Chapter 139: Keeping Hucheng afloat
In the second part of the post, there were photographs of Xu Tingsheng’s university entrance examination results as well as home tutoring teaching plans.
In the third part of the post, Tan Yao himself narrated the circumstances of the fight that day, affixing a photograph of Room 602 as well. Looking at the scene of the incident, it was clear that those people were indeed the ones who had come over and started a fight.
Meanwhile, there was only a single line which explained the gist of the post: Why can’t you feel safe leaving your children with us?
Beneath the post, the citizens were very active in their replies.
Is he a hoodlum? Is it possible for a hoodlum to individually receive two Awards of Bravery?
In this era, while people might not dare to become heroes themselves, facing the increasing state of indifference within society, everyone was yearning for the appearance of heroes.
Some people tried to guess the reason behind Xu Tingsheng having obtained the Yanzhou City Award of Bravery. Some citizens even meticulously ruled out the possibilities of all the Awards of Bravery which had been mentioned in newspaper articles, coming to think of the sole incident concerning that imprisonment affair for which the hero’s information was never made public.
“If it truly is you, I thank you on behalf of the two victims, thank you on behalf of the people of Yanzhou.”
“Isn’t it only normal for boys to look at girls? Shut up, hypocrites.”
“I also smoke. So what? Is smoking illegal? Right, many teachers and even principals smoke.”
“I was really moved by that teaching plan. I’m a teacher myself, but I would be willing to have him teach my child.”
“If only he was my child’s teacher.”
The voices defending Hucheng became the overarching mainstream on the forums.
In Hucheng’s office, the phones began ringing incessantly once more. This time, some were purely encouraging as they expressed their support, others apologised for their earlier words while there were also those who expressed that they wanted to immediately re-open their accounts.
“My child’s currently looking for a home tutor. Can this person on the forum take the job?”
“Oh, sorry about that. He’s currently out on a match. I’ll help you to ask him when he gets back.”
Someone moved the post from the citizen forum to the academy city’s Xishan Tower forum.
If this post had merely been meant to show off, the university students who were pride-averse and thus sensitive might instead feel somewhat resistant to it.
However, this was not so. Xu Tingsheng had attained the Awards of Bravery so long ago in the past, yet none of them had ever caught wind of it before. This meant that he had originally kept it just to himself, having been keeping a low profile all along.
This time, it was only because he had been maligned with his integrity called into question that he had had no choice but to prove himself, defend himself.
Thus, he obtained the understanding of most people.
Most shocked were those people who were most acquainted with Xu Tingsheng, including his football mates, his classmates and even his friends and those of Hucheng, with the revelation having taken place the previous day for Lu Zhixin. Most of them would never have thought that he had actually done all of these before. Also, he had never mentioned any of this even once.
The football hero of Yanzhou University had turned out to be a true, great hero.
Whatever side they had stood on before this, they all now chose to support Xu Tingsheng, support Hucheng.
Accompanied by this, Zhang Xingke who had besmirched Xu Tingsheng’s integrity was dug up once again, and Huang Keshen who had sold out his roommates was similarly not spared. One of the occupants of the dormitory room next to Room 602 came out to testify:
“Room 602 was indeed attacked by others that day. Could they just have stood by and watched their roommate being bullied? Could they still call themselves men then?”
Someone expressed, “I too take binoculars and gaze at the girl’s dormitory of the medical institute every day. With so many pretty nurses and doctors there, which dorm doesn’t?”
The girls of the medical institute replied down below, “Thank you for your praise, Yanzhou University guys. You’re welcome to extend your friendship! Our medical institute’s really greatly in need of bachelors here.”
“Also, don’t just look! Mister Xu Tingsheng, you can directly come and look for me.”
“Maybe it was me he was looking at?”
“I’ve analysed the angle of the binoculars in the photograph. It was our dorm room, no question about that.”
“I just hope that I haven’t caught the eye of that disgusting male who betrayed his roommates.”
The girls of Yanzhou University expressed, “Those over at the medical institute, go away and rest where the wind is cool. We’re lacking guys ourselves here in Yanzhou University. As for Xu Tingsheng, he’s taken, and even if he wasn’t, your medical institute will never get a chance. We of Yanzhou University will internally digest him ourselves.”
“I know, his girlfriend’s called Lu Zhixin. They seem to be cohabiting.”
“Two confessions, and I was present for both of them. Still, forgive me when I say that this girl just isn’t willing to wish you two happiness.”
“Same here. May you break up quickly.”
Seeing these posts, Lu Zhixin felt complex emotions.
“Woah, your face’s turned red? Right, about that…when you entered his room afterwards, did the two of you…” A technician teased Lu Zhixin.
They were actually the clearest on the relationship between Lu Zhixin and Xu Tingsheng. They were far from lovers, much less having possibly reached that point. Still, their moods were just too great now. There was no stopping the leisures of the mouth!
“Scram,” Lu Zhixin scolded, her face red.
Amidst the ruckus, Old Wai suddenly said, “I think I can finally understand now why Xu Tingsheng said that he wanted to go out and hide for a couple of days.”
Previously, when Xu Tingsheng had said that he wanted to go out and hide for a couple of days, everyone had looked at him with a sort of sympathetic understanding. Thinking back on it now, it was instead apparent that he was just too embarrassed to face the current situation.
Xu Tingsheng was indeed embarrassed, such that after learning that the post had gone online, he had dared not even scroll further through it. Uncle had already been easily embarrassed from the start. Having been forced to ‘show off’ and ‘bask in the limelight’ this time round, he was actually feeling incomparably conflicted.
“It sure was fortunate that I managed to escape.”
