about Jiang Haitian’s personality, so when Du Qui and the rest did all this, no one came forward to stop them. They only clapped their hands and applauded happily. Meanwhile, Shang Xin was surrounded by even more people, so she had no time to be sad. She didn’t even have enough time to answer all of the crowd’s questions.
She didn’t expect to meet Jiang Haitian here, but at this time, he was no longer a threat to her. Shu Huan looked at this scene unfold with an indifferent expression. She didn’t feel any empathy for the man. The man only got his unrepentant self to blame for reaching this tragic end. His life was ruined by his own hands! However, she still quietly clenched Gu Xiran’s hand, secretly rejoicing in her heart.
She was really lucky that she had occupied Shu Huan’s body and not Shang Xin’s. Although her life wasn’t easy, it also wasn’t that bad. She was quite lucky to have met him…
As soon as Gu Xiran’s hand was held by her, he leaned closer to her and asked in a low voice, “That man didn’t ruin your mood, did he?”
Shu Huan raised an eyebrow and said with a smile, “No way, I’m in a very good mood I must say! Look, there are people selling roasted quails over there, hurry up and pay for it. I’m hungryyy.”
Meijing also played along and asked for money, “Second Master, I want to eat those candied sweets over there, so could you please give me two copper coins?”
Gu Xiran smiled. It seemed that no one around him, including himself, could bemoan the state of the universe and pity the fate of humankind.