Xu Tingsheng raised his head and looked at Room 408 of Block 7. There was no one on the balcony, and the room lights were turned off as well. His former roommates resided there, his brothers of four years. Yu Yue, Wang Yu, Zhang Fengping, Yang Xiaofeng…are you all still well?
Xu Tingsheng went upstairs and walked around for a bit. The door of Room 408 was locked. Bending down and listening beneath the door, no sounds were audible from within.
“Where’ve they roamed to again? This bro came to see you, and you’re all actually not here. With the second semester of our first year just having begun, apart from Yu Yue, the rest of you shouldn’t have found any girlfriends, isn’t it? Shouldn’t all of you be holeing up in the room all day long playing Counterstrike?”
Xu Tingsheng looked through the gap in the door. There was actually an empty bed in the 8-man room, precisely the lower bunk next to the door which he had once occupied.
When no one had come even after yet some time had passed, thinking that he would return the next day, Xu Tingsheng dissatisfiedly left.
Carrying a basketball, Yu Yue and Wang Yu walked over. Xu Tingsheng almost stopped in his tracks as they brushed past him.
The next moment, he dared not speak, because as soon as he did, he was afraid that he might choke on his words. He had seen the basketball-carrying Yu Yue again, whereas once, in the two years after their graduation from university, the Yu Yue whom him and his other roommates had gone to visit time and time again was a Yu Yue who had had difficulty even moving about.
Back then, Yu Yue would always say, “You guys shouldn’t come anymore. Just remember the me of the past. How good was that.”
After leaving the building, Xu Tingsheng made a call to Xiang Ning’s home, telling Mrs Xiang that because he was out representing his school on a competition, he had asked a classmate to replace him for the weekend. Xu Tingsheng was actually feeling very uneasy as he made the call, afraid that Mrs Xiang might have noticed the recent scandal with Hucheng and the news regarding him.
Fortunately, Mrs Xiang didn’t exhibit any abnormalities whatsoever.
Over from the other end, Xiang Ning’s voice could be heard in the background, “Let me talk. Come on, come on.”
“Hello?” Xiang Ning received the phone.
“Hello, what’s up?” Xu Tingsheng asked.
“You’re not coming again?”
“I’ve got a competition.”
“In compensation, I’ll cook for you the next time I come.”
The line disconnected. Sometimes, when you want to talk to someone, there might not actually be something on your mind. You simply just feel like talking to that person. At this moment, Xu Tingsheng was thinking: Xiang Ning’s already begun to feel like speaking to me?
Much happier than before, Xu Tingsheng returned to his room.
That night, he wasn’t able to sleep in his former bed, talking to his former bro on the bunk above him. However, he could dwell within a dream of the Jianan University of his rebirth’s dual lives.
On Xishan Tower’s forum, someone began a thread entitled: Keep Hucheng Afloat.
Earlier, Zhang Xingke had publicised the situation of the riverside residence where Hucheng’s office was located. The dilapidated house, the tough conditions. These had originally been used by him as proof of Hucheng’s incompetence.
Now, however, it served to evoke another feeling: Hucheng has it tough. Yet at the same time, Hucheng is still free of charge.
Keep Hucheng Afloat. The university students supported them by way of registering on their platform. Yanzhou University had always had quite a number of students who were studying to become teachers. Many of them who did not actually have to work convinced themselves to register on the platform in order to temper themselves via home tutoring.
Some even expressed: We can accept paying fees. Of course, it can’t be too overboard.
Someone posted this on Yanzhou’s citizen forum. Similarly, some parents began expressing that they too would be able to accept Hucheng charging some fees for its intermediary services.
Lu Zhixin gave Xu Tingsheng a call.
“You said earlier that the time wasn’t right. What about now? After the incident is over, can we begin charging fees?”
“It’s still not right.”
“Sympathy is only ever temporary. It’s impossible for businesses to rely on sympathy and understanding for their operations. Their current attitude is just because they’re momentarily feeling touched.”
“In having been free of charge thus far, Hucheng has actually dug a really big pit for itself. Here’s an example. When someone gives porridge to the victims of a natural disaster, they would initially be feeling grateful. However, if this family themselves fall into hard times one day, thus ceasing with the dispensing of porridge, what they would face as a result would be cursing and swearing, even hatred, as if they had stolen food directly away from these recipients of aid. Such is human nature.”
“Thus, only when we have truly proven our value will we have the reason and the conditions to charge people fees.”
“Aren’t the services currently provided by Hucheng valuable?” Lu Zhixin asked.
“They are, but it isn’t enough. They can be even more valuable. Wait another two or three months,” Xu Tingsheng said, not explaining the rationale behind that particular time period.
Due to the ‘Keep Hucheng Afloat’ movement, the number of registered home tutors as well as parents on the platform began shooting back up the next day, even looking as if it might break through the original record.
To Hucheng, this storm was actually not merely a crisis. At the same time, it was also a large scale promotion exercise. Thanks to Zhang Xingke ‘assistance’, more and more people came to know about as well as understand Hucheng.
Hucheng had turned the tables in the battlefield of public sentiment. However, the crisis had not ended just like this.
Zhang Xingke had the habit of throwing things around and breaking them. Previously, he had done so with plates and cups. This time, he virtually smashed his entire room. He called over Huang Keshen’s ‘girlfriend’ and finished venting his emotions before making a call.
“Management Head Zhao, you’ve got to act now,” Zhang Xingke said darkly into the phone.
“Under such circumstances, you’ve got to understand that if you want me to deal with them, it will be very difficult for me…” Management Head Zhao said.
“I don’t understand. What I want to tell you, Management Head Zhao, is that every time you take money from me, including that sum back then, I always leave behind records of it… therefore, think about it for yourself.”
“Zhang Xingke, you dare to threaten me?”
“Yeah, I do.